A Peak Down Under: Western Australia

Day 1: Get settled in in Perth, Australia. Am met right away by an awesome new friend, Paddy. Paddy picks me up from the Perth International Airport. It's freaking hot out--it's February and summer is just winding down.

Drop off my things at a somewhat grungy hostel. I seem to be the only tourist; everyone else seem to be internationals on work holiday and on long-term stay at the hostel. The guy who met me at reception is a comically helpful, sweet, tiny bit creepy, pale, middle-aged, skinny, medium-height man with an Eastern European accent. He reminds of me of a well-meaning assistant of a villainous scientist in a dank laboratory.

Have dinner in Freemantle with Paddy, Caitlyn (his girlfriend, and a friend of a friend who has also lived in Iwaki!), and their friends (who have all also been to Iwaki...! The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller...).

(See more photos after the jump)

Eat fish and chips with a side of a slice of battered, deep fried pineapple and a deep fried banana (!!!!). I soon learn that fish and chips are about as common here as a burger and fries are back home; 'round these parts, you even choose what kind of fish you want in your meal, as you might choose between a bacon cheeseburger or avocado burger back home.

Day 2: Catch a ferry to Rottnest Island. Lounge at peaceful, deserted, paradisaical beaches with the soft sand and crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Be disappointed by receiving a "flat white" (milk and cream and foam with espresso, Australia's most typical cup of coffee) when I asked for a regular coffee. Take billions of pictures of quokkas. Gourmet burgers, fries, a pomegranate mint smoothie, and beer for dinner.

Arrive back in the afternoon, get dropped off at Freemantle.

Here, a crowd was waiting at port--for what? I had no idea, but I had plenty of free time to investigate. I waited along side them, pretending to wait just as eagerly as everyone else.

Curiously, everyone was facing and looking in the same direction, which finally clued me in on what we were all waiting for. The biggest cruise ship I'd ever seen in my life was off for her maiden voyage!

As the ship finally cruised (hah) away from port, people on the dock and from the decks of the ship cheered, whooped, and hollered at each other. I mean, actually cheered. Someone near me shouted, "hip hip!" and the people on board shouted "hooray!". Then, a man on the ship shouted "ozzie ozzie ozzie!" and the land lubbers replied "oy oy oy!".

Day 3: Take an early tour van out to the Outback. Pet and play with kangaroos, koalas, wombats, and other creatures of the Oz wild at a less-than-wild petting zoo. Walk through a desert of mysterious (phallic) ancient natural structures. Have a relaxing BBQ picnic lunch at the beach with new friends. Catch...waves? ...out on the sand dunes for an gnarly afternoon of sand boarding. Gourmet burgers and fries for dinner.

Day 4: City on-foot and rail tour of Freemantle, Kings Park, and the Perth Central Business District (CBD).

Take in the wonder and beauty of Freemantle's architecture and the kitschy Freemantle Market. Feel transported to a quaint neighborhood on a little European island at London Court in the CBD. Get lost in the ritzy shopping malls of the downtown area without buying a single thing. Bask in sunlight, marvel at a bird's eye view of Perth, weave through freshly bloomed flowers and old, tall trees, and cross a glass bridge at Kings Park.Gourmet burgers and fries for dinner (beginning to see a pattern? Damn if Perth doesn't know how to do burgers).

Thanks for an awesome time in Perth, Caitlyn, Paddy, Youjin, and friends!

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