What you’re about to read is an account of the first 2 weeks? or so, starting from when we first arrived in Melbourne. It is extremely long, just to let you know before hand.
Wednesday, 14 JAN 2009
DAY ONE IN MELBOURNE
We touched down at about 6:30am Australian time. As it was summer, the sun had already risen. We washed up at the public restroom. I was forced to surrender the peanut butter cookies (from Delaney) into a quarantine bin as they were not properly sealed (with tape and the like), so the Customs officials would not let us keep them :/ Before I did, I quickly ate one and boy! Was it good! Then went to get luggage (oh the horror—9 cases + the crowd = madness) Left the airport to join taxi queue. Weather was almost humid; wind was warm. Not unlike that in Singapore. We loaded the luggage into a Maxi Cab with the help of the driver, then got in. In the cab it became apparent that the sun was blazing hot because the A/C wasn’t turned up much. Found out later that it was 31 degree Celsius at 8 in the morning :O
Arrived at our destination—our apartment! Was stranded at the lobby as we did not have the keys to the apartment and the office (where our property manager Geoff worked) did not open till 9am. Parents left Stacey, Stedman and I in charge of the luggage while they went to buy coffee. They came back half an hour (or so) later with coffee plus 3 cups of hot chocolate in takeaway holders for us. Dad went to check the office again. Yahoo! Attained keys to apartment.
Extremely weird to enter new home where there is no furniture, no toilet paper to wipe your ass with, no soap to wash with, no salt or cutlery in the kitchen and best of all, NO ELECTRICITY! Which meant showering in icy cold water with no soap. (pleasant, yeah) Had to make do with annoyingly small towels (okay, they were face towels) to towel off. Was about to catch up on some sleep later, only to find that LUGGAGE HOLDING SLEEPING BAGS AND BEDSHEETS HAD BEEN LEFT IN THE TAXI :O Geoff assisted us in contacting this Lost & Found line. Luckily Mummy remembered the number: 8010! Folded thick sweater to use as makeshift pillow then lay on the ground (which, thankfully, is carpeted).
Did not feel sleepy but found self being woken up maybe 2 hours later so must have dozed off sometime. Regretted going to sleep with wet hair as hair now a mess of untameable curls jutting out in various peaks and directions. Changed clothes then went walking. First stop: 2nd hand car dealer! Cannot afford to buy brand-new car. But that is perfectly alright. Toyota Altise maybe J Sun was high in the sky but wind also very strong so it was agreeable weather. Not as hot as it had been earlier in the day either. Went walking somemore, entered this shop Strathfield. Wanted to sign up for Optus mobile phone plans but they needed some important documents (to make up 100 points of ID) so we decided to come back the next day.
Then took tram to Burnley Street in Richmond. Metcards are expensive aye. Full fare is $3.70 for 2 hours, concession is $2.30. Validated tickets in tram. Tickets could be used till 6pm. Went to Ikea Richmond and had lunch/tea break at the restaurant there. Children’s meals were worth it—fish fingers and chips, and an apple, for $2.50! Everyone shared 2 plates of that plus another plate of pasta as no one really hungry. Went to hunt for furniture. Decided on a white and birch effect combination for main living area. Wanted to catch tram back before 6pm so would not have to shell out another $15 to buy tickets but realised that it would be impossible. As Ikea closed at 6pm that day (early!), we left it for Coles (which is a supermarket) Decide to return the next day to finish selection of furniture.
Bought basic household essentials such as forks and spoons, salt, pepper, shampoo and shower foam, rice, bread, toilet paper, tissue, chopping boards, scissors, sanitary pads, cotton buds, hand soap etc. etc. etc. It is amazing what you do not notice you normally have until you are forced to buy from the start. Then took tram back again. Then took another tram again because it was free. This is because once you validate a ticket after 6pm, it only expires at 3am the next morning. We then spoke to this Chinese student called Michael and his Japanese friend Yuya (sp? [pronounced “you-ya”]). They gave us tips on how to take the trams and stuff.
