I finally got to my hostel in Perth at 10:30pm last night. I was tempted at the airport to pay $15 to get the shuttle bus rather than waiting for the $4.40 regular one, but I held out and was glad I did as the shuttle had not left yet by the time my transperth number 40 had so I saved myself $10 and probably got there quicker. I was worried there might be people asleep in my dorm when I checked in so late and that it would be dark and difficult to sort my stuff out and there was indeed one girl asleep on a top bunk in there but with all the lights on. This is so weird!! I have seen numerous people do this in my travels, lying in bed eyes closed apparently fast asleep with a bright fluorescent strip light shining overhead. I could never in a million years sleep with the light on like that; I can't even lie down with my eyes closed in that brightness, it stresses me out too much, I have to sit up and be awake until it's dimmer. I do envy people that can sleep in any condition, those people that can sleep on planes and trains and buses and in cars, those that don't wake up every time somebody comes into the dorm, those that can sleep with bright lights and loud noises.
Speaking of noises, omg last night!! I had specifically made sure my dorm was not on the side of the building by the train tracks, but it was just around the corner from them so the noise of the trains kept me up until 1am and awake again from 4am, there was a sequence of noises for each train: first the beeping of the level crossing, then the hiss of the rails, the clattering and clunking of the train, then some screeching of brakes and half the time they sounded their horns as they went past too WTF! Then we had the guys in the room next door having a conversation for ages at the tops of their voices and going in and out of their room and opening and shutting (slamming) the door, crashing around and yelling to each other along the corridor, until a Northerner from my dorm got the guts to go out and tell them to put a lid on it.
In spite of being sleep deprived, this morning I got up early and did 30 minutes in the gym then showered and went downstairs to request a room change. I was moved to room 216, apparently a "female only dorm" with two people in it, but when I opened the door to move my stuff in, three of the beds were occupied, one of them by a MAN!!! I went back downstairs and explained my discovery, to which the girl on reception widened her eyes and said "oookaaaaaaaay then" and moved me to 219, which was clean and totally empty so I could sort my stuff out in peace then had my pick of beds and pillows and where to put my bag - this is bliss in hostel land. Never put up with a bad room!! There's nothing to lose by requesting a better one..
I left the hostel at 08:30am to head off into the city, I felt like I was seeing Perth with fresh eyes, like I hadn't been here before and was starting this city with a clean slate. I walked to King's Park and spent a happy few hours wandering around there in the sun and exploring the botanical gardens. The park had splendid views over the river waterways, back to the CBD and out to the Darling Ranges in the distance, it was quite beautiful and a great way to get the layout of Perth into perspective and straight in my brain. The botanical gardens had a wealth of interesting information on boards beside the pathways about the various ecosystems of WA, the history of the Indigenous people on this land and their use of the plants interwoven with descriptions of Dreaming stories about the land that Perth is built on. It was really splendid and quite warm so I stripped down to my sundress, eliciting some amused looks from the Australians wrapped up in their winter coats & scarves - it was time for another easy game of "spot the pom".
Leaving the King's Park area, I went to investigate what was described as a "steep set of steps" from Mount St down to the riverside and found the steps seething with people in lycra going up and down and up and down, water bottles in hands. Not one to miss out on an opportunity to get my heart rate up, I gave it a go and went right down to the bottom then up again, I ran down and I ran up the first couple of mini flights but soon slowed to a walk, they were very steep! And there were a lot of them! I'm not unfit but my legs were jelly by the top and although I didn't stop, I was breathing hard and perspiring by the time I got there, it felt like SUCH a good workout! Nature's outdoor free stair machine.
I went over to Northbridge in the afternoon, to spend some time in the Museum of Western Australia, half of whose exhibits were either of stuffed animals or closed for some reason but I was able to visit the "Katta Djinoong" gallery of the stories, history and culture of Aboriginal people in WA, which was very interesting. I had felt that mention of indigenous history / culture was notably missing from my trip so far, so these two places today went some way to assuaging that.
This entry is being written on a computer in the State Library of WA, a fantastic, modern, bright and airy and welcoming building. This library is to me the epitome of a modern library; the ground floor is given over entirely to computers with internet (free to use) and printers and seating for people to sit with their own devices and use the wifi, coin operated lockers, a decent bookshop and a cafe also in the same space. The books - general and special collections - are on the upper floors, accessible via a glass-fronted lift that you can ride up in looking out over the library (I rode up and down several times). The staff were friendly and helpful, although I lacked the confidence to identify myself as a fellow library worker and ask the questions I wanted to ask. I loved this library space, it made me momentarily want to work in a public library although I'm not sure that I would have the patience to spend time helping Joe Average do a job application online, I like working with students because they are generally pretty savvy and smart and can figure out how to do basic stuff for themselves.
By 4pm I was shattered. I kept going for as long as I could but realised at this point I was wandering aimlessly in a sort of stupor, eating Mentos for 10minute sugar hits, so I chose a CAT route and got on one of the free circular buses that run throughout the CBD. The route I chose (red) took 45minutes and it was most pleasant to sit and rest my aching feet and watch the city go by. Once my lazy bus ride to nowhere was over it was 5pm and I had an early dinner in a Mexican place that I found with Ellen a couple of weeks ago (Guzman y Gomez). I had planned to be adventurous but I was too tired to cope with trying something new so I had a vegan burrito bowl and a bottle of apple cider and it was just what I needed.
Updating this now in the library again, then back to the hostel via Woolworths to try to get an early night, it's never guaranteed in a shared dorm and totally depends on the sleeping patterns of the people in the other beds.. as a naturally early to bedder (9pm) and early riser (6am) I am definitely in the minority. I've managed better than I thought I would, mainly thanks to other people on the tour going to bed at 9pm too, but I am looking forward to being home with peace and quiet and darkness at whatever time I choose!
The plan for tomorrow is to visit St Mary's Cathedral first thing, then hire a bike and cycle 20km along the riverside cycle paths to Fremantle and check out the Friday markets there. Cycle back then do a bit of last minute shopping in the afternoon (stock up on Aussie delicacies to bring home), visit the Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts if time and finally go to Cottesloe Beach to watch the sunset. Okay Perth, I apologise! I already like you better than I did at first and you actually do have some reasonably nice places to pass time of day.