Melbourne: 19-25 April 2010

I finally made the trip to Melbourne with my dad to see my aunt!

Click on pictures to enlarge.

My favourite picture! (see Day 6)

All prices stated here are in Australian Dollars. What I found peculiar about the Australian coins was between the 50-cent, $1 and $2 coins: the smaller the value, the larger the coin. It was such a pain carrying the large 20-cent coins. Be careful with the $1 and $2 coins (the 2 from the right). They are similar. I lost $1 on Day 7 because a (Chinese) cashier insisted that I gave her $1 instead of $2 :(

Day 1 - Melbourne City

I flew by Singapore Airlines. $880 per person including taxes. I chose seats online on the upper deck of the A380 plane so boarding was swift. I pre-booked Kosher meals online (no extra charge) so that I would get my food first. I have no idea why I tend to feel hungry whenever I fly. Perhaps I am just bored or I have been conditioned to expect food when I am on planes. The food was alright. It was what I would expect from airline food. I did not sleep at all during the 8-hour flight. Thank goodness for the inflight entertainment. I helped my dad with his - older people tend to take a while to learn how to use such gadgets.

Clearing immigration took about half an hour. We did not check in any bags. The taxi to the hotel in the city cost about $45. My dad stayed in this hotel on his previous trips. I had booked 2 nights online for $109 per room per night without breakfast. We were allowed to check in early at 7am. My room was just beside my dad's. All the shops would be closed anyway so we had a 2-hour rest. The rooms were newly renovated. The bed was comfortable.

Ibis Hotel (Therry Street)

At about 10.45am, we started walking around the city. My dad's quite a walker. He enjoys walking and can literally walk for miles. The weather wasn't as cold as we would have liked. I could have been comfortable in shorts and t-shirt.

The Queen Victoria Market was closed so our first stop was a pet shop near it. My dad wanted to buy bird bottle water feeders. He said the ones available in Singapore need to be removed from the inside of the bird cage. The ones in Australia can be removed from the outside and are of better quality, though they were made in China too.

I amused myself by taking pictures of the animals.

Birds here are cheap

Sparrows live in the pet shop for free bird seeds

Ooops, woke them up.

Choose a collar for yourself

Nearby there is an aquarium selling fish and reptiles. Yeee

We had lunch and coffee at the food court in Melbourne Central Shopping Centre. Most of the shops, even the Western food shops, were run by Asians. Nothing special really. Just over-sized and over-priced food.

The Coop's Shot Tower is enclosed in Melbourne Central complex. A shot tower is a tower designed for the production of shot balls for projectiles in firearms.

The sloped roads in Melbourne city remind me of San Francisco

Adult products shop closed down

In the evening, we walked to the all-famous Flinders Street Station and Crown Casino. We had dinner at the food court there. I had a beef burger and my dad had Indian food. A kind guest brought my burger to my table for me because I did not hear the cashier calling my name when the burger was ready. The burger was huge. The beef was good but the buns were too thick and big.

XXL-size cakes at Crown Casino for BIG celebrations

I bought a $9.50 Karidopita

I bought a dessert from this shop called Karidopita which looks like a dessert I had in Cairo. Cost me $9.50 but didn't taste similar. Anyway, I googled "Karidopita" and turned out to be a Greek walnut cake.

After dinner, we did not visit the casino. Instead, we sat at the waterfront to enjoyed the cool air and coffee. It must have been only 8pm but it felt like 10pm and we had sat there long enough. We walked all the way back to the hotel. Carl Williams, a convicted murderer and drug trafficker, was beaten to death in jail that day. There was a documentary showing on TV about him. I turned in round about midnight.

Day 2 - Queen Victoria Market

I had a sausage bun with fried onions for breakfast (about $8) at the food court beside Queen Victoria Market. It was big and dry. If I wanted cheese on it, I would have to pay extra 50 cents. My dad had fish and chips. He said it was good.

Note the opening days and hours

Australian-made products - not cheap

These are cheap. Must be made in China.

