Monthly Archives: January 2011

this weekend we left the bustle of sydney behind and went up to the blue mountains. katoomba is the main town in the area, about a two hour train ride from sydney. its always been a tourist town, developed to lure the weary sydney dwellers away from some r&r. there also used to be a fair bit of mning back in the day but not anymore. i remember going up there when i was living here oh so long ago so it was cool to revisit with fresh adult eyes!

the weather was a bit iffy on the way up, but it cleared by the time we arrived. taking the train is definitely the way to go. it costs about $15 round trip each, which is probably cheaper and less hassle than driving! plus you can snack and play freely.

brenda organised a room for us at the katoomba yha, which was totally awesome. they are very family friendly, with big open spaces, a kid’s corner with toys and a huge kitchen. the rooms were simple but clean and comfortable. we’ll be staying there every time we go up, methinks!

i like the literal art in our room:

we spent saturday afternoon at scenic world, which is an area with all sorts of rides from which you can take in the views. they have a gondola with a see through floor,

the world’s steepest fernicular (52 degree incline!),

and a gorgeous walk through the surrounding rainforest.

here are some family portraits that we took on the fernicular. i was holding the camera at arm’s length so they are all a bit out of focus and weird, but i think they are cool. brenda is wearing a dress that she made just the day before. it looks like a designer dress… well, it is a designer dress but you know what i mean!

one of the most famous things about katoomba are the three sisters. the three sisters are a rock formation that looks like this:

aboriginal legend has it that an elder turned them into stone to protect them from a war between their tribe and another. unfortunately the elder was killed in the fighting and they haven’t been turned back. they had sculptures of the sisters and the elder outside scenic world, so brenda and nayou thought they should re-enact the whole thing… which i duly caught on camera. i love nayou’s leg lifts!

on sunday we took the hop-on-hop-off trolley to see the rest of what katoomba has to offer.

it was a pretty cruisy sort of a day, being that we were tired from a lot of walking and nayou was on his second day of no siesta. we ended up checking out the sights, having a bit of a play in a park and then catching the train back to sydney. it was really nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and be in some nature again. the air is so much fresher up there and the general pace of life suits us all much better. we’ll definitely be going back up there soon!

another mellow, sunny weekend in sydney came to a wonderful close today with clementine’s 2nd birthday party. matt and claudia, clementine’s parents, were one of the first people that we met when we arrived. they live practically next door to the hotel we were staying at. this afternoon we gathered at elizabeth bay park to celebrate clementine turning two. elizabeth bay park sits up on a hill that overlooks part of sydney harbour, and features a nice koi pond, open green spaces and a great vibe. its so nice that people have weddings there regularly! matt and claudia pulled out all the stops for the party with decorations, fruit salad, yummy dips and plenty of booze for the adults.

there was also a rather spectacular cake which was a big hit with the kids.

nayou is more excited about the idea of cake and sugary foods than the reality. he really wanted to try a piece, but didn’t really eat much when he got it. ditto for some of the cupcakes that they had out as well. which is kind of a relief, because the last thing you want to be doing at a birthday party is pulling your kid away from the stuff that all the other kids are eating! now if it was, say, an olive cake, then he would have scarfed the whole thing down in the blink of an eye. this little boy has a serious soft spot for olives at the moment…

lots of babies and kids of all ages were in attendance, and it was great to see them all horsing around and having a ball. its nice when the kids all take care of each other and the adults can kick back and hang out!

here is the birthday girl:

brenda made a super cute dress for her out of an old pillow case she found at the salvation army. with a matching headband of course.

happy new year everyone! 2011, the year of the rabbit. i hope you all brought in a new decade with smiles on your faces and love in your hearts. we celebrated the new year on the rooftop of a friend’s apartment just down the road. we had great views of the sydney harbour bridge and the opera house, which meant that we got to see those famous sydney fireworks in all their glory. it was a very festive gathering of tenants and friends, and we ushered in 2011 surrounded by new friends and kind-of new friends. nayou stayed up until 1.30am before throwing in the towel! here we are on new year’s day eating our grapes. its a tradition in latin american countries to eat twelve grapes at the start of the new year.

i had every intention of preparing a bunch of traditional japanese foods for the new year, but i didn’t have the chance to get to a real japanese supermarket before everything closed for the holidays. so we made do with some mochi and some miso soup. next year i am determined to do it right though. there are so many yummy dishes that only come out for the new year!

due to financial constraints and poor planning, we’ve laid low in sydney this holiday season. although it would have been nice to capitalise on the time off, it has also been nice to be mellow. this past week we have been doing all kinds of tourist-y things like going on the ferry, visiting the wildlife center and going to the australian museum. oh, and of course spending time at the beach. we’ve discovered this awesome little beach called redleaf pool just a ten minute bus ride away from our house. there is no surf, but that means that nayou can play in the water as much as he likes without having to watch his back for rogue waves. the beach is surrounded by beautiful gardens, and a library is nestled right in the middle of them. something tells me we are going be coming back to this place many times over the summer!

we also finally got around to checking out the playground at sydney park. every parent we’ve spoken to since we arrived has raved about it, and with good reason. the place is laid out really nicely, with sandpits that have built-in water features, huge slides and scooter/bike courses ringing the whole thing. since becoming a parent i’ve become really into playground design and you can tell this one has been carefully thought out. nothing makes me sadder than a playground where someone has just plonked down some random swings and jungle gym.

christmas kept on going for a bit as well with the arrival of some parcels that didn’t make it in time. hana sent us an awesome package that included the world’s cutest tea set and some mindblowing art from the talented people at nobrow.

here are some random bits and bobs. notice that nayou has taken to busting out the peace sign when he is having his photo taken. this makes my japanese half very happy. especially because he says “peesu!” while he does it!

we turned into fully fledged tourists yesterday, riding the ferry to darling harbour and visiting sydney wildlife world. our original plan was to go surfing at manly beach, but we were met with a ridiculous line at circular quay (about a ~90 minute wait!) and were forced to go to plan b. apparently everyone else had the same idea… which was understandable given the perfect weather. we ended up taking a scenic ferry route to darling harbour where we wandered into sydney wildlife world and saw some crazy animals. it was fun to be a tourist for a day!

i love the way this kangaroo is just slumming.

check out this 6.5m (~14ft) saltwater crocodile they have in sydney wildlife world. these crocs are the largest living reptiles in the world and they are truly massive! the wildlife center also has a bunch of native venomous snakes and spiders on display. i forgot how many things in this country can kill you. 12 of the 30 most venomous snakes are in australia!

today was a bit of a rainy day so we scrapped our plans for the beach again and went to the australian museum. its a bit of a shame that you can’t spend your time checking out all the exhibits when you have a kid because there is a lot to see and do. but at least they have plenty for toddlers to do, including some great dinosaur stuff.

the highlight of our visit for me was seeing nayou in these capes. brenda found them in one of the kid corners of the museum. i don’t often get overwhelmed with cuteness, but this was definitely one of those moments. peesu!