Brisbane, Brissie, Brisvegas... BRING IT ON!
Trip Start Dec 26, 2009
33Trip End Apr 08, 2011
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Where I stayed
Most of you probably know that Queensland, the state in which Brisbane is in, is regarded by some Australians as the Texas of the country. Dave, of course, couldn't help but mentioning this again: "Mira! You're going there? I didn't realise Brisbane was THERE!!!" Anyway, so I don't know if it was his comments about rednecks and roughnecks or having become accustomed to Asians, who regardless of how poor they are and how dirty their cities are, are always well-turned out and look proper but when I walked into the departure area at Changi Singapore airport....man, the creatures I saw waiting in that departure lounge!! Red-necked, greasy-haired, dirty-clothed, missing a chromosome-looking white people!.... And then coming off the plane I noticed that the average size of women's asses had increased considerably as well. Yup, I'm definitely back in the Western world! Driving along the road into town were restaurants offering steak pies, bangers 'n mash, ale and "good grub" - had the night air not been as hot and had the shuttle bus driver not been dressed in tiny little shorts as part of his uniform I could have thought I was back in the UK!
And of course the fact that everyone is super, super friendly. I got another compliment on my passport holder (thanks, Ruth!), the shuttle bus driver was happily chatting away with me about my Asian travels and even the security guards and custom officers were really pleasant: "Oh, hello, how are you tonight? Was your flight ok? Could you please go to Queue 3? Oh you seem to have missed a question on the form, do you think you're carrying any illegal drugs or prescription medications?"
Customs always make me nervous even if I know I'm not carrying any drugs, bombs or firearms. However, Australia's custom laws are even stricter: you have to declare anything made out of plant and animal materials (wooden decorations, pearl earrings, Werther's Originals sweeties) and if you have trekking boots that are covered in mud they like to check that they're not contaminated. (By the way, most of these things you're allowed to keep but they highlight that you declare everything so that they can check for any contaminations that may be detrimental to their island life!)
So on top of my general nervousness in front of customs I was afraid I wasn't going to be let into the country because apparently they sometimes ask you to provide a recent bank statement that proves that you have 5,000AUD at your disposal until you find casual work... and unfortunately I do not have that amount in my bank account at the moment!
But everything was a doddle! They smilingly only swiped my passport, gave me a stamp and never mentioned anything about bank statements and money. Sent me on my merry way to the friendly customs officers.
If that had been Europe no one would have been so happy at 2 o'clock in the morning!
According to my internet research I'd done there wasn’t any public transportation into town until 5am so I’d already prepared myself for a possible night on an airport sofa. Turns out there is a bus shuttle into town for every major flight coming in during the night. I was able to book a hostel from the airport (another friendly airport staff directed me to the free call booths) and the shuttle dropped me off right outside Tinbilly’s Hostel on Roma Street. I crept into the feet-smelling mixed dorm and had a restless night’s sleep until just before 10am. I’d booked another hostel from on the 27th (which I knew was full on the 26th) but it was just up the road on Upper Roma Street so the backpack was put on again and I got my first glimpse of Brisbane by day. Roma Street consists mainly of hostels and offices with a few coffee shops and sandwich delis here and there so nothing special. It was 10am, the sun was hot but there was a nice cool breeze so I didn’t even sweat in my Hoodie (custom-made in Hoi An – woop, woop!)
The rest of the day I didn’t do much – I passed out in my new dorm room for a few hours. There were already two girls in it – one of them Scottish and the other English who’s lived in Aberdeen for a bit! Then I tried to figure out what I need to do to get a job here (basically get a sim card for my phone and fill out a few forms!) and then I went to the supermarket. Wow!!!! I haven’t grocery-shopped since mid-December and it was so much fun!!! Unfortunately I’m on a really strict budget so I had to restrict myself but I was well excited to make my own food again! The novelty has worn off already however; I miss the Vietnamese food stalls!!
I’m quite liking the hostel I’m in. It seems fun, lively, but also well-organised and CLEAN!! The kitchen gets cleaned twice a day and everything that isn’t on the food shelves or fridges and anything that isn’t labeled correctly is mercilessly thrown out. Which makes everyone take the extra step to put everything away properly and thus it doesn’t even start to look dirty and grotty. Same with the bathrooms and the rooms get a head-to-toe clean once a week and everything that hasn’t been cleared off the floor and the dresser shelves gets dealt the same fate as the unlabelled food in the kitchen and random shampoo bottles in the bathroom. All the hostels that I stayed at in Vietnam were good as well but there were always some nooks and crannies that weren’t cleaned properly that made the whole place look more gross and dingy than it actually was.
Then there’s a bar, a movie and TV room, a swimming pool and lots of rooftop lounge areas to hang around in. So technically I don’t really have to leave this place to be entertained… but I will, don’t worry! Tomorrow is sim card buyage and sight-seeing time!