Oct 302006

Moore Reef

Had my first visit to a coral reef today. And the experience was close to a religious one.
Moore ReefIndeed, took a brief snorkelling lesson and was then let loose in the waters of Moore Reef.

Had the strongest sense of wonder-experience in ages. The water was clear, the reef rich in life and the fish did not shy away from visitors. All in all a great introduction to the wonders below the surface.

The tour was provided by Reef Magic Cruises, and the organization was just impeccable. The distance from the Cairns Marina to the pontoon-base on the reef was quickly covered in a catamaran. During the cruise the crew familiarized the guests on both marine life and how to have a closer look on it.

In addition to self-propelled cruising on the surface, the platform offers an underwater observatory as well as a glass-bottomed boat that regularly travels the waters. Visibility from both was good, though as the photos show, the tint is definitely on the blue side.

Learning to dive An introductory scuba-dive was also available, but participating in one would have prevented from snorkelling and been just some ten minutes long, thus I decided to leave that exercise for another day.

The waters were calm as forecast, and snorkelling turned out to be an easy activity indeed. The diversity of life on the reef was rich, in both the fish and invertebrate kinds. Spotted fish ranging from tiny to huge (the parrotfish is some four feet long), and my fishkeeping background came in handy in identifying them beyond the obvious (the stars from Finding Nemo were all present). Two black-tip sharks put in a brief appearance during the semi-submersible cruise, but didn’t approach the platform.

Reef Magic Catamaran moored at the platformStinger (two species of jellyfish that are very dangerous to divers) season is already begun, and thus a full-body suit is a must. Wore a half-length wetsuit in addition. Dressing up was less of a chore than expected – the design of the latter has certainly evolved to an ergonomic one. The snorkel itself took some tries getting used to, but quickly transformed from something to be actively thought about to something that just works. “Just works” meaning very basic skills, and nothing more. Didn’t really dare to go deep with the snorkel, there was easily enough to see just cruising slowly on the surface.

The attached images are done with the traditional equipment (from both the observatory and the glass-bottomed boat as noted above). For underwater exposures I purchased a fire-and-forget waterproof camera, which contains analogue film. Stay tuned for images from there.


Oct 292006

Walked around Cairns for a couple of hours.

This seems to be a backpacker city. There’s lots of hostels around, as well as places promising to cater for travellers. And some of the hostels look nice indeed.

Had dinner at Raw Prawn. Didn’t constrain myself to pure seafood, but had a Kangaroo Surf’n'Turf instead. The dish consisted of four kangaroo fillets topped with prawns and a Moreton Bay Bug. The last item is, despite its insect-related name, a local crayfish. Its meat tastes very much like that of lobster. The kangaroo meat was nothing short of delicious – almost fat-free meat, taste combines beef with an aftertouch of game. Served on sweet potato mash – this is definitely a dish to remember.

Shops seem open late – apart from those in malls. Surfwear seems abundant, which is good, since I’m in great need of new shorts. Several photo galleries are located close to each other, both owned by guys whom I recognize from postcards purchased earlier, and both offering high quality prints. Lucrative, but no deal yet.

Oct 292006

Flew to Cairns, in the North Queensland, and especially next to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Yulura airport is rather small, and offers no boarding tubes. The walk across the tarmac was warm, but still remains second to the scorching heat in Florence in 2003 – the air temperature was +39C then.

Attempted to book a tour to the reef for monday, but was dissuaded by the tour desk guy in the Rydges Tradewinds hotel. According to him sunday will be the calmest day in ages, and is thus the advisable choice. Also changed the destination from planned Green Island to Moore Reef, on account of the latter being in better shape and being restricted to much smaller groups. This is my first visit to a coral reef, and I don’t intend to be looking at it in a huge crowd.

The hotel seems to be very centrally located – I can see the ocean from my window, and the Esplanade and its boardwalk are pretty much next to it.

