Monday, December 30, 2013

Farewell 2013 ... and on to a great NEW 2014 !

Farewell 2013 ! What a great year it has been for Melbourne Ahoy. The site visits are going strong and I am getting about 20-50 a day. Not bad for a part-time blogging hobby if I do say so myself. :)

Well, those who follow my Facebook site - which by the way has a lot of micro-posts that are not found here - will know that I had a small win on Melbourne Cup day ! Nothing big but enough to fund a dedicated Melbourne Ahoy website (which I promised to setup if I won).

So true to my word, I am in the process of setting up a brand spanking new standalone website ... Melbourne Ahoy !

I am currently working on my site design so any feedback or suggestions from you would be much appreciated. For example, article suggestions, sections you would like to see, etc.

Just post a comment on my Facebook page (link is on the sidebar) or pop a comment here.

Thanks again for all your support in 2013 ! I hope you stick around and help me to usher in 2014 with a big Melbourne Ahoy BANG !!!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Moving to Melbourne temporary stay tip: Get some pre-loved wheels!

Moving to Melbourne but not permanently? My #1 transport tip is to get a used car!

With Melbourne public transport being not quite up-to-scratch by international standards (please read my old-but-still-very-valid article “Get Around, Get Around .. I Get Around ..”) and the city being so spread out, having your own car is essential.

But don’t let the fact that you won’t be here permanently stop you from buying your own set of wheels. This hot tip will work just as well whether you are here on a 6-month work contract or a few years as a student.

Go buy an old used car – around at least 8 to 10 years old. When you are ready to leave, give yourself a little bit of time (a month or so will do) and sell your car through the classifieds, Gumtree or Ebay. As an older car, most of the depreciation would already have occurred and with a little bit of smart bargaining, you will find that the loss is minimal.

For example, a friend of mine bought an old 1999 Suzuki Jimny a couple of years back and sold it just recently after finishing her studies. The difference in price? Just around $600!

This works out way better than hiring a car. And it will provide you with heaps more flexibility and (trust me) a lot less headache dealing with Melbourne’s public transport.

Hope you find this tip useful! :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Melbourne Cup Carnival and "The Race that Stops the Nation"

Starting tomorrow, the week-long Melbourne Cup Carnival starts bringing horse racing fever to Melbourne! 

An event rich in tradition and history spanning over 150 years, the Melbourne Cup carnival is a truly unique Melbourne experience not to be missed!
For many, it is an excuse to dress up to the nines, go to races, have the once-in-a-year horse race bet and generally have a good time with friends. In fact, a great tradition is to go to the track car park and have a picnic (with lots of champagne of course!). Many don’t even watch a single race!
The major race days during the Carnival week are:

  • Victoria Derby (1st Sat) – The most exciting day for serious punters with the many top level races taking place.
  • Melbourne Cup Parade (Mon) – Not a race day but an event not to be missed! Come and watch the jockeys and horses taking part in the Melbourne Cup parade down the streets of Melbourne CBD. The streets will be packed with tens of thousands of people so arrive early to get the best vantage points.
  • Melbourne Cup (Tues) – The Race That Stops The Nation! The pinnacle of the carnival is undoubtedly the Melbourne Cup race day. It is held on the first Tuesday of every November at 3 pm and is also a public holiday! I’m not sure what other places in the world have a public holiday for a horse race but there can’t be too many!
  • Oaks Day (Thurs) – This day is centred on the Ladies! Fashion parades, best dressed contests, etc. Not surprisingly, the highlight race of the day is for female horses only!
  • Stakes Day (2nd Sat) – A relaxed family oriented day to close off the carnival. Kids are encouraged to come with lots of activities and entertainment for children. There is even a Children’s Fashion contest to select the best dressed kid!

So put on your best suit or frock - not forgetting the fancy hats ladies - and see you at the races ! 

P.S. Many people take the Monday off work, have an extended 4-day weekend and a short holiday break. So book your accommodation early to avoid disappointment if you are planning to visit the popular holiday spots during this time!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Winner of X-Factor Australia 2013 is .... DAMI IM !!!!!!

My heartest felt congratulations to Dami Im on winning X-Factor 2013 tonight !

No one deserves it more than you, Dami. You are just the most humble,  hardworking, beautiful, honest, open, etc contestant to grace these sort of talent reality TV show. I have never seen anyone connect with the audience - young and old - like you have.

Boy, will I miss looking forward to the next Dami Im performance on Sunday nights ... :(

Apologies to those who have come to this blog expecting a guide to moving to Melbourne and finding a mini Dami Im site instead ! But as with most of Australia, I have been swept up and recruited into the Dami Army ! LOL !

