Remembering 1997: The Sweetest Year in My Life (Part 24):

In late October we had another excursion. This was my third excursion with the class, last with Heinz, and the first and only with Denise and Maria. For most of us this was the last excursion, as some students will conclude their study in a few days time.

Our excursion route was to visit Caversham Wildlife Park, as well as visiting Houghton winery.

The current entrance gate of Caversham Wildlife Park. Back then it was more modest. 

Despite of already scorching heat (it was in 30s degree celcius), ironically our college still employed an old non-aircon minibus similar to what was used on the first excursion. I can’t remember the type of the vehicle, but it was a Toyota minibus built in early 1980s and had orange color. I remember the wind created when vehicle traveling was like a blow from a heater, it was really hot weather. This made the bus journey felt rather uncomfortable.

I remember during the journey I sat next to Alvin, while Denise and Maria sat somewhere in the back row, near Heinz. While the Indonesian wore modest dressing, like what we normally wear in Indonesia, the Europeans and some Japanese or Koreans wore short dressing. I remember both Denise and Maria wore the same type of clothing of white sleeveless shirt and short.

I and Alvin chatted throughout the journey, although I can’t recall what we discussed back then. Hudi occasionally joined our conversation, and sometime teased by saying “Bagus, why do you leave Denise alone?” Sung Ho chatted with fellow Koreans like Woo Jae and several others. The Swiss interestingly were largely silent, only chatting intermittently.

After several minutes of driving, we finally arrived at Caversham Wildlife Park. The park is located in a rural area on the eastern suburb of Perth. I can vividly remember the entrance looked slightly more rudimentary when compared to Marapana Wildlife Park. We went on a guided tour to explore the park, where park guides explain and demonstrate several things about the animal.

A tour guide giving instruction about animals and how to handle them.

They even gave us opportunity to carry the baby koala or kangaroo. Alvin carried the koala while I carried the kangaroo. It was a bit scary, although both animals are known as tame but they have long and sharp claws.  Indeed, I’ve seen news about kangaroo claw attack at around that time. (I used to have the photos of me and Alvin carrying the animals, but alas they’ve gone).

Students playing around with docile kangaroos. Heinz can be seen in the middle, obscured by one Korean student.

During tour break at Caversham, I sat on one of the chair with Alvin. We were chatting, when suddenly Denise sat next to me! Awww, I suddenly became emotional and overjoyed! When your dream girl suddenly willing to sat next to you it was very much like dream come true. Denise herself doesn’t seem to hesitate at all, and doesn’t seem to be bothered by my emotional feelings over her. This made Alvin who sat next to me giggled upon seeing this, while Hudi who looked from the distance whistled and teasing me. It’s just showing how liberal the Swiss can be.

After completing our tour in Caversham Wildlife Park, we headed to the Houghton winery. This winery is located in the eastern part of Perth metropolitan area, and to the north of industrial area of Guildford. Back then the area around there was largely rural. There were mostly bushes, with some small settlements. These days, there are several housing suburbs as well as a resort hotel complete with a large golf course in the area.

The current welcome sign of Houghton winery. I can’t recall if there was such structure back in 1997.

We arrived in the winery and were greeted by a guide from the winery complex. She took us around the winery and watching how good quality wines are produced. I can’t recall what exactly did we saw back then, I think we were taken around “wine cellar” where barrels filled with wine are stored, so it will mature the wine, as well as seeing machinery where matured wines are processed and packed into the bottle.

The reception building of Houghton winery.

Now the highlight of our visit to this winery is sampling wines. Everyone, except me, was all excited, because they can sample many of the finest wine for free. They also provide cheese and crackers to accompany the wine.  The Swiss were overjoyed by what were provided and they feasted on it. The Asian students sampled some wines. Some seem to enjoy, but some were deterred by its bitter taste. Since I’m a teetotaler, I decided not to drink any, and just enjoying the cheese (who were actually expensive cheese)..

Wine tasting session at Houghton winery. Milo and Heinz can be seen on the right.

After wine sampling, we were given free time to explore the winery complex. I remember I, Alvin, and Hudi went to the café to have lunch. I browsed the menu with caution, because I must avoid any item that contains pork. After searching for a few while, I eventually ordered a menu like Beef Stroganoff with pastry topping. Alvin ordered fish & chips, while Hudi choose burger and beer.

