I'm back, though of course I wish I could have stayed even longer!
We took it easy on Thursday and explored the hotel area and neighbouring casino. When the rest of the clan arrived on Friday, we went to Victoria market to look at clothes and foodstuffs. We also went to suburban shopping malls like Chadstone. We had our CNY eve dinner in Chinatown, where there were firecrackers being set off, and met my aunt's relatives there! What a small world.
We explored the bustling city centre, had oysters at David Jones, and spotted some celebrity tennis players in our hotels! Kim Clijsters was checking out on Friday morning. Two Aboriginal children spotted her and called her name. She picked up the younger child, a girl aged around two, and really seemed to enjoy being with the kids and letting other people snap pics of her. She didn't put on any airs, and I thought that was nice. Then she put the child down ... picked up her crutches and hobbled off to her car! It was then I remembered she had injured herself playing in the Australian Open.
The day the Bryan brothers won the men's doubles, we saw them going into a neighbouring hotel, carrying the trophy. One of the Bryans was still in his blue shirt!
To top it off, some of us also saw men's singles winner Roger Federer. I watched him give a live interview on TV the morning after he beat the heroic Marcos Baghdatis, and suspected he was standing in the lobby of the hotel next to ours. Sure enough, when we swung by minutes later to fetch my grandparents (who were staying in that hotel), they told us that Roger was still standing in their lobby, with bodyguards around him!
That being said, the mood in Melbourne was very pro-Baghdatis as Aussies like underdogs. I was hoping for an upset myself, though it was difficult to imagine beating Federer. We drove by a road that was lined with Greek restaurants and travel agencies. If the Cypriot had won, I think there'd be a mass celebration there. I also felt sorry for Justine Henin-Hardenne but glad that Amelie Mauresmo finally won a Grand Slam.
I played golf with my dad on CNY Sunday afternoon, when the sun came out after the drizzle. It was only A$18 for nine holes. However the greens were in a bad state, and the wet bunkers were like quicksand pits. I'm so glad I only had one ball fall into the bunker.
This chilly Monday morning, we drove to a trout farm to catch salmon. The weather was highly erratic - hot on Thursday and Friday, then raining and chilly for the rest of our stay. Because of the rain, a lot of soil eroded into the waters, making it murky and difficult to fish in. After the clan fished for an hour in vain, using rods, my aunt realised that a salmon fish had swum into the net she had left in the water! Survival of the fittest, or conversely, the death of the dumbest. Nobody else caught anything after that, so the keepers took out a big net and caught two more salmon fish for us.
If I have time, I'll put up video clips of how the fish were netted, killed and prepared. Fresh salmon sashimi is actually crunchy. However I felt a bit sick that we were eating something that was alive just an hour before that.
We also went wine-tasting and had a fab lunch at the winery. Will link to pics when everything's uploaded.
I didn't buy much at the shops - some tops, no pants, no new shoes. I did buy some CDs though. At JB Electronics in Chadstone, I picked up some CDs at bargain prices - Michael Jackson's no.1 hits for A$8.99 (down from an exorbitant A$26.99), two Crowded House CDs for $18.99 a bundle (they were also being sold separately for $17.99 each, which didn't make sense), a $11.99 Tears For Fears DVD containing videos of their 3 biggest hits (EWTRTW, Shout, Seeds of Love) but packaged like an old vinyl record. I also bought Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (A$8.99) and Oasis' Morning Glory (A$9.99). However, most other CDs in Australia seem to be much more expensive than in Singapore, even during sales, so you gotta keep your eyes peeled for good deals.
The flight back was uneventful, but we did get back an hour earlier than expected because of the winds. The plane was also fairly empty, and so was Changi airport. Hurrah. It's definitely a place I'd like to visit again.