Nothing special in this pet shop

My favourite purchase of the trip! 6" x 16" each. AU$55 for 2. This artwork is based on Alphonse Mucha's 4 seasons.

Not all the shops were open on Tuesdays. In addition to the ceramic tiles, I bought a fox tail and piece of fox skin for $10 each. The farmers kill foxes because foxes kill the chickens. I visited this market again on Saturday. Scroll to Saturday for more pictures.

My dad said on his last visit 2 years ago, he went to a shop called Everything Aussie run by a China man in which only Australian-made (not China-made) products were sold. The shop is across the road from Star of the Sea Catholic Church. It is a 5-minute walk from the Queen Victoria Market.

My dad wanted to take pictures inside the church. It was just our luck that there was a funeral service.

Star of the Sea church


Inside Star of the Sea church

It turned out that the shop's name was Something Aussie and not everything in the shop was made in Australia. My dad said perhaps they renamed the shop from Everything Aussie to Something Aussie.

I picked out 3 items to buy. I showed them to my dad. He reminded me to check whether they were made in China. I turned the packaging around and they had the made-in-China stickers on the back!

Upon checking them out, I casually asked the shop assistant whether by any chance they used to be called Everything Aussie. She said they had always been called Something Aussie. She added that they can't call it Everything Aussie because it would be inappropriate.

Yup, SOMEthing Aussie - IF you can find it!

So pretty I had to buy 3! $5 each

We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant across the road from the hotel. The servings were large. The food was freshly cooked unlike at the food courts.

My dad called my aunt and said that we were going to her place the next day. We weren't going to extend our stay at the hotel. I have had enough for the city.

Day 3

We had brunch at Melbourne central food court again. The eateries near the hotel were closed. We were allowed to check out at noon instead of 11am. We took at taxi to my aunt's place. She said she would be back home by 1pm. We got there at 12.45pm. My dad opened the sidedoor to the backyard and we waited there.

My aunt's backyard

After 15mins, my aunt came into the backyard. She knew my name so she must be my aunt. I have not seen her in 10 years. My dad had gone off walking without telling me and left me alone in the backyard. My aunt was frightened when she saw the door left open because her house was burgled before. We brought our bags in. My aunt was surprised that we had no luggage.

My aunt drove us to her friend's house to get some ideas about where to take us to over the next few days. It was her friend's husband's birthday that day. She seemed to be making it cake. Whatever she was mixing in her bowl smelled sweet! Her friends said they would drive us to the Great Ocean Road on Friday.

Neighbour's cat on the left stalking magpies outside my aunt's friend's house. I stalked the cat but didn't manage to get close to it.

We went back to my aunt's house. She cooked us some dinner. I offered to help but she didn't need any. I think I was distracting her so I put myself in front of her computer. We had chicken, vegetables and rice for dinner. It was delicious, a nice break from food at the food court and restaurants. My aunt said she sprained her wrist that evening. She didn't know how it happened. I did the dishes and my dad massaged her wrist with some ointment. I didn't get to meet my cousin who is staying with her yet because she was attending a concert and won't be back till very late. My cousin had asked my aunt to record (on VCR) an episode of the TV series Underbelly (season 3). I watched that with aunt. Very entertaining. Drugs, money and sex. Unlike in Singapore, nudity was not censored at all. By midnight, I was feeling sleepy. I slept in the room upstair - it is my late uncle's TV room. My dad suspected his ashes were stored in this room. I wasn't afraid anyway. I wouldn't have been afraid even if his ashes were still there. He was such a nice man. He wouldn't want to harm or scare me. The wood creaks at night. But I was certain it was only the expansion / contraction of the wood.

Day 4 - Daylesford, Honeyfarm

I woke up at noon! My aunt said my dad wanted to wake me up but she told him to let me sleep. Still, that wasn't enough because I was almost falling asleep during the drive to Daylesford, an old town where homosexuality is widely accepted. My aunt visited this town with 2 female friends some years back. People thought they were 3 lesbians travelling together.

People here may not know that the lamp on right is a Chinese funeral lamp

I love their signboards

I love their marketing - making pastry for over 66 years

I love their humour

An idea of their real estate prices

$2.1M for a lavish house

About $150,000 for land

We saw this very old car. Can it even move??

