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Monday, 31 March 2008
I didn't sleep until 2am+ as I tried to unpack some of my stuff from the luggage. I was pretty tired when I woke up at 6-ish am. Well, for one, not enough sleep, only 4 hours and I think I am suffering from jet lag, still on Melbourne time, lol. Thank goodness that I have a nice boss who allows me to work from home. For today, I was able to work and spend time with my girls after being away from them for 11 days.
The girls are happy to see me. Juliane was either hugging me or holding my hand whenever she remembers. Marieann was filling me in all that has happened to them while I was away, lol. They are most happy with their presents - 2 dresses, 2 blouses and 2 skirts for each girl. But I think I might have gotten them one size too big for all the clothes, lol. :P
Sunday, 30 March 2008
I still recall when I arrived in Melbourne 10 days ago, in the freezing cold! It was bloody cold but fun. It all seemed so surreal now. Then I was in Sydney, meeting my best friend, Min again after so long! The late night chats, the girl talk, the shopping :) Again, it all seemed so surreal! Now my holiday is coming to an end. It seemed as if I haven't even started my holiday!! Sigh.
Woke up pretty early in the morning and had breakfast with the boys. I had my Weetbix as usual. Yes, I am a Weetbix kid, lol. I just love it, with soy milk or rice milk, and throw in some dried fruits, yum! :) Must introduce my girls to it.
My Weetbix breakfast with rice milk and cranberries
After a relaxing breakfast, I finished the last of my packing. Yeah, just made it. My luggage was only 20.4kg. :) Can buy some more stuff to bring home, lol. :P Yes, I need to buy back some food stuff from the supermarket. Min and I left for the Woolsworth at Menai. I managed to get stuff for friends and family. As we were at the check-out, my eyes were roaming. No, not for guys but for shops that I could still do some last minute shopping for myself! LOL. Most of the things I have bought have been for my girls, my mother and my friends. Compared to previous trips to OZ, I have bought very few things for myself on this trip, lol. Feel a bit unsatisfied :P Anyway, Min really knows me best. She told me to go have a look at the shops, lol. Off I went. Looked at 3 shops and bought a red lacy top within 10 minutes. Yeah, HAPPY. With that top in hand, I finally felt that I have treated myself right, haha. :P
When we got home, Min went to heat up lunch. I wanted my kangaroo steak again. My last chance since I don't know if I can get it in Singapore, lol. While she was doing that, Graham offered to take me on a ride round the block. I was wondering, "Huh? Why would I want to go on a ride round the block in a car?". I think he saw the look on my face and he said, "On the bike!" I think I never ran so fast to the door, lol. The helmet was so heavy and huge. I finally understand how those "top heavy" ladies felt. I could myself tipping over, unfortunately it was due to the helmet, lol. :P The ride was really fun!! I thought I was pretty relaxed, lol. Apparently not, according to Graham. Ok, next time, must ride again and I will pretend to be a sack of potatoes, haha. :)
Had a wonderful lunch of pork sausages, kangaroo steak, roasted veg, "squeaky" cheese and soup. Simply delicious! :)
I am going to miss Min's cooking. We had a cuppa too after lunch. Stuffed today's shopping into the luggage and it weighed 22kg. Opps, overdid the shopping, haha. Nay, I should be fine. I hope. :P I hugged Ben and Josh and took photos with them. I hope they will remember me, at least for Josh, I will be the High-five Aunty??!. Lol. :)
Updated 31 March 2008, 1:01am
Min took me to the airport at 2:30pm. The airport wasn't too far from her place. But I thought the time just passed too quickly. I only knew I was chatting with her and the next minute, we have arrived at the airport. :( There were not many people in the queue before me at the check-in. But 10 minutes after me, there was a long line after me. I guess I was lucky. When my turn came, check-in was really fast. I was done by 3:30pm. We had a lot of time to spare. We looked at the souvenir shops at the airport. I managed to spend my last A$20 on Arnott's Chocolate Mint Balls for myself and Kangaroo pencil cases for the girls. Lol. Min and I sat down for a cuppa and we chatted. We have so much fun chatting away, lol. Time just flew by. All too soon, it was close to 4:30pm. I had better let Min get home to her boys and her husband. I was upset that I have to say goodbye to Min. Ok, fine, I did tear. Min, you are my best friend. You are a great friend in every way. Thanks for making those wonderful, delicious meals; thanks for taking me shopping all over Sydney; thanks for listening; thanks for your support. Thanks for everything. Thank you for your friendship. :) Keep in touch, ok? Now that we finally figured out how to sms each other, lol. :)
My best friend, Min
Min and Graham
Went through customs with ease. The custom lady thought my passport photo looked really sweet and innocent but in person, I looked a bit naughty, lol. :P Wah, saw more shops inside. ARGH. No more money, haha. Boarded the plane at 5:35pm. However, we didn't take off until 6:45pm.
