Nina’s Travel Rule #35: You Can’t Afford Australia

I didn't pay for either of these beverages...
I didn’t pay for either of these beverages…

Sooo, I’ve been livin’ in Australia for about a year and a half now. I know, I know, lucky-ass me. And it’s lovely, really! Unfortunately, however, I happen to live in Perth. Which is actually not as bad as they say, it’s a whole wretched shit-ton worse. But today, rather than bitching about it excessively, redundantly, unstoppably (my general coping mechanism, as most of y’all may’ve noticed), I will be presenting a few things I’ve learned in the past 1 year, 5 months, and 1 day spent in this vomitous pit of misery. Herewith: Nina’s Top 5 Tips for Broke Bitches in Perth.

This is for all a y’all who think bringin’ home $60k a year makes you “poor” (and you know who you are, woman!). Those who’ve recently learned that Perth is the third most expensive city in the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD. That’s right, other than two cities in ridiculous ole’ Switzerland, you would spend more to visit / live here in Perth than, say, Tokyo, London, NYC, Paris, ANY of vast Scandinavia… Wait. I was not bitching today, right? So the point was, Perth be pricey. We’re talkin’ rent changed by the week (at $500 a pop, average). Pints of beer that actually offered for $18 (though $12 is more “normal”). Shit, there’s a bar downtown that has half-price cocktails on weeknights, for ONLY $15. That’s right, normally they’re $30. And don’t get all persnickety about that Aussie dollar, it’s been and remains about equal to the US$1. And so, for those of us who don’t work in the mines, run our own vineyards, or serve as prostitutes to either of the above, there’s just one tiny lil’ conundrum. Ie- we can’t afford to go out, but then, we can’t really afford to stay in either (omg don’t get me started on what the (admittedly DELICIOUS) grocery store food costs…).

So I don’t really have the solution to this (like seriously, my new plan is to somehow acquire an Italian passport…), but I have found me a couple workarounds that’ve served pretty dang well of late. Assuming you’re willing to, say, stop eating, give up your dignity, and pawn your friends for liquor… Oh, and if you do happen to earn a living from any of the above-mentioned professions and / or make more than $96k a year (yes indeedy, that’s the average person’s salary in Western Australia. For reals.), you’re hereby barred from reading any further. By which I mean, get the fuck off my blog, it’s your fault this town is inane, and also you should buy me a beer next time I’m at the bar. Ok! Here we go:

The most expensive hotel in Malaysia (The E&O).  Still cheaper cocktails than Perth :(
The most expensive hotel in Malaysia (The E&O). Still cheaper cocktails than Perth 😦

Nina’s Top 5 Tips for Broke Bitches in Perth

1) Leave.

Yeah, I know, that’s not really the purpose of this “advice” column, which is to afford shit here, but like, seriously, just leave. Hands down your best option.

Ok, you haven’t left. Fine, neither have I. In that case, leave temporarily! ‘Cause really the only shining beacon of hope in this god-forsaken town is Perth International Airport. ‘Cause it has at least a couple-three planes, and if you take them to the correct destinations they can be quite ridonculously cheap. Sample fares from Perth for, say, this weekend:

Bali, 6 nights hotel, with airfare: $600

Burma, round trip flight: $450

Hong Kong, round trip flight:$750

And the glorious thing about all these places? They’re all only like, 5 hours away and their beer is like, definitely less than a dollar. I actually saw a ticket to Tokyo on AirAsia (God’s gift to ME, btw) a couple months ago for like, $450. From Perth. And that is sooooo NOT a 5 hour flight. More like bloody 19 hrs, with connection.

In March, I met a buddy (I love you, Auwowa!!) in Malaysia. Penang and Langkawi, street food and fuck-me-you’re-gorgeous beaches. Free-flowing liquor! Crazy cage-fighting Finnish people! My new favorite Yank (I love you, Afua!)! Yeah, it was a good 10 days. But my point is, these 10 days cost me, with flight, hostels, a number of pairs of replacement flip-flops (don’t ask. I mean, who the fuck steals my disgusting-ass flip-flops??), a drunken (literally) orgy of shopping in Singapore Airport, and waaaaaaay too many G&T’s to count at the old man bar down the street (sadly now defunct. I’m still crying about this, Joe the Owner), quite a tad under a grand. Which, in Perth, might have lasted, spent on equivalent debauchery, about 1.5 days.

