South of the equator, navigator…
G’day from Melbourne! After less time in KL than spent on the flight to KL… (it was going to be be bad enough at 13 hours, before the extra 2 sat on the runway..!) and feeling like I hadn’t seen daylight for about 48 hours – mostly because I hadn’t – we have officially made it Down Under!
We weren’t sure if stopping over for the night was such a good idea at the time – it took us an hour to get through passport control in KL then another hour to get dinner and to our hotel – but in hindsight it was the right idea. We could shower (showers are GREAT), sleep in a bed for a few hours and just feel fresher by the time we got here. We don’t have a huge amount of time in the city, so didn’t want to waste too much of it jetlagged! I would say we’ve adjusted pretty well, but I am literally writing this at midnight… My absolute uselessness at coping with long haul showing me once again, I would make a terrible popstar.
A quick tip – if you are ever flying with Air Asia, BOOK YOUR MEAL BEFORE YOU GET ON THE PLANE. They do not give you anything to eat. We had 4 measly Belvita bars between us, and no Malaysian money left. I was surprised the poor chap next to me couldn’t hear my stomach rumbling as I eyeballed his Nasi Lemak. By the time we whizzed through passport control in Melbourne and hopped on the Skybus into the city I was ready to murder the lady opposite me for her jumbo bag of trail mix…
Suddenly, over the tannoy jolted me awake – “You are now arriving at Southern Cross Station.” We were nearly there!! We got off the bus and started the short walk to Collins St. Weirdly, my first impression of the city wasthat it reminded me of New York. Maybe because we’re in the CBD, and as such surrounded by skyscrapers? They also have similar street signs, and everything is laid out in blocks. And it’s early Spring here, so it’s pretty flippin’ chilly…
Just as I was berating myself for not bringing enough (read: any) jumpers, I saw it…. a Pie Face. This will mean nothing to most of you, but it’s a chain of pie shops (pies are A Thing here) which I haven’t seen since we were in Sydney 5 years ago. And then… an advert for a Cherry Ripe, a cherry flavoured chocolate bar they don’t have in the UK. Again, you probably don’t think this is of any significance, but one of the things I was fully obsessed with last time I was in Oz were the different chocolate bars they have here (I am a weirdo). (See also: M&Ms bars, Coconut Dairy Milk, and Raspberry Maltesers – wtf!). We’re back baby!!
Our Airbnb is epic, up there with one of the best we’ve ever stayed in! The location is perfect with the CBD and the laneways literally on our doorstep (well done me). It was gone 10pm by the time we finally made it here, and I reeeeally needed a shower and about a week of sleep but nope, we needed to toast our arrival. So I duly scraped up my truly gross hair, slapped on some bright lipstick (to distract from said hair) and hoped the Wet Look was a thing here. Right around the corner on Little Collins St we snubbed the Mitre (though have since found out it’s the oldest pub in Melbourne, so we might go back tonight) and went to Dirkstein’s Corner Bar for a “pot” (half pint) each.
One thing about Melly: it’s not just cool, it’s friendly. It feels a bit like Berlin or east London, all hipster, caffeine and vegan food… but without the attitude. It’s easy-going, not intimidating. My work HQ is in east London but whenever I spend any time there I end up feeling like the biggest country bumpkin on the planet. It does nothing for your self esteem! But Melb isn’t like that. Case in point: I asked the (much cooler than me – admittedly not hard – tattooed, nose-pierced) woman o the bar at Dirkstein’s if they had a drinks menu. She said, “Nope.” I kind of expected some “Crikey, someone’s fresh off the boat” side-eye, but instead she just showed me where the wine labels were pinned up over the bar. EAST LONDON, TAKE NOTE.
Another sign the universe was on our side: right across the street from Dirkstein’s was a Roti shop, so of course we walked home munching on warm Roti Kaya. Roti is a Malaysian pancake, like a crepe crossed with a chapati, and Kaya is a coconutty jam, and the two combined are pretty much heaven. I’d hoped we might find some on our 9 hours in KL but (whisper it) genuinely the only thing open was a Burger King… so I’m glad our pancakey prayers were finally answered. They even gave us extra Kaya for dipping. Literally dipping pancakes in jam… if that’s not living the dream then what is!? There are no photos of the Roti Kaya, which says it all really!
All in all, less than an hour in and we were already falling in love with Melbourne. We went to bed looking forward to the main thing we came here for… BRUNCH. Woohoo!