Chef : Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab – Immensing in Korea’s Non-verbal Comedy Musical

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One of the dancing scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

Non-Verbal Comedy Musicals in  Korea

Non-verbal musicals that infuses Korean culture, be it food or lifestyle with dance and acrobatics, is one of the must-dos while visiting South Korea. These popular musicals are watched by Koreans and visitors. Several years ago I had a chance to watch Jump, one of the several such non-verbal musicals, whilst traveling in Korea. I was amazed by the fact that despite no language was used, I was still able to understand the show and was kept entertained throughout the show. It is refreshing that the Koreans are able to pack laughter throughout the theater despite not using any form of language. My friend and I managed to catch one of such non-verbal musicals that has made its round to Singapore. Chef: Bimbap is a show about a group of chef learning to make a perfect Bibimbap. It combines dance, beat boxing whilst introduces Korean’s iconic dish, Bibimbap to the audiences.

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Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab standee outside the theater

Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

The show that is being shown in Singapore, Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab, feels like a localised version of the original show Chef. The story seem slightly different from the original Chef. Instead of having a group of chef learning to make a perfect Bibimbap, Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab is about 2 chefs (green and red chefs) pitting their culinary skills to outcook each other. The show saw both chefs taking turns cooking up cuisines from sushi to pizza to Chinese chicken noodle and ended off with a show down of both taking the stage, with one side cooking the Chili Crab and the other Bibimbap. Despite departure from the orginal show, Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab, still has the same theme throughout and did not lose its essence of infusing break dancing and beat-boxing into the show. The 1-hour show saw the use of beat-boxing live on stage most of the time, with small occasions where recorded music was used or complimented with the beat boxing. The actors doing the beat boxing seem to be masters of the art, verbalising musics for the most part of the show (including the Korea Folk Song, Arirang). There is segment where they beat- boxed a series of songs from K-pop songs to Michael Jackson hits. The beat boxing added to the entertainment value of show.

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Beat Boxing was performed lived on stage

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Beat boxing was the main source of music throughout the entire 1 hour show

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One of the character singing to the tune of beat boxing

Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab packed laughter in the theater for the entire duration leaving audiences amazed by the breakdancing of the actors. There is a segment where one of the characters sang and the light went out. In pitch black emerges luminous hands mimicking fishes and scenes of underwater. There is even a diver swimming underwater in this scene. Audiences later were made known how this diver underwater was created with the diving appearing in a comic way. Audiences were also invited up to the stage to become part of Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab at times during the show, which adds more comedic effect to the show. Watching Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab does reminds me of similar performance that I watched some years ago in Korea, which has earned itself a place as a pop-culture of Korea. The show is highly recommended for one who wants to immerse themselves into this aspect the Korean Culture.

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab where the 2 master chefs pit against each other

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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The underwater scene in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Break dancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Audience (the guy in the middle) were invited to the stage to participate in the show

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Final showdown in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Audiences were treated to breakdancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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More breakdancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Breakdancing in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Scenes in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Breakdance showdown in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Breakdance showdown in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Scene in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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Audiences were treated to a series of dance and songs in Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

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The cast of  Chef: Bibimbap Vs Chili Crab

 

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PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018

Olympics Return to South Korea

After 30 long years, the Olympics flag is flying high in South Korea once more. The city of PyeongChang, about 2 hours KTX ride from Seoul, has been chosen to host the 23rd Winter Olympic Games. The last time South Korea flew the Olympics flag was in 1988 in the Summer Olympics version. More information, including ticketing and schedules can be found in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics website.

Image Sources:
https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/index
https://architectureofthegames.net/tag/pyeongchang/page/4/
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sochi-olympics/see-you-four-years-russia-hands-south-korea-n36786

 

[Airline Review] – Qantas (QF6) / (QF81) – Economy Class, SIN-SYD (17 May 17) /SYD-SIN (23 May 17)

Qantas uses A330-200 to ply between Singapore and Sydney. We got 2 different variations of the aircraft on both legs of the flight

On The Ground

Check-in

SIN-SYD

The check-in counter for Qantas is located at Row 5 in Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport. For passengers who arrived earlier than the check-in timing, they can proceed to the early check-in counters just behind row 5. Despite being 6 hours early, we were able to check-in at the Qantas counters without the need to use the early check-in facilities in the airport. There was no queue at the time of our check-in, perhaps due to the early timing we have arrived at the airport. Checking-in was a breeze with the agent handling our check-in fast and swift. After handling taking our luggages, the agent handed our boarding pass and reminded us of the departure gate and the time we need to be there. Clearing Singapore Customs is a breeze as well. As citizens of Singapore and citizens of selected countries, we can use the electronic lanes. The airside of Singapore Changi Airport is always lively regardless the time of the day. There are no lack of duty free shoppings from luxury brands to perfumes and cosmetics to electronics. We boarded first before Business Class passengers as we have a baby flying together with us.

