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    Serpentine's Avatar

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    Jun 2006
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    Adrift in a sea of woe.
    Gender
    Female

    Default Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Well, some people asked me to give an account of my time overseas. I'm absolutely horrendous when it comes to keeping journals and things - the most complete entry in my primary school attempt was "Dear Diary, today was the worst day ever. First, Chrissy" - but I'm worried about getting back into my "do nothing on the internet for 14 hours a day" rut. I think having a rapt audience clamoring to hear about my latest adventure will help me get out and actually have some.

    So, here we go. You asked for it, so it's your own fault.

    Photo Albums (always being updated and added to)



    Entry 1: Bali Arrival
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    Firstly, on the way in to Bali, we flew over an absolutely gorgeous island. Covered in forest with incredibly high, dead-straight cliffs plunging down into bright blue seas. Haven't quite established which island it was, but I definitely want to see it. My cousin tells me there's boat tours around it, so that could be something to do later.
    I did not have a terribly auspicious start. In my decision-making processes, I failed to take into account the time zone difference, which was much greater than I expected. So, instead of a 3 hour flight, it was 6 hours... and me with no food or drink :/ Buuuut, I coped with that fine.
    Then I got to Bali, and realised I stupidly hadn't taken enough cash, and the money I'd transferred from my internet-only account to my useful account hadn't actually gone through 9 hours later, leaving me without enough money to pay for my visa to enter the damn place.
    Fortunately, an employee took pity on me wandering around all helpless-like, paid for the visa and went with me outside to get paid back by my cousin who was picking me up - no extra fee or nothin'.

    So, then my cuz took us back to his place. Here's what I noticed along the way:
    1. Motorbikes and mopeds. Frickin' everywhere. Seriously. There's scores of them lined up in parking lots, dozens scooting around between the cars. It's awesome.

    2. Traffic laws. There don't really appear to be any. But, oddly, it seems to work...

    3. There's lots of gorgeous little shrines and temples all over the place. Once I knew what to look for, I also started seeing little offering dishes, made of woven (upon closer inspection: stapled) palm fronds, all over the place.

    4. Shops are... different. Sorta like oversized stalls or something, for the most part.

    5. Stone and wood carving stores all over the place. Some really massive and really beautiful artworks.

    6. Signs of poverty, sadly The ol' Western Guilt is kicking in well solid...

    Getting back to his place didn't exactly help alleviate that last bit The place is amazing. It has a little courtyard, bordered by barbed wire-topped walls. The main part is two stories: kitchen, lounge room and my cousin's bedroom on the bottom floor, his housemate's up the stairs. I'm staying in the room they rent out. It's sort of part of the same building, but there's no direct access between the two sections, and it has its own (kinda odd, but cool) bathroom. Oh, and the doors open out onto the perfect little swimming pool.



    Also, my cousin has a monkey. I have to help him catch her so he can give her to the people who adopted his other monkey. I think I can help him - I haven't attempted to capture her yet, so she'll sit on me (briefly) if I bribe her with rambhutan fruit. Also she's been checking out my room, and I'm pretty sure we can corner her up the shade umbrella.

    After a little swim, my cousin's housekeeper turned up, and we had the longest, slowest, awkwardest conversation ever. She knows only a few words of Bahassa Ingriss, and I'm terrible at Bahassa Indonesia, so there was much referring to my phrase book. Also she started out by asking if I'm having a baby :/ And also I'm so incredibly awkward about Having Staff... Buuut, she seems really nice, and we at least managed to have a conversation. Even if I do feel weird about her cleaning my toilet and doing my laundry (Sam, you have your own washing machine. What are you doing having your laundry done? Tsk).

    Next up was meeting the housemate and his girlfriend. They took me to a cafe - me clinging to the back of his motorbike. No helmet! It was frickin' awesome.

    So here I am, drinking a macoa and eating minestrone and a raw chocolate mud pie, sitting on the free wireless 'net telling you all about it.
    (don't worry, I had Authentic Balinese Cuisine on the drive home from the airport)

    edit: Forgot the other terribly exciting thing I saw here - flying chickens! :O


    Interlude: Insecurities
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    I'm feeling awfully fat and ugly/plain, here. Almost feels like I'm the only overweight person on the island, and most of the Indonesian women in particular are beautiful. But eh, that's okay. I'm here to have fun, not hook up, and the relatively healthy food and activity and stuff may well help slim me down a bit.


    Entry 2: Monkey-Wrangling
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    First thing to do on my second day in Bali was to catch that monkey. Sam gave it a half-hearted try, but Koko was onto him, so he went inside and I sat outside with some fruit, and she came down straight away. I lured her onto my lap with rambhutans, and grabbed her by the tail. Then Sam tied her up a bit, gave her a shower, and put her in a woven cage thing. She was not a fan. I felt like such a traitor
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    But, it was for her own good. We got in the car and headed off to her new home - grabbing a bit of food from street vendors along the way. At her new place, she was reunited with her mate Abu, and it was just gorgeous.

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    Sam and I sat around with the family for a while, had kofi () and biscuits () and then the father showed us around his village. And it was beautiful. So lovely - like everything else here, really.

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    Big ol' roosters in all these cages - apparently ****-fighting is popular :/
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    Then the father, Sam and I went down to the Monkey Forest where the former works, and we met his father.

    This Monkey Forest is full of monkeys and bats, including a bunch of impressively friendly flying foxes of some sort and ridonkulously ballsy monkeys. It's all set around a great big temple, that seemed to be all locked up.

    There's a bunch of statues like these around the place.

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    Biiiiig boy!

    Our sweet potato

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    Check out mah fancy hats :3
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    Poor snake
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    Monkey onna monkey!
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    Then we grabbed some food and went down to the beach to watch the sun set. There we grabbed a drink - there's stalls all the way down the beach, which also own various comfy chairs placed in front of them - and met a friend of Sam's (who has a thing for him - bit more on that later).

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    Some dude floatin' like it's no big deal.

    This friend, aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, offered to take me out that night, and I took her up on her offer. My cousin was worried about me and how I was gonna get home and that I'd be okay and everything. I actually quite like that he's like that - means he's sorta more likely to take things into account and less likely to assume I know how to do everything myself and stuff (except when he doesn't tell me about really important stuff he assumes I should know - more on that later).
    Anyway, his friend -Sinta - took me to her friend's salon where we hung out until it was fairly late at night. She and her friend (whose name I unfortunately forget) very kindly did some make-up for me. This was extra-kind as I think his job was make-up, and he did it for free.

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    My artistes.

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    So, we went out to some nightclub, which I thought at first was pretty small, but it turns out there were actually a good half-dozen different rooms, all with their own DJ. I danced with Sinta a lot, and her friend got reeeeaaaaally into the music. I'm pretty sure she wanted me to throw up or something, cuz she kept on giving me drinks
    She took my camera a couple of times and wouldn't give it back, and she insisted on taking pictures of me with whatever eligible young men happened to be handy. But there were silver dudes and a pole-dancer, so that's pretty coo'.
    There was also a white guy doing cheesy "magic" tricks - the old "pen floating behind the hand" trick, stuff like that. I hope I see orang magik saya again, a guy hanging out in the middle of a packed Bali nightclub the day before New Years Eve doing silly magic tricks seems like my sort of people.
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    There were silver dudes in the club. No biggie.

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    Sinta bought all of these drinks for us! All of them!

    She kept on taking my camera and making me pose with random guys. I'll just post a couple here, cuz it's pretty embarassing.
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    Think the guy on the right might be Magic Dude, but I'm not quite sure.

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    He was soooooo out of/into it.

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    BOOOOOBS!

    Smecksy.

    Smooches!


    At one point, Sinta and I did a tour around all the rooms, and I picked up a hanger-on. Note to guys: grabbing a girl's arse with both hands is not a great way to start a dialogue. At least, not one you'll like. Soon after that we left Sinta's friend there - apparently when he's that into it he's just no good to try to talk to or to get to leave. She left me at the mouth of an alley while she went and got her bike (drunk biking through Bali alleys with no helmet, woooo!), and my hanger-on followed us out. I told him I didn't understand him ("Saya tidak mengerti!"), and that I didn't want him ("Saya tidak mau!") and also I lied and told him I have a boyfriend (I'm single now, btw), and I had my slip of good-words-to-know handy to get help ("Tolong!"), but he finally went away. Thank goodness.
    So, then we biked back to her place, where I was to stay that night. I had a big glass of water from the tap, then got her one when she asked. After taking a drink, she asked me where I got it from, and I told her, which sent her gagging and hacking into the sink. There was something about that which indicated to me that drinking from the tap is not a good idea.
    I'm sure it's something I probably should've already known, but it just didn't occur to me that tap water = not for drinking, and Sam didn't even thing to tell me. Fun bit: next morning Sinta was throwing up and/or gagging all morning from her hangover, while I was totally fine. Got a bit woozy during the day, but that could also have been because of food or just in my head.
    Sinta and I both slept in her bed that night, and she told me about this thing-which-is-not between her and my cousin. Apparently she really likes him, but "he's boring" - and, indeed, he's not a fan of the going out she likes. Also something about getting fed up with guys who don't stay in Bali with her. Honestly, as much as I like both her and my cousin, I can't see them being a good couple - she needs a guy who'll go out with her all night, and always come home with her, while he needs a nice hippy.


    Interlude: Bahasa Indonesia
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    I think I'm getting/remembering enough Bahasa Indonesia to get by, just barely. I've gotten a few compliments on it, but I think mostly they just like that I'm going to the effort to try, y'know? I've been using a sort of pidgin Bahasa Indonesia, where saya chuck in a Bahasa Indonesia word ini dan itu. Here's what I've got so far, anyway, with what I can remember offhand (remember: offhand; I'm almost certainly wrong with some bits, and no doubt I've spelled stuff wrong, but it should be enough to get my point across):
    {table=head]Bahasa Indonesia|Bahasa Ingriss
    Halo|Hello
    Apa kabar?|How are you?
    Bagus, terimah kasih|Good, thank you.
    Bagus sekali|Very good.
    Nama saya Serpentine|My name is Serpentine
    Di mana Anda/kamu?|Where are you?
    Dis ini|Here
    Dis itu|There
    Ini dan itu|This and that
    Berenang dengan kawan|Swimming with friends
    Saya ganggu|I am annoyed (you'll probably work out why I know that one later...)
    Saya tahu|I know
    Saya tidak suka|I don't like
    Saya mengerti|I understand
    Der|Them/they
    Kami|We
    Naga|Dragon
    Apa ini?|What is this?
    Mau ke mana?|Where do you want to go?
    Anda mau musik?|You want music?
    Taksi!|Taxi!
    Boleh?|May I (do)?
    Minta?|May I (have)?
    Ma'af, saya bodoh!|Sorry, I'm stupid!
    Permisi|Excuse me
    Ini sepupu saya|This is my cousin
    Tolong!|Help!
    Hari-hari anak-anak!|Careful, children![/table]


    Entry 3: New Year's
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    New Year's Eve was pretty quiet. Just hung out, went out for food, that sorta thing. Although I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting something notable... Oh well, I'll put it in later if I think of it.
    Fireworks were everywhere. You could just buy them in the street. One of them, I saw, was a tube that would fire out a good half-dozen rockets one after another. So fireworks were going off from a good couple of days before New Year, and as the sun was setting on the last day of 2011, Bali was like a warzone under constant bombardment. We wished, several times, that we could be up somewhere high to watch them all, literally all over Denpasar.
    Anyway, after bumming around all day, we went out. We started at some friends of Sam's and his housemate's, at some sort of motel. A really lovely place, with a big courtyard and a beautiful temple and shrine. Some Balinese people turned up and shared their dinner with us - rice and spicy vegetables and sort of a mixed-bird stew. I thought the latter was delicious, but it was like they just chopped up the whole bird, so it was jam-packed with bones. I didn't mind, I like chewing on bones (apparently that makes me "like the Indos", according to housemate).
    Anyway, after ages of waiting for the friends to get ready to go, we all just left for a bar on the beach, where housemate's girlfriend and I drank and danced a bunch. The New Year was counted down, and Sam "acquired" a dragon-horn for us, and we watched the fireworks on the beach as the bar played "Can You Feel It?" Oh boy could I.
    Sadly the night went a bit downhill after that. We danced some more - even Sam did! - but then Sam ran off somewhere, I presumed to get a drink. Not long afterwards, housemate and girlfriend said they wanted to head home. We hung around for a bit longer waiting for Sam to come back, but he didn't, and eventually they left me there. I ended up just getting a taxi home.
    I found out later that he'd simply gone. Off to see "a friend". Later that night, he and "a friend" came home, and... uh, stuff. I'm pretty sure it was Sinta, but apparently he tends to "have a couple going", as housemate's girlfriend put it <.<
    I was pretty miffed and whinged about it a bunch - people on chat can attest to that - but I eventually got over it. Like I said here, the guy's giving me a place to stay and letting me tag along around Bali and is organising everything for me. The least I can do is forgive him for a moment of thoughtlessness. In any case, the next morning he came and apologised and I told him I don't mind if he leaves me just as long as he tells me whether he's coming back, so I know what I have to do, and we're all good.
    In any case, New Year's Day was a total wash-out. It rained all day. But the boys wanted to go surfing anyway, so we all went down to the beach. I woke up pretty queasy, to the point where I was seriously considering sticking my fingers down my throat to make sure I didn't throw up later at a less convenient point. But the fresh air on the bike made me feel better, and after getting fully tumbled in the surf later but still feeling pretty okay, I figured I wasn't gonna throw up. I was still a bit fragile - think I still am, a day later - but I'm okay, and it wasn't that bad. If that's the worst I get while I'm here, I'll have gotten off lightly.
    So far I think Australian beaches are still the best, but the water is soooo warm, and the sand where we were was a gorgeous pitch black - volcanic sand. There wasn't much of a current, so you don't spend half your time just trying not to get pushed a hundred metres away from your stuff.
    We had food there, then we went home and watched some movies, and then we went out and grabbed some more food, and that was New Year's Day.
    Oh, had a good chat with my cousin, too. This is already by far the most time I've ever spent with him, so it's good we can converse.

