Sunday, August 30, 2015

Radio, Spring clean, and a bird rescue

It's been a busy day.

I had to give a radio interview this morning about my research. The station was close to Nathan's cousin's place so we decided to catch up with him as well. Nathan's cousin studied Indonesian politics at uni but seems to have found success as a musician instead. In fact, he had just arrived back in Oz after playing a few gigs in the US.

We were waiting for the cousin at a cafe and unbeknownst to us, the cafe was actually playing one of his albums. It was a nice coincidence – and the music was actually quite good (we now have several CDs).

Afterwards, we took Truffles off to the dog park for a run. We were feeling guilty leaving her at a dog motel for four nights last week (I think she was mildly pissed off with me when I went to pick her up last Monday morning). The wet weather last week meant that she has been confined to the apartment all week so it was nice to take advantage of today's 'good' weather to take her out.

After the dog park, we returned back to the apartment and noticed that it reeked of dog. So...Nathan and I spent a good part of the rest of day cleaning the apartment from top to bottom. I think it now smells a little better but I cant wait for the weather to warm up sufficiently to give the entire apartment a decent airing.

Later in the arvo, I met my Finnish colleague for a drink at a nearby cafe. We were seated inside next to the window and a magpie lark somehow managed to find its way inside and couldn't get out. The waitress (and the bird) were both freaking out. I asked for a towel, threw it over the bird and carried it outside.

"You look so calm", she said.

"I'm a biologist," I replied.

All in a day's work.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Nathan and I are in Perth this weekend. The main reason for the trip was to see the painting I loaned to the Art Gallery of WA (AGWA) for the Indigenous Art Awards.

We left early Saturday morning and arrived mid morning local time (love the way the time difference works in our favour going west).

After dumping our bags at the hotel, we made our way to Northbridge for lunch. I snapped a photo of this cute lion outside one of the buildings we walked past.
After lunch, we headed to the AGWA. Here is me standing next to my painting. Nathan was surprised I only spent 2 minutes looking at it (I was keen to check out everything else).
I love this bark painting depicting a wanjina spirit.
....and this non-indigenous painting by an artist who is based in Canberra. It's kind of crazy and I love the colours.
This painting was doing my head in. Nathan said it made him feel queasy.
After the gallery, we walked up to Kings Park. There were lots of pretty Western Australian plants in flower.
We had to head back to the hotel for a rest afterwards from all the walking (and the early morning start).

Later in the evening, we headed back to Northbridge (this time by taxi) to meet a biologist friend for dinner at a chinese restaurant. We ordered the snow crab and tried not to think too much about what these deep sea critters would have been eating in the wild (most likely this).

Heading off to Freemantle today.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pig feet and ginger stew

There are a lot of chinese traditions I don't quite understand. I guess it doesn't really long as they involve nice food.

Today, we got to enjoy one of those rare dad cooked pig feet and ginger stew.

Jiang chu is the name of the dish and legend has it dating back to the Ming Dynasty. The dish literally means 'ginger vinegar' and it is indeed gingery and vinegary. But the highlight is the soft, gelatinous chunks of stewed pig trotters, which both Nathan (!!) and I enjoyed for dinner.

The dish is eaten soon after the arrival of a new baby and is suppose to be a restorative dish for the mother. The rest of us just happen to be riding on my sister's coat tails.

Aside from the effort it takes to make and grow a baby, the dish is apparently very time consuming to make, which probably explains why dad doesn't make it every other week.

I eagerly await the arrival of the niece/nephew.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cake for everyone

My parents, grandma and youngest sister are in town to surprise my other sister and to greet the new addition to the family, baby Lauren.

I took my folks and grandma to the South Melbourne markets yesterday afternoon for a coffee and came across this cake shop. I must have walked past it a dozen times but never paid any attention to what was inside...until yesterday.
I don't normally have a sweet tooth but this display was too tempting. We got a tasting board to share. My favourite was the mango and coconut (second from left).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Plant porn

Apartment living is great but I do miss having a garden. I find this interior quite sexy and tantalising. Makes me want to go out and buy some large cacti!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Midwinta ball 2015

Nathan and I had a great evening last night at the Midwinta ball. It was once again held at the Grand Hyatt. The highlight was definitely the people seated with us at our table. We didn't know any of them at the start of the evening but we were soon chatting and laughing and having fun. That pretty much summed up the whole event...friendly, joyful and fun.