Joe.  Owner of the 1812 Bar. Too bad y'all missed it :(
Joe the Owner of the 1812 Bar. Too bad y’all missed it, ain’t dere no mo’ 😦

Alternatively, let’s say you’re really broke. Like, workin’ at the McDonald’s broke. This is where leaving gets tricky, but never fear! Your dauntless disastrous travelling tour-guide has scoped it out, literally all ya gotta do is leave the City. Option 1: there’s a train to Midland, about 30 min east of Perth, in which there is a pub I’ve heard rumors of on “The Interwebs”, in which there is beer that costs… $4.50. No, I don’t really buy this flaming crock of shite either, but it’s what I’ve heard and I like my urban legends. Option 2: Apparently you can take the train to Kalgoorlie, a town not quite 400 miles east of here, known for two things only: decent jobs in mining for the otherwise unemployable, and more prostitutes per head than anywhere else in Oz. There’s a correspondingly large number of fairly cheap pubs, though I’m quite sure Kalgoorlie’s two claims to fame correlate in no way whatsoever, ah-hem. And yes, I did just suggest that the solution to being too broke to drink in Perth was to take a train 400 miles away to Whore-Town. Seriously, fuck my life, this is where I live.

I don't know what this was, but it was yum!
I don’t know what this was, but it was yum!

2) Mine-sweep.

Definition: you know when you’re out at the club, and it’s like, 1am, and all the drunk ho’s are fallin’ over, and the boys are startin’ to think about bar-fights, and you look down and ooo! there’s a full pint here! This is mine now, you think, as there’s no one around anyway… Well that’s minesweeping (I love you, Jballs, for naming this phenom!).

There are no rules to minesweeping, although obviously I’m not condoning actual theft or anything, but there are a few guidelines that, if followed, will make your life a shit-ton easier. One: only do it at night. Trust me, it’s pretty tricky to find abandoned drinks at noon in a restaurant. Two: do not try it sitting down. Trust me again, you want people milling about, not sitting directly in front of your new beverage. Three: minesweeping requires large, full venues. If you’re the only one doing it, you’re gonna stick out like the impoverished skank you are.

Not to name names (I love you, Chinchilla!), but a friend and I recently took this to a whole new level. In about 20 minutes, we acquired: a pitcher of ?sangria?, a bottle of wine (yes, it was taken from the bin, but the cap was on, so it’s totally cool…), a jack and coke, a pint of cider, a pint of lager, and a G&T that we actually drank while it’s actual owner was drinking it. Don’t ask, I don’t even know how we pulled that last one…

3) Make rich friends.

Friends? Acquaintances? Polite strangers? Whatevs, if someone else wants to buy your drinks, I say let’s assume they make >$96k per annum and you should probably just let them. This would be how our pub-crawl acquired two bottles of champagne the other night, as our new buddy “really wants to buy them for you so that your friends will like me!“. Never let a stranger’s self-esteem issues interfere with my bank balance, I say!

3A) If the bartender likes you cause you’re both American and both fucking detest Perth, and offers to put gin shots in your champagne (wtf??) for no good reason, you should probably just thank him and say ‘Yes, please!’.

And no, I will NOT be divulging the locations where either of these events occurred. They’re MINE.

Shoes in a machine!  In a club!  In a casino!!
Oh, and #3: There’s a machine in the club at the casino that sells shoes. For $20. Genius.

4) Hit up the casino.

Now, normally I’m not a fan of casinos. I don’t gamble, Vegas makes me kinda nauseous, I really could do without any more Cirque de Soleil in my life. I did my bit once. First time I ever stepped in a casino (I love you, Harrah’s in NOLA!), I put a quarter in a slot machine and won 20 bucks, promptly cashed out, and spent my winnings feeding and drunkety-ing all night. Dammit, where are the days when I could eat and drink for like, 10 hours on a $20? 😦

