Gold Coast in my mind

Surfers ParadiseI’ve been thinking about the Gold Coast for a couple of days now. It’s like I have this craving to be there or visit again, which is odd because I didn’t like the place. Well, it’s not like I hated it, but for me, it seemed that the Gold Coast lacked character.

I guess this was a result of staying where ALL the tourists go: Surfer’s Paradise. My decision to stay there came after thinking back on the times I went to the not-so-populated beaches: Mae Nam in Ko Samui, Thong Nai Pan Noi in Ko Pha Ngan and Alona Beach in Bohol. I’m not one to attend parties, but the silence and serenity of these places nearly drove me nuts. So I decided to go mainstream. And you can’t go more mainstream than Surfer’s Paradise.

How do I describe Surfer’s Paradise? Well, they have a gorgeous stretch of fine white sand beach. It’s actually one of the first thing you’ll notice as your plane approach the Coolangatta airport. The land is lush, the weather is mild and tropical. Everyday seems to be the perfect sunny day, with a welcome cool breeze throughout the day and night. So what seems to be the problem?

Yup.Well, once you pass the line of foliage that separates the beach from the city, it seems like you’re in a different place. A place that lacks any character or soul. I can’t really express it, but to me, Surfer’s Paradise felt empty, though it’s packed with tourists and locals. It doesn’t have the same charm Sydney or Melbourne does.

The place is very commercial, specially near the Esplanade. Shops and boutiques line the streets, from Starbucks to Hard Rock, $2 shops to DFS Galleria. If your credit card is not maxed out yet, just hop on the bus to Broadbeach, where the Pacific Fair is (at Hooker Blvd. Not kidding), right across the Jupiter Casino. All the big theme parks are there: Warner Brothers Movie World, Sea World, Dreamworld.

The beachIt’s like a highly commercialized Boracay. Well, even more commercial than what Boracay is now, but with more concrete, steel, glass and huge theme parks, not just a kiddie ferris wheel at D’Mall. It’s almost impossible not to see these high-rises that has sprouted near the beach. One minute you’re staring off into the horizon, feeling as though you’re at the edge of the world. A slight turn of the head and you see these structures, reminding you that you are indeed in the city, and not in some remote island.

I guess I’ve Gold Coast have been in my mind lately because at the back of my mind, I know that despite its lack of character, soul and charm, I still want to give it another shot. I’ve probably just scratched the surface, and who knows? Maybe there *is* character underneath all that facade.

And next time, I’ll make sure I’ll visit with friends or family in tow. Theme parks aren’t fun if you’re alone.

Travel Expenses: Gold Coast 2007

Yay, I’m (very) slowly working through my backlog of entries!

Here’s the expenses breakdown of my Gold Coast 4-day weekend trip last March. I flew via Jetstar, and lucky for me, their Gold Coast segment flies from Tullamarine and not from Avalon airport (which is about one and a half hour from Melbourne).

I stayed the the overpopulated-by-tourists Surfer’s Paradise. Why? Because there are times when I *do* want to be mainstream.

When I was researching for this trip, I was really frustrated that there’s hardly anything online or in travelbooks about the Gold Coast. Usually it’d just be a mention of the beach, the theme parks and the hinterlands. One day in Gold Coast and I see why that is.
Continue reading Travel Expenses: Gold Coast 2007