Friday, April 24, 2009

Easter Break Travels - Melbourne

I just came back from traveling a couple of days ago. My laptop broke and the stupid comps at school wont upload pics onto facebook. (we took alot of pics too) but i can still describe it in words here until we get that fixed =) we went to melbourne for 5 days then to new zealand, auckland for 7.

Day 1
me and sean left canberra early saturday morning and took a taxi to the airport. we got there at 7:30a and the place was completely empty. even our cab driver said it was strange how there were no other cars around. our plane to melbourne was delayed for an hour though. the really cool thing was that they(tiger airways) barely checked our bags, maybe not very legit as the plane ticket was so damn cheap. we had to actually walk down the tarmac to the plane and climb up steep stairs to get inside. have you ever had to do that? i mean, we didn't even had a gate! you just go outside and climb up the plane yourself! and then wen we landed, we didnt even go inside the airport! it was so shady haha it was just a 3 walled room and then a fenced gate where you collected your luggage and off you go. just go out the fenced gate and its the parking lot. we took the skybus shuttle to downtown and from there, got transfered to another shuttle that took us directly to our hostel, victoria hall. the skybus system was beautifully efficient and convienent. the city sure knows how to accomodate travelers. no taxi needed. wonderful. so we checked into our hostel. it was really clean and was newly renovated, walls painted with fun, bright colours. the rooms were nice too, although the people that you share with will make or break the experience. the ppl sean had in his room were rude and inconsiderate but my room had quiet people who minded their own business. everyone got their own little closet.actually, big enough to put a suitcase in, and then some. after we put down our stuff, we walked downtown and found the nearest hungry jack's lol. yes, yes. the tummy dictates us all haha =p oh and our hostel was right across the street from the city gaol (pronounced JAIL...XDD). they even have night tours....spooky... also if this is of interest, the infamous ned kelly was sentenced and hanged there. right across the street from us a hundred years ago. XD aaaanyway... we walked around the city a bit for the rest of the day- chinatown was the closest to us. we walked around Queen Victoria Market for the 1st time. thats where they sell lots of fresh fruit and veggies along with meat, and clothes, shoes, souvenirs, your basic flea market sorta. it was really really crowded! downtown was really crowded too! i think even more crowded than sydney! later we were told that melbourne has wider streets than sydney because it was made for horse carridges, and not just a temporary settlement. but yea,even at night, the streets were so busy. i wish canberra was like that. we ate at a restaurant at a chinatown arcade and went back to the hostel. then we walked around some more, passing through more night life and eventually making our way to the skydeck. it was real pretty up there, seeing the night skyline. there were even fireworks near the 2 stadiums and a little fire show along the harbour. very nice and peaceful.

Day 2
we woke up at 8:30 and ate a sad breakfast of canned sardines (they were good! and cheap!), crackers and museli bars (granola bars). we walked the rest of queen victoria market, that place is huge! we got there early so alot of the vendors were still setting up shop but as we walked along, the place got more and more crowded again, although less people than the day before. probably because it was easter sunday. we ate lunch at the foodcourt there and took the city tour bus (especially made for tourists, the city is very thoughful) that went around the city, the harbour docks, the botanical garden and domain. the bus was really crowded and i sat next to an old shanghainese lady who talked to me in mandarin, making conversation. omg my mandarin is sooo bad now, but i could still talk to her somehow heh. we jumped off the bus at federation square where there was a street performer surrounded by lots of people. we was just juggling fire and such atop a pole he was clinging onto held straight by a few ppl from the crowd. after he was done, we went to the tourist centre and waited a long ass time to book a tour for later in the week, the penguin parade tour. i found the cheapest one at just under $100 per person. we walked back to the hostel from there stopping by the melbourne library, which was gorgeous. id say it can compete with doe library although this library wasnt as big. the central room had high high ceilings with old desks arranged like rays of the sun from a centre dais. really magnificent. oh free internet. sean was getting regretful that he didnt bring his laptop. in the side rooms, we played a game of chess there haha. sean won -_- then the library was closing so we went back to the hostel to drop off things and went to eat at lygon street with the concentration of italian restaurants. really though, one side of the street were the italian restaurants and the other side were the chinese, japanese, malay, korean haha. they lied when they said it was all italian! but we ate at an italian one that sean chose cause the restaurant had the same name as him. it was a really bad place, dont go there. we ate at those outdoor tables along the sidewalk, but we sat right next to a table of blokes smoking all the while. not pleasant. oh and they dont let you byo unless it's wine. booo. right next to lygon street was the museum and imaxx theatre but all was closed so we walked back to the hostel and we turned in for the night? nope, the cool thing about our hostel is that they had their own little theatre room, huge screen and plush seats. hehe we watched autumn rush and we drank some skyblue too =)

