Travelers: Lee Kanbur, his wife Sze Yin, and their sons Koray (age 6) and Dilhan (1). Koray attends Tianjin Wellington International School.
Destination: Malaysia and Australia
Travel dates: December 2014/January 2015
Travel plans: The family flew with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur for two days before continuing on to Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia. They stayed with family and organized the trip independently. Flights were RMB 18,500; food and shopping came to approximately RMB 43,000.
Melbourne is a chic, creative, and cosmopolitan city; Australia’s second largest city and arguably its cultural capital. We visited during summer in the southern hemisphere, and the weather was hot and sunny. January is one of Melbourne’s hottest months, which makes it a great destination to escape freezing Tianjin. The city’s vibe is uber-relaxing; it’s a great place for the whole family to refresh and get back to their best selves. Because Melbourne is my home-away-from-home, perhaps the most enjoyable part of our visits is bumping into friends by accident.
The city has something to offer everyone; gold-rush Victorian-era architecture, museums and galleries, public parks and gardens, exceptional local restaurants, great wine, and of course the extensive summer sales. To make the most of Melbourne’s multi-cultural dining scene we visted Italian Town, China Town, Greek Town, Vietnam Town and Turkish Town for food. Immigrant cuisine tends to be authentic and flavorful; not dumbed down. The food we most look forward to is my mother’s cooking, but Tommy Ruff Fish Bar in Bayside runs a close second. This fresh-seafood restaurant is always packed so be sure to reserve ahead. The portions are generous, and the fish is delicious and super fresh. As well as traditional fish n’chips there’s also more adventurous combinations such as the soft-shell crab burger, salsa verde or Indian marsala grilled fish of the day.
For shopping, although Melbourne has plenty of high-fashion flagship stores, (it’s also Australia’s fashion capital) it’s hard to beat the value of Direct Factory Outlets (DFO) which offers up to 75 percent off on big-name brand across a variety of products.
Nearby, Yarra Valley is famous for its wineries. Reaching the valley from the city center is a short hour-long drive. The wineries are clearly signposted and easily accessible from the highway, so this is an easy self-drive day trip. Alternatively there are plenty of tours offering trips to the valley each day. This is a good area for wine tasting, with a variety of grapes grown. You can choose from varietals including Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling among others.
A final highlight for us was horseback riding along the ocean beach at Rye, about 90 minutes south of Melbourne. Even inexperienced riders can participate as the horses are gentle and there are guides with each group. It’s mainly a walking trek across dunes, with breathtaking coastal views, with trotting saved for the broad sands of St Andrew’s Beach.
- Visit DFO in the morning before it gets too crowded with afternoon shoppers.
- Be aware that police regularly set up blood alcohol checkpoints around Yarra Valley, so make sure to nominated a designated driver for your wine tasting tour.
- Although it’s possible to ride at Rye several times a day, it’s a good idea to book ahead, especially on weekends.
This article originally appeared on page 40-41 of the beijingkids August 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com.
Photos: Courtesy of Lee Kanbura, Wikimedia commons