Why I relocated my life from Canada to Taiwan and what you can learn from my experience Page 1

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur originally from Vancouver, Canada

Welcome to a series of posts where I’m going to share some of my experiences and what I’ve learned in my 4 months of living in Taiwan. Before we get started I’ll provide a little background and explain my reasons for relocating. You may be interested in this article if you are:

  • Interested in learning Chinese abroad
  • You are thinking of pursuing a working holiday and want to learn useful information on Taipei, Taiwan
  • Lifestyle redesign – You are tired of working a 9am to 5pm job and are curious if there is an alternative life you can create for yourself
  • You are a travel enthusiast and are curious about new travel experiences

Travel can be a life changing experience. My first trip to Europe led me to finally move out of my parents place in Vancouver, BC Canada at 29 years old and started me down a path of independence. 6 years and many trips later I sit in a cozy modern café near downtown Taipei listening to jazz music while I type this blog out.  Travel opens your eyes and mind to the way that other people on this planet live. Sometimes we get stuck in the world that we live in and we forget that there are alternatives to what we know.

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My trip to Europe in 2007 ignited my independence and opened my eyes

What I’ve found in the past two years of frequent travel is that visiting a place for 3 days to a week to visit and take pictures of tourist attractions was just scratching the surface. It was too rushed. It wasn’t as gratifying anymore. I felt that I was trying to cram everything in a short period to make the best use of the time.  I felt that that I wasn’t really getting to know the city like a local. When you are working as an employee you think of travel as a vacation. Perhaps a 5 day trip to take a break from the 9 to 5pm before returning with tons of pictures and stories to share with friends and colleagues. I think this is the most common travel experience.

What if there was something else?  Another way to experience travel other than visiting tourist attractions, hotels, tours and cramming in some parties for the weekend? What about relocating your life to learn the language of a foreign country for 3 months or longer? Perhaps you can even work a little and make some friends. If you’re interested to hear more then keep reading!

A little background

I arrived in Taoyuan airport Taipei on August 23 2013. To make my life a little easier I had arranged for a driver to take me to the apartment where I would be staying for a short while. I was driven to the suburb of Jingan in the district of Zhonghe, New Taipei City. The rain was coming down like a flood putting my electronic gear at risk. We pulled into an alley with older apartments and bar lined windows. We opened the metallic doors that led to a dark staircase. I was fortunate to have some help carrying my heaving luggage up those 5 flights of stairs. Finally we reached my apartment. I sank down on my bed and set my alarm for a short nap

The early days - my cozy Jingan apartment
The early days – My Jingan apartment for my first 3 months

It has been just over 3 months since I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan to study, live, and attempt to build a new life. I essentially traded a comfortable lifestyle in my home of Vancouver, BC Canada for some 2013 travel film adventures and this opportunity. I started off in Taipei with some suitcases, my dreams, a few contacts, and film content and gear.

Why Taiwan?

This is one of the most popular questions that I am asked by people in Taipei and there are many reasons for my decision.

I will list my reasons for selecting Taiwan and what I have actually experienced in my 3 months here.

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Registration for the school (MTC) I would be studying chinese

 

Learn Mandarin (chinese)

Chinese environment

This was the probably the most important reason for me coming here. It was a long-term goal I’ve had for myself. I’ve tried to tackle learning mandarin through classes in Vancouver, Rosetta stone, podcasts, and spending time with my Taiwanese friends. My progress was dismal and I got my butt kicked by Mandarin. I’m a self-motivated person, but If I was to tackle this challenging goal I wanted to go all in and give myself a better chance.  I’m sure there is more than one way to learn the language, but this is the path that I chose.

I also knew from my first visit that Taipei was predominantly a mandarin chinese-speaking city, which offered an opportunity to practice chinese daily.

I chose the local suburb of Jingan, Zhonghe for my first 3 months in Taiwan
I chose the local suburb of Jingan, Zhonghe for my first 3 months in Taiwan

My original plan was to live in a local area not to far away from school to force myself to interact with Chinese speaking locals.

Great school to learn Mandarin

Taipei was also home to the Mandarin Training Center run by the National Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Center. Wikipedia claims that MTC is one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished programs for Chinese as a second language. I had a friend that had lived and learned mandarin at the MTC better known locally as “Shida”, which is how I found out about the school

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An example of how the chinese environment would encourage one to learn chinese. It is common to not have an english menu at some restaurants in Taipei

 

  • Taiwanese friends and previous exposure to Taiwan and culture

    – One of my best friends Allen, is Taiwanese. We met in Vancouver and I eventually became more immersed in the Taiwanese culture there.  He had introduced me to some local friends of his, which would definitely help get my start in a new country.

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2011 Taipei trip. One of my best friends Allen (beside me) help introduce to me some of his local Taiwanese friends

 

Having some local friends has made Taipei a better experience
Having some local friends has made Taipei a better experience

Prior Visit

  • Prior Visit This is a continuation from the previous point. In January 2012 Allen invited friends and myself for his wedding in Taipei.  Prior to my visit I really didn’t know what Taiwan was like. I think this visit was influential to my decision and minimize the uncertainty I had about Taiwan. As I know not everyone will have this opportunity hopefully I can remove some of that uncertainty for you through my blog and I also shot a modern travel adventure documentary on Asia entitled ChicVoyage in Asia for sale.

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South Africa review 2013 – a tourist in my motherland

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur



Greg is a former corporate  IT Manager and Business Lead from Vancouver, BC in Canada inspired during his MBA program to take a risk and follow his heart and passions. He is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The next journey is currently in progress with a return to Asia where is currently living and studying Mandarin in Taiwan. His vision for his family of travel companies called Chicvoyagegroup is to “inspire the world to travel and explore”

As someone who was originally born in South Africa with local relatives, but who has spent more of their adult life being raised in Canada I plan to offer a unique perspective on my homeland.

After 2 months of filming and traveling in Hawaii and Australia I would have been happy with the video and pictures I had captured for the year. Fortunately shortly before I left for Australia I was invited to accompany my grandmother from Singapore to South Africa.  This would be a great opportunity to help my grandmother and revisit my home country at an age where I could appreciate it.

My last trip to South Africa was in 2001. I had spent time with my good family South African friends Leanne and Melissa while traveling through Australia. They had armed me with some inside information and suggested I turn on my South African accent to blend in with the locals.

South Africa Review

Good for

  • Weather – The weather is almost always perfect. Sunny and dry most of the time.
  • Value  – The South African currency is weak compared to Western currencies offering great value to Western visitors
  • Lifestyle – Capetown offers the best lifestyle being a scenic waterfront city with the beautiful mountain backdrop. Rent an apartment here and indulge in the wines of Stellenbosh, the cafe’s, and foods at great value.
  • Foods – South African’s have their own local specialties like Biltong, Marie biscuits, and great local wine like Nedeberg. You also have western foods like Shepherds pie, Cornish pastries, lasagna, spaghetti bolognese.

