As some of you may or may not know, I spent a week or so down in Melbourne earlier this month. Generally, I do spend a few days in Melbourne every year to watch the Australian Open, catch up with friends and also see family. Will also be splitting this trip in half, so it's not such a long post with lots of text and pictures! This post will consist of the first three days.
So, on the 19th, we drove to the airport for our flight which I think was around 11:30am? So my brother who wasn't coming down to Melbourne ended up taking the car back, so we didn't need to book parking at the airport. Of course, while I was at the airport; I needed to have some Red Rooster. Shared a classic half with dad, then headed over to board on the great little Boeing 737! On the way there, ended up talking to the guy next to me; a Malaysian-Chinese man who had asked me about my Samsung Galaxy S4. Found out he worked for a company that builds props for Doctor Who; and he was on a connecting flight to London to meet with BBC. Cool stuff! I'm not a Whovian, though...
Got picked up by Aunt Dianne, on dad's side of the family; and she drove us to The Victoria Hotel, where we were staying for the next few days. We checked in, and walked about 500 metres to eat at one of my favourite budget chinese restaurants; Minh Xuong on Russell Street. They do great BBQ and roast meats! Afterwards, headed back to the hotel and watched the tennis for a bit; before I met up with Himmat at the corner of Bourke and Russell. He had just gone for a bike ride, and was ridiculously hungry. I recommended... Minh Xuong, of course; and he had lunch there while I rode his road bike around the city; before coming back and having a snack. We also agreed on trolling Daniel as much as possible on his Facebook.
|Himmat enjoying his lunch at Minh Xuong|
Walked to Brunetti, just off Flinder's Lane; where apparently, the blueberry cheesecake is to die for! Got lost on the way, but we weren't in a rush. Also found a piano there, which was part of an artwork, and sat down to play. A group of four girls came over and started dancing, the people in Melbourne are quite friendly, I find. Invited one to play with me, because apparently she knew the song; she declined but her friends yelled at her.
|Outside Brunetti, playing the piano.|
I needed to leave to go to Crowne Towers for a special dinner with my extended family; it was a $90 buffet at a very fancy place called The Conservatory. I bumped into those girls on the way and had a quick chat with them, all from Melbourne; except one girl who was from Germany. I exchanged the eight or so German words I knew in a random order; and got some laughter out of them all.
|Does that mean I can't use my hands here?|
The dinner was delicious, with an assortment of ridiculously fresh seafood, salads, roast meats, Chinese and Indian cuisines; with an amazing table for dessert. I had a solid amount of plates, and started to hate myself. The waiters were also extremely disciplined, constantly filling up our glasses (with some Moet & Chandon Rose, I might add); taking away plates almost instantly and if you ever left the table; they would fold your cloth back nicely. Finished the night by checking out the casino, before heading back to the hotel.
|Just two of the plates I had (of ten?)|
On the morning of the 20th, my family and I had tickets for the Australian Open, specifically a pass into Hisense Arena (which also includes a Ground Pass). My parents went first and stayed in Hisense Arena for the majority of the day. Met up with Himmat by a cafe near my hotel (which also had a piano). We decided to go to Rebel and get some tennis balls, so we could get some autographs from tennis players! I needed to get breakfast, so on our way to the tram, we stopped by KFC so I could get a snack box with wicked wings, delicious! We caught the free tram there, and I was planning to show Himmat around; since he only had a ground pass.
|For Daniel #1|
|For Daniel #2|
Walked to the board where they show the player's practice schedules, and realised the Ana Ivanovic was practising at the time, so we tried to get a good view. Didn't manage to get to the front, but by the time David Ferrer was on court, we had managed to get right to the front at the fence. We missed out on his autograph by just two people, lame! Immediately after David Ferrer finished, Novak Djokovic had gone on court and we were not planning to leave our spots.