    Some not very good New Year's photos:
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    Sam's housemates looking seedy.
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    Interlude: Miscellania
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    Forgot to say, first or second day I bought myself a dress. I think it looks pretty nice on me - a gorgeous blue, reasonably flattering cut, Sinta called it "Balinese style" - but as my first attempt at haggling it was a disaster (Sinta tells me I could've gotten 3 of them for that price), and it's still not what I want. I really need a super-cool, cotton summer dress for when it's really, really humid and hot, and this one's made out of... I think something synthetic, and it's too tight around the chest to be really cool. Ah well. It's still nice.

    Here, every house or shop has a little shrine or a temple attached to it, sometimes quite large and elaborate. It sorta feels to me... like some ancient people built a huge temple city, and now centuries later other people have just moved in, but are still kinda respecting its original religious purpose.
    I have no idea how old anything here is (I should probably look it up or something). Little shrines and things look really old, but I've seen freshly-made ones that look exactly the same.
    Everything seems to be falling apart, but at the same time is being built up and repaired.

    My cousin and his housemate are going to move soon after I leave Indonesia. The new house looks amazing. They were talking speculatively about turning the new place into a sort of arty villa, and we got talking about art, so I'm thinking about scoping out what sort of art Sam likes and buying him something for the new place.

    Riding on the back of a motorcycle through the hectic streets, with or without a helmet, bumping around with the wind in my face, watching the street-vendors and templey architecture go by, is just the best thing ever. The best. Until my bum starts getting sore, there's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be.


    Entry 4: An Australian, an Indonesian and a Belgian Walk Into a Bar...
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    Not much to report for the last few days. Hung out, went to the beach, ate some pretty tasty food... Don't think I even really have any photos to show.
    Probably the most interesting was the source of the entry title. While hanging out on the beach with Sinta, a buff man by the name of (iirc) Yan, from Belgian, came and sat down with us. Apparently he's a personal trainer and does ju jitsu and knows the coach of the Australian women's hokey team. He chatted, he tried to ask Sinta out and got a bunch of non-answers... Eventually we went to dinner with my cousin and Yan came with. After a while, it was decided that we'd go out that night, all meet at that same nightclub (Skygarden). So... We did that.
    Now's as good enough a point as any to mention that Sinta was apparently pissed off at Sam for some reason. Not sure why, and she won't tell me - she just says "it was a misunderstanding". So yeah. She was going out in a bad mood, and got rather inebriated.
    We met up with Yan okay, danced, that sorta thing. I was enjoying watching Yan make the moves on Sinta, and Sinta gradually warming up to him. Annnnnd then... Well, long story short, she threw her drink on him.
    I found out later that the reasons were this: 1. she was pissed off at "all men", 2. A guy had pushed her, and he hadn't defended her against him, and 3. After he'd told her he liked her and had kissed her, he was looking at and/or talking to other girls.
    So yeah. Sinta's kinda mental. Poor Yan... I hope I see him again, just so I can tell him what happened.
    She came home with me after that, stayed the night. Next day we went shopping, and I bought two new dresses and a bag that zips up (at Sam's suggestion).

    At some point in that couple of days, I got a lift home with a friend of Sinta's who works on the beach. He's pretty cute, and has a weirdly ocker (i.e. hyper-'Strayan) accent. Apparently he's been asking after me, and whether he could have my number :3

    And that's pretty much where I'm up to... Some plans are being made, though. Sam and I are going to Lombok on the 8th to stay with his sister, and at some point after we get back on the 13th I'll go to Java to see Borobudur.


    Interlude: Food
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    I love food. I just... love it. It's so great. Gluttony is one of my two great Deadly Sins (the other one's Sloth. Gee, I wonder why I'm fat...). So one of the main things I've been really looking forward to about going overseas has been trying new foods - whether I like them or not. And that's part of it: I'm not leery of trying new foods just out of fear that I won't like it. That's part of the fun. I don't expect to like everything, and it's okay if I don't.
    So. Indonesian food. It's pretty great. Well, mostly...

    First thing is probably the fruit. There's a lot of it, and dirt cheap. My absolute favourite is mangosteen. For those who don't know, it's a round fruit with a thick, dark red skin that you have to break open, revealing (ideally) pure white segments, the largest of which contain a hard seed you just spit out. The white flesh is juicy and sweet and oh-so-delicious P: Sadly, they often contain this super-bitter yellow scum stuff But a good mangosteen is just to die for.
    I tried a couple of durians. They're that fruit that everyone says stinks like hell. And they are rather pungent. I wish I liked them - they've got a creamy, dairy-ish sort of taste that could be delicious - but there's just something to the flavour that I simply don't like. Also they really, really hurt to touch.
    Oddly, I don't really like the mangoes here. Normally they're my favourite, but the ones here are quite sour. Could be good in cooking, though.
    The bananas are really tasty. I usually only like fresh bananas, not banana-flavoured things and the like, but the deep fried bananas they make here are soooooooo goooooood P:
    Fresh young coconuts are just the best. The coconut water is possibly the most refreshing thing ever - my cousin reckons one or two medium-to-large coconuts a day and you won't have to drink anything else - and the immature coconut-flesh jelly is delicious. A larger coconut can contain up to about a litre of nummy water P: And you can get them everywhere, often for a measely 10,000rp (~$1aus), or even less. The best thing ever is to lie back on one of the many beach chairs in the sun with a freshly opened coconut...
    Finally, as alluded to above, it's all dirt cheap. A particularly expensive stall might sell mangosteens for 40,000rp (~$4aus) a kilo. In Australia, the same fruit can, iirc, be upwards of $25 a kilo. So very good, and so cheap P:

    Okay, on to more general things: they have these food shops everywhere. They're called masakan padang, and they're distinguished by having plates of food piled up in windows. You get a plate of rice, and pick out all the things you want, and they give you a bill at the end - I think about 5,000rp (~$0.50aus) has been about usual for me, but it varies a bit. Typical foods available seem to be fried chicken, spicy chicken, a couple of different vegetables, marinated and/or deep-fried eggs, fried fish, tofu, and so on.
    I'm not a fan of the deep-fried eggs. They're... just a bit wrong.
    Indonesians definitely like their spicy foods. Usually I can handle it fine as long as I don't add any condiments. When I first got here, I bought some of the food and got some liquid from this particular red sauce that's popular on my hand. I wiped it off, and then brushed my face with my hand. The top of my lip was burning for like 10 minutes.
    The fried chicken they make here is absolutely divine. It tends to be rather overdone for my tastes, but the spices and everything are just sooooo good - and the chickens, from what I can gather, are all organic and hormone-free and I think free range and all that jazz. I really want a recipe for Bali chicken P:
    The rest varies from dish to dish, which varies from place to place. I really like the concept though. You've just gotta make sure you buy from somewhere with pretty good turnover...

    There's lots and lots of carts wandering around the place selling different foods. They range from grilled, buttered corn on the cob (nummy) to a bowl of hot noodle soup with chicken balls and vegetables (pretty good, don't really like the balls, though). There's also lots of people wandering around selling snacks - such as the cooked sweet potato the monkey was holding in an earlier photo, or sesame balls. And pretty much anywhere you might find a congregation of people - such as the airport - you'll find a stack of people sitting around selling a huge variety of... stuff.
    At the latter, I acquired some sweets at one point. They were pretty good, I think, once I got used to them. Like a sweet gelatinous rice pudding bar, with food colouring.
    Speaking of sweets, while in Lombok we went to a grocery store, and I picked up some stuff from the lolly section. They were both biscuity, though. The one I most like was a small (1-1.5in diameter), dense, spiral chocolate biscuit, and the other was a sort of biscuit lump with a drop of icing on the top (if anyone knows them, they're like those koala/panda biscuits from Japan, but without the filling). Pretty tasty.

    I'm a little disappointed in my cousin. I'm in a whole new country, a whole new culture, with a whole new range of food, and we keep on going back to the same cafe chain that I would be entirely unsurprised to see in Byron Bay It's called Bali Buddha, and it's clearly been tailor-made specifically for hippy-type, yuppie-ish, health-conscious, laptop-toting tourists. To be fair, the food and everything is really good there, and a lot of the Indonesian food can be kinda samey, but still. It's sorta like... I've never been to any of the cafes and other places in Bali, they're all brand new to me. Yet we keep going to the same one or two... But no more whinging, it is good stuff. And the mushroom pizza at Bali Buddha is great P:

    Bintang. Bintang everywhere. That's an Indonesian beer, by the way. And it's everywhere - including on all the towels; it is, as far as I can see, impossible to get a towel that doesn't have the Bintang logo on it As far as beers go it's alright I guess, I could drink it if I had to.

    Avocado juice is really quite tasty. It makes a sort of a smoothie. I've only had it with other stuff - mango and honey, specifically - but you can get it plain, or with chocolate. I intend to try an avocado and chocolate sometime soon.

    If you get a juice or a smoothie or whatever, there will always be a little pot of "sugar" - I think some sort of sucrose syrup - either with it or already in it. I can't stand it, or no more than a little The worst was an orange juice I got once. Freshly squeezed juice... with a big dollop of this sickly-sweet syrup in it Gross. Usually, if I remember, I ask for it without sugar, but sometimes it helps the flavour.

    Ummmmm... I think I'm out of food-related stuff to talk about. Maybe I'll add something later.


    Entry 5: It's Raining Men. ...Yay?
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    Hmmm... What have I failed to report recently? I've left it too long, I've forgotten everything...
    Mostly more of the same: beach, friends, chillin'. Also: a date :3 Specifically, with the guy I mentioned before. Sinta's cute friend from the beach. His name's Aang (it's actually a lot longer than that...), and he's a beach boy. I'll explain what that means in a sec, and in the meanwhilst here's pretty much everything I know about him (spoilered for the convenience of people who couldn't care less):
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    I think he's 25, like me. He started an IT degree, but ditched it in favour of working. 'course, then he ditched that job to be a beach boy.
    He's got dark skin which I love, but he keeps complaining about because it shows that he's very poor - it shows that he has to work outside, instead of inside a nice, comfy, sunless office getting lots of money. Thing is, though, he's got his current job by choice - he had another job offer, with a proper salary, but he ultimately decided that he quit a job just like it because he hated it, and he likes being a beach boy.
    His family used to be very rich, owning a couple of construction companies, but then one of their business partners was stealing from one of them, and they ended up having a multi-billion-rupiah debt. They lost pretty much literally everything - so he went from a big villa with pool and everything, to a tiny little patched-up room with a shared loo.
    It gets worse, though: he had a girlfriend for about 6 years, with intent to marry and all. She died in a car accident, and he had a breakdown for something like a year, culminating in his attempting to poison himself.
    This came up because I asked about one of his tattoos (turns out it's her name in Chinese (she was half Chinese, half Javanese).
    Speaking of which, he has a bunch of tattoos: the Chinese name I just said, more Chinese and a love-heart on his back which I presume also related to his girlfriend, a tribal-sorta design at the nape of his neck, Spongebob Squarepants shooting crabby cakes at Patrick on his arm (he loves Spongebob, and has "Patrick" as a nickname as a result), and another tribal-sorta design on his leg. Think I'm missing a couple...
    He has an amaaaaazing back. Fun fact: I'm a back person. And I'm pretty sure surfers have the best back. And dark skin is a big bonus P:
    He surfs, but he's only new to it. And he's managed to break his board pretty horrendously... Twice.
    He's Muslim, and from Yogjakarta - I have to find out which Yogja school was my school's sister school, cuz it'd be a pretty awesome coincidence if he went to it.
    Ummm... What else? Usual stuff: he's funny and sweet and I reckon he's pretty cute. His English isn't great, but it's a hell of a lot better than my Indonesian. And he says he's never had a bad customer (well, maybe that one who thought he was a jiggalo...), so that's interesting I think. And he's really paranoid about money, always apologising for his lack of it. Oh, and he has friends all over the world - he seems to make friends with every customer that comes by.
    All in all, he's a pretty cool dude and I really hope we stay in touch after I leave

    Photos added much later, after stuff. Whatever I think of him now (and I'm still not sure what that is), the guy still has a seriously sexy back.
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    Oh, the date pretty much consisted of dinner and exploring Denpasar on the motorbike he borrowed. Was pretty nice.