Cons

  • Safety concerns – Be careful in areas in Johannesburg especially at night. Capetown and Kruger National Park are safer.
  • Car City – South Africa still requires a car to get around

South Africa is a country that can offer a great lifestyle, weather, and value to visitors. There are some friendly down to earth people that I met while I this country. The tradeoff is the safety that comes with a huge gap between the poor and wealthy. Nelson Mandela has done much for this country and put South Africa on the map. I hope you enjoyed this original coverage of South Africa 2013, which I dedicate to my late Grand mother on my mother’s side who passed away days before I arrived on this trip. Thanks to my Dad’s mother (my Grand mother) for making this trip possible, my parents, my cousins in Pretoria & Sandton, my uncle Edmund, and family friends for their help during this trip. If you read down this far then wait until you see the video. I guarantee I’m going to show you something special!

 

South Africa review 2013
Capetown Table mountain

 

South Africa review 2013
The journey in South Africa 2013

 

A usable 10 day itinerary to South Africa

Day 1

  • check in at hotel near Sandton City, Johannesburg. The Radisson blu offers a convenient location
  • Have dinner at hotel or Sandton

Day 2

  • Have breakfast and coffee at Mugg and Bean at Sandton City
  • Take the Gautrain to Rosebank Mall and have lunch
  • Back to Sandton City for dinner

Day 3

  • Do a big bus tour to take you around Johannesburg

Day 4

  • Fly from Joburg to Neilspruit for Kruger National Park Safari
  • Self-drive to skukuza camp for 1 night

Day 5

  • Drive to Olifant Camp and sight see along the way
  • Stay at Olifant Camp and check in
  • Do a night safari

Day 6

  • Self drive to Sight see

Day 7

  • Drive to Neilspruit Airport from Kruger national Park
  • Fly out to Capetown from Kruger National Park

Day 8

  • Check in at the your accommodation. Suggestion for view of Table Mountain (Flatrock Apartments) or Airbnb

Day 9

  • Breakfast at the V & A Waterfront
  • Do the Robben Island Tour

Day 10

  • Visit Table Mountain to sight-see
  • Drive out to Stellenbosch to visit Wine country and do a wine-tasting

Day 11

  • Take a drive out to Camps Bay and Chapmans Peak to enjoy the beach and the scenery

Day 12

  • Flight back to Tambo airport in Joburg and home

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E-kindle Amazon book now Available

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ORUOXO8

This is a true travel adventure in South Africa that took place in 2013 that shares travel tips and nuggets as the story unfolds

Greg Hung goes on a special travel adventure to visit his family and film Johannesburg, Cape Town, and the Kruger National Park.

Greg offers a unique perspective having lived the first 10 years of his life in Johannesburg South Africa and having access to the local knowledge of local relatives.

Highlights of the book include:
-Sampling the Gautrain to visit Sandton City and even the Joburg Airport
– Living at a private apartment near Long street overlooking Table Mountain
– Visiting the wineries at Stellenbosch
– Making new friends on the Robben Island Tour and a night out on the town in Cape Town
– Visits to Sandton City, Rosebank, and Melrose Square
– A BMW drive through the ghetto of Hillbrow
– A stay at the Satara rest camp at the Kruger National Park, night safari, and photo hunting for African elephants, giraffes, and lions

 

The Great Barrier Reef – Cairns

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. He is currently studying Mandarin in Taiwan.

The Great Barrier Reef – Cairns

I landed in Australia on May 8th and now it was June 19th 2013. My Australian tour was finally coming to a close in the town of Cairns, Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef.  I had survived the super high prices of Australia, driving on the other side of the road, and the baggage delays of Jetstar airlines. Before arriving here I had seen the aerial shots of turquoise blue ocean with cays surrounded by coral. What was the experience actually like?

When I originally planned the trip I failed to recognize that it was winter in Cairns during late June. My airbnb host confirmed this was actually the best time to come as the weather is not too hot and not too wet.

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The weather in Cairns for the week of June 19th

 

I arrived in the airport and picked up my car rental. It was a nice hot day in the mid to high twenties and I used the google maps GPS to head straight towards my Airbnb private room. The location would be at a cozy space located a 10 minute drive from the town of Cairns. The pictures matched the Airbnb property and I found the keys and let myself in.  I would be sharing a private room from a local couple. I quickly brought my luggage in and immediately took a short nap. When I woke up I heard some conversation. I had a chance to meet the boyfriend. You come to the Great Barrier Reef for one main reason and that is to scuba dive or at least snorkel.  He gave me some ideas about planning my trip and I agreed it was best to go to town to do some investigation. He also suggested doing a road trip north up to Daintree to Cape Tribulation where rainforest meets the beach. Later on in the trip the couple left for Brisbane leaving with the house to myself. Airbnb is really based on trust, and Australia has plenty of it.

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My private room in my Cairns, Airbnb rental

The town of Cairns is very small and you will most likely end up on the main street called Esplanade. Not far from there is the Cairns park and promenade. It’s worth going for a walk on the promenade or to check out the people barbequing or sunbathing. Esplanade and surrounding area is lined with restaurants and a popular dive shop called Tusa. The other dive shops will be near the Pier or one of the main streets south of Esplanade so I recommend parking on Esplanade street and walking around. It’s worth visiting the tourist information office on Esplanade, but make sure you go to the official one.  Each dive shop offers a different experience, and I’m sure they are all good otherwise they wouldn’t be in business still . I had particular needs as I needed to film and wanted good customer service, knowledgeable staff, good equipment, transparency, a smaller boat, and fair prices. Tusa seemed to have larger boats and I had the impression I would be on a party boat full of backpackers.  After shopping around town, researching on trip advisor I decided to go with seastarcruises. They had a clear plan of where they planned to dive and snorkel. We would be snorkeling at Michaelmas Cay and I would be doing 2 scuba dives at the Hastings Reef, which I understood to be at the outer barrier reef.

Great barrier reef cairns
the boardwalk (promenade) at Cairns in the evening
Great barrier reef cairns
the boardwalk (promenade) at Cairns

 

Seasick tablets and preparation for filming underwater

I read on trip advisor that many people got sick on the way to their great barrier reef dives. I decided to get myself some seasick tablets near the local Woolworths. I also had to do some hunting around for the best solution to film underwater video at the Great Barrier Reef without a mega budget. I went around the town of Cairns to ask the experts. In short a dry bag for the SLR will not go deep enough and the SLR housing is too expensive and can only be purchased. I settled on using my go pro 3 with some modifications at the advice of one of the shop experts. Read my article if you want to learn more.

Great barrier reef cairns
My custom made pvc mount for filming underwater

The big dive

I packed the following things to bring on the boat. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I mean this was one of the major highlights of my entire Australia trip riding on a single day experience. Here was my packing list.

