Friday, January 6, 2012

Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that I have developed quite the penchant for whipping up vegan pancakes after discovering these recipes and realising that I never have to buy eggs again! I am vegetarian but with vegan leanings, and I haven't liked eggs since I was six years old so unless they were hidden in cakes, or were the chocolate variety available around certain holidays, I don't touch them. So this was a total win-win and in the main I have been making them with berries or apple and cinnamon.

One fateful morning though, I ran out of fruit and not willing to give up my favourite breakfast for a weekend morning, I decided to see what else might work. I found a couple of carrots, and thought "hey, there's an idea"... It was destined to be a bad idea knowing CL + Kitchens = disaster, but it turned out to be so effing brilliant that I thought I would share my recipe just in case anyone else wants to have a go.

Please note, this is a single-serve recipe. It could possibly stretch to two people if you like people. I don't like people so therefore it's strictly single-serve. Plus, it's totally healthy because it has carrots and stuff in it. Here goes:

1/3 Cup Wholemeal Self-raising flour (perhaps try gluten-free flour if you are that way inclined)
2 TBS Oats
1 1/2 tsp Stevia (or sugar if you'd prefer)
2/3 tsp Baking Power
Pinch salt
1 carrot (average-sized), grated
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (double if using imitation vanilla)
1/3 cup of non-dairy milk (use a dash extra if needs be)
1 TBS oil (I usually use peanut oil)
2 TBS Tofutti spread
Cinnamon to taste (I chuck in heaps)

Combine dry ingredients, add wet ingredients. Mix together. Pour into frypan on low-med heat. Turn when bubbles appear on the top of the pancake. Put on plate. Gorge thyself!

I serve with just simple Nuttelex Margarine. Or perhaps you might prefer a dollop of Soy Ice Cream? It would work, I reckon.

Anyway, this will be the first, and last, time I EVER post a recipe on this blog. I have a reputation as a non-domesticated wanderer to maintain, after all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Time is not on my side...

Wow, been a while since I wrote anything here, hasn't it? Quietest blog ever. You know, I actually considered turning this into a political blog and using it to run my endless commentary on what I think is going on in the world so that I am no longer clogging up people's news feed on Facebook with multiple rantings a day. Alas, this has not eventuated, and people continue to endure said rantings. One of these days...

So what has changed since I last wrote? In a nutshell, pretty much everything! For starters, one of my two new nephews is currently squawking in the next room (the "good" kind of squawk, although he was "bad squawking" about an hour ago). Welcome to the world, Johnny Leo Wilson and Allan Micah Tjampijinpa Liddle (aka "Aloisius Hieronymous Desert-legs Liddle" and "Jikiti Fatso-whale Liddle"). One of them is a total Zen hippy baby, and the other one is, well, a bit of a nut really. It's pretty cool being an Aunty, and both have been supplied with heaps of cuddles and a collection of radical jumpsuits to wear when I take them out on the picket lines. It's interesting adjusting to this "adulthood" malarkey, because apparently when the next generation shows up that's what you become, and I am failing miserably in that respect. But it is rather cool being an Aunty, and seeing these two little people who are now a part of our whackjob family just blending in. It's a good gig.

Got through another year of uni, pretty well too, which leaves me with another semester before I have another piece of paper to whack on my wall. So naturally, I am looking into more courses to do. I will be embarking on a Masters next, and the "when" and "where" is yet to be determined. It took me far too long to get back into study, and now that I am I plan to not get out of it any time soon as it is truly addictive and I have really enjoyed pushing myself intellectually. Keeps the grey matter fresh. Possibly. Or it could just be another ploy of mine because if I never leave uni then I never have to officially grow up because I am technically still a student. Either way.

Been Overseas three times this year. Thailand, of course, and also New Zealand to hang with the Maori caucus of our sister union, and the UK. Every time I go overseas it gets that much tougher to come back to Australia and so for the first time in, oh, ever some long-term goals have been pondered by myself. I have never been one for those as life is wonderfully unpredictable, but sodding off somewhere else at least for a couple of years sounds like a worthy ambition to me.

Work has been great! It was a leap of faith that I took when I left UniMelb after so many years, but I haven't regretted it for a second. Having new challenges, a new environment, and not to mention a great bunch of people to work with has refreshed me. Plus working in a political environment was really not going to be something I loathed, was it? Bonus points, by the way, for the fact that I travel heaps with work and the office happens to be located around the corner from the South Melbourne markets as well as near a fine selection of food places that I am yet to get bored of. 8.5 years of University food, so is it any wonder that I'm enjoying this a tad?

