this is a Class Y journal
Prologue & Departure
What do people think of when it comes to Australia? It is so far off the common Northern American cities that it is generally off a budget traveler’s radar. True, South America is cheaper in almost all regards, but the land down under is completely different. I have been to Australia a few times. One of my first adventures without any family member was actually a 2 month stay near Gold Coast. Every time I visit, I discover new things, as if this piece of land is of immense amount of secrets. A lot of things here may kill me, but I keep coming back. Why? I have no idea. The large country simply has this magical force pulling me there, making it my most-visited country that is not one of my home bases. Also how can I resist a cheap glitched ticket right? 😉 Well, enough chit chat, time to hit the road!
I finished the last exam on Wednesday, June 8th, 6pm, and I rushed to the airport with my tiny little bag and big ambition to kick off my trip to all 7 continents. I practice minimalism when it comes to traveling, and I had everything I need: clothes, my new DSLR camera, chargers, thongs (seriously this is how Aussies call flip flops), rainproof jacket that costs more than the airplane ticket, and an excited heart ready to adventure into the outback!! Except the heart, everything adds up to 5.5 kg/12 lbs. I arrived in the LAX international terminal, and I unfortunately got assigned a middle seat. 14 hours in a middle seat, that is gonna be fun.
everything for my trip
I got through security, organized my future travels while waiting, and boarded the airplane, and I realized something: the two people sitting beside me, in the aisle and window seat, were husband and wife. I kindly asked if either of them want to switch seat with me, thrice, so that they can sit together. I got three firm “No”. I usually am not particularly fond of couples simply due to my lonely-as-fuck nature, but this is some next level bullshit. The entire journey was filled with awkwardness, with them passing water, food, magazines, pens, through my personal space, and talking with me in between, silent stares, and just general unfriendliness. I have never hated an airplane ride more in my life. I did not complain, hey, I was on a ridiculously low fare so I guess I deserved that. (no I did not, even those people who steal food from my fridge don’t deserve that) Well, now you have a little glimpse into my life on a daily basis, stay strong, my readers.
The flight felt like it took a year, but I made it. However, I was just filled with seething hatred towards anything that vaguely resembled a couple. This particular pair made me believe in the power of 3rd wheeling. Upon disembarking, I was in Australia for the fourth time in my life! I knew there is a cheap way to bypass the ridiculously expensive airport tax imposed on all trains. I had to take a free transfer bus to the Skygate industrial complex, and then take 590 to a local train station, and then take the train towards city center, solid plan. I first went to the train station to buy a go pass card, the universal metro card used for Brisbane, and then doubled back to the terminal for the transfer bus. Everything went smoothly, and I was waiting for the 590 bus at 7 in the morning, giving me a full 12 hours before I would come back to the airport for my flight to Darwin. (Yes, I am crazy, I decided to just stroll around in Brisbane for one day and immediately leave) The sun was blindly bright, and the weather was perfect for such a day trip. Jet lag? What is that, some kind of new donut flavor? I was so excited, because a mere 20 hours ago, I was still sitting in an exam room writing why a high demander is more valuable than a bunch of low demander for my economics class. Everything seemed perfect, and my trip around the world got a great start!
Except everything went wrong, sideways, immediately afterwards.
A 590 bus came, and I rushed to the other side to board it, and skillfully “beeped” my card on the reader. What I did not know was that, the buses have different directions. (shocking, I know right?) And just like my magical first day in my EuroHop trip, I took the opposite direction. (thankfully, it was not that easy to leave the country this time.) I started realizing that I was on the wrong bus when it started entering completely deserted locations, and I quickly got off in middle of nowhere. I am just too smart. I had to wait for the opposite direction of bus to come back in, and that only took me 30 minutes under the scorching Australian sun. Then the bus came, I finally got to the right train station, Toombull, and departed for city center! By the time I arrived in Central, it was 9 o’clock. I was stuck in public transportation for a solid 2 hours. It is okay, Young, it is okay, it is just another day.
Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge, and the free ferry called CityHopper
Brisbane has a very compact city center based on both sides of the Brisbane river, so it is very walkable and public-transport friendly. I took a stroll around the waterfront and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful morning in the City Botanical Gardens. I also took a small free tour in the botanical gardens, and gained a lot of insight into the history and flora of the city.
