How David Bowie took me to yum cha in Chinatown….

Not literally. But look at this video.

OK, now did you see him tossing the rice in the air?

Observe the name of the restaurant behind him — and I am indebted to Robbie Czajka on Old Sydney Album for this. When I shared to my Facebook I commented: “The Nine Dragons was one of our Yum Cha spots back in the day — I mean roughly the early 2000s — Ian Smith, Sirdan, Bruce Part and many more. Many a great Sunday.”

The early 2000s! I have a post I did some time ago which rescued from various platforms a few of my very earliest blog entries.

2 January 2000: …Yum Cha was a success this morning. [ABC Andrew] turned up and was fascinated by the Y2K problem in the computer BIOS. Ian came up with the theory that it may have defaulted to the chip’s year of manufacture, and indeed when I rang G later today he agreed it was possible, as the chip was manufactured in 1994. So the BIOS was ready to change 1999 to 20 something, but became confused; it kept the 20, but defaulted to 94. A. rang later and came back over about 5.30. He had been online at work to the company (Phoenix Technology) who now have the rights to Award Software, the manufacturers of the BIOS. He downloaded a patch onto a floppy disk, brought it over, and we installed it. While the BIOS still thinks it is 2094, the patch enables it to boot the computer to 2000, obviating the need to buy a new motherboard or a new computer just yet. Next step is the modem and signing up to an ISP.

11 January 2000: Since last entry I have joined Telstra Bigpond and have been using up my 100 free hours, since they expire on February 4. Wow! I have made two cyberfriends, one a Thai girl who wants to study in Australia (got me through Dave’s ESL Cafe). The other, Johnny Wu (Wushuboy) is a 32-years-old Wushu master in Cleveland Ohio. He is a fascinating study in multiculturalism ( a word I recently contributed to the Cambridge English Dictionary Online!). He is a fount of family tradition, balancing that against being gay and thereby (in his eyes) terminating 3000 years of Wu family history–and he knows the whole 3000 years! He responded to my email thanking him for his website, and we’ve been “nattering on the Net” as Dale Spender says ever since.

Also, an email from M: he’s been attending classes with the Dalai Lama! Today he goes to Calcutta, then to Rajastan.

My nephew visited on Saturday. He had very impressive documentation to back up his story … and it turns out his mother was a lineal descendant of Bungaree who sailed with Flinders in 1803!

4 January 2004: … I, in the meantime, went to Yum Cha at the Marigold with the Empress, Sirdan, Malcolm, James, a new person named Andy (not the sailor) and eventually Antony. Excellent duck….

The crowd around Central on their way to the Cricket reminded me of the 2000 Olympics. Now I’m off to keep an eye on the game by TV and radio. (I prefer to listen to the ABC radio commentary with the TV on Channel 9 at least some of the time.)

So way back! And I have another set called Blogging Sydney’s Olympic Year.

Sunday, September 3 2000: 12 days to the Olympics

They say Moore Park will be finished before the Olympics, but they are finding it difficult as there are not enough graders available to do the job. Meantime Belmore Park, near Central Station, is now carpeted–not with bright flowers, or fresh green grass, but with daggy green carpet! Very tasteful. There was a bomb scare at Kirrawee Railway Station south of the city last week; apparently emergency personnel were misdirected to Canterbury Station (some distance away and on quite another line) due to a “pronunciation problem”! However, Central Station refurbishment has been completed–well almost.

Extra police on the streets and quite a few foreign visitors are already apparent in the city. The athletes, of course, have started moving into the Olympic Village.

Today was Yum Cha again–for the unitiated this is Cantonese for “drink tea” and is essentially an endless supply of delicacies (steamed buns, dumplings, chicken feet, etc) washed down by tea. One can if one chooses have a 24 course breakfast–or more. There were ten people today–PK, Ian Smith, J***s, Sirdan, ABC Andrew, Clive, a guy from Houston Texas, a lesbian Olympic volunteer official from NZ (a friend of Sirdan), Bruce from the Albury, and me. Rabbit sent his hugs to all but was otherwise engaged today. Sad news is that John Wilkinson, who was there last time, an old friend of M, is critically ill in hospital: M has just gone to visit him.

