Thursday, 30 October 2008

Gainfully Unemployed

The relentless lobotomy that is being unemployed is wearing thin. For a day in the life of a non traveling freelance writer enjoy my diary of today.

5:15am Phone alarm awakes us from slumber.
5:20am Prepare daily vitamins and coffee.
5:30am Get in car to drive wife to temporary job.
5:31am Get in Father in laws car to move it because it is blocking our car.
5:33am Start driving car to town.
5:35am Wife starts complaining of a smell, could be dog shit.
5:36am I get out of car and preform a disparate shuffle to remove imagined dog shit from my shoes.
5:38am Wife remarks it may not have been dog shit and in fact my morning breath.
5:39am I muse quietly on how tender my ego is before 6 in the morning.
6:00am I drop my Wife off at her job.
6:30am I attend the gym. Gyms are a lot less fun when you left your portable sound system in Thailand
7:10am After a brief breakfast I start packing our stuff for a move to Albany.
7:15am Father in law comments on Max the dog greeting him with a fart this morning from her cage.
8:00am I apply for a couple of jobs. I wish to follow one up but the phone number is in Australia. I am not fond of calling Australians. They should call me.
10:00am I move all of our stuff bar some food to our new temporary residence in Albany.
11:00am I return to K9Heaven to be greeted as honey by father in law.
11:15am I begin to write furiously about what an obtuse day I have had so far.
11:30am I pimp my menial skills out to a good friend. He seems interested, perhaps even pity.
12:15pm I applied for another job and am feeling hungry. Who would have guessed not working is hard work?
12:22pm I have learned that someone has flagged my blog url as offensive or spam on facebook. Without right of reply or recourse I am suitably aggrieved and am dangerously frustrated.
12:45pm I make and eat a lunch which suits the occasion.

-Two slices of vogels bread toasted
-Tomato Relish
-200 grams of Tomato and Basil tuna (low fat)

1:15pm I make haste to the gym where Pete the trainer is going to attack a part of my body. Today it is the core...
1:30pm Had a great time, chatting, breathing deeply and laughing at the gym. My point of failure is when I start to laugh at myself. Thankfully Pete was forewarned and did not take this as an excuse to hurt me more. Core very sore. Pete runs an Awesome ab class and thinks I should join. Maybe he needs more laughs in his class?
2:25pm Decided to attack a pile of weeds obscuring the cobblestones of our new residence with a kitchen broom. The kitchen broom proved largely ineffectual but I made up for this with over zealous sweeping
2:30pm I am stuffed.
3:10pm I applied for a job as one of Santa's helpers in the north pole. Unfortunately due to global warming and the economic crisis Santa has outsourced his factory to China and the salary is not very attractive. Dangnabbit!
3:45pm I receive an email from Australia informing me that other candidates were more suited to the job(They lied and I did not). The bright side is that it saved me a phone call.
3:55pm In a fit of cleanliness I tear apart several of my large storage boxes and find a couple of rainy day things that you put away for rainy days. Shame it is not raining.
4:35pm Received delivery of video footage from Spring Break. Now to further my movie ambitions.
5:06pm Movies are busily converting. I am astounded at the amount of mistakes I have made today in this blog. I am not very good at live blogging. Never book me for a funeral.
5:35pm Time to go and collect the Wife. Wait till she asks what I did today!
7:00pm After collecting my Wife and dinner. My Wife collapses in a fit reading my days antics. Not a bad day of no work!



More to come as it happens. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

An Exercise in Futile Stupidity

What better way to blow off some steam than to wax lyrical about a multinational billing system that has gone to the dogs.

About a month before left New Zealand on the first chapter of the ratherlargeadventure experience we had various loose ends to tie off. One of these loose ends was a power bill. Being a fan of dealing with all customer service representatives in writing I elected to use email for correspondence.

-I arranged for a final reading
-Payed the final reading
-Asked for any further accounts to be sent by email

(I have records of all of these interactions because I use gmail and I never delete an email. There is no need)

At this juncture it is probably prudent on my behalf to explain I had been a happy customer for over 6 years at the very same power company and have never had a billing problem.

Anyway fast forward to our return to New Zealand. Whilst visiting our good friends Segway Phil & Katie we opened a very terse letter explaining that our account had been overdue for over a month and they would be passing our details onto a debt collection agency.

