overocea: (Default)
Japan has a bunch of cultural phenomena that I am pretty miserable do not have counterparts in Australia. Surely any one of these would be immensely successful in Brisbane:
  • Onsen. My favourite part of my Japan trip was the ~48 hours spent moving from one enormous bath to another slightly different (temperature, minerals, setting) enormous bath, getting massages (or sitting in massage chairs watching movies/sleeping), drinking beer & eating food & watching performances & playing bishi bashi. There is a Korean bath house in the Gabba that Storm and I used to go to but it is a bit clinical and spartan and just has one warm bath and one cool.
  • Big giant multi-level internet cafes where you can browse or game or watch movies or read manga or sleep all night in the pods whilst doing all of the above and eating free ice cream.
  • Cat cafes. I would TOTALLY pay per fifteen minute allotments to cuddle and play with kittens.
In other news, Girl 1 moved into my apartment. Girl 3 decided to go to Paris instead, and lots of other people came through to look but I didn't particularly like any of them.

Currently I am reading (among other things) Pleasure by David J Linden. In it he mentions a study where obese and thin young women were put in a brain scanner while sipping chocolate milkshakes. They found that the obese women showed significantly less activation of pleasure centres in the brain ("blunted pleasure").. BUT when looking at the brain response when they were about to get the milkshake, the obese women showed greater activation. So they anticipated (craved) more reward but actually received less. Why is life so mean?

I have terrible vertigo today.. I was disturbed by it all last night whilst rolling about in my sleep. What does it mean? Pick one of a) inner ear infection or b) brain tumour. ...or c) Skyrim.

Home again

Apr. 20th, 2007 02:45 pm
overocea: (Default)
My last travel post, from home... both thrilled and devastated to be back.

The last two weeks of the journey felt like stolen time; it had to be scoffed down before someone found out we'd appropriated it. Looking back now it's all blurred, and I can't bring myself to write about it. Luckily I've photos.

Trekking in Chiang Mai we visited a mountain village with very interesting accommodation.

Chiang Mai


Ate Tex Mex in Vientiane, Laos, while from our balcony watched a shopkeeper's family have their dinner most comfortably in the street.

Vientiane


Our favourite stop was Vang Vien, also in Laos, a town that seems to exist solely for the pleasure of tourists, who lounge all day in one of 80 cushiony cafes watching Friends on one of the 43569086 widescreen TVs in each cafe.

Vang Vien


But it had gorgeous mountains and rivers. And yes, yes, our favourite travel story: down one of these rivers you can float, having hired an inner tube for around $3. Along the banks of this river teeter makeshift bamboo bars selling beers for less than $1. The bartenders fish you in with lengths of bamboo or rope, then con you into drinking more by offering free shots of rice whisky for every beer you buy. You then float on down to the next bar, chatting to other travellers on the way, paddling drunkenly with your sandals or beer bottles, stopping every now and then to throw yourself off a flying fox or rope swing into the deeper parts of the river.

I didn't risk taking my camera on that particularly wet adventure.

On to the islands, notably Koh Pangan, home to the Full Moon Party. The party itself was unremarkable, however the night before we noticed one of the beach bars had a sign advertising "Happy Shakes."

Koh Phangan


Now that was a very interesting night. Sitting on the beach staring at the horizon, the sky and ocean seemed to fold in on me. We somehow made it back to our bungalow where I lay taking many strange, pointless photos until my memory card was full.



From there to Phuket, which was the most touristy place we'd been yet, but I loved it. Its packed beaches, its tacky knicknacks, its screaming bars, its gaudy ladyboys.

Phuket


and back to Bangkok to furiously shop before heading back home. and get dreadlocks put in, oh what hideously painful fun that was.

back home


Came back home to a reasonably clean house and no dead pets (thanks, housesitters) but Newt, my beautiful fighter, had advanced dropsy. and I've heaps of bills to pay, and a job to find, and oh, no, life is back.
overocea: (Default)
The sky is a gradient, azure blue to powder blue
Where it meets the sea, which is a gradient, deep green to pale green
Where it meets the white of the waves and of the sand.

sun bath

My skin today is not a gradient, it jumps startlingly from creamy pale to angry red.
overocea: (Default)
The women encircle their necks with brass rings as protection against tiger attacks; not so the men, who are apparently stronger than tigers.



