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Firstly, sorry if there should be any mistake, including wrong terms, not-so-accurate descriptions, especially on technical things, within my post that I’m going to write here. I must admit, I don’t really have a sound knowledge on internet technology. I’ve just been blogging around (un-regularly) for several months, joined Facebook last year, Twitter two months ago, and am not in touch with Twittad yet. However, since they’re all part of phenomena, I thought I’ll just share my thoughts of them.

And I’ll talk about Twitter first. Well, actually, I was just introduced – by my lecturer – to this relatively new facility (at least for me), this emerging trend on the net, about two months ago. And it was at the first few weeks of my Online Journalism class this semester at UTS.

But wait! Anyone still has no clue of what I’m talking about here? (more…)

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The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was officially closed tonight – I mean last night since this is already Monday, August 25. I didn’t really follow all the actions, not even watched a single game or any match perhaps. Not because I don’t like sports, and of course not by some reasons based on political or humanitarian (more…)

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Sorry, but I’m not trying to be a smart guy, or some kind of a tourism expert here. No, because I don’t know this city that well. I haven’t even been in Sydney more than a year. And I’m just here to study (yeah, right).

Well, this is just a kind of personal notes, based on my own experience, especially when I have to accompany some of my [mainly Indonesian] friends – from other cities in Aussie or from overseas – when they’re visiting Sydney. And that’s where the rank came from.

So, don’t take it too serious, OK? Better yet, if any of you – perhaps Sydneysider – has any suggestion about any other places, please, help me and put it up here. I’d really appreciate it, as well as my friends which are probably still more to come.

So, here it goes:

1. The Opera House

Sure. No doubt about it, since I guess every people who visit Sydney must go there.

2. Bondi Beach

Such a famous beach. This is an almost sure as well.

3. Paddy’s Market & surrounds

This includes the Chinatown, the Entertainment Centre and so on. So the probability is big, considering whether you come to the area to see any performance, to buy some merchandises, or just to walk around, you’d be there.

4. Darling Harbour

Including the Chinese Garden of Friendship, the Tumbalong Park and Sydney Aquarium & Wildlife World. But some of my friends didn’t actually enter the Chinese Garden or the Aquarium & Wildlife World. Mostly they just walked pass the park, and to the wharfs on the harbour.

5. The University of Sydney

Now this is [perhaps] a bit rare for people from other countries. But I guess the reasons why my friends like to visit the place are because it has such a beautiful scene and that most of them are uni students like me.

6. Manly Beach

Need a bit time to get there – as well as money – but most of my friends have also checked it out. Except that only a small number of them perhaps had really explored the greater part of the area.

7. The QVB, Town Hall & part of George St

Maybe it’s just an unavoided aspect of being in a metropolitan city – or maybe because some of us are still attracted to crowded places? Nevertheless, the buildings there are really beautiful.

8. The University of New South Wales & Kingsford

This is just another ‘effect’ of being Indonesian and as students. There’s a lot of Indonesian food in Kingsford, and the UNSW is a famous educational institution with big campus.

9. The Royal Botanic Garden & Mrs Macquarie’s Point

Some went to both, some just went to one of them. The Garden is just beautiful with all those plants, while Mrs Macquarie’s Point is a great spot to get nice pictures of the two famous landmarks [the Opera House and the bridge].

10. Hyde Park

It’s unavoided when you’re cruising in the city. And of course, it’s beautiful and a bit relaxing.

A few more famous places and the not-so-famous ones

Some of these places are actually listed in most of Sydney’s tourism guides. However, not all of my friends went there when they’re in Sydney. Plus, even I haven’t visited all of them during my one year here in Sydney, though I consider myself enjoying this city.

On the other hand, for places like the Circular Quay and The Rocks, they were obviously visited, but perhaps not really intentional as most friends were mainly going there to get to – or when they’re visiting – the Opera House. While in the case of the Harbour Bridge, I guess none of my visiting friends has really been there. They just took some pictures of it from a distance.

So, here are the rest of them. There are these other beautiful beaches nearby Bondi, like Bronte, Tamarama, Coogee and Maroubra. Further South, there are Little Bay and La Perouse, or even Brighton-Le-Sands, and of course Cronulla Beach.

On the other direction, there are Watsons Bay and The Gap. There are also other bays, like Rose Bay, Double Bay, Elizabeth Bay, then the Taronga Zoo, and Milsons Point [where the Luna Park is]. In fact, there are probably some more good places to visit along both sides of Parramatta River.

