Our trip to Melbourne

federation square

a.k.a. Huai Ling goes to Melbourne. smirk

Our flight was a really interesting one – there was a bit of a commotion when it landed coz someone was apparently sick in the plane and no one could leave.


It was boarded by health and quarantine officials before everyone was let out. The original arrival time is just after midnight so I had planned to stay at Tullamarine since it’ll be almost 2 am by the time we clear customs and immigration. Tullamarine is where Melbourne International Airport is and I reckon we’ll just crash there and head down to the city the next morning. I did have it in my mind to check out sites like https://buymelbourneapartments.com.au/ while I waited. I know how desirable that city is so I know what to expect. It’s going to cost a lot.

I asked for airport transfer (which was complimentary) but for some reason we didn’t see the motel shuttle. We stayed at Ciloms Airport Lodge Motel (about USD 130++ per night) and since it’s just 0.5 km from the airport, I hailed a cab instead.

ciloms lodge

The taxi driver was Indian/Sri Lankan (as is the trend in Melbourne) and really didn’t want to go for the short time. It was a crazy ride that had Ling fearing she would die in Melbourne. Haha!

Anyway, we reached the hotel with all of our appendages more or less intact and the fare was AUD 15. My smallest denomination was AUD 50 and the taxi driver couldn’t make change and finally gave us AUD 40 – a AUD 5 saving, at the risk of life and limb. πŸ˜‰

We walked into the motel and discovered that there was no one at reception. -_-

Luckily, there’s a 1800 free phone number listed and a pay phone beside the counter so I called and the person who answered said he’ll be coming in 5 minutes.

ciloms airport lodge

5 minutes later, a shuttle pulled in loaded with Malay passengers from the exact same flight as ours. It was a free service that we didn’t see.

ciloms melbourne

Ciloms Airport Lodge is pretty decent – the other option is Ibis Budget, which is really crap. Our room even had a spa! πŸ˜€

ciloms airport motel

We didn’t use it though, there really wasn’t enough time.


The next day, we took the complimentary shuttle back to the airport and caught the SkyBus for AUD 19 each.

skybus tickets

Tickets please!

skybus hotel transfer

The SkyBus took us to Southern Cross Station where we took another SkyBus shuttle – the SkyBus Hotel Transfer is a feeder service that they run for free.


Our destination was Rydges on Swanston, which is right in the middle of town

off ya tree

I noticed that Off Ya Tree is still around. It’s a headshop (called a smartshop in Amsterdam) that sells all sorts of stuff from blunt wrappers to Ecstasy test kits.

trams melbourne

I also remember some very familiar shops like Nelayan and Club X.

club x

Their sex peep-shows are still AUD 2! It seems to be recession proof. πŸ˜‰


I showed Ling the big Myer in the city. It’s to Melbourne what Harrods is to London.


There were still plenty of buskers around – the really popular ones are still the painted statues which I’ve seen 10 years ago when I was studying in Melbourne.

aussie pies

We had breakfast at Hardware Lane (more about that later) and got pies for dinner. There’s a Chunky Pepper Steak Pie and a Bacon & Cheese Roll.

tim tams

I also got some of the deals on offer – Buy 1 Big M milk and get another Big M milk for AUD 4 (about RM 12), a 1.25 liter Coke with Tim Tams for AUD 6 (about RM 18) and a candy bar for just AUD 1 (about RM 3) with the previous combo.

purse melbourne

The prices are really cheap if you don’t convert. The next day, we headed to Phillip Island via V/Line (a bus servicing outlying areas in Victoria).

melbourne us

Hereby ends the Melbourne 2013 trip report for Day 1. πŸ™‚

How I Met Your Mother in Melbourne


This photo is our inside joke. I was wearing a shirt that Ling got for me. She’s wearing a shirt that I got for her (she really wanted to see koalas).

Quite a few people have commented that my updates have been infrequent since I’ve met her. Haha! We’ve been somewhat busy but I’ll be getting up to speed starting from today with regular posts. I’m catching a flight to Bali so here’s one last photo for the candy bar themed post.

custom candy ripe

This is a limited edition Cherry Ripe which comes with a blank spot where the candy name is supposed to go. It’s meant for you to write a message to your loved one in the (). I saw it and thought of her – wrote β€œLIFE, <3, (universe)” in the space and gave it to Ling.

