Saturday, June 25, 2016

Melbourne Travelogue 02: Start of the Great Ocean Drive

Hello, I'm back with another travelogue! The hightlight of our Melbourne trip was the Great Ocean drive. The Great Ocean Road is listed as an Australian national heritage. The whole road is 243km long, along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay and Allansford. This road is built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to the soldiers killed during WW1. As such, this is the world's largest war memorial. An important tourist attraction in the region, this road winds through varying terrain along the coast, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formation. 
While the GO drive can easily be achieved within a day, we decided to take things slow and spread the drive across 3 days to enjoy the sights.We marked the start of the drive as soon as we drove off from the airport and sped towards the highway. The first pit stop was Geelong, approx 1h drive from the airport. 
I was busy snapping away when I spotted a field of canola and made Leecher pulled up at the roadside for pic-taking. #randomthingswedo
We couldn't enter the field as it was surrounded by barbed wires, so we could only take pictures outside but still better than nothing :) Our mood was instantly lifted looking at the bright colours! We also spotted a couple of cars pulling over to take pictures. Definitely tourists since I doubt locals would do such things on their homeland. 
We reached Geelong and it was time for a quick breakfast fix. The initial plan was to head for the food truck. However, after circling round the park, I couldn't find the exact location or the truck could have moved to another place. We then looked at my list of back-up and headed to a cafe instead. 
We parked on the road side beside the library and went in to kaypoh the Aussie library before we head towards the cafe.
Lavish Specialty Coffee is located in the quaint suburb of Belmont. This cafe has a 15 person seating capacity, with menus that caters to people with special dietary needs. During our trip, we noticed that gluten-free options are always available in an eatery or supermarket.  
 Ordering from the spring menu ~ 
Lavish cafe specialises in coffee, offering a wide range of coffee beans. You can purchase the beans home for your consumption. Just speak to the friendly helpers at the cafe! 
A cup of latte to warm our bodies. 
 With Leecher, my fave travel companion
Leecher ordered baked sweet potato with super food salad and coconut yoghurt. He must be trying to eat clean and healthy before indulging later, lol! 
I had the spice-rubbed chicken burrito, which comes with oven-baked chicken, avocado salsa, lettuce and chilli coconut aioli. You even get to choose between wholemeal wheat tortilla or gluten-free corn tortilla.
Our first meal in Melbourne was satisfying. I couldn't finish the burrito, so I packed it along in case I get hunger pangs during the drive. 
Lavish Specialty Coffee
161A High Street, Belmont, Victoria, Australia
Tel: +61 3 5241 3337
Opening Hours: 8.30AM till 2PM (Mon-Sat)
With our satisfied tummies, we head to Coles to stock up on drinks and snacks. Since Coles was literally across the street from Lavish cafe, I wanted to walk but Leecher was heading to the car. He insisted on driving since he don't want to carry 12L of water across the street when he could just load it into the car. Once our groceries were loaded, we continued with our journey towards Cunningham Pier ... to be continued in the next post! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Melbourne Travelogue 01: SIN > MEL

Our virgin visit to Australia was in 2007, where we did our first road trip (after graduation) with the Uni gang. Then, I went for a touch-and-go 3 days business trip in Sydney. Fast forward to present days: we headed back to Australia on a 8 days road trip in Melbourne. Australia is moving up the ranks on my list of favourite countries. The country is so big that every visit brings much surprises and delight!

