Monday, July 28, 2008

Now That's A Bad Day...

Came upon this awhile ago on one of my walks around the city. Of course, it's not real, but just a statue? exhibit? right outside of an art gallery. Did make me look twice, though.
For those wondering...yes, I did make it through my foray into Malaysian food on Saturday night in Darling Harbour. I give you my choices to choose from (taken straight from Chinta Ria's menu).

1. Assam Fish: Rockling fillets simmered in a delicious spicy tangy tamarind flavoured sauce with tomatoes, string beans and pineapple pieces

2. Red Temple Chicken: Chicken roulade smothered with a lightly spiced red sauce of chili, lemon grass, coconut, garlic and tomatoes

3. Gado Gado: Steamed beanshoots, shredded cabbage, tofu, and cucumber dressed with our spicey peanut sauce and garnished with egg slice and pappadams

4. Soya Sauce Chicken Rice: Quarter chicken served with steamed rice and bok choy

Can you guess which one was for me? (Keeping in mind that the only fish I eat is usually battered in beer, I don't do chicken smothered in anything, uh, tofu...yeah right, and just what is a pappadam?) That's right...the soya sauce chicken. Wasn't bad, either. (No, I didn't try the bok choy. Just had chicken and rice.) I tried to eat it and my rice with my chopsticks, but soon gave that up to use my fork. Finished the meal with a walk to Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar for dessert (Phil's favorite). And what, you may ask does one order at a chocolate bar if one doesn't like chocolate? My tea with a slice of banana bread hold the chocolate dipping sauce. Speaking of food...I give you our new favorite place to eat in The Rocks...
the first place we've eaten at here that has pizza somewhat like American pizza. That's not to say it's anywhere in the league of Peppi's or Brother's, but it's still pretty good. In fact, we're going to eat there tonight before Phil leaves for Singapore tomorrow morning.
Bad news...he's going to be in Singapore for a whole week.
Good news...I changed my flight back to the States (after 6 calls and 4 hours on the phone with Yeah...that was a good time.) so that I leave to go back this Wednesday! Whoo hoo! Why stay all by myself in the apartment when I can be in the good ole' USA a week early?
Bad news...I'm looking at about 32 hours door to door from Sydney to Philly via Vancouver and Toronto.
Good news...this time I get to fly business class since this is a company paid trip home. Double whoo hoo!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Weekend Starts This Afternoon

After my exciting posts (no, really they were) about the pope's visit to Sydney, things have calmed down this week. I was excited to get back to Bible study on Tuesday morning (they've been off because of school holidays) but alas, once I got to the church realized that I hadn't been informed that they weren't starting up again till next week.
Luckily for me, two others were not informed of this either so we all decided to drive down to this cafe for coffee. (And no, I have not changed my opinion that coffee smells much better than it tastes. I had tea.) On the plus side...the cafe was in a huge Christian bookstore (yippee for me). The down side...I saw to my dismay that there were cars on either side of "Beast" in the parking lot when I left the cafe. Great.
Now, I never park next to anyone here. Mainly because I know I would hit something
(and hopefully not someone) if I tried to back up. When I got to the parking lot, and saw my predicament, I began to sweat. Profusely. I went to one side of the car and said, "How am I even supposed to open this door to get in?" Then sheepishly remembered that the steering wheel is on the other side of the car. Yeah, really.
Don't panic, I thought.
I can do this, I thought.
I'm hyperventilating, I thought.
Do we have car insurance here, I thought.
Slow, deep breaths. Even slower movement out of the parking space. I'm sure if anyone was watching from the bookstore, they got a really good show. But all went well, I didn't hit anything (or anyone), and made my way to the mall. Where I proceeded to park 25 feet from the nearest car.
Anyway, this afternoon, Phil and I have tickets to see a Cirque Du Soleil show (Dralion) which he gave me for my birthday last month and then dinner afterwards. Cool! And tomorrow night...we're meeting friends from church for dinner in Darling Harbour.
At Chinta Ria.
A Malaysian restaurant.
I have no idea what I'll find to eat.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hey Look...I Saw the Pope!

On Thursday the Pope was scheduled to arrive in Sydney Harbour by way of a boat-a-cade (that word still makes me laugh). The people kept coming to Circular Quay where his boat was going to turn around and began to line the area at least a good three hours before he was scheduled to arrive. Meanwhile I was able to stay in my apartment with relative ease...make some an episode of Law and Order...(by the way did you know you can watch Law and Order or some form of the show, Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent etc. almost 100 times a week, every week on four different tv stations? I'm becoming an expert on both law and order.) Here's a picture of the crowd on the other side of our inlet...

The next picture shows the pope on the boat. No, really! Look at the front of the boat, the upper deck up front, see the green flag lying next to the side of the boat? (kind of in the shadow) The pope is just to the left in the white robe.

