Tuesday, March 10, 2009

8.2.2009: University of Sydney, Manly Beach

After our morning orientation, I went to visit the University of Sydney carillon because their carillonneur told me that I could visit and play their carillon. I took the CityRail (Sydney’s public transportation, kind of like BART but slower speed-wise and much more extensive … it goes freaking everywhere!) to this place called Central Station, which is the ultimate transfer point for trams on different lines. Then I walked over to the Uni.

I did not get to see much of the University of Sydney, but what I saw was a darn large campus. It’s really spread out. Complete antithesis of Berkeley. It spans multiple streets and I think there is public transportation to get around the campus. Too large of a campus for my taste. Their tower was also pretty short. Only like four stories. And they don’t have an elevator! All the musicians have to walk up there to practice and play the real carillon. Man I am spoiled at Berkeley.

Not only did I get to listen to a recital, but I even got to watch one! At the University of Sydney, they hook up a camera to downstairs so that people can watch how the carillonist performs throughout the hour-long recital. I was familiar with some of the pieces because they’re common carillon pieces. I even got to play their carillon! That was fun, except I think I hurt many people’s ears downstairs. Their carillon’s clapper was much farther from the bell than Berkeley’s so a lot of notes would not really strike because I wasn’t used to pushing so far down. Also, you cannot really hear all the notes equally so that made listening to what you are playing trickier. I think whoever was the architect of the tower wasn’t thinking because they put two carillons (the practice carillon and the one actually connected to bells) in the same room. I mean that just defeats the purpose of having two keyboard, since only one person can play at any one instance. It turns out that the carillonist who performed is also the University Organist. Carillon to her is just a hobby. Pretty crazy stuff. So she let me play the organ a bit too. That was awesome. Such a rich tone. And the organ has all these variations – you can pull or push a whole slew of buttons to vary the tone and tune of the instrument.

Afterwards, the organist/carillonist dropped me off at the Circular Quay, where I took a ferry to Manly Beach, one of the beautiful beaches Sydney has to offer. It took about thirty minutes and you could either sit on the inside and be protected from all the wind/sun or could go outside and catch the views.

Manly Beach is BEAUTIFUL! And you know what the scary thing is? It’s not even the most famous of beaches in Sydney. The most well-known one is Bondi Beach, which I sadly did not get to see. But a beach is a beach is a beach, no? I mean I think seeing one beautiful beach is enough. A bit about the beach … the swells are huge compared to swells in SoCal. It makes Huntington Beach or Seal Beach seem like kid’s stuff. The sand on the beach is white as can be and there really is no trash around on the beach. The winds were pretty strong because I went in the late afternoon, but the experience was gorgeous nonetheless. As a whole, the beach did not smell of seawater like some beaches do, but it was just clean air. Walking around the beach really reminded me of walking towards the pier at some of the beaches in SoCal. Bunch of people in swim-attire, carrying boogie-boards or surfboards, their legs all covered in white sand. Just the environment of a beach-town. I ate a fish-burger while I was there. Cost around A$6.50, but it was big and more than worth the price. It was just a regular burger with fried fish, some white cheese-sauce, and some green’s. It’s interesting that a lot of restaurants here in Australia do not use lettuce when they cook things so much as they use mustard greens or ones that we associate with higher quality salads in the States. Like I had Pad See Yu with kale in it the other day. I guess it’s cheaper there?

Back to beach. I took a walk along the scenic Manly Stroll, which is like 3.8km in total length and basically weaves its way along the coast of Manly and highlights some of the historic landmarks. There were a lot of people running along the walk-way, which is all pavement. Not good for the shin splints! All along the coast, there were small pools setup by I guess the government that had enclosures of water separated from the ocean by rocks that were strategically placed. The pools were for people to play in without worrying about the swells/waves. Swimming in the waters of Australia is sort of dangerous for multiple reasons:
• Poisonous animals: box jellyfish and blue-ringed octopus can kill you, but it’s usually not that bad of a danger because coast guards will demarcate with flags the parts of the beach that you can swim in
• powerful undercurrents that can just seize you without letting you. In these situations, you’re supposed to actually swim parallel to the shore instead of directly at the shore. It’s a bit counterintuitive and I still don’t quite understand why.
• large swells – self-explanatory

I did not actually walk the entire length of Manly Stroll. At some parts, it just got boring. You’re like walking along the coast and all you’re seeing is more and more ocean. I mean sometimes you see some boats and some cool houses. But I don’t really think it’s worth it walking the entire length of it.

Random notes from today:
-McDonalds is awesome. Why, you ask? Because they give you free WiFi. And if that isn’t awesome enough, then I don’t know what is.
-When you crossing the street in Australia, you have to learn to look right first for the first road and then look left for the second road. It’s taking me some time getting used to it. I still feel kind of unsafe crossing since I feel at any instance some car could come from nowhere and hit me.

1 comment:

  1. You're such an engineer. Thinking about the spacing for the carillons. Haha. It's cool that they let you play.