Let me begin my blogpost on my trip to Australia by surprising you with this: Australia WAS never in the list of countries of my choice EVER. Ever since watching the likes of Crocodile Dundee, I had always believed that Australia was too dry, too hot not to mention too dusty that it was actually placed somewhere dowwwwwn under the list of countries that I wanted to visit.
I had actually been telling myself that I would only visit Australia after I had visited ALL the European countries PLUS its neighboring country New Zealand. You see how I underestimated Australia.
Then, Air Asia X came along. Before I knew, I already bought a return ticket to this wonderful island nation. I was gonna fly in to Melbourne, and then taking a domestic flight to Sydney and then Gold Coast before flying back to Malaysia. So, it's like covering 3 major cities in the east part of Australia.
Before I bring you further into the excitement, just a little bit of personal encounter here. A visit to Australia would require you to apply for a Visa pass called E.T.A. Despite how the Malaysian Government has for some reason been trying to stay cold with its Australian counterpart, we are still lucky that they still consider us their good friends and Malaysia has remained in the list of countries whose citizens are almost free to enter its territory.
Forget about applying for it through the internet because it is more likely than not it would lead you to some ERROR pop-up. It is quite mind disturbing considering the fact that whatever you key in would go directly to the Australian Immigration Department and a petty error, be it due to the system failure or typo might instantly kill your chance of smelling the air of Australia AT ALL. Instead, leave it to the expert.
You’d be surprised how they do it in less than 5 minutes.While an online application would cost you around AUD20 (RM60+), a tour agency can get it for you with just a bit over RM25. Again, it was my personal encounter so don’t question (it). Tada…
So, fastforward, the day came quite too soon than I would have realized.
I had been on a much longer flight before but somehow this time, I was quite too aware of each passing hour it felt so painful to just stare at the people and actually doing nothing.
Somehow being so awake in most of the hours, I had to learn to play with my own imagination, among others, being thankful I didn’t have a butt as big as this gentleman’s here. Imagine having to wriggle through the people all the way to the toilet on the other end of the isle.
OK. Knock me in the head. I was just bored. :=P The good thing is, I got to force myself into finishing reading this book, the book that I’ve been struggling to finish for many many months now.
Some people were just so lucky. They paid for one seat, but ended up being granted a sleeper FOR FREE. Urghhhh! *no no. I was not jealous! :-P
Seriously, 7 hours and 30 minutes is such a long period. I couldn’t help but looking at my wrist watch every 15 minutes. LOL!
Finally touching down in Melbourne, I was more than excited to get off the plane than for the fact that I was actually in Australia!
Gotta tell you here that taking photos is strictly prohibited upon arrival at the Melbourne Airport, not until you have made it past the immigration check.
I had my LX3 slung around my neck and one of the officers came up to interrogate me. “DID YOU TAKE ANY PHOTOS?” Of course I’d say NO. “THEN WHAT IS THE CAMERA FOR?” to that I said “I wanted to be prepared to take photos later”. To hell I didn’t.
Welcome to Australia! :xD (Don't do this ahh!)
Touching down at about midnight, I had initially planned to stay overnight at the airport before proceeding to the city the next morning. How I forgot that Melbourne in many years had been topping the list of the World’s Best Cities to Live in that complaining about Melbourne is like complaining to God that it was the world that you were born into and not some other planet. Buses from the airport run every 10 minutes, 24hrs a day. THE BEST indeed. :-P
Hopping onto the bus called skybus, I had actually asked the driver if he could take my directly to the hostel as suggested in the website, he laughed so hard I felt so stupid of ever asking at all. ‘Nah Nah Nah Nah. Hahahahahahaha! You have to take a taxi buddy”. Errrrrk.
Ok, taxi it is. From Southern Cross Station to the hostel, it had cost me AUD12, quite too expensive for a less than 10 minutes ride actually. So, I’m only gonna say this to you once, avoid taking taxis in Australia unless you really have to.
I actually stayed at this hostel here – The Green House Backpackers which is strategically located right in the middle of Melbourne City Centre and only a few blocks away from the city’s major station – the Flinders Street Station.
They provide just about everything that a kitchen can provide.
In an extremely expensive city where a cup of coffee can cost you nothing less than AUD3.50, you have no idea how anything FOC like this can save a lot on your pennies.
And I have come to find out that most backpackers hostels in Australia would provide you with a cold storage so that you can buy food stuff from any of the convenience stores and put them in the fridge. You see, it really works on cutting down on you expenses by choosing to cook your own meals and avoid eating outside.
And there is a large lobby to mingle around with other visitors. But then, the existence of so many teenagers made me feel a little bit too old so I’d rather being somewhere else. Some of them are too young and stupid to travel. They get themselves drunk and talk nonsense all you’ll ever hear from them is FUCK-SHIT-FUCK-SHIT-FUCK-SHIT. It made me wondered if their parents were still alive.
