Sydney April 2013 Round-Up

by Lullanotes on Sunday, April 28, 2013

I was in Sydney last week for a very short work trip. I arrived last Sunday noon and had very little free time but was still very glad to squeeze in an afternoon of dim sum lunch at Fat Buddha and coffee with Kevin and his family. Kevin used to work in the same company as me about 8 years ago and that was how long I didn't see him or even knew he moved to Australia and started a family. The funny thing about friends sometimes is everyone could be busy with their own lives and not see each other for the longest time but when the moment comes serendipitously to meet again, the heart is still full of gladness, particularly knowing that the other person has done well in life and is happy and that was exactly how I felt when I spent the afternoon with him and his family again. It made me humble and grateful that I had the opportunity to travel and have friends in different parts of the world. Also, I've heard that prior to my arrival, the weather was gloomy and cold but the few days I was in Sydney, the weather was sunny, bright and so beautiful.

View of the Sydney Opera House from Waterfront Restaurant at Circular Quay

Watching the buskers perform at Pitt street on a Sunday afternoon

I also did the two favourite things I wanted to do in Sydney.
1. Eat the delicious pippies in XO sauce with fried vermicelli at Golden Century Seafood Restaurant.
2. Have a drink at The Baxter Inn.

Photo taken from
393-399 Sussex St,
Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia

I was first introduced to these amazing pippies in XO sauce after a particularly heavy night of drinking which left everyone craving for supper. You can ask for fried vermicelli as an add-on and the thick, slightly hot XO sauce soaks its way through the crispyness of the fried vermicelli. The pippies are bigger than what I could have in Singapore. They are sinfully succulent and juicy and it was not difficult to work through a kilogram of them because you just want to keep going! I can't imagine it would be healthy to have so much of it.

Photo taken from The Vigilante Photographer's flickr
Basement/152-156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
I may not be a whiskey connoisseur and in fact am very far from it. I like whiskey teamed with ginger ale or green tea and I have been accused of "bastardizing" the finer points of whiskey many a time but hey, to each their own right? The Baxter Inn is located near to Four Points by Sheraton Hotel and one night, my coworker brought me there and we had to walk through a dark alleyway where there was a bouncer who studied us critically before motioning us to climb down a flight of stairs into a dimly-lit basement. I remembered replaying the word 'dodgy' in my brains and was ready to bail anytime I smell a rat ... but the moment we passed through the doors, it felt like I had walked into a different time into a different space. It had transformed into a 1920s saloon and all that was missing was me dressing in glitzy flapper dress holding a jeweled clutch with sleeked back hair and pearls around my neck. The "Wall of Whiskeys" was impressive and I had literally no idea what to order when my turn came so I settled for just house whiskey with ginger ale and watched in fascination all night as the bartenders climbed up and down a wooden ladder to access whiskey bottles placed as high as the ceiling. Because it always felt as if I had gone back in Time in The Baxter Inn, I made it a point to try visit everytime I am in Sydney and one day, I will turn up in glittery wear no matter how odd that may seem.

The work event ran on quite smoothly and I did my fourth attempt at public speaking. I was shaking with nerves initially but after facing the crowd for awhile, the nerves did go away and I retained my composure. I definitely could do better but I was just proud of myself for not letting nerves get the better of me. I suppose the important thing about public speaking is to practice and practice and bravely volunteer at every opportunity you get and one day, you will get used to it. In the meantime, I will keep practicing and going!

Well, something else also happened at the event which had never happened before but I am not ready to talk about it yet so ... we'll leave it for another day and another time. With the ending of the events, April is also about to come to an end. Travelling twice in a month especially even if one is leisure and the other is work is just too tiring and I have never been more glad to stay in Singapore and chill out with friends.

Goodbye but I'll always be a Glamour Girl

by Lullanotes on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I read the GLAMOUR magazine on and off — that is to say I read it when I have the ability to subscribe and starve off when I don't. In fact, I had let most of my fashion magazine subscriptions lapse for nearly a year, keeping only the subscription for National Geographic on my iPad. Recently Groupon had a promotion whereby you can get twice the amount of credits for what you purchase so I just paid twenty-five bucks for a fifty dollars credit. Not bad.

With that, I renewed my subscription for GLAMOUR and came across this final article by Louise Mensch for GLAMOUR as she leaves her column in a bid to keep it all within her plate for two upcoming books, a national newspaper column, her fashion blog, a spot of TV and her three kids.