Time for dinner. The local pizzeria offers unseen delicacies such as Meatosaurus, El Scorcho and Cheeseburger. The last of which is, despite its name, supposedly a pizza…

Oct 282006

Unidentified bugWaiting for the bus to the airport after a two-day stay in the Yulara resort.

Which was certainly what I hoped. Got to see mighty rocks and expect the desert. The latter, of course, turned out to be less desert-y than supposed.

Visited the Visitors Centre for the first time, and went t-shirt shopping. The former was far better than I expected, with multiple dioramas on the local flora and fauna. And the latter wasn’t bad either – the shops had several interesting designs composed of aboriginal art available. Ran into a funky-looking bug on the way – no idea what this insect is, but at three inches it is rather impressive.

Sunset colors on the Kata TjutaMissed the King’s Canyon area, which is the third big item in the region, though outside the Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park. But it is rather distant, and, according to tour guys’ brochures, uncoverable in half a day.

Also almost missed out on the excellent pool facilities offered by the Lost Camel hotel. The tours turned out to consume significant bits of the time. Did have a brief spell at the pool, water was close to +30C in temperature, and half a dozen dragonflies were constantly buzzing close to the surface.

Thus definitely could have spent some more time here.

Oct 282006

The early morning’s starting to take its toll. Won’t need cricket tonight to lull myself into sleep.

And watching cricket would be impossible anyway, since there is no television set in the room. This must be the first hotel in years without one. Certainly not due to low quality, the service level is nothing short of excellent – but a conscious decision by the management.

Oct 282006

The stargazing trip to the Uluru observatory was cancelled again, tonight also due to bad weather. Two rainy days in a row after a drought was a surprise to everybody concerned.

Uluru is pretty much optimal ground for an observatory. The air is dry and there’s no light pollution worth mentioning.

Rain and persistent clouds meant that stargazing was confined to craning necks and staring at the sky. Which is, obviously, different from that of the northern hemisphere. Couldn’t locate the Southern Cross, and the Milky Way failed to materialize as well.

Had a buffet dinner at the White Gums restaurant. The name does not refer to a dental condition, but the synonymous name of the Eucalyptus tree.

The buffet was billed as being brim-full of Australian items – but a lot of the meats (such as kangaroo, emu and crocodile) were absent. The only truly new dish was the barramundi – it’s a white-fleshed fish with an excellent taste. Otherwise the buffer was good – it’s been ages since I’ve had this good baby octopus. The cephalopod/bivalve-part of the menu was covered well, but shrimp were conspicuously absent.

Oct 282006

Aborigine and interpreterParticipated in a second trip to Uluru. This one concentrated on the aborigine legends about the place, and was accompanied by a duo of them explaining some of the things seen.

Trip was run by Anango Tours, seemingly the only company who involves the actual owners of the land in the tours. The trip kicked off at the Uluru Cultural Center with the introduction of two elderly aborigine ladies (Elsie and Bonnie, to use their english names) and two interpreters accompanying them.

The Culture Centre (where photography was again banned) was hot, and kind of schizophrenic. The official parts – where the history, habits and legends of the aborigine people were handled were very well laid out, but some of the shops were on the tacky side.

Petroglyphs on a cave wallThe majority of the tour was spent around the Kuniya waterhole – the legend involving two serpent-deities was repeated from the morning’s trip. Though with authentic voices this time. The local caves and petroglyhps in them were explained in great detail. The way the Pitjantjara tribe has dwelled in the area, and transferred their knowledge throughout the generations got covered as well. Nomadic life in the arid climate certainly sounded like no picnic – resources were scarce and mandated movement across the plains.

Dry bush food in wood bowlsThe session with the locals was capped with a presentation of some dry bush tucker (food). Quite a few of the spices and berries involved seemed to have equivalents in the western cuisine as well, and the more unsavory bits (like grubs) were avoided altogether. Only the women in the group were subjected to trying out balancing a wooden bowl on their heads. Most were successful, but only sitting down, no-one dared to move about.

