Categories
Cambodia Published Work

In Siem Reap you get hit up by begging kids all the time. Here’s how I dealt with it

“Without education,” he said. “They will be begging for not only a short time, but for their whole lives.”

Source: In Siem Reap you get hit up by begging kids all the time. Here’s how I dealt with it

THERE I WAS IN SIEM REAP’S main tourist hot spot, where you can get a $3 massage in the same room where you can get a $10 happy ending. There was a Cambodian boy on Pub Street gesturing at a dirty-faced woman holding a baby. She was a statue in the milling throng. “Please, I don’t want money. I just want milk for the baby,” he said.

The woman watched our interaction intently as the boy moved closer to me. “I don’t want money. I only want milk,” he repeated.

He looked about 13 years old, with light brown skin, a round shaved head and bloodshot Mongol eyes. I hesitated. He clutched my hand. I looked around for my friend, Becs, and the two Indian boys from the hotel who had accompanied us to dinner. But they had already streamed through the masses, jaded to the pleas of begging children in the city.

I had read on Lonely Planet that there is a common “milk scam” in Cambodia. Children convince foreigners to buy formula for a baby, pick out the most expensive one, and then sell it back to the shop. The profits are split between the shop owner and whatever adult is, in essence, “pimping” the child.

Earlier that day, Becs and I had toured Angkor City, where hordes of children accosted every visitor, offering souvenirs for $1. Security guards handed out passes to regulate visits to the third level of Angkor Wat or Phnom Bakheng Hill. Along with guidelines for respectful behavior and dress codes, the passes explicitly stated that you shouldn’t give money to the children because it encourages them to skip school.

“While oftentimes travelers are motivated to contribute when seeing poverty and children in vulnerable situations, the way they contribute could be more harmful than helpful to the children,” Iman Marooka, Chief of Communication at UNICEF Cambodia, told me in an email interview. He explained that giving money to begging children, “perpetuates their vulnerability and exploitation.”

I already knew all that, but I still faltered. Every day I had spent in Siem Reap had ate away at me. It was a constant stream of pleas and my subsequent white guilt. The boy’s grip on my arm was curiously strong as he continued to insist that he didn’t want money, only milk. Eventually one of my Indian friends, Pranith, turned back and saw me still standing there. He weaved his way through the crowd and pulled my hand away from the child. We started turning away.

The boy punched my side. “Fuck you,” he said. I kept walking.

According to statistics from a World Bank project — LEAP in Siem Reap — 2010 brought 1.3 million international visitors to Siem Reap, with more than $606 million in revenue — a number that has definitely increased in the past six years. However, Siem Reap Province still remains one of the poorest in Cambodia, with the identifiable poor households reaching 31 percent in 2012, according to an Asian Development Bank study. The average hotel or restaurant staff salary is $60 per month.

So where is all that extra tourism money going? Is it staying in the country, or going out to the Korean and French business owners who apparently own more than half the establishments in town?

Among other causes of poverty besides profiteering, some of the most prominent are a lack of assets and low productivity, plus a lack of access to markets and an inability to compete with Thai and Vietnamese products. Due to low education, there’s also a lack of voice in the country’s decision-making. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport recognizes that for Cambodia to join the competitive market and become a middle income country, education needs to improve.

The Ministry’s website states that they envisage, “a time when graduates from all its institutions will meet regional and international standards and will be competitive in the job markets worldwide and act as engines for social and economic development in Cambodia.”

But education in Cambodia is not compulsory. Article 36 of the Education Law states that, “parents or guardians of small children are encouraged to take their children whose age is 6 years old or at least 70 months to enroll in Grade 1 of primary education; to try their best to support the studies of their children…”

To try their best. The Cambodian government does offer nine free years of public education — from primary to secondary school — but parents still have to pay for uniforms, transportation, school supplies and any extra tuition fees. Plus they have to cope with the potential loss of income that might result from their children not working.

