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October 30, 2014

For the dead travel fast

Thought I'd do a Halloween-related post! I have always had a thing for vampire books - and before you jump to conclusions, this started before the Twilight era. Anyway, since I have a vampire section on my bookshelf, I figured this would be a good time of year to talk about it!

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker. Not pictured here as I've lent it to a friend, but this is one of my favourite books. It's full of cliches, but that's because it started all those cliches. It has such a good atmosphere and it's not hard to read.
  • Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu (part of In A Glass Darkly). This is the short story which actually influenced Dracula, and doesn't get enough credit. It's just so gothic and fun to read, and has a lady vampire as its focus.
  • The Vampire Chronicles books by Anne Rice. For some reason I used to really like her books, I guess they were the most famous series of vampire books for a while. Looking back, I don't know how I made it through them - they get really long-winded. My favourite is Queen of the Damned, which is the most readable one in my opinion.
  • The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein. I enjoyed this one, the main character is a 16 year old in an all-girl's boarding school, and the way it's written makes it quite relatable. I liked all the references to Dracula and Carmilla too.
  • Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. I bought this without ever having heard of it before because the premise was too good to pass up - a retelling of the Jack the Ripper murders, based on characters from Dracula and a whole load of other vampire novels. It's really fun if you've read a lot of the stories that are referenced.
  • Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman. Yeah... don't read this. It's terrible. No regrets buying it though - Sherlock Holmes and Dracula? I felt like it belonged on my shelf.
  • Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. Ending the list with some teen fiction. This series has a snarky, kick-ass heroine (I want Rose's ability for lightning-quick comebacks) and it's not an overly sappy or cheesy read (it got a bit too romantic for me at the end). It's better than it sounds, and much better than the covers make it look.
Anyone else into vampire books? Or just books on a particular topic?

October 28, 2014

Burger date

Yesterday I ended up at Chur Burger in Surry Hills for a spontaneous lunch date with my friend Deb (Hi Deb, if you're reading!). I'd only been here once before, when I did something out of the norm for me and got the fish burger - which was good, but I usually use the beef burger as a yardstick for how good a burger place is. I made up for it yesterday and gosh it was a good burger. I literally had sauce all over my face (I'm such an embarrassing dining companion). Deb got the chicken and said it was nice as well. Probably my new favourite burger in Sydney. The proximity of this place to Central Station is dangerous for my health, as is the fact that Gelato Messina (which we promptly went to afterwards) is in reasonable strolling distance (up a hill, which made us feel slightly better).

October 27, 2014

Blue Mountains

Last week, I went out to the countryside with a couple of friends. On the way, we drove through the Blue Mountains, and made a couple of scenic stops. I hadn't been here in years!

Wentworth Falls.

The Three Sisters, a famous rock formation.

Hassans Walls lookout in Lithgow, the highest lookout in the Blue Mountains.

According to my friend, the countryside here was unusually green after all the rainfall. Australian countryside is usually more of a yellowy, dried out green.

October 23, 2014

Sydney Tower

Or, the Sydney Tower Eye, as it was rebranded a few years ago, presumably along the lines of the London Eye (so unoriginal). Last weekend I went up to the viewing deck, which I haven't done since I was little - it's not really a thing locals do (I've never done Bridge Climb either). But I actually got a free ticket playing McDonald's Monopoly (don't judge me), so I thought I may as well cash it in.

The QVB from above.

You can see the Here, Now mural I posted about a few entries back.

I'd forgotten that the city centre and Eastern Suburbs is practically surrounded by water on three sides.

The shadow of the tower over Hyde Park and St Mary's Cathedral.

There weren't direct good views of the Harbour Bridge or Opera House because there are too many buildings in the way.

Never noticed the colour of this turquoise building before!

All in all I had so much fun taking photos! It's a little difficult because it's all enclosed by glass, so you get some reflections here and there. Seeing the view of a place from a high point is one of my favourite things to do when I visit a new place, and it was nice to see a different perspective of my own city. Sydney city is actually a lot smaller than what I always imagine in my mind - probably because I spend a lot of time on ineffective public transport, ha.

What's the best vantage point of where you live?

October 21, 2014

Midi, stripes

UNIQLO top / Topshop skirt / Dune boots.

I bought this skirt last year thinking that it would go with so many things in my wardrobe but I was wrong. It looks really matronly with my button-downs and just looks awkward with half my t-shirts. If I were handy with a sewing machine I'd put some pockets in and take it up above the knees but alas I am not, so this is me trying to make it work for the Night Noodle Markets last Sunday with my other breton top (which always gets thrown over for its navy-striped sister).

October 20, 2014

Night Noodle Markets

We hit up the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park tonight. This happens for about a fortnight every year as part of Good Food Month, and is supposed to emulate an "Asian hawker market" (I guess that's what all the supposedly "Asian" decorations were for). It's pretty overpriced and overcrowded - there are many cheaper places to get whatever kind of Asian food you're after - but you go for the novelty and atmosphere. We managed to snag a table but it was crowded, so it might be a good idea to bring a picnic blanket if you want to sit down.

I went for Korean BBQ tacos (tacos?!) from Poklol which were actually really good. I liked the beef, the pork was a bit too spicy. I also added two pieces of Korean fried chicken, which weren't very impressive (better fried chicken at Arisun!).

