Travel: Sydney Trip 2018 – Day 1 & 2 (4 days in Sydney)

In May, my Masters graduation was held at The University of Sydney. I was keen to attend even though I had studied via distance and it was in another state (I’d never even been to the university!), since I’d enjoyed the course so much more than my Bachelor. The ceremony would be on a Monday so I made plans with T and my family to make it a 4-day trip (Saturday to Tuesday). My Dad actually couldn’t make it for four days so he travelled in on Sunday morning and left on Monday evening. This was my fifth time visiting Sydney in the last decade, so I didn’t need to tick off many touristy sights anymore… but we still a lot of tourist-y things for my travel party.

Day 1: April 30

We (minus my Dad) took a morning flight to Sydney (I’ve learned that carry-on only is pretty difficult if you’re a guy bringing a suit!). We landed after midday and took an Uber into the city. We ended up taking Uber a lot and no public transport, which is not typical for how I travel, but with three people and my Mum who can’t walk super long, it worked out more time and cost efficient. We tended to walk throughout the city but took an Uber when going further. We booked two rooms at The Tank Stream Hotel (I would stay with my Mum on the nights my Dad wasn’t there – she’s never been able to sleep anywhere on her own in her life). It was a nice hotel with thoughtful amenities. The location itself is in the business-y district so it’s pretty quiet, but it’s pretty close to both Circular Quay and the busy areas of Pitt St and George St. The train from the airport stops nearby, but it’s a decent walk to the areas in the city with good food.

We walked across the road to eat some late lunch at Bowery Lane, which I actually visited on my previous one-day trip to Sydney to attend the introduction night for my Masters over a year ago. The space is nice, their opening hours suited us, and the menu is uncomplicated but good.




Bowery Lane – Seared scallops and blue swimmer tagliatelle were sooo good (spoiler: we went back again two days later because of it’s convenience, and my Mum ordered the tagliatelle because she liked mine so much). I like that this place does a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner Modern Australian menu. It’s in the middle of super casual and fancy, so it’s really comfortable and food is pretty good.

We took an Uber to Watson’s Bay, to visit Lady Bay Beach (there were definitely naked people here at this tiny nude beach) and Hornby Lighthouse, a great lookout point.



We spent about two hours walking through suburban streets filled with really wealthy and beautiful houses with gorgeous gardens to Nielson Bay, which was supposed to be another great lookout point, but there wasn’t really a clear view not blocked by the trees. It was dusk by now, so we got an Uber to head back into town. We looked up a chemist to stop at briefly before our dinner appointment – I had burned my arm really badly the week prior (I’m talking special bandages needed) and wanted to get a change of bandages because I ran out of the ones the doctor gave me. Luckily there was one really close to our dinner reservation. It was funny trying to explain to the Uber driver that our destination was actually chemist, haha.

Dinner was at Chaco Bar, which had been on my radar for some four years. It was supposed to be a really authentic yakitori restaurant. Expectations were high (but we tried not to get them too high)!








Chaco Bar – This restaurant is tiny and honestly looks exactly like you stepped into a Japanese yakitori bar. We sat on a long shared table and most of the seats (on the shared table or individual tables) are quite uncomfortable and cramped. But sacrifices can be made when the charcoal grill skewers are this good. It was amazing and definitely the real deal. Everything was cooked perfectly and the smokiness was strong. T is a huge fan of Japanese charcoal grill, and he said Chaco Bar was pretty much the best thing ever. I would totally fly us both to Sydney for special occasion dinners here. We also saw Australian chef, restaurateur and TV chef Neil Perry trying to get a seat. He was still loitering around outside when we left.

We decided to walk the 20-30 minutes across the city to our hotel. We stopped at a 3-storey Woolworths supermarket on the way. This blew our mind because Melbourne does not have any multi-level supermarkets! We picked up fruit and banana bread for breakfasts.

Day 2: May 1

In the morning, we walked south across the city (our hotel area, in retrospect, was pretty far from the good food areas) to Koi Dessert Bar. We walked through Hyde Park, because my Mum loves gardens.

