Last Days In The Land Of Oz

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Friday, November 23, 2012

Perth claims to be the sunniest capital city in the world, with an average of 8 hours per day of sunshine, and it also claims to be the most isolated capital city in the world. Off the top of my head, I can think of a number of cities that are sunnier and more isolated so I'm doubting those claims. One that I'm not doubting is the claim that Perth has the highest population per capita of self made millionaires in the world. Why? Because to live in Perth, you'd have to be a millionaire. Australia is expensive but Perth is stupid expensive. Before moving to a campervan site near Freemantle, we bunked down in a hostel type room (shared bathroom) for $170/night!!! Much of this is blamed on the so-called "fly-in, fly-out" miners who show up with money to burn, take up much of the hotel space and spend wildly. To provide some price relief, they are actually planning on building a brand new facility out near the airport that will be designated for these hard rock types (assuming that wine, women, song, and more women are a big part of the fly-in experience, I'm not sure how they sell an airport location?). Mining (to supply China) is also driving a construction boom that should have Perth claiming to be the road construction capital of the world. You couldn't swing a dead kangaroo without hitting some sort of new building, renovated parkland, torn up road system, etc.

Perhaps not surprisingly, our favourite stop in Perth was the Mint near the heart of the city. Given the prices in WA, most tourists might be well advised to skip the ATM at the airport and head directly to the mint in order to purchase the gold bullion that will be required to support their stay in WA. Outside of funding our trip the mint offered an interesting view into the history of WA, particularly as a gold producing area of Australia. It was also a chance for DH to touch a bar of gold and remind me (and by "me", I of course mean Martin W our financial guru) that she wanted to buy a bar of gold back when it was priced at $250/oz. and was not taken seriously. And as a first for her, she eagerly jumped on a weight scale in public but this scale just gave her dollar value if she happened to be made of solid gold (even here I was somewhat surprised as she has always been keen to tell me that she is simply priceless). I was less eager to jump on, and suffice to say that the world financial crisis might be solved if I were made of gold.

We were wrapping up our time in Australia and it was beginning to dawn on us that we hadn't done much planning for the next couple of months of our journey so I spent the last day or so in the office of our campervan scrambling to make travel arrangements. The mandatory on-line process for Sri Lanka was surprisingly easy and inexpensive so we locked that in as our next destination. South India made enormous sense as the following stop (we've already done the north) but the Indian visa process which is strangely convoluted at the best of times is positively gruesome if you applying from a country other than your own (and you have to have it ahead of time). Add the $120 visa fee (all in) and we weren't feeling the love so we scratched India from the WOW expedition. Bhutan was next up with it's bizarre requirement of a pricey $250 minimum per person per day that you're in the country- this was almost a deal breaker but part of the appeal of this reclusive nation is the limited access it grants the outside world.

Getting to Bhutan meant getting to Kathmandu, Nepal from Sri Lanka but most reasonably priced flights landed in India at least once and the Indian Transit Visa is just about as hard to get as their Tourist Visa. One option around India had us looping through the middle east via the Maldives so we looked at a pitstop in this group of islands. Prices here would make a Perth Australian blush- I'm not sure a gold brick from the Perth mint would get you much more than a few days here so the Maldives were out....but apparently that was just my opinion. The princess had seen the island paradise photos and decided that it was the price I needed to pay for some future wrong I was bound to commit so the Maldives were back in.

After Nepal we were heading for a number of southern African countries but it turns out we'd be there in the rainy season and with many African roads just a series of potholes connected by some loose gravel, that's not a great time to be there. So at that point we just gave up planning with the idea that we'll figure something out while we're in Nepal. And having skipped one Canadian tax return season, we should probably think about at least dropping in on Toronto soon to avoid any jail time courtesy of Revenue Canada.
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travelnshit on

Perth! I loved it there. It's actually not THAT expensive if you know where to eat/drink/stay. And let's face it, those sunsets are totally worth it :)

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