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Saturday, August 6, 2011

10 Things I Miss about Sydney

I'm just so sorry I still can't keep myself thinking about how I miss Sydney. One of my favourite travel bloggers, Gaye of Pinay Travel Junkie, has been updating us of her Sydney side trips that I can't help but reminisce the times and places I've encountered myself when I was there.

On my way home - 1 week before Xmas of 2005

I love Philippines but there's just something about my stay in Sydney of almost a total of nine months, that has really captured my heart. Apart from the nice places I've been to there have been very notable differences in how they do things and stuff. When I travelled to Sydney some of the things may have been culture-shocking for me but some also got me into understanding why Philippines is like this and Australia is like that.

High Street, North Sydney

The view at Blue Mountains. It is blue.

I have travelled around Sydney and nearby areas such as North Sydney, Artarmon, Chatswood, Manly, Bondi and also as far as Blue Mountains. So my list would probably be limited to what I have discovered in those places. Thus, I can't be sure it's the same experience to other states such as Victoria and Queensland.

So anyway, here it goes.

1. Transportation

This has been one of the things I would probably miss.

Bus stop at Tamarama Beach

The New South Wales, the state where Sydney is included, has their scheduled buses and trains. Every bus stop carries a list of times about when the bus arrives. Sometimes these buses also carry the brochures. Additionally, their online transportation and planning site 131500 also carries the updated bus times. It's just nice that they have these very organised. One time, I got on a bus with a Sydney colleague who was actually being assigned to verify the correct timings of the bus. So they definitely work on ensuring they got the precise timings. Trains are also the same, although I would say they also get delayed, their monitoring of the train times are also precise. Their trains have intercity and inter state routes so there's another good option of travelling around.

Circular Quay ( Quay pronounced as 'Key')

View from the Circular Quay train station

They also have a good option to get around through ferries. I definitely love Circular Quay and riding the ferries. Hopping onto the eastern side by crossing the Sydney Harbour and enjoying the sights has definitely captured my heart.

They have good deals with regards to bus and train passes. During my stay, I normally take the weekly pass. It's an unlimited pass on bus, train and ferries to a specific zone and really a great deal especially if you move around the area often or on weekends.

I also liked the fact that during times that their train has maintenance schedules. Buses always take charge of the routes affected. And take note, these alternate buses run for free. That means, you can actually travel for free! There was also a time when free bus service goes around the city. I suppose that was when they are doing great efforts to boost tourism which is really quite a nice idea.

Well, I can go on about these, but so far those were the notable things.

2. Pedestrian lane and strict traffic rules

I would definitely commend how their people give high regard to pedestrians. One time I was crossing the pedestrian lane going to work. I wasn't even about to cross when a passing car already stopped and waited for me to cross the street. This hit me a bit because I know how in the Philippines, pedestrians would have to risk their lives crossing even on a 'Pedestrian Lane'. Cars would even honk at you!

I remember when one of my bosses visited and told us of how he had quite a hard time crossing the street. He know all too well that he should cross on the right lane but probably surprised that cars do not really stop.

They also do follow rules because they have cameras on the road. While travelling one time, a colleague drove me home and he almost thought something flashed after we crossed the street. I think we tried to beat the red light and the camera just flashed to take its photo! They are cautious because a number of traffic violation and their license will be suspended.

3. Parks, parks and lots of them

Though Sydney is quite a progressive city, I had figured out it's not just about tall buildings and stuff. There's a great number of parks in and around the city. They love sports like football and rugby so they definitely enjoy these outdoors and parks.

Picnic at Manly

Chilling at Bondi

Robertson Park

Waston Bay Park

The overflow at Sydney Olympic Park

Botanical Garden/Park

Nice fountain at Hyde Park

My favourite parks include Hyde Park. It has a nice fountain and a row of trees. It's next to St. Mary's Cathedral and the malls in the city so when I get tired of my shopping day, I would get something to eat and just sit in one of the benches and enjoy people watching.

