Monday, September 28, 2009


A while ago (well, two years ago if we're being accurate) I posted an old account of the time Mrs Wife and I were travelling around Vietnam.

Because I'm lazy and I was a better writer when I was a 23-year-old layabout than I am now that I'm a 29-year-old layabout, here's an account of when Mrs Wife and I first arrived in Australia in late 2003.

Happy New Year from Perth! Hope everybody had a good Hogmanay despite what I hear were hurricane-like weather conditions on the East of Scotland.

For the record, both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were scorching here. As this is the start of the Ozzie summer, temperature is steadily rising, so although Xmas Day's 32 degrees seemed pretty darn hot, the temperature is now nudging 40 degrees almost every day, so it can almost seem unbearable - at least until I remember that the alternative is driving home from Aberdeen in the dark during a blizzard - then the ice lollies and sunbathing don't seem as bad....

Anyway, life in Perth is good. It's a lot smaller than I expected, especially after arriving from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but it's a lot more manageable than those three cities, and a lot more chilled out. We've been here since the 20th of December, and in that short space of time I have already had three different employers.

Finding work hasn't been that easy, our visas restrict us to three months in a single job, so employers tend to shy away from travellers. My first crack at employment was in a small cafe in the middle of Perth run by a psychotic Chinese woman called Nancy (that was what first set the alarm bells ringing, Chinese people aren't called Nancy, they're called Ng and Chan and things). The place was staffed almost exclusively by illegal immigrants, from places as diverse as Yugoslavia (the mysterious and suspicious Dragan - potentially evading war crimes charges I think), Ben from Taiwan (has now overstayed his visa by three years) and assorted other Orientals with all the warmth and endearing qualities of frozen vomit.

After a four-hour trial spent avoiding Nancy's death stare as much as possible, I was offered the job for $12 an hour, which Nancy assured me was a great wage. Which it is in British terms (almost five GBP an hour) but the minimum wage for waiters in Oz is $15ph. I also knew that if I had to work there for two months, there would either be a raid by the Department of Immigration, or I would end up knocking Nancy's head in with a coffee pot, so I politely declined her offer.

My second stab at earning some cash was scrubbing campervans near the airport. Although it sounds like a pretty crappy job, it paid $14ph (about six pounds), was outdoors in the sun, and the people were pretty sound. But there wasn't enough work to last all the employees, so it was a case of last in, first out, but I at least got three days out of this one.

And now we're both working for a telemarketing company, trying to sell mobile phones. There's a base rate to ensure we don't starve, but most of the money is made through commission, so we'll see how it goes. We're both looking for better jobs though. Personally, I'm just waiting for the job advert seeking an immediate vacancy for a roving music journalist on $100,000 a year....

Aside from the jobhunting, we haven't really done very much since we arrived, partly due to having nae cash, and partly because our time here has been interrupted by Xmas and New Year. We spent Xmas in the hostel, with a champagne brekky by the pool and then a full Xmas dinner and Xmas supper.

It was good to spend the day lazing round in the sun, and generally mucking round in the pool. We were out in Perth on Hogmanay, our hostel is in the 'trendy' area of Northbridge (imagine Camden in London or The Grassmarket in Edinburgh, but with more pissed British people and no rain and you're getting close), so we spent the night at the street party there, walking between the stages and through the huge crowds until the fireworks.

So now we've moved into a flat with a couple of Ozzies, business student Tim and Journalism graduate Leah, and we're trying to save a bit of cash to buy a car and keep on moving. Hope everybody is fully recovered from the festivities and glad to be back at work.

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