Nearly, after 13 months, I am recovered from my car accident, and I purchased myself a convertible back in July. Since then I've been terrorising Nepean Highway with my thumping tunes and need to sing along rather loudly to them. I have heard from several reliable sources that Melbs missed this daily occurrence in the 9 months that I was carless and thus this comeback tour does not seem to be ending any time soon. Incidentally, after months of reoccurring whiplash, shoulder injuries, back stiffness, and occasional anxiety it is really nice to be somewhat free of those things. Just hope it lasts.

I haven't seen Paul Kelly since that flight earlier this year, however I did push in front of Damien Walshe at the security check at the airport a couple of months ago. And I bought boots from the place that used to sell them to The Madness. And I skulked around a market that was in a club where the Sex Pistols used to play. So I am certain that's enough credits to be considered "Z-list", surely?

Hair is short and is staying short as it is liberating to have short hair. And blue hair. And magenta hair. And green hair. And purple hair. Did I mention the aversion to "growing up"? Also CD collection has expanded dramatically this year and the eardrums are surviving to tell the tale...

Anyway, I cannot guarantee that this will ever be updated again, or that I will even look at this page. But on the off chance that I do, catch you next time!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Making a mockery of meat. And trying to chug Guinness with the MUA

When I re-became vegetarian six months ago, a few people were surprised, a few people really weren't surprised, and a few put Larundel on speed-dial, just in case... Those that weren't surprised knew of my penchant for vego restaurants, my sensitive stomach that at times was challenged by my travels and on-the-road diet, and the fact that I get accused of being a "hippy" on a regular basis. But the final nail in the carnivorous coffin for me was when I was at a conference last year. I only had one glass of wine that night, but ate a chicken breast wrapped in pancetta, and spent the rest of the night hugging porcelain. It had been my third incidence of food poisoning in so many weeks, the decision was made, and that was it: no more meat for me. And it has actually been great for me. Apart from having a hard time finding vego-friendly offerings in the meat-loving Thailand, it has been great. I have had no problems with food poisoning since then, I have had less problems with sinus and rash-breakouts on my hands, and I have generally felt healthier. Plus there is just something about being an Aboriginal/feminist/socialist/atheist/vegetarian that just spins my wheels...

Anyway, I say "re-became" deliberately, as my first foray into forsaking meat actually happened when I was 17. Back then, I lasted about a year, and was anaemic within 3 months. This was probably because my idea of a "vegetarian diet" then was to order the vegetarian, rather than the meatlovers pizza. Hmm. Also, unless you were gifted in the kitchen (which I have never been, nor will I ever be), vegetarian options were relatively limited. There was "soy meat" in a can, a few different vego sausages and patties available, and not a great deal else. So I failed tremendously back then at staying on the wagon, and convenience had me slipping back into meat-eating ways. But things have changed a great deal since then, and it turns out that I couldn't have picked a better time to re-enter the herbivore fold. Yep, vegetarianism for the lazy sod is definitely alive and well!

An amazing discovery of mine has been the amount of places where you can get top-notch dishes, particularly of various types of Asian cuisine, featuring "mock meat". It has just opened up a whole new world to me! The other day I visited one of my fave restaurants for lunch, Enlightened Cuisine, where I ate an amazing Lemon "Chicken", and some "Chicken" satay sticks. In addition to this, and even I wouldn't have guessed this one, but in the "downtown durge"* I have found a noodle bar that can whip me up the most brilliant satay noodles with mock beef! Probably one of the best discoveries I have made though, and I admit to being a little slow on the uptake here, is Lord of the Fries. One slightly boozy night, myself, cuz JT and cuz AR hit LotF on the way home, and ordered up big. Both JT and myself were suitably impressed with our hamburgers as we sat there eating them on the train ride home (whilst taking the piss out of the letters section in mX). However, what I was a little too wobbly to realise at the time was that LotF is 100% vego, so not only was my order for a vegie burger null and void, but my cousin JT, who is a total herbaphobe and questions all things "mungbean" was scoffing down a 100% vegie patty! Brilliant :D. Since then LotF has been a constant fixture, and I look forward to more vego foodie adventures in the future.

In other news, uni started back last week, and after a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing, and whining about how I was a full-time worker who could only do my classes at certain times, I finally sorted out my timetable with 2hrs to spare. I am taking Middle Eastern Politics, and Australian Conflict and Culture this semester, and cannot wait to sink my teeth into those subjects! I missed the first Aust class, but Middle Eastern Politics is already looking like it is going to be a good challenge for me, and I don't think I could have possibly picked a more interesting time to do this subject, considering that any material they present could be redundant or "historical" within a week or so with all the people's movements going on in that part of the world.

