Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Berth in Perth, 2011

It's quite noticeable.
On hearing alert signal (beep...beep...beep) JUST RUN. Sound advice from a semi-civic conscious vandal. No, you don't have to run away from Perth Airport, and not this post either- notwithstanding the tragically blurred photos. This will likely be my last travelogue for some time (unless halfway through I decide that it's become too long for one post and split it into two), since I've just graduated from college and have to, sigh, 'focus on my future' (not my words). Bah.

Another thing- my sister extracted the photos from the camera before I could get to it and stuck everything into individual folders- 'food', etc. So now I can't tell what date each photo was taken on and it's a blistering mess which I'm too lazy to sort out. Bah again.

Partners not guaranteed.
Rawr. This poster was in one of the airport's restrooms. I guess the Oz government has such a high opinion of it's population's virility that it has to remind them to keep their bodily fluids to themselves (there's probably an export tax on it).

Anyway, I landed sometime around 6AM, and upon passing through Customs learned a valuable lesson that dulled my life significantly: Do not joke with Customs officers. They have no sense of humour. It wasn't even much of a joke. "Do you have any weapons in your possession?" asked the burly lady behind the counter, to which, if I was in a  particularly snarky mood, I could have replied with "well if I had they wouldn't have let me board the flight here in the first place, no?". Instead I was in a dazed, buoyant mood and said "Nope, not that I know of," remembering tales of smugglers slipping contraband into unsuspecting travelers' luggage.

That netted me a brief interview (not involving closed doors, dim lights, and a svelte leather clad dominatrix, though that might have been interesting) with an officer in the corridor just ahead of the checkpoint, a charming lady who asked questions like how long I'd be there, whether I had friends in Perth, etc. It ended with her complimenting my PSP which I'd taken out to try and connect to the internet (don't see what's so amazing about it); and me asking her what the temperature outside was- 5 degrees Celsius.

I went out and asked a security chap how to get to the domestic terminal (it's separated from the international terminal) and was surprised by his French accent (never mind that I've never met a Frenchman, he sounded like what I'd think a Frenchman sounds like). He was new and didn't know the way. I looked out again, and thought 'screw it, weather looks great. Might as well walk'.
Swan River
Well. I originally intended to walk to the domestic terminal, but couldn't see any signs for it- they all said 'airport'. There were signs for Perth, though. Well, well. I'd checked Google Maps before leaving, and it didn't seem too far to the city- so I decided that I might as well wing it. Off I went, walking along the highway with cars speeding past, through seemingly deserted suburbs (seeing how most of the houses I passed were excessively neat, without any personality/clutter), and along the brownish mid-rehab saltwater-poisoned Swan River.
Perth Station
It took me four hours of non-stop walking (minus the frequent crashing onto park benches) to reach the Central Business District, probably creating an urban legend in the process (that crazy Asian dude who hiked from the airport... "yea right, and the Loch Ness monster is my pet").

Completely worn out, I treated myself to a Japanese bento lunch. Price was pretty reasonable (before conversion, of course). The train station was nearby, luckily- at the beginning of my walk I'd had this crazy idea to walk all the way to the hostel instead... I'm glad I didn't try. Bounced around from platform to platform before realizing that the first one I was on was the right one- some 5-10 minutes later I found myself  at Cottesloe station- faced with the prospect of another confusing walk.

Cottesloe Beach
I got lucky. The guy I asked for directions offered to give me a lift- his name was Vito, a second generation Italian, though I misheard it as Veto- oh, and he was a commercial law lecturer. Karma? Go figure (inside joke, ignore this if you didn't get it).

Crashed on my bunk for a few hours. Something odd- none of the double-decker beds had ladders. At first I climbed from the bedhead- or bedfoot, whatever it's called, but later I wised up and jumped-hauled-hugged myself up. I don't know how other people get up. Maybe they get high on alcohol and levitate.

It was close to sunset when I set foot outside- not to mention delightfully windy. The beach was rather desolate, though. Some of the benches drew my attention- one had a plaque on it dedicated to a father, 'because he always wanted a place by the sea'. Aww. That would be a nice idea which could be applied back home- though the bench might be flipped over, covered with graffiti, drenched in dog piss and surrounded by a swarm of flies, and the plaque, if made of any form of metal, stripped off and sold to a scrap metal dealer. Then again things might not be so bad...
M does not stand for Medium.
Went looking for food when it was suitably dark. What I saw was disappointing, however. Pricey beachfront restaurants, noisy dimly lighted pubs, and a fancy burger joint next to the hostel. Everywhere else it was pitch black, with a few lights shining from nearby houses. Luckily I chanced upon a supermarket/fairly large convenience store which was still open (this is a rarity in Perth, but I suppose I was far enough for a few oddities), and got myself an interesting looking chocolate-berry hybrid milk drink and a chocolate croissant which strangely didn't have any chocolate in it (wrong labeling).

