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South Island & Sydney trip

  • Submitted by: Helen Pederslie
  • Submission Date: 14th Feb 2005



Trip Summary/Description:
7/30/93 Singapore - Christchurch
8/1 Christchurch - Queenstown
8/4 Queenstown - Mt. Cook
8/6 Mt. Cook - Christchurch
8/7 Christchurch - Sydney
8/9 Sydney - Singapore




DISCLAIMER:




This travel log was written solely for the purpose of providing the trip participants better means to remember this trip after their memories begin to fade. Therefore, if you like it-we will be happy for you, if you don't like it-don't come to us with a lawsuit for mental hardship! :-)

Email Address for Comments/Questions:
76244.1411@compuserve.com (Robert Pederslie)

We actually experienced three seasons all in one week! It was Winter time in New Zealand, and it snowed while we were skiing. Then, in Sydney, we experienced wonderful sunny Spring weather, and we were able to bask in the warm sunshine while lunching at an outdoor cafe overlooking the Opera House. Finally, it was time to head back home to Singapore, where there is a perennial Summer of hot, humid weather.

Friday night, July 30, Robert and I kissed Tiggra and Teddy goodbye, then left to catch a red-eye flight to Christchurch, New Zealand. We decided to have dinner at the Changi Airport in Singapore after we checked in. Bad mistake! Apparently, the Swenson's restaurant at the airport was a very popular hangout with the locals, and it was jam-packed. Then I remembered my colleague telling me that she loved to take her family to the Airport for family outings.

For the first time in my life, I actually slept more than Robert on the Air New Zealand flight. We must had been in a great mood, since we had such a good time even at the Auckland Airport during our 2 hour stopover. It was a nice new airport, and you could see faraway mountains. We even 'wowed' over the nice, clean bathrooms. Boy, we must have been away from real civilization for too long! It was a drizzly morning at Auckland, and it certainly reminded us of Washington State weather. For some strange reason, our flight from Singapore to Auckland was mostly filled by Caucasians, but the connecting flight to Christchurch was full of Japanese tourists. By the time we arrived at Christchurch, it was already dusk. Since the drive to Queenstown was an 8-hour one, we had decided to stay at Christchurch that night. What a thrill it was to pick up the rental car from Avis Rentacar...we hadn't driven for so long! It was actually quite cold at Christchurch, but we didn't mind at all. We were really enjoying the cold, crisp air.

Christchurch is definitely a very sleepy town even though it is already the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand. It basically resembled a very large suburb. Our hotel, the Noah, was situated right next to the Avon River. It was very cozy. We were pretty tired from the flight, so we just had dinner downstairs at the Brogues Restaurant. It turned out to be a very good dinner! The highlight was the Chocolate Fondue! Mmmmmm..... Needless to say, we headed straight to bed after pigging out at dinner. It was so nice to snuggle in bed once again. Singapore's weather is definitely not made for snuggling.

Couldn't believe that we actually slept for nearly 11 hours straight! I guess the cold weather really helped. We immediately started on our journey to Queenstown, where we had planned to do some skiing. Along the way, we saw lots of tall hedges that the farmers had planted. The hedges were big and tall, and were trimmed very nicely. The wind must be very severe there. Robert and I couldn't believe how similar New Zealand was compared to Washington State. They had lots of nice tall evergreen trees, and mountains everywhere. Beautiful! New Zealanders all seemed to like to 'hug' the shoulder when they drove, but we didn't think that driving partially on the shoulder was particularly comfortable. Once we were cruising behind this pretty fast car, and Robert was busy turning up the music on the radio, when all of a sudden we saw this cop car approach us from the other way. The policeman flashed his lights at the car in front of us, then flashed his lights at us. Rats! Busted! So we pulled our car over to the shoulder to wait for the cop to turn around, but the other car decided to pull into a side street, and he was nearly out of sight. I guess we were really lucky, because the cop decided to go past our car to locate the other one. We didn't know if we were supposed to sit and wait there, but we decided to act dumb and started driving off slowly but SURELY. It worked! Hee Hee! So after that, we decided to set the cruise control on and 'hug' the shoulder to show that we were being 'submissive'. Good thing...we saw quite a few cop cars after that. The cop cars there looked really strange and ancient, and it was difficult to pick them out from the distance. For some reason, New Zealanders did not build lots of roads and houses right by the ocean. Even though the road from Christchurch to Queenstown mainly ran along the coast, we only saw the ocean a few times.

