Monday, November 17, 2014

16 Nov 14 – Day 10 (Yarra Valley)

Today got up about the same time as yesterday because today was a day trip to Yarra Valley. It rained during the night hence it was chilly in the morning. CT woke up about 7am to prepare breakfast while SY made coffee. When CT was preparing to heat up the pita bread, she saw some mould forming on the bread. So without hesitation, she threw the pita bread away and took out some eggs from the fridge to make omelette. She was pretty skilful in making omelette. While she was cooking, SY brought some biscuits out and we munched biscuits while waiting. Soon the omelette was done and we ate it quickly while it was still hot. I helped to clear the table after we were done and waited for the couple to get dressed.

We left the house about 8:30am and the first stop was to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. I was really excited when we reached the place because it was similar to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory in Perth. Took a photo of the open compound before heading into the retail shop. There were all sorts of chocolates and chocolate products available such as the chocolate pastilles, chocolate bars of different cocoa content, hand-made chocolate truffles and even chocolate tea. Beside the retail shop was a café and it was really crowded. Went to take a basket and started to browse the chocolate products on my own. I ended up with almost one basket full of chocolate and it was after much control on my part. Both CT and SY were very impressed with the amount of chocolate that I had bought.

We left close to 10am to Yarra Valley Farmers' Market. It was not very big but enough stalls to keep me occupied. It was drizzling so the couple brought along umbrellas, I simply pulled my hood over and walked on. We passed by a few stalls before coming to the big farm house where there were more stalls inside. Just outside the big farm house was a stall selling sausages. This was the stall that the couple mentioned to me while in the car. The banner said buffalo sausages and I just took it as the sausages were very big and hence called buffalo sausages. Continued into the farm house to browse the stalls and then CT came along to ask if I would like to eat sausages. I said ok and followed her out to that stall. The sausage looked really big and smelled really nice. There were three types of chutneys to choose from and I asked for the one with rosemary. SY paid for all the buffalo sausage sizzles (hotdog bun with sausage and dressing) and then CT said she and SY would go have a look at the surroundings and left me at the farm house to browse the stalls.

There were a lot of stalls selling things like homemade pastries, fruits, jams, Christmas pudding of different sizes, honey and so on. There were also some chairs on the side of the farm house for people to sit and so I sat down to finish up the buffalo sausage sizzle before walking around. The buffalo sausage sizzle was really yummy and filling. The pastries sold by the stalls were so tempting but I could not stuff in anymore food. Jams looked good too but I had to stop myself because I could not fit in anymore big items into my luggage. Saw a stall selling body lotion made from honey and got interested. The lotion smelled really nice, then the stall owner let me tried the lip balm and it really smooth on the lips. So I bought a bottle of the body lotion and a lip balm from her. Moved on to the next stall selling Christmas pudding and bought a small one. Half way through, CT and SY came back to look for me. Showed CT my loot and she followed me to check out the stall that sells the honey lip balm and body lotion. She was contemplating about getting the body lotion but in the end she didn’t. Then a few stalls away was one that sell pastries, CT placed her order and waited for the stall owner to prepare her food. The pastries were really freshly made on the spot. While waiting, we chatted and it was then I found out that the buffalo sausage sizzle was actually buffalo meat because SY was commenting that I was really lucky to be able to try buffalo meat. It turned out that the stall doesn’t always have buffalo sausages. Other times were just normal sausages.

Next stop was to the Warratina Lavender Farm. The lavender wasn’t in full glory yet but still there were some people busy taking selfies with the plant even though it was drizzling. We browsed the retail shop where I bought a bottle of lavender essential oil, a small bottle of lavender honey and a small pack of dried lavender angustifolia egerton blue for culinary use. Then we went out to the farm after it had stopped drizzling and CT commented that we didn’t have a photo together. And I was just wondering how I could ask for a group photo before I fly back home and CT presented the opportunity. So I quickly went to ask a young lady nearby to help us take a photo. I was really glad that this young lady has a flare for photo taking. The photo turned out very well.

The final stop for the day was to Rayner's Orchard. Initially I thought it would be just browsing the retail shop but turned out that CT and SY were checking with the staff about touring the orchard. So happened that there was a tour scheduled for another tour group and that we could just tag along for a price. It seems that the pricing for peach picking and nectarine picking differs and the couple asked for the special price that would include the picking of both peach and nectarine. We got onto the tractor and started the tour, it started to rain too. There were three jack russells on the farm and they were running along the tractor. There were not many fruits on the trees and bushes yet. When we got to the peach area, we were told that we could pick and eat as many as we want. However, the season of peach was not at its peak and hence the peach were not very ripe for picking. The same when we got to the nectarine area and most were not sweet. The tour ended back at the retail shop where I browsed the shop and bought some fruit leathers which I thought would make interesting gifts as well as a small bottle of chutney. There was a section where jams and chutneys were selling at very low prices and yet the expiry dates were still a long way to go. CT explained that those were the not-so-nice products where maybe the colours of the jams were off, the preserved fruits were not as nice and so on.

As it was near lunch time, CT asked if I would like to eat lunch there so looked through the menu and placed my order of salad sandwich with ham and cappuccino, thinking that perhaps the couple would also order theirs to eat there. Turned out that I was the only one eating and they were just having coffee. CT bought a lot of jams and chutney partly for herself and partly for her friend who also like the products from Rayner’s Orchard. Quickly finished my lunch and we made our way back. We targeted to get back to the couple’s place by 3pm and so since we still had a bit of spare time, CT suggested doing antiquing because there seemed to be a lot of places that offer antiquing experiences in Yarra Valley. So we randomly popped into a shop to browse. Very interesting experience and saw a lot of vintage stuff such as a wedding dress, vintage jewelleries, old cutleries and so on. I like vintage jewelleries because of their intrinsic designs yet I dare not buy. Firstly because of the price tag, secondly because of all the stories I heard about acquiring vintage stuff. After we finished browsing the shop, we continued our way back and got back slightly after 3pm. Still enough time for me to do some quick packing, to have some tea and eat some nuts before the couple sent me to the airport.

Left the house close to 3:30pm to the airport and the couple managed to squeeze in a short visit to the DFO before sending me to the airport terminal at 5pm. Said my goodbye to them and went into the terminal to do my check-in. After that, walked around to see if there was anything to buy and I ended up buying two packs of green lip abalones for my little big sis. Finally boarded the plane about 6+pm but the flight was delayed by one hour and only took off at 8pm. 