Good news (9.30 pm): John Wilkinson is much better than he was yesterday.

Sunday, September 17 2000

Another glorious Olympic day in Sydney. The shirtless cuties are about again.

Having announced today’s Yum Cha (Chinese brunch) would be held at the Golden Harbour at 10 am, I turned up expecting crowds, and indeed quite a lot of foreigners were about. Presumably the restaurant owners read these pages (who doesn’t?) so we were delayed twenty minutes while the staff cleaned up, went out for extra provisions, and put tables in the street to cope with the overflow. At last we were ushered to our select table, and the Dowager Empress enthroned herself beside Clive, with PK on Clive’s right, Sirdan and James on my left. People were too shy to identify themselves, but as the restaurant filled with people I could but be impressed by the drawing power of these humble pages. As was fitting all these people pretended they did not know us, respectful of our privacy. A very pleasant meal. It is unfortunate, however, that some rituals associated with the NSW Department of Education prevented some honoured guests from attending; their apologies were duly given and accepted.

Sunday October 1 2000

Well, what a Yum Cha! [At Silver Spring.] Frankly, I was not feeling well this morning, but Yum Cha soon changed that. A record attendance on this last day of the Olympic Games. Seventeen people–so I won’t list them all, but one Indonesian Olympic visitor, the regulars (PK, James, Ian Smith, Sirdan, Bruce, Clive) plus Simon H (a friend and ex-student of mine, whose friendship now goes back over 20 years), Tim K (a person I met about 14 years ago) whose personal odyssey is fascinating, and most pleasing of all Mr R and Delenio. A lovely way to spend Sunday morning.

The day went on and I went with the flow. After Simon, The Rabbit and Delenio had gone, I followed Ian to the Beauchamp and then the Albury–the Marathon went past us hardly noticed!–and it was a slightly drunken afternoon but one essentially of good fellowship. The drink was really incidental to the kind of friendship that Denis Altman talks of in his novel. Surprise: Ian knew Denis Altman way back when I was in the closet known as Wollongong! (Or it was to me a closet!)


And the Olympics Closing Ceremony is in progress as I write….

And a sample of other yum cha days:

Marigold Citymark, Sydney, Sydney Restaurant Review – Eatability

29 JAN 2006

We were disappointed, but not as much as this patron:

Food 2 Ambience 2 Service 2 Value 3

I went to the Marigold with some work colleagues for yum char. They had lost our reservation so they put us on a table next to the toilet. They place smelt awful, I think they must have just painted it or have a large smelly dog. The food itself I think was probably that frozen stuff that you get from the freezer and put straight into the fryer or steamer – yuck! The waiters were rude too. Never ever going there again!!

M, Sirdan and myself made it this morning; Lord Malcolm had trouble finding a parking place close enough so could not come. He didn’t miss much, except for the chance of meeting M properly.

Admittedly the place was overcrowded because of Chinese New Year, but the service even so was awful (2), the food very ordinary if not old, and the ambience, well, factory-like. Of course we had our vouchers so the price was right, but M made sure in both Mandarin and English that the staff knew what he felt and ostentatiously offered a five cent tip.

We won’t be going back. We will try the Regal next time we want to use our vouchers; last time we were there it was pretty good.

M tells us the Silver Spring (now Zilver) is much better again, having new owners apparently. So we might give that a go later on. “Zilver has reopened after a $3 million makeover from its former identity as the well-established Silver Spring restaurant. The cuisine is now modern Chinese with Jack Ng, the award-winning Hong-Kong born executive chef, at the reins.”

We liked the Regal, and Nine Dragons, and Golden Harbour, and the East Ocean… So many on so many Sundays for ten years!