Back to the city area, a few of my friends have also taken the chance to visit the Fish Market, the Olympic Park (a bit out of the city), the State Library, or tried the monorail, lightrail, and hung around Central Station (of course). While there are some more highly promoted places around the city such us the Sydney Tower, Pylon Lookout, or the Star City, I believe more friends have visited Macquarie University on the North rather than those sites – with similar reason for visiting Usyd and UNSW.

And there are still more. Other [supposedly] interesting places are some museums, starting from the Australian Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Powerhouse Museum, and a few other buildings under the Historic Houses Trust including the Museum of Sydney, The Mint, the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, the Justice & Police Museum, etc.

Done? Not quite yet. The Centennial Park and Moore Park are perhaps of interests as well for some other people. Also the nearby Randwick Racecourse. Out of those, many people are also interested in specific suburbs and areas such as Newtown, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst & Paddington, or Bondi Junction, and even Parramatta on the West. Oh, and yes, sometimes a few of my friends – especially Muslims – also like to visit Lakemba.

Um… now I don’t have any more places to name on. Any help?

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The quarter final round of UEFA Euro 2008 is surely bringing more excitement to soccer enthusiasts or football-mania, with three legs so far already wrapped in some drama. And this is really what football is all about.

Firstly, opening the knock-out round, Germany convincingly defeated Portugal, one of the tournament favourites, with the final score was 3-2. As people might have been aware of, Portugal have showed impressive plays in the group stage although their “second level” team were surrendered to Switzerland on their last match there. On the other hand, Germany weren’t look too good, especially after the 1-2 defeat by Croatia on their second game, but finally managed to get through by a “light victory” (1-0) over Austria.

The second drama was when one of the previous perfect-point holders, Croatia, were beaten by a more and more impressive Turkey. Had a late goal in extra time that seemed to be their ticket to the semi-final, Croatia had to be disappointed when Turkey’s Semih Senturk scored a later equaliser goal, forcing both teams to end up the game with penalty shoot-out. And that was when the real drama happened. Turkey won by 3-1, thanks partly to the winning save by Rustu Recber the goalkeeper.

And just last night (or this morning in Sydney time), another drama happened. The Netherlands, as of another Euro 2008 favourite, which previously held the other perfect point record (3-0 over Italy, 4-1 over France and 2-0 over Romania), had to go home unexpectedly earlier after the Russian took care of them with 3-1. Previously, Russia themselves were not so impressive, particularly when they started their journey with 1-4 loss from Spain.

Now, there’s still one more game in this round, which is Spain versus Italy tonight (or early tomorrow morning in Sydney). Will Spain also become a proof of previously-impressive-teams inconsistency? Well, we’ll see about that. One thing for sure is that there’ll still be more dramas. Don’t you think so..? 😉

By the way, I’d like to share here as well, a blog around Euro 2008 made by Chris Paraskevas, a UTS Journalism student. It’s quite an interesting one with all the previews, coverage and analysis. And it is updated daily. Please, have a look (click the author’s name or just find it in “Other Links” on the right-side of the page). 🙂

The Turkey’s players celebrated their quarter final victory (picture courtesy of Euro2008.Com).

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A few days ago, or Monday night to be precise, just about when I was preparing to attend one of the Sydney Film Festival’s screening, a message appeared on my cell phone’s screen. It was from my father back there in Indonesia. He asked a short question: “Hey, did you watch Euro’s match last night?”

And suddenly, I was paused for a moment, and thinking: “Oh, God! How can I forget? It’s Euro 2008 final tournament already!”

Yeah, you’re absolutely right! This is about the famous European football (soccer) tournament, or what is formally named UEFA Euro 2008. It’s now being held in Austria and Switzerland, in eight cities, involving 16 final round teams. Even though it’s basically an ‘European thing’, don’t forget, it’s the second biggest sports tournament on planet earth, after the FIFA World Cup. Similar to the World Cup, it’s organised every four years, while both tournaments only separated by two years.

And you know what? In Indonesia, regardless our national team are participating or not, or even whether we’re having a bad or a promising year on our national football scheme, people are always crazy about both tournaments. Yeah, we’re probably one of the biggest football-fans nations in the world. I don’t know now, but usually in the past, sometimes when these tournaments came, some minor ‘negative effects’ might come along as well, such as productivity decrease, domestic/relationship problems, occasional gambling, etc.

But again, you know what? I may say we don’t really care about those. 😀 Besides that they’re just minor cases, there were also things that can be regarded as positive impacts too. One of them is this ‘unique passion’, which is arguably considered as some kind of good distraction for our people, especially those who’s having hard times in the low-level economy life.