However, given the whole Perth Situation, I’m willing to make an exception to my anti-casino rule, especially since the Crown Burswood’s been treating me so well. Perks of Perth’s Casino: One: cheapest champagne in town. I still can’t figure out why, but the glasses are slightly bigger and the bubbly’s only $6. It being $7.50-$10 everywhere else, this really isn’t terrible, and it’s not particularly more crap than anybody else’s house bubbly. Two: they don’t close. Woo!! I literally cannot count how many times I’ve been turned away from places at, say, midnight, even 11pm, cause “they’re closing”. Seriously? Like, that’s more ridiculous than fuckin’ America! So basically, unless I want to rave with 18 year olds at the “clubs”, I’m shit outta luck past midnight. Oh, or I could go to the strip club. Right. (Don’t judge, it only happened once. It was Wednesday. Literally everything else was shut! Also it totally wasn’t my decision). Which leaves…. the casino! Where the club is open til 4am, the outside bar until the fights shut it down (3am-ish?), and the inside bars until… the end of time. And this, people, is why you never leave the house without your sunglasses.

5) House-party.

And finally, if you’re really desperate, or a Perthian, just throw a barbie. I dunno what the crap it is about Perth people, but they just aren’t fun unless they’re drunk in their own backyards. I mean these people REALLY like house-parties. A couple weeks ago, it was a three-day weekend in honor of some unknown holiday I’ve never heard of ’cause apparently they’ve re-named it since last year? So I’m thinkin’, wooo! long weekend! out we go!! Ahh, but I was thinking too fast, wasn’t I? See, in the rest of Australia, it seems people have, like, fun on the long weekends. They like, do things. Perhaps some shopping, or even, dare I suggest it, a visit to the pub! Not in WA though. Here on the west coast, we use holidays to: shut all the groceries, charge double “extra service” at all the restaurants, close all the shoe stores (???????), and generally deny ourselves any opportunity whatsoever to utilize our extra day of non-work. Living here’s like being trapped in the 1950’s. In Utah. If it sucked way more ass and there wasn’t any beer. Long story skipped, the bars threw us out at midnight and we ended up at the casino. Again.

Cinco de Mayo Houseparty 1...
Cinco de Mayo Houseparty 1…

Now, what we should have done was hit up a house party. You know, the only place that won’t throw you out and doesn’t (usually) charge you to get in. Apparently these have gotten so big in recent years that you now can’t bring all your friends or the cops will show up and bust you with 400 people and 200 underage twats passed out in the yard. So it’s kinda tricky to find one really, unless you’re up for throwing it yourself or happen to actually befriend a local (foreigners and non-Perth Aussies aren’t quite so stuck on house-parties, it seems). But, at only 50% of the population and literally 120% of the Bitches I Don’t Get Along With Here, it’s pretty hard to find a native Perthian who’ll let you into their yard. It can be done though, and this is how I ended up, at 4 in the morning, watching a couple very nice police officers threatening a friend of a friend whose house we were dancing on that they would “confiscate your decks if you don’t shut the *&^$% up RIGHT NOW”. They had a point, I know, but like, who fucking “confiscates decks”?? Ahh, Perth. This was actually my second house party of the evening (whatever! It was Cinco de Mayo, dammit, and that is a holiday I remember!), but we’d had to leave the first cause Friend #1 had vomited all over the party-throwers bicycle and Friend #2, the German, had behaved so abysmally atrociously that we’d been asked to remove him stat 😦

What the German came home with. After walking 7 miles.  After the cab threw him out.  Does NOT include his shirt...
What the German came home with. After walking 7 miles. After the cab threw him out. Does NOT include his shirt. And yes, that IS stolen liquor…

I have also, so far, accepted hospitality at the homes of: a nudist and a toga-laser-tag-birthday-party boy whose backyard I crashed. The latter being VASTLY preferable to the former…

Bonus #6: I don’t really wanna talk about how this went down, but the most cost-effective way I’ve thus far found to get drunk in Perth is: do it in the parking lot of a liquor store, then steal food from passing, drunken strangers. Worked out well for me πŸ˜‰

Bonus #7: Yeah, so it doesn’t involve liquor, but the cheapest brekkie in town, it turns out, is to be had at IKEA. Get to the cafeteria before 9:30am on a Saturday and it’s a full-on cooked English breakfast for $1.95. Or $3.95 after 9:30, if you’re as hung-over as me on a Saturday. I mean, damn.

So there ya have it, folks. Use wisely, ideally somewhere far far away from The Merry Ole’ Land of Oz…

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