Monday, March 05, 2007

Roadblock: Do Not Pass Go

I arrived in Perth with a sketchy outline of a plan to get myself a few thousand kilometers north, to a small outpost called Broome – legendary sunsets, camel rides on the beach, etc.. But Perth is the most remote large city on the planet (1.5 million and growing), closer to Bali than to Sydney, and I quickly learned that when you are in the boonies, your options are limited.

I had planned to explore the following modes of transport: rent a car or camper, take a bus or join a tour. The rental option was way out of my price range, the bus would have been a dreary proposition and all the tours for the next seven days were booked solid. Finally, to get a seat on the only available tour leaving in the next ten days, I would have to change the date of my flight out of Broome. When you are on the edge of the world, book ahead. Lesson learned.

So, you might say, just make a few calls and rearrange your schedule. Right? Well… to add insult to injury, by the time I’d worked out a plan on Friday afternoon, it was too late to put it in motion. And today, Monday, is a public holiday (Australian Labor Day) and 99% of the country’s businesses are closed. Luckily, I was able to sort out the flight today with a few calls to a travel agent in Melbourne (thanks YHA Travel!). And I reserved one of the last seats on a tour to Broome.

In short, my weekend visit has turned into a weeklong layover. I consider it the first hiccup of my trip, and it certainly won’t be the last. Now that I’ve sorted out the details, I will be heading 15 km north of the city tomorrow for a few days on the beach.

All in all, these past few days have been taxing but instructive. I’ve spent them at a backpacker’s hostel housing a gregarious mix of young Europeans, most of whom are either looking for work or have just finished working somewhere. I’m getting what I pay for (less than $20 a night to share a room), but there’s a good vibe, lots of laughter and a nice sense of camaraderie.

My first impression of Perth was not good (getting ripped off at a local pub the first night), but after exploring I’ve come to appreciate the place. It’s spread out, with suburbs galore, and if I had a car and the time I think I could come to like it. Perth has the more millionaires than any other city in Australia, so they are doing something right. Perhaps it’s the unspoiled coast, the warm climate or the relaxed pace. Or maybe with nowhere else to go, you make do with what you’ve got. No worries, indeed.

One final note, it was over 100 degrees this afternoon. I wilted.

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Anonymous dana said...

Matt, Denise has not gotten back to me...sounds like youa re heading up country...bon voyage,

1:48 PM  

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