1000 steps, Kokoda Memorial Walk.

For those of you not quite in shape or familiar with Melbourne’s Kokoda Memorial Walk, I’m pretty sure I’ve already put you off by mentioning… 1000 steps! But, trust me, although I kinda died doing this, I’m so glad my other road trip plans got cancelled so that I could jump into the car with 4 other couch surfers to conquer this uphill (no pun intended) hike! Really thankful Declan organised this event, for I’m pretty sure, I wouldn’t have gone ahead for this hike on my own otherwise.

This popular spot in Dandenong Ranges is a tribute to Australian soldiers who fought and lost their lives in the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, in World War II. The exhaustion you feel when you reach the top is probably just a fraction of what those soldiers would have felt. Along the trail are plaques depicting, lives of some Australian soldiers, who died in the battle.

Happy faces BEFORE the climb!

   The beginning of….1000 steps

AFTERMATH!

 

Few things to note:

1. The incline is STEEP. So, have enough fluids with you! Unless, of course, you are sprinter/marathoner/etc.

2. Choose a good weather day. You don’t want to be stuck half way through the climb under scorching sun or wet weather. Also, weekend mornings are busy periods with runners, so late mornings or past mid-day would be advisable, if you’re planning on doing this hike at your own pace.

3. Wear proper shoes! I cannot emphasise this enough. It’s not a slope. Unless, of course, you are avoiding the steps and going the reverse direction. The usual way is to climb up via the steps and come back down via (rolling) down the slope. It’s about 4km and takes slightly over an hour for a person with average fitness level.

4. Sorry to disappoint you, but, there is absolutely no view from up there. There is no perfect Instagram worthy photo moment and such. It’s just the satisfaction of completing it that makes this hike memorable. So, don’t bother with heavy cameras while you’re climbing. It’s not going to be worth lugging at all, trust me.

5. Good news is, there aren’t 1000 steps, it’s just under 800. Yay?!

6. Walking 100m past the top of the trail you’ll be greeted with a cute little signboard. (refer to below image)

After completing the hike and catching your breath, heading to Sky High Mount Dandenong would be your best bet. Undeniably, Sky High offers one of the best views of Melbourne’s skyline. So, ending off the day (hopefully you are here during sunset) will be pretty awesome.

But, before enjoying the view at Sky High, I’ll suggest stopping by Pie In The Sky at Olinda for some piping hot meat pies. I’m not a big fan of meat pies, but they definitely have got some good stuff going on in there. So, be sure to stop by for dine in or take aways.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Advertisements

Melbourne’s Collingwood/Fitzroy explored.

Royal Exhibition Building

Having stayed in Collingwood/Fitzroy area in Melbourne for a month, it’s safe to say, I’ve done quite a bit of exploration of what this hipster town can offer! I definitely would recommend this area to stay at, for those of you looking to explore the heart of Melbourne during your stay. Less than 5 minutes away by tram from Parliament station, getting into CBD is pretty convenient. Apart from it’s close proximity to CBD, here’s a couple of reasons why you should consider Collingwood/Fitzroy area to stay at!

1. Heart of cafes and good food!

Apart from the hearty brunch places I shared in my previous post, there are so many good food places to check out in this area you will be spoilt for choices! Trippy Taco at Gertrude Street for possibly the best quesadillas in town! Along Smith Street, you have Huxtaburger for your burger fix, Pabu Grill & Sake for your Japanese cravings and Messina for undoubtedly the best gelato in town! The queue at Messina on Friday/Saturday nights can easily stretch way past the doors, so I think that speaks for itself how good the gelato is.

2. Brunswick Street!

This street deserves a special mention, not only for boasting Little Creatures Dining Hall, but also for being home to the many awesome eateries, coffee houses and quirky little shops to spend afternoons browsing in.

For those of you not familiar with Little Creatures, it is Australia’s homegrown craft beer. I got a chance to visit the brewery in Geelong, which is an hour away from CBD, so a dining hall right next to where I stay, is heaven on earth. If you’re interested in visiting Geelong for Little Creature’s brewery, please visit my previous post here.

There are coffee houses like Jasper Coffee and Atomica Caffe to get good coffee to kick start your day. Jasper Coffee also sells coffee beans if you are looking to brew coffee from the comfort of your home.

 

For chocolate lovers, San Churro will be your paradise! From churros to truffles to chocolate shakes, you name it, they have it!