At one point during his practice session, he mishit a ball, which flew into another court playing a proper tennis match; he had this 'oops' face; gold! He finished his practice session, and signed a lot of autographs for the crowd; including mine and Himmats! There was also a security guard, that Himmat pointed out, looked like Shane Warne on steroids. Met up with my parents real quick in Hisense Arena, where I got some food and then went back to the practice courts to wait for Roger Federer. We watched Sabine Ellerbrock (World Number 1 for Wheelchair Women's Singles) practice with her coach, and after their practice session; they pretty much just lobbed all their tennis balls into the crowd; that got everybody excited ! Afterwards, Roger Federer got on the court and it was awesome watching him, being that close. However, he broke my heart when he walked off without giving out any autographs; only leaving with a wave to the crowd.
|Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer|
|Autograph from Novak Djokovic|
Walked over to the next court and watched my cousin Brian Tran play his doubles match. It was the first round of the Australian Open Juniors; however, his team did lose to a very strong team. Went to a restaurant called 'Grass and Grain', and had some fancy steak with my parents. They tried to get Himmat to have some; but he declined, several times over.
|Brian Tran, my cousin!|
Managed to sneak Himmat into Hisense Arena afterwards, and watched Andy Murray play against Stephane Robert, which was very exciting to watch! Murray smashed a racquet after a hawk-eye decision, costing him the third set. We watched the start of the Federer vs Tsonga match at the Heineken Garden, before trying to find a more sheltered spot from the wind. We ended up on Show Court 3, watching a mixed doubles match with Daniela Hantuchova / Laender Pas vs Elena Vesnina / Mahesh Bhupathi; before going over to Margaret Court Arena and laughing our asses off watching Mansour Bahrami play. He has got to be one of my favourite 'legends' of tennis; just watch this video! He was playing with Cedric Pioline against Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.
|Andy Murray vs Stephane Robert|
We left after that, Himmat taking the train home; and my family and I going to Minh Xuong for a late night feed! Another bowl of roast duck noodle soup before returning home.
|Mansour Bahrami and Cedric Pioline|
Waited at our hotel for Uncle Ken to pick us up on the morning of the 21st, and I had also come across a beautiful Yamaha grand piano on the mezzanine level. I played that for a while before he arrived. He is definitely one of my favourite uncles, and we get along more as friends than family really. Grabbed some coffee at the cafe by the hotel before we headed off. We first went to Grandpa's house; but he wasn't home; so he let us take his car to go to Highpoint shopping centre; where I needed to visit the Samsung Store to get a replacement battery for my phone. Some batteries were faulty and mine was one of them; however, since I bought the phone overseas, I could not get a replacement. They didn't even have any replacement warranty batteries! I could buy one though, and I planned to sort out the warranty with Kogan; since I bought it through them.
My mum met up with her long time childhood friend (since primary school in Vietnam) and we visited their house which was about half an hour away; before going to have lunch with her husband as well in St Albans. Their house was absolutely ridiculous. It was massive, and beyond beautiful. They all had Bun Bo Hue, which was the restaurant's special and I had some Crispy Skin Chicken and Tomato Rice. We went back to Grandpa's house afterwards to visit; and to watch the rest of the Ferrer vs Berdych match.
We went back to the hotel before I went to go meet up with Himmat; who spent his day at the Australian Open, with a Rod Laver Arena pass; so he got to watch Li Na annihilate; Bouchard & Ivanovic play and also Ferrer and Berdych; great match ups! We walked around China Town, walking into Minh Xuong; but they no longer had crab, and we were adamant on getting some crab to annoy Daniel. We settled with Pacific BBQ, and had snow crab instead of mud crab, it was all they had.
Had it with the noodles, ginger and shallots; which was nice; but nowhere as good as the crab we had in Cabramatta. Afterwards, we went to Dessert Story, I got some Taro Milk Tea and Himmat was probably the only guy with a beard inside. Oh well, afterwards; headed over to Federation Square to watch an amazing tennis match with Novak Djokovic (who we were both going for) vs Stanislas Wawrinka. They had an amazing five-setter last year, and we were keen to watch some good tennis. We sat on the ground for the majority of the match, and had some random Asian guy high five and talk to me, when Djokovic won an important point.
|Massive TV at Federation Square, and a great view!|
Headed back to the hotel afterwards for a shower, and a great sleep. Part 2 soon!