I was planning to write a whole heap of things about how stressful my journey was, how I'm never getting a bus to a flight again (gridlocked & stress inducing m5) and how 2 hours in transit is way too rushed for my nerves to remain intact, but actually the fact is that I didn't miss any connections, I got here in time and my luggage arrived at the same place and the same time as me, which is really all that matters.
The only bit that stuck with me from the journey was the feeling I got at Singapore airport. I got off the plane into humid 30 degrees, it felt so Asian, so tropical, foreign and exciting that I was actually sad to be boarding an onward flight to Perth. The airport smelt spicy, like street food in Thailand, I went into the ladies toilets and there were cockroaches on the floor!! Instead of being disgusted / freaked out / whatever the normal reaction, they gave me a potent pang of longing for that experience of travelling. It reaffirmed my certainty that as soon as I have got this Masters out the way and saved for six months or so, I am jacking in real life and getting a one way ticket to Thailand. I want SO BADLY to be "proper travelling" again; just three more years.
I landed in Perth in a torrential downpour and was taken to my hostel by a kamikazi taxi driver with a slight smell of alcohol and a love of aquaplaning. The hostel (Beatty Lodge) was an absolute dive. I won't go into too many details but think unwashed bed linen, strange smells and a complete lack of any computers / internet. I kept my bag on the table for fear of it picking up some awful infestation from the stained and stinking carpet. I had paid for two nights but demanded a refund and checked out 8am the next morning to trek 50 minutes with my heavy case to a some would say soulless but reliably clean, safe and well equipped YHA.
For my first four days in Perth, Ellen, an Aussie whom I met on my last trip down under, flew over from Adelaide to join me here. I generally travel solo and would always say that I much prefer this, but the last four days have been absolutely lovely. To share the experience of a new city with a friend is a pretty awesome thing. It was brilliant to catch up with her and do things together and to experience things that I would not have done had I been travelling alone. She didn't arrive til the evening on Monday so I had half a day in this city by myself. Perth city so far - meh. I guess I'll reserve judgement since I've only really spent one day here and no city is at its best in the rain, but the cbd just seemed generic, there were only a couple of attractions pointed out by my lonely planet that I had any interest in seeing and even the waterfront areas lacked much appeal. Granted I didn't make it to the suburbs, maybe they had more to offer but I have no real desire to spend much longer here, I think there are more interesting and unique places to be.
Most of the shopfronts have overhangs, creating covered areas on the pavement in front of them, I assume this is so that shoppers can shelter from the frequent torrential downpours. It's not cold, but it is changeable, bright sunshine and hot one minute then the heavens open the next. I wore shorts on my first day and stood out like a sore thumb amongst all the Aussies wrapped up in winter coats and scarves - it really wasn't that cold though!
On Tuesday, we caught the bus to Fremantle. Fremantle is lovely. It's loads more interesting than Perth, lots of little hippy boutiques and cafes, independent shops and a working dock area for a bit of variety. It reminded me most of Byron Bay, but with older buildings. It's pretty "old" (by Australian standards) - Fremantle is the site of the oldest building in WA, built in the 1830s.
We window shopped and wandered and I had my first meal at a raw food cafe - a raw pizza that was absolutely delicious. Wednesday we caught a ferry over to Rottnest island and hired bikes to cycle around. The weather was not ideal - I nearly lost my breakfast on the boat going over and I am not a bad sailor normally. I think it would have been fine if the boat kept going, but we stopped to look at whales that had swum up alongside, which was cool but not so great when as soon as we stopped the boat started lurching from side to side and dipping and rolling so badly a person could barely stand upright. We cycled a circuit rount he island, which is really beautiful - white sandy bays and aquamarine seas with inland being scrub and gorse. A beautiful desolate lighthouse and lookout posts left over from the first world war. I saw a quokka!! Which was one of my main desires for this trip, so I can tick that box. It was kind of cute, like a really really round fat rat with a kangaroo tail that hops on its hind legs. Actually, the island was named rottenest, meaning "rat's nest" by the dutch explorer that "discovered" it when he saw the quokkas and thought the island was infested.
The afternoon evening back onland in Fremantle comprised a few awesome ciders - honestly, some of the best cider I have had has been in Australia - what's that about?! This is another aspect of travelling that I don't get to experience when I travel alone, the bars and pubs and evening social life. It gives the trip more variety and it's such a key part of the experience.
I'm off on my ten day tour up the West Coast tomorrow. I'm excited but also quite anxious - it's a long time since I've been in a situation of being at the mercy of somebody else for where / what / when we do things and also having all the meals provided. I have also just found out that I'm changing my shift patter back home slightly - changing from a Thursday evening to a Tuesday instead. I *think* this is a positive change. The Tuesday evening will work better for me in a number of ways, but it's change all the same and will take a bit of getting used to. Challenges are a good thing! This is my approach for the next ten days. This evening I am doing laundry, reading and hopefully getting a really decent nights sleep before my 6am start tomorrow.