Before returning back to Europe, it seemed only right to go and stretch our stay away just a little bit further and head down to Australia, not knowing when you'd get the chance again. Initially, our plans had called for basically the absolute cheapest flight we could possibly get to Australia and this, by the time we came to booking (by which stage all the prices had changed multiple times again), came in the form of an overnight Air Asia flight to Perth – a bargain at just less than 140 Euro. So, saying goodbye to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of weeks (although we have less than 12 hours passing through next time so it was more like goodbye and see you…very briefly…again), we flew out around midnight. And from there, we spent the next two hours solidly being battered around the skies, the plane dipping, being violently jerked in different directions all while the engines randomly roared to life and then ceased again. Now somehow, I don't really sleep on flights in spite of the amount I've been on – it's just not really my thing, no matter how hard I try. But strangely, amidst all the panic, the plane had a sort of soothing cradle effect to all the swaying that I found made it impossible not to fall asleep. So honestly, despite the lunacy of the flight, I had one of the best sleeps I ever had (and probably ever will have) on a plane during a plane journey and ended up being really irritated by being woken up at all, even if it was for landing, which was equally bumpy. Perth Airport at sunrise, is quite the place – there's tropical palm trees and the breeze, especially if you're coming from humid KL, is more than a welcome relief. We got through immigration, collected our luggage and queued again for quarantine and before long, we were both trying to stay awake on the bus to our hostel.
I won't lie – Day 1 was largely spent in the morning with me trying to stay awake, failing miserably, then trying again, then failing miserably again until finally I conked out completed in our hostel's ‘common kitchen' waiting for check-in and had to be woken around half an hour later, by which stage my leg that I'd been resting on (yes, it was a very awkward sleeping position) had gone completely dead, so it ended up taking another 5 minutes before I could leave the table and walk unaided. The rest of the day from there was taken up with more sleeping and a brief trip around the city before bed, once again. Day 2 then, thankfully, was slightly more successful. We begun the morning with our trip to Woolworths for breakfast, and then on down the road to the waterfront, where a group of locals were busily trying to destroy some black swans by firing their empty glass bottles at them, while the swans, not to be outdone, were equally busily trying to attack the locals, much more successfully it seemed than the attack being made by the humans. We continued on in search of Kings Park, which took us for a walk for far longer than we really wanted to have walked – most likely, the wrong way – underneath the motorway and bridge, right around the other side before finally, in the midday heat, scaling what felt like a never-ending collection of stairs. It just went on and on! More irritatingly still, the local school seemed to be having some sort of torturous cross-country running competition so 15-year olds bounded past us both up and back up down, and then up again. The view from the top of Kings Park – not to mention the breeze if you found a place in the shade – was worth it though, even if I could feel that I'd received something of a burning.
Perth though, is quite a small city really and recently it seems, very full of Irish looking for work, so as small cities go, you're just as likely to see a Dublin jersey here as you are in…Dublin. Literally. In many ways, disregarding the temperature, it was actually like being in some miniature version of Ireland. So the next day, unsure of what to do next and not wanting to keep going around the city when we'd already seen a lot of what it had to offer, we decided to head to Fremantle and do a sort of two-cities-for-the-price-of-one. The only way to get to Fremantle in fact is by train (or at least the only way that we knew about) so after another Woolworths breakfast, we caught the train and took the 30-or-so minute journey down to Fremantle. As you may know, my luck, and Anna's, isn't always great however, especially when it comes to public transport so as we neared Fremantle, a particularly rowdy bunch not far from us decided it was necessary to continue the conversation by shouting and by also introducing themselves to a number of fellow passengers, while pacing back and forth furiously like caged animals. Strangely, it proved something of a fitting introduction to Fremantle – no sooner were we going to exit the train station, than a couple more crazies steamed past us, talking nonsense and walking straight out onto the road in front of the train station. Fremantle is home to the ‘E Shed' market, which had been labelled in all the guidebooks as something we'd really need to see, so we went on in. Sure, it was nice, but central market sprang straight to my mind at least, mixed in with those Carroll's gift shops from back and you have the general idea. So, we carried on to the Marine Museum.
Whatever you could say about the marine museum, you definitely couldn't say it was ugly – quite the opposite in fact and we walked right around the outside of it, along the boardwalk surrounding it looking out at the harbour. Continuing what we'd found about Fremantle so far, there was also a half-dressed gentleman lying down flat on the boardwalk nearing the end of it fast asleep in the blazing sun. Right so. Thankfully, Fremantle has a free ‘CAT' transit bus, as does Perth, which takes you around the city and the main sights for nothing – so, not really knowing what to do next, we hopped on and sat on the bus, basking in the delightful air conditioning as we drove round and round, picking people up, dropping them off, until eventually pulling up at some stop, at which a bunch of people all dressed for the beach hopped off. So, curious to know where they might be heading, we also jumped off and followed them – and thankfully there it was, a sort of oasis in the desert, the most perfect strand on the outskirts of the city, with barely more than a handful of people on it, golden sands, gentle waves and nobody mad. So, in the end, we decided to stay put and relaxed on the beach for as long as we could, until we both suspected we were getting badly sunburnt. After that, we repaired to the nearest Hungry Jack's (I've no idea why, but Burger King over in Australia always seems to be branded as Hungry Jack's, which not only looks like a cheaper and more tacky version of the real thing, but doesn't sound right anyway) before heading back to Perth, to plan what to do the next day…