Went home. Dinner was rice with broccoli and chicken wings, which were placed on plastic plates (which Mummy had to pack along, together with plastic cutlery, in case we did not buy them on the first day. We had also brought several pots along so that we could cook, as the 47 boxes which were being shipped over did not arrive till early February). We consumed them sitting on the carpeted floor and enjoyed the cool night air. How cool’s that! Nectarines for fruit. Had mint ginger tea later- no caffeine.
Took proper shower this time. A hot water tank behind a door in the toilet. What does a hot water tank mean? It means hot water is limited! And because we also only have one toilet to share among the 5 of us, it means we have to shower super quick! I tried not to bathe in too-hot water to minimise risk of it running out before everyone had had their showers. Would be horrid if that happened :/ Brushed teeth as quickly as possible. Dried hair as much as possible then was forced to go to bed. Slept in sleeping bag this time on the floor, with an extra blanket as a pillow. S’cool, camping in my own home.
Saturday, 17 JAN 2009
DAY FOUR IN MELBOURNE
Drove to Sorrento to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Was not feeling well— uncomfortable feeling? ache? in body in region between chest and belly button for almost the whole day. Could not stand up straight as was v. uncomfortable. Walking was annoying. Reckoned it was indigestion from having eaten too much dinner too late the previous night. Dad suspected I had contracted stomach flu. Was given some medicine.
Grandma told me “It’s not going to be easy for you. It’s going to be difficult. But you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You can walk around campus alone for a month. But it’ll be okay…You don’t have to wear makeup to hang out with a particular group.”
We went to Portsea Ocean Beach after the visit and we took some JUMP! photos. After the fourth jump, I realised that I WAS OKAY! Was so relieved and thankful.
We reached Melbourne at night and went to the supermarket. Saturday is a day when everyone goes out to drink, party, have fun. As we were heading to the cashiers, we passed this man singing loudly and bobbing his head along, who grabbed a basket. A security guard was behind him. Watching him and making sure he doesn’t create any havoc, I suppose. As we queued, we heard him singing as he walked up and down the aisles, the security guard still behind him. We left and hurried to get to the car as (1) it was uncomfortably cold and windy and (2) because it was party night, there was a fair number of people high on drugs and drinks. Dinner was a midnight affair because of the visit to Sorrento. Tried not to eat too much in case uncomfortable ache resurfaced.
Sunday, 18 JAN 2009
DAY FIVE IN MELBOURNE
Was awoken this morning to find Stedman was sleeping next to me on my sleeping bag, on my pillow. Didn’t care and promptly fell back to sleep. Woke up again later, accidentally whammed arm against the heater (which is right at my side against the wall). Produced a big BANG! which resulted in an unpleasant fright.
Went to Ikea for the third time since arriving in Melbourne. Having gotten a courtesy car (because parents decided to have some additional things done on the car, a Toyota Ateva we bought e.g. reversing sensors, so we were given this car temporarily) yesterday, we spent a little time navigating the roads and trying to follow the route of the tram we had previously taken to Ikea Richmond.
We managed to get most things from the warehouse in Ikea (before checkout) unlike the second time we went back. The previous time, a lot of items had been out of stock. It was supremely frustrating running from aisle to aisle and locate where the items should be to find them not there. We got hold of the mattresses, TV stand, under-bed storage boxes, a shelf and a few other large pieces of furniture. I stayed to watch all these in the warehouse, together with my brother, while Dad, Mum and Stacey went to get all the other smaller, miscellaneous items. We stood at one side of the main aisle. The cart with the mattresses partially blocked several items in one of the aisles, but it couldn’t be helped— it was either that, or to block people from their path to the checkouts.
I stood reading this small book I had gotten from the temple back in Singapore— “How to Overcome Your Difficulties”. Time to time, I looked up to both watch Stedman and to people-watch. It’s rather interesting really. You could have a bowl-shaped haircut, or have hair dyed 3 different colours, or have multiple piercings or tattoos. Nobody stares. I quite like how you can dress however you like here. Everyone looks like everyone else back in Singapore. Carbon copies. Stereotypes. There is no originality, creativity or uniqueness because everyone is afraid to stand out or look different. Here, it’s a total opposite and it’s perfectly accepted. It’s uninhibited. There’s pride in showing off your sense of style. Gladiator sandals are very popular here too J I couldn’t stop myself from looking at a couple though— a man with red and black hair, dressed from top to toe in red and black (and red and black underwear) and the woman with white, black and purple hair, dressed in a gothic manner. Both had on shades, multiple facial and ear piercings and large tattoos covering their arms.