Beef and onion pie at Sweet Decadence

We had homemade pies at a shop called Sweet Decadence. They also sold chocolates and pastries. Honey was one of the things that my mum asked my dad to buy for her. My aunt asked the staff there where we could get honey. She said there is a bee farm with a prominent O'Toole sign 5-minutes drive away.

We followed the directions and saw this farm.

We thought it was this farm

There was a friendly black dog that ran to us to sniff us out. We rang the door bell but there was no answer. One of the cats there was meowing and appeared to be waiting to get in.

Friendly black dog and its friends

This cat is also waiting to get in

This furry cat woke up

It's still sleepy

After 5 minutes, we decided to leave. Perhaps it was not the right farm because we did not see a sign that wrote "O'Toole".

As we were leaving, it started to drizzle. I noticed that there was a rainbow! How pretty!

Rainbow over honey farm

We drove up a little bit more and saw this sign. Then we knew we were at the right place. We rang the bell but there was no answer so we helped ourselves. There were 4 bottles of different types of honey to sample. We bought 3 bottles: 2 for my mum and 1 for my aunt.

O'Toole honey farm


Day 5 - Great Ocean Road, Traditional Fish and Chips

We arrived at my aunt's friend's place at 10.30am. All 5 of us got into her car. Her friend's husband drove. My dad sat in front and us 3 ladies sat behind. I volunteered to sit in the middle since I am the smallest - in size and age. It was very nice of them to drive us there especially when I'm sure they had been there a thousand times. My aunt did not know the way. I enjoyed talking to my aunt and her in the car. Her friend is very friendly and jovial. I found her friend's husband to be very nice too. Especially so because he thought I was 18 :P

On the way to Great Ocean Road

It drizzled on the way there.

Beautiful beach

It was already drizzling on our way there. We managed to take a few photos but the drizzle got heavier. We stopped in town for traditional fish and chips. The rain made me feel cold and hungry. I couldn't wait to eat!

This was where we ate

Traditional fish and chips served in paper

I was rather confused with the menu. There were different types of fish to choose from unlike in Singapore where fish and chips is fish and chips. My aunt recommended me the standard one. Tartare sauce is priced separately at $1.50 for a tiny tub. The food came wrapped in paper. All our 3 fish and fries were dumped together. It seems this is the traditional way of serving fish and chips. The fish was great and the $1.50 tartare sauce was totally worth the price.

After lunch we had some dessert and coffee at another shop nearby. It was raining more heavily now. My aunt bought me a chocolate ball. We thought it was like a rum ball but it turned out to be crunchy on the inside. It was pleasant but not fantastic.

Chocolate balls

On the way back to the car, I spotted this interesting menu at another restaurant. I love Australian humour!

We then drove to a waterfall near town. My aunt and her friend opted not to get out of the car since it was raining. Too bad it was too wet to enjoy the waterfall. It was also too wet to smell the Eucalyptus trees or spot any Koala bears. Come to think of it, I did not see any Kangaroos or Koala bears throughout my trip :(

Waterfall near town

We went to Highpoint West for dinner at the foodcourt. Highpoint West is a big shopping mall with Borders, a supermarket, clothes shops, shoe shops and even a pet shop.


Foodcourt at Highpoint West

Service staff in SIA uniform

The service staff at a Singapore stall in the foodcourt were dressed in the SIA stewardess uniform. The char kuey teow was good considering it was Australia. I only had salmon sashimi $9 for 8 slices and a mouthful of char kuey teow. I was really tired of the food there.

Interesting cakes but I had no craving for them

Lamington cake from the supermarket $3 for 6. Small squares of plain cake, dipped in melted chocolate and sugar and coated in desiccated coconut

Ragdoll cats in petshop

Awww... The "take me home" look

Rabbits in petshop

Day 6 - Queen Victoria Market (again), Caulfield Racecourse

At the train station

My dad and I took the train to the city. We were going to the Queen Victoria Market again (more shops would be open on Saturday) and my friend was going to take us to the Caulfield Racecourse where he works. The journey to the city was pain-free. We took the 9.36am train on a Saturday so it was not crowded at all.

