Did you miss me? Did you notice me gone AT ALL?
Well, I’m back from my 11-day work trip to the Land Down Under. As I had suspected, this trip, which I initially dreaded ended up being the one that I enjoyed the most.
I wasn’t too keen on going on this trip partly because of the Swine Flu. The other part is because it was more than a week. I didn’t know how to pack for such trips and I dreaded the number of places I would have to visit and the people that I would have to interview. I mean, there are only so many questions that you can ask people. After awhile, you’ll end up asking them the same things.
Lucky for me, I quickly figured out a recurring theme after interviewing a bunch of people. It was a lot easier to focus on themes than to base the interviews on the number of institutions that I’ve visited.
Anyway, the first stop for my media familiarisation trip to Australia was Perth. At the pre-trip briefing, I had already met the two gentlemen who would be accompanying me on the trip. Both of them were really good company. I had fun with them.
I also met a group of reporters from Thailand and their chaperone-cum-translator. They were really nice people and we got along well despite the language barrier (with some of them). They tried really hard to converse in English and I really appreciated that. I wish I knew how to speak Thai just so that I could get to know them better.
We had a very busy schedule in Perth and we had a lot of walking tours of the campuses, so that tired us out. But I loved Perth for its scenery and the fact that it has lots of parks. I notice the people in Perth are outdoorsy — you can see people walking their dogs, jogging, cycling and canooing almost everywhere. The weather is slightly cooler than Malaysia and it rained a little bit when I was there. The temperature dropped significantly whenever it did.
Monday June 1 was a public holiday there, so we went to Freemantle to enjoy the sights. I had a huge fish and chips lunch — that I could not finish — at a restaurant which claims to be the best seafood place in Western Australia, while enjoying the view of yachts at the dock.
Then, we walked to the Freemantle museum and saw a hugeass submarine and a few torpedos which had a hilarious sign which reads, “If found, please contact this number.” Like, what is the likelyhood of people actually finding torpedos in their backyard? We had a good laugh with that. (Watch this space for photo of the submarine and torpedo)
Adelaide was right after Perth. We stayed at this hotel right smack in the middle of the city and very close to a shopping area. Perth seemed like a sleepy hollow next to Adelaide, which had shops open until 9pm. We managed to do a lot more things in Adelaide — lunch a Malaysian restaurant, shop for clothes and boots (that would be me), buy cholocates. I actually went out with a Sarawakian girl (a friend of a friend) for dinner on the last night in Adelaide. We had a great time and that was really nice considering we had never met before and I just got to know her from Twitter. She took me on a bus and shared little insights into life in Adelaide with me. It was nice to be able to meet up with fellow Malaysians abroad. Oh, I also met my namesake at Flinders University in Adelaide. That was funny.
Our last stop was Hobart. People had warned us that it would be cold and there wouldn’t be anything much to do. They were telling the truth. But the forgot to mention that Hobart and Tasmania in general was BEAUTIFUL! Hobart, despite its quietness, had to be my favourite out of the three cities. Sure, I enjoyed Perth’s warm weather and Adelaide’s shopping and bustling surroundings. But Tasmania had the most charm.
We went to visit Mt Wellington, which snowed the day after we went up there. It was freezing — easily 2 degrees celcius at one point — up there. I was a little bit underdressed because I had forgotten to bring a beanie and maybe ear muffles. Yep, it was that cold. If you happen to go there during winter, bring along your warmest clothes, snow cap, scarves and gloves. You’ll need them!
After that, we went to the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Centre which was very insightful. I learned a lot about Tasmanian Devils and how a devastating facial cancer has killed them in the thousands. I also petted a kangaroo there! I was scared because the kangaroo that we petted was really big and tall. I was afraid that it might kick me LOL. But I managed to get a photo with one.
Our next stop was Port Arthur, which used to house all the convicts which came to Australia from England. It had a gruesome history but ironically it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The scenery was breathtaking. We even saw the clearest, most hugeass rainbow we have ever seen in our lives there. I would recommend anyone who has never been to Australia to give Tasmania a try. It has the best scenery in Australia, hands down!
I consider myself very lucky to have been picked for this trip. It is one of the best work trips I have ever been to. It was a good blend of work and leisure. I met some of Malaysia’s brightest people and best brains in Australia and it warmed my heart to know that they’re going to be successful people in the future. I’m also lucky to be amongst the most down-to-earth and hilarious people on the trip because that made it all the more bearable.
Thanks to them, I enjoyed Australia even more than I thought I would. I can’t wait for the next trip like this 🙂