Thought: Yarra Valley was really nice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the place. Today I got to try buffalo meat and surprise, surprise, it tasted really good. Overall, my hosts were very nice and tried to accommodate me as much as possible to the extent that I felt real bad about it. The day trips out of Melbourne City were really great and it would have been even better if I get to stay at each place longer so that I have more time to explore. Will I visit Melbourne again? I might but I probably won’t stay in Melbourne City since I think I have explored the place rather extensively.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

15 Nov 14 – Day 9 (Mornington Peninsular)

I was able to sleep in a bit later today because CT and SY didn’t need to work and because today was the day trip to Mornington Peninsular. It was planned last evening that we would leave the house about 8:30am so we agreed that we should have breakfast about 7am. I woke up about 6:30am and went out to the kitchen at 7am. The kitchen was empty so I hung around the dining table for a while contemplating if I should return to my room or I should try to prepare breakfast. While I was still considering my options, CT came out to prepare breakfast and was surprised to see me all dressed up. Anyway, she heated up the pita bread and brought out a lot of jams from the fridge while her husband helped to make coffee for everyone. She said since the weather was good, we should have breakfast outdoor. To make myself useful, I helped to carry the jams and coffee to the table outside. Sat down and waited for CT and SY to start breakfast. Chatted over breakfast, pin-pointed on the places to visit for the day and after we were done eating, we cleared the table and the couple retired into their room to dress up. I wore a flannel shirt over a short sleeve shirt and CT asked if those are warm enough for me. Told her that I wore a similar get-up the day before to St Kilda. She then asked if I needed a hat and I said no. Despite that, she still brought an extra hat and an extra scarf along, just in case.

We left the house around 8:30am and one hour later, we reached the first stop, The Diggers Club. It was a huge place with big garden that requires an entrance fee of A$10. The place also sells a lot of potted plants, seeds as well as gardening related items. After a brief discussion, we decided to just browse the retail section. I had a great time looking at the various potted plants and taking photos. We then move on to look at other parts of the place and stroll in the garden and had a lovely time there. It took us a while to cover most of the sections and then it dawned on us that we may have ventured into the garden that requires entrance fee. As we walk around, CT commented that whenever they visit the place, SY would always look at the various structures that the people at The Diggers Club setup around the garden and then would do a similar one back home for CT. I was thinking how loving they are after so many years of marriage so told CT she should treasure the thoughtfulness of her husband. We returned back to the retail section to browse the seeds. I didn’t want to leave empty-handed, hence bought a pack peppermint seeds. As for CT, she bought a couple of packets of vegetable seeds, a basket for one of her aunties and a potted plant.

We left the place close to 11am to hunt for lunch. We came close to a beach and CT suggested that we get down to a look around. We saw a few colourful windowless house-like structures along the beach and I took photos of them. CT also did the same and she commented that she doesn’t usually take photos during outings but seeing me taking photos, made her want to do the same. Took a short stroll on the sandy beach and she swiftly picked up a seashell for me. After that, we got back to the car and drove further on to look for a place to have lunch. After some discussion between CT and SY, it was decided that we would eat at the restaurant called “Two Buoys” over at Dromana where they had visited the last time.

Since it was a day with nice weather, we chose to sit outside of the restaurant. Asked for the menu and were given the breakfast menu. CT asked the waitress when lunch would start and was told it would only start around 12 noon. We couldn’t decide if we should go ahead to order from the breakfast menu or wait for the lunch hour to start, so we ended up ordering drinks first. Scanned through the menu again and CT suggested that we order a portion of churros to share while waiting for the lunch hour to start. When the waitress came to take order, CT asked if we would be able to order from the lunch menu slightly earlier and the waitress said shouldn’t be a problem. So while eating churros, CT and SY browsed through the menu again since I told them I am easy with food. CT was very thoughtful, she remembered that I wrote fresh oysters as one of the must-eat food item in my travel booklet and therefore suggested ordering half a dozen of fresh oysters as well as a portion of salt chilli squid, tequila, lime and coriander mayonnaise. It was a very good meal and again was paid by the couple. 

Our next stop was a quick visit to Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove where I bought a bottle of Lemon Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil. CT also bought a bottle of the same olive oil and a bottle of wine. After she made the payment, she stayed on for a while to try another red before going off. SY didn’t taste any wine because he can’t drink according to CT. The next stop was to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm but while on the way there, SY spotted the Ripe 'N' Ready Cherry Farm and we all agreed to go check it out. There were a few people in the farm house and we approached the owner to check the pricing. Entry fee to the farm cost A$10 per adult and the adult can eat as many cherries as he/she likes within the farm. And if he/she wants to pick and pack the cherries into boxes to take away, he/she would be charged accordingly by the weight of the cherries. CT and SY asked if I would like to pick cherries and this time I was the decisive one who said ok and that we would just eat as much as we like in the farm. It was a really wonderful decision to spend time in the farm. We spent about one hour in there and had a really great time just walking around, picking and eating cherries. The lovely weather was a plus point because we didn’t perspire much after all the activities. After we were all happy and full from eating the cherries, we moved on to the next destination, the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm.

It was about 1:50pm when we reached Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. CT and SY asked if I would like to pick strawberries and this time I said no. Firstly, there didn’t seem to be a lot of strawberries on the plants and secondly, it seemed to be drizzling slightly. So we just browsed the retail shop and CT recommended the Strawbellini Strawberry Moscato Sparkling, saying that it was an easy drink with very low alcohol content and that it received many awards in the past. She suggested that I have a taste of the drink which I did. Browsed the rest of the retail shop, grabbed a pack of Dark Chocolate Coated Freeze Dried Strawberries, a bottle of Strawberry Syrup and a bottle of Strawbellini Strawberry Moscato Sparkling. There was another section selling food made using strawberries. Saw many people sitting down on the benches eating nice looking pastries, snacks and ice cream made from strawberries, CT suggested that we have tea break there. We stood near the counter and browsed the menu, trying to decide which ice cream to choose. I saw people eating the Strawberry Temptation and told her that I would be getting that. After a while, CT said she will have the same to share with her husband. So I told her to look for seats while I placed the order. Made the payment and went to look for CT and SY with the number plate given. Chatted about how nice the weather was and what a great time we had, especially at the cherry farm. Then the ice cream came and we took our time to enjoy the food.

After we were done, it was close to 4pm and we quickly made our way to the last destination of the day, Main Ridge Dairy. It was a goat farm with a café and retail section selling cheese. We saw a few young goats resting under a tree, SY tried to use grass to lure them over but he didn’t succeed. Nevertheless, I managed to take photo of one young goat that was grazing near the fence. Then we went to the retail shop where CT bought a block of cheese. Then we made our way back for the day and along the way, we were thinking where to go for dinner.