  • Trip-pod
  • 2 camera’s with fresh memory cards and batteries
  • towel
  • dry shorts, t-shirt, and underwear
  • sandals
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • Go pro and 2 batteries with extra memory card
  • Custom Go pro support
  • Banana
  • Cell phone
  • Coffee
  • a liter of bottled water

The dive starts first thing in the morning. I recommend skipping any ideas about going to the bar especially if you scuba diving. I walked to the pier and was immediately greet with a warm welcome and friendly staff.

Great barrier reef cairns
Looking for my boat at the Pier

I found a seat and we got an introduction to the staff and were on our way. I took my sea sick pill prior, but it wasn’t working and I began to feel sick. I was taken to the back of the boat and asked to chew on some ice and look at land apparently to give me a better sense of balance. There was a nice English girl that helped me through this, and sat with me the whole time I was sick. This small gesture meant a lot to me. Thanks

Great barrier reef cairns
our boat to fit 35 people

We arrived at michaelmas cay for our snorkel and the crew was nice enough to help transport my camera gear in a water proof container. We took a smaller motorized raft boat to the island and I took some photos before doing a snorkel. Most of the people in the group were beginners so I was able to keep pace with our group leader. The snorkel itself had some decent photo and video opportunities that you can see in the videos. The cay itself is roped off but there is a small part of the beach you can walk around and take pictures

Great barrier reef cairns
a view michaelmas-cay behind us as we snorkel
Great barrier reef cairns
snorkeling at michaelmas cay

Hastings Reef

There were a total of 4 people including myself on our dive group. This was great as smaller groups are better, and our dive master was nice and had great communication skills. He was also interested in my go pro filming attachment, and helped me film throughout the day. The dive itself was great. A lot of rich sea life near he the coral, the dive master took care of us, and I enjoyed diving off the raft navy seal style for the second dive. The entire experience was what I call 5 star. The staff were friendly and the equipment was good quality. I will refer you to the upcoming video.

Great barrier reef cairns
The great barrier reef. This is it

After the dives we headed back to shore and as these were my final dives for the trip I enjoyed a couple of beers and chatted with an American couple about their recent honeymoon to Kruger national park in South Africa. This conversation actually resulted in me planning a trip there.

Great barrier reef cairns
Our dive master shows us a sea cucumber
Great barrier reef cairns
my dive log

Cape Tribulation

I had a free day to do a road trip out of the city and decided to do it at Cape Tribulation. It was a long drive out of town and took me to the Daintree forest. I had to cross a crocodile infested river via a car ferry to the other side. Part of the drive was through forest and other parts are scenic and along the coast. The reward was finally making it to the Cape tribulation beach area. There is a scenic point where I was rewarded with a rare beach, mountain, and rain forest landscape. I took a few pictures and did my last video interview for the trip.

Great barrier reef cairns
A great ending to the Australia Tour at Cape Tribulation

Tip: If you just plan to dive and not take any road trips I recommend staying closer to the town of Cairns.

Wrap-up and some learned wisdom

The Australia tour was over, but the journey was just beginning. I know it’s cliché, but this was a great trip, and I was fortunate to capture some great stuff and some experiences that will last a lifetime. In order to survive in Australia this country taught me to be extremely frugal and to make the most of what I had. I avoided $5 starbucks coffees and chose local coffees for $3.50 that were even stronger and tastier. I eventually got a coffee travel french press and got a bag of coffee to save further. I stayed in airbnb places that had kitchens and shopped at woolworths for groceries. There are some excellent experiences that you don’t need to pay much for. Doing a hike at Sydney’s coastal walk or walking across the Harbour Bridge. You can still enjoy life a little. Australia offers great wine and the prices for their bottles were quite reasonable compared to other countries. Enjoying the local goods that a country can offer often will mean you will pay less for good quality.

The only thing that could have made improved this trip would be to have the right travel partner during the whole trip to share it with. On the positive side I was lucky to have some friends in Brisbane and Melbourne, and make some friends along the way. I learned that Meetups are one good way to meet people in a new city. Before the trip I had thoughts of relocating my life to this country and traveling as a full-time lifestyle.

I learned that although some of Australia’s destinations have a lot to offer my heart was taking me in a different direction for now. After traveling with my equipment I had removed any thought of traveling full-time as a lifestyle. I had sold all my possessions in Vancouver and put my life in 2 suitcases, a camera bag, and backpack. Although I had proved I had everything I needed to live in these bags I would need a base and a place in the world to call home for a while. I had traveled and lived almost exclusively in Airbnb properties with the local hosts. This was not hotel travel and this was not a hostel experience. It’s kind of like staying with some friendly room-mates that most likely enjoy travel in a local neighborhood. It was a major factor to help improve my experience as a solo traveler. Just when I thought this adventure could not be topped my upcoming journey ahead had a stop in Singapore for a couple of days before revisiting my homeland South Africa.

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5 days visiting Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, & the Gold Coast

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. He is currently studying Mandarin in Taiwan.

5 days visiting Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, & the Gold Coast

An aerial view of Brisbane

The price for going out on Friday night and my early morning flight meant I got almost no sleep heading to Brisbane. Fortunately I had a good family friend Leanne that picked me up from the airport and took me to where I was staying in South Bank. The space I chose for my stay would be a top floor euro style apartment in South Bank with a huge patio deck. The host of the apartment was cool, and my room opened up to a huge patio with a table and a view of the South bank. South bank is known as the entertainment district of Brisbane. It is quite central to attractions, transportation, and the CBD.

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A shot South Bank from the patio of my apartment

Sunshine Coast

sunshine coast

sunshine coast
The warmth of the sunshine coast beach nearing sunset is incredible

Leanne and I began our adventure traveling to the Sunshine Coast, a popular recommendation I received from Australian locals throughout my time in the country. We stopped by the town of Noosa an upscale area with expensive options to eat and shop. There are some reasonable options to eat if you can find the food court or a subway.  The main attraction was the beautiful beach and coastal walk and the of course the sunshine. The sunshine here is invigorating and amazing.

South Bank

Almost every day was a sunny 19 degrees Celsius in Brisbane, which was a major factor in a positive experience in this city especially during the winter. I walked to the South Bank area, which is an entertainment district close to the river. The lifestyle features a large path for walking, jogging and cycling by the river and plenty of places to sit, eat and relax.

south bank lifestyle
The south bank active lifestyle in brisbane
South Bank beach
The South Bank beach

The public transport is good with bike rentals in the city and a smart card system called a go card for trains, buses, and their boats. Their boats are a good form of fast transportation. They look like serious boats, and provide functional transportation along the river.

map of brisbane
a visual map of brisbane

getting around by boat in Brisbane

Tip: you can even return your go card after your visit for some money back

The city is noticeably smaller and less international than Melbourne and Sydney, but as a Chinese Canadian I felt welcome in the city at all times. The roads are narrow, hilly, and generally confusing if you drive outside of the city. We had a chance to venture into a Brisbane small upscale neighborhood called Paddington. At Paddington we went to visit the Java Cafe for a good lunch.

breakfast-brisbane
Brisbane breakfast at the Java cafe

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Gold Coast

gold-coast-beach

We went to visit the Gold Coast and stopped at Palm beach which had a wonderful beach with a view of the gold coast skyline. I didn’t spend that much time in the actual city of the Gold coast, but it looked heavily developed with many buildings that can be seen in the landscape.