Also, I had the opportunity to see Gerry Conlan (Guildford 4) and Paddy Joe Hill (Birmingham 6) talk last Friday, at an event held at the MUA auditorium. This was one of those moments which will stick with me for life, because it is one thing to watch the film "In the Name of the Father" and be utterly horrified at what these falsely-imprisoned Irish people went through at the hands of the English, and quite another to hear Gerry Conlan speak live and realise that the film didn't even scratch the surface when it came to what he, his co-accused, and his family went through. To hear from Paddy Joe Hill about the pain that still effects him today, about how he is completely unable to connect with the majority of his family because of the damage that this caused to him, and about how he has spent most of his compensation money assisting other wrongfully-accused prisoners in the system and setting up an organisation to help those that are finally set free, was an amazing and utterly heart-breaking experience. I really hope that others got as much from the experience as I did. The night itself was well done by the MUA mob too. They got a quality Irish band, and served Guinness (of which I couldn't even make it through half a can before I felt full and had to toss it) in keeping with the theme of the night, and thugs from all types of unions turned up. If you see similar events going on, I highly recommend you get to them, as both Gerry and Paddy are not just amazing speakers, they also deserve to be heard. As Paddy said, this could have happened to someone you know, and considering how many people have been falsely imprisoned in this country by virtue of their ethnicity or religion...

Have a great week folks!

* AKA My fond name for the SE Beachside burbs...

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!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Learning to go with the flow

Well, what a shameful night was had in Tonsai! I completely enjoyed myself, but made a woeful mess of myself. You know when you see something that you've not encountered before and you think "gee, that might be a good idea...", well it turns out that your Phi Phi Island "Bucket" is really not. Ever. For the uninitiated, the bucket consists of the following: Take three scoops of ice, one small bottle of Thai Whiskey, one Thai Red Bull (apparently the equivalent of 4 Australian cans), one can of Coke. Chuck all into the bucket, throw in four straws, and wobble on home 90mins after purchase looking like walking sludge. Before the wobbling part though, I did front up to the Slinky Bar where I got to "ooh" and "aah" at a fire show. Highly recommended.

My day in Tonsai was a little more subdued. Because I had made the random decision to stay on in town, I bought a change of Thai Fisherman's pants (yep, 5 pairs now and counting), a singlet top, some knickers and some toiletries, then did some further exploring. The food in at Tonsai is just amazing, and the vibe is something else. Did I mention that the locals were just wonderful? So I ended up having a great day.

The next morning, strongly resembling a light-sensitive vampire, I went and got myself some brecky then caught a long-tail boat back here to Laem Thong. Turned out that following my whining of the previous day, the peace and serenity of Laem Thong was exactly what I needed. Yesterday was spent taking it fairly easy. I swam a lot in some of the most beautiful turquoise blue waters on the face of the earth, I ate an amazing vegetarian pad thai, and I chilled.

One of the things I have been whining about on Facebook is naked Germans. I tend to mainly go out of my way to not be a proud Aussie, but it appears that I have definitely embraced our national prudish approach to nudity. On my first night, I was confronted firstly by naked woman walking out on to her balcony, then 30 mins later, her naked husband did the exact same thing. When I got back from Tonsai, naked couple had moved on, and I breathed a sight of relief. That was until I discovered that they had been replaced by another exhibitionistic couple whilst I was innocently reading my book a few hours later. Hmm. It seems to be all over the beach, and it's a tad sad that I am so whiny about it, but I have noticed that a lot of the local people seem to react quite similarly and therefore just avoid pockets of the beach where they know people are baking, so at least I'm glad that it's not just me!

But all that aside, last night I cashed in my complimentary Thai massage (this would be massage #3), and had my own moment of partial public nudity whilst this older Thai lady, with quite possibly the sweetest face I had ever seen rubbed aloe vera all over my sunburn, then subjected me to part relaxation - part extreme workout, all in an open air bungalow looking out to the sea. The sizzle went out of my skin, and the sunburn is not even sore today, so she is clearly a miracle worker.