I left CT and SY to decide. All of the sudden, SY stopped the car and said, there was a big cow just beside the car beyond the fence and asked if I would like to take a photo. Was amused but still took a couple of photos of the cow.  SY drove through east Melbourne and then randomly chose a restaurant called Short Black for dinner. Look through the menu and I ordered Ravioli alla Pancetta while CT had the salmon special and SY had the steak special. All the portions were very big yet the couple was able to finish their food and I had to struggle with mine and still could not finish.

Finally we got back to the couple’s place about 9pm, CT went to make tea, cut mangoes and sat down to chat and discuss about the plans for the next day. After some discussion, we finally returned to our rooms to rest for the day. As the next day was the day I fly back home, I did some major packing and I was glad that I brought along bubble wraps because I had a lot of glass jars and glass bottles of food to bring back home.

Thought: Enjoyed myself today because CT and SY can be really fun to be with. Although I didn’t get to see much of Mornington Peninsula but at least I get to visit some of the more famous shops in the area. Cherry picking was really fun and the cherries were really sweet. Overall, I was really glad that the weather was nice to have a good day out. If I get to visit Melbourne again, I hope to see more of Mornington Peninsula.

14 Nov 14 – Day 8 (Melbourne City)

Ditched the cotton sweater today and opted for short sleeve t-shirt with flannel shirt. I left the house at 7am with CT and her husband to have breakfast together at a café which I couldn’t recall the name now. I thought I would be able to pay for the breakfast myself and hence I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich. When I was about to make payment, CT and her husband asked me what I would like to drink. Before I could answer, they asked if I was ok with latte. Was caught off guard, so I replied ok and then CT gestured that we go look for seats while her husband placed the order for drinks and their breakfast. Again, they paid for my share. First, CT paid for the drink and tiramisu on Wednesday, then the following day, she paid for the breakfast as well as the coffee in the evening. Felt really bad about it and wanted to ask about the cost so that I could pay her back but I knew most likely she would not take the money from me.

Same as yesterday, SY dropped me off at the Federation Square and I started my walking trail on “On the Waterfront” at 8:30am. Earlier than yesterday though so I walked very slowly because I was full from the ham and cheese sandwich and latte taken this morning. Followed the trail until sight 17 and took tram 96 to the South Melbourne Market (SMM). It was smaller than Queen Victoria Market but had more interesting stalls such as a big stall selling anything related to bicycles and another slightly smaller stall selling all kinds of food for pets. There were many stalls selling pretty pastries but I was too full from breakfast to have space for those pastries. Sigh…

Explored the surroundings of SMM and wandered a little too far off till I had problem locating another tram stop for tram 96. Saw a Yarra tram customer service officer in one of the tram stops so quickly approached him for directions. The nice old gentleman directed me to Middle Park station but I could not find it. So I followed the road sign towards St Kilda for quite a while till I saw another tram stop with tram 96. Hopped on to the tram and got off at St Kilda Station. After I had gotten down then I realised that I should have sat all the way to the last stop before getting off so that I would end up at Acland Street instead of Fitzroy Street. Tried to look at the map on the directional signboard to get to Acland Street and followed the direction. Reached the end of Fitzroy Street, across the road was the St Kilda Pier, the Port Phillip Bay with the West Beach on the right and St Kilda Beach on the left.

Crossed the road to explore the pier. The sky was quite dark, very cloudy and windy. I was feeling cold so buttoned up the flannel shirt that I was wearing while cursing myself for ditching the cotton sweater. As I walked out towards the pier, the waves were crashing against the breakwater. Tried to take some photos using my NEX while trying to keep myself and my hands steady due to the strong wind. At the end of the pier was the St Kilda Pier Kiosk and from the information signboard, it stated that the kiosk was destroy in a fire on 11 September 2003 but was rebuilt and reopened in March 2006. Contemplated if I should go in to take shelter from the cold wind and have lunch but in the end, I gave it a pass because it seemed crowded. Went round the back and saw a gate that opened out to a breakwater structure which led further out into the Port Phillip Bay towards the West Beach direction. On the gate was a sign that states that the breakwater is the home of the little penguins and I recalled someone from TripAdvisor mentioned that instead of going to Phillip Island to see the little penguins, St Kilda is another place to see them. So I braved the strong wind and cold to walk out on the breakwater. Towards the end of it, there were a few people looking at cracks on the breakwater trying to search for signs of little penguins. I was fortunate to see a couple of them and took a photo of one of them.

Walked back to the kiosk and tried to take a selfie using the selfie-stick with the kiosk as the backdrop. It was a challenge because of the strong wind and also because I had to be careful to hold onto the remote control. Walked along the pier to go back to the mainland and saw a few daredevils walking on the breakwater with waves crashing on the structure. Found Acland Street, instead of cake shops, I saw mostly residential homes. Not willing to give up, I continued further on along Acland Street and finally I was in the shopping belt of the street and I saw a lot of cake shops. Wanted to find a decent restaurant for lunch before going for cakes but it was crowded everywhere. So just popped into a random fish & chips shop called Pink Flake which was opposite the Acland Cake Shop and ordered a fish & chips set that came with a bottle of soft drink. The battered fish was big and delicious, the fries were the big, chunky type and it was stated as small fries, yet the portion was large to my standard. I only managed to finish the fish, a couple of fries, a small sip of drink and I was full to the brim.

Thought perhaps after walking around for a bit I would have space for a slice of cake so popped into Woolworths to browse where I found the lamingtons and bought a packet. I was still full after I was done with Woolworths so went to browse the cakes that were on display over at Acland Cake Shop. I was really full and yet I didn’t want to miss the chance of eating at least a slice of cake along the famous Acland Street. It was almost full house at the Acland Cake Shop and I was about to give up the idea of eating when I passed by Monarch Cake Shop. It was then that I recalled that the recommended cake shop by most TripAdvisor members was not Acland Cake Shop but Monarch Cake Shop. Went in, found a seat near the entrance and ordered a slice of Cherry Crumble. It was their famous cheesecake that was on my must-eat list but I figured that I wouldn’t be able to fit it in. As I ate the cherry crumble, I admired the decoration in the shop which consisted of old photos, old fashion cash register and weighing scale. There were trays and trays of yummy cakes and people came in to buy in boxes. Took me a while to finish the cherry crumble because I was actually still very full from lunch and also because I was contemplating whether I should get two pieces of their famous cakes as a form of repayment to CT and SY. After I was done, I went on to get a slice of the Chocolate Kooglhoupf and Plum Cake. What struck me as very interesting was that the lady had to weigh the cakes before packing them into the box.