One thing that I do not like, however, is how some people just refuse to look at us or talk to us or to even acknowledge our presence. My presence. Like how I clearly was blocking a couple’s way. I tried moving the mattress cart for them and they continued talking to each other the whole time, as though doing so would enable them to vaporise my mattress cart so that they could get their item. They didn’t try to ask if I could move my cart a little more, or thank me for doing so. In fact, they acted as though I wasn’t making an effort, or as if I wasn’t there. I’m not sure if I’m being paranoid—maybe people like them just act like that all the time—but I didn’t appreciate that. I had been warned of possible racial prejudice and yes, I understood that. If that’s what it was it really is crap. Later, when my sister and I were queuing to pay, she related to me 2 separate incidents of 2 women ignoring her apologies when they were accidentally bumped into/had things bumping into them. Perhaps more instances of that so-called prejudice. But it’s best not to dwell on things like that. We have to grin and bear things like these. It happens to everyone at some point, so there’s nothing new in griping about it.
Got the delivery of items sorted out and the rest stuffed into our own cloth bags to take home. Left Ikea after that. Hooray, delivery will be the next day from 7-10am. We drove to a nearby park to have lunch—leftovers from dinner the previous day (a capsicum, carrot and chicken stew) and rice. When you stand in the sun while the wind is blowing, you don’t feel too cold.
Then we drove to Queen Victoria Market. Queen Vic Market sells all sorts of fresh produce, a separate section selling meats, seafood, cheeses etc, another area selling clothes, paintings and crafts, accessories. There’re also cafés and eateries and small shops. It’s a fun place to shop. But it’s closed on certain days and only open till 3pm, 4pm max. We’ll have to note those days. Dad picked up 2 potatoes and nothing else—it was almost 5 already -.- Dad says if you’re not fussy, you’ll actually be able to pick up a lot of discarded produce which is still edible and all.
Then we went to the supermarket and picked up 3 baskets worth of groceries. Our home’s getting more and more like a home everyday J Goody. Turkey wings are about the length of 3 chicken wings. Scary? Not as scary as turkey drumsticks. One turkey drumstick weighs almost 1kg. I would say it’s as big as 8 chicken wings. It’s quite scary picking up a tray of 2 turkey drums We also bought noodles, pasta, dishwasher liquid (we have a dishwasher), tomato sauce, herbs, celery etc.
We came home, taking 2 trips to unload the groceries and things bought from Ikea. Went for a short jog at Carlton Gardens. Dad says we have to do some exercise to get our bodies conditioned to the drier air here. Weather today is pleasant—not too windy so it’s not too cold, even as evening approaches. We played at the playground that we did 2 days before, hide-and-seek and all. Played with a poodle (which looks like a stuffed toy). Had fun.
Dinner was turkey and celery stew and noodles. Does not sound appealing but tasted good J Mangoes and peppermint chocolate after. Took out PLC files, will be getting uniforms and all tomorrow. Somehow not too looking forward to doing so.
Monday, 19 JAN 2009
DAY SIX IN MELBOURNE
Find that I have absolutely no concept of time or date except when I update this document. The summer weather is not much help because the sun rises very early. Do not have a watch either. Hence have to rely on phone, unless it dies on me. Which is rather frequent these days, because I only changed the mobile phone plan and am still using the Samsung I got at the start of S3. Battery lasts about 2½ days.
Mum starts work today at her office at Lorimer Street.
Spent approx $1300 on uniforms. $700+ of it was second-hand. Dad thinks we could’ve saved at least two-third of the cost due to the second-hand uniforms. Thank goodness for the swap shop.
Tuesday, 20 Jan 2009
DAY SEVEN IN MELBOURNE
Hear in the radio on the way to pick Mum up from work, a song that goes “Middle-aged men can be sexy too…” Cannot decide if am more amused or disgusted.
