Hello People! I'm back home after one of the most amazing vacations I have had - a a welcome break which began with high drama and then finally settled down to having an awesome experience much to everyone's relief.
The drama was courtesy heat exhaustion what with my touring the cane fields of India and then coming back to 45C heat in Delhi - I got completely dehydrated the day before I was to leave for Singapore en route to Australia. Blacked out, electrolytes low, had to get a saline drip and stay in hospital overnight....luckily (and I can't emphasise how lucky I feel) I was fine after that and also managed to change my tickets to a couple of days later (I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn't recover quickly or get to change the tickets!). So, spent a couple of days in Singapore at work and then joined hubby and daughter at the Singapore airport for our flight to Sydney.
We spent 4 days in Sydney (staying with one of my best friends who really made this trip that much more awesome for us), 3 days in Cairns and the last 3 days in Melbourne (again with some dear friends of ours). It was a relaxing holiday (what a relief we didn't do the package tours!) since we spent time going around and exploring the places at our own pace; the weather was just perfect -15 to 20C with bright sunshine and I was able to spend time with my friends and their families as well as catch up with some internet friends I have never met but known for a long time.
The best experience for me was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef (we went from Cairns)- there are no words to describe the rich tapestry of colours and textures in the big, blue ocean. The joy of having fish in myriad colours swim right through you, a sea turtle coming up close to you and the beautifully hued coral all around.
A close second was seeing the Penguins at Phillip Island (2 hours away from Melbourne) - these are Little Penguins (no more than a foot in height)who come out of the ocean at sunset and then waddle inland to find their burrows in the breeding season. I felt I was in the middle of a National Geographic episode as I saw these little wild animals walking right under my nose and giving us quizzical looks! Photography is not permitted so as not to disturb the penguins which are basically wild animals, but these are some of the kinds of scenes we saw.
Images courtesy: http://aphs.worldnomads.com/stowaway/1715/penguin7.jpg and http://www.2camels.com/images/festival-photos/phillip-island-penguin-parade-17.jpg
And while we waited the one hour for the penguins to emerge from the sea we got to see a lovely, lovely sunset framed by iridiscent colours - I don't even remember the last time I sat for an hour with no other distractions and just watched the sun go down.
Then there was the scenic sky rail tour of the Kuranda rainforest, hand feeding the kangaroos and wallabies at the Wildlife Park on Phillip Island and of course the Opera House in Sydney - all experiences which we will cherish for a long time to come.
Our almost-5 year old daughter was a complete trooper, accompanying us everywhere with nary a sigh! She was up with us at 7am everyday and lasted quite happily till about 9 30pm (she usually sleeps at 8pm) catching a nap in the car or train or bus or boat on the way. She ate everywhere we did - at foodcourts in malls, at seaside cafes, in China Town, on the Esplanade in Cairns and enjoyed it all - a budding foodie!
Which brings me to the food. We managed to try new things almost everywhere we went and really enjoyed the variety!. In Singapore I had some amazing Thai food at Clarke Quay (a waterfront area) while watching the pulsing night life of this city....and was taken out for lunch by my office colleagues on the two days to savour some authentic Oriental cuisine - the famous Singapore Chicken Rice and Japanese Ramen noodles.
In Australia, I particularly liked the seafood - especially the fried fish (I am not a fan of batter- fried-anything usually) at Doyle's in Watson's Bay - a lovely cafe overlooking the sea which was packed to the gills that Sunday because it was Mother's Day and lovely weather to boot! The local fish in Australia called Barramundi was amazing - grilled or baked. We had some great sushi at a food court along with some Vietnamese cold rolls which were oh-so-light and refreshing.
On a day trip to Entrance, 120km from Sydney (the Pelican feeding in the evening is a big draw and was much loved by my daughter), which is a nice place to picnic on the waterfront, we picknicked Aussie style - carried sausages and meat cuts and grilled them on the waterfront on the barbeque grills provided there and washed them down with some cold beer as we sat by the sea and watched the pelicans and other birds flocking around.
In Melbourne, we had a lovely lunch at one of the restaurants lining the promenade of the Yarra river after walking the stretch and browsing through the flea markets and smiling at the antics of the buskers - the pasta was incredibly good and the fish was fresh as ever, not to mention the divine tiramisu.
All in all - a great holiday and even now I have some vivid images which keep running through my mind and makes me smile as I go about my routine back in Delhi.