Happy with the dessert and my purchase, I went to the St Kilda tram station to wait for tram 96 to get back to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) to continue with my walking trail. By the time I got back to MCEC, it was already 3:45pm. Continued with the trail and diverted to South Wharf DFO for shopping instead of going up Eureka Skydeck 88 because it was really too cloudy for good view. There were many branded shops around, unfortunately, I didn’t need anything. Saw the shop Dotti again and popped into checked out the dresses. This time I managed to buy a nice printed shift dress. Soon I was back at the Federation Square at 5:30pm. There were a couple of stalls set up selling merchandises to raise fund for this group called CPEC and beside the stalls was photo taking session with Santa Claus for a donation and a game stall where donors get a chance to test their luck. Sat in the Federation Square to use the free wifi, wrote blog and messaged little big sis. Soon it was close to 6pm so I thought I had better text CT to inform her that I was already in the Federation Square. She replied saying that she would pick me up around 7pm.

There was a bad traffic jam and CT was only able to get to the pickup point about 7:20pm. As good hosts, CT and SY tried to think of where else they could bring me to before heading back. SY suggested Bunnings and that made CT laugh because apparently her parents, uncles and aunties enjoyed the visit to Bunnings when they visited her last year. As for me, I was puzzled as to what Bunnings was until CT explained to me that it was a very big household hardware chain store. I was ok to go wherever they bring me but CT shot the Bunnings idea down saying that I am not her parents’ generation so I may not like what they like. In the end, they brought me to a shopping mall in East Melbourne where Myer is. It was only an hour before closing so we quickly went to Woolworths to get bread for the next day before shopping around. We went into Koko Black, a chocolate place that CT wanted to bring me couple of days ago. The chocolates looked good but seemed a bit expensive compared to what I had bought over the last few days. After that we went into T2, a teashop which I saw in a lot of places. There were a lot of different varieties of tea, unfortunately, I had to stop myself from buying because I knew that I would take a very long time to finish.

We left about 9pm and after we got back, CT made a pot of tea to go with the cakes that I had bought. Both of them commented that the cakes were good and not too sweet. We talked about Korean dramas and CT showed me a drama that they watched recently. She put the first episode on and we watched together while her husband cleared the table. After I was done with episode one, the enthusiastic CT said she will set episode two on standby so that I can continue after my shower. Returned to the living room after showering, continued with episode two and CT joined me shortly. I showed her the travel booklet that I always prepare before a trip in order to show her the spelling of Chocolate Kooglhoupf. She was so impressed with my booklet that she spent the next 15 minutes flipping through it.

After she was done, she said she will have to go to sleep already because we are going to have a day trip tomorrow to Mornington Peninsular and she left me with the Korean drama episode two. It was already 1am and I struggled with another 15 minutes of the show before switching it off and headed for bed.

Thought: Felt really bad eating off from CT and her husband so I treated them to cakes. Overall, the day was good because I get to be so close to the sea and little penguins. Also I managed to eat the must-eat cakes from the must-visit cake shop on Acland Street. I only wished that I had worn the cotton sweater and the neck-warmer as hat. Getting lost was just part of the adventure.

Friday, November 14, 2014

13 Nov 14 – Day 7 (Melbourne City)

Dressed in the newly bought sleeveless top with a flannel shirt and I was all ready by 6:40am because needed to be out of the house by 7am with CT and her husband. They took me to D. O. C. at Lygon Street for breakfast and I had cream-filled brioche and mocha. We chatted over breakfast till 8:30am then SY sent CT to her workplace before dropping me at the Federation Square.

It was 8:45am and I started the walking trails of “The Art of Sport” and “Secret Garden”. The direction of the walking trail and the map didn't match and I only found out that I had mixed up the direction and map of two different trails after I reached the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Walked back to the Federation Square while thinking how fortunate that I didn't walk too far before realising my mistake. Found a A$0.05 along the way and for some strange reason, I felt good after finding the coin. Took off my flannel shirt because it was getting hot and then I went into the Visitor Centre to collect some materials on Mornington Peninsula before starting the trail on “The Art of Sport” again at 9:30am.

Stopped along the Yarra River near to the Artplay to take a selfie and I accidentally dropped the remote control. It scared the hell out of me because firstly, the selfie-stick belongs to my little big sis; secondly, I thought I had dropped it into the river; thirdly, even if it was not into the river, I was afraid that the remote control might be spoilt. Quickly went down to the lower part of the Yarra bank to search and managed to find the remote control. Then quickly did a test by taking one selfie and fortunately, it worked. Continued with the trail, missed a few sights and cut short the walking trail because I had seen some of the sights during my mistake earlier on. I spent a bit of time along the Yarra River on the side where the Melbourne University Boat Club was to try the selfie-stick again by taking a few more selfies. After I was happy with the selfies, I went to the CBD area and popped into a random café called Grasshopper’s Feast located in a random lane to have early lunch at 11:30am. Degrave Street was just too packed to have lunch in comfort. Ordered Chicken & Mushroom Risotto and lemon lime bitters and took my time to enjoy the food.

After I was done eating, went into David Jones to use the wifi to message little big sis, check emails and FB. Went to browse the shops around Myers as well as some other smaller shops in the area because I just wanted to escape from the brutal heat. Tried a couple of dresses in a shop because they were really a steal but unfortunately, the dresses didn't fit nicely. Finally, I started another walking trail called “Secret Garden”, which covers the Queen Victoria Garden, King’s Domain, Shrine of Remembrance and the Royal Botanic Garden, at 2pm.

Didn't stick to the trail very closely because it was really hot and I was pressed for time given that I had to get back to the Federation Square for CT to pick me up about 7pm. Got back to the Federation Square about 4+pm and since it was still early and I was feeling very hot, I decided to just pop into any random café to drink something cooling. Guessed today was really my lucky day because I found Ganache Chocolate Lounge when I was not looking for it. Happily popped into the shop, found a comfortable seat and ordered a Black Forest Slice Cake and a Raspberry Apple Frappe while waiting for CT to call or message.

Felt really satisfied and well rested, made payment close to 6pm and walked slowly back to the Federation Square where I used the free wifi there to message little big sis and check FB. Received a message from CT telling me to message her when I am ready for pick up. Replied to her that I was already in the Federation Square, that I had already eaten and that she could pick me up when she is ready. She then replied back saying that she would pick me up around 7:15pm. Stayed in the Federation Square to write blog, use wifi and listen to the live music performance since most of the shops would have already closed for the day. CT and her husband came to pick me up around 7pm and drove to IKEA at the suburb for coffee because they do not know where else to bring me to. So while SY went to order coffee and some food, I showed CT the materials I had collected this morning on Mornington Peninsula. Talked briefly about what we could do and see in Mornington Peninsula before walking around IKEA and then headed back to her place for the night. I thought after we got back, we would retire back into our rooms to rest for the night. Unfortunately, that was not the case. CT happily went to cut some mangoes that she had bought a few days ago so that we could eat while continued with the discussion on the planning for the coming weekend. Guessed she really enjoyed having guests at home and playing good host. Packed up a bit before sleeping at 12+am.