I guess its back to "regular programming" though Dami is a shining inspiration to anyone moving to Australia. Born in South Korea, Dami moved to Australia at the age of 9. A talented pianist, she took up singing to help make friends at school since she didn't speak much English. Obviously, she has since followed her dream and achieved it. Personally, I feel it is wonderful how Australia has embraced her and voted the first Asian-Australian to win a talent show of this kind. I hope this debunks the myth once and for all that Australians are racist !

All the best for the future Dami and I will be supporting you all the way ! Starting with buying your winner's single "Alive" on iTunes. :)

But as one last salute to the Dami Im X-Factor journey, I would like to take everyone to the moment when it all started - her audtion - when the Australia discovered the beautiful talent that is Dami Im. It truly shows how far she has come than since then.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dami Im RULES on an AMAZING X Factor Grand Final night !

What an amazing set of performances by Dami Im in the X-Factor 2013 Grand Final ! I hope she is announced winner tomorrow night. She truly deserves it because of her consistently top class performance and also as a humble beautiful person.

Performance #1 - Singing her audition song again - Hero by Mariah Carey - which I actually prefer over the original. To me, Dami's version is more heartfelt, vulnerable and emotionally connects with the soul. 

Performance #2 - Dami Im's winner's single - Alive. A world class pop song that is destined to be a huge radio hit. Like Redfoo, I'll probably listen to it first thing every morning for a long while.

Last but not least ... 

Performance #3 - Saving the best for last ... this is a MASSIVE performance of the Jennifer Hudson hit from the movie Dreamgirls. Wow ... just Wow. IMHO, the BEST performance on ANY Australian talent show. Ever. 

Go the DAMI ARMY !!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dami Im WRECKS her way into the X-FACTOR 2013 GRAND FINAL !

Congratulations to DAMI IM on reaching the Grand Final of X-Factor Australia 2013 !!!!

Her journey has captivated the whole of Australia (and many people around the world too). It all culminates in this Sundays Grand Final followed by Monday's result show and crowning of the winner.

For me, Dami has been the most consistent performer throughout this whole series. She is clearly far and away the vocalist in the competition. But will that be enough to win her the competition ? She faces a stiff challenge from Taylor Henderson (2nd best performer in the show after Dami IMHO) and 14 year old Jai Waetford (who will no doubt win many female and sympathy votes).

I'll leave you with Dami's stunning rendition of "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus which many say are better than the original. You be the judge. :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Things to do and see in Melbourne .. Updated !

New or on vacation to Melbourne ? Bored of the regular tourist haunts and want to check out something different ?

I just updated my off-the-beaten-track guide to Melbourne's best alternative attractions / things to do and see. 

Check it out here ! ...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dami Im displays awesomeness with CLARITY !

Another "out of this world" performance from Dami Im on X-Factor Australia tonight !

Bouncing back from last week's controversial "meh" comments from Redfoo, this superstar Korean Australian immigrant gave a wonderful performance of Zedd's dance hit "Clarity". This song is deceptively difficult to sing and Dami is probably the only one of the finalists that could have pulled this song off.

Having said that, the performances tonight from the rest of the final 6 was also of a very high quality. I am self-confessed addict of reality TV talent shows (e.g. X-Factor, Idol, The Voice, etc) and tonight's episode of X-Factor is probably the best ever episode of this type of show filled end-to-end with great performances.

So Dami getting through tomorrow is definitely no shoo-in. Everyone please vote and get behind Dami ! Go the Dami Army !!

Here's the official X-Factor video. I'm not sure if it can be viewed by people outside Australia but if you can't please post a comment and let me know. Thanks !

P.S. The YouTube Search function has blocked the non-official videos of Dami's performance but you can still get to it if you know where to look. So here's a link to the full segment including Intro and Judge's comments. Thanks Jimzo !

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Quest For News

Just moved to Melbourne and feeling a little bit homesick? Craving for news from your home town?
Well you just might be in luck!

State LibraryThe State Library of Victoria provides library members with FREE access to a wide range of current and past Australian and international newspapers. You can access this service either from the many PCs at libraries or – wait for this – all from very comfort of your own home!

My personal favourite is the fantastic PressDisplay news service that has content from 2200 newspapers from 97 countries – including advertisements! A little bit of warning here though – you can find yourself spending countless hours trawling through news from all over the world.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dami Im impresses everyone again .. except ...

Dami Im gave another flawless performance tonight on the X-Factor Australia singing a moving rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" by Simon & Garfunkel.

Controversially though, one of the judges - Redfoo - was undewhelmed and said that she did not give it her best. I've listened to her performance many times over tonight and oddly, I reckon Redfoo has a point - even though it has nothing to do with Dami's perfomance which was pitch perfect throughout.

Now before I get shot down in flames, I am a HUGE fan of Dami and have been supporting her all the way since week 1. And personally, Bridge Over Troubled Waters is one of my all-time favorite songs.