Story Bridge seen from the botanical gardens
After the tour, I headed downtown and had some old love, shwarma, before continuing exploring the city. I took the free CityHopper ferry around for a few hours, and tried the faster CityCat as well. They gave extraordinary views of the city skyline. It is rather peculiar to have a city based upon a river so emphasized on boat transportation instead of bridges and tunnels like Shanghai or New York.
beautiful Brisbane skyline
After my exploration with the city center, I walked my way towards the Roma Street Parkland. It is a public park designed for urban recreation, but also has a lot of individual small gardens for all kinds of exhibitions. I wandered aimlessly in this big park, finding many exotic plants, spiders, lizards, ibis, and others. The sun slowly dozed off to the west, and I had to take my leave.
enjoying a football match in the sunset
I took the train to Fortitude Valley, a place full of funky restaurants and bars. I decided to go German for no particular reason, and I enjoyed myself so much that I almost missed my flight in a restaurant called Brad Haus/Bread House. And I ended my first day by taking a flight to Darwin. My first time with the budget airline Tigerair, and I got stuck in a middle seat again. The 3 hour ride up north was quite uneventful, and thank goodness the people beside me were not a couple, otherwise I would probably be so annoyed that I would open the emergency hatch and jump out with my middle fingers up like the twin towers.
true wanderers do not fear being alone, they embrace them
The city of Darwin is a special one. I have always been fascinated by its name. It is named after the famous scientist Charles Darwin, which is basically 99% of the reason why I chose to visit. A cool name goes a long way in my heart, doesn’t it, Daddy Longlegs? ヽ(✿ﾟ▽ﾟ)ノ
(I am so sorry, the trip to Japan recently apparently is taking its toll)
Remember, this is still technically the first day of my adventure! I woke up for the final exam, finished it and ran towards the airport, flew to another continent, and toured Brisbane during the day, went back to the airport, and flew to Darwin, without sleeping on a bed at all! I arrived by 2 am local time, and quickly checked into the hostel and fell into a deep deep slumber. Ah my dear bed, we are finally back together, how much have I missed you…
I woke up by 11 am, and got the pleasure to know the manager Arnaud, a French who one day decided “fuck it” and started riding transport tricycles in Australia for life. We both had nothing to do, so why not go for a market in Parap district? We did exactly so. The market is quite small, but full of vibrant performances, lots and lots of food, a lot of drink options too such as fresh fruit smoothies, fresh fruit milkshake, fresh fruit juices, and fresh fruit icebergs. Lots of handicrafts too, as there are so many Asian trinkets from so many different countries, and indigenous artworks as well. Oh, did I mention food? Chinese combos, Pad Thai, Singaporean Lakhsa, Indian Naan, Nepalese Dal, and Hong Kongnese dim sum….
Life is much simpler and happier when you are surrounded by the love of your life: laksa.
I had a great seafood laksa, while Arnaud opted for pad thai. We had more fruit shakes than we were supposed to, but hey, as usual, #noregrets. It felt so much like home, and so much lively in this quiet town of 110000. The sun baked both of us as if we were two well-seasoned potatoes thoroughly dressed with rosemary and rock salt, and we quickly retreated after buying a papaya and a pomelo. We drove to the shore and enjoyed a view of the Fannie Bay. It is right to the west of Darwin, facing the Timor Sea. The water was so turquoise that made my dream girlfriend’s eyes look pale. (Now I have updated her with the corresponding impossible color, with the help of “some” vodka of course.)
“hope you find one that loves to wander too, may her eyes shine like the turquoise sea”
I realized that the weather here is extremely hot, despite the rest of the southern hemisphere enjoying a cold winter. Daily lows rarely dips below 20°C/70°F, with daytime high blowing up the 35°C/95°F. The sun always burns like a microwave oven on full power heating a bowl of rice noodles. Well, I guess it is what they call tropics.
We made it back to the hostel before the afternoon sun roasted us alive like two well-glazed ducks, and I started talking with fellow travelers since there was literally nothing better than that: meeting new people. I found out half of the hostel was German, the other half French. I was sandwiched between the beautiful language of French and the “beautiful” language of German. (Bitte, töten Sie mich nicht) I met a lot of interesting people traveling extremely long term (as in years) like Pauline and Ylenia, and nobody else traveling so shortly like me because, well, it is so expensive to get here so why not stay longer! Well, as you a frequent reader may have known, that has never been a problem for me. 😉 Also interestingly, the closest major airport from Darwin is actually Bali/Denpasar of Indonesia, which can be quite shocking to some since not many are well-versed enough in geography to relate Indonesia and Australia so close together. As a result, a lot of travelers take Darwin as a hopping board between Asia and Oceania. And that is also why you have so many Asian immigrants in this beautiful town/city.
After a pleasant talk with almost all folks, the sun had already dipped into the Timor Sea, before the darkness (my old friend) settles in, I chose to explore the city. I walked towards the tip of the bay, where land ends and the vast Indian Ocean begins, and snapped this strange, isolated city on the way.
blending in the tropical style into religion
I quickly walked past the 10 block “CBD” of this city, and reached the beautiful harbor. The sun just set, kicking the sea breeze inland, and bands started playing on the patios of the restaurants, while lovebirds stroll the grounds still emitting heat from the scorching sky-fireball that had just dipped below the meandering waves, making me want to push them into those beautiful bays. The sky was colored a reddish hue, burning the puffy clouds into a pumpkin orange color.