I followed this 2018 walk through Sydney’s Chinatown, saying however on Facebook: “Paths I once frequently took. Now it all looks rather daunting, but 10, 20 years ago — no worries!” So true! The 2021 version of me lacks energy and endurance compared with the 2000 one, or even the 2010! No hiding from the march of time eh!

But The Gong in 2021 has many a good Chinese restaurant, and today’s proposed lunch with Chris T is at Taste of Xi’an.


Revisiting Sydney’s Chinatown again…

Via my archive, not physically.

The Chinese Garden:

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And here is a video from someone who visited the garden just a couple of weeks ago:

Now a bit more about Sky, the busker I shared in yesterday’s post. He has a Facebook page where, I note, in March he announced that he is retiring.

I am Sky. I am a Japanese Chinese. I come to Australia at 2007. I have 8 CDs and 1 DVD. I wish everyone could support me continually and my dream is that bring my beautiful music to the world.

Here he is with an abridged version of The Butterfly Lovers. Michael Xu and I bought the CD this is on, having heard him play this in Chinatown one day when we had been shopping at Paddy’s Market.

And here is his story:

A memory from Sydney’s Chinatown in 2011

If you go to my photoblog you will find plenty of images of Chinatown and of the lovely Chinese Garden. I have in the past ten years been up there much less. There was a time I was in that precint every few days, whether shopping, or tutoring, or with friends….

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And here is from 2011 a sound that was in those years very familiar. Hard to tell above the background noise, but he is playing the Butterfly Lovers Concerto.

He got around that man! I even saw him in Wollongong once, but he has ranged much further!

Sky: 一个无师自通的草根小提琴演奏家,中国舞蹈家协会会员,国际美发师!A grassroots violinist without teacher, a member of the Chinese dancers association, and an international hairdresser!

Here he is just two days ago:

If you want to know more about him, see (2015) Sky’s Violin: Music From Heaven – Adelaide Fringe Review.

Sky and his violin come to the Fringe with a fascinating background. He doesn’t have the expert training from a young age that many other violinists do, giving him a unique playing style. Originally from China, Sky was a professional dancer until the age of 30. He then became a hairdresser for several years before turning to the violin. What is a common goal among these career choices? Sky wants to “make people feel beautiful and happy.” He doesn’t say another word aside from that, and he didn’t need to. Sky’s outstanding talents on the violin speak for him.

Interlude: this one is for Sirdan!

As I said just now on Facebook: “Sirdan now lives in New Zealand. I have just been on the phone to him and he tells me the gargoyles have been stolen! He did get as a result a profile story in the Wairapa Times-Age though, apparently. No sign yet of the missing gargoyles. The coppers are working on it. He really enjoyed the Oxford Street blog post — many an afternoon we sat side by side in the Albury with friends some of whom are no longer on this earth!” Then I posted: Rosebery: Sirdan’s gargoyle.


So just for you, Sirdan, are two more videos. Yes, the promised East Redfern post will still pop up tomorrow 9am Kiwi Time. But for now enjoy the route we all so often took on Yum Cha days. On FB I said: “A year ago — so still suffering from that hideously protracted tram line build! Otherwise, a route I have travelled countless times. Love these! Saw Nine Dragons. Didn’t see nearby Golden Harbour. Is it still there? Latest FB reference is 2018. There do seem to be missing businesses.” 17 minutes.

And then just last week, of which I said: “Oh wow! So much was this my territory from the late 80s through to 2010! And so rarely have I traversed these streets through either COVID conditions or advancing age in recent days. So I love these videos.” 21 minutes, this one.

Photos tagged “spring” — 11 — more Chinese Garden, Sydney

From Ninglun’s Specials, which in 2008 was my photo blog, Sirdan having not long before October given me a camera. Giving you another instalment today: the Chinese Garden of Friendship as it was in spring 2008.

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And this 2014 video with its gorgeous music track is the best coda for this post! Carlos, who made the video, says: “Much more than just a city garden, the walled Chinese Garden respectfully recreates the philosophy and harmony of a traditional Chinese garden with waterfalls, lakes, exotic plants, pavilions and hidden pathways.”