Perf

27 08 2011

Im told that you can determine if someone originally comes from Perth by asking them to pronounce it. If they say “Im from Perf” you know they are born and bred there. If they are from elsewhere and have moved to Perth they will pronounce it correctly.

My sister is now from “Perth”, she will have to work on her pronounciation if she wants to convince the locals there. Also based in Perth is my soon to be brother-in-law, Brendan.

Jetstar were having a flight sale in February of this year. I had seen Shannon over Christmas, and loved spending time with her, so when I saw the very cheap tickets between Singapore and Perth I got booking. Of course to get the cheap tickets you have to book a long way off, so I selected the weekend after Shannon’s birthday. A surprise visit, first time she would have seen her big sister in 8 months.

When I went to Melbourne a couple of weeks ago to see the rest of the family, who should pull their own surprise visit but Shannon? So my surprise 8 month reunion had quickly become a ‘I saw you the weekend before last’. Talk about disappointment.

But still, Brendan and I kept going with the surprise plan. Might as well, even if it was going to be anticlimactic.

2 days before I was due to jump on a plane to see her, I get a phone call from Shan screaming out “Im Engaged!!!” (see previous post). So now, im excited about the surprise again.

From Perth, august 2011

Brendan picked me up on the Friday night without shannon knowing – claiming to be ‘on call’. Diligently, shannon acted like the loving wife to be and stayed up waiting for her fiance to return safely to her side went to bed. I snuck into the house and suprised the empty living room, and unsatisfied with that, jumped on shan’s bed. She slept talked to me a couple of times (“yeth, yeth..” while patting my hand) then woke up and told me off for surprising her.

In the morning she was happier to see me and after she and Brendan had spent some time gardening and I sat in the sun on the front porch admiring Austrlian Suburbia (for my non-Australian friends, it really is just like it looks on neighbours) I demanded that Shannon and I go and try on her first wedding dress.

We went to the Oxford Rd shops and tried a couple of boutiques. The first one Shannon was in complete denial and walked straight past the white dresses to the coloured bridesmaids ones at the back and started talking cuts and styles. Oh-No, that can wait. Wedding dress, now. The next boutique we visited said that the majority of their dresses were out of the shop, all down at the big bridal fair. We thought ‘oh well’ and went to head out, but the woman at the boutique plead with shannon to go to the fair ‘ its the last one until February!!!’. To appease the lady, and also to buy Brendan some more time to pull together a surprise BBQ for shannon, we set off for the Perth showgrounds.

It was really good fun to hang out with Shan – the two of us were a bit creeped out by the sheer scale of a bridal expo – but glad to have each other there. It was funny to see the first stall as you walked in belonging to fitness first, almost a ‘you are getting married, so lose weight before you even think about choosing a wedding dress’.  We threw ourselves into one stand with four or five dresses – a variety of styles – for Shan to get into. This one ended up firmly on the ‘no’ pile:

From Perth, august 2011

We tried on a number of dresses and got some notes for shan about what she does and doesnt like, and then decided that we were both really completely over it and what we really wanted was a strip-sub combo from Red Rooster.

When we got back to Shannons place, she was surprised to find her backyard over-run with friends. Actually, not surprised, annoyed that Brendan was having a BBQ with them and didnt invite her. Im not sure she caught on that it was supposed to be a surprise for her. Granted, no one yelled ‘Surprise’, so I can understand why the confusion.

But the champagne was on ice and a lovely toast was made by Smorsey (Sp?), then I said some words on behalf of the family. Shannon later admitted to being disappointed that Smorsey and I didnt continue on trying to outdo each others speeches a la the ‘Bridesmaids’ movie, but I dont know any Thai, so I guess there was a limit to that…

From Perth, august 2011

It was nice to sit outside in a backyard and have a BBQ in the sun. Shan and Brendan have some really lovely mates there and have built a real home for themselves.