I visited Koi the last time I was in Sydney (and carried cakes back home to Melbourne), and also purchased their desserts many times when Koi was temporarily at HWKR last year. I am definitely a huge fan of Reynold’s desserts, and not just blinded by the hype. I would argue they’re my favourite artisan desserts. We picked up three little cakes to take back to the hotel. Unfortunately there was just no other time that I could work out in our schedule other than picking up this morning.

My Dad had landed in the late morning, so he took the train into the city (the hotel is close to a train stop on the airport line) and dropped of his bag. We all met at Chat Thai (Thaitown location) where I made a lunch reservation.





Chat Thai (various locations) – Chat Thai appears, from the Internet, to be the most popular Thai restaurant(s) in Sydney. I went to their main location in Haymarket even though there was one location much closer to our hotel. It’s a narrow restaurant with a half second level. We ordered five dishes between four. The food was really good across the board. The boat noodles, one of T’s favourite Thai dishes, was weak though. Overall we are not sure Chai Thai is actually better than Melbourne’s best Thai restaurant, so T feels like “we’re not missing out”, haha. That said, the latter has been noticeably decreasing their portion sizes in the last two years, but Chat Thai’s prices and portions were really good.

After lunch, we walked north through the city again, dropped off the cakes in our hotel’s fridge (the reason why there’s no good photos to show of our desserts is that they got squished in the fridge!), and continued on to Circular Quay to view the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’ve been so many times in recent years, but half of my travel team (T and my Dad) had not seen these in decades.



We walked to Darling Harbour, which has always been my Mum’s favourite part of Sydney.

We were meeting my friend to go on a cocktail cruise around the harbour a bit later, and had some time to kill (plus we were a little tired), so we stopped at a tourist trap bar in Darling Harbour to have some drinks and a snack.

I booked the five of us the Sydney Harbour Cocktail Cruise by Captain Cook Cruises. It was enjoyable but mostly I was catching up with my friend who is studying and working in Sydney for a few years.

After the cruise, it was pitch black, and we walked across to The Star for our dinner reservation at Sokyo. I’d never visited The Star before.








Sokyo – Sokyo is a fine dining Japanese restaurant, and reminds me of Koko and Nobu which are also housed in Melbourne’s casino area. I’m generally pretty sceptical of Japanese fine dining, but we all agreed that Sokyo was really excellent. I couldn’t fault any dish at all and I’ve probably never seen such a photogenic souffle before. It was a great dinner!

We walked back to our hotel and ate our slightly squished desserts from Koi – still delicious!

See day 3 & 4 post

Beauty: David Jones Deluxe Beauty Edit

A few weeks ago I got an email from David Jones about the David Jones Deluxe Beauty Edit, which was described as a two-day online exclusive. I promptly purchased two – the value for $39.95 looked really good and lately I am having a real problem with my obsession for mini and travel size beauty products (to try and to hoard for travelling!). I figured the second one could be a gift. About 6 hours later I received an email that the order could not be fulfilled. I was pretty annoyed because I had ordered it within twenty minutes of receiving the email. I clicked through to check if it was sold out, but noticed I was still able to add it to my cart. So I decided there was no harm to try again. I ordered three this time because I wanted to gift two away! On the internet later, I read that lots of people had trouble buying the product (typical Australian online retail), but in fact it was also available instore despite what the email said. Fortunately my latter order of three bags arrived in the mail a few days later.

Despite seeing the pictures of the contents, I was honestly blown away by the twenty products. I thought it was interesting that it was mostly skincare and no makeup. The items were very generous and from a really good range of (reasonably high-end) brands.

