Tuesday, July 31, 2012

22 May 2012: Circular Quay, Parramatta River and a night in Sydney

22 May 2012 (Tue): It was time to bid farewell to Watsons Bay.

Sydney Opera House. Taken from the ferry.

During autumn, the skies in Sydney turn dark pretty early. By about 5.30 p.m. in the evening, the sun would have set!

Circular Quay. Before the sun sets.

I had wanted to take a ferry ride from Circular Quay to Parramatta, along the Parramatta River. I diligently followed the ferry schedule and yet for some strange reason, I had missed the last ferry that would head to Parramatta! I still could not figure out how I could have missed the express ferry to Parramatta. In the end, I took the ferry would take passengers along the Parramatta River up till Meadowpoint wharf, and then return to Circular Quay.

22 May 2012: Harbour Bridge. Taken from a ferry to Meadowpoint.

When I was on the ferry, I made my way to the open-air upper deck of the ferry. On the upper deck, I could not help but be delighted by the fresh air and the beautiful scenery. The wind was blowing against my face and it was getting rather cold. Recognizing that the skies would soon turn dark, I did my best possible to admire the scenery around me. I marvelled at the beauty of the evening skies.

Evening of 22 May 2012 from the ferry.

For at least half of the journey, I was the only passenger on the upper deck of the ferry. Perhaps it was just simply too cold to be on the upper deck. I felt I was at the mercy of the elements when I was sitting on the upper deck. Nevertheless, it was an experience that was in some ways therapeutic. Although I was at the mercy of the elements, I felt relatively safe. If the wind was too cold, I could find shelter and warmth at the lower deck of the ferry which was sheltered from the elements. I felt thankful that I could at least travel along a part of the Parramatta River. This river is the main tributary of the Sydney Harbour, a branch of Port Jackson.

22 May 2012: Gladesville Bridge. Taken from a ferry.

When the ferry brought me back to Circular Quay, I took a stroll about the area. It appeared that the area near Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House was getting ready for Vivid Sydney. Near Cadmans Cottage, I was curious to see a number of people waiting with a gentleman in a strange dark costume. I learnt that they were waiting for one of The Rocks Ghost Tours to start. Advanced reservation was required to join the tour, and so I had given it a miss.

I found a nice and quiet spot near Park Hyatt Sydney to enjoy the views of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It was simply a blessing to slow down and make time to marvel at the beauty that was around me. Life is great!

Museum of Contemporary Art. Preparing for Vivid Sydney 2012.

22 May 2012: Cadmans Cottage

The day had been full of twists and turns. It was a day of learning to receive help, to ask for help, to find my way about in a foreign land, to learn to listen to the intuition, to learn to trust that all will be well in the end, and to learn to have faith that I will be safe despite all the unexpected delays and detours. I was learning to enjoy the scenery and the beauty of each moments despite things not going according to my plans and original intentions.

One thing to be grateful for was that I was safe and sound in a foreign land. My words of gratitude to the people who were looking out for me and/or were lending me their help in one way or another. Thank you!

Transport Info 131500

Parramatta River
Parramatta River Walk

Also see:
25 May 2012: My first experience of Vivid Sydney
18 Nov 2010: Cruise along the Parramatta River

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Fort Canning Park Sketching Tour

The facilitator of the sketching tour, Choo Meng Foo.

On 28 July 2012, I visited the Fort Canning Park to take part in a sketching tour. participants met at the courtyard of Fort Canning Centre, in front of the NParks Visitor Service Centre. I brought along my sketchbook, pens and pencils.

As the marketing material suggests, the sketching tour allowed the participants to revisit history, embrace Nature and be awed by the trees of the fort. The sketching tour was facilitated by artist Choo Meng Foo. He gave us an introduction to some approaches to sketching.

Fort Gate. Fort Canning Park.

Our first stop for the sketching tour was the Fort Gate. Choo Meng Foo gave us some instructions so that we can learn to be more aware of our surrounding environment, including the sounds from Nature and the smells from the surrounding spaces. I did a sketch that focused on the Fort Gate and a nearby tree that had caught my eyes.

It was quite a delight to see people of all ages and from all walks of life enjoying the process of sketching. A few of the young participants asked Choo Meng Foo for feedback, and he gave encouraging sugestions and feedback to them.

One of my sketches.

Our second stop for the sketching tour was near Fort Canning Green. I was captivated by the structure of the cupola so I did a sketch of it. Being a little ambitious, I tried to sketch the Fort Canning Centre in the background. After the sketch was done, I received a suggestion from Choo Meng Foo, and I took the suggestion to enhance the sketch.