    So, soon after that Sam and I went to Lombok. His sister, Jade, lives there, at the moment in a set of units she's built with her Lombok...inese husband.
    It's a pretty nice set of units...

    ADVERTISING INTERLUDE
    Her plan is to buy a different house, where she will live with her family. The plan for the units is to rent them out, to locals and to visitors. So, if anyone fancies a holiday in "real, authentic", non-touristy village Indonesia, let me know and I'll give you her details. It'll likely be cheap accommodation, and she's looking at setting up tours, food delivery and things like that.
    [/advertising interlude]

    Lombok is a very pretty island. Beautiful beaches, lovely mountains... Sadly, I didn't get to see most of it cuz it was raining most of the time
    So, ultimately, most of my time was spent in the... uh... I can't remember what it's called. But it's sort of like a very small gazebo, with a raised floor that everyone sits on. Various members of Jade's husband, Apang's family, and family friends, hang around it, sleeping in it and helping finish building the units. They're all, so I'm told, unmarried and unemployed young (and one or two not so young...) men, who hang around and labor and act as security basically for free.
    I don't feel like going over my issues with one of these young men, even though it's what the title alludes to. If you're interested, you can read basically all about it here, here, here and here.

    Photos of and around my cousin's place:
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    Kitty! \o/ Heaps of cats in Indonesia have this weirdly curly tail. Must be some mutation that got into the population.
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    There's more than that, though, on this general topic. I think on the whole I'm pretty plain - a 6 on a good day, maybe, maybe a 7 if I were a healthy weight and spruced up. Hanging out with Sinta, I've been thinking "wow... I'm really glad I'm not hot". Because the attention she gets... I'd be really uncomfortable with that. It'd be flattering for a while, but then it'd just get annoying, and even a bit threatening.
    Buuuuut, in Indonesia... I certainly get a lot more of that sort of attention than usual. I'm still in the "flattering for a while" stage, but that's starting to fade, and when every guy asks you if you have a boyfriend... Especially after the Andi Episode (above)... It's starting to feel a bit icky, is all. It's sorta the first time I've really felt the "sex object" thing. Which is, in itself, a pretty interesting experience...

    Anyway, Lombok. Real village out there, fairly few tourists, at least where I spent most of my time. I got a couple of henna tattoos - a phoenix on my right shoulderblade, and a gecko on my ankle. Sadly it started to rain and they didn't have a chance to dry properly, so they got a bit smudged
    Sam surfed, Jade talked about her new life there (I think there's some communication issues there... Either she's not telling her husband what she wants, or he's not listening), I showed the guys my music. I got swarmed by kids. Oh, crap, I forgot to get that elastic for them... Dang. Oh well. We tried to go see a waterfall in the mountains, but it got too late and too wet so we couldn't get there Next time...

    Henna, beach & etc. photos:
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    Lombok's mostly Muslim, and there's mosques absolutely everywhere - I could literally see 3 or 4 from Jade's place. The music and call to prayer is eerie. Beautiful buildings, though. At one point, we went wandering through the village and were taken to the Balinese Hindu temple there. It's a beautiful little thing, built over a spring, with lots of nagas (dragons).

    Mosques (just the ones around my cousin's), the temple, and village.
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    The swimming pool they're building.
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    Anyways, then Sam and I went back to Bali. Sam and Jade's mother, Lesley, turned up the same day we got here. Today the three of us drove up the mountain, to see the volcano that erupted in the 60s. Pretty spectacular stuff. Looked at yet another volcano, got some fruit, and did a lot more driving around.

    Tomorrow, I have another date :3 Aang and I will go to Jimbaran, where they have lots of good, cheap seafood, and then to karaoke, and then the next day... let's see now... Bato Bolong Beach, then to a traditional market for fruit, then a massage. Sounds pretty awesome to me, but he keeps asking if it's okay...

    The plans to go to Java have fallen through. That's okay, I'll just relax in Bali for the last few days. I'll have to come back and see Borobudur another time.


    Interlude: Beaches
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    The beaches I've been to in Bali - just Echo Beach and around Legian - are pretty different to Australian ones.
    The first thing I noticed at Echo Beach was the sand. It's pitch black. It's volcanic sand there, and kinda beautiful. Other than that, it was about what I'd expect from a beach.
    Then there's Legian. I'll start with the bad: it's absolutely filthy. There's this layer of rubbish on the beach, and when you get in the water you have to wade through more of it. It's disgusting. Sam told me about one time when he was at the beach, and he picked up all his rubbish before he left. One of the locals asked why he did that, and he said, you know, stuff about not wanting to dirty up the beach. The man said "Not your problem! Government problem!" ...and that seems representative of the prevailing attitude here.
    Relating to this, the beaches here feel... kinda dead. Even the much nicer, cleaner ones in Lombok. There doesn't seem to be nearly as many crabs, seashells, snails, sea anemones, kunjibois and all those other living things I expect to see on a beach. At least Lombok had millions of worms living in the rocks on the coast...

    The good thing: the beaches are covered with lounges, chairs and umbrellas, and the top of the beach is lined by vendors, food stalls, and the beach boys. The latter are in charge of looking after the chairs, moving them around, cleaning them up and all that, and they sell drinks to the people using their chairs - water, soft drinks, Smirnoffs and, of course, Bintang.
    I've learned a few things about this business from Aang. For one thing, they totally get ripped off. Aang and his partner, Sony, have to give 60% of their profits to the owner of their particular patch of sand, and split the remaining 40% between them - so in the end, they each see all of 20% of the profits each. In the rainy season - which it is now - they'll call 60,000rp (~$6aus) total a good day. In the dry season, they can get a couple hundred thousand.
    The other thing is an observation about customers. He tells me that the Australians always sit right up the top of the beach, close to the vendors. Down the beach, close to the water, is where all the Europeans go. Also (shockingly) Aussies drink a lot more Bintang (well, the guys do - apparently all the Aussie girls go for Smirnoff), and so are much better customers. So, basically, Aussies are more friendly and social, and better for the economy than Europeans

    As well as the stationary vendors, there's wandering ones walking all up and down the beach. They sell sarongs, jewellery, henna tattoos, massages, manicures... Even little (and sometimes not-so-little) wooden statues. They're everywhere, and selling everything.

    In the end, I think Echo Beach is much nicer, and better for swimming, but Legian is a lot more fun.


    Entry 6: Bye-Bye Bali
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    As I said, Aang took me out again. It went pretty much as I described. Jimbaran was amazing. You go past all these super-fancy seafood restaurants, where a plate will cost you a good $100, and go right down to the fish market. It's muddy and stinky and soooooo cool. There were little sardiney fish and huge tunery fish and lots of squid of all sizes and parrot fish and coral trout and and and... I loved it! We bought about two kilos of seafood, consisting of some sort of medium-sized fish, a bunch of smaller sardiney fish, prawns and some squid, and took it to a shop nearby where Aang knew the owners, who cooked up all our seafood. Including three bottles of water and a Bintang, all up our amazing fresh seafood dinner cost us about $12. He wouldn't believe me when I say I'd much prefer what we had to the fancy, boring restaurants.
    Then we went to karaoke. Now, in Australia, the only experience I have with karaoke is Guitar Hero/Rock Band, a karaoke machine my aunt has, and the occasional presence of a machine in a pub. But this karaoke was a custom-built karaoke club thing, with a whole lot of little rooms - you pay for the room, in hour blocks. It was soooo cool - and Aang, btw, has a pretty amazing voice. Incidentally, this Indonesian song, "Disco Lazy Time" by Nidji is ridonkulously catchy (I'd post a link, but this internet insists on sending me to ****ing Yahoo every time I want to do ****ing anything ).
    The next day we went to Canggu Beach, where he surfed and I did a terrible job of photographing him surfing (sadly, it was a bit too rough for me to swim...). Then we dropped by a masakan padang, where his "second parents" work, and I met his "sister by another mother". Apparently I have pretty much the same skin colour as this woman, which was interesting... Then onto a brilliant massage (I fell asleep...), and ear candling (it fills up with a whole lot of gunk and wax and dirt, it's so cool). Then I gave him all my Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon, and we said goodbye...
    I saw him again the next day, when I hung out with Sinta, her son and her friend. We all ended up going to karaoke again, and even Sam came to join us!
    Then there were lots of goodbyes, and I had to get ready to leave Bali behind...

    My flight out of Bali left at 6am. That meant leaving the house at 3.30am. I just didn't bother going to sleep, and spent the night packing. I eventually got on the flight, and now I'm hanging out in Kuala Lumpur for 8 hours...

    The rest of the Bali photos (featuring SNAKES! ).
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    Last edited by Serpentine; 2012-11-01 at 09:22 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Bali Reflections
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    Wellp, I've been to Indonesia, and I've left it again. I certainly threw myself into the deep end for my first ever foray outside Australian borders. All in all, I definitely think it was a good idea - even if my timing wasn't the greatest (I've never seen so much rain in a year as I have in the last 12 months!).
    Certain events have left a slightly bad taste in my mouth with Indonesia, but I don't intend to let it darken my view of the place. Because it really is stunning, the architecture is fascinating, and most of the people are lovely. I fully intend to go back there, not least because I haven't seen Borobodur yet - I just remembered I didn't even get around to going to Tanah Lot, and that was just down the road! I think I'll try to get the hang of riding a motorbike, too, and rent one next time I there. I think that bit of independence will really go a long way towards making the experience.

    I haven't really been in a good mood for reflection, and I've forgotten all the stuff I wanted to say, so I'll just talk about toilets now, instead. And never before have I experienced such an astounding array of water closets! I mean, in Australia you have your "throne" with toilet paper on a roll next to it, and mostly out in the bush, you have your drop-dunnies - a seat of varying luxury positioned precariously at the top of a sinisterly echoing pit of stench and despair; if you're really unlucky, it might even be full to the top.
    But in Indonesia, there's so much more than that. There's the first one, as above, with the nice seat with a flush and loo paper. Then there's that, but instead of paper you have a squirt gun. And then there's the squat toilets.
    For those who don't know, squat toilets are loos set right down in the ground itself. You put one foot on either side of it, squat down, position your bottom just so, and... you get the picture. These ones are usually (always? I forget) accompanied by a scoop-and-bucket (they have a proper name, but I forget what it was). The idea, as far as I could gather, was that you sort of splash the water up under yourself and hope it does the job. To "flush" the squat toilet, you poured some of the water into it.
    For those travelling in Indonesia, I strongly recommend always having a good supply of tissues on your person - you can never be sure that any toilet you go into will have any, although the squirt gun thing is okay. I would also suggest always having some soap or hand sanitiser, although I did make do without it.
    And believe me, if you go to Indonesia, you will become very well acquainted with the toilets.


    Entry 7: UK Arrival
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    I must admit, I've been a real gloomy guts for my first couple of weeks here, starting right off the bat with the plane trip: my flight from Kuala Lumpur to London was delayed and no one told me, but I should have known still, and it resulted in Archonic_Energy waiting for me at Gatwick for a full 5 or 6 hours (sorry!). His sister very kindly picked us up (what with it being 1am and all), and I stayed the night at his house.
    The next day he showed me around London, including a very tasty burger for brunchfast. We saw a lot of the major landmarks, I think: Parliament House and the Great Clock attached to it (the one what contains Big Ben, though sadly I didn't get to hear him), Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, a ferry ride on the Thames, and a ride on a double decker bus (whee!). We picked up The Succubus along the way, too. Also I owe them both lots of money, but contrary to what I intended I don't think I'll be able to pay them back at the meet-up
    Anyway, they got me to the airport, which brings me to my next downer: because of trains, we were 10 minutes late. I was able to make a run for the flight (I seriously don't know if the gate could have been further away), but I had to leave my suitcase behind. I was tired and stressed and in the wrong timezone and worried about the UK and it was all I could do not to start bawling in the middle of the flight.
    When I got to Glasgow I found KuReshtin, who informed me that Archonic_Energy and The Succubus had decided to post the suitcase up to me, so I'd get it in a few days rather than the 2 weeks 'til the meet-up. They wouldn't tell me how much it cost to do that, so I'm pretty sure it's a lot, which means I owe them even more... But there's not much I can do about that now, so I'll forget about it for the time being.