I now understand why nobody wants to do anything here
As the light slowly disappeared from the western sky, just like the light slipping out of my eyes as I realized I will probably be alone forever, I found myself hungry. I stumbled upon a sign reading a familiar word, “Mo:mo:” . This is the Nepalese national food, along with the dreaded Dal Bhat, which I enjoyed immensely during my travel to Nepal, the journey that began it all. It resembles a dumpling, with different fillings and a great peanut sauce as a side. I almost cried when the owner spoke some Nepalese with me. I felt so fulfilled, as I was so far away, so many years after the travel, and yet my travels are still paying it back. Travels indeed made me a better person. I started to know why those stupas exist in Nepal, what Lake Titikaka meant for the Inca culture in Peru, or how the freezing Iceland was able to grow so much tomatoes. Most importantly, I know traveling made me a better person, more accommodating to all kinds of people, lifestyles, cultures, viewpoints, origins; it made me more familiar with the world that I am living in; it made me more compassionate to the people as I see so many much more unfortunate than me: I may be looking for someone to be with, but they are looking for their next meal, or their lost children, or their destroyed home…
I found my way out of the restaurant thinking about how much I miss Nepal, and how guilty I am for not going back to them when they needed me the most. The earthquake hit them too hard, as if there is a god, it must be some cruel joke. I helped those orphans before, yet I was not there after they lost their house, chance of education, or even lives… I felt I am a criminal, and all the bitching I make about me being single made my sins even harder to atone. The night had completely descended upon this tranquil city and on my heart, as I made my way towards the supermarket. I am so so sorry, Jangbu, Hom, and so many others. I am a coward, and I don’t even know what I can do to make up what I did, or more precisely, what I did not do…
I made it to the supermarket with a sad heart, and it turned into a distressed one: the food here is soooooo expensive! A kilo of tomato is over 9 dollars, and a head of broccoli is almost 7 dollars! I almost thought it was Whole Foods. I bought myself some bread and drinks for the next day, as I started to discover that the cost of eating out is almost always noticeably higher than North America. I returned to the hostel by walking in the night with gentle warm breeze blowing across my face. I quickly found myself amongst many other travelers again (albeit most of them German or French as well). I got to know Morgane, who one day just decided “fuck it” and left for OZ for as long as she can. I also had a great time chatting all the other fellow travelers I had previously talked to. We had a great drink, and the entire hostel did not rest until a solid 3 am.
Next day I woke up to a beautiful ray of sunshine (in the afternoon a ray of death), and had my breakfast while talking with Pauline. She is kind and whacky as usual, and said she was gonna find a job. Just like that, yeah, looking for a job that may affect my life and possibly my future, yeah, nothing big. I always admire work travel because it is so strange, you like a place and you found a job, great, you can stay here for almost forever. You literally live a local life, well, except you live in a hostel, which I would change for a local long term lease if I were to know how long I am going to stay, like WWOOF’ing, something I would LOVE to try. Anyways, back to the mundane traveling. I decided to just lay low for a bit since I could feel the sun penetrating my skin and burning my bones, and I would very much love to have my skeleton relatively intact. I wasted a beautiful morning watching cute puppy videos, a morning well wasted indeed. I then headed towards the famous Crocosaurus Cove, an aquarium dedicated to Australia’s Northern Territory’s most genial reptilian friends: crocodiles. They are almost everywhere, from land to ponds to streams to ocean. They eat people; they devour people; they consume human flesh in style et comme frites. (oulala~ fancy!) They are so prevalent that nobody is allowed to swim anywhere inland unless it had been cleared by the authorities. There will be signs saying: no croc hazard, and then you can proceed with caution, and still likely get your paws bit off if you are the unfortunate one. In fact, just a few days before my arrival, a British lady was elegantly chomped in the area and they pronounced her half-dead body dead on the scene, because there was only half of her left. Anyways, enough with the scare tactics, I had great fun watching crocs munching on fish, some even leaping out of the water! Good exercise with my DSLR camera too.
now that is a mouthful!
look at them jump! airborne crocs! crocnado!
After I returned to the hostel, with half of it still sound asleep, (it was 4 pm!!) I decided to go for Darwin’s most famous event: Mendil Beach Sunset Market. This is the only time in the entire week that you can find a mass congregation of people in this town whose spirit is better represented by a sloth. It was simply stunning, the roast-duck colored sun slowly dipping into a dark blue dressing called sea… unbelievable. There were live music productions, all kinds of Asian food ranging from Korean to Sri Lankan, handicrafts, telescopes for star gazing, and magic shows, reminding me of my late night walk in Panama city a few months ago or my experience with the hanami festival in Tokyo. I also found this very reminiscent of my childhood growing up in Taiwan as there are so many outstanding night markets with similar styles but drastically different food. The idea of the entire town coming together simply because it is there is magical. With your loved ones (I had none back then, I have none now, so no problemz~), eat something bizarre, watch something funny, munch on something VERY unhealthy, and play games in those portable slot machines, isn’t that the epitome of a happy life? Sadly, that has never been the case for me, but Young will always tries his best to manage.