Look...our apartment building is on tv!!

I was kind of getting tired of hearing over and over again about "our holy father, blah, blah, blah" and was tempted to hang a sheet from our balcony that read, "My Holy Father is not the pope" but didn't want to cause an international incident or anything. Although it did bring back fond memories of Cedarville when our unit in Printy helped Phil's campaign for Student Body Government Treasurer by hanging a sheet from our balcony that read, "CedarPhil (get it...Cedarville, CedarPhil) for SGA Treasurer. He just makes cents." I'm convinced our sign helped turn the tide in the election. Ah, good times. Later that night, the pope drove through the city in his pope-mobile. Found out that I could see it by going out on the balcony off of our bedroom. Sorry, though. It's a bit blurry.

The pope-mobile then turned onto our street, Macquarie St., passed the Opera House, went through the Botanical Gardens and then back to St. Mary's Cathedral where he's staying. So, finally, here's a picture of his motercade passing the front of our apartment building on his way by the Opera House.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nope, Haven't Seen the Pope Yet

In case you haven't's World Youth Day here in Sydney. (Actually, it's more than a day since it's from the 15th till the 20th.) The news has been reporting that over 125,000 people from around the world, including the pope, have come to Sydney. Joy. We've seen some new sights from our balcony...

a fireworks show the other night,

a changing sign projected onto the Harbour Bridge,

and people. Lots and lots of people. Many who are carrying red, yellow, and orange backpacks advertising World Youth Day. Either they were giving them out somewhere or somebody has made a boat-load of money with these things. One also sees many people carrying and waving flags (although it's so nice to see the Stars and Stripes!), chanting, clapping, and singing as they walk along Circular Quay. It sounds like we're at a European football game. Sorry, soccer. (Have I been here too long?)

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to Enjoy a Trip to Palm Beach

On Saturday (as you can see from previous posts, our day to hop in the jeep and explore) we decided to drive up to Palm Beach, a peninsula north of Sydney and walk to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. So we got in the jeep and started driving north. We drove through Narrabeen, crossed over Narrabeen Lakes, made the right turn in Mona Vale, passed Newport Beach, Bilgola, and Avalon and finally got to Palm Beach. After much prodding from me, (after passing a McDonald's with my nose and hands pressed to the window) Phil decided to stop for lunch at this cafe. Why...why don't they put ice in glasses when one asks for a soda??? I'll never understand it. But I digress...a post on How to Enjoy a Trip to Palm Beach (on a full stomach).

1. If you're going to hike to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, make sure you're in the right spot.
Nice beach...but not (yes, like I claimed it was. yes, Phil, you were right) the right one to begin the hike to the lighthouse. See that tiny little thing sticking up on the cliff to the left in the picture? About a half an inch in? Yep...that's the lighthouse.

2. Don't forget to wear sunglasses (or sunnies as they call them here) when hiking on a sunny day.

Had to borrow Phil's for the day. (yes, I am a weenie) But now we're on the right beach and headed up the sand path. Wait...found out by reading a sign posted on the beach that the sand trail is closed for refurbishing and to get to the lighthouse, one must hike up (and I mean seriously straight up) the rock path named Smuggler's Trail. Gulp.

3. Stop and enjoy the view on the way up.

The top of the beach on the left is where we were first. The beach on the right is where we parked the car. This is a long way up, I think, as I'm feverishly sucking in air.

4. Enjoy the view from the top.

Saw this bird sitting right over Phil's head while we had stopped were watching a sea plane land and couldn't resist. Great camera work, if I do say so myself.

5. Enjoy a rest after hiking back down.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Last Saturday

First, let me start off by saying Phil has had a lot of stress at work these last few weeks. The end of the quarter close and all that, and he has been working some long hours. Even had to go in to work Saturday morning. How does he deal with all the stress, you ask? Perhaps he should take up a hobby, you ponder. I give you the culmination of his stress-relieving activities...building a viking ship out of beer cans.

Just kidding...this was an exhibit at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour that we walked over to on Saturday afternoon. Apparently there is a boat-built-out-of beer-cans competition every year in I think, Melbourne to see which boat will actually float and win the race. Here's the museum.

We saw lots of cool exhibits...Trash or Treasure: Souvenirs of Travel, Commerce, Passengers, Navigators, The United States of America Gallery, the History of Swimming and Surfing, the Australian Navy (sorry the picture of the helicopter is a bit dark),

the fastest boat ever,

and the best was free admission! Nice. All the boats outside, military ships and submarines, as well a replica of the sailing ship, The Endeavour, that Captain James Cook was on when he "discovered" Australia were not, so maybe another day we'll go back and take a look.