Thought: Was really glad that I was in sleeveless top, would have been even better if I were in shorts too. Interesting thing was that I saw two ladies in their bikinis sunbathing in the park. Another interesting thing that I noticed was that the locals like to sit on grass. They can just sit down directly onto the grass and start eating their food and chit-chat. It is a pity that I didn't have enough time to cover most, if not all, of the Botanic Garden. I would have enjoyed it a lot given that I like plants and I believed the plants would have made very pretty photos. Also I would have love to explore more of the Shrine of Remembrance, especially when this year marks the 100 years of WW I.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

12 Nov 14 – Day 6 (Melbourne City)

The alarm went off at 7:45am but I was too tired to get up so snoozed for another 10 minutes. Washed up, packed up, dressed in a short sleeve t-shirt and a flannel shirt and I was out about 8+am to Queen Victoria Market (QVM) only to find out that it was closed on Wednesday. Felt disappointed and returned to the hotel to rest till 10am. Went to do the check-out and was told that I had to pay A$15 for the Internet usage. Oh well… I had assumed wrongly and had myself to blame for being too lazy to check the details of the free internet usage. Deposited my luggage with the hotel and took a tram to the Federation Square. Started the walking trails on “Arcades & Lanes” and “The Cosmopolitan” around 10:30am and managed to find most of the sights such as the Block Arcade where I saw the famous Hopetoun Tea Rooms and art sculptures such as the Public Purse. Saw a lot of street performers too.

Came lunchtime and I popped into the foodcourt over at the Emporium to have pork katsu don. It was an enjoyable meal because the portion was just nice for me. Used the free wifi at David Jones to check emails as well as to whatsapp little big sis. Continued with the walking trails and managed to find the rest of the sights though I still missed a few. Saw the Chocolate Box over at the ANZ building and bought some chocolates that were on my shopping list. However, I was not able to find the Ganache Chocolate Lounge. Tried to find my way back to the Royal Arcade and got a bit lost. It was getting hot so I took off the flannel shirt, tied up my hair and tried to find the Royal Arcade again. In the midst of my search, I went into H&M to try and see if I could get a sleeveless top because the weather forecast indicated that it is going to be a hot, hot day tomorrow. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any suitable ones with my size. Found Royal Arcade and decided to have tea at Caffe e Torta where I ordered a cup of mocha and a strawberry tartlet. Yummy.

Took my time to enjoy the food before going over to Myer where I managed to find a sleeveless black blouse at the basement. Took a tram back to the hotel and it was 5:30pm. Collected my luggage and waited at the lobby for CT to pick me up. She came at 6pm with her husband, SY, and they brought me to the Suzuki Market in QVM for dinner. We walked around the market to have a look at the things that the stalls were selling and chatted along the way. Then we popped over to the food section to see what to get for dinner. In the end, I bought the patatas bravas while CT and her husband shared a portion of food as dinner. As it was still early, they then brought me to Brunetti over at Lygon Street for dessert. I ordered tiramisu and CT ordered some others to share with her husband. I had intended to pay separately but CT beat me to it and paid for all.

We chatted over desserts on the issues pertaining to Singapore and also the plans for the coming weekend. After we were done eating, SY drove us back to his place. No wonder CT told me in the email that they would pick me up every evening from wherever I may be to go back to their place. Their house was really far from the Melbourne City and subway station was not anywhere near. On top of that, it gets really dark around their area because there are not enough street lights.

Reached their place and it was a big house with their own garage and yard. CT showed me to my room which was like a mini studio apartment equipped with own kitchen and living room, in another part of the house. Settled down a little and went back to the main living room where CT made tea and passed me a SIM card to test out on my second phone so that we can keep in contact over the next few days. Also to be able to contact each other so that she can pick me up each evening. Checked with her what time they usually leave for work and was told that they will leave around 7am to have breakfast with me first, and then send CT to work before dropping me at wherever I want. It was getting late, so we all retired into our respective rooms to rest for the night and I did a bit of unpacking before sleeping at 1+am.

Thought: Melbourne City is very confusing with the many small lanes and in those small lanes are lots of cafes and many people visit those cafes. Though the small lanes can get rather crowded, the street arts on the walls are very impressive. Despite being a modern city, there are a lot of old buildings with very nice structures around where they are converted into shopping centres or offices. This gives a very interesting contrast of old and new in one place. Also there are a lot of interesting sculptures around the area. I don’t usually go for afternoon tea so today’s tea at the Caffe e Torta in Royal Arcade was really a treat to myself. It was really nice and relaxing to just sit down and watch the world goes by.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11 Nov 14 – Day 5 (Great Ocean Road)

Woke up around 6am and ate breakfast. Got dressed by 6:35am and waited till it was close to 7am before going out of the hotel to wait for the ATWAD pickup for the Great Ocean Road (GOR) day trip. Saw the mini-van at the spot where Grace dropped me off on Sunday and I walked over. There was already a family of three on the van so I took one of the back seats. The driver, Ian, came back and told me to sit in front, just behind the driver seat because there would be a family of four boarding the mini-van. He drove to the Federation Square to pick up the family of four and another Chinese lady, Milly, from Brisbane who then sat beside me. Finally, Ian drove to a hotel to pick up an old couple who then sat in the two seats beside the driver. The family of four consisted of the husband, Tye, from Melbourne, the wife from England who now lives in Melbourne and her parents who were here for visiting. The family of three were from England and the old couple were from US Oklahoma. Ian, our driver and guide, was very knowledgeable; he gave a lot of information about Melbourne and the places that we visited.

The first stop of our trip was to a seaside for morning tea which was prepared by Ian and it consisted of lamington, biscuits, vegemite, coffee and Aussie Bush Billy Tea which was pretty strong. I loved the lamington and made a mental note to look for it over the next few days. It was very windy hence was rather chilly. Fortunately, I was in long sleeve t-shirt and cotton sweater. Took some photos and helped Milly took hers. After the morning tea, we packed up, drove pass the Split Point Lighthouse and continued to see the GOR Memorial Archway, which is now the fourth arch, built to commemorate the WW I soldiers. They built the GOR and it took them 13 years to finish. During the drive, Ian told us that today is Remembrance Day and so he had to observe a 1-minute silence at 11:11.