We decided to stop at one of the numerous Tea-Rooms along the way for lunch. New Zealanders religiously take their tea or coffee breaks, so the guide book said. The tea-room offered various meat pies, and anemic looking sandwiches. Robert and I settled on Fish and Chips, and I also had this very thin milk shake. I should have known about the thin shakes when the lady asked me whether I wanted any ice cream in my shake. I was like....'Duh.... aren't all milk shakes made with ice cream anyway?' When the fish and chips came, Robert went up to the counter to ask for ketchup. When that didn't work, he tried to ask for catsup instead. Then he found out that 'tomato sauce' was the closest thing they had. And you had to buy these by the package. One jelly-sized package with squeezable tomato sauce was 30 cents. We splurged and got two packages of tomato sauce for our chips. No one seemed to stay at the tea rooms for long. They would just come in, eat and then run. We were probably the only ones who stayed in the tea room for such a long time.

Queenstown was quite a lively place, and in a beautiful setting as well. Our room at the ParkRoyal Queenstown Hotel overlooked Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountains. What a beautiful view it was! The town of Queenstown was filled with shops and restaurants. Sweater shops were my favorite. I was really tempted to buy this really beautiful cream colored mohair sweater (with lining even!), but figured that it would be a real waste as I won't be able to wear it for over a year! In any case, when I finally went into the store to check on the sweater, somebody else had already bought it! Oh well! It would be very difficult to justify the cost of the sweater anyway (NZ$470! That's about US$275!), although it was the most beautiful sweater that I've seen, and I'm definitely a sweater freak! It was cold and crisp at Queenstown that day, but there was actually a group of youngsters who rented mopeds to whiz around the lake. Looked real fun, but I was sure that they were freezing to death.

After buying a few skiing essentials at the Ski Shops, we went to the Stonewall Cafe for dinner. One thing that we noticed about New Zealand cuisine was that they usually served up to five vegetables with your meal. And if they served you a salad, you could have it with your meal or as an appetizer. New Zealand meal portions were pretty huge, and we didn't mind at all.

We got up bright and early the next morning to go skiing at the Remarkables Ski Area. The ski area was only about 30 minutes away from the hotel, and you had to drive up this very steep, narrow, and winding gravel road for 19 Km (that's about 12 miles) to get there. Since there were no guardrails whatsoever, we just hoped that we wouldn't come face to face with these shuttle buses that would come down the mountain at top speeds. Since the mountains looked awfully barren, we weren't so sure that they would have snow at the Remarkables, especially since they didn't have snow-making facilities. But as we rounded to the other side of the mountain, we saw the ski area. It was quite a small one, which was quite a disappointment, but it had pretty good views. We then found out that New Zealand had a pretty terrible ski season so far due to the lack of snow. Bummer! Needless to say, I fell down GOOD when we were getting off our first chair lift. I blamed it on the rental skis, and that the boots were too tight. Right... As a matter of fact, my butt was still hurting after 3 weeks! Well, I figured...No pain, no gain. It started to snow a bit right before lunchtime. Yay! But after lunch, it turned into semi-wet snow, so we decided to call it a day soon after that. Since we had not skied or exercised much, we were pretty tired after that, plus it was raining in town. So we decided to try out the hotel restaurant for dinner that evening. It was really nice. They had great big portions of soup. Robert had this Hungarian Goulash that was very yummy. And for dessert, we tried out New Zealand's national dessert, Pavlova. It was basically a meringue, foamy and sweet. I rather liked it, but I think Robert preferred something a bit more substantial.

The other major ski area in Queenstown was called Coronet Peak. We decided to try it the next day. This ski area was only about 15 minutes away from town. Since it snowed up in the mountains the night before, we had to put our chains on the rental car half way up the mountain. Poor Robert had never seen chains like the ones we had, but he put them on within 15 minutes. I was just busy sitting in the car contemplating about the skiing and getting nervous about it (as I normally do right before skiing).

