Category Archives: Australia

A note on traveling solo, Part Two

“Hi, do you speak English?” I asked the man. He nodded warily, not before casting a suspicious and puzzled sideway glance at me.

“Will your phone be able to make an overseas call?” I asked quickly, as I watched his mouth open and closed when I clearly answered his un-asked question. He nodded again, this time more affirmatively, while glancing at the red Singaporean passport that I was clutching firmly in my hand.

Perhaps it was the look of desperation on my face or that he was holding a similar passport himself that prompted him to hand me his phone, I will never know. I didn’t have the time to find out because this was an emergency.

What was happening? Well, let me start from the beginning.

As my solo trip to Australia came to an end, I was checking in to my Jetstar flight back to Singapore in Melbourne Airport, when I was unceremoniously informed that I did not opt for the 15kg check-in luggage, which meant I had to pay a grand total of AUD 160.

I could have just paid up, wheezed past customs and boarded the plane back to Singapore, right? Well, that was the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario would be not having any money on me because I spent it all, mostly on souvenirs, a credit card which wasn’t activated back home, hence couldn’t be used for overseas transactions and not having a handphone because I smashed it a few days ago.

Unfortunately for me, that was the scenario I was presented with, two hours before I was supposed to depart for Singapore. As I scrambled around begging my fellow passengers for a phone, I was praying to God that I was dreaming and this was somehow a nightmare. With time ticking down on me, I felt the walls closing around me and thought I would definitely miss my flight.

A flurry of phone calls back to my family in Singapore later, one on my fellow countryman’s mobile phone and the second on another kind samaritan’s mobile phone, I finally had the money to pay my luggage fees and was through customs with time to spare.

When I left for Australia two weeks ago, I never imagined that I would learn anything from my second lifetime solo trip, as the highlights would most likely be skydiving, snorkeling and climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I was wrong. Granted, all this trouble could have been avoided if I had paid for my baggage beforehand when booking the flight, but I realised that my family and God was all I could think of when I was in trouble. That is why I’m comforted that I have my priorities in order.

However for my next trip, I will definitely keep some emergency money, activate my credit card for overseas transactions and most importantly, pay for luggage beforehand when flying with budget airlines.


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Popularity counts for nothing in politics

Kevin Rudd (left), Julia Gillard (right)

Looks like being popular counts for nothing in politics. Before completing his first term in office as Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd was overthrown by his Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and ministers who were unhappy with him.

This came as a surprise to many as Mr Rudd was thought to be a popular figure in public. But it was a different story in his own party. When he became opposition leader in 2006, Mr Rudd made it plain he would not be held to ransom by union leaders who once held so much power within the Labor Party. Now its the same people that brought him down.

The situation came to a head last night after senior factional powerbrokers from the right told Ms Gillard she had enough support to take the leadership.
The powerful Australian Workers Union, whom Mr Rudd turned his back on, and Health Services Union also quickly swung their support behind Ms Gillard as Mr Rudd’s support base collapsed. After hours of crisis meetings last night Mr Rudd emerged just after 10:00pm (Australian Eastern Time), to announce that Ms Gillard had challenged him to a ballot and that he would also stand.

And at 9:00am (AEST), Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister after Kevin Rudd decided not to contest in the leadership ballot.

I marveled at how, in 12 hours, Mr Rudd went from being the most popular Australian Prime Minister, to become the first Labor Prime Minister to be dumped from office before completing a first term.  This shows that nobody is ever safe in politics.

In this case, Mr Rudd’s overwhelming popularity counted for nothing as Ms Gillard and her cronies zipped into Parliament House, went in to his office and said ‘Good day, mate. Your time is over. Get out. Don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out’


Filed under Australia, Politics