I thought it’ll be a sweet thing to do. smirk

I’m in Melbourne with Ling!

hb ling melbourne

Greetings everyone! I’m in Melbourne right now for a couple of days with Ling. That’s her right there.

rydges on swanston

The photo was taken right in front of the tram stop at Rydges on Swanston, where we’re staying. It’s AUD 680 (about RM 2,100) per night!

victoria public library

This is the Victoria Public Library in front of Melbourne Central Station. I haven’t been back in about 10 years!


A lot has changed since then – MyKi is required for trams and trains. It’s a pre-loaded card that allows you to travel by just scanning it on public transport. It was still old school plain cardboard tickets when I was in Melbourne in 2003.

candy bars

Candy! These are variants that only Australia has.

no doz

No-Doz caffeine pills! For all your wakefulness needs. πŸ˜‰


Big M milk! There’s all sorts of flavors and 1% fat versions now. I remember blogging about this when I was living on campus in 2002 – there was a Big M Banana Flavoured milk giveaway on the campus shop the same month I *started blogging* due to the expiry date coming up.

photo bomb

Best photo bomb ever! Haha! It’s our first overseas vacation together. In a sense, this was how we met. The HIMYM story is actually slightly longer than that but how we started our relationship was due to this Melbourne trip. πŸ™‚

Posted: 6:08 pm Melbourne time (GMT +11)

There’s Nothing Like Australia!

Interesting fact:
This blog was started on the 19th of April, 2002 when I was living in Melbourne


I’ve lived in Australia for 4 years while doing my college and uni. I’ve also stayed in other places while growing up but nothing beats Australia in my heart. I’ve always loved the place and have been back three times since graduating! πŸ™‚

It’s a great country that has a bit of everything due to its unique location – you’ve got the temperate climates to the north to the infamous 4-seasons-in-a-day weather in Melbourne, towards the south. This makes it the perfect place for adventure lovers – there is a wide variety of activities to suit all tastes.

surfing byron

…and the things to do!


I like to travel around and experience new things and I did a lot of that while I was there. Hands down my favorite is snowboarding – Mount Buller in Victoria is where I learned skiing and snowboarding when I was there.

sea kayaking

There’s also sea kayaking in Byron Bay, New South Wales where you power over the surf and get to watch dolphins and sometimes even whales migrating. I thought that was a lot of fun!


If you love running, don’t miss the Six Foot Track 45 kilometer super marathon from Katoomba to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. It’s Australia’s largest 100% off-road running event.

bridge climb

Australia also boasts of having two of the three legal bridge climbs in the world. Well, you can technically climb bridges anywhere but you’ll be liable to a fine or jail time. Heh. Or you can do it legally at Sydney Harbour Bridge and Brisbane’s Story Bridge.


Highlighting the pure diversity of Australia, there are also camels in the β€œoutback” – the desert interior. These are the only feral herds of their kind in the world. You can have a camel safari right at the outback! Bet you didn’t know that about Australia! πŸ™‚

sand dunes australia

The Stockton Sand Dunes near Port Stephens are some of the largest sand dunes in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It can go up to 1 kilometer wide and 30 meters high at some places.

There’s also an abundance of nature activities and magnificent vistas in the Land Down Under:

It’s a very beautiful country – there’s the Great Ocean Walk between 12 Apostles and Apollo Bay. It’s Victoria’s (the state Melbourne is in) premier long-distance walking track where you get to see the tallest cliffs in mainland Australia, waterfalls cascading down limestone walls, ancient shipwrecks, Aboriginal middens and manna gums with resident koala populations.

I’ve heard that the 12 Apostles (rock stacks in the ocean) are steadily getting eroded so it would be a good idea to go visit soon!

12 apostles

Of course, there’s also Phillip Island with its unique population of little penguins. You can see the cute little things landing on Summerland Beach every evening during the β€œpenguin parade”. Photography is permitted but no flash is allowed coz you’ll scare them off.

Lake Eyre in South Australia is another popular destination – it’s one of the world’s largest salt pans and since it only fills up a few times a century, it’s drying up fast so this is another one to go for before it completely dries up. There are scenic flights over the lake.


There’s really something for everyone in Australia and while I’m talking about adventure and the outdoors over here (it’s what I’m into) there are a myriad of other activities for those who have interests that lies elsewhere. I haven’t touched even a tiny portion of what’s available for adrenaline lovers Down Under.


Shopping, dining (the best crab meal I’ve had was on a chartered river cruise in NSW), or just plain sightseeing, there’s a newly revamped portal at australia.com for you to browse through and decide what you want to do before you go.