The view from Coronet Peak was beautiful. We could see the Remarkable Mountains from it. But again, it was quite a small ski area, with most of the runs being intermediate and expert runs. For beginner runs, they only had one handle tow and one poma lift. We tried both for warm-up. The handle tow was better than a plain rope tow, at least it had a handle on it. But it basically ripped my arms off when I first got on it. Then I lost my poles. Rats! And I fell down AGAIN (#$%&!) while trying to rescue them. I should have just left them there like this other woman did. Turned out the operator ran up the hill to give her back her poles. Anyway, after that, we decided to try the poma lift. It was a strange looking contraption. You put this thing that looked like a disc between your legs, and it gently pulled you up the hill. Not bad. Robert did it, and yelled to me that it was much better than the handle tow. But when I tried to go, I forgot one very important piece of advice. Don't sit on the disc. Well, I did, and down I went. But at least that time it didn't hurt. Well, finally I got up to the top of this one pretty short trail, but the entire trail was so iced over, it felt like ice skating. That was no fun.

Oh well, I decided to send Robert up to one of the intermediate runs (at least they had a regular chair lift) to check it out. He eventually came back down, and said that it wasn't too bad, but that they were making snow, and that most of the mountain was enclosed in fog, but at least there was some snow. Okay, I figured that I'd give it a shot. Did the M1 trail. It was quite a nice long trail, but a bit steeper than I would have preferred in one part. But I got down in one piece even though I couldn't see 15 feet in front of me sometimes! It was actually pretty dangerous because there were a lot of people on the slopes even though it was a Tuesday. Guess that everybody was waiting for some snow! Next came my favorite part of the day...Lunch! We had a nice lunch at the Brasserie there. There was even a guy singing at the stage. He was actually quite terrible. Reminded me of how Teddy would sound like if he could sing.

Since we were leaving Queenstown for Mount Cook National Park the next day, we stopped by for a ride on the Shotover Jet after skiing. It was a very thrilling ride indeed! They designed these very high speed boats with jet engines that could be operated on just inches of water, and you could get VERY close to rocks and do 360 degree turns! Much more exciting than any Disneyworld ride! Our driver looked just like Gaston from the Beauty and the Beast animated movie. Gaston was the village hunk who was wooing Beauty (you know, the one with the chestful of hair!). Our driver had this perfectly chiseled face, and also this perpetual smile on his face. It was a very chilly day, and with the boat whipping along at 70 Km/hr (that's 45 Miles/hr), we were TOTALLY frozen, and we were wearing our ski outfits. Our driver was so cool that he didn't wear any hat, and when the ice-cold water drenched his face and hair, he would just wipe it casually with a towel. Totally unbelievable! After the 30 minute ride, Robert waited around to take pictures of the other jet boats while I went into the gift shop for postcards and HEAT! The lady at the counter was writing up this silly certificate for me, and must have thought that I was Japanese, considering that they get most of their business from the Japanese tourists. She told me to write my name on the pad for her, and was very relieved to see an English name. At least she wouldn't have to do calligraphy with Japanese characters. Whew!

It was such a cold day that Robert and I decided to go to dinner early and maximize our time in front of the restaurant fireplace. We picked this restaurant called Solaris. It was a very cozy place, and had two fireplaces going on the two floors. We were the first customers there. It was only 6pm. What a nice feeling it was to sit in front of the fireplace and sip Chardonnay! Our waitress was real hip and nice, and reminded us of Jo from the series Melrose Place. I wished that Singapore had nice cozy restaurants like this one!

Wednesday morning. It was time to leave Queenstown and drive to Mount Cook National Park. Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, and the area was actually originally discovered by this thief who stole sheep and kept them in the mountains with his clever dog Friday (that was what the guidebook said anyway). We decided to drive alongside Lake Wakatipu for a ways before heading to Mount Cook, and it wasn't long before we were alone on the road. We pulled off to the side and rolled down our car windows, and just sat there in the sun listening to the birds and insects. What a life!

