Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Back up, your back up

In travelling, Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Just had my first ARGGHHHHH!!!!! SHITTT!!!!! Moment of my travels.

I’ve somehow, stupidly, idiotically managed to lose my external hard drive, the one that had all of my tv shows, movies, photo’s and research  for the novel, articles that I spent forever scanning in, in Australia, at the hostel in Bariloche.

What makes it worse is its taken me two weeks to discover this fact.

So all the photo’s from Japan are gone! Which is heartbreaking because not even a fraction are up on the blog, or on flickr, and I’m realising that as I go on, more and more of my memories are connected to the photo’s I’ve taken and the memories they shake loose. I was going to buy one of those big lcd usb photo frame things, and just have the photo’s on a loop, late at night in the corner of a room. So they would always be on show, a permanent record, reminder of where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and now for Japan at least thats never going to happen.

All the articles I lugged to Australia and then spent long days scanning are gone!

The backbone of the research for the novel are gone!

Its fucking me right off. I’m in no mood to do anything except sulk around the hostel. My brain a trying to figure out how I could leave the precious thing behind, and b trying to figure out a recovery plan. To be honest the only things I’m fucked off about losing are the novel research and the photo’s and I didn’t have them backed up at all. So I’m royally screwed. Its pissing on my day.

Want to go and cry.

You lose things when you travel, I was kinda prepared for that, I’ve already lost a couple of items of clothing, but this is the most serious, and there’s no way to replace what it contained.

So I’ll be uying a couple of SD cards, and a large usb drive and will be backing up, everything to tthe usb drive, and not deleting any photo’s off the sd cards, ever. You can’t be too careful.

I wish I’d been more so when I was in Bariloche…

I want to rail against the bastards, that never turned it back in to the hostel folk, when they saw I’d left it in the dorm, I want to rail against the shitty fucking laptop I’m writing this on with its puny 40gb hard drive, that forced me to delete stuff off it, to make space for more, I want to go back in time and check I’ve got everything before I leave Bariloche. I want to punch myself hard in the face many times, for being so stupid as to leave it behind, and not check, check and check again.

But I’m just going to drink myself into a stupor on the bus to buenos aires and remind myself to be much much much more careful in the future and make sure I’ve got back ups, for my back ups.

Boutique bars: Overrated

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm

In a bar called isabels, on Thames, lovely decor, mirrored unisex toilets, gorgeous spotlit ceiling, but you have to buy 120 pesos worth of chips to buy drinks two will get you a cocktail to put this into perspective eight peseos will get you a litre bottle of beer from the maxikiosco. So drinks are expensivvve. And I’m gonna get my moneys worth.
But as I said in the title boutique bars are overrated full of high maintenance chica’s and man candy with too much money and not enough sense paying for a slice of exclusivity that lacks atmosphere and is nice to be in. Give me a sweatbox of a bar with a crowd that’s having it rather than this any day. But this is a side of Buenos Aires I haven’t seen so i’m grateful to see it so I can dismiss it and not have to see it again.
It’s an upmarket meat market, for the rich and famous?! Full of people more interested in talking and telling you how great they are than having any real substance. And their caiphrinha’s don’t even come with crushed ice. Cocktail fail to the nth degree…
Plus I didn’t come here to buy pretty girls drinks, this is the 21st century you should be buying me drinks, plus if all you can play is eighties pop, you definitely need to check yourself before you wiggedy wreck yourself…


In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 4:59 am

We go up the Dart River in a jetboat, which can operate in less than 4 inches of water.  We need a boat like this because the Dart River is a braided river, meaning it isn’t one constant water channel, but consists of a network of small channels separated by small and often temporary islands called braid bars. Braided streams occur in rivers with high slope and/or large sediment load. Thanks Wikipedia.

In action this means that the path you take up or down the river is constantly changing as the river creates new streams of different depths, along its length.

For over three hours our Pilot? Driver? Navigates this ever changing river at speed, checking the water for the bubbling surface which denotes a deeper path, keeping away from the still pools under which lurks shallows, and rocks destined to tear the bottom out of our craft. He explains what he’s looking for after he brings the craft to a halt, rolling it up against a bank of pebbles and rocks, as the river runs rapidly past us, the jetboat now part of the temporary island. And as soon as we set off I’m looking for what he’s looking for, imagining I can see the best path as he swings, left and right, sudden decelerating and changing direction to find the next channel of deeper water. The sun is high and the air is clean and crisp, the mountains surround us, lining the sky to the left and right of us.

