Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dawn Chorus at Bondi Beach

Part of this year's Sydney Festival, Dawn Chorus is a series of concerts played at sunrise on some of Sydney's iconic beaches. Having missed the concerts at Balmoral Beach, Nielsen Park and Clifton Gardens, I don't want to miss out the last one at Bondi Beach. Concert starts at 5:30am, so that meant that I had to wake up around 4:30am, pick up WHQ at 5am, and got to site at 5:30am. At least that's the plan. By the time we turned to Bondi Road, the whole street is bumper-to-bumper. At Bondi Beach, not a single parking spot left. We had to drive like a few kilometers aways before we found a spot on the street. By the time we got to Bondi Beach, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs is on its last few songs. Still it's good exercise and the beach sunrise is just wonderful.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day 2009

Isn't that something. Today also happened to be Chinese New Year. Not only did my parents give me red packets with good luck money, WHQ's mom also gave me one. Not that I'm expecting one when I greeted her "Gong xi."

WHQ and I went to the city to join in the celebration. Passed through Martin Place on our way to Hyde Park. I was ready to start taking her pictures, but she declined my offer. We had a quick tour of the food stalls around Hyde Park and the vintage cars on display at the NRMA Motorfest, then walked down Macquarie Street. Entrance to Hyde Park Barracks used to be free on past Australia Days. Now, they're going half-price. Checked out The Mint, but nothing much to be seen. No wonder it's free entrance. Didn't join the Sydney Hospital tours anymore. Slipped into the Parliament House just in time. They close at 4pm, and the guys standing in line behind us were not allowed entry any more. Thought of going to St. Stephen's Uniting Church and catching one of the music performances, but they're also closed for the day.

Around 4:30pm we decided to head for Darling Harbour. Bought a couple of cupcakes from The Cupcake Bakery along the way. Started drizzling, so we got wet a bit. Took cover under the Pyrmont Bridge. A few brave souls at the Cockle Bay steps decided to sit out the rain. Spent the time by talking about some serious stuff. By 7pm, the SES boats and some government boats started coming in through the open bridge. That's our cue to go for dinner if we are to catch the fireworks on time.

Long queue at Pancake on the Rocks. I reckon the patrons inside are just sitting pretty and waiting for the rain to stop. Anyway, we got our seats about half an hour later. We were just finishing our chicken Caesar salad and Aussie breakfast (with extra sausages!) when we saw lights flashing and hear loud noises going off. Man, the fireworks spectacular has started without us. By the time we finished our dinner and paid our bill and ran out of the restaurant into the rains, the fireworks is finished. Caught about 10 seconds worth of the finale. Turns out the fireworks display is supposed to start around 8:50pm instead of 9pm as I originally thought. Ah, next year.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pre-CNY Lunch at Rhodes

At WHQ's mom's suggestion, both families met up at Rhodes Phoenix for a pre-CNY yum cha. As usual, I got to the restaurant late. Had to drop by Beamish Street to buy some fruits and siopao as gifts. Good thing I was not the last to arrive.

Walked around the mall for a while to digest the food what we ate. Back at WHQ's house, we spent a quiet afternoon checking out some online album printers. Then it's back home for CNY eve dinner with the family.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Went to Gladesville to visit Fotoexpression. Don't want to spend too much time checking out all available wedding photographers out there, so we're sort of going with Wiki and Ilona. Based on their works that we've seen so far, they're not too bad. Either their camera work is really good, or their Photoshop skills is. Hopefully both. Fotoexpression's basic package starts at $2,150. For that amount, you can a free engagement session a couple of months prior to the wedding date, so the photographer can get to know the couple. Then, you get a day's worth of photography service. From the bride's (or groom's) house to the church wedding to the location shoot to the reception. They'll assign you a photographer and an assistant from their photography team. If you insist on using their principal photographer, that'll cost you extra. You get digital copies of all pictures taken, in web resolution (700x450). If you want the full resolution, that'll cost $650 extra. If you want a hand-crafted wedding album with the photos nicely formatted and laid out, that'll cost $800 extra. Ah, nothing comes for free anymore.

After lunch, we went to Campsie for the unit's final inspection. Everything is pretty much the same. The owners remembered to put in the smoke detector we requested. Aside from a broken tile and a few dead cockroaches, nothing else seems out of place. Back at WHQ's place, we spent the rest of the day watching The Other Boleyn Girl.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Get Me to the Church on Time

WHQ is attending Mass from 9am to 10am, and we're supposed to have a chat with Father John afterward. I got delayed a bit. By the time I got to the church at 10:10am, WHQ and her mom has just about finished talking to him. Anyway, Father John took note of the wedding date, and said he'll talk to us soon. Went to Westfield Burwood to buy some dishes for lunch, then spent most of the day working on the layout and design and the text of the invitation. Afternoon, we went to Officeworks to buy a Canon Pixma MX310 to replace the defective Epson printer. (Print, scan, copy, and fax - what more can you ask for?) By the end of the day, we have a proper working invitation, complete with envelope.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Pamanhikan

WHQ and I have been engaged for nearly a month now. When her Mom came back from overseas, she "suggested" that me and my parents drop by for a visit. Uh-oh, I've been to WHQ's house lots of times, so I guess the visit is more for the parents. Do I hear "pamanhikan"?

Don't bother looking the word up in the dictionary because it's in Tagalog. It's a Filipino tradition (from the Spanish?) where the groom's family visits the bride's family to officially ask for her hand (and the person that goes with it) in marriage. I was really surprised when this was first mentioned because all along I thought just the engagement is enough. It's not like we had a formal engagement, but I did pop the question, and she said yes, and all the parents knew about this. On second thought, it's not a bad idea since the parent's haven't really met each other.

So what happens during a pamanhikan? Do I have to make the marriage proposal again? Should my dad talk to her parents? Should we bring along chickens and cows and offer them as gifts? Should I stay behind afterwards and mow their lawn? I really have no idea, but this is what we did. I, my parents and my brother (even number) set out to WHQ's house with a Michel's cake and some fruits. There, introductions were made and everybody sat down in the living room. There were some initial confusion as to who is supposed to serve the cake and tea to whom, but eventually, everybody had a share. The parents talked about "normal" topics about adjusting to life in Sydney, the weather, etc. Slowly, (or was it suddenly?), the topic shifted to the wedding date, church arrangements, where to have the reception, color motifs, etc. As it is already nearing lunchtime, we decided to continue the discussion over yum cha at the Crystal Seafood Restaurant.

And so ended the pamanhikan. Whew!

Not one to waste time, we pressed on to Parklea Markets after lunch to buy envelopes and stationery for the wedding invitation. Not an easy job, considering there are so many types and colors of envelopes and papers. Worse, WHQ can't decide whether to go for gold or green or purple or cream. Took her about an hour or so, but she managed to buy something.