Nathan now has a hang over.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Saturday. Midday. Collingwood. Nathan and I are trying to find a particular gift shop located in a small side street so I could buy a gift for a guest who is coming to my work to speak to my students in two weeks (I had something very specific in mind).

Unfortunately, when we found the shop, there was a sign on the door saying it was closed for 'renovations' (gone bust?) so we continued on our way back into the city.

There were a lot of drunken guys stumbling around in the streets in Collingwood at this time of day, some still with drinks in hand. They seemed very content...stumbling and laughing and drinking.

Salmon Saturday

We caught up with one of Nathan's former colleagues for brunch on Saturday.

We went to the Tassal salmon shop in Kew, which probably isn't the most obvious meeting place for brunch but the shop's cafe does have a rather nice brekky menu – and not everything has salmon in it.

The wait staff, while friendly, weren't terribly knowledgeable though. I ordered a potato rosti with poached eggs and a side order of smoked salmon. I enquired whether the salmon was cold smoked or hot smoked since the Tassal shop sold both. At first, the girl said that it was cold but they can heat it up if I wanted. After explaining that I was referring to the smoking process (rather the temperature of salmon), she assured me that the salmon is hot smoked. She brought out a plate of cold smoked salmon. Never mind. I like both.

After brekky, I went to the actual salmon shop and went a bit crazy with the credit card and carted home 4 kg of fish (including some hot smoked salmon), which I then had to squeeze into the freezer, as Nathan was insistent he did not want to eat salmon for the next 3 days (spoil sport).

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My slipper orchid is flowering again

This is the one that looks like a green toilet bowl and smells like raspberry candy (and no, this is not my photo)...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday flowers

These were actually last Saturday's flowers (some kind of Eucalypt) but they are still looking very fresh. These weren't the only flowers I bought last week...
My sister had her second baby last Friday (Lauren is the baby's name and she is adorable...of course). Nathan and I went to visit our new niece at St Vincent's Private and I went a bit OTT at the florist.

Apart from the Eucalypts for home, we also got my sis a huge floral bouquet from Flower's Vasette.

The guy that served us really took his floral artistry very very seriously. He told us to go grab a coffee and to come back after a few minutes. We returned after coffee and breakfast and he was still busy arranging the cymbidium orchid and hellebores and God-knows-what-else he grabbed from the front of the shop. Eventually he re-emerged from the back with the most amazing arrangement placed inside a large glass vase full of water – which Nathan and I then had to carry halfway along Brunswick Street to the hospital.
By the time we got to see my sister and the baby, my arms were twitching from the weight of the flowers.

Spicy winter warmers

Ok, so winter in Melbourne isn't all that bad. Sure, it's cold and grey and wet but it's also the perfect time for spicy food and winter stews. And since I've been back, I've wasted very little time getting into the spirit of winter cooking/eating.

Last weekend, I caught up with some friends visiting from Perth. We were booked into Dainty Sichuan on South Yarra for dinner on Saturday (I really like the beautiful murals on the walls). I love Sichuan food (and judging from how busy the restaurant was, so does half of Melbourne).

The mouth numbing combination of chilli and sichuan peppercorns is absolutely addictive.  I left the ordering to my learned friends (in truth, we could have picked anything from the menu and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it).

One of the highlights was this spicy cumin pork rib dish. The pork was deliciously salty and fatty and spicy. However, the best part was the sauce. Indeed, I remarked that it would be such a pity to waste the left over sauce so my friend (bless) asked for a take away container from the waiter, spooned all the leftover oily goodness for me to take home, and challenged me to create a new dish from the leftovers.

During the week, I ended up creating three new dishes (there was heaps of sauce). The first was this chicken and bean dish for Sunday lunch, followed by a prawn and capsicum dish for mid week dinner and, finally, with the very last of the left over sauce a couple of nights ago, I made a minced pork and vermicelli dish. It was a pretty satisfying week of spicy sichuan goodness.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The scary meeting

So...I met with my boss last Monday. Although I wasn't able to sleep a wink the night before (a combination of jet lag and stress), the meeting itself wasn't a complete train wreck. In fact, it was extremely constructive. I went into the meeting well prepared – and I think that's what made the difference.  I was able to show evidence of what I have been doing the past 6 months and what I needed from him to do my job even better into the future.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Back to reality...