Long queue for 90 cent donuts

The black dog (bottom left) wanted a donut too

Live music. Their CDs were on sale for $25. My dad bought 1.

Ducklings and rabbits on sale

Chicks on sale

You can buy chickens that are "ready to lay first egg"

Or you can just buy the eggs

Better to keep cacti because people aren't allowed to water their plants

Nothing amazing. Just good marketing

It was crowded. You can get a headache

Or a parking ticket

My friend had kindly offered to pick us up in the city because we weren't familiar with the area. He drove us to the Caulfield Racecourse where he works as a racehorse trainer. The race horses are huge! My dad and I had fun stroking and feeding the horses. My friend allowed me to ride of the horses that is not a race horse. Its name is Jack. He's a sweet boy. He kept smelling my face. I had a hard time mounting him. He was not saddled so my friend got me a bucket to step on. I rode him up and down that small area once while the other horses looked on curiously. I think they would have liked to be ridden too. I was fun! It wasn't my first time riding a horse though. I rode one in the desert around the pyramids of Giza.

My friend and me with one of the racehorses. They are larger than other horses.

My dad feeding a racehorse

Jack is such a sweet horse. But I had a hard time getting on it!

Guarddog at Caulfield Racecourse??

The dog looked angry

After playing with the horses, my friend drove us to Springvale for lunch. (The name of the suburb reminds of me Springfield where The Simpsons live). Many Vietnamese reside here. Naturally, this is the place to go to for Vietnamese food. And naturally too, it's not uncommon to see old Caucasian men with young Vietnamese women. The beef noodles we had was one of the good meals I had on this trip. Very tasty. Much better than the restaurants in Singapore but of course not as good as the ones in Vietnam. I think the quality of beef is different. It should have been my treat because my friend drove us around and entertained my dad really well but my friend insisted on paying. We walked around the town a little after lunch. Just another town I guess. But here's where people come to buy Asian food.

My friend drove us back to town. My dad and I took the train back to my aunt's place. It was a 10-minute walk back to her place from the station so we didn't trouble her to pick us up.

She said she spent the day sleeping. I think she must have been tired from all the driving over the past few days. She's over 60 years old. She was still tired so my dad and I offered to walk to town to buy dinner for her. The weather was cool so we thought we'd take a walk. It took about 12 minutes to reach the shops. We bought chicken and garlic mashed potato for dinner. The mashed potato was good but very filling. I had the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

My dad bought my aunt a new $15 toaster because she said that hers was spoilt. My aunt didn't know how to use it so I taught her.

New toaster

Didn't stay new for long

Day 7 - Williamstown, Altona

Our flight back to Singapore is at midnight so we had the whole day left. Because it was Anzac day, most shops would only open after 1pm while the others would remain closed for the rest of the day.

My aunt drove us to Williamstown to enjoy the sea view. It was a little chilly. I was glad I brought my sweater.

Melbourne city can be seen from here (in the the background)

My dad is a big fan of Bunnings, a hardware store chain which can be found most towns. He would visit this store on all his trips. Everything for home repair and decoration can be found here: door knobs, drills, planks of wood, plants, etc. My cousin commented that blokes who come to this store always find something to buy - even if it's just a mop - to feel like a man. As she said it, a man emerged from the shop with a mop.

Short queue for hotdogs

Sausage bread for $2.50

Tasty sausage bread with onions

Mini trolley for kids in Bunnings

Pots of flowers for sale in Bunnings

My dad didn't buy anything from Bunnings. So I guess he's not one of those blokes :D

I mentioned to my aunt that I wanted to check whether the prices of vitamins were cheaper here than in Singapore. At the shopping malls they were sold for about the same price but at Chemist Warehouse, they were very cheap! About 1/3 the price. But I lost $1 in this shop. The bill was $31. I gave the (Chinese) cashier $32 - 3 ten-dollar notes and a $2 coin but she didn't give me any change and insisted that I gave her a $1 coin. It's just a dollar but it's really irritating!