A pleasant surprise was seeing the Palazo Versace hotel, which I was aware of prior to my trip but I forgot it was right here in the Gold Coast. We manage to get some photos inside without denting our wallets.

Palazzo Versace Australia
Inside Palazzo Versace Australia

My time in Brisbane was short. I think that this city’s weather, growing skyline, and nearby beaches and lifestyle have something compelling to offer. Time will tell where Brisbane is going, but my sense is that it is up and coming and deserves serious consideration to live for the sunny and laidback lifestyle. Thanks to my good friend Leanne for showing me around and helping out! There would be one more stop on the Australia tour. Next stop Cairns to experience the great Barrier Reef.

A sample itinerary in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast

recommended to hire a car

Day 1

  • Settle in and take a day trip out to the Sunshine Coast
  • Visit the area of Noosa for lunch
  • Walk along coastal walk to take pictures and visit the beach around sunset time
  • Dinner at the sunshine coast

Day 2

  • Visit the area of South Bank to take a walk along the promenade
  • Pick up a lunch near the street pool and have your lunch near there
  • Take a boat to visit the downtown area
  • Walk around the downtown area and take a boat back
  • Dinner at the West End neighborhood

Day 3

  • Visit Mt Cot-tha lookout to aerial pictures of Brisbane
  • Have lunch at Paddington’s Java Cafe
  • Take a drive out to the Gold Coast
  • At the Gold Coast visit Palm beach to walk along the beach
  • Have dinner at the Palm Beach club
  • Drive around the Gold Coast downtown area
  • Visit the Versace Hotel
versace-hotel-gold-coast
versace-hotel-gold-coast

 

 

Journey in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane

 

Adelaide Australia is a must do wine vacation

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Adelaide Australia is a must do wine vacation

I arrived in the city of Adelaide, also known as wine country. Before I booked my trip my research had revealed that many of the better-known Australian Wine brands are located in the Adelaide’s Barossa Valley. Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds, Peter Lehmann, Wolf Blass, Two Hands Wines, and Yalumba  are just some of the wineries available in the valley. What most people may not know is that Adelaide was ranked in the top 5 of the EIU’s most livable cities. When I have travel discussions that involve Australia it is very rare that Adelaide enters the discussion. It is the higher profile cities such as Sydney, Gold Coast, and Melbourne that often take the spotlight. I believe wine is something special that Australia has to offer the travel and Adelaide is the right Australian destination to explore that offering.

Adelaide is a smaller city than Sydney and Melbourne and requires that you rent a car especially if you are going to wine country. I also recommend getting a GPS or a sim card for your smart phone with Google maps.

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I was in need of some sleep as I woke up at 3am in Melbourne to catch this flight. I would be staying at a modern apartment that I found through airbnb with a pair of local girls. I reached the apartment with no issues and I received a warm welcome from my hosts. I was quickly shown to my room and was happy to see that it was nice, clean and spacious. I took a nap right away.

Adelaide Sunrise
The sunrise at Adelaide airport. A good start

Mount Lofty & Cleland Conservation Park

When I woke up I didn’t have much time to plan as the day was half way gone, but my hosts helped me plan an efficient schedule with the time I had left. It was midday and I didn’t have enough time to make it out to the wine country so I planned to get some aerial shots at mount lofty and see some koala’s, kangaroo’s at Cleland Conservation Park. Both locations were located nearby each other so I was actually able to visit both. In fact, I was able to visit Mount Lofty during the day and after sunset.

I pulled into the Mount Lofty parking area. As I didn’t want to pay for parking I parked on the side road where I saw other cars parked. I walked to the viewpoint and took some shots. It’s a good viewpoint and attracted many people.

Mount Lofty
A view from Mount Lofty during Sunset

The highlight of this day was Cleland Conservation Park. I paid for my ticket and headed straight for the star of this park, which was the Koala.

Tip: You will meet many kangaroo’s that are not shy of people, but there is only a limited time to see the koalas so see them first. I had heard that koala’s can sleep somewhere around 21-22 hours in a day so if you have a chance to see a koala awake its a precious moment.

I had a chance to take a picture with a koala and pet him and ask some questions of his caretaker.

Cleland national park
Picture time with a rare lighter coated kangeroo

There were even more koala’s nearby the viewing area that I took pictures of. You’ll get your koala fix at this park for sure.

After the koala’s I had some time so I planned to see the dingoes, wombats, and more kangaroos and some other animals long the way. The park provided me with a good visual map and it was easy enough to get around the park. It’s huge and I doubt you will be disappointed. I stayed right until sunset and then headed back to Mount Lofty for some sunset shots. I was satisfied with how I salvaged the day.

Up close with a koala. This could be you.

tip: expect to spend your first day settling into your destination and planning it out if you can. If you can squeeze a few things on the itinerary that’s great, but if you plan a compressed trip with everything crammed into 2-3 days you’re setting yourself up for a poor experience.

lanzou-beef-noodles
lanzou-beef-noodles in Adelaide!

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It was a long day and I wanted to eat out tonight even though I had access to a kitchen. I went to Gouger Street, which is in downtown Adelaide, but the area had a town feel to it. Here you will find a cluster of mainly Asian restaurants offering good food at good prices. I went to a shop called the noodle kingdom and ordered a $10 Lanzhou Beef Noodle soup. I was pleasantly surprised to find this dish, as something like this in large asian city like Vancouver still requires some hunting. It was actually good quality

Day 2-3 – The Barossa Valley

This italian cafe is a perfect stop before hitting up wine country. $5 fresh panini's

I picked up a couple of fresh $5 Panini’s and refreshments before embarking on my wine trip. I elected to drive myself for more flexibility and time to film. I had no problem finding my first winery called Yalumba. Yalumba enjoys good brand recognition in Vancouver and I was very pleased that they were willing to co-operate with my filming request of the wine tasting experience. I will leave it to the video to showcase it. Yalumba provided plenty of time, water, and even a fresh coffee.

I took some time to rest and eat my Panini’s before heading out to my next destination called Wolf Blass. You will find Wolf Blass on most of the shelves worldwide. They were just about closing, but I had a chance to do a rushed tasting before ending the day.

wolf-blass-hq
Wolf Blass Headquarters

I decided to return to Gouger St. to try a busy Sushi restaurant called Sushi train. It featured the conveyer belt, which is good way to preview the real life dishes, which I then order a la carte at the same price. The quality was good. I called it a night.