Add caption
Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: it didn't. It leaned over to get a better look at this poster, and got hit by a train while doing so. Now that that silly old question is done with, let's get back to reality- it was my second day in Perth (out if it, technically) and I decided to spend it wandering around Fremantle, which conveniently enough was just 4-5 train stations away.

The place is suitably old, stocked with colonial-era buildings (or so I imagined them to be). Many of them had been converted into various university faculties- so you might find yourself walking through a campus without realizing it.
My first stop was the maritime museum- though I didn't know what it was when I first headed towards it. I just saw a big crowd and decided I might as well head that way- a decision that paid off. There was an exhibition going on, and better still- it was all free.

The exhibition was split into two parts- indoors and outdoors. Indoors consisted mostly of stalls manned by tour companies, naval equipment manufacturers, and even the Australian Navy (probably recruiting) who were showing off some of their equipment and giving out free DIY fold-it paper amphibious landing boats, a big hit with the kids.
Meanwhile outside there were more Navy personnel with bigger equipment- an inflatable raft with a roof, for example; and vessels which could be boarded, like the tugboat above. I'll never understand why tugboats are named as such- maybe because they're used for tugging things, or because they look like they need to be tugged themselves.
HMAS Farncomb.
The star of the show: the HMAS Farncomb, a submarine (duh). Unfortunately (for obvious reasons) entry was by way of a lucky draw, with proceeds going to who else but the Navy (if I remember correctly). I was a little disappointed at that, but it made sense- the queue for the sub would have been horrible, given the size of the tub... and the fact that it's only entry point also happens to be the only exit point.
HMAS Newcastle.
To compensate everyone else who didn't get to see the innards of the submarine, the Navy brought in a missile frigate, the HMAS Newcastle- a name which had me wondering whether it was on loan from the British (an impossible sounding deal, but who knows).
Point a finger at me and I'll point this at you.
The main missile launcher. They had a guy up on deck operate the thing by remote control. It didn't shoot anything, of course- just aim and reload, which was pretty fast. Can't help but wonder if it can shoot itself, though...
Garbage Disposal Unit.
The stern. Uh. Bow. Uh. Oh, never mind. That blockish thing with people gathering in it's shade are the secondary missile pods, and not a garbage disposal unit, in case you were wondering, or if you're one of those funny people who thought 'wait, they build this huge expensive ship and it only fires one missile at a time?' There you go.
That there's Fremantle's Roundhouse, one of the oldest buildings in town. Entrance is by gold coin donation- there's a tunnel running beneath the place, Whaler's Tunnel I think it's called, which leads to the beach. The tunnel's free of charge, though I assume that you run the risk of getting mugged by illegal whalers if you go through it late at night.
Being a seaside town means you're automatically known for your seafood- Freo is no exception, however the locals seem to have made a huge  deal out of the otherwise ordinary fish and chips. The problem is deciding which one to go to, especially when they all say they're the best. So who's lying, pray tell?
Fremantle Market
The main entrance to the famous (That's what Tourism Australia says, at any rate) Fremantle Market. Better pictures later on- oh, and if you plan on going, make sure you check out the opening hours- it's different on weekends.
You reading this?
This one's for all the Elizabeth's reading this post. There's more scattered around Perth- I got a Thomas Harris omnibus- Archangel and Enigma for 6AUD. Pretty fair price for two, I guess.
For Sale.
In the market for a hotel? This one's going cheap, if you feel like pretending to be Chuck Bass. 2nd floor's the highest you can go, though.
Lunch at Cicerello's. Figured I'd splurge- got a grilled fish and chips for some 20AUD. Food took forever to arrive- only because I had no idea how the system worked. I was handed a pager and was supposed to go in to collect the food when it buzzed- instead I waited at my table thinking the waiter would be drawn by the buzzing. Bah. For the record, the food was ok. Overrated, really.
It doesn't stink of fish at all.
I ate outdoors, on the boardwalk (Is that what it's called?). The gulls were everywhere, and pretty daring. They didn't seem too scared of us big lunky primates. There were a few signs stuck to the restaurant's pillars warning patrons not to feed the birds 'or they will crap on you' (Or something to that effect).
Uh, a bill of lading, I think.
Next stop, the Shipwreck Galleries. Entrance by donation of a gold coin (1-2AUD). Quite a bit of stuff to look at in there- but stay away if you couldn't care less about history.
Chess pieces fashioned from ivory. Ivory is of course, if you didn't know already, made from elephant or rhino tusks. They're illegal now, if you didn't know that either (Or are pretending not to know, while pushing your collection out of my sight).
Wooden ship.
Quite a few model ships inside, some donated by collectors and craftsmen.
Funniest sign I've seen in a while.
...the museum closed at 5pm. With nothing much left to do, I headed back to Cottesloe for another supermarket dinner and a walk along the beach. I'd thought of walking from Swanbourne (The only nudist beach in Perth) but was just too tired (My legs, at any rate, felt like jelly).