Be a GLAMOUR girl in life. If I could leave you with one thought, it is this; you do not have to be like everyone else. Be ambitious. Intern. I did, and got a job in the record industry off the back of it. Spend Sunday afternoon sending out applications for dream jobs you think you have no hope of getting.

Don't slide into marriage with that guy you're seeing who you quite like and have been dating for ages, but don't love. You'll be miserable. The man who makes your knees weak and your palms sweat is out there. Don't settle for a roommate. Travel insatiably. Find cheap flights and go off on a whim on a long weekend to the cheapest destination available at the last minute. See plays. Network. Look around you, right now. Are you content with your town, your flat, your life? If so, great - if not, do something about it.

Start a blog. Read self-help books. GLAMOUR is not just about Oscar winners in golden gowns. It's about a big, beautiful, daring, ambitious life - the future is out there waiting for you to take it.

Yes, sometimes one can get a little deflated dealing with the everyday on-goings, particularly if 'everyday' is not a great day and why should it be? We all know enough that life is not a bed of roses, a box of chocolates whatever. Obstacles can seem so insurmountable at times and it's little reads like these even if it originates from a magazine, quotes you've come across from the internet, from Facebook even at the right moment right time that injects you with an extra dose of adrenaline to spur on and energize you to take another step.

Takeaway Notes from my Japan Trip with Mama

by Lullanotes on Monday, April 15, 2013

One of the few blooms left of the sakura at Ueno Park, Tokyo

Late last year in December, my mother and I decided to go to Japan for hanami. 'Hanami' (花見) is the Japanese traditional custom of viewing the beauty of flowers. We then booked our airtickets early with Delta to get the best pricing for even as early as December, hanami tours were already booked out and hotel availability is scarce in central locations. It was the first time I've truly travelled alone anywhere overseas with her and because I did all the planning so that it felt as if I was going on a solo trip. These were some thoughts that ensued.

1. We've been to Taipei the year before to visit my two aunties living there but since we had the constant company of my aunties, it never really felt that we were travelling with each other. Rather, it felt like a group tour for most part which I quite enjoy because I had no responsibility for her travel experience. The good thing that came out of this trip was obviously the fact that both of us survived unscathed. My mother could be frustrating to deal with sometimes and I also don't have enough of a placid temperance to match but it was very satisfying to see her marvel at seeing Mount Fuji and the sakura, some of the things she really wanted to see in her life so all the preparations and minor disagreements fade away in lieu of seeing that glow on her face.

2. Complete strangers are not always scary. I am never really the kind of person who finds it easy to make small talk with people I do not know. I may come across as being aloof but it is really shyness at work and possibly the fear of making myself look like an imbecile the moment I open my mouth. However I let myself go in this trip and talked extensively to two strangers I met. Jo is from Laoag, Philippines and arrived one day after me. She put up at the hotel I was at in Tokyo and I started the conversation because we were both wearing the same outfit - a denim shirt and leggings. With Jo, the conversation was all about our "bucket list" to do before we die. Jo planned this trip for her big 30th birthday and she really wanted to see the sakura so I also told her the best place to view them seeing how Tokyo wasn't cooperating and sakura bloomed way earlier despite me doing a five year trend analysis. Denise was an older lady from America and she was on the same Mount Fuji/Hakone tour as us. The coach ride to Mount Fuji and back took 2 hours each way. Denise and I found ourselves seated next to each other, talking a lot about her children and places she had been. The funny thing is with the both of them, I didn't feel the need to keep in touch although it would have been nice if we had too. They are, like I am to them, passer-bys in the passage of Life.

3. When it comes down to travelling with the Mother, it never hurts to over-prepare the itinerary down to details on what transport to take and how to take them and also plan in plenty of rest time no matter how fit she claims herself to be.

4. You don't necessarily have to spend a lot to have a great time. It was one of those trips whereby I was not bogged down by my consumerist tendency and also spent very little on food because as what a friend described, my mother has a chinese palette and didn't particularly enjoy experimenting. She was happy just eating corn dogs (which the Japanese actually called them 'American dog') and instant noodles bought from FamilyMart, her two favourite food on this trip even though I've brought her to try tempura, ramen, katsu karē and tonkatsu bowls at proper restaurants.

Although I had a good time with the Mother, I still find myself questioning my tenacity for another trip with her and wondering if it would be better off leaving it to the hands of a tour agency the next time round.

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