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

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I've given up on so many forums already that it's ridiculous. Trolls who have nothing better to do than, well, troll–and through that chase people off. The result is an empty forum, where those same trolls get to rant to themselves about how everyone else sucks.

A thing as bad as a troll is a smartarse. Someone who believes (and isn't afraid to say, i.e. type it under a nickname) they're the only ones with the right opinion, everyone else is childish and inexperienced, they know better than everyone else because of XY etc.

I don't really mind as there will always be trolls, but when it reaches a certain point, is stops being annoying and starts being hilarious. Yes, in that order. I've had people cornered because they came to the point where they'd run away from a discussion by saying you're stupid or something along those lines. Very mature indeed.

The funny thing is I thought that sort of behaviour ends when people are 19, but obviously not for everyone. Living a couple of continents away, the biggest chunk of me communication happens over the internet. And, boy, do I run into piles of crap there!

A recent (for the lack of a better word) discussion made me feel like slapping the person across the forehead with a wet, old, stinky stuffed bunny for all the disrespect, annoyance, egotism and what not she's launched in my direction. I'll simplify the conversation that extends through fifteen or so posts over several weeks.

XY asks me: So how does that work with people?
Me: Well, in my experience, it's like this and this.
Mrs Buttwad: No [corrects my spelling], it's like this [totally different].
Me: Sorry, but I don't like you correcting me on something that's clearly a personal opinion and correct spelling.
Mrs Buttwad: Well, I know better because I've lived here longer. You're a newb.
Me: Yeah, but the literature says that's wrong.
Mrs Buttwad: Well, I don't care about that. And those people [talking about a whole nation with a 50,000 year old culture] feel like this and this and that's why they use this term. If you check Wittgenstein [and the Little Book of Bullshit], you'll see that bla bla...
Me: So you've characterised a whole nation in one sentence. Right. Well, you're wrong about this and–again–please don't correct me unless I'm wrong. I'm done with this discussion because you're disrespectful and we're going in circles.
Mrs Buttwad: Shut up.
Me: Very mature. Thanks for explaining things you have no idea about.
Mrs Buttwad: Well, I'm glad I saved you from the ignorance. [My jaw hits the keyboard at this point.]
Me: Yeah, good thing you know better than all the experts in the world.
Mrs Buttwad: That's better. Now you still have to mean it and then mind it. For your sake.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Photo Diary

The family came over for a visit. This is what our weekend was like.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The girl from the park.

My apartment's right across a park so sometimes I'll sit on the balcony and look around.

I'm not the active type, you see. I'll park my arse on the camping chair, sip gin and tonic, and observe (although not in a creepy way). There's a lady walking her dog, two girlfriends sweating off with a personal trainer, couples running in circles, kids playing cricket, two mates catching a frisbee, a dad and his son chasing a football.

And there's this girl. She's always around the edge of the park, and I only rarely see her. I should say I barely see her. I hear her.

She swoops from one leg to the other as if unsure of which way to go, clutching onto her music player with both hands. It looks like a CD player more than a mobile phone, which reminds me of me looking at the cassette player in the same way older generations used to gaze at the gramophone with melancholy in their eyes and their heart.

So the girl walks around the park, but she doesn't get far. She sings out loud and she's got a beautiful voice, which makes me think why she has to leave her place to sing. Sing in a park.

I'd hear her in between cars driving past or while doing the dishes. I can't make out what the song is, but it sounds amazing.

Well, it did. I haven't heard her in a long time.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rant at the tip of my tongue (but I'll talk about my vacation instead)

I feel like a rant's due, but it's just not coming out. Maybe there's too much going on in my head, and I'm fairly busy at work, so I can't even find the time to commit to it.

Sleep eludes me. It started off with jet lag and turned into long, drowsy and rainy days, sleepless nights and very, very troublesome mornings.

The other morning I slept through two alarms, until a third one went off in the living room. Needless to say, I was late for work and the whole day turned into a busy, yawning blur. I did manage to do heaps of work, but when I get home and am supposed to rest and recuperate, productivity seeps through by fingers.

My recent trip to the Middle East and Europe went well – and in a blink of an eye. Dubai was amazing! Even though it's not a place I'd visit for the sake of it, one has to be impressed by what's been raised out of the sand. Everything's nice and clean; the people are beautiful and there's not a single crease on their clothes; it's all about shopping and bling and power. There are a lot of issues with the Emirates, but I wasn't going to surround myself with that and decided to enjoy what I could.

