Saturday, February 12, 2011

Professional thuggery and stalking Paul Kelly

Being a professional Union thug has been just brilliant thusfar. I started nearly three weeks ago now, and I have enjoyed every moment. Who'd have thought work could be an enjoyable experience? Look, I know it is real poor form to bag out your last gig as you leave, but effectively I am now being paid to point out what is wrong with the higher ed sector, and so I will take this opportunity to say that it is a frustrating position to be in when you are dedicated to enacting change within a Victorian (era, not location) institution, and not only can you never get anywhere because you are never given any power to enact change, but it is also assumed that you know less about what you're supposed to be doing in your job because of your cultural background, and really you should just be copying the "experts". I really miss the students who are just the light and (many forget) the purpose of the gig, and some of my colleagues, but I am still a student myself anyway, and will be seeing them around in a much more positive way :D

Back to union thuggery though. So my office is bare, but great. My workmates are cool and not once have they mentioned my choice of jeans and my blue hair, mainly because it just blends in. The work itself is fascinating and inspiring, and I have a fair bit of freedom to express ideas and try stuff out. All brilliant stuff. Except they have already tried to kill me. Yep, this is a true story...

You see, just over a week after I started, I went on my first trip; to Darwin to attend the ACTU Indigenous Conference. Everyone knows I love Darwin, and so I was only too happy to go there. That was until Tropical Cyclone Carlos decided to rock up, rain all over us, and trap us indoors for two whole days until he sodded off west to reek havoc on W.A. So although the conference was good, and I learnt a lot, I was trapped inside and I don't do so well with cabin fever. Started to go a tad mental, and it was a welcome relief when I could actually go walking around on Thursday and lose some of that energy. Got taken out to Monsoons by the legendary Dan and Claire. I was supposed to also be meeting up with my baby bro, but because of the cyclone, flights were cancelled and he was stuck in Brisbane, so his mates took care of me instead! Caught up with Lyn as well whilst in D-town, and it was great to see her.

On Friday, I flew out to Nhulunbuy to spend the weekend with my Mum for her 60th birthday. We dined fine, we avoided crocs, we whinged about all the miners, and had in depth conversations with sulfur-crested cockatoos who steal jeans. It was good to see Ma again, but really sad to leave her so I think I will have to organise another trip again soon.

Now on to the stalking Paul Kelly thing. Basically, on three of my six flights last week, I saw Paul Kelly sitting there, also in economy class, peacefully eating his crap aeroplane food. I found this a tad exciting. Have been a huge fan of Paul's for many many years, as I love what he sings about, he is a brilliant artist, and he just seems to have a truckload of integrity. I have met him twice, and the first time was at the Yeperenye festival when he was going to grab a feed after he'd performed and some bozo security guard didn't recognise him and wouldn't let him in until someone else said "don't you realise who this is???!!!". At that point, I caught PK's eye and rolled my eyes in an expression of frustration on his behalf at incompetent security guards. The second time I met him was at my old work place, and I think I said to him "I've met you briefly before, Paul! Remember that woman who rolled her eyes after some incompetent security guard wouldn't let you into the food area? I was her!". Yep. So this time I just smiled at him and avoided saying anything. It worked out for the best, as I got to follow him from one end of the country to the other, there and back, and I had no incompetent security guards called on me!

Anyway, take care all. Next trip is looking to be to Southern QLD. Yep, my new work is definitely trying to kill me... :D

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Postscript - Thailand

Just a few more notes as I thought my last entry was rather inadequate. Thailand is a great place to go to, and a brilliant one to travel alone in as there is so much to see, that the freedom of just jumping in a Tuk Tuk at your own whim to visit a temple, catch a show, or take in some breath-taking scenery is a wondrous thing. Without exception, the service I received at the hotels, restaurants and on tours was second to none, and despite my Thai being limited to "hello", "thank you", and "I'm a vegetarian", people went out of their way to understand what the hell I was on about.

