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The Royal Melbourne Show

22 Feb

The Royal Melbourne Show is more than a carnival event for kids – it is a one-stop event for family and for tourists visiting Melbourne around mid-September or October. DSC_0001 Some our friends from Melbourne actually shrugged off the idea when I asked them if it was worth going to this event, but I was really interested in going anyway so we still gave it a go.. Animal shows, live music, art, craft & cookery competitions, stunt shows, fireworks, a glimpse of the Masterchef kitchen, and so many more activities – you name it, and this event would probably have it. It has something to offer for each person in the family, so it is worth having the family spend a day together here. 20140924_131024 As a Masterchef Australia enthusiast, I enjoyed going to the Masterchef pavilion the most. DSC_0413
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20140924_132811 We got to see the kitchen and pantry up-close, and we were even able to see Emma from season 5 and Byron from season 6. DSC_0414

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DSC_0440 My next favorite would have to be the sheep-shearing demonstration, as it was my first time seeing this done. I know being sheared is just similar to us humans getting a haircut, but I couldn’t help but feel pity on those poor little things.. DSC_0003

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In addition to sheep-shearing, there are other agricultural experiences like wood chopping, cow-milking, and honey-making.

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For animal lovers out there, there are animal (alpaca, dog, cat, horse, goat, sheep, cattle, etc) shows throughout the event.

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I am not a pet lover but I enjoyed having a look at the dogs, so I imagine dog lovers out there would love a visit to the pavilion housing the canines waiting for their turn in the dog show.

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Though we did not get to see the actual art, craft and culinary competition, the entries were on display for us to have a look. There were amazing pictures in the photo exhibit. I especially enjoyed seeing the different creative cakes on display.

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Amazing cake showing different places in Australia

Amazing cake showing different places in Australia

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For food lovers, there are plenty of food-tasting opportunities.

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For TV enthusiasts, you will have a chance to pretend to be a contestant in X-factor or Million Dollar Minute.

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Hubby and I trying to have a go on answering questions for Million Dollar Minute. Behind us are brave ladies playing anchors for the local news

Hubby and I trying to have a go on answering questions for Million Dollar Minute. Behind us are brave ladies playing anchors for the local news.

You can have a go at playing anchor in the local news channel and get to take home an actual recording of yourself delivering a news item. We didn’t have the confidence and time to do this, but for brave souls out there, this would be a blast and a good keepsake of the experience 🙂

Lastly, the majority of the show is ultimately devoted to the kiddies.. So I can’t end my post without saying that there are a lot of rides the kids will enjoy – animal rides and thrill rides. Plus tons of show bags for taking home! It really is mainly a carnival, after all 😉

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We arrived before lunch, and went home without even having a chance to check out the musical shows and other attractions (there really were so many things to see and do). But it was getting dark and our feet could not bear the standing and walking anymore, so we had to call it a day.

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Aztecs in Melbourne

6 Aug

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I’m no history buff but as an enthusiast of ancient civilizations, a few of my life-long dreams were to go to Egypt and see the pyramids, or go to Macchu Picchu in South America. So I was quite happy to have gone to the Aztecs exhibition in the Melbourne Museum a few weeks back. Let me quickly share with you my favourite photos from our visit.

The exhibition focused mainly on the ancient Mexican city-state Tenochtitlån, made obvious by the big model in the centre of a temple in the state.

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For a growing empire at that time, warriors held quite an important role –

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Religion played a huge part in their society, and it was interesting to learn about the different Aztec gods.

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I couldn’t help but be astounded by their portrayal of their god of death above, Mictlantecuhtli. Wondering what that thing hanging out, or rather, down, from his chest is? It’s his liver…

If you are faint of heart, you might find it incredibly gory looking around the exhibits, as most of the features talk about human sacrifice. Below is an actual human skeleton, which portrays the mask of death –

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One of the displays I liked the most are the miniature models of Aztec community life, shown in the photos below. These are very much similar to the tribal communities back home, I imagine.

