After posting my last blog at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, I made it safely to Asutralia and have kicked off my time here with a pretty fun week in Sydney.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing as you’d expect – I made the fairly serious mistake of not applying for an Australian visa in advance.
Now I’m not a complete idiot, despite the impression you probably get from reading this blog. I did look into visas before I left, and I defintely read that UK citizens with an electronc passport don’t need a visa to get into Australia.
Well that’s complete rubbish, as I couldn’t even get past the check in desk at the airport without the visa approval. I had to wait an agonising half an hour while the check in staff applied for me, and then rushed through security to make sure I was in time for my flight.
Anyway, after about eight hours on the plane to Sydney, with two delighful young children opposite me shouting/crying the entire way making it impossible to sleep, I arrived and immediately had to begin to adjust after six weeks in Asia.
The biggest and most obvious difference – Australia is fucking expensive!!! Which I noticed straight away when I tried to buy a bottle of water for four dollars – what? On the plus side though, another difference is that I don’t actually have to buy water anymore, as tap water is drinkable and refills are free, which makes it a tiny, tiny bit better.
After arriving I headed straight out to the suburb of Blacktown to meet my aunt Nola, who I have only met once before in my life but who had insisted I visit while I was in the country.
I can’t tell you how nice it was to go to an actual house and sleep in an actual bedroom after weeks of hostel living. Even better was a homecooked meal of steak and salad after nothing but rice and noodles, so I was more than a bit happy!
As well as treating me to loads of awesome food, Nola took me to a local wildlife park to introduce me to Australia’s native animals – koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, dingos, even a tasmanian devil. I am an absolute child when it comes to animal things so that was hugely fun, and something I’ll probably do a lot more of while I’m here.
Once I left Nola’s and headed into the city, I started to see some more differences with Asia, the main one being the amount of travellers who are working here.
In Asia, every hostel I stayed at was sociable and meeting fellow travellers was easy. At the first hostel I stayed at here, I literally met two other people, it was dead and the rules on no music, no shouting and no drinking games didn’t bode well for a fun evening.
The problem is, so many people are here to work, they’re out in the day and not really up for fun in the evenings. They definitely don’t want to do all the touristy stuff that someone just passing through for a few days does, and I realised that backpacking here might not be as easy as I thought.
Another big difference – everywhere in Asia has free wifi, Australia does not. My first hostel had a 100mb limit per day, so when I exhausted that in about four Whatsapp messages I went out on a 5am walk to steal some for free.
Sounds like a bad idea, but it actually resulted in me meeting someone who recommended another hostel, where I’ve been since, that was completely different.
Yes, a lot of people here are working too, but it’s much more sociable, with several social/drinking areas, stuff organised every night with free entry to clubs, free BBQs, free drinks etc, and I’ve not been short of people to hang out with at all.
I’ve done lots of touristy tours and walks and beaches, had more animal fun at Sydney aquarium, and woken up every day with a horrendous goon hangover.
Tonight I leave for Christmas in Byron Bay – I plan to do nothing but hang out on the beach and surf badly for four days, and maybe finally catch a tan so people stop assuming I only left England last week.
Merry Christmas everyone!