Rats...I thought I'd figured out how to get these on the blog with them coming in sideways. Well, if you tip your head to the side you can see a replica of The Endeavour behind the lighthouse.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tokyo Disney Sea Continued

As we continue to walk around the "wheel" we move to the next area called the Lost River Delta. The 2 major attractions are Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (which is very similar to the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom) and Raging Spirits (a roller coaster). Rode the first one, did not get to the second one. Phil says we now have to go back to say that we rode all the rides. I don't think so. There is also a place to get on the boat that will take you around the waterway. That we did...needed a break and I had to get out of the wall to wall people. Here's a view from the boat...or maybe it was the bridge we walked on to get to the boat...

From this area you walk (and if you look in the middle of this picture and can make out the building, you may already have an idea) to the Arabian Coast. This has Sinbad's Storybook Voyage (again, a little hard to follow the story told in Japanese) The Magic Lamp Theatre (which was closed) and a big 2 story carousel. Here's a picture...and note the line on the left...not for a ride but you guessed it, for popcorn.

This area is actually called Mermaid Lagoon and has a lot of kiddie rides, like Toontown. Now we've made the circle around the wheel and are now going into the middle which is called Mysterious Island. Underneath a big volcano is the first major ride: Journey to the Center of the Earth. Pretty good.

The other major ride on the island is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Phil claims it's better than the one that used to be at DisneyWorld.

We watched the water parade during the day...

the volcano erupt at night...(exceptional camera work, Phil)

and watched the evening show, "Mythica" later that night. Totally squished and bumped by all the people crowding around the waterway. Seriously...there is nothing wrong with a little personal space, says the American.

Hope you've enjoyed our trip to Tokyo Disney. Now Phil can say he has been to every Disney that there is. A true feat to marvel. Tomorrow...our adventures last weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tokyo Disney Sea

On Saturday of our long weekend in Tokyo we took the monorail over to Disney Sea for the day. Surely, because it was a weekend, most people would choose to go to Disney Land, we foolishly thought. Remember that picture of Phil at Hong Kong Disney when you saw maybe two people in the whole picture? Behold the people waiting in line behind us (who were pretty far down the line to begin with) just waiting to get in...

Yeah...and the 10 or so lines on the other side of the entrance gate were just as crowded. I believe we heard that at some point during the day, they also closed Disney Land to any more people coming in because of their crowds. Good times.
I'm going to attempt to describe this park since it's so different to any of the parks back in the States. When you first walk in past the entrance gates, you come to this globe that has water streaming all around it that welcomes you...

Tokyo Disney Sea is layed out like a wheel. There's a big island in the middle of a waterway with bridges (like wheel spokes) that connect you to the different areas around the waterway. After walking under a bridge from the globe area, the whole park kind of opens up. One finds themselves in Mediterranean Harbor. Very pretty. Mostly shops, Italian restaurants, even Venice. We ate my birthday lunch at the Italian restaurant to the right of the picture where the row of pink and red flowers were. No gondola ride, though. Couldn't convince Phil of the fun that would be.

Here's a picture of the whole Mediterranean Harbor from a view across the waterway.

Moving right around the "wheel" you come to American Waterfront. Lots of shops and restaurants. We ate lunch at New York Deli (but the Reuben that Phil ate left a bit much to be desired after the sign in the window claimed "mile-high sandwiches". More like a centimeter-high sandwich.) Many of the streets were done to look like 1930's New York. Here's where Tower of Terror is. (why in the America Waterfront, I'm not really sure.) Huge lines for that ride. Sometimes more than 2 hours. Definitely a fast pass attraction. And you'd be surprised how much you understand (or at least pretend like you understand by nodding your head in a thoughtful manner) directions by hand signals when all of your instructions are in Japanese. Holding up two fingers to let the attendant know how many is in your party must be universal in all languages, however. There's also a huge ship in this section that has two restaurants in it. The Teddy Roosevelt and I can't remember the name of the other one. Take a look (with Tower of Terror in the background).
Walking across the bridge and around the bend you come across Cape Cod. Never having been there, not sure it looks authentic (Gregg, Ashley?) but it was very quaint. Old-fashioned general store, white clapboard town hall, tall sailing ships, etc.
After walking through Cape Cod, one now finds themselves in Port Discovery. Two major rides- Aquatopia and StormRider. The first one was a little vehicle in the water that spins you around and takes you on a curvy path through a grotto. It was ok. Nothing you'd wait in line for. Now StormRider had this huge line that snaked around the whole area. It was described as "a ride to the eye of the perfect storm". Sounded good, so after grabbing a fast pass we got in line. was pretty much like the Star Wars ride at MGM. Nothing to wait in line for. But a line snaking around this area that did attract our attention was the line for...

popcorn! Yes, popcorn. There were stands all over the place with different flavors (such as cappuccino, strawberry, chocolate, coconut, and caramel) and at each one, the lines were unbelievable. Who knew? Tomorrow, the tour continues.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tokyo Disneyland Continued

Sorry it's been a few days since the last post. We had a busy weekend (which I'll post about later in the week). But to continue our tour of Tokyo Disneyland. Okay...we're walking, we're walking (my tour guide lingo).