I watched 2.5 inflight movies. I finished up the "Manual of Love 2" which I saw on the way into Australia. I saw Rogue, an Australian action movie about a giant croc who is eating people, a bit like Lake Placid. I also saw "Love in the Time of Cholera", a spanish movie. Its tagline "How long would you wait for love?" says it all. A very touching and romantic story indeed.
Airplane meals are my favourite part of the plane journey, besides the air turbulence, lol. Dinner was served at 9pm+ (melb time) was salad; chicken in oyster sauce, greens and rice; mini chocolate bar and dessert was Passionfruit & Cream ice cream. :) There was refreshment about an hour before landing: fruits and pasta.
The plane landed at 10:55pm. I managed to get through customs and collect my luggage by 11:30pm. Got home at 12 midnight. I was very tired as I didn't manage to sleep on the plane again. But I was really glad to see the girls even though they were asleep. :) That put a smile on my tired soul. Hope they will like their presents when they see them tomorrow. :)
Saturday, 29 March 2008
Today is the last day that I can do my shopping for tomorrow I return to Singapore.
My best friend, Min brought me to Liverpool Westfield shopping mall. We went to scout for the curtains my mother wanted. Unfortunately, the kind she wanted is no longer in fashion and we looked for it at several shops and all to no avail. Also looked for stuff that my friend wanted: PC game, and dvd. Tried our best but the PC game is an old one and the shops don't carry it anymore. As for the dvd, after looking in a few shops, the last shop I went into managed to tell me that the dvd will only be out in May 2008. Oh great, all that looking and walking for nothing, lol. Seemed like it hasn't been a very successful shopping trip. :(
Min is a fantastic friend. She decided to take me to another Westfield shopping mall at Marinda to try our luck for the items. Still no luck for them. :( But at least I managed to get my mother's flax seed oil, more clothes for the girls, and Delta Goodrem cds for myself. Yup, that's all I got for myself. Didn't really buy many things for myself on this trip, mainly bought for my girls, my mother and my friends. :)
* Earth Hour
Earth Hour is being held here in Sydney, it begins at 8pm and ends at 9pm. I am lucky to be here to participate in this meaningful international event.
The kids needed to have showers before 8pm, before all lights in the house are turned off. I helped Min to cut the potato and pumpkin, and to slice the mushrooms while she was attending to Josh. Graham cooked pork sausages, steak and kangaroo meat in the backyard while Min put the pumpkin and potato to roast in the oven. Min also made the mushroom sauce. I also helped to stir the sauce, lol. Soon we were all ready, the candles were lit, the meats barbequed, the vegetables roasted, the corn cobs cooked. The lights were off at 8pm sharp.