The amazing thing is that every article in that extremely detailed website is also translated into perfect Bahasa Malaysia! There are also other language options and I found the new tourism video to be very aspirational – it’s the one that I titled this post after and you can see it right at the main page of australia.com

aboriginal dance

Cheers and I hope that you’ll come to love the country where I spent about 1/3 of my adult life living in as much as I do! πŸ™‚

Skydiving and sea kayaking at Byron Bay & Beyond

skydive byron bay

Well, there’s something to be said about starting your day by leaping off a plane 14,000 feet in the air.

Skydiving first thing in the morning followed by some sea kayaking action. I have to admit, I was probably the first one up and went knocking to wake some others that day. We were certainly the first boots on ground at the meeting point at the hotel lobby. Heh!

I was still half asleep when I signed the indemnity form.

byron bay skydive

The Tourism NSW and AirAsia X people were kind enough to see if they can get me into a custom solo AFF since I’ve been through the course before but unfortunately, it was too late. They only have tandem packages on the regular menu, so we all got into the tandem skydive at 14,000 feet (highest you can go in Australia) courtesy of Skydive Byron Bay.


I didn’t film myself coz I had gone through all these before but Alycia did so look at her video to see what it’s like! She also wrote about her experience here.

It was a lot of fun for me since I haven’t skydived in Byron Bay before (and certainly not in autumn) but it gave me this idea about jumping out of a plane without a parachute.

Have you seen the video?

There’s actually two people who has done it before and contrary to popular belief, you don’t just need to have balls of (forged) steel to do it. You’ll need some training as well, so you can maneuver and not slam into the other person in midair.

That would probably involve a lot of dying since most people pass out when they crash into each other in midair at terminal velocity and thus would be unable to deploy their chute, much less do a tandem harness in the sky.

This is the second person to do it, I thought it was technically more difficult than Travis’ first attempt.

Terminal velocity is around 195 km/hour (it changes depending on how you shape your body and other variables – you can go faster, that’s how a person who exits the plane after you can catch up) and we got to experience that for about 60 seconds but I was talking to our driver and she happens to be getting her license so I told her I wouldn’t mind jumping out of a plane without a chute when she’s gotten her license.

skydiving student

I was being totally serious btw.

Won’t it be the ultimate rush? You’re just depending on someone else’s chute and there’s so many things that can go wrong before you hook up and do the harness. It’s mind-blowing.

The mere fact that it’s mind-blowing means I have to try it. πŸ™‚

buttermilk pancakes salmon

Anyway, we headed out for lunch after that in a bright and sunny cafe (with one opt out from being sick from skydiving) – there’s nothing like having buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries and bananas doused with honey with a side of smoked salmon that’s equivalent to an entire family packet to get some energy for sea kayaking…

sea kayaking

…which is exactly what we did that same afternoon, to spot dolphins and whales in the sea. I was supposed to pair up with Ringo but she can’t swim and I’m not a good kayaker so I teamed up with Alycia (who could swim) instead. I reckon it’s a great thing coz me and Alycia never overturned our sea kayak (everyone else did).

sea kayaking alycia


sea kayak

Sea kayaking requires you to power over the surf (this is the most difficult part) as you head out to sea – aligning your sea kayak in a directional wedge against the incoming tide so you can go over the waves and into the calmer seas after the break.

sea kayaking group

It was a lot of fun, just rowing in tandem with Alycia and getting past the rather large incoming waves and then paddling out to sea. I never did quite figure out how to make an emergency turn in the strong tides and I nearly had a hernia pulling the sea kayak back to shore after all that but it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys and Alycia turned out to be an excellent partner. πŸ™‚

I didn’t remember to bring my waterproof digicam so all the photos are from the Cape Byron Kayaks Facebook page.

…so if you’re wondering just how fun a barrel of monkeys is, AirAsia X is having their Byron Bay & Beyond promotion for just RM 599 all in to Gold Coast now.


Just remind me never to wear Lycra.

The best of Northern Rivers in Australia

queensland nsw border

I just came back from Australia and we went to Queensland and New South Wales for a proper Northern Rivers experience. We actually landed in Queensland but the border to New South Wales is just about 5 minutes away from the airport. This is the obligatory β€œstraddling the borders” photo and the hotel we stayed in actually has one half in NSW and the other in Queensland! It helps with legislation, they had a casino in one part of the hotel.


Here’s some of the fun stuff that we did. Hand feeding a wallaby.

crab pots

Deadliest Catch: New South Wales. I love the series so I’m just going to go β€œYeah, sometimes you just have to set the pots and follow your heart. It’s been six weeks out at sea and I think the greenhorn ain’t gonna make it”. Heh! No, seriously, we actually pulled up some crab pots.

yabbie pumping

Yabbie pumping with Irina!