I left my things at the hotel (Emirates paid for it as I had a 17-hour layover), took a shower and took the Metro into the city. It took me ages to get through the Dubai Mall (the largest in the world – not my cup of tea) before I went on top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

After five hours up there, it was time for dinner, a swim in the pool and a bit of sleep before my flight to London, which was–as always–so much fun. I managed to meet up with some mates and even run into one (who had no idea I was there) in the streets. Walking around, having beers and getting rained on is something I'd always go for.

Croatia was...nice. I guess home always comes with everything else attached, so the feelings are always a bit mixed. It was definitely nice to spend time meeting up with family and friends, festivalling around the country, camping and running into people. I wish the weather was a bit better as I only managed to take three swims, but hey – another island ticked off the map, so I'm happy.

Portugal was fun, relaxing, intensive, hot, interesting, charming and much more. Lisbon is so cozy and narrow. Boom Festival was mind-blowing, so I'm definitely planning to go back in two years.

A short visit to Vienna to see my mate and it was time to go. It was cold and rainy, which made Australian winter a better choice (what's up with the weather, aye?!).

A flight attendant, originally from Bosnia, approached on the last, 11-hour leg of my trip and saved my day. Wherever you are, bless!

Next time I travel so far for vacation is going to be:
  • a week of family and friends,
  • two weeks of festivals and mates, and
  • three weeks on a tiny island somewhere far away.
So, time to plan!

(I haven't even gone through all the photos, so this is only what I found on flickr. I hope you've enjoyed it...)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm off.

Hasta la vista!

Friday, July 11, 2014


"Lexophile" is a word used to describe those that love using words in rather unique ways, such as "you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish", or "to write with a broken pencil is pointless." A competition to see who can come up with the best one is held every year.

This year's winning submission is posted at the very end.

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months. 
When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A. 
The batteries were given out free of charge. 
A dentist and a manicurist married.
They fought tooth and nail. 
A will is a dead giveaway. 
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress. 
A boiled egg is hard to beat. 
When you've seen one shopping Centre, you've seen a mall. 
Police were called to a day care Center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest. 
Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now. 
A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired. 
When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds. 
The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered. 
He had a photographic memory which was never developed. 
When she saw her first strands of gray hair she thought she'd dye. 
Acupuncture is a jab well done. That's the point of it.

And the cream of the wretched crop:
Those who get too big for their pants will be exposed in the end.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A winter update

Winter's here. It came a while ago.

A winter that would make you laugh. It's 16°C at the moment. My mate G and I call it not-summer, as we spent big chunks of our lives living in Europe.

This is not winter. But it doesn't mean it's not cold, especially since I've apparently gotten spoilt rotten by the hot weather here.

The flowers are blooming, the chilli plants on my balcony are sprouting all over again and the cloudy sky is coloured dreamily every night.

Night means five o'clock. No daylight saving means it's pitch black at 17:30. Shower means five days of torrential rain. The temperature at night goes down to 2°C – and then it's 20 all over again during the day.

People are scraping off frost off their windscreens in the morning and jogging shirtless in the arvo¹.

It's ridiculous. It's 15 and I'm jumping into a hoodie and thick socks. I am ridiculous. As people are migrating to the coast in Croatia, I've migrated onto my lounge and developed a relatively close relation with my duvet².

Am I going to have to get used to cold weather again after spending two years getting used to insanely high temperatures?

This is silly.

¹ Arvo is Australian for afternoon.
² Duvet is Australian for quilt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fall in Perth

It's proper autumn here in Perth. Winter's coming soon (seasons start on the 1st of March, June, September and December) and I can feel it. Maybe I've gotten spoilt by the hot summers and–for the lack of a better word–mild winters.

The leaves are falling down from the trees, and it instantly urges me to drop everything I'm doing and run through them, resulting in everyone normal out there looking at me like I've gone bonkers. Maybe I'm still a kid deep inside, even though I feel like a grandpa on the outside.

Europeans are excited about summer's approach (despite the floods, storms, earthquakes etc), and here I'm thinking how I'll make it through the winter. Winter, to be fair. I've been waiting for the time when I can actually wear long sleeves and cosy up in my hoodies, but I just hope I won't regret it in a couple weeks' time.

But I'll be going for holidays in Croatia soon enough, and it's going to be summer there. Counting the trips back and forth between continents, I will have had seven summer in a row. I know a couple of people who'd slap me right over my face if I told them that. Different places–different summers though.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

An update from the Desert

I’m out bush for the weekend – no work over Saturday and Sunday. Not that’s a rare sight. I’m out for a ten-day field-work trip spread out over fifteen days. The usual, I hear you say... Even though I have a bunch of small things to sort out during this time, it's still nice to be able to kick back and relax – even for a short while.

