Searching Out Schoners: Sydney, Australia

If you’re about to jump on a plane with a round-the-world ticket, there’s a high chance you’ll be visiting one place in particular – Sydney in Australia. Ideally placed slap bang in the centre of the Southern Ocean, Australia connects East to West, bridging Asia and the USA and as a result, it’s the ultimate stopover city. Read on if you’re short on time and in need of a few ideas:

Help from a Food Hall

As far as accommodation in Sydney goes, check out ‘BASE Hostel’ – a pretty energetic place with young staff and a right backpacking buzz about it, not to mention an unrivaled location close to some of the cities most iconic sights. So if like me you’ve spent your first night at BASE, and quite possibly slogged it out in its popular sister bar and nightclub, ‘Scary Canary’s’, you’d be forgiven if you need a little pick-me-up in the morning… I took some advice from reception and strolled into the Central Business District, up George Street under some of the cities tallest high risers and into the Queen Victoria building. Oh-ho, it was the most luxurious shopping centre I’d ever visited and my ‘thongs’ (local for flip flops) were feeling a little out of place amongst the glitz and designer gear. Stomach grumbling and tiring of escalators I finally stumbled across what the BASE staff where on about – the greatest food hall you’ve ever seen.

Ok, so there was your Macdonalds and your KFC’s but there’s also schnitzel, Italian eateries, ‘Spuds n Crepes’, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, full roast chickens, sizzling pigs on a spit and hundreds of people busting, chatting and getting stuck into some great sharing food. Suddenly the thongs had friends and I grabbed a pork wrap and sat down. I would remember this place, Myers Food Hall, as it was one of those places that’s absolutely fine to visit alone, and all the more nourishing if you’re feeling slightly delicate…

Schoners! Schoners! Schoners!

A surreal moment in any tour of Rajasthan has to be riding out into the Thar Desert (surrounding the most westerly city of Jaisalmer) on camelback and sleeping under the stars. Remind yourself that you are ten miles away from the Pakistani border, often referred to as the most dangerous border on Earth. Disputes between the two sides run deep, as is fiercely played out on the cricket field. Beating Pakistan at cricket is a young Indians dream. They are totally mad for it.

What really strikes a visitor to this place is the basic lifestyles of most of the population. One night I found a unique place to stay in Rajasthan. It was with my guide’s family about 50 kilometres from the city of Jodhpur. Cows are still used to turn mills that control water levels to the fields and crush grain into flour. The family of 15+ lived in a very small space, a shed made of corrugated metal, and a single cow kept the family sustained.

I found it an extremely moving and spiritual place, full of huge dust filled sunsets, hilltop forts and forgotten glory. But, if you choose to delve into the rural, less beaten paths, be prepared for the reality of poverty on a huge scale. Having said that the people are optimistic, and the government is spending money on infrastructure. Everywhere you look motorways are being constructed and mobile phone networks are reaching out to the remotest of communities. Advice for the female traveller would be to always have a scarf handy to cover up your shoulders and face.  This way you will be shielded from the foreigner spotlight which can make some feel uncomfortable.


After heading back to my Sydney hotel, I was curious to check out Chinatown and something I’d heard about the night before – the backpacker ‘BYO’ sensation. Standing for ‘B-ring Y-our O-wn’ (drinks) I headed into one of Chinatowns many packed restaurants for a taste of the famed Yum Cha experience. Mixing buffet and table service, Yum Cha includes many oriental treats centering around the hundred or so stuffed steam dumplings (dim sum). Couple that with a pack of budget bought Toohey’s (local beers) and my evening was on the up. I only wish now it wasn’t a stopover. But at it is, I’m quite happy to call it the ultimate stopover…

5 Things Not to Miss in Sydney

•   Myers Food Hall

•   Fortune of War

•   Botanic Gardens

•   Chinatown Yum Cha

•   BASE Hostel & Scary Canary’s