    So then I was in Largs. I think overall I like this place, for all gloomy weather and gloomy job prospects and other things have been bringing me down. I've walked from one end of the town almost to the other, and a lot of the way through it, and I've got its shops staked out. One of the butchers is particularly exciting: they've got kangaroo steak and sausages (better than the ones I've had in Australia), sadly no 'roo mince; and venison and quail and rabbit and frogs' legs... I'll be trying a lot of different meats while I'm here, I think.
    Ku's taken me to his gaming groups and to karaoke. On Burns' Night a couple of his friends gave us a tasty dinner, including the traditional haggis (stuffed in chicken). Ku says it wasn't a particularly good one, but it seemed alright. Tasted vaguely of marrow.
    Anyway, I've joined a couple of games here - having to learn new systems an' all. I think maybe one of the guys doesn't really like me (and he's on these forums, so that could be interesting), but his girlfriend is just gorgeous and gave me the giggles the other night something rotten. Everyone seems pretty cool - and I was rather surprised to discover that KuReshtin is far from the only Swede in this area. It's practically overflowing with 'em!

    So, food... As I said, I've tried a bit of haggis, but I'd like to try a good one, and properly so I can actually taste it. I've also tried something called Irn Bru, a sort of softdrink. I think it tastes sort of like a nice, less sweet creaming soda, or something - it reminds me of something, anyway. I'm looking forward to trying a deep fried Mars Bar.
    But the weirdest, freakiest, most disturbing thing I've come across is this: they serve cold chips/crisps as a side dish to burgers and similar. Burger, salad, coleslaw and crisps. I guess, logically, it doesn't not make sense - I mean, crisps are made of exactly the same stuff as hot chips. But... it's so weird.

    On Australia Day - the day after Burns' Night - it snowed. That was pretty awesome. I'll post a picture of my terribly Aussie Australia Day in a minute. I know it hasn't really snowed much, but it's still more than it did in Armidale last year, and there's been a bunch hanging around on the hills surrounding, so I reckon that's pretty cool, anyways.

    I've seen a bit of wildlife here, including SQUIRRELS!, but mostly birds. There's a cute little black and white thing that runs around the place, for one. Also the gulls are frigging huge, and the pigeons are pretty massive too. The crows, on the other hand, are little, far less intimidating than Australian ones, and kinda cute. I saw a starling, and I'm not sure whether they're as despised here as they are in Australia.

    I've been saying this whole time that I'll do lots of walks everywhere, and I haven't failed in that although I need to make sure I maintain the momentum. As I said, I've walked all up and down Largs. I also, on advice from one of Ku's friends, went up the hillside at the back of Largs. There's several walking tracks there, but I still managed to get lost (well, as lost as you can get when you can see the town right there, you just can't find a track to get to it without getting covered in mud). I followed a sign to the "Hendie Chambered Tomb" or something like that. Went past a pile of rocks which seemed like something significant. Turns out that was the tomb. Went up the hill, found a spot with a good view (don't think I found the look-out, though, unless it was the spot with the seats, but that wasn't up very high or anything), found a little hollow that looked like it was occupied by horny drunken teenagers on a fairly regular basis, saw an absolutely MASSIVE ship, and wandered and slipped my way back down again.
    On my way back, I came across a Thing. Dunno what it was. It was about 3m x 2m, I think, reddish stone or concrete, these big slabs in the ground that came up to a peak along the middle, sort of like a fairly flat roof - not sure whether it was meant to be like that, or if shifting earth had forced it into that position. One one of the long sides, a set of undergrowth-covered stairs was leading up to it. I have no idea how old it was, and there weren't any other buildings anywhere near it.
    Next week, I'm going to get up relatively early, grab a sandwich and a bottle of water, and walk right up the next lot of bigger hills behind the one I climbed.

    I think that's the main of things. Now I'm just getting ready for that meet-up whatsit thingamabob...


    Entry 8: Meet-up, Woooooo! Also: In Ur Kingdom, Takin Ur Tax Monies
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    The meet-up was just the best.
    So, we got ready and went off. Ku and I passed through Glasgow to pick up DarkCorax and Dvil. We found them near a ferris wheel (what is it with Britland and ferris wheels? ). Then we... Well... We drove. Not much interesting to talk about there.
    Then we got to the hotel, and were greeted by half a dozen faces pressed up against a window. We got our keys and then went up and met everyone (well, everyone who was there already, anyway). We faffed about a bit, talking and hinting at the possibility of making decisions, and then we started walking to look for somewhere for dinner. Didn't take as long as might be expected, as there was an Indian restaurant next block over with an elephant out the front, so clearly that was where we had to eat.
    We had to wait a while for them to find a table big enough, but they managed it. We all piled in and ordered our food and got to know one another a bit. After a while The Succubus managed to get onto us, and we told him where we were, and he found us and ate also. And then back to the hotel, where we sat around talking and I did some origami and Qwaz, I believe it was, made a pretty great paper aeroplane. Then bed, chatting with Koorly and Castaras...
    And then up in the morning again! First was the Quest for Breakfast. We went looking for a... what was it? Some supermarket, anyway, we think. We found a sign and went towards the building to which it was attached, and found... an office block
    So then we went in the other direction, eventually found another sign and followed it and found the supermarket-with-a-cafe (which is pretty weird, btw). And there we had breakfast. And it was okay.
    Then back home, grabbing stuff, and heading over to The Venue. We girls got shuttled over last, cuz there wasn't enough car space (and also I'm slow). There we found a few others already there, and a whole lot of games. And then we played them.
    I ended up playing Munchkin (I think?), Python Munchkin?, the OotS game (short version) and with Totally Guy a strange story-telling card game and... Cassarone? Cassatorone? Something like that. Archonic_Energy eventually joined in the latter. I'd quite like to play both again, and I kinda really liked playing a game just me 'n' Guy. I'm pretty sure I'm missing a game, too. I wish I'd gotten to play the Ankh-Morpork game, that looked like a lot of fun.
    'course, then I got distracted by SNOW! Lots and lots of SNOW! It was proper snow. Proper, stay-on-the-ground, enough-to-do-stuff-with snow! Oh, how I romped...
    I don't know how long I was out there for. An hour maybe? Dvil, Thufir and Tasroth (and DarkCorax? Or was it just the 4 of us at first?) went out there first, played around a bunch. I attempted to make a Snow-Roy. It failed miserably. I felt bad keeping these guys who clearly weren't as excited as I was out in the cold so we started to go in, but then others came out! And snowball fights began! And I slipped over and hurt my knee and The Succubus dropped snow on my head! It's okay, I forgive you ;)
    In amongst the snowfights, we made a snowdalek. And it was good. And then we finally went inside again. And then not long afterwards I checked outside and someone had destroyed our dalek
    By that time it was getting latish, so we headed down into the bar downstairs. After a couple of games of pool, I returned to nerdiness. Specifically, some of us set up a game of Battlestar Galactica, and Grlump suggested that the rest of us try out Werewolf. I'd never played it before, and it certainly wasn't what I expected. But it was amazing. I loved it, so hard. I was a wolf for both the first two games, and noone guessed Qwaz even said he never for a moment thought it might've been me. Third game (I think it was), I totally picked Qwaz as the werewolf
    Werewolf lasted all the way over to Grlump and Fifty-Eyed Fred's place. We walked there, pausing to admire the layer of snow on the cars (and the closeness of the two). That, by the way, is when I realised the sole of one of my shoes was broken and allowing snow to accumulate inside it
    There place was nice, but... uh... cosy. The Succubus had a nap while we all kept playing. It got changed up a bit - the wolves became Danes and I thing people from Newcastle or somewhere and dirty rotten Kiwi illegal immigrants. I got to try mead, too, which Grlump very kindly allowed us to taste. I was a little disappointed I didn't like it more off the bat, but it may be something I could develop a taste for.
    After that, it was goodbyes to those two and back to the hotel. People gradually dropped off to their beds one by one, until eventually it was us girls and a couple of guys hanging out in Thufir's room (he got a room all to himself 'cuz he's special). And, at about 4 or 5am, the last of us went off too.
    I was very sad that the next morning I didn't get to say goodbye to Archonic_Energy. I swear we thought we might've heard a door knock a good 3 times, but each time we got up to check and noone was there so we figured we were wrong and went back to bed A real shame.
    In any case, that day goodbyes were distributed around a trip to a Media Museum. Some pretty interesting stuff there, actually, including some clips of some very strange animation - including Insektors! Which noone except me seems to remember! Also Ku was on TV for a bit.
    Eventually it was Ku, Dvil, DarkCorax and my turns to say goodbye, and we piled into the car and headed back up north. The countryside was quite pretty, all covered in snow... We dropped Dvil and DarkCorax back at the ferris wheel in Glasgow again, and then back home to Largs. Much appreciation of KuReshtin for getting us all down there and back.

    I had so much fun. So much, you guys. I'm very nearly desperate to do it again, so I really hope I can be around long enough to go to another meet-up - even better if I can manage to do a few around the world! I really hope I can catch up with just about everyone who was there again. I don't know why, but I can't get over how cool I think Grlump is, and I need to get a picture of Fifty-Eyed Fred looking terribly English, and I want to talk to Fredaintdead more, and I want to hang out with Cassie and Koorly, and I want the Scots to show me around Glasgow, and and and... You get the idea. Hearted the thing so very much. Why can't we have another next week?

    Not much has been happening back in Largs. The main thing is that I've applied for the Jobseeker's Allowance here, and I've really gotta find a job. But, at the very least the allowance means I can hold on here for a while longer than I was afraid I could. Even if I don't have enough to travel outside the country, I should be okay for travelling within it, especially if I can get couches for a lot of it. I'm quite curious to see how much I get... Oh, also, I had to get a UK bank account for it. So I have a UK bank account now. I hope I get my card and some money soon, so I can go see Thufir's play...

    My photos of the meetup can be seen here.


    Entry 9: A Better Major-General Has Never Sat a Gee. RODE A HORSE.
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    On Wednesday, I caught an afternoon train to get to Newcastle to see Thufir in Pirates of Penzance.
    The trip over was okay. At Edinburgh, I would've been totally lost and probably would've missed my train if it weren't for a very kind train conductor who showed me exactly where I needed to go. That station is really weird...
    In any case, I eventually got to Newcastle, where Tasroth was there to pick me up. He was rather out of breath, having just run a block or two to get around traffic to meet me on time. Then he and his mum took me home, and I slept on their sofa-bed for the next 4 nights. Tasroth's room was rather entertaining, what with being full of D&D books and all the Ring books and all the oots books (I only managed to read one of them )
    So, what did we do... Good question, I have a truly terrible memory. I know we went to Beamish, cuz I have the photos to prove it!
    Anyway, Beamish. It's a sort of village set up like it was in the old days. It was quite interesting. We tried - and largely failed - to play with the hoop-and-stick thingies kids used to play with. Thufir, being the photogenic dastard he is, looked like he was dancing Singing In The Rain style. I, on the other hand, just looked tarded.
    Also there were ponies, chickens, and a picture of a couple of kids that looked like they would've been utter brats. And, of course, the lolly shop. Many lollies were acquired.
    On the way back from Beamish, we stopped at the Angel of the North - a really huge iron statue of an aeroplane-like figure. I would've expected it to be commemorating a WWII fighter plane building industry or something like that, but apparently it's actually for miners. It's pretty ridiculously photogenic too.
    That night Tasroth took me to his D&D game. I think there were a lot of in-jokes involved, and it was my first time playing 4th ed AND playing a psion, but it was a lot of fun.
    So that was Thursday. Friday was the day GrlumpTheElder turned up, but before that Tasroth showed me around Newcastle. Saw the sights, lots of very old buildings and stuff. He also took me to two - count 'em, two - gaming stores. I just had to get my nephew a birthday present (little figuriney things of all the Doctors), some dice - including mini dice for jewellery making - and a new "unicorns vs. dinosaurs" t-shirt.
    Then we went and got Grlump! :D There was a rather dapper fellow in a steampunk outfit at the train station. We were speculating that he might've been the friend Grlump mentioned, but it turned out to be just some guy in a steampunk outfit. He very kindly told me where I could buy his boots, but they're way out of my price-range.
    Anyway! Grlump! We went and got dinner at a pub! I was gonna pay for all our dinners, but my card "didn't work" so Grlump had to pay and now I owe him (more on that later). And then: Pirates of Penzance!
    We just barely got there on-time. It was really, really good. It'd been a long time since I saw it, so it was nearly like seeing it for the first time again. I got to see Thufir sing for the first time, and he was quite excellent. Second best-dressed person in the whole play. Although he did forget his hat once
    After the play, I was accosted by one of the actors, a very tall man, shouting my name and hugging me. Turns out he was Hazyshade, whom I once knew as Sushi Monster. I totally remember him, except I was sure he was female.
    Then we went to the pub. I talked to some of the actors and Thufir and Tasroth and Grlump, went to get a bit of a round of drinks... and that's when I realised why my card wouldn't work when I tried to get money earlier.
    Basically: I had no money in it. More specifically: I had checked that I had enough in my account before I left, but I had failed to take into account the $50 that was still getting transferred back to my investment account every fortnight because my attempt to cancel it hadn't stuck for some reason. So I had, in fact, negative 20-odd dollars in my account. Had to spend the rest of my time with exactly no money. So that was embarrassing. And now I owe Thufir and Tasroth and their family a bunch, and also Grlump for the dinner and Hazyshade for the drinks
    ANYWAY. Then it was Saturday. Grlump was gonna meet his brother in Durham before catching the train from there back home, so Tasroth and I went with. Durham is a really pretty town, and Grlump's brother looks like a smaller version of him. We had lunch(-ish) in the cathedral there. I saw the Tomb of the Venerable Bede. Also Grlump's brother said that, according to rumour, there was a mistake in the carvings on one of the pillars. I may have worked it out after a few minutes. Because I'm awesome like that.
    All in all, I really liked Durham. It had all the narrow streets and twisty little alleyways and ridonkulously old architecture I've been really wanting to see. I would've liked to wander around the graveyard outside the cathedral, but I think we were running out of time and I wasn't actually sure if it was allowed. Sadly, though, I forgot to take my camera, so I only have a few dodgy pictures I took with my phone. Shame. It is such a pretty town. Oh, also, it snowed briefly.
    That night I went along with Thufir to the play's closing night party. It was totally legit that I was there cuz I was super helpful to the production, what with being the one who took the photo of Thufir that was in the programme. Boozamahol was drunk, shenanigans occurred, I was oddly party to some dramas and bitchiness... Good times! Oh, and I had like 3 private shows - every now and then people just started singing around me. It was pretty great. There were some really nice people in that play.
    On my last day there, we took it pretty easy. Thufir and I kinda caught the first train in the morning home and slept for a good slab of the day... Then we went for a walk on the beach. There was a ridiculously picturesque lighthouse, and sand that doesn't squeak when you walk on it.
    Then Thufir and Tasroth got me to the train station, and I had a pretty uneventful trip home again.
    Thufir and Tasroth were really great. Thufir was a bit... mm... distant, but it seems he just gets pretty focused when he's performing. Tasroth can talk like a... like a thing that talks a lot, and was really good about showing me around and entertaining me and stuff. Their parents spoiled me, too. I generally had a really good time there. And I'm really, really glad Grlump could come too, he was fun.