It was really an experience to have dinner with only candle lights, not just that, without other non-essential electrical appliances being switched on, e.g. television, lol. Ben joined us for dinner and Josh was hanging around as he had his dinner first. But he was snacking on sausages, lol. I had kangaroo meat for the first time. It tasted a lot like steak, lol. It went really well with the mushroom sauce! I had two servings of kangaroo meat and I also had the soup that Min made earlier. I think Graham is surprised by my huge appetite, lol. I really like kangaroo meat. :) Hope I can get kangaroo meat in Singapore, lol.
It was really fun and meaningful taking part in Earth Hour. I will get my girls to participate next year. :)
After dinner, it started to rain quite heavily. Didn't expect it to rain and it turned the night quite cold. Min and I then watched "love actually". I haven't watched it before as I thought it was one of those silly romance. I didn't realised it was that good. It was quite hilarious. Min decided to give me the dvd when she realised that I love the show, lol. Thanks, Min. :)
I also like this song "Lost Without You" by Delta Goodrem. The lyrics is nice too.
I think I will buy her album when I go shopping later. :)
Friday, 28 March 2008
We went out before 9 in the morning as Min has to drop off her son at pre-school. After which, she used a most wonderful little gadget call the GPS to locate the PETA office at Newtown. I had to get a few books for a good friend. We found the place easily and managed to get the books. Maybe because of good karma, you know me being a helpful friend and all lol :P, I found some materials on my Phd topic by accident while waiting for the lady to issue me a receipt! :) Was really happy about that.
We proceeded to DFO, Homebush. Yes, it is shopping time again. Tried to look for more stuff to buy for the girls and for myself. :) Bought myself and the girls a blouse each. I also bought two pair of earrings for myself - rose quartz and coral. I was really happy with them as they were 50% off. :)
We left DFO around 2pm and went to pick up the boys on the way home. I wanted to start packing my luggage to see how much space I have left for more shopping on Saturday but I had a nap instead. Lol.
Dinner at home was a Thai affair. As usual, Min, Graham and I had a wonderful dinner/ after dinner talk. We were laughing so much. It is great to be among friends and talk freely without fear of being ridiculed or criticised.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
I managed to catch the 11:22am train into city, Circular Quay. I booked myself on the 12:45pm Captain Cook Cruises: Sydney Harbour Explorer (A$29). It cruises round the habour (round trip 1.5 hrs)and makes several stops along the harbour: The Rocks, Fort Denison, Taronga Zoo, Watsons Bay, Darling Harbour, Luna Park, Shark Island. I could hop off at any of these attractions and rejoin the next Explorer. From the Explorer, I saw the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, Fort Denison, Watsons Bay, Luna Park, Darling Harbour, the cliff, and The Rocks.
I disembarked at Darling Harbour at 1:55pm so that I could shop a little. I got two Glow-in-the-Dark t-shirts for the girls and a few postcards for myself. I didn't feel hungry until I saw people sitting by the waterfront cafes and eating. I decided to get Fish, Chips & Drink from Ice Cube Takeaway. Yup, I didn't want to sit down at a table. I brought my fish & chips right to the water edge. It was fun sitting in the sun, having fish & chips by the water and just enjoying life. You will never see me do this in Singapore, lol.
After lunch, I was really lucky to catch the 4:15pm Explorer to return to Circular Quay. If I had missed this one, I would have to wait until 5:45pm. After arriving at Circular Quay, I walked a short distance to The Rocks to take some pictures of the historical buildings there.
Again, I was very lucky. I managed to catch the express train back to Padstow from Circular Quay. Min very kindly picked me up from the train station. On our way home, I took some beautiful photos of the Sydney sunset.
We had garlic bread and hearty soup for dinner. The soup had celery, potato, carrot, bean, and pork sausage. Simply yummy. Please don't think it is soup, it is not filling. I am still extremely full! :)
I had a good time today in the city, snapping pictures to my heart's content. Oh yes, had an experience of my life too, I saw a naked man sunbathing at one of the tiny islands along the harbour! Actually, there were several of them. Hahaha. :P
Tomorrow, I will be going shopping for the things that my mother and my friends have asked me to get.
