Australia - a country of vastness and beauty, her land countless times bigger than Singapore. With some hard savings, we went to Perth for our honeymoon. Time flies. That happened 12 years ago. As a matter of fact, Australia has become a favourite spot for affluent Singaporeans. I guess the exchange rate is reasonably comfortable for us. Most important, it is the ease of visiting this beautiful continent. Open the newspapers, you can find the numerous travel pages on Australian vacation.
To ease the trouble and hassle of planning a trip, I decided to go for a package 5 days tour to Perth. We were supposed to depart for Perth by Qantas in a night flight. Unfortunately, as I was forewarned, the flight was delayed by an hour. Whatever the reason, I could not remember now. Nevertheless, it was not a very good first impression....
Among our group, there were two old ladies, a family of four, an elderly couple, who were more often than not, we were together most of times. Sometimes, I wondered was I on honeymoon ? Fortunately, this group made a good company for us. For package tour, it is your luck to be in a good company of your group. This is the reason why I detest to join in a package tour if ever possible. I enjoy the freedom of being on your own.
Arriving in Perth 5 hours later, we realised for the first time we were in an English speaking country. A little bit of culture shock. There is more to come. Read on.
Despite the sunny weather, it was pleasantly cool. Compare with Singapore's humidity, this is "air-con everywhere". The people are well-dressed. Unlike Singapore, most people here live in houses with garden. Well, with so much land, they can afford to.
I was delighted to discover that it is free ride in the city buses. When I asked the driver how much I needed to pay for the fare, he appeared a little astonished. So was I when I heard the reply. I am not sure it is free for the local.
I am sure all of us have seen many English movies. When we saw a couple kissing in the public, this was real. Culture shock. Coming from a more conservative Asian upbringing, this is something we will not do in our society. I am not sure about now - the e-generation. Another incident that had me a little shock was the sincerity of a man. I was taking picture for my wife at a market in Fremantle when suddenly a bespectacled man came running toward me and said "I take, I take". At that time, I thought the man was either insane or trying to steal my camera. To be honest, I was very remorseful for harbouring such thought. He was actually trying to help to take picture of my wife and yours truly. In Singapore, nobody will offer that unless he is requested. It is their culture to be friendly and helpful. Many a times, you see them smiling at you and saying hello.
I was also very impressed with the professional attitude of our driver cum guide. Not only he needed to drive, he was able to deliver his job as guide very diplomatically. He added some humour to this rather polite and quiet group too. In our context, a guide is a guide and a driver is a driver. Here, one man with two portfolios. This is something we can learn from. Talking about learning, I had observed that in Perth or perhaps all major cities in Australia, the handicapped mobility is very well taken care of. For example, toilets for handicapped are found almost everywhere in all public areas. In Singapore, we are gradually doing that too. However, as far as mobility is concerned in my country, I feel more should be done for the handicapped and the old and weak. I must mention here that at one place we visited which was quite remote (O'Connor Museum catchment area), I was surprised to find the cleanliness of the public toilet there. If only we could maintain our public toilets as clean as it is in our homes!
I had the best fish and chips bought at a street stall outside the Atlantis Marine Park. My wife agreed whole-heartedly. Even a 5 star hotel cafe cannot produce such a superb fish and chips. I just wonder it is still there after all these years.
Strawberries are expensive in Singapore. However, it is a different story in Perth. A visit to a strawberry farm had us craving for more, especially the strawberry ice cream, which was very cheap. Thinking to kill two birds with one stone, we decided to buy lot and lot of strawberries back home. It was a mistake. It did not occur to us that like all fruits, it will start to rot as time goes by. Lesson learnt - never to be too greedy. For the fate of the strawberries we bought, I leave you to guess.
Remember the two old ladies in our group? One was a kind and gentle lady about sixty years of age, the other was a selfish and fastidious fifty something. With luck, the kind lady struck a little fortune in the casino we were brought to. With respect, I think she deserved it. With the kindness in her, she paid for us the taxi-fare from the casino to our hotel. I think she asked the driver to keep the change too. Taxi-fare is expensive here.
I had an opportunity to visit one of the Australian homes in this trip. I was requested to hand over a gift from my ex-colleague to his brother-in-law who was residing in Perth. It was a huge house with a swimming pool. It could cost a huge sum if it is in Singapore. It is a lovely place with a garden. We were treated to a barbequed dinner that night. It was an enjoyable evening.
Captain Cook Cruise is about an hour ride along the river where you find some luxurious homes are built along the bays. Must be quite pricey homes. It was quite a boring cruise, to be honest. After the cruise, your photographs will be presented to you with the Captain Cook frame. It is not free.
Kings Park Tourist Drive at the top of hill was a relaxing place to spend an idle afternoon amid the plants and trees. There was one very huge and majestic tree with its tilted trunks and lush canopies. I can still remember the grand old tree. After all these years, I hope it is still there. Save the trees, save the planet earth. It is so refreshing to see flowers blooming and the plants and trees standing tall and healthy. Now I know why people take up gardening as a hobby.
We were taken to an wildlife park to see koala and kangaroo. In the hot afternoon, it was difficult to spot the koala as most of them were hiding and sleeping way top of the trees. We were fortunate to spot one or two. Ever have taken a camel ride before ? We tried. We did not like it. Why ? Too painful for the ass. Maybe we lacked the skill to ride a camel.
Personally, I do not like wine. However, included in the tour was a visit to the a place called Houghton Wines. Here you can see rows and rows of grapes. Obviously the end result will be wine. Too bad - I drink tea not wine.
Another place of interest is about horses. It is called El Cabauo Blanco. This is where the beautiful display of horse riding is shown. With their traditional attires, they looked very elegant, I must say. Horses are beautiful, aren't they ? After watching the display, we had the
experience of taking the gondola down the hill. With the cool breeze and sunny weather, it was thrilling.
It was a simple honeymoon for us. What I got now is the good memory of the trip. I just love to travel.