Hello Melbourne (Finally)!

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Back when I was a student in Australia, from time to time people would ask me:

"Hey, you're in Australia! Why haven't you visited South Australia/ Victoria/ Queensland/ *insert Australian state or city here*?"

To which I have to reply:

"I. Am. A. Broke. International. University. Student." 😢

I would definitely have LOVED to travel around Australia, but I could barely make it down south to Pemberton in Western Australia. My monthly expenses came up to an average of AUD1,000 - AUD1,200, and THAT, includes rent.

I was on penny-pinching mode, and travel is not conducive to such modes.

Fast-forward some years later, I finally made it to one of the Australian cities I've always wanted to visit, but never had the chance to - Melbourne. 👩🏼‍✈️

To be honest, what convinced me to go to Melbourne was because my Perth friends who recently moved to Melbourne invited me to STAY with them if I was ever in Melbourne. The prospect of FREE ACCOMMODATION lured me more than my own desire to visit Melbourne.

Yep. When you're from a country where the currency is SUPER WEAK (with AUD1 equivalent to MYR3.45 when I exchanged money for this trip) globally, FREE ACCOMMODATION is a God-sent gift when it comes to travelling.

Thank you, friends. Thanks to them, from 19th April 2017 to 26th April 2017, I experienced what it was like to stay in Melbourne for a little bit... AND I LOVED EVERY MOMENT OF IT. ❤️

I love that Melbourne is secular, and also allows people to profess their faith (without forcing anyone else into it). I love that it's well-structured and easy to get from Point A to Point B in the city without having to drive. I love that it's considerably laidback, and people still care enough to dress up well and be considerate to each other. I love that people are friendly AND not intrusive.

I've felt all these and more in the short time I was in Melbourne, and I can finally see why it's The World's Most Liveable City since 2011 (according to the Economist Intelligence Unit).


I also love Australian fish and chips, since British fish and chips are a bit unaffordable for me at this time. 

8D7N Melbourne Trip Budget 💸

I planned to spend a maximum of RM6,500 (AUD2,000~) for eight days and seven nights in Melbourne (with FREE ACCOMMODATION).

In the end, I spent around RM6,000.00, and was under budget.

WOOHOO.

In fact, I would have spent less if it wasn't for the souvenirs I had to tote home for The Important People (aka parents, other relatives who have given me money over the years, work colleagues, and closest friends), all of which cost me around 10% of my total expenditure.

I was happy enough to do this for a trip from Australia, since "shopping for myself" wasn't high on my list. In fact, I bought nothing for myself except an Aladdin musical programme, as that was one of the points of my trip.


I consider the musical money well-spent.

Here's my total Melbourne expenditure, as below -

Flight Tickets: RM1,605.00
Musical Ticket (Aladdin): RM729.00
Musical Ticket (Book of Mormon): RM569.00
AUD750 (exchanged at a rate of RM3.45 to AUD1): RM2,587.50
Rental Pocket Wifi: RM225.00
Transportation to/ from KLIA: RM130.00
Transportation to Southern Cross Station from Melbourne Airport (and vice-versa): RM120.00 (Thank you SkyBus :3)

Total: RM5,965.50

This is not meant to be a guideline on how you can save money while travelling to Melbourne from Kuala Lumpur, by the way.

I'm sure there are other far more qualified travellers who will be able to tell you how to get the CHEAPEST flights, the CHEAPEST seats in the musicals (or not go to a musical at all), the CHEAPEST food, how to survive on FREE wifi, and think of all the money you can save by walking along the Great Ocean Road instead of going on a tour (joking).

As much as I try to save money in certain ways, there are definitely things I would splash out for, like the 7th row of a Broadway musical. I like to see every facial change up close as the show commences, and feel like I'm in the middle of it all.

I'm also fortunate that my friends in Melbourne insisted on treating me to several meals, so I saved a few more dollars that way. ;_;

Before this trip, I asked myself what were the important "must-dos" that I had in Melbourne. I came up with 3 answers -

1) Musicals,
2) Leisurely Sightseeing, and
3) Food.

