making my mind up

With differing success, I have today tackled two of my biggest headaches in this middle part of the trip. Neither headache was the end product of a crazy night out on tour, but more akin to the travel part of this story that has taken a back seat over the past three weeks since the Ashes began back in Brisbane.

As I have wrote about in the past, I have always kept my itinerary open for the post cricket leg in the new year. This meant that I arrived in Australia without anything other than a flight home to the UK booked in early April from Delhi, India. Arriving in Perth a couple of days ago saw me slip back into ‘sensible traveller’ mode again, realising that I had ample opportunity in this free period before the third test match starts on Thursday to sort out these couple of pains in my head that have been playing on my mind for a while.

The first pain was Indian bureaucracy. On the face of it, getting a visa sorted out for India in the twelve night period I have in Perth should have been a walk in the park. As it turned out, it turned into a very long fruitless walk through not only a park, but also the vast majority of this fine city, only to fail in my goal of handing my passport over to have the necessary carried out. After checking the Indian Embassy website, I set off from the latest public library (with its awesome free wi-fi) armed with an address and a map of Perth. After a pleasant stroll in the baking hot Western Australian morning sunshine, I located the street quoted on the website. There were no obvious signs of an Indian Embassy, the obvious clues such as a flag or a plaque were nowhere to be seen. After walking into a random office block, a helpful receptionist pointed me in the direction across the road to where the address was. Sadly, it turned out that the Embassy in Perth had moved to the other side of the city, failing to mention that rather crucial piece of information to potential clientele on its website. Ah, India. You’ve got to love it. Luckily I happened to be on a free bus route that took me into the city centre, which I took safe in the knowledge that the new location was easy to locate thanks to a friendly lady that worked in the pharmacy that was on the old locations site.

Tracking down the new location was simple enough. After taking a lift and then walking through several rabbit warren style corridors, I located the office that now housed the Embassy that could get my passport stamped up. Now, I expected that handing my passport over wouldn’t be an easy thing, especially after the mornings shenanigans with the address change. Indians never like making things easy, especially when it comes to paperwork. I hadn’t bothered downloading a form as I naturally assumed that an Embassy would be able to hand out forms on the spot. I should have known better. You had to download a form yourself off their website (yes, that’s right they want you to visit the website that they don’t even bother updating rather important bits of information such as relocation details) Anyway, no problem. I bit my tongue, smiled and told them I’d be back that afternoon with the completed form that they couldn’t provide. Luckily it came into my mind just before walking out to double check that the visa would be ready for collection by next Thursday, some nine working days on. He couldn’t promise that – ten working days minimum for all non Australian passport holders……great.

After that pointless trek across town I headed back for Leedervile, the area of the city we are staying in. This is the longest period I planned to be in one place until I fly home (for the record I have not spent twelve nights away from home in the same place since 2004, not that relevant I know, but can stay in now it is written) so if I can’t get a visa sorted out in twelve days, then what chance have I got for the rest of the trip? In the past I’d have got quite worked up about this rather sorry situation but now I’ve got to the stage of travelling that these little challenges and obstacles can make for quite good fun. It’s led to me to think a bit. I’ve been putting this new year travel to the back of mind, which of course has been focussed on the cricket based fun and frolics that had up until today, occupied maximum brain space. Realising that I needed to start planning again has led me on nicely to sorting out my second headache – a flight out of Australia.

To cut a long story short I’ve managed to find a suitable flight out of Oz, booked it and started to sort out an online visa process for the country which seems far easier than the fruitless Indian one experienced this morning. Where is this next stop I here you cry? Well, without building the suspense too much I’ll tell you the reasons why first of all.

I’ve always been pretty certain that I would head back to Asia after this cricket trip finishes. There are several reasons. The main one is that I love exploring and travelling countries that are so different from home. Asia does it for me and always has done. Australia is nice, like really nice. But it just doesn’t do it for me like Asia can do. Secondly is that boring money factor, once again. As I’ve banged on about enough already, Oz is a rip off. Everything here is overpriced, especially the booze. Our local pub here serves Stowfords Press on draught – this should be good news, but not at $8 (£5) a pint. Anyone that has witnessed me quaff this fine cider in the Barrels beer garden will concur that I don’t just sup a couple of pints, it tends to be seven or eight. This makes the presence of Stowfords a bad thing for my already elongated budget. Going back to Asia, and the promise of local beers on sale for less than 30p makes a trip back to Asia even more appealing. Finally, despite the lure of a trip down to New Zealand, a place I have always wanted to visit, it is simply in the wrong direction for my plans to fly home from Delhi after the Cricket World Cup starts in late February.

So, drum roll please. The chosen country is…..Vietnam.

Booked and paid for – no going back and all that. It’s another country that I have always wanted to visit, which was a pretty important factor in deciding where to start the next leg of travel. Going back on the ‘backpacker’ road again will no doubt be quite strange after eight weeks of cricket related travel. I’m genuinely delighted with my decision and can now start to talk about future travels with some more certainty, which will make a pleasant change to the mystery that has surrounded me on the Ashes trip so far. The final vote on Vietnam went to Julia, an Australian girl I met back in Borneo last month. We met up on my first night in Perth and caught up on travel tales over dinner, which incidentally including her raving about Vietnam where she has just returned from.

I still have one pain in my head in sorting out India. I have a rough idea on how I can solve that, but for now will keep it on the headache shelf in my brain. A lot will depend on the plans of a good mate of mine who maybe joining me in the new year. Until that is confirmed, its back to the Ashes bandwagon that has been so much fun so far, fresh in the knowledge that I know what I’m doing in January.

On a final side note, thanks to Julia for opening her house up to Dave and Me for a superb Aussie BBQ yesterday afternoon. I haven’t ate so well in weeks!


3 Responses to “making my mind up”

  1. 1 Donna
    December 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Sounds like you are very happy about making your mind up and your choice of Vietnam as a destination after Australia and the Ashes Rich and great photos of you and your mates.

  2. 3 Martin Chapple
    December 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Great idea matey, lovely piccies!

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