 

Qantas check-in counters are located in row 5 in Singapore Airport Terminal 1
There are no queues as we arrived at the check-in counters very early
Singapore Airport is a shopping haven at the airside
Our boarding gate was changed last minute to C25, which is located at the far end of the terminal
Aerobridge towards QF6
Qantas A330-200

SYD-SIN

Qantas has a dedicated counter in Terminal 1 of Sydney Airport. The counters are located in Row C of the Terminal. Qantas has separate counters for Economy, Business and First Class passengers. The queue in Economy Class is rather long, before we reach the queue, a ground staff was around to direct human traffic. Upon seeing that we have a stroller in tow, she diverted us to the Business Class check-in queue, which was a lot shorter. We were next in line to be served. The agent at the Business Class check-in counter is not exactly the friendliest person around. There were no smiles, no greetings, as though we owed her a living. Despite that, she was rather efficient. We were given our boarding passes after she has checked-in our luggage. Clearing the custom was fast as well due to the electronic clearance gates that we were able to use. We were at airside within minutes of clearing security and custom. Sydney Airport has a lot of shopping options, mostly selling Australian made products. There are also cafes and eateries around in the airside as well as opposite the departure gates. As with outbound flight, we were also boarded before Business Class passengers.
QF81 departs from Sydney Airport Terminal 1
Qantas occupies Row C for checking-in
The queue was very long for Economy Class at the check-in counter
We were diverted to check-in at Business Class counters as we have a pram in tow. There are no queues at the Business Class check-in counters
Passing this departure wall is the security and custom clearance
There are no lack of shopping options in Sydney Airport airside
Other than the standard spirits and tobacco, the airside has a number of shops selling Australian made products
There is quite a crowd at departure gate 32, where we board our flight to Singapore
Passengers with infants are boarded prior to Business Class passengers

The Cabin

Qantas uses A330-200 to ply between Singapore and Sydney, however we got 2 different variations of the aircraft. Both aircrafts has 2 different cabins, Business Class and Economy Class. Despite the different seats, both aircrafts has white cabin with red seats. The choice of white colour makes the Economy Class cabin look fresh and big. The Economy Class cabin is organised in 2-4-2 for both variations of the aircraft.
Qantas Economy Class cabin for the older A330-200 variant. The entire seat is red from headrest to the seats
A newer Qantas A330-200 variation with black headrest and seat. The seat back still retains the “Qantas” red

Lavatory onboard both variations of aircrafts are the same. They are of a decent size but has very limited amenities. There is only hand soap and tissues in the lavatory. No other amenities are present in the lavatory despite flying out on an overnight flight, no dental kits were offered or found in the lavatories.

Sink area in the lavatory
Tissues in the lavatory
Toilet
Mirrors
Coat hanger is found on the door of the lavatory
Amenities are limited in the lavatory, even for overnight flights, there are no dental kits
Handsoap is the only amenities provided in the lavatory

The Seat

SIN-SYD

The A330-200 that we flew from Singapore to Sydney seem to be the older version. There are signs of the aircraft being aging. The seats on this variation of Qantas A330-200 has a pitch of 31″ and width of 17.2″. The seats at the bulkhead is far more generous measuring about 60″. As we were seated in the bulkhead seats, there are pockets on the bulkhead to store inflight magazines and reading materials. However these pockets are unable to store items such as cameras. The Economy Class seats are rather simple and does not come with USB or power plugs. The recline button is found on the side of the armrest together with the headphone jacks. As with most Bulkhead seats, the tray tables are stored in the armrest of the seat. The seats are rather uncomfortable and I did not manage to get a good night rest.

The entire seat is red. These seats are not very comfortable especially for long flights
The legroom is generous for bulkhead seats
Aircraft safety card, reading materials and headphones are made available in the pocket on the bulkhead
Aircraft safety card
Magazines found in the seat pocket

 

Air-con ducts and lightings on the ceiling
Pillows and blankets are already placed on the seats when we board the aircraft
Tray tables are stored in the armrest of the seat
Business Class seats in this variation of Qantas A330-200. These seats does not offer 180° flat bed, rather they are angled flat beds

SYD-SIN

The A330-200 that we flew from Sydney to Singapore looks like it has been refurbished. The seats on this variation of Qantas A330-200 has a pitch of 31″ and is slightly wider at 17.5″. Unlike the previous variation, this version of A330-200 has a USB port located to the right of the IFE screen. The legroom feels a little cramp, especially so when the passenger in front reclines his/her seat. The IFE controller is fixed on the right armrest, which the placement is a tad counter intuitive. Many a times, I accidentally pressed on the IFE controller of my friend who is sitting next to me. The single layer seat pocket on the back of the front seat is rather standard and cannot store bulkier items such as a camera. As with the previous variation, the seat recline button and headphone jacks are located on the armrest. As with the previous flight, seats are rather uncomfortable and gave me a backache after the 8 hour flight.

 

Seats are decked out in red and black colour for this newer variation of the Qantas A330-200
There is a USB port on the side of the IFE screen
Seat pocket
Aircraft safety card
Reading materials founding the seat pocket
Legroom is a tad cramp in the Economy Class
Tray table
IFE controller is fixed on the armrest and the recline button on the armrest
Air-con ducts and lightings on the ceiling
Headphone Jacks
The new Business Class seats on this variation of Qantas A330-200 which offers passengers 180° flat bed

In Flight Entertainment

SIN-SYD

As mentioned earlier, this is an old aircraft. The In-Flight Entertainment system has a mere 8″ screen. As we were sitted at the bulkhead, the IFE screen is stowed below the seat and cannot be used during take-offs and landings. The controller for the IFE seem dated and is stored on the inner side panel of the seat. The screen on these seats are not touch screen, control of the movies to watch have to be made via the controller. The IFE system on this variation of the A330-200 seem to lag. Nonetheless, Qantas does offer a huge selection of entertain options on their IFE system. There are the latest Hollywood Blockbuster as well as tons of movies and TV shows to keep passengers entertained. The Headphone quality is a tad bad,  I had to adjust the headphones a few times to get sound on both sides of the headphone.

8″ IFE screen that is stored under the seat during take-off and landing
IFE controller store in the inner armrest of the seat
Bad quality Headphones provided onboard

SYD-SIN

As this variation of the Qantas A330-200 is newer, it has a 10.5″ IFE screen. The controller is fixed on the armrest of the seat and does not control the channels to be watched on the IFE screen except for the volume. Control for the shows are done directly on the touch screen IFE, which is quite sensitive. Brightness of the screen as well as on/off switch are found under the IFE screen itself. However as with the previous variation, the headphones provided suffer from constant poor connection issues.

