Seeing the sights of Sydney

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
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Trip End Sep 01, 2007


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sydney is a beautiful city - feels so British, a combination of Vancouver, Victoria and a little Halifax thrown in. It's very modern, with more immigrants, esp from Asia, than I expected  I feel like I am Canada, and that reminds me my travels may be coming to an end....not a happy feeling, unfortunately!  I am a little nostalgic for the cheap prices of southeast Asia, and the massages and eating out that can be enjoyed for very little, not to leave out the cheap transportation, within cities and between.  Standard of travel life is lower here for sure - I'm staying in dorms in hostels, eating out at delis at supermarkets (the one here on Pitt street has 30% off starting 5 p.m. every day, or other such specials, and it is really good food - got that tip from a German woman I met) and taking in all the free things around.
Anyway to back up, spent a couple of wonderful evenings and a day with my friend Anita from Ireland, who I had met at Yoga Thailand.  She had gone on to Australia for professional development of her singing career and business.  I arrived from Korea in the a.m. and she met me at my hostel at 6 p.m.that night.  We found a pub down the street and had our traditional g and t and then went to a Thai restaurant for some familiar food.  We sat at a larger table and were joined by Jerry and Michael who we ended up chatting with through dinner. They asked us to join them the next night, but Anita was leaving the next day for up the coast, and I planned to see the movie 'Home Song Stories' at the Sydney Film Festival www.sydneyfilmfestival.org/content.asp?id=9&p=8  Home Song Stories, The
9 June 2007 |    6.15PM |    State Theatre 13 June 2007 |    2.00PM |    State Theatre
Director - Tony Ayres Country - Australia
Joan Chen is superb as a seductive and troubled nightclub singer whose restlessness brings her to Australia and profoundly affects her children's lives. Read full details >