I arrived back to Australia yesterday morning. Unfortunately, my last days in Finland didn't go according to plan. All it took was an email from my boss telling me I haven't been doing my job, and the past 6 weeks of unprecedented work productivity and good feeling all came tumbling down. I can't say I'm not despirited but I will try not to be defeated. I will be meeting with him on Monday. Let's see how it goes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Almost home

I am heading back to Oz on Wednesday night, which means my 6 week overseas stint is almost over. Six weeks! I an't believe it. It seems like quite a while now when I was flying out of Melbourne on my way to the USA. Yet, on another level, this trip has gone by really quickly. I have to admit, though, that I'm starting to miss Truffles (oh, and Nathan too).

Today will be my last full day at the research station. I made sure I told the head chef (in the hope she will make something really good for lunch). Long term researchers here at the Station bitch and moan about the quality of the food but I don't think it's that bad at all. Besides,  think it's nice that there is someone to prepare hot lunches (though 11.30am is, in my opinion, a bit too early for lunch – even by Finnish standards).

Tomorrow, I am taking my students to Helsinki for the day. I think they have earned a break. Because there is five of us, we'll be needing a bigger taxi to get us to the closest train station. There is only one such taxi in the adjacent town and I hope it arrives on time.  Typically, you can rely on Finns to be punctual (with the exception of my one Finnish friend who is always reliably late). Hence, it was a big surprise last week when we ended up waiting 40 minutes for the taxi to arrive. We'd be screwed if the same taxi is 40 minutes late tomorrow as we only left ourselves 24 minutes to get to the train station (and it's 15 minute drive).

Anyhow, assuming we get to Helsinki, the plan is to spend the day doing touristy things with the students and then send them back to the research station in the evening (they are all staying a few days longer). I'll then have almost another full day 'student-free'. Yay.

And with only a few days to go, I've once again started to obsess about my flights (part of the fun of air travel). As mentioned in an earlier post, I managed to convince my boss to allow me to fly business class on this trip (on medical grounds). It has been a real treat so far – and so nice not to be crammed into an impossibly small seat. I've already reserved my seats for the trip home and chosen my meal on the Singapore-Melbourne leg of the journey (a chicken rendang with kankung and jasmine rice).

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards

One of my favourite artists, Billy Atkins, was selected as a finalist in this year's Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards. The opening was last night in Perth. It was a pity I couldn't attend but I found some images of Billy in front on the work I loaned to the Art Gallery of WA for the exhibition. I can't wait to get over to Perth to see it for myself.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Finnish midsummer

I am in Tampere visiting my colleague's folks for midsummer. Tampere is one of my favourite city's in Finland and the house owned by my colleague's parents is perched on the side of a hill overlooking one of the two massive lakes for which the city is famous.

As seems to have become a tradition every time we visit, my colleague's dad prepared a smoked fish for lunch. Here is a picture of the smoke wafting across the garden from the hot smoker outside...

...and here is the fish (a whole Atlantic salmon), which turned out to be deliciously moist and tender (as always).
The weather was a little bit on the crappy side but there were sufficient breaks for a walk down to the public aquarium for a visit.
Later in the evening, during another break in the weather, we went for a walk to the lake shore. This is the view from the shore at around 11.00pm at was still quite bright.

Friday, June 19, 2015

My very short visit to the UK

I am currently waiting at Heathrow near the end of a 48 hour trip to the UK for a meeting. It was quite a rushed trip but I managed to enjoy myself nonetheless.

I arrived in the early evening on Tuesday local time and caught the very efficient Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station (and yes, I even managed to see Paddington bear at the Station).
I had booked into the Hilton hotel in Paddington which was much closer to the Station than I had expected (it was pretty much at the end of the train platforms).

After checking into my room and changing into my pjs, I was deliberating whether or not I should go back down into the hotel restaurant for dinner. It was already 11pm back in Helsinki (where I had come from), and I wasn't exactly hungry. Still, after checking out the menu online, I gave into temptation. This is what I had for starters (scallops)...
The next morning, I checked out after breakfast and headed back into the train station to catch my train out to Exeter.

Exeter is a lovely city (from what I saw of it anyway). I headed straight from the station to the University for the meeting. It was a nice campus (very green).
I was the first one to get to the meeting room and noticed that the organiser had ordered food for us, including some local delicacies (unfortunately, there was no Devonshire tea – even though we were in Devonshire).
Eventually, the others arrived and we ended up having a 5 hour meeting, which was then followed by a visit to the local pub, and then off to a fancy restaurant for dinner.