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
I woke up early at 7:30am in the morning. As I have to leave for the airport by 9-ish am, I needed to double check that I have all my things packed before then. Evelyn, Ken, Pippa and Oma sent me to the domestic airport for my 10:30am flight to Sydney.
Everything is electronic now. The check-in was via the koisk which issued me an e-boarding pass. I then just needed to check in my luggage which took a little while as there were passengers for other domestic flights checking in too. I cleared the check-in by 10am. Evelyn and company sent me all the way to the departure gate. We sat down for a cup of tea/ coffee at the cafe just opposite my gate. We took a few photos, chatted a bit before I was forced to board the plane when they announced final call for boarding for my flight. Sigh. I hate to leave them.
I have had a lot of fun on this Melbourne trip. I had fun helping out and being so involved in the wedding. It is definitely a memory to remember and cherish for life. Thanks Evelyn and Kenneth for inviting me to your wedding. Thank you for asking me to be your reader at the wedding. Thank you for calling me your little sister, Evelyn. It means a lot. So where is my shopping money? Haha. :P Thanks for the wonderful memories. Remember to send me a copy of the wedding video. :) See you guys soon. Take care.
* On Flight
I was seated right next to the Emergency Exit on the plane so I had to read this extra flight info card. An air stewardess asked if I was fine to sit there and if I would be willingly to help during n emergency. Well, why not? I agreed and she went through the procedure of what to do if an emergency occurs. It is just a standard procedure for those who sit next to the exit to take note in case something does happen. Being seated near the exit meant that I was near a window, I was happy to snap some pictures. Lol.
The 1 hr and 20 min went by real fast. There was light refreshment but I didn't eat immediately as I thought I would eat later. I think I fell asleep for a tiny bit instead, lol. Before I knew it, the plane was landing in 20 minutes' time.
The plane landed right on time at 11:50am. I was getting excited as I would be meeting my best friend, Min for the first time since we last met 10, 11 years ago. Wow, it has been that long! Guess what, we recognised each other at once! Lol. Both of us looked exactly the same! Min is still taller than me (although I had secretly hoped she might have shrunk a little, lol) and still as skinny. She said the same of me, still skinny and looked only 15, lolol. :P
After picking up my luggage, we went back to Min's house. We had a simple lunch of ham, tomato and cheese sandwich with a mug of Lady Grey tea with milk. Simple yet delicious. Yum. :) I think we chatted non-stop since we met each other at the airport. After lunch, we went to pick up Min's 2nd son, Josh (3+ yrs) from pre-school. Josh is a really adorable boy. When we arrived home, Ben (7+ yrs), Min's eldest son came home from school. Aiyo, I don't what is with these Eurasian boys. They are just so cute! Big brown eyes, rosy cheeks, ... Lol. :P
I spent the afternoon with Min and her boys. Just relaxing and catching up with Min while she goes about her daily routine with her boys. Well, we are mothers. We can multi-task very well, lol. I am most glad that I get along really well with the boys. Ben who calls me Aunty Hwei Ming affectionately (aiyo, so cute, lol), went straight into playing the stencils I got him with me. Josh was also not shy about climbing onto and sitting on my laps. Bear in mind, this is the first time that both the boys and I saw each other! :) Also saw the neighbour's fat cat, lol.
Min cooked a delicious spaghetti dinner. Gosh, I just love western food, lol. :) We had dinner together when Min's husband Graham, came home. We had a most wonderful and hilarious dinner/ after dinner conversation, lol. A lot of laughing, hahaha.
