We basically only had one full day in Canberra and so didn’t have all that much time (Sorry Lynn!!!). Arrive late Monday, spend the whole of Tuesday there, and leave on Wednesday morning. We had things to do back in Sydney in preparation for our move and besides, Canberra is to damn boring a place anyway to spend more than a day! We weren’t too particularly fussed about what we did and just did the most touristy things possible. And two of the most touristy things there were to do was to visit our Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. I didn’t particularly care at all for the Parliament House, and really neither did Erica but well…. when in Rome….

We got off to quite a late start because we woke up late and just bummed around the house for a while before leaving. It was just before 12 that we ended up leaving the house. First time we stopped off for lunch at Canberra Centre because I wanted to try the fast food place Kingsley’s Chicken. Only because their tag line is that they have the best chips anywhere. I found this to be somewhat disingenuous. They chips were not bad, but far far from the best!

Anyway, after traipsing around the absolute and messy sprawl of shops that is Canberra Centre, we ended up passing a Koko Black. Now Erica used to be a fan of Koko Black in Melbourne and just had to pop in for a choc or two. Their selection of chocolates were quite amazing indeed with their display cases of fresh chocolates ranging on forever. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of said cabinets because I got my ass kicked for taking photos in the shop. Apparently their stuff is copyrighted and as such taking photo’s aren’t permitted… or so they said to me anyway.

Koko Black

We picked up a selection of chocolates for a dinner party that we would be attending later in the week and sat down with an order of some dark chocolate hot chocolate for Erica. When the chocolate arrived, I whipped out the camera to take a photo. Before I could take a snap, in swooped a waiter to tell me I’m not allowed to take a photo of the cup of hot chocolate either!!! I mean…. wtf???? So I basically said something to him along the lines of “Yo waiter…. wtf??!!!!”, but more politely, and he said I’m allowed to take a photo of the cup only if there’s someone in it too. I’m not allowed to take a photo of the cup just by itself.

So there you go…. a cup of hot chocolate…. with Erica in it. Or 90% of her at least…. Ohohoho!!! Snap!

Some Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate….. with a side serving of fresh melons….

Hahahahahaahaha…. Yes I know I’m a child. And it also has the best name ever…. for a movie. I laughed for a good solid 5 mins over this.

From there we went to the Parliament House. Now…. I don’t care for Australian politics…. or any sort of politics at all for that matter. So ergo… me no care about fancy house of arguing manchildren. We just went there purely to tick it off the list. We wondered around, took a few photos, and got the heck out of there. There’s a photo below of a water feature which we learnt from Damo later was installed purely for the noise. It’s basically an area of which the pollies could gather and speak to each other privately without anyone overhearing. I thought that was kinda semi-interesting…. then I saw a plastic bag floating by in the wind which suddenly seemed like the most fascinating thing in the world compared to that or anything related to Parliament.

Parliament House

Old Parliament House with the Australian War Memorial in the background

The Queen

Pesky schoolkids and a water feature for privacy

Ceremonial Mace

Now this was far more in line with what I like!!! The last time I came to the War Memorial, or the Parliament house for that matter, was probably in primary or early high school on a school excursion and so I couldn’t really remember too much of it. I found the War Memorial to extremely interesting and to my surprise, Erica did too. As one would expect, the War Memorial had a heavy air of sadness to it because it basically commemorates all the Australian lives lost in the many wars over the last century.

One can not help but again realise just how futile war really is. All those lives taken and lost to accomplish what? Friggin’ nothing. It’s just so sad and you really feel a spirit of gratitude towards those whom gave their lives for the greater good. For a cause completely beyond their own personal needs.

Pose Off’s…. the real way of which the war was fought that the Government didn’t want you knowing about

The War Memorial

The coolest thing by far about the Memorial were the large number of incredible dioramas that represented various skirmishes of the various wars over the years. They were so incredibly detailed and not just captured the objective of what the diorama was trying to portray, but the emotion too. These were truly fantastic and are worth solely visiting the Memorial for.

Dioramas… simply awesome

Just missing out on the Maccas breakfast menu by 2mins…. devastating….

Another of many many incredible dioramas

Mahjong set handmade in a POW camp during WWII

The following is by far the most depressing sight for me in the entire memorial. Seeing the faces of the many many prisoners of war that were marched to their death during their captivity in Borneo. Just putting the names to the many faces and nothing that each and everyone of them had lives, families, children back home that would never ever see them again nor know the horrors they went through to in the fight for their country….. it was heart wrenching.

Faces of the many Aussie POW’s that died during the Sandakan death march in Borneo

Anyway, we walked and walked and explored until we eventually ran out of time because the place was closing. By the time we exited rain had started to fall quite hard outside. I’m really glad we decided to visit the memorial as it was really really interesting. For me, I read up on war a lot and watch many movies about it. But Erica doesn’t really share that interest. I’ve tried to get her to watch war movies to gain some appreciation for what these brave soldiers went through, but she doesn’t think her stomach could take the gore. And so I’m glad Erica really got into the place and read so much about all that transpired through all the various theaters of global conflict. It gives her more of an appreciation and knowledge that she hasn’t been able to glean from books and movies.