The Hermitage Hotel (run by the THC group) had unbelievable views from everywhere! Our room was in the new wing, and we had a great view of Mount Cook right from our window! We must have hit the low season, since the rooms were 50% off. Fine with us! In the first evening, we had dinner at the Panorama Room. Our waitress was very efficient but quite abrupt with her service. I nicknamed her Robo-waitress. Dinner was quite okay considering where we were, in the middle of nowhere! After dinner, Robert and I amused ourselves with a few games of pool. Robert did a few impressive shots, and I got lucky a few times.

We got up bright and early the next day for skiing at the Tasman Glacier. This was the biggee! Skiing at the Tasman Glacier was like nothing else that we would do, so we were told. It would be skiing on real powder on mostly 'virgin' snow. We were very fortunate with the weather as it was PERFECT for skiing. They just had fresh snow from a few days ago, and the sky was sparklingly blue and clear. Weather at Mount Cook could be very unpredictable. It could be perfectly fine, or have very high, biting winds, or it could be fogged in for days. So we decided to shell out a small fortune to try out the skiing there. It was an experience that neither of us will ever forget. First of all, I had never seen a glacier before, and now we were to ski on it!

We all gathered at the Mount Cook airport where we were to be transported by ski-planes to the top of the glacier. They decided to break us up into several groups. The other groups were all Japanese tourists except for our group of four. Another American couple, Burke and Karen, was in our group. They were expatriates living in Belgium at the moment. Our guide Dan was from Canada. What a wonderful job he has!

Our group got into this VERY small plane, and we headed off to the Glacier. It was really amazing to see the plane land on the snow! After we landed, we were supposed to carry our skis and poles and hike up to the top of the glacier to get out of the ski planes' way, and also to see the beautiful view of the Tasman Sea. Everybody huffed and puffed all the way up there, but I was really lucky. One of the other guides must have thought that I was really clumsy, and he helped me carry my skis. Hee Hee! The scenery was well worth the trip.
My guide decided to take us on the more gentle slopes on the glacier because of my skiing abilities. You were supposed to be a solid intermediate skier to be able to ski the Tasman Glacier, and I wasn't quite one yet. It was more of a ski tour. It was completely weird to ski on fresh deep powder. Our skis would sink in so deep that you couldn't see them! And once you thought that you were used to the really soft stuff, all of a sudden you would hit a spot where the wind had frozen the surface of the snow, and your skis would go whichever which way. Our guide was so good at skiing that he had complete control, but the rest of us took our turns in falling. Luckily, falling on fresh powder didn't hurt at all. I just hated getting up. Dan cautioned us to stay CLOSE to his tracks and always stay on the uphill side. This was because glaciers can be a very dangerous place as they were filled with crevasses. Some crevasses could be up to 30 feet deep, and could be covered with snow on the top. If you were not careful, you could easily fall into one of them and kill or injure yourself very badly. Gulp! Needless to say, I stayed REAL close to Dan's tracks. In spots where the slope got pretty gentle, Dan told us to ski right in his tracks to make it easier for us. But it was difficult to ski in his actual tracks, since he could ski with his legs completely together all the time while yodelling down the hill. Sick! I got smart after a while, and started skiing using the other lady Karen's tracks.

The Tasman Glacier was awesome. I couldn't think of another word to describe it. There were giant ice formations that would rise straight up from the gentle slopes of the glacier. We climbed up one of them to view the scenery from high above, and since it was too steep to climb down, we actually just sat down and slid ALL the way down. It was very scary. I screamed all the way. But it was fun in retrospect. Karen's husband somehow ended up sliding down face first. Ouch! He was covered with snow when he got down to the bottom.

After skiing for about 8 Km (5 miles), we were picked up by the ski plane and were whisked up to another part of the glacier where we had lunch. Everybody arranged their skis and poles into makeshift chairs. We stuck the skis down into the snow, and then laid the poles on the bindings. It was actually quite comfortable. Lunch was good and hearty. They had brought up hot vegetable soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, fruit juices, LOTS of champagne, and chocolate bars. Yummy! Unfortunately, I never seemed to have an appetite when I ski. Perhaps it was nerves.