And what about upper secondary school? What about higher education?

Public education, and some private education, is offered in shifts. This means that the child attends either morning or afternoon classes — but they won’t receive a full day of learning.

“While this strategy can solve the problem of access, it may compromise quality, as it gives teachers less time to prepare their lesson plans or materials,” Marooka says.

According to the Education Statistics and Indicators for Siem Reap Province, the dropout rate in Grade 1 was only 8 percent between 2013 and 2014. However by Grade 9, dropouts grew to 18.8 percent, and skyrocketed to 59 percent by Grade 12. The upper secondary school completion rates are now around 19 percent.

If we want to use a familiar comparison, the dropout rates are 2 percent between Grades 9 and 12 in Massachusetts and the graduation rates are 86 percent. In the District of Columbia, arguably the United States’ worst district for public education, the dropout rates for 2011 through 2012 were 5.8 percent, and the graduation rates were 62.3 percent.

Sophea Pet, an assistant at the Volunteer Development Children’s Association in Siem Reap, told me that many children drop out because they aren’t doing well in school. He said that neither they, nor their parents, truly understand the importance of education. The children see begging on the streets or running small shops with their families as an easier way to make a living.

“Education for Cambodian children relies on parents waking up to take their children to school,” said Pet. “The parents are often uneducated and hard to talk to. They just see money as the most important.”

Pet called himself an “assistant,” but on the afternoon of our interview, I jostled up in a tuk tuk and he seemed to be running the show at the free supplementary school. The Siem Reap site and their sister school in Anlung Pi Village focuses on English, computer and art lessons for students aged 5-25. It is an NGO that thrives on volunteers and partnerships with organizations like Project Enlighten of the United States and Cambodian Schools of Hope, Inc. of Australia, among others. There is no recruitment process to find children to attend. Children show their motivation to learn by coming to the school of their own volition. Classes are held in the afternoon, after public school lets out.

In front of the hectic free supplementary school, located near the Wat Thmey Pagoda, was an adequate soccer field filled with elated children kicking around a ball. I walked slowly through the front gates. The space was filled with the playful energy that only happy children in a learning environment can produce. A few older kids chatted away in the center courtyard of the school while the younger ones occupied the surrounding classrooms, about 10 in total. The walls were covered in motivational English phrases and colorful artwork. I introduced myself to Pet and offered him a donation of school supplies as he pulled out a chair for me to sit down, eyes darting between me and the classrooms.

“Two of the teachers didn’t show up today, so I’m teaching three classes,” he explained, flustered.

I wished I had come earlier to help out, and not just to conduct an interview.

“When I was a kid, I woke myself up to go to school,” he continued. “My parents just wanted me to make money and go to Thailand to be a construction worker. I moved to Siem Reap by myself and believe that study is better.”

Pet said that the Ministry of Education is indeed working very hard to improve education standards through a reform agenda. They have improved the quality of the Grade 12 exam, and as a result, almost 56 percent of students passed the national upper secondary education exam last year, compared to 42 percent in the previous school year. However, Pet believes that change has to start with a compulsory education law, similar to the United States, where the government and the police work together to make sure children of a certain age are in school during the day. This would give children more motivation to attend school.

“Without education,” he said. “They will be begging for not only a short time, but for their whole lives.”

After we spoke, I went around to the classrooms while he made his own rounds, passed out Oreos and sang the ABCs with the kids, most of whom seemed younger than 10 years old.

The day after I interviewed Pet, I toured the temples as usual, but thoughts of the children stayed with me. I stepped lightly with sandaled shoes on 1,000-year-old stone, swimming through the wet heat in the air.

The last temple I visited was Ta Prohm, a sanctuary of thick silk-cotton trees pushed their way through cracks in the stone and endless roots gnarled over gopuras. As I left the complex, a young girl who was manning one of the stands called out to me.

“Hey, lady, you dropped money,” I heard her childish voice call from behind me.

