I have landed in a country that is the home to thousands of poisonous insects and snakes, how lovely! After a tiring 26 hour journey, I realized it was not a good idea to book a flight where I’d arrive in Sydney in the morning because I would be too tired to explore during the day. As a matter a fact, I slept in until the evening despite landing around 8AM. Actually, since arriving in Sydney I’ve been experiencing some serious jet lag. I don’t normally get jetlagged, but this time it took over 5 days to adjust to the different time zone.
I have been taking it slow on exploring Sydney. The normal me would have learned the in and outs of navigating Sydney after spending a week here. Since I know I’ve got 3 months to do whatever here, I am learning to take it slowly to assimilate into the chillaxed Australian lifestyle. So far, I’ve visited some of the major attractions in the city such as Paddy’s Market, George Street, Darling Harbour, the Rocks, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Hyde Park, Royal Botanic Garden, Bondi Beach, Coogee Beach, and Manly. Living by central station, I am close by the busy main street in the heart of Sydney, George Street. It’s a long busy shopping street with shop and restaurants of all sorts. Not too far away from my hostel is Paddy’s Market which sells a mixed variety of things from produce to souvenirs and a huge fusion food court upstairs. Located right by Chinatown, the market reminds me of China as many of the merchants and customers are Asian as well. Darling Harbour is not too far from Chinatown. It’s a busy harbor where both locals and tourists frequently hang out at. I came at the right time when Sydney’s annual Vivid light show was happening and I saw some of the light show at Darling Harbour; it reminded me of the light show at Tivoli during the Christmas times.
The Rocks, Circular Quay, and the Sydney Opera House are all located near each other. At first, I struggled to find the proper pronunciation for ‘Circular Quay’ since I would assume it would be pronounced as qu-ay, but it’s actually said as key. Of course, I’d make my way to the opera house when I’m in Sydney. Like most other landmarks, it’s not as white and massive as I had imagined, but that does not subtract away from it’s impressive shape and structure. Unfortunately, we could not take a look inside without paying for a guided tour or performance.
Before it gets too chilly here since it’s winter, I visited the iconic Bondi Beach while I was going on a walking trail running between Bondi and Coogee Beach. Bondi is much smaller than what I had imagined and it looked like any other beach to me. I always thought it was pronounced as bon-dee, but it proper pronunciation is bon-dye. We saw many other small quiet beaches along the coast. The Bondi- Coogee walk is recommended to anyone who visits Sydney as it is an easy hike along the Sydney coastline. While these two beaches are more of tourist attractions, most locals and surfers prefer to go to Manly beach at Manly ( which you need to take a ferry from Circular Quay). Manly has a nice community beach town vibe and the main beach situated right off the main shopping area.
There are a number of parks around the city center. Hyde Park is very close to Wake Up, but there’s nothing too special about this place. The Royal Botanic Garden, on the other hand, takes up a huge grassy patch on the Sydney map. It reminds me of Central Park, except there seems to be a lot more to see and do. I was a little scared to go to the botanical garden at first because I was told deadly box spiders can be found there, but I haven’t seen any (yet).
Other than staying in the Sydney CBD (central business district), I went with a visiting couchsurfer to tour through some of the eastern suburbs in Sydney including Ultimo, Glebe, Newtown, Kings Cross, Paddington, University of New South Wales, and so on. We drove by so many places, I hardly remember the places other than Newtown where we shared a meal in.
Speaking of food, I had my first kangaroo burger earlier at Moo’s Burger in Newtown. I was contemplating over whether I should see the live one or eat one first (oh gosh, that sounded savage-like). People advised me to eat it before seeing the real thing or else I’d find it too cute to consume. Australians or Aussies like having red beets in their burgers which reminded me of the smørrebrød, the Danish open sandwiches which usually have beets in them as well. The kangaroo burger had too much sweet chopped pieces of beets that distracted me from tasting the actual kangaroo meat. Like others have told me, it tastes very similar to beef. Kangaroo is not a common part of the Australian diet, but people do consume them from time to time. Other than kangaroo meat, I would like to try crocodile and emu meat as well. Like in the U.S., there aren’t really any special authentic Australian cuisine; people have a wide selection of international foods to choose from. I noticed a large amount of Thai and Japanese restaurants all over Sydney. The proximity to Asia is an obvious answer to the amount of Asian food available here; and most of the places offer authentic dishes as well. I am very excited to have authentic Japanese food here made by Japanese chefs since most of the more affordable Japanese restaurants in New York City are operated by Chinese people.
Actually after typing all this, I realized I actually did see a lot in this 1.5 week I’ve spent in Sydney. I really want to try to get a stab at living like a local although it would be really hard to get any insight on that without finding something to engage in the community with. Volunteering would be a good way to interact with locals; I need something to keep me busy for the next 3 months!