I've been wishing we would have a nice park closer to our home here in the Philippines.

4. Trash and garbage collection

I don't know why but I just find it amusing that they have a nice way of collecting the garbage. Theirs is somewhat automatic. I'm not sure if I'd be able to describe it properly but when they collect the garbage there is only one man looking after it and it's also the driver of the garbage truck.

How does this happen? Well, the garbage bins are built in a way that the rear of the garbage truck has some mechanism to pick it up and turn it over to put in all the trash and after that, put it back down. The one manning the truck just have to push the bins to where it's originally placed. Can you imagine that?

5. Encouraging active volunteer-ism

I do find it really nice that most of them and even companies try to help out their communities or some worthwhile cause. During my stay I have encountered and heard of the Lights Off Australia, Australia's Biggest Morning Tea and Mo-vember being introduced and brought up in our AU office. This goes to show that companies are not only for keeping their financials healthy but also try and share that to their community.

I know this also happens here but I don't think it is given that much attention or support. Just my opinion.

6. Tissue in every rest room and hand driers that works too

Yes, even those public toilets have tissues, working driers (though I did encounter some defective ones) and hand wash. I just can't remember if there was any toilet I've been that didn't have tissue! It's so not Philippines...

7. Some groceries avoiding the use of plastic bags

Aldi is one. They do offer plastic bags but you have to pay for it. So whenever I go there I usually bring my own shopping bag. Most of the groceries also advise the use of the green bags...there's actually all sorts of colours that I got from Coles and Woolworths that I have collected during my stay. Red, blue, violet and pink if I remember. I think it's just nice and cool that they give high regard into doing steps to help out the environment and reducing the use of plastics.

8. Regards for commuting students, seniors, children and disabled

Commuting students, seniors and disabled are definitely given discounts. Sometimes, even the bus driver is the one telling you about the discount. I had this funny encounter one time when I got on the bus with another Filipino colleague as we are supposed to go to the mall. When we got on, we went to the driver to pay our fare. The driver smiled and confirmed if we are students! Haha Myself and my colleagues exchanged glances and returned the glance to the driver to say -- No! Imagine we could have passed as students on that day. And that wasn't even a school day. We aren't even wearing uniforms, duh!

I also liked that their buses are built to conform to disabled passengers and children strollers. There's some mechanism on their buses such that the other side can be lowered down and the wheel chair can actually get in! Plus there is always a reserved seat for them or for elderly.

9. Long walks

Because I love parks, I also enjoy the long walks. One time, I was so bored in my apartment I just went for a walk around my area in North Sydney. Even though I didn't know where I was heading, I just walked on and didn't mind. I discovered there was a nice little park across the street where people go on picnic and is next to  a small harbour great for sight seeing. I found nice row of houses on a certain street. And there was an art house somewhere as well. I wasn't that worried even if I walked alone. I don't know why but I just felt safe in that area. But of course I don't do it at night...

10. Laid back lifestyle

I loved their idea of working hard and playing hard and trying to make time for family, rest and relaxation. Not that we don't do it here. It's just that in Sydney, they do work as expected but they also set aside time to enjoy their hobbies, play sports, get into some activities and indulge into some relaxation. In some cases, I find that their life is also simpler. Imagine their malls actually close off the 5pm normally. Also, most of them engage in sports and active lifestyle.

Care to join a game of chess

IMAX Theatre at Darling Harbour

Mardi Gras Parade

Rugby Game at Aussie Stadium

Wooh! So that's it. Don't worry I may go on with this for a while, but I still love Philippines :)

Just some thoughts to think about and analyse some things between ours and theirs. It's not about belittling my humble country but actually thinking about what could be done on our part, on my part and being open to these ideas and possibilities that would somehow help our country and it's people; perhaps to inspire as well. If they can do it, why can't we?

Seriously, I'd be happy to have tissue papers in all our toilets especially public toilets! :)

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