Anyway, back to the real topic, the reply I sent to my father that day basically was: “Well, I actually forgot it. But it’s mainly because people or the media here are not the same as us on this, since soccer is not very popular here. Also, I’m not sure if there’s even live match on TV. So, no, I didn’t watch last night’s game, Dad. Too bad. But I’m gonna check it out tonight.”

So then, I checked it out and pulled back my big interest towards this tournament. And I was so glad that Tuesday night, because SBS was actually broadcasting the match of Group D’s Spain v Russia. And of course, I really enjoyed the thrill of watching the action of the Matador’s young guns – especially David Villa with his hat-trick – which finally defeated the Russians with 4-1.

I don’t know if this question would be relevant, but is that means Espana is my favourite in this tournament? Well, indeed, they’re one of the strong teams, along with Portugal, the Netherlands and so on, but the clue to my favourite was my father’s initial question. 😉

Umm… let me just make it simple to avoid confusion here: it’s the Germany (from Group B). To be exact, they’ve been my favourite team since over a decade ago in every Euro tournament (but it’s a different case in the World Cup though). Too bad, after the first great win, on the second game last night they were defeated by Croatia who consequently became the 2nd team that has officially secured its second phase place following Portugal (of Group A). But they surely still have big chance. So, I’d still say: “Go! Go, panzer!” 😀

Anyway, for those who’s interested, the tournament’s info can be easily found almost everywhere on the net right now. But most useful and interesting information – including match schedules, standings, reports and every other thing – can be found on the official website. And the following are just part of the interesting info on one of their fact sheets, which can be viewed completely on this link:

  • Some 8 billion viewers in all followed UEFA Euro 2004 on TV, a figure that is sure to be exceeded during UEFA Euro 2008.
  • The operational budget for UEFA Euro 2008 amounts to EUR 234m (CHF 386m).
  • 21,400 rooms in 408 hotels (220 in Austria, 188 in Switzerland) have been booked for the different target groups, making a total of 139,300 overnights.
  • 5,000 volunteers are supporting the Euro 2008 SA staff during the tournament. Each of the two main host cities, Vienna and Basle, requires 1,000 volunteers, while 500 are needed in each of the other six cities.
  • 4,500 extra trains will be in use during UEFA Euro 2008; 2,000 in Austria and 2,500 in Switzerland.
  • By June 2008, Euro 2008 SA had a staff of 450.
  • 100km of cabling has been installed for host broadcast operations.
  • For the host broadcasting operations, 21 correspondents and 16 ENG crews will be stationed with the 16 teams and produce live reports and video interviews direct from the stadiums and training grounds.
  • 30 cameras are covering the matches, including one helicopter.

(Note: Pictures courtesy of the UEFA EURO 2008 website)

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Well, it’s been a while. It’s hard to get time to write here, huh? Or is it just me who’s being lazy? 😀

Anyway, what I’d really like to say is that it’s been over two week after the Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) 2008 was officially closed. And I’ve been eager to write just a little something [at least a few lines] about it during the previous weeks. So, here’s what I have in mind [maybe a bit more than a few lines :D].

Note: Showing Judith Lucy in action (standing), this picture is one of some interesting sessions at the SWF, taken from the festival website with the photographer Prudence Upton.

……

This is probably not such of festival that cheerful or fun-loving people would prioritise to attend. Yet, there were a lot of visitors there in this year’s SWF. At least, the atmosphere at the festival’s main venue, the Walsh Bay precinct, showed it. And as the festival-goers have already aware of, there were a lot more sessions were held at some other venues, whether it was still around Sydney metro or went across to the other regions of NSW.

It is said that one of the improvements for this year’s SWF was the addition of a few more locations for the sessions. By adding the Pier 2/3 of Walsh Bay to the list of venues, one organiser staff said that it has made the event more flexible, and relaxing or more convenient to be enjoyed by people. Well, what I also saw was a good management of the venues has become one of the reasons for its success.

At the beautiful Walsh Bay precinct alone, at least there were one or two sessions a day that was over-capacity. Maybe it’s easy to understand it if they were all just free events, but the fact is some of the ticketed events were even already fully-booked several days before they commenced. Imagine that for a non-music or non-food-related festival.

And not as what non-book-lovers or people who just don’t know about the festival would possibly think, the attendees were not all old person. Lots of them were young people, even teenage. And yeah, they were kids too. Well, at least for the festival’s precinct, it’s such a nice place for the whole family indeed. Beautiful views, with one of the Sydney’s landmarks just on a near distance of your sight.