Ultra cheap vitamins and supplements at Chemist Warehouse

Next, we went to Altona Gate Shopping Centre. The main purpose of it was to go to a discount shop called The Reject Shop. My aunt said she saw an advertisement for a bird cage. My dad is into birds and antique-looking bird cages. He found the bird cage and bought it. I bought 6 pairs of coloured sports socks for $11.

Most of the shops in the food court were closed. There was one shop selling chicken. For lunch, I bought a "chicken wing ding" - it's just a piece of fried chicken wing covered with some tasty batter. My aunt and I were amused by its name!

We went back to my aunt's place after lunch. My cousin and I watched Underbelly (1st season) till dinner time. For dinner, we heated up the pies that we bought from Daylesford a few days ago. After dinner I watched an episode of the 3rd season of Underbelly which was showing on TV. The blood, gore, sex were uncensored - a big difference from Singapore's censorship.

My aunt drove us to the airport. Fortunately I did an Internet check-in the night before. There was a long queue for those who did not check-in prior. There was only a short queue at the Internet check-in queue.

My dad and I did not check in any bags. We completely forgot that we had 2 bottles of honey! A man at the security check said we could either discard the honey or go back out and check it in. My dad checked in his bag with the honey. Mine was too full to squeeze anything else in.

Only after going through immigration did he realise that he left his ceramic tiles in the bag! (He bought 4 hand-painted tiles from the Queen Victoria Market).

And I realised that I forgot to buy chocolates! Who ever forgets to buy Australian chocolates?? I had no choice but to buy some at the airport. The range was not good. The only brand of Melbourne-made chocolates was Pink Lady (no, the wrapper was not pink and there weren't any pictures of sexy ladies). $9.50 for 4x50g bars. Expensive but they were good. My mum had requested for beef jerky. My dad didn't manage to find any in supermarkets so I bought a pack at the airport for $7.

The Singapore Airlines cabin crew forgot to serve me my pre-ordered Hindu food for the first meal. My plan to get my food first backfired! They realised it when they were serving food to the rest of the passengers. The stewardess apologised and served me my food but she forgot to offer me a drink! Anyway that was fine because if I had something to drink I might not have been able to sleep. I managed to sleep for about an hour. Thankfully they remembered to serve me my Hindu breakfast before the rest of the passengers were served.

I was glad to be back in Singapore where food and coffee is cheap and good, and chilli is widely available. I can't live without good food, coffee and chilli!

My dad's tiles and mine made it back to Singapore safely too :)


David said...


A great travelogue!

Your travel photos are great and you do have a talent for composition and color!!

I want to make an observation here, and please correct me if I am way off.

I have noted that something looks different about your appearance in recent photos. Yes your hair is shorter, but something else stand out with your appearance, yes your are fit and pretty.

But what changed? Why do you look so great, happy and relaxed?

Could it be that now that you are working independently you are freed from the pressures of working for a company?

You really look content and that shines through you in the photos.

Again great writing and photos!

Now you know why your readers missed you!


Roger said...

I find this travel tale immensely entertaining.

The part about a guy emerging from Bunnings with the predictable mop is hugely hilarious. Must take care not to make the same mistake when I go to a DIY store.

Great pictures!

You seem to love cats, huh? I've an adopted one.

yg said...

wow! so much written for so short a visit. springvale is one of the many vietnamese enclaves in melbourne. hoa tran in springvale is one of our favourite vietnamese restaurants. richmond, another vietnamese enclave nearer to the city, has a number of good oriental restaurants. one of the more popular is pacific seafood house. like your father, i never fail to visit bunnings each time i go to melbourne. (i will be there again in 2 weeks' time.) i usually buy gardening stuff for my daughter's house. the caulfield racecourse is just next to the monash caulfield campus. i have driven my younger girl there for her exams. williamstown is a nice suburb in the western part of melbourne. there are plans to build a very big shopping centre there. if you ever go to melbourne again, you should visit the mornington peninsula. don't go on weekends because the locals will be headed that way. another place you should visit is the grampians.