This morning, following a chat with some keen snorkelers from South Africa yesterday, I hired myself a pair of flippers and a snorkel and went down to the pier exploring. I hopped down onto the rocks, slipped, and cut my foot in four places. So endeth my snorkeling days. My foot is absolutely killing me, and with my grand plans of ocean exploration followed by dinner in Tonsai dashed, I had to find some more low-key alternatives. Laem Thong has quite a strong sea gypsy population, and it's their little restaurant here where I have been scoffing green curries on a daily basis. One of the first things I noticed here was that "Tuk Tuk?" had been replaced with "Boat boat?" as they own a lot of the Long tail boats; appropriate really, considering that your long tail boat really is the Tuk Tuk of the Sea! So when one of their old uncles saw me limping and approached me to chat, telling me that I needed to go to hospital to get some antibiotics and suggesting that a long tail boat ride might be a good, low impact activity for me to do, I obliged. For four hours, I saw some amazing coastline (including that place where that really shit movie "The Beach" was filmed), got splashed by the waves, and chilled out. Just wonderful. My guide, Yuom, was a vibrant man who answered all of my stupid questions and helped me with my Thai words. Definitely a great way to spend an injured day.

So tonight, I will be chilling out, possibly scoffing some more green curry, then packing so I am ready to meet my ferry to Ao Nang tomorrow. Only five more days until I am back :(

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The wrong of Patong, and the crazy things we do

Coming to you live from Phi Phi Island at the moment, where the weather is fine, and I am friggin' sunburnt. Blackfella genes, my moom! Here for four nights, and at the moment, I'm figuring out how best to spend them. But before I get into that, I'd better do a slight rewind.

Anyone who caught my status updates a couple of days ago knows that I found Patong Beach (Phuket) to be a bit of a trial. Everyone knows that it's a party destination, and everyone knows that it is also a sex tourism destination. Having this knowledge though does not make it less confronting when you get there (at least, it didn't in my case). But for mine, it's wasn't the constant stream of gorgeous Thai Princesses showing a bit of rack (or the pouty princes) and luring you into the bars with a flutter of their eyelashes. No, it was the pervy, viagra set that were floating about, just freely groping these women and men as if they had a right, then pretty much falling over. I just wanted to belt them all, and when I asked one of the girls working at the bar why they just don't kick these drunken pigs out, she just said "because of the money". Patong Beach: probably not the ideal place for a hard-core feminist to visit. I was also about 10 seconds away from telling a bloke trying to sell me a ping pong show ticket that perhaps he should try shooting a ping pong out of his own bits and see if he can sell tickets to that... But Patong was not all bad. For one, I ended up having a wonderful night out when I fronted to a random bar and spent a couple of hours playing pool with the gals working there (I got my arse more than kicked). I also thought the town itself was picture postcard stuff, and whilst there I decided to treat myself to a deluxe pamper package which was just brilliant. So despite it all, I left Patong feeling amazing, and now that I have been, I know it's just not my 80 baht Smirnoff...

Caught the ferry over to Phi Phi yesterday, and it is here where I realised I had made an error of judgment. When I got to the hotel, I worked out that it was a 2hour walk away from the main area of Phi Phi, and not only that, the clientele where mainly older couples and honeymooners. Blech. I just was not in the mood for watching Loved-up types slobber all over eachother, and so after spending an incredibly boring night in (although I had discovered the best green curry ever in a little place out there), I caught the shuttle service this morning to Ton Sai, found myself a fleebagger, and checked in for the night so I can at least get some of the pulse here. Hell, I might just decide to make it two nights! So effectively, the "crazy" part is that I have paid for two hotel rooms, and my suitcase is sleeping in one of them because I cannot be bothered going back at this point and checking out of the room (plus, to get a long tail boat there and back would cost me more than the room I have just paid for anyway). I'm here for the next three nights, so I will just play it all by ear and see how I'm feeling after a complete lack of sleep tonight. Fire-twirling by the beach it is!

So today, I have bought stuff, I climbed to the viewpoints and I saw the Tsunami path of 2004. Also, I forgot to mention that yesterday, I walked to Phi Phi Village where I saw the Woodridge School (and was given cheek from some kids there through the fence!), the Tsunami warning tower, and some extraordinary destruction that had not yet been rectified post-Tsunami. Phi Phi is absolute paradise, but it is also incredibly poverty-stricken, and I would recommend that anyone who does visit here makes the time to go out and see the village. It had a real effect on me.

Ciao for niao

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BKK #2

Hiya folks!

I'm currently sitting at the airport waiting for my flight out to Phuket, and I have about an hour to kill, so naturally, I hopped on the internet. Ever notice that when I am not responsible for my own transportation out to the airport, I arrive with plenty of time?