Sunset was on the disappointing side. Due to persistent cloud cover the light did not really change the shade of the rock as evening moved on. But it did allow for some killer color displays on the clouds, just as with previous night. The Kata Tjuta sunset was watched by perhaps forty people, but this was a much more popular event – dozens of packed buses, not to mention smaller cars.

Oct 272006

Uluru in noon sun

Heart-shaped hole in Uluru's sideWoke up at a horribly early hour to participate on a tour to watch the sunrise over Uluru, and thereafter walk around the rock.

Indeed, got up at 4:25, and hopped on a bus (once again tour organized by the Discovery Eco-Tours) to Uluru.

Sunrise was on the underwhelming side, as we were on the western side of the monolith that was already lit by the ambient light.

The ten kilometer walk around the stone was surprisingly easy. The morning was on the cool side, the paths level and even, and crowds light.

The rock, while a lot smoother than that of Kata Tjuta, is by no means smooth. Its surface is marred by scrape lines, shallow caves and holes whose birth requires some unorthodox erosion processes. The caves have both legendary ties (to dreamtime stories, mainly), and a lot of them correspond to everyday shapes (such as the heart in the attached image).

Unlike expected, the area is not a desert, but blooming with grasses and trees. The former were on the lush side after the recent rains, the latter remain charred from an uncontrolled fire last christmas.

Climbing UluruUluru’s girth contains around ten sacred (to the aboriginals) sites, whose photography is not allowed (and enforced with a neat 5000 AUD$ fine). The group (consisting of some fifteen people) behaved well, and these sites stayed out of the viewfinder.

The aborigines take a dim view on climbing the rock as well, but grudgingly allow it. Even though the path up the side looks decidedly dangerous (at least to an acrophobic), the crowds moving up and down were surprisingly large. A lot more people were climbing the rock than walking around it, or just participating in shorter walks.

Burrowing FrogDiscovered a burrowing frog during the walk. These animals can hibernate up to eight years in a mucous cocoon, climbing up to the surface to breed once water breaks the cocoon. Yesterday’s rain, though not very powerful was clearly enough to wake up this guy. Who was rather far from the nearest waterhole, hopping on the path. The guide moved him to a less-tread-upon location, and we all hoped he got lucky real soon. The arid climate is just not right for an amphibian.

Oct 272006

Sadly the Hakkapeliitat team seems to be on a losing streak, third loss in a row is no laughing matter – and a place in the season finishing bowl appears to retreat further from grasp.

An ugly and low-scoring week for participants, and unfortunately my team scored lower.

The embarrassment of the loss is increased by the three byes taken by the opposing team. In a week where none of the offensive players picked up touchdowns, the kicker scores no field goals and the defense acts like a sieve, a loss is only to be expected and accepted.

Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck’s injury brought down Deion Branch as a scorer, but no explanation for the lousy output of the Dallas running backs really exists.

Oct 272006

Kata Tjuta in afternoon sun

Kata Tjuta's nature:  conglomerateBooked the first two tours to the main attractions of the national park earlier today: to view Uluru itself (at sunrise) and Kata Tjuta (at sunset).

The afternoon and evening were spent hiking in and looking at the latter. The tour provided by Discovery Eco-Tours, and consisting of a driver/guide (an amicable hippie with many amusing and pointful stories) and about fifteen attendees.

Kata Tjuta, meaning Many Heads in the local aboriginal language, is part of the same huge sedimentary monolith as Uluru. But where Uluru has a smooth surface, Kata Tjuta is of clearly conglomerate nature, as the second image of the entry clearly demonstrates. Kata Tjuta consists of 36 individual domes (heads), all of which are off limits to visitors – there’s just two hiking paths among them to choose from.