From Perth, august 2011

After an early morning next-day clean up, we set out to check out Freemantle Gaol. Partly because its interesting, but also because there are no other tourist attractions in Perth.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It was built for the early convicts and used right up until 1991. None of the cells were ever plumbed and a bucket was still used up until closure. Gross.  Certainly not a place I’d like to be spending 20-life in!

From Perth, august 2011
From Perth, august 2011
From Perth, august 2011




The verdict?

24 07 2011

Got to east coast parkway hospital.

Got my temperature taken, blood pressure taken, weight taken (as if I wasn’t feeling bad enough). Saw the doctor who complemented megans compression bandage work and sent me to X-ray.

The girl in radiology was really sweet. They are very careful about not xraying pregnant women so were alarmed at my report of the painters being away since may (bless my broken ovaries, sorry tmi). She made me sign a pregnancy waiver. When I explained exactly why I knew I wasn’t pregnant she laughed and ripped up my waiver and added a note to my file. “no activity. No husband. No boyfriend”. I didn’t know if my wrist was broken, but my heart was.

My X-ray went back to the GP. It looked like this

20110725-010004.jpg
Basically there is a fracture at the top of my radius, a white line there. Because it’s right on the joint and on a diagonal the GP was expecting surgery, it freaked me right out.

I had to wait for the orthopedic surgeon who had a look and deemed it fit for just casting, so now I’m all bandaged up in a temporary splint until the swelling goes down, then I’m casted up for 6 weeks. Who is gonna sign it??

Meanwhile, Megan was a total champion who sat with me in the waiting room and sat in on the X-ray analysis with both the GP and the surgeon. She kept me distracted and laughing and kept me from completely freaking out when I thought I’d need surgery. It was so so appreciated and I couldnt have come through so well without it. Thanks a million megs

In other updates. I still haven’t had mango sticky rice.





The perils of hygiene

24 07 2011

I’ve had Bec and her cousin stay recently, and Megan after that. It’s been fantastic, but I was completely exhausted by the time Friday came with all the work and socializing i had squeezed in. Hence my excitement about traveling with Megan to koh samui for the weekend to meet up with Bec. Simone from Singapore was also joining us for the weekend, so it was a proper girls weekend!

Megan, Simone and I headed off on Friday night on Bangkok airways tiny plane for tropical koh samui in Thailand. We arrived at the bhandhari resort which is supposedly near chawang beach, although our attempt at walking to the main chewang shops when we landed was thwarted by the hotels security guard saying a.) the main street is an hours walk away and b.) we were walking in the wrong direction.

After changing direction and getting a cab we embraced the cheap cocktails, neon signage and thai massage parlours of chewang. Despite having possibly the worst Thai massage ever we were sated and tired and ready to rest in preparation for the coming weekend.

Saturday saw us discover the hotels pool. Beautifully set against the ocean backdrop.

20110724-040626.jpg
…then we discovered the pool bar…

20110724-040748.jpg
5 cocktails later, 3 very burnt and pickled bodies stumbled back to hotel rooms for showers and aloe Vera application prior to heading in to chewang main street to meet Bec and Sarah for some dinner and market exploration.

I got to eat my beloved tom yum gung and papaya salad – and a panadol and 3 soda waters to kill my sunburn headache – but, to my dismay, no mango sticky rice. That became my mission: mango sticky rice, or die trying!

We lost troops along the way, Simone took leave to have an ice bath, bec and Sarah kept powering through the DVD shops, but at the end only Megan and I were left standing.

We asked restaurant after restaurant for mango sticky rice and received so many blank stares in reply. Then finally…

“can I help you?”

“do you have mango sticky rice?”

“oh, with the Thai mango…?”

“yes”

“and the sticky northern Thai rice?”

“yes!!”

“and that incredible coconut cream poured over the top?”

“YES! OH MY GOD YES! THAT ONE! DO YOU HAVE IT?”