At Fort Canning Green.

It was a fruitful day. I had completed three sketches, spent time catching up with a few friends, and made a few new friends too. More importantly, it was therapeutic and fun to be close to Nature and to sketch.

Many thanks to one of my friends for the getting me the sketch-book that I was using, and another of my friends for getting me a few of the sketching pens that I was using. In addition, special thanks to Choo Meng Foo for facilitating the sketching tour.

This sketching tour is organised by the National Parks Board. Many thanks to National Parks Board for making this tour a fun and interesting one. This was a free tour. More information on future similar events can be found from http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/ and www.facebook.com/nparksbuzz

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book launch event:《入墓三分,一脉香承》

Chinese Traditional Architecural Culture Series : Close encounters with Bukit Brown and Local Temples
Date: Sunday Jul 29, 2012
Time: 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Venue: Multi-Purpose Room in Central Public Library, National Library Building 

This morning, I had the great pleasure to attend a book launch at the Multi-Purpose Room in Central Public Library. Two publications, written by five students from Ngee Ann Polytechic who are reading Diploma in Chinese Studies, were being presented at the book launch.

During the event, I learnt more about the Bukit Brown Cemetery as well as interesting architectural features of Chinese temples in Singapore. It was heart-warming to see that the event was well-attended by young adults and tertiary students.

I received a complimentary copy of each of the two books that were launched at the event. It was a very pleasant surprise when I heard that everyone at the event would receive a complimentary copy of each of the two books! The book on Bukit Brown Cemetery, 《入墓三分》, was reader-friendly and I managed to finish reading it in less than two hours. I like the fact that it was written in a rather accessible manner and that it contains a number of photographs to captivate the interest of the readers.

The book, 《入墓三分》, can be divided into six broad sections. The first section attempts to demystify the Bukit Brown Cemetery. This section gives an overview to history of the cemetery and the origins of its name. The second section describes the challenges that the authors had faced when they were exploring the cemetery with the objective of learning more about it. The third section describes the various interesting encounters that the authors had met with when they were doing their fieldwork at the cemetery. The fourth section discusses about some of the interesting tomb features that the authors have observed. The fifth section touches on the protectors of the tombs. These include the sculptures of the lion and the Sikh guard. The book concludes with the authors' reflections.

I shall start reading the other book, 《庙在‧妙哉》, soon.

Many thanks to the generosity of the sponsors for making the publication of the books and the book launch possible. The sponsors were: 新加坡福清会馆新加坡南安会馆,金圣私人有限公司和永昇工程私人有限公司. NLB Public Libraries Singapore was the venue sponsor for the event.

I felt very inspired by the authors' perseverance to write and publish the books. It seemed to urge me to write and publish a book soon too.

Please find more information regarding the two books below:

ISBN: 978-981-07-2838-0
Email: tai_yang_shen@hotmail.com

ISBN: 978-981-07-2976-9
Blog: http://blog.omy.sg/amazing-point/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MiaoZai2012
Email: miaozai2012@gmail.com

Please contact Ngee Ann Poly, School of Humanities and Social Sciences for more information on the two books. For your convenience, here are the contact details.

School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Block 52 #04-01
535 Clementi Road
Singapore 599 489

Email address: sch-hms@np.edu.sg
General Enquiries: (+65) 6460 8577
Fax Enquiries: (+65) 6875 1469

Thursday, July 26, 2012

22 May 2012: Beautiful Watsons Bay

Watsons Bay.
Paddy's Market.
22 May 2012 (Tue):
After two servings of breakfast at Revolver, I took a light rail to the Paddy's Market, Sydney City. After that, my next destination was Circular Quay. I found my way to the Observatory Hill from Circular Quay. The most memorable activity that I did at the Observatory Hill was to witness the dropping of the time-ball at 1 p.m.

After my visit to the Observatory Hill, I found my way to Circular Quay to take a ferry to Watsons Bay. Whenever I visit Sydney, I have made it a point to take as many rides on the ferry as I could. The views on the way to Watsons Bay was lovely and enticing. I love how the breeze blow gently against my face. The air was fresh!

Sydney Opera House
At one of the wharf, at Circular Quay.
View of the Sydney City skyline from the ferry.
Dunbar House. Robertson Park. Watsons Bay.
I headed to Robertson Park for a stroll. My heart told me to take a public bus to Rose Bay area. On the way to Rose Bay, I must have kind of lost my way. Anyway, I took a stroll of the area and found myself at New South Head Road, near Norwich Road. I was very close to getting to the Pier, a place for one of the best seafood in Sydney. Yet, with all the stories of getting lost and unexpected delays that very day, I knew that if I wish to take the last ferry for the day that would set off from Watsons Bay to Circular Quay, I would have to find my way to Watsons Bay soon enough.

Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Rose Bay.
A glimpse of Rose Bay.

The bus that I took led me to the Gap Park. I took a route that I had not taken before. It was quite an adventure to explore new places. I explored the Coastal Clifftop Walkway on my own. The scenery from the Gap Park was refreshing and somewhat spectacular. Along the way, I met several visitors to the area. I felt grateful that a few friendly visitors offered to help me take photographs of myself. I could not have taken better photographs of myself without their help.

Coastal Clifftop Walkway. The Gap Park.
South Head in the Foreground, North Head in the distance.

Pause. Slow down. Enjoy the moments.

These were the best things to do when one is at the Gap Park. To delight in the moment and to experience the marvel of Nature. I felt so thankful and grateful for the beautiful scenery that Nature has to offer. While I was strolling about Watsons Bay, I thought of the times when I visited Watsons Bay with friends. I was reminded of their generosity and kindness. Somehow this place will have a special place in my heart.

Watsons Bay. Macquarie Lighthouse in the background.

Watsons Bay.

The view from the Gap Park.

Admittedly, I was rather anxious that afternoon. I was too mindful not to miss the last ferry that I literally missed exploring certain parts of the Gap Park and Watsons Bay. Perhaps that would give me the excuse to return again?

Robertson Park. Watsons Bay.

Before I left Watsons Bay, I bought a take-away fish-and-chips from Doyles on the Wharf. The gentlemen at the outlet were very kind to get my orders done as soon as they could when I told them that I was catching the last ferry back to Circular Quay for that day. My orders cost me AUD$13.80.

Once I have gotten my orders, I ran to the wharf to catch the last ferry back to Circular Quay. Soon, the ferry set off for Circular Quay. The fish-and-chips was tasty as best as I could remember. However, I did the food a disservice. I was to enticed with enjoying the views from the ferry that I had only started eating the food when I had reached Circular Quay about half-an-hour later.

Watsons Bay.

Watsons Bay.
The ferry ride back to the city.

I felt deeply grateful to be blessed with the beautiful sights of Watsons Bay. Nature has been so loving to grant such beautiful sights. May all visitors and residents of Watsons Bay be blessed with love and joy.

Watsons Bay
Wikipedia: Watsons Bay
Tripadvisor: Watsons Bay
My review of Watsons Bay on Tripadvisor

Ways to get to Watsons Bay:
1) Take a ferry to Watsons Bay.
2) Take a bus to Watsons Bay.
3) Drive to Watsons Bay.

Doyles on the Wharf Take Away/ Bistro
Fishermans Wharf, Watsons Bay, Sydney.
Tel: +61-2-9337-6214

Related posts:
10 May 2011: Sydney Highlights and Bondi Beach Gray Line Tours
6 May 2011: Memorable Watsons Bay
19 Nov 2010: The afternoon get-away, and back to Watsons Bay
16 Nov 2010: Once again, the beautiful Watsons Bay
14 Nov 2010: Beautiful Watsons Bay
17 Sep 2008: Beautiful Watsons Bay

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

22 May 2012: An afternoon at the Observatory Hill

Sydney's Observatory Hill.

22 May 2012 (Tue):

After two servings of breakfast at the Revolver, I took a light rail to Paddy's Market. Then I took a bus to Circular Quay. The initial plan was to head for Watsons Bay on one of the ferries. However, as I was running behind my schedule for the day, I decided to change my plans and visit the Sydney Observatory. This is so as to purchase a ticket to the night visit to the Sydney Observatory.

As I was finding my way to the Sydney Observatory, I recollected the many times when I visited The Rocks as well as the Observatory Hill. Physical spaces have amazing wonders and powers in triggering our memories. When I revisited physical spaces that I had previously visited, I would often feel a sense of reconnection to a moment in the past.

Observatory Hill, Sydney.

When I was at the Observatory Hill, I was welcomed by a group of people who were probably doing some physical fitness training. As I walked past down, I noticed a lady who was enjoying relaxing moments lying on her stomach on the grass with her lovely pet dog. She seemed to be looking affectionately at her pet dog and so was her dog looking affectionately at her. I thought to myself: "How lovely it was to while one's time as if one has no other care in the world?"

Anzac Bridge at the distance. From Observatory Hill.