3. Yoga & Healing!

 

Only when you are away from home do you begin to pay (some)attention to your soul and body. Well, at least for me, that remains quite true. I’m glad I stayed walking distance away from Yoga Studio & Healing Centre at Gertrude Street, so I couldn’t really come up with more excuses not to attend a class or two. I spent a Sunday morning winding down with a restorative workshop and it felt amazingly therapeutic. Restorative workshops run on a monthly basis for AUD 20.

For information on classes and schedules: http://www.gertrudestreetyoga.com.au/index.php

4. Adrenaline pumping pilates classes!

via

Situated perfectly amidst all the cafes and restaurants in Brunswick Street is KX Pilates! I found out about this place purely by chance while I was on the tram one afternoon. I googled them up and realised they had an introductory offer of 5 classes for AUD 50 (valid for 2 weeks). It was just a matter of time before I attended my first pilates class and got some muscles working! It’s definitely worth purchasing this offer if you are a newbie to pilates. I definitely would have continued on with regular classes if I was in Melbourne longer.

Also, there are many KX Pilates outlets all over Melbourne, so fret not, if you are not in/near Fitzroy.

For information on classes and schedules: http://www.kxpilates.com.au/

5. Festivals!

via

via

If you are as lucky as me, your neighbourhood can transform into a colourful street party! The Hispanic Latin American Street Festival/Johnston Street Festival happened over the weekend of 15th and 16th November 2014. This annual festival offers live entertainment with DJs spinning Latin rhythms, free dance classes of various dance styles and food, glorious food!

Have you been sold now, why Collingwood/Fitzroy area is perfect to stay and party at!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Wednesdays at Queen Victoria Night Market.

After a whirlwind of a week long adventures in Melbourne and in Adelaide, I’m (trying) to settle into the comfort of my 4 walls at home. Barely 8 hours since I’ve been awake and I’m turning into a restless monster. I’m glad to be off for another adventure in less than 30 hours. So for now, I’ll start doing up posts of my adventures in Australia to relive the moments again.

It’s Wednesday today and if you are in Melbourne, Queen Victoria Night Market is the place to be! Running every Wednesday until 25th March 2015 (excluding Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) from 5pm to 10pm, this market offers more than just food. From jewellery to collectors items to fabrics, QV market has it all – to offer something exciting to almost everyone.

Numerous food stalls to choose from.

 Amazing Sangarias with red/white wine for AUD 8.

photo 1Live music to soak into the atmosphere of the market.

 

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Geelong explored.

Geelong is a perfect sea side town for a day trip out from Melbourne’s CBD. Located just 75km away from the city, it wasn’t difficult at all to get there. Again, thanks to Couchsurfing, I met Wouter, who tagged along with me for this trip. We met at Southern Cross station just slightly after 9am to catch the V-Line train right down to Geelong station. The ride was about an hour and the fare with return costs about AUD 16.

Tip: Do check the timetable in advance for train departure timings, as we ended up waiting nearly 45 mins to catch the 10am train. But, we had enough time to squeeze breakfast in, so all’s good.

Another Couchsurfer, Kai, who lives in Geelong, managed to pick us up from the train station and we drove right down to waterfront area and spend her time till lunch with us. Highly recommend meeting up with her if you’re in Geelong.

 

Apart from The Carousel, the bollards are highly iconic of the waterfront stretch. Each bollard is actually a representation of the different occupations, people that lived in Geelong back in the days, held. So, for example, the bollards on the right in the above image, represent Geelong Baths Swimming Club.

These bollards represent Volunteer Rifle Band. The first band concert was performed in Geelong Botanic Gardens in 1861. Along the entire stretch of the Waterfront, there are 10 Bollards scattered from the Western Beach till the Eastern. Due to their size and sheer beauty, you definitely cannot miss them as you walk or cycle by.

We stopped for lunch after an hour or two of wandering around. What’s a visit to a sea side without some fish and chips to complete the whole experience with!

The weather didn’t look too good after lunch so we decided to head indoors. On a better day, I would have wanted to head further south down towards Queenscliff. There is a ferry service between Queenscliff and Sorrento. And it would have been quite an experience going across via ferry and coming back to Melbourne City via Mornington Peninsula. (refer to the Google Maps image below) But oh wells, another time.

 

Our next stop with one of main attractions in Geelong, National Wool Museum. One of the galleries was closed for maintenance/renovation works, hence we managed to get ourselves in with child tickets for just AUD 4.50.