    Hm... What have I forgotten?

    My photos can be seen here. Thufir has pictures too, go bug him.


    Entry 10: You Can Always Depend On The Kindness of Strangers
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    Well. It's been a while, and very back-heavy, excitement wise.
    The first week and a half after getting back from Newcastle were pretty uneventful. I walked to the Kelburn Castle one day. I was expecting to see the castle, walk around a garden, see an information centre or somesuch... Instead I found a full-blown theme park with a maze and stuff. I wanna go back there with a kid, or at least a nice immature friend... Felt a little silly walking around all on my own. It's very pretty, but I didn't get to the maze The graffiti on the castle is very cool. Also, there's a gum tree in the fancy garden for some reason.
    All the photos I took there are here.

    Another day, I went for a walk up the hills with Sinderman. I wanted to walk along a road I saw walking back from the castle, but we discovered that it's private property So instead we went up this dangerously winding and busyish road, 'til we finally found the look-out and walked back down to Largs down the fields and through the undergrowth. Sinderman explained some historical type stuff to me, and the scenery was very impressive.
    Unfortunately I was wearing my broken shoes (it was either them or the blister-causing shoes or the boots with no grip), and my feet ended up totally satched. Didn't help when I went ankle-deep into mud - Sinderman hardly laughed at all, very considerate.
    We came out at the same place I did last time, so I was able to show him the "thing" I found. Apparently it used to have a pavilion of some sort on it, but he couldn't say when it was taken away nor how old it was.
    Photos from that walk, and of Largs in general, are here.

    After that, I spent a week frantically looking for a job (this is on-going). My application for the Jobseeker's Allowance was rejected on the grounds that I haven't been in the UK for 3 months yet, so my wriggle-room evaporated. Many job applications were sent out. Very, very many. And calls were made. Oh so many. I got a couple of call backs, but (at that point) nothing promising.

    Somewhere in there, a great deal of alcomohol was consumed. I blame Sinderman. Both times.

    Oh! Also! Somewhere in there, I hung out with Dvil in Glasgow. We had a full Scottish breakfast, looked at a lot of fancy buildings, had a look at the Gallery of Modern Art, and explored the Necropolis. Glasgow has a Necropolis, and it is sooooooo cool. Makes me a little sad to see tombstones lying on the ground and stuff, but the place is gorgeous and full of big impressive monuments.
    And another day, Hazyshade turned up in Glasgow as well, and I hung out with him too. I'm not sure what we did. Seemed to just wander from one meal or beverage to the next... Hazyshade, what'd we actually do? Aside from eat a crock of mussels... And a mighty fine crock it was, too.

    Then it was mini meet-up time! Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, I was able to get down to Oxford a day earlier than I thought I'd be. Thufir, Tasroth, Archonic_Energy, The Succubus, Mercenary Pen and Lesser Minion came (and went) at different times, and most of us slept on CurlyKitGirl's floor (I hope I didn't miss anyone ). The... weekish was dominated by walking back and forth between the train or bus station and Curly's, and looking at really old stuff - particularly buildings.
    I really like Oxford. It's a beautiful place, chock-full of incredible architecture and students and hipsters. So much stuff older than my country. I'd quite like to live there. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to give out the resumes I printed off (except one), but unless I get one of these jobs (more on that later) I think I'll just post them down to a bunch of places.
    Back to people. We played a lot of games, is a big part of what we did. I even managed to convince The Succubus to buy a set of Killer Bunnies (it's at Curly's, by the way. She'll get it to you - or, if I get a job, maybe I'll buy it off you ). It appeared to have been a hit. Flux and Nuclear War were also involved. IIRC, I won 2 of the latter :3 (I may not RC...). A whole series of new Sherlock Holmes was watched, as was a plot arc of old Doctor Who. They (well, some of them) also got to see the wonder that is the Footrot Flats movie and The Castle. And Poida Poida.
    It was really good meeting Lesser_Minion (even if I didn't realise that was who he was for ages...) and Mercenary Pen (even if we were late to pick you up and took ages to recognise each other). It was great seeing Archonic_Energy and The Succubus again. And I have to say, I was not expecting that I'd end up spending so much of my time in the UK hanging out with Tasroth and Thufir... Not that I'm complaining, of course Oh, and Koorly was great, of course. I'm so incredibly jealous of her college room...
    The rest of my mini-meet photos are here. Again, Thufir has more, but him about it.

    So, the original plan was that various people would leave at various times, Thufir'd go back to Newcastle sometime Fridayish, and I'd meander my way back northwards at a leisurely place. Two things put the bullet in that plan: first, Curly's plans changed, resulting in her going home on Wednesday instead of Saturday. Second, I got two job interviews!
    The first interview was over the phone on Wednesday afternoon. It was for a job as a Library and Learning Centre Assistant, in a Microsoft building in Reading. Most of the interview happened, as I said, over the phone, but then they said they'd like me to go there in person sometime soon, and I suggested I duck over there then. That resulted in a quick shower, panicked packing, a missed train, and turning up 40 minutes after I said I would. They were very understanding, though.
    The job itself would be mostly pretty standard library stuff... in a library mostly containing programming, IT and business related stuff, and kites. Shelving, lending, returning, that sort of thing. The tricky bits would be that kinda the point of the job is that I'd be there all on my own - my supervisor'd be elsewhere doing other things, or maybe even on holidays, and I'd have to cope with everything and anything myself - and tracking down very specific information on subjects I most likely know exactly nothing about, and also making recommendations of materials on same topics. The latter's not likely to be a problem - my prospective boss said he doesn't really know all that much of the technical stuff himself. The first part, I think it'd be a good challenge. The library itself is a little cube of chaos in a massive, shiny corporate monument. That has a kite-flying club. About 22,000gbp/year (I don't quite know what that means, but it's info).
    I'm really not sure how I went in that interview(s). I think the two interviewers liked me well enough, but I don't know whether I sold my competency sufficiently. A few of the questions I think I sort of over-answered. So, for example, when asked "what do you do if someone asks you to find information on something, and you have no idea what that thing even is?", I said "well to start with, I'd just ask them to explain it to me. After that, I would do some research into the topic - honestly, Wikipedia can be a useful place to start, to get a general overview, and there's Google, and..." and then I sort of petered out. The interviewer then told me that just the asking bit will usually do the trick, and people tend to forget that bit. In any case, I should know tomorrow whether I got the job or not.

    The second job interview... Well, that involved going back to Oxford, waiting around for a few hours (having dinner at Giraffe and leaving a resume there), hopping on a bus up north with a heart-stopping pause at Milton Keynes where I thought I might not be able to get onto the next bus, sitting on it for hours 'til I finally got to Abington in the wee hours of the morning where a very kind lady drove me to my hotel. There I collapsed into bed for 2 hours then made myself get up, have a shower and catch the bus to Biggar for my other interview.
    That one was pretty straightforward. The job is a part-time library assistant job at the public library (which is attached to the high school library). It's all stuff I've done for the last 9 years, and I had a good answer for every question (my iffiest was "give an example of teamwork", where I used my last library's staff working together to get the hang of the new computer system). On the other hand, I know there was a whole lot of competition for that job. That one I won't find out about 'til at least the middle of next week.

    These job interviews are a big deal. I'm down to my last few hundred dollars. If I don't get a job very soon, I may well be on my way back to Australia before this time next month. That would make me sad - I really want a spring birthday for once

    I should put what I said in the Kindness thread here, too:

    I've had soooooo many small kindnesses the last couple of days. Just a whole lot of little things. For example:
    - I asked a man whether I was at the right bus stop for the train station. Not only did he confirm that and point out the station for me, he carried my heaviest bag there for me.
    - A (rather odd) man working at a bus station helped convince the driver of a fully booked bus to let me on, and...
    -...a bus driver let me on his fully booked bus (and made sure he gave a shout when we got to my destination).
    - A guy at the service station the bus stopped at tried to call me a taxi, and when he was told they didn't have any 'til after 9am, found someone to drive me to my hotel.
    - Someone drove me to my hotel from the service station.
    - The hotel had my room all ready when I turned up at 7am, even though check-in is meant to be at 1pm. They also have been helping me work out my travel arrangements.
    - The bartender/chef gave me a free drink - I was the only one there, so he "bought a round for the room".

    I told the hotel manager about some of these things, and he said "you've had some bad luck!" I disagreed

    And so. Here I am in a hotel room with dodgy internet. Tomorrow morning I get the train down to Leeds (after a short jaunt into Glasgow, 2 hours away from Largs... Geeze) to hang out with Guy and Grlump and stuff. Or that's the plan...

    Oh yeah, somewhere in there I made Ku and myself a haggis. I like the taste and the texture, but I think I can only really eat it with something.
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2012-11-01 at 09:38 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Entry 11: Hang Out With ALL the Playgrounders! \o/
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    Well, I finally made it back down to Leeds, with no more mishaps or digressions (that I remember…). I suppose I should start with an update of the extra-important bit from the last entry: I didn’t get the job in Biggar (dagnabbit), and I still don’t know about the one in Reading; I called the interviewer on Tuesday, but they had a late interview and hadn’t yet made a decision. I really, really hope I get that job – but more on that later, for now the good stuff.

    I had a really, really good week. I got to hang out with three different Playgrounders one-on-one for an extended period of time, which feels a lot different to having a meet-up with half a dozen or more of us. If I were to start overthinking it (and I were), I might dither on about how it’s sort of knowing for sure that the person spending time with me is doing so specifically because they want to spend time with me – and I with them. In a multi-person meet-up they might be there to see someone else and I’m just something they have to put up with, or they want to see me but only as part of a mass of other people they want to see (…if that makes sense). It also meant proper conversations. About things. And stuff. And, like, getting to know one another and crap.