It is certainly great to see Min again after all these years, Graham too. It is certainly a joy to see the boys. I hope the boys and I will have some fun together in the next few days. :)
PS. I was planning to go to Blue Mountains tomorrow. But I have to change my plans. Sydney has just been hit by a cold spell. It will only be max 16 C at Blue Mountains. Sigh. What is it with me and the weather??!! :P I don't think I want to take the risk of catching a chill/ cold. I think I will just head into city for some city sights instead. :)
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
I left the new extended family, close to noon, to have some time to bond since Evelyn, Kenneth, Pippa and Oma would be flying back to Dubai on Thursday. I went to DFO (Direct Factory Outlet), Essendon again, lol. Today's temperature was not as high as yesterday's but still, when the sun shines, it was scorching on the skin. The sunnies came straight out immediately as the sun was shining most brightly. In Singapore, I seldom put on my sunnies but here, it is an automatic reaction, lol. :P The sun here, without much cloud cover in the sky, is a killer. Anyway, I took a slow walk, about 20 minutes to DFO. On the way, I also took some photos. (Will put up a separate post of the photos I have taken of the scenes.)
As I was still very full from last night's dinner, I skipped lunch and went straight into shopping, lol. There is a lot of bargains but I have limited space in my luggage, only can take extra 6kg! So I really have to be selective in what I buy, lol. I bought the girls a blouse, a skirt and a dress each as I have promised them. I got myself a blouse and another item. :) Nothing cheers the soul like shopping does, lolol. :P
I made my way back to the apartment at 4pm. Started to pack my stuff as I will be leaving for Sydney on a 10:30am flight to Sydney. My best friend, Min will be picking me up the airport when I arrive at 11:50am. Evelyn, Ken and the rest came back from a late lunch around 4pm+. Renata and her family were flying back to Queensland on a 7pm+ flight. The first round of good-byes and farewells started, everyone giving one another goodbye hugs and kisses. Of course, I was hugging everyone too. When in Australia, do as the Aussies do, lol. Although I have only met them on Saturday, I felt sad that they were leaving. But I am sure we would meet again. After sending Renata and her family to the airport, Evelyn, Ken, Oma, Wolfgang and wife came back to the apartment. Everyone chatted a little more before the second round of goodbyes and farewells started when Wolfgang and wife had to go back. Again, hugs, kisses. Again I felt a sense of loss. I have seen what a big family is like via Evelyn's family, via Ken's family. I have not have the chance to experience it as my parents' families are in other countries and my own brother and his family is in UK. Thanks, Evelyn and Kenneth for showing me what a big family is like, and most importantly, for letting me be part of that family while I am here. Thank you!
Kenneth's children, Paul and Jane came over in the evening. We had a cosy little get-together, had some sushi and rolls. We also looked at the wedding gifts that Evelyn and Ken received. My gift to them was a very simple one. I thought what I have given them would be more meaningful than buying something for them as the girls and I worked together on it. It is a photo frame with the photos that I have taken over a 2 year period of Evelyn, Ken, Pippa and my family. Evelyn, Ken, Pippa and Oma, I would like you all to know that you are very special to us and we will always be family. :)
We watched the wedding video. It was so fun and there were giggles here and there as we watched ourselves on the tape. Seemed so surreal. The wedding has really happened, lol. We also viewed the photos that I have taken at the wedding, close to 200 photos, lol. I am really glad that everyone like the photos I have taken. I will burn the photos onto a CD so that Evelyn and Ken could have a copy.
Everyone retired early tonight, as the excitement over the preparation of the wedding, the wedding day itself, seemed to have caught up with us, lol. Well, not exactly everyone has retired early, I am still blogging away at this moment (melb time 12:46am, 26 March), lol.
