A dust storm kicked up in the afternoon as it usually does. The hot day drives the winds down from the mountains and =clouds of playa dust move in waves crashing over the burners and art cars like ghostly waves. It also gets all up in your nose :P Gas mask and goggles on I turned my back to the sun. This is the coolest portrait Ceri has taken of me yet. Totally going up on Facebook.
With rhythmic motion perfectly in synch, honed from decades of training as desert Samurai; the two honour guards (Andrew and Hank... I think) power the zoescope art installation of a golden apple being pulled out of reach of a drowning man. Which was a bit silly as you can only see it at night and it was the middle of the day.
The dust kicks up a little where we are taking photos from the man dressed like a steam punk general. A half naked girl with a dinosaur tail is taking a photo of a machine that will soon start belching fireballs and flames at its insane creators whim. But the thing that stands out most is the guy in shorts and a t-shirt. A mow-hawked duck art car leaves its tractor trail in the dust as it sets off into the distance for another night of duck related partying. As ducks do.The playa at burning man is indeed a very strange and beautiful place.
We are in Reno for the last night before we head to burning man tomorrow morning for gates opening. Neither of us can wait to get back home to the playa and experience the strange world that awaits us in the dust.See you all in 8 days :)
There are times in your life when you get to go through an experience that will influence your life & the things you do for many years. Such was attending Burning Man 2012 in Black Rock City in the Nevada Desert for us.What an absolutely mindblowing experience arriving to the sheer vastness & magnitude that is Burning Man. Over the next month or so, we will share some of those experiences with you, but most of all we would like to share with you, the lovely people that we met during our time there. This is our first installation of People of the Playa.
Evan & Amber were the first people we connected with at Black Rock City. This young care-free couple set up camp right next to our RV. It was easy to fall in love with the laughing, happy pair as they invited every passerby to join them for sangria & conversation. Each day they shared with us a new story about themselves.
The two met at a battle of the bands about a year ago. Evan being the entertainer he is & having had his eye caught by the super hot Amber, decided to invite Amber on stage to sing with him. We are hoping to convince these two to head downunder to Australia for a visit. So if there are any music agents out there who can help us convince them by getting their bands some gigs here, we would love you long time ;)
Here are Evan's band details:
We will leave you to enjoy the images of these two lovebirds, who we hope to have in our lives for many years to come!
With only a few more hours to go before 2010 is in the past and 2011 is no longer the future but the ever changing present, I can't help but think back to all the challenges, fun times and world changing events that have wizard by at the speed of light.I am left with a single thought; I'm so glad we sprung for two-ply and not that horrible one-ply stuff without the puppy prints.
Happy 2011 everyone ;)
Another day on the beautiful beach started out with an early morning walk and top notch brekky by the surf club.
There was this rottweiler sitting outside begging for love from every passerby but getting nowhere because he is a bloody big and mean looking rottweiler. That was until some brave lady strutted up with a Tupperware full of water and plonked it between his front paws and gave him a scratch. Next thing all the kids and old folks were taking turns to give him a good old rub.
Man cleaning the tidal pool with some creepy looking chemicals.
Yet another miserable morning for surf in Bondi with waves no higher than your ankle. The weather on the other hand is about as idealic as you could want on a holiday. Blue skys with tiny wisps of clouds and a light breez blowing across the water to cool you down. Not a bad 2nd day of holidays but I was wanting to take some better pix of the surfers.
Freshly combed beach.
Omg. I wondered downstairs in the morning to find half of Tokyo having breakfast in the dining area of my hotel. Most of them left shortly afterwards but it was a bit of a shock when I was expecting Americans and Australians to dominate the landscap. After a hearty breakfast and a strong cup of black juice, I headed onto the beach and landed up in the middle of a huge precession of Balaniese all dressed up with ornimental parasols, staffs and flaggs walking down followed by musicians bearing a chant that sounded like some kind of jungle techno/ acid music. I so want the soundtrack. 'That was awesome' I thought to myself coz I had no one to share it with and it would be a bit weird to say of out aloud and decided to to explore the alleyways a bit which turned out to be my first mistake. After a good 3 hours walking I finnaly asked someone where I was.Turns out I was 2 towns away from where I started, bugger. One quick taxi ride and I was back in Kuta enjoying a bowl of Gado gado and a large beer. The hotel had given me a complimentiry massage so I took them up on that offer and had my weary feet rubbed back to the living.When the evening finaly came, I wondered down to the beach again to watch the sunset and crack open a beer while the local kids swarmed around me and the other tourists trying to sell us bangles. I gota get some ice for my beer:/
Planning for our Africa trip has begun.Not a lot has gone into it at this early stage besides from watching the first 3 episodes of "The long way down" but its a start none the less.