The sun was bright and the skies were clear that day. I strolled about the Observatory Hill to enjoy the beautiful views from this elevated part of Sydney. The Observatory Hill is one possible place to enjoy a distant view of the Anzac Bridge. It is one fabulous place to catch a lovely view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge too.

Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Observatory Hill.

The people who were visiting the Observatory were very helpful and kind. One kind gentleman helped me to take a photograph of myself with the Observatory in the background. As a tourist in a foreign country, I have found it a tremendous blessing to meet helpful and kind people on my journey. They lent a hand whenever I needed help.
The Sydney Observatory.

When I was at the Sydney Observatory ready to purchase a ticket to the night visit, I was told that there was some minor glitch in the computer system, so I happily did a self-guided visit about the Observatory. Daytime admission for a self-guided visit to the gardens and the Observatory exhibitions is free.

Exhibits related to the transit of Venus.

While viewing the various exhibits, I learnt about the transit of Venus. I learnt that transits of Venus are rare events that occur twice, eight years apart, and then not for over a century. What was particularly interesting to me was that the transits of Venus are of special relevance to Australians. This is because it was James Cook's voyage to Tahiti to observe the 1769 transit of Venus that has led to the European settlement of the continent of Australia. Astronomers of the time of James Cook were interested in the Transits of Venus because careful observations of the transits allowed them to measure the distance of the Earth from the Sun. There seemed much anticipation for the transit of Venus that was to occur on 6 Jun 2012.

Meteorology devices that were on display at the Sydney Observatory.

At the Observatory, I learnt about various astronomy and meteorology devices. Aside from these, at the section that was known as Cadi Eora birrung (under the Sydney Skies), I learnt that the Aboriginal people were very keen in astronomy. They have been keen observers of the southern skies. This section of the exhibition shows constellations in the southern sky and explains how they were perceived from the Aboriginal perspective.

After viewing the exhibits in the Observatory, I felt lucky that I could secure myself a ticket to the night visit on 24 Jun 2012. You would have probably seen my face beaming with joy.

Sydney Observatory. Before 1 p.m. Notice the position of the time ball.

While I was at the Observatory that day, I learnt for the first time in my life that the Sydney Observatory is one of the few places in the world where one can still find a functioning time ball that is used to tell time. It was interesting for me to realize that before radio, the only way to convey accurate time was through signal. This practice of conveying time through the use of the time ball remains in use at the Sydney Observatory. A few minutes before 1 p.m., the time ball would be raised to the top of the mast and dropped at exactly 1 p.m. everyday. Watching the dropping of the time ball is one of the interesting activities that visitors to Sydney Observatory may wish to consider.

In order to view the brief moments of the dropping of the time ball, I decided to wait patiently till 1 p.m. to witness the dropping of the time ball. While waiting, I did a quick sketch at the Observatory Hill.

A quick sketch that I did.

When it was getting close to 1 p.m., many visitors, including myself, gathered outside the Observatory. We witnessed how the time ball was raised to the top of the mast. Soon, it was 1 p.m. The dropping of the time-ball happened pretty fast. Before we knew it, the time ball had dropped to the bottom of the mast. As I watched the time ball dropped from the top of the mast, I tried to visualize how the nearby ships and people in a time in the distant past had relied on the dropping of the time ball to tell the time. Everyone cheered when the time ball was dropped as if we were watching a significant performance.

The time ball was raised to the top of the mast.

The time ball fell.

The time ball dropped to the bottom of the mast at 1 p.m.

The cheers and applause that came with the dropping of the time ball also reminded me that it was time to bid goodbye to the Observatory. I felt thankful for the good weather and the special opportunity to witness a time-keeping activity that dated way back to many decades ago.

Sydney Observatory
Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks.
Tel: 61-2-9921-3485

Nearest train stations: Circular Quay and Wynyard.

Please click here for directions on how to get there: http://www.sydneyobservatory.com.au/planning/how-to-get-here/

Online articles that are related:
Panoramic earth: Sydney Observatory.
Time ball at Sydney Observatory, 1858.

Related posts: 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

22 May 2012: The search to find Revolver at 291 Annandale Street

Revolver Veggie Big Breakie.

In my efforts to treat myself to wonderful breakfasts while I was visiting Sydney in one of the weeks in May 2012, I had referred to Time Out Sydney to help me identify some of Sydney's best breakfasts. One of the places in Sydney that I had shortlisted to enjoy breakfast at was Revolver. This is one place where the spirit of community is strong, and the food is delicious.