“yes”

“PRAISE GOD, ALLAH, BUDDHA AND BATMAN!!! A table for two and two serves of mango sticky rice please”

“oh, it’s sold out tonight. Something else perhaps?”

Bastard.

I’m the end we made do with a banana and nutella pancake and a much better Thai massage (although Megan went with the aloe vera and icepack massage option. She was fighting a case of sunburn on sunburn. Ouch)

That night we rubbed aloe into each others tanned hides (thats what friends are for) and quoted silence of the lambs “it rubs the lotion on it’s skin”. You can imagine our delight when we turned on the tv to find dr lecter on our screens. Quid pro quo clarice, quid pro quo.

We checked out of our hotel and tuk tukked straight to becs for one last swim. Was good fun to spend some quality time with megs and Bec. We went upstairs to have a shower and change before our flight. I thought I was brave facing water on my red shoulders, but on leaving the shower the wet marble got the better of the bathmat and red, naked and startled down I went straight onto my wrist.

I sat on the ground for a little while checking my wrist for bones sticking through or other deformities. Looked ok, but even without being able to do the twisting of a hockey stick wrist injury check (mighty ducks anyone?) I could tell it was sore.

Lucky Megan and Bec are medical professionals and have put a compression bandage on it. I’m going to head to the hospital when I get back to Singapore to have it looked at. Megan says were hoping for a sprain, but if not were going for a small undisplaced fracture. Cross your fingers for me (cos I can’t!)

20110724-043638.jpg

I’ll update after the docs.

Regardless of the shitty finish. I had a great time with the girls and was so happy to spend time with them. And even more appreciative of them for looking after their clutsy friends.





Eurotripping – Part III

21 03 2010

Lausanne

Highlight: Montreux is beautiful, the most serene town I have ever been to, the whole place is so quiet and peaceful and just so, so gorgeous. The sun is out, but there is this thin layer of cloud that makes it warm but diffuses the light. There is the constant calming sound of water lapping against the shore of Lake Geneva. It was also a sort of pilgrimage for me with my lifetime of Queen love, as it was where they lived and worked for the final few years when Fred was dying – I think if I had to choose a place to go this would be a good choice. There’s little reminders around too – a statue of Freddie right on the shore of Lake Geneva (I spent ages trying to recreate the album art of ‘Made in Heaven’ – didn’t get too far off…) and their old recording studios under the Montreux casino (Rock trivia: it was the burning of the original Montreux casino during a Zappa gig that inspired Deep Purple to write ‘Smoke on the Water’) which are still to this day covered with messages of love from Fans around the world. I didn’t add anything, but I captured it with a couple of photographs.

Lowlight: Not really a lowlight, but it did ruin the fact that this was my Switzerland stop of the eurotrip. I jumped on a boat on Lake Geneva and ended up in Evian (as in the bottled water!) which was also another lovely little sleepy lakeside town. Unfortunately when I stopped to grab some pasta and a bottle of Evian for lunch (how could i not?!) and went to pay with my Swiss Francs the owner said ‘No, Euro, this is France’ – oops.

Favorite photo:

From Lausanne, January 2010

Bordeaux

Highlight: AMANDA!!!! I was supposed to be in Paris for this stop, but somewhere around Turkey Amanda Palmer announced a mini-european tour, so forget Paris, I have Amanda to watch.  Bordeaux got booked and off I trundled to see her. Bordeaux was bigger than I expected, I was thinking quaint little town surrounded by rolling vineyards and freeflowing wine everywhere I went. But it wasnt. It was a big city which was too damn cold.  ANYWAY. Amanda did a ninja gig at a local bar, so I made it to the airport, onto a bus, onto a tram, found the hotel, checked-in,dropped luggage, found bar and watched her play a 5 song set on her uke. She was great, she is just so cool. Even though this goes against the format I have established of highlight/lowlight/favorite photo for this eurotrip section of my blog – I don’t care – here is a video of her doing Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ that night:

Then the next night was her actual show. It was cold, I nearly wasnt allowed in because of some internet ticket sale issue, and the audience were not like the ones in Australia and the UK – it wasnt the freakshow party that it normally is (and admittedly, that’s part of the appeal of an Amanda Palmer show – it’s almost as much about the audience as it is about her – everyone is a part of it) She did a great job though, worked hard and tried to win the crowd with some French chatter and singing.  Ohh, and she did a signing afterwards and I got to say hi again, and even did the dorky fan thing and got a picture! whee!!