So, since I last wrote, I have had many excellent adventures. On Monday, I had another day of "flying by the seat of my pants" and after finding myself a decent pair of runners in the Siam Center (boy, did my poor leg muscles thank me for that! Any sensible person would have had some sturdy walking shoes with them from the beginning, but the more courses I do, the less I seem able to spell my own name...), I jumped back on the Express Boat and headed out to Wat Pho Temple. It was really serene out there, and as I scaled up the extraordinarily steep stairs, I encountered one of the best views of BKK available. Whilst there, I also encountered my first squat loo (some Scottish woman was kind enough to warn me prior to entering), which I reckon would be an experience for anyone who has only ever encountered pedestal porcelain before... They had a market at Wat Pho, and I bought this handmade wire Harley Davison model, which I probably wouldn't have bought if the bloke selling them hadn't have grabbed the minature handbars of it and started saying "VROOOM VROOOM". Very very cool though.

Ferried back to the other side of the river, then caught another boat for the hell of it. I ended up at Khao San Road purely by accident, and was just in my element. It just had a great atmosphere, and there were more market stalls for me to look at and more Thai Fisherman's Pants for me to buy (currently up to 4 pairs. Whoops!). Grabbed a banana pancake, then went back to the hotel to get ready for my night out.

I went and saw the Calypso show that night, and was just amazed. It was part cabaret, part comedy, and incredibly well put together. Personal highlights include seeing some Japanese people in the audience killing themselves with laughter because one of the acts involved an extraordinarily exaggerated performance of a Japanese pop song, and having the opportunity to pose for a couple of pics with the gals. They put on two shows per night, and I have no idea how they find the energy.

Yesterday, I went out to Kachanaburi on a tour to the River Kwai, as well as some elephant riding, death rail train riding and some bamboo rafting. I started the day at 6am, and didn't get back until about 7pm that night, so was definitely stuffed by the end of it. It was great to get out to the countryside and see a bit of the land. Tour was good, and got some great pics, so hopefully I will get to uploading them soon (if not, you'll just have to wait until I get home!). When I got back to the hotel again, I tarted myself up a bit and headed out to dinner, again down Khao San road way. The market was buzzing, and every time I turned around some woman was trying to sell me a croaking frog toy, or some Tuk Tuk driver was trying to offer me a lift. Music was pumping all the way along, and it was just amazing to me that I could walk down the middle of the street, buying stuff with a Smirnoff in my hand, and the beat going. I am going to really miss these markets when I get back to Australia (if I come back... :D). Finally, I decided the sensible thing to do would be to get back to the hotel before I drank another Smirnoff and bought more stuff, so caught a Tuk Tuk back. They overcharge somewhat, but it's an experience I reckon everyone has to have at least once.

That's the short of it for now. Next stop is Phuket for two nights, then I am on to Phi Phi and Ao Nang. Hope you're all well, and catch ya soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two nights in Bangkok

It's taken me a bit to finally get to a computer; understandably so I reckon! The short of it is all is well, I arrived safely (albeit utterly fragged) and have been getting on with the holidaying and touristy side of things!

I arrived in BKK at about 9pm local time, which was 1am Melbs time. I think I was beyond wrecked, and every muscle in my body ached from the trip. I have to say though, the mob at Thai Airways look after you a treat. Service was brilliant, food was pretty damn fine. Choice of movies were Hollywood shyte, but you simply can't have everything! On arrival at the airport, I was being picked up by a driver and taken to my accommodation, and so begineth my first experience of BKK driving. Despite the fact that he drove at warp speed and changed lanes like a bank robber in an action film, I felt pretty safe as everyone else was doing much the same. Got to my swank accommodation in one piece, ordered room service, then promptly flaked.

Yesterday was a nomad day. I tried to get my bearings, as well as get a feel for the place. Initially, I found the noise and the traffic quite intimidating, but I randomly found myself in a skytrain station, and hopped on board to the Chatuchak Markets. Got myself a few bargains; pretty pleased with the $8 sandals I am wearing at the moment, for example. From there, I came back into Siam Square, where I checked out Paragon Centre, Siam Centre, and a few of the shops on the square. I then walked down to Silom, where quite a few of my "new Thai best friends" tried to get me into their various pubs and clubs. More little market stalls and food carts (I'm yet to get used to that smell), and after walking myself into agony, I jumped back on the Skytrain for happy hour back at the hotel and a sadly early night.

Today was a bit more planned. First I visited the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). This was via the ferries which were wonderfully bumpy, and jam-packed, but a brilliant way to take in a few sites. Then I went on to Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) where I took in the brilliant architecture and the collection of iconography, and then treated myself to a Traditional Thai Massage. Following that experience, I feel somewhat bendier...