    Anyways, enough navel-gazing. I got to Leeds by train, and Totally Guy picked me up and took me back to his. I had a really lovely time with Guy, and I believe he enjoyed his time with me. Now to try to remember what we did when… I’m totally gonna get a bunch wrong.
    The very first night was pretty eventful, right off the bat: we wandered around York a bit, had Asian food for dinner (with lots of left-overs for later meals), and then on the way home stopped at a fire in a field for a spot of folk-singing with a bunch of rather interesting people. I almost, but not quite, got up the nerve to suggest Waltzing Matilda. Oh well. Learnt some other very interesting songs, anyway.
    The next day, Guy and I met up with Last_Resort33, his husband (although I admit I didn’t realise that connection at the time), and some other friends of theirs to climb Mam Tor. All very nice people. A couple were archaeology students, so at last I was able to get some answers on the age of things – and also some conversations about Homo florensis and red hair mutations and such. The hill thingy itself was intimidating but surprisingly easy a climb. The landslide that took some good chunks out of the road was impressive – looked just like some post-apocalyptic landscape. Sadly we weren’t able to go into the caves that’re around there cuz we’re all a bunch of cheapskates, but it was a really nice walk with a pretty nice lunch…ish afterwards. Unfortunately I forgot to charge my camera the night before, so I was only able to get a few shots. Last_Resort33 had a glorious beard which I’m sad to hear has since shuffled off its mortal coil. I was sorry to hear about what happened the next day, and I really wish him all the best.
    Also, Guy’s totally seen ‘em all starkers
    If I recall correctly, Sunday was largely spent wandering around Leeds trying – and failing – to complete various errands. At some point on the weekend – possibly Sunday – we watched Wild Zero, a Japanese(?) zombie movie which is just about the best thing ever. Ace is way cool. And the thing made no sense. Sense, it made none.
    During the week, Guy has one of these “job” things I’ve heard are all the rage lately, so the first couple of days weren’t too exciting during the day. On Monday, after an extended wrangle with the dastardly doorhandle which culminated in my breaking down and texting Guy to ask him how the damn thing worked, I went for a walk down to Pudsley to get his key cut, so I’d be able to leave the house and lock it up after me, and get back in again. I think maybe that night we made pasta and meatballs, but that might’ve been an earlier night. They were tasty as, though, whatever night they were made. Made pretty good leftovers, too.

    I managed to wrangle some interest out of –Lime--, and so on Wednesday I met him in York. We went for a really interesting and beautiful walk around the city, starting with an art gallery and punctuated by pauses at temping agencies and the odd gaming store and button shop. He told me a lot of bits and bobs and interesting facts about the area, and very kindly leant me a card so I could have a look inside a massive cathedral. Also at one point I totally kicked his arse at pool – twice. Seems UK rules are closer to Victorian rules than New South Wales ones…
    --Lime-- also took me to several pubs to find new and exciting alcomoholic beverages. He managed to find a beer that I actually liked (Liefmans, a cherry beer), and also a beer that does taste of bread (granted, it’s burnt bread) – that latter came in pint form, and he got a pint of scrumpy at the same time. The latter had this weird sharpness (as in, it literally felt sharp, not that “sharp flavour” thing) at the back of my throat. Sadly I didn’t like either of these two, so –Lime—got to drink both pints while I got myself a lovely little glass of apricot wine – which really tasted of proper apricots! The other place was a cocktail bar called Evil Eye (Guy and I had tried to go there previously, but the line was too long to make it worthwhile). –Lime—tried to remember a honey vodka he’d had before. He and the bartender managed to find the right thing, and we had a shot of it each. It was absolutely delicious. For funsies, the bartender also gave us a shot of another honey liquor he’d managed to find, which was also tasty but I think not as yummy at the first. All in all, by the time Guy joined us for the movie, --Lime—and I were both quite tipsy.
    So yeah, after a brief detour to find the grave of Richard Turpin (notorious highwayman) –Lime--, Guy and I went to see The Woman in Black – after a very tasty Mexican dinner. The movie was good – not quite as scary as I was bracing myself for, but I think Daniel Radcliff did a very good job of carrying pretty much the whole thing (even if he does still look like a kid pretending to look like a grown-up…). The best bit, though, was when there was a particularly scary jump moment, and Guy full-on squealed! I think his scream scared me more than the scene did…

    Thursday was Iolanthe night! I joined GrlumpTheElder in Bradford in the afternoon, and we did some wandering around (again…). We wandered our way to the Bradford Industrial Museum, which had (and has) a steampunk exhibition. It’s quite good, with steampunk art and real Victoriana side-by-side. Some really beautiful stuff – particularly the dresses (featuring one green fairy dress and a leather corseted outfit with lovely clockwork wings – both of which reignited Grlump’s fond desire to see a steampunk Iolanthe). There were several pieces of art for sale – from a gorgeous steampunk chess set for 500gbp, to some pretty watches and a badge which Grlump bought for about 10gbp. At some point Thufir and Lesser_Minion turned up, and then I went back to Guy’s where he and I got changed and came back to Bradford for the play.
    This opening show of Iolanthe was, I confess, somewhat shaky – several lines were missed, one or two people weren’t really throwing their voices, and at one point a song was performed half in shadow. At the last show pretty much all these problem were gone and it was quite excellent, but more on that later. The point for now is that it was an entertaining operetta, and I was full of squee at Grlump’s performance. He was playing the romantic lead, opposite his own girlfriend. They were both really excellent; other highlights included the Fairy Queen who I think had a great voice and stage presence, and a 10,000gbp Buckingham Palace uniform (with real bearskin hat).
    I went to Bradford again to hang out with Thufir and Lesser_Minion for a little while before they each had to go. More random wanderings were had, particularly with Lesser_Minion who was getting a substantially later train. We eventually made our way to a bowling alley wherein we both had a glitter-filled beverage, he kicked my butt at bowling (I was awful) and then we had a couple good games of pool.

    One night Guy and I went out for a drink with a very good friend of his, and then on Friday night we went to her place to watch the new Tintin movie with her, her husband and their neighbours. Guy went in his most Tintinny jumper, and ended up getting his hair did appropriately. He makes a disturbingly good Tintin… The neighbours found out that I’d never seen a hamster before, and so brought around theirs. She was rather ludicrously cute. Also the movie was really good, despite its dips into Uncanny Valley. I’m looking forward to the sequel I’m sure is coming.
    We’d made some Arrangements on Thursday night, so instead of getting the train back to Largs on Friday I went back to Bradford on Saturday to stay at Grlump’s and see the closing night of Iolanthe. As I said, pretty much all those problems on the opening night I mentioned were gone, and it had really improved to a really good production. A bunch more squeezing over Grlump was had, and I filmed or photographed quite a lot of it. Unfortunately I discovered the next day that when you take a photo while you’re recording, it stops recording for that moment, resulting in a jumpy video Can’t be helped now, lesson learned.
    After the show, we went to the after-party – two G&S after-parties in like a month! This one was at a uni bar, and involved a lot of dancing the Macarena and stuff.

    As I’ve observed to a couple of people, my trip to the United Kingdom thus far seems to be most consistently defined by wandering around various (generally very pretty) towns trying to find interesting things to do or look at with various (always very nice) young men, doing things that would actually make really excellent dates but aren’t. I’ve gotta admit, that wasn’t what I expected to spend most of my time doing. Not that I’m complaining – it’s been a highlight!
    This week I’ve spent a whole lot of time with three very different Playgrounders. And I think they’re all really tremendous people.
    It was really great, to start with, of Totally Guy to let me stay with him for a full week even if, I think, he was a bit iffy of it to start with. When he starts talking he can really talk, but it’s usually about something interesting. He’s a big ol’ goof, and a complete sweetheart. We were getting on like a house on fire by the time I left, and I think we both got a lot more out of my stay there than either of us expected.
    --Lime-- was a delightful surprise. I have the privileged position of being the first Playgrounder he’s met, so I hope I gave a good impression. I’m really sorry he couldn’t make it to the meet-up nor the mini-meet, because I reckon he would’ve enriched them with his presence. He’s very knowledgeable on a variety of subjects, which is a massive plus in my books, and has a crap-load of interesting stories and information to tell. I owe him several drinks, and I really hope I get a chance to pay him back for them. Just wandering around York with him is one of my favourite days that I’ve had here in the UK.
    Words cannot express how much I adore Grlump. I loves him so. I think he's just the duck's nuts. He’s adorable and has a great voice and is a good actor and is a lot of fun and is great to talk to and I squee a little every time I get to see him and I squeed a lot every time I saw him perform and if I don’t get to see him again before I leave the UK I will be a very sad Serpy. I keep trying to articulate my terribly complex feelings for him, but it generally just dissolves into “squee”. I’m officially adopting him as my little brother. Can I do that? I don’t think I have any other Playground family yet…
    Spoilered for gloominess:
    Spoiler
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    I’m very sad that GrlumpTheElder had to see me gloomy. On our way out somewhere this (Sunday) morning we stopped at an ATM for some monies. I had to go right down to 5gbp before I had enough funds to withdraw anything, which meant I had about 13gbp for the day’s activities, including travelling back up to Scotland – and it’s 7.20gbp from Glasgow to Largs.
    What this means is that I now have $370 left in the whole wide world (I’ve transferred $300 to my handy account). Technically speaking, this is when I ought to be contacting my father to borrow money for a ticket back to Australia.
    As an overview, I’m faced with three very scary futures right now.
    The first – and most ideal – is that I get a job (preferably the one I was interviewed for in Reading…) very, very soon. Like, no more than 2 weeks away. This will likely mean moving to another town, finding a place to live and settling in there at least somewhat. Although ideal, the scary bit here is that – assuming deposits on houses are a thing here – I don’t have enough money to pay for a place. From what I gather it could even be a full month of working before I get my first pay, which means a full month of not being able to pay for a place to live. That’s a very scary problem for me, but it’s a problem I’d really like to have right now.
    The second, which is rapidly looming higher, is that I contact my dad to borrow the $2000-odd to get back to Australia. I’ve got that exit there, but in that case I’d be back in Australia with substantially less than $300 to my name (depending on how soon I fly back), no home, no job, a heavy feeling of failure and (I presume) family disappointed that I wasn’t able to set out on my own and manage my money and get a job (or at least personal embarrassment at same). Also, I just really don’t wanna leave the UK yet
    The third is one which I’ve just started contemplating, but isn’t actually one that I can really decide to do – and if I could, I shouldn’t. Because it relies on my throwing myself on the charity of someone when I’m completely and totally broke, relying on them to house and feed and transport me while I continue looking for work here. On the one hand, I’d get to stay here for longer and have a better chance of finding a job which would let me look after myself again and pay them back and stuff. On the other, I’d feel absolutely wretched in the meantime; the amount I’ve been borrowing from and relying on people already has been ridiculous and only my decision to send a hamper (and, in one case, a whole lot of money when I’m able) to every person who’s assisted me so far stops me from curling up in a quivering little ball of shame. To truly be a burden to someone would just about make me sick. I guess I’d try to be a live-in housekeeper or something…
    Blegh. Meh. It’s all moot anyway.
    Just gotta hope I get this job, really :/

    On the plus side, the photos are here, and Iolanthe ones here.
    Videos:
    None Shall Part Us From Each Other (mah favrit :3)
    When Darkly Looms The Day
    The Lady Of My Love Has Caught Me With Another and Go Away Madam
    When All Night Long A Chap Remains
    If We're Weak Enough To Tarry
    Sorry about the crappy quality and the jumping around...


    Entry 12: Apply For All The Jobs?
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    Argleblargleflargle.
    Not much interesting to report on this time. Went back up to Ku's. Panicked a bit. Applied for more jobs. Played my last game in Sinderman's game - had a lot of fun! Applied for some jobs. Intended to walk around Cambrae - didn't. Went to a board game day with a bunch of Swedes - had a lot of fun! And a lot of pickled fish! Got picked up by Totally Guy. Now at his place applying for more jobs.
    This suuuuuucks! I'm used to being able to do little things for people - buy them a treat, shout them lunch, that sorta thing. And now I'm being all burdeny (╥﹏╥) At least I should be able to get Jobseeker's Allowance in 9 days, so I can contribute to food and stuff... But still. I owe so many people so much stuff >.< And I'm okay with owing people - I know I'll pay them back as soon as I'm able. But not knowing exactly when that will be is killer.
    So far I've mostly been applying for library assistant jobs. It's where all my experience is, the field I think I'm most likely to be hireable in, and there's actually more library assistant jobs going at the moment than you might think.
    But it's definitely not the only thing I'm applying for: I've also applied for a stack of animal-related job (and might have a trial day for it, if they get back to me on that), a bunch of receptionist and similar position, one or two museum jobs, and so on. In the next few days I'm going to take my resume out to just about every book store, gaming store, pub, cafe, shop and whatever in Bradford, Leeds and York. And I've just discovered that there's jobs going in an Australian-themed bar thingy, so I'll apply to that and wander in there as well.
    Bleeeaaaaarrrrrrrg.