Lowlight: Paris. Only because I had hardly any time there and all I wanted to do was go to the Pompidou which, luckily, was open til 10pm. So got there at 7.30pm, had scheduled myself half an hour for the video art collection, an hour for the temporary exhibition and an hour for the permanent collection. Made it to the end of the temporary exhibition, was just making for the permanent exhibition and was told the gallery was closing. What??? It’s open til 10pm I insisted, pointing at the guide. Yes, the centre is open til 10pm, the gallery shuts at 9pm though. I was GUTTED, this was the only thing I wanted to do in Paris, and I didn’t even get to make it there. Ah well. An excuse to go back one day I suppose.

Favorite photo: (it had to be…)

From Bordeaux, January 2010

Brussels

Highlight:  On my last day in Brussels a girl I had met in the Hostel headed out with me to find waffles for breakfast. After finding them I still had some time to kill before my train left for Amsterdam, so I dropped my luggage at the main train station and we went to the Musical instrument museum. This was so much fun. You got a headset which would pick up radio signals broadcasting to just in front of the display cases – when in the radio zone, sample music for the instrument in the case would play. So we decided that we would make up a traditional dance style for each piece of music we heard.  As the instruments in the museum were from all over the world it was good fun, but it  ha looked pretty crazy to anyone else as we were the only ones who could hear that particular piece of music. Unfortunately they didn’t have any didjes, so I couldn’t show off ‘ corroboree dance.

Lowlight: When I travelled I had a huge heavy backpack strapped to my shoulders and waist, had a handbag over a shoulder and a front pack on my chest. I spent the whole time with the debilitating fear of my feet slipping on icy pavements from under me and falling on my back only to be stranded on my backpack like a turtle – unable to get up again, arms and legs flailing until someone found me and rolled me over. Well. In Brussels, I fell. Luckily i fell forwards and didn’t get stuck on my backpack. But it was still pretty hard to get up, and I knew it must have looked funny, so I kept laughing at myself while trying to get up which would make me slip again. That would have made a great video for someone to submit to Australia’s Funniest Home Videos.

Favorite photo: I need to preface this photo with an explanation – ‘Mannekin Pis’ is  this fountain with this peeing boy, he is also pretty much th mascot of all of Belgium, everywhere you go, there he is – you can buy chocolates shaped like him, keyrings, beer steins, shot glasses, whatever. So being such a big deal, you expect something pretty spectacular. No. Not even.

This is it.

