In addition to my two weeks itinerary in Australia, I would love to share some feelings and observations from my trip.
Internet – Who would have guessed that when living under the influence of Chinese Internet censorship, one of my biggest concerns in Australia was Internet. Frankly speaking Internet in Australia seem to be not only expensive, but also somewhat unreliable. Only one of those hotels where I stayed provided free Internet. In other hotels the prices for 24 hours varied from 9,95 AUD to 20 AUD, not the mention the actual usability of the networks. The first reaction was to hit the café nearby to use Wi-Fi there, but to my great surprise most of the cafes and restaurants I tried did not provide free Wi-Fi for the guests at all. Cities, or certain parts of the cities, provided free public Wi-Fi. However the only city where it was actually working for me was Brisbane. After arriving to Australia I purchased local Sim card, without any special reason I purchased Vodafone sim card of 30 AUD including 2 GB Internet. Obviously I ran out of that Internet in no time, and the top up of next 2 GB was another 20 AUD. Quite pricy, isn’t? I hope next time I come to Australia I will be on holiday, so I don’t need to stress about the Internet connection and I can keep all electronic appliances shut down.
Coffee – I have to confess. I don’t have a lot of obsessions, but the one and only that exist is coffee. No worries mate, Australia seem to be the paradise for coffee drinkers. You can find coffee everywhere and locals seem to be obsessed about their coffee too. I am pretty sure I saw people were even jogging with their coffees. I also found that the coffee in cafes was reasonable priced. The reason might be that we are living in China at the moment, where coffee is priced with somewhat luxury pricing. On average I could find large latte with 4 AUD (less than 3 euros), where as in China similar size of latte would be 36 RMB (almost 5 euros). I was very happy to sip my coffees in Australia before getting back to drinking brewed coffee at home in China. Melbourne claims to have the best coffee in Australia, yet I have to say I did not notice any significant difference. Or maybe I missed the best places… I promise to continue my coffee research next time.
Transportation in the cities – Public transportation is ok in bigger cities, yet after living in Asia the waiting times felt long after you left the most central parts of the cities (from 15 to 30 minutes, or even 1 hour for some bus lines on weekends). I do understand that in places less populated than China, there is no need for such an extensive networks and connections. Different cities have their own public transportation cards, which make traveling more convenient (tap in and tap out). Myki card in Melbourne cost 4 AUD, whereas Optus in Sydney was free of charge. Myki card in Brisbane was 10 AUD, but it is possible to get the deposit back when returning it. The prices of a single trip varied based on your traveling distance. Roughly speaking all of the trips in different cities where somewhere between 2.5 AUD to almost 5 AUD (from less than 2 EUR up to 3,5 EUR). Again when comparing to China, taking a public transportation was a pleasure even though the waiting time may be a bit long. There were always free seats in buses and trains, people were nicely queuing without pushing and shouting. Sorry China, I just have to be honest.
Accommodation – As my trip to Australia was business related, I was staying in hotels. I felt that even the mid-level hotels were rather expensive. If (and when) I visit Australia again for traveling, I will definitely consider other options such as hostels, Airbnb, couch surfing and camping in order to save money for activities. A quick search showed that even when considering more affordable accommodation options, it is better to have big enough budget for accommodation when traveling in Australia.
Food – Restaurants are not cheap, but I found that prices for food in the super markets are not too bad. German Aldi seems to be successful in their Australian invasion with low-cost products. Money disappears easily to restaurants and bars, but I am quite confident that it is possible to keep the costs reasonable when buying from the supermarkets and cooking yourself. I was happy to see plenty of healthy options such as fruits, vegetable, salads, super smoothies, nuts and so on. Also, I did not worry about the food safety like I often do in many other places.
People – One of the main observations in Australia was that generally speaking people are so nice! People are friendly and talkative. I had sort of a culture shock in the beginning, as I found myself so rude after being use to fight for the survival in Shenzhen. It was nice to have casual small talk here and there. At least this kind of casual interaction gave me a lot of positive feeling and energy.