I immediately seized the moment and began a ping pong interaction with the company explaining that I never received a final email statement, am happy to pay the outstanding amount but would rather not deal with a debt collection agency.

The power company are still adamant that they sent an email account to me. This is where I put my size 11 feet firmly to the ground and asked for final email statement transcript & proof. This request was due fully received and allocated to the IT team. Being a somewhat passionate IT person I know that restoring backup from tapes can be a lengthy process. It should not however take over a week unless the record is not on the tape or the backup system is not working.

I sent a nice email explaining that it had been a week since this request. I have a feeling that you are not going to find a non existing email record and here are my credit card details so you can charge my account correctly and get the debt collectors out of the equation. I also mentioned that we are going to need to reconnect our power at some point(RATHER LARGE HINT).

But still bureaucracy prevails, the multinational is hell bent taking an untenable position. I wait a response with gritted teeth. I would say "you wouldn't read about it" but you just did.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

UPFM Spring Break META Review

Main Entry: meta
Part of Speech: adj
Definition: self-referential; referring to itself or its characteristics, esp. as a parody; about
Example: That book is so meta.
Etymology: meta 'beyond'

As boldly promised on Friday here is my review of the final UPFM Spring Break for the year. After some careful social engineering we coerced my wife's brother into conveying us safely to Spring Break. The weather had been a mixed bag earlier and it was with some relief that the sun surfaced and remained with us for the duration.

It is at this point(the second paragraph) I have quite a large confession to make. It appears the cooler climate, good music, familiar faces and BBQ sausages make gin and tonic far more potent than is healthy. My Vietnamese hat also seemed to enhance gin and tonic to ridiculous levels. Sadly I do not remember anything from about 2pm till 7pm. This where I have to add some serious meta to this review.

With careful considered questioning and invasive memory interrogation I have managed to put together a highlights reel which should contain enough mirth and information to tide you over until the next time I feel like venturing into public.

-The pool was fabulously warm. It was so warm I did not leave the pool until well after the music stopped. If you read my last point you will find this is a slight miss truth
-The surrounding pool rocks baffled the sound so sufficiently that I do not remember any of the music after I entered the pool.
-Vietnamese conical hats act as impressive buoyancy devices. The string attached round the hat helped me splutter to life when the water encroached on my breathing.
-There was a curiously strange Canadian who was playing shark with the good ladies of the pool. At some point I stood on him and then bemoaned large tracts of skin that had detached from my toes. I do not know if he was a close relation of a sucker fish, but I bet he feels like a sucker.
-At 4pm I attempted to reach out to another galaxy using the time honoured back on the ground limbs in the air method of intergalactic incommunicado. Someone recorded a movie of this and I shall upload it when I stop feeling so incredibly stupid.

In summary, it was a fantastic party and I would not have missed it for the world. Why is it then, that I feel like I missed it?

Additional Resources

http://www.upfm.dj

http://www.nzrave.com


Footnote: Some of the feedback attained from writing this article has been brain damaging. I have since found solace in the wise words of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.

Friday, 24 October 2008

A Twice Bitten Tongue is Half as Shy

It has been exactly one week since our return to New Zealand. The week has been an interesting one of celebrations, shivers, dogs, wind, rain, sun, grass, roadkill and accumulated things that make New Zealand uniquely New Zealand.

Yesterday I traipsed off merrily to a job interview which in itself was fine. On my drive back to our temporary residence I encountered a traffic snarl up of such a sufficient magnitude that I literally shuddered in my seat. I started to wish I was on a scooter, could yell farang and mount a handily exposed footpath all in quick succession. I then began pining for a sea of tuk tuks and was trying to imagine a ten tuk tuk pile up. Hopefully these thoughts will subside, I do not want to be dodging imaginary Elephant dung.

A returned traveler is constantly juggling stories and desperately trying to remember which stories have previously been told to whom and when. Traveling emboldens a person with the latent ability to segue from any topic in conversation back to accumulated traveling experiences. An added complication for me is having written regularly about our travels I feel at odds re reciting stories even though I do love the sound of my own voice. Hence it is sometimes wise to bite ones tongue and just let things seep out even it is just through your sun tan.

