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New Year’s Eve 2011, Sydney

1 Jan

It’s my first time counting down in Sydney, so I decided to go out and join the crowd. I chose to watch the fireworks at Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, and searched the Internet to look for some advice and suggestions.

On the day, I arrived somewhere nearby Hyde Park at around 12:30pm; the city is pretty calm, not a lot of people walking around. Even when I was walking to Art Gallery Road, there wasn’t many people, and I thought maybe it’s still a bit early. However, I was completely wrong when I saw the queue!

Long queue on New Year's Eve

These people are just part of them waiting in line to go into Mrs. Macquarie’s Point

Going up and down the little slope, I finally arrived at the security check point after 3 hours! My advice is if you are traveling with little kids or senior family members, make sure you find a spot under the shade for them to rest while someone else queue in line, prepare some food and something to entertain them too.

The weather was really nice yesterday, very sunny and not too hot. Another advice is to bring sunscreen with you, there’s not much shaded area while you are waiting in line, and you might find a spot inside the park without the shade too. If you are bringing an umbrella, be sure to check the rules and regulations first. I think they only allow small umbrellas. And don’t forget to bring a thin jacket, it may get a little breezing when the sun sets.

So it was around 4:30pm when I found a spot to sit down. Everywhere was very crowded, and of course the places with the better view are all occupied already. If you really want to get the perfect view, I guess you have to be there as soon as it opens. However, I think it is still possible to find a not-too-bad spot, you just need some time to search for it and wait for people to leave, because people are moving around and you might find a better spot by luck.

Many people bought their own food for picnic, but there were also a lot of people buying food from the food stalls. I bought my own food, so I didn’t check out the food stalls. It seems like they have a variety of choices, saw people with hot dogs, chips, pasta, corn dogs, fried noodles and more.

There isn’t much to do once  you get inside, and it is a really long wait! I had a nap, listening to my iPod and playing games. I thought I could access the Internet using my mobile; however, it was very weird that my mobile couldn’t connect to the Internet at all while I was inside the park.

There were some pre-show entertainments, but people at my area wasn’t so excited about the Aerial Show, because we didn’t really get to see the whole performance from out spot. I did see part of the Harbour of Light Parade after moving to another spot, but it would have been much exciting if they put some music on.

Both fireworks were amazing! I guess the crowd liked it especially when the fireworks came out from the Bridge. For the 9pm firework, I was standing in the middle of the road, and saw part of the Harbour Bridge and part of the firework. For the midnight firework, I was actually nearby the media area, where I believe they have the best view. However, I was a few steps far away, so I had some trees blocking part of the Bridge. I did, however, see the fireworks pretty clearly, especially through the man in front of me, who was recording it through his Iphone.

Didn’t get to take a nice photo of the Bridge or the firework, because I was so short and always surrounded by a lot of people who are so much taller than me, didn’t even have the chance to hold my camera up. Moreover, my view wasn’t the best, the trees are always blocking part of the view, so knowing I couldn’t take a photo that I would be satisfied with, I didn’t have the intention to take my camera out. To show you how amazing it was, I have to share with you the photo I got from City of Sydney’s Facebook page.

New Year's Eve Firework in Sydney

I was actually very impressed by how orderly and disciplined the crowd was, people were waiting in line patiently and I didn’t see people out of control, except some people who didn’t obey the rules, sneaking into some controlled area or trying to bring in alcohol. I was also happy with the transport arrangement after the celebration. It was a really long walk from Mrs. Macquarie’s Point to the bus stop at Hyde Park, but I managed to arrive home before 1:30am, as there were a lot of buses running. However, I think there could have been more signs to inform people; for example they didn’t have clear signs at Art Gallery Road, you might walk down to the end and find out you are in the queue for ticketed events.

If you are planning to join the New Year’s Eve celebration in Sydney next year, make sure you check their official website for some suggestions and of course, some rules and regulations. If you are really looking for the best spot and don’t mind spending the whole day out, be there as early as possible!

Best city for countdown?! New York, Hong Kong or Sydney? I would say when  you are with your friends and family, it doesn’t matter at all. Hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve too!

Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in 2012!

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach

16 Nov

I first heard of this annual event at one of my lectures; the lecturer was explaining how to organize an event, and how a local event become a popular annual event, and he used the Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi as an example. Since then, I have been looking forward to this event.

In fact, I went to Bondi Beach 2 weeks ago, however my friends were not so interested in the sculptures, and so I only got to see around 10 of them. As a result, I decided to come back myself to enjoy all the art work! The weather was so good, enjoying the sea breeze under a hot day. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was getting tanned, I just easily get sunburnt! I didn’t take a lot of photos and I don’t remember what their names are, but please enjoy the photos!

Sea breeze

Love the contrast between red (nail) and blue (sky)!

A red nail on the rock

One of the popular ones there! A skeleton overlooking Bondi Beach!

Skeleton over looking Bondi!

Another very popular one and one of my favourite! Huge water tap on the grass! How cool is that!

Water tap!

Love how this artwork is placed. It looks as if the man is looking at the sea from his window at home, with his pet sitting right next to him.

One of my favourite! At first I didn’t realize it was one of the sculptures, luckily I heard people talking about it. By the way, when you walk down the stairs, there isn’t anything else to see though.

Funny sign!

Old man and woman with toads

For some reasons, I really like the nails lying on the sand.

Nails on sand

I remember this sculpture has a really cute name!

Do you want to watch this old-fashioned TV or the sea view?!

Old style T

Or do you want to play golf?!

Golf course by the sea

I guess this Xmas reindeer is definitely feeling the heat!

Reindeer

I nearly missed out this one, didn’t really notice it. It would be perfect if this was really my home. Best sea view!

Perfect home!

Italian Coca Cola

A submarine or a shark?!

Shark submarine

Huge wine bottle

One of the popular ones. You will see a lot of people trying to imitate them.

Watch out! Lions at Bondi!

Beware! Lions!

I stopped at San Churro’s before I took the bus back to Bondi Junction. The chocolate hazelnut was very delicious and rich, but it was melting and the staff didn’t pour the drink into the cup properly, so I ended up having chocolate on my white T-shirt…

San Churro's Chocolate Hazelnut

Definitely enjoyable to look at those sculptures! However, it is really crowded even though I was there on Tuesday afternoon. Anyway, do check it out, still a few days to go until 20th November 2011.

Official website: http://www.sculpturebythesea.com/exhibitions/bondi.aspx

Floriade 2011, Canberra

21 Sep

I guess the last time I went to Canberra was 10 years ago, but I completely don’t remember how Canberra looks like, and I have no idea where my mom put the photos we took, so I have no way to recall everything that happened during my trip years ago in Australia.

I have been looking forward to this event for a long time, because during my semester break, I didn’t get a chance to visit Canberra with my friends, so I have been trying to find an excuse to pay a visit. Floriade definitely is the perfect excuse for a weekend escape and to embrace the coming of spring.

I did a bit of research on the Internet, and many people recommended going to the Floriade around 2 weeks after it officially starts. However, I know I won’t have the time to have a weekend escape once school resumes normal (crazy assignments coming!). Seeing how nice the weather would be on the first day, I decided to have an impromptu trip with my friend.

Murrays Coach

Murrays Sydney Floriade Coach

When I was in the US, I always took the coach to travel between cities. One of my favorite coach companies was MegaBus, because their seats were comfortable and they had free wifi, though not always stable. I have to say Murrays’ service did impress me. Their seats were comfortable; even after a 3-hour trip, I didn’t feel any pain at all. The company has a Floriade Special Package; $49 return trip from Sydney to Canberra, drop off and pick up directly from Commonwealth Park. Very convenient for us, who don’t know how to drive or foreign travelers. You also get to choose your departure time in Sydney, 7am or 9am. We chose 7am, so I had to wake up at 5:30am that morning!