 

Our walk around was a fascinating insight into the life and times of the shearers, wool classers and the folk who worked at the numerous woolen mills in Geelong.

After the museum, we wandered into a vintage market just across the road for a bit, before making our way to our highlight of the day, the Little Creatures Brewery. It was a bit of a challenge getting there from where we were, but with Google Maps and PTV, no place is ever too hard to get to right? Sitting just next to South Geelong Station, at the end of Swanston Street, this brewery is a must visit even if you are not huge on beers.

Our timing when we reached the brewery was good because we managed to have a pint before the start of a guided tour around the brewery. The guided tour run daily at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

There was free beer sampling (1o different types) right after the 45 minute guided tour. Oh, did I mention the tour was totally free! How awesome! My favourite was the Little Creatures Pilsner.

This brewery was my first experience and Wouter’s nearly tenth, but safe to say, both of us enjoyed our visit and Little Creatures is easily one of the top few breweries for Wouter.

It was definitely a well spent the day exploring Geelong!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Holla baristas!

My workstation for the afternoon.

With too much time on my hands, over the weekend, I decided to do something different and signed up for a beginner level barista course. Being a coffee addict, the art behind coffee making has always fascinated me, and so I decided to get my game face on and get my hands dirty. It was a short 4-hour introductory coffee making class for AUD 69.

Almost anyone, coffee enthusiasts, people looking just to make good coffee at home or to gain employment in the numerous cafes in Australia, or even, people interested in setting up a cafe should attend the course. You get introduced to basics of coffee making, prepare espresso coffees and then move on to the varieties of coffee like cappuccino and latte.

With my trainer, Eugenio (follow him on Instagram

RGIT Australia also runs another course for those interested in coffee art. For more information, please visit: http://www.baristacoursemelbourne.com/. Have fun making coffee guys!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

5 free things to do in Melbourne.

With minimum wages scheme in Australia, things can get pretty expensive around here. So, for long-term travellers or people just on a shoestring budget (i.e. me), here’s my list of 5 free things to do in Melbourne, just within CBD area that is.

1. Hop on City Circle Tram

City Circle Tram

Put on your most comfortable pair of shoes and get ready for some serious walking around Melbourne CBD area. Feel free to hop on/off this free city tram that runs every 12-15 minutes, 7 days a week. It’s pretty awesome for newbies to the city as the on-board audio commentary gives you details and some insights of the city’s landmarks and major attractions. It is a loop service so, no worries if you missed a stop or two.

For more information: http://www.yarratrams.com.au/using-trams/visitors-new-users/city-circle-tram/

2. Lose yourself in street art

This is my 3rd trip to Melbourne and I’m embrassed to say, I never knew Hosier Lane existed till today! It faces the entrance of Federation Square (just next to Flinders Street Railway Station) and the street art there is just mind-blowing. Please check it out for yourself to be amazed! I always knew Melbourne was all about street art and graffiti but, trust me, this is totally a whole new level.

3. Explore National Gallery of Victoria

 

What’s not to love when you can spend an afternoon wandering from gallery to gallery without paying steep prices?! There are 2 National Galleries, 1 in Federation Square (NGV Australia) and 1 along St. Kilda Road, further down South, (NGV International). NHV International boasts a wider range of exhibitions so I’ll recommend that for the less artsy soul. 😉

For more information: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/

4. Cycle along Yarra River

 

Melbourne’s bike share is a good option for travellers looking to cycle and explore the city area. If you return it within 30 minutes, you don’t have to fork out a single cent. It can get a bit tiring walking all day so if I can get a free ride, hey why not?!

5. Have a picnic

via

There are plenty of parks in the city for you to spend a lazy afternoon in. Royal botanic gardens, Yarra Park, Fitzroy Gardens, Carlton Gardens are just a few to name. Lay down on the grass, soak up in the summer heat, with a book and a coffee. How perfect does that sound!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

3 mornings in Melbourne.

Flinders Street Railway Station

It’s hard to be in Melbourne and not get sucked into the cafe culture here. After all, Melbourne is synonymous to cafe.  I’m putting up at Collingwood, Inner East of Melbourne till end November so I’ve begun starting my mornings on Urbanspoon before heading out for a coffee run. So here, let me introduce 3 cafes in the area to you.

1. Proud Mary

via

Potato Hash with Smoked Salmon, AUD 19

Proud Mary is one of the more popular cafes in the hood and my friend decided to take me there for brunch after picking up from the airport. Apparently, this cafe sees queues snaking out of the door on most days. I guess we were in luck as we managed to grab a table within 5 minutes. I ordered potato hash and changed the add on to salmon instead of bacon. The portion was really filling, which was good, for a famished and jet lagged soul.

