OOTD – FIRST BUSINESS TRIP SINCE THE PANDEMIC!

What a long work day it had been for me today!

When I think business trips, I think of my father. When I was still a little girl, I remember he used to travel a lot for business. I remember my mother would ask us to kiss father goodbye, and we’d see him leave the house. Then I would miss him for a few days, not understanding what was going on. When I grew older, I started to understand: Doing business involve travelling. I’d watch him pack before his trips. The neatly folded shirts and suits go in a well-used but rugged Samsonite case, documents go in a black briefcase, and toothbrush in a small hand-carry bag. When father came home from those business trips, there were stories, gifts from exotic overseas destinations, and cuddles and kisses for me.

Growing up watching my father travel, I always wanted to do the same. It looked glamorous and exciting back in my father’s days.

But little did I know the reality is not quite the same as I thought it would be. As I only found out after I started working, business trips usually meant ridiculously early mornings (to make the first flight of the day) and late nights, usually to save the company money of an extra overnight hotel expense. There’s the long hours spent on the road, usually a combination of flying and driving. By the time I arrived at the destination, I usually have to hit the ground running with tight schedules of meetings and clients, and still remain cheerful and professional despite already being tired, thirsty and hungry. And the destination? Well, it isn’t always London or New York (in my case, it never had been and Sydney was about as best it got for me).

In spite it all, I still look forward to business trips: there’s always the hope that there’s time between schedules to take in some sights, or more importantly, do some shopping (especially the ones I go to Melbourne or Sydney). But since the pandemic hit, Australia has pretty much disintegrated as one country. Let’s not even talk about closure of the international borders: each State has erected its own opaque system whereby interstate Australians are not allowed to enter. And given I live in Western Australia the state border is still closed, meaning interstate business trips are now still a thing of the past.

State border closures to stop outsiders from coming into Western Australia has had a huge impact on local businesses. Again, let’s not even talk about closure of the international borders which stopped international students and tourists coming in. Closure of the interstate borders meant our usual access of cashed-up Melbournian and Sydney-siders has dried up. Which means one has to get creative to make business within Western Australia itself. And for the first time, we have decided to tap into those domestic opportunities. Business is business. Unlike the Australian government which saw it sensible to declare a trade war with our biggest trading partner China, I am not that dumb. If there is business to be done and money to be made, I’m in.

So when my boss asked if I were keen to join him on a business trip up north within the State to Port Hedland, I basically jumped on the opportunity and said yes. I’ve never been to Port Hedland. Heck, I have no idea where Port Hedland even is besides hearing about it as the place where miners fly in and out to. The way my boss scheduled the trip was an early morning flight from Perth into Port Hedland, conduct some business meetings, and then out on the evening flight. I usually prefer my business trips to involve overnight stays so that I can do some dining in local restaurants, some sight-seeing, and shopping but given I haven’t been able to leave the state for over a year I was just desperate for a change and wasn’t fussy with what essentially is a long daytrip.

I must admit I am truly not a morning person and hate early morning wake ups. With a 6.50am flight, it was still dark when I got out of bed at 4.15am to get dressed to get ready to drive to the airport. I checked the weather at Port Hedland, noted it to be hot at 29 degrees celcius, and decided to get dressed in something that will keep me cool: a CUE fitted sleeveless button up blouse in cool white, matched with a knee length skirt, my CUE black pencil skirt with waterfall ruffle. I slipped on a my NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps to complete the professional look.

Arriving at the airport this morning at 5.30am, I met up with my boss, we got thru security and headed up to the Qantas lounge (he has lounge access) for a glass of apple juice.

By the time we took off the sun was creeping up. Arriving in Port Hedland, my first impressions of the place are as follows.

One: Almost everyone on that plane are miners – and yes they all were wear their fluoro mining uniforms everywhere.

Two: Ordinary West Australians locked up within their own state by the ongoing border closures are as desperate as myself to get out – on the plane we sat next to some Perth based tourists heading up to Port Hedland for holidays even though this is essentially a mining town with no touristic value!!! (P.S. when tripadvisor rates the tourist information centre as number 2 when it comes to must see, you know the place – or any place for that matter – has no touristic value!!!).

Three: It’s hot up there. And humid. And dusty. Yuck. I wore a cool outfit for this trip: a white sleeveless CUE button up blouse paired with an knee length CUE black pencil skirt with waterfall ruffle, but even with that the combination of heat, humidity and dust was unpleasant.

Four: Everything about this town screams mining. 1 in 2 vehicles driving around town are mining company vehicles with the mining company logos emblazoned on the cars. And as if that is not enough as a reminder you can see mining buildings from virtually any street in the town centre (look above the trees).

Five: I was wayyyy over-dressed. Never wear a skirt and heels when travelling to a mining town – you’ll stand out. I should have known better – Port Hedland is after all a rough mining town.

My first time in Port Hedland, or any mining town for that matter, I can’t help but notice through the day that everything is harsh and so, for lack of a better word, unsophisticated: The sun, the heat, the dust, the food, the water, the coffee (yes, we had to get coffee). How could anyone chose to live in a place like that? Those poor ordinary West Australians locked up within their own state by the ongoing border closures get out on the plane we sat next heading up to Port Hedland for their holidays – what were they thinking of?

In any case, I have also noticed that since Australia started the trade war with China and the state and international borders both closed, Australians have to put up with higher costs of living and rampant rip-offs. Our short 2 hour domestic flight to Port Hedland from Perth cost us over $1300 per head, and that is flying just economy! Back in the days before closed border that sort of money can get you flying return to Europe on economy!

Business meetings done, at the end of a hot, dusty and humid afternoon, I can’t wait to jump into the shower at the end of this long hot, dusty and humid work day for me. Earlier in the day I concluded that I was wayyyy over-dressed: Never wear a skirt and heels when travelling to a mining town – you’ll stand out. I should have known better – Port Hedland is after all a rough mining town. Now I have come to another conclusion: never wear white to a desert outback mining town. Even the air is dirty and I’ll have a job washing the red dust and the mining dirt off my white blouse when I get back. But our flight wasn’t going to leave until later. So we stopped by the only tourist attraction in Port Hedland before our evening flight back to Perth: the mines.

And watch the mining train haul carriage after carriage of precious dirt along to railway to be exported to the country which is our biggest trading partner, which coincidentally is also the same country our government is declaring a trade war with: China.

Hasn’t any one ever told our government one does not bite the hand from which it feeds?

Xoxo

Natalie

Occasion: Business trip (day trip)

Wearing:

CUE fitted white sleeveless button up blouse 

CUE black pencil skirt with waterfall ruffle

NineWest ‘Mailin’ heeled point toe pumps

One thought on “OOTD – FIRST BUSINESS TRIP SINCE THE PANDEMIC!

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