I whipped my head around, but I knew I hadn’t dropped anything. She giggled behind her hand, enjoying her trick. I smiled and walked over to her.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Me? I am 13,” she said.

“Why aren’t you in school?” I asked.

“Oh, I go to school later,” she said. It was around 1 in the afternoon.

She saw the look of incomprehension on my face, so she said, “Look, really. I go to school later.” She walked over to her backpack, opened it, and showed me its contents. Inside was a school uniform, a few notebooks and pencils. She even opened the notebooks to show me that she had written in them. I could see that her name was Saroeurm.

“I learn English in private school. Western International School. I go at 2 o’clock. You help me start my business? You buy something, you help me with business so I can go to school,” she said.

I let my eyes float over her shop’s offerings, and settled on a breezy cotton dress with peacock feathers and a scarf with Angkor Wat printed on it. It cost me $4. UNICEF may not have approved.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked as I felt through my wallet for some bills. She looked confused, so I asked what she would do when she finished school. She replied that she might continue to run the shop with her sister, a woman with a soft round face that I hadn’t noticed was watching us protectively the whole time.

“Do you want to go to university?” I asked, hopeful.

She laughed nervously. “Not yet,” she said. “That’s four years from now. I’m just thinking…” she paused, trying to find the words. “I’m thinking step by step.”

Her older brother showed up to take Saroerum to school. His name was Bun Hoeurn, and he worked at Sonalong Boutique Village and Resort as a receptionist. He spoke English well, and at the time, was waiting on university test results to come back so he could pursue a career as a teacher in Siem Reap. I asked Bun if he thought Saroerum would attend university, too, someday.

“I really want her to study at university because in Cambodia, if you just graduate Grade 12, there are no jobs,” he said. “I want her to study, but if she doesn’t want to go, there is nothing I can do, so we need to talk to her.”

Bun took Saroerum out of public school and put her in private school, at Western International, because he wasn’t happy with the quality of education.

“She studied for six years in the village,” said Bun. “I tested her knowledge. The quality of the teacher is low, so she cannot grow enough.”

Bun claims that many of the teachers at public school are only required to finish Grade 9, pass an exam, and study teaching for two more years to teach at primary school. I checked the statistics, and according to a paper on part of a study on “Contract teachers and their impact on meeting EFA goals” completed by the World Bank, what Bun said has truth to it. Authors Richard Geeves and Kurt Bredenberg found that while only 7.1 percent of Cambodian teachers just finished primary school, they are largely concentrated in remote areas where they make up nearly half of the teaching staff. About 70 percent of teachers have only studied to lower secondary education, Grade 9. While most of the teachers have received some form of pedagogical training, the statistics don’t show whether the teachers learned at training centers or just on the job.

“There is a lot of corruption in Cambodia,” Bun lamented. “Teachers only get about $60 a month salary. They often go and get another job because the salary is too low, and they don’t pay 100 percent attention to the student.”

Now Bun is paying around $160 a month to send his sister to school, but he says it is worth it to get her a better education and improve her potential future. The private school is also a shift school, so Saroeurm must work in the morning. Luckily, the little entrepreneur likes to work and is good at it. I secretly hoped she wouldn’t get stuck doing it because she knows that she is able to.

“When the children work in the temples selling souvenirs, they are too lazy to study,” said Bun in a hushed voice.

That seemed to be the general consensus. So how do you motivate children and families who are ignorant to the realities? The future of their country depends on them and if they don’t educate themselves, their country won’t succeed.

Bun’s silent sister was closing down the shop around us as we spoke. It was time to take Saroerum to school. I thanked them for taking the time to talk to me, and got Bun’s contact information so we could keep in touch. As I walked back towards the gate, my new purchases slung over my forearm, I reflected on the individual children I had met in Siem Reap, the ones who wanted to learn, and the ones who didn’t. I was on their side now. I could see how their surrounding environment affected their lives, and how their actions would affect their environment.

