Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PH and HK

I'm back from the Philippines! It's such an amazing place. The cities are crazy, the nature is amazing and the coast is beautiful. I had heaps of mango shakes and gin tonics, and now it's time to get busy again. I also stopped in Hong Kong on the way back–a remarkable and impressive city! Here are just a couple of photos.

A swim with a view from the 32nd floor - I'm liking #Manila already. 😍

The moon, stars and El Nido. #elnido #palawan #philippines

I swam with turtles today. #elnido #palawan #philippines #snorkelling #turtles #heaven #asia

😎🌴🐒 #longbeach #sanvicente #palawan #philippines

Hong Fricken Kong!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Desert Dork diaries

My last trip took twenty days, 5750 km and pretty much all my energy. Nevertheless, I stopped by and enjoyed the desert, exploring its nooks and crannies. Here are some snapshots.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A day to be grateful

Apparently, today is the day to be grateful to be alive.

There's a house next door where I do my laundry. I went there last Sunday and I went there this morning. There were clothes and washing powder all over the place, but I thought someone was just lazy to clean it up.

After I was done, I went back home and started preparing lunch, when I heard a knock on the door. 'Bring your camera.' This can't be good. I cringe as I walk over the yard as I know there's heaps of snakes around.

It's a King Brown, the second most venomous snake in the world. For a weird reason, they like this place. It's got to do with water, as I'm told. I recall a commotion last night, but I didn't pay much attention – there's always something going on here. And now there's blood and brooms and freak-outs.

Inside the house where I do my laundry – and I can't stress 'inside' enough – was the darn snake. Last night. In the toilet. Right next to the washing machine. Right there! Twelve hours before I was there. Now it's lying dead in the burnt grass outside, the same way I could've ended up.

And people laugh at me when I walk around like a crazy person, watching my every step; flushing before using the toilet. Scary stuff, people – scary stuff. I might as well walk around filthy and smelly.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Field Diaries

People often ask me to write from the desert, but when I'm here, I'm so busy and exhausted that I simply can't make it.

It's Saturday, 19:47 and I've barely just sat down. I had to wash up twice as the red sand is lodged so deeply into my pores that the towel changes colour after the shower number one.

The question is whether this will be posted at all. The internet connection is criminal, and there's no way I'm walking over to the office to get a better signal, or I'll come back with fifteen different bites.

I drive around 330 km every day, feed ten people, clean after them, play hide and seek, write notes, negotiate terms, change tyres, put on sun screen, get laughed at, make two attempts to cross a sand dune, try to understand people talking over the two-way radio, select the music playing in the car, drive into the sunset without being able to enjoy it, miss out on all the beer (it's a dry community, which mean no alcohol whatsoever), discover contents of various cans, hand out cold drinks, get offered bush turkey for lunch – I could go on, but I'm too tired, so I'll take off.

I shouldn't even try, but I will try to post a photo taken the other day. It's a ngiyari or Thorny Devil, an animal very special in this part of the country.

And now I'll go and enjoy what's left of my weekend, because tomorrow I need to fix two tyres, clean the place up, sort out the car, do the laundry, deal with the paperwork, prepare the food for the next camping trip (with the elders), make lunch, welcome one of the elders, get some rest – don't make me go on...

Ngula nyaku (see you) from the Great Victoria Desert!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back home (and it's hot).

I finished the research I was doing in Canberra.

Back home in Perth.

Don't I have amazing co-workers?!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

City Oasis

Tomorrow's my last day at the ANU. I'll have to have lunch here once more before I head off to Melbourne.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A report from Canberra

So, now that the whole shitstorm has quieted down a bit, I thought I could share some impressions about Canberra. (For those of you who are wondering how to pronounce it, it sounds like Kääm-bruh, with the stress on the first syllable.)

Canberra was built a hundred years ago (1913) to be the capital of Australia. The rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne was getting on everyone's nerves (including theirs), so the government decided to build a capital. It's located in the hills about a three hours' drive west of Sydney (they were aiming for an area that has seasons, as research says people are much more productive living in such areas), in hope of the city becoming a Mecca for politicians, students and rich families. Mission accomplished.

