Before making any giant leap, I made a promise to myself to save some money for the first ever trip to the land of Down Under. My 2 decades of wishing and a year of savings finally paid off.
Back in January 2015, I took a Creative Writing course from Australian Writers’ Centre (AWC) and became one of the members in their graduate groups. They have great writing communities and plenty of workshops being held in major cities. While I was browsing at some places to go, I came across an ads about Perth Writer’s Festival, which eventually convinced me to travel with no second thoughts.
I booked my flight tickets after successfully obtaining a travel visa (yes, you need a visa to OZ). It was my second pursuit of travelling solo. There wasn’t much of anxiety this time as compared to the first solo trip, though I encountered several bad experiences, even from the day one itself.
It was a 9 days trip (19th – 28th Feb 2015) and on the first day of travel, disaster had already greeted me. The night before, I had to sleep with sweats and mosquitoes because the entire neighborhood had a power outage for many hours. My flight was very early in the morning the next day, and with the exhaustion from lack of sleep, the massive traffic on weekday and no breakfast, I reached the departure gate extremely late. When I was queuing to check-in the luggage (and gosh, it was really a long queue), the announcement was made for passengers to be at the boarding gate. I had to jumped out of the queue and ran to another check-in counter that only accept oversized luggage to speed up the procedures. I was later informed that I need to get into an Aero Train to cross to another terminal of the airport, and by that time, it was already a last call. I ran about 2 km in the terminal (just like in the movie where someone trying to chase another person to confess the love) to get to the boarding gate. I was the second last person to step my foot into the plane. I was lucky.
Upon my arrival at Perth airport, I’ve assured myself that I had completely filled up every single forms that were given (including a verification that I don’t have Ebola disease). At the immigration counter, while other passengers had a straight and smooth clearance, I was immediately stopped by an officer in-charge. I was told to step aside and handed over my passport, visa and forms; then asked to put my carry-on bag on top of a compartment. I was pretty sure I tried to calm myself, but in my mind, all I think about was the tons of packed medicines that I brought together that may looked like some sort of illegal drugs; or maybe that my innocent face resembled a crime person that they have been searching for. I had to unpack every single of my belongings for inspection. After declaration, I was instructed to stand beside a red line at the corner. There was a big black, sniffer, police dog (couldn’t recall if it’s a Rottweiler) that came closer to me to detect substances from my attires and bag. I was stuck at the custom and immigration stand for more than half an hour. I wasn’t lucky.
At the baggage claim, I waited for more than 1 hour — it wasn’t a reasonable time when every passengers that were on the same plane as you had left the terminal. I checked at the special claim area, and my luggage wasn’t there too. I was really exhausted and drowned with angry tears. I was about to go to the designated lost luggage counter until I saw that my luggage appeared at the conveyor. Yeap, you guessed it right, the last bag.
Leaving Perth, I had the same unlucky experience where I was asked to get into a huge capsule tube for multiple body screenings even after many security check at the immigration counter. I still need to unpack and repack my stuff. I definitely had the worst luck at Australia airport — or like I said — I probably had that innocent face on ‘wanted and reward’ poster or a popular mugshots. Even so, these experiences has taught me well when I was alone.
On my next post of Australia travelogue series, I will share the places that I visited and some great activities and experience during my solo trip. It was a memorable experience, so stay tuned!
- Please DO NOT lie about your particular details, and fill up every sections in ALL the forms given. Declare all the things you brought with you. Trust me, the tedious work to fill in the forms worth to save you from any trouble.
- Stay calm at any point of time, especially when being asked for thorough inspection. Do not show any signs of anger, panic or asking irrelevant questions. Don’t let this ruin your travel.
- Check your visa application from which country you came from. I applied an ETA during my visit, or you may confirm this info via Australia government website.
“I didn’t feel sad or happy. I didn’t feel proud or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.” – Cheryl Strayed
Currently Listening: Walk Unafraid – First Aid Kit