Our round-the-world ticket didn’t know what hit it when, after four months of no use we flew from Singapore to Perth in Western Australia. The flight was uneventful – we were fed and watered, and it was slightly strange to be around so many other western passengers. There was a bit of drama at one point when the captain screeched over the intercom “Cabin crew take your seats IMMEDIATELY”. The plane wobbled slightly and then the seatbelt sign went off. It was all rather dramatic, and I wondered why maybe they couldn’t have some code word that sounds slightly less severe such as “Code Orange” or something. Still, being dramatic is probably part of being Australian, and the Qantas crew didn’t seem all that fazed.
We arrived in Perth and took a very expensive taxi ride from the airport to the hostel we were staying at in the city centre. There we checked into our relatively (compared to what we had been paying) expensive room, and then wandered out to get some expensive dinner. That was the first shock – everything was so expensive! In fact, I’ve been working it out, and a lot of the stuff in the supermarkets is pretty comparable in price to stuff in the UK. I was surprised – I’d assumed it would be a bit cheaper. The second shock was what we perceived as general rudeness from some Aussies, although I think we’ve come to realise that actually they’re just quite direct in the way they speak. After four months in south-east Asia, which generally is a very polite part of the world, it was a bit of a shock to arrive in Perth! The final shock was the temperature. Although it was warm during the day while we were in Perth, at night the temperature dropped to around 15 degrees – around 11 degrees colder and a lot less humid than we’d felt in all our months of travelling.
On our first full day in the country, we decided we’d better get down to some actual planning for our trip in Australia, which we spent a lot of the day doing. We also – shock, horror – did our own laundry using the hostel laundry facilities. At first we weren’t quite sure, but it was so cheap and quick and the clothes came out so clean that we were really pleased we’d done the laundry! We also discovered the hostel kitchen, where we were able to make ourselves breakfast (a real revelation after five months of eating out!) and cups of coffee and tea. All very clean and efficient!
One highlight of our three nights in Perth was our visit to King’s Park, just outside the city centre. We opted to walk there and got a little lost, but we eventually found it and when we did, we really enjoyed our visit. It was good to be in such a clean, open and well-maintained space, and the walk around the park was really enjoyable. The views of the city were also excellent – well worth the walk!
One pleasant surprise in Perth was the highly multicultural population. This resulted in a very wide variety of available food – some of which was extremely affordable! Plus, our favourite Chinese, Cambodian and Malaysian dishes were all widely available – seeing Mee Goreng on a menu made me feel like I was back in Malaysia or Singapore, and helped soften the blow of being back in a western country.
On our final night in the city, we watched the Christmas lights being switched on. This was a pretty major event, in which several local TV stars were involved, and all of Perth seemed to be out for the night. This was good to see, as on the other nights we’d wandered around the city the place had seemed a bit dead – there was no one around really! On that night the place really seemed alive and buzzing, and it made us both a bit more comfortable.
We did enjoy Perth, but it took some time for us to settle into it. We were both really sorry to say goodbye to Singapore and all of south-east Asia, and getting to Australia was definitely a major check-point in our trip. It marked the beginning of a different way of travel – and Perth was the place where we had to get used to that new way. After five months of eating out, travelling on buses and generally being very comfortable we can’t afford to do the same things in expensive Australia – what we can afford remains to be seen!