Remembering 1997: The Sweetest Year in My Life (Part 8)

We start exploring the city center and truly marveled how modern and classic elements can blend together in here. There are plenty of classic buildings repurposed for modern use in city center. Such as old Picadilly cinema which is now used as shopping arcade (although there was a cinema on its upper floor).

The Hay street facade of Piccadilly Cinema.

Doddy also take us on to explore the adjacent Hay street mall, which like Murray street, is also closed for road traffic permanently and now used as pedestrian area. It is very busy and lined up with variety of shops.

Murray street mall, looking to easterly direction, facing Barrack street.

He also took us to see “London Court”, an alleyway flanked with classic Tudor style buildings. Inside it there are many shops that sell items such as souvenirs, cameras, electronic gadgets, and also some newsagents.

Me and my father at London Court shopping alley. Umm, why my facial expression looked weird?

We drop by to one souvenir shop, and we marveled the items that were sold in it. Aside of usual merchandise that you would expect from souvenir shops in Australia, such as fridge magnet, postcards, bush hats, didgeridoo musical instrument, and Boomerang; they also sell unusual items such as Kangaroo claw, and also some postcards with the picture of topless ladies. We bought some small merchandise. I also buy one sweater which Koala logo on it. To this date, I still kept this sweater and it is still in perfect condition like when I bought it in 1997.

From the souvenir shop, we head to one newsagent where my father and my sister bought something to read. I browse around and found many magazines that in Indonesia would have been placed in import magazines shelf and wrapped in tight vacuum plastic, but in here they’re not packed so I can read them before buying them.

Being an aviation enthusiast at that time, I would surely love browsing at some aviation magazines over there. Indeed, it was like heaven to see wide variety of magazines that cater hobbyist in newsagents in Australia. Not just aviation, but also railway, gardening, culinary, and etc. But honestly, just like in Indonesia, majority these aviation magazines were mostly imported from Britain. A smaller number came from America, and also from Australia itself. I bought one book about strategic bombers, which reviewing the likes of Avro Vulcan, B-47, and B-52.

I have been fans of Avro Vulcan since my high school days, and was truly overjoyed by wealth of information about the bomber, provided in this book.

Aside of aviation magazines, there were also some magazines or reading materials that draw my attention, due to the fact that it is impossible to openly sell them in Indonesia: adult magazines! On the upper rack, I can see many adult magazines. Some are popular brands such as Playboy or Penthouse, some are of lesser known names, but gave more explicit materials. And above all, none of them are wrapped in plastic. I could just pick them up and READ them! Since I was already a tall 19 years boy, it was no problem! Still, I was a “good boy” and decided not to buy any, yet…

Other restricted thing that I saw in the newsagent is “Lotto” or Lottery. Customer can buy one of the cards either from the counter or the vending machine, and then from there they scratched the code to reveal the numeric codes. Every week on the TV, they will reveal which number is the winner, and the prize is really huge. Of course, non-citizens are not eligible to collect the prize. Only Australian or permanent residents are allowed to get the prize, if they won.

We also bought a telephone calling card called “Unidial”. It is actually similar to the normal phone card, unless that instead of inserting it to the phone, we dialed the toll free number mentioned in the card, and then following the instruction at the back of the card, and then entering the number code which is covered and must be scratched to reveal its number. The card was an ideal way to make overseas call at cheap price, in the days when Smartphone, broadband internet, WiFi, or any other practical communication method that we have today were yet to be introduced.

Unidial Card, front face.

Unidial Card, rear part. The number in large font is originally covered in aluminum covering, and must be scratched by paying customer to reveal its code.

From London Court, Doddy guided us to see the St. Georges Terrace. This wide avenue is where many major corporate offices, as well as the tallest buildings in the city are located. Since it was Saturday, it wasn’t really busy. I’ve seen such thing when I was in Singapore, but the cold climate and large number of westerners does make the scene felt completely different.

St. Georges Terrace during busy hours.

We also visited Esplanade Reserve and Barrack Street Jetty, where we could see the view of the city as well as the Swan River. They are truly spectacular sight, indeed.

Me and my sister at Esplanade Reserve. I occasionally visited the place, including during Anzac day event. Anyway, why my smile looks weird?

Esplanade Reserve with the backdrop of Perth city, 2nd August 1997. The glass pyramid structure is Allan Green Conservatory, while the classic building on the right is The Esplanade Kiosk. When the open field was dug to make way for Elizabeth Quay in 2012, the kiosk was relocated to a new site nearby while the conservatory was demolished completely.

I later learned that several years later, Esplanade Reserve was dug up to make way for new marina precinct named Elizabeth Quay. They dredged the field and creating man-made gulf on its site.