The next day I repeated the same routine and decided to visit Penfolds. I was treated to a very educational and enjoyable wine tasting experience here from a knowledgeable woman. My next stop was a recommendation from my host called Chateau Dorrien. From there I got a referral to visit a local popular restaurant/wine tasting spot called Maggie beer. My last stop was a unique winery called the Rockford. Check out the video for highlights of the experience.

Rockford Wineries
Rockford has a feel of a boutique winery that has an original decor and exceptional wines. Recommended by the local wineries in Barossa.

Overall, all the wineries were very friendly and offered free quality wine tastings. You are not pressured into buying anything, but if you do the prices you get here are a good deal with some wines they sell not available on the local bottle store shelves. I got a good wine education. Thanks to all the Barossa Valley’ wineries for their co-operation.

Day 4 – McLaren Vale – An education on Shiraz

McLaren Vale is a region south of Adelaide known for specializing in Shiraz variety of red wine. There wasn’t as much information available for me to plan my visit so I decided to head there and play it by ear. I came across a familiar winery in Stump Hill Shiraz and decided to pay a visit. I drove in the driveway for Stump Hill and heard a loud dog barking. This place did not look inviting and I could not see an entrance to any winery. It looked like a private house and I felt I was intruding and quickly left to get some information from the visitor center.

I managed to get a map and plenty of help from the visitor’s center. They were reluctant to recommend any particular wineries although I managed to persuade them to highlight some wineries that included a strong recommendation for Squid Ink Shiraz, which isn’t really on the map. I hope this map I’m posting helps you and I also want to point out that there is a Mclaren Vale app. I didn’t have a chance to use it, but if you do please share your feedback.

Mclaren Vale Wine Map

 

Mclaren Vale App

My first stop was squid ink. It was a small winery with a small office feel, but I was quickly greeted by a lady that introduced me to the manager that personally and patiently took me through their product lineup. I tasted one of the best Shiraz wines I’ve ever had. Check the video to see which one it was.

 

I also managed to visit the Woodstock estate and had an excellent experience with the lady being very generous taking me through the entire menu. I had to take a Panini break after this tasting. When I was ready to resume my tasting I decided to visit a unique winery called Chapel Hill, which was based in a former church. It was a beautiful setting and a rainbow had formed just before I arrived hopefully signaling that I had arrived at the pot of gold. A man greeted me and although it was almost closing time he took me through most of the menu and shared some good knowledge of the wines.

squid-ink-shiraz- mclaren vale

I missed Rosemount Wineries, which I was really looking forward to. I had no regrets as both Barossa and Mclaren Vale had treated me very well.

Tip: If you like a wine in any of these valley’s buy it while you are there.

Final day – visiting town and night out with my hosts

On my last day I decided to give myself a bit of a break and just visit the town of Adelaide. I took up a mini mission to get to Rundle Mall and took some shots in town. Some notable areas I visited were the Botanical Gardens and the National Wine Center, which are next door to each other. I didn’t really enjoy the Botanical gardens although some people might. The wine center didn’t offer any free tastings, but had some photo friendly educational exhibits upstairs. I would recommend your time would be better spent in town if it is limited. The town of Adelaide feels like a large town rather than a city, but check out the video to make your own judgement.

girls-of-adelaide
local Adelaide girls we met at Bath

At night I decided to cook dinner at home. After speaking with my hosts we agreed to head out for some drinks, as it was a Friday night. They took me to the area of Norwood to the Bath lounge which featured live music, a bar, and some seating in a modern atmosphere. One of the hosts bumped into her local friends and we ended up taking some photos. I had an early morning flight so we decided to head home after a couple of beers (after all that wine a beer was nice).

Final thoughts

I had a great time in Adelaide! The big draw is the wine country at Barossa Valley and Mclaren Vale. I consider myself a moderate wine enthusiast, which means I’m a bit more knowledgeable than the average person and enjoy all kinds of wine types from time to time. Any wine enthusiast or someone that enjoys wine and wants to learn more must definitely make the trip out here to experience the wine tasting and education you will get. So far I’ve found it incomparable to any wine country I’ve been to such as the Kelowna’s Okanagan valley, Nappa Valley, and Capetown’s Stellenbosch. In addition to the popular Australian brands I managed to find some smaller wineries in both valleys such as Rockford and Squid Ink that offered exceptional wines.

A key draw are the free tastings for some very high quality wines and friendly and welcoming staff. If you are planning to drink lots you might want to take a tour otherwise if you have a designated driver you can take advantage of a more personal experience.

A bonus for me was getting to see the koalas and kangaroo’s up close at Cleland national park. Out of all the destinations I visited in Australia this was the best spot for visiting them and getting the best photo opportunities. I made a good decision to stay with these friendly and knowledgeable locals on airbnb and renting a car. I’ve come to the conclusion that your experience is in great part shaped by your decisions on where you stay, spend your time, and who you spend it with. The destination will still offer what i can, but you have these things under your control so take the time to make some good decisions.

If you would really like to see an Adelaide video. Share how much you want it by commenting or sharing on social media. I have plenty of great content, but it takes a tone of time to produce a good video.  So show me some love.

Downtown Adelaide - rondle-st
Downtown Adelaide - rondle-st

Sample itinerary

Some spots I visited during my Adelaide trip

Day 1

Cleland National Park to see the animals
Photos at the Mount Loft Sunset
Asian Dinner at Gouger Street

Day 2 – 3
Barossa Valley for wine tasting and perhaps even dinner

The wine tasting at Maggie's
The wine tasting at Maggie's Barossa Valley

Day 4
Maclaren Vale to sample the shiraz

Day 5
Botanical Gardens
Visit Penfolds in town
Check out Rundle Street for some lunch or shopping
Drinks at the Bath hotel in Norwood

Melbourne: 14 days in the most livable city in the world

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Before heading to Melbourne I had just left Auckland New Zealand with my suitcases, camera gear, and dreams to experience Melbourne.
My plan was to spend 14 days living like a local in Melbourne, filming, and asking whether Melbourne really is the most livable city in the world? First I would live with Airbnb locals getting a taste for the lifestyle in the South Bank area and then going on to explore sights, sounds, and tastes of downtown Melbourne. Exploring the grafitti alleys of Hosier lane, sampling pour over coffee at Market Lane, or enjoying a glass of wine at a local Jazz and wine bar.

I met a  family friend Melissa and we would visit the colorful houses of Brighton beach and taste some of the best pies at Skyhigh Mount Dandenong. I visited Victoria market and the infamous Rod Laver stadium, home of the Australian Open.

A trip to Melbourne would be incomplete without exploring the coast on the Great ocean road tour for a day long road trip seeing koala’s and sights like the twelve apostles.

I think travel guides with dry information is boring. You can just head over to the travel wiki for text information. If you want to follow my personal adventure and learn about Melbourne in a more interesting way through my story then you’ll want to click here or on the picture for by e-book on Amazon.

