Friday, September 10, 2010

balestier walking group in melbourne

the idea of a trip to melbourne was first mooted about two years ago. the balestier walkies, as we called yourselves, have been walking together on a regular basis for about four years. when we first started out, it was a monthly affair. as the group members grew older and closer, it has become a meeting on a weekly basis. the 16-strong group comprises mainly former teachers and students of balestier hill secondary school. owing to work and family commitments, not everyone in the group could go on this first overseas outing. 8 members of the 16-member group have children who are studying or have studied in melbourne.

based on the pictures, it would appear that it was more a gastronomical adventure than a sight-seeing or walking tour. anyway, we did not have the luxury of a leisurely tour. the group had 5 days only in melbourne. we stayed two nights at rye in the mornington peninsula and two nights in the city. in the city, we stayed at the quest service apartments on william street, for which we paid aud$115 per room per night. at rye, we stayed in a 6-room holiday house belonging to my daughter's pastor.

we had rented a 8-seater kia grand carnival to accommodate all the 8 of us but at the last minute, we had a pleasant surprise. steven, an australian permanent resident and a former balestierian, flew in from sydney to join the group. we rented another car, a holden berlina, to carry the baggage and to ensure that we abided by the strict australian traffic laws. from the airport, we drove to springvale, a vietnamese enclave, where we had lunch at a chinese restaurant.

my elder daughter, who works in melbourne, joined us for a meal at miss marples, up in the dendenong mountains on the third day of the group's stay in melbourne.

we had italian food on the two days when we were at the mornington peninsula, once at sorrento and the other time, at t'gallant, a winery in the red hill area of the mornington peninsula. when we in the city, we decided to go for yam cha at the very popular shark's fin house at little bourke street in melbourne's chinatown. we had to call up one of our fellow walkers in singapore for the name of the chinese restaurant. he had been a frequent visitor to melbourne but he could not make the trip this time.

one of the best meals we had in melbourne was the lunch we had in the open, overlooking the vineyard, at a winery in the mornington peninsula. we had the house wine (juliet pinot noir) to go with the three types of wood-fired pizzas, hot roasted potatoes, sausages, salad and ciabatta bread. there are food, wine and song at la baracca kitchen at t'gallant. on weekends, the place is always packed.

on our first night in the city, we had buffet dinner at kitchen workshop, one of the many restaurants at the crown entertainment complex. we were joined by audrey, the daughter of william, another member of our group. we had visited audrey's place earlier and she led 5 members of the group to take the free city circle tram to somewhere near the casino. the rest of us went in the 8-seater to the casino.

on the second and final night of the group's stay in melbourne city, we had dinner at oriental spoon, a korean restaurant on la'trobbe street. this restaurant is apparently very popular with the asian students from the nearby melbourne university. it was audrey, a melbourne university student, who made the recommendation.

this was how one of the members felt about the trip:

"I had a really wonderful time on this short trip. We were reminiscing the good old days, the laughs and how even after 35 years+ we are like the kids we were in Balestier Hill. I know many people around me are amazed how I still keep in touch with schoolmates and TEACHERS???? but they will never understand how we have become and continue to become the best of friends regardless of classmates or teachers. Now, if those who were in Melbourne might know I bought a piggy bank (after our meals at Ms Marples) with these words engraved on its stomach: OLD FRIENDS ARE THE BEST!"


Uncle Phil said...

Hi Yg,
Isn't that a wonderful trip for your group of friends. Vintage friends are like wine … they are both worth the work and the wait.

unk Dicko said...

I see Seck Yeong in the pic.
Great that all of you do this together! It speaks volumes about the kind of bond between teachers, colleagues and especially their students of yesteryears.

yg said...

phil, it was a short but memorable trip for us. it had to be short because 4 out of the 9 are still working. my wife and i are still in melbourne.

yg said...

dick, yes, seck yeong and her husband made the trip although her school will be undergoing external valuation (ev) when term starts. the former students are in their early 50s while their former teachers are in their early 60s. one thing these ex-students have in common is that they all belonged to the school's oac and they attended the 10-day bbdm (balestier-broadrick-dunearn-maju) camp held at pulau tekong.

Anonymous said...

Refreshing to read such good bonding between teachers and former students.

yg said...

anonymous, we bonded through our involvement in eca. i have not taught some of these former students. that's why i feel strongly that teachers should be actively involved in eca (cca). these days, most ccas are outsourced to outside instructors.