A semi open air cafe at Houghton winery.     

While we were having lunch, we talked about our future study plan. Alvin plan was clear: after completing his English course, he will enroll to marketing study in Murdoch University. Hudi said that he might enroll to Curtin University, although he wasn’t sure what program he would take over there. Up to that time, I wasn’t really sure about what I would like to take. I was thinking about something related to computer, but engineering was not my forte.

As soon as we finished our lunch, we paid the bill and return back to our bus.

Hudi is seen walking back to the bus, across the park at Houghton winery. Other students can be seen in the far background.

When I walked to the bus, I notice Nattaporn, a Thai students from advance class, seem to be intoxicated and drunk. She was so dizzy that she had to be assisted by some Koreans and Indonesians to walk back to the bus.

The Swiss, however, seem to enjoy the wine. They were drunk too, but enjoyed it! Apparently the wine animate them, so much that they kept on singing some traditional Swiss song throughout our return journey to the college. Well, that was truly an enjoyable trip for most of us, although for me it was slightly anticlimax.

Within several days after that, I had to bid farewell to two of my best friends in St Mark’s: Sung Ho and Heinz. Their study ended on the same day, in one Friday in late October 1997. For me, it was quite a sad moment. They had been friends for most of my study period in here. Indeed, both have made history as being the first of its kind friend for me: Sung Ho was among first non-Indonesian friend for me, while Heinz was the first European friend I’ve ever had.  Milo knows how I felt about it, so much that he put my story into a subject in one exam!

The last Friday coffee break at Queen’s pub with Sung Ho and Heinz. From left to right, me, Rosalina, Sung Ho Park, Milo Bogdanovic, Hudiono Handoyo, and Heinz Gubler. Other students can be seen on other tables. St. Mark’s International College’s tennis court (which was demolished in 1999) can be seen in the left background. I don’t understand why our mood in the photo looks sombre?

At night, we made a farewell party where Sung Ho invited us for a dinner in one Korean restaurant at William Street in the city. So we gladly accept the invitation. Later in the evening (around 6pm), we gather in front of Seoul Buffet Korean restaurant in Northbridge. It was me, Heinz, Maria, Denise, and some other students who came for the dinner. It was quite cold that evening, so everyone wore proper attire.

Seoul Buffet restaurant at Northbridge was the place where we had farewell meal with Sung Ho Park.

A few minutes later, Sung Ho arrived and we entered the restaurant. The servant, who seems to know Sung Ho very well, directed us to sit in one table. We sat in a large table with stove in the middle. The servant gave us the menu. I looked around and don’t seem to be familiar with the items. Then, Sung Ho suggesting “Beef Bulgogi”. Wow, that sounds great, so everyone agreed with the food menu, and then made the order for the beverages.

A few minutes later, they bring in the food, which are actually marinated slices raw of beef. Then the servant lit the stove, and a few minutes later delicious smell coming out and our food is ready. It was eaten with accompanied by a bowl of rice and a bit of Kimchi. I ate some of it, and it tasted really delicious! I like its sweet, savory, and a bit spicy taste of it. I ate a lot of the beef bulgogi as grew fond of it.

The Beef Bulgogi was grilled in front of you.

While we were enjoying our food, we also made conversation. I complimented Sung Ho for making the right choice. It was truly great food and the restaurant atmosphere was just great. I also thanked him for being such helpful person throughout my study in here. We made some small talks while we enjoying over our meal.

But when I looked Denise who sat in front of me, I was so stunned on how beautiful and elegant she is tonight. I know Denise is pretty, but tonight she looked more than that. I hardly see Denise wore make up before, but for this dinner event she seem to wear some polishing and lipstick. She really looked glorious and beautiful. Definitely her most beautiful appearance I’ve ever seen. And I was lucky to be able to photograph her in such beautiful outlook, which can be seen below.

Enjoying dinner at Seoul Buffet restaurant. From left to right: Rosalina, Heinz Gubler, Denise Loher, Maria Lüchinger, unidentified Swiss boy, me, Sung Ho Park, and unidentified Swiss woman.