A girl's first rings are given at age 5, with another ring being added each year until her thirtieth.



(She is also taught to apply her own makeup at age 5).

Bangkok

Mar. 9th, 2007 06:33 pm
overocea: (Default)
My experience of Bangkok was both awesome and awful. The capital of Thailand is just crazy. We stayed on Khaosan Road, surely the most chaotic corner of the world. All day and all night the street is lined with stalls and crowded with tourists.

Khaosan Rd

Paid 2000 baht each for ringside seats at the Muay Thai boxing stadium. I was shocked to be watching terribly muscley and scary 10 year olds kicking the shit out of each other. I learned they start training at about 6; I felt terrible for them but it was very exciting all the same. As the fighters grew older & bigger I devised a system of picking the winner... whichever fighter was hotter. This system was accurate 4 of 5 fights.

Lying down Buddha

Visited a few of the thousand temples on every corner of the city, the Dusit zoo which had every animal you can think of (including panthers.. I'd never seen real live panthers. They were stunning... and sad). Watched a python swallow a chicken... well mostly, it was taking simply forever.

mmm yum.

The day we were due to fly to Surat Thani (our connection to Ko Pangan and its full moon party) we slept in because I had lost my mobile phone (our alarm clock). On the way to the airport (our taxi driver zipping in and out of traffic jams like the world would explode if we missed our flight) I realised my iPod was missing. Oops, I guess I hadn't actually lost my phone, I guess someone with a key to our room had BURGLED US. And we missed our flight.

A signpost, hooray!

So instead of the full moon party, we visited the tourist police... who laughed at us as they translated my statement. The next day we were consoled by a visit to the floating market, River Kwai bridge and tiger temple... and spent many, many hours on a squeaky, rattly, not air-conditioned mini-bus. It was grand fun. The floating market was just as in the postcards, but with a few hundred more tourists thrown in. We piled into a flatboat paddled by two insanely cheerful Thai ladies who conversed good-naturedly with everyone we (slowly) passed. Many rickety wooden houses backed onto the canals, each with an unsafe looking pier and boat. People washed their dishes and clothes, children swam, coconut shells were thrown out... all in the canal. It was fairly amazing.

Floating Market way

The tiger temple was... interesting. Around 10 or so tigers chained in a canyon with a line of tourists waiting their turn to be photographed risking death, or something. 1000 baht for a photo of a tiger's head in your lap. The money being used to construct a natural habitat, in which the tigers' offspring will be raised wild, so they can be released. Does the end justify the means? I thought it was fair, I suppose, being that these particular tigers had all been rescued from poachers, sickness or injury.

Aw kitties.

Next stop, Chiang Mai.

from afar

Mar. 1st, 2007 02:15 pm
overocea: (Default)
So so so, I am travelling about South East Asia, in case you didn't know, with the darling & delightful [livejournal.com profile] bird_e, who is currently writing a similar post right beside me.

Started in Kuala Lumpur: shining, stinking city of contradictions. The first thing we did upon arriving at around 5am was eat roti with curry and drink mysterious cucumberish juice in one of the many seedy, partly underground sort-of-cafes.

Jason paying the nice roti man

K.L. has a palpable air of decay, the close mildew'd buildings with rusty, teetering balconies under which trash overflows, and tiny half-tailed cats chase tiny rats. The streets smell of char, sewerage, rotting flesh and whatever the food vendors are cooking on their car-battery powered terribly unhygienic looking stalls. Road rules are non-existent and darting between the zipping motorbikes and taxis fighting for your attention is quite an adventure.

street

We got terribly lost on footpaths, staircases and underpasses that lead to dead-ends. Bought $2 Gucci wallets and $4 Loius Vuitton hats, bartering by passing a calculator back and forth to the vendor. Had banana leaf meals in an Indian restaurant where I was the only person not eating with my fingers.

yummy

Dutifully went up the Petronas Towers, into the air-conditioned mega-shopping-centres, outside which rows of shoeshiners and women selling silk scarves quick-as-anything scoop up their wares and bolt when security guards come sauntering past.

petronas towers petronas towers

Climbed around 340 perilous enough even if they weren't banana-peel-strewn steps to the Batu caves, dodging flying coconuts the monkeys were hurling down to break open & eat them.

most misheivous

batu caves

Thus much exhausting fun is being had. We're in Bangkok at the moment, but that is another story.

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