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Sydney & Blue Mountains

March 2015
In March 2015, I fulfilled my dream of visiting Sydney, Australia. Growing up, I heard fascinating stories about the metropolis and its population. 
Sydney is located in the east coast of Australia and is the largest city in the country. The most iconic site in the city is the Opera House situated in the world's largest natural harbor. The city is brimming with exciting energy, being the country's major contributor to the Australian economy. 
My first impression of Sydney was fantastic. People come from all over the world making the city feel like any major cities in the world. The city does a brilliant job intermixing lush gardens and large waterfront with modern and old architectures (the latter leaning towards Imperial Britain).
I stayed with my childhood friends (R and V are brothers) during my visit. Being avid food lovers, our first stop was Sydney's Fish Market. I sampled the variety of delicious fresh oysters and fish as well as the classic fish and chips. My friends brought along condiments such as wasabi, soy sauce and ketchup since they charged a bomb in the market. After a fulfilling meal, we split ways and I explored Sydney Harbor, Chinatown, Paddington market and weaved through the stores of George Street.  I made a quick stop to admire the modern Asian artwork at the White Rabbit Gallery. I wrapped up my first full day with homemade beef noodles and great Australian company.
The next day before meeting up with my SF friend, J, my childhood friends and I swung by Vic's Meat Market and stocked up on fresh sausages and veal, beef and lamb cuts. We had a quick sausage breakfast before heading out to the Botanical gardens where we captured group photos at Mrs Macquarie's Chair and along the waterfront. R left so J and I explored Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, Darling Harbor, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Chinatown. The evening ended with another fun Australian dinner and poker game.
J and I attended a Hillsong service (yeah, another dream came true!) and had BBQ ribs for lunch at Hurricane Express. The ribs were cut differently than the ones you find in the USA, and tasted decent. We hopped on the bus to Coogee Beach and spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the beach. We returned to my friends' place and made my signature Hainanese chicken rice meal.
We spent the next couple of day exploring the underground shops on George Street, Queen Victoria's building, St Mary's Cathedral, Hyde Park, and Art Gallery of New South Wales. 
Some of our memorable meals were fried chicken with the oh-so-good-but-fiery sambal at Ayam Goreng 99, spicy ramen at Manpuku, and a selection of beers served on a beer paddle and pizza made from emu and kangaroo meat at the Australian Heritage Hotel. I also had my first home-cooked sous vide meal, lamb chops with delicious red Australian wines (thanks, R for sharing!) and desserts. 
On the spur of the moment, J and I decided we had seen enough of Sydney and booked train tickets to Blue Mountains. A decision that was highly rewarded! We arrived at Wentworth Falls train station on a crisp fall morning and began our hike at Darwins Track and continued on the National Pass. The park deserved the World Heritage Area title as the park was breathtaking with soaring mountains, deep valleys, grand waterfalls and lush green forests. I highly recommend starting from Wentworth Falls and ending at the Conservation Hut like we did as the trail was more forgiving with fewer steep climbs. We took less than 2 hours to complete the route. We hopped on the public bus and made our way to Katoomba where we visited the popular Three Sisters. Aboriginal legend has it that they were three sisters who turned to stone, giving this unusual rock formation. We did not stay for long so we missed the brilliant light displays on the rock throughout the day. 

I spent my last day in the city hanging out with my friends and eating great food. My overall impression of the metropolis was greatly enhanced and enjoyable. I'd definitely visit the city again. I love the vibrancy and diversity of what the city and its surroundings have to offer. It is impossible to feel bored of the city!
A great thanks to R, V and J for making my trip a memorable one. Kudos to Australia for making my trip an awesome one.

Last modified: August 4, 2015
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