Posted by: Leap of Faith | September 1, 2007

Tales from the Land Down Under

As if our previous partying (refer to blogs: A Totally Retro Night and A Royal Event) was not enough, we flew off to the land down under only two days after Marga’s birthday celebration. Our trip to OZ was officially our birthday celebration (gift) for our son, Rafael, who turned 7 years old last 11Aug07. Grammy Dollie, Wowo Jess and Wiwa Petite were so nice to join our family for this really memorable affair.

Barely breathing from our extremely hectic Manila schedule (and from carrying tons of luggage), we arrived safely at the Sydney International Airport on the morning of 08Aug07. The flight to Sydney, although uneventful, left Pinky and I pretty exhausted especially since we had to carry Marga on our lap the whole 8 hours!

Upon arrival in Sydney, we drove off to our serviced apartment (Meriton Pitt) using a maxicab. The apartments were still unavailable by the time we arrived so we just decided to deposit our luggages and take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. The location of Meriton was very desirable, being a few meters away from the Monorails’ Pitt Station and a stone throw’s away from well-known landmarks such as the Town Hall, St James’ Cathedral, Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and Hyde Park. Our stomachs were already growling by this time so we decided to take a light brunch (our first Aussie meal) in the ever-reliable Golden Arches (isn’t that always the first place you look for when travelling?).

The Meriton was such a great deal. Aside from it being substantially cheaper than a regular 3 or 4 star hotel especially for a big group like ours (i.e. since you pay per Apartment and not a per person basis), the place was also surprisingly clean and spacious. The apartment came with our own fully equipped kitchen and laundry area, which were truly heaven sent! At least we had no difficulty sterilizing Marga’s bottles and washing our clothes!!!

We did not want to waste precious time. So after resting and freshening up, we decided to trek to Darling Harbour and the Sydney Aquarium. Armed with only a desire for adventure and pumped up adrenalin, Wowo Jess and Luigi grabbed a map and navigated the whole group to what seemed like a never ending rolling terrain that could easily rival that of San Francisco. We were so excited to reach our destination. However by this time, my tongue was sticking out of my mouth from pushing Marga’s pram (Aussie term for stroller) and carrying her baby bag, which seriously felt like a 30 kg luggage.

The boys loved the aquarium and were just simply amazed by the wide collection of marine life. However, I was less impressed especially after seeing other similar (or better) aquariums in Cartimar (ooops, Singapore pala). The not-so pleasant (but definitely adrenalin pumping) exeprience we had at that time was losing Luigi for about 5 minutes while we were all going through the souvenir shop. Everyone was so engrossed looking at the many cute little items being sold in the store that we all ended up being separated from one another. Anyway, after a few moments of freaking out (Pinky on the verge of becoming an Aussie Sisa) we found a traumatized and teary-eyed Luigi inside the shop.

The following day we decided to take a hop-on, hop-off bus around Sydney and the Bondi Beach (pronounced with a long “i”). This is actually the best way to see the city given that it goes around the major tourist attractions and you can hop off the bus (and hop on again) anytime you want to enjoy a particular site. Aside from the usual Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Kings Cross and The Rocks, what I enjoyed the most is the beautiful scenic view of the Australian coastline and The Gap at Watson’s Bay. The Gap is a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a view that is literally to die-for. Apparently, rumour has it that this place was supposedly a favorite site of a few desperate souls who just wanted to call it quits. But whether that story is real or not is up to you to decide.

Watson’s Bay is home to the famous Doyle’s at the Beach, a world renowned restaurant that serves exquisite seafood to patrons who dine al fresco by the beach while they enjoy the beautiful view of the Sydney skyline. This must-try resto is pretty pricey so being the budget-conscious travellers that we are, we opted instead to just order from their more reasonably priced resto, Doyle’s at the Wharf. I must say, though, that despite the simpler menu and less attractive ambience (i.e. dine al-fresco by the park benches), the seafood at Doyle’s is still truly deserving of all praises. I’ve never tasted calamari as good as those from Doyle’s!

That evening we spent time touching base with our long time friends, the Alvarezes (Rahnee, Ryll and their cousin, Shellane). We had dinner in this quaint restaurant right smack in the heart of the city’s Chinatown, which by the way is much, much cleaner than our Binondo back home.

The following day proved to be equally as exciting as we spent the whole day in the Taronga Zoo. This zoo is not like any other mainly as you need to take a 15 minute ferry across the Sydney Harbour to the zoo entrance. Those who have motion sickness (i.e. like Pinky) may not initially enjoy the ferry ride until they see the breathtaking seaside view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, which is enough to make those dizzy spells disappear instantaneously.

