Sunday, March 29, 2009

A day at the beach

Nate and I met up with some friends today at the beach. We had scheduled to meet them in the morning. This was a mistake given our late night out the previous evening. We had to take a detour when the friend we were meeting left his wallet at work. We ended up meeting him near his place so that I could give him some money to get the train out to Mentone.

By the time we reached Mentone, Nate and I were like walking zombies. A greazy breakfast at the 'Charisma cafe' near the train station provided a temporary respite before we made our way by footfrom the train station, along Beach Road, and then (finally) to flat rock point. It took a while to hook up with our other friends. They were lying on some other beach a few kilometers up from where we were but it took us a good 10 minutes to realise that we were not at the same location.

Me: Where near the surf club now. Where are you guys?
Andreas: We are near the surf club.
Me: But I can't see you guys. Wait. What colour is your surf club?
Andreas: Red and blue.
Me: Shit. Ours is blue and yellow.


Went to The Greyhound Hotel last night. It was my first time. I'd been past many times before. Nate was hit by a car on the intersection when he was 14 (which he keeps reminding me). As for the venue, I'd heard lots of negative comments about the place but I had a really good time. The drag shows, in particular, were a hoot.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The city is a shambles

Trams are delayed. People everywhere. And that God-awful sound of racing cars buzzing in the distance.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The not so generous eel meal

Last night I went out for Japanese food with a friend from work. As I perused the dinner menu, I saw one of my favourite dishes...unagi (grilled eel). I chose the version described as "a generous portion of eel on rice" which was substantially more than the regular 'eel on rice'. When the dish arrived, I was very disappointed. I think the chef must have a very warped understanding of what 'generous' means because, although tasty, generous it most definitely wasn't. I ended up ordering a salmon and advocado salad on the side.

Nevertheless, inspired by unagi, my friend and I decided to buy some already-grilled-frozen-eel from an asian grocery store near the restaurant. We got so far as the counter when we realized our so-called japanese unagi was made in China. We tossed it back in the freezer and left.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It was all worthwhile...

I stepped in to deliver four lectures this semester in a course that I have never taught before. I was quite daunted by the prospects because I had very little time to prepare the lecture material (our head of department made a last minute request for someone to step in because the department had stalled in the interview process for new academics who were suppose to teach in that course). Today I delivered the first of the lectures. It ended with spontaneous applause from the students. I guess it went well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Went out for korean food last night. We decided to be adventurous and ordered an anglerfish (monkfish) stew. This is what the fish looks like:

This is what it looks like after it has been transformed into the stew:

The stew was slimy, gelatinous and most definitely an acquired taste.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Car park dilemma

I own a car space in the apartment where I live. In the last couple of weeks, an inconsiderate pleb has been repeatedly parking his/her car in my spot. At first, I thought it was legitimate mistake and left a polite note asking the owner to remove their vehicle. A few days later, they did it again. Once more, I left them a polite note (discretely replacing mine with the more terse one that Nathan had earlier left on their windshield). Late last week I discovered the same car parked in my space for the third time. This made me angry (very, very angry). Hypothetically speaking, if one should find themselves in such a predicament, is it excusable to do one (or more) of the following?

(A) scratch the car up (just a little)
(B) let out some air from the back tyres
(C) stick a potato in the exhaust pipe
(D) pour fish sauce in the air intake

How I almost missed my flight

I'm in Canberra this weekend visiting family but I almost didn't make it to the airport in time to catch my flight yesterday afternoon. I completely mis-timed how long it would take to get back from work, pack my bag, and go to Southern Cross to catch the bus to the airport. In the end, I decided to head straight to the airport from work. Looks like I may have to wear the same shirt for the next two days. Fortunately dad has a couple of new, clean underwear I can borrow!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The great train debacle

There were train issues heading home from work yesterday. Due to an 'incident' at the previous station, city bound trains were cancelled. In hindsight, I would have been better off waiting at the station until services resumed. Instead, I decided to take the bus to a different station and to try and intercept a train from there. Well...what an adventure. I ended up taking four buses and three trams to get back to the city. The travel time? 2.5 hours.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The scrawny woman with the satanic scowl

Maybe it's public transport angst that I am projecting but I've taken a real disliking to a fellow commuter. Of course, I know absolutely nothing about this woman and am judging her solely on her physical appearance and behaviour which, I guess, makes me an extremely superficial person. But seriously...There is absolutely nothing (nothing!) endearing about this woman. If Amy Winehouse had intimate relations with Noah Taylor, and if the tryst resulted in a daughter, she would probably grow up resembling the woman I am describing. Her rake-thin body is accentuated by a hideous long black leather trench coat. She has a permanent scowl on her fish-like face and seems to be forever holding a rolled cigarette between her lanky, scarlet-painted finger tips. Apart from her haggard bad looks, she is also a most inconsiderate commuter. Forget queue etiquette here...this woman uses her pencil thin physique to good use, darting and weaving between others to get to the front of the bus line. And once she's embedded herself in the line, she will sneakily move closer and closer to the front of the queue by strategically blowing her acrid cigarette smoke onto others.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Holiday over. Back at work. No public holiday Monday for me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sydney - Day 5

My cousins took us through the back streets of Sydney to Cabramatta for lunch. We went to a restaurant that specialises in sugar cane prawn wraps. I've never had this dish before but boy was it good. Minced up prawns are coated around sticks of sugar cane then grilled to perfection. These arrive at the table with squares of rice vermicelli, a basket of herbs, a small container of fish sauce (for dipping), dried rice paper sheets and a bowl of boiling hot water. Then it was a (simple?) case of assembling the meal at the table. This procedure first involves softening the rice paper in the boiling water. Once softened, the rice paper was used to wrap a sliver of the grilled prawn, vermicelli and herbs. After wrapping, the whole thing is dipped in the pungent fish sauce before consumption. Delectable.