Revolver is located in the suburbs of Annandale. While I was figuring out my way to get to Revolver from the  Travelodge Sydney Hotel, I consulted the 131500 New South Wales' Transport Info website. One of the suggestions was to take the bus service M50 to Victoria Rd, near Evans Street, Rozelle, and then cross to the other side of the road to take bus service 433 to the bus-stop at the Crescent, opposite Trafalgar Street, Annandale Street. My destination was another 470 metres from that bus stop.

The information was correct yet it seemed that having to take the bus from the wrong side of the road, finding my way to the right side of the road to retrace the journey and overlooking that it was time to alight had led to me finding myself losing my way as I tried to head to Revolver. The lesson learnt, however, was that when one is sure about one's destination, one will reach there in a matter of time.

I express my words of gratitude to the many strangers who have helped me on my journey to Revolver. In particular, my special words of thanks to these kind folks:

- The driver who so nicely gave me information how to find myself to the right side of the road when I realized with a mild shock that I had taken the bus M50 only to realized 15 minutes later that I had taken the bus from the wrong side of the road!

- Another bus-driver who was patient enough not to yell at me when I was so busy looking at maps that I had missed alighting at a bus-stop along Victoria Road! He gave me directions on how to travel to Victoria Road.

- When I was taking yet another M50 bus to head to Victoria Road, another observant bus-driver noticed that I was lost. He made the time to stop the bus to speak with me when I alighted at the wrong bus-stop! He allowed me to get back onto the bus to continue my journey to the right bus-stop. By that time, everyone on the bus knew that I was going to Evans Street!

- The two kind ladies on one of the buses who gave me clear directions on the exact bus-stop to alight. I had wanted to alight at the bus-stop near Evans Street.

- The helpful lady with a child who reminded me to take bus service 433 to Annandale suburb when I was lost after alighting at Victoria Rd, near Evans Street.

- The gentleman who gave me direction to find my way to Annandale Street from Johnston Street.

The journey from the hotel to Revolver would have usually taken about 35 minutes. However due to a lot of unforeseen circumstances, I set off from the hotel at about 7.20 a.m. and only found my way to Annandale Street at about 9.30 a.m.! Two hours and ten minutes taken to find my way there!

Maybe the lessons learnt were to be more alert, to learn to ask for help, to be prepared to face the uncertainties, and to trust that I will get to my destination eventually. I have also learnt to be prepared to ask for help and to receive the help that was necessary to help me reach my destination. One other thing that I have learnt was to remember to enjoy the beautiful sights along the way even when I was lost.

Anzac Bridge from the Bicentennial Park.

On my way to Revolver, I was rewarded with beautiful views of the Rozelle Bay and the Anzac Bridge from the Bicentennial Park. I also noticed many interesting houses along the way to Revolver. When I reached Revolver, it struck me that it is a place for breakfast for the community living in the Annandale suburb. It is the place where the people in the community gather to meet and to enjoy good food. I felt that Revolver was a friendly place to spend time at.

The view of Rozelle Bay from the Bicentennial Park.


I ordered the Oyster Mushroom Bruschera with scrambled egg, fresh ricotta and wilted spinach. This was at AUD$14.50 each. I also ordered the watermelon and passion fruit juice. I love the oyster mushroom which went very well with the egg and the wilted spinach. Admittedly, I love the taste of the wilted spinach.

Oyster Mushroom Bruschera with scrambled eggs, fresh ricotta and wilted spinach.

I felt that my appetite was huge that morning. I read the menu and ordered the Revolver Veggie Big Breakie which was one of Revolver's specialties. This breakfast set was served in a cast iron pan. At AUD$16.50 per serving, it was a pretty generous breakfast set. I love the taste of the hummus, avocado, mashed beetroot, mushroom and tomato. The tomato base found in the Revolver Veggie Big Breakie with home-made baked beans was tasty and caught my interest.

Revolver Veggie Big Breakie.
I like the mashed beetroot and the avocado.

I left Revolver feeling very satisfied with the servings of breakfast that I had. It reminded me that despite the challenges and set-backs, I will find my way to my destination if I know where it is.

An interesting community notice board outside Revolver.

Here is my suggestion of how to travel to Revolver with greater ease:
- Take the Metro Light Rail services and alight at Rozelle Bay station.
- From the Light Rail station at Rozelle Bay, find your way to 291 Annandale Street which runs parallel to Johnston Street and Piper La.

Rozelle Bay Metro Light Rail services.

291 Annandale Street, Annandale, NSW 2038, Australia
Tel: 61-2-9555-4727
Opens 7 days a week
Time: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nearest Metro Light Rail station: Rozelle Bay

Also read: Revolver, by Time Out Sydney.

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired.