Not for long though, I'd delayed this trip once before already because I had to be there for Shirley's funeral and this time I was going. My e-Visa was applied for, yes they make British Passport holders apply for a Visa in advance to traveling, actually do you blame them? I'd make us apply for Visas everywhere we went if history was allowed to speak for itself.
This was the first time I'd flown with Scoot Airlines, the new low cost branch of Singapore Airlines. They used the previous fleet of Singapore Airline planes so straight away you feel the sense of space over other low cost airlines such as Air Asia or Tiger. The flight itself, without the cancellation and amendment fee it was around 480 SGD for a return ticket to Sydney, that's around 240 GBP. Pretty good value if you ask me.
I endured the flight and arrived in Sydney airport, it was the early part of September and New South Wales was just beginning to recover from it's Winter. During the day temperatures in Sydney got close to 25 centigrade with a beautiful clear air, I couldn't feel any humidity. When the sun went down in true logical fashion it got cold, it was a climate I could very much get used to, not too indifferent from our own most magnificent Summer days.
Double Bay & Surrounding
|Double Bay, Sydney - New South Wales, Australia|
I picked a hotel in a harbourside picturesque suburb of Sydney called Double Bay. It is about 4km from the Central Business District of Sydney and well connected to the inner city by bus, train and boat. Later I was to find out from the locals that some of them are known to call the area Double Pay to which I personally soon became accustomed.
Sydney was the first time I've been away by myself and it was for 10 days in total, a pretty long time but I had my laptop and an extensive array of television stations to keep me company. My first feeling of landing in Sydney was how nice it was to be somewhere in Asia where English was the first language. Everyone in Singapore speaks English, and other than the Philippines I'd have to say Singaporeans have the best command over the English language of any Asian nation except when they butcher it from time to time with their hybrid word destroying logical defying tongue that is Singlish.
Security was long but I'd expected such, I'd watched countless hours of Border Control, Border Force and other such TV shows that show what seems impenetrable wall that is Australian Customs. When push came to shove however it wasn't anything new or spectacular, maybe they just didn't highlight me as a threat what with my bare white limbs. That's nice actually for once, airport staff treating me fairly, not asking me for the additional passport check of frisk down, seeing me and into my soul and realizing I'm a wonderful human being - I just likes to have my special 'relax' occasionally and I'm awesome.
I was moderately impressed by Double Bay and the surroundings, there was some pretty cool stuff a short bus journey away. It turned out to be a crazy short bus journey with an Italian consistently asking the bus driver who was solid and very non social at first but who over time was broken down by this innocent Italian mans repeated queries for "Here shark?" becoming joyful almost giddy.
|The Gap @ Watsons Bay, Sydney.|
The Gap and the surrounding Watsons Bay are both a short journey from Double Bay. Watsons Bay was named after Robert Watson (1756–1819), formerly of HMS Sirus, when he had to beach his three vessels at Camp Cove for many years because of their being potentially sold. Watson was appointed harbourmaster of the port of Sydney in 1811 and the first superintendent of Macquarie Lighthouse in 1816. The Gap is a place widely associated with suicide and campaigners pledge with orange poles with hotline numbers.
So I briefly toured the centre for a few across across the space of a few days while I was there. It's big but apart from being built on a slope it seems organized. They're buses all lined up not far from the Ferry Port transport depot taking you all around Sydney, other than that train stations are not far and are clearly signposted throughout the city. It's a busy city but its not Singapore or London rush hour busy, it's tolerable. Buses are full sometimes but they are too in Sunderland. The trains are big and robust machines, always plenty of space on those. A little shady at night though.
|Sydney Opera House|
Up close it looks like a space ship has landed in Sydney in that stye of the 1970's rise of Sci Fi. It's material and layout are alien looking, visible bolt holdings, faded paint and aged brown window panes give the exterior a dated feel. Step a few feet back however and symmetrically it's beautiful, all pieces of the opera house together like a perfect jigsaw, it's something that gets more beautiful the further and further you get away from it. The shot below was taken from the Hickson Road Reserve opposite the Opera house.
|Sydney Opera House under the diminishing day|
|The Space Ship or Sci-Fi Turtles?|
As is usual with these posts they often span multiple days or even weeks of composition before they are complete. Across these periods of construction I myself come in varying forms of creativity and productivity, two things pretty much directly based on my current state of hunger and sobriety. Right now, I feel like sharing some of the shots I take while I was there.