This is just a short-but-sweet and hopefully I will get myself organised enough to post some pics next time. But just to let you all know: all is well, I am enjoying myself, and have the aching muscles to prove it. My next move (should I get myself moving quickly) is to visit the Calypso Cabaret and catch a show. Will more than likely be more sites tomorrow, and thinking of booking in a tour on Tues to the River Kwai. Hope you're all well!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bored Brainless at the Airport

Folks, I have 40mins before I'm supposed to board, and so, like any clearly deficient individual, I've decided now is as good a time as any to update the blog. Anyone who knows me knows how utterly out of character it is for me to arrive at the airport in plenty of time (or arrive anywhere for that matter), but for some reason when I fly international I panic a bit and allow hefty minutes.

Anyway, a few observations at this juncture:

  • Duty Free shopping at this end is utter shyte and is not the purchasing utopia those evil capos paint it to be. I haven't even bothered buying anything bar one novel (which I probably could have bought in Thailand anyway for a fraction of the price), and considering the tumbleweeds currently blowing through Duty Free, it is safe to say that no one else is buying either

  • The walkway to the departure lounges from customs is approximately 427km long, and paved with plasterboard. It doesn't get more uninspiring than that

  • I changed my AUDs to Baht, and now feel "deadly rich"! I cannot currently close my wallet

  • There's a couple of Cafes around and they are relatively uninspiring. One of them serves macaroons though that are Brunetti's quality, and there is a bubblegum flavoured one so I had to scoff it

  • The irony of the souvenir shops always gets me. I am currently sitting across from some boomerangs and some "dodgeridoos", painted lavishly in colours that would not be out of place at a rave. My guess: there's a "Made in Indonesia" sticker on the back of them

  • Because I was early, and because I am going to be trapped in a metal capsule hundreds-thousands of metres above the ground, I am wanting to know if there is a smoking lounge somewhere around here. If anyone knows, can they point me.

It pleases me somewhat to be getting away from this poxy, rainy weather, but I am thinking about all stuck in the worst of it at this point. Stay safe, and take care of eachother.

I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM ACTUALLY "ON HOLIDAYS"!!! I am so very very excited, and am so glad I just took the plunge and went for it. Have fun all, and hopefully some adventure stories and pics will make their way on to here (if they don't, I may be having too much fun...)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


In a serendipitous turn of events, only days before I fly into Thailand, massive rallies against a corrupt government have been hitting the streets with promises of more. Frankly, I cannot believe my luck, because whilst I have a penchant for protesting, it will be thoroughly educational to see how this sort of assembly occurs in another country. Anyone who likes a bit of political activism cannot help but feel inspired when they hear that the French have shut down the entire country again because their government wants to raise the age of retirement. Or the Greeks have been rioting against governmental austerity measures. In my time, I remember being a part of a couple of big rallies; the first at 10 years old marching against the bicentennial celebrations at the opening of the new Parliament House in Canberra (actually, maybe that wasn't as big as I remember, as a lot of people were there to witness the unveiling of the "coat-hanger on the hill". But Dad let me say "Bicentennial Bullshit!" whilst marching, so all was good!). The others of course being the anti-war protests following JWH's cuddling up to GWB, and, for a brief time, the S11 anti-globalisation rallies. Generally, whilst the will is good at protests, Australian actions tend to get me down because it just seems that, on the whole, Australia is an apathetic nation who assumes that the government will fix stuff, and who also believe that none of this action makes a difference. Why don't more take a stand? What is it about Australia in this day and age? Anyway, I hope to get the chance to see some of this.

Enough about how CL plans to change the world, and now to CL travelling the world. I CANNOT WAIT!! I am not packed, I have not booked a single tour, and I only just organised my travel insurance at 2am this morning. But I am pumped! Indi is booked into a kennel as apparently my Blue Heeler is a flippin' nuisance, so she's getting herself a holiday as well. The itinerary is thus: 6 nights in Bangkok, 2 nights in Phuket, 4 nights in Phi Phi and 4 nights in Ao Nang. Originally, I was looking at Koh Samui, but flights etc were cheaper this way, and besides, I've never even been to Thailand, so going anywhere there will be an adventure. There is a fair bit of R+R scheduled in there, but, of course, I need to find some cultural stuff to immerse myself in, so if you have any suggestions, let me know. Nightlife-wise; thanks to having a bunch of party animal mates, I am pretty much covered, but always looking for unique experiences. Oh, and if I don't see at least 5 shows, get 3 massages, and gain about 5 kilos, I will be shocked at myself!

There will be a couple of ferries between the islands, and I hope that whilst I am away, I get to update this thing with a few tales and photos. Haven't decided whether I am taking the computer or not, actually; could be a nuisance to lug around. Plus, everyone keeps warning me about thieves (is it a huge problem there?).

