For the past 2 weeks I’ve been invading Australia; starting from the southern picturesque city of Melborune to the charming countryside of Adelaide. Since a number of my Japanese friends have studied abroad or traveled to this country, it’s always been on my radar. Unlike my previous trips to Asian countries where I have a set itinerary for each day, this trip was a lot more easygoing and spontaneous. A friend I met at a beach party in Japan kindly let me crash at their place near the center of the city, so together we decided to hit the city while catching up and also experience the seemingly endless nightlife.
A lot of my American friends have asked me what Melbourne was like, and I told them: “Picture a cleaner, safer, version of your favorite American city with slightly less people, and that’s pretty much it!” One thing I notice about most Australians is that they are pretty laidback and travel more frequently outside the county than a lot of Americans do. Australia is very affordable to live in, and the tuition fees for education are greatly subsidized by the government compared to America. The only downside is that eating out is somewhat expensive, but on the plus side, there is no tipping like in the US.
This trip initially started out very rough because I negligently forgot to apply for my ETA to enter the country (I thought I could do so upon arrival), so Jetstar had to reschedule my flight a day later after I applied for it. Essentially all you need to do is fill out a form online and pay $30 to enter the country so it’s extremely easy, but make sure to do this before your flight! I have never had issues with tourist visas until this trip, but it was only a small bump in the road because I still was able to do everything I wanted.
Once I landed, I took the Sky Bus to Southern Cross Station to meet my friend. Immediately he recognized me due to my flamboyant blonde hair despite us not seeing one another for over two years. We first got some lattes at Mid Town Coffee which I highly recommend, then immediately proceeded to go day drinking at Melborune’s famous rooftop bar. The coffee and the White Russians somehow helped me fight off the jetlag as we walked around Chinatown and other parts of the city. What I liked most about Melbourne is that almost all of the downtown area is walkable and there are inexpensive trams available as well. The system is very easy to figure out.
Being in Australia felt like being in an alternate universe America. Instead of GameStop, they still have EB Games, which seems to have more selection and be far more superior. Forget about Burger King–it’s called Hungry Jack’s here. Porn Hub should cum and get their pizza. 8bit burgers is also a great place to eat out (I love their logo design). Lord of the Fries is not only a good pun, but they also has an entire vegan menu. Despite living in Tokyo, I tried a lot of Japanese places here that were a little expensive but overall delicious. Wagaya was one of my favorites due to its large sake list, but Japanese Gyoza Bar deserves an honorable mention. Those are just a few of the places that we visited, but there are many more!
My favorite dessert places were Chokolait, where I had amazing rainbow pancakes made with pavlova, and a cakeshop called Glace where I had an amazing mushroom pastry. They also had a really cute marshmallow one I wish I could have tried, but was too full!
There are a number of bars along the Yarra river that runs through the city, but my favorites were Storyville where I ordered Butterbeer, and the Croft where one of my Japanese friends DJed. They also have syringe drinks available that are very tasty and fun to share with others. All of these places had really friendly and welcoming atmospheres, and I even managed to make friends in the bathroom!
One event I recommend checking out is Delight because they run really fun music events with Smash Bros. tournaments at various locations in central Melbourne. I met some very nice people here, and was impressed with the quality of music.
One of my favorite memories in this city was drinking Korean sochu while watching Kenny Beats & Zack Fox with two friends in an office building. I felt like I was reliving my college days and it was extremely nostalgic. The above poster I shot inspires you to let go of your thoughts and embrace your surroundings, which is exactly what I did during this trip. It was really beneficial for my mental health.
Overall I was very impressed with this city and felt like I could finally escape from my high-stress life in Tokyo. Some people refer to Melbourne as the “hipster” area of Australia, but I think it has a lot more to offer than just chic cafes and murals like other places that have that label. I will be writing more about the art galleries and wildlife reserves I visited in my future posts so you can get a better feel about what this country is like, but I recommend that you visit it if you ever get the chance!