Walpa GorgeAfter a brief look-see from the official vantage point (where the top image is taken), the tour got semi-physical. A 2.5 kilometer walk into the Walpa Gorge between the two middle domes turned out to be more strenuous than expected. Not due to the distance or the heat – both of which were very much within my comfort zone. No, due to footing, the gorge is very uneven ground. But stable, it’s not like the loose collections of rocks in Lapland, just very uneven – both due to rocks embedded within the stone and different rates of erosion.

The tour finished watching the sunset alter the colors of the rocks. Today the process was very subtle due to partial cloud cover, and thus the color changes were not as dramatic as under clear skies. Took several dozen photos just in case – not just of the rock formation, but of the surrounding area, and of the skies, which were lit by a gloriously colorful dusk. The photo op was accompanied by a few glasses of the local sparkling wine and “nibblies” (bread dipped into oil/balsamico mixture and sprinkled with spices and nuts) courtesy of the touring company. Considering that I’d had a very light lunch, the bread totally hit the spot.

The evening never got chilly in the desert, temperature remaining easily above 20C. But darkness was pretty much total. Australians are not very firm believers of streetlights even in the cities, and in the outback such are pretty much extinct. Even the Yulara resort is very dimly lit, and the poles few and far inbetween. The trip from the national park to the resort was in utter darkness, pierced only by the headlights – the driver’s music of choice was australian folk, including the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, a song that still, after more than fifteen years since hearing in the first time gives me the creeps. (And no, this is not Waltzing Matilda itself, though the creepiness index of it was raised considerably by David Lynch’s use of it in Twin Peaks).

First peek at UluruThe national park was (again) much greener than I expected. It’s not a total desert with occasional weathered trees, rather than an arid steppe, with most of the ground covered with spinifex grass.

Got the first good glimpse of Uluru on the trip. The rock was unearthly radiant in the afternoon sun. But that stone formation is the topic of tomorrow morning’s tour.

The late evening programs – dining in the desert and stargazing were cancelled due to bad weather. The former was sold out days before, having an outback-gourmet dinner on a dune sounded exciting to other people as well, clearly. Today actually brought rain for half an hour – the first in about three months in the park.

Kata Tjuta in afternoon sun

Oct 262006

Flew to Ylura, the town next to Uluru, which is part of the biggest monolith on Earth.

Off to the very first tour to the actual rocks soon, and multi-image entries are to be expected from the couple of following days.

Ylura is located in Northern Territory, which is under Central Standard Time. Which just does not happen to conform to the one zone – one hour scheme. Instead the clocks are half an hour less than in neighboring Queensland. This is the first time I’m visiting a place that has a non-integer difference from UTC. Australia is by no means the only country with such strangeness – Nepal takes the game one bit further by being +5:45 away.

Oct 262006

Moon in a funky positionThe moon misbehaves on the southern hemisphere.

As shown in the attached image, the crescent is not horizontal as in Scandinavia, but of a vertical nature.

Maximally strange.

Missed the moon in Singapore due to the persistent haze, so no clue whether they have some intermediate positioning there.

Watched cricket for a worrisomely long period. And could even recite some rules when pressed. This kind of temporary insanity can clearly be explained by the moon and I shouldn’t be held accountable to any of such behaviour.

Oct 262006

EchidnaVisited the Brisbane Zoo, quite a bit of a distance away from the city.

It’s not a large collection of animals by any means, but it does have a few special advantages and disadvantages over most of its equivalents.

A lot of the animals are in their natural environment, a dry forestland.

The zoo is located in a forest, thus a lot of native animals live outside the cages. In addition to birds (peacocks and bush turkeys the most prominent ones) reptiles were represented as well (a snake in a hollow tree, lizards roaming freely).

Sadly, despite the great environment, the infrastructure is not up to the same level. Some of the enclosures are rather small, and especially the few species of apes bigger than pocket-size looked apathetic in their cages. Compared to the Helsinki Zoo, the baboons were missing most bits of their home trappings – no rocks at all, and a few limp tree branches only.