Stay well all, and hopefully I will update you from BKK!

P.S Got all my uni work in, and have passed everything. Flogged Politics, funnily enough... :D

P.P.S If you write me a comment on this thing, I will love you forever. I promise!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When the clock strikes 12...

So I have never been a New Year's Resolution type of gal; basically because they are rubbish, and I never stick to them, and I tend to argue that time is circular rather than linear so it will all come around and bite me on the arse again anyway (at least, I have been known to use the "circular time" argument when I am running late). I mean let's be honest here: who really thinks that a calendar day can miraculously wipe the slate clean and turn you into that non-smoking, non-drinking, hard-working nun you have always promised yourself you would be? A life-changing experience that makes you reassess things sure, but not a miserable little day which we cram importance into as a way of justifying exorbitant cover charges at our favourite dance venue.

So in light of all that, I am offering up a list of non-resolutions that I can live with, and encourage others to post theirs. In 2011, I will do the following:

  • I will still refuse point-blank to ever get married, and I will continue to avoid relationships
  • I will endeavour to get my assignments done on time, and put in some applications for scholarships to further my education
  • I aim to introduce at least three different hard-core colours to my hair. Front runners include magenta, green and turquoise
  • I will not become a mother (of the non fur-kid kind)
  • I will expand my CD collection by at least 20 CDs
  • I will have a fantastic time in Thailand, and will book another O/S trip
  • I will make all possible endeavours to avoid life-threatening situations
  • I will attempt to stick to vegetarianism, and will cook one meal per week
  • I will continue to avoid Christmas and start trying to get an Australian version of Kwanzaa up and happening, at least at Casa Liddle
So yeah, I can live with those I reckon. What about you?

P.S I hope everyone has a safe New Year's and enjoys themselves. A little mood music; this was a song I played a lot after the accident as it just seemed to fit:

Monday, December 13, 2010

How to overturn filing cabinets in less than 5 seconds

Well, I've done it! I've taken a gigantic leap of faith and after 8.5 years resigned from the University of Melbourne. It's a huge thing for me, and as I was announcing my intention to leave, I think I nearly broke into emotional weeping about three times, and went steely-faced for the rest of it. But I've done it, and despite all of the scenes that are sure to follow, I know I have made a good decision.

So what's next for me? Well, as the title suggests, I am moving on to a career of thuggery, so to speak anyway. In Feb, I will be taking up my new role as the National Indigenous Organiser for the NTEU, and I cannot believe my luck in being offered this opportunity. I just hope I do really really well at it, because I have just under two months before I start and already I'm nervous as hell! But to be paid to do something I am really passionate about (again) within a politically-driven organisation such as a union, and have an opportunity to help change things for the better is just amazing. I am looking forward to the new challenges, and working with a group of people I already like, and I am also looking forward to working so close to the South Melb markets and Max Brenner... :D. I will also be still living this jetset lifestyle of mine, and am really looking forward to meeting a whole heap of Indig colleagues in the Universities across the country. First stop: DARWIN!

I am really going to miss all the students though, and a great number of amazing colleagues. 8.5 years is a long time with any organisation (even if it started as one org, got swallowed by a bigger org, then I moved over to the bigger org a year after) and you make a lot of great connections in that time. But I will still be a student there, and therefore UniMelb will not be getting rid of me that easily. MWAHAHAHAHAHAH!

But first things first: there is a celebration to organise, and a holiday to book in. Catchyas on the flipside!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The curse of the career fringe-ist

So anyway, one of my brilliant ideas this semester was to take up some studies, and it was one of the best ideas I have ever had. Turns out that I seem to have a rather natural predilection for sociology and politics, who'd have thunk it... Problem is, fender-bender happened, brain turned to mush, and essays now on the grand poobah of extensions. I am nearly ready to actually start them (after 10 false starts), but the point of academic writing is for it to be a value-neutral piece, and I don't actually think I'm capable of writing an even remotely value-neutral essay!

Is it actually possible to ever write something without inadvertently shoving a great deal of your own interpretation and personality into it? Is it possible to approach a topic, particularly when you have very strong views about said topic, with a completely blank slate? I know that this is probably why we are supposed to read great big chunks of text books that we are not even remotely interested in, but really, what is the point of writing something which is just full of quotes from other people? How on earth does regurgitating the musings of others contribute to the world of academia, and didn't these people gain a profile in the first place for having original ideas?