How you can help

Donate time: While voluntourism is in vogue at the moment, do your research before you decide to spend a week volunteering directly with children, especially if you are not qualified in your own country to teach or take care of children. If you don’t speak the local language, you won’t be able to communicate well with the children, and volunteering for only a short amount of time could cause other issues with the kids. If you can’t stay on as a full time teacher, the best ways to volunteer are to find an organization that is legally registered and protects their children based on UN standards. You can help by fundraising, marketing, spreading awareness, making films, teaching skills to local teachers, etc. For more information, check out tips from Child Safe Movement.

Donate money: Organizations like UNICEF, NEF, CARE and VSO are reliable and honest. They have the resources to provide support to vulnerable families. They help children remain with their families, get an education, provide school supplies, and help family members find employment.

Categories
Australia Published Work Tips, Advice, and Everything Else

I’ve waitressed in the US and Australia, here’s why Australia is way better. Hands down.

“But even though I’m possibly making three times less here in Australia, I still don’t miss serving in the States.”

Source: I’ve waitressed in the US and Australia, here’s why Australia is way better. Hands down.

 

WHEN I ARRIVED IN Melbourne, Australia, I gravitated toward what I already knew: the hospitality industry. Serving is the old song and dance wherever you do it. You learn the menu, you learn the computer, you remember where shit goes. And I did catch on to the different names for things pretty quickly — ‘capsicum’ for bell peppers, ‘rocquette’ for arugula, and ‘lemonade’ for Sprite. (Although I still can’t quite wrap my head around that last one.)

And yeah, in Melbourne, customers obviously love to crack jokes at me whenever they hear my American accent.

“Oh, I bet the portions are much bigger where you’re from, eh?” They’ll say.

“Yes, we’re all fat Americans, aren’t we? Have another bowl of chips, cunt,” I’ll politely reply.

But my favorite remark is: “Must be nice to make a living wage over here, isn’t it?”

And that’s where they’re wrong. True, the hourly wage here in Oz is much higher than in the States. I make $20 an hour after taxes here, versus the $3 an hour before taxes that I made back in Boston. But as anyone who has worked the floor in the US knows, that good-old American tipping culture had me, more or less, rolling in cash. Twenty percent of that upsold check went to yours truly, so it wasn’t a big deal to walk out with $350 on a Friday night. (And that’s modest compared to a lot of big city bartenders.)

But even though I’m possibly making three times less here in Australia, I still don’t miss serving in the States. Here’s why.

There is no “good section.”

Each shift started with a gander at the floor plan and either a sigh of relief that I got “the good section” or a wave of angst because I fucking hate “the cubby” and “I never make money there.”

In Australia, it truly doesn’t matter. I’m making the same money no matter where I serve.

It’s not the end of the world if you fuck up a table’s order.

It’s not my style to give bad service and it’s definitely not in my job description, but I am human and I’ve made mistakes. Shit happens.

I don’t know how many asses I’ve had to kiss, how many meals and drinks I’ve had to comp, all so that that one mistake doesn’t reflect upon my tip, and therefore, my livelihood. Hospitality can be a vicious place back home, but in Australia it’s far easier to let the little things roll off my back, and I notice my customers do the same.

There is zero competition.

It took me some time, but I learned in Australia that I don’t really need to be territorial over my section any more. Here, a team works together for the greater functionality of the restaurant. It’s no big deal to find managers or coworkers taking orders in your section and ringing them in for you. You needn’t worry that they are trying to steal your table, and therefore, your tip.

I could care less if people camp out in my section.

Back in Boston, every time I walked past a table of people who I knew were going to be there for hours, not ordering a thing, I’d get a pang in my chest. “Campers” come in many forms. They could be a couple on a first date, some lady with a glass of Chardonnay and a book, or some drunk sports fans who only want to order nachos and a pitcher of water. In the United States, campers are the worst patrons because they deprive paying and tipping customers from eating, paying, tipping and leaving like a good American diner.