I would like to take a moment to comment positively on the reserve bank lowering the official cash interest rate in the week following my return to New Zealand. Petrol prices have also eased noticeably. It is small things like this that will make even more of the general population appreciative of my steady calming personality and the glittering trail of stardust which I leave in my wake.

Furthermore I would like to announce to the esteemed and earnest listeners of UPFM who are attending Spring Break this weekend I will be in the assembled crowd and answering questions about my travels. I shall also be distilling the experience for a wordy review at some point next week. Be wary and or strangely enamored by chaps wearing Vietnamese hats.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A Tornado in the Sheets

Shame on you for coming here expecting a saucy sordid tale. I shall leave those to other lesser publications. This blog entry is about my mildly odd sleeping habits which now only seem more odd after spending a few months in beds of differing efficacy.

Let me describe my prerequisites for a good nights sleep and you can be the judge. Perhaps you are more odd. Please share with a comment or two. It could make me feel positively normal.

First things first. I must have something covering me whilst I am asleep. I require at least one layer of something to soothe my skin. During my wilder and considerably younger days at computer lan parties I have used curtains and floor liberated carpet to keep me warm and away from prying eyes.

To moderate my temperature I must have at least one foot exposed to the outside air. It does not matter if it is zero degrees Celsius or 35 degrees. To achieve this I must detach sheets, duvets and blankets from the bottom and my side of the bed.

After sleeping for an hour or so I start to rotate in an anticlockwise direction. This in turn removes the last vestiges of a made up bed and leaves my wife waking up shivering lying beside a slow moving tornado.

Short of strapping myself into a single bed I do not have a solution for this problem. Perhaps I am just a male.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Dog Tale One

If I remember correctly Max was the first member of my Wife's extended family who laid paws upon me. She is an Australian Kelpie so has the distinction of not only being incredibly smart but also has a slightly roguish personality. So roguish in fact to this day she still takes the opportunity to lay paws upon me and make me feel like one of the dogs at every opportunity.

Max announced the start of her interview today with a series of low throbbing growls. Her growls grew in volume and throatiness until she was allowed inside. After jumping about and racing around frantically she ensconced herself on a couch. At this point I felt it opportune to take a nice photo of Max.

Unfortunately dogs and Max in particular do not make for willing photo candidates. Max managed to evade most of my clumsy attempts to snap her.


After this photo she promptly fell asleep and our interview ended. She began to snore contentedly and I felt cheated but at least not dirty(her paws are clean).

I have since learned that Max acts as an exclusive dog hairstylist grooming the whiskers of an Australian terrier Sky that also makes k9heaven home. Max also is the informal boss of all the surrounding area, if you had not guessed so all ready.

Dogs, probably not the smartest thing to interview, but only if you are the interviewer.

Back in the Future

Given the obvious time zone advantage New Zealand has, locating yourself here allows you to say you are living in the future. Whilst there is a distinct lack of robots, flying cars and a zero crime rate I am proud to write some things remain positively advanced after a stint in the SEA.

-Exposed telephone exchanges, power cabinets and haphazard wiring are strangely absent.
-The chewing gum wars of the early 90's have left supermarket shelves with only 10 possible varieties.
-All doorways are made to accommodate people larger than 5ft tall.
-Impressive round the year climate control means spa pools are always usable even in summer.
-The same radiation enhancing atmosphere that I lambasted last week does make for some fabulously blue vistas.

photo taken from inside a spa pool upside down using my nose as a tripod

In fact it does seem to be getting warmer here or maybe I am just getting cooler.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

In the laps of the Dogs

Fond as I am of clever wordplay and other dashing habits never a truer title was typed at 1:30 in the morning. We have landed back in New Zealand and have struck down an anchor at the most salubrious K9 Heaven.

An exclusive lodging for our four legged friends, K9 Heaven offers dogs a fantastic retreat from the rigors of urban life and time out from over exuberant owners. It offers us a brief respite before finding employment, provisions, medical supplies, letters of marque and other such necessities for ocean going adventures with piracy on the rise.

For the foreseeable future I shall brandish and bandy my usual banter with insights into some of the resident and regular canines of heaven. It is a dogs life after all.

Friday, 17 October 2008

An unconventional and somewhat lengthy iPhone Fix

Before we left New Zealand we purchased a first generation iPhone for my wife. It had a fair price of $100 New Zealand dollars but the process to get it working on a New Zealand network had stopped the WIFI component from working correctly. This was a pain as the data plans are quite steep and we had downgrade her account to a prepaid one for travel.

