Sunday, August 24

The Chinese Gardens of Friendship

On my last day in Sydney I walked to Darling Harbour from the Pensione Hotel - really only a 10 minute walk - to the Chinese Gardens of Friendship. Oh, I am so glad I did.  It is only $6 for adults to go in and as I was looking for the money in my purse the lady behind the counter caught sight of my Concession Card and told me I only had to pay $3.  Bargain!!!  Well worth the full price and much more.

I have only recently been in Yu Yuan Gardens in Shanghai and have over the years visited several other Chinese gardens in China and generally enjoy them all, but this one is the best I have seen. Perhaps because of its large size and despite being right in the middle of Sydney, it didn't seem as crowded as others I have visited.  The photos show that it certainly has high rise buildings surrounding it - but it is not only beautiful but peaceful - with the only sound being the birds (and there are many), and the waterfalls and other water features.

Entrance to the Chinese Garden

I wandered around with my Samsung Camera (it was threatening rain when I left the hotel so chose to just use the smaller camera.)

Everywhere there was signs explaining the various aspects of the garden.  The tea garden/cafe is behind the entrance but I found it and had a coffee and Chinese pastries, before heading out for more exploration of Darling Harbour.

Sydney Markets

I was so blessed to have chosen Pensione Hotel in George St, Sydney to stay in - it was a stroke of genius actually, and I am most likely to choose to stay there when/if I go to Sydney again.  It is just so convenient to everything and I am a great fan of the Pensione Hotel in Melbourne too.

The room on the third floor was all I could ask for - it was quiet, despite looking over busy George Street - I was one of the first dropped off by the shuttle and one of the last picked up - for me a bonus as I have a history of car sickness so less time in a vehicle going "round and round" saves me from great embarrassment!  Unlike the Melbourne counterpart there was no coffee lounge/cafe on site, but right in the midst of Chinatown, and busy George Street with all the eateries, it was not an issue.

I didn't have to spend a lot on meals - but chose a variety of places including a Korean cafe, Chinese, French Bakery etc.  and enjoyed a great steak at Tokio Hotel at Darling Harbour!  None of which "broke my budget."

It was a good walk into Circular Quay - and my Fitbit was pleased with my efforts - praising me for going well over my target.

On the first day I did find the markets - Paddy's Market was downstairs and I wandered around exploring the items there - only buying one small thing, which I will reveal at some later stage. Upstairs above Paddy's it felt like being back in China again - many Chinese shops, and a great food court.

There was a brilliant Umbrella display - and I am so thrilled with my photos.

Walking around the Chinatown area was interesting.  Perhaps I can say again, that it did feel a little like walking around China - though much cleaner.

Again more protests and information about Human Rights in China.  I met a Chinese man, who told me that he was born in mainland China 74 years ago, and as he had graduated from university he was persecuted.  He did not explain.  However, he managed to escape and came to Australia.  He is very worried about the future of China.  Had an interesting chat with him.

I found a few retaurants - hot pot and Korean BBQ - that I might visit when I return.  Great place and so near my hotel.

I did consider going to the movies, and went to the Events theatre along George Street.  I have never had to pay $39.90 to attend a movie and won't be starting any time soon - Concessions?  Start at 1 pm.  Sorry.  Glad I didn't go, though I do look forward to seeing the movie "The Hundred Foot Journey" at Bribie Twin Theatre, where I pay less than $10!!!

The Rocks at Sydney

My next stop (on the bus - The Sydney Explorer where you can get on and off at the many stops) was The Rocks area of Sydney.  Now I had been here on several occasions in the past, and I was thrilled to go again.  I wandered into the Ken Done Gallery, and  noted the Ken Duncan Gallery, and walked through the food market.  I found a great button shop (with antique and new buttons) in the Nurses' Walk area of the Rocks.  I wandered back and forth, took photos, but just enjoyed the sights and sounds.  There were great queues for food in the markets and some great food - though I only bought some wonderful dried fruits.

Cadman's Cottage is right there - and I was impressed to see school children all dressed ready to visit the Cottage.

The food markets

Water feature
I walked around reading the information on the buildings and visiting some shops.  I went into one shop where a Frenchman Louis Cardini sells his wonderful leather goods.  I was in awe.  Sadly, apart from the fact that I was not out "shopping" the prices were above my budget, but Louis was a delight to meet and he clearly is so proud of his amazing work.

I walked on back along George Street to the Pensione Hotel - planning to go out again later, but in the end I decided to rest my worn out feet and legs.

