Hell I was excited for Australia.
I flew through the airport pretty easily, I was expecting a good ole questioning from the Australian government, but I suppose they are used to people looking like homeless hippies entering from Asia. As the pilot announced it was a chilly evening in Perth I was excited to feel the cold, whack on a jumper explore the country I have dreamed about visiting since I was 11.
It was 7pm on the 15th July when I landed, and my god it was freezing. It was winter in Australia, but I didn’t actually think it would be like winter as I knew it. I headed straight to the ATM and took out $300, the notes felt so clean and nice compared to the grotty notes of Asian currency, apparently they are waterproof as well. Genius. My first Aussie encounter was Gary, my bus driver. A cheerful chap who had no change for my $50 bills, so let me on for free and chatted to me about what to see and do the entire journey from the airport. I was so buzzing at being called ‘Sheila’, that I completely missed my stop, but good old Gazza dropped everyone else off then turned the bus back around for me and took me back to it. Nicest bus driver ever.
It took me a while to find my hostel in Northbridge, which included a hot chocolate and sausage roll stop (hello western world). I stayed at City Perth Backpackers, it was actually pretty nice, had a huge kitchen that everyone was cooking in..this felt so weird. I hadn’t cooked for myself since leaving home in March, and was dreading the thought of washing my dishes again. I quickly noticed that everyone had individual ‘Coles’ and ‘Woolworths’ food bags, I made note to find myself one of these things. (Both are the main supermarket chains in Australia, I went on to find out that they are absolutely everywhere, and I would get through many of these bags!). On my bed I was amazed to find a duvet. A real freaking duvet with proper sheets and 2 pillows. It felt a luxury compared to my sheet and towel bedding that I had become accustomed to. I never thought that I would experience a culture shock entering Australia, as it is so similar to my home life (besides the weather and stunning beaches). I guess I had become so used to Asian life after nearly 5 months there, that basic things such as duvets and a kitchen felt like luxury. I also found it strange that the girls in my room had been there for months in the same hostel. I booked in for 3 nights and got met with a strange look from the receptionist, it also cost me $93 for 3 nights stay, wtf?! where have the $3 beds gone?
My first Aussie day I was slightly lame, I spent the majority of it wrapped up in my duvet, trying to sleep off the time difference, and spent time on the sofas chatting to others in the hostel with a Thai flavoured pot noodle (yes i miss Asian food already-this did not suffice). The atmosphere I noticed was different straight away to Asian hostels, as people actually had responsibility, they had to work and be careful with money, unlike Asia where anything goes, and everyday is a fun day. There seemed to be a general theme in conversation between people that they were all skint and trying to save money to go travelling again…which made me slightly worry about my money situ, as I had not budgeted at all in my time in Asia, and I still very much wanted to be on the move, having fun and not working.
I was lucky to meet Sara, a lovely English girl in my room, she was in her final few weeks after a year in Australia, so I drained information out of her and swapped stories about where to go. We spent the day following the lonely planet Perth guide, first up was Swan Bells Tower, basically just a tower with a bell in down by the docks, there was all roadworks around it so nothing to impressive. The city itself was really nice, it felt clean, modern yet still lived in and friendly, unlike Singapore. We wandered the Supreme court gardens, attempted the Kings Gardens after a torrential thunderstorm had us hiding in a bus stop for a while.
We climbed Jacobs Ladder, a steep horrible staircase up the side of a grassy cliff. There were so many Aussies running up and down it, you can defiantly tell straight away that it is a fit nation, and it made me excited to get back exercising. The top of Jacobs ladder gave a great view out over the city, from there we eventually made it it to Kings Park, it was actually really nice, you had views over the Swan River and ocean on one side, then all the trees and plant decorations on the other. I loved how there were BBQ stands everywhere, families were playing outside and just enjoying the views. Throughout the park we stopped at a few viewpoints, before climbing the DNA tower, you got it..a tower in the shape of DNA…this was one of the main sites in Perth apparently, Sara and I had expected more from the description in the LP book but it still gave us some nice views from the top.
We also spent time wandering around Northbridge, which is the cultural area of Perth city, it was really nice. There was an ice rink and winter wonderland theme going on, which was weird for me in July, but then I remembered it is their Winter.. There were films on, beanbags, art galleries and cool light installations that we wandered around.
It was time to complete my first food shop in forever, I kept it pretty healthy and quite enjoyed cooking for myself, despite it being no where near as tasty as the food I was now used to. We ended up chatting to 2 Aussie guys, who were on their week off from working in the mines. In true Aussie style, they were hammered and doing shots, John and Greg, otherwise known in Australia as ‘Johnno’ and ‘Greggo’. They were so Aussie, it was brilliant. I heard every abbreviated phrase that I wanted to hear, ‘Gday’, ‘Arvo’ and the C word dropped hundreds of times. We stayed up with them for a little while until they headed out to Fremantle, otherwise known as ‘Freyo’, we headed to bed due to our day trip the next day to Rottnest Island -which of course gets called, ‘Rotto’. Which is so beautiful that it deserves its own post.