In the book you can expect

– My real personal story and experiences in Melbourne
– Travel tips like where to get the best pies or which is the best wine jazz bar in town
– A new feature I’m introducing with this book. Twitter posts I made during the actual trip that capture the detail and mood to precise detail
– Useful links or addresses of the places I visited at the end of the book
– A live google map with the places I visited

CLICK HERE FOR THE MELBOURNE EBOOK

www.amazon.com/dp/B00O8ZISWU

MELBOURNE-1
Melbourne – 14 days in the most livable city in the world? The Amazon Kindle ebook now available
melbourne most livable city

 

melbourne most livable city

Favorite Melbourne experiences

  • Hanging out at Federation Square on a nice day
  • Walking through South Bank and enjoying the patio
  • Enjoying live Jazz at the Transit Cocktail lounge and Federation Square
  • Sampling the coffee houses
  • Brunch at Manchester Press
  • Enjoy a sunset at Brighton beach

4 day usable itinerary

Day 1

  • Start your day off by visiting a Patricia Coffee Brewers
  • Visit federation square and take some photos and visit the tourist information center  to book a great ocean road tour
  • Walk down South Bank and sample the patio dining experience
  • Go up to the Eureka Tower accessed on South Bank
  • Enjoy the fire show at South bank in the evening

Day 2

  • Visit Croft Alley in Chinatown
  • Try out a Wagyu Burger at trump
  • Visit the Victoria market for produce and coffee
  • Have a drink at the Transit cocktail lounge at Federation Square

Day 3

  • Visit St. Kilda Beach
  • Have lunch at Fitzroy
  • Visit Brighton beach to catch a sunset
  • Dinner at Swanson street

Day 4

  • The Great Ocean Road Tour
Melbourne - places visited
Melbourne – places visited

 To help you out here is a Google map with these locations mapped out

 

 

 

 

5 days in Auckland living with locals: A 2nd visit


Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

in Auckland living with locals
The Te Atatu Peninsula waterfront enjoys a breath taking view of Aucklands skyline

Return to Auckland – A rough start

I made the mistake during my 13 day 2011 New Zealand trip of not visiting Australia while I was in this part of the world. I learned from my mistake and scheduled a 5 day trip to Auckland, New Zealand, which is about a 3-4 hour flight from Sydney Australia. In this part of the world you may find that Jetstar airlines has the cheapest flights within Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately they are stingy with their baggage allowance, they loose luggage, and sometimes your flight schedule is limited to early morning 6am or late night 11pm flights. On this flight Jetstar lost my checked luggage and it was past midnight in Auckland. Auckland is very much a car city especially if you want to get out of the city and see some of the natural sights that New Zealand has to offer. I made it past customs just in time to purchase a 3g sim card for my iphone from telecom nz for $25. I think it covered 500mb, but it was sufficient for my data research, email, and google map gps needs. My host suggested Apex car rentals, which ended up being cheaper than options going through kayak. My iphone batteries ran out and I was forced to take a picture of the google map directions on my ipad before it died. I made it to the property around 3:20am.

tip: if you are using your smartphone for google map gps be sure to bring a phone charger for the car

tip: give yourself some time to get used to driving on the left hand side and the controls

5 days in Auckland
The auckland gps trail for this trip

 

Want more Auckland coverage of the North and South Island?

I’ve recently released an E-book on my entire 23 day experience in New Zealand on the Amazon Kindle store

Check it out by clicking the image

new zealand book
Book cover for the ebook documenting my 23 day travel adventure
Next Stop: Melbourne, Australia: The most livable city in the world?

 

 

 

22 days living like a local in Sydney: The journey begins

By Greg Hung Aug 27 2013

updated May 7 2014


Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer,  & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013  journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

22 days living like a local in Sydney: The journey begins

A several months of planning, anticipation and talking about Australia it was now actually going to happen.

The first order of business was to get set up on a cell phone sim card for a local number in Australia with internet access. I ended up selecting a sim card provided by Yes Optus for $30 for 30 days of high speed access on a 3G network, which is fast enough for youtube, google maps, facebook, and surfing the internet. Vodaphone is a familiar name, but even the employees said that their coverage would be poor in some of the other Australia cities I was going to.

As I have basically sold all my major possessions and savings to make this trip Ive been more frugal than I normally am. As such I’ve been avoiding some luxuries such as cabs and limiting expensive dining out. It takes discipline after having enjoyed these comforts already while working at a good full-time job.

Sydney public transport and helpful Australia

I hate transfers from airport to your place of accommodation in most destinations. If I had the resources I would make this experience better. You should be able to get off the plane and after customs walk directly to your transportation that will take you where you are staying. It’s not rocket science. Back to Sydney so I missed the Eastern shuttle from the airport to Bondi beach area, and now I had my first experience with the Sydney public transportation system. Compared to Singapore, Taipei, and Vancouver I found the system confusing. Many square grids and colored lines and many interconnecting trains with dangerous gaps between the train and the platform. I was surprised that the train itself wasn’t exactly in tip top condition.

On the bright side I had a working cell phone and an Airbnb host to guide me as well as some friendly Australian locals. I asked a local girl at Bondi junction which bus I needed to take and she escorted me right to my bus and helped me with my luggage. I can tell you 18 days into my trip that local Sydney Australians are probably among the most friendly and helpful people that I’ve met. As a Canadian I have taken this friendliness for granted.

The Bondi Crib

living like a local in sydney
The Bondi Crib – A surfing themed cave with custom sandstone work with full kitchen, wifi, and local coffee shop across the street

As I monitored the blue dot on my Google maps I arrived at the stop at Dorcas street. My host John introduced me to the apartment and the area. This was my first private apartment suite from Airbnb. The spot was an original with the custom sandstone and surf inspired theme. The apartment had everything I needed from wifi, full kitchen, condiments, couch, ping pong table, and washer and dryer. John even provided wetsuit, surf and snorkel gear, which is a value add in my books. This would be a perfect space for a couple of people to enjoy a Bondi surfing retreat for a week.