10.5″ touch screen IFE screen on the newer variation of Qantas A330-200
IFE controller is fixed on the armrest and only controls the volume.  The placement is so bad that I keep on hitting the IFE controller of my friend’s seat

Meal Service

SIN-SYD

There are 2 meals being served onboard this leg of the flight. Shortly after the seat belt signs are turned off, the flight attendants went around passing passengers menus. Night snack is served shortly after the menus were distributed. No options are given for the night snack, however when we got the night snack, it is different from that stated in the menu. However I thought it is a good idea to serve wraps as night snack, which will not make one feel too full, and yet not allow one to go to sleep hungry in the night. Options were given for breakfast, we were offered either the omelette or fruits for breakfast together with coffee or tea. The food served is decent and does the purpose of filling one’s stomach. Qantas already placed a bottle of water in the seat pocket at the time we board the aircraft, which is not done on most other airlines.

Menus were distributed shortly after taking off
We had roasted chicken wrap for night snack
Omelette was distributed for breakfast

SYD-SIN

As with the previous leg, 2 meals are also served on this leg of the flight. As the flight was delayed, flight attendants went around distributing menus prior to take-off. Lunch was served shortly after taking-off and we were given 3 options to choose from. I opted for the Peri Peri chicken, which is rather dry and the portion served was a tad too small. The wedges are not fried but boiled and the sauce is bland. Another meal is served 1 hour prior to arrival. There are no options for this meal. We were given vegetarian Chinese stir fried noodles. The noodles itself taste decent, the sauce that is given is delicious.

Menu for the SYD-SIN leg
We were served “leftover” orange juices from Business Class cabin prior to take off
The Chicken tasted dry and the sauce is blend
The stir fried noodle is decent but the sauce that was given makes it taste delicious

Service

Service was a mix onboard Qantas and feels pretty much personality driven. While most of the flight attendants are friendly, there are some whom seem not too willing to serve. On the SIN-SYD flight, we asked for help from one of the attendants from Business Class. He came over unwillingly and chilled us off for asking for help. Guess he thinks helping Economy Class passengers is an insult to him. Other than him, the rest of the crew on Economy Class is a lot more friendlier. They were seen patrolling the cabin to check on passengers and were very responsive to call buttons. As the flight was relatively empty, one of the attendants, while conducting her night patrol of the cabin, approached me and notified me that I am free to occupy the 2 empty seats by the window to make myself more comfortable. Crews are certainly more friendly on the SYD-SIN flight. Attendants are always ready to help and constantly patrol the cabin to ensure passengers are well taken care of. Attendants voluntarily offered me drinks upon seeing my cup is empty and quickly return with a can of coke. As I felt hungry in the middle of the flight, I asked one of the attendants if there are buns left. Despite having no buns left, the flight attendants offered alternatives and brought me some nuts instead of just saying no. Attendants are seen smiling and helping passengers during boarding with storing their hand-carries on the overhead compartment.

Qantas flight attendants conducting safety demonstration, which is rare these days with most of the airlines showing safety demonstrations through their IFE

Afterthought

Qantas feels like they are operating on a budget concept. Despite including the meals and check-in baggages, other things such as choosing of seats is chargeable, unlike most other airlines. Qantas does not provide any amenities in the lavatory, and not even dental kits or eye shades for overnight flights. They even charge A$10 for a deck of poker cards, which many other airlines would give out complimentary. The seats are rather uncomfortable, given me backaches after the 8 hour flight from Singapore to Sydney and back. The food portion is small and tasted mediocre. Service is a mix but with more flight attendants whom are friendly, which makes up from the mediocre food and the bad seating. The IFE does the job of keeping passengers occupied with loads of entertainment options. Overall Qantas does the job of bringing passengers from one point to another, but the Economy Class seats are rather uncomfortable to travel in.
There was a delay in Sydney Airport and we were kept updated by the Captain of the flight
Soaring above Australia
Flying above the clouds onboard Qantas

Sydney Day 5 (22 May 17) – Blue Mountains National Park : Beyond The Beauties of the Three Sisters

As iconic as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, the Blue Mountains National Park is a must visit when coming to Sydney. We planned to visit this national park during weekdays to avoid most of the crowd and indeed visitorship is rather thin on this Monday at the time of our visit. Blue Mountains is located about 100km West of Sydney and took us 1½ hours to drive from Sydney Olympic Park. Our first stop is Scenic World, which is a great place to start the trip to Blue Mountains National Park.
Baby Ryker excited to visit Blue Mountains
We travelled more than 200km to and from Blue Mountains
Driving on the highway towards Blue Mountains National Park

Scenic World

Scenic World overlooks the Jamison Valley where the famous Three Sisters is located. This is also where we bought our day pass that allowed us unlimited rides on all 3 modes of transportation for us to appreciate the beautiful Blue Mountains. Visitors are free to customise the way they wanted to use the 3 modes of transportation when visiting scenic world. For us, we took the Scenic Railway to the valley floor, did a short walk and took the Scenic Cableway up to Scenic Top Station and took the Scenic Skyway to the East Station and back.
My Brother-in-law and Baby Ryker in Scenic World
My friend and I at Scenic World
View of Three Sisters from Scenic World Top Station

Scenic Railway Ride to the Valley Floor 

Scenic Railway is boasted as the world’s steepest passenger railway with a inclination of 52°. I thought riding the railway down to the valley floor is more fun than riding it up backwards.  The train brought us down 310m into Jamison Valley and takes about 5 mins. There are options for passengers to customise the way they want to ride the Scenic Railway. My friend and I opted the “daredevil” Cliffhanger mode, which allowed us to ride the railway at 64° inclination. As there are no seat belts on the seats, half the time we were trying to prevent ourselves from sloping towards the seats in front of us. Nonetheless, we were glad we rode the train in their cliffhanger mode and had a great time riding the world’s steepest passenger train. As my sister and her family had a baby in tow, they opted the laidback mode, riding the train at about 30° inclination. My nephew, despite being only 9 months old, enjoyed his ride down to the valley floor on the Scenic Railway. As no prams are allowed in this ride, visitors with prams or wheelchairs are not able to take this ride, there is still the Scenic Cableway option down to Jamison Valley.

