Saturday, April 9, 2016

Perth Mint

Perth Mint is just right behind our hotel, so it is one of our destinations of the very first day.

Perth is not the capital of Australia, but why there is a mint here, in a provincial capital?  The story has to go back to the two gentlemen whose statues are right in front of the Perth Mint building.  They are the ones who first discovered gold mines in Western Australia.  With subsequent gold rush, Perth became a very important center for gold mining.  Decision was made to establish Perth Mint for gold and silver bullion production in Australia.  Money printing and coin production is not at Perth Mint but else where.

From outside, you can still see the old fashioned chimneys propping into the blue sky, although I don't think they are still in use today.

In the Perth Mint building, there are galleries where you can buy gold and silver souvenirs.  There is also a gold and silver bullion trading room.  Here you can buy and sell your gold and silver bullion.  I think the best souvenir you can get is to buy a silver Koala bullion produced by the Perth Mint at spot price plus a premium.

The mint is open 7 days a week, and on most of the public holidays, but the trading room is only open on weekdays, it is closed on weekends and public holidays, as the precious metal exchange is closed.

For $19/pax, you can go for a guided tour of the mint.  This is highly recommended if you are a gold bug.

With the tour, you can go into the exhibition area, where you can find the world's biggest gold coin.

As no photography is allowed in the building, I can only share with you with a picture of the mint's brochure.  The gold coin weights 1 ton!  At the current price of gold, it is worth at least US$37 million!  And it is right in front of you, just a couple of feet away.  It serves as a very important lesson in life.  US$37 million right in front of you, but you can't eat it, drink it, use it to warm you up, or cool you down, and you can't even carry it away with you.  The US$37 million is just a meaningless number.

There are many gold nuggets in display, too.  Gold nuggets are something that you can't mine, or manufacture.  It is nature's wonder which you can only find by luck.

As a teaser, the mint also lets you get a feel of touching and lifting a 12kg gold bar.  The bar has the size a bit smaller than a piece of brick, but it weighs a lot more.

The highlight of the tour is definitely the demonstration of gold pour.  The guide will take out a bucket of molten gold and pour it into the mold of a gold bar.  Once the gold solidifies, he will put it in cold water to speed up the solidification process.  At the end, a glittering 200g gold bar is presented in front of the audiences.

You can find my other Perth travel posts here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Arriving in Perth

After we landed at Perth airport, getting through immigration and custom was a breeze.  Singaporeans can use the automatic clearing system.  It works similar to the one in Singapore.  You scan your passport first, then instead of using thumb print for identity verification, they use photograph.

Perth Airport Terminal 1

There are three terminals at Perth airport, terminal 1 is for international flights, so that's the only terminal you need to know.  The terminal building is quite small, but you need to know one shop, Optus.  Optus offers pre-paid sim cards for travelers at $2/day.  It provides you with unlimited calls and SMS (domestic only), and 500MB of data each day, and it is on Optus' 4G network, which is really fast.  Don't leave the airport without getting one.  However, as the shop is small, customers are many, you have to be more patient.

From the airport to Perth city, we decided to take a cab.  There is a shuttle bus too, but it will cost $15/pax, while the taxi to Perth city center is ~A$40, so it makes sense to take a taxi if you are in a group of 2 or more.  In our case, our taxi fare ended up as A$44.

Our hotel was Perth Ambassador Hotel at Adelaide Terrace.  The location is very good.  Just 10 minutes walk down to the water front of Swan River, 17 minutes walk to city center, or you can choose to take the free RED Cat bus.

We booked a twin room, but they gave us a triple room.  The room is spacious, but the interior design is a bit dated.  They also still use room key, those physical room keys, instead of the modern electronic card keys.  Other than that, it is quite clean, and comfortable.

After we settled in, we took a walk around the hotel.  Surprise surprise, we found out that the Perth Mint is right behind our hotel.  I will write more about the Perth Mint in the coming days.  For today, just enjoy its exterior night view.  It is a treasure trove in there, but it looks so ordinary, you may just pass by thinking it is just one of those Victorian-era buildings.

Perth Mint at night

And we decided to have our dinner right across the street of the Perth Mint.  We enjoyed our meal while admiring the beauty of this building.

We ordered a pizza for dinner, but it is not your ordinary pizza.  This pizza is folded, like an omelette, but it is a pizza.  There is a special name for it, but too bad I didn't really catch it from the friendly waitress.  It retains the crispiness of a pizza, at the same time, it retains more juice than a conventional pizza.  Thumbs up!

Last but not least, we arrived on the 15th day of the lunar month, it was a full moon night.  We had the view of the Perth Mint, and the full moon in the sky while enjoying our dinner.  Don't you think it was a great enjoyment?

Other posts about Perth are at: Journey to Perth 2016

Fly Scoot to Perth

We booked our flight to Perth from Singapore through FlyScoot's website last Oct.  Including check-in luggage and a meal, the total cost was $461.  We were quite excited as it would be our first time flying Boeing's much touted 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Spacious Legroom

The Dreamliner is sleek and spacious.  For our tall and leggy friends, they would like the Dreamliner, as there is very comfortable legroom between rows.

The window shade is also different.  Instead of the manual version, now there is a button for you to press to darken or lighten the window shade.  It is electronic control.

The first impression was very good.  However, once the plane took off, all the good impressions that I had so far became meaningless.  From the moment of take-off, the plane vibrated violently.  You can take a look at the YouTube video I took during the flight, and this was NOT during a turbulence!

When turbulence comes, what will happened?  We encountered two major turbulence during the 5-hour flight.  Once the plane lost a bit of altitude.  The air stewardesses were still pushing the carts, the sudden loss of altitude made a lot of them fall and scream.   Drinks were spilled, unsecured objects flying.  It was a scary scene.

Finally, we reached above Perth airport.  The weather was good, sunny, good visibility, but our landing was terrible.  It was like we were landing in a big turbulence.  The air stewardess sitting behind me said it was the worst landing she had ever experienced.  To me, it was the worst flight and worst landing I had experienced.

Our air ticket included a meal during the flight.  This is what I got.  For 20kg check-in luggage and a hot meal, we paid additional S$55/pax.  If you are hungry, I don't think this meal can cure your starvation.

In-Flight Hot Meal

After the plane landed safely at Perth airport finally, the cabin light changed from a single color to a rain bow.

Rainbow Cabin Light

The rainbow cabin light was beautiful, and it was something nice and fuels passenger's fantasy, however, flight safety is what is most important to any passenger, not the fancy stuff.

I wondered whether my poor flight experience is to do with the Dreamliner or the pilot.  I got the answer after my return flight from Perth to Singapore.

I will say 10% due to the Dreamliner.  As the Dreamliner is really slim, the hulk is tiny, naturally it is less stable compared with the heavier planes.  For the remaining 90%, I will say it is due to the pilot.  Our return flight had been relatively smooth.  We encountered some turbulence too, but the plane didn't shake so violently.  When there was no turbulence, the ride was smooth in general.

After this experience, I would think twice before I fly with Scoot again.  Anyway, the price difference between Scoot and SIA is only about $100.

Other posts about Perth are at: Journey to Perth 2016

Journey to Perth 2016

Over the Good Friday long weekend, I paid a visit to Perth, one of the most livable cities in the world.  I will use this post to collect all the posts related to this trip.

1. Fly Scoot to Perth
2. Arriving in Perth
3. Perth Mint