Here’s what a yabbie looks like – it has one huge claw and apparently, it’s edible. I wish I could say I caught this one but none of us had any luck with the yabbies.

mud crab

I had the most awesome mud crabs! Just look at the size of the claw. Now imagine sucking off the tender flesh and filling your mouth full of pure fresh crab meat with all the natural juices. I could eat it for the rest of my life!

(if only I can say the same about my relationships)

crab meat

I also learned how to eat it by picking out all the flesh with a crab fork to produce a bowl of sinfully pure crab meat. OMG I just love the way they prepare it, no sauces, just pure fresh crab. I would probably shank you with the crab fork if you took this bowl away from me. NO SHARING! *glares

hand feeding

Alright, don’t try this at home kids. Hand feeding is not recommended. Damn birds have tiny little teeth and they bite.

bacon poached eggs

Double bacon with two poached eggs on Turkish with grilled tomato and rustic potatoes at Cafe d’bar.


This is the view you’ll get while you’ve having breakfast. I know, it’s amazing. The tiny dots are people surfing.

finger lime

This is an Australian bush finger lime. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen – shaped like a finger and with perfect pearls of caviar like lime that bursts in your mouth. It’s not as sour as regular limes too.

flutterbie cake

The famous Flutterbie cakes with fresh cream, strawberries and jam in a quaint little cafe at Tyalgum – a tiny town with just a small row of shophouses right in the heartland of the Northern Rivers area. I can camwhore quite well eh? Reckon I got the act cute look down pat in this one. Yup, figure I did. πŸ˜‰

mavis kitchen

Lunch at Mavis’s Kitchen at Murwillumbah – the acclaimed organic low-food-miles restaurant which is featured in MasterChef.


Yes, you’ve been to Mt Warning…but have you planked in the middle of a road with Mt Warning as the backdrop? πŸ˜‰ Mount Warning is said to be the best place to catch a sunrise in Australia.

cattle auction

Cattle auction at Casino Beef Week in…Casino. Yup, it’s a small town in New South Wales. I just wish they had a casino so I can say I’ve been to a casino in Casino. It was awesome, we sat on bales of hay to watch the auction.


Babe was there too. The pig I mean. No, not that one, you mean, mean person. You outta be ashamed of yourself! The pink pig.

wood chopping

The very manly wood chopping competition. You can just smell the testosterone in the air…and also flying bits of wood chips if you’re not careful.

skydive byron bay

Skydive Byron Bay! Jumping out at 14,000 feet and experiencing a 60 second freefall is pure bliss.

byron bay

Imagine sea kayaking around this bay with the waves crashing through your kayak as you power into the great blue sea. We spotted a pod of dolphins too!

cape byron kayak us

This is the β€œAfter” photo with Alycia, my team mate in the kayak. We felt more exhausted than we look, or at least I did. She’s awesome though and we were the only team that didn’t overturn the kayak (insert asterisk for small print). #purewin

byron bay steak

This is the best steak I’ve had, bar none. Medium rare with tender beef that melts in your mouth. It’s at Byron at Byron, the only 5 star resort in Byron Bay. The steak is locally sourced and all the ingredients are from organic farms a couple of miles away. Perfect farewell dinner for the trip.


I wish the trip had lasted longer. Thanks to AirAsia X, Tourism New South Wales and Tourism Northern Rivers for organizing this trip. I really liked the limo. Yup, we had our very own limo, complete with champagne. Move out of the way, important people coming through. πŸ˜‰

Greetings from Gold Coast

point danger

Hola! Good day from down under! I’m still in Australia touring NSW and Queensland! I’ve been around quite a bit, going to go skydiving and visit the outback. Rural Aussie FTW!


Anyway, I’m here with Cheesie (eating the famous Flutterby cake). It’s a renowned pastry made with cream and homemade jam. Divine.


I’ve also had the chance to eat the Moreton Bay Bug (a kind of crayfish) here. That’s Alycia in the photo.

It’s been a great vacation so far! I’ll update again when I get back. Cheers!

Posted: 7:48 am New South Wales time (GMT/UTC +10)

Greetings from Melbourne


Hello, I’ve arrived in Melbourne yesterday or the day before, I
really can’t gather my scattered thoughts right now, The outdoor doof
was very cold. More about that later, got back yesterday and slept for
more than 24 hours (what a waste) to recover from my non sleep in the
day before I left and the non sleep in the plane. Anyway, I’m going off
now, I’ll do a day by day run through when I reach home, it will be
sporadic posts like this until I get back. Later!

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