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For double the usual amount you’ll need to pay to get into Melbourne Museum, I must say it is well-worth it. If my sharing above didn’t interest you enough, maybe the following can help –

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I’m quite happy with the photos here that I took with my Samsung Note 3. I came unprepared with my DSLR cam. It’s a good thing, thought, that this phone’s camera was useful to me this time, as I have been missing using my iPhone’s trusty camera… Apart from cropping some of the photos, I didn’t use filters or nor felt the need to edit them.

It’s the last week for the Aztec exhibition in Melbourne. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth spending some time in this part of the Melbourne Museum.

White Night Melbourne 2014

28 Feb

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Melbourne CBD braced itself on Saturday night for at least 300,000 people showing up in the city centre for White Night Melbourne 2014, following last year’s attendance, but the turn-out was overwhelming as about half a million people flocked to the city for the 7 PM to 7 AM festivities. The yearly festival, which originated from Nuit Blanche (White Night) in France, is free of charge, and is a 12-hour all-night extravaganza of arts, dance, film and music. It is only Melbourne’s second year holding this event, and with the overwhelming response this year, the city is exploring the option to make it an all-weekend event.

Law and I arrived at Flinders Street a few minutes before 7 PM, hoping to get on a tram to quickly get to Melbourne City Baths. I wanted to get to the Moonlight Synchro precinct to watch the synchronized swimming which starts at 7 PM. But to our dismay, we didn’t realize that they were stopping tram operations on Swanston Street at that time.

So we ended up walking up Swanston. Along the way, we can see crowds beginning to gather and people stationing their cameras in front of Flinders Street Station and the state library. There were several points of interest lined up along Swanston and queues were already forming.

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It felt exciting to see a lot of people turn up for this event. When we finally arrived at the City Baths, it was about 7:20 PM and there was an insanely long queue already. Thinking that the long line meant it was something really worth watching, we decided to queue up anyway.

So after a 45-minute wait, it turns out that this is what was in store for us –

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The presentation took about less than 5 minutes. I’m not sure about your thoughts on the photos above, but for me it wasn’t worth almost an hour of waiting.. Although I must say that I’m proud to have come up with a few decent photos from it, anyway 😛

By this time we were getting hungry so we headed off to the Gypsy Pig for a Japanese kurubota pork dinner. I had the crumbed breaded pork (tonkatsu) and Lawrence had their spicy pork ribs.

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Forgive the resolution of the photo, as it was taken outside the restaurant since we were only able to get a table outside because we didn’t book in advance 😛 Law frequents this place and would always have their crumbed pork. He tried the ribs for the first time and he liked that it was soooo tender that you can also nibble on the bone coz it was even softer than the actual pork. Seeing the red spice powder in his meat, he expected it to be spicy but it actually wasn’t. I liked that I didn’t have to put a lot of sauce in my tonkatsu, and the dressing for the shredded cabbage was quite good.

After dinner, we were then able to walk along the length of Swanston again, which was now packed from the State Library all the way towards Flinders Street. It was really a massive crowd, and somewhere along the way we even have to push our way through the jam-packed chaos.

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There were a lot of precincts scattered throughout the CBD, which cater to everyone’s interests. But the highlight of the night are the light displays. Different landmarks were transformed into works of art. The normally earthen-colored old bricks of facades came to life bursting with bright colours. There are multiple designs for each landmark, you have to spend a few minutes staring at each one to be able to see what themes the light designers have come up with.

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state library

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There were performers both indoor and outdoors, and dancing in the streets –

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As mentioned earlier, there were a lot of precincts to go to, and you could probably cover most of them throughout the night until the wee hours of the morning. But by about midnight, Law and I were so tired already so that all we can manage is to take one last souvenir shot of ourselves 🙂 –

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Again, forgive the resolution please as this was just taken using the front camera of my phone and it was so dark in that area that we actually used the iLights app on Law’s phone to light our faces up 😛

But to give you a glimpse of what other things were in store for people that night, I’ve grabbed a few photos from the White Night Melbourne Facebook page –

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Train service was extended until the morning so there is public transport going home at any time. But trains were jam-packed as well, and there were some pushing and crying that night (it was a scary, tiring night for little kids not used to big crowds)..