Continued on the GOR to Bells Beach famous for international surfing competitions and it was featured in the movie “Point Break”. However, according to Ian, the film was actually not filmed in Bells Beach. Drove on the coastal road and we arrived in Kennett River for the koala walk at the Grey River Road. We saw a few wild koalas high on the trees and many birds such as King Parrots and ducks. There were a lot of people there feeding the birds and we took many photos there. We then stopped by Cape Patton Lookout, which offered spectacular ocean outlooks and an equally spectacular panorama of the long sweep of ocean beaches culminating in Apollo Bay, along with the impossibly green hills of the hinterland, before going to the Apollo Bay for lunch where I had fish and chips and drank the lemon lime bitters which was recommended by Ian.

After lunch, we continued with a forest walk. During the journey there, Ian was telling the group about leeches, how they would crawl on to the skin and suck blood without the host knowing. It kind of creep me out and I started to let my imagination ran wild to the extent of having second thoughts about the forest walk. We arrived at the Maits Rest in Great Otway National Park near Apollo Bay for a 30-minutes board walk. Ian showed us the different trees such as the Myrtle Beech, Mountain Ash and Blackwood trees as well as treeferns and mosses. There were some interesting sights such as ferns growing on a tree and Myrtle Beech growing over a Mountain Ash which later was broken down creating a hole in the Myrtle Beech. The walk was ok though I was a bit scared while walking down slopes due to bad experience during the Chiang Mai hike some years ago.

We continued on to an area of cliffs in Port Campbell National Park to see the first two of The Twelve Apostles. According to Ian, initially there were twelve, two collapsed and now left with ten. While on the way, he also told us the story about Tom and Eva and how the name Shipwreck Coast came about. We were given time to walk down the Gibson Steps, which refers to the staircase leading down to the stretch of beach. The sand was fine and we saw two dead mutton birds. Milly and I were wondering how they ended up dead on the beach. There were also a lot of white bones on the beach and Milly said they were the bones of the cuttlefish and that birds like to feed on them. There were also a lot of pig-face plants, a common sight along the coastal area of the GOR and Milly said she and her friends grow them back in Brisbane because they were such easy plant to grow. Envy because these plant will not survive in Singapore.

Drove for a few minutes and we came to the place where the Twelve Apostles are. Ian brought us down to the Loch Ard Gorge where we were given time to see the cave where Tom and Eva spent the night after they survived the ship wreck. Ian was very helpful, he helped us take photos and he got quite good photography skill. After we were all done, Ian brought us to see the London Arch which was previously known as London Bridge prior to its collapse because of its similarity to its namesake. We saw lots of footprints of little penguins on the beach too.

Done for the day and we headed back to Port Campbell for dinner where I had vegetarian pasta and lemon lime bitters. Then we started our 2+ hour long drive back to Melbourne city via the highway. We had a brief rest stop at Colac where we took a group photo using the camera that belongs to Tye. Then while continuing our way back, we gave our email addresses to him so that he could send us the photo after he got back home. Milly also gave me her email address so I can send her the photo we took together at the GOR Memorial Arch. Ian dropped the group members in sequence at their respective pickup points this morning and again I was the last to get back because of my hotel location. On the bright side, at least Ian managed to find the hotel without problem like Grace did and I got back at 8+pm. Quickly showered, watched some tv and did a bit of blogging before sleeping at around 11+pm. Checking out of the hotel tomorrow and moving over to CT’s place. Holiday is half over.

Thought: Had a great day today because the weather was good. Did worry about rain because it was cloudy but the sky cleared up and gave us the sun. Compared to the Phillip Island day trip, think I enjoyed today’s day trip more. Probably because I had Milly to talk to during the trip and the group was a fun-loving bunch. And probably because Ian was funny and informative and kept us well entertained with his jokes and stories. There was never a dull moment. On top of that, I get to see more sceneries and nature.

Monday, November 10, 2014

10 Nov 14 – Day 4 (Melbourne City)

Woke up close to 9am because I was so tired. Washed up, ate breakfast which included 1.5 muffins with jam, coffee, a yellow peach and some fruit juice, then dressed up and went out at 10:10am. Took a tram to Federation Square and started the walking trails "A Walk in the Park" and "Elegant Enclave" that I found on the That's Melbourne website. Almost got lost after 10 minutes before I finally got my bearings but I still missed a few sights. I was only happy when I got to the Fitzroy Gardens because it was not so crowded. Thought I would be able to spend a considerable amount of time in the conservatory but it turned out that the conservatory was closed till this Saturday due to the changing of display. I took a few shots on the exterior of the conservatory before moving off to the other parts of the garden and continued with the residential area in the Eastern part of Melbourne where I saw a lot of nice and beautifully restored terrace houses.

The trail brought me back from the residential area in the Eastern part of Melbourne back into Fitzroy Garden by 1:15pm and I popped into the Pavilion Café for a lunch of Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon, Egg & Cream Sauce because that was the item on offer. It took a while for the food to come because there was a lunch crowd. When the food finally came, I noticed the interesting cooking method of mixing the egg with the cream sauce. Maybe I can try the same cooking method when I return home.

I was very full from lunch so sat for a while before continuing the walking trail at 2:05pm. Lost my bearing again and mistook a random fountain as the River God fountain hence I was unable to find St Patrick’s Cathedral. After some trial and error, I finally managed to find the River God fountain. Passed by The Masonic Centre of Victoria and took a few photos of it because I was reminded of the movie “The National Treasure” as well as the drama “Sleepy Hollow” which mentioned a lot about Freemasons. Continued my walk and found St Patrick’s Cathedral, which was built between 1858 and 1897, with spires added in the 1930s.

I took some photos of its exterior before venturing into the Cathedral itself. The cathedral was not very grand but still has its own beauty. It was very quiet inside and I dare not take photos using my NEX because of the clicking sound it gave out so I ended up taking photos using my mobile phone instead and only took a couple of shots using my NEX when I heard other people’s camera clicking. On my way out, I saw a familiar face. I didn't think it was possible but it turned out that the face belonged to Judy, the old lady from yesterday’s Phillip Island day trip. We were so happy to see each other that we let out a small scream and gave each other a big hug. She was there with her friend and then we sat down on one of the benches and exchanged email addresses before going our separate ways. Went out and circled to the back of the cathedral to check out the Pilgrim Path. While I was taking photo, a guy passed by with his friend and commented, “Makes a nice photo, isn't it?” I acknowledged with a smile and he continued his way to the gift shop.

Continued on with the walking trail, missed a few turns and was a bit lost. Got angry with myself so kept the booklet and my NEX camera and just wandered around. Saw Haigh’s Chocolate and went in to get a few chocolate truffles that I had on my shopping list before walking back to the hotel. I passed by Emporium which connects Myer and David Jones so went in to check it out. While waiting to cross the road, a Caucasian lady asked me how to get to Southern Cross Station. I had to apologise and said I have no idea. Either she was very desperate or I blended in with the locals so well with my backpack and shades. Connected to David Jones wifi and whatsapped little big sis, updated the weather forecast app in my phone, checked emails and FB.