Scenic Railway signage
The train pulling into top station
My friend and my sister’s family ready to board the Scenic Railway
3 options for passengers in the Scenic Railway
Taking a wefie before the train leaves the station
My sister and her family inside the moving train. Baby Ryker is too busy enjoying the ride
Riding through the rainforest in the world’s steepest passenger train
The Three Sisters as we rode down the Scenic Railway

The ride down to the valley floor, started with a gentle slope. In the beginning we were not able to feel the steepness of the railway. A little in the ride, the railway suddenly tilted steeper as we descend to the valley, I find the Indiana Jones theme song playing inside the enclosed train carriage a little cheesy. Soon the Railway reaches a cliff-side tunnel, all of the sudden everything was pitch black. We can only hope that we don’t find ourselves sitting on the carriage floor after we pass the tunnel. As the train descends further into Jamison Valley, we were out of the tunnel. The view from the left side of the train is spectacular! I can see part of a waterfall and the Three Sisters peeking through the canopies of the forest. The inclination of the railway turns gentle once more, we know our ride is over as we were at the Scenic Railway Bottom Station.

We rode down this rail track
Three Sisters from the Bottom Railway Station
My sister and her family with Three Sisters in the background
Taking a wefie with Three Sisters
View of the surroundings at the Bottom Staton

Strolling in the Scenic Walkway

Exiting the Railway, we stopped briefly at the side of the station. We felt so small being enclosed by the cliff where the Three Sisters sit and the vastness of the land that seem to stretch forever. After snapping a few more pictures, we headed to the Scenic Walkway in the Jamison Valley floor. There are 3 routes that we can take in the Scenic Walkway, all of which end up in the Scenic Cableway Bottom Station. We took the shortest of the 3 route – Coal Mine Route, which took us around 15 mins to reach the Scenic Cableway Bottom Station, the other routes are the Lillipilli Link (30 mins) and Yellow Robin Link (50mins). True to its name, there are a couple of coal mines along the Coal Mine Route. The air is indeed fresh down at the valley, with the freshness of the rainforest. My nephew seem excited about the forest walk. He was smiling and very curious about the things around him. We passed a closed mine shaft, that used to be an entrance to the coal mine. These days it is a tourist spot that served for photo opportunity for tourists. Further down the path, there is another bigger entrance to the coal mine. Despite being unsealed and armed with a sign saying “Danger Keep Out”, no one seem to be entering the coal mine. Along the path we felt as if we are in scene in Jurassic Park, the forest seem as old as time and cliffs that seem to be sheared off by a giant sword, with its near vertical cliff face. A rock sitting on the side of the pathway that seem to be nature’s creation. Very soon we found ourselves at the Cableway Bottom Station.
The walk through the Jurassic forest in Scenic Walkway is very easy
My friend and I at the ventilation shaft of the coal mine
Baby Ryker is curious about his surroundings
Baby Ryker seem happy to have touched a tree for the first time
Coal carts that was used before
My sister’s family in Scenic Walkway
Horses used to pull these coal carts
An entrance to the coal mine
Flora in the Scenic Walkway
Wefie in the Scenic Walkway
My sister’s family in Scenic Walkway
We are some 300m from the top of the cliff
My sister’s family with a huge rock that seem to fell off the top many years ago

Scenic Cableway

The Cableway was just calling into the station when we reached. We boarded the Cableway and journeyed 510m to the Scenic World Top Station, where we started. The Cableway is a huge cablecar that is designed to ferry passengers up and down the valley. The cableway is less thrilling than the Scenic Railway, however the 10 min journey allowed us slowly enjoy this scenic part of Blue Mountains. While the Scenic Railway dashes us through the rainforest cliff, the Scenic Cableway gave us a bird’s eye view of the entire valley as we ascended in it. We were above the canopy of the rainforest that we were in just minutes ago. All this while, we had the Three Sisters constantly in our sight. At the side of the Cableway, we seem to be narrowly passing the cliff, as though we can almost touch them if the windows are opened (well it is not exactly that close). As we approach the top station, the staff in the Cableway, who has been giving commentaries about the Blue Mountains, suddenly announced a lone rock that we will be passing by, known as the Orphan Rock. The staff mentioned that there used to be a trail that leads to the top of the Orphan Rock, a wedding has even  being held there. However due to corrosion, the trail to the top of Orphan Rock is closed. Nearing to the top station, I spotted some rail tracks. These are supposed to be a roller coaster ride that used to be one of the attractions here in Blue Mountains and has since closed in 1982. The Scenic Cableway is Wheelchair and pram friendly too.
Scenic Cableway pulling into the Bottom Station
View outside as we ascend to the top station in the Scenic Cableway
View of Three Sisters at the Scenic Cableway top station
Wefie with the Scenic Cableway car that we just rode in
View of Three Sisters from Scenic Cableway top station