8.5 years of working in the industry. 6 years of studying. Yet, still this vexes me. Perhaps there are more value-neutral areas where this concept can work a treat (can't really think of any, but that's probably because they don't feature in my thought-train because I am not even remotely interested in studying them!), but for Soc and Pols, I think it is impossible. And frankly, I wouldn't want it to be possible anyway, because I love the fact that I manage to have opinions on pretty much everything and I was always taught that it is a damn good thing to formulate an opinion because apathy is akin to neural laziness.

Except for white chocolate. I have no opinion on it whatsoever, and can take it or leave it...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Managing the impossible

Sometimes things happen that you know you will never, ever be able to make sense of. Yet for some strange reason, your brain tries to sift through it to see if it can, and, without fail, ends up getting itself in a nice loop whilst it's at it.

That's pretty much been me the past month. It seems it is rather hard to have a high-speed, head-on car crash and then just get back to normal. Work stutters, essays stumble, and you seem to crumble. It's a rather sorry state of affairs, and I suppose this may be my way of actually trying to normalise at least what I can, and see if it can have some sort of flow on effect. I have always been a writer of stuff, but writing anything has taken a back seat for a very long time with me due to a number of reasons, and this is probably also (granted, three ciders have proceeded it) a way to tap into that creative energy again so that it is not stagnating, and starts to pour into those blasted essays! Honestly, I'm an opinionated woman! They really should not be causing me grief!

Anyway, so rewind to the 30/10/10. I had gone out to a friend's birthday in country Victoria, and was on my way back to Prahran for a debaucherous night on the town with some other friends. It was an extremely rainy night in Melbs, which, before this year, I had not seen a good deal of for a long time. So cruising back, at a respectable speed because the roads were dark and slippery, I got stuck behind this clown doing 60km/h in a 100 zone. Muttering under my breath, My Chemical Romance went in the CD player because it just seemed to fit. Finally we turned off the small road onto the Tulla near Sunbury, and an extremely welcome overtaking lane presented itself to me. Finally in front of numbnuts, I drove on doing a much more respectable 85km/hr. Got through Bulla, then the roundabouts near the airport, and was a mere minute or two from the beginning of the Tulla Fwy when I saw the headlights coming towards me and knew there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't swerve out of the way because there was no room for me to do so; she was in my lane and she was the only one who could fix it.

We hit both doing about 80-90km/h. My car was spun a full 180 degrees into a ditch on the other side of the road before coming to a stop. I think I sat there yelling and screaming at nothing in particular for an entire 2 minutes before I realised it was over, I was still here, and I needed to move. I turned off the engine, took a drag of my cigarette which, despite the crash, I had managed to keep ahold of, tried my door which was sealed shut, and then worked my way over to the back seat. The airbag had gone off and the smell was insanely strong. My face was throbbing, as was my wrist, knee and foot. I grabbed the crochet blanket I had worn to the party as a shawl, wrapped it around my shoulders, then opened the rear, driver's side door, and got out.

My knee felt like it was going to give away whilst I stood there looking at the car. I had some random people come up to me then, asking me if I was okay, and I blabbered on about how she was in my lane and I couldn't move. Some rumours and comments: "she was on her phone", "she has an international licence", "she's denying everything". It just made my head swim. This woman mentioned that the police and ambos were on their way and to hang tight. Coppers arrived first, questioned me, I spieled, they went again. The ambos then came, bundled me in their ambulence. Asked me the same questions again. Cop stuck their head in to breathalyse me. I passed. Ambos told me they were going to take me to the hospital. I insisted that they needed to let me go and grab my bag, but they wouldn't let me so I talked the older bloke ambo into getting it for me. Bag on lap, they strapped me in and carted me off to Royal Melbs ER.

What happened there was probably one of the more depressing nights I've had. I was strapped in a neck brace, and was not allowed to move because they were checking for spinal damage. I was in agony because my muscles had gone out due to shock, and I couldn't release them by moving. Panadeine Forte, an offer of Morphine, another offer of Panadeine Forte. After 10 hours the brace finally came off, and so I checked myself out and sat sobbing in the cafeteria (yep, classy stuff) waiting for a lift home.

Whiplash set in a 1.5 weeks after the accident and two days after I went back to work, and it was horrible. Valium, massage, and another week off was prescribed.

Essays due. Back at work again. Insomnia and anxiety attacks kicked in. Another week off prescribed as well as some good PTSD counselling.

That's the short of it, anyway. I'm getting there and trying to not worry about the essays. The car was absolutely stuffed, so it's bike and PT for me, and despite my insurance coming through I am not in a hurry to replace said car. Just trying to sort it all, slowly but surely...