I headed back to my hotel in the evening. It was one of those old quaint little hotels that would be a fire trap if ever there was a fire (I was on the top floor in a room with a weirdly angled roof that made it difficult to stand anywhere other than around my bed. Still, I thought it was really neat.

This morning, after breakfast (the British do like their sausages), I made my way to the train station to catch the train back into London and then here to Heathrow.

Clearing security at terminal three, I must say, is an intimate experience. I set off the alarm so had to be patted down. Wow. It was like a full body massage with (almost) happy ending.

Feeling decidedly more relaxed after my massage pat down, I decided it was time to grab a bite so off to a french restaurant for duck, followed by a wander around the fancy shops.


Monday, June 15, 2015

The nasty hotelier

We went to the nearby town of Hanko the other afternoon to do some writing in a cafe, followed by a nice dinner.

We drove there using a car that my colleague had borrowed from his girlfriend's friend and had parked out the front of a hotel, next to the hotelier's car (judging by the logo on the side).

Anyhow, after dinner, we arrived back to the car and noticed that the hotelier's car had gone but there was a dint and a scratch on the side of our car.

We went into the hotel and the receptionist said that the car belonged to his dad but he was out so we gave her our details.

When we got back onto the street, we saw the hotelier's car parked on the other side so we walked up close for a look and saw that his car door was damaged, with traces of our car's paint still on the edge of the door (obviously he banged his car door against the side of our's).

So, armed with our new piece of incontrovertible evidence, we went back into the hotel and the receptionist said her dad was on his way.

He eventually showed up.

My first impression did not bode well. The hotelier was not a nice-looking man. He was fat, with a button nose, and an awful porn star moustache. And you don't have to be fluent in Finnish to realise that the conversation between my colleague and the hotelier wasn't going well. Basically, the hotelier denied it was him who had caused the damage.

We took him outside to show him the evidence, i.e. the scratch marks and paint on the door of his car. He became verbally aggressive. He blamed us for parking too close but still denied it was him – and stormed off back into his hotel.

We went to look for the police station but unfortunately it was closed so we came back to the field station without having resolved anything. I guess it will now be left to the insurance company to chase things up. I took lots of photos.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Strange customs

My colleague thought it was odd that I washed a capsicum and dried it before cutting it up (it was the drying that he thought was weird). Normally I wouldn't bother drying my freshly washed fruits and vegetables but I explained that the chopped capsicum were destined for my sandwich and I didn't want to make the bread soggy. He still told me I was strange as he was busily chomping on a mouldy carrot he had earlier retrieved from the bin.


Saturday, June 13, 2015


I arrived in Finland on Tuesday afternoon local time. It felt a little weird not to be arriving into Helsinki airport in the early morning (the typical arrival time from Asia/Australia), but it did mean having to wait fewer hours before bed time – but not before a nightcap with my colleague at Torni.
The next day we spent the day in Helsinki doing some work. Came across this Japanese restaurant with a rather unfortunate name. I wonder if it's good for business?
Later that evening, I caught the train to the city of Turku, where my colleague is based.

On Thursday, my lap top decided it had had enough travelling and died. For some reason, it wouldn't start properly. I took it to the local Apple store and the guy managed to fix it in the store but the computer stopped working when we got back to my colleagues apartment. In desperation, I thought about buying a replacement but then decided against it (I would have either been stuck with a new laptop with a Nordic keyboard or have to wait two weeks for a regular keyboard version to be shipped out). I decided to wait a day and see if the problem would rectify itself.

And it did! On Friday morning, after arriving at the research station, the computer came back to life. Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! To celebrate, I went to Hanko for ice cream with my colleague and student (I had maple walnut and a blueberry yoghurt).

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bye bye Boston

I'm flying out on one of these babies...a British Airways Boeing 747. This is so much nicer looking than the Airbus A380.

Apparently the BA fleet of 747s are quite old and crappy but I will be flying business class again (yay) and sitting on the top deck (double yay) so I don't mind. I guess it's got to be better than my regular flying experience (i.e., squeezed into Economy).

Last day in Boston

I spent my final day in Boston sightseeing and squeezing in one last lobster meal.

This morning I headed off to Chinatown again to find a Vietnamese pho restaurant that was recommended to me by a friend.

After 'brunch' I headed back to the hotel to relax for a few hours. My hotel room faces this art installation.
It looks like a colourful giant spider's web and is by a internationally renowned artist Janet Echelman. My photo doesn't do it justice (the sculpture looks even more spectacular at night when it is lit). I am rather surprised that birds haven't flown into the net.