Scenic Skyway

After having lunch at the Scenic World Top Station, we went for the Scenic Skyway next. I have been to Scenic World more than 15 years ago. I recall the Scenic Skyway used to pull us out halfway to where the Katoomba Waterfall is and than back to the Top Station. Fast forward 15 years later, another station has been built on the other side of the cliff. These days the Scenic Skyway brought us to the Skyway Eastern Station, where we can view the Blue Mountains from another angle. As the skyway leaves the station, I felt we are like an eagle soaring up the sky, viewing the entire Jamison valley region in the Blue Mountains from the sky. The centre of the Skyway is a panel of glass that allows passengers to step on and view the valley from high above. Sitting solemnly afar, rising up from the grounds is Mt Solitary. Once at the Eastern Station, we took the short trail to the left, leading us to Cliff View Lookout, which is about 5 mins walk from the station. Here we can see Katoomba Waterfall on the right, with a relatively small stream of water falling 300m into Jamison Valley and Mt Solitary. The view of Three Sisters is obscured from Cliff View Lookout. There is a trail that leads to Echo Point which takes about 45mins walk, while it will only take us 5 mins to drive there. We took the latter option. After some photos, we headed back to the Skyway East Station and took the next skyway back to Scenic World Top Station, where we drove ourselves to Echo Point.
Me in Blu Mountains
Taking a wefie in Blue Mountains before we ride on the Scenic Skyway
My sister’s family in Blue Mountains
My friend and I in the Scenic Skyway
Taking wefie in the Scenic Skyway
The Scenic Skyway brought us across the Jamison Valley
Katoomba Falls from Scenic Skyway
Scenic Skyway that we just rode in
View of Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains
Panoramic shot of Jamison Valley in Blue Mountains
My sister’s family at Cliff View Lookout
My friend and I at Cliff View Lookout
View of Mt Solitary from Cliff View Lookout
Jamison Valley from Cliff View Lookout

Echo Point Lookout

Echo Point Lookout offers the best up close view of the Three Sisters. Just a 5 mins drive from Scenic World, it did not take us long to reach Echo Point Lookout. Legend has it that a witchdoctor turned 3 beautiful sisters into stones to prevent a warring tribe from forcing them into marrying into the other tribe. However the witchdoctor died before he can turn the sisters back to human. To this date, the Three Sisters sits on the cliff waiting for someone to turn them back into their human form. The Three Sisters are 3 cliffs that sit on top of the north escarpment of Jamison Valley. Visitors can take a short walk to the lookout below for a closer view and photo spot with the Three Sisters. It can get crowded here with bus loads of tourists here. We did not stay here for too long and continued our journey to other parts of the Blue Mountains.

Echo Point signage
Close shot of the Three Sisters at Echo Point Lookout
Wefie with the Three Sisters at Echo Point Lookout
There is a lower platform that visitors can access to for a closer shot with the Three Sisters at Echo Point Lookout
View of Blue Mountains at Echo Point Lookout

Cahill’s Lookout

For most of the visitors, their trip to Blue Mountains will end at Scenic World and Echo Point Lookout. Blue Mountains has a lot to offer (if one travels here via driving). Our next destination is Boars Head Lookout and stopped by a couple of lookouts before that.  The first 2 lookouts that we stopped by, Eaglehawk Lookout and Narrow Neck Lookout, while offers views of the Jamison Valley from another perspective, the view isn’t that great. There are no proper parking spots for cars and the views are obscured. We snapped a few pictures before heading to Cahill’s Lookout. Soon we arrive at Cahill’s Lookout. After parking the car, my friend and I headed to the lookout (my sister and her family was too tired to join us on the 3 min walk to the lookout). While walking to Cahill’s Lookout at which lies at the end of the pathway, we stopped by Boars Head Lookout. The view at Boars Head Lookout is magnificent! It offers a different view of Blue Mountains, other than the already popular Three Sisters and Jamison Valley. From Boars Head Lookout, we spotted the Narrow Neck Plateau that separates Jamison Valley from Megalong Valley. The Narrow Neck Plateau looks like the body of a dragon lies in deep sleep. The land below us seem to stretch to the end of the earth. We continued our walk to Cahill’s Lookout, which is an octagon platform that looks out into Megalong Valley. The views here is no different from that of Boars Head Lookout, except that we were able to see the cliffs off Pulpit Rock and Bonnie Doon Waterfall. As the sun is setting, we still have another spot to head to, my friend and I headed back to the car and continued our journey to our last stop of the day.
View of Blue Mountains at Eaglehawk Lookout
View at Narrow Neck Lookout
Narrow Neck Plateau in the Blue Mountains
Taking a wefie with Narrow Neck Plateau in Cahill’s Lookout
My friend with Narrow Neck Plateau in Cahill’s Lookout
Me in Cahill’s Lookout
My friend in Boars Head Lookout
Taking a wefie of Narrow Neck Plateau and Megalong Valley in Boars Head Lookout
Panoramic shot of Narrow Neck Plateau and Megalong Valley
Cahill’s Lookout
My friend in Cahill’s Lookout
Panoramic shot of Megalong Valley from Cahill’s Lookout
View of Megalong Valley from Cahill’s Lookout

