The Start of Sydney

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saturday morning, I woke up from a good night sleep and rushed out of the bed towards the door. Yes, a door, I wasn't dreaming. Upon opening the door, I saw the blue sky with a lot of sunshine, giving me a good start for the day. After a hot shower, we took a simple breaky of whatever we had left from the night earlier. Protein and carb, that's all we needed for a long day ahead of us. While munching our food, we quickly got our schedule reorganized for the final two days in Sydney. Some were scrapped out of the list as time wasn't so permitting after we've lost half a day on the road to the Blue Mountains.

We returned the room key to the same lady who attended us the night when we registered into the lodge. We then loaded the car trunk with our luggages and headed to our next place to stay, located not far from Randwick Lodge. The Malaysia Hall Sydney offers the cheapest kind of accommodation we could get in the city. Strictly for Malaysians, though. For $12 a night per person in a twin-shared private room with ensuite bathroom, it was good enough for us especially when we just need a few hours of good rest after a long day out. Since it was quite early for us to get into the room, we left our baggages at one corner of a room before we hopped back into our rented car and drove to Mascot, where we would have to return the car at East Coast rental office, the same place we picked it up two days earlier.

We didn't find it too hard to get to that address without a GPS unit. We accomplished that just by following the route to Sydney Airport. Mascot township can be found just before reaching the airport. As with any rentals, we've got to fill up the fuel back to the original point during pickup. 20 liters of E10 unleaded petrol cost about $30 and that was the amount of fuel that has been consumed by the car for two days. However, I forgot to note down the total mileage covered on that same period. I guess it might be close to 500 kilometers from Sydney to Kiama, then to Blue Mountains region before came back to Sydney. Return procedure was pretty easy. First upon arriving at the car depot, the car was inspected for any damages. Everything looked good and I signed a release paper. The whole process took 10 minutes top.

From the rental office, we walked to Mascot train station, about two blocks away that took us about 15 minutes on foot. At the train station, we bought a MyMulti Day Pass from the ticket counter that cost $21 (now increased to $22) each to make our trip easier.

The Day Pass enabled us to travel on any modes of public transportation in Sydney except for taxicabs (duhh) and Sydney monorail service, for one (1) day, to any destinations. We got down to the subway platform but the train only arrived 10 minutes later. I noticed the public transport (bus or train) frequencies in Sydney are a little low. Perhaps Sydneysiders prefer to drive than taking public vehicles.

A train then arrived at the platform but we were not sure it was the right train to Circular Quay. Assuming all trains passing the platform were going the same direction, we boarded the middle coach, upper deck. Yes, Sydney CityRail is equipped with double-deck coaches. However, the train was full of shitty graffiti which most of them were hard to comprehend. More images of the ugliness of Sydney graffiti can be seen later. Suddenly, an announcement was made by the rail operator, in light Aussie accent. "Due to upgrade and maintenance works..., City Circle line is temporarily unavailable.... Please disembark...Central Station...City buses...". Filling in those blanks, that required us to get off at Central Station, just two stops away from Mascot and changed to city bus Route #5 outside the station that would take us to Circular Quay.

The bus was provided as a free service that day, most probably as a courtesy for the service disruption of the CityRail. We jumped onto the bus and 20 minutes later we were already standing in front of Circular Quay Ferry Terminal.

However in this post, I'm going to skip the fun of Port Jackson water (if there's any) and concentrate on the place nearby where all got started for the city called Sydney. This place was named The Rocks. Why? I seriously don't know why the city founders named it that way but this is the area of the first settlement in Sydney established by Captain Arthur Phillip, the commander of the First Fleet in the late 18th centuries.

He was later became the first governor of New South Wales. This fact made the Rocks as the oldest part of Sydney. Although the area was once dirty and busy docks, now it has become a tourist hot-spot in the center of Sydney.

As we walked along the western pier in Circular Quay, two major landmarks of Sydney (if not Australia) can be seen right in front of us. First and foremost, the Sydney Opera House, a unique building that is known as the symbol of Australia. Then, the Sydney Harbour Bridge aka the Coathanger.

More of these significant attractions of Sydney will be highlighted later. For now, I just want to recall how sweet and melodious a didgeridoo sound can be. That morning, a two-piece band, consisted most probably of local aborigines, were busking their traditional musical pieces not far from the ferry terminal. That was the first time I ever heard a live didgeridoo performance from a pro, or at least a semi-pro individual. As typical buskers, donations were expected but no harm if you just stand there and watch their performances. They also sell their music collections on CD which cost $10 each.

We moved ahead towards a flock of doves which were fed by a kind-hearted man who I prefer to call him Birdman (not the American rapper). Birdman got himself some food in both his hands and those doves quickly surrounded him, begging for more food. We then left those birds which were on feeding frenzy and walked to the center of The Rocks.

There was a flight of stairs that we needed to climb in order to get to the upper side of George Street, where a weekend market was held every Saturday and Sunday. This place was called The Rocks Market. It is the place where local traders put variety of local-made handicrafts, knick knacks and home-made food up for sale. Judging by the number of visitors around the market area, I think it's one of the major attractions at The Rocks.

To entertain our hungry stomaches, we stopped at one stall selling corns and drinks. Those corns were proudly grown in Australia. Yeah, right. I can get similar quality corn at a night market near my place at a fraction of the price. A combo of one stick of corn and a can of soft drink cost $5.

I realized the high price but since we were starving and already out of food supply, money didn't really matter. We've got a selection of toppings (chili paste, butter, etc) to add some taste to the corn. We opted for the usual butter. Corn with chili paste? Are they kidding? A few oriental tourists tried the chili paste on their corns and ended with funny faces. Spicy, maybe.

After finishing the last drop of our drinks, we were back on our feet again. We strolled along Playfair Street, a pedestrian-only alley (on weekends) up to the intersection of Argyle Street. At the corner just after The Rocks Square, we found the Sydney Visitor Center which is located on the first floor of the building.

Here, we spent some time looking out for interesting stuffs to take back home. Unfortunately, we only managed to get some more information on Sydney attractions. Nothing more. 15 minutes later, we left the Visitor Center and by using some help from the map and verbal direction from a lady promoter at the center, we tried to get ourselves to a higher ground in Sydney. To be continued...

All $ signs used in this article are referring to Australian Dollar (AUD).

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