Sydney’s Exploration: A Small Alley, A Night Market, and Plenty of Sushi Kiosks

Sorry for the long absence. For the first time in forever, managing this blog and consistently creating content for The Perks of Being 20 become quite challenging. But here I am, trying my best to fight through!

Right now I’d like to write about this little alley, called Spice Alley, located in Kensington Street, Sydney. This particular alley is a home for 6 hawker-style eateries, decorated with artistically painted walls and glowing lanterns. You can find Singaporean dishes at Alex Lee Kitchen, Thai cuisines at Bang Luck Thai Street Food, Malaysian spices at Old Jim Kee, Cantonese street food at Hong Kong Diner, Japanese foods at Kyo-to and Vietnamese fares at Viet. Vogue magazine even recommend this place as one of the top 5 best date night places in Sydney.

Although I’ve been to Sydney three times, it was only until last year that I knew this place exist! It’s located very near to one of my favorite ice cream spot in Sydney, Anita Gelato. Thanks to my cousins, Omar and Berra, who took me here after our short exploration at the Wedding Cake Rock.

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Although I was extremely starving when I got there, I was a bit stuck deciding on what to eat. If you know me well, I’m the kind of person who could order a lot of foods for one meal. So having too many (food) options was never easy for me. After strolling around a few times, I decided to order from the Hong Kong diner, simply because I’ve been to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and I’ve eaten plenty of Japanese and Vietnamese foods in Indo.

I ordered the Beef Brisket Noodle and BBQ Pork Bun. As you can see from the photo below, they serve the beef brisket very generously! The broth was very comforting especially in the middle of Sydney’s winter breeze. Sadly, I was so gassy I could not finish them all, I even had to take home the buns. I’d definitely go back here during my next visit to Sydney, which I don’t know when.

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While I’m at it, I think it’d be harmless if I share to you another culinary spot that I really love to visit whenever I’m in Sydney. It’s the night market at Chinatown, which only happens every Friday night. If you are really hungry, you should pay a visit at this uber nice Chinese restaurant, Superbowl. But if you’re like me, who can’t resist buying a lot of different variety of foods at the same time, then you should enjoy the food stalls.

My first go to stall is the Emperor’s Puff. This one is to-die-for! I’ve never seen this stall without a long queue. It’s best to enjoy them during winter, because the puffs are always freshly baked. You’d love the warm vanilla filling inside the puff! The price is also very cheap as you can see in the photo below.

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My second must-have at the Chinatown Night Market is the pork bak kwa (barbecued pork jerky). I forgot how much it costs, but everything in this area is pretty much cheap so you wouldn’t mind spending a little bit more here to indulge your tastebuds and tummy.

After having those two, I just let my feet take me around the area, and let my eyes picked random stall that looks appetizing to me. Some of my highlights were the large potato stick, they are super crispy and savoury; and seafood takoyaki. By the time I finished my bowl of takoyaki I was already bloated, and most of the stalls were already closing down.

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Now, if you are an avid fan of sushi like me, you would love Sydney because in almost every mall or public place it’s easy to find a sushi kiosk. My favorites are Sushi Hub and Hero Sushi. I spent my last day in Sydney literally having Sushi all day, twice at the Westfield Paramatta, and one big closure at the Sydney airport while waiting for my flight. I’m definitely one happy kid when it comes to enjoying sushi in Sydney!

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Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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Seeing Things From Behind A 40 Year Old Lens

“The camera doesn’t matter – the eye does,” says the anonymous, blurred person who speaks only in my hazy memory. This is a quote heard by millions of photographers, possibly in a million, different, often misquoted ways. They all seem to drive a point, however: that the camera is only a tool that is as good as you are able to project your visual ideas and images with.

To test that ubiquitous theory, I recently purchased a 40-year-old lens, after a convincing demonstration from a friend and coworker. This one cost a fraction of what newer lenses charge, thanks to age and time working in my favor. I immediately bought the lens from a second-hand online store, along with a cheap adapter for my Canon 60D (which in itself, is an aging camera, according to every photographer ever).

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The Setup

I had to admire the lens for a while as it came out the box a few days after. Here was a creation that stood the wear and tear of 40 years, through time and space, that landed on my pale, white desk of mine. I will never know the story it went through, or how many hands have grasped and pulled its aging handles, or how beautiful the pictures that were taken by many eyes and clicks of the shutter. These things, it seems, I can only wonder.

So to stop wondering, I decided to test this gizmo of mine on a trip to Bandung, in West Java.

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A visit to a limestone processing factory in Bandung

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Before lifting heavy rocks

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Empty

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On standby, without workers

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A local-favorite. Kue ape

I immediately noticed a few things: how sharp the images were, how different the colors appeared, and how hard the lens was to operate! Here was a photographer, so used to modern marvels such as auto-focus and exposure compensation, receiving a vintage welcome from his own camera. It was a bare-bones experience, having to manually set the aperture and the focus ring every time I had a subject in frame. But it was eye-opening, as it was unfamiliar

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Visiting the night street market

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Look at all those chickens (y’know, that one vine)

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Famous Martabak Andir

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Coincidentally, the man behind the stall has been making Martabak for 40 years

The lens worked wonders in night time, thanks to its wide 1.4 aperture. The images managed to stay crisp as well. It was hard to focus, though, without the automatic function I was so used to having.

And then there was this certain dreamy character to the bokeh, as the blurred edges of the images never seem to stay symmetrical and perfectly round. Yet the depth of the areas that were in focus almost seemed that they can pop out, like a cutout character from a story book. This lens, and its images, are a trippy piece of work.

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A self-portrait that ‘pops’ out (taken by a good friend of mine, Moses – @moosesronaldo)

I felt responsible to show what an old, jaded lens can do, since this is my first lens I bought with my own savings. And it to see how much it has gone through, it’s an honor, in a strange kind of way, to own something that has its own mysterious story.

So, I do think to dismiss a cheap and aging piece of technology would be a tragic story to tell. I think something like this offers a portal to see the peculiarities of imperfect items of yesteryear; a sort of back-to-your-roots experience. With all the new technology coming to our screens and doors in 2018, it would be nice to step back and recall on older things that we haven’t explored. Here’s me just starting out into that journey, and with good intentions, I ask that you come along too.

Jeloy. (@je.loy)