Address:

172 Oxford St, Collingwood, VIC

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 7am-4pm

Sat-Sun: 8am-4pm

For more information:

http://www.proudmarycoffee.com.au/

——

2. South of Johnston  

A hidden gem

Interior of South of Johnston

This rather unassuming, cosy and quaint cafe tucked along Oxford Street is a real deal. Thanks to Urbanspoon, I stumbled upon this gem and begun my weekend well with some takeaway breakfast.

Corn fritters with add on, scrambled eggs, AUD 22

Corn fritters aren’t my usual order for breakfast but I was definitely pleasantly surprised with this. Definitely going back to try out other dishes on the menu. It also has a nice courtyard to chill with some friends over coffee or just with books in the afternoon.

Address:

46 Oxford St, Collingwood, VIC 3066

Opening hours:

Every day: 7.30am-5pm

 

For more information:

http://southofjohnston.com.au/

——

3. Lemon, Middle and Orange

Full breakfast, AUD 18.90

Nothing too fancy in terms of food but service was pretty great. They took out my iced coffee from the bill for having missed out poached eggs from my sister’s full breakfast. 🙂

Address:

25 Rokeby St, Collingwood, VIC 3066

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 7.30am-3.30pm

Sat: 8am-3pm

Sun: 9am-3pm

For more information:

http://www.lemonmiddleandorange.com/

Chew on this till next time!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

 

Travels for the year 2013!

2013 saw me travelling quite a fair bit. Bali, Melbourne, Sydney, Cambodia  Penang, Yogyakarta and then concluding the year with Sri Lanka. My highlight, of course, will be overcoming my inhibitions and attempting my first solo travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although, it was a short 4D3N, the trip taught me a lot on solo travelling.

IMG_0328

Sunset at Seminyak beach, Bali

IMG_0598

Post lunch smiles, Bali

IMG_0812

Kuta Beach, Bali

Bali, May 2013: A 3-night getaway with a couple of friends. Beach, sunset and laughter over cocktails. Got ourselves inked only for it to last not more than an hour. Also, my slippers that almost sailed away in the waters while at Tanah Lot. Oh, the fun times.

IMG-20130618-WA014

Mt Buller Ski Resort, Melbourne

Melbourne, June 2013: A week of adventures with the sister. Tried out skiing for the first time. Amidst all the crashings and butt-aches was a memorable stay at Mt Buller. Watched 3 movies over the span of a week I was there. Felt like a local rather than a tourist. No surprises there, given my frequency in visiting Australia. Myriad of asian cuisine range conquered: Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese. Survived -10 degrees for 30 minutes in Chill On Bar. Relived bits of our childhood watching Circus Oz.

IMAG2248

Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb: Check!

IMAG2250

Skydiving: CHECK!!

Sydney, August 2013: Sole purpose of this last minute travel was to conquer the Harbour Bridge Climb. Ended up, I conquered one of my biggest fears as well – tandem skydiving! At times, I still cannot digest the fact I went through with this decision. Plus given the fact I was alone, I must be quite brave I think. After all that adrenaline rush, spent the next 2 days in Manly just chilling. Manly is such a perfect beach town, you can just wake up, stumble into a coffee house and laze the day away, without feeling any tinge of guilt. Most spontaneous travel decision ever. And also, by far, my most favourite trip to Sydney.

IMAG0365

Ice ball making in process, Penang.

IMAG0434

Roadside chendol, Penang

IMAG0445

Street vendor selling banana pancakes, Penang

IMAG0533

Dim sum buffet for breakfast, Penang

Penang, October 2013: Nothing but a 3 day galore of food, food and more food. And I mean, GALORE. I’m sure my pictures are a testament to it.

IMG_2360

Borobudur, Yogyakarta

IMG_2372

Borobudur, Yogyakarta

 IMG_2464

Borobudur, Yogyakarta

IMG_2695

The stranger who literally saved my life, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, November 2013: Highlight #1: My first (real) solo travel. Highlight #2: Catching sunrise at Borobudur which costed me nearly SGD 100. Was definitely worth it though. I won’t forget how I was almost stranded on Parangtritis Beach, 5 hours before my flight. The stranger (pictured above) showed me what kindness truly is and brought me back home for a nominal amount.