Continued my way back and popped into H&M to browse. Half way through, there was an announcement telling the customers that they were closing for the day. Checked my watch and it was only approaching 6pm. Felt disappointed that the shops in Melbourne close so early and was thinking the shops in Singapore close only about 9+pm when it gets dark. Walked to Lygon Street to look for dinner but none of the many restaurants there interest me because I had this thinking that I would feel intimidated if I were to dine alone in a restaurant amongst the Caucasians. On top of that, I didn't feel like having western food nor was I feeling very hungry. After walking one round, I ended up in the Korean restaurant called Big Mama, which was a couple of shop-space away from my hotel. Ordered my favourite tobbokki and ate slowly. It was very filling and very spicy so in the end, I didn’t manage to finish the food. I was back in my hotel room around 7:30pm and I quickly charged my mobile phone and camera. Showered, blogged, did some packing and finally went to sleep around 10pm because the next day I got to get up by 6am for the Great Ocean Road day trip with ATWAD.

Thought: I had this feeling that I stick out like a sore thumb because I am a Chinese in a country full of Caucasians. And not sure if it was because of this that I felt uncomfortable taking out my camera to take photos or it was because there were hardly any people or tourists taking photos. After some observations, I realised that Melbourne actually has a lot of Asians living, working and studying there so this realisation made me felt slightly better. On the whole, I was quite happy with my day out. The joy of exploration, not knowing what I might find was pretty exciting. I guess to top it off, the fact that I managed to see most of the sights without getting very lost is the best achievement.

9 Nov 14 – Day 3 (Phillip Island)

I got up at 7:45am today since I didn't have to get to the pickup point for today’s day trip until 12 noon. Washed up, boiled water for coffee, ate one muffin with the jam I bought yesterday and did some packing before going over to Queen Victoria Market for a quick browse. Went back to the hotel by 10am and rested till 11am before heading out to the pickup point in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. Went to the reception counter to check on the trams to take and was told that any tram in front of the hotel would get me to Federation Square which is just next to St Paul’s Cathedral and that I would need to alight at the Flinders Street Station.

Checked out St Paul’s Cathedral and found out that one has to pay A$5 for license to take photos inside the cathedral and in any case, there was a Sunday mass in progress. I went inside to have a look, stood for a while before going out to check out the surroundings. Federation Square was very lively with many locals and tourists of all ages and there were performances too. I took photos of the exterior of St Paul’s Cathedral and its surroundings, Flinders Street Railway Station and Federation Square before waiting in front of St Paul’s Cathedral for the pickup by ATWAD close to 12 noon. It was a 12-seater mini-van and we were a group of 11 including the driver. There were already six members in the van when it arrived and initially I wanted to take the seat just behind the driver but was told to move to the back because an elderly lady named Judy, from Gold Coast, was going to sit there. The back row was a 4-seater but a group of 3 from US split themselves into 2-1 and I had to sit in between them. Felt very awkward especially when the two ladies (one of them is Chinese) flanking my left and right tried to talk to each other. There were another two guys of Indian nationality who sat in the two front seats with the driver.

The driver, Brian, was the one that corresponded with me on my day trips bookings. I thought he is going to be a young man but turned out to be an elderly man. He’s very knowledgeable and told us a lot of information about Melbourne. For example, there are a lot of street names that start with “Little”. For instance, there’s a Collins Street and there’s a Little Collins Street. The reason for most of the main street to have a little street is because in the olden days, horses were used to clear the buckets of manure every night and it wasn't nice to let the horses walk on the main streets with the smelly buckets of manure so these little streets were created for them to use. There were many other trivial that he shared with us but now I couldn't recall.

Brian drove to Berwick where he relished his role of the driver and tour guide and his wife, Grace, took over the role for the day. She gave us a rundown of the programs and it was then I realised that we wouldn't be having lunch. I should have read the program carefully beforehand and ate something before the trip. Our first stop was to a winery called “The Gurdies Winery”. Got there and we were given a wine glass each to taste the reds and whites. I tasted almost all the whites such as Verdelho-Chardonnay, Riesling (off-dry) and Pinot Noir rose (off-dry) but didn't taste the reds because I could feel my face heating up. While the rest continued with the reds, Grace was preparing the table with different types of cheese, bread and biscuits for the group. I was so happy at the sight of food because I was getting hungry. Joined the three Singaporeans at their table and chit-chatted while the others were happily chit-chatting in their group.

We left around 2:30pm to go to the Philip Island Chocolate Factory. The staff did a quick introduction on the making of chocolate and then left us to play the games in Penny’s Amazing World of Chocolate. Took some photos of the place and moved on to the retail shop where I bought some chocolates that were on my shopping list. I didn't have enough time to really look at each type of chocolates that were on display.

The next stop was to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park and all the members, except Judy and I, went into the park. Grace took our dinner orders and then gave the group 1-hour in the park before driving the rest to Cowes Jetty where Judy and I walked around to take photos. It was really windy and cold. Before Grace left, she showed us the location of the restaurant, The Fat Seagull, where we would have dinner and told us the time to be there. Soon it was 5:15pm and we made our way to the restaurant and waited for the rest to arrive. I had grilled fish & chips and I almost finished my food because I was hungry.

We left the restaurant around 6:30pm to make our way to The Nobbies for some photo-taking before hurrying to Phillip Island Nature Park for the Penguin Parade. Grace distributed blankets to everyone to use during the Penguin Parade and told us where to sit so as to get the best view. I was the only one with the Penguin Plus package which entitled me to a cup of hot drink and front seat. While Grace led the group to the viewing platform, I made my way further down to another platform that was at a corner nearer to the shore. Sat down and used the free wifi to message little big sis. The place was so windy and cold that I wished I had brought along the fleece jacket as well. I took a quick photo of the shoreline using my phone before sitting patiently to wait for the penguins to arrive. Grace came by for a while to make sure I was alright and even offered to collect the hot drink for me but I declined. The platform filled up slowly and as the sky darkened around 8:15pm, we could barely make out the little dots along the shoreline.

The little penguins were playing along the shoreline according to the Wildlife Marshall and then slowly, we could see little dots waddling up the beach and over the rocks. Soon they were in front of us, standing there for a while, preening their feathers before proceeding to their different burrows. They were so cute! Before Grace left us, she told us to gather at the van in the parking lot at 9:15pm where she would have hot drinks ready for us and after that we would make our way back to Melbourne City. So I had to move off from the platform around 8:45pm to make my way back to the visitor centre and along the way made a quick toilet stop. Reached the visitor centre, queued up to collect the hot chocolate, drank it quickly and did a quick browse at the gift shop where I bought a gold souvenir coin and a postcard.

