I went for my first lecture today. It was an English course studying the relationship between film and text and something like that. We spent half hour watching Buster Keaton’s “Cops” (1922) movie before listening to the lecturer talk.
I have to say, that 3 years of not attending school has certainly been a big impact on my brain. While the rest of the lecture room (400+ students) were scribbling furiously on their notepads, me and a few others were either doodling away or just staring in space, with me doing the latter.
I realized I lost the skills of writing down notes while listening to the lecturer/teacher talk. This is bad, very bad as that’s how most lectures operate. Furthermore, to add to the confusion of first day in school is the lists “recommended and required reading”, textbooks and course readers I’ll have to buy or borrow. I tried going through all my units of study outlines this afternoon: English, English (Literary), Psychology and World Politics.
I fell asleep within 15 minutes.
Seems like school’s going to be an uphill battle now. And I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Absolutely hate the first day first week of school. All these hustle and bustle and the rush to get the texts and reading list and the rush to classes, not knowing what is expected of you. I hate first weeks at school.
And I hate buying textbooks. I miss the days in the Ho Chi Minh where in my school, we don’t buy textbooks. We just troop down the library to borrow it for the next 12 months. Why can’t Sydney U have that? Oh, yeah, that’s because there will be 1000 first year undergraduates fighting for the same books. This is like going back to the time in Singapore where buying textbooks were the norm.
Tomorrow is Psychology 1002 lecture, which I just read from the course outline that it is a continuation from Psychology 1001 in Semester 1. FUCK. So that means 400 students (minus some who came in with me in Semester 2) will have the basic grounding in the subject and they’ll probably know what to study and what is expected from them. If Psychology is graded on a curve, I’m FUCKED! But thankfully, the university switched to a “academic system”, so no more grading curves. I feel like dropping Psychology and taking up some arts subject. But I’ll test the waters tomorrow.
Sorry for the rant above. Anyway, back to Blue Mountains and the memories of happier times.
So H and I got off from the Skyway and proceeded to the (in)famous Railway. This Railway is known as the steepest Railway in the world. I shit you not, it is the steepest Railway in the world. As H nicely said: “It’s just like a roller-coaster, except much, much slower.”
By then, I was curious and excited to see how steep the Railway was. While waiting for our little tram to come up from the bottom of the mountain, I took a picture:
It doesn’t look steep here. See that thing at the bottom of the picture? That’s the tram. Well, H and I wanted to seat at the front but we didn’t get too because of the queue. So we sat at the front of the second compartment. In a way, its still the front, right?
In the tram
You see that rubber thingy in front. At first, I thought it was those safety harnesses that trap you in your seat before the ride starts. Well, I was wrong, it was not a safety harness, it just a rubber thing to give you some minimal protection. In fact, the whole ride, we were “au natural”, no safety harnesses at all. I was sitting at the side and there was only a small little metal chain protecting me. Which mean if the tram jerk, I could have flew out and down to the bottom and landed in a very, very sorry state.
It’s safe. Don’t worry. It will be a fun experience. One tip? Put your feet up on the carpeted board like what H did in the photo. Do it. I mean, really, really do it. You’ll know why.
H and I in the tram
Looking pretty excited. Ride about to start. See, no protection barrier beside me. Then, off we went.
In the cave at an almost 90 degrees angle
At the start of the ride, we went through a cave or tunnel at an incline of almost 90 degrees. It was like a roller-coaster. See our feet on the board? That’s why you want to do that. I couldn’t really shoot anything cause the tunnel was too dark.
Views from the tram
Look at the bottom of the picture. See the people’s head below my feet in the next compartment? That’s how steep it was.
A view from the tram
Another clearer example. The ride lasted for about 5 minutes and after many random photos that I’m not going to post here, we reached the base of the mountain.
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters make their entrance again.
Railway Fun Facts
H and I on the prototype
After the Railway, we proceeded to ‘bushwalk’ around the National Park. On the way, we saw a mountain stream. The source of the stream is from Katoomba Falls:
Clear mountain stream
Clear Mountain Stream
You can drink the water from the stream. It has a very mineral-ty taste to it. Very cold and refreshing. After that, we continued with our ‘bush walk’ and H broke out into a SAF marching song. Damn guy, as if I needed an SAF army song to motivate me. Below are the random pictures I took during our walk.