I splurged on my first ever advent calendar last year – the Look Fantastic beauty advent calendar. I also got it for my friend, who had so little control that she opened everything in the span of three days! While it was fun to open all the new products, I couldn’t justify buying one this year, especially as I an uninterested in half of the items in the LF calendar, which has gone up in price significantly. The problem with all the makeup products in advent calendars is they take longer to use up and are often things I don’t use, so a lot of them have not been worthwhile to me. Advent calendars overall are very expensive, and the ones that look good to me are exorbitantly priced (even if they contain 2-4 times the value). I think the DJ Deluxe Beauty Edit was by far better than most advent calendars in contents and value, and would have been great to use to hand-make a beauty advent calendar. It’s not packaged extravagently as an advent calendar, but I’m more interested in the bag (one can never have enough toiletry bags!) and contents rather than lots of cardboard, so it’s a win in my books! Because it’s skincare-heavy, I’m pretty sure I will be able to use everything. I’m super impressed and will be looking out for a similar offering from David Jones next year (hopefully)!


Guerlain Abeille Royale Daily Repair Serum (5mL)
Shiseido Essential Energy Moisturising Cream (10mL)
Clarins lip comfort oil in ‘Candy’ (2.8mL)
Sampar ‘Too Much to Dew’ Midnight Mask (15mL)
Lancome Genifique Youth Activating Cream (5mL)
Khiels Midnight Recovery Concentrate (4mL)
Ella Bache Eternal Beautifying Eye Cream (3mL)
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo (43mL)
L’Occitane Immortelle Reset Serum (5mL)
philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor Clay Mask (5mL)
Cremorelab Mineral Treatment Essence (15mL)
Cremorelab Fresh Water Gel (15mL)
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum (7 capsules)
Molton Brown Vetiver & Grapefruit Bath and Shower Gel (30mL)
MAC Prep+Prime Skin (6mL)
Weleda Skin Food (10mL)
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm (15mL)
Narciso Rodriguez ‘Narciso Rouge’ EDP (4mL)
Carolina Herrera ‘Good Girl’ EDP (7mL)
Versace ‘Dylan Blue’ EDP (5mL)
A $10 beauty gift card (on purchases over $100 on brands included in the bag) and complimentary consults/treatments at Shiseido, shu uemura, Clinique, and L’Occitane

Shopping for: Sneakers

A couple of years ago I purchased the Nike Juvenate grey trainers because I liked the “sock trainer” look. I wore them for about a year but I would say I hated them after about one month. The fabric meant it would get get absolutely soaked if the tiniest drop of water touched it – they would get soaked through even if I was walking on wet pavement for a few minutes and it wasn’t even raining. The soles also wore down really quickly (around a month), making them slippery too. They were a real nightmare.

After that bad experience, I wanted a pair of (sturdier) sneakers – something that would be less casual than runners/trainers for walking in, and preferably leather so that it could withstand normal rain without my feet getting wet. I discovered Spring Court, which made simple sneakers in canvas and leather, and were frequently reviewed as having the most impressive insoles amongst sneakers. I actually tried on several pairs and ended up purchasing the Spring Court G2 black leather sneakers and G2 navy canvas sneakers. I agree that the insoles are incredible and trumps pretty much every sneaker I’ve seen available. As pricey as they are, they are really well made and the leather is good quality. Unfortunately I found both quite stiff in the back heel and they rubbed. The canvas pair routinely cut my skin and left me bleeding. After only 3-4 wears, I decided to sell the canvas pair because there was no way I could break into them if they cut me up so badly. The fabric at the heel was too “sharp”. The leather pair is not as bad and was quite handy to take on my travels last year (they also withstood quite a lot of rain). As long as I wear appropriate socks, they’re mostly fine and I think the leather is definitely softening up.

Around the time of ordering and trying on all the Spring Court shoes, I also tried on the Adidas Gazelle leather trainers (but in grey) as they were on sale. I found them really bulky, the leather quality quite poor and overall construction really stiff.

Recently I’ve started a new hunt for sneakers because the Spring Courts are black and fairly heavy, so I wanted something slightly lighter in weight and colour that would be more appropriate in warmer seasons. I also wish the Spring Court sneakers’ heel was softer or had some padding. I ended up discovering Veja, who made supposedly high quality leather sneakers as well. I ordered and tried on the Veja Esplar white leather pair. I was so disappointed in them. The leather was incredibly stiff, but the deal breaker was that the sole was so thin and stiff my feet hurt just walking a few steps at home. Back they went and I would definitely recommend against the Esplar line.