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009
DAY EIGHT IN MELBOURNE
Geoff tells Stacey and I that he ‘is not a hardware store’ when we go to ask him if he has a closet rail or a door latch. It infuriates me when adults talk to people like us using that tone and manner. Geoff would not talk to Dad like that. It does not mean I am not an adult that I deserve to be treated like that. It happens everywhere, Singapore, Melbourne. They think we’re all stupid and spineless and fickle and they show it. But not everyone our age is stupid and spineless and fickle, so they ought to give us some respect. Asses.
Temperature climbs to 37 degree C.
SUPPOSED TO GET INTERNET CONNECTION BY TODAY. BUT OPTUS PEOPLE DID NOT COME. PARENTS SAID WOULD CALL TOMORROW TO CHECK.
By today have fixed up TV table, bunk bed, shoe cabinet, mirrors, dining table.
Buy 6-month concession ticket at Metshop.
Visited Op Shop on Brunswick Street. It is rather well maintained. Got a few books, plus a few pieces of clothing.
Met with Mum’s colleague (from Sydney) uncle Kelvin, his wife Filbee (Filby? Well it sounded like that) and their son Caleb for dinner. Uncle Kelvin and Auntie Filbee were originally from Hong Kong. They moved to Singapore maybe slightly more that 15 years ago, which is where Caleb was born. They have since moved over to Sydney 2½ years ago. Caleb is 15 and studies at Homebush Boys. We went to Richmond, which has a large Vietnamese population, and dined at Pacific House. I think it’s a rather popular place to eat judging by the number of people in it. Caleb is uncommonly polite (or perhaps I find him so because males his age in Singapore are typically swearing, uncouth, testosterone-driven airheads). It was a pleasant evening.
Thursday, 22 Jan 2009
DAY NINE IN MELBOURNE
Made a trip down to the St George bank so Dad can pick up his credit card and cheque book. While waiting notice a man talking rather loudly. He started crying at the counter, crying about them closing his account without his notice and him finding out at some other place. I think he was told to go back there to clarify or something and he went “I don’t even have money now to get a tram and you want me to go back there” He has disabilities which made me pity him even more. An older lady was trying to comfort him but it is clear that there isn’t much any of us could do. The person he was speaking to ushered him into his office and I hope things turned out okay in the end; we left soon after that.
Tried out public transport to get to PLC. Dad and Stacey take tram to Box Hill while I hop onto the train with Stedman. Quite a pleasant journey. We reach Box Hill station and then spend some time walking around the bus interchange looking for the sign that says Bus 767. Realise we missed it the first time we walked. Sit down to wait for bus. Starts to rain halfway. Due to windy conditions raindrops are blown into our direction. Bus finally comes after almost half an hour. Get onto bus and nice bus driver shows me where to get off, then cross the road to school. By then, Dad and Stacey are waiting at the opposite side. Train and bus ride more comfortable and pleasant than that of tram (which is stuffy especially on a hot day) so it is decided that Stacey and I will take the train-bus route to school although it takes slightly longer than the tram route. Total journey takes approximately 1½ hours L Am not looking forward to waking up early for school again.
We take the bus back to Box Hill station and then the train to Melbourne Central. Stedman’s and Dad’s 2-hour tickets expire so we are unable to try out public transport to get to Stedman’s school which is in Brunswick. Decide to do so tomorrow.
Temperature reaches a high of 40 degree C in early afternoon. Even strong wind blowing our way feels hot. Sitting under a tree does little to cool off. Feel smothered by the heat which numbs your senses to everything around you, makes you slow-moving and oblivious to your surroundings.
Stedman calls his urinary bladder his ‘small balloon’. “My small balloon is bursting”. *smacks forehead*
INTERNET DOES NOT COME AGAIN. BLOODY ASSES. I AM WAITING.
Friday, 23 Jan 2009
DAY TEN IN MELBOURNE
By this morning furniture fixed up including 6 dining chairs, Billy bookcase, standing wardrobe.
Woman from Optus (who is supplying us the home line and Internet modem and stuff) actually hangs up on my dad! Because they are in Sydney, the modem and stuff can only arrive earliest next Tuesday. This is because 26 January (which is a Monday) is Australia Day, making it a public holiday. Nooooo L
Dad scolds Stedman for lazing around. “You, you like the grasshopper like that, huh.”