I am of the opinion that for some experiences, it's better to get the best seats money can buy, or not have that experience at all. To me, musicals are part of that (it's also why I don't go to no-seating concerts - pay over RM1,000 to stand and have people's sweat on me? No thanks) . When I saw that Book of Mormon and Aladdin would cost me RM569.00 and RM729.00 respectively for premier seats... I winced a bit, and went ahead to get those tickets anyway.

I adore musicals, especially Broadway productions, and they don't come to Malaysia often. In Melbourne, where musicals rotate often in their theatres, I JUST had to go to the ones that would be playing when I was there.

A+ decision, if I do say so myself. Book of Mormon was hilariously tongue-in-cheek, and Aladdin was colourful and fun... but I'll save the gushing for another day.

My First Few Hours in Melbourne

When I flew on AirAsia to Melbourne, I spent the 8 hours or so watching Scarlet Heart on my tablet. There I was, happily sitting in the Quiet Zone, listening to the audio via my earphones, when I noticed... something.

Someone else was playing a video in the seat across the aisle, and THAT someone didn't see the need for earphones.

Yes, in a zone of the plane designated as QUIET, someone decided playing videos on LOUD was also an act allowable in the QUIET ZONE.

I wonder why people wonder why I don't like people in general. I didn't pay the extra money to hear snippets of your video. 😤

I got to Melbourne Airport, and I was already internally bracing myself for how the airport staff would treat me. Do I look like a suspicious person to you, dear reader?



Maybe I do. 

Apparently, young foreign Asian women are totally suspicious in Australia. Every Australian airport I've been in (which is a grand total of two, Sydney and Perth), I've had airport staff stop me after Immigration to ask me a bunch of questions, ranging from what I'm doing in Australia, where I'm staying, who are the friends I'm meeting in Australia, what do I do for a living, blah blah blah.

When I was a student in Perth, I had THREE of them stop me along the same corridor, one right after the other, asking the same questions... and "friendly" is not an adjective I'd use to describe them.

My inner self then was snapping fingers left and right and being like: "EXCUSE ME, I AM SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY AND PAYING THREE TIMES MORE THAN WHAT YOUR STUDENTS DO FOR A TERTIARY COURSE, AT LEAST STOP TREATING ME LIKE A CRIMINAL."

So far, the only airport I ever feel like voluntarily spending time in is Kansai International Airport. The Japanese may be firm, but at least they still look at me like I'm *human*.

But I digress.

I was totally - TOTALLY - prepared to get the same kind of treatment in Melbourne Airport when I arrived. Go through Immigration, get grilled by a string of officers, have Customs make me describe what's in my bag, take two hours just to get out, the usual.

What actually happened: 

I got through Immigration, and five seconds later a woman stopped me to talk to me. In my head I went: "oh here we go again". I answered her questions pleasantly enough (she was nice enough, but I couldn't help but notice her smiles/ laughs didn't reach her eyes), left after five minutes, got my luggage, and then...

I got out.

LESS THAN AN HOUR AFTER I LEFT THE PLANE, I WAS OUT OF THE AIRPORT.

Was I in a state of shock?

Um, YES.

"Wait, NO ONE WANTED TO CHECK MY LUGGAGE?"
"I was just waved through?"
"They smiled at me?!?!"
"What is the Melbourne equivalent of a lottery?"

May all my experiences at Australian airports be like this from now on. Ohm.

I'd like to think that that set the tone for my Melbourne trip. Things I thought might inconvenience me went perfectly well in the end.

Apart from that, my first few hours in Melbourne weren't exactly memorable. Five hours after I stepped off the plane, I lost consciousness and drifted into sleep, preparing for my first official day in Melbourne... which will be another blog post.  Here are some pictorial snippets of my journey Down Under in Victoria:







In the span of six full days, I covered two musicals, some of the suburbs, the city itself, the Great Ocean Road 🌊, Phillip Island, and some excellent food.

Hello Melbourne (Victoria), indeed. I miss you already. 😘



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