Here is a picture of Snow White. Jess was curious...are the Disney characters in Tokyo Disney Japanese-looking with wigs or do they look more like what you're used to seeing in Florida or California? Well, being the aggresive blogger that I am-leaving no stone unturned, using the powerful camera lens, (ok, she was about 10 feet in front of us) and peering through all that makeup, I think the Disney characters are Japanese. Here's a closeup of Belle and Beast too, from the parade we watched. You be the judge. (And by the way...the Japanese are serious here about watching their parades or being the first to line up to see a show. Most bring their own tarps to lay out and sit on (a good 2 hours before the parade or show is supposed to start and camp out).'s just a parade/show. But I digress...

We left the park and then came back later that night...

managed to catch part of the Electrical Light Parade...

Saw the castle all lit up...

but did not see the fireworks over the castle because they were cancelled due to inclimate weather. Whatever that was, because it was not raining. Tomorrow...on to Disney Sea, the park right next door to Disneyland.

Friday, July 4, 2008

So You Thought You Were in Shanghai

Oops...I've been informed that the pictures from yesterday are not Shanghai, but in fact are still of Hong Kong. Rats. I guess that is the risk one takes when one tries to comment on pictures they did not take and were not there when they were taken. Sorry about that. Below are pictures from Shanghai. My sincerest apologies.

Now, before we move on to Tokyo, I must first comment on how weird it is to spend July 4th in another country. No fireworks, no cook-outs, no parades. Just another cold (still getting used to cold days in July), rainy day in July. So in honor of Independence Day, we have worn our red, white, and blue, Phil has challenged Robin from work (a Brit) to a re-enactment of a Revolutionary War battle at 4:30 pm in the office, and we're having hot dogs, Doritoes, strawberries, and potato salad (which I just remembered that I did not remember putting in the fridge last night after grocery shopping. Just found it on the floor of the jeep. Perhaps we will be skipping the potato salad.) for dinner.
Moving on...I give you Phil and I on our monorail ride to Tokyo Disneyland. Check out the mouse shaped windows and thingys that you hold on to when you have to stand. (cannot remember the word.)

Next we see the entrance to Tokyo Disneyland. Notice the crowds. Also notice the 25 sign. Apparently it was the 25th Anniversary of Tokyo Disney that they were celebrating all year. The big steel and glass structure behind the entrance was over the entire Main Street USA street of shops and restaurants. And behind that...

The castle. And the crowds.

And's Phil eating a churro!

More tomorrow from Tokyo Disneyland.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

On to Shanghai and Tokyo you can from yesterday's post, I've been hacked. The management takes no responsiblity for any and all comments from PL. ('s just Phil adding his two cents.)
Back to our Asia tour while I comment on Phil's pictures without really knowing where and what they are (at least until we arrive in Tokyo).

Here we see a lovely night shot of Shanghai. I looked for the day pictures, but alas there are none. Something about a pesky thing called work that kept him busy during the day.

Look...Pizza Hut and 7 Eleven in Shanghai!

And now...on to Tokyo. I flew out from the States on June 26th to meet Phil in Tokyo. And let me just say...after a short flight to Chicago and 4 hour layover, a flight a little over 9 hours to Tokyo is much better than the 15 or 16 hour flight from the west coast to Sydney. Who knew that I'd ever be saying that a 9 hour flight was nothing!
Phil picked me up at the airport, got us train tickets and we were on our way into Tokyo. (the airport is an hour from the city.) And if it wasn't for him meeting me...perhaps I would still be at the ticket maching trying to figure out how much yen to put in the machine and trying to figure out by looking at the map exactly which train I needed. No clue!

We pulled in to Tokyo, left the station and walked next door to the Imperial Palace to take a look around the grounds. So here's my only touch of real culture from the trip...a guard tower near the moat that surrounds the grounds of the Imperial Palace.

After a dinner of pizza for me and a cheeseburger for Phil, (who would've known that the pizza in Japan is much better than the pizza in Australia?) we got to our hotel...the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay. Check out the road directions on the street.

The hotel was very nice. I enjoyed English breakfasts at the restaurants in the morning- scrambled eggs, bacon (the American kind, not Australian bacon which is wide and chewy like Canadian bacon), croissants, fruit, and hot tea. But I'd have to say the neatest part of the hotel was their toilet seats. Yeah...their toliet seats.

They're heated!! Forget the bidet or shower button...I mean really, isn't paper truly enough? But a nice heated seat first thing in the morning? Lovely. Tomorrow...on to our first stop, Tokyo Disneyland.