2008 Australian Open Tennis, Melbourne Park

The Melbourne Park tennis complex in front of the Melbourne Cricket Ground as viewed from the Eureka Tower. The blue patches are the outside courts.

Tuesday 15 January was the second day of 2008 Australian Open Tennis Tournament but my first visit to any professional tennis event. Enjoying tennis but not being a huge fan, I attended without any major expectations.

The main Melbourne Park tennis complex entrance

On a warm day I joined thousands of tennis fans from around the world at the only grand slam event held in the Asia/Pacific region. As a holder of a ground pass, I could access all tennis courts except for the main Rod Laver and Vodafone Arenas.

Michaella Karajicek

The first match I saw was in the women’s first round between Japan’s Akiko Morigami and Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands on Show Court 3. Morigami won convincingly 6-2 6-2.

Akiko Morigami

I stayed at Show Court 3 to see 10th seed David Nalbandian from Argentina thrash Australian Robert Smeets 6-1 6-1 in the first two sets. (Later I discovered the third set was far tighter with Smeets forcing a tiebreaker but still losing 7-6).

Robert Smeets

This match provided my moment of the day. A Smeets shot was obviously going to land in the doubles lane before the ball hit the top of the net and spun 90 degrees to land in Nalbandian’s court and count as a winner!

David Nalbandian

After 4 one-sided sets I headed to Margaret Court Arena where Korean Hyung-Taik Lee and another Aussie Chris Guccione were entertaining a more vocal audience. Despite Guccione playing at home, Lee won in straight sets 7-6 6-3 6-4.

Chris Guccione on the left hitting a shot towards Hyung-Taik Lee in the white cap

Outside the courts were the food vendors and sponsors’ tents. People waited 2-3 hours to enter “Garnier World” for a treatment and a goodie bag. I showed my MasterCard credit card at their tent to receive an FM radio. Aviva provided refreshing neck coolers to everybody completing their one question quiz forms.

All in all, a good day.

Watching tennis at the event provided a greater perspective than viewing the sport on television. Instead of just the tennis players, as shown on TV, in person I could observe the ballkids, line umpires, chair umpire, photographers and fellow spectators. The distances on and around the court were also more identifiable. These insights proved useful viewing the Australian Open final last night between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Luna Park, St Kilda at night

I spent a week in Melbourne and had a fabulous time with relatives and friends. I either stayed in or visited Northcote, Fitzroy, Camberwell, Broadmeadows, Albert Park, Port Melbourne, Melbourne Park, St Kilda, Prahran and the City.

The tram is one of Melbourne’s icons

The beauty with Melbourne is that so many of its attraction are both close to the city centre and easily accessible by its great public transport system.

One of several street performers witnessed. This one tried to flip fish with one foot up into the bowl on his head whilst balancing on a unicycle.

Another aspect of Melbourne I loved was its ethnic diversity. I thought Adelaide was multicultural (and it is compared with most of the world) until I visited Melbourne.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) behind the Yarra River

Snooker playing, tenpin bowling, poker machining, art gallery visiting, eating out, pubbing, cappuccino drinking, sightseeing, Luna Parking and tennis viewing were just some of the activities I did.

Peter, Michael and I went up to the 88th level of the Eureka Tower, the tallest apartment block in the world

I must wholeheartedly thank Libby, Alexei, Harriet and Rob; Peter, Jansin and Michael; Euge and Mitch; Ardent and her family; and Kate and Alex for their hospitality. The evening with Ardent and family was particularly rewarding seeing as we had not met previously!

The view back into Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) from Port Melbourne


Tiger Airways’ Inaugural Adelaide To Melbourne Flight

Yesterday, Thursday 10 January 2008, I flew from Adelaide to Melbourne on Tiger Airways’ first flight for this route.

Tiger Airways is a Singapore-based low-cost airline hoping to become Australia’s third full-scale domestic airline after QANTAS and Virgin Blue. Tiger also flies to many Asian cities from its Singapore hub.

Tiger Airways’ Australian hub is Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine. From Melbourne Airport’s very basic Terminal 4 (T4; see photo at bottom), Tiger flies to several primary and secondary Australian domestic destinations including Adelaide (of course), Alice Springs, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Mackay, Newcastle, Perth, Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast. From Perth and Darwin, one can fly Tiger Airways onward to Singapore. Tiger does not yet fly to Australia’s busiest airport, Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International due to its high landing charges.

Tiger’s Adelaide destination was announced in November 2007. Upon hearing the news on the radio I turned on my laptop and checked their website, discovering fares to and from Melbourne for as low as AUD 9.95 inclusive of all taxes and fuel levies. I booked return flights for an almost unbelievable total of $22.90, including a $3.00 credit card fee.

The Tiger Airways check-in desk decorated with black and yellow balloons

Checking in at Adelaide Airport was very slow and it was obvious this was not only the airline’s also the check-in staff’s first flight. Beforehand, Tiger Airways had recommended passengers arrive to the airport 2 long hours prior to the scheduled departure time of 12:25.

My seat allocation was 7A, a window seat. I like window seats as I can watch the scenery outside.

Tiger Airways’ plane waits patiently at its gate whilst a Jetstar flight lands

A reasonable media contingent was on hand to watch the first flight leave

A photographer shooting photos of a family and their boarding passes

The boarding desk heaving under the weight of a stuffed tiger toy

After a departure delay caused by onboard computers malfunctioning due to 41 degree centigrade tarmac temperatures the flight eventually left. The inflight conditions were nothing special for people who have flown on low-cost carriers previously:
– Short seat pitch
– No free food and drinks
– No inflight entertainment except magazines to read

According to Tiger Airways’ inflight magazine Tiger Tales, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has a population of 621 million.

The detention-centre like conditions of T4, Melbourne Airport

Overall, if a prospective passenger can find a flight cheap enough, Tiger Airways is worth flying with. People requiring greater service, later check-in times and more convenience are advised to take an alternative airline. For $22.90 return, I cannot complain.

Givle.com – A Worthy Search Engine

In 2007 Kev and Richie, the champion poker players from early morning New Years Day, developed a new search engine based on Google: Givlethe search engine that gives.

The Givle website (as displayed in the screenshot above) uses a black background to save energy.

Givle donates all the revenue it receives from Google Adsense to charity. The more people who use Givle, the greater it can give. Set Givle.com as your homepage and use it just as you would use Google. The search results are the same but with Givle you are helping a worthy cause.


New Year 2007-2008

The following photos are from a very enjoyable and relaxing new years eve with old friends up at Kev and Lucy’s eco-house at Flaxley, near Mount Barker.

After the ladies went to bed, Kev, Dave and Richie schooled me in Texas hold ’em poker. After learning how to play it, I can now see why the game is so popular amongst gamblers and non-gamblers alike.

Dave took me up there in his Sigma station wagon, giving me flashbacks of my old Sigma wagon.