Sunday, August 27, 2006

Living the Melburnian life

Finally after a hiatus of 3 months I get to blog againnow from my room in Melbourne. There is much to say to keep my friends up-to-date of what I've been up to since last hearing from me, so here we go... (This is going to be long-winded so go grab a coffee or something.)

Basically I have made two major relocations in the past 3 months: one from Kuching to Toowoomba, which is in the southern part of Queensland, Australia, and the other from Queensland to the state of Victoriawell Melbourne to be exact. Nothing too exciting happened during and in between the moves, but I instantly fell head over heels in love with Melbourne when I got here.

To say nothing else of the city, Melbourne has topped The Economist's list of most livable cities in the world not just once, but twice, on the basis of its cultural attributes, climate, crime rates, cost of living, etc.

When I arrived in August, the 2006 Melbourne International Film Festival has just begun to take hold of moviegoers with close to 400 screenings in theatres around the city. For folks with artistic interest of a different slant, the National Gallery of Victoria is hosting an exclusive exhibition from June to October, entitled Picasso: Love & War 1935-1945, featuring one of 20th century's most passionate and tumultuous relationships between Pablo Picasso and love interest Dora Maar.

The first two weeks were spent looking for permanent accommodation in and around the city while staying in a very clean and fun-filled backpackers' inn called Urban Central (where you get free frisbees upon check-in and are invited to free BBQs every Monday evening). The challenge lay in the fact that me and my friends were jobless at that moment (still are!) and that I lacked proper references from previous landlords or realty agents, and that's going to affect the outcome of our applications. And then we found this brand new beautiful two-storey modern townhouse 25 minutes' tram ride from the city, and blessedly the landlords liked us just as much as we liked their house. So we moved in at the beginning of Week 3 and as a plus, our next-door neighbours are very friendly and helpful people who happen to be our landlord's builders.

One thing that stands out in Melbourne for me from other cities in Australia is the electric trams that cruise alongside motor vehicles on the road. The third largest tram network in the world, Yarra Trams (part of Melbourne's public transport network formerly known as The Met) is the only suburban network in Australia still in existence. Getting around Melbourne proved to be very easy with a weekly Metcard that costs $26.70, giving you unlimited rides throughout the week. After the first week you'll find the trams way too convenient to even consider getting a car. If you have a concession card, the monthly Metcard would only cost you around $50and that's much more cost-effective a way to commute than driving!

There are yet places to be explored in Melbourne, and I'll post more about my life here as time goes by. In the mean time here's a satellite image of Melbourne:

And here's where I live in relative to Melbourne:

And in case you wonder, a person from Melbourne is referred to as a Melburnian, spelled without an 'O'.