20th May 2009 ~ Puffing Billy – Bridge Road
During the Philips Island Tour, we become friends with Mr and Mrs Smiley. We mentioned to them that we are going to Belgrave today to take the Puffy ride.
After some consideration, the ask whether they could join us. Well, I said no problem.
We met at Flinders Station at 0830hrs in order to catch the 0856hrs train to Belgrave. We bought day pass tickets and the train departs exactly on time. So far the trains I have taken, they all depart on time. Good job!
We asked each other what did we have for dinner after Phil had drop us off. We mentioned we have McDonald’s and KFC. Mr and Mrs Smiley immediately responded that we are rich. I told them we are aware of the steep price and replied for experience sake, it is ok though the steep price do indeed hurt us. Mr and Mrs Smiley says that they only have instant cup noodles to tide them through the night. I actually did try the instant cup noodles from Melbourne and I can say that to me, instant cup noodles is still a very Asian thing and we do make better instant noodles. The instant cup noodles that I bought from the supermarket just taste awful. However, when it comes to instant pizza, I believe the Aussies will do a better job.
This is a limited express train so instead of travelling towards Southern Cross Station like the one we took on Sunday, this train go the other direction towards Richmond. We were all seated in the wrong direction!
The train ride to Belgrave is smooth. We reach Belgrave on schedule and we quickly buy the Puffy train ride tickets and is scheduled to depart at around 1030hrs. The Puffy train ride is actually a steam train that travel across the Dandenong ranges. When we reach Belgrave, we can already feel the temperature has dropped by a few degrees.
When we board the train, we found that even adults can put their legs outside the train as the gap is pretty wide. We always thought that only children will be able to do it.
When the train is going to leave, we dangle our legs outside the train. For once, we felt like a child again. When the train passes by the road, we wave to the residents there and they wave to us back. It seems like a natural instinct to them! The train ride is cooling with the low temperature and I would say quite scenic. Before we reach the next stop Menzies Creek, our backside is already quite sore and we get seated to enjoy the rest of the journey.
We decide to drop off at Emerald Station where we do some shopping. Yes, we shop at the IGA supermarket and bought some stuff again. We also visited some of the shops there and we ended up buying chicken wings and some chips in a cafe for lunch. The chicken wings is quite nice and we take the food to the Emerald Station to eat while we wait for the train.
While we are at Emerald, we decided to go to Bridge Road for some shopping, if we can afford it. We took the Connex train to Richmond and was directed by the station staff there to walk to Bridge Road instead of taking a tram as it was only 100m away. Oh gosh, it was actually 1km away!
The weather is warmer in Bridge Road. We started from Punt Street and walk down towards Church Street. This street is well known shopping for factory outlets or clearance stock. As usual, even after the discounts, we still find the price too steep for us. In the end, we just bought we some sandals for the kids.
After all the walking, we took the Tram 75 back to the city. We never expect the distance between Bridge Road and Flinders Street to be so close. The trip took less than 10 mins. After we reach our destination, we say goodbye to Mr and Mrs Smiley and parted our ways.
We went back to the hotel to take a rest. We later walk to Queen Victoria Complex for a walk. We found they are selling for Nutella 750g for only AUD$5 each! Singapore is going for SGD$9.50! We bought 6 bottles without hesitation as the kids like it. Since it is the last night, we decided to indulge a bit. We bought a small tub of mango ice cream and a bottle of Coca Cola. I was told that Aussie Coke taste better. Later I found out that it actually taste the same as Singapore.
Remember the Asian food I talk about where you can stuff all the food you can within the small plate for AUD$7.50 in Chinatown? We went to give it a try. We stuff all the food we can into that small plate. The food is actually quite ok and their spicy tou fu is really hot!
After dinner, we went back to the hotel. We try the Weis Sorbet Mango ice cream and I can tell you, it really taste like heaven. It is so fresh and I bet I can never get such quality ice cream in Singapore.
We also called Skybus to arrange for a shuttle pickup tomorrow and you must call them the day before you depart.
21st May 2009 ~ City Tram, Tourist Shuttle Bus, Singapore
10 degrees with fog.
This is our last day in Melbourne. Initially we wanted to visit St. Kilda. In the end we decided to save some money and we took the free City Tram and Tourist Shuttle Bus. I actually enjoyed both of the rides but it is a pity that we have to give St. Kilda up.
This is the fifth breakfast we have in the hotel. I can tell you that the breakfast is the same menu throughout my stay. Hash brown, eggs, bake beans etc. I wonder why can’t they change the menu a bit daily and imagine they are charging AUD$16 per pax! Even a hotel in Bangkok can do better than them.
We approach the reception to confirm our request for late check out. I then further to request a late check out of 12pm and the hotel reluctantly agreed.
I can say that Victoria Hotel staff seems indifferent when treating their customers. Maybe they are already used to all the complains by the customer that they don’t feel a thing anymore. The TV channel selection is pathetic. They do not have any cable channels like BBC, Discovery Channel or HBO. Nothing. Breakfast is so mundane and I wonder why should I pay AUD
$16 per person for such a breakfast if it is not included in the price. During check out, the hotel wants to charge me AUD$16 for car park where the only transport tool that I bring it with me are my legs!
The saving grace for this hotel is the location and the housekeeping. I must say that the housekeeping department has done a good job and to my surprise, the staff attended to our room is actually a man.
We barely make it for the Skybus Shuttle Bus as we never expect the Tourist Shuttle tour to last 1.5 hrs. Furthermore, the Skybus Shuttle do not pick you up from the hotel. We are told to wait at Swanston Street and Little Collins Street. To make matter worse, we were told by the driver to wait further up Swanston Street and we have to carry 40kg of baggage with us.
The Shuttle Bus brings us to Southern Cross Station where we transfer to the Airport Bus.
Southern Cross Station
We reach Tullamarine Airport around 1515hrs where out flight is 1810hrs. So we are considered quite early. We walk around the airport and found that the souvenirs sold in the airport is pretty expensive. However, I must admit that the design is very much nicer than the ones in Victoria Market. Furthermore, the design available in the airport is not available in Victoria Market.
We had our early dinner in the airport. My wife ate McDonald’s and I got myself a Subway.
I would like to highlight one thing. After passing by the security before the immigration and before we reach the immigration, we saw an officer. If you are carry a bag especially those trolley bags, they will put it on a scale to weigh the bag and also to make sure the dimension of the bag is within regulations limit. They are very strict on this and I would advice you try not to think of any funny things to overcome this.
Within 2 hours, we are on our flight home and frankly speaking, I couldn’t wait to get home to be with my kids again.
Overall, Melbourne is a nice place to visit. However, it is more expensive then we thought. The people are generally friendly and polite. We are fortunate to have met some very nice people in Melbourne like Phil and Grace who have proved to be very valuable to the Melbourne tourism industry.
A good news is that we also spend within budget. In total, we spend S$2968 for air tickets, accommodation, tours and all expenses in Melbourne.
We have only good words for Melbourne. The city is clean and the people are friendly. I have fulfilled my dreams of 24 years and I am glad that Melbourne did not let me down.