Govetts Loop Lookout

The drive to Govetts Loop Lookout takes about 45 mins from Katoomba, where the Three Sisters is located. To get there we passed by the town of Blackheath. There are signs well placed to point drivers to Govetts Loop Lookout. Govetts Loop Lookout offers views of the Grose Valley. Due to the low clouds, the view here looks mystical, as if it is nothing from this world. The view here felt a little like Pandora, the homeland of the Na’vi from the movie Avatar. From the lookout we can see a waterfall – Govetts Loop Falls. Since it is our last day in Sydney and our last stop of the day, my sister, my friend and I decided to take the 30 mins walk to the top of Govetts Loop Falls. The walk to Govetts Loop Falls is downhill. The initial walk was gentle, there come a point where there are stairways carved out of the soil and at some more dangerous points railings installed to ensure the safety of trackers. As we were walking, the sound of water appears to be closer. Not longer after a series of down “stairs” walks, we knew we arrived at the top Govetts Loop Falls. The view here isn’t that great, as the “lookout” is not overlooking into the valley. Rather we were treated to a view where the stream falls into the valley. There is a smaller waterfall on the side where we came from, with gentle streams flowing from the rivers on top. At the other side of the stream, we saw part of the Govetts Loop Brook that seem to come from a forest on top of the waterfall. After taking some pictures, we traced back our steps from where we came from and headed back to the car. The walk back to the car park can be tiring for some as it comprises a series of stairs to climb up. We made it back to the car before the sun sets and were on our way back to Sydney. As we were driving out of Govetts Loop Lookout, the clouds are so low that the entire area fogged up. The drive back to Sydney took around 2 hours. We headed back to Chinatown in Sydney for a well deserved dinner after a whole day at Blue Mountains and a way to end our trip to Sydney. We headed back to our accommodation early to pack and rest as we fly out of Sydney the next morning. There are more places to Sydney than those we visited, given essentially only 5 days in this city, we visited most of the icons of the City.

View of Grose Valley from Govetts Loop Lookout
View of Grose Valley from Govetts Loop Lookout
Wefie at Govetts Loop Lookout
Panoramic shot at Govetts Loop Lookout
The low clouds makes Govetts Loop Lookout look mystical
My sister with a well in Govetts Loop Lookout
Another shot of Grose Valley in Govetts Loop Lookout
We started our trek to the top of Govetts Loop Falls

 

The initial walk was easy down to Govetts Loop Falls

 

A small waterfall at the top of Govetts Loop Falls that flows into the stream
My sister and my friend playing on top of Govetts Loop Falls
My friend at the top of Govetts Loop Falls
Wefie at the top of Govetts Loop Falls

 

My sister posing carefully to ensure that she don’t slip and fall into the river on top of Govetts Loop Falls
Govetts Loop Brook that flows down Govetts Loop Falls into Grose Valley

 

The waterfall side of Govetts Loop Brook falling into Grose Valley. It is a shame that we cannot see the waterfalls from here

 

My sister taking a break while walking back to the carpark at Govetts Loop Lookout
My sister taking another break while walking back to the carpark at Govetts Loop Lookout

 

My sister taking yet another break while walking back to the carpark at Govetts Loop Lookout

 

My sister now can celebrate after all the walk up to the carpark

 

The cloud is very low at the time we return to the carpark at Govetts Loop Lookout

Sydney Day 4 (21 May 17) – Exploring Sydney – From Darling Harbour to Chinatown

Sydney Wildlife Zoo

Our itinerary is pretty light today. We visited the sights in Sydney and catered some time for shopping around town.Our first stop for the day is  the Sydney Wildlife Zoo, located in Sydney’s Darling Harbour a 25 mins drive from Sydney Olympic Park. There are 2 other attractions in this area on top of the Sydney Wildlife Zoo. The Sydney Aquarium and Madam Tussauds are located in the vicinity. One can consider getting the multi attraction pass and visit these attractions at one go to save time and money. We used the same attraction pass that was issued to us the day before to gain entry. Sydney Wildlife Zoo is rather small housing in a building occupying a total space of 7,000㎡. The wildlife park has a 1 km walkway that snakes through the entire Wildlife Zoo, across all 6 zones. All the animals housed in the wildlife park are found in different parts of Australia. The first few exhibits are snakes As the park is rather small compared to most other wildlife parks, it only took us about 1.5 hrs to finish the entire park. We spent about 10 mins listening to one of the staff educating us on the habits of koala bear. My sister bought a photo opportunity with the koala, instead of holding the animal taking pictures, they only managed to take picture with the koala at a close distance. We felt she was kind of being ripped off by the park. There is a Kangaroo petting area, which is rather small. Visitors are not allowed to feed the Kangaroos, just allowed to pet them as the keeper brought the animal around the open area. There is also another crocodile tank, which only house 1 crocodile. The entire Wildlife Zoo is rather disappointing (compared to the one in Gold Coast that I have visited last year), there are not much opportunity for visitors to interact with some of the animals plus Sydney Wildlife Zoo is small. Given a chance to come to Sydney again, I would skip this place.
My nephew – Baby Ryker posing on a fake Tasmania Devil 
Sydney Wildlife Zoo sits in a building next to Sydney Harbour Bay. Visitors can take these water taxis to Sydney Opera House area
My friend and I outside the building where Sydney Wildlife Zoo is housed
Entrance to Sydney Wildlife Zoo in Darling Harbour
Sydney Wildlife Zoo is housed in the same building as Madam Tussauds and Sealife Aquarium Sydney
This python is the first exhibit we saw as we enter Sydney Wildlife Zoo
A couple of lizards is in sight as we walked along the walkway
and more snakes
There is a Tasmania Devil living in Sydney Wildlife Zoo
and more snakes
Finally we see a species of kangaroo
My sister and her family in Sydney Wildlife Zoo
We also spotted a kookaburra in one of the enclosures
My sister and brother-in-law wondering where to go
Another species of kangaroo in Sydney Wildlife Zoo
My sister and Baby Ryker getting close to a koala
A keeper is “walking” this kangaroo in the open area allowing visitors to pet it
A mouse in the night zone of Sydney Wildlife Zoo
and more snakes
My sister and my friend with Baby Ryker
A lone crocodile at the end of the 1 km walkway in Sydney Wildlife Zoo

Paddy’s Market at Haymarket

We were glad we exited the boring Sydney Wildlife Zoo. We headed to Paddy’s market at Haymarket next (which closes at 6pm). Haymarket is located in Chinatown, a 20 mins drive from Darling Harbour. The covered market place comprises of 2 levels, we spent time exploring only the first level. The stalls are well organised in neat rows and columns, which makes it very easy to navigate around. There are 2 main sections on the ground floor in Paddy’s Market. The section nearer to the entrance sells mainly clothing and souvenirs. This area occupies 2/3 of the ground floor. Things on offer here are reasonably priced and is definitely cheaper than some of the tourist attractions and downtown Sydney. The common souvenirs such as T-shirts, kangaroo skins can be easily found here. There are also stalls selling nougats and locally produced chocolates. Paddy’s Market is a great place to stock up on souvenirs of all sorts.

