• 26 . 04 . 06
  • My friend Steve once told me while drunk about his keen sense of navigation. “I get it from my mum”, he said. “She had a really bad sense of direction, but she could run really fast. So basically, I just keep running until I see somewhere I recognise.” That same night he ran halfway to […]

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King Of Navigation

My friend Steve once told me while drunk about his keen sense of navigation. “I get it from my mum”, he said. “She had a really bad sense of direction, but she could run really fast. So basically, I just keep running until I see somewhere I recognise.” That same night he ran halfway to Ancoats, convinced he was going south. My exploits today make Steve that night look more like a swallow heading south.

I spent the morning walking around King’s Park, a well designed park set on a hill overlooking Perth Water and two rivers. It has some great features and lots of . Yesterday was ANZAC day and there were still lots of flowers at the war memorial from the ceremonies. There’s also a separate memorial to the people killed in the Bali bombings a few years ago. Away from those somber area, the park has a great botanical garden which I wandered through for quite a while and has thousands of varieties of indigenous Australian plants, shrubs and trees. Further on, the path went across a glass walkway through the treetops, which gave great views out over the city and surroundings. It was also nice to see grass that was actually being used. The limited grass areas in Japan often prohibited ballgames and children running about and some even banned sitting!

Getting home proved to be a bit of an adventure. I got on the first bus that came and asked the driver how to get back to North Perth. He told me I had to change in the city and when I asked him if he could tell me when to get off, he sighed, which I assumed to be a forced ‘yes’. 5 minutes after we left the city limits, I realised that was more like a ‘no’. Now that were were in the suburbs, I wasn’t really sure if getting off would be the best idea, so I decided to stay on and see where I ended up. I wasn’t in a rush, after all. I heard some passengers were going to the airport, which made me feel quite peversely happy, because I knew I’d be able to get back from such a major place. This despite the fact that it’s an hour out of the city, and longer by bus.

My keen sense of navigation told me we were going north, because the sun was on my left and it was the afternoon. Then, I realised that the airport was in the South. Momentarily puzzled, I soon figured out an answer. I was in the southern hemisphere: Of course, the sun would rise in the West and set in the East “Down Under”! After all, water does flow the wrong way down the toilet here (except at the American embassy). Everything is upside-down, so it’s probably backwards as well! Yes, yes, clearly, this is ridiculous. As it was pointed out to me later on, the world doesn’t revolve the other way just because you’ve gone past the equator. I’d like to attribute it to general tiredness and the change in climate or something. Or magnetism. It turns out that the Great Eastern Highway which I was travelling on, does actually go North for part of the journey, so there you go.

So I arrived back at the airport and went and bought a sandwich and a drink, before sauntering over to the information desk, trying to make it look like I’d arrived by plane and not by bus. I confidently asked for the bus route back to North Perth, only to be told I should take ‘that bus over there’ and change in the city. I think I managed to hide my nervous laugh by simultaneously choking on my Mars bar. ‘That bus over there’ turned out to be the bus I’d just arrived on. With the same driver, who raised an eyebrow as I got sheepishly back on. “Weren’t you supposed to get off in the city?”, he asked helpfully. Now he remembers. This time I made sure he understood that I didn’t have a clue where I was going and thankfully he turned around and told me this time.

Total journey time to King’s Park with a lift from Chris’ friend Jim: 10 mins.
Time spent wandering around King’s Park: 2 1/2 hours.
Total journey time back to Chris’ house, via East Perth, the airport, 3 buses and an amused driver: Timeless. Well, at least 3 1/2 hours.

I should’ve spent more time listening in all those orienteering lessons.