From Brussels, January 2010

Amsterdam

Highlight: Julian and I got to hang out in Amsterdam, which was so much fun – I always have a good time with him, and it had been so long since I had last see him. I wanted to see a show at Concertgebouw, another one of these concert halls that are considered to be the Worlds best.  Julian had a ‘rough idea’ of where it was from my hostel – so we walked all around the city, asked numerous people directions and no one seemed to know. Eventually, after about an hour and a half of walking we chanced upon it and made it there. I went in to buy us some tickets and the lady asked if there was any youth discount – I was obviously well and truly out of it, but Jules might get one, so I asked what the cut-off age was – it was 30!!! Hurray! I’m still young as far as they are concerned!  Being under 30 meant that we could go back 45 mins before the show and buy rush tickets for 10 Euro. As we were about an hour early for being able to buy them we went and found beer and had Dutch tapas, which basically consisted of various potato and cheese concoctions, all deep-fried. Healthy. We went back to buy out tickets and then decided that a ‘coffee shop’ might be a good idea before the show – we took 15 minutes to finally found one, bought a smoke to share realised we only had 15 minutes now to get back. Shouldnt be a problem though, as this time we know where we are going, it should take less time to get back than it did to get to the shop in the first place – right? Wrong. We took 25 mins to get back and could not figure out why. As we were locked out of the hall until the first piece was finished we examined where our plan had gone wrong. Then we remembered the 2.5m long clog we found and had to have a photo shoot in. Damnit. Anyway, as we were going in the usher said ‘dont forget to come out at interval for a drink – wine is included in the cost of your ticket’  best news EVER. So in we went, heard incredible music in a beautiful sounding hall, came out for a free wine, went back in and found our real seats (pissing off a guy behind us who was upset by Julian’s height blocking his sightlines) and enjoyed the rest of the show – including a piece of music Julian recognised as being from the modern era level of the computer game ‘Civilisation 4’.

Best 10 euro experience EVER.

Lowlight: Julian, his girlfriend Esme and I went to the cinema to take in Avatar in 3D. With Dutch subtitles. This wasnt that much of a big deal, obviously you just ignore those. Except of course that there are portions of the film when those giant Smurf-Cats are talking their native language, and the subtitles are still in Dutch. We managed to annoy most of the cinema audience by having Esme translate the dutch to english for us. She was very obliging.

Favorite photo:

From Amsterdam, February 2010




Eurotripping – Part II

15 03 2010

Vienna

Highlight: Musikvereinsaal, one of the worlds best concert halls according to acoustic-y types. I was keen to get in and hear the Vienna Philharmonic play, but it wasn’t to be. The only thing on when I was there was a Japanese flute orchestra which I was seriously annoyed about. However – when I finally got in there and watched them play I was blown away – the hall looks and sounds great and the flute orchestra was great. The orchestra even came out at the end of the show and handed out origami cranes to everyone – they were suitably impressed by my ‘thank you’ in Japanese – about the only thing I remember from 3 years of studying it in high school.

Lowlight: Paying 10 euro for four batteries. forget that shit.

Favorite photo: Sacher torte at the Sacher cafe.  I went with my friend Mona who I met in Bregenz in July 2009, when I told her I was heading to Vienna she very very kindly let me stay in their spare room, which was just the best thing ever – so nice to have a little space after so long in hostels, also great to have two beautiful roomies while I was there.  They made me feel completely at home which was so nice!

From Vienna, January 2010

Budapest

Highlight: Easily the Adventura Hostel. Was a cosy little space with three themed dorms ‘ India’, ‘Africa’ and ‘Japan’ – I was in the India room with an American guy and we were pretty much the only ones there aside from the staff. But that made it cool – we all hung out together and it was a nice chilled friendly environment

Lowlight: The weather – it poured and poured. And this was the point where I hit the travelling blues, where you are so sick of lugging around a backpack and being on your own and sleeping in different hostel beds and just being so so tired of trying to cram every tourist sight into the two or so days you had in a city. This is where I booked my weekend home to Australia to go to Gabby’s wedding. This is when I just wanted familiar faces and my own bed.

Favorite picture: The first night in town, myself, my fellow American traveller and the girl running the hostel all went out for a drink where she gave us a lesson in the fundamentals of Hungarian conversation. This is all you will ever need to know to get by in Hungary apparently.

From Budapest, January 2010

Istanbul

Highlight: The difference!! I loved how different the culture was, the architecture was, the food and especially the Climate – the sun felt so good on my face that i nearly cried. Istanbul was great – I wish I could’ve seen more of Turkey

Lowlight: The persistent salesmen, all trying to drag you in to carpet shops and sell you rugs you don’t want. I spent about as much time inside carpet shops as I did actually exploring! At least they give you free tasty tasty turkish coffee or apple tea. mmm!!