The queues are another way to say how interesting this festival was for a lot of people. At least on the time when I was there, at the Sydney Dance Company venues, queues were almost all over the place. A few queues were even longer than half the building’s side. And guess what? In a queue like that, you couldn’t be sure enough you’ll get in, even when you almost reached the room’s door.

Seriously, this note is not just some sort of praise for the festival. After all, what would I get from such praise, anyway? No, that’s not it. And of course, like many other events, this festival surely has problems and negative notes too. For instance, I heard about some issues brought up during the festival, whether it was management issues or even a big literacy issue. For a complete report on all about it, the UTS Journalism’s Festival News can be a reference.

So then, what I was up to there? Well, basically I was up to any kind of event, but probably more into some discussion sessions. Unfortunately, I was only able to be there in the afternoon within two non-consecutive days, Thursday and Saturday. And it’s become more unfortunate for me, since I only attended two sessions. Here’s some story for that…

The first for me was a session called “Writing for Young Adults”. It was a panel discussion involving three interesting novel authors, Doug MacLeod, Michael Gerard Bauer and Matt Costello, facilitated by John Meredith, an actor.

And then, following the above session, I intended to attend another interesting free discussion with an author, titled “Princesses and Pornstars”. It’s a famous female author, Emily Maguire, who in that afternoon talked to Anne Summers about what has happened to women’s rights recently. But I was unlucky, and had to face my first disappointment as an “over-capacity-venue victim”.

Emily surely has a lot of fans, which I then decided to attend her other session when I came by again two days later. A session with a similar name to her previous one, Pornstars, Princesses and Lost Boys, only that this time it was involving a male author, Sam de Brito.

But I had to join the long queue this time, even when at first I was convinced I’ll get in because I stood at a position under the count of a hundred. Yet, there was still no luck there, which finally made me and the rest of the “queueing gang” have to be please enough to listen to the discussion broadcast through a speaker outside of the building. There was another session presenting Emily on Sunday, the next day, but I wasn’t able to be nearby the festival venues at all.

So then, what was the other session that I managed to go to? It’s a launch of a short stories compilation book called the “Growing up Asian in Australia”. And it was also an interesting event, especially for me, knowing that there are so many young Asian writers around.

Below is one of the pictures I took there, showing when Alice Pung the editor –and a Melbourne-based lawyer– had a signature-request session at the end of the launching, accompanied by the lady from Black Inc. the publisher.

……

(Next: the Sydney Film festival – and I already saw two of the movies at the moment)

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Sydney is one of the cities that so-well-known for being the host of lots of festival. At least it’s from my own knowledge. Get rid of music festivals, and there are still several major events that quite interesting – for the residents or especially outsiders. These are two of them, and they’re coming our way, in the nearly upcoming weeks!

……

>> Sydney Writers’ Festival

This one is interesting, not only for the writers or people who like to read a lot of writings e.g. books, feature stories, etc., but of course also for ‘common people’. It will be held here in Sydney – but not just in the city since the venues are very spread out even to Wollongong – from next Monday, May 19 to 25 (official dates).

There are several different kinds of activity that can be enjoyed by people, starting from exhibitions, author talks, conversations, lectures, readings, panel seminars, filming, etc. And if people don’t like to pay to feel the atmosphere, there are still heaps of events which are free. Yes, free of charge!

This event has a lot of major sponsors. But besides those sponsors, you know what, our guys in UTS Journalism will also participate in one important role which is to produce Festival News, the SWF daily publication (but well, I’m not involved actually).

Here’s to take a look at its complete guide.

>>Sydney Film Festival

This year the festival that [I think] really spoiling movie lovers will be in its 55th year. And it will be here for almost three weeks, from June 4 to 22. So, in case June is already filled with other plans in your agenda, at least there’s still any chance for one or two movies, right?

A series of strands will be showcased, involving heaps of movies, starting from kids films, animation, Australian, short cuts, hot docs, art films, world views, some other special foreign movies (high quality ones of course), etc. The venues include the State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, Greater Union George Street, Metro Theatre and so on. No need to say more, I guess, as anybody who really loves movies should already have this event on their agenda.

Here’s to take a look at its complete guide.

……

Just for your [extra] information, I’ll probably be there in both festivals, and surely will try to take notes to be written here. So, just stay tuned. But better yet, if I may suggest, while any of you have the chance, why don’t stop by and enjoy them your self.

Finally, have anything to say? Well, just put your comments here then..! 😉

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