sunset at Mendil Beach
I met two French girls from the same hostel on the way. We had different food, and tried different things, and sat on the sand under the milky way and talked. The wave was barely visible at the dark night, as the lights of the market sparcely escaped from the cover of palm trees. We spotted the southern cross, the guiding constellation for the folks down in southern hemisphere, and talked about our plans for the future. One of them traveled for over a year, the other nine months, me? 13 days. There are people performing on the beach with the stick with fire on both sides (please tell me what it is, I think it is a Hawaiian thing??) and people congregated into a circle around them. The quiet night was further silenced by the wave crashing into the powdery beach and the sound of fire whooping through the ocean air. We got back with a grin on our face, and a full stomach too. (maybe the latter is the primary cause of the former) We partied, we drank, we talked about random shit like how Chinese language came to be (Pauline was intrigued) or why the idea of traveling is such a great idea, and dozed off into the coconut-scented night. (more like cigarette and alcohol scented if I were to be brutally honest)
Mendil Beach Market
I woke up to see Pauline cooking breakfast again. Well, if you count pouring milk into a bowl that contains some wheat-sugar fried dough called cereal cooking 😛 . She had driven all the way north from Perth a few days back, and she now had to clean her car, so we bid an early farewell. I organized my tiny backpack, and talked some more with the interesting people of this good hostel before I boarded my bus to the airport. I hugged goodbye to Ylenia, Arnaud, Morgane, and many others, knowing that I will never see some of them ever again in my life. The flight went smoothly. 4 hour flight with a window and aisle access in an emergency row, I will take that over a middle seat any day of the week. Before nightfall, I had further traveled to the most isolated metropolis: Perth.
Perth is an interesting city. It has well over 1 million people, yet not so many in North America seem to know its existence, while knowing exactly where New Orlean’s most delicious voodoo cajun hot wings are located. (what a lame ass joke, 0/10) I left the airport to take a bus towards the center, and I quickly made my way around its terminal Elizabeth Quay to take the last Blue CAT (*in a seductive, sexy voice* meow~! ) bus to the hostel area. CAT is a series of free buses that runs throughout the central areas in the city, extremely convenient to the tourists and commuters alike. I quickly settled myself in the bed, and after some cute kitty videos, I was sound asleep.
I woke up early, and finally it is time for my true goal of this trip. What? You don’t know that? You think I am some lame ass movie villain who discloses his true intentions in the first 20 minutes of the film? This is not that kind of movie. I have always wanted to see a quokka, and today I am fucking going to see some. What is a quokka you ask? Well, you can either use google or keep reading, and you know which one I prefer. *wink*
(they are basically puffballs of cuteness only seen on an island nearby, and I have 0 defense stat against cuteness okay?)
I made my way towards the docks thanks to the Blue CAT, and I boarded the shuttle ship towards Rottnest Island. We cruised along Swan River, Perth’s mother river. The multi-million mansions were all lining up the sides and oh boy who wouldn’t want one along this tranquil and beautiful river! I made 3 more friends on the cruise, Meret, Bella, and Daniela, and for their nationality, TAKE A WILD GUESS. Yeah, they are all German! They may had lost the wars, but they have secretly conquered us all. (Bitte, töten Sie mich nicht!!!) They are also all younger than me!!! What the actual fuck!!! I had always been the youngest n the bunch! Anyways back to something safer for me, we all hired bikes and rode off as soon as we set our paws on the island. We immediately spotted a few quokkas and my heart melted like a creamy mushmellow puff gently placed upon a BLAZING FLAME FROM THE FUCKING HELL SET AT THE TEMPERATURE OF SATAN’S ARMPIT AND ROASTED ALIVE. (sorry, um, I, uh, got a bit emotional) However, there were so many humans around them, (ewwwwww human, disgusting) we decided to ride further and take the mandatory selfie with them in a more secluded place: there are over 5000 of them on this island after all! We quickly made our way deeper inland, and the view was simply spectacular.