The company did make a mistake though. Originally the coach was to pick us up at the place where they dropped us off in the morning at 5pm. We confirmed with the coach driver before we headed to the Floriade that morning. However, the coach didn’t arrive until 5:30pm. The coach driver who picked us up told us that the driver from Sydney misunderstood the pick up location, so he actually waited for us somewhere outside on the Commonwealth Avenue instead.  Luckily one of the passengers mentioned to him before he left the shuttle bus stop for Canberra Centre, and of course the company realized they left their customers waiting (I guess there were a total of 16 passengers!), so he came to pick us up to catch the 6pm coach back to Sydney. The coach, that was supposed to pick up, was going to pick up more passengers at Jolimont Centre and leaving there at 6pm anyway, so there was no delay in our schedule. Provided it was only the first day of Floriade, I think it is understandable and I guess the same thing won’t happen again.

P.S. The coach driver who picked us up from the Commonwealth Park was actually the one who took people from the Commonwealth Park to Canberra Centre, a free shuttle service from Thursdays to Sundays. I think his name is Roy, and he’s super friendly and nice!

It was actually pretty crowded, and I didn’t expect so many people on the first day, but it was an enjoyable day, except for the hotdog we had at one of the food stalls there, the sausage wasn’t heated enough and my friend said she felt like it wasn’t fully cooked.

There were a lot of  signs around the park, like the one below, it actually took me and my friend some time to figure out what they mean.

Interesting sign

Tasty donut puffs!

Tasty honey donut puffs to start the day!

Tea pot and tea cup made of oranges

Tea pot and tea cup made of oranges

Gnomes

You can paint your own gnome

I’m no expert at taking photos, but hope you guys enjoy them.

Sorry, but I had to highlight the following photo, because these flowers reminded me of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC! I was there in 2010! Check it out if you are in the States in March!

The Commonwealth Park is so big, my friend and I walked around and love it so much.

Nerang Pool

Nerang Pool

Walking around Lake Burley Griffin. Such a great place to spend the afternoon!

Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin

Taking the free shuttle bus from Canberra Centre back to Commonwealth Park.

Commonwealth Avenue

Definitely should visit Canberra during spring for the Floriade! I would love to visit Canberra again, love the cleanliness and quietness during the weekend.

Floriade’s official website: http://www.floriadeaustralia.com/

Murray’s official website: http://www.murrays.com.au/

Festival of the Winds, Bondi Beach

15 Sep

Went to Bondi Beach last Sunday (11th Sept) for the Festival of the Winds. It is my 3rd time at Bondi Beach, and still loving it, especially because the weather was so nice and sunny! It was so crowded, and there were many kites flying up in the sky.

So many people, so many kites!

Can you see all those tidy kites up in the sky?

Love the blue sky with white clouds!

Blue sky + White clouds = the perfect combination!

Don’t ask me why, but I was in love of aliens that day.

UFO taking off UFO UFO up in the sky UFO flying back home!

The creepy alien kite!

The big whale!

Wasn’t as excited as I thought it would be, I guess because the wind wasn’t stable enough, so the big kites weren’t always up in the sky. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the weather so much!

Of course I had my favourite fish and chips, with my fatty deep fried Mars bar from Bondi Surf Seafood. I think this fatty dessert originated in Scotland, and I have seen it in the United States before; however, this is my first time trying it. It actually tastes good, like how the caramel is melted, but I don’t think I can finish one whole bar on my own. Forget about losing weight for one day, and give it a try! I know it’s not healthy, but still worth trying it once!

Fatty food: Deep fried Mars bar

If you love to see kites flying up in the sky or you wanna try out your skills, definitely come to Bondi Beach next year to join the Festival of the Winds.

Official website: http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/things_to_do/places_of_interest/bondi_pavilion/annual_attractions/festival_of_the_winds

21st Jazz & Blues Festival, Darling Harbour

13 Jun

Jazz & Blues Festival : James Morrison Sextet

10th June: 6pm – 7:30pm James Morrison Sextet at Floating Stage – Harbourside

Fireworks at Cockle Bay

10th June: 7:30pm Fireworks at Cockle Bay

First time at the Jazz & Blues Festival. The weather was a bit chilly, but it was really enjoyable to sit down and enjoy some jazz music. The fireworks were so pretty, and it was as if the fireworks were right above your head. So close and so much fun!

Definitely check it out if you are here next year!

Official website: www.darlingharbour.com