Sorry to leave you all hanging. I basically just had the most jam-packed weekend of my life. Let’s see if I can remember it all so I can share these awesome experiences with you.
On Friday night our CIEE Study Abroad group and the gap-year students went on a tour of Fremantle Prison. Why did we do this, you might ask? To tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea. It was a night tour that started at 7:00PM after the sun went down. I think it was supposed to be scary, which it definitely was for the CHILDREN that someone decided to bring along in our tour group that started to cry hysterically once the tour guide (who is an ex-guard) started talking loudly with his Scottish accent. The tour was interesting with many ghost stories. At the beginning of the tour the guide asked us if we wanted a “boring walk-and-talk” tour or an “experiential learning” tour where we were treated like prisoners. I’m not sure what the vote count was, but we ended up being treated like prisoners the entire tour. This included me being called “dumb, deaf, and daft” after the guide called on me to answer a question and I stood there blankly because I could not understood a single word he said with his thick accent. This also meant that we were locked in a room without any flashlights on, were asked to smell the awful stench around us, and then were told it was an old morgue and that we were smelling dead bodies. I think I can easily say that I was not amused. The only thing I really enjoyed was the fact that I got a free flashlight that says “Fremantle Prison” on it (no I didn’t steal it we were told to take them home). After this, we went to a footy game! Footy is Australian Football League (AFL) , for those of you who don’t know, and it was so much better than American football. WHAT ARE WE DOING? I think I enjoyed the kicking aspect of the sport and it made me miss playing soccer so much. Anyhow, I want to go to another game. The game that we saw was South Freo vs. West Perth. So exciting to watch.
The days are honestly blurring together. I have to sometimes look back in my phone and see if I happened to take photos over the weekend that are time-stamped so that I can remember all of the activities that I did. On Saturday, Meredith, Ilia and I went into Fremantle to run some errands. I went to this lovely outdoor clothing store called Kathmandu in order to buy some 1 liter water bottles since I left one of mine at the bus stop the other day. This store is the closest thing that I have found to Patagonia or REI and I needed more 1 liter bottles anyway in order to prepare to go to Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock) next week. Later on, Meredith and I had dinner in Freo at this Italian restaurant before heading to Sculptures of the Sea at Cottesloe Beach. This past weekend was the last weekend that the exhibition was running. We took photos of various sculptures and enjoyed the beautiful sunset, but once the sun went down it was freezing, windy, and miserable. We couldn’t even go and see the sculptures at the end of the jetty because the waves were crashing into it and splashing all of the people walking on it. It was a very productive day and I was glad to finally see the sun set over the ocean, despite the imperfect weather. Sunday night I got a lot of reading done for my Global and Regional Sustainability course, which surprisingly I complete next week. There is so much reading, blogging, and writing 24/7 that I will be glad to get away for a week to hike around and see the wonderful monolith that is Ayers Rock during my upcoming study break.
Sunday was a day for the books. Eric, Mitchell, Shannon, Meredith and I made our way to Serpentine National Park on Sunday morning. In order to get there we had to take the bus to the train station, take the train into Perth, and transfer to the Armadale train line. From Armadale we were supposed to pick up the 252 bus and it was supposed to take us to the Serpentine Falls Caravan Park. The Caravan Park was only a few kilometers away from the National Park so we were going to walk the short distance there, but guess what? The 252 does not run on Sundays. So, we came up with backup plans and looked for more convenient hiking trails in Armadale, but we really didn’t want to settle for anything that wasn’t awesome. We tried finding alternate bus routes that would take us close, but ended up having to take two taxis to the National Park. How silly is that? The three girls went in a taxi and the two guys went into another. The taxi drivers were nice enough to follow one another so that we were essentially all traveling together. Our taxi driver was so intrigued because in his 18 years of being a taxi driver, no one had ever asked for a ride to Serpentine National Park. We got dropped off ($50 per taxi later…holy cow) and we were ready to explore!
We filled up our water bottles once we were in the park and were greeted by people stupidly feeding some kangaroos. There was a mama and her joey that were so adorable! The group then decided to go on a hike before swimming in the waterhole underneath the falls. Overall, my fitbit detected that we walked about 10 miles total during the day, 8.5 of them were on the trail and around the park. . The trail that we hiked was the Baldwin’s Bluff Nature Track. Once we got to the top of the trail, we were able to see the waterfall far off in the distance. When we were at the top it was about 1:00pm, but we decided that we would appreciate our lunch much more after we finished the second leg of the hike. It wasn’t a loop trail so we just had to retrace our steps and head back toward the falls. We ate lunch accompanied by some kangaroos that were lingering and looking for food. Then, it was time to jump in and cool off. I specifically wore one of my new tank tops that reads “NO GOOD THINGS EVER CAME FROM COMFORT ZONES” as a reminded that I couldn’t not jump into this mysterious body of water in the country that is known for the most poisonous species. I got over my fear after I saw the number of Aussie’s that were in the water and noticed the park ranger that was hanging around. It was totally worth it and the only creatures I ran into were these strange millipedes that I see everywhere. The falls were beautiful and I was surrounded by beautiful people who were having such a good time. I was able to set aside the stress of school for a day and just enjoy myself. I mean, how happy do I look in this photo on the right?
Once we dried off and were ready to go, we attempted to call a taxi in order to get back to the Armadale train station. Unfortunately, we all have the Australian vodofone cell service, which is extremely poor in remote areas. We decided to walk out to the main road in order to obtain cell signal and call for a ride. Along the way, we happened to run into some National Park rangers. They let us use their phone, which worked because they are smart and have the Telstra cell phone plan. We called for a taxi and were told that it would be at the main road within 10-15 minutes so we power-walked in order to get there on time. We were instructed to call Swain Taxis if our maxi taxi (which can hold 5 people) was not there within 15 minutes. Well, we ended up calling Swan Taxis every fifteen minutes for the next two and a half hours and no taxi ever came to pick us up. They were rude and kept telling us that there were no taxis in our area. WE KNEW THAT. That is why we were calling. It was only 8 miles away and our taxi drivers had instructed us to call them for a ride back. We finally got Eric’s roommate to drive 45 minutes from Murdoch to come and pick us up. We gave him $50 and thanked him endlessly. Honestly, it was kind of exciting being stuck there. I was ready to bust out my survival skills and sleep in the garden at this random historical church that we found. We stood on the corner of Falls Road and Southwest Highway looking like homeless people for three hours, but we had a really great day other than that!
Yesterday I did not have class, but instead had the “Fremantle Activist Tour” lead by Paul Newman himself. We explored the town and learned about the design plans over the years. Today, I had a field trip in Victoria Park looking at some sustainable house developments. One of the houses that we toured was insulated with straw! How neat is that? I was also able to book a trip to Thailand. We are doing a 5 day adventure tour through STA travel and seeing Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I am traveling with 5 other girls once I am done with coursework and final exams. It is going to be so fun! During my time here I am seeing Uluru and the surrounding National Parks, Bali, AND Thailand. I am lucky beyond belief.