Anonymous said...


Just a suggestion: The writing is rather fragmentary. Perhaps you can look into how sentences and ideas can be joined with greater cohesion.

All the best for the book! Am looking forward to it!

Anonymous_CB said...

It's me again. I'm back from Melbourne trip several weeks earlier and saw some familiar pictures. Overall a great trip for me and hope the same with you.


Yu-Kym said...

David, I had a haircut. My rock-climbing friend is a marvelous hair stylist too :) Having a good hair cut makes all that difference!

your appearance in recent photos. Yes your hair is shorter, but something else stand out with your appearance, yes your are fit and pretty.

Roger, so get someone else to buy you a mop instead of buying it yourself? :P Most guys prefer dogs. Why do you like cats?

yg, have a nice trip to Melbourne! Thanks for your suggestions on places to visit on my next trip. This was my first time there so I just went with the flow. Next time, I'll do some research and figure out how to get around so that I don't stress my aunt out.

Anon, thanks for your suggestion. I'm just glad I didn't put you to sleep in this log entry.

Anonymous_CB, good to hear you had a great trip :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Yu-Kym,

Yup, I agree with David - you look much, much pretttier with the short hair.
Try to save up for an SLR camera. The large lens that come with such cameras have less distortion - your photos will turn out much better. Even a 6 Mb SLR camera take better photos than a 14 Mb compact camera - it's all because of the lens!
BTW photos turn up better in temperate countries. That's cos the main light source (the sun) is always shinning at a lower(better) angle than vertically overhead like in Singapore (equatorial countries).
Regards, Leo

bookjunkie said...

Your photos are so gorgeous and they make me wish I was in Australia right now :)

Yu-Kym said...

Leo, I don't plan on buying a SLR camera. I am happy with looking better in person than in pictures :P By the way, my friend took this picture of me with SLR. I like the picture but I look big here.

bookjunkie, I must warn you about how boring it was though :P

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

If you prefer a more 'happening' place to visit, try Queensland.
Queenslanders are more likely to have farmers as their forebears and as such are very big-hearted folks (an Aussie told me the folks in Melbourne hail from England - stiff upper-lip stuff the average laid-back Aussie disdains).
Queensland is very tropical, summer in Brisbane is as sticky as S'pore!
But you get great tropical fruits, fantastic seafood - good for the sexually active folks :) and the Great Barrier Reef (Yu-Kym will love the diving scene), Sea World (kids love it), etc, are located nearby.
The winter is very mild there.
The accomodation / back packers hostels are really cheap and friendly. Ask the Aussie Embassy when their versity holidays are and you will meet lots of young Aussies in back packers hostels. They will clue you in to all the interesting places to see (cheap too), do and taste!
Melbourne; you must avoid in winter - cold, wet, rainy and you must stay indoors most of the time.
REgards, Leo

Cindy said...

wow,sure brings back good memories to the times when i visited melbourne few years back. Great to know you had fun. I really liked the sceneries which SG lacks, I had the luck to see the 12 apostles when it was still 12. Well, it doesn't really matter if u had a good camera or not to take pics cos if the pics ain't gonna come out the way u want it, it ain't a good camera! ;P

Yu-Kym said...

Leo, Asia seems more happening! But I would like to dive at the Great Barrier Reef and I think I would enjoy seaworld :P (I'm quite a kid at heart).

Cindy, lucky you! Actually I found Great Ocean Road kind of boring but I had to go and see what it was all about. Yeah, blame it on the camera! :P

LK said...

hey great blog.... i'm traveling to Melbourne soon(1st time).. but it's going to be solo trip.... any place worth seeing? I won't have any one driving me so how are the bus & train service there?

Yu-Kym said...

LK, welcome to my blog! The tram and train services are reliable and safe. They follow a timetable so I suggest you obtain a copy (I don't think it's free). I prefer nature spots like farms but they're not accessible by train. The land tours are mighty expensive! I did not go to the Phillip Island to watch the "penguin parade". Maybe next time...

Papiyo said...

Nice blog =)