We soon learned that the iPhone had a temperamental battery and needed daily charging. International roaming stopped after we entered Laos and we left it off for a month or so. On returning to Thailand we found that the battery had started working again correctly. Imagine our surprise when turning the iPhone on here that the WIFI has returned from a lengthy absence.

There is a probably a scientific reason for the battery and WIFI learning to work again.

-I suspect the battery needed an extended off time to forget bad charging behavior.
-The changing of mobile networks multiple times seemed to reset the default WIFI settings.

A more abstract reason is,

-The battery needed to spend some time reconditioning itself in warmer temperatures
-The WIFI needed to scale numerous high Wats to increase its potency and remember its core function. Communicating on behalf of a higher being.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Kia Ora New Zealand

Right. We fly back to New Zealand tonight. I have a list of demands for the good country of New Zealand to make my stay as enjoyable as my journeys through South East Asia.

-25-30 degree heat
-Sun that does not cause radiation sickness
-$10 hotels & guest houses
-Happy hours that last all day
-More monks
-More incense
-Countdown timers at traffic lights
-The immediate replacement of all Holden and Ford cars with scooters
-More repetition in language. Why say it once when you can say it twice? Same Same, Cheap Cheap, Slow Slow, Sweet Sweet.
-More jumbled up language
-More smiles
-The broadcasting of all local news in a language that I can not understand

That should do it for a couple of months. I will revise my demands after some time on the ground and my head out of the clouds.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The First Elephant off the Rank

On Monday we took a one day excursion of the surrounds of Chiang Mai.

The day included,

-An Elephant trek
-A visit to a hill tribe village
-A walk and waterfall
-Lunch
-A bamboo raft ride

Unfortunately my digital camera capitulated during our Elephant trek. I have since revived it but since the Elephants were undoubtedly the highlight of the day my photos and video footage will only serve to punctuate the fun we had with them.

Our Elephant was the first one waiting in line to pick up passengers. Being somewhat naive in the ways of Elephants we thought our Elephant was a diligent and hard worker.


We soon learned that our Elephant was the hungriest and thirstiest Elephant of the herd. There were two banana stops on our ride. Our Elephant had an uncanny ability to gauge the exact amount of bananas we had left. She could also splash us with water when we did not supply with her with a steady stream of bananas. When we ran out of bananas she would start extorting bananas from other Elephants and passengers.




We learned an Asian Elephant requires about 250 kilos of vegetation and up to 60 gallons of water a day to keep on the road. However they make for an easy ride when they are not eating and are sure footed over a wide variety of terrain.


A nice touch was when we dismounted our Elephant and I lost my Vietnamese hat. It is a conical shape and landed point facing up. The following elephant was clever enough to pick it up by her trunk and pass it to me.

In closing, Elephants are a great way to see the jungle just remember to pack plenty of bananas and hold onto your hat.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Method Writing

One of my personal bug bears is reading about actors who pride themselves on method acting. As hard as becoming a drunk or sleeping in a coffin to research a role sounds some poor writer went broke living in a bar or worked at a funeral home to write the script the actor is reading from.

On Friday night I was commissioned to write the tale of one mans turbulent and sometimes torrid times in Thailand. This meant sinking into the depths of Chiang Mai and stepping outside my ever expanding comfort zone to give me first hand research.

It started innocently enough, six beers were purchased from an ever available 7-11 and we visited the subject for some harmless observation. It would have been incredibly harmless except for the candidates uncanny ability to induce fits of laughter and take us from one outlandish situation to another.

At one point we were subjected to a sound track of the wiggles and then the bold claim of an intended kamikaze. The kamikaze we learned was the stripping of ones shirt, commandeering a neighbours apartment and then a horizontal repell around a balcony into another appartment whos owner had lost his key.

From here we left the appartment to visit the ominously named Van. The trip itself was not without event. Sadly tuk tuks were in short supply but with some guile we gained passage on the back of a utility vehice. The Van is actually a fully functional transformer but instead of transforming into a useless human like figure the van transforms into a bar.

The Van

After nearly starting an international incident between New Zealand and Ireland we headed off to a more traditional night spot, Spicies. Spicies is a rich canvass to draw from. It is where all of the bar girls go after they finish work. It is also where most tourists and some of the truly desperate and depraved hang out. I affectionally branded the depraved as the Walrus. Spicies proudly adorned its entrance with this sign.