Shocking prices

living like a local in sydney
a sample menu of the opera bar drink list. See if you can read it

As soon as I unpacked I made a stop to the local owned Chinese grocery store. I picked up some pasta, some veggies, pasta sauce, milk, and a small bread and the bill came to almost $30. I use a small cup of coffee  from Starbucks as a baseline between prices in Vancouver and Sydney. A small coffee in Vancouver goes for about $2. A small coffee at a Sydney Starbucks is $5!, but if you find a local spot (which most are better) the cheapest you will find is $3.50. Good cheap food will go for $10-13. Now I really appreciate the good prices we have in Vancouver. If I was going to survive 2 months Australia I was going to have to be in super frugal mode.  This meant shopping for local groceries, taking public transport, and basically questioning every expenditure while still trying to have a decent time. Sounds challenging?  Well I was still able to enjoy a local Australian Porterhouse  steak dinner by getting two steak cuts for about $8-9 by picking it up from Woolworths (where the locals shop for good priced quality groceries).

living like a local in sydney
Enjoying a good steak and not breaking the bank in Sydney

The Bondi lifestyle

living like a local in sydney
Bondi beach lives up to the hype

Bondi is well regarded by locals and from what I’ve read one of the most popular beaches in the world. I will vouch for that. I have seen some of the better beaches in the world from Turks and Caicos, Cancun, Maui and Honolulu. In my opinion Bondi is one of the best beaches because the sand is nice, it is large and spacious (unlike Honolulu), offers free Wifi, is clean, relatively clear water, and it has real waves. Big waves. There is a strong surfing culture. There were large groups of surfers in wetsuits riding waves and even chatted to a couple in the water. I bumped into several on my walk to the beach on their way out or on the way back. You don’t have to go that far out from the beach to catch some good waves. The north side of Bondi has tamer waves that are more beginner friendly while the side closer to Bondi Iceberg is closer to the rocks in the picture with rougher.  The waves are very powerful and it’s hard to get far from the shore. I didn’t find this at Honolulu.

tip: use a longer board. 7 foot or longer if you are a beginner. wear a wetsuit as salt water will burn against your stomach and the board.

Bondi is among several other beaches along a seawall path that leads to other beaches such as Bronte, and Tamamara. Each beach has it’s own vibe and characteristics. The locals here come out to walk,tan or jog along this path and at Bondi beach as part of their daily lifestlyle.

There are plenty of shops in the town of Bondi to have a drink and eat. I walked into town on a weekend night in Bondi to get a feel for the nightlife. It felt like a different vibe during the day with a lot of wild young people spilling outside of bars and young people loitering on the street. I enjoy my nightlife, but for some reason this didn’t feel like my scene or that welcoming.

I read much about Bondi Iceberg and felt that I had to at least check it out while I was staying in the area. The camera operator that I hired told me that the Bondi Iceberg club was a bit snooty and I had to arrange a filming with them beforehand. Later during my stay I came there for a drink and found that it was not pretentious as I thought it would be. They just asked for my drivers license and you’re free to order a drink and enjoy it on the patio along with some of the views of Bondi beach. In fact the prices of their beer and wine are very good. I sampled some other spots in Bondi like the Bucketlist bar for a beer and the surf shop for a deep fried Mars Bar. The Bondi Iceberg pool is something I didn’t try. It is not heated and I think the appeal of it for the locals is the heritage and the branding associated with the club.

There are many well located waterfront properties along the beach. I would love to have a vacation home here with the proximity to a world class beach, good year round weather, and it’s just about 25 minutes away from the Sydney CBD. to top it off there are many great adjacent beaches if you walk along the beach path known as the coastal walk.

Celebrating my birthday in the Sydney CBD

I found an excellent and attractive masseuse at Bondi iceberg, and treated myself to one with her to start out my birthday in Sydney. My masseuse had suggested checking out Watsons Bay. I made a mental note. Sydney is a huge area. Good thing my next Airbnb host offered to pick me up from my place at Bondi. I based myself in the neighborhood of Surrey Hills using Airbnb, a good neighborhood located a short 10 minutes walk to the CBD area. I started by exploring on foot to get familiar with the streets and my surroundings. I started by doing some grocery shopping at the local IGA. I had never once experienced a birthday in a city where I knew just about no one. I felt that I had to at least have a drink and attempt to make some friends. I quickly search the meetup site and found an informal entrepreneur event where beers were allowed. I walked and navigated myself using Google maps and asking people directions. At the event I had a good chat, drank some beer, and exchanged some business cards. Like some meetups in Vancouver this one felt like a superficial crowd and didn’t feel like I made many genuine connections with exception with one couple from New Zealand. I reached a point where I was ready to leave and try to see Iron Man 3 by myself. I found the main movie theater on George street and was not allowed in the movie theater because I brought my SLR camera. I decided not to risk leaving it with their office and sadly headed home.

living like a local in sydney
Celebrating my 35th birthday at a Thai restaurant with a new friend in Sydney

I walked down Elizabeth street checking out the various asian restaurants. The Mcdonalds cheeseburger meal wasn’t going to suffice as dinner after all it was my birthday. I was reading the menu of a Thai restaurant when I bumped into the New Zealand couple from the meetup that were doing their Avatar conference just up the road. They kindly offered to invite me for dinner at this restaurant. We had a good conversation and the couple suggested that I visit an area called New Town while in Sydney. Funny how things worked out that night. There are some good people in this world. I hope you’re reading this. Thank you.

Tip: It’s a good idea to get familiar with your local area on foot or on bike.

Surrey Hills & the Nightlife

living like a local in sydney
A taste of the Friday night Sydney nightlife in the Surrey Hills district H-Bar

Located just south of the main attractions Surrey Hills is a suburb lined with character homes with unique second floor terraces and cafe’s. It is a safe neighborhood during the day, but at night especially during the weekend I found much of the nightlife crowd makes their way through this area during the weekend. I did reserve a Friday night to sample some nightlife just a 4 minute walk away from my place. First stop was the H bar, which appeared to be a happening spot for a drink on a Friday. I snagged the only seat available on the outside bar for a sparking champagne. To figure out my next stop I asked the bar tender who suggested the wild rover and the Playbar just a minute away. Next stop was the Playbar. A bouncer guarded the door, but as I approached he greeted me and let me in. There was a good vibe in this place, with a live dj,  and some benches to sit. I grabbed a quick drink and took some footage before moving onto the Wild Rover.

The Wild Rover looked intimidating from the outside. A darkly lit building with people coming in and out guarded by a bouncer. As I walked closer I mentioned I was referred here by H bar to come have drink and was let in. This place was a controlled chaos. Limited seating with some table and seats by the bar with the majority of the space standing room only. Bar tenders dressed in smart outfits and with the crowd appearing to have a good time socializing with their group. Not the most solo friendly space but an interesting spot to check out on both floors and have a good beer. I ended the night by walking 5 minutes down Campbell street where you’ll find many of the Asian restaurants. I enjoyed a good meal of Korean Jap Chae noodles at the Campbell food court

Tip: Ask local bar tenders for suggestions for bars and lounges if you are unsure. They are usually in the know.