riding towards paradise
I quickly found myself out of breath, riding my bike around the hilly roads, with Bella sometimes surpassing me so quickly like she saw a paradise made of pizza. Those fries and meatballs were definitely taking their toll. Not like I regret eating them though, just hating the fact that they made me fat, that’s all. We finally found two quokkas by the road, and we decided it was time. It was time to selfie the shit out of this opportunity, and we surely did.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKKKKK SOOOOOOOOOOOO CUUUUUUUUUUUTEEE OHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYY GOD HOLY SHIT MOTHAFUCKA 2CUTE4ME JESUS CHRIST BUDDHA ALLAH SAVE ME I AM DYING IS THIS HEAVEN OR HELL BUT I GIVE 0 SHIT
After so much fun with these cute little hopping fluffy spheres of pure joy and happiness that actually packs some serious claws and teeth that made me want to die in their tiny sharp claws, we had to carry on. We rode another hour under the scorching sun towards the western end of the island, and we sat down for a lunch. The waves crashed into the rocky cliffs underneath us, and a vast ocean with South Africa lying on the other side, and a good chicken spinach sandwich……
We took another route for our return to the settlement where the docks are located, and we rode a total of over 25 kilometers/ 18 miles in a short period of 6 hours, in a bike very much not suited for the country road, under sun as hot as made-to-order chili fries. However, we made it back on time for the ferry back, in fact 2 hours too early, with part of me missing as I was tired as FUCK. More quokkas were around the little village, and the little creatures are defiant because they are cute, and you know what, I will allow that. (on the other hand, life for people like me who are opposite of cute is very, very hard)
look at this smooth cutie criminal~
We finally had some rest, and some more selfies, then we boarded the boat back. We were all half-dead on the boat as if we just maximized our effort in a buffet restaurant and got kicked out after 7 hours of devouring food nonstop. We talked about really random things, silly jokes, and our plans. We all had different travel routes, with Bella returning within just 2 days! Meret was also going to return to Germany soon, while Daniela had no intention of stopping. We hugged each other goodbye at the dock, leaving one of the best days in our lives behind. I walked down the streets in the CBD, aimlessly as if my life had just lost all its meanings. I found something, something that is my other part of life: Hot Star Fried Chicken/豪大大雞排. It is a very widely known fried chicken store in Taiwan famous for its ridiculously large chicken slices. I finished it in a whim, and walked back to the hostel on my legs as soft as cooked noodles. I could barely stand; my paws were sliding on the ground. Too tiring, gotta, go fast, and sleep, and eat, and never go out, again…
I found myself quite bored after I finished my 55th bag of chips the next day morning at 10, and I had a sudden realization: I was travelling! I need to visit some place! If I want to lie on the bed and eat chips all day, I could have done that at home because I got vodka as company, duh! I opted for the town of Fremantle since it boasts the best daytrip of the area. I went downtown; I boarded a train; I was on my way. Conveniently, I reappeared smack in the middle of this old town within 30 minutes. The sky was as blue as the indigo linen in those old movies, and the sun felt like a warm fuzzy fireplace. I walked around, and decided to have a view of the famous Round House, the old prison for the common folks, not the convicts, of this early establishment by the British Empire. At 1pm, they fired a time ball, that is used to adjust the time for the local authorities and the lighthouse. It continued to this day.
I swung by the docks, and enjoyed yet another fish and chips, something quite famous back home in Vancouver actually. I chose to sit outside by the tranquil water in the harbor, and the only company I got were numerous seagulls trying to steal my chips. At least they love to hang out with me, or my chips, probably the latter, but it doesn’t matter.
I then took a stroll through the city center, as the famous Fremantle market was unfortunately closed on the day. I finally arrived at the main attraction: Fremantle Prison. If you don’t know, please let me explain. Australia is settled by the convicts of the Great Britain in early to mid-1800s, and people who commit petty crimes like shoplifting could even end up in the other side of the world. They were sent here in chains, and they needed to be held somewhere, so the first convicts here in Fremantle built the prison. They work in the day building infrastructure, and got locked up at night. Thus the entire country of Australia is technically founded by criminals. British give them a lot of incentives to stay and settle after their sentence is finished, for example, by telling them they will be killed if they ever return, or simply send the convict’s whole family over. Neat, right?
This particular prison became the only prison of Western Australia, a state about 2 Texas big, after the convicts stopped arriving, quickly the entire prison designed for 1000 people held barely 100. The prison was ridiculously old and had no electricity, running water, heating, and other basics for a long time. By mid-1900s, the prisoners were still basically living in sub-human standards. By 1980s, there were still maggots in the food, because the sanitation was non-existent. Riots happened, the biggest one in 1988 burnt half of the prison down, and the government, despite many times trying to make the living conditions better, was forced to shut down the prison and decentralize the system in 1991. It had been a tourist attraction ever since. 44 prisoners were executed here, including 1 woman. All were done by hanging. The women’s division is now a hostel, but some say the female prisoner’s spirit still roams that part on the darkest nights.
cell block A, the nets protect the guards from thrown objects
Many escape attempts were made. Since the rockbeds were mostly soft rocks, some people managed to dig their way out, and be caught in the middle of the courtyard. (Shawshank’s Redemption is inspired by some of these geniuses) One of the guys found out the garbage truck parked quite near the clinic, so they pretended to be sick and rode their way out. He got caught, sent back, served the sentence, and left. 3 years ago, a fieldtrip by a school went through, and one of the girls turned out to be his granddaughter! soon after, he himself showed up in the tour!!! well, must be a different experience for him. Other guys tried the prison’s massive underground tunnel system, and the quick way for a lot of them is by jumping through the walls, and some simply made a guard uniform and walked out.
highly secured kitchen knife room, all knives labeled, marked and checked
There is a beautiful prison church by CofE, and that showed how much they valued religion in converting the convicts into righteous people.