If I had my time over, definitely I would have stayed in Tonsai whilst in Phi Phi, and I probably would have grunged it up more in accommodation choices so I was staying with a more similar to myself crowd, rather than the honeymooners, families and mid-life crisis set. I would have skipped over Phuket, and gone north, or checked out a few islands in the Gulf as well. All the more reason though to go back, I reckon! I also would have learnt how to bargain with market stall holders better; generally I sucked at this skill, as I found it hard to comprehend that things could be so much cheaper than in Australia, and they willing to go even more so for a sale

A few statistics with regards to my trip:

  • Number of photos taken - 453
  • Number of towns visited - 9 (stayed in 4)
  • Number of ferries caught - 10
  • Total number of toilets blocked because I forgot that you are not supposed to flush toilet paper through their systems - 6
  • Number of toilets I unblocked by pouring an entire bottle of complimentary hotel shower gel into the bowl - 6
  • Massages received - 4
  • Squat loos encountered - 4
  • Pairs of Thai Fisherman Pants bought - 5
  • Banana pancakes purchased at roadside stands - 7
  • Number of Ladyboys who gave CL helpful directions - 5
  • Location of the best Green Curry in Thailand - Laem Thong (Phi Phi)
  • Number of times CL turned down a tailor-made suit, a massage or a Tuk Tuk ride - infinite
  • Most people CL shared a Songthaew with - 27
  • "Buckets" consumed before feeling like hell - 0.75
  • Designer labels bought cheaply - 1 (yep, still a bit of a hippy...)
  • Temples visited - 5
One other thing. I'm not sure that this is going to surprise anyone reading, but I reckon when people travel, they always have some sort of comfort food they go for when they need something other than local cuisine, and mine just happened to be Indian. There were a lot of great Indian restaurants in Thailand, and whilst it is sad that I went to Thailand and ate Indian food, I also must admit, it is a lot easier to get vego Indian dishes as the Thai love their meat!

Cheers, and back to the grind!

Ao Nang, and re-entering reality

This one is a little overdue, and I will probably forget stuff as a result, so bear with me. My last stop on "CL's excellent adventure" was a little town in the Krabi province called Ao Nang. It is surrounded by the most amazing forest (jungle?) and rocky cliffs, and again we had the clear beach going on. Wasn't in much of a swimming mood though, so most of my time in Ao Nang was spent sight-seeing, shopping, and indulging in a couple of cultural experiences.

After nearly two weeks of glorious weather, most of my time in Ao Nang was marked with rain. And the worst sinus infection I have had since my uni days. But being ill is not too bad in Thailand, because I walked into a chemist with my self-proclaimed diagnosis, and was promptly given antibiotics and decongestants over the counter! Armed with amoxil and pseudoephidrine, I was able to get on with it.

Wednesday, I visited a shell cemetery just out of town, before I got rained out and returned to the hotel via the extreme public transport experience aka the "Song-thaew", complete with about 20 other people. Shell cemetery reminded me of my geology days at uni, particularly when the entire second year class ended up crawling around the floor of Parliament House in Canberra looking at all the cephlapods... Sweet memories.

On the Thursday, I took part in a kayaking tour of a National Park north of Ao Nang. This was brilliant, as not only did we get to kayak through some caves into otherwise unreachable waterholes and sights of the park, but we saw some 5000 year rock painting (I know, how "young"!), including a big-headed ghost and a six-fingered hand. Last stop was this lagoon called "The Garden of Eden"; just amazing and pics will be up on my Facebook very very soon.

Friday, I was over pretty sights and needed to get back into the cultural side of things, and so in the morning, I booked myself into a cooking school where I actually prepared a 6 dish Thai meal (without burning it)! Despite my green curry being far too mild for my liking, I was pretty surprised at my prowess, and I may even try it again sometime, now that I am back. That afternoon, I jumped into another Songthaew, I set out to see Krabi town. Visited a temple, saw some Neanderthal traffic lights, visited some shops, then headed back in the songthaew (with 27 other people) to get ready for a visit to the Muay Thai ring that night, and see the boxing. It took me a while to figure out what the hell was going in and why people were cheering at certain points during the bouts, but I was fascinated with the ritual of it all, and the speed. All up I saw 9 bouts; littlies all the way through to the adults, and quite enjoyed the experience. I know, strange thing for the likes of me to go and see, but the whole point when going away is to do new things, I reckon!

Started the long trek back to Melbs on Saturday, firstly flying from Krabi to BKK, where I discovered what duty-free shopping is actually supposed to be like, and was incredibly thankful for the smoking rooms provided at Suvarnabhumi Airport (which, as far as airports go, has gotta be one of the better ones I've seen). Then onwards to Melbs on a red-eye flight, which I couldn't sleep on, and couldn't read on because everyone else was managing to sleep :(. At least the weather was grand when I returned to Melbs!

So anyway, thanks for following my travels, and keep a watch out for the pics, as they will be uploaded soon. There's some brilliant ones, most definitely!