So there, hope I was able to help you decide if you want to go next year or not..  For someone like me who gets thrilled by events and don’t mind the crowd, it’s a yearly event I would surely go to.

A Taste of Holland From Down Under

3 Oct

One of the things I like about Melbourne is that it’s a melting pot of different nationalities. The vibrant feel of the entire city is brought about by the variety of things people who have come from different places in the world has to offer.

Having said that, one can really be grateful that an immigrant family from Holland has brought to Victoria a glimpse of what a Dutch countryside looks like. They were able to bring a suitcase full of tulip bulbs to Australia when they migrated here in 1939 (back when there were no laws prohibiting bringing of seeds and flora ;)). The regular interest of crowds wanting to have a look at these unusual flowers has become so huge that Cees and Johanna Tesselaar decided to open their doors to the public, hence, starting an annual festival for these exquisite blooms.

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival runs from September 12 to October 8. There are different festivities scheduled for each weekend. Activities are held for both kids and adults, and so the whole family can come.

Law and I were able to find time to check-out the festival  on the 22nd of September, just in time for Dutch Weekend.

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Tulips are amazingly beautiful flowers. Although they don’t really smell nice like other flowers, their texture and lively colors are beyond compare. I know that roses are the most popular choices for flowers, but I’ve always been a tulip girl 🙂

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I expected the tulip fields to be more massive and the flower beds to be more packed, and so I was a bit disappointed to see about five lanes of tulip beds. Since the area wasn’t that big, it won’t take you a long time to cover the entire place. It’s a good thing that there are presentations and interesting shops and food booths that let you sample Dutch food.

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Had the privilege of trying on some giant clogs for my first-ever shoe selfie 😉 –

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The Dutch poffertjes are actually just miniature-sized pancakes. You can choose from several options for toppings and if you know me, you would know all too well that I’d go for the chocolate option. Our plate also had some butter and icing sugar on it.

There’s only one sit-down place where you can have lunch, and in the element of time, we just went for takeaway from several food kiosks. So aside from the poffertjes above, we had corn and baked potato as well (which I hoped had more cheese on it :P) –

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Would have loved live musical entertainment, but this barrel organ would have to make do –

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We just spent a few hours in the festival, but that’s really long enough to cover the entire area and get a taste of Dutch culture.

All in all, it was a fine, happy spring day. After all, flowers always play their part in cheering up even the gloomiest of days, don’t they?

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Post-note: As of this writing, the festival still has a few more days to go before it ends . For more info, you can go to http://www.tulipfestival.com.au/

It is located at 357-359 Monbulk Road, Silvan, Victoria

Melbourne Cup Parade

13 Nov

A few weeks ago, while planning our project schedules, someone mentioned that November 6 is a holiday because it’s Melbourne Cup Day. Being the newbie here that I am, I asked aloud – “What’s the Melbourne Cup?” Everything stood still and all eyes were suddenly on me. A colleague asked in disbelief, “Do you really not know what the Melbourne Cup is?!?”

So there, it turns out that Melbourne Cup Day celebrates Australia’s major horse racing event and is a particularly big holiday.. Festivities start on the weekend prior to the race. Women take the chance to dress up in bright, colorful spring wear and fashionable hats. Bets are placed, not just to support their favorites or in the hope of winning, but more so to be able to join in the festive mood. Race day is a holiday not just in Melbourne, but in the nation’s capital, Canberra. During the race proper itself, it’s not just people in Melbourne who stop to watch but most of Australia as well.