Let’s delve deeper into the 1988 riot. It started with prisoners of the 3rd block resting in the courtyard. Two trusted prisoners who handle hot water saw the signal, and poured boiling water onto the guards. They scream. (much grammar, very English, wow) The entire block of prisoners rushed into the cell block from the courtyard, and overpowered the rest of the guards, took them hostages, and took the keys. They had been stealing gasoline from the storage, and quickly set fire to the entire block. They demanded to meet attorney general, media coverage, and no retribution, but they quickly found out they keys they took were not enough for their escape. The doors to the courtyard could be barred from the other side, and the smart guards quickly shut it off, and the fire quickly forced all of the rioters into the courtyard again. All of them were caught, and thankfully nobody died, but half of the prison collapsed and had to be rebuilt. None of their demands were later met. Oh also did I mention there was never a sewer system? You have to use buckets every day and there are prisoners whose jobs are cleaning those buckets. Oh also they quickly installed turnstiles in entrances all over the places to prevent prisoners from rushing in or out ever again.
What is mysterious is that the important altars in the Catholic part of the church all disappeared the day before the riot, and they magically reappeared the day after the riot. Someone knew the plan, and decided to protect those religious symbols. Even the most hardened criminals have a sense of responsibility huh?
All these murals tell so many stories about their yearning of freedom…
Well, that basically summed up my exciting time in the largest prison in the entire hemisphere. Interesting place, and I was barely scratching the surface. Part of the D cell block is now converted into a start-up incubator, and that added some living people to this huge empty building. Lots of prisoners were well-versed in arts, and the courtyards, walls, ceilings and floors were covered by drawings, and some aboriginal prisoners did some magnificent cultural drawings in their cells too. The prison also allowed the last prisoners to paint their cells before the shutdown in 1991, leaving magnificent pieces all over the place. Also, over 50 km of tunnels go through the grounds here, and the water reserve is big enough to open a Costco inside.
sunset on Swan River
After my fun time in Fremantle Prison, the sun was slowly setting in the Indian Ocean. I decided to take some walk around and take the train back. The train slowly docked onto the platform in Perth, and I was back in 21st century, what a great place for a day trip! I felt I was dragged through a timeline of endless history, and a full day in the prison itself was barely enough! So much pain, hardship, work, struggle, and confrontation, yet it exudes a sense of harmony, balance and hope. Some people made mistakes and wanted to become better in there, and the others simply cannot give a fuck. The power dynamic between the guards and the prisoners, so fascinating!
I wandered to the north of the station into an area called Northbridge. It is a restaurant district, and the food is significantly cheaper than Darwin. I had a great Korean hot pot, by myself of course, and returned back to the hostel. (my legs still hurt from the excessive riding okay? NEVER AGAIN)
Perth seen from afar
Last day in Perth, I organized my things and aimed for the airport after wandering in the Northbridge for a while. I had a great Taiwanese dessert from Meet Fresh, a Taiwanese dessert holy site, which made me miss home for a while, and I had a crocodile burger in an Australian restaurant! I met Bella in the airport, and I hugged her goodbye. She may be going home, but I AM home. Everywhere I go, I treat it as my home, and today I go to my next home. I boarded my flight and dozed off.
I landed around midnight, and the convenient shuttle bus directly hauled me to the King’s Cross Station. I walked towards the tram station and boarded the last tram around 1am. What is great about Melbourne is that the entire central part of the city is completely free to get around. The city also has the largest tram fleet in the world. The electric tram quietly whimmed through downtown and I got off at my hostel, grabbed my keys, fell right into sleep.
I woke up early to be picked up by a pre-booked tour: another big day in my life is coming! I will join this day trip along the Great Ocean Road to the famed 12 Apostles! It had always been my bucket list item as one of the top road trips in the world. However, since I am a friendless fuck, I will never go on roadtrips if I want someone to accompany me, so I decided to join a tour, not too lonely, yet the same fun of roadtrip~! I hopped on the bus right outside my hostel, and today we were gonna do the reverse route by beating the crowd and seeing the 12 Apostles first and then driving back through the Great Ocean Road. After a nap on the bus, I woke up to this:
beautiful rock formations in the crashing waves
The weather was not great, but it quickly turned miserable. By the time I got to the other side where most of the apostles are, the rain had already drenched my jacket. However, it did not diminish the epicness of the 12 Apostles, and I bet those arriving by coach would have 0 chance of viewing them.
12 Apostles standing in the mist
What is funny is that there are only 9 of these formations, one of them disintegrated in the strong waves of the Southern Ocean in 2006. They are constantly forming and disappearing, on the scale of thousands of years, since the rock bed here is uneven in hardness. The harder parts will form a headland like a mini-peninsula, and the waves wrap around them and create these columns standing alone in the ocean. After thousands of years of erosion, those columns finally crash into the ocean, and the process repeats.
After the astounding view, we continued through the Great Ocean Road. The road is a legend itself. Hundreds of veterans of WWI built the first part of this road to connect the remote fishing villages as part of a government project, many of them died due to lack of any modern equipment, or dynamite, or sledges actually. The entire first 50km were built by hand. Later the government decided to expand this 1-lane road into two lanes, and finally finished the section in mid 1900s. An engineering masterpiece it is. We ended up in a rain forest, and we hopped off to take a little walk in the horrible rain. This piece of forest is home to the only carnivorous snail species in the world! We passed many ridiculous fig formations, much like those I had seen in Costa Rica, and one of them had a hole underneath. Local tribes said if you walk pass it, you will be very fertile. = =
what is the point if you know you are gonna be single as a pringle?