Of course, where would a travel blog of Sydney be without that shot of the Harbour Bridge?
Forgive me, but I took a few...
|The Bridge & Beyond|
From a few different angles...
|The Bridge Walk|
And a few different perspectives...
I walked across the bridge, I walked around the bridge, I walked underneath the bridge..a little bit and I even walked up to the touristy pylon to get better shots. I know what a vanilla tourist I am. Hey, what else can I say about the Sydney Harbour Bridge except that it's a pretty awesome bridge, it's got an interesting story surrounding it's creation and it makes the landscape beautiful both by day and night.
|The Freshwater @ Sydney Harbour|
The Freshwater shot actually came out of about 15 different shots of the same scene. I'm pretty new to photography and I'm not part of any group or photo cult so I'm not sure if every amateur photographer is like me. Does everyone takes 30 shots of the same scene and then painstakingly deliberate over them for hours and hours until you get one you like? I've no idea why I do this it actually encourages me to procrastinate and not go through my photos. I always find it's good to rope the girlfriend in at this point, mine does a wonderful job of severing any sentimental connections I may have had with the shots.
|Fishing Down Under|
A shot I got at the end of the night, my camera isn't very good at taking shots at night, well It's probably me being rubbish and the fact that I'm not using the camera right or the fact I don't have one of those war of the world devices, one of those tripods. I doctored the light and added a light filter to it. The original is on my Facebook page for comparison.
|Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Centre|
The Royal Botanical Gardens
While I was walking around the City Centre, I had time a plenty and wanted to waste some. Instead of just getting drunk which doesn't take much effort I was close so decided to hit the Botanical Gardens in Sydney seen as though the weather was pretty wonderful, I was looking forward to a walk.
At the entrance to the park, just beyond the opera house, was this aesthetically pleasing little Red train, instantly made me wish I was 5 again. It didn't move this train, well maybe it did but not on this day it didn't. The kids or big kids could sit inside and have their photo taken with it. When I'm as loaded as Richie Rich I'm gonna have one of these throughout my home. That's a promise.
|Bamboo Love Story|
In the Botanical Gardens there were lots of plants, as you would expect from a Garden. A lot of the plants were generic and there were some huge gaping tree's, tree's fit for the Forest of Fangorn. There was a ton of bamboo and lots of it was 'modified' let's say, the majority of the modifications being symbols of love made on handheld strolls through the Gardens. It was a pretty beautiful thing to see, I took lots of photos and played with colours, contrasts, filters but in the end settled on the one natural one without a touch. Whoever JCW is SJA is with you all the way.
|90mm Macros Lens Shot - Unknown Flower|
I took my Macro lens of my Camera with me, figuring If I'd need it at some point and then the Botanical Gardens came into my itinerary, awesome I thought, there will be tons of strange lookings plants and flowers and I'll get ample chance for Macro usage finally! A 400 SGD lens that was gathering dust. It didn't get much usage as the lens is slow, hard to use, needs a lot of stamina, patience and time which I have none of. I took a few others but nothing breathtaking, no spider up close and no bee or winged beauty landing on it's treasure.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is exactly what it says it is, it's a Chinese memorial garden located on the edge of China Town close to Darling Harbour in Sydney. The garden was designed by Sydney's sister city in China, Guangzhou and were opened was back in 1988. They look pretty good for 24 year old gardens.