I applied for our visas online, made payment via iBanking and got the confirmation within 3 working days. The whole experience was easy and fuss-free. The visa is valid for 1 year, hence we made use of it and headed to Perth as our next holiday destination. So tempted to make another trip back now that I'm blogging about our Aussie adventures. 
On the day of departure, Mummy and lil bro came over and sent us to the airport. After checking in our luggage, we headed over to Poulet for dinner.  It was my first time having a meal at Poulet *suaku me* even though this french-themed casual dining chain has an outlet near my workplace. 
We started off with 2 bowls of soup: french onion and mushroom soup.
Leecher ordered these for sharing: braised pork belly, duck and their signature poulet. Boy, we were so full after the meal that we walked around the airport, hoping that it will help with digestion. 
Goofing around with the exhibitions, which were part of the SG50 trail exhibits at Changi Airport. Naturally, we had to take picture with the iconic Changi Airport's Control Tower! Soon, it was time for us to board the flight. We said our goodbyes and headed towards immigration. I even had time to do some duty-free window-shopping, mentally noting down the prices of the skincare that I intend to buy when I'm back.
I managed to secure the red-eyed flight, so we will get to catch up on some sleep before landing at Melbourne when we wake up. Night peeps. 
 Enjoying the view from my window seat before preparing for touch down at Melbourne airport.
We touched down at Melbourne at 6AM, which meant we get a whole day to explore. At 7 degree Celsius, we were severely under-dressed. I was in a tank dress overlaid with long sleeve shirt while Leecher was dressed in T-shirt and Bermudas, lol! I guess the Aussies must have thought that we were mad
Thankfully, clearing immigration was a breeze, despite the slight hiccup when the machine couldn't scan my ePassport. No more joining the long immigration queue. We collected our luggage, washed up and changed into warmer clothing. Once we were all set, Leecher went off to sort out the data card as well as the car rental.   
There are a couple of data SIM plans available and we decided to buy $30 for 4GB whole of data since we'll be staying for 8 days and missed the 1GB data ($10 for 7 days) by 1 day! Leecher got the Optus SA to help load the card into our iPad and that became our hotspot
 Grabbed a hot drink to warm my body from Hudsons Coffee.
Leecher, at the Hertz counter settling the admin stuff. We opted for Hertz for a fuss-free experience, even though their car rental might be slightly expensive. We enjoyed member discount for renting with them, so might as well! Once Leecher signed off the bill, we walked towards the huge car park opposite the airport for car collection.
Collecting the car was a breeze too. Boy, I love Australia for their efficiency! Since we had already topped up for max insurance, we don't have to check the exterior for any bump/damages. However, if you did not purchase any insurance, please do a thorough check before leaving the car park as you don't want to be liable for anything which you did not cause.
KIA Sportage, our trusty ride for the next 8 days. Leecher chose this for our road trip and since he is the designated driver, he gets to pick his car. I must say the car is really comfortable and spacious.
Porter Leecher loading our luggage into the boot and we are ready to head off for our road trip, yeah! The main highlight of this road trip was The Great Ocean Drive, which we have been wanting to do but other bucket-list items took priority over it - the cons of having a massive travel-related bucket list :( Nevertheless, we managed to make it happen and I'm so excited to buckle up! I'll be back with more of our Great Ocean drive adventures - stay tuned! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Melbourne 2015: 8 essential items for your road trip in Melbourne

Now that we are back in Singapore, I'm missing the weather in Australia. No doubt that it was chilly, it was way better than Singapore. Last year, we had fun driving down the scenic Great Ocean Drive route, stopping at certain points to admire the vast coastline. We then crossed over to Yarra Valley and drank to our hearts' content. Having survived our 1st solo road trip in Melbourne, here is my pick on the top 8 essential items:
1. Trusty and Reliable Car
Leecher gets to select the car since he'll be the one behind the wheels. For this trip, he chose a SUV - huge, comfortable and stable. We had so much space to ourselves, dumping stuff on the back seats. Most importantly, Leecher wanted to have a feel on driving a SUV and the best way to test-drive this? 8 days of road-trip! 
2. Music List
A good road trip music list which consists of the songs that you can sing along to! We tried to go local and tune in to Kiss FM(101.9) but got tired of the songs. With our data card, we tuned in to internet radio of YES933 and Kiss 92 for a mix of Chinese and English songs. We also got our K-pop dosage from my iTunes list.
3. Shades & Sunscreen
The sun in Australia is really no joke. Be sure to slap on sunscreen and wear your shades for extra protection. Furthermore, you'll look like a fasionista when taking pictures too! 
4. Drinks & Snacks
Stocking up on drink/snacks is a must to curb your hunger pangs during the long drive. I found my favourite indulge at Coles supermart - this is absolutely yummy! 
5. Data Card
Definitely a must in today's world. We depended on the card for playing the internet radio, keeping in touch with families/friends and not forgetting navigation for the drive. A tip: always download the respective telco app on your device to check data usage/allowance. We paid for 4GB but was only given 1GB. Thankfully, the kind SA helped to resolve the problem and we were credited with our allowance. 
6. Overnight Bag
We were shifting accommodation almost every other day. Hence, we opted for overnight bags to contain our clothings/essentials for the night(s) instead of lugging our luggages up and down the car. 
7. Wet Wipes
 To give your hands a clean wipe before/after eating.
8. Mini Trash Bags
We exercised basic courtesy so all rubbish went into the thrash bags then into the bins. 

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