Sunday, January 23, 2005

Perth

I realize my complete lack of common sense wasn't really in dispute, but there was less evidence regarding my inability to learn from my mistakes. Ladies and gentlemen, we have that evidence. My hands are sunburnt again. They match the burns on my toes and the backs of my heels (note: not the tops of my feet, which are the obvious choice) rather well.

Some of you may have heard me talk about the Great Hand Sunburns (AKA The Fucking Painful as Shit Third Degree Burns that Happened to Be Inflicted by the Sun) of my summer in France '03. While no one else really takes note when I talk about this (I should've taken pictures), you'd think at least I would. That was too predictable, though. So here I am, my last day in Perth, which I'd planned to spend cycling around Rottnest Island, sitting in one of the few air-conditioned rooms of my hostel listening to some horrible Nickelodeon-style kids show because of sunburns. My only forays outside have been to the laundry room and back, a destination which is not covered in my Lonely Planet, and for good reason.

Not all my days here have been wasted, though. My first day, Thursday, was spent walking around the city of Perth (not getting lost, I might add): I saw Kings Park & Botanical Garden, which is gorgeous in and of itself but has the additional feature of being on a hill above the city and has beautiful views of it and the river. I took a tour of the Mint, which was really cool: I got to pick up a gold brick (that shit's heavy) and, even cooler, saw one being poured. They turn out the lights so you can see it glowing from the heat, and the amazing thing is how quickly it went from 1300 degrees Celsius (it melts at 1100) to about 20. Less than 3 minutes. It's the only time I've ever visited a mint, but can't imagine how it could have been any better. They had Australian gold rush history exhibits, coins, examples of gold bricks from all over the world, and gold nuggets from all over too, showing the different forms it comes in. After the Mint I headed to Fremantle, which is on the coast, and had a look around the town and some fish and chips, and made the discovery with the latter that these people charge for ketchup. Which they call tomato sauce. It ruined my dinner, mostly because I ran out of ketchup and after spending $2 on it it would've been kind of embarassing to go back again. Bastards.

Day 2 I went to Scarborough Beach with some people from my hostel. It was beautiful. The water was such a lovely bright blue, in several different shades... I only hope it comes out in my pictures. It was hot out, but really windy at the beach, so we never really got hot enough to feel like we had to take a swim. I buried my feet in the sand and wore a t-shirt half the time, but was still feeling burnt by the time I left (and yes, I was wearing sunscreen: 45 SPF). That night we went out to celebrate one girl's birthday at bar nearby and much fun was had listening to the live music. I had to be up at 6:30 the next morning, though, so left early. I needn't have bothered, as I didn't sleep anyway: my feet hurt. I've learned that aloe vera only has a cooling sensation if you are in fact in a place that's cool. My unairconditioned room at the hostel didn't qualify, so I got up every couple hours to put on aloe and hope that maybe this time it'll work. Next day I wore shoes all day, taking them off every few hours to put on more aloe. My toes were green by the end of it. I spent most of the day in a tour bus (I took a day trip to see the nearby Pinnacles Desert) and the old Asian lady sitting next to me didn't really care for this habit. I felt bad for her until she stepped on foot by accident. She redeemed herself by killing mosquitoes and flies on the window with her bare hands. I need to learn how to do that.

The trip itself was pretty cool. We stopped at Yanchep National Park in the morning, where I saw my first kangaroos (the name of which, I learned today in my Captain Cook book, was derived from a miscommunication between Captain Cook and the first Aborigines they talked with, so we'll never know what Aborigines actually called them) and koalas, an experience that is much cooler when you're not separated by the wall and 10-foot moat at the LA Zoo. Then we visited the Pinnacles (really cool picture here). It was really hot, the sun was directly overhead, and there was no bathroom. Unfortunately that last bit was the most relevant. There's a memory I'm gonna cherish. After that we visited Hangover Bay, had lunch in Cervantes, and then drove to some living sand dunes about an hour back south, and ran into (not literally) another couple kangaroos and a joey while driving through bush to get there. At the dunes we went driving around, up and down dunes at 45+ degree angles, and ran into this tourbus there. I wonder if kids would be happier about getting on the schoolbus if that was what it looked like? After the driving we did some sandboarding, which was pretty cool until you had to hike back to the top of the dune. And got sand everywhere. Ugh. Not a fun way to spend the remaining hour and a half drive back to Perth.

And today is being spent indoors. Thankfully the TV is now showing Supersize Me instead of the kids show. Tomorrow I'm off to Alice Springs and leave at 5:30 the following morning on a 2-day camping trip to Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta, which I'm really looking forward to. I was afraid of the heat until I found out that it's hotter out here now than it is there. Not that it's pleasant, but at least I know it won't be any worse. And after hearing about U.S. weather reports (11 degrees in Chicago, aaaaah!), I'm pretty sure I have nothing to complain about.

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