Unfortunately the music was sadly lacking along with the lady boys. My muse made like a pied piper and lead us off to the jovially named Lucky Bar. Lucky Bar is the last bar open. It is full of lady boys and it has incredible music. Unfortunately by this point our group had start to dissipate. We decided to eat an early breakfast it was 6am by this point.

Breakfast was novel in that I was proudly adopted as a husband by a nice chap who proceeded to massage me during my whole meal. Massage does improve ones digestion but sadly the vocal adulation caused me to laugh overly much with my mouth full.

My husband adopter

Method writing; it is harder than you think.

String Theory

Over Thursday night I learned of a couple of distressing things.

-A good school friend, Gary Farr has been diagnosed with a blood disorder and is undergoing chemotherapy for treatment.
-The Dalai Lama had been hospitalised with gallstones.

The best thing to do was to locate the highest point of worship and make offerings to Buddha. Doi Suthep sits northwest of Chiang Mai. The road is very good it even has barriers which were a novelty after some of the roads we have encountered traveling. It took us about 20 minutes to reach the top with quick stop off at a waterfall.



Looking back at Chiang Mai from about half way

Upon reaching Don Suthep there is a mountain of stairs to climb.

Steeper than they look

After this physical pilgrimage it is nice to remove your footwear and take in the sights and sounds of a very special place. The views are stunning as are the various shrines and artifacts.







Under reconstruction

View of Chiang Mai from the very top

The absolute highlight was entering a temple and getting on you knees to receive a blessing from a monk. My knees are sadly not cut out for extended periods of worship but a nice touch is getting a cotton wrist band and a splashing of holy water accompanied with chanting. The wrist band is to be left on for two weeks and the wearer will receive good luck for the duration and after. It was during this time I thought of Gary and The Dalai Lama.

We left Don Suthep with our spirits buoyed. It had just began to spit rain as we descended. We commented on this jokingly as we were lucky it had not rained earlier. The rain increased in volume until it was bucketing down with such ferocity that we had to pause and reflect on the impressive luck Buddha was raining down upon us.

I have since learned that the Dalia Lama is out of hospital. I am not sure how Gary is but hopefully he can read this at some point.

And that my dear readership is advanced string theory.

Friday, 10 October 2008

A Snails Place

Living out of a couple of bags for an extended period of time has given me an unique perspective on the traveling human condition. When seeking a new temporary habitat a new set of priorities have been learned and they shall probably remain with me for the rest of my earthbound days.

Stairs

Being the mule in our snail pod I carry the burden of transporting bags to and from our room. The grade and amount of stairs are always treated with trepidation. Vietnam in particular has incredibly steep stairwells. Elevators are a treat when they are found. The ground floor is nice but you do have to put up with more noise at night time. My next point is somewhat related.

Footwear

It behooves me to say that shoddy footwear can make for interesting stairs and stares especially when carrying a 20 kilo pack. Wearing running shoes is best but it is much harder to slip in and out of them. My jandals have been woeful companions causing numerous slips and slides. Thankfully I have not been mortally injured thus far (touching wood)

Food & Drink

A clever snail always watches alcoholic drink intake the night before moving locations. Snails become positively sluggish if they are not perfectly hydrated. Snails are also less prone to rash decisions if they have been fed prior to seeking lodging.

Shell Watching

There are some perks to being the mule snail. When important decisions are being made, offer to watch your shells (luggage). If you are feeling devilish incorporate some drinking. If you are feeling peckish, have something to eat.

Internet

Last but not in the least is the prized internet connection. A brilliant snail will scope out free wireless internet whilst eating, drinking and waiting for a room to be found. Where did I put the bags again?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Uniquely SEA #1

Let me dispense with an important announcement before I get started with todays business. We begin our recrudesce to New Zealand next Thursday and will arrive on Friday. Please be aware I have written and circulated a press release for all major news networks as my triumphant return to New Zealand may be the only thing which can take economic depression and the sycophantic pandering of accumulated governments off the front pages of the world's print media.

