Sydney Chinatown
The gates to Chinatown in Sydney

When we were told that our TEAN housing would be right on the fringes of Sydney’s Haymarket district, also known as Chinatown, I was ecstatic.  Most people say that you go to Australia for the adventures: exploring the city and beaches, learning how to surf and other crazy sports, and just roaming the outback and the bush.  But it’s not just adventure, there’s culture, too; living in Haymarket’s like having your finger on the cultural pulse of the city, it’s electrifying and there’s never a dull day.  Walking down a street where nobody is speaking English is so cool – you almost forget you’re in Sydney.  So far my favourite things about Haymarket:

1. Paddy’s Market

9-5 Wednesday through Sunday, it is such a boon to have this market a stone’s throw from our doorstep.  We all buy our fruits and veggies there and you can count on it to be fresh and local, or there are countless stalls where you can buy almost anything you can think of.  If you’re so inclined, you can haggle with the vendors.  On Sunday afternoons, the calls of “one dollar! one dollar!” and “three for five dollar!” and “cheaper! cheaper!” echo throughout the market and all the people crowded there to buy produce make it feel like a bazaar, even though you know you’re just in this big warehouse in the middle of Haymarket.

2. Chatime

I’d always been a fan of bubble tea, but I never had it so often before coming to Australia.  It’s been the fortunate intersection of willing friends and an abundance of locations of this chain store, which is our favourite.  There are so many options and it’s consistently such good tea that I actually spend more money on bubble tea per week than coffee!

Chatime Sydney
A typical offering at Chatime

3. Seoul-Ria

Only reached from street level via a shaky elevator, this Korean restaurant really wowed my friend and me.  We had been seeing it and its falling-snow lights in the windows for weeks, but the view from outside did nothing to prepare us for the bustling, crowded, smoky interior.  The food there is really good and you can grill meat right at the table if you’re brave.  Bring a bunch of friends and it’s an awesome experience!

4. Kungfu Ramen

While Seoul-Ria might be on the pricy side, Kungfu Ramen is the polar opposite.  Cheap and delicious ramen is a given, along with free jasmine tea, but much of the reason that we go to the restaurant is for the menu, which has such endearingly humorous misspellings as “str-fried nooodles with borecole,” always a delight.  My go-to is the namesake Kungfu Ramen, made spicy by chili oil!

5. Satang Thai

We enjoy the close proximity to two iterations of this Thai restaurant, one a takeaway restaurant and one, on the ground floor of our building and marked by glass windows and exposed brick, a sit-down restaurant.  Both have great food and you always get huge portions, and clearly other people like it too, as it’s always packed to the gills, even on weeknights and at lunch.

6. Dixon Street

I like to call this street “Chinatown Proper,” as it looks like the Chinatowns in other cities, complete with the beautifully decorated gates delineating it from the rest of the city.  The street, even during the day, is always dark because of the tall trees there, so walking through the gate is like stepping through the threshold into another world, bustling and constantly murmuring, with neon lights illuminating the people dining at outdoor restaurants.  While there’s a lot to see and buy here, I like Dixon Street most for strolling through and soaking in the atmosphere.

7. Market City Shopping Centre & IGA Grocery Store

Located on the upper level of Paddy’s Market, I get the rest of my groceries at the IGA.  While my friends prefer the Coles’ at Broadway Shopping Centre, I go to the IGA because it’s more fun.  Every time I go, I inevitably return with a bag of dumplings or shiny sweets or a brightly-coloured drink that caught my eye.  It makes going for groceries into an adventure instead of a chore.

Market City Sydney
Market City Shopping Centre decorated with lanterns for the Moon Festival

8. St. Peter Julian’s

I’d wanted to try out this church for a while, but I finally got to go recently and it was really cool and Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired.  The mass I went to was in Korean, but that was on purpose. It was a wonderful learning experience to be in a crowd of people who speak a language I barely understand and realise that if I do more world-travelling I shouldn’t expect to be well-accommodated just because I’m a visitor.  It was also really comforting to feel part of a community, even if I’d never met the people with whom I was shaking hands.

Georgia DuCharme is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Georgia is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Sydney, Australia.