Australia

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The merry, brutal world of Melbourne property rentals

My rude and green introduction to the world of Melbourne rental properties started one early Saturday morning in January where at least 30 desperate, harried and stressed people turned up for a property inspection in Brunswick West. All that I’ve read about renting in Melbourne had been overwhelmingly negative—about prices, the high season (exactly the wrong time to enter it, as I did), the ugly bidding wars—and thus far, I was proven right. Getting a rental home started to feel just as bad as searching for employment. Despite the property downturn, rents were still soaring, simply because demand outstripped supply. What I’ve learnt so far: That the reasonably-priced apartment a...

Getting a Car Down Under

The search for a used car is always daunting. Waltzing into a car showroom and pointing a gnarled finger at a spanking new, fancy vehicle is not something my budget allows, so it’s back to the drawing board (hard research) before looking up private car sellers and dealers. But as extensive as the public transport network is in Melbourne, getting around without a car can be frustrating, particularly if it involves too many changes and roundabout routes that take over an hour. A browse through forums is a useful way to get started. Forums like reddit provide threads of conversations that can range from meaningful and thoughtful to downright silly....

The Settling-in Process

I waffle on big decisions. To pick a place to settle in – at least for the next few years – isn’t an easy decision, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made a few choices, did several turnarounds, then chose again and am still wondering if I’ve done it all correctly. Fickle, fickle, fickle. Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) is it for now, with the partner, which sort of makes things easier and not, with also the view that this might just be a temporary location before we pack and move again. An apartment in the Docklands via Airbnb for about a month and a half is what...

Short winter days in Melbourne

I’m entirely unused to spending just a few days in a place that will probably take years to know inside out. Having been to Melbourne several times over the past two decades (nothing like the passing of the years to show how much mileage you’ve gotten along with it), this has by far, been the longest gap in which I’ve eschewed one of the world’s most liveable and coolest city in favour of other far-flung places. With four days, there was just too much to see, too much to eat, so little time. The rich, cultural diversity of this place can’t make it any swankier honestly, and the inner-city ethnic...

Pans and injuries

In the time that I’ve been away, I’ve managed to: scrap the knees and shin on the same leg twice, cracked half a toenail, somehow contract an infection of a nail cuticle (probably caused by hang nail) that made the finger swell, got a gash across my hand from the toilet door (!), grew numerous blisters and ankle bruises from walking too much, suffered a mild heatstroke and a sunburn on the face in the Australian sun. Also got my hiking shoes ripped good, tore some other parts of my clothes. The maladies of travel, as small as they are, remind me that I’m still partly enjoying myself and still...

Sydney the great

Ah, Sydney, the consummate city, to which I was introduced not via its famed beaches and tacky surfing stereotypes but via the bad traffic and even bad-der drivers. “I don’t have to give you any way, you’re in my lane,” the old lady driving the van vented defiantly at another van as she wove her steady way through Sydney’s frustrating crawl. The ready expression of frustration was a welcome reprieve after screaming children monsters (indicative of stupid parenting as well) on the way-too-long 3 hr flight into Sydney from Christchurch. I laughed and thereafter, she launched into a rapidfire list of sights to cover, ending with a certain place that she thought...

Down Under in Winter

A 6-month layover and I’m ready to roll again – to a destination that I visited nearly a decade ago. For one moment, it appeared that there were no air tickets available under $1900 – whether to Europe or Canada, or anywhere down Down Under. A listless search on the internet one Saturday morning last week had me quivering in excitement when Scandinavian Airlines offered a ridiculous price for a 2-week sojourn in the far north, while Qantas offered – only with a 3-week advance booking – something similar price-wise for a traipse through New Zealand with a stopover in Sydney. It was surprisingly, a very difficult decision to make:...

Ode to the pink jacket

I was determined to keep the last 2 days in Perth a relaxing one after the collective and prolonged excitement of Margaret River. Things as usual, do not always go according to plan. Returning the car on a Sunday morning meant waking up as early as possible, before rushing (as always) last minute shopping and gifts in the city centre which was fairly unpleasant after the quiet stay in the countryside down south. Our hosts throughout the trip however, have been excellent company and wonderful people, and are probably one of the highlights of the trip. The weather was mostly excellent, us having dodged several serious winter storms. In some...

The gourmet trail

“Is my face getting rounder? Do I look heavier?” TC won the crown of longsuffering as he constantly endured my increasingly psychotic questions that popped up involuntarily a few times a day and particularly after each meal. Such questions weren’t totally unfounded actually; I think it’s fair to say that I ate myself out of my pants and thereafter thought guiltily and quite a lot of amping up my exercise routine when I got back. This is an example, and it’s only breakfast. Eggs from the Dirk’s farm, herbs from their garden and goodness knows what else is organic. Visiting Margaret River is akin to going on a trail to satiate the senses – it...

Sea-longing, Sea change

We could not get enough of the sea. After a long day going up and down the stretch, I was ready to crash and spend some quality time with the laptop and Dirk’s internet connection. But my disobedient, traitorous mind and mouth asked aloud, “What about spending sunset at Prevelly park before going straight to dinner?” TC thought it was a good idea, despite his own traitorous mind telling him otherwise. We went back to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Pockets of rain coated the Indian ocean in the distance like the sleek veils of dancing odalisques while dark clouds moved and intermingled with the...