Day Two of my Hop On Hop Off Bus (Sydney Explorer) Tour

I am sure I have mentioned that I prefer to start the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour around midday on day one, and complete the tour on day two.  Otherwise it is difficult to fit much in - and even so I didn't manage to do all I wanted.  There is so quick brekky at a place on George St, and walked to the Town Hall bus stop - just in time to catch the bus.

I had two places I wanted to visit on this leg of my journey - one was the Sydney Opera House and the other was The Rocks area.

Along the journey to the Opera House I watched as so many places passed hat I wish I had time to stop and see.  (Maybe I will have to go again another time....)

We were soon at the Opera House.  I recall when it was opened on October 1973 - we were living in Sydney and we went somewhere in the hills so that we could see the fireworks.  It was some distance from the Opera House but I do recall seeing them.  But I was no to visit this great icon - until this visit to Sydney.

I walked around the perimeter of this amazing building - with camera in hand (working overtime of course.)  These are just some of the photos.

After circumnavigating the complex, I went down "under" and had a coffee and a wonderful citrus tart.

The seagulls are friendly!

It is here that many of the buses drop off visitors/tourists, especially those from China - where there is a constant protest
about issues in China - from fulong gong, to the secrecy of China's Communist Government.

Water drips down the rock wall - managed to catch a drop.

The Hop on Hop off bus.

Thursday, August 21

My Birthday Holiday to Sydney

Back a few months ago I planned to celebrate my birthday with a trip somewhere.  I thought of Tasmania (I have never been there), Darwin (I have been but would like to spend more time there) but in the end I chose Sydney.

We lived here on two occasions many years agao - but each time it was with small children so I had little chance to see all around.  Some years later with my daughter and granddaughter we came back for a few days.  I wanted to have a good look around!!!

And so it was that I flew here yesterday (Wednesday 20th August) - caught a shuttle to the hotel (Pensione Hotel) and after booking in, went for a walk around the area.  I booked at the Pensione because I like the Melbourne Hotel of the same name, and when I saw it on the map I realised it was within walking distance of many great places here.

On my first day I went to the markets - Paddy's - nearby, and had a wonderful time wandering around in and out of shops etc.  

Today (Thursday 21st) I walked right into the city - in fact to Circular Quay and caught a ferry to Manly.  I had a giggle to myself - it cost only $2.50 return - there are benefits in getting older!!!

Walking on Circular Quay

Passing the iconic Opera House

A bit further away

Manly Wharf

After arriving at the Manly Wharf I walked along the Corso to the sea and sat for a while.  The sun ws shining and it was a delight.  

I don't recall that I have every walked through the Corso in my previous visits to Sydney and Manly - at least I have no memories of it.  

It was a lovely day really - well, at least when I was in Manly.  I did pop into a few shops but didn't buy anything.  I just wandered exploring.  

Inside St Matthews Anglican Church at Manly

Sunday, August 17

I met Jack the Cockatoo at Penrose Park, Silverton, NSW, in 2012 not long after I started my round Australia journey.

He dances and then goes down into the hollow of a tree trunk.  Funny Jack.

Saturday, August 16

English Conversation Progam in China

Chinese students need more “conversation” experience – which is why a university in Shaoxing is considering a new program where native English speakers visit the university and spend time speaking with students.  It may be that a formal program will be developed (more information on that later), but initially I am interested to find anyone interested in participating in the program.  While ESL experience is welcome, it is not necessary – just the ability to converse on a range of topics which may include general health, public speaking, creative writing and other topics.  

Read about Shaoxing here.  (It is roughly south of Shanghai)

Participants will need to pay their own transport costs to and from the university, their own Visa and travel insurance – but will be offered free accommodation and meals on the campus.  It will enable you to explore China on the 3 or so days when you will not be required on campus.  Similar programs operate in parts of Europe.  The city is a very interesting historical place and has many interesting places of interest and is not far from Shanghai and Hangzhou.  It is possible to visit places like Xi’an or Beijing for a weekend or before or after the program. 

There is a possibility of a trial run of the program in October/November, and then in April/May 2015.

(Travel, Visa and Travel Insurance would be approximately $A2,000.)

Also they are keen to hear from anyone who wishes to teach English at the university – however, to be considered for this you need to be under 60 years of age (Chinese government  requirement apparently, and have a university degree.)  Semesters start in September and February and 6 or 12 month contracts are available.

If you or anyone you know is interested please send me a message or leave a comment, explaining which program you would be interested in, and when, and I will send further information.