So I made it to Australia in time for my birthday!! Oh yeah!!
As I’m sure you gathered from my last post, I was somewhat worried about ‘Plan C’ for my journey to Australia and whilst it didn’t all go to plan, it worked out quite well in the end. It started out at 0410 and my initial cause for concern was that the 0448 ‘Hotel Hopper’ bus, operated by National Express, didn’t turn up. At all. It was the ONLY one that didn’t arrive to the schedule (and I mean to the minute as the rest of the buses did) in the 45 minutes I was stood outside my hotel, in the cold waiting for it. To be fair, the 0518 did turn up (and on schedule), but by this point I was already stressed and worried.
However, I got to T5 checked-in in under 10 minutes, through security in less than that and had time to log on and check email before having my gate called. Now as I said yesterday, I was concerned about the length of time I had to cross Schipol airport in Amsterdam. It’s apparently one of the biggest airports in Europe and an hour and 10 minutes to cross it was considered scant by me. Thankfully, the plane took off from T5 a few minutes early and landed a few minutes early so I was on my way. As my bag was checked-in to transfer as well, this saved me the hassle of going through immigration, so it was straight across the airport on the ‘air-side’. I got to my ticketing desk with forty minutes to go until take off, and I entered my gate 5 minutes before boarding. Job done, all I could do now was hope that my bags would do so as well!!
The flight itself wasn’t too bad. I watched a couple of movies once allowed to do so (and once Singapore airlines had reset the entertainment system twenty minutes into my move – grrr) and kipped for about 4 hours. I landed at just after 0600 local time in Singapore and was through the airport in less than 30 minutes including immigration, duty free and bag collection. I’m pretty sure that’s a new Personal Best. I jumped in a cab and headed to Susie’s place – I used to work with Susie in India – which was only a 10 minute cab ride away. She opened the door, showed me to a room and I crashed for a few more hours.
On rising, Dan & Susie took me downtown Singapore showing me the sights and that so that I can actually say I’ve been to Singapore. I was worried that I might have to just do the airport rather than see the place, but thankfully I can say I’ve seen a new country on this trip!!
On having lunch downtown, it was time to return to the airport – I was literally out of an Airport in Singapore for less than 11 hours. Dan and Susie had spent a good 30 minutes extolling the virtue of the efficiency of the Singapore Airport system before we arrived – to the point where I’d (unusually) agreed to arrive for check in 90minutes before take off. So they dropped me off and I headed for JetStar’s check-in.
I was there for over an hour. It was clearly early learners day at Terminal 1’s check-in desks!! Now you might say that’s not bad for check-in… and you’re probably not wrong, however in those 70 minutes, 5 (that’s right, FIVE) different parties were able to get through the check-in process. I’d never seen the like. And as you can guess, I was stressing seriously. Once I’d gotten through through, immigration took less than 3 minutes, THREE!! And I was on my way. Possibly as a result of the idiocy on display at check-in the flight was delayed by 30 minutes or so, to boot.
Now my flight from Singapore to Perth was timed at 5 hours with JetStar, a cheap carrier offshot of Quantas (the world’s safest carrier). If you can imagine, the EasyJet of Asia, that’s pretty much what the experience was like!! No entertainment, no free in-flight meal, just your non-reclining seat and the drone of the engine. That said, my one way ticket cost approx £115 and as someone just below average height in Northern Ireland I had enough leg room to do. Even still, it was a pretty chastening experience and I’m one of the lucky ones who can sleep on a plane!! I managed to kip for the first three hours, then order a meal and read my book for the last two hours. I can only imagine what it must have been like for those who couldn’t sleep on a plane. Apparently, with AirAsia, you can do that from Perth to London, via KL. 19 hours, or something like, on a plane, with no entertainment and no reclining seat. Ouch.
Successfully landed and through Australian immigration I shared a cab with Dave to my hostel in Cottesloe (well, he did 3/4 of it with me) and I had arrived safely in Australia on schedule. Result.
And so, today I woke up as a 29 year old… still under thirty… just off the beach to the Indian Ocean in Perth, Western Australia (WA). The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and the weather felt wonderful.
I managed to sleep pretty well too, even despite being on the wrong side of the world. I got up, showered, and headed for the beach to read for a while. I then hit a cafe and had a huge breakfast of toast and then wandered around Cottesloe for a few hours, hitting Woolworths* to get some supplies so that I wouldn’t have to eat out all the time, every time and then headed back to the beach.
After a full day of wandering, I found a nice spot on a grassy bank overlooking the beach and lay in the sun for a bit before heading back to the hostel, having some tea and having an hour long doze. Bliss. On waking I met a few of the other travellers who are living in the hostel. I say living, because that’s what they’re doing, full time!! A couple of Kiwi’s and English have moved to Australia and are working in WA and living in a hostel for AS$200 a week. They’re pulling in AS$25 an hour – that’s approx £17 an hour!! That said, they’re doing physical labour in 30 degree heat and working 17 hour days. It’s not exactly an easy life, but that is over a grand a week gross, and as a tourist you can claim back pretty much all (that’s right ALL) your income tax at the end of the tax year – effectively a savings account that you don’t have to worry about. Tempting I say.
And so, I’m typing this up as I’m about to head to bed, nice & early in Perth. A great birthday, though obviously it would have been nice to have spent it with friends / family. Happy Birthday to Me.
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* Woolworths may be bankrupt in the UK, but in Australia it is one of the Duopoly of stores that sell groceries – and what a price it sells them at too!!