Unlike pretty much any other zoo I’ve visited, the Alma Park Zoo encourages feeding of the animals. A subset thereof. A subset that likes pellets pressed together from plants. A subset that extends far beyond the expected farm animals. The visitors are actually able to feed kangaroos (two species: red and gray), wallabies, birds and several others. Including the farm animals, who live in very Orwellian-named “friendship farm”.

Koala Koala And interaction with animals is not restricted to feeding them through a cage. The visitors can actually enter the kangaroo pen and pet the creatures while providing them lunch. There’s some twenty kangaroos (mainly of the grey sort), who seem to treat visitors as mobile food sources. They eat up the feed from your hand (without any danger to fingers), and allow themselves to be petted. The grey kangaroos’ hair feels like that of a long-haired cat, whereas the red one seems to be made of plush. A couple of the grey females were carrying joeys in their pouches. And quite big baby kangaroos at that – despite not fitting well into the pouch, they were still on milk diet, and unwilling to accept any pellets. The fewer red kangaroos had a jaded disposition, not seeking out any visitors, but geelfully accepting food should any come near. The grays, on the other hand, were actively looking to be fed. And considering the dozen or so visitors in the cage, they probably got a very decent (if monotonous) lunch.

KoalaMissed the opportunity to feed the wallabies, but seized on the one about meeting a koala up close and personal. These tree-dwelling symbols of Australia sleep up to 20 hours a day, and seem to be rather sessile critters. The keepers retrieved one female from its tree, and allowed it to be gently stroked while holding onto her. The hair of a koala is officially short and kinda curly. The animal didn’t seem to mind her position, and actually looked still half asleep.

The oddest animal on the view was echidna – the spiny anteater, the only relative to the even odder platypus. Two echidnas roamed their dwelling in daylight – previously (based on the experience from the Philadelphia Zoo) I’d thought these guys were thoroughly nocturnal. Possums were sleeping in their hideouts, as was a wombat (who apparently didn’t fully fit into his log).

Tawny frogmouthOther animals featured in the pictures: tawny frogmouth (a local relative of owl and nightjar), emu (the local flightless bird that grows surprisingly big), and a randomly encountered lizard. The last image is of a strange tree, whose complex root system seems to have drawn a lot of stones, both large and small, out of the ground.

Emu Emu

Kangaroos:  not for the faint of heart

Oct 252006

Brisbane skyline
Spent most of the day in Brisbane.

First a lengthy ninety minutes settling on the details of the next week. Domestic travel, especially on a complex route is not an easy task to figure out. Even to a seasoned travel agent. Travelfinders did the job admirably, and the trip to the Red Center and the Queensland Coast is now fully planned and paid for. Only the tours to the specific bits within remain to be taken care of. On location, with the aid of locals.

IbisThe riverwalk on the south bank of the Brisbane river is pleasant indeed. It boasts both an actual boardwalk and many parks that follow the river’s course. Created in the area bulldozed in the aftermath of the late eighties expo, the whole riverbank looks and feels fresh for the most part. Among the featrues of the area are a rainforest park (rather modest in size), an artifical beach (with lifeguards) and frequent mosaics on the pavement.

Queensland Museum needs a second visit – it seems to be a neat mixture of many kinds of natural history. But ten minutes is not enough, not nearly enough. Bought a guide on Australian mammals from its bookstore though – never realized that there are so many individual kangaroo species.

The botanical gardens are located next to the river, on the north bank. Next enough to have a bona fide mangrove swamp in addition to the traditional garden. Walked through some parts of the garden, but there definitely is lots more to see here as well. Got some nice shots of the dusk and its effects on the garden.

Mosaic on the sidewalk of South BankLots of bikers on the riverbanks, most wearing helmets. Making Australia the second country (after Finland, that is), where bicyclists take measures for their own road safety. And nope, that’s not an exhaustive survey, just noted that e.g. in Amsterdam the bikers are amongst the foolhardiest elements in the traffic.