Entrance to Paddy’s Market
There are lots of stuff on sale here in Paddy’s Market
There are lots of stuff on sale here in Paddy’s Market
My sister and her family shopping in Paddy’s Market
Paddy’s Market in Haymarket
My friend and I outside Paddy’s Market

Further into Paddy’s Market is a section selling fruits and vegetables. These produce seem fresh and is reasonably priced. One can get a pint of strawberries for A$5. This area is very lively, we could hear vendors shouting the price of their products on sale. It might be closing time is near, the vendors in market place here are trying to close as many deals as possible. Compared to the section further out front, this section seem more crowded with shoppers, probably due to the smaller area. As it is near to closing time we got out of Paddy’s Market.

The market area in Paddy’s Market
Paddy’s Market signage

Sydney Chinatown

The night is still young and hunt for dinner around Chinatown. Across the road from Paddy’s Market is a Chinese styled red archway, seem to tell visitors we are in Chinatown. There are no lack of Chinese Restaurants pass the archway, mainly selling Cantonese cuisines operated by Hong Kong immigrants. We settled our dinner in one of these restaurants. There are also shops that opens till late at night, selling mostly the same stuffs, Australian souvenirs of all sorts that can also be found in Paddy’s Market. The price is more or less the same as that in Paddy’s Market.  After dinner, we walked around Chinatown. Instead of Chinatown, it felt like a place where the Asians congregate. Interestingly, the different nationality who migrated to Sydney seem to cluster according to their country of origin. There is a cluster selling Taiwanese food and dessert, yet another cluster of restaurants selling Korean food and another selling Japanese food. We came across this shopping mall – World Square, where there is a supermarket in its basement. Near to the World Square, is where one would find a street of Thai Restaurants.

Walking around Chinatown
There are Chinese restaurants pass the Chinese styled archway
My sister deciding if we should dine here
Taking a wefie before our food arrives
My sister and my friend trying to decide what to eat first
My friend and I taking a wefie in Chinatown

 

Sydney Day 3 (20 May 17) – Icons of Sydney : Sydney Eye Tower , Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

My friend and Baby Ryker with Sydney Harbour Bridge

Carriageworks Farmers Market

No trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to one of a numerous weekend markets. I read that Carriageworks Farmers Market is one of the top farmers market in downtown Sydney, offering a good variety of the freshest produce the land down under has to offer in Sydney region. We made our way to Carriageworks Farmers Market in Sydney, which is around 30 mins drive from Sydney Olympic Park.
Driving in downtown Sydney to Carriageworks Farmers Market
Walking towards Carriageworks Farmers Market
Carriageworks Farmers Market is housed what seemed to be some abandoned industrial area. The market is rather small, selling mostly vegetables and fruits. There are some stalls selling flowers and meats, while other selling homemade products such as cheese, biscuits, etc. There are a limited number of stalls selling food from Chinese dim sum to coffees to freshly pressed juices and steaks. Carriageworks Farmers Market is rather small, it only took us 15 mins to finish the entire market. It is not as big as we imagined it to be. Feeling disappointed, we headed to downtown Sydney to look for lunch. We had lunch in Kings Cross before heading to Sydney Eye Tower in the middle of Sydney CBD.
Carriageworks Farmers Market is rather small
Carriageworks Farmers Market
Some of the freshest produce on sale in Carriageworks Farmers Market
They sell flowers too in Carriageworks Farmers Market
My sister and her family checking out what is on sale in Carriageworks Farmers Market
Carriageworks Farmers Market
My sister and brother-in-law checking on Baby Ryker
Baby Ryker and his dad
My friend and Baby Ryker in Carriageworks Farmers Market
My sister buying some dumplings
Sharing a bowl of dumplings

Sydney Eye Tower

Sydney Eye Tower is located on top of Westfield Shopping Centre in the heart of Sydney’s shopping precinct. Parking is a tad difficult to find in this area as we had to go around a few rounds before being able to find a parking spot. As it is located in the heart of Sydney, parking rates can be a tad expensive. Westfield Shopping Centre stands out among the shopping malls in downtown Sydney, it is the building with a single tall tower affixed on top. Sydney Tower Eye is the tallest building in Australia, standing 309m tall. The observation deck is some 268m from the ground. We got a 2 attraction pass from Experience Oz and NZ website, which is value for money and allowed us to choose how many attractions we wanted to visit. The ticket prices are discounted and we did not have to pre-select the attractions when buying the tickets. We can appear at one of the 5 attractions and get our ticket validated and visit the rest within 30 days of the first attraction.

Sydney Tower Eye seen from Kings Cross
Sydney Tower Eye sits tall on Westfield Shopping Centre
Street outside Westfield Shopping Centre
My sister and her family in downtown Sydney

The lift to the observation deck, is located on 5th floor of Westfield Shopping Centre, where the food court is located. Tucked away in one corner of the food court is where ticketing and the lift up to the observation deck is located. I visited Sydney Tower Eye almost 20 years ago (it was known as Sydney Tower back then), there are a couple of new additions to the tower. There are some models of the tallest buildings in the world, where one can see how tall Sydney Tower Eye stacked up against other giants around the world. Another new addition is a 5 mins 4D show in an auditorium prior to the lift up to the observation deck. The show is rather unique in that it introduces Sydney to visitors from the eye of a bird flying through some of the tourists attractions in Sydney.