I got to admit that some of the scenery is intimidating.
For one it is huge and dusty and thousands of Km away from what I am now used to. If anything goes wrong then we are in deep shit. At the same time, that's part of what makes an adventure so appealing.
Secondly, I'm not sure I can handle 2 or 3 months of sitting on my arse in the back of a Jeep watching sand go by while we travel between destinations. I am not a good roadtrip kind of guy at all!
Also on my mind, along with the possibility of being killed, is the pain of the visa applications for al the countries we will be travelling through and working around African time between destinations with a group of ~8 people. Someone will end up being refused entry into whatever country and then what do we do.
*Sigh* At lease Im not alone in this whole thing :P
Back at work after a month in India. Work is shit but clean water is awesome. I am so glad to be back. You really appreciate home after a holiday.
The morning started with a visit to the tank which was a dam that supplied the town with water. Apparently now the hygiene factor hasn't been so good and the water is undrinkable. As usual there were a few temples around the tank and some lucky animals to feed. This time it was catfish. They like to eat loaves of bread and chapatis. PHOTO OF CATFISH On the way out there was a little Covent Garden starting up and a band of minstrels. They should have been in school but instead were out making a quick rupee. Anton got the camera out and was so intently taking kodak moments that he didn't realised that the roll of toilet paper under his arm dropped onto the ground and unfruled down the ramp. This amused the French tourists to see the length of our toilet paper careening towards them. At least he got some good photos. PHOTO OF MINSTRELS AT TANK Anton, Ceri and Sari then headed to the old fort on the hill while Ben-ji went back to the pad to check on Janelle who had taken the morning off ill.From the fort you could see why they called this the golden city. The place is mostly built out of yellow sandstone that rises from the sands of the flat desert. Anton was excited to find cannons on the fort walls that rivalled the missles from the other night in Jodhpur. PHOTO OF ANTON AND CANNON
Off the house boat at 9.30 to be greeted by Uthaman and his Ambassador for our drive north. Uthaman is very proud of his car. He showed us all the dials it comes with, petrol, oil, heat, speedometer. Also when you turn the key and the battery light comes on it means it's good. No need to worry. He has had the interior custom upholstered. Much to our fascination the seats, roof, doors and handle bars were all covered in plush (yet dirty) velour in a cubist design of browns. Top speed of this baby was 70 km and we probably averaged 40 km so it was a loooooooong journey! We were heading up to Wyanad which was 400 km away.The Car
Before leaving Allepey we had to stop in to the tailor to pick up our clothes. After running down the alley in a monsoonal downpour we were faced with a padlocked door. Urgh!!! The people in the neighbouring shops helped us to find out that she wasn't coming in as her father-in-law had died. After showing our sympahties we were dismayed at the prospect of having to make do with 2 sets of clothes each for who knows how long. Sari was particularly sick of those red pants already (so if there are lots of photos of her in them you know why).Oh well, back on the road.
We then had a quick stop to buy a phone card, which involves having to show a passport photo of yourself, as we didn't have one we popped into to a photo studio to have one made up. Ceri decided she would be the model and got her photo taken. Fifteen minutes later Ceri was very pleased with the result, they had photo-shopped out her moles and beauty spots, she came out with perfectly flawless skin. What a glamour!! We had a brief stop in Fort Cochin, as everyone was really crabby, nothing that a stretch and some food couldn't solve. We managed to see the Chinese Fishing Nets, which were impressive. Anton was harrassed by hawkers, who he encouraged by saying what beautiful pictures they had, this resulted in a drum seller following us and almost beating us a chewing rythm during our lunch. Driving along we figured out these road rules:
1. Anything bigger or faster has right of way
2. There is no right side of the road especially if you are bigger or faster and are overtaking
3. No need to indicate, the horn works much better especially if you are bigger or faster
4. There is so much to look out for in front of you that using mirrors becomes obsolete. But don't worry people will sound their horn.
5. You sound your horn if you are bigger or faster and want to overtake, turn a corner, acknowledge someone overtaking, are in the vicinity of another vehicle, dodging people trying to cross the road, are at a standstill in traffic. Basically there is a lot of horn beeping going on. We think the number of times and length of the beep may mean different things.
6. At night driving with high beams on is recommended. Particularly if there is an oncoming car. Or if you have them on normal turn them up to high beam at oncoming cars. This helps them see you more. At night using the horn and flashing your lights if you are bigger or faster and are overtaking.