Doddy said that the Indonesian consulate is on the same street, and can be reached by walking. Since I need to report my arrival to Indonesian consulate, we decided to go to consulate. It was quite a long walk to reach the place. But thanks to the cold weather, we didn’t felt exhausted.

Indonesian Consulate at Adelaide Terrace, Perth. Seen on Google Street View in 2017.

Upon arriving at the consulate, we try to push the gate. But it’s locked. Doddy told us that we must press the bell button before entering. He said that we cannot just go in like that in here, because it is Indonesian extra territory in overseas country. After pressing the button, the voice in the intercom asked us in Indonesian about our purpose of visit. We said that we would like to report my presence in here. They cleared us to enter, and we proceed to the reporting counter just at the back of consulate compound.

When we submit my passport and my visa, the officer said that we must also produce the photocopy of them. Since they didn’t have photocopy machine available for visitors, they asked us to go to nearby Hyatt hotel to photocopy our passport. In Indonesia, such matter would have been easy: all we need to do is just go to nearby photocopy shop to have it done. But such photocopy shop services does not exist in Australia. So we need to find photocopier somewhere out there.

Once we go out, we try to look for photocopy. Since Hyatt hotel is quite far from the consulate, we try our luck in some shops around the consulate. After being rejected by several shops, we eventually got our luck in one car rental shop where we can photocopy our papers for free. Once we get the copies of them we thanked the clerk and head back to the consulate to submit our papers.

While I waited for the papers to be settled, I found that they actually have photocopy machine. Not just one, but there are several. Despite the fact that we were the only people who need to settle our papers at that time, it was quite annoying that they gave us hard times and denying to use the machine, which would have saves us time and energy.

Back then, bad bureaucracy was a common practice in Indonesian public service. Often public servants would do anything to make our lives harder, and would ask additional money for “shortcuts”. And it’s very embarrassing that they also brought their poor service attitude to overseas countries. Such bad service truly contrasted with first world Australian bureaucracy which was much more practical and straightforward than the Indonesians.

From Consulate we resume our journey to explore the Perth. This time we decided to have a lunch in Carillon City Food Court, located between Hay and Murray street mall. The food court is like what I see in modern shopping centers in Indonesia, where you buy at whichever stall you would like. But what is different is obviously the menu. There are several menus that I never saw in Indonesia such as Fish & Chips, Kebab, or Gelato.

Since I’m not keen to explore foreign menus, I decided to buy Fried Rice at one Chinese food stall. Well, it looks like Nasi Goreng that I normally have back in Indonesia. It also tasted similar, but what makes the difference is the size: it’s twice, if not almost 3 times, of the Nasi Goreng portion that I would normally have back home in Indonesia. Since I was a skinny boy, I wasn’t too worried about putting more weight.

My sister tries the Kebab. When I first look at it, I found it looks a bit unusual. It looks like the spring rolls, but the size is huge: almost as big as my forearm! My sister offered her kebab, so I can try it a bit. When I eat it, I found the taste is a bit unusual, but somehow really delicious. So I decided to buy one for myself.

The kebab outlet looks interesting. Behind the counter there are 3 rotating gyros where chicken, beef, and lamb meat are grilled on vertical skewer which rotate, to allow the meat cooked evenly. In he counter, there are also selections of fillings to go with the kebab, such as variety of cheeses, olive, vegetables, egg, and also variety of sauces. I ordered chicken kebab, with cheese, lettuce, onion, BBQ and cheese sauce. It was truly tasty!

Once we finished our lunch, we resume exploring the city.

Waiting at in a hall at Carillon City, above its food court.

Our first destination was visiting Art Gallery of Western Australia. This art museum have vast array of collections, including rare artifact. Despite of its significance and popularity, I was truly amazed that the entrance is free. In other similar art museums around the world, you are expected to pay entrance fee.

Posing in front of “De Rufer” statue, outside The Art Gallery of Western Australia.

After exploring the art museum, we return back again to Hay street mall where we relaxed and chatting.

Relaxing at Hay Street mall.

I can’t exactly recall what we were discussing back then. I think my father was just making some little talks, as he was curious about what Doddy’s activity in here, and also some detail about his background.

Upon completion of our city tour, Doddy also showing us on how if we want to return  back to Shiraj’s house by bus. He shown us the Barrack street with many bus stops in it. Each of them have their own bus numbers. Although not really a bus terminal, all buses that headed to Perth’s northern suburbs will make a stop at Barrack street to pick up passengers, as the place is conveniently located in the city center (while the bus station is located rather far).

Barrack Street, looking to southerly direction. Row of bus stops can be seen on the right.



About bagus70

I'm an adventurous railfans who love to seek out the world of railway, beyond the border of my office.
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