Hello. I'm now in Broome and it's hot, hot, hot here (and I like it a lot - both the heat and the place). Have just discovered that this internet cafe has USB ports, so will try to come back tomorrow and upload some photos (I initially thought the card reader would take XD cards, but it seems to take everything else but). Soundtrack courtesy of INXS, for that genuine Oz feel.
Right, I'll cut to the chase, resuming from where I left off last time, running for the plane at Changi Airport...
Monday 16th October 2006 (part deux)
I had to walk very briskly to the gate so as not to miss my flight (I got the wind up a bit when I saw a sign saying "gate closing", but luckily it hadn't changed to "gate closed" by the time I got there [I has several minutes to spare, as it turned out]).
The flight passed very quickly with the aid of the few glasses of vino and some old episodes of classic (and not-so-classic) sitcoms. A couple of inscrutable Asians were sat next to me and didn't say a word beyond hello. Not like yer friendly Northern farmers! One of them was notable, however, for her enormously bouffant hair. Talk about a Barnet (should that have a capital B? Carolyn, can you advise please)... I wouldn't be surprised if there is a now a serious hairspray shortage in Singapore.
We arrived about half an hour early in Perth (11:30pm) and I had to wait ages for a shuttle bus into town (as it waited for about 4 other flights to arrive). I managed to get money out okay, which was lucky as the German girl in front of me put her card into the wrong slot (admittedly, it was an odd arrangement with a swipe instead of a hole) and was informed by the neighbouring bureau de change that the card would be destroyed. She only had the one card (which was a bit silly) so I'm not sure what she ended up doing. Poor girl.
The shuttle journey was characterised by a bloke swigging from a duty free bottle of Southern Comfort (and seeming fairly desperate to get the damn bottle open), and listening to The World Service on the radio, which made me feel that I could be in England (which was further helped by the chilly 12C night-air).
I eventually arrived at the Perth City YHA Hostel at 2.14am. Impressive art deco building, which until fairly recently housed the city fire station, and a very friendly welcome from the guy on reception (I was clearly the only person arriving that late at night, because he was expecting me and knew my name). I was upgraded to a smaller (which should have been more expensive) 4-bed dorm, although that would turn out to be a mixed blessing...
Tuesday 17th October 2006
After a short, but fairly decent, night's sleep, I spent the morning getting my bearings around central Perth and down by the Swan River. Spotted a very pretty parrot-type bird (possibly a rainbow loriqueet, if such a thing exists). My first impressions were how English everything feels (well, English, crossed with a big [make that massive] chunk of Southern California).
I got the train to Fremantle in the afternoon and booked 5 nights camping on Rottnest Island for mid-November. It should make for a nice rest after the vast distances which precede it. Fremantle is lovely. Nice old buildings (turn of the century, so old for Australia) and interesting beach/harbour areas. All very quiet and relaxing, with a distinctly small-town feel. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and only about 21C, so ideal for wandering around. I had a paddle in the sea at Bathers' Beach (my first taste of the Indian Ocean - and I think I'm going to like it). I reckon it was about 20C, but the brisk on-shore breeze meant that swimming would've been a bit on the chilly side (and a bit on the naked side as well, as I'd left my trunks back at the hostel). It was lovely to be beside the sea (in Singapore it didn't really feel like the proper sea) and there wasn't a soul about.
It was dark when I got back to the hostel, after visiting the supermarket en route and noting how ridiculously expensive bananas are - $14 a kilo - which I assume must be a result of last year's cyclone(s). I can't help but think that it would be better to import them from somewhere else (although there is a lot of stuff marked with "made in Australia", so I guess they are rather proud of their own produce). The factilities at the hostel were pretty good (modern and clean-ish) so I was able to rustle up some pasta, with which I shared a bottle of wine (half in the sauce, half in my mouth). I went out like a light (must have been the wine), only to be woken by an incident between a mad Irish man and an (allegedly) stinking Australian. But more on that tomorrow...*
Well, with me being me, I am going to have to leave it there for now as I am desperate for the toilet. I might be on the other side of the world, but some things never change. Cheerio.