What I felt let her performance down a bit was the ARRANGEMENT. I know the song time is cut to fit the schedule but nonetheless, the song felt quite disjointed. The beautiful flow of the original song and the intricate layers just wasn't there. And WORST of all was the ending - or rather the lack of it ! The word "anti-climax" comes to mind immediately.

Nonetheless, an artist can only work with the material she is provide and Dami gave a wonderful performance once again. What she was asked to do, she performed faultlessly. She has this amazing ability to mesemerize and take the listener on a journey everytime she sings. Dami, I BELIEVE !

P.S. Her segment is so massive that it requires 2 videos this week ! Intro followed by Performance.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Victoria population sky rockets !

According to the latest government statistics, the population of the state of Victoria is now growing by more than 100,000 a year !

Not surprisingly, most of them are headed to Melbourne. Melbourne's population is on track to rise from 4.25 million in mid-2012 to 4.5 million by 2015 and 5 million by 2020. By the end of next year, it will have grown 30 per cent in just 15 years.

I wish all the new immigrants are settling and integrating well. Hopefully some of them have visited this site and found it useful.

Are you a new Melbournian yourself ? Feel welcome to share your own personal story here ! If you want to remain anonymous, just private message me.

Thanks !

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dami Im ROCKS on X Factor once again !

Live show week 5 and 5 standing ovations in a row. The Dami Army marches on !

This week's them is Rock and Dami takes it to another level once again. Pop, retro, rock, etc .. Dami can do it all. Just amazing. I love this classic Foo Fighter's song - Best of You - and she just nails it.

Enjoy !

Saturday, September 21, 2013

School holidays and the child care issue

It's school holiday time again ! For the next 2 weeks, most primary and secondary (high) school students will be enjoying the spring break vacation.

School ClosedPersonally, I quite enjoy the school holidays myself. A lot of parents take time off work and whisk the family away on a short holiday. For me that means a leisurely drive to / from work (with much less cars on the road for a change) and less stress at work with lots of people away !

But if you have young children and with both parents working full-time, finding someone to look after your children can be a BIG challenge. This is a common problem in Melbourne (and Australia in general) so make sure you don't get caught out !

A common option is to leave the children with the grandparents but for new migrants to Melbourne, the family support network unfortunately may not be there though. And with finances possibly being stretched by the relocation and settling down, taking extended work leave might be out too.

So here are some quick tips and lessons that I learned through real experience:
  • Some schools offer on-site holiday care programs. Spots tend to be limited as preference so enquire wide and early.
  • There are some organisations that specialise in providing vacation care. Again these programs are very popular. Start doing your planning at least a month before the holiday starts!
  • While this may come as a surprise to international immigrants, it is also quite common to see parents bring their children to their place of work - especially if it is in an office environment !
  • This may not be possible for everyone, but getting permission to work from home on some days can help reduce the number of leave days you have to take. 
Hope you found this blog post particularly useful and I'll leave you with one final important reminder - PLAN EARLY !!  

P.S. If you have other ideas or tips, please comment and share ! :-)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dami Im ROARS on X-Factor !

Can this woman do no wrong ?! An unprecedented 4 standing ovations in a row from the judges in 4 live shows !

Performing a rousing rendition of the Katy Perry smash hit "Roar", she smashed her opposition again with the best performance of the night by far.

I am running out superlatives to describe her and I think its best to let her performance do the talking.

Enjoy !

P.S. Her performance starts around 2:00 if you want to skip the intro section. Also, get ready for LIFT OFF around 3:30 so stick to the end. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Building your own home

Today’s blog post is following on from the previous posts about Melbourne property - the Real Estate journey and Choosing your suburb.
House construction 
For many people, buying an existing home in established suburbs can be too expensive. A popular and cheaper option especially among new immigrants is to buy an empty block of land in an outer growth corridor suburb – e.g. Point Cook or Tarneit – and build a brand spanking new home.

Let’s say you have chosen your land, decided on a house design and selected a builder, what next?

Here are the 6 main stages of building your own home:

  1. Contract: Review and finalise building contract terms and conditions
  2. Base: This is after the concrete slab foundation or stumps/piers/columns have been completed
  3. Frame: After all the wall and roof frames have been built.
  4. Lock Up: After the external walls, windows, doors, etc have been completed and the house can be “locked up”.
  5. Interior: All the interior work – e.g. plumbing (water and gas), electrical, painting, etc. – is completed.
  6. Handover: Your will get a chance to go through the house with the builder to ensure that everything is alright. Any defects are officially noted for rectification. 

By the way, it is normally built into your building contract that you have to pay a certain amount of the total price at each stage – also known as Progress payments.

Best of luck with your new project!

P.S. I have been through this process a number of times so feel free to post any specific questions you have about the process. More than happy to assist if I can!

Last but not least, don't forget to check out my brand NEW website - - dedicated to all things about moving to Melbourne and life in general in the world's most liveable city !
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