After lunch, it was time to go on another 10 Km (6 miles) run. We climbed up to this one ice cavern and went inside it. It was totally amazing. When you touch the ice walls, they felt dry and smooth like glass. Our guide Dan told us that he had actually camped in one of these ice caverns. You had to be careful in picking the right one though... some of them were not very stable at all. It was really strange to be inside one of these caverns. All the ice around us appeared blue, and it was actually warmer to be inside one of these than to stand outside (because of the wind).

While we were taking pictures later on, we witnessed an actual avalanche of snow! It came tumbling down the high mountains and hurtled to the ground. We were quite far away so it wasn't scary at all, just amazing to hear and watch. By that time, I was getting really quite tired from the skiing, but I was REALLY glad that I gathered my nerves enough to go skiing at the glacier. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime.

When we got back to the airport, I hurried into the T-shirt shop to get a couple of souvenirs. I had been wearing my ski hat all this time, so I didn't know that my hair was completely sticking up when I took it off. I looked like Bart Simpson. Of course Robert didn't tell me anything, so I walked around the shop looking like a zombie. The Japanese there in their brightly-colored matching outfits must have thought that I was a mental retard or something. But, hey, I would never meet these people again, so I didn't care.

Later that evening at dinner (this time, we dined at the Alpine Room at the hotel), I didn't even recognize Karen, the lady whom I skied with all day long! She looked so different with a nice hairdo and glasses! I guess ski hats and sunglasses really made a good disguise. I have to remember that in case I want to rob a bank in the future! We were served by Robo-waitress again, but this time, I was too tired to care. For dessert, I decided to try the orange steam pudding. It was supposed to be a very good English dessert. Well, BORING was a much better adjective for it. It was basically a warm sponge cake with hardly any taste. After dinner, Robert and I tried to play pool again. As usual, we sucked.

I actually got Robert to take me to a sheep farm the next day on our way back to Christchurch. It was actually a 'sheep show'. I couldn't believe that the guy actually started the show even though there were only Robert and I. The place was a very small family-run business. It was quite an educational show. He showed us all the different kinds of sheep, gave us all sorts of sheep farming statistics, and showed us the different kinds of wool each breed of sheep would produce. All of his sheep were really nice and tame, except for this Wild Merino sheep who just didn't like anybody. Good thing that sheep was chained up! He kept on stomping his hoof when his master was sitting nearby. One of the sheep whose wool was to produce carpets and rugs actually looked like a giant rug!

Eventually, another group of locals showed up. They had brought their Japanese exchange students with them. Now, these students acted quite unlike the stereotypical Japanese tourist. Not once did they take a picture. At the end of the show when we went on stage to pet the sheep and the farm dogs, they didn't want to participate at all. Their hosts were a bit upset about it. I thought it was rude of them not to show any interest at all.

The next part of the show was the sheep shearing. He showed us both methods of sheep shearing (machine and manual). He even showed us how to make the typical shoes that a sheep-shearer would wear. These special shoes were well padded at the toes, just in case the sheep would stomp on the shearer's toes. It was unbelievable to see how well he could handle the sheep. Once he got the sheep into position, it looked like it was paralyzed, and would just let him do whatever he wanted. The trick was to hold the sheep just right. He could simply touch a knee and the sheep would extend its leg for him to shave. He called it the 'Push-button' sheep. He then showed us how he could fool the sheep by covering its eyes with its own wool and just laid it down quietly on the floor. The average sheep would actually lay still for 2-3 minutes! Ours looked like it was hypnotized. We never knew that this was what the saying 'Pulling the wool over somebody's eyes' came from.

One of my favorite parts of the show was to see the sheep dogs in action. There were two basic breeds of sheep dogs. He had both of them. One would control the sheep by just giving them 'the evil eye'. For the demonstration, since it was a small stage, the dog herded a bunch of ducks and geese instead of sheep. He would round them up onto the stage, all the time keeping total control by keeping his head low and ears flat, and never uttering a bark. He looked real fierce. Obviously, all the ducks thought so as they were being cornered by him. Next, the other dog would get the ducks and geese running by chasing after them, barking all the time. I loved the show!

