Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hostel from Hell

Tropical rain of the monsoon kind filled Singapore with dreary weather just as I arrived at the airport to leave for Perth, so I guess I was lucky with the weather. And with Singapore in general. When you go straight from there to Australia, there are some things you really notice and appreciate about Singapore.

Like everyone else, Australians are of the opinion that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The difference is just that Australians seem to think that they are already on that other side of the fence. I'm not so sure that is completely the case.

As I sarcastically commented upon the price for transportation from the airport to downtown Perth, the driver mumbled something about that I should remember that Australia is a huge country, and that Perth is closer to the Moon than to Sydney.

I remain unconvinced that this was a relevant piece of information, or whether that is a fact or not. What IS a fact, though, is that Perth is located so far away from the rest of the world, that they seem to have no idea there's a world-wide financial meltdown going on. So here in Perth they still build skyscrapers and keep investing all the money they may or may not have. And to do this, they need lots of people to help them with construction work of all kinds. This means that backpackers from all over, desperate to make money on their Work Holiday Visa, are arriving in Perth like never before. And this, in turn, meant that I had a hard time finding anywhere to stay here. All the hostels were full, and I'm not really into five star hotels.

So, now I stay at the decidedly worst hole of a hostel I've ever encountered, except for that one time when I shared a room, and eventually a bed, with three rats in a little village on Java. And it's not even cheap! It IS dirty, however. And right in the middle of Perth. As flash as a rat with a gold tooth, as the Australians say.

We are few actual travelers staying there. I've met three so far, including myself. The rest are people who work long hours, and for the rest of the time sit in front of a TV, completely mentally gone. Oh, and there's a room full of Asians, more of them than there are square meters in the room, I think. They also pay way too much for the room, but in return they have not had to show their papers to the receptionist. Or tell anyone where they're actually from. Wherever that is, I am pretty sure that now they have more items in their beds than they ever owned at home. It's a complete mess.

We're not allowed to access the third floor. "It's too dangerous, the floors may collapse at any moment! If you go there, you will be evicted from the hostel!", the manager says. And then he goes up there. I'm just guessing, but could the floor house an urban marihuana farm, perhaps?

So now I'm doing all I can to get away from Perth, as supposedly it's easier to find a decent place to stay anywhere but here. I'll leave on a bus north to Kalbarri tomorrow morning, so I'm fine.

Yesterday I visited the Western Australian Museum and learned about the sand frog, which lives in the Great Sandy Desert, which sounds just about right. It's a fat frog, apparently, but 50 % of its body weight is "fairly dilute urine" housed inside one of the most impressive bladders of the whole animal kingdom. So, if you're lost in the desert and thirsty, just get yourself one of these, make a hole and squeeze out your frog juice! Yummy!

If there's anything else you'd like to know about survival in Australia, just wait for more blog entries and learn!

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