I have some mixed feelings on the 28 days I spent in Australia & New Zealand.
I might as well start with the positives. First off, it was really nice to catch up with quite a few friends I hadn’t seen since they left the UK – Chris in Auckland, Matt in Melbourne, Gen in Perth, and Chris, John & Ollie in Sydney, especially as it could be ages before I get to see them again. Getting to do the Tongariro Alpine crossing was a real highlight too, as it certainly lived up to its billing as one of the world’s best day hikes. I’m so glad too that my round the world ticket gave me the chance to see Uluru & the red centre, something I may not have bothered with otherwise, and was one of the real highlights of the trip so far. My stomach was also very pleased to get to catch up on so many of the English foods I’d been missing since I’ve been away (amazing as some of the foods I’ve had while away, I still can’t stop myself getting homesick for certain foods. Decent bacon, especially). Possibly best of all was getting to spend nearly two weeks with Matt in Melbourne, not doing all that much by the way of touristy stuff, instead just settling back into city life (and Melbourne is definitely one the best cities in the world) and recharging my batteries after doing so much over the past seven months.
But despite all the plus points, it did feel like a bit of a letdown after having such an incredible time in Latin America. The biggest factor in that was the fact that the two countries really are way too much like home in many respects. While that was comforting in some ways, one of the things I’ve loved most about my travels is experiencing a range of very different cultures, and to be honest, the antipodean culture was nowhere near as exciting. Another surprise was the other backpackers I met. In Latin America, I met so many amazing people, many of whom I hope to stay in contact with and see again when I get home. Whereas, especially, I really didn’t get on with any of the travellers I met in Oz. Maybe I was just unlucky, but I did find there to be something quite different about the type of people who have chosen to spend a year in a country like Australia (rather than Asia or Latin America) – they didn’t seem to be as adventurous, or open-minded, or interesting to talk to. Like I said, maybe I was unlucky and didn’t meet the right people, but it made me realise how much the company of great people makes to my enjoyment of a place. The final downside was one that I always knew was going to happen – the cost. As developed countries, they were always going to be expensive. With the pound being as week as it, it was even more so, and worse so than I’d feared. In just 1 month I managed a far bigger overspend than I’d managed in seven months in the Americas. Whoops. Oh well – let’s just hope I manage to claw some of that back in (much cheaper) Asia.
Here are those scary average daily spend numbers anyway – accommodation & food & drink costs are easily the highest yet (even moreso than my three days in the USA), and the others are all at the top end of what I’ve been spending so far.
Miscellaneous purchases, internet & phone calls: $11.62
Food & drink: $41.54
And on to the usual round up of some other numbers. We have a new form of transport thanks to Melbourne’s trams (why on earth do all cities not have these? Trams rock)
Phone calls: 4
Pies & bacon sarnies: I lost count quite early on with this one, to be honest
And finally the people I shared overpriced (and undersized) beers with. All the Aussies were great. Most of the hostel brits – not so much. I also got to meet my first people from Malaysia & Hong Kong too.
New Zealand: 3
Hong Kong: 3
And so the third leg of my trip ends, and my next stop, South East Asia, is the final one, which is rather a scary thought. How did that happen so quickly?