And I’m listening to this sitting on the toilet bowl and thinking….hmm, what grasshopper? Then Dad goes “You’re only going to start working when summer ends is it?” and then a light bulb appears above my head as I recall that grasshopper and ants fable. Then I start laughing. All while I’m still on the bowl. Written down like this, it looks pretty retarded actually.
Made Dad very angry when I commented that a potted plant he wanted for the house was ‘very ugly’. He refused to speak to me for the rest of the day, as we left the nursery for a stereo shop then a chemist then the same Op Shop at Brunswick Street and then Ikea (again again) (for a small shelf for an under-utilised space) and then to pick Mum up from work. It was made worse by the fact that he continued to speak to Stacey and Stedman. FINE.
Went for a jog (for perhaps the fifth or sixth time since we arrived) before heading home. It is good to keep healthy. Dad does not speak to me unless he has to.
Saturday, 24 Jan 2009
DAY ELEVEN IN MELBOURNE
We bought a Navman from Strathfield. It’s a GPS navigational device that even many locals use. It has maps of all over Australia, so it should really come in handy.
Drove to Dandenong and visited the Sherbrooke Forest Picnic Grounds. Took slow walk through the forested areas. It is colder in the clearing than in the forest. Tried to walk quietly so that I could hear the sounds of the forest. Sounds of the forest are sounds that are always there, but not sounds that we always hear. Such as the calls of the different birds, the distant roar of water, the rustling of the leaves. There is something enlightening about listening to the chirping of the birds reverberating around you and being surrounded by comforting greens and browns. Took pictures of plants and flowers, none of which I know the names of.
After that, we sat at the picnic area, snacking on carrot cake and chips. Put on sweater. Read book- The Courtship Gift by Julie Parsons. When it got too cold, we left. Stopped at Safeway supermarket to buy food because prices there, for some reason, were cheaper than most other supermarkets. Bought grapes, blueberries, strawberries Bought more nectarines and peaches. Have consumed a lot of them since we came because they are in season. They are juicy, sweet and pleasurable to eat.
Sunday, 25 Jan 2009
DAY TWELVE IN MELBOURNE
It is the eve of Chinese New Year today.
Go to chemist and that same Op Shop once again. Pick up a few tops, including one from Country Road, more books, skipping rope, things. Then sit in the shade of a tree at Carlton Gardens to have lunch. Beautiful weather.
Use the Navman to drive to Box Hill. It provides the fastest route through the freeway, so that we do not have to tolerate traffic jams along Toorak Road. Box Hill has a large Chinese community, so it is cheaper to buy Asian foodstuffs there. We buy 年糕, dark soy sauce, soup spoons. Etc.
Go to supermarket intending to buy needles and thread for sewing of new school dresses if there is need to. Get those, and bananas. Am so happy to have bananas to eat as used to eat them frequently back in Singapore, and have not been able to here in Melbourne because they are so costly. Am disappointed when banana turns out hard, not fully ripe, nor very sweet despite looking of the Del Monte variety. We buy roast duck and roast pork from a nearby restaurant.
Go jogging again. Come home. Parents prepare 盆菜 for dinner. Roast duck, roast pork, prawns, fish maw arranged in a large pot. We hear the familiar drumbeats of a lion dance routine. Go to balcony but can only hear and not see. Fire crackers are set off close to 9:30pm. We wonder why they are doing so so early. Have never seen fire crackers due to ban in Singapore. We sit down for dinner, a ‘reunion’ dinner. Am thankful to have immediate family with me to share this day but can’t help feeling a little sad and homesick for the large family we have back in Singapore. Wonder if they are having a reunion dinner and wonder if they find it different without us there.
Feel distance from family most during Chinese New Year. This year will be the first one I am spending away from them.
Things have been okay. Today was the second last day of school for Term 1. Am looking forward to holidays- will be visiting friends outside Melbourne.
End of Term 1!
I’ve got a lot of thoughts now and I must write them down now for remembrance sake.
I attended Sound Relief with my family. Sound Relief was a concert held in aid of the bushfire victims of Black Saturday which I’m sure you all heard about over the news. It was a great concert; the weather (which was cold then hot then cold then hot then cold) did nothing to dampen our spirits. There were songs where everyone just sang along with. Awesomeness.