Those who want some (cheap) thrills (like me) will enjoy the free cable car ride to the zoo entrance, which gives you a good aerial view of the (hungry looking) animals lurking below. Highlights of this animal sanctuary of course is the local wildlife, which includes the loveable koalas, kinky kangaroos, wannabe wallabees and the nocturnal wombats.

Dinner that night was pretty special as we were invited by Wowo Jess’ best friend, Tito Danny Dela Concepcion, his charming wife, Tita Tessie, and lovely daughter, Andrea, to a homecooked meal which comprised of shrimp with avocado and Rock and Pacific oysters (for appetizers) and baked ham, fried wonton and steamed rice (for the main course). Pinky and I particularly enjoyed the oysters, which tasted really good when sprinkled with a dash of hot sauce. Wowo Jess and Wiwa Petite checked out of the Meriton that evening as they needed more bonding time with their long lost buds.

Still feeling like a fattened cow ready to be slaughtered, we decided to change our planned itinerary for the following day. Instead of going on a full days trip to the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves, we just decided to take it slow and fully enjoy the beauty of Sydney (anyway, this was our last day in the city). We decided to take a stroll across the Hyde Park into St Mary’s Cathedral and further down into the Royal Botanical Gardens, where we decided to have lunch in a garden side cafe, which served delicious gourmet sandwiches. The boys, of course, did not enjoy it that much since it was a far cry from the delectable deli sandwiches from McDo, which they are so used to.

Energized now, we continued our brisk walk outside the gardens (which, by the way, was full of people who were lazily resting and sun bathing, some even daring to go topless – in winter time, at that!) and by the quay and opera house. Further down the path was the Rocks, which was the original settlement of the British convicts who were exiled from the Kingdom. We were fortunate to have experienced the weekend market, which showcased a wide selection of goodies from little trinkets to expensive looking artworks. We were planning to go back to Chinatown that evening but could no longer do so due to sheer exhaustion. Eventually, we just decided to take out Japanese food and munch it at home.

The following day we were off to the Gold Coast. Unfortunately, it is now late in the evening and my mind and body are about to shut down. Anyway, I feel that the Gold Coast is worthy of another lengthy blog. So brace yourself and get ready to strain your eyes
again soon. Until then.

Entrance to the Sydney Aquarium. Hmmm, Rafael hindi yan si Jaws.

Peace mate!

The Sydney Opera House

Harbour Bridge, I wanted to do a bridge climb but did not have the time (and the guts) to do it.

Clowning around at the King’s Cross.

A spectacular view of The Gap.

and the Watson’s Bay park.

Take-out from Doyle’s Fishermans Wharf. Eating Al Fresco by the Watson’s Park.

Busog na busog. Burp!

Now it’s the birds time to eat.

Tito Danny and Tita Tessie with Wowo Jess…

Rahnee, Ryll and Shellane with me at Chinatown…

and the other family we met at the zoo.

We’re tired… let’s take a ride.

The cable cars at the Taronga.

Inside the Royal Botanical Gardens. Pinky in a “hug me” pose.

Break time under the shady trees.

Window shopping at the Queen Victoria Building (QVB).

Shopping for trinkets at the Rocks.



  1. Wow, detailed blow-by-blow from someone who claims to have poor memory! 🙂 The Oz trip, though exhausting, was very much a welcome break from our equally strenuous lives here in the Kingdom. One realization is that Oz is not a bad place to be permanently… Whaddyathink? Abangan…

  2. It’s called selective memory, hon. Yup OZ is really a nice place to live in. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and see what happens in the future.

  3. i got exhausted just reading your blog!!! wow, sounds like you guys really had a blast down under. makes me wonder when i’d get to go to oz… for now, i’ll just do my usual wishful thinking. lookin forward to your gold coast post, mate!

  4. Rindu, you can just imagine how tiring our trip to OZ was. The Gold Coast… hmmm, another long blog!

  5. it’s really nice to travel for pleasure. mukhang yung have plans of living in Oz ah! 😀 thanks for sharing the first part of your Oz vacation. ilang parts ba ito? hee hee! looking forward to the next installment. 😀

  6. It really is Weng. OZ is so beautiful, we are praying that God would allow us to move there someday. My blog just covers the first part of our vacation. Next part is the Gold Coast!

  7. Hi Keith, I had fun reading your blog. Parang nag tour narin ako ng Sydney as it seems you guys know of it now than us. hehehe. During our short stay there, we probably saw only half of what you guys enjoyed. Maybe next time we meet, we can go touring that part of Oz naman. hehehe.

  8. Carrie, Sydney is beautiful. Better have a vacation and go to all those sites. Ask Monty and Millie (and Alyssa) to join you guys. I’m sure you will enjoy it too.

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