Finally I’ve decided to purchase a keep the Lacoste Straightset Lace white leather sneakers. They have “Ortholite performance insoles”, giving them some padding although nowhere near as much as Spring Courts. Hopefully I will get on well with them!

Travel: Hong Kong Trip 2012 (Photo diary)

Travel: Hong Kong Trip 2012 (Photo diary)

Following on from the Japan leg of our holiday, we went to visit Hong Kong for four days. We met up with our some relatives who came from mainland China to see us in Hong Kong. We visited the typical places in Hong Kong, such as the Hong Kong skyline, Victoria Harbour, Lantau Island and Victoria Peak. We also visited Macau for a day trip.





































Long overdue life update

It’s been a while!

I quickly lost the energy to blog last year as my life was taken over by work during the day and study at nights. My wonderful boyfriend, T, is credited to feeding me almost every single day. I made it through my Master’s with more grit and determination than my five years of university, finishing as one of the top graduates! I certainly feel a sense of smugness at the course coordinators who had heavily advised against students taking a full-time load while working full-time, haha. My favourite subject ended up being biostatistics, which one one of my two least favourite subjects in undergrad.

From October, I starting applying for job, though I still didn’t really know how I could get to what I wanted to do. Sharing the frustration with most applicants, I didn’t know how to get into the field to get experience when experience was an essential requirement! I had one interview but it was only a part-time role so I wasn’t too disappointed to not get the role. My Master’s finished in November and I finished off all my applications in a week before leaving for a 3-week trip to Europe. I actually had a Skype interview while there, but again didn’t get the role.

Returning to Melbourne in December, the end of my contract (there was mutual understanding that renewal was not a possibility due to funding, and I knew when I took the contract role with no renewal potential that it would be the kick in the butt I needed to move fields) and Christmas period was looming and I was officially stressed! I only had one interview lined up for after the New Year by the time Christmas rolled around and no one was advertising anymore.

I didn’t get the role in my interview after New Year’s, and had an emotional breakdown during my first week of unemployment. I’ve never been unemployed, and it was a tough time. I was really questioning my life choices and wondering whether I had wasted a year of my life pursuing something new. January was a quiet period for applications, but thankfully I did get an interview for early February, which lead to an offer a few weeks later. I started my new job on February 26. It’s been quite an adjustment from working in biomedical research to public health research. I still want to leave research, and hope this job will be a more relevant stepping stone to reach that destination.

In February, I also moved into T’s, apartment. We had decided this last year but I decided I really needed my own space to get me through my studies. Combining living arrangements and finances would help us save more money. We had wanted to rent a different apartment in his building but missed out on the single opportunity that came around in January despite offering a really long lease and quite a lot more money! We had landed on that compromise because the location of his building is better than mine, but I really wanted my green army to thrive, and his apartment unfortunately gets next to no sun. Now that I’ve moved into his apartment (and my goodness was that a struggle and a half) and I’ve been able to maintain most of my plants while giving some away, I really cannot be bothered moving apartments again! So I guess we’ll just stay here for the near future. In the meantime, I have turned my apartment into an Airbnb, a venture which is proving difficult and costly but I’ll give it some time to see if it can turn profitable.

Since then, we’ve been so busy everyday, barely managing to keep up with housework while still organising our combined junk to clear out or sell. The apartment is STILL a dumpster after almost three months! I hadn’t realised how difficult it was for two people to fit in a one-bedroom apartment, when we’ve both been living comfortably in our own apartments!

Last week, I flew up to Sydney with T and Mum for four days (with Dad joining for the middle two days) to attend my graduation ceremony. This will probably be my last tertiary degree (or at least I don’t intend to progress beyond Master’s) and UniMelb undergraduates do not get a hat (humph), so I really wanted to attend. At least I can say now I’ve attend the USyd campus! It was a lovely trip and we ate lots of good food.

We’ve just booked a short (by my standards) trip to the USA in September. Surprisingly this has probably been the hardest trip to plan, and it is likely going to be much more costly than the last two trips which were longer.