Out of curiosity, I was planning to watch the Melbourne Cup Parade since Swanston Street is a few streets away from where my office is located. But being my slow self ;), it took me some time to finish my lunch and travel to Swanston (ok, fine, should’ve walked instead of waiting for the tram :p) so I came just as the parade was coming to an end!!

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Got to hand it to these folks in the photo below for having such strong conviction to brave the throngs of race enthusiasts and stage protests while the parade was on –

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I wish I were taller (and came earlier!!) so that I could have captured how big the crowds were that day. The streets were lined up with people from all ages, sizes and shapes. Actually amazed that even really old people took effort in going to the parade. I am used to Swanston Street being crowded all the time, but I’ve never seen it this packed and abuzz 🙂

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Hanami Festival in Melbourne

29 Sep

Law and I went to the Hanami Festival last Sunday in the hopes of seeing cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Cherry Blossoms in Rhododendron Gardens

It was my first time seeing sakura and the flowers were beautiful up close, but  it seemed like the festival was scheduled a bit late. It looked like the flowers were past their peak time in the blooming process and looked like they were going to wilt and fall off soon.. And so I was a bit disappointed. It didn’t help that there aren’t a lot of such trees in this garden, and that Law was making side comments about the event not feeling authentic since most of those selling ‘Japanese food’ and the performers for the drums presentation were mostly Caucasians. But then, we couldn’t really complain since the entrance is just free and we are in Melbourne, not in Japan, after all :p

This event must have brought a sense of nostalgia to the Japanese who came to the festival, though, as this is the closest experience one can have in Melbourne of Japan’s festive spring season.

Picnics under the cherry trees enjoying the sakura in bloom, photo courtesy of Law 🙂

The highlight of our Hanami Festival experience is the drums presentation. It was fun watching the different sequences and watching people from different nationalities enjoying themselves taking part in this Japanese musical presentation 🙂

It was when we were on the way out of the gardens that I realized that I don’t have a photo with the cherry blossoms, but then I still got to have some souvenir photos taken 😀

So there goes our Hanami experience… I hope next time we do get to view the sakura in Japan already 🙂

Australian Open 2012

28 Apr

A late post, but just want to share with you our experience and photos from this event.

When we went to Melbourne, the air fares going here were sky high because it was Australian Open season. So during Australia Day, we decided to use up the free time to watch some of the games. The tickets were surely a bit hard on the pockets ($179 a piece for semi final sessions) but considering how many people would flock here just to watch the games and we don’t know if we’re still going to be here in Melbourne next year, we figured it was well worth the opportunity.

We had third row seats so we had a nice view of the court but like the folks in the lower half of this photo, we had to endure the heat of the sun

I must say it was a great experience. We were at the semis after all, so the matches were really thrilling as all the players we watched have proven themselves worthy to have reached so far in the competition. Also, it was fun witnessing how people would loudly cheer for their favorites (Kim was really a crowd favorite) to the point that the chair umpire paused the match for a while to remind the crowd to keep their voices down.

Kim Clijsters, 2011 Australian Open Women’s Champion

Victoria Azarenka, 2012 Women’s Champion, playing in the semis

My favorite moment was when Sharapova was asked by courtside reporter as to what makes her a tough competitor, a male fan shouted “She’s HOT!”. Maria then gushed – “I’m blushing”. LOL.

Grim, determined look. Maria Sharapova thinking of her next move against Petra Kvitova.

Maria signing on the videocam as fans lower down tennis balls for her to sign also

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Something to get used to though while watching the matches under the sweltering heat of the sun were the grunting sounds made by both winners of the two matches (Azarenka and Sharapova) while playing. Personally, it was a bit annoying for me. But hey, if that’s their secret for winning (is it suppose to give more strength in their moves? or maybe a ploy to distract the opponent? :p), I’m not one to complain. We went home agreeing with tennis fans that it will be a ‘grunting match’ for the women’s finals 🙂

My husband and I posing for a souvenir photo after the women’s semis