After that, we further drove along the road, with dramatic cliffs and formations around the corners, and we stopped for a surprise. There were a few koalas hanging out on a tree! And the guide pulled out many sunflower seeds and placed them in my hand. I was baffled for a split second, and then many figures rushed out of the eucalyptus trees: birds, uh I mean, birb, A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL BIRB.
Parrots, and other random birds all over the block flocked over to my hand. Some simply did not bother the basic courtesy of not-shitting-on-other-birds. Some are super heavy as well, making me pretty certain that they are fed by tourists like me almost every half hour. I would love to keep some, like, 25 of them, though. SO FLUFFY.
After another while of the Great Ocean Road, it was dinner time, and what else was more suited to award me and my hard work of the day (namely walking around to see the 12 Apostles, watching the waves crashing into the cliffs, and feeding a very fat bird, they are heavy okay? I can only hold it that long okay?) by A HUGE PIZZA?? Yeah, pizza. The day is not that miserable after all.
I got back to hostel quite late, and the only thing that I could stand is not standing and lying down in my bed.
I woke up early and quietly checked out of hostel. I was again with my little backpack and exploring the city. I visited Hosier Lane, the graffiti lane hidden from plain sight in downtown Melbourne. It was a fantastic experience feeling the dramatic change between modern buildings and well, just pure arts, everywhere. Kinda reminded me of my graffiti experience in the graffiti-loving Bogota.
an artist working at Hosier Lane
And then I continued to someplace I have always wanted to go: the Soup Place. Well, what is there you say? Soup of course you egg! Well, it is a different kind of soup place though. It is very famous for allowing customers to pay it forward and donate $3.50, and then they will provide a free cup of soup to the homeless people coming for warmth and shelter. I had always been wanting to do this since I saw it in the news. They also let you write a piece of sticker to encourage them not to give up. I did exactly that. I bought a soup, paid it forward, wrote the sticker, and put it up the wall. It has always been my very intention to help people in need, you can read my About page if you want to be reminded of my motivation to travel (shameless promotion haha). I felt warm and fuzzy both inside my stomach and my heart, after I finished my soup on this gloomy winter day, knowing that another person would benefit from my actions. I had only $10.20 in my pocket. I may not have much, but I will always share what I have and what I can have. Without others, I would have never been here, or there, or anywhere.
one of those stickers is mine! being homeless is not scary, being hopeless is!
I continued as I walked through wind-swept streets in Melbourne, and I passed some really pretty shopping malls, and boutique bars. One particular cake/afternoon tea shop completely immobilized me. The cakes were so fancy, so ornamental that I knew I would never take a bite out of them. The decorations in the room teleport you directly to 16th century France. People lined up for it, and the line was longer than my list of food I have had. (trust me it is LONG)
just, look at those!
I found an interesting restaurant for lunch. It was an Indian restaurant that was all-you-can-eat, for $6.50!! The food was vegetarian and simple, but delicious nonetheless. Feeling particularly rich for the day, I even lashed out 2 more dollars for a mango lassi, just like what I did in Nepal back in the days. I made sure, very sure, that I stuffed myself with naan and lentil before I walked out the restaurant. I then took the free tram to the Victoria Market, the largest open air market in its hemisphere. The market was filled with all kinds of gimmicky food and handicrafts, and of course, basically everything else, ranging from fresh fruits, seafood, meat, poultry, to birthday cards, kitchen stands, cakes, fake handguns, tourist souvenirs and slam poetry. There were also performers, cafes, restaurants, beggars, protests, uh you got it, basically your mind on cocaine.
I had a great time walking around and feel high like what store are you gonna see next? A body builder tutorial class? A model airplane fan club? A Turkish restaurant? A drug dealer? spin the damn wheel!
Anyways I got out of the market feeling a bit dizzy, and I continued to Flinders Street Station. It is the iconic building of the city, and “meet you under the clocks at Flinders Station” has become a part of every Melbourne citizen’s life. The stations’ clocks line up as the next departure time of each train line.
A tram passing in front of Flinders Street Station
I eventually took the bus from King’s Cross station for my flight. The Virgin Australia check-in was unbearable as usual, and I got to Sydney before sundown. Being my 4th time in Sydney, I knew my shit. I got my Opal card, the metro card for New South Wales, and paid a whopping 16 dollars to get downtown by public transportation, a staggering amount putting Sydney’s airport transport almost on par with Oslo, and got to the hostel. Everyone was partying, and the majestic harbor was directly visible from the rooftop. I got to know some interesting people like Luke and Emily, and also Jirina and Becky. I passed out before I got to know them better though.