As I’ve mentioned before it is breathtaking being here in this national park, on this river in New Zealand. As the water muddy and grey works its way around us, bores us along. It isn’t until we cut away from the main river and down a little channel that we see how muddy the river is when set against the turquoise nature of the glacial melt that we bob gently in. We are set free from the confines of the boat to walk up a little ten minute path to stand over a huge torrent of water, spilling down even further beneath our feet. The force of it is a terror to the senses. It pummels the rocks beneath it, creating the outlet we have only just travelled up.

We head further upstream, and now the water is rougher, it is more of a slow progression, even as we jet up against the flow of water, surging forward, slowing, slipping back, heading right, round, uprooted trees, that at any minute will move and tumble towards us, huge boulders around which the water parts, even as it attempts to carve it into a smaller shape. We go as far as the river will allow us. Beyond this point it is no longer safe says our pilot/driver. So we turn back and begin our descent, and it is a descent. I hadn’t noticed before, but we have been surging continuously upstream, the operative word being up. For now we plunge back down, faster than we arrived, and the drop in altitude is noticeable as we race with the river, with the currents back down to Glenorchy.

Morning after the night before.

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Hit Wellington hard last night, see previous post for details, woke up early, working off five hours sleep to return the hire car. And I’m supposed to be going out on a three hour ride this afternoon, then drinks and dinner with leslie an old university bodkin.

I’m recovering with a breakfast at ernesto on Cuba st, and it’s good, hitting exactly the right spot, the music’s low enough to be almost subliminal but I won’t hold that against it. The suns shining bright outside and there’s flesh on display and I could get used to this cafe living. This indoor/outdoor existence where the sun makes a substantial appearance in the calendar, and sunglasses are a must have rather than a fashion accessory.

There are lots of mothers and twentysomethim daughters out, getting coffee and I wonder where the fathers and sons are.

I think I’ve managed to get the headache under control, and the rooms kinda stop spinning when I close my eyes.

I’ve read back what I wrote the night before and I considered toning it down, tweaking it, editing it slightly. But live by the notes on the iphone, die by the notes on the iphone. Record your thoughts at the time, and don’t regret a one of them. It’s what I thought and they are the honest thoughts, of an angry denied hip hop boy. Sometimes you’ve just got to take what your given, unless your drunk and want more before you go to bed.


In Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm

So drove down to the smelly place, and it really is very smelly, just all stinkbomb, all the time. It’s weird you get used to the smell and then you’ll be what’s that smell and you have to remind yourself that your in smelly town. But people live there all year round, was told by one of the attendants at the spa that rotorua has the most Maori in one place in new Zealand.

I end up going to hells gate, which proudly states it’s a Maori run site, which doesn’t mean that much as I walk around the beginnings of the place and let the heady stench of sulphur settle into my nostrils, still hearing the howl of cars on the roads behind the trees. But as I walk further along the path, there are numerous signs warning me not to stray from it, i see the steam erupting and drifting from dirty grey hillocks, the soft plip plop of thick mud moving, air slowing rising through it. The smell thickens, and I walk slowly, looking at each and every feature.

Each bit has its name, its distinctive feature, I am amazed by how little is actually happening, but how fascinated by it I still am. I walk over outcroppings, and lean forward to see better, getting more sulphurous whiffs as the breezer changes direction. A helicopter roars over, perilously close, over the tree lined edges of this desolate place. There is a lake in the center and steam rises from this. It feels volcanic, the amount of steam arising, and despite the wind, it feels warm, I expect my trainers to stick to the rocks, beneath my feet, but they don’t.

I’ve bought my trunks with me so that I can roll around in the mud bath. I have to shower first, then I sit in it and its kind of lukewarm, and the mud is just a soft squishy sensation under your arse, but I grip some between my fingers and rub it into my skin. The buoyancy in the bath is amazing, and I’m holding my weight on just the fingers of one hand as I stretch out in the bath. Its quite soothing, just lying there, floating, trying to hold my body down, occasionally rubbing mud into my arms, my thighs, my shoulder. After what seems forever, I’m called out, stand under a cold shower for what seems like an age and then a dip into another murky looking pool. This one is hotter than the one before, and sweat is quickly marking my brow. I lie there and contemplate the journey so far. Close my eyes and let the breeze attempt somewhat pathetically to cool my forehead.

Afterwards my skin is silky smooth, as if I’ve bathed in ass’ milk. Though I have no idea what bathing in ass’ milk feels like, but I itch for days following. Even writing this brings back the itching feeling.