so it didn't work out.  But they were a very nice couple.  The next day I walked to Circular Quay and met Anita at Rossini's restaurant. The waiter turned out to be a singing enthusiast, and broke out into Italian arias at our table unbeknownst to him that Anita is a professional singer.  At his request, she sang a bit as well, and she has a powerful beautiful soprano voice. They did a little impromptu duet, right in the restaurant! It was quite a special moment!  It poured with rain so much that all our plans to see the Powerhouse Museum was shelved so we ended up going to a very good French movie called My Best Friend.  Then we went to Anita's hostel, had coffee  in their cafeteria and went for a meal. Took the train back to my hostel, after buying a weekly transportation pass  on the ferries, buses and trains for $41. 
THe next day I walked to the Rocks and found 'MY Hair Interenational' which was started by my sister Laurie's secretary/friend Terumi Takehashi when Laurie set up an office to teach ESL for Win School of Languages in Osaka Japan .  She has gone back to Japan, but I met the staff there, we took pictures, they called Terumi in Japan, and I spoke to her (I met Terumi when I visited Laurie in Osaka and again when Terumi came to Sask.) and we have kept in touch all these years. On behalf of Terumi, Keiko, the manager gave me a gift of lotion and body oil.  SO nice!
As part of the Sydney Film Festival, Sat. night went to the movie ""Home Song Stories. It was based on a true story of a woman, played by Chinese actress Joan Chn,  who is a lounge singer from Hong Kong and with 2 children,  marries an American service man but who never adapts to western life. It is written by her son Tony Ayers who lives in England.  The entire cast, plus his sister who lives in the New York now and some of the crew were in attendance and stood on stage for qs and as after the movie, which took place at the beautiful State Theatre, built in the late 1800's.  While waiting to go into the movie, I had a good chat with Libby, from Aust. who has travelled to Canada. 
Sunday, I walked around and took in free stuff in the rain (it is so expensive here, sorry for keep repeating it!) including the wonderful free 3 day Sydney Jazz and Blues Festival at Darling Harbou see www.darlingharbour.com.  I shared a table and got a chair from Sean Smith at the Jazz Festival, and  turns out he plays piano and invited me to attend his gig for Wed. (last night) at 8p.m. at Bar Me, which happens to be a place across the street from Asylum Hostel!  I went about 8:10 last night and the small little place in the basement was packed, and I got the enviours? place on a stool right by the bar but directly in the line of hte stage. So I thought I was in the worst place or best place, as everyone had to stand at the bar to get a drink and head back to their seats while all I had to do was turn my head and ask the bartender for one!. It was a wonderful night of jazz, three different groups performing, from Cole Porter tunes, to a Marilyn Monroe look alike. Met Linda Axelsson there from Sweden, who is actually studying in Aust to be a Baptist Minister! As she was enjoying a glass of red wine, I asked if they have rules like no smoking etc. and she said on campus they are pretty strick but people do what they want away from campus. She talked about the courses she was taking and it was impressive. She gave me her email address.  Had a chat with Sean after and turns out he is English and working temporariliy in Aust, so I guess he is under 30, as a policy officer for Climate Change, New South Wales state government.  But he does not want to be a bureaucrat, and would rather work for an NGO somewhere.
THe next day, Sun. I caught the last show of the Jazz Festival, at 6 -7:15 which happened to be an Aust. rap band called True Live, which had a singer backed up by a cello, drums, a bass guitar and a violin.  I had never heard the cello or violin played to rap before but it was great!  And I never thought I could get into rap but music that is on the beat and with accompaniment that sounds awesome, it is quite good.  The young singer did a spot on "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay", the old song by Otis Redding!
To backtrack, as Monday  was finally a nice sunny day I took the ferry to Manly on holiday Monday (Happy Queen's Birthday) and found the apartment on Oyama St that my brother Brian lived in when he was working and living here.  It is right on the water, beautiful view, and the ferry goes right by.  I had emailed Neva, who I met in Hanoi, and who is the Harbour Master for the Manly ferry and that means she drives the boat from Sydney to Manly and back!  She suggested I take the ferry the next day at 10:30 and ask the guy at the dock to take me up to her, which I did, got into the control room while she drove, and at Manly she went to the back of the ferry and we went back to Sydney. Got some spectacular pictures!  It was again a nice sunny day.  When I get back to Sydney, perhaps mid July, she suggested I could come and stay with her - she lives outside of Sydney and she has wallabies around her back yard!  It was an awesome time! She does the trip about 5 times a day and also works night shifts.
Then after I left Neva and the Queen something ferry which is hers (holds probably 250 people, it's a big ferry), on her suggestion I went to Watson's Bay, on my free trans ticket, as it is a short trip 20 min and on the water. I had a cup of chowder for lunch and then took the ferry back to Sydney.  Then I had contacted Rick McElroe at the Canadian Embassy on the suggestion of a person I met in Hanoi who is with International Affairs, and he said to drop by before 3:30.  He is a great guy, close to retirement age. He introduced me around and we went for coffee in the Four Seasons, which is across the street from the Embassy just up the street from 'the Rocks' (the oldest part of Sydney). He gave me some tips on where to go in Aust and said to call him when I am back.
Yesterday I moved hostels in the a.m (had a rude awakening one night when one of the women in my female dorm brought a guy back!) and the other person in the dorm was a Stephen from Scotland but a lovely lad and a holdover from when it was a male dorm.  I stumbled (not literally) across the G'Day Hostel just down the street from the Asylum where I was, and it is much nicer, bigger, cleaner dorms, more common areas and a separate tv/ kitchen with tables to actually sit at.  Also there is a sink in the 4 person dorm I am in, and a tv.  After moving my stuff in before I met Neva, I didn't get back until last night and Beverley Manning was there who is a teacher at an International School in Silicon Valley, San Franscico and she is English but has lived in US for 6 years. She actually was born in Perth and this is her first time here. We chatted until late and then today we went together to see the Aquarium.  She is going to Melbourne on Monday via Canberra this weekend and I leave for Melbourne tomorrow night  at 7 and get in 12 hours later. Bus ticket was only $60 a bargain for here and of course I get accommodation on bus!  Jum, who I met in Bangkok, is in Melbourne right now so we will hook up for a visit, before she leaves on Sun.
Got pics developed today from Korea and they are now enroute with 8 other sets of pics to Vancouver c/o my friend Barb,  by Australian Post Courier, which apparently is DHL.  It is a literal and figurative weight off my shoulders to safely send them on their way. However, I must relate a story - I sent box of winter clothes to myself c/o Post Restante to Seoul. Box got there early as Thai Post sent it by air instead of ship that I paid for; box arrived 2 days later in seoul, they kept for 2 months as per policy and shipped back to Yoga Thailand! Probably COD so there is no way I am going to reimburse Yoga Thailand for paying and then have to pay to have them shipped to me in Canada, the clothes are not worth it. Meantime I have had to invest in Woolworth's clothing here and am now wearing a toque, and bought a fleece etc. as I had no clothes for cooler weather.  Not that it is really cold, but Thailand clothes doesn't cut it.  About 5 low, 12 high or so. Pouring rain right now and I have to get the train to get back to my Hostel, get my bags, and come back to the Central Station where the Firefly bus leaves at 7 p.m. for Melbourne, where I will arrive 7 a,m More from there...
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