Karaoke, Dumplings, and Cheap Beer with the Pinay Girls

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For a while now I’ve been reading and enjoying the works of two very cool chicks – Claire from Lakwatsera de Primera and Gay from Pinay Travel Junkie and The Hippie Mum. When I learned that not only were they both in Sydney – but both living in the northern suburbs like me, I was super keen to organize a meet-up and get to know them a little better.

So it was that after several weeks of planning, we three (and Claire’s fiance Charles) met up on the steps of Town Hall Station for a night of karaoke, good food, and drunken shenanigans. Just my kind of Friday night.

Tacky decoration on the roof of the Chinese Noodle Restaurant

Our wanderings first took us to Chinatown, where we went in search of a cheap and delicious bite to eat. We passed a few Korean BBQ joints, a Japanese ramen cafe, and even a halal Chinese restaurant (which just makes no sense to me at all) before we finally settled on the Chinese Noodle Restaurant. This is not to be confused with the Chinese Noodle House Restaurant which sits right next to it.

There was a big crowd of would-be diners on hand, but it was a pleasantly warm evening and the presence of a violinist serenading the hungry patrons was a nice touch. We browsed the menu, picked out a few tasty looking items, and were soon ushered in to our table.

Our delicious Chinese feast

Personal space was at a premium, but the portion sizes were generous and the company was good. Between the four of us we polished off a spicy tofu rice dish, peanut chicken, steamed green beans, pork & basil dumplings, and two pots of tea. Over dinner we went through the usual travel chat:

  • Where is your favorite place?
  • What was your least favorite place?
  • Where are you going next?

And of course, as travel bloggers, we got to talk of traffic and advertising and all that jazz. Poor Charles.

With full bellies we made our way down the crowded main street of Chinatown and I was transported back to my time in Korea and, if I stretch a little further back, even Hainan in southern China. The jostling crowds, the bright lights, the smells of food, and the various vendors hawking wares that ranged from cheap clothes to jewelry to what looked like the left-overs from somebody’s recent redecoration.

Our sights were firmly set on karaoke though, so we pushed through the crowd and ignored the shouts of vendors and wait staff. I was very impressed with the girls’ self control. It’s usually impossible to take girls through a market and not stop at at least one stall.

Our first karaoke venue, the Green Box, turned out to be a bust. Claire had forgotten her ID and, blessed with a far more youthful appearance than me (the youngest in attendance) wasn’t allowed in.

Hanging out at Sydney Karaoke with two of my new favorite people. Photo by Pinay Travel Junkie.

But we pushed on to my own personal favorite when it comes to karaoke – Sydney Karaoke on Liverpool Street. I’ve been to this very Korean establishment on multiple occasions in the past and always had a good time. I’ve always come out obnoxiously speaking my broken Korean to anybody who’ll listen to me, true, but it’s always been fun.

Gay rocking some Beyonce

We grabbed a few cans of Hite and grabbed an hour of singing time. Usually I found myself crammed into a tiny little room, but for some reason we got put into the party room with two TVs and far too much space for the four of us.

For the next hour we rocked that place. Charles tore it up with some Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam, the girls brought the house down with Spice Girls and Fergie, I made people sad by singing Tears in Heaven, and then Charles and I busted out a rocking duet of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way” to round us out.

All too soon our time was up and it was time to kick on to our third and final venue of the evening – my local and favorite Sydney watering hole, The Stratton.

Gay, Claire, Charles, and I having a few quiet beers at the Stratton

I’m there pretty much twice a week as it is, so I know most of the staff and was doubly pleased to find half of my workplace there for post work drinks. While my co-workers dominated the juke box to ensure a steady stream of first late 90s classics and then U2, the four of us shared a few jugs of Oscars Ale and talked about travel plans. Claire and Charles are off to South East Asia in a week; Gay and her hubby are heading to the States, and I’ve got my upcoming Queensland trip on my mind.

Spending the rest of my life somewhere like here sounds pretty good. Photo by Eric Brian Ouano

Talking to them about their time in South East Asia reaffirmed for me just how much I want to visit countries like Malaysia and Cambodia and the Philippines. I think my new travel goal is a simple one:

  • Save money
  • Sell things I don’t need
  • Quit job
  • Go to SE Asia and stay until the money runs out.

I don’t need luxury. As long as I have food, beer, and a hammock to lie about in – I’ll make do. Internet to update my blog from time to time and a few good books, and I’m set.

With midnight approaching and trains to the North Shore about to stop for the evening, the girls had to leave. I lingered around a little longer for a few more beers with my co-workers, and then it was time for me to go home too.

I had a great time hanging out with two very cool chicks and a top bloke. The night reminded me just how much I love travel and the people who do it. There’s a totally different mindset with travelers, and it always makes for a good time.

Gay and I had a great chat about how much travel has changed us, but I think I’ll save that for an entry of its own. There’s a lot to be said about just how much I owe to travel in making me the man I am today.

But for now, I’ll nurse my hangover and try and get through the next few hours of work. Tonight sees me acting as tour-guide/token white guy for a group of Korean guys. Should be fun!

The Chinese Noodle Restaurant (and the Chinese Noodle House Restaurant) are located at 8 Quay Road in Haymarket. Prices range from $10-$15 for mains and portions are generous. Get there early to avoid a lengthy wait.

Sydney Karaoke is located next to the Hungry Jack’s at 640 George Street. Rates are $30 per hour for a room and beers go for $5. Free snacks are provided in true Korean style.

The Stratton Hotel, located at 249 Castlereagh Street, has $3 draft beers before 7pm and $4 afterwards. The bistro offers up a great range of pub food for as little as $10 a meal.

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