TO SNSB: YOU WORKED HARD FOR THE GOLD WITH HONOURS FOR SYF, I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF YOU! AND IF ONLY I COULD BE THERE TO CELEBRATE WITH YOU! AND IGNORE ALL NASTY COMMENTS BY OTHERS- YOU KNOW YOU WORKED FOR IT AND IF OTHERS DIDN’T GET IT, WHY SHOULD WE BE CRITICISED? ONCE AGAIN, SNSB BRAVO.
EVERYONE ELSE- THINKING OF ALL OF YOU AND HOPING ALL OF YOU ARE WELL. TAKE CARE AND SPEAK TO YOU SOON?
Now have dial-up at home. Now isn’t that ancient? The internet is way too slow to entice me to set up the laptop and plug in the charger and the telephone line. Hence I still make use of Internet at school which sucks, because it’s TOO NOISY HERE.
Am waiting for wireless.
…that feeling, you know that tugs at your heart and refuses to let go?
That sneaks into your mind and refuses to leave, but
deeper and deeper it goes
Banishing all other thoughts
Going round and round in circles
Looking for an answer
but never finding one.
Missing someone(s) has never been so painful.
I’m at school now using the Internet because Internet at home STILL HAS NOT BEEN SET UP YET. BECAUSE THE HOME LINE HAS NOT BEEN SET UP YET! AND THE SHIPMENT HAS NOT ARRIVED YET. AND IT’S BEEN MORE THAN A MONTH SINCE I’VE ARRIVED!
And school blocks Facebook/Skype/Youtube, so, yeah.
More updates when there’s Internet at home.
Just sitting, waiting.
Last night, I dreamt of -you prolly guessed it- my ‘O’ Level results.
In my dream, I dreamt (meaning that I was sleeping in my dream, too) that I got 13 points for my L1R5. And I was also holding my laminated ‘O’ Level certificate.
In my dream dream, the certificate had the subjects printed out one by one, from the most difficult exam at the top all the way down to the least difficult exam, with the grades in a line on the right of the certificate. Higher Chinese was at the top and English came next, while Combined Humanities was at the bottom.
Apparently I managed to score an A2 for Higher Chinese…
…while I got an F9 for Combined Humanities. Which, according to the ranking list, was the easiest exam.
I remember that I got 2 As and Bs for everything else, except for the above-mentioned subject.
It’s only a dream, right? :/
Went to watch Twilight with my sister and brother today! A strange new experience, going out to the cinema with my siblings. Not unpleasant, though
I understood what the movie was about because I’d read the book. I don’t recommend watching it if you haven’t because you wouldn’t understand many things in the movie. I wish Bella (Kristen Stewart) had injected more emotion into her character because her face seemed glum throughout. Even in scenes such as when she was leaving her father’s house, when she had to shout at him, her face barely registered anything. Her voice is good at projecting emotion though, I’ll give her that. But I thought she sounded quite constipated at the scene in the ballet studio, screaming and writhing on the floor when she had her leg broken and arm bitten by James. I did like Robert Pattinson as Edward though. The colour of his contact lenses is beautiful.
I did like the fight scene during which James had his neck broken (and brutally too, by Alice).
I found Rosalie (Nikki Reed) a tad too bitchy for my liking, although I knew she was supposed to be unpleasant and unwelcoming towards Bella. And Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) was amusing throughout the movie because he looked like he was permanently in shock. It was funny to watch him.
One thing I don’t understand is why Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and his friends all have long black hair.
I didn’t like the part where Edward revealed his skin to sparkle in the sunlight. It was supposed to be set in a meadow! That was my favourite part in the book. To my dismay it was in a small cramped area in the forest. The ‘sparkling’ music they played when he exposed his skin made his sparkling skin more than fake. I was unable to appreciate it.
While I guess the movie was alright, I did feel that the vampires had faces too white. And that is especially obvious in the last scene, where Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) watches Edward and Bella slow-dancing at prom before turning around to descend the stairs. Her face was caked with make-up and she didn’t have that great a complexion either.
Don’t watch the movie if you haven’t read the book or did not like the book or do not like movies with typical lines of love stories (such as new girl catches attention of handsome vampire and they become a couple). Otherwise, perhaps you’ll enjoy it