Thank YY for this very well composed picture of me gazing longingly at my tacos and chicken.

My dorky friends eating their tacos.

YY with her nasi goreng (there was nothing vegetarian at the Korean stall), dressed in all black with her black bowl. My camera was confused and it overexposed.

I got some curry puffs from Chinta Ria (I have a weakness for curry puffs, I've found). The pastry was really good.

Afterwards we went down to Hot Star in Liverpool St and split a giant piece of chicken, fried mushrooms, and sweet potato fries, and then finished off with churros at Oliver Brown.

So in terms of life news, I handed in my paper on Friday and then skipped town for the countryside for a couple of days to celebrate/unwind with some friends. Now that the research part of my year's over, I'm actually going to be busier because I'm starting class again and have a set timetable to follow (what do you mean I have to show up somewhere every day this week?). I'll see how I go!

October 16, 2014

Here, Now

This mural by Numskull went up over September for Art & About. I'd been looking at it from the bus stop for about a month, but today I finally bothered to cross the road for a good shot of it. You can read about it here.

Sydneysiders, how insane was that weather last night? We had a massive storm here, with flooding and cyclone strength winds. It snowed in the Blue Mountains where, last year this time, there had been raging bushfires. Lighting struck the Sydney Tower and blacked it out. I was sort of enjoying it, all cosied up in bed with a new book on my Kindle (Gone Girl), but it would have been terrible to be on the road or public transport. Hope everyone got through unscathed!

October 14, 2014

Click these & blog tweaks

So I did end up only doing two Click these posts until it fell by the wayside. Here's another one!

A random unrelated outfit photo from a few weeks back which never made it on the blog.

Click these For some reason, the urge to fix up my blog always hits when I'm supposed to be 100% focused on doing something else. I've finally worked out how to make my navigation sticky on scrolling (and now that I have, I'm thinking it might just look better starting at the top), and I've slightly updated my About page.

I've also made a travel destinations index because the tag was getting a bit unwieldy. I still can't believe I've travelled enough to have a travel category - when I posted about the first trip I took after I made this blog (Melbourne), I didn't bother making a travel tag because I thought I wouldn't be travelling much anyway. I am also looking forward to adding to it this summer ;)

October 10, 2014

How to get through the day

I'm not talking about how to get through a good day. I'm talking about one of those days that you've allocated to yourself to try and tackle the mountain of work you need to do. This is one for all my fellow uni students going into lockdown over assessment deadlines or stuvac for exams in the coming weeks.

I may have rearranged my mess to make it more photogenic. And that chocolate may have already been all gone...

1. Sleep in, but not. When you set your alarm the night before, set another one an hour earlier. That way, when you're cruelly wrenched out of dreamland in the morning, you still have another hour to either sleep or wallow in bed - because the bed is always more comfortable after your alarm has gone off.

2. Make sure you get up at a reasonable time. Reasonable time meaning that it shouldn't be lunchtime when you've finished making and eating breakfast, because that gives you an excuse to go straight onto making and eating lunch, and before you know it it's 3pm and you haven't done anything but eat.

3. Keep refuelling. Allow yourself unlimited cups of coffee or tea. I find that coffee gets me into the working mode, but I don't drink it if I'm already feeling worried about what I need to do, because I don't want to encourage my fight-or-flight response. I also ration myself an entire block of chocolate for the day, but maybe don't do this because I think it's given me two big zits on my face.

4. Schedule in a good lunch. This means you have something to look forward to during the course of the morning. Even if it's the kind of food you can order, pay for, and receive without getting out of the car. The process possibly involving eating most of your fries before you've made it back home.

5. Run away from your problems. It depends on your own circadian rhythms, but I find the "afternoon slump" is pretty common. At this point, I usually go for a run. That way, even if I've done zilch so far, I can feel like I've at least improved my cardiovascular system, you know?

6. End the day with you-time. Switch off from your extremely productive day by doing something else, e.g. catch up your favourite blogs (which obviously includes this one), write a blog post, read in bed, watch an episode of a TV show you like, swipe left a few times on a certain app to reject potential suitors...

N.B. Don't do this everyday. And if studying at home isn't working for you, I find a change in scenery helps.

October 6, 2014

Friday snaps

I haven't been up to much lately, but here's what I got up to on Friday night. We caught up to send Carrie off, as she's moving to Melbourne this week. It's begun. I expect to soon find myself all alone in Sydney.

Shamelessly repeating last week's outfit.

World Square from the stairs.

Usually, when we go to Taste of Shanghai, we order a bunch of dishes to share, so I never fully satisfy my pan-fried pork bun fix. This time I decided to be selfish and just got an entire serving for myself. Yes, I ate it all.

N2 Gelato afterwards, although it seems to be our go-to dessert place when we're around Chinatown, I'm still not convinced it's worth the line.

We headed down to Darling Quarter to hang out at the playground there.

The place was crawling with screaming children, so we just sat on a bench, ate McDonalds fries, and talked.

I'm going to be light on posts for the next two weeks, the paper I'm working on is really getting me down and the deadline is looming. I had to skip going to a chocolate festival in The Rocks today. A chocolate festival! *cries quietly*