    Interlude: Not A Fan Of The UK's Welfare System
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    Early in February, I applied for the Jobseeker's Allowance at Saltcoats. I was told I would get a National Insurance Number as part of that process. I gave them all the information, provided all the evidence, filled in all the paperwork, and attended all the interviews they required.
    A couple of weeks later, I received a letter saying my application had been rejected. It didn't say a word about why. So, I called up the number provided, whereupon I was informed that it was because I hadn't been in the country for at least 3 months.
    I asked whether, in that case, it was worth going to all the Jobseeker interviews and sign-in things, seeing as I wasn't getting any money or anything. I was told that yes, it was a good idea to do that, because it would keep my account active and would make it quicker and easier to get it when 3 months was up. So, I kept going to all the interviews and filling in all the paperwork and fulfilling every requirement.
    After a month or two, I realised I really need a National Insurance Number before the 3 months, so I called the line I found online to do so. They looked into it, and informed me that because of my Jobseeker's Allowance application, I already had a process to acquire a National Insurance Number active. Therefore, I couldn't apply to get one directly: I had to either cancel the application completely first, or wait for it to go through. I opted for the latter.
    Before I left Scotland, I had an interview. I told them that I was leaving the area and where I was going, they noted stuff down, and they gave me a number to call once I got down to Leeds.
    I called that number, explained my situation... and they gave me another number to call, and told me to tell them that I'm in Leeds. I called them, told them where I was, and they transferred me over. I explained my situation again, told them where I was, they asked for my post code and I told them that, and they told me that I was calling the wrong place and I had to hang up, call the number again and name this other place. So I did that... and the same thing happened again. Finally I got onto the right place, told them my situation... and they made an appointment for me. These calls cost me $14.
    So I went to the interview. At the front desk, they'd never heard of me, there was no sign at all that I had any interview. So they wrote me a note and sent me upstairs where I waited for about half an hour. After some time it was discovered that I was meant to be meeting someone else. As they were explained what happened, they complained about how late I was and that they needed to go to lunch. But they saw me anyway, eventually.
    The appointment mostly consisted transferring my interviews over to Pudsey and trying to work out what form I should fill in about the trial day I've done for which I may or may not get paid. For everything else, I was told, I would have to call this other number - but I could use their phones this time, at least.
    So then I called that number, and was told that they would have to call up Saltcoats to find out where my application was up to, and that they'd call me back. They did so... but my phone decided that no, I wasn't allowed to get phone calls, and did nothing but send me a text message saying "you missed a call from: null", and I couldn't call them back because I had no credit. (that bit's not the Jobcentre's fault).
    So the next day, when I got credit, I called that same number again and told them that I'd missed those calls. He informed me that he couldn't look up my details without a National Insurance Number*, flapped about a bit then finally organised for me to get called back again. Wouldn't take my second mobile number, though, cuz it's foreign, and wouldn't use email. Thankfully, this time it worked.
    So, after a job interview, I got the last call. This one started the usual way: "What's your national insurance number? Oh you don't have one? I can't look up your details then...", and went downhill from there. After much back-and-forthing, the conclusion was this: the rejection of my Jobseeker's Allowance was final. I have no account. They've never heard of me there. I've called the wrong place. There is no pending application. I will have to start again from scratch. She doesn't know why the National Insurance Number person told me I couldn't get one directly because I already had one in processing. There is no way to find out. She can't do anything for me. She doesn't know anything about how to get a National Insurance Number. She doesn't know why those people told me those things - I must have misunderstood. I'll have to call this number.
    So then I got control over myself to stop crying in an alleyway in the middle of York, and bought myself a slice of chocolate fudge cake and a big, creamy hot chocolate and ate a brown sugar cube.
    And that's why I hate the UK at the moment, and miss Centrelink terribly.

    *Bonus: every single call I've made, they've asked me for my National Insurance Number. More than half the time, they've then faffed about because they're baffled about what to do if I didn't have one.


    Entry 13: Misery Punctuated By Some Nice Bits
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    The stuff I talked about in Entry 12 and the last Interlude got a lot worse before they got better. I ended up giving out more than 50 resumes in Leeds, Bradford and York - of those, York businesses were the most polite and friendly, and Leeds the least. I got a couple of interviews and a bizarre trial day at something called Crazy Bubble Tea out of those. That's on top of all the other jobs I was applying for. The whole thing was incredibly depressing.
    Then there was dealing with Job Centre and the Dastardly British Beaurocracy. I don't think there was one time I had to talk to them on the phone where I didn't end up in tears... I swear every single time I was told that something I'd been told previously was wrong. And it ended up costing me more than $20 in credit before it was finally resolved.
    ...which it wasn't until I got to Newcastle. As I said, I ended up being told that my Jobseeker's Allowance was entirely done with. So I started again, to just get a National Insurance Number. I managed to get an appointment at Leeds Jobcentre to that end... in 3 weeks from then. They said to keep calling in case there was a cancellation and I could get in earlier, so I did.
    My agreed-upon time with Totally Guy was coming to an end, so I finally threw in the towel and took up Qwaz's offer of a room and a job (more on that later). One of the first things I did in Newcastle was call Jobcentre to change my NIN appointment to there. At which point the old mantra started again: "You don't have a NIN? Then I can't look up your stuff. I looked up your stuff, and you still have a Jobseeker's Allowance application in processing, so you can't apply for the NIN again. You need to call these dozens of numbers to be told that I'm wrong..." At which point I was all "no, not again! Here is everything that I've been doing, here are the ways I've been jerked around by you people. Jobseeker's Allowance can go jump in a lake for all I care (I think those were my actual words...). Just give me my National Insurance Number so I can be paid for this work I've got!"
    She ended up putting everything I'd just told her on my notes on my account, and made an appointment for me (much earlier) at the Newcastle Job Centre. I had the appointment, and right on time my National Insurance Number turned up. So that was that dealt with. For now

    So that was the miserable part. There were nice bits in there, too! Totally Guy was a great host. We went on a few outings. One of the first was the Royal Armouries - a sort of museum of warfare and weapons. And some weird stuff.
    We also went to a sculpture park, which had really terribly impressive and profound art. It also used to be a... mansion? Palace? Very impressive grounds, anyway.
    Then shortly before I left Yorkshire, Guy and I went for a walk on Ilkley Moor. It was quite lovely. We had lunch at the Cow and Calf first, then walked over some rocks and cliffs. The rocks were completely covered in carved signatures and dates - some from the last few years, others centuries old. One was very pretty. Around the outside was very scenic, with a bunch of spots that looked like they could be out of a fairy tale. The moors themselves were nice and desolate - just what I've been missing for a while.
    There was also Grlump's concert, and traipsing around a flooded York.

    As I said, the next stop is Newcastle. Totally Guy drove me and a couple of his friends there, making a day of it at the Wet'n'Wild here. Sadly, no pictures, but it was a lot of fun. The Canyon and twisty rides were my favourites, I think. And then it was on to Qwaz's.
    Another person to add to my long and growing list of people I owe a lot to: he's given me a room in his house (I have the princess room :3) for very reasonable rent. He's also given me a job at his nightclub. I pick up bottles, stock fridges, man the cloakroom (well, I've done it once, I assume I'll do it again), and help clean up at the end. It's pretty basic, low-pressure. Boring sometimes, and the fridges are hard on my knees... but I don't mind it! Especially when they're playing music I actually like - not a fan of the boring techno stuff, but there's some DJs who play a lot of stuff I like. I kinda like dodging through the crowds, although there are some very strange people out there - so far I've had my bottom pinched and slapped, been run over by a wheelchair, had my hair pulled and petted, been hit on, danced with, danced at, and had a bottle fly around a corner and shatter on my foot. It's an interesting job. It pays enough that I can stay in the UK pretty much indefinitely, but not really enough for me to travel anywhere much. Oh well. The hours are pretty mental, though: I start at 11pm, and finish around 4am (give or take). It's kinda worrying how little I have trouble with that.
    I had an interview for a job at a library in a hospital near London the other day. Caught the bus down, stayed the night at The Succubus' (thanks!), had the interview, then bussed back up again in time to be just half an hour late for work.

    The really fun bit! It was my birthday on the 23rd of May. I bought myself a snake-shaped cake. It is amazing. I love it. It is chocolate and delicious and awesome and everything I dreamed it would be. I still have the head. It is mine. It will be transcendent.
    Also some dudes came round (specifically Tasroth, Thufir, Hazyshade and Qwaz), we played some games, I got flowers and chocolates and an Angry Birds card game, we watched Disney's Robin Hood and we had Indian for dinner. Best of all, it was warm and sunny and I had a proper spring birthday!
    All in all, possibly one of the better birthdays I've had, really.

    So, in conclusion: I'm feeling a lot more positive about things lately than I have been. I have somewhere to live, and I'm paying rent for it so I feel less burdensome (even if Qwaz did give me most of the only week's rent I've paid back as a birthday present...), and I have a job which I enjoy which can keep me going pretty much indefinitely if need be, and the sun's finally come out (temporarily, I'm sure, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts - today I had an hour-long nap on the grass ^_^). So... this, really. In more ways than one.
    Also I gave my email to a dude in the nightclub but he hasn't gotten back to me, so oh well.

    Yorkshire pictures.
    Birthday pictures.


    Entry 14: UK Meet-Up! Again! And Not Much Else!
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    Pretty much nothing of interest happened since my last entry. Just a lot of working, applying for jobs, and having sleeping issues. Oh, and Thufir's birthday party, and his Tale of Two Hamlets.

    Work at the nightclub is... variable. Sometimes it's so quiet it's dead boring. Other times it's so stuffed full, and everyone is so incredibly obnoxious, that I turn into this guy.
    But then, other times, it's somewhere in-between, the jerkwads are minimal or at least manageable, the music's stuff I like or at least can stand (ugh, drum and bass), then... I quite like it. Picking up bottles, stocking fridges, cleaning up afterwards. Nothing terribly demanding for the most part, but keeps me busy, and keeps me housed and fed is the more important bit.
    I wish I was put on a different fridge more often; because I'm the only (I think...) girl on the floor staff, I'm always on keeping the girls' toilets clean, which I'm fine with. However, it also means I'm usually put on the bar closest to the toilets, which is teeny-tiny and uncomfortable. But oh well.

    Then I'm applying for jobs. Not as many as I should be, of course... Mostly bar staff, cafes and data entry or receptionist type things. There's been a couple of interesting ones, though: an information desk attendant on a cruise ship which would be pretty cool; some guy being willing to pay people 130gbp to play online games with him (I've since discovered he's scamming online casino type things); and a remote control toy demonstrator - I got a call-back for that one! No interview yet, though. I did get an interview at a bar - waited for more than 30 minutes for the interview, and then it went for all of 2 minutes. And I have no idea how well it went.

    Then there's sleep. Boy is that fun. I already had horrendous sleeping habits - 3am to bed was an early night, and I was quite pleased with myself if I got up in the AM. But when you can't go to bed until after 5am, and you still manage to get to bed later than you should, take upwards of 2 hours to fall asleep and then sleep in to the tune of 10 hours solid, that's pretty special. I've been using sleeping tablets, which helps, but I need to go easier on them. The last couple of days since the meet-up have been alright, so hopefully I can keep up these relatively decent sleeping habits.

    Well, wasn't that just all excitement? Yeah, I really haven't been doing a lot at all... Went out drinking with workmates a couple of times (Qwaz rocks "Sexy and I Know It" ), and walked on the beach with Thufir once. It's been ages since I went climbing over rocks, so that was fun. I also saw his theatre group's production of "A Tale of Two Hamlets", which was... odd, and extremely silly, and Thufir shot a dude. And I dropped in on his birthday gathering, but unfortunately I could only stay for a couple of hours as I had work, and it didn't quite stretch on long enough to warrant going back after I finished. I've been hanging out with Thufir a lot, is what I'm saying.

    So that's been my life for the last couple of months, really: working, looking for more work, sleeping (or trying to), and hanging out with Thufir every now and then. The bright point I've been looking forward to for weeks was, of course, the meet-up.
    It kicked off very early with the arrival of Lesser_Minion on Thursday. I went with Thufir to meet him, and then we bummed around a park for an hour or so 'til they went off to a rehearsal for yet another one of Thufir's performances, and I wandered home to get ready for work.
    On Friday, most of the others who were staying at someone's place turned up. There was lots of back-and-forthing, by car and by train, but eventually everyone was where they needed to be. Which was, of course, Qwaz and my place The rest of that night pretty much went like that, with lots of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.
    Then on Saturday, it was meet-up proper! We all got up at the crack of about 11am and headed over to the very interesting little bar. I sorted out some drinks, met some people I didn’t already know, said hello to people I did know, and settle down to some serious gaming. I played a few different types of card games, a couple of board games… At one point around the table playing Fluxx there was an Australian, an Italian, a Swede and a random French dude who’d wandered up to look at the art – not a Brit between us. Eventually, of course, we had to rearrange the furniture in order to get in a proper game of Nuclear War with all of us playing (except --Lime--, who didn’t turn up ‘til half-way through). Snow Leopard and I were one of the last few to asplode! (I think maybe he and Strawberries have some issues… she was very keen to blow up her own Boy.)
    Curly dropped by for a bit – we tried to make it so she could play a game with us, but sadly that failed miserably. Also there were some people from the “real world”, and the Waistcoat Brigade, of course, and the obligatory group photo. There were also more girls than at any other meet-up I’ve been to, especially if you count Curly’s appearance.
    The food was good, the games were fun, and eventually we wandered raced to catch the train home again. There we continued playing games, like Braggart, wrote some very strange stories, and murdered each other in Mario Kart and Smash Bros until it was time for the people staying with Thufir and Tasroth to go there, and for the rest of us to head bedwards.