Had dinner at restaurant called Eves in Tenerife. Sumptuous seafood. Stew was a misnomer for the dish – the bits and pieces of individual animals were not beaten to a pulp and mixed with gravy. The mussels and crustaceans were accompanied by gnocchi made of sweet potato – definitely something to try out later again.

Sighted a few ibises (who seem to be very city-savvy), lots of smaller birds and the weirdest cones I’ve seen. The cones clock in at a length of half a meter, width of less than an inch, and a funky spiral patterning of the scales.

Silhouette of a tree with two unidentified birds Palmtrees in the dusk

Weird pine cone

Oct 242006

Hills near Mt. NeboManaged to stay ahead of sleep throughout the day. Though got close to nodding off a few times.

Queensland is far greener than I thought. And the image of a desert was further misled as to the height differences, this is a very hilly area. And boasts some real mountains as well. Drove around the Mount Nebo neighbourhood, whose contents proved that while the area in general looks like a dry finnish forest, the individual components are quite something else.

Saw some animals, including the first native parrots (sulphur-crested cookatoos) and lizards (identity unknown). And heard many others. Kookaburra’s call cannot really be described – it’s just vocal chaos for a few seconds, and frogs and insects put on a major performance after sundown.

Unknown lizard from Queensland Unknown flower from Queensland

Oct 232006

The redeye flight to Brisbane was eight hours of a non-event.

Apart from being slightly delayed off the gate, the flight itself went smoothly, and the captain was able to cut off half of the delay along the way.

Not enough, however, not to clash with the schedules of a few other inbound flights, leading to long lines in the immigration.

Qantas is a regularly polite airline, which feels such a letdown after the pampering administered by the Singapore Airlines. Service was prompt and friendly enough, but not as ubiquitous as on the latter.

The flight was mostly in darkness. Didn’t sleep apart from a few scattered catnaps, didn’t watch movies, and didn’t really get much reading done.

Even after a refreshing shower, this looks like a long day.

Oct 222006

Haze from the 70th floorChangi has won several awards for being the best airport in the world.

And it’s not a bad place to wait for a flight.

First of all there are no boarding calls, which immediately cuts a significant chunk off the noise.

The foor court offers very reasonably priced sushi. I overstepped my quota at 16 pieces, and that cost me less than 10 local dollars.

Orchids are the national flower of Singapore, and are unsurprisingly for sale in many shapes and forms. Figured I’ll pick up some on the backward swing – the Australian authorities are supposedly very hard on any plants and animals brought into the country. And being delicate flowers, I figure the walkabout through Australia would be hard on them.

The haze remains a popular topic in the local papers. The attached picture is off the Stamford Hotel’s penthouse bar – the horizon disappears into the grey murk far too suddenly for comfort.

Oct 222006

Looking down from the 19th floor of Pan Pacific Looking up ground floor of Pan PacificEven more images… My goal of taking 500+ pictures on the trip will be reached before the halfway point if I manage to keep up the current rate. How many of those are worthy of a second glance is another thing, but I firmly subscribe to the “worst pictures are those not taken”-theory these days.

These images are of architectural wonders. First few of my hotel (which had glass elevators both inside and outside of the building), the next two of fountains encountered (missed the world’s largest fountain, even though it was practically next door to the hotel) and the last is a reminder that not the whole city is built of smoky glass, pristine concrete and steel.

Glass elevators on the outside of the Pan Pacific A fountain on the Orchard Road A fountain in the Raffles City mall An architectural contrast

Oct 222006

No bicycling hereWhile Singapore is indeed a “fine country” – in the sense of any anti-social behaviour being frowned on at S$500 and upwards, it also provides some surreal signs. And this is not a dig on the english-fu of the locals, which is for the most part nothing less than frighteningly good. No – these items stand alone due to their strangeness (or the name that is funny from a finnish perspective).

