I spent Christmas in tropical Darwin this year, spending a total of 3 days over there.:-) It was the monsoon season and raining every single day with large outpours on every day which we were there for. The weather was hot and humid and similar to the weather in Malaysia and I found my trip a unique experience, exploring a different kind of Australia.
Things which I learnt on the trip were:
1) Darwin people are extremely friendly. The bus drivers in particular left a big positive impression on me. They were ALL exceptionally friendly, with each and every driver being friendly and cheerful to us.:-) Many would also greet the passengers and ask them how their day was and also wishing them a nice day when they got off the bus. We had bus drivers stopping by the side of the road at night when we waved at them and when there was no bus stop there. We had 2 different bus drivers on 2 different occasions not asking for the bus fare when we wanted to pay, once on an admittedly short distance but the second time on a very substantial 15-20 min journey with multiple stops! In Sydney, this would NEVER happen, you'd always have to pay no matter how short the journey and bus drivers do not talk or wish passengers a good day,etc..the Darwin residents were also very friendly to us saying hello on the road even when we didn't even smile at them or solicit any response from them, or being very friendly, such as allowing me to walk past first and taking the initiative to show us directions in detail when we hadn't even asked for assistance yet, etc..
2) Darwin has fauna and plants just like SEA. I found many plants, such as the bunga raya (hibiscus flower) and other fauna and plants of which i see and am familiar with in Malaysia, in Darwin. I was pleasantly surprised to see all these plants of which I am very familiar with, from my growing-up years in Malaysia.:-) ps: You cannot find many of the plants and fauna which you can find in Darwin and Malaysia in colder cities such as Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide, and Melbourne.
3) Darwin has many homeless Aboriginal people. My housemate told me of tv reports, when i returned from my trip, on the numerous homeless aboriginal people in Darwin and how they're affected with the current monsoon rains. I saw countless very poorly dressed Aboriginal people within my span of three days in Darwin. They would be everywhere, in the Darwin suburbs as well as CBD..and many looked homeless, simply wandering around without shoes or lying on the pavements...Darwin apparently has the highest aboriginal population of any other major city in Australia, more than sydney, melbourne, perth, adelaide,etc. It was quite a shock to see so many homeless aboriginals around the city.
4) That there are Chinese people everywhere. Even in Darwin and the Outback area of rural Northern Territory. I was abit surprised to see a Chinese-looking cook working in one of the rest stop restaurants/hotel along the highway out of Darwin enroute to Kakadu National Park (We took a daytrip to Kakadu National Park, Australia's largest national park and also a UN World Heritage Site!). The restaurant at the reststop which is like in the middle of nowhere also had a large banner written in traditional chinese characters welcoming supposedly chinese tourists. Amazing. There must be busloads of chinese tourists stopping over for the restaurant to especially get a chinese language banner made, out of all the possible languages.
5) Locals in Darwin don't have a habit of bringing umbrellas. Even during the monsoon season with rain pouring down in bucketfuls on a daily basis. I was dumbfounded to see local Darwin residents simply walking relaxedly under the rain and people walking around going about their usual business with the rain pouring whilst me and my friend were the obvious tourists with our black umbrellas and white raincoats everywhere we went in our backpacks just in case...you could see the locals staring at us when we wore raincoats..hahaha..with the strong monsoon rains and winds, I was surprised to see the locals without any rain protections whatsoever!
At the outdoor nightmarket style seats at Darwin Wharf, it started raining again 30 mins into our meal, and I almost thought that the Darwin people would just stay there and continue eating with the rain pouring down onto them and their food, given what i'd seen in the past few days, with people walking through pouring rain and getting off buses and walking home in the rain! haha...(for ur information, the people did start leaving the outdoor area for the covered areas at the first sign of drizzingly..hahaha..)
6) Darwin has outdoor markets similar to South East Asia as well as nightmarket style outdoor seating ordering from food stalls (food counters). Although the markets were all closed during our time there, we did come across a nightmarket style outdoor hawker centre at Stokes Hill Wharf, reminding me of Penang and Malaysia where we have outdoor hawker centres and seats.:-) It was my first time eating at a 'hawker centre' in my almost 10 years in Aus, with there just being milk bars and cafes in Sydney, Melbourne and even small towns which i've visited located in Southern Australia. Was very nostalgic for me, eating at the hawker centre and looking out towards Darwin Wharf.:-)
7) I saw full-sized large flat pomfrets ( like those you see in the markets) for the first time in my 27 years lifetime. And I saw it at Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin Harbour. I was so shocked and amazed to see several large pomfrets swimming in the sea when diners threw their leftovers into the Darwin waterfront sea..the pomfrets were large and flat..omg..i've seen small and even large narrow shaped fishes in the sea before but nothing like these large flat moon-shaped pomfrets swimming in the ocean before! It was so surreal seeing fishes which you usually only see in the wetmarkets n supermarkets (or at most already in fishermen's nets) swimming naturally in the sea.
8) Darwin can look like a horror movie during the monsoon season. The torrential rains and strong winds were enough to make the roads and isolated surroundings look like a scene straight out of a Thai horror flick. More so, bcos Darwin's surroundings are often large isolated green spaces and tropical trees with no houses,etc and the sea during the night monsoons also looked like a horror scene out of a horror movie.
All in...it was a great n interesting holiday!
ps; I also starred in my first 1 min movie in front of Darwin's Government House whilst in Darwin, for my first time...hahahaha..i pretended to be a high-class Chinese with my cheongsam top which i wore looking at Japanese WW2 planes bombing Darwin from afar..hahaha..maybe i should put it on youtube?
pps: There were many cute good-looking tropical boys and men in Darwin!:-) I was amazed given the small population of just over 120,000 for the Greater Darwin region..omg..haha..Chinese Chic, noticing men even on holiday!