But here in Australia, please, camp out. I want you to. Read the newspaper and sip your extra hot flat white all day, for all I care. I don’t have to wait for you to close out your check before I can go home, and I’m not relying on the girth of your bill or your generosity to pay my rent.

People actually order what’s on the menu.

None of this: “I’ll have the roasted salmon please, but could you put the bechamel on the side? And I’ll have it with the caramelized carrots from the beef dish instead of the confit potatoes that it comes with. Oh, and I’m gluten free and lactose intolerant.”

Here’s how a typical Australian orders: “I’ll have the fish and chips, please.”

The end.

Your managers won’t keep you on the clock just to spite you.

I’m not saying it’s the same at every restaurant, but who hasn’t had a manager who claims that staff asking to be cut first or early is their personal “pet peeve?” Why, I couldn’t say, but if a manager even gets a whiff of your desire to screw, you can almost bet that they’ll make you jump through hoops to get what you want. Because what do they care? They’re paying you chump change, so it’s nothing to keep you on the payroll until the place closes, even if it’s dead. “It might get busy,” they always say.

Maybe it’s not universally Australian and I just happened to find an incredibly accommodating restaurant, but if you’ve got something else going on and the restaurant can function without you, they will let you go. Have to study? Not feeling well? Got a gig you’re trying to see? A friend’s in town visiting? “Yeah, it should be alright. Do you want dinner before you go?”

Because, in the end, they’re happy to just not pay you that $20 an hour if they don’t need to.

We get family dinners and shift drinks here.

I think I’ve worked one restaurant job back home that actually gave me a shift meal. I’ve never worked at one that offered me a shift drink. These are just mythical concepts in the States, rarer than a unicorn or someone from New Hampshire who wears a seatbelt. Here, I get both. Each and every shift. Sometimes the meal is swill, to be honest, but for the most part it’s edible and made by a chef, and I’m not paying out of my own pocket for it. Not even paying 50 percent for it. And because it’s Australia, that free shiftie can easily become two or three…no worries, mate.

 

By Rebecca Bellan

Categories
Australia Published Work

Melbourne in a Day

Source: Melbourne in a Day

 

The Top Things To Do In Melbourne.

If You’re Short On Time, Here’s A Guide To Help You Enjoy A Day In Melbourne.

Melbourne has been named the most livable city by The Economist for five years now, and it’s not hard to see why. Easy to navigate, full of beautiful parks, and teeming with trendy and multicultural cafes and restaurants, Melbourne is just a dream. It’s the type of place where you want to be stable because stability has never been so easy, yet so entertaining.

 

If you’ve only got one day to explore while the sun is still up, or if you live here and just want to have a splendid day around the city and inner neighborhoods, here’s a guide that highlights some of Melbourne’s main attractions:

 

1) Breakfast In Melbourne

Melbourne, like most of Australia’s major cities, is simply chockers with cafes. This is due to the Australian obsession with perfectly poured and frothed coffee and over-the-top brekky, which nine out of ten times consists of poached eggs, smashed avo and a local sourdough. You won’t be pressed for choices in any neighbourhood, but I’d go into the Northern suburbs for both the varied menus and the diverse atmosphere. I’m talking outdoor seating, dogs for the petting, gorgeous lace terraces and chilled out hipsters. I live in Brunswick, home of Lebanese bakeries, Aussie grunge and many vintage and op shops. You literally cannot spit without your loogie hitting a cafe along Sydney Road, Lygon Street or any of their side streets.

A few of my Brunswick faves are:

A Minor Place

A cozy spot on residential Albion Street, A Minor Place has great service, is good for groups, and brews some of the smoothest coffee around. The Smoked Salmon with Mint, Pea and Avocado Mash over Sourdough Toast is to die for, and they’ve also got some great bagels.