Monday, 24 March 2008
Today is the BIG day for Evelyn and Kenneth. Everyone woke up early because most of us couldn't sleep mainly due to excitment and nerves, lol. My apartment has been designated the girls' room so all the girls (the bride, the bride's maids, the bride's mother and I) gathered in our apartment to do the make-up, the hair and changing of clothes. The hair stylists-cum-make-up artists arrived most promptly at 10am to do the hair-styling and make-up for the bride and bride's maids. I managed to get my make-up done by the make-up artist too. I am just hopeless about putting on make-up, lol. Meanwhile, the boys (the groom, the best men) were in another apartment, playing X-box! Haha. They certainly weren't as stressed as us, lol. :P By 11:30am, all the girls' hair and make-up were done. We had nothing to do but to wait until 3pm. Somehow we weren't very hungry for lunch despite not having breakfast. Nerves lah, we were all running on pure adrenalin, haha. :P
By 3pm, we were dressed, had the last touch up and set off for Gardenhurst, the wedding venue. The weather was perfect, a little cloudy and cool. Evelyn, the bride had some photos taken (by a professional photographer and I, lol) before the guests started arriving at 3:30pm. All too soon, it was 4pm. The opera singers started singing which signified the start of the wedding ceremony. The bride's maids marched out first, followed by Evelyn and her brother, Wolfgang and lastly, me. Oh, I was there because I was tasked to make sure Evelyn's lace train didn't get caught on the uneven brick pathway. Thank goodness, all went well, nothing was caught. :) I quickly made my way to the front and stood by the side. I had another job to do.
The celebrant talked about what marriage is and gave the blessing for the marriage. Then, it was my turn. This is what I was nervous about. I am Evelyn and Kenneth's reader at the wedding. I read a passage from the I-Ching:
"When two people are at one in their inner most hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze. And when two people understand each other in their inner most hearts, their words are sweet and strong like the fragrance of orchids."
I was most glad that I managed to read that without mistakes. The other guests, later, told me that what I have read was very beautiful and meaningful. Thank you! :) The wedding couple proceeded to the signing of the marriage certificate. They are now officially, Mr and Mrs Wilson. :)
After the wedding ceremony, there was more photo-taking of the wedding couple, of the wedding couple with their family.
Soon enough, it was 6pm. Everyone was seated and dinner commenced. The first entree was Spinach and Ricotta Angilotti. It was delicious! The ricotta tasted like tofu, lol. :)
The second entree was Baked Fish with Rice. This one was simply sumptuous. The lemon juice complimented the fish in cream sauce really well! The butter rice was really fragrant. This dish could have been a main on its own, lol :P
The main was either a Char Grilled Fillet Mignon or Grilled Chicken King Island. I had the chicken. The cream sauce was just fantastic! The chicken was really tender too. Yum yum!
The dessert was Crepe Suzette. Dessert, what can I say?! I have a sweet tooth, lol. :P
Finally, there was the wedding cake, Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting, tea and chocolates. The carrot cake was fantastic!
There were speeches by Evelyn's brother, Wolfgang and Kenneth. In Wolfgang's speech, special thanks were given to my mother who first blessed the union of Evelyn and Kenneth in 2005 and she told them about their Chinese horoscope signs and the Chinese mythology of the Phoenix and the Dragon. Thank you, Evelyn and Kenneth. I will let my mother know. She would be most happy and at the same time, most embarrassed. As I know, she would say it was nothing. :) Thank you for including us, my mother (in the speech) and I (as your reader) on your special day! It has been my great pleasure to attend your wedding and to help out on your wedding day. :)
In between the various dishes, there were dancing. I was most disciplined, I didn't dance, lol. Instead I talked to other guests. Being the only Chinese girl there among all the ang mohs, everyone seemed to know my name. Lol. :P Ok, I did dance lah but only towards the end and only in group dancing like The Macarena, Nutbush City Limits, lol.
As according to tradition, Evelyn threw her bridal bouquet. She made me go onto the floor too, lol. She threw the bouquet right at me. She really wanted me to catch it. But instinctively, when I see something coming at me, I ducked! Haha. So the bouquet hit Pippa who was standing directly behind me, in the eye, lol. Sorry, Pippa. Lol. Of course, the groom had to throw the bride's garter to the single men, lol. All too soon, the wedding party came to an end at 11pm. Although it has been a long day for us, we totally, absolutely enjoyed this special day of Evelyn and Kenneth!! :)