Packing From Perth
Just a quick bitch about the price of hotels in Australia compared those I had in the past considered expensive - India. It's fairly obvious that I don't get back to Australia all that much for work or I wouldn't be so shocked. This property boom has got out of hand! Even the hotel rooms are outrageous!
The very flash, luxuruous room at Le Royal Meridien in Mumbai last week was about $AUD304 on the dollar rate back then. WiFi internet access was $AUD15. Sumptuous breakfast included in the room tariff. Total $AUD319.
The just barely acceptable, cheap-Ikeaoid-(un)furnished, non-V toilet-rolled, knob-falling-off-in-the-shower, abysmal service (I asked the valet parking guy to bring up my rental car, he did, then another parking attendant got in as I watched and drove it down again), try getting someone's attention for coffee at breakfast or a late check-out, brand new Holiday Inn was $AUD285, plus $29 for plug-in internet, plus $20.50 for breakfast (nice breakfast, but service was shit). That's a total of $AUD324.50.
Not impressed. $5 bucks more for about $200 less of facilities, skilled staff (all were surly and inexperienced juniors) and welcoming restfulness. You couldn't help but think, "It could be nice when they finish it."
The scenery outside was a hell of a lot better than the utterly squalid slums of Mumbai however... Sun-setting behind the skyscrapers of Perth and reflecting off the Swan River as I drove backwards and forwards across the Causeway trying to find an exit to the almost completey unsignposted Burswood Resort: it was quite beautiful.
That's Australia though. A giant open-cut mine with lovely water views.
Despite the fact that I saw at least eight incidents of police booking drivers for speeding, I heard on the radio of one large pile-up and saw two minor acccidents. None of them involving me, if you don't count driving over the small bit of concrete on the pedestrian side of the median strip when I did a sharp U-turn at a traffic light in order to cross the Causeway again, still unable to find the fucking resort.
SIGNPOSTS, Perth, SIGNPOSTS!
They have this habit of putting only the street name on a lot of the highway or freeway exits and not the adjacent suburb, or for a visitor, their proximate or eventual destination. I suppose if you're in Perth, there's, like, Perth and that's it.
But if you didn't know already that the Leach Hwy went to Fremantle (not quite Perth) you'd probably ignore the turn-off and end up in Rockingham 40kms down the freeway, wouldn't you?
Fuck I'm grumpy. Still. I wish these feet would just stop the post-surgical aching and let me walk without discomfort... You're sick of me whingeing? You know what to do.
To lighten things up, an amusing story of an Austrian (no kangaroos) friend and his wife driving from Perth down to Margaret River in their rental car. Austrians think of any open road as an Autobahn until proven otherwise. And quickly it was. The blue-light disco filled his mirrors and he decelerated down from a very high number on the speedometer and pulled over.
"Gut afternoon, officer," he said as the traffic cop looked incredulously in at the window, "Ist dare eine probleymah?" - and putting on his thickest tourist accent and that whoops, innocent, did we just annexe the Sudatenland again, just folllowing orders, baby-face look on his secretly smug visage.
The cop paused for a second then uttered the immortal line...
"Do you have any *IDEA* what I could *DO* with you?"
This particular friend has a solution when such moments occur in Malaysia, a solution that involves a 50Ringgit note and subtle handshake out the window. Fortunately he did not try this on the Aussie Highway Patrol officer, but apoligised convincingly and got off with only a $350 fine - rather than have his right to drive in Australia immediately suspended and his car impounded and towed away (at his expense).
If they had been caught travelling at 170km more recently, even the let-off would have been a $1000 fine.
Mmm, thinks: The rise in fines might also explain the particulalry keen traffic cops!
(I feel I can steal this anecdote because he and his wife are deserting me in Singapore and moving to Hong Kong, the lucky bastards.)
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
You had a parking attendant? I got dropped off once at what looked like the local student housing centre but turned out to be a gazillion-dollar-a-night establishment. I asked my taxi driver before I got out where I should spend my evening. He suggested I speak to the concierge. When confronted with this request, the girl at reception blinked at me blankly. Concierge? What's that?
Later met a friend who lives there and stupidly blurted out, "Perth is like an overgrown village!" Fortunately, he laughed and agreed. Witness:
- it turns into a ghost town at 7 pm (ok, 8 pm) -> village
- what cars there are on the roads move at a nerve-numbing 25 km/h -> village
- the 17-year old barmaid at the joint down the road makes about as much as me -> overgrown
- the 5-star priced hotel looks and feels like a student hostel from the inside too! -> overgrown AND village
- I'm too distressed by the memory to continue
Knob: LOL! I prefer to think of it as a quaint reminder of those blissful days of the past, when the world was quieter, slower, less stressful and had no sewage treatment plants.