“Welcome to Melbourne” the immigration officer smiled as she returned my passport. I forced reciprocation of warmth as a form of courtesy. It’s just that my body clock is technically 2 hours behind plus I’m functioning with minimal sleep. I should also note, I can get really dumb post-flights.. I don’t know the science behind it but I don’t want to elaborate on that right now.
After clearing immigration and customs, which was pain-free; I mustered up a fight with the neurons in my brain to fire up some sort of productivity that will last me for my next task. I needed to kill time at the airport so I settled me bum at a café. It was a session of answering work emails and lots of spacing out. I rarely bring my work during vacations but such is life. For justification, I’m prepping myself to be a digital nomad anyway.
6AM, Melbourne Time. Too. Early. For. Everything.
I knew that when I accidentally burnt my tongue with my hot cocoa. Then 2 hours later, I decided to move.
Got myself an OPTUS sim card for AU$10. Comes with “”free”” minutes of call and 15GB of data for a week. The staff was kind enough to activate it for me. She even took the burden of putting the sim card into the phone as I was experiencing a temporary lapse in my motor skills. It was not my phone, okay?
Also, I’d like to thank myself for holding on to some leftover Australian currency from my previous QLD/NSW trip which paid for this service. Never convert currency at the airport.. Sheesh! (Well, except Taipei).
My two-item mental checklist affirmed that it was now okay to head into the city. Trisha’s Airport Checklist of two:
1. Get local SIM
2. Soldier on with minimal sleep. Yeah, on it.
It was pretty straightforward looking for the SkyBus terminal. If you get lost, that’s on you. This is coming from a person who is geographically challenged. I previously mentioned that you just need to show the QR code from your phone to ride the bus, no need to exchange it for a physical ticket.
It was a 20-30 minute ride from Tullamarine to SxS (Southern Cross Station). Gloomy morning for my first day yet everything looks beautiful. I couldn’t help but stare out of the window while listening to music. I was internalizing every moment as I convince myself that I’ve finally made it to Melbourne!
WHERE TO STAY
For Accommodation #1.. I’ve stayed at Melbourne Central YHA (link). The hostel was a 10-minute walk from SxS and it was relatively easy to find. To reiterate, I’m pretty bad with directions so when I say ‘easy to find’.. you better believe it.
Since it was too early for check-in, their lounge was a haven for me as I still have 4 hours to spare. Worked for a bit then realized, ‘F it’ .. I’m only here for a brief moment and dramatically closed my laptop. I can’t check-in yet so I asked reception if they can store my luggage. Apparently, they don’t have a luggage room but they do have paid lockers. So I paid AU$6 for 3+ hours for the locker.. ouch.
Did some minor exploring around the neighbourhood. Went back to SxS to buy a myki card + load for AU$20.. again, ouch?
Got lost inside the station, no surprise there. I intend to visit QV mall so Google Maps blurted out the information I need to get there. After two stops (LOL), I’ve reached my destination.. or at least I think I did. As it was still early plus IT WAS A PUBLIC HOLIDAY THAT DAY.. most shops were closed.
But yey, this store was open around that time. Hello to my first meal ♡
They didn’t have rice yet so ya Asian girl got Quinoa. To my delight, it was such a sight seeing a white male wash & cook rice. A simple experience I never thought I needed. It was like seeing-.. no wait, to be safe, I’d rather not cite an example which includes culture and race. Bottomline is, it was cute, okay?
After brunch and a bit of wandering, I hastily returned to the hostel because I don’t want to pay excess hours for my luggage. I didn’t know how to ride the trams yet nor the concept of the free tram zone never fully registered in my system. So I took the train back. On my walk from the station to the hostel, a quick mental math brought two facts into light:
1. I’m an idiot, I can’t believe I spent 7 bucks just on transportation
2. I forgot how expensive public transports are in Australia from my perspective as an outsider.
Whilst checking in, I asked the reception if I could get the bottom bed since I’ll be staying at a dormitory-type of room. I can’t even begin how much of a hassle it is for me whenever I get top. I can’t stress how important it is for me to get the bottom bed.
Anyway, the lady said “Oh! We’ve actually upgraded you. You’ll have the whole room to yourself as a welcome to Melbourne”. I managed to blurt out a “Cool! Thank you!” while running out of brain fuel to participate normally in society.
I got to my assigned shelter.. and wow, I really do have the room to myself. So I quickly dumped my luggage, took a shower, and slept through my first day in Melbourne. I called it a day around 4PM.