My sister and my friend ready to go up Sydney Tower Eye
Models of some of the tallest buildings on earth
My sister and her family ready to go up Sydney Tower Eye
A happy Baby Ryker at Sydney Tower Eye
My friend and Baby Ryker at Sydney Tower Eye

After the show, we took the lift that whizzed us up 268m into the sky within minutes to the observation deck. Stepping out of the lift, we were treated to unobstructed view of the entire Sydney. Sydney Tower Eye is a good place for visitors offering a 360° view of the city, especially great for first timers to Sydney to get a glimpse of how massive the metropolitan city is. It is also a great place to orientate one on where’s where of Sydney. The side that faces Sydney Harbour Bridge was the most crowded, as visitors are here to get a different perspective of the famed icon of the city. However Sydney Opera House is kena obscured. I managed to find the Opera House peeping out in between 2 buildings. One can also see the entire Sydney Harbour Bay from the observation deck. We spotted the Blue Mountains sitting afar from the observation deck, as well as the Sydney Airport and the many suburbs. Walking one round takes around 5 mins (provided one do not stop and take pictures). There is a souvenir shop on the observation deck selling overpriced souvenirs (Hay Market in Chinatown offers souvenirs at half the price here on average). We stayed in Sydney Tower Eye for about 1 hour as my nephew needs to be fed, however Sydney Tower Eye can be done within 20 mins on average.

View of Sydney Harbour Bridge and a small section of Sydney Opera House from Sydney Tower Eye
View of Sydney Harbour Bay from Sydney Tower Eye
View from Sydney Tower Eye
My friend and I at the observatory deck of Sydney Tower Eye
View of Sydney from Sydney Tower Eye
My sister and her family in the observatory deck of Sydney Tower Eye
Sydney Harbour Bay seen from Sydney Tower Eye
Baby Ryker seem to spot something below
Sydney Harbour Bay from Sydney Tower Eye
Sydney Harbour Bay from Sydney Tower Eye
Sydney Harbour Bay from Sydney Tower Eye
My sister had to put the koala ears on Baby Ryker
My friend and I on Sydney Tower Eye

Shopping in Downtown Sydney

Coming down from Sydney Tower Eye, we spent sometime exploring the shopping malls in downtown Sydney. There are no lack of shops ranging from Myers department store to upscale boutiques to mid-range boutiques around this area. One would be spoilt for choice with the numerous amount of shops here. There is even an Apple Store round the corner in downtown Sydney. Do not miss some of the small stores selling finger food such as sushi and cream puffs in the basement of some of these shopping malls. The nearby Queen Victoria Building, a Romanesque architectural building built in the late 1900 Century, that once housed government offices and public library is hard to be missed. The well preserved building, spotting a large dome right in the centre of the building stands out from the rest of the modern skyscrappers. Queen Victoria Building now houses a 4-storey shopping mall in its most recent reincarnation. We did not spend much time to shop around here and headed over to the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Shopping in downtown Sydney
Shopping in downtown Sydney
My friend and I in downtown Sydney
My friend in downtown Sydney
My friend and I in downtown Sydney
Downtown Sydney
Queen Victoria Building is now a shopping mall
Some of the cute cream puffs in downtown Sydney
Downtown Sydney at night
We came across this Roman themed theatre in downtown Sydney
My friend and I taking wefie in the Roman themed theatre
Baby Ryker with his parents in the Roman themed theatre

Sydney Opera House

The iconic Sydney Opera House is a good 30 mins by foot from Sydney Tower Eye. As we had Baby Ryker in tow, we decided to drive there instead. There are ample (but expensive) parking spaces in the carpark of Sydney Opera House. By the time we reached the Opera House, it is already nightfall. This is when the restaurants in the Sydney Opera House promenade is bustling with life. Sydneysiders gathered here in the evening to chill out in the night, while some others come here to watch performances. From the promenade, one can get a good view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Night view of Sydney Harbour Bridge
My friend and I with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the back
My friend and Baby Ryker with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the back
Sydney Harbour Bridge at night
Sydney Harbour Bridge with a little of Sydney Opera House
A bit of both icons in Sydney

We headed towards the Sydney Opera House, comprising of 7 “shells” which look more like sails. From a distance, the Sydney Opera House resembles a sailing boat sailing in Sydney Harbour Bay. The iconic white roof looked as if it is coated with a blanket of white paint from afar, upclose, these white parts of the buildings are tiled with uniform mosaic tiles. Getting up close to the Opera House, it seem to emit a sense of timeless beauty and classiness. There are plenty photo spots around the Opera House buildings, however one would not be able to the entire building into the picture. For a great view of both Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, head to Mrs Macquarie’s Point, a short 10 mins drive from the Opera House.

My friend and I outside Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House at night
Taking a wefie with Sydney Opera House
My friend with Sydney Opera House
Another wefie outside Sydney Opera House
My sister and Baby Ryker at Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House from the promenade
Sydney Opera House up close at night
My sister and her family at Sydney Opera House
My sister and her family at Sydney Opera House

We headed inside the Opera House. The ceilings are decked in the concrete grey, as though telling visitors no fanciful dressings is required for its interior. The building is already magnificent even with the plain grey concretes. There is a shop inside the ticketing area of the Opera House selling memorabilia. One can also opt to join a 1 hour guided tour of the Opera House (costs A$37) to get a better understanding of the history and architecture of the building explained in detail by the staff. We stayed here for quite awhile to admire the grandeur of this iconic structure that visitors and locals come to identify Sydney with before heading back to rest for the night.

Interior of the Sydney Opera House