New Zealand

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 at 4:10 am

Beautiful land, beautiful peoples.

So many skin tones, Maori, Polynesian, oriental, Caucasian, it feels instantly multicultural, instantly familiar and welcoming. I feel at ease here, even though I still get looks. I’m starting to believe I’ll get looks wherever I go, I think I’ll always be other on my travels, apart from maybe the states, since most people I talk to seem to think I’m American apart from the Americans I speak to, and usually they are Canadian anyway. It’s like black people, to be more specific black males like myself who wear caps at a jaunty angle and t-shirts and trainers can come from nowhere apart from america. It’s like the black diaspora doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s just the overpowering influence of hip hop that makes it that way.

New Zealand has some truly beautiful people, maybe it’s the thick lustrous hair, or the sharply defined and arched eyebrows, big eyes, olive skin, but there is something about it and the way the people carry themselves that make them very attractive.

Been driving from Auckland to Wellington with a stop off in Rotorua. And the scenery here is breathtaking, and I haven’t even got to the west coast of the south island. The road dips and rises, following the curve of the landscape. A single lane which splits into two every so often to allow for overtaking, the countryside lining the road is many different shades of green, new Zealand seems so much more fertile and verdant than Australia. So much more eye catching. Admittedly I only drove to phillip island, but still. When the sun shines on the land it’s like I expect the pacific northwest to be, pretty shacks/wooden houses line the road, this feels like David lynch country, bucolic scenes of pretty treelined streets, but without the dark underbelly. It is actually too pretty for words, like the English countryside at it’s best but more muscular and exciting, less tamed and treated, more wild and untamed. Hills rise vigorously into dark grey clouds, tall trees line a long stretch of road, cows graze as the wind straightens the leaves on the branches, brave men dance on the pedals of their geared bikes as I sweep down the hill and they struggle up it. The peaks and troughs of the path I’m following cause me to try and capture them in my memory and failing that reach for the camera and attempt to take photos through the windscreen whilst making sure I don’t cross the rumble strip.

I curve round and through taupo lake and the blueness of the water and the bending palm trees beneath the weighty hand of the wind reminds me of Barbados and Sardinia, the crisp breeze, the low buildings, the single roads between one town and the next, giving you ample time to examine the beautiful views all around, the small beaches dotting the coast, for those who know.

New Zealand is by far the prettiest place I have ever been to.

The long white cloud after which it is named stretches across the horizon taking up the space between the ground and the sky, only a sliver of blue high above it. Amazingly solid, seeing it from afar it appears to be part of the hills it covers, the snowy peaks you realise are in fact cloud cover, white and pure.

Until the road lifts and heads through it, the desert road, a single route through nothingness, no wonder there is an army base here, it is utterly desolate, reminding me of the Scottish highlands, low shrubs dun and ochre in colour the odd flash and rustle of purple, breeze harsh and hard sweeping across the plain, imagine Daniel craig’s walk out of the Patagonia desert but under a murderous grey cloud that fills the view and shrubs underfoot rather than blood red rock and outcroppings. There is a viewing spot, I wonder who would want to stop and take a picture of such barreness, it saps the will just to look at, what must it be like to live there.

Even on the gps the state highway one (desert road) is a lone green road on a featureless grey background. Even as I am bludgeoned into visual submission by the greyness of cloud, the featurelessness of the place, following one vehicle after another I yearn for the greenness, the fecundity that I have seen before.

Tanuki’s cave

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 at 4:07 am

A sake and yakitori bar, down the steps into a basement from the sake bar upstairs, rectangular bar, wall mounted tables for two along the outside, stools and the bar top for those on the inside, eating don buri, and garlic prawns, with my ever improving chopstick technique, sipping on sweet plum wine, studio ghibli film (porco rosso I think) on the flat screen at the back of the room, listening to bob over the speakers and the balding thirtysomething man to my right, wearing an interesting t-shirt who is talking the ear off his long haired, bespectacled friend. Reminds me that we are the hero of our own stories. Reminds me that I probably do the same, monopolise conversations to tell you about me. Reminds me that life is about the doing and not the talking. Reminds me that the iconic/ironic t-shirt has replaced the well tailored suit as something that every man must have in his wardrobe. Reminds me that I’m kinda tipsy on one and a bit glasses of plum wine and it’s st patricks day, a time for the oirish and people who like wearing green to drink until they can drink no more. Reminds me that I’ve got to be up early to collect the hire car tomorrow. Reminds me how multicultural I find Auckland, as small as it is.  Reminds me I bought a new cap today, a pin striped Cuban style one, think fidel and che, small peak and squarish top. Reminds me that I need to write the novel. Reminds me how much I’m looking forward to being in south america, even though I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going or who I’ll be staying with. Reminds me how much I love shazam and standing iPhone held high as it records the snippet of music to tell you what this new song that you like is. Reminds me I have to send some postcards out (if you want to be added to the occassional postcard list ping me an email with your address). Reminds me that I still need to see fat freddy’s drop in concert.