Robert and I decided to buy a nice piece of sheepskin after the show. I had always wanted one, and since the price was pretty competitive, we decided that it would be a nice gesture to buy it from this family-run business. Much better than buying it from a big department store. The woman at the shop helped us select a nice Autumn Lamb. When we first brought it home, the cats didn't like the sheepskin, but now Teddy discovered how soft and luxurious it was to lay on it. He actually slobbered on it the other day while he was kneading away on the sheepskin, contemplating about laying down. Yuk! Talk about the kiss of death!

After we bought the sheepskin, the owner brought us out to the field where some newborn lambs were grazing. He let me hold one of them. That was definitely the highlight of my trip! The little lamb was SOOOOO soft and cuddly, and he felt just like a stuffed animal. I could have held onto him forever, but I didn't want to over-traumatize the poor thing. When I let him go, he immediately ran back to his mother, hid behind her, then peeked at us. This guy told us that an average sheep costed about NZ$50 (US$30). Gee... wonder if I could arrange to keep some sheep in the backyard! They could keep the grass down so Robert wouldn't have to mow the lawn anymore.

It was time to drive back to Christchurch so we could catch the flight to Sydney the next day. This time, we stayed at the ParkRoyal Hotel, just for a change of pace. It wasn't as quaint as Noah's Hotel, but it was quite nice. They were having some Thai food festival at the hotel. But having Asian food was on the last thing on our mind! We had to maximize our Western food intake while we still had the chance. It was quite a cold evening, so we asked the Hotel Concierge for some nearby restaurants. He directed us to this part of town which must be quite popular with the locals. After looking around, we selected this VERY quiet French restaurant since we saw this nice fire burning in the fireplace. We later figured out that the fireplace was fake... The restaurant was very nice anyhow. We were really wondering if the food was going to be terrible. You see, it was Friday night at 7:15 pm, and the restaurant was deserted. So we had our choice of tables. We selected one by the window so we could watch the people go by. It was great! People would walk by, and stare at us, and we would stare right back. Hee Hee!

Since this was to be our last dinner in New Zealand, we decided to live it up and ordered a bottle of French champagne! The waitress recommended this one called Grandin, which was only NZ$29 (US$17)! Quite a good deal considering the extraordinary high prices of alcohol in Singapore. I nearly broke out in laughter when the waitress told us that the taste of the champagne would be sweet at first, then it would have this complex aftertaste. It was like the typical comments you would find in a yuppy cocktail party....'Oh yes, this champagne is simple, yet complex!'..... 'Yes, you're right....the occasion is happy, yet sad.'...But it turned out that the waitress was right about the champagne. It was excellent, considering its relatively low price. We liked it so much that we bought another bottle in Singapore just in case we wanted to celebrate any special occasions.

Saturday....our last day in New Zealand. Our flight wasn't till some time in the late afternoon, so we had plenty of time to do some last minute shopping, not that Christchurch was any shopping paradise. We even checked out a Harley Davidson motorcycle store, just for fun. Since it was a nice balmy day, we decided to drive out to the Pacific Ocean. The suburbs of Christchurch had some nice beaches. We stopped the car to watch the people and their dogs running and playing on the beach. We then drove up to this one residential area perched atop the beach cliffs. It was a nice, small, winding road with pretty little houses. The early Spring flowers were already in bloom. What a pretty place to live! It really reminded us of Sausalito, California.

Just about 3 miles from the Airport was this Antarctic Exhibition Center. Since Christchurch was the stopover point for all of the Antarctic Explorations, the City decided to set up this exhibition hall. We spent almost two hours at the exhibition. It was really interesting, and I could understand a bit as to how the workers there must feel to be in such a cold, isolated place! We also checked out the daily temperatures at the different bases there, and at that day, it was -70C (-94F) at the US Base. I could not even imagine how cold that would be!!! It would be so cool to go on an exploration in the Antarctic, but since I could neither afford nor survive such a trip, I guess that day we were as close to the Antarctic as we would ever be.