I was browsing China Town in Sydney with my camera hoping to get some nice shots, but as usual If I see a shot I walk and procrastinate until the shot is lost. I'm afraid to just go in there and take the photo, afraid to risk the rejection I guess. Nice how that personality trait shows itself in my hobbies. It's definitely something I'm going to get over. I came across the Chinese Garden by accident and decided to have a look around, part of the Garden was closed as they were filming a movie, the garden itself was closing early that day so filming could be done during the evening. We heard from the woman on reception it was the new Wolverine film. Haven't seen anyone of the Wolverine films but I can guess they're either pretty average or pretty shit.
|The Chinese Garden @ Sunset|
|The Dragon And The Fools|
I spent maybe an hour walking around the garden, it was nice, nice to be inside the city while being outside of it. It's a soothing place, the walls, water and wildlife somehow block out the sound of Sydney and you quickly forget you're in the middle of a bustling city centre. I took a lot of photos as usual, 95% ending up being obliterated from my flash storage. One nice shot I got was when I was walking out. So in Chinese mythology the dragon is often seen chasing the sun, and sometimes the sun is pictured in it's mouth. Sometimes it's pictured on fire or coated in flame and other images show the ball cooled. The ball is actually depicted as a pearl and the pearl became known as the night shining pearl.
The group of four guys sometimes partially engaged sometimes fully engaged simultaneously trying to free the pearl from the Dragons mouth to no avail. It was obvious from just walking past it five minutes previous like I had done and notice it was never coming out, even from a distance it was clear the orifice was not large enough for the pearl to pass through but still they tried. To this day I'll never know if they were serious in freeing the pearly or whether they realized defeat very early on and continued out of sheer embarrassment.
Bondi To Bronte Walk
Wanting to see Bondi beach and hearing from a group of German tourists that there was apparently an epic walk starting from Bondi Beach and ending at a place called Bronte Beach, it was 3km from one beach to the other and it was about 25 degrees centigrade, it was definitely not cold but I was looking forward to some sand and sea.
One of the aussie tourist sites states the following:
But it’s the sunny, coastal views that bring walkers by the busload, that inspire and lighten the soul. There are few things more satisfying than watching the South Pacific Ocean roll and crash against the line of coves and beaches extending south from Bondi to La Perouse on to the entrance to Botany Bay.
Let's see if they are right.
|Bondi To Bronte|
They were right. What can I say about the walk? It was stunning... a sensory overload of sun, white sands, turquoise water and colossal rock faces shaped by aeons of battling oceans. I was in a bit of a condition and the walk was challenging, if i was 100% it wouldn't be a problem but I'd think twice about getting my Dad or Grandad to do the trek. It's the heat that takes it out of you, drink plenty of water, not Whisky but water.
|Bondi To Bronte|
So I finished the three kilometers, there are handy half kilometer markers along the way. After Bronte it turns out that the walk continues, I'm not sure where to but that in total its actually 7km and not 8km. So I decided, just like a Johnnie Walker advertisement to Keep Walking. An old friend of mine Tamsin had let me know there was a pretty beautiful graveyard at the end of the walk and I'd googled to check the hype. My pictures hardly do this place justice:
|The Waverley Cemetery, Bronte, Sydney|
The Waverley Cemetery opened in 1877 and is a cemetery located on top of the cliffs at Bronte in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. It is noted for its largely intact Victorian and Edwardian monuments. The cemetery contains the graves of many significant Australians including the poet Henry Lawson and Australia's first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton,who is interred at South Head. Funerals are conducted Monday to Saturday.
The cemetery is self-funded, deriving its income from interments – including burial, cremation, memorials and mausolea – of which there has been over 86,000. Waverley Cemetery was used during the filming of the 1979 Mel Gibson film Tim. The Cemetery was designed to function along similar lines to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and Kensal Green Cemetery in London
I obviously from the above only know the name of the Cemetery, the rest is with direct thanks to Google.
What else did I do other than the touristy stuff?
Well I'm not sure if I ever mentioned a Filipino guy I know from work called Mightor, he resigned last year and moved to Australia to go back to University. I hooked up with him a few times and hung out at his new place for a while. I either didn't have my camera or I was drunk because I had the best food of my Australia trip; Thai food and Mexican food both close to his new place near Kings Cross station. I could have rounded this blog off with a few food pictures.
Thanks Australia. Until next time.