Reminds me sitting in tanuki’s cave how much I miss japan/Tokyo.


In ozstraylia, Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Australians do that rumpled, crumpled, worn this vest, shorts, cut off jeans a day too long look really well. Every so often you see someone who verges on being dirty, unkempt, grimy, but they seem okay with it. I put it down to the heat and the sweat and the Protestant work ethic, rather than have a siesta, let’s just continue to keep working thru the middle of the day. Beach culture is an excuse to wear less culture, which I’m not adverse to, but it does result in some interesting looks on the high street with the desire to show as much flesh as possible to make sure you look tanned (don’t believe the Aussies who trot out that old chestnut that brits go mad for a bit of sun, they are out with their limbs exposed to the sun just as quickly as soon as mr sun puts in an appearance, they just get to do it more often) and to try and keep cool, let their sweat hit thin air rather than dampening their clothes.


In ozstraylia, travelling, Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Melbourne’s cultural identity is wrapped up in the , close, cozy, eateries packed together each a distinct entity in and of itself,  with their own vibe. This vibrancy of the lanes, and the CBD, and Carlton and Fitzroy, can be put down to the licensing laws being relaxed a couple of decades back and anyone with a bit of creativity and some cheap secondhand furniture could open a bar. So they did and the vast array of eateries and drinkeries that followed made Melbourne a distinctively interesting Australian city, filled with those inbetween eats, not too expensive, not too cheap, but food courts packed with different styles, reminds me distinctly of the walk through japans train stations and the eateries, chains to sure, which line the way.

The asian influence is obvious with lots of noodle and sushi places and the chance to sit and hang out in the sun and shade is infectious, to loaf away the day sipping chilled cider and munching on just cooked food, feels like heaven.

You get the same sort of experience up in Carlton except they aren’t lanes they are long streets like Brunswick or Smith or Nicholson or Lygon which seem to go on forever, with a different eaterie, boutique, bar/pub in every shaded doorway. It is a complete Eco system of Bohemia, I find it very comfortable and easy to slip into, whilst it feels cosmopolitan, the whole Mediterranean vibe is supplied by the mass immigration of Italians and Greeks, but it’s not that cosmopolitan really, or if it is its cosmopolitan in a very narrow band, you will not see many dark faces at all, though you see plenty of Asians and Orientals, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian though they tend to be in and around Chinatown. I’m not sure how Australians would deal with a truly multicultural city, the shuffle and scuffle of races brought together, the having to get along, not sure the Australian desire to be blunt and straightforward would handle under the plain speaking of those that consider themselves to be as Australian as themselves just darker of skin.

If you sit in one of the cafes on the lanes you’ll see all of Melburnian life pass you by, sneaking a quick peek at you or an outright stare as they stride, mooch, saunter past you.

Doing wrong

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia, Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 4:01 am

Okay so I’ll admit it right at the start I was in the wrong, rolling the wrong way up a one way st, Flinders lane so I can turn right onto Swanston st and finally go and see this Ron Mueck exhibition I’d been supposed to be seeing for weeks.

So I hear the shout look around bemused and two coppers, holding their armoured vests on the kerb are telling me I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, okay! I stop bike get off it, and they continue to tell me that I’m in the wrong, I don’t say much at all, just stare at them and nod occasionally, thinking say little, agree with them and I won’t get a ticket or a fine.

Now this is the bit that bemuses me, are all police officers across the world sent to a course whereby they speak to adults as if they were children or just the Aussie ones? I’m wondering whether it was because I’m black or am  I reading too much into it. Do coppers affect the same tone back home?

I’ve realized in situations like these in the past, the less you say, and the more you agree the higher the likelihood of not being punished becomes, this does not mean that I am a moron who can’t comprehend what you are saying. It was almost on the verge of if they don’t understand say it slower and louder.

Meh. Hope all my interactions with coppers on this trip are as meaningless.