This gives us exactly one more week in South East Asia. Today I thought I would write a list of unique experiences which for me sum up our time here. Where possible I will link back to supporting evidence as we have a more than a few new comers to the banging bandwagon which is this blog. I expect this will be a continuing series as I expect to be enveloped by a huge sense of contrast when we arrive back in New Zealand.

Transport

The roads of South East Asia are far more exciting with a rich profusion of scooters, tuk tuks and street vendors. Footpaths are for parking cars and setting up shop. Never forget when meeting someone on the street always start the conversation asking where the person is from then say hello.

Food

If it grows, lives and can fit in your mouth you can probably eat it. If it doesn't it will be murdered and prepared so you can. Every table has salt, pepper and chilli flakes. High humidity renders salt and pepper shakers useless so head straight for the chilli.

Patriotism

Back home the New Zealand flag is trotted our very rarely. Sports events, state funerals and the occasional flag burning are the only times you might see them in the wild. In the deep SEA national flags are found on every corner, crevasse and places in between. I have not seen national flag toilet paper or underwear but I am sure that some enterprising soul is ready to roll them out so to speak.

Time and Space

I have discussed this at length before. But time and distances are so excruciatingly distorted that you should abandon time pieces and your accumulated sense of longimetry. For fear of disappointment add at least 24 standard hours and a thousand kilometers for any journey.

A Sizable Difference

Without fail most clothing sizes are out by a size. A western large would be an extra large here. Whilst this is quickly learned, doorways, roofs and other construction tenements can all attack an unwilling traveler. I have learned that wearing a helmet entering and exiting our current lodging a safe way to protect my head. Unfortunately wearing a helmet to bed is not very comfortable.

Tune in next week for more of the.....




Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Got out on the Highway

After the train ride to Chiang Mai I managed to leave my mobile phone and headphones in our carriage. This was particularly annoying as I had enjoyed its company over the last couple of years. Losing personal property in another country is not fun but it can make for a story.

The executive committee decided that a vehicle should be appropriated and that we make our way back to the railway station. We found a fantastic Yamaha scooter which is the finest hired vehicle we have had during our whole time away.

Using a combination of two maps and homespun GPS we made our way to the railway station and information centre. The information centre has a poor choice of name but they did manage to point us at the railway police. After a short period waiting we were met by a official looking chap who with some grace took a statement and suggested that we visit the Chiang Mai tourist police and furnished us with a new more detailed map.

The next day we mounted our steed and using three maps managed to almost visit the tourist police, see the regular police, visit two coffee cafes, wander the streets and see a huge tract of previously undiscovered Chiang Mai. Needless to say it was a relief when we found the tourist police. The tourist police officer candidly advised us that lost property is never handed in but he did supply us with a statement which we will use to make a travel insurance claim on our return.

Earlier in our trip we sent surplus space suits and supplies back to mission control via parachuted air drops. Since then our bags have swelled in orbit and it has become necessary to send more luggage home. It was with glee that we joined the super highway to get quotes on more traditional terrestrial freight services.

Chiang Mai has a super highway which encircles the city and connects with the state highway to Bangkok. Using the super highway allowed us to push our vehicle to previously unattained speeds. It has to be said that driving a scooter on a motorway with a map firmly pressed to your back, the wind streaming through your helmet and wife screaming in your ear is a glorious experience.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Welcome to the Jumbo

Edition. Jumbo because it has been a few days since my last entry and there was a large log protruding from my back. We have returned to the safety cocoon that is Chiang Mai and it is safe to write again.

On Wednesday and Thursday of last week we threw ourselves at Angkor Wat. Being a still (practicing) magician it felt odd to be paying someone else for mechanical levitation but Angkor Wat deserves everything you can throw at it. $15 was a reasonable price and the balloon ride offered a superior vantage point. Equally as important were the rich cacophony of Japanese voices and cameras sounds from our fellow balloon riders has prepared me well for my eventual conquest of Japan.

Early on Thursday morning we arose before the mosquitoes and were at the gates of Angkor Wat before dawn. Mother nature did us a great service by stalling a mass of photographers waiting for a sunrise and my wife and I had merrily gallivanted all over the premier temple before the snappers had discovered there was going to be no superior sunrise photo opportunity. Angkor Wat is an incredible masterpiece. It actually feels weird to bentrying to write about it. Needless to say my own personal plans for a self styled monument now seem incredibly mundane and humble.