It's been a weird couple of months. Insanely busy, but also alarmingly edgy. As I've ranted before, I was supposed to go on a trip for my birthday (just to take a couple of badly-needed days off), but the whole trip got cancelled due to a cyclone. I went to Bali for a couple of days after that, but don't tell me it covers for it – it doesn't. Not that I'm ranting...but I am.

Anyway, having gotten home early to go out on this trip, I will have been out of the office for almost a full month. People are telling me I work too hard. I feel that I am working a lot, but when your busy-as co-workers point it out, it must've come to a serious point. They were really happy to hear I was taking a couple of days off – and were as bummed out as me when it didn't happen.

And now it's all busy and it doesn't look like it's getting any calmer (right at this moment there are a couple of Caterpillar pieces of heavy machinery getting refuelled right next to my window as I'm enjoying the fresh air). I'll be going back to Croatia in what is now less than three months' time. I've got a bunch of things to sort out before that, which might prove to be a but tricky, as my calendar and I have obviously gotten in a bit of a fistfight (for the record, I was never notified).

There just seem to be too many things going on. There's definitely too much going on in my head. I can see myself taking one of those courses. You know, the one that makes you more assertive, stand up for yourself, learn to let go and stuff. Like in American movies, yeah.

Anyway, there's chillout music playing, the Sun in shining, and I'm enjoying a cup of ginger and lemon tea. It's all good.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I've really had enough now.

Two days of leave taken. Four days of holidays planned. Flights booked, hotel booked, daytrips booked.


Everything cancelled.

A birthday in the company of sore back and diarrhoea.

Yeah, I'm still alive and all that, but give me a break.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My itinerary

I just got back from an eight-day bush trip.

My itinerary for the next couple of weeks is:
  • finish off last bits and pieces at work
  • early birthday drinks with mates
  • fly up to Far North Queensland tomorrow night
  • snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef
  • fly back home on Tuesday
  • a couple of days in the office
  • Friday off
  • fly to Bali on Saturday
  • enjoy surfing (I hope), the view and the pool
  • fly back from Bali on Friday
  • fly out bush on Sunday
  • spend two weeks in the Desert
  • fly back home 14 days later
and then it's mid-May.

Crazy, innit?

On the road.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Attention, all passengers...

I have so many things on my mind that it's hard to relax. That's not usually a problem I have. I don't have issues with lazing on the couch until my back hurts. I really don't. I just reshuffle.

Well, as long as my brain isn't over-analysing everything. That's what it does when it's time to go to bed.

The funny thing is I obsess about stuff that would give other people basis to say yupp, he's gone bonkers. It's sort of a first-world-problem thing, I guess.

What if I get this flight instead of that one?

These three-for-ten-dollars corn chips are a bargain, but I like the other ones more.

It's embarrassing when I realise it and it makes me dislike myself. Why am I spending my time thinking about that?

Of course, it's really hard to talk to people about it, when they're struggling with hospitals and mortgages and shitty families. I just feel like a giant douchebag.

What is it they say – an idle mind is the devil's playground? Well, why the hell is mine like that? It's not idle – that's for sure. It's even worse, because instead of rethinking important stuff, it's struggling to solve trivial things.

I need to sort things out with people, let them know how I feel and what I think, and thus make sure I have less grey hair and fewer stomach cramps in the future. I need to tell people what I find utterly unacceptable and why I think I have a reason to get annoyed. I should chop down my Facebook friends list from 550 to 50, and make sure I surround myself with people I have respect for and who make me grin when I think of them.

And the only thing on my mind is how many extra frequent flyer miles is that?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random snapshots aka summer in Perth

Embarrassement terrible

It's been so long since I posted anything and it's starting to bug me. Given that I'm at work – taking a break from reviewing a 105-page report – you can imagine to what extent it's actually bugging me.

I just don't know where the time flies and why I can't find any to commit to the things I like. Lately, it's all been about sitting on the couch and staring at the TV. Numbing the pain perhaps.

Lombok was amazing, I'm off to Sydney in two days, but in the meantime (maybe at the airport), I'll try to write a bit more. Sometimes I'm on the train and I wish I could just post my thoughts directly to the blog, because by the time I'm home, it's all gone.

Disliking Murphy's and all similar laws at the moment...

But my Lombok photos are next on the list – hopefully before I end up with hundreds of Sydney photos added to the list. Life's tough, isn't it?

Here's just a quick preview – a photo from Lombok. And yes, that's me. With Bali's Gunung Agung volcano in the background.

Cheers, all!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Just a quick greeting from Indonesia: selamat!

And yes, that's me swimming there, with the volcano named Gunung Agung in the background.


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