Favorite photo: I like this photo. It sums up both my High- and Lowlights. A dude beckoning me into his shop while outside the blue mosque at sunset

From Istanbul, January 2010

Athens

Highlight: I loved the stray dogs all around Athens – they are so sweet and friendly. There is a charity which goes around looking after all the stray dogs. The dogs are vaccinated, desexed and tagged – then let free to wander. They are great fun and have total reign over the city – I was so inspired by them that I even created a ‘Dogs of Athens’ photo series. Although admittedly it’s hard to be around some of them because they are fearless and will go running into the middle of scary Athenian traffic – I let out so many involuntary cries after them that I bet the locals thought I had Tourette’s.

Lowlight: The amount of scaffolding around every historic site, particularly the Parthenon – It’s great that they are trying to preserve it, but a shame that it couldn’t be done in stages so that SOME of it would be visible.

Favorite photo: I LOVE the dramatic lighting I was lucky enough to get on this one of Zeus’ Temple

From Athens, January 2010

Rome

Highlight: Free Water!!! All the fountains in Rome are fed from springs in a town many kilometers away – which means all of the fountains will give you better water than anything you can buy in a bottle – spring water which was still in the spring only 30 minutes earlier. I LOVED this and drank from every single fountain I went past. I have never been better hydrated.

Lowlight:  Not nearly enough time to see everything. I need to go back for a couple of extra days I think. I almost missed out on the bone church too! Was really lucky to catch that creepy sight!

Favorite photo: Me being ‘touched by an angel’ in St Peter’s Basilica, there were great sunbeams pouring in through one of the windows and I thought it would look cool to have a religious experience there – it took about a million attempts, and a lot of polite broken-Italian refusals to people offering to take a photo for me, but I got there.

From Rome, January 2010

Florence

Highlight:  My daytrip to the Chianti region – Wine tasting where I got slaughtered (I hadn’t drunk really since Munich, it’s no fun on your own, so I was not in top drinking form) – I think that was the vineyard owners aim though because I nearly ordered a CASE (at 25 euro a bottle). It was only that I didn’t know Benson’s London address that saved me that little impulse buy. Was so lovely to visit historic towns and watch the Tuscan countryside roll by.

Lowlight: The leaning tower of Pisa. It really annoyed me. I don’t know why – but I hated its stupid lean, it must’ve frustrated the inner autistic engineer lurking just beneath the surface.

Favorite photo: the binoculars at the very top of Duomo. It was impressive because I had no intention of climbing all 500 narrow stairs or whatever it was, but when I paid to go into, what I thought was the church, I was shepherded in to the stairwell and told to climb. I was pretty proud of making it all the way to the top without quitting or dying. And the view up there of the terracotta roofs of Florence was well worth it.

From Florence, January 2010




Eurotripping – Part I

14 03 2010

Ok, so this is going to be a mammoth task. I am going to blog the trip I took between leaving London in December 2009, to getting to Singapore in mid-February 2010. I crammed a huuuuge number of stops into that trip and if I don’t blog it now, it will be forever lost.

I’ve decided the best way to do this for my poor typing fingers and you, dear reader,  is to break it down into bitesized chunks. For each city I will give a highlight, a lowlight and my favorite photo. Note that clicking on the photo should take you to my Picasa account, so if you are keen and want to look at more photos from somewhere you can do that. Feel free to post questions in the comments section – like any seasoned traveller I am more than happy to talk about where I’ve been and what I’ve seen to anyone who will listen.

And so we begin our journey together…

Moscow

Highlight: Visiting an abandoned nuclear bunker 18 storeys below ground – it was a big steel-clad cavernous space where a whole section of the military as well as important officials could gather if they needed to escape nuclear attack during the cold war. It was creepy as hell.

Lowlight: -17 degrees Centigrade. December in Russia is cold.