In the early afternoon, I strolled over to the New England Aquarium. They have a really nice set up, with lots of interesting exhibits. These creatures were among my favourites (jelly fish, sea anemones, and an unusual red lobster).

Inspired by the lobster, I went back to Chinatown for late lunch.
I'm now relaxing back in the hotel bar sipping on a cranberry juice ahead of my trip to the airport. Europe next.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Chomping on conch

Stir fried conch (a kind of giant sea snail) was one of the very first chinese meals I had in Boston when I came here in 2004. Today, I had the opportunity to go to one of my favourite chinese restaurants in Chinatown to relive the experience. It was as tasty today as it was 10 years ago.

Woods Hole

I spent the weekend in Woods Hole, which is located on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Woods Hole is a significant place for me. I spent a year living and working there in 2004 and I went back to spend some time with my former landlady, Ginny, who celebrated her 81st birthday today.
Ginny is fabulous. She was the first woman to graduate with a degree in physics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During her career, she has worked as an engineer, a teacher at Harvard and, prior to retiring, as the principal of a school for troubled teenage boys on an island off the Cape. She has travelled widely, is highly progressive in her views, and was also one of the very first people I came out to. Indeed, her response and support when I came out paved the way for me for initiating many similar conversations with family and friends back in Australia. She is very special to me.

We celebrate her birthday with a couple of very nice meals in nearby restaurants. This is the three pound lobster I polished off on Saturday.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dog foot cheese

A few nights ago, I went to a French restaurant in Boston called L'Espalier. about amazing.

I went to the restaurant with three other participants from my organisation. One of the others had chosen the restaurant and I had no idea exactly where we were going or what to expect when we got there.

My initial feeling when I entered was one of apprehension. It was very fancy and expensive, and I felt horribly under dressed (all the other guys eating there were wearing at least a suit jacket).

Apprehension was quickly replaced with one of quiet acceptance though, once I began to peruse the delicious looking degustation menu, which I ended up ordering.

Course after course, the food came. Lobster. Lamb. Fish. Yum. Half the time, I wasn't even sure what I was actually eating (the waiters were very softly spoken) but everything was beautifully plated and tasty and there were a heck of a lot of courses (all delicately presented, of course, onto over sized plates).

Eventually, we came to the cheese platter and the waiter's attempt to explain the origins and qualities of all the different cheeses. And it was around this time that I embarrassed myself.

The waiter, as he methodically made his way around our selection came to an oozy, soft, pale orange cheese which I swear I thought he described as 'pungent with the aroma of dog's feet'. I was intrigued but also immediately thought I had misheard.

So...when the waiter reappeared in our vicinity, I asked him how he had actually referred to the cheese's aroma and he repeated his answer.

'Aha', I said with confidence, 'so you did say dog's feet'.

'No sir', he said calmly, 'I said pungent with the aroma of God's feet' before going on to explain why. (Don't ask me. I don't know. I didn't quite understand his explanation because his voice was so softy – and also because mid way through his explanation he started speaking in foreign tongue...I think it was French).

Anyhow, cheese plate consumed (God's feet and all), we were about to stand up and leave when the waiter brought new cutlery to the table. Apparently we were not quite done and even more courses ensued...a pre-dessert sorbet, a dessert, a dish I described as a 'post' dessert and then – just for good measure – a cookie in a bag to take home after we had paid and were about to leave.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Intense learnings

The leadership  course I have been doing here at Harvard has been extremely intense – but it has also been very rewarding. The facilities are great (I wish the buildings at my uni looked half as good) and the lecturers are all amazing too.
At the start of the course, we were each assigned to smaller study groups comprising eight fellow participants. We have been working very closely as within our groups. The group that I was assigned to is quite multinational, with two Aussies, a Pakistani, a Canadian, a Mexican, a Brit, an Azerbaijani, and a Spaniard. We all get along really well.

Yesterday, the Mexican suggested we go on an outing as a group. So...tonight we went to Fenway Park as a group. The game itself wasn't all that exciting (especially for a non-sporty person) but the atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic – and I was really surprised by the size of the crowd given that it was a weeknight.

 The Budweiser sign inside the stadium, which I think Nathan would appreciate.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Am starting my course today and was shown to my room.'s like living in a brand new, swanky 5 star hotel. Everything looks and smells so new. Got to love American philanthropy. 