And this was the toilet and shower room. It reminded me so much of my student life when I was still in a boarding school.
Except that, we didn’t have this back then.
It really was a verification of some kind that quickies DO exist. LOL! But seriously, seeing condom vendor machine in just about every toilet that I went to in Australia, they made me believe that Australia is such a fcuking country! LoL!
Overall, I liked it instantly until I checked out the room that I was placed in. It would have been OK but a Canadian guy who had been working in Melbourne for the past 6 months had his stuff strewn all over.
He was kinda ewwww. I had no choice but to join him.
So, waking up the next morning, it was time to check out what Melbourne has to offer. Mind to tell you that Melbourne is such a big city with an estimated of 3.5 million of population. Errr, you gotta put the whole population of Sabah including those beloved PTIs of yours into one place to form a city as big as Melbourne.
Melbourne as seen from an aerial view actually consists of a square area of taller buildings and surrounded by the sprawling outskirts of mostly residential areas.
Melbourne is probably most notably known for these.
Trams. A tram is like a short train that glides over the road, the same road that is actually used by other vehicles. They bring the Melburnians to just about every corner of the city and beyond, making the tram system in Melbourne one of the most effective public transport systems in the world.
The easiest way to buy a tram ticket is to get one from any of the 7-Eleven outlets and believe me, 7-Eleven is everywhere in Melbourne.
Here is how the ticket looks like. Ohh, before I forget, you’d be surprised how nobody would be on board to check your ticket out. They really put a 100% trust in every Melbournian on this one. Imagine if we implement that here in Malaysia and I’m sure the operating company will go bankrupt in less than a month. :-P
But then, the Canadian guy with whom I shared the room with at the hostel had actually been taking advantage of it. Despite taking a tram almost every day to his workplace, he never bought a single ticket ever since he started working in Melbourne 6 months ago! And here is how the interior of a tram looks like.
I started my first day in Mebourne with a date over breakfast with Widgie, a good friend of mine back in the Uni days (hello Widgie!). I actually hadn’t seen her for more than 10 years! You see how facebook has done so many wonders in one’s life.
And having this for breakfast, I should have known everything comes in big servings in Melbourne and Australia as a whole.
It actually tasted so good I surprised myself by eating just about everything there was to eat off the plate. It was just so yummy I tell you!
Hitting into the streets later, I didn’t know Melbourne even had their railway stations underground. You see, the best indeed. They’ve got just about everything.
Train tickets are fared based on zones. Rest assured for you here in Melbourne that Zone 1 is all you’d ever want to be or rather need to be. It stretches all the way out to St. Kilda’s or even beyond. A return ticket would cost you around AUD6.80.
I actually requested to be taken here.
One of my dreams when I was wayyyyyy YOUNGER was to pursue my further studies at one of the universities overseas. I knew, it was too late to do it now but at least I could still set my foot into one.
Here we go. [And sigh, may be in another life]
Widgie was so kind to bring me over to her workplace.
Being in a country where a little phone call to a plumber could cost you a staggering AUD80, this megastore has actually come up with a brilliant idea of introducing the D.I.Y concept to every household in Melbourne.
I mean, why need to spend more money on a handyman when you could actually Do It Yourself?
Next up – it was time to check out Widgie’s place. [Imagine me saying.. come! Come! Come!]
What a beautiful place she had in Melbourne. I am glad she is doing fine there. :-)
And I should thank her for the coffee. Being there in the autumn when the temperature is averagely at 15 degree Celsius, coffee was all that I needed.
And I couldn’t help but wondering where all the residents in the neighborhood were hiding. Seriously, it was so stark silent and we actually had the streets pretty much all to ourselves.
And we went through some of the nicest residential areas I’d ever seen.
Saying goodbye to Widgie later, I headed back to the city in a train with this drunken man blabbering and snoring right in front of me.
Getting off the train at Flinders Street Station, I knew exactly where I was heading to next.
Taking place at the iconic Federation Square, it was actually part of the concert series held in conjunction with the annual Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
Being a big fan of jazz, I was so glad I was there to be part of the audience that came from all over the globe to celebrate what was once the most celebrated music in the world.
It really was a beautiful evening for me. What a beautiful first day I had had in Melbourne.
For me, this is the most essential instrument that makes jazz, errrr, a jazz.
I got so engrossed and carried away by the beautiful jazz that they played on stage I only realized how hungry I was when the concert was over. I suddenly became a Hungry Jack.
If you don’t already know, Hungry Jack’s is the Australian version of our Burger King’s here in Malaysia, except that they do serve burgers with hams. And sure enough, I came all the way to Australia not for the things that we have here but rather what we don’t have.
Free refill for drink, don’t be surprised if a group of teenagers would come up to you and ask POLITELY for your emptied paper cup. It will save them from having to buy the drink.
Getting back to my room with a full stomach later, I had more days to look forward to in Melbourne. Believe me, you haven’t seen anything YET. :-)