Sydney, Australia (Solo)

Sunday, May 14, 2023

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After spending 15 tiring and jam-packed days exploring Tasmania and Melbourne, the solo leg of my Aussie trip in Sydney offered me some much-needed respite. While it was only a short four days from 23-26 April last year, it marked a couple of milestone moments for me: my first proper solo trip and my first experience visiting and working from an office abroad. 

And boy did I enjoy it–so much so that I ended up planning and going on several other trips with similar agendas for the rest of 2022, and I'm hoping to do so this year too. 

Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive take on all the activities in Sydney though, as checking off attractions wasn't my objective at all. I had also previously written a more touristy take on things to do in the city when I last visited back in 2016 (part I, part II), which are still relevant today. 

This time, I just wanted to spend some quality time with myself doing things I love, at a pace that was comfortable for me. As a huge fan of taking myself out on fun dates–I do it all the time in Singapore–a solo trip was essentially that, times a hundred. 

This is me just arriving and spending the first night in Sydney. 

I treated myself to the cutest little boutique hotel, The Woolstore 1888 by Ovolo, because I knew I was going to spend a decent amount of time inside. Location-wise, it was relatively downtown and convenient to get around from, and had quirky touches right up my alley such as the all-inclusive room bar and self-serve gummy candy counter at the lobby. Breakfast didn't offer a crazy variety, but quality was top-notch, and all guests get a free cocktail everyday at happy hour. 

Super cute welcome kit! 

Unfortunately, I had lost most of the photos I took on my phone from this trip and wouldn't be able to accurately recap everything I did, though to be completely honest, wasn't really much. Whatever I did do though, made me immensely happy and contended, so here are some highlights. 

Sydney Fish Market

Perhaps a bit of a tourist trap, but I recall loving the seafood the last time I visited so I had to get these umami-packed char-grilled morsels of scallop, mentaiko sauce and ebiko again. They were as good as I remembered. 

Phantom of the Opera on the Sydney Harbour

Perhaps one of my favourite solo date activities to do in Singapore is to catch a play or musical or a show of some sort, so I decided to pre-book tickets for the Phantom of the Opera on the Sydney Harbour to ensure I had a late-night activity to look forward to. 

This was such an experience, considering I had never caught Andrew Lloyd Webber's renowned musical live, and this was held outdoors with the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the city skyline as a stunning backdrop. The pyrotechnics they incorporated into the storyline blew me away, with a spectacular fireworks display to close it all out, which obviously wouldn't have been possible in a typical indoor stage. 

The weather threatened to ruin the entire night–halfway through it had started to rain, and everyone except me seemed prepared with ponchos–thankfully it cleared up very quickly. Apparently tickets were also really difficult to snag, and this was in fact the last night of their one-month run. I left the venue with so much gratitude in my heart. 

Working from Sydney (hotel version) 

With my company announcing a work-from-anywhere scheme for employees as a flexibility perk while we transitioned back to the office post-Covid, I decided to give it a shot and got back to checking emails and attending work calls from Sydney. 

Returning to work off the back of a long vacation is always tough, but somehow the novelty of working from somewhere that isn't my bedroom or the Singapore office made it a fair bit better. While I had intended to go into the office, Australia was celebrating Anzac Day, which is a public holiday and thus the office was closed. 

I made a whole day out of it though, strolling out at mid-day for a walk to the nearby Darling Harbour to grab lunch. Fuel of choice was Betty's Burgers, where I got the shroom burger which can 100% rival Shake Shack's. 

And Chinese takeout from Chinatown made for a really comforting, and actually surprisingly authentic taste of home. 

Though I was beat, I decided to take another stroll along Darling Harbour when night fell, and it was bustling with energy from a bunch of street performers and their captive audience. 

Working from Sydney (office version) 

Luckily for me, I did still squeeze in a work-from-office day into my itinerary to explore my first-ever-office-which-isn't-my-own-home-office! I was pretty mind-blown by how consistent the designs across different locations were, yet still maintained uniquely local elements. This is an observation I've come to validate across the several offices I ended up visiting from then onwards. 

Our baristas and food team are truly the best. 

Of course, I couldn't visit the Sydney office without meeting some of the lovely people that got me through the crazy years of working during the pandemic. Here we have L, who has been one of the sweetest, kindest and smartest peer I've been so incredibly lucky to work with. She's since moved on to another team for about a year now, and I sorely miss having her as my local stakeholder. Glad I can call her a friend though, and she brought me around the office. 

Touring an overseas office made me hyper aware of the privilege I had working for Google, and served to remind me that I was working for a truly global firm with perks quite unlike any other. At this point, I had reached the almost-two year mark, but the Covid situation meant that the experiences that I would typically have had were not made available to me, which sometimes causes me to forget the scale of business we deal with and therefore also my own capabilities. And these are the things so important to keep in mind. 

Trust me, we have spaces for productivity too. 


As I left the office and walked back to my hotel, I was greeted by one of the most unreal sunsets ever. And if you thought it couldn't get any better, it was coupled with a freaking rainbow. I'm not quite sure if that's just a typical sight for residents in Sydney, but it made for the best farewell hug from Australia as I prepared to depart back home. 

I didn't realise how much I needed this trip till it happened. Being in Sydney on my own made me feel all sorts of things, such as a newfound sense of independence but more critically, a sense of accomplishment, which if you know me personally, isn't something I often feel. 

On a superficial level, this was the first time I was on a trip with "adult money". While that doesn't mean I blew cash irresponsibly left, right and centre, it felt huge coming from an upbringing where financial insecurity was the norm. At risk of sounding dramatic, it was empowering being able to afford experiences that I would remember for a lifetime, acknowledging all the work, sacrifice and luck it took (not just from myself) to get me to where I am. 

And perhaps the most perfect way to end this post and my Australia trilogy is with this photo. So thankful that I also got the chance to meet family and catch up with my uncle, aunt and cousins who reside in Sydney, and of course to leave knowing that they're doing so well and are happy there. 
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