From there, we went home and Damo picked us up on his way home from work and took us to dinner. This time we had a table booked at The Chairman & Yip. The restaurant was a fusion style restaurant that was primarily chinese. The food was actually surprisingly good once again! The flavours were different enough to set itself aside from just being standard chinese. The wontons I initially wasn’t too enthusiastic about when Damo ordered them, but they were fantastic! The chilli infused oil is a little different from what I’m normaly used to and I have to say I really really enjoyed them!

The whitebait too was very very well done. The shan tung lamb was also a surprise. I’ve had shan tung chicken but never lamb I expected the lamb to be tough but instead, they were really crispy! I don’t know how, but they sliced the lamb, or perhaps used a cut, that could be fried until it was crispy without being tough at all! I really really enjoyed it. We also ordered a Tofu and eggplant dish but I forgot to photograph it! That was more asian asian. All up, dinner was great and very much enjoyed by all. Mmmm…. I’m really getting to like eating in Canberra :)

The Chairman & Yip

Steamed wontons dressed with a chilli infused oil

Light fried whitebait tossed in rock salt & chilli

Spicy lamb Shan-Tung style

Beef and scallop ground pepper hot pot

For dessert we went to a cafe called Gus’s. It’s just a little place that did solid cakes. We ordered some herbal teas to go down with that. Erica ordered a Mortal Sin which was something that was too rich for me, Damo ordered a Mars Bar cheese cake that was absolutely too rich for me, and I ordered a Banana cake that was just wonderful. It was a perfect way to end the night. The cafe was so damn dark that taking photo’s were an absolute pain in the ass, so this was the best I could do. No pic of the Mars Bar cake as it just turned out crap.

Banana Cake

Mortal Sin

Against better judgement, my cake was so good I forced myself to finish. I soon came to regret that decision. The whole night I felt that cake sitting at the bottom of my throat with heartburn or indigestion clawing at my stomach. Sleep well I couldn’t and just spent a good couple of hours in bed tossing and turning in complete discomfort. I can’t coughing up bits of cake back into my mouth and decided I had to take the path of a bulimic if I was to get any damn sleep.

And so out it came. I managed to vomit up a few solid mouthfuls of cake before decided it would be too much of an effort to purge anymore which I probably should have done. I felt a little better, but still not that great. Ahhh well… serves me right for being a pig!

The next morning it was time to leave. We first did a lap of all the embassies which was very interesting. I love how the architecture of all the various buildings reflect each countries cultural heritage. Naturally, the two biggest embassies where the American, which looked some some big sprawling country camp, and the chinese which looked like nothing more than a big sprawling chinese restaurant.

Before we left Canberra, I thought Erica should see one more thing. And that would be a Porn Supermarket!!! After all, Canberra is the Porn and Fireworks capital of Australia, how could she not leave without seeing evidence of that! And so we went to the heartland of it all…. Fyshwick! Fyshwick brings back many memories for me. It was a place that just about every young group of men would pass through on their annual pilgrimage to the snowfields during the ski season.

Every year, we would pass through Canberra and load up on Fireworks!!!. We didn’t really load up on Porn, we basically bought some more so for laughs and souvenirs than for any reason more depraved. Not that there’s anything wrong with it! It was the good old days and those days I truly miss. Ohhh the mischief we’d get up to with those fireworks!!! Especially those firecrackers, or bungers as they were called, with fuses that burnt underwater. Those were aweeesome :) Anyway I’m getting sidetracked. I took Erica to one of the places that I knew and knew well. It as a porn superstore that was hidden away from the main street in an industrial mall. We all visited this place for a reason over others during those annual trips, because it was hidden from view from the main street!

Oh, a funny story. I took my ex girlfriend Joyce here once during our drive from Melbourne to Sydney. We passed through Canberra and once again, being the good tour guide, thought she would enjoy seeing the biggest porn store she’d probably ever see in Australia. At the time we also had our dog Sydney with us. It was summer and so we left him in the car with the A/C on, but not the engine running.

This proved to be most unwise as when we exited the store…. the battery was complete flat. Ahhhh crap…. and so I had to make the incredibly embarrassing phone call to roadside assistance to come jump start my car. Yes yes yes…. The mechanic whom attended had a big smirk on his face and my face was as red as a Winston Churchills. He said it was completely normal and there’s nothing in Fyshwish he hasn’t seen before. Lol…. I believe him too.

Anyhoo, Erica and I ended up leaving with quite the large nondescript brown bag :) We ended up purchasing quite a few items of which you will all come to see in the next post. Don’t worry, most of them were all gag gifts for friends!!!! Most of them….. 😉

A trip down Fantasy Lane