Perth and the Road Beyond

After 3 full days in Perth, I feel like I’m starting to get a decent feel for the place.

Perth is a booming mining town. There are cranes and new development everywhere, and NOTHING is cheap. Talking to a hilariously cantankerous cabbie yesterday who has lived in Perth his whole life, he said that the development really began about 20 years ago, but has ramped up hard in the past 5 years. Given the commodity prices and torrid Chinese demand in that period, that timeline made sense. The skyline of Perth is probably about 1.5x the size of Indianapolis’ at the current time. Given the number of cranes I’ve seen, I’d expect the skyline to be more Houston than Indy within another 10 years.

When I landed on Friday, Benny and I went to the Nightbridge neighborhood where we met up with some of his associates at the nightclub Geisha. The neighborhood was really bustling with young people, and it had a feeling reminiscent of Austin or Nashville with bar after bar playing life music and people congregating in the 75 degree night.

Sunday we went to a large outdoor concert at King’s Park. Aside from the drizzle, it was a great venue for the concert, and I was excited to find that I’d actually heard of one of the Aussie bands, British India, and got to hear my favorite song of theirs, Plastic Souvenirs. The views from the top of King’s Park over the Swan River and skyline were really fantastic.

Many of the miners make upwards of $150,000, which has definitely driven prices up in Perth. Besides being a Perth native, our cabbie Richard had the greatest singular command of profanity I have ever witnessed in another human being. From his cadence to his colloquialisms, Richard seamlessly wove explicatives into every nook and cranny of conversation. It was a true honor to converse with such an accomplished wordsmith.

Richard complained loudly about the increase in traffic, Perth’s rise from a “country town” to a “blanking blank full of miserable blanking blanks,” and the amount of infrastructure projects that are constantly diverting traffic from one end to another. It was great to have such perspective from a man who had lived in Perth his whole life, and frankly Richard seemed more than happy to converse with someone who wasn’t his wife. He told us that he was born near our flat, which apparently at the time was no more than a “bloody cow pasture.”

We are situated on a bend in the Swan river a few miles east of the city, which I’ve taken to running on in the mornings. Besides the earthy smells one finds near any river, there is the constant scent of eucalyptus and pine emanating from everywhere. There is a well maintained bike/running trail snaking along the edge of the river, which is quite busy. Yesterday as I was running, I encountered a few intrepid fishermen going after broome and flathead.

We’re currently making our post-Perth plans, which right now has us spending a few days on Rottnest Island, in the Indian Ocean west of Perth before flying directly to the Whitsunday’s, where we’ll be meeting up with Ben’s buddy Nick and spending a few days on his boat.

Past that we’ll be heading to Melbourne for a few days while Ben waits for his passport to arrive, and we’ve decided to take a stop over in Malaysia on the way to Vietnam, as many flights stop in Kuala Lumpur anyway, and prices are ridiculously low.

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