Equally majestic and ornate are the close surrounding temples. The incredible amount of detail which accompany even the smallest feature is astounding. The people of Cambodia are to be commended on the preservation and constant maintenance that is being undertaken. Whilst it seems odd to see scaffolding, hard hats and huge cranes amongst it all; it all serves to further ram home more questions on how was it done in the first place centuries ago.

Getting up early does have its benefits. By about ten am the outskirts of the temples are awash with children indulging in high pressure on the fly roadside capitalism. An earlier met acquaintance mentioned the youth of Cambodia are naturally using techniques that are learned by spending a lot of money in western countries. Whilst endearing it can be distracting and who could say no to a hat like this?

Previous writings coated us with a teflon coating of imperviousness as we blazed through the Poipet border crossing from Cambodia into Thailand. So utterly oblivious, we skirted a temple dispute without a whimper. It has to be noted that natives of New Zealand when encountering soldiers always think they are on peace time exercises and are carrying blank ammunition. It is inconceivable they could actually be en route to a conflict.

Long periods of traveling wrecks havoc with ones news sensitivity. Since we started this rather large adventure. A host of world shattering events have occurred.

-Thailand has practically had a revolution
-Zimbabwe’s leaders have brokered a power sharing agreement
-South Africa’s leader has stepped down
-Russia and Georgia have come to blows
-The world economy has had an unprecedented shake up

None of this compares with the juggernaut that is the U.S presidential race. My forays and forages into world television have left me a crazed political pundit. I have watched debates that mean nothing to me. But do you want to know the really crazy thing ???????

Imagine my surprise when opening my email after arriving in Bangkok I had not one but two emails from the Republican party urging me to make an early vote in the election. This has caused me to refrain from further presidential race coverage and to pen a letter to McPainin.

Dear Sir/Madam

I regret to inform you that your previous emails have been in vain. I do not know how you have extracted my email address from my cranium whilst watching your party political broadcasts but I am deeply offended and will refuse to watch American television hence forth.

Yours Sincerely
Sir/Madam

This stage of our travels are winding to a close. We will soon have a reentry date and we are both looking forward to touching down and spending time with mission control. Plotting and planning our next journey shall be equally as fun and exciting.

New Zealand readers do not be alarmed. I have plenty more to write and do. You will not be bored.

Rest of the world. Do not look away or be shy I am coming for you!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Moment of Clarity

A small innocent piece of information for my loyal flock. Years of gaming have left my eyes a bit lacking when looking at things far away. I require a prescription set of glasses to drive legally in New Zealand.

Acquiring a set of glasses in New Zealand is a laborious, tedious and costly exercise. If you are anything like me it is far easier to delay purchasing new glasses, even when your current pair look like they have just walked out of a battle in a tumble dryer with a couple of bricks.

It is with great pride that I can describe purchasing a pair of new glasses in Cambodia.

My examination was free of course and done on the spot. No making an appointment.

A huge variety of frames awaited to perch upon my nose and ears. If I had gone with the cheapest lenses I could have had them inside an hour ready to wear for $18 US.

I went a bit up market and chose the transition lenses and a better titanium frame. My lenses needed to be ordered in but I can still pick them up tomorrow evening. Total cost $83 US.

The last time I got a quote for transition lenses back home it was at least $800 New Zealand and it was going to take them a week to get them ready to wear.

So a tip of my hat to the fine people of Cambodia and in particular the lovely bunch at....

Angkor Optique
Address: Group 5 Sivatha St
Siem Reap near Canadia Bank

tel 063 761237

Footnote,

International readers please substitute New Zealand for your own country I suspect things are much the same.

Additional Footnote,

I have just noticed we have broken the 100 post barrier. This post is number 101. I would like to thank my fingers and my fans I could not have done this with out you!

DO NOT!

It came to my attention yesterday that blatantly soliciting google ad patronage goes against the tenements which define the google gods omnipresent network. My light hearted and entirely heartfelt clicking requests have been incredibly successful in the past. Hence I am currently flummoxed on how I can cleverly entertain my growing slice of the internet pie and financially sustain my important research into all things that amuse me. After consulting my distinguished legal team we have come to the conclusion that any future ad clicking requests will be prefixed with do not. Let it be known that I will be retroactively fitting past requests with the do not suffix. So in summary;

DO NOT CLICK THE GOOGLE ADS