Our Rush Departure From Dubai
We arrived at the Dubai airport with loads of time to spare for our flight to Perth, Australia, despite being 3am in the morning. However the Emirate queues were dreadful. There were no lines for individual flights like in most airports, just giant combined queues.
A weedy little staff member paced the front of the queue calling for flights that were getting close to closing, and queue-jumping those passengers, since the line was massive. As 45 minutes went past I mentioned to him we were boarding the Perth flight and he told me we had plenty of time still.
Finally we reached the check-in desk and the concerned young man hit the keys on his keyboard and then took our passports and left. He came back with his manager. I asked what seemed to be the problem and they informed me that the flight had already been closed.
Perhaps it was the fact that it was now 2am and we had been in line since 1am, but I was fuming. I let them know that this was their problem and they needed to fix it. They promptly reopened the flight, plugged our details in and asked us to make post-haste to the boarding gate.
We raced through that airport and wailed in annoyance when we realised it would be a train ride to the gate. We paced the floors waiting for the train to arrive, bulldozing our way on and off, once more racing to the gates.
The security staff gave us access to the express queue and the kind gentleman in front of us noticing our frazzled expressions allowed us to go before him.
We shot through security and proceeded to our gate being the last to arrive on the plane. The silver lining? With no one else getting on I spotted an exit row completely vacant and Josh promptly claimed those seats while I scored a middle row of 4 seats.
It was nearly an 11 hour flight to Perth with Emirates/Qantas but the time flew by compared to our China Southern Bangkok-to-LA flight. We were so pleased with Emirates. The seats actually had leg room, there were over 600 channels on the entertainment systems and the food was plentiful and free. The kids both got delightful kids packs filled with goodies that more than doubled our carry-on luggage.
Both kids slept well and awoke to enjoy more movies. I was able to watch a couple movies and write blog posts in relative peace. I didn’t get a wink of sleep, but, considering, it didn’t make me too grumpy.
Hello Australia: Re-entry Into “Home”
We waited in line patiently to get our Australian passports stamped. There was no questions or rudeness, just a friendly smile and “welcome home, Mrs Bender.” How could I answer such a loaded welcome, except with a nod and carried forth.
My mum & brother was waiting at the gates and we fell on each others shoulders. The weather was surprisingly cool as we walked out of the airport early evening.
The world seemed to slow down as my mother drove us home following roads I recalled like the back of my hand. It was a mixture of lack of sleep and the surreal feeling of having lived an adventure and arriving back where it all started.
How would Frodo or Bilbo Baggins have done it? After such intense excitement and wonder? To be faced with the mundane and normalness of coming “home.”
Luckily we got to have an early night that evening and face the possibility of what being “home” really meant in the morning.
During our research, before heading to Australia, we found a reliable phone service called Yatango. What a perfect solution for travellers! Yatango offer a free one-month SIM card to convince you they are worth using. That’s generally all you need when visiting, right? Well, not only that but every month you can change your pre-paid plan to suit your needs.
For instance I realised I was sending way more SMS than expected so after my first month and increased that, decreasing my phone calls. You can see the cost of doing it in real time and then send payment securely online. They also do customer support the way it should be done in 2014. No need to wait on the phone. Just use live chat on their website or send an email or Facebook message and get a fast response. How refreshing! I highly recommend you try it out too in Australia.
UPDATE December 2015: It looks like Yatango has recently gone out of business unfortunately. So if you're looking for a short-term SIM card, I'd recommend checking out Optus.
Perth is severely lacking in public transport. Even catching a cab is a mission and that’s pretty much your only way out of Perth airport, unless you happen to know some awesome people who will pick you up.
The train system is not extensive and will get you only to certain points, rarely where you want to go. Buses are a little better, but be prepared to wait and use a timetable, they are not very frequent. You will also pay quite a lot for public transport.
The best way to get around Perth and Western Australia is by car. Hire one, beg for one, ask for one. We were lucky enough to be blessed by several people who lent their cars a month at a time for our stint back home.
Speeding is the biggest revenue raiser for WA cops, so be very careful on the roads. You also won’t find Europe’s 140km/hr here. The maximum is 100km/hr on the freeway and usually 110km/hr outside the city… like way outside. Watch for red light cameras as well. Fines are hefty and can cost a holiday! 0–10km over the limit is AUD$150, 10–20km over double that at AUD$300. I wouldn’t suggest a Bali or Penang style bribe here.
Is Perth For Kids?
Perth is a beautiful coastal city with a gorgeous climate. When we talk about Perth we mean the surrounding suburbs not just the central city. When I mention “Down South” I’ll be collectively speaking about Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough or Margaret River – the local holiday destinations for Perth folks, between 2-4 hours south of the city.
Perth is chock full of playgrounds and things for kids to do. Every corner is a playground from the smallest neighbourhood fixtures, to colossal ones, all free.
Beaches are beautiful in Perth. White sand, blue water. Some have playgrounds, grass and BBQs, some are even designed for pets. You’ll always catch a grandiose sunset at a Perth beach.
There are several restaurants that also are family friendly. From kids eating free to providing an indoor playground. We will be sure to post those up after we visit a few more.
Where Are We Living?
The first few days we were at my mum’s house, but soon after our tenant vacated our property in the Northern suburbs of Perth and we moved back into our “old” house. We had a garage full of items that we left stored in boxes that we now needed to get through (and hopefully get rid of) and the easiest way to do that was moving back in.
I recently went through boxes of clothes, just thinking “why did I keep all this?”. Most of the whites are now yellow and after nearly 2 years I don’t really want to be wearing the majority of them anyway, and they all found their way to the Good Sammy’s charity clothing bin.
We hope that 3-4 months will be an adequate time to be in Perth - to straighten out our family home, to visit our fabulous friends and hug our gorgeous family, maybe even do a Perth campervan hire.
After much begging we have even decided to enrol the kids in school for a term. Mia has been requesting non-stop so we figured since this is the longest place we will be in one spot for awhile we would let her try. This may or may not backfire depending on how much the children love it.
Josh and I have plenty of work to catch up on including sorting out banks and mail and things that slipped by us during our travels.
We plan to set out again for nomadic travel in April 2014, but until then we look forward to introducing you to Western Australia.