I woke up to meet with David, another friend of mine wayyyyy back from middle school back in Shanghai. He now lives in Sydney for hist studies. We drove his large Jeep towards the famed Bondi beach, except it was raining so hard and almost as miserable as my love life, but wait, Bondi Beach exists. We had an awesome brunch in a restaurant called Panama House, and I got complimented by the owner for wearing a Panamanian cap! I did not even realize! See? The trips truly come together, and become something bigger than themselves, something more meaningful. I learn, experience, and improve whenever I go out there and explore, and every trip benefits me greatly even years after it has passed. Traveling is not an one-off thing, but more like a lesson in life. We then went to Watson Bay, where Captain Cook landed on the land of Australia. The weather was even worse when we got there, and the walking around part, which I usually hate, soaked me inside out.
We decided to avoid the rain by going back home. After drying myself repeatedly, we played GTA, NFS, friendship destroyer Mariocart, and other fun stuffs while it poured like crazy outside. The sound of raindrops hitting the roof was so loud that we could barely hear people screaming in the game even we had our volume turned up to the highest level. It was a wise decision indeed. We later went to a famous Korean barbecue restaurant, where I tried their raw Wagyu beef! raw beef? that sounded horrible since raw meat only belonged to Neanderthals’ diet. I was wrong, it was surprisingly delicious, with the crispy pear pairing it up. I bid farewell to David as the day ended, and thank you, David, for being an awesome host, see you again soon!
I went back to the hostel, and chatted with all others in the gang. I had a great time, with free beers of course! We also decided we would go visit some kangaroos tomorrow! Well, what else to do is better than petting kangaroos for your last full day in Australia?
We woke up early and caught a train to Morisset, and before we knew, the train was meandering amongst ocean and forests with zero human presence. The 2 hour ride was fantastic, and we felt lost as we got onto the platform of the station. We took a bus to the kangaroo park, and we were just shocked. I thought there would be a few kangaroos, and I was technically right: if a few means well over 100 of them! We petted them basically the whole day, as these furry hopping strange deer of the land down under were incredibly calm and tamed, and they LOVE food.
Look at the little one’s arms just dangling around!
there, there! yas! yaaaaaaassssss!ＹＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＳＳＳＳＳＳＳＳ！！！！
“draw me like one of your French roos”
We had a blast of time in the beautiful kangaroo park. We stayed there for hours and simply petted them all. We gave them names: Steve, Riceball, King Ballsack II, etc. We had lunch surrounded by kangaroos which kinda was eager to take the food from us. Before we had enough fun, we were on our train ride back. I broke up with the group on the way back to meet another old friend of mine, Yunong, for dinner. We were classmates for 4 years in middle school, and he is now down here studying in Sydney University. We met in a French restaurant and we chatted about what, how, or why, we both ended up meeting down here at this time. We even had the leisure to recite every single person’s name in our class! What a great time (and memory)! I had a Canard Confit and a Crème brûlée, almost as good as the one I had in France~! Thank you Yunong, for treating me and reminding me I still have those wonderful memories in those wonderful years.
I got home to the hostel and found out the gang finished watching Game of Thrones without me! I went straight to sleep to avoid spoilers, and trust me when I say do not spoil it for me, nobody had to die that day.
I quietly woke up in the early hours, and checked out before anyone noticed. I did not want the gang to realize they would never be able to see me again. Farewell, huh, is always a mysterious thing for me. It always means I would be back to my natural state, a loner, and should I feel happy or sad for that? Anyways, I made my way towards Town Hall, and met with another of my middle school classmate Sisi. We had a great breakfast together to catch up on both of our lives, and indeed it was a strange feeling knowing that we both had changed so much, yet we still are the same in the core. That includes her always being very, very late. Thank you Sisi, didn’t get to catch up too much due to time constraint, but next time I will make sure we had all day to ourselves.
Sydney in the morning. They are having a view, and I am having a view of them.
Return & Epilogue
I hurried to the airport for my flight at noon. Virgin Australia had 2 agents checking in 100 guests, and I was fortunately stuck in A FUCKING MIDDLE SEAT AGAIN! FUCK YOU VIRGIN AUSTRALIA, FUCK YOU!!! That was another 13 hours stuck in a middle seat unable to look out of the window or get to the bathroom easily. The flight went smoothly and I was home in no time. That was the end of my adventure, and I went through so much. I fed some crocs, petted some kangaroos, drove down the Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles, I fell in love with quokkas, I visited old friends, I donated and helped the homeless, and most importantly I had a lot of fun. Still, it is not my most favorite to travel all alone, hopping from a city to another, but knowing that I had done so much in so little time, I am proud. I went around this magical piece of land looking for animals, food and love, and I have found them all. I have been there four times now, and I am not seeing this number stuck at four for long. I will be back, and again, like every time I was there, I will experience completely new things, meet new people, and discover more Aussie spirit in myself. What is it you ask? Well, it is a bit hard to explain with words, only people who have truly experienced Australia can understand 😉 . This may be a strange land that everything can kill you, but definitely the most lethal things there are the breathtaking sunset, unbearably friendly people, tear-inducing gourmet food, and charming furry animals. If they indeed kill you, let me die again there, with a grin on my face.
this is the Oceania part of -=ForeverYoung|Round’aWorld 2016=-