Over done

Victor was right. Business class on American Airlines is nothing to rave about. In fact, I found their service a bit too much. They kept trying to offer passengers junk food every few minutes or clear away people's glasses (even when it was obvious that the drinks were not yet finished). The meals were over the top too (ice cream sundae with chocolate fudge sauce for dessert...the flight attendant was shocked when I said 'no thanks'.. It's quite the opposite extreme to flying economy on American, where you barely get any service at all.

A few interesting observations:

1. You can bring pets on planes in America.
2. When the pilot needs to go to the toilet at the front of the plane, the flight attendants push out a trolley and uses it as a barrier to the aisle of the plane (presumably to block undesirables from rushing into the cockpit).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Boston bound...

Well, not quite.

Got onto the plane, waited 40 minutes, and then had to get off again.

It seems that an A380 is just like any other electronic device...if first it doesn't work, try switching it off and on again.

Next, if that doesn't solve your problem, get everyone off the plane and call in the engineers.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two days at Mornington

I spent the last two days at a work retreat on the Mornington Peninsula. It was rewarding but also mentally exhausting. We had a facilitator to help us through the strategic planning and to help us come up with the big ideas. There were a lot of break out sessions, writing ideas onto post-it notes, and making things with pipe cleaners.

A few of my colleagues were sick with the cold and I was trying to steer clear from them as I'm heading off on my overseas trip tomorrow – and the last thing I want at this stage is to get sick. I'm not sure if I suceeded (you can't tell someone to bugger off when they are sitting next to you at breakfast).

I woke up this morning with a tingle in my throat. Hopefully I haven't caught something at the retreat. That would not be good.

Nathan went to Adelaide today so we had to put Truffles into a pet hotel this morning. I have taken the day off work so I could clean the apartment, organise all my stuff and get my packing done.

I feel very organised this time around. I even managed to work through most of my readings for my course in Boston and to complete the assignments (I will easily be able to polish off the rest when I am waiting at LAX for my connecting flight).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Holy Velociraptor!

This movie appeals to my inner palaeontologist.

Bits and bobs

I had some errands to run today in preparation for the trip. There were prescriptions that needed to be filled and foreign currencies that needed to be purchased.

By the time I had finished, it was already midday so Nathan and I decided to head into the city for lunch.

We settled on yum cha on Bourke Street at Shanghai Dynasty, which has the most garish decor of any restaurant I have ever seen.

I couldn't resist the beef offal stew, which contains tendons, tripe, and lungs. Nathan thought it was disgusting (says the guy who was happily munching on the braised chicken feet).

Playing tourist

I was hosting a colleague from Sydney this week. He had never been to Melbourne before so I decided to take a day off work to show him around on Thursday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't terrific but at least there was no rain.

We began our tour of Melbourne with a tram ride to Sonido on Gertrude Street for a South American breakfast. I had the arepa con huevo accompanied by a nice cup of hot chocolate.

After brekky, we walked along Brunswick Street, before cutting across to the Carlton Gardens so that I could show him the Royal Exhibition Building and the Museum (Because we are scientists, I made sure to point out the research spaces of the Museum from street level). We then continued onto Lygon Street and then The University of Melbourne, where we hopped onto a 16 tram to St Kilda.

When we got to St Kilda, we strolled down to the breakwater to try to look for penguins and water rats. We didn't see any. We walked back up to Carlisle Street and over to Chapel, where we hopped onto another tram and made our way to Victoria Street in Richmond.

My colleague's wife is Vietnamese Canadian and both he and she had travelled widely throughout Vietnam. He had a craving for bun bo hue so we went to Co Do, which specialises in the dish. The restaurant is reputed to serve the best bun bo hue in Melbourne (at least according to a Vietnamese lesbian I once met). My colleague said it was good and comparable to what he had in Vietnam. I was pleased.

After lunch, we took the 109 tram back into the city. We caught the tram from the dodgy street corner opposite the Minh Phat grocery carpark, which seems to be a haven for drug dealers. There were plenty of sketchy people out that day so my visitor got to see the slightly seedy side of Melbourne (I should have told him not to stare though).

We got off the tram on Collins Street, walked down to Hosier Lane to check out the beautiful street art, before heading over to Fed Square. My colleague needed to get to Geelong for a meeting but we had plenty of time so we decided to walk to Southern Cross Station along the Yarra. By mid afternoon, the sightseeing tour was over. I said goodbye to my visitor at the station and headed home.