Day 3
sean didnt wake up and i was mad at him cause he didnt set his alarm. he didnt get much sleep that night cause of the bad ppl in his room drunk and talking loudly. today we went shopping on famous collins and burke street! actually i couldnt find anything to buy so it was really only window shopping. but thats ok, everything was really expensive, all retail stores. we stopped by the block arcade and royal arcade too. then we ate at that same chinese restaurant cause sean really liked their chili sauce. haha. it was a pretty popular restaurant, it was crowded to capacity at every moment. we finished off window shopping and went to imaxx hoping to see watchmen. unfortunately, it wouldnt be showing the days we were free so we watched alien vs monsters instead. in 3-D!! alriiight. hehe then we went back to the hostel haha feeling a little nauseous. the screen was really big O.O 3rd largest in the world or something. then we had dinner at a japanese restaurant where we had our first taste of hot sake. haha and sean burned his tongue a bit. yea, i definately like it more than beer. very fragrant and doesnt burn alot. only if its hot tho, wen it cools down, it tastes bad. along the street, especially around chinatown, theres a few aracade game places, you know, the racing cars and shooting people and ddr. we went there cause sean is always pulled by it and played a few games. each game cost $2 to play! so expensive!!

Day 4
we woke up even earlier this day and went to victoria market, which was very close to our hostel, we realized. we got some fresh fruit. yumyum. it was also the last chance to buy stuff. i got a heat pack, and a dress. haha, of course a dress. im still a sucker for that. sean was sad that he couldnt get anything, but it's true that things there were cheap quality. we went back to the hostel where the phillip island tour was picking us up. we were the first ones to get picked up and the bus dropped us off the tour office where we waited for a few more people to join us. total, there were 22 people on the tour plus a little kid. not bad. i still have nightmares about the huge tourgroup to the east coast. (just kidding, phil.) we drove to moonlit sanctuary where dingos, a koala, and many wallabies run free in the wild! just kidding. but there was a little forest trail where wallabies were hiding. we tried to coax them out but only had a little luck. oh the tour guide, bernie, even had an emu pecking/eating out of his hand! scary bird. we had a short lunch there, then off to a winery! yeah! i picked this tour out of all the other ones cause this one had the wine tasting hehe. mmm and the wine was good. i could sorta taste the difference between the different wines now, red and white. we even had some fortified wine. and now me and sean are looking everywhere for our favorite: white port. grrrr and we still cant find anywhere that sells it! after this, we finally headed down onto the island where we stopped at wiamia(?) beach. it was nice to see the beach again, sunny and sparkly in all its glory. very windy too, the sun was about to be setting soon then. we headed to nookie island, all the way on the western side where we walked along the rugged cliffs, with platforms for the tourists and the sun really was setting now. quite beautiful: water, clouds and sun. and still very windy. finally we drove to the penguin parade site. the bleachers were all full by then and they wouldnt let us even crouch on the remaining ledges (it was wet) so it was either sit there, getting your butt wet or sitting on the sand, closer to the beach, and still getting your bum wet. we sat on the sand, the closest you can get to the penguins and a nice lady gave us a large brochure (waterproof) for us to sit on. everyone waited for the sky to get darker, the floodlits came on and aftera while, the penguins popped out of the surf! ....and dove right back in! then in little groups, they would waddle up to the sand, and all of a sudden, they would race back into the water! a few minutes later, they would come up again and do it all over again haha. they're not very brave, are they? but so cute!! and so small! we watched this little show until they got brave enought to venture all the way onto the sand, leaving the waters behind and into the bushes, past the bleachers to find their home. there are the smallest penguins in the world, just over a foot tall. very very small and adorable. after a while, the crowd got bored and started to leave (it was pretty cold out there) but you could still see the penguins waddling up the beach and up to their burrow. and if you turned your attention away from the penguins to look up into the sky, you would be breathless. the sky was full of stars, concentrated into a milky white band stretching across the sky. i wasnt the only one walking and bumping into people, face up looking at the sky. so, while i was oogling at the starts, sean steered me throught the crowd haha to go back to warmth and food. it was amazing to finally see the milky way. no light pollution and the sky so dark, with so many sparkling white diamonds there in the milky way, so many you couldnt count. *sigh* =] we were also very hungry, not eating much since we left, our fruit hoard was long gone. we left the island at 9pm and ate at the pizza place. i scarfed down like 5 slices. by the time we got back to melbourne, it was 10:30p and time to turn in for the night, bringing back 2 little stuffed penguin plushies, gifts courtesy of the tour. i definately recommend this tour.