SAMSUNG CSC

Background of Sigiriya Rock from Hotel Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

SAMSUNG CSC

Scenic boat ride, Sri Lanka

SAMSUNG CSC

Footsteps in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

SAMSUNG CSC

Chaaya Blu Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

SAMSUNG CSC

The Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, December 2013: 10 days, 10 pax, clocked 1800km on the road. Truckloads of memories. Nothing beats the euphoria of scaling Sigiriya Rock (Lion’s Rock) despite the bad weather condition as we started our ascend. Waking up in Kandy at 6am to a full moon amidst the mist. Watching sunset at Galle. Will be doing up a full post on Sri Lanka very soon.

—–

Amidst all my travelling, I juggled a new job that has taught me so many things I love and hate about the real world. Obviously more hate, than love. But anyways.

Also, I decided to give accounting a shot and enrolled myself in ACCA. Have completed 3 papers till date.

Got myself a basic rock climbing certification.

Did a couple of runs. Conquered my first 10km at Sundown.

2013 has been by far the toughest year to get by. I’m glad I’m still surviving and standing strong. I recall that fateful span of 3 days in July where I lost 2 very dear people. There are days I just wanna crumble and disappear out of this world. The void is so indescribable that I have quit writing. But, there are other days I wanna live to make you’ll proud. Those days help me get by.

20130909-145956.jpg

I will live to make you proud.

I’m planning to march in to 2014 without any expectations whatsoever. I’m gonna quit wishing for things to happen and take things as they come along.

Keep writing your goals for the year ahead and, if necessary, re-write them as you go along. After all, we have got another year to get it right. Have a blessed year ahead folks!

Till we meet again,

Melbourne’s cafe culture.

There is no way you can step into Melbourne and not set foot in any one of the cafes littered all over their streets. Melbourne and cafes are practically synonyms, which explains why cafe culture walking tours are organised for, in the city.

They say when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, during my past 2 visits to Melbourne, last September and this June, I managed to plan by days accordingly and stop by some of the better cafes in town. Here’s my recommended 4 cafes for you when you’re heading to Down Under.

Pitstop #1: Manchester Press, 8 Rankins Lane 

2013-06-15_1371272134

Bagel with smoked salmon

A very indie looking cafe with a rustic look created by their wooden furniture, Manchester Press boasts some excellent bagels and coffee you shouldn’t miss. Perfect cafe to spend a lazy afternoon in, reading the papers or getting some work done.

For more info, please check Broadsheet out.

Opening Hours:

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sat 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

———-

Pitstop #2: Dr. Dax Kitchen, Melbourne Brain Centre, Parkville

dr dax -1

via

dr dax - 2

via

A decent, affordable cafe within University of Melbourne that serves breakfast till 11:30am. From muffins to muesli with yogurt to eggs benedict to omelettes and also french toast you’ll be spoilt for choices.

Opening Hours:

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

http://www.drdaxkitchen.com.au/

———-

Pitstop #3: The Hardware Societe, 118-120 Hardware St 

2012-09-25_1348580921 2012-09-25_1348580965

Baked eggs with chorizo, sofrito, manchego

Easily one of the better few cafes in Melbourne which explains the wait you might experience to get a table at The Hardware Societe. But, I assure you, the food is well worth the wait. Their breakfast spread is pretty extensive with some French-inspired dishes like Brioche french toast and Croque Madame.

Opening Hours:

Mon to Fri 7:30am to 3pm

Sat& Sun 8:30am to 2pm

———-

Pitstop #4: Mart 130, 107A Canterbury Rd, Middle Park

2012-09-26_1348646926

2012-09-26_1348646945

Eggs benedict

Another unique cafe to stop by would be Mart 130 which is located at Middle Park and also next to the tram stop. Why the name you may ask. Mart is tram spelled backwards and 130 is the tram stop number. Hence, the name Mart 130. It’s most popular dish on the menu – corn fritters.

Corn fritters

via

A very cosy and homely environment and in perfect location to take a stroll in park after a satisfying meal.

Opening Hours:

Mon to Sun 7:30am to 5pm

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due. 

Quick update!

Happy October and happy Monday! 🙂

I’m back on the sunny side of the world after an AWESOME road-tripping in Down Under with thy siblings! Can’t wait to share my travel adventures with ya’ll!

But, before that, brighton beach you had me at hello.

Brighton bathing box, Melbourne

“The Perks of Being A Wallflower”, I’ll be watching you soon!