7. Slam on your brakes, come to a halt and then change gears.
8. If in doubt just beep your horn.
Other things we observed on the trip:
* Hotels aren't a place to sleep. They are cafes.
* Bakerys don't sell bread. They sell snacks like chips, biscuits and lollies.
* Road works aren't logical. Stuff the disruption to traffic. They will rip up a whole 10 km stretch of road before laying it and resurfacing. This may sound okay but bear in mind the whole process is manual. This means work crews chipping boulders into gravel with a mallet and pick. A very long process.
We woke up to the sound of birds singing in the trees and lots of sunshine. We had already organized breakfast at the owners house and made our way up there. We had toast with what looked like marmalade but turned out to be something between honey and jam. Odd but nice! Sari was also grateful for the huge bunch of bananas which were eaten in no time. The girls were keen to do some shopping (we didn't pack many clothes for the trip). 3 to 2 they won out. We left Palmy Lake Resort with a full stomach on our way to town to do a quick spot of shopping. This was our first experience in an auto rickshaw and we haggled the driver down to Rs30 to take us there. Bargain! We ended up in a small shop filled to the brim with materials and sarees. We were led to a small back room with ready made sarees and the shopping began.
Photo in sari shop"You look. Just look. Very beautiful." Soon a mountain of salwer khameez was building up in front of us. After getting several salwer khameez out of their packets Ceri and Janelle realised that Indian people are midgets and that they were unlikely to get anything over their heads! "No problem, madam. We can make for you." Next mountain, fabric to custom make some outfits. "We make" was actually you go around to a back alley seamstress who will stitch them up. Oops late for getting back for transport to our house boat. Time slips away so easily in India. Takes a long time to do a few things. Finally to the house boat. Luxury at last but still hard beds. On board was Captain George, Pradeep the amazing chef, and Sanjit who was Sanjit. Sipping beer and water for Janelle...relaxing on the sunbed on the bow....taking in the backwaters. Ahhh, now this is holidaying!
The India canoeing and kyaking team train in this area. Not sure how they get to training as the building with the canoes and kyaks is 100 metres out from shore in the middle of the lake.
Sign in the middle of a river
Also liked the sign posts in the water with directions and distances of different towns through the backwaters of Kerela. PHOTO OF SIGN POST? Lunch arrived and we sampled our first of Pradeep's most excellent cuisine. Fried to a crisp fish, long long beans, aviyar (cabbage and coconut) and more beer for the boys. The meal was finished with a whole fresh pineapple.After lunch an couple of fishermen rowed up to the housebout in their canoe. They had a sh@tload of prawns in their canoe and wanted to sell us some. The Tiger Prawns were HUGE, they could almost hav been smallish lobsters. After a bit of negotiation and Captain George demonstrating the potential use of a prawn as a hat for the races, we managed to get 5 of these monsters for the bargain price of Rs750 (about AUS$20, the price you pay for little itty bitty ones in Sydney).
Sari With the giant Prawns
Some more cruising and we all stopped for Ayurvedic massages. The place wasn't as plush as the other one we cruised by earlier. It was more, well let's say rustic. Which means that while the "treatment" was happening you could hear the chickens and roosters outside and the occassional moo of a buff. Once in the room you change by stripping naked and donning a loin cloth ( about 10 cm wide and 5 squares of toilet paper long). Ben was left out in the hallway as the display model! A test of his manhood being exposed in his small piece of fabric lightly covering the essentials (just, so he claims). The massage is on another hard wooden bed and you are smothered in oil, then your WHOLE body is massaged. Later Ceri, Sari and Ben back on board the boat. Captain George thought we had everyone and we set off without Jan-ji and Anton-ji. After a quick consultation and a thorough check by Sanjit to confirm what all 3 were telling them they pulled to the shore because it's a bugger to turn one of those things around in a canal. Meanwhile back at the massage place all that Anton told was that the boat had left without him. Janelle overheard Anton-ji confused "What? Oh. The boat's left. What the boat's left?" Anton and Janelle had to trek down to us and clamber on board. The night was spent eating more of Pradeep's tasty morsels and watching fireflys dance in the palm trees. Bliss...
Panic!! Fear!!Where the hell was I! This wasn't my room. These aren't my clothes. Holy crap I ain't wearing any clothes. I feel violated and disheveled. I appear not to have shaven in a couple of days which is unlike me. Then Ceri and Sari came into the room talking gibberish. Oh yes now I remember. Big rat. It's all coming back to me now.