Once we finished our meal and settling the bill, we walked around the city to enjoy night scene around the place. I think it was the only time where I enjoyed night out in the city with friends. On other occasions, I would travel alone. We went around and enjoying the scenery at around Northbridge. It was very busy with hive of activities in the café and pubs. There are also several nightclubs which were packed with people. I remember the Swiss wants to go to a nightclub in James Street, but eventually canceled because the Indonesians weren’t keen to go.

We spend the remainder of the evening by walking around the city. I occasionally chatted with Denise while we walked. I asked her did she often go out on Saturday night in Perth, Denise replied that she would only do that occasionally. While I was excited that I was able to talk and spend the evening with Denise (although not alone), Denise herself responded in uninterested manner. Yes, she was probably grew bored of me.

It was getting late. Many of us decided that it was time get home after enjoyable night. So, we split at Perth station. I bid farewell to Sung Ho, and wishing him good luck. That was the last time I saw him. I have never seen him since then. The other Asians (and Indonesian students) also split from my group and going about their business that evening.

So it was only me, Denise, Heinz, and Maria, like during our trip to Margaret River. After walking around the city block, we eventually decided to settle down in a café in Beaufort Street, just across the street from the ornate Museum of Arts building.  We sat down and ordered some hot drinks like coffee or chocolate (I ordered hot chocolate). It was a really nice companion for such a cold night. The Swiss were chatting with each other in Germans, while I enjoyed the song “September” by Earth Wind and Fire which was played. Although, I couldn’t grasp what they were discussing at, I truly marveled the sight of Denise’s elegant look that night.

However, her days in St. Mark’s were already numbered. Just like many Swiss German students in the campus, they were already in their final week of their study. The number of Swiss German students has already dwindled by that time. By early November 1997, there were only about 10 Swiss German students left in the campus. For me, the scene in the college will never be the same again.

Although Heinz have already left the campus, one day I saw him returning back again. I remember during a lunch break, I suddenly saw him coming, wearing blue t-shirt, pink short, sneakers, and already sporting some beard.  I asked him where he had been. He said that he had been traveling around WA, including staying with his friend at Geraldton. He seemed to enjoy his adventure in Australia, and Denise seemed to be excited to listen to his story.

Days later, the end is finally come for my love story in Perth as Denise, along with many students like Woo Jae and Nami, concluded her study in St. Mark’s International College. To celebrate the event, we went for BBQ party at the nearby Hyde Park where we went to one of the stove and cooking some meat and its condiment.

Farewell BBQ party at Hyde Park, North Perth, when Denise, Maria and many Swiss German students ended their study at St. Mark’s. Alvin can be seen on the left group, wearing dark grey t-shirt and carrying backpack, facing away from camera. Denise is seen on the BBQ griller, wearing striped t-shirt. Woo Jae is seen recording the event with his handycam, while Milo and Georgina* sitting on the grass on the right.

It was fun event (well not as fun as the one in Serpentine falls as the new Korean students were less hospitable and rather ignorant), and it was also the last time I was able to have some kind of long chat with Denise (which was punctuated by conversation with other students). I remember back then Woo Jae did bring his camera and record the event. He even record Denise giving her farewell speech. I wish if I managed secure the copy of the recordings….
If I’m not mistaken it was on early November 1997 where Denise, as well as most of Swiss German students concluded their study. I obviously felt a bit emotional about it. Not wanting to miss opportunity, I asked to have photo taken together with her (and Maria) in the fountain in the middle of courtyard.

The last photo I took with Denise and Maria, taken at fountain in St. Mark’s. Coincidentally, Denise used to sit on the same spot and wear same clothes when I first saw her in September 1997.

That was the last time I see Denise. Although, she physically disappear from campus and my life, I was still obsessed about her and it took me several years since then to get over her.

I tried to forget her by eating much, and so much that by the time my study ended later, I gained 30kg of weight in a space of just one month! One factor that motivated me to overeat was the news which said that Australian ladies were likely to get attracted with overweight male. I was wondering, that sounds like a good idea: eating great foods, gaining weight, and getting some girls! That turned out to be false anyway.

On the other hand, on brighter side, Danny* and Erick* also began to move out from Shiraj house. No longer that I get bothered by those toxic persons, who tries to made me felt guilty for nothing. So I became Shiraj’s sole tenant. So much that I felt like I was their eldest son.



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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