Knotted tree branch
Sign explaining why tree is knotted
Journey to the top. We met the same tour guide from the Skyway on the Cableway. He was hilarious, he saw a group of Asian tourists in the Cableway and proceeded to say hello to them in every conceivable Asian language from Thai to Malay until he got it right. The tourists were from Taiwan.
Another shot of nature
After the Cableway, we hanged around Scenic World waiting for taxis before deciding to call one (H paid cab fare). From there, H brought me to this secret place:
The Secret House
Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, allow me to introduce you The Secret House or better known as Willy Wonka’s Holiday Residence and Experimental Factory. The genius of the confectionary world, or rather, the whole world resides here during the cold, winter months with his Oompa-Loompas and experiment with different types of cocoas, in the process, producing and refining one of the world’s finest art , that is, chocolate.
In the first part of the tour, I will saw you the chocolate factory:
If you were hoping for the chocolate waterfall, you’d had to go to Willy Wonka’s other factory. This is his holiday residence, so no stressful work.
Shots of the kitchen
A shot of the kitchen
There are Oompa-Loompas around but they’re too short to take photos. Beside, it was an order from Mr. Wonka not to take any photos of his Oompa-Loompas as he did not want them to be hunted by scientists and anthropologists (sorry guys, no offence).
Chocolate moulds loving carved by Willy Wonka
H and I finally settled down and order two mugs of real hot chocolate. I ordered a slice of mud forest cake.
Mud Forest Cake
The scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth Mud Forest Cake served with Willy Wonka’s special jam and marmalade sauce.
Real Hot Chocolate
Its called Real Hot Chocolate for two reasons. First, it’s constantly kept hot by a candle below. The cup is actually in two parts. The metal container is where your hot chocolate is and a tea light (candle) below gives out heat. Second, it’s called Real Hot Chocolate because it is really REAL chocolate, not some powdered stuff. You see those chocolate bits? That’s where we put it in the container to melt it. Finally, the small little cup at the side contains the milk. So after combining both in the metal container and stirring and grinding them, you get delicious, REAL HOT chocolate.
Real Hot Chocolate
Real Hot Chocolate
The spoon doubles as a straw. Cool, eh?
H posting with his hot chocolate
Me eating my Mud Forest Cake
Pure, pure bliss…..
Zuii came and joined us later. She ordered a hot chocolate and a cheesecake (darn, should have taken a photo). It was then the fiasco happened. She asked to see the pictures I took while H and I were at Scenic World and while passing her my camera….
I spilled my hot chocolate.
Thank goodness I blew out the candle earlier and it was only the last bit of hot chocolate left. Else I would have burnt, sticky pubes. Not pleasant. Still, my leather bag and jeans were splashed with hot chocolate. My scarf and jacket had some spots too. Thankfully, my leather bag bore the brunt of the spill so I was not covered in hot chocolate.
Willy Wonka offered to help but I politely declined and went to the toilet to clean up as much as I can. It was a futile effort, hot chocolate coated my jeans and bag.
Aftermath of the fiasco
Aftermath of the fiasco
Aftermath of the fiasco
H and Zuii
I have to point out, Zuii’s cup matches her dress. As usual, Willy Wonka is very thoughtful. After having a wonderful time there, we bid Willy Wonka goodbye and took a cab (I paid) back to H’s apartment. After grabbing my duffel bag, we headed to Leura station to wait for the train back to Sydney. Sigh……
By the way, guys, there is no Willy Wonka, Oompa-Loompas, Willy Wonka’s Holiday Residence whatsoever. I took creative license in describing my chocolate feast. Please do not tell the cab driver that you want to go to Willy Wonka’s Holiday Residence and Experimental Factory. You would most likely be kicked out of the cab and be left alone in the cold, dark mountains.
If you want to go there, just tell any cab driver that you want to go to Katoomba Chocolate Factory. S/He’ll know where it is and s/he’ll bring you there.
Not my train by the way. Its the train heading towards another part of Blue Mountains far, far away. I just took it because I’ve never took a picture of an inter-city train before. It got three levels, a lower deck, middle deck and upper deck. I like to sit on the upper deck.
H and I on the platform
Zuii said our previous poses were too boring and deleted the pictures. So we had to pose this way. It was fucking freezing and H and I were cold. So there’s a limit to how much our body could move anyway.
The Station Master
Zuii and I
Zuii and I
My train came a few minutes later and I bid goodbye to H, Zuii and Katoomba and Leura.
One day, I’ll be back in Katoomba. I LOVE that place.