The first sign is off an underpass near the Raffles’ Landing Site, and quite sensibly placed. The underpass is not wide enough to accommodate bikers and pedestrians going both ways.

Station sign in two languages/scripts

The second sign is off an MRT station, and shows that the locals take multicultural roots seriously, signs are done in several scripts – here’s an example of just one.

Jeweler:  KamalaThe next sign is from Little India. And the name funny in finnish only, and not terribly so in that language either.

Religious ThingsI’m a regular abuser of the word “thing”, but so is this guy, who promises to deliver flower arrangements for many occasions. Including prayer things. Wonderfully vague, and thus adaptable to any religion on the island.

Molly Malone'sMolly Malone’s is probably the most common name for a bar in the world. Singapore has one such, next to the Boat Quauy. No irish expats, nor anybody else around on a quiet sunday morning.

Mushroom Cuppuccino Winter Season in SingaporeThe last two signs are just plain wrong.

Mushroom soup and cappuccino ought to be kept separate. By law if necessary.

Singapore is located a whopping 1.5 degrees north of the equator. Meaning that no seasons worth mentioning exist. At least in the scandinavian sense. Still, the local entrepreneurs were rapidly moving into the winter season in clothing.

Oct 222006

Icecream hawker on Orchard RoadSpent a couple of hours walking along Orchard Road, the biggest shopping area in the country (and probably of quite a few surrounding ones as well).

Wasn’t looking for anything special, and basically just ambled through a few malls and shops.

Ended up buying a couple of books and a shirt. The latter a bespoke tailored one from Far East Plaza on Scotts Road, a shopping center that seems to be half-populated by tailors alone. The former from the Kinokuniya, which jumped close to the top of the list of great bookstores – the place is huge and the contents are well laid out. The place would have been even harder to exit were I a friend of manga, the section on japanese comics was well-stocked with the local fans.

Dressed-up trees on Orchard RoadSome of the trees on Orchard Road bear a weird reverse polka dot-color scheme, the cause of which wasn’t readily available.

The Lonely Planet book on Singapore abuses the local classic drink, the Sling, horribly. Chose not to repeat trying it out from six years ago. Though I didn’t find it as disappointing an experience as the author. True, it is overly sweet, but there are far less agreeable things offered as local delicacies all over the world.

Singapore is very much a t-shirt city, being hot and not too formal. Thus the streets are filled with print designs. Most of them good, and very few of them truly awful. The worst the ones catering to tourists, obviously.

Oct 222006

Desperately looking for currentThe three-prong adapter has turned out to be the wobbliest of the bunch (the first experiences with the Aussie one forthcoming).

And the Pan Pacific’s lack of sensible outlets means that arrangements as depicted here are necessary. Otherwise the connection breaks, and no charging, obviously, is subsequently possible.

The contraption consists of an Otrivin bottle (nasal spray to unclog blocked ears), a pack of chewing gum (possession of which no longer seems to be a felony) and a box of mints.

Oct 222006

Gateway of sorts to Little IndiaWalked around the Little India neighborhood, watching the Deepavali-festival celebrated today. The Festival of Light was very visible – the streets were festooned with garlands bearing thousands of individual bulbs.

Had absolutely no plan what to see and where, and even without one managed to get semi-seriously lost on the way in. With a square grid and an MRT stop a couple of hundred meters away that took some serious effort to accomplish.

Streets were also full of people. Some tourists, obviously, ogling the proceedings, but mainly locals.

Streets were also full of trash. This was the first time I saw any (probably very temporary) lack of order and control. And even that was confined to just a few blocks along the main thoroughfare.

Street scene from DeepvaliSpotted a lizard of an unknown identity hunting for moths on a wall. Was not having any major success. Nor fear for the people passing by.

Temple Lizard on the prowl in Deepvali