10 things to do in Sydney

Here are my favourite places to go in Sydney- a top ten list, if you will. Some of them may seem cliché, but there is a reason that certain places are deemed tourism worthy.

My number one place in Sydney is Taronga Zoo. I love animals and will go to any zoo at any given opportunity. Taronga Zoo is special because you can take a ferry to get there and it has the best views of the city from its grounds. You can even take a gondola from the ferry terminal to the zoo entrance and back again. I also like Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour for an animal fix. It has great shark tank viewing tunnels and they have beluga whales too!

The Botanic Gardens is the place to go for its iconic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I am lucky because I used to work close enough to the gardens to go for lunch time walks there. I always enjoyed seeing the tourists stopping to take pictures along the way as it reminds me what a lovely city I live in. In summer they have open air theatre shows for kids and they always seem to be setting up for a festival or opera on the harbour side.

The Opera House is the best place to catch a show- pretty much just because you are in the Opera House. My favourite bar, Opera Bar, is also here. It’s often crowded and hard to get a drink, but you can’t beat being under the Opera House looking at the Harbour Bridge while you sip your pre- show cocktail. For a more old skool pub, I also like The London in Balmain. Rustic and sturdy, they have a large selection of beer on tap and decent food. Plus, how can you not love a pub that welcomes dogs?!

One of my favourite restaurants is at The Deck at Luna Park. It has great Spanish style seafood share platters and is not too expensive. It’s also located in my favourite suburb- Kirribilli. I was fortunate enough to live here for a while and there is no place quite like it in Sydney. Lavender Bay is beautiful, the Harbour Bridge is above you and the city is just across the water. You also can’t beat walking to work over the Harbour Bridge.

The European clothing brands have finally landed in Australia! So my new favourite place to shop is the brand new H & M‘s that keep popping up all over Sydney. I must admit that I am a little addicted.

But the best way to see Sydney is to be on the harbour in a boat– preferable at the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race. The harbour is what makes Sydney special, and it is beautiful, so if you ever come here make sure you get out on the water.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Cocktail Hour is Sydneytown, Kid at Heart, Degustation Delights

Money vs Happiness

Three things happened to me last week:

  1. My husband said that his goal for the next 5-10 years was to continue to be happy
  2. I finished up at my first job in the for profit sector
  3. I read that 52% of Aussies would sacrifice up to $10, 000 of their salary in order to feel happier.

When the first happened, I was surprised as I thought my husband’s goal for the next 5-10 years was to own a big house in the suburbs. Mine was to travel overseas at least once a year of course.

I thought his goal was sweet and simple and definitely achievable. The lesson of just being happy is one that I thought I had already learnt and one I actually remember teaching my husband about on a couple of different occasions when he decided to move on from a job. Perhaps it was a timely reminder due to the second occurrence.

The job I left last week, was my first job in a for profit company. Perhaps, because of this, I never stood a chance. I have no regrets, as I have always been of the school of thought that it’s better to go for it and find out, then always wonder what could have been. This theory works for relationships too I find!

It wasn’t about the people- there are good (and of course bad) people in every workplace- I just wasn’t happy. I’m not sure if it was even about being a for profit company either, for as long as I have purpose and passion I find I have the drive to work. So perhaps it is just that passion that I was missing.

Which brings me to point 3. I would definitely sacrifice money in my job to feel happier (although I shouldn’t have to!). And it seems I am not alone. We all know the theory that money doesn’t make you happy. But maybe it is money that makes you happy? Or enough money to keep your wife happy? Or maybe just having enough money to feel comfortable? And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Maybe it’s not about the fight between money and happiness at all, but about finding the right balance for you. As I embark upon my next round of soul-searching interviews to find the right fit for me, this is definitely something to keep in mind. At least I feel like I am getting closer. And as they say, this is the first day of the rest of my life.

Related posts: New beginnings, I’m happy for you, Having it all?, It’s the simple things, Kicking goals

Singapore, 2015

On the way back from Sri Lanka, my husband, daughter and I stopped in Singapore. We stayed at the luxurious Swissotel at Clarke Quay where my daughter loved the big bed, the free cow soft toy and kids toiletry pack. We all had great fun at the water slides on the roof too.

We also enjoyed exploring more of the Clarke Quay area. The art gallery with the colourful shutters, the street art and the view of Marina Bay Sands. Clarke Quay at night was also a pretty sight with all the lights.

One of the things on my hit list for this trip to Singapore was the largest fountain in the southern hemisphere- the Fountain of Wealth. And so to the fountain we went, located conveniently next to a large shopping centre with a huge Uniqlo and the best H&M I have been to so far.

The fountain was so big that you could walk into it so was definitely worth the trip. We also met my friend Cynthia and her new baby son for lunch. Dinner was with the other half of the couple, her partner Tony, and my husband’s friend Drew at Café Iguana back at Clarke Quay.

The next day, we went to Fort Canning Park, which was more of a sprawling park of walkways than an entertaining park for kids. We went to Cynthia and Tony’s for dinner at a local restaurant and reacquainted our daughters who enjoyed posing together for photos and holding hands on the walk back to the apartment.

With not enough time as always, the holiday came to an end once again, and it was time to bid farewell to our friends and fly back to Sydney.

Related posts: Singapore, 2013: Part 3, Singapore 2013: Part 2, Singapore, 2013: Part 1, Singapore 2012: Old vs New, Singapore 2012: Part 1, Indonesia and Singapore, 1994, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, It’s an Asia Thing, It’s a Water Thing, People vs Place

Pinnawala and Negombo, 2015

My parents, husband, daughter and I drove past Bible Rock, stopped in Kadurata for lunch and continued on to Pinnawala to see the elephants.

I had been here before, had loved it and couldn’t wait to show our daughter who I was sure would enjoy it too.

When we arrived, the elephant herd was on the plain, waiting to be walked for meal time. Some of the baby elephants were having shower time, which they seemed to be revelling in.

Afterwards they were all put together in a pen and our daughter was able to reach out and touch a trunk or two. And then it was time for bottle feeding- and boy did they suck it down!

I paid a little extra to feed a basket of fruit to one of the older elephants and it was worth every penny. They really are such gentle giants and our daughter thought it was hysterical when the elephant tried to suck my knee in the search for more goodies.

And then it was time for the daily trek to the river for bath time. I think the herd relished bathing as much as we marvelled in the spectacle. They flopped their big bodies into the water and stayed submerged for long lengths of time with just their trunks emerging for breathing.

Mothers and calves, younger ones tussling with each other and one who only left their ears above the water to show that they were there.

On the drive out we stopped at a Tambuli stand for some fresh coconut water, before heading to our final Sri Lankan destination, Negombo.

We stayed at an aging hotel with a pool, went for a walk along the beach and discovered part of a fishing village. My husband bought a handmade leather bag at Akram Leather Factory. The machinery in the factory was ancient, but it still did the job.

All our daughter wanted to do was swim in the hotel pool, so most of the day was spent doing that. And in the evening, we enjoyed drinks and I had a luscious seafood platter for my final meal.

After saying our fond farewells to our driver and my parents after they dropped us at the airport, it was time to leave Sri Lanka and our road trip behind. It had been nice to show my husband a country that I had always liked visiting and I am sure he now appreciated it and the people as much as I do.

Related posts: Sigiriya and Dambulla, 2015Kandy, 2015Upcountry, 2015Ebony Springs, 2015Ella, 2015Mirissa, 2016Galle, 2015Cooler Colombo, 2015Old Colombo, 2015It’s a Sri Lankan Thing

Sigiriya and Dambulla, 2015

Sigiriya Rock was the next item on the agenda for our trip. My husband, daughter and I decided to give climbing the actual rock a miss in the midday heat and took a walk around the gardens instead.

The grounds were surrounded by a moat and contained many ramparts and water gardens with lily pads and lotus flowers. The view of Sigiriya Rock from the gardens was great and we bumped into the friendly Singaporean couple from Kandy again.

Dambulla Rock Temple turned out to be one of my favourite sites of the trip. The golden temple and golden Buddha at the foot of the mountain were large and shiny and there were lots of monkey families to keep us company on the walk up to the rock temple.

Dambulla is actually 5 caves built into the rock of a mountain with over 150 statues of Buddha. Overwhelming to say the least. The temple was whitewashed and quite striking on the outside. There was also a large sacred fig tree on the grounds with coloured flags twined in the branches.

The first cave was completely filled with a reclining Buddha and there was barely room to get in and see the statue. The second cave housed the great king and many sitting Buddha’s. There were even paintings of Buddha on the roof.

The third and fourth caves had stupas and Buddha’s in various poses. The last cave was one of the smallest and most dilapidated, but also the one I like the most- there was just something about the atmosphere in there.

After the walk back down, we stopped for lunch at the luxurious Thilanka, Dambulla on the recommendation of an uncle. The resort was isolated with a beautiful long pool and tennis courts. The food was tasty and it would have been nice to stay a few days in this little oasis, but alas, it was back on the road for us.

Related posts: Kandy, 2015Upcountry, 2015Ebony Springs, 2015Ella, 2015Mirissa, 2016Galle, 2015Cooler Colombo, 2015Old Colombo, 2015It’s a Sri Lankan Thing