Monday, 4 May 2015

Travelogue: Sydney Holiday 2015 - Day 1

I have been to Melbourne and Perth but this is my first trip to Sydney. This has been a wonderful trip with some shopping, a lot of food hunting, cafe hopping and some "holland-ed"(getting lost) experience. I hope that by sharing my experence in Sydney, I can help you my dear readers to plan better and have a more awesome holiday by avoiding some of the mistakes that I have made.  P.S: This is going to be a long and detailed post.

We took the flight out via Scoot at 1.40am and reached Sydney at about 12 noon as we were hovering in the sky due to bad weather. Thus we were thankful that we pre-ordered our food with the flybageat option while booking our flight. J ordered the soy sauce chicken rice set which comes with a drink (option of coke or green tea) and a snack (toblerone). Preorder is $3 cheaper while on flight it will be $15 iirc. We felt that the soy sauce chicken reminded us of bak zhan (chinese dumpling).
I ordered the chicken ham and cheese set. It was served cold but no complain as I was hungry after waking up in the morning. So if possible try some hot food option instead.
After clearing customs, we went to get an Opal card at WHSmith. This is very important as it is like our ezlink card that allows us to travel around via train, bus and light rail. The card is free but you got to top it up with credits. We topped up a total of $60 each and have an excess of about $10 when we came home. You can also top up the Opal card at any train station. 
Another important thing to do is to get a sim card. The daily $2 plan from OPTUS is value for money with free sim card, 500MB data limit, unlimited local calls and sms. It is very useful to navigate google map, make table reservation and access to the social media platform. Lol I am such an addict to social media. I top up $20 to be deducted for the daily internet access for this trip. 
P.S: For the whole trip, I got auto deducted only once for the excess data usage due to update of my hp software which I could have saved if I updated the software when I have wifi connection. But for another $2, you get 525MB till the end of day at 23:59.
We took the train from the airport to the city (Central station) which is about $17 each. According to the guy at OPTUS, Taxi would cost you about $60.
Our accommodation is booked via AirBnB (my referral link is hchia56, and you get $33 off your first stay) which I have a mixed experience with different hosts for this trip. I would recommend AirBnb as I find it cheaper, less commercialised and you get to see how the locals live their daily lives. However I have my first bad experience from this host, An. We booked the accommodation for 5 nights, 2 weeks before the trip. However a day before we fly off to Sydney the host suddenly said she was not able to let us stay throughout the 5 days. She left us with an option to stay a day on our first night at an ensuite room which was previously unavailable. As it was very last minute, we took the room but we were glad that it was only for a day.
The Pros of this place is it is smacked right in the middle of the CBD at Cunningham street with a shopping mall (World Square) on the opposite street. It looks very much like what is shown in the pictures on the AirBnb site and it is located on 31st floor. We have a good city view and the room is spacious. Cooking is allowed and checking in was easily done with clear instructions given by the host. Most importantly, the wifi connection is stable and strong.
The Cons are the bed mattress is very thin like those futon mattress. It is a shared house with other housemates. The sound proofing is not very good thus we didnt had a good rest with the commotion outside the room in the middle of the night. There was also a musky smell in the room with high humidity which might have caused by the rainy weather in Sydney. The room was not very clean as I could see dust on some place and both me and J felt itchy when sleeping on the bed. Thus I do not recommend this place unless you can make do with a night of uncomfortable bed n bad rest.
After checking in and washed up, we headed out to explore Sydney. The shopping mall (World Square) opposite the accomodation has woolsworth, bottle shop, pharmacy, several eateries and retails. Our first stop is coffee from Kingwood located in the same building.
The staff were friendly and a latte cost only $3.50. The coffee was easy to drink and not as robust as I would like my coffee to be. There is no seating inside as it is more of a takeaway joint. Nevertheless it is an interesting cafe. I heard from a fellow instagrammer that the mocha and hot chocolate here are very good as they are using Belgian chocolate. So do give it a try and share with me how you feel about it.

Kingswood Coffee
Shop 10, 680 George Street, World Square, Sydney NSW 2000
Operating Hours: Mon to Fri 6am–6pm (Later on Thursday)
                             Sat & Sun 8am–4pm
Tucked in a small corner in Regent Place near Town Hall Train Station, Blue Bird is like a hidden find in the midst of the busy CBD. The quaint little cafe offers specialty coffee, sandwiches, salad and some bakes. Though the name sounds a bit funny to some, according to the owner, it means hope. It kind of reminded me of the mocking jay from the movie Hunger Games. lol
The order was done in a breeze with the friendly peeps here. I was quite happy to see a range of beans being served here. I ordered a Yirgarcheff on Piccolo Latte ($4) while J ordered a Java Mocha ($4) on Piccola Latte. Both were served with single shot.
BlueBird uses coffee beans from Bellisimo Coffee which is one of Australia's award winning coffee roaster based in Brisbane. The coffee was served with a cookie which goes together very well. We were blessed to have our coffee done by the boss, Karl. The milk frothing was done beautifully -smooth, glossy and shiny. While my Yirgarcheff has a beautiful distinct floral note, J's Java Mocha Piccolo latte was smooth, well rounded and heavy bodied. Yum yum. 

BlueBird Coffee
Lot 15B, 501 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Operating Hours: Weekdays 7.30am to 9pm
                 Friday until late
                 Weekends 10am to 9pm
Credits: Wikipedia
For dinner, we went to Market City Shopping Centre which is also where the famous Paddy's Markets is located as well. However we reached after 5pm thus we missed the chance to visit Paddy's Markets. It is about 10 mins walk from Central Station or alternatively you can take Light Rail and stop at Paddy's Markets Light Rail Stop.
Bò 7 Món THANH TÂM is located in a dining concept similar to Singapore's foodcourt on level 3. Raved by many, this is one of the items on my to eat list in Sydney. 
I ordered Rare Beef Pho ($9.50) and I was given a buzzer which vibrates when the food is ready. The serving was relatively big with a bowl as big as a ramen bowl in Singapore. The clear beef broth was flavourful and comforting for the cold rainy weather in Sydney. However the beef is slightly too cooked for my liking. A little bit more rare would make this a perfect bowl of Pho. 

Store F3.13A, Level 3, 9-13 Hay St
Haymarket New South Wales 2000
Tel: (+61) 02 9212 5610
Operating Hours: 10am to 8pm Daily
Credits: Urban Spoon
On the same level at the other corner of the "foodcourt", there is another stall that is selling Japanese ramen which caught our attention by its unceasing queue.
J ordered a Hakata-maru Ramen ($14.80) with spicy miso, black garlic oil and chashu. The broth was flavourful and perfectly seasoned. The chashu was tender, the egg was done well and the noodle was not too hard or soft. Overall it was a hearty and satisfying meal. P.S: The food portion is enough to be shared by 2 Asian gals.

Hakata-Maru Ramen
Shop 3 Level 3 Market City
9-13 Hay St Haymarket, NSW 2000 

You are invited to join my gastronomic journey on Instagram and Facebook. :)