Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Melbourne 2010

Haven't been in Melbourne in 3 years and have forgotten how lovely this city is! It's safe, clean, beautiful, not too big (Sydney) or boring (Perth/Brisbane) and right now the weather's cool, about 17 C but wet.  I'm here  for my daughter's convocation this Thursday evening, and for the first time in 7 years she is totally free to spend time without rushing for an exam or assignment, so we are just walking, shopping, eating, babbling and enjoying the city.

On Sunday we slept over at my friend L's house in Doncaster. Doncaster and Boxhill are the places where all the Asians live but unlike the Asians enclaves of old, these are nice residential areas chosen for their proximity to good schools. L and family moved here just 2 years ago and L's kids are doing very well in school. Daughter M is like a different person, speaking in Oz English and taking the bus on her own. Back in KK she was waited on hands and foot and was rather spoilt but now she's a beautiful, confident and happy kid. I remember how every time I visited them in the evening, she'd be doing Chinese and Math homework, her mom stressed out from teaching and shouting. But here M is doing better than ever, was the White Rabbit in her school play, is very popular in school and when my daughter went with her to hand in some forms for her entrance into high school next year, she did all the talking and handled everything without any help. Her sister S too is doing very well (although coming here as a high schooler she had a harder time adjusting)  and just got one of her exam results on Monday, scoring very high and surprising even herself.

Both girls told me that school here is fun, the teachers helpful and encouraging, never mean and authoritarian like the teachers back home. Learning science is very hands on, with a lot of lab work (my son Wey has not done a single lab experiment on his own and he's in a private school. This whole year, the only lab experiment he had was watch his schoolmate dissect a frog. Four kids, four frogs for a class of fifty). Teachers don't teach from the textbooks, they teach from their heads and students take notes and refer to textbooks on their own. Learning is exploring, interactive and relaxed. Classes are small , 27, compared to the average class size of 50 back home. I am left envious and wishing that I had given my youngest that opportunity.

The thing I would miss, if I ever moved here or anywhere is maid service. L used to keep a house where everything was perfectly in place. Now I see baskets of clothes, boxes here and there and I resisted the urge to fold the clothes. The maid used to wash up while we had coffee. Now everybody pitches in. It was strange to see the familiar furniture, tableware and other items that  I used to see in L's former house in KK now in her house in Melbourne. I can't explain it, but I felt sad. Maybe because I know that the good times I had in her house in KK can't be had anymore. It's the feeling of how moments and phases of life can't be repeated. And it doesn't matter if you enjoy yourself to the hilt because every good moment passes.

I also don't like how my skin is all wrinkled and dry. I can't recognize myself in the mirror. The air is so dry that when I get up, my eyebrows are crinkled from being pressed on the pillow; it takes water and a brush to straighten them.

L cooked a simple delicious dinner in spite of her busyness:

Grilled oysters with garlic

Mango and avocado salsa fish

Asparagus with garlic

This is shake and bake Korean KFC, very tasty and crispy. I must make space for a packet of the seasoning flour in my suitcase.

We decided to get back to the city as soon as the parents went off for work, and took the two girls with us. M and S have grown into such beautiful, wonderful kids. Yi and I both agree that the painful decision her parents made to come to Australia was worth it.

One thing that never fails to please is Australian fries--always fresh, meaty and yummy.

Very 'home made' sausages, with chunks of meat, AUD8 each on a bun. We tried different ones--duck, lamb and beef--and I still prefer beef. This was at a restaurant by the Yarra river.

Melbourne has many nice little pedestrians-only lanes that are crammed with cosy cafes and boutiques.

We had a selection of mini cupcakes (AUD2 each) that were moist and delicious. The best one was the red velvet cake (the one with a green star).

Myer is one of the big departmental stores and its Christmas window decoration is an attraction and for many families it's a tradition to bring the kids out (long lines in the weekends) to see the decorations.


HK Epicurus said...

I miss Melbourne! :D
Planning to go back sometime in Jan or Feb.. After my recent trip to Europe, I am beginning to appreciate the food quality and especially the multi-national varieties available.

For example, even though France serves really great French food, it has nothing much else worthy, same applies to other European countries. Only exception is probably in London.

Let's not get started on the coffee, at say St Ali or Sensory Lab, or just about anywhere else. >.<

Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

We were planning to move to Melbourne as I'm familiar with the city and have tons of friends there but the UK visa came through quickly. However, one day, we'll move our way there after our UK experience has worn off. It's a wonderful city. Congratulations to your daughter. You must be so proud of her!

Anonymous said...

The shake and bake chicken looks amazing!!! Was it really cooked in the oven? I would love to know what brand it is. Are you able to post a picture of the packet? Many thanks in advance.

Precious Pea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Greetings to L and family. Finally, you had the red velvet cake, was it any good? Again, Congrats to Yi and her proud mama. Love, MG

Dae said...

My goodness, these are the girls that visited us in Tokyo! They have grown up! My regards to them and
Congratulations to Yi and the proud parents. Still waiting for y'all to visit us here in the States.

Cherry On A Cake said...

Congrats to YI! I cant imagine you old and crinkled!!! :PP

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