Day 5
we ventured into an asian supermarket to get asian snacks and green tea. it was like $2 for 2 litres! super ridiculously cheap!! oh and we went into the victoria library this time for the exhibit about books. (sean finally gave in and let me go see it. hey, i was excited, the geek i am.) then we went back to the hostel to take a nap, or at least sean did. he moved into my room cause his roommates were so bad. at night, we went out to dinner at a pho place. i was missing my pho. back at the hostel, we chilled and watched 2 movies from the hostel theatre room. we watched sweeny todd, which wasnt as scary the 2nd time you watch it, and we watched the illusionist, which was scary, at least for me. after those two movies, we went to back well past midnight

Day 6
we had to wake up early the next day to check out and take the shuttle bus to the airpot. it was a 3.5 hour planeride to auckland with a really fat guy sitting next to me. you know, one of those people who can just barely fit into their seat. yea. XD but it was a pleasant ride. qantas airlines is really good! they kept us hydrated with popsicles and good food. i mean, what airlines hands out popsicles?!! very nice touch. compared to qantas, united airlines sucks. mostly cause they dont have your own screen to watch movies. qantas does! i bet almost every airlines has it, cept united. i dont want to think about the flight back to sfo with united. *shiver* now that i have experienced qantas. so anyway, we took the airbus shuttle from the airport once we landed which took us near our hostel. and just like that, 2 minutes after we got off, we realized i forgot to take my luggage off the bus. we decided to pursue the matter later, cause we were starving and discovered that the neighborhood our hostel was in was smack in the middle of korean town or something. the restaurants that lined the street was; korean, korean, chinese/korean, korean, korean, korean, japanese/korean, korean. yea...the hostel manager was even korean! and very nice lady too, who advised us how to best track down my duffel bag, with all my clothes and toiletries!! i tried to phone the bus company but my phone eventually died, saying i had no credit left. bullshit. this is what ive learned: vodaphone au =/= vodaphone nz. your vodaphone credit in oz doesnt work in nz, nor does any credit you buy in nz work toward your phone if your sim card is australian. so DO NOT buy vodaphone vouchers in nz. they do not work. i have $40 of vodaphone nz credit if anyone wants it. T.T sigh. well at least our room at the hostel, (called BK hostel) was ok. until at night...... we got a room that overlooked the main street, where the clubs rock their music till late at night. ugh. we walked down the street later the next few days and found that we were in the middle of nightclubs, stripping joints and sex toy shops galore. wonderful. lol the good thing was that we were pretty tired at the end of the day to notice too much the noise at night. oh and our room was the only in the hostel to have our own TV! yes! ...with only 2 channels. >.<;

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