 3 Sisters & the making a good friend on the Meetup Coogee Coastal Walk Hike

living like a local in sydney

I decided to take half the day to get out of the city and take the train to go see an attraction called the 3 sisters. You take the train to small town and catch the bus to get off and take pictures of 3 pointed rocks known as the 3 sisters. Sorry I’m not getting too excited about this one, but the attraction did attract bus loads of chinese tourists that I had to compete with to get some decent pictures. If you’ve got some time in Sydney and want to get out of town to see an attraction then this is one idea. Personally I would like recommend spending your time seeing the Sydney Opera, Harbour Bridge, or the Coogee Coastal walk before even thinking about the 3 sisters.

living like a local in sydney
the Sydney harbour bridge

Speaking of the Coogee coastal walk I joined a meetup group called the Sydney Bushwalking Meetup to do this walk with a group. We would meet at the Circular Quay , the location where you would catch ferries and also see the Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, and the Harbour Bridge. We met our group and I immediately hit it off with an attractive UK expat. We got took the Ferry to Watson’s bay and snapped some shots of the Sydney skyline and along the coast. The walk is a great way to get some sunshine and exercise while enjoying the beautiful ocean and views along the coast. We walked past Bondi and Bronte beach and stopped at our destination at Coogee beach. During the walk I had a glimpse into expat life as one of the girls who had been living there told me that it was frustrating making friends with other expats because they would leave shortly after they met. Her solution and tip was to join associations that were more established like tennis clubs and make friends there. By the time we arrived at Coogee I found out my UK friend had a South African boyfriend, but we exchanged contacts to do dinner in Newtown before I left. Coogee was a nice family friendly beach to have a bbq or a picnic. Most of the group was too tired to BBQ after the hike so we picked up some kebabs and beer before I caught the bus back. A productive day where I got some exercise, some shots, and made a new friend.

Saving the best for Last: The Opera house & the Harbour Bridge

living like a local in sydney
The iconic opera house

Before I traveled to Sydney the image of Opera house was the image I envisioned when I thought about Sydney. To me it was an iconic structure and I had to all type of shots of it before my trip was over. To get to the Opera house you go to the circular quay. You have to walk about 10 minutes from there until you get to it. The first sight of it will have you reaching for your camera. It is indeed amazing. I recommend taking pictures of it during the day and night time and from both sides of the Harbour Bridge to cover all the angles. I walked inside it to check it out and use the bathroom. If I had budget I would probably have seen a show, but instead I chose to enjoy an organic tap beer at the Opera Bar. This bar is happening and you can enjoy it sitting my a heat lamp at night or by an outside table as you enjoy prime seats of the Opera House and the Harbour bridge. One sunny day I decided to reward myself after I filmed and enjoyed a beer and a pizza at this Opera Bar. It was one of my highlights of the Sydney trip and I savored every minute of it.

living like a local in sydney
Life is worth it. Opera Bar Sydney

The harbour bridge is also a significant structure and I recommend walking across it. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to walk on top of the bridge you can spend around $11 halfway through the bridge and climb to the top. At the top there is a viewpoint where you can enjoy amazing 360 degrees views of the Opera house, the bridge and the people climbing it, and more. I also recommend to continue walking to the other side of the bridge where you will be rewarded with views of the Sydney skyline and another angle of the Opera House. If you plan it well you can get to the other side by sunset to take evening shots. Just when you thought you got all the best pictures try taking the ferry back to circular quay instead of walking back across the bridge. You will get picture angles of the Opera house that a good percentage of the tourists had never thought of.

 

living like a local in sydney
A pizza and beer are a perfect way to enjoy the sun and views of the Opera House

Tip: Try taking the ferry to Manley beach from circular quay. Its a worthwhile trip on its own and you’ll get good photo ops of the Opera house from the ferry.

Newtown & Brekkie

living like a local in sydney
delicious brekkie in surrey hills
living like a local in sydney
surrey-hills

On my last evening I met with my UK friend at the Newtown train station for dinner (she is camera shy btw) Newtown was packed with restaurants on both sides of the street. We decided to try a vietnamese restaurant. The next morning I decided to sample some brekkie in Surrey Hills. I settled on a spot referred by locals called Reuben Hills. The portion was small, but good quality and I ended up tagging some good tracks on my Shazam so I was happy. Back at the Surrey Hills mansion I had my bags packed and was about to open the door for the shuttle when I saw it drive by and stop at the street. I chased it down in my socks and the Airbnb host got him to drive back in front of the house. We said our goodbyes. Next stop a return to Auckland.

congrats you made it down this far. Please share this article using the floating bar to your left on a social media channel.

Produced by Greg Hung for Chicvoyage Productions 2013

The footage in this video is available for licensing

ChicVoyage offers high quality global travel content (videos, pictures, entertainment) available for licensing.

Stock Travel Footage Available for licensing

Produced by greg hung for chicvoyage productions 2013

Digital Nomad Videographer Lifestyle

music by – birocratic
tracks: orientation, merlot, bump #4, stay gold

music by – Tom Wendt
tracks: Cool Surf pour Joerg ind Liza
https://soundcloud.com/tom-wendt/cool-surf-pour-joerg-und-lisa

camera operator assistant: charles clement

thanks to
the Bucket list, Bondi Surf seafoods,Bondi iceberg club , and John F airbnb host

Melbourne Australia tour

a melbourne walking tour

By Greg Hung Aug 6th 2013

Melbourne Australia Tour


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Is Melbourne the most livable city in the world? According to the The EIU’s Global Liveability Report it is, but is it actually like to live there for 14 days like a local. I set out on a journey to answer this same question for some one the worlds most livable cities: Sydney, Auckland, Vancouver, Adelaide, and Melbourne. To give you a taste of Melbourne I decided to start with a walking tour video of Melbourne. After doing a google and youtube search today for Melbourne Australia walking tours I see there isn’t many professional videos out there. I hope this fills the void and offers something entertaining and informative for the views out there.

Melbourne Australia tour
Federation Square - A central meeting square near the South Bank to meet friends and surf the free wifi

During my time at their place I got a chance to know my Airbnb hosts, Gretchen and William quite well. I came up with an idea and inspiration to do a walking tour video of Melbourne hosted with my Airbnb hosts that I could also pitch to Airbnb for a future show. William and Gretchen thought it was a good idea as well and so we got it done.  As you can see they are very friendly and knowledgeable about Melbourne and I would recommend to stay them in South Bank if you can.

Melbourne Australia tour
One of many picture opportunities in the grafitti alleys of Melbourne

Melbourne has a strong coffee culture; however you may be surprised how difficult it is to find a regular drip coffee. They call it a pour over coffee and in Australia it was quite rare to find in contrast to the long black and flat whites. In the video we try out a coffee flight and get you watch the unique way and attention that is given during the preparation of the coffee flight. Melbourne also has a popular grafitti culture. William and Gretchen take us to the croft alley in chinatown where you’ll get to glimpse of these alleys from your computer without having to deal with the smell. We finish off at a diner where William will explain the popular style of burger found in Australia and Singapore called the wagyu burger. Food is generally expensive in Melbourne , but at this diner we show you where to find these quality burgers starting at $10.

Melbourne Australia Tour
The coffee flight tasting experience in Melbourne featured in the video

If you enjoy this video please do your part and share it with your friends. I would like to partner with Airbnb and do more of these videos worldwide and a larger viewership will bring me closer to that.