Hurried to the meeting place, returned the blanket and Grace informed us that she had forgotten to bring the flask with the hot water when she took over the mini-van this morning so instead she offered us Tim Tam. The Chinese young lady from US was separated from her two friends and came back to the van alone. I started a friendly chat with her. Soon everyone came back and we began our 2-hour journey back. Grace managed to drop everyone off smoothly and I was the only one left. Grace had problem finding my hotel and after a few wrong turns, she finally found it and by then it was already 12 midnight. Quickly thanked her, went back to the hotel, showered, blogged, set the alarm for next day at 8:30am and slept around 1:30am.

Thought: Tour was ok, Grace was very helpful and thoughtful, she made sure that we were all well-taken care of. The downside of the tour is that for those who hardly drink wine, a visit to the winery will be a waste of time. Due to the long journey back to the city, we had to cut short our stay for the penguin parade. We only get to see about 30-45 minutes of the little penguins. No wonder people told me that it would be better to stay overnight at Phillip Island, at least we can stay longer and no need to worry about the journey back. While walking back to the visitor centre, I could see little penguins waddling along the boardwalk, some even waddled way up near to the visitor centre which was quite far from the shore. Guess this is the closest I can ever get to little penguins without the glass panel.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

7 & 8 Nov 14 – Day 1 & 2 (Melbourne City)

I reached the airport about 8pm, checked in and then walked around. There was The Social Tree located at the terminal's Central Piazza, right after immigration counters where travellers can take photos or videos of themselves using one of the touchscreen photo booths and then post to the system. So I took a photo of myself and set it to send to my email. I took a photo of the tree as well before moving off to browse the shops and then finally waited outside the designated gate.

Boarded the plane at 9:25pm but the plane only took off at 10:47pm. I didn't manage to get a window seat and so ended up sitting between an old Indian lady and a young Indian lady who incidentally reminded me of a friend, similar build, very vocal and expressive. They almost got into an argument over the lights. Both the young lady and I had our backpacks stowed away under the front seats which should be fine, however, the air stewardess insisted that we put them in the luggage compartment above. The young lady tried to argue with the air stewardess that she has always put it below the seats whenever she travels but in the end, she lost the argument. Watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” and ate dinner. Wanted to continue with “How to Train Your Dragon 2” but gave up halfway because I was sleepy and I knew I don’t have many hours before landing so slept at 1+am. Slept on and off and soon it was time for breakfast but I didn't eat. 

The plane landed at 8:25am and I was off the plane by 8:35am. I used the self-service kiosk to clear the custom. Apparently there is an agreement between the Australian government and Singapore government to implement this SmartGate, an automated border processing system that enables eligible travellers arriving into Australia's international airports to self-process through passport control. Then I went to collect my luggage which took a long time to come out. Only got out of the airport by 9:30am and went to buy the one-way Skybus ticket from the booth outside the airport. There were already a couple of buses beside the booth so boarded the first one which departed around 9:37am. The bus had wifi so whatsapp little big sis while on the way to Southern Cross Station. Got there at 9:57am and proceeded to the booth to arrange for the hotel transfer. Saw a 7-11 but didn't go in to buy the MyKi card because I was told to wait at the waiting area for the hotel shuttle. Soon me and a few travellers boarded the shuttle bus and we were dropped off near our different hotels with mine being opposite of where I was dropped off at 10:10am. 

Found the entrance to the hotel, which was not very prominent, and went to the reception counter. The staff said I was very lucky to have a room available for check-in because the official check-in time should be 2pm. Collected the cardkeys and went up to my room which was at a corner behind another door. It was very secluded. I unpacked a little and used wifi to whatsapp little big sis. I remembered reading that the hotel provides free wifi, however, I was prompted about the charges when connecting. The piece of paper that the staff gave me also stated about free wifi for the first 24 hours but indicated that guest would need to check with the reception for details. Too lazy to check so just chose the first package which cost A$14.95 for 24 hours, thinking maybe it will be free-of-charge when I check-out. I rested till 11:25am before going out again. 

Went to the Asian supermart next door to get MyKi card and asked for directions to Fitzroy area. The lady was not very sure and pointed in the direction of Victoria Street. So went there to try and find the tram stop with tram number 96 but couldn’t find it. Given the hot weather, I gave up going to Fitzroy and just walked around the hotel and tried to find the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) which was supposed to be a five-minute walk. Walked for about 1+hour and still couldn't locate QVM, worse, I was in Chinatown area which meant that I was way out of range. Tried to retrace my steps and saw Melbourne Central Shopping Centre. I was perspiring and so popped into the shopping centre to escape from the heat which was about 37 degrees. Walked around the shopping centre and bought a nice silver pinky ring from a stall on level 1 before heading to Coles at the basement to buy plain muffins and two bottles of fruit juice as breakfast for the next few days. Wanted to get bread but their loaves were of jumbo size which I couldn't finish. Contemplated as to whether I should get jam as well or try my luck again at finding QVM. In the end, I decided to try my luck and luck was on my side because I saw a few tourist guides dressed in red like those in Seoul and approached one of them for direction to QVM.

Followed her instructions and finally found QVM but only left with 2 hours to shop. Took a few quick shots of the place and started to browse the stalls. Bought a bottle of Raspberry & Rhubarb Jam from Sauced Fine Preservatives, a stall which was on my shopping list. Then bought some yellow peaches and apricots from another random fruit stall before stopping in front of Flowerdale Winery stall contemplating if I should to get a bottle of wine but in the end I didn't buy. Felt hungry and bought a spicy potato borek for A$3 as lunch. Stood on the side to eat but only managed to finish half because it was huge. Walked back to the hotel, blasted the air-con once I was in the room while messaging little big sis on and off. Dozed off on the bed and soon it was almost 6pm. The temperature outside seemed to have cooled down because I opened the window to check. Part of me wanted to go out to look for dinner but I was really too tired for that. So in the end, I stayed put and ate the leftover from lunch as dinner before showering and resting for the day. Watched “Twilight” on tv and slept around 10+pm.

Thought: Taking half day leave and not watching too many movies while on the plane means no headache the next day. However, the brutal heat and glaring sun in Melbourne gave me the headache. There are a lot of small lanes in Melbourne city and so it was kind of confusing for me to navigate. Back home, we were trained to follow the traffic rules but in Melbourne, people just cross the road as long as there is no traffic so I just follow the crowd. Hehehe...