In the evening, Nate and I met up with some friends and headed off early to Oxford Street to stake out a spot for the mardi gras. We managed to get a prime position right at the start of the parade route then waited (and waited). Eventually the dykes zoomed past and the parade began.

The atmosphere was fantastic. I even managed to see someone I knew marching along in one of the floats. He was clantily dressed in a leather outfit with the bears, which was quite a contrast to the softly spoken, conservatively dressed person I knew him to be (the sort of guy who always wore his polo shirts with the top button done up). We left just before the parade ended, weaving our way through the crowd, the rubbish and the streams of urine trailing down the side walk near Elizabeth Street.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sydney - Day 4

Headed off to Bondi beach in the morning. Neither Nate nor I had ever been to Bondi before so we decided to go there for breakfast and a stroll. Saw lots of tourists, surfers and swimmers but nothing like what was photographed the day before...

Went to Oxford street next for a bit of shopping and then back to Newtown for a siesta before meeting up with friends at a local pub. The pub was chosen by virtue of the fact that there were $3 Calsbergs to be had. Being a non-drinker, I settled for a soda water which cost $3.20. How wrong is that? Attempted to have an early night. Failed miserably.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dragon fruit... overrated. I think I had high expectations given the brilliant appearance of the fruit. The two I bought yesterday were a variety that had magenta-coloured flesh (instead of the usual white with black seeds pictured above). I decided to cut one open last night. Juicy but tasteless.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sydney - Day 3

While Nathan was busy climbing the Sydney Harbour bridge today, I strolled from Circular Quay back up to Paddington to check out an aboriginal art gallery that I had difficulties finding a couple of days ago. This time I wrote down the address on a scrappy piece of paper and managed to find the gallery hidden behind a laneway. I spent the next hour with the gallery staff rummaging through their collection of bark paintings. I was particularly interested in works by a senior Kuninjku artist from Western Arhem land by the name of Mick Kubarkku who passed away recently. Kubarkku painted rather whimsical-looking spirit figures and totemic animals. His paintings are held in all of the major public galleries in Australia (the National Gallery of Australia recently bought a number of his works for their collection) and are quite pricey and hard to find (Kubarkku stopped producing works a few years ago due to ill health). To my absolute surprise, the gallery had two of his paintings for sale and, even more surprising, they were actually affordable. I bought the echidna pictured below.

I met Nate afterwards back at Circular Quay at the Museum of Contemporary Art where we shared the world's most expensive salt and pepper squid. We then made our way to Paddy's market where Nate decided to indulge in a massage. I left him in the capable hands of the chinese masseuse and headed over to the fruit section where I bought two of these.

They are called dragonfruit and belong to a species of epiphytic cactus native to Mexico. It has the most amazing magenta-coloured flesh.

Caught up with my cousins for dinner. We had planned to try a Malaysian roti place but it was packed and the queue outside wasn't really moving so we went to Menya, a japanese ramen place.

I was extremely tempted in taking up their Godzilla ramen challenge. The rules were simple. Cosume a bowl of their Godzilla-sized ramen in 30 minutes and it's free. Sounds easy? Well, it's not. The Godzilla ramen is 4 times the size of a normal serve of ramen and weighs in at an impressive 2kg. I was tempted but chickened out at the last minute and opted for a 'mega' ramen instead (which was merely 2 times the size of a regular serve).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sydney - Day 2

Caught the ferry to Manly today for brekky. Nate and I strolled around for a bit before settling on a cafe that seemed to be the most popular on the street. We were not disappointed. I managed not to order the big brekky. Instead, I was drawn to the fried calves liver. Mmmm...offal.

Afterwards, we headed back to Circular Quay and were planning to take the ferry to Darling Harbour but made the decision to walk there instead. This was probably unwise in the light of all the walking we had done yesterday (both of our legs were still sore). Nonetheless, it was a nice stroll along the Rocks, piers and city. We caught up with a friend for lunch who is Sydney for his job (he is a member of an orchestra) before heading back to Circular Quay (this time by ferry) to catch a bus over to Dank Street in Waterloo.

Dank Street made me feel as though I had died and gone to heaven. Nestled amongst a bunch of commission flats was the most amazing street full of funky art galleries and furniture shops. The icing on the cake was realizing that we could catch the bus back to Newtown afterwards. Am having dinner 'in-house' tonight with friends. Nate needs to rest up for his harbour bridge climb tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sydney - Day 1

Nate and I did a shit load of walking today. We left Newtown in the morning and walked over to Chinatown where we had a chinese brekky before going to Darling Harbour to visit the Sydney Aquarium and the (newer) Wildlife Park next door.

Afterwards, we made our way to the Fish Markets via Star City (I swear that the sight of fish was not the motivation for feasting on them afterwards). I ordered 200grams each of sashimi-grade tuna, kingfish and salmon and had an amazing lunch.

Caught the light rail back to the city and had intended to visit an aboriginal art gallery but I got completely confused and ended up near the wrong Phillip Street off the wrong stretch of Elizabeth Street (I hate it when different streets are given the same names!). Fortunately we were close to the Art Gallery of NSW so we walked over to there instead for a drink. Art Express was on. This showcase of the top works by HSC students was a sight to behold. There are some truly talented young artists out there. Unfortunately the Archibald doesn't open until the weekend so will have to go back to the Gallery later.

After the Art Gallery, Nate and I decided to walk over to Kings Cross and then to Paddington to look for a few more galleries (with varying degrees of success) before making our way back to Chinatown where we caught up with a friend for a quick bite.

Am now back in Newtown, sprawled on a couch. My feet are sore!

Planning to go to Manly tomorrow.