Favorite photo: St Basils Cathedral and the Red Square  ‘New Years Tree’ (a hangover from the anti-religion communist era)

From Russia, December 2009

Pskov/Pechory

Highlight: The Russian Banya – basically a sauna where you get whipped with a big wet leafy branch, sweat like crazy, run outside and throw yourself into the snow. Come inside, drink vodka and repeat.

Lowlight: Kicking some kiddies off a small hill they were sledding on, we came to join in and ended up dominating the slope too much, so they went home. Oops.

Favorite photo: The monastery at pechory. We watched the sun creep up as the priests and brothers went about their chores in knee-deep snow

From Russia, December 2009

Saint Petersburg

Highlight: Kunstkamera, the first museum in Russia which was established by Peter the Great. Among other things in the museum was a whole collection of deformed babies in bottles which Peter had collected as a result of his interest in human anatomy and his wish to dispel the belief in witches and dark magic prevalent at the time.

Lowlight: Having my camera stolen! Leaving a pancake shop some dude pickpocketed me and took my beloved powershot with its flip-out screen. Farewell awesome in-frame drunken self portraits.

Favorite photo: A view down the main shopping street in St Petersburg – the lights and the snow and a great Cyrillic ‘Stop’ sign – I had mastered reading Cyrillic by the 3rd day! Amazing how effective total immersion is as a learning method.

From Russia, December 2009

Berlin

Highlight: New Years Eve at Brandenburg Gate with Paul and Linda and Leif. Dinner first at Linda’s friends place where we took in the German tradition of watching ‘Dinner for One’, then a rowdy drinking and eating session followed by a rush to the gate to ring in the new year. The firework display by the revellers was better than the official one organised by the city! Then off to some random small bar where friends of Leif’s had organised a party – back to my hostel by 6am, checked out by 7am and on a train to Munich by 10am. It is possible that having a hostel for that night was not worth the 23 euro…!

Lowlight: The Berlin Guggenheim. 5 paintings. Thats all.

Favorite photo: The gates to Sachsenhausen concentration camp – ‘Work makes free’. About a 50 minute train ride from Berlin central, it was one of the first concentration camps which was not only used by the Nazis, it was also used by the Red Army too. Strange feeling to walk through it – I expected the experience to be a lot more emotional – I wasnt really affected by it until the last stop on the audio guide which was at the infirmary and told the story of Nazi doctors testing different strains of Hepatitis on a Jewish kid and seeing how long/painful death was in order to develop bioweapons. Funny how the hearing about deaths on the scale of tens of thousands doesn’t do much emotionally, but the plight of one kid can reduce you to tears – apparently Stalin is quoted as saying ‘The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic’. Well put.

From Berlin, December 2009

Munich

Highlight: The museums in Munich are incredible, the modern Pinkotech and the Deutches Museum in particular. I liked that Deutches museum tried so hard to make Engineering cool – it didn’t work, but I liked that it tried.

Lowlight: The Swiss kids who were in my dorm room. I had got in to Munich exhausted (see highlight of Berlin…!) and all I wanted to do was wash everything I owned in my Backpack, scrub my hair and skin clean and get into bed and sleep. The kids in my room were smoking and drinking in the room and were so loud – I requested to change room to avoid this and as drinking and smoking in rooms isn’t allowed, the manager came in and kicked them out of the room. Quite clearly they knew that I had told the manager so I totally hid for an hour in the laundry and got back to find all their half full cups on my bed and a radio left on on a top bunk at that other side of the room.

I. Just. Wanted. To. Sleep.

finally the battery died or something in the radio and I drifted off – until about 4am when they all rolled in to the room. The manager came in, got into a yelling match with them and tried to kick them out. That bit sucked – but it’s also what backpacking is all about – you take the good with the bad.

Favorite photo: Couldnt do Munich without doing a beer hall. This is at the brewery – a grosse bier and a pork knuckle. mmm – I had meat AND alcohol poisoning by the end of that.

From Munich, January 2010