Back in the hostel, I was treated to my first experience of culture shock. I was up on my bunk trying to sleep (Notoriously hard for me), covered up from head to toes like a mummy. One Belgian girl was talking to a Brit guy about her friend, who'd gotten into a relationship with a local Aussie girl- a lawyer, and rich. He'd talked her into buying a scooter to make it easier for her to get around town... while he used her car for joy-trips. He pretty much had a free stay in Australia, with lodging and food all covered for. Then his time came up and he had to return to Belgium- to his other girlfriend. So much for the Aussie girl.

You could say she was dumb to love him so much. Ah well. There's enough blame for everyone. She probably had the cash, I suppose that'd be a lesson to her. After that story, the Belgian girl talked about noticing a 'cute guy who just checked in' and said she'd see if she could get her cost of living covered for a little longer. Oh crud. For the record, it's not like I wanted to eavesdrop- talk about something in a (Relatively) public space, knowing that other people are within earshot, and you run the risk of someone overhearing your conversation. I don't think they cared, though.
I moved out the next day. Not because of what I heard, of course. Heh. The next hostel was in Northbridge, a suburb of Perth, just a short distance from the CBD. And inches away from Chinatown (Chinese never stop working = more things to do at night. Yay).
Don't forget the ducks.
Next stop- Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park. So named because they used to pin kangaroos for fun. OK, I made that up. That being said, the place is populated by plaques to dead people and free-range roos. Uh. Where are the photos of the roos? Thanks for messing up the photos again, sis.
London Court.
Back to Perth for some random walking. London Court was a particularly pleasant street to walk down.
Swan Tower.
Swan Tower. You pay money to walk to the top, and back down. There's not much to see from up there that you can't see (For free) from King's Park. I take it there's a bell in there.
A very late lunch. Japanese bento, somewhere in the CBD.
Kangaroo burger.
And later on that night, Kangaroo burger for dinner. Tasted like beef. Then again roos are treated like cows here.
Ahh. Childhood memories...
The next day- my first stop. The Western Australian Museum. Was too early, and had to loiter around the area before being let in.
All sorts of stuff inside, from pickled rodents...
Kal-el! Smallville meteor rocks. No Kryptonite, unfortunately.
Chinatown gate.
Later on: the gate to Chinatown. Sorta. More like a gate plonked there to let people know that they're in Chinatown, than an entrance to anything.
Gyoza ramen.
Gyoza ramen at a restaurant run by Japanese. I struck gold- managed to get directions to a place selling second-hand manga. It turned out to be a Japanese language/expat community center. Got 5 volumes of Golgo 13. Came back the next day to get the entire series of Rurouni Kenshin... an awesome haul.
King's Park, overlooking Perth.
The view from King's Park. Getting there was hell. There was a shortcut (Not to mention a free bus), but I went the long way.
A massive old tree- undergoing 'restoration' while I was there. Wonder how they'll go about fixing it.
San Churro!
Later on, somewhere in Northbridge- I stumbled across an amazing place. A Chocolateria. My first time hearing the word, and it sounded good already.
Some sort of chocolate drink. Don't remember what it was called, but it was beyond awesome. Real. Pure. Chocolate. At least that's how it tasted.
Roo burger, for real.
After that, after passing by a bunch of seedy looking peep show places, I found this burger joint... ah. Remember the burger I wrote about earlier on? Well it tasted like beef because it was beef. This one was the kangaroo burger... it tasted like beef too.
Bus for Redcliffe.
Any Dragon Age players reading this? You might want to get on this bus- it's headed for Redcliffe! Then again Redcliffe (In DA at least) is a dump. I'd rather head to Orlais... In any case, I was headed for the airport, to meet my cousin from Hong Kong. Yup. The end of my lovely stay in Perth alone.

I got lucky- asked the driver of the Redcliffe bus when the bus to the airport would show up. He told me it wouldn't stop at this station (The Esplanade Busport), at least not within the next few hours. He'd actually nagged his superiors to get the sign fixed to say so, but they'd told him to shut up. Sigh.

I got to the airport in one piece- and here's where I think I'll end for now. The rest of my time was spent waiting till night for the Hongkie to arrive, and till 6am the next morning waiting for the rest of the group to arrive from Malaysia. It was a good thing I had my books to keep me entertained, and the Cathay Pacific stewardesses to ogle (Just kidding).

No comments:

Post a Comment