A quick shower in freezing water and brushed my teeth with the last of our bottled water and we were off to find some breakfast. We had organised a large taxi to pick us up and take us to the airport at 12:00 so we could make our flight to Kochi with the owner who still looked as pissed off as he did the previous night. I think that is his constant demeanor. Poor bastard,
he will never know the truth.The hell hole of a road looks completely different in the morning. One of the lakes of water and the decaying buildings, was replaced with small puddles and slightly less decaying building, but still the kind that look used and repaired by people on a daily basis. About 20m from the backpackers we found a place that served breakfast. Hooray! Some bread omlette and a coffee for me and what looked like pancakes with curry for the rest of our unit.
It was the best coffee I had had in ages. And the best bread egg omelette I had ever had (being my first and all) although Sari was convinced that the tomato sauce was off.
Back at the backpackers, the large taxi had still not arrived. 'It's because of the rain, it will only be another 15 - 20 minutes' said the angry owners assistant. He himself was the opposite and constantly seemed to be smiling. Was it because of my beard? Who knew.
After ~20 minutes something the size of a Mitsubishi Mirage pulled up in front of us. The large taxi was anything but. 'This isn't going to fit us and our baggage all in!'
'Please try. Please try'
'Oh bugger, OK'
So we did and sure as shit we all squeezed in. Ben in the front because of his size and long legs, Ceri, Sari and Janelle sitting on my lap in the back with 2 backpacks. Zoom! off we shot. The driver using his horn to full effect dodging around auto rickshaws and small women carrying bungles of strange origins.
The main road was clear of cars moving in the opposite direction and those sacred cows I had heard so much about. We were all more amused when we passed a similar car with about ten or more people in it. We were then grateful for the large amount of space we had! CAR PHOTO ALL SQUISHED IN.
Jump out at the Airport and give the driver a tip. It is customary to tip everyone here I have found. You can tell someone wants a tip if they do something small for you and then hang around with a sulky look on their face.
We landed late and took another 3 hour taxi drive to the nicest place we have stayed in so far. Clean with a fan and no rats. Good for me. They even fed us some chicken and rice with pineapple for desert. 5 stars.Day
Anton's First Thoughts (I think they tell in his words what we all felt!) 'Those God dam bastards have got my bags!' I thought as we waited at the carousel at Chenai airport. Two Indian men were arguing about who knows what a few meters to our left. 'This place isn't so bad. Its a bit like a grubby local airport in Africa, but with less Africans and more God dam baggage stealing bastards'. Our bags eventually came and we made our way to the outside for the first real glimpse of the rain that had started when we were landing.Ceri and Sari bravely marched up to the only Taxi operator there and asked how much it would cost to take us to the backpackers.
'Rs1000' he said 'Bacause it is raining' Ha, bullshit. what the f@#k does rain have to do with the price of a taxi ride. They went off again with Ben in tow to find a better deal but there were no Taxis around so we went back to the first man to try to barter a better deal. I got it in my head that I could do this as long as I had a stern look on my face. 'Come on, you gotta give us a better deal, you can't say that the rain makes any difference. Rs700. No. Rs1000. OK OK, Rs800. No. Rs1000. Fine! Rs900. Rs1000. Don't barter.'
Don't barter, Bah.
So we accepted his offer after a begrudging couple of minutes of fervent mumbling amongst ourselves and all piled in the van with 2 other Australians we split the fare with.
As soon as we left the airport we realized why the price had gone from Rs350 to Rs1000. Traffic came to a stop. A dead and complete stop. No moving. Just sitting stationary. For 3 frikking hours. Unfortunately the constant hooting and engine fumes persisted for the entire time, infiltrating the precious few minutes we had to sleep before the driver cranked the vehicle into gear to edge us froward a few meters.
Eventually we came to the cause of the traffic jam. A single intersection and 3 cars moving in the opposite direction to all the other traffic. Oh ad the huge puddle that they were all sitting in that almost engulfed the auto rickshaws trying to forge their way through.
Some skillful darting around landed us in a small dark side street where the driver stalled the car. Unfortunately he did not really stall but had come to where we were stayng.
Oh crap! Its a shack. No wait the thing next to it has a door. Humm, still not too many steps up from the shack.
We grabbed our bags from the taxi and all piled under the shade of the building. A small raised section with painted flowers as decoration had a bundle of rags stuffed in the corner but besides from that it was empty. We rang the bell and the small bundle of rags stirred. 'Holy crap' thats someone sleeping there.' It really dawned on me at that point how poor most of this country was and I wondered if these raised sections are built for the homeless so they have a place to sleep.