103 Albion St., 03 9384 3131

Minimo

Small venue with simple settings, a friendly staff and an Italian chef who cooks with love. Try the Calabrese Breakfast if you like a little heat in the morning!

822 Sydney Rd., 03 9383 2083

Green Refectory

Adorable spot in an old bookshop. Great for flaky Hot Pies and inspired fresh juice mixes or teas. They obviously also make awesome coffee. The alley in the back offers beautiful seating to enjoy your meal.

115 Sydney Rd., 03 9387 1150

Brunswick Foodstore

Large space with plenty of quiet seating, offering a nice Middle Eastern inspired menu and even a small grocery section. Have some Ricotta and Raspberry Hot Cakes or Poached Eggs with Babaganoush. Also keep an eye out for their specials board!

29 Weston St., 03 9388 8738

Breakfast Thieves

When I have the urge to eat in a different inner Melbourne suburb, I go to Fitzroy. Fitzroy is a beautiful neighborhood wedged in between Carlton, Melbourne’s Little Italy, and Collingwood, known as one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs.

Brunswick Street and Smith Street run down Fitzroy, and both are perfect to showcase Fitzroy’s ever-changing, yet static bohemian culture, from cafes to art galleries.

While there are plenty of great brekky spots on these main roads, a short walk on Gore Street off of Smith will take you to Breakfast Thieves, a quiet cafe with plenty of vegetarian options, tucked away amongst the developing and industrial buildings in the neighborhood.

The owner’s inspiration for the name of the restaurant comes from the idea that, “We are all thieves when it comes to fine food.” And fine food you’ll get, along with a friendly staff, perfectly made coffees and an open kitchen so you can watch the cooks create your enticing plate. Sit outside if the weather is nice and try The Leprechaun, a plate of crispy Sweet Corn and Basil Fritters atop a creamy Mushroom Base with loving dollops of Avocado-Yuzu Mousse and some Parmesan and Spiced Lemon Thyme Crumbs for good measure. The Breakfast Chain is also a hearty dish, complete with nostalgia-inducing Soft-Boiled Eggs, Cheddar melted soldiers, Fig Yoghurt with house made Granola and Apple, Rhubarb, Ginger and Almond Crumble for a sweet finish.

The Leprechaun, Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy, Melbourne
The Leprechaun, a corn fritter breakfast, at Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy, Melbourne
Breakfast Chain, Breakfast Thieves, Fitzroy, Melbourne
The Breakfast Chain from Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy, Melbourne

420 Gore St., Fitzroy / 03 9416 4884

 


 

2) Shopping At Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets

This giant historic landmark and market in the heart of the city is your one-stop shop for everything from fresh seafood and produce, to crafty dips and desserts, to recycled clothing and Aussie souvenirs. There’s heaps to look at and taste, and if you go on a weekend, it’s usually filled with people bustling to and fro, shop owners offering bites of food, and vendors yelling their wares in that way that only food stall vendors can do so well. I like to enter through the Dairy Hall, or Deli Hall, grab a melt in your mouth Salted Caramel Macaroon from the closest bakery to the door, and munch as I stroll, reveling in the chaos.

Queen Victoria Market Facade, Melbourne
One of the entrances to the Queen Vic Markets in Melbourne
Vendors and seafood at seafood section of Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne, VIC
Seafood stalls at Queen Victoria Markets, Melbourne
Dairy and deli food stalls on either side of dairy hall in Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne
View of the dairy/deli section of the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne

The Queen Vic Markets also have regular featured events, like the Summer and Winter Night Markets.

Regular hours:

Monday/Wednesday- Closed

Tuesday/Thursday- 6 am to 2 pm

Friday- 6 am to 5 pm

Saturday- 6 am to 3 pm

Sunday- 6 am to 4 pm

Closed on holidays

 


 

3) Visit The Graffiti Alleys In Melbourne CBD

 

Graffiti and street art on wall and dumpster on Rutledge Lane in Melbourne
Street Art Rutledge Lane, Melbourne

Art, not tags.