When we arrived at Sydney that evening, we decided to catch the airport shuttle bus to the Park Hyatt Hotel where we would be staying for two nights before heading home to Singapore. I supposed that rich people would never dream of taking the shuttle to the Park Hyatt Hotel, so the shuttle person took us to the wrong Hyatt. The Park Hyatt was quite an expensive hotel, but we got 50% off with our United Mileage Plus coupons. Hee Hee! The hotel was situated at the Rocks (a historic part of town), and was right across the harbor from the Opera House. What a fantastic view! Unfortunately, our 'superior' room only offered a very small window overlooking a bit of the harbor and part of a park, and we certainly couldn't see the Opera House from our room. Oh well, what could you expect for 50% off the standard rates?

Our hotel room came equipped with remote control curtains, a VCR, a stereo set, a walk-in closet (I hadn't seen one ever since we moved to Singapore!), and a GORGEOUS bathroom with wood trimming. I could have spent hours in that bathroom (taking a bath, that is)! You could even pipe music into the bathroom, and my favorite part was that there was this tray where you could put your books and things while you take a bath in the tub. Robert's favorite was the remote control curtains, and we had already decided on getting that for our dream house in the future!

Sunday morning. After having a very good breakfast at the hotel (Robert had this waffle filled with cream...yummy), we strolled over to the Queen Victoria Building and the Strand Arcade for some shopping. The Strand Arcade was an old-styled shopping mall. It was pretty, but the merchandise was designed for tourists. The Queen Victoria Building was touted to the 'most beautiful shopping mall in the World' by Pierre Cardin. It was a very nice old-style building indeed, but since I wasn't much into architecture, I headed straight for the stores. It was nice to be see that size Small clothes would fit me once again. In Singapore, I could barely fit into their Large sizes. Sick!

In the afternoon, we went for a cruise around the Sydney Harbor on the Captain Cook Cruise Line. Even though the day was a bit cold still, the sun did start breaking through the clouds. It turned out to be a nice day for the cruise after all. It was a nice, relaxing cruise around the cozy harbor. Many of Sydney's houses had great views of the harbor, and some of the exclusive residences even had views of both the harbor and the ocean! Since much of the coastline was very rocky and steep, houses would actually have these contraptions like elevators that you would take from your main house to your boat house. Rough life! Robert and I posed for several pictures when we passed by the Opera House. It was a very beautiful and grand structure indeed.

For dinner, we went to this restaurant called Bilson's that was situated in a tower-like building, right across from the Opera House. We had yet another bottle of champagne (have we become 'alkies'?) for the last evening of our vacation. As you can already tell, we look for any occasion to call for a celebration. Poor Robert had this fish that was served undercooked at first, and by the time they brought it out from the kitchen again, he had lost most of his appetite. I, on the other hand, had this great big Queensland mudcrab! It was the largest crab that I had ever had in my entire life. It weighed a whole Kilogram (that's 2.2 lbs)! And it was served with this very delicious garlic sauce. I must have spent two whole hours working on that crab, prying out every delicious morsel. Even my hands got tired!

Our last day of our vacation was here! Fortunately, we had an afternoon flight, which meant that we still had an entire morning to enjoy our last day in Sydney. For breakfast, we decided on this small cafe that we spotted the day before. For A$6.50 (US$5), you got this humungous breakfast set! We each had two eggs and two huge sausages. That was served with toast, fries and a broiled tomato. We also got this nice big glass of orange juice, and tea or coffee. Burp! How could they afford to serve such large quantities of good food at such a low price? After munching on yet another HEAVY meal, Robert and I figured that we must go on a diet when we got home. That shouldn't be too hard for Robert to lose weight fast, all he has to do was to go work in Manila on that horrible imaging project. Our coworker Li Mei called that the Manila Diet...guaranteed to work!

We spent a few hours wandering around the shopping malls, desperately trying to burn off some of those calories before lunchtime. Since it was such a nice day, we selected this nice outdoor cafe called Wolfi's for lunch. It was situated right next to our hotel, and yes, it also had this great view of the Opera House. Wouldn't you think that we would be tired of this view already? What a wonderful Spring day! Gee...I wished that Singapore could have days like that where you could sit outside and bask in the sun! Sigh...it was finally the end of our vacation. We were both really glad to go home to the kitties. Besides, I didn't think that our stomachs could take any more stretching anyway...

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