It’s been hard to find the time to update whilst we’ve been on the road. We have been moving every day or two and doing all of the normal things in a small van takes up time, but with a really good view, obviously. I for one am enjoying this low-level busy and seeing new sights every day. Also, the wifi is terrible. You know what they say about seeing someone's true character by sitting them in front of a poor internet connection. I am a living, breathing case in point.
When I last spoke to you, we were on our way to Ubud. It was everything it promised it would be: incense-filled beautiful temples, atmospheric streets and of course the Monkey Forest- Mike and Finn were terrified of the monkeys. I had no idea before we went that this would be the case. Of course, the sadist in me found their reaction hilarious. Rabies, be damned it was pure comedy. I on the other hand was fine with them, naturally (*sarcastic face*)
We waved goodbye to Indonesia and the friends we made, all very sad. What a beautiful place full of funny, generous warm hearted people- we are planning our return trip in the near future. We can squeeze another month in, somewhere I’m sure. Komodo and Sumatra, next time.
We came off the plane after the 3 hour flight became 9 due to 6 hours of delays and it was… FREEZING!! So grateful to sensible Sara for not dumping the hoodies in Indonesia when the bags felt heavy and I couldn’t ever imagine being cold again.
Perth was big and shiny and just like any ultra clean big city- though we did stay in Central Business District so we got what we paid for.
We arrived in the hotel at midnight; checked out at 10am, still tired. That was the least satisfying 100 quid I think I have ever spent, not including parking tickets. Still, we left our bags there in the morning and went to see Kings Park whilst we were in the area. It was vast and lovely, with parrots flying about. Free buses, lots of parks and a simulated Billabong for the kids to splash about in. There was treetop walk that we might do next time- It was perfect for a few hours to kill before we checked in to our Freemantle hostel, but we couldn’t wait to get there.
Lugging the bags across the city was fine, though the boys hadn’t fully grasped that they need to carry their own rucksacks (which carry their ipads and a few toys).
You know when you are carrying home the shopping and your arms are literally breaking and then a child asks you to hold their sweet wrapper? Like that, but when trying to read a map in a strange city in the midday heat. Fun!!!
When we finally got to Fremantle carrying our own bags (win!) we found a prospector town turned hipster capital. Tall, multicoloured buildings in colonial style, each wrapped in ornate ironwork and towering over wide streets. Below; record shops, microbreweries, galleries, cafes and bookshops with a laid back, anarchic vibe.
We stayed at Fremantle Beach backpackers, which was the cheapest room we cold find @ 60 quid per night and right in town. Looked so perfect and it was, apart from the RULES. All of the rules were there, ALL OF THEM. No eating or drinking in bedrooms; No alcohol anywhere but the dining room; Dirty dishes= NO WIFI.
What a welcome! Still, Tim, the manager had a tough crowd and gave us the nod that the rules weren’t really for the likes of us. If only he knew.
We settled in to 3 nights here and those 20 year olds skipping around became friends and Beer pong sessions in the kitchen became sport (spectator, sadly). The boys were grateful for the steady stream of‘Babyfoot’ opponents and were allowed to put on the BFG in the lounge- they felt grown up and honoured, and I’m sure no-one minded to much missing out on The Terminator for one night.
We visited Fremantle Prison, which was brilliant. The tour guide was pure comedy genius and by the look on their faces, the boys genuinely thought they were being arrested… It was a stunning building and showed grimy detail what life would have been like for the prisoners/ convicts who were first sent to build it from the Uk in the 1800s.
One morning, were lucky enough to meet up with a good friend, Erica’s cousin for coffee- who looked almost exactly like Erica- it was good to see a familiar face, even if it wasn't actually hers. We were given a warm welcome and lots of advice about snakes; we set off to visit the Maritime museum.
Having just visited the Natural History Museum and the V&A- not to mention our humble M shed in Bristol, I think the bar had been set high. I like boats, and there was the outside of a submarine to look at- and a history of boats and fishing in the area. The building was spectacular, as it overlooked the harbour which housed every type of boat and we enjoyed watching the container ships, the cruise ships, the yachts… they were all so dazzling.
Our Stirling Pound being worth pittance since Brexit has been a bit of a pain for us. 1 quid buys you $1.60AUSD- bearing in mind this would have been $2 previously, we are not getting so much for our money. The cost of everything almost HURTS- so we have been trying all sorts of way to stretch the cash.
One fine evening, we took our sandwiches to the beach for dinner and to watch the sunset. A rooky error, as we already knew the place was cold in the evenings... but this felt baltic. We got sandblasted and everyone refused to agree that we were having fun, so we retreated to the hostel dining room after about 3 minutes. Appreantly ‘Freo’ is known for its wind. Who knew?!
On our last morning at the hostel a lovely Aussie chap sat the kids down and explained to them how he dealt with snake on his farm, in the Outback. Also, how to kill a kangaroo by running it over and barbecuing its tail... Bless you, Bruce. Bless you. We have to NOT RUN if we see a snake. Got that, kids? Almost everyone we meet from here has warned us about them... I'm sensing they are a real concern, either that or they can tell we're fresh meat.
We caught the train again to central Perth to ‘Lucky Rentals’ which was the least lucky experience of my life. After 3 vans, 3 hours of our time and me demanding a full refund after their ‘sh*tshow’ of service, we finally left the forecourt. Hooray! Our first stop…
Joondalup! Famous for its shopping centre and ex-pat community, we went to stay with Mike, an old friend of Mike’s from when he was 4. Bless Facebook for all its random reconnections. Mike’s wife, Karen and their 2 lovely girls were so kind to open their home to virtual strangers. It was a good Aussie/ Bristolian welcome- our kids loved their kids, so the grown ups drank loads of wine in the garden…. Isn’t Australia wonderful!
I woke up to my first morning in the van feeling a bit peaky. Apparently this was the first day of the rest of my life; lucky for me, an orange juice, a paracetamol and a shower and I’d be right as rain. Mother was right, it really does all come out in the wash.
We headed south to see old friends, Abbi and Matt who now live in Mandurah- they were suitably sympathetic of our situation and fed and watered us. It was again spectacular to be given such hospitality and we stayed in their house by the sea for 2 nights… to then head back to Joondalup again because we forgot that we weren’t in Asia any more and kids need car seats!! Thank you again, Mike & Karen. Legends, all of you.
Finally, we were all set. It was time to hit the road after all that wonderful hospitality… we were off, on the great Western Australian Road Trip.
Where we stayed:
Pelangi Guest House, Ubud. 8 GBP per night including breakfast. Great value!
The Royal Hotel, Perth. 111 GBP per night.
Freemantle beach backpackers hostel. 61 GBP per night. Central Fremantle- great location and lots of space to hang out. there is even 'Beer Pong' on saturday nights, if you're up for it!
How we got around:
There is a free bus that runs around Perth city centre. We caught this to get to Kings' Park. Bus map available from hotels and tourist information.
The train from Perth to Freemantle was good, quick and regular. 4 GBP each for 45 minute journey.
Lucky Rentals hired us the camper van. Not that I'd recommend them, but for 6 weeks rental it only cost 1156 GBP which is cheap. Honest.