Hello all, I’ve returned. I know there was a bit of a hiatus there; 2014 was full of new things in my life (new condo, weddings, etc.), so I’ve been slacking a little on the posts. But it’s 2015 now, and I’m back to tell you about my past trip to sunny Australia!
I don’t know many people who travel who don’t have the land down under on their bucket list, and it certainly was on mine. My time in Australia was wonderful, and compact – we did A LOT in the few days that we had and we hit up so many different types of landscapes that it almost feels like it was several different trips (city, beach, desert, ocean, rainforest). So it’s hard to sum up in one word everything we did.
Before I get into each segment of the trip, I’m going to touch upon some overall things about Australia:
I will say that at every place on the trip there were a few constants about the people in Australia, the first being that I felt like Australians are kind of like the Bostonians of England. They’re very blue collar, down to earth folks who also don’t pronounce their “R”s (Car is pronounced “cah” for example). Everyone was also friendly (which is where the Boston metaphor kinda goes away). Regardless of how cheesy Paul Hogan is in Crocodile Dundee, his demeanor is a spot on representation (at least in the people I encountered).
I also noticed this about Australia that I’ve never seen anywhere else — there are A LOT of Asians in Sydney. Now, I don’t mean that I’ve never seen a lot of Asians in a city. What I haven’t seen really is a Caucasian nation/city with such an integrated Asian society. Sure, there are a lot of Asian Americans in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but even there it feels like they kind of live in their own world. In Sydney, I didn’t sense any sort of separation at all – it felt like one really fused culture in one city. Again, I only really saw this in Sydney, and I’m not sure if Melbourne and the other parts of the country are similar or not because we didn’t make it there. But at least in Sydney, it was a very apparent blend and a new experience. I legitimately felt right at home in a weird way.
Here’s a not so good observation about Australia. Everything is expensive. Getting there is expensive and being there is expensive. This is not a scenario like going to Southeast Asia where you pay an arm and a leg and then everything is cheap once you arrive. Food, drinks, lodging, tours — everything is pricey. The Australians get by because they get paid higher on average, but you don’t get the salaries they do, so be prepared to shell out.
Now, the trip to Australia is a long one. When you’re traveling from the US east coast to Australia, the whole trip will take around 20 hours (About 6 from New York to L.A. and then another 14 from L.A. to Sydney). Here are a few things that’ll help that length of travel be a bit more comfortable that I learned.
Tip #1: DO NOT wear dry fit underwear. My initial thought process was that it would be a long flight, so maybe it’d be more comfortable to wear that Under Armor underwear for the travel. I was wrong. Yes it was dry and cool down there, but it was relatively uncomfortable after awhile because the elasticness would ride up constantly when you’re sitting. So stick with the cotton underwear with Gold Bond.
Tip #2: Bring a small bottle of face wash soap in your carry-on. I had prepped for the teeth by packing the toothbrush and toothpaste in my carry-on, but didn’t account for my face. After like the 12th hour of not washing my face, it just felt really greasy and gross and all I wanted to do was rinse off. I was wary of using the airplane soap because I have sensitive skin and didn’t want to breakout. If you don’t have that problem, maybe that’ll be okay for you but for the rest of us, don’t forget the face wash.
Tip #3: Don’t go with Qantas Travel to put together your itinerary as your first choice (Qantas Airlines on the other hand was decent). Now look, if you do, they weren’t “horrible”. But they did screw up a couple things, like not giving us a code to a lockbox that had our hotel keys for our stay in Cairns (I’ll get to that later when I talk about Cairns), leaving us out on the sidewalk with our suitcases late at night. So based on our experience, I’d look at other options if you’re going to book your travel to Australia through a travel company.
I’ll get into Sydney, Uluru/Ayers Rock, and Cairns/Kuranda in my next few posts. Happy reading and happy new year!