Canberra is spread out geographically, so that it doesn't actually have a CBD. The Parliament and the ANU campus hold up a lot of the central area, with pubs and restaurants lining up along the centre. The rest of the inhabited area is made up of suburbs split up by large areas of bush. It takes ages to get anywhere, but luckily the public transportation seems to do its job, so it's not that bad.

The city's reputation is, naturally, not one of an insanely fun city. You either see lots of people in suits and students having fun with a bunch of mates in the pub; or you don't see anyone at all. It's got a weird vibe–although not necessarily in a bad sense–so it takes some time to grow on you. Heaps of museums and galleries store historical treasures, while libraries and universities make it very appealing for those wanting to get into academia.

I was here during Australia Day, but honestly didn't even bother to go down to the lake (artificially made) so I wouldn't know how it was. I did see military planes flying over my building, so yeah. I can say I was there. Aside from my friends M&I coming over from Sydney and going around the city during the weekend, there's not much I've done here.

The research I'm doing at the ANU is taking up a lot of my time, so if I go anywhere after that, it's the pub for a bite and a pint. There's still a week left, but I honestly doubt I'll do much more than what I've done so far. Lazy as(s), I know. Who knows–maybe I go crazy and spend a couple of afternoons exploring the city. But given that all the museums and galleries close at 5 (and I rarely leave my office before that), I somehow doubt it.

The campus itself is so huge it's divided into precincts. I enjoy walking around, visiting different libraries and going through ancient encyclopedias. It reminds me of how inspiring it all is, but also how different things are once you're older and have to worry about other things in life. I still enjoy it (as short as it is), which only motivates me to hang onto the idea of getting a PhD.

But anyway. I've ranted on for the last week and was really stressed and pressured from a lot of different sides. At one point, I had enough of it all, but I guess things change when one sits down and reconsiders things.

All in all, I'm grateful for everything that's happened to me. I know I've been blessed, but I just tend to forget it sometimes, dealing with stupid little things and focusing on irrelevant things. I guess we all need a reminder here and there.

All good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm due for a rant.

This is one of those situations where I just can't understand how I'm still alive; how I can still be walking with my brain working – or better said not working – like this; how I manage to mess up something that's supposed to be the best thing of the year.

I just don't get it.

I'm too tired to be angry, so I'll keep it short and rant-y.

Why does it happen that things fall through when you're trying the hardest? Why do I get blinded by excitement and thrill when I just mess it up and go back to not even zero, but minus five?

And listening about trying hard and fighting for what your heart wants seems to be getting old. I work hard, I fight for what I want and what do I do then? I fuck it up.

Yes, smack myself on the forehead. Self-facepalm. A glass of wine.

I don't know.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Should I just cancel my apartment rental and live at the airport?

I'm back from the Cook Islands and New Zealand. Now I can say I'm in luuurve with Polynesia and the Pacific. It's just amazing.

A couple of weeks at home, accompanied by a painful and annoying ear infection, and it's time to go again. This time I'm off to Canberra, ACT for three weeks to do some research at the Australian National University. Yes, I'm employed by the ANU. And yes, it's exciting!

After I come back, it'll be a couple of weeks to get back into working mode, as it's looking like a crazy year ahead already. I'm currently booked out until June, with the rest of the year likely to be as busy.

Of course, I'm already thinking about holidays and figuring out what my next trip will be. How about India and Sri Lanka?

Showing my family around my home city, Perth

The amazing Aitutaki, Cook Islands

New Zealand – no wonder LOTR was filmed there, because it looks like a fairy tale


Queenstown, Otago

Whosing my wild side, with Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables in the background

Driving around New Zealand is just one mind-boggling view after another

First swim of 2015 at the Abel Tasman National Park, Tasman

The amazing Aoraki aka Mt Cook, Westland

After walking the Milford Track in the rainyFiordland, the majestic Mitre Peak at Milford Sound welcomed us to Southland


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