The owner of the backpackers opened the door bleary eyed and in not so good a mood. I can understand that as it was 3:00 in the morning. After a bit of negotiating and hand waving he showed us the rooms and I realized that the small bundle of rags probably wasn't a homeless person but a backpacker that had decided to take the cleaner and safer option of sleeping out on the porch. But at 3:00 in the morning you don't really care about the rat the size of a small car that spoke Spanish with a Brumby accent and we went to sleep.
Ok, so the feeling of being very nervous has been overtaken by the feeling of being incredibly nervous. We have 2 days left in Oz before we jet off to India for a month and I've got the usual 'Oh crap, I've forgotten something really important that I'll only remember a week later when our house has burnt down!' going through my head.
We are almost ready. Just a few niggliy things to sort out and we should be good. As usual though, we are taking waaaaay too much stuff with us. But by the sounds of it, the other people we are traveling with are taking loads more than us so by comparison we won't look so bad. Today is also the last day I will shave. I begin my quest to grow a beard now! Soon, the long flowing face pubes will sprout forth from my chinny chin chin and all will be amazed. It will be cool. It will be awesome. it will be bloody irritating and hard to get used to for the first 3 weeks :( A well.
In India, its supposed to be a sign that you are a respected and all round top notch guy. So hopefully all the tourist flys will leave me alone.
We left Nottingham on the 15th of March and Drove to Ireland. Yes you can do it but you have to get on a very big boat. So we did.Ireland isn't that much different from England. The only real difference (besides from the accent) is everyone drinks Guinness instead of Fosters or Tennants. And the crazy midgets running around shouting "you'll never geet mee pot oh gould!!" Why I was the only one who saw them is weird.
One bit of advice. Ireland in March is fricking cold. Never ever camp in Ireland with a tent in March. It is shit and you will end up sleeping in the car and waking up very grumpy and walk funny for the rest of the day because you have a handbrake imprint in your arse. Also the coin operated showers are a pain. €1 is too long a shower for one person but too short for two people to sud up and wash off. On the plus side, it did only cost us €14 a night for two of us:)
We spent the next day getting lost in Dublin. Two teeny little Irish kids ran up to me (little punks) and tuned me "heey there, I know where yooour from. Yoour from Jermany. Guess how Ir know that, hu guess, its on your jacket. Ha ha ha ha." So I was all like " I'm from South Africa dumb-aas. This is just a German army jacket. Your spelling sucks! Out of my way dyke!!"
If you go over by car, don't park in the city. Parking is really expensive. Like €10 an hour. You can find a side street 15 minutes outside the city center where you can park for free.
We went on the city bus tour which was really good. You get to hear a whole lot about the city from a real Irish bloke and see a lot of stuff that's not in the Lonely planet on the way. The actual city center is not that big so we could walk pretty much anywhere without getting too hungry.
On St Paddies day we chipped the ice off our faces and crawled out the tent. Had some bacon and eggs and a shower paying special attention to wash behind my ears. Then Ceri pulled out a bag of goodies she had bought before we left home. So we spray painted our hair green, put on shamrock shaped bobbles on our head and I strapped on a pair of fake boobs with "Buy me a drink, Its my birthday!" written on them.
The St Patrick parade is a full day event including a lot of people sitting in pubs getting drunk. The parade was pretty disappointing because of all the people watching it. There were only a few areas where you could get any sort of view of the precessions and there was usually a crowd of people standing at the barriers blocking everything. We did manage to get a good view at the end of the day where the parade finishes.
If you go to Dublin for St Patrick day parade, bring a ladder or stool to stand on other wise you won't see a dam thing.
A Float at the parade
Me with green hair and boobs
This kid got on the buss with his parents. He sat down in the front of the buss and the parents went and sat at the back.
For the sole reason that I was borne on St Paddies day and we had nothing better to do, we went to St Patrick Church. You are supposed to be able to see a statue of him beating the crap out of a bunch of snakes but we didn't see it.
A trip to the world famous Guinness factory was a prerequisite before leaving Dublin. The tour can take about 2 hours if you want to take it all in but it can get a little too much after a hour. The whole museum is 4 or 5 floors of beer and beer related products. The best bit is all the Guinness adverts and merchandising crap they produced over the years. That and the free beer you get at the top of the museum in the Sky lounge.
The view is brilliant. Its a 360 degree view of Dublin's skyline and the parking lot out back of the factory. Brilliant! Guinness beer on the other hand tastes like shite. It took me and Ceri an hour to finish half our pints before we hid them behind a posh sofa and buggered off.