Melbourne is very well known for its street art culture, which lends itself to a more diverse and urban society. Even their local government supports the form of expression for the most part. You can find artists working in the alleys almost every day, and it’s not uncommon to walk into, say, Caledonian Lane one day and find it completely changed the next.

From the Queen Vic Markets, you’re only a short walk into the heart of the city. Find your way to Elizabeth Street and walk in the direction of La Trobe Street. Keep on keeping on until you make it to Bourke Street, and make a left. Enjoy the bustling city energy and talented street performers while you look for Union Lane, one of Melbourne’s most popular graffiti alleys.

A street artist working on Union Lane in Melbourne
Street Artist, Union Lane, Melbourne
Grafitti showing face in Union Lane in Melbourne
Street Art, Union Lane, Melbourne

Hosier Lane is another famous graffiti alley. You can find it near Federation Square off of Flinders Street. Make sure to get a good view of Flinders Street Station on your way to Hosier Lane!

Facade of Flinders Street Station on sunny day in Melbourne
Flinders Street Station, Melbourne
View looking down Hosier Lane's graffiti-covered walls in Melbourne
Hosier Lane Graffiti, Melbourne

When you make it there, stop in at Good 2 Go, a small coffee shop/op shop that is also covered in graffiti and is run by Youth Projects, an organisation on the same street that helps individuals who are disadvantaged, unemployed, homeless or addicted to drugs/alcohol by providing them with a community, employment, education and training services. “Buy” two coffees, or really just buy one and donate the price of another coffee to the cause, and sip on it while you explore your edgy and colourful surroundings.

Facade of Good 2 Go Coffee, Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Good 2 Go Coffee, Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Street art-covered facade of Youth Projects, Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Youth Projects, Hosier Lane, Melbourne

 

4) Get The Best Views Of Melbourne From Eureka Tower

Across the Yarra River and 297 meters high, the Skydeck at the top of Eureka Tower will give you a bird’s eye view of the city, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Dandenong Ranges. You can also sit inside a glass cube that juts out of the side of the building for a thrilling Edge Experience, or reserve a table and enjoy a fancy meal with magnificent views. Tickets to the Skydeck can be purchased for $19.50 at the door.


5) Walk Along The Yarra River And Grab A Drink At Ponyfish Island

View from a table at Ponyfish Island, Melbourne.
View from a table at Ponyfish Island, Melbourne.

The Southbank Promenade stretches around the south side of the Yarra. It’s packed with upmarket restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels and high rises. If the weather is good, the promenade makes for an easy stroll to Pedestrian Bridge that will take you back to the north side. Look out for Ponyfish Island, a bar and restaurant that is hidden underneath the bridge and is basically at water level. It’s a lovely place to sit in the sun at river-level and drink micro-brewed beers or house made sangria.

 


 

 6) Lose Yourself And Find Some Lunch In Melbourne’s Hidden Laneways

Hidden alleyway, Centre Place, Melbourne
Centre Place, Melbourne

One of the best things about Melbourne is how they’ve managed to fill in what might have been creepy alleys with trendy and cheap cafes and eateries. Degraves Street and Center Place, both off of Flinders Lane, are probably the most well-known, as far as “hidden” alleyways go. They both offer a ton of seemingly nameless spots to grab a latte and/or a $5 petite baguette. I love the eggplant schnitzel and pio pio chicken sandwiches, but there’s plenty of variety with each shop.

If you’re feeling more Asian-inspired and are craving noodles and dumplings, Hardware Lane, off of Little Bourke Street, is the place to be.

 


 

Your Day In Melbourne

From a hipster breakfast in the suburbs to shopping in the CBD to being swallowed by the artsy and alluring alleys, you’ve hopefully enjoyed a day that truly showcases what a diverse and animated city Melbourne is.

 

By Rebecca Bellan