    On Sunday we were up at the crack of 11ish again, and trundled on over to Thufir and Tasroth’s where they were in the middle of Werewolf. I was sacrificed by my fellow Wolves to our eventual victory, and Totally Guy made a fine crazy naked hobo.Once he was dead, we went to the shop to get a mass of foodstuffs, and then wandered down to the beach for a picnic. We had a very tasty lunch of chicken, sammiches and Jaffa cakes, and then played made amazing art on the beach.
    Spoilered for wankery.
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    I went for a walk down to shore (you can’t go to the beach without touching the sea…), looked back at all those Playgrounders, and was filled with wuv. I loved being all the way over the other side of the world; I loved that we were having a picnic on the beach and building a sandcastle; I loved how much of a part of the group I felt; I’ve said it before, but I love how there was a whole mass of people who were My Sort Of People – and by extension, that there were bunches of My Sort Of People all over the world, even if I hadn’t met them yet; and at that moment I loved every one of those sandy nerds. Even if things haven’t panned out quite like I hoped them to, just these meet-ups alone have made my trip more than worthwhile. So thanks for that, guys.

    Before we headed back to Thufir and Tasroth’s, we stopped for ice cream – my first in months P: (Pistachio – pretty good, but I should’ve gone for chocolate) Back at their place, Thufir enjoyed a moment of pimpin’ before the couch got a lot more crowded. We started playing a game of Dungeon courtesy of Hamishspence. Sadly it was cut short by Hamish having to head off on his long drive home, which is a shame as it looked like a great game.
    --Lime--and I took advantage of the fact that hamishspence had to drop back to mine and Qwaz’s to pick up something he’d forgotten, to ditch the others (who I gather had a pretty enjoyable evening without us). Instead, we went to --Lime--‘s favourite restaurant for dinner just the two of us. My crispy belly pork was delicious, and --Lime--taught me about good wines (and why Australian ones aren’t ). We wandered around town for a bit (I hadn’t really noticed it before, but that Millennium Bridge is quite lovely: it’s got these long, graceful white curves, and at night it’s lit up like a rainbow), and then headed home. It was a really nice night, especially when I bullied --Lime-- into admitting it was a date

    Monday was nice and chill. Qwaz and I went to pick up Dragonprime – I was quite amused that one of the first things Qwaz did upon meeting a seminarian was to exclaim “Jesus Christ!” at the traffic The day was spent playing more games, watching Blackadder, and drinking. Then it was Tuesday, and everyone left was ferried off to their respective means of getting home

    Since then, Qwaz has buggered off on holiday, and it’s been all work, looking for more work, lonesomeness and hanging out with Thufir * Next on the agenda is finding another job, and looking at borrowing a substantial amount of money off my dad to get back to Australia if I don’t. I’ll try to get out and about doing more interesting things – I particularly want to check out the castle of Newcastle and some of Hadrian’s Wall – but money is a fairly significant obstacle.

    *the sadface not being directed at that last bit, of course.

    My Meet-Up photos.
    Thufir's Meet-Up photos. (may not be viewable by everyone. If Thufir were to give me a link that anyone could use, I'd be appreciative)
    Other photos belonging to Strawberries.
    I'm gonna nick some photos that other people have posted here or on Facebook to add to my albums, in case anyone wants to complain about that.
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2012-11-01 at 09:41 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Entry 15: Farewell to Thee Olde Newcastle
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    Way back at the beginning, before I left Australia, when I didn't know what was going to happen, I made a plan. The plan was that when I got to about August, I would assess my situation, have a look at where I was up to and what prospects I had, and make a decision about whether I'd come home or settle in for a long-term stay in the UK.
    And come the end of July, that's what I did. I looked at all the jobs I'd applied for, the interviews I thought I was likely to get, the work I was getting at Qwaz's nightclub, & what events were coming up, & I decided it was time to go home. So I got that big loan off my dad, bought my plane ticket home, & prepared to make the most of my last month overseas.

    The first event was the Brass Festival in Durham, where Dvil was performing. It was hard to coordinate visiting the festival around work, but Thufir & I finally managed to get there on the very last day... about 30 seconds too late to see Dvil's band In all seriousness, he sent me the message saying they'd finished when we were less than a minute away. So, instead, we scabbed free food from the spread put out for the performers. Dvil was all tuckered out & heading homewards with his lady-friend, so Thufir got into contact with a local lady-friend of his own. Together we three wandered around Durham, saw the sights & explored the cathedral. We had a late lunch, & then went home again.

    Then it was Tasroth's birthday. He had a party a few days before, but Qwaz & I couldn't come properly. So Tasroth organised an outing we could go to: we all went off to the aquarium in Newcastle - me & Tasroth & Thufir & their mum and Qwaz. It was a really lovely outing - the aquarium was a pretty good one, with otters and seals and various weird, interesting, and often really beautiful animals. I enjoyed it, and I hope Tasroth had a good birthday too.

    I got to see two castles in the end: the one for which Newcastle is named, and a Warkworth Castle. At the Newcastle castle I was accompanied by Tasroth and Thufir (as usual), and Thufir's (rather affectionate ) friend, who was recovering from some surgery. It was the first castle I'd been to, and I wasn't disappointed. It was everything I wanted in a castle: creepy crannies, gorgeous architecture, mysterious locked boxes, dungeons… Tasroth had a bit of trouble with the height of the roof, but otherwise I think we all had a good day.
    Warkworth Castle was a strictly family affair: Thufir, Tasroth, their mother and I. The castle was a very grand, impressive place: where the Newcastle castle was pretty much the one, well preserved tower, with the ruined remains of the rest of the complex mostly swallowed by the surrounding city, Warkworth Castle was left to fall apart alone and in dignity on its hill by the river, surrounded by its grounds and its walls and its moat.
    The castle was particularly interesting because you could see the layout of the grounds and get an idea of how it would have functioned. You had individual rooms labelled and explained, but without cluttering it up with modern stuff. And the whole thing was a lot of fun to explore, with staircases that went nowhere, and lots of nooks and crannies to sit in, and fascinating corners, and incredibly huge fireplaces. It was, all in all, very cool. Also we got English jelly babies and I bought a frickin’ sweet wooden sword for each of my nephews :3

    Months ago, when I first stayed with him, Totally Guy told me about this place he’d been to called Forbidden Corner, a surreal garden in North Yorkshire. I thought I’d missed my chance to see it, but then he told me he could get tickets and some time off and asked if I wanted to go. I responded, shall we say, enthusiastically, and roped Thufir and his friend into coming along too.
    Now, I have a book I particularly like called Earthfasts. It was turned into a TV series, but no one seems to know it. I knew it was set somewhere in Britain, so I brought it with me, and it turns out it was actually set very close to where Forbidden Corner is, at Richmond, so I convinced the others to look around there too. Unfortunately you had to pay to get into the castle (a significant feature in the story) and we didn’t have enough time to make it worthwhile (our lunch took FAR longer than expected), but we walked around it a bit and I got to point out a few sites that were mentioned in the book.
    We finally made it to Forbidden Corner. Beautiful English weather for it, too. And it really was an absolutely gorgeous place. There were a dozen different routes you could take, and it was so easy to get lost (and separated) – if Guy, who’d been there several times before, wasn’t with us we would’ve missed a whole lot of stuff, without a doubt. And there were all sorts of bits and pieces to discover: a rotating room, fountains, sculptures, some very scared mice (and an extremely scary cat), a giant, a Dreaded Gazebo… I could go on forever listing all the fascinating little details they put in, so I’ll just recommend that you go look at my album and Thufir’s – or better yet, go there and see for yourself!

    So that was when I bid farewell to Totally Guy. Everyone else up north got a dinner in Newcastle, instead. I decided on tapas, because tapas is awesome and delicious. I had Qwaz and that same friend of Thufir’s and Thufir and Tasroth and some people who came to the meet-up whose forum names I forget and Hazyshade and Hazyshade’s girlfriend and this girl who helped Hazyshade find the restaurant whom I’d never met before but was very nice. Also I wore make-up and contact lenses, so you know it was special.
    And it was: that was the last (and first, in one case) time I would see most of those people – possibly forever, certainly for years. I was disappointed that everyone had to rush away so quickly after dinner, but it was a nice evening nonetheless. A few days later, I left Newcastle forever.*


    My Newcastle and Durham photos.
    Thufir’s photos of Tasroth’s birthday.
    My Newcastle castle photos.
    Thufir’s Newcastle castle photos.
    My Warkworth Castle photos.
    Thufir’s Warkworth Castle photos.
    My Forbidden Corner photos.
    Thufir’s Forbidden Corner photos.

    *Possibly not forever.


    Entry 16: Journey in the So-Called “South”, and Farewells
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    And so I left the North, lugging a Thufir along with me. We headed down into what I’m told is the South, picking up GrlumpTheElder along the way, and stopping overnight in Derby with Strawberries and Cream Snowleopard. They made us a delicious authentic Italian dinner, and showed us the sights of Derby. Then we went to catch the bus down to London… except it turns out it was a train, we missed it by a minute, and it cost me more than 100gbp to replace it with a train ticket
    Between that debacle, dragging all my ridiculous crap through half a dozen stations, and general travelling grumpiness I was not the best company for that trip. I cheered up somewhat, though, when Grlump pointed out the Long Man when we passed it. I appreciate that all the more since I wasn’t able, in the end, to see the Uffington Horse, so it was very cool to see something else of that ilk.
    We got to Hastings eventually, and Thufir and I settled into our B&B room. A lot of the next week was spent wandering around Hastings, seeing what there was to see and enjoying the local cuisine (fish’n’chips). It was a very picturesque town, with a lot of history and some really interesting buildings around. Highlights of the town included a burnt-down jetty, net huts, the distinctive pebble beach, and a truly fabulous shop window.
    We went to two of the museums in Hastings. Grlump, Thufir and I went to the Fishing Museum, an interesting little place dominated by a fishing boat in the middle of the room.
    Thufir and I went to the Shipwreck Museum on our own. That’s where I learned that I’m not a people, and how to tie a real knot. It was an interesting place, with some surprising stuff.

    One particularly notable outing was when Grlump and FiftyEyedFred took Thufir and I out to the town Battle to see their school, Battle Abbey, on the site of the Battle of Hastings. We started by having a look at the school itself, specifically the world’s biggest single-canvas painting. Grlump and Fred were rather smug about having gone to school in a thousand-year-old abbey, but frankly aside from the smugness I’m not convinced they appreciated it enough.
    I will grant, however, that they knew their stuff. The recorded tour thing was all well and good, but it couldn’t hold a candle to Fred striding off down a hillside to demonstrate exactly how far across Harold’s army reached. And I didn’t know much about the battle at all (there’s a tapestry of it and Harold got an arrow in the eye was about the extent of my knowledge), so it was interesting to learn about it looking at the exact place it happened. The story of the Abbey itself was quite interesting too, although to be honest I was more interested in the architecture than the history. Nonetheless, the grounds were utterly gorgeous, and I found the more domestic sorts of aspect of the history particularly fascinating – such as the vaguely sinister ice house. In conclusion, I’m extremely jealous of Grlump and Fred and their guard tower.
    Overlooking the pebbly beach of Hastings, up on a bright green hill, are the ruins of a castle. One afternoon, after lunch at Grlump’s house (I’ve been in Lumpy’s room! ), we three decided to go up to see that castle, and the Smuggler’s Adventure that shared the hill. We debated briefly over whether we’d go to the castle first or the Smuggler’s Adventure. As the castle was what I was most interested in I was for going there first, but the other two disagreed, and Grlump reassured me that we’d have plenty of time to see it before they locked it up. So Thufir, Grlump and I went into the Smuggler’s Adventure, which was a sort of museum about the smuggling that went on in the area, built into the sandstone caves in which they hid the goods. It was pretty interesting, but I wished they’d left a bit more of the caves themselves intact, so you could see what they were originally like before all the figures and information and… just plain weird stuff was put in.
    We emerged from the caves, more or less intact (unlike some people) and headed over to explore the castle…
    …which was closed. Turns out Grlump got closing time off by half an hour. That was disappointing, particularly as that was our last chance to see it, but never mind. I lived, and looked at it from outside instead.
    Also in Hastings was a pretty neat mini-golf course, which I insisted on playing. All three courses of it. The holes were a bit basic for my tastes for the most part, but I enjoyed it anyway; I hope the other guys did too. And by the way: Thufir is okay at mini golf, but INCREDIBLE at getting the free game at the end. He managed it twice. Also the thing told Grlump he “should’ve gone to Specsavers”
    Other activities in Hastings included drinking in the pub, and drinking on the beach, and playing games in the pub (while drinking), and doing some beachcombing. Among other things, GrlumpTheElder found a really interesting, spiky shell for me – with the two halves still attached. I’ve still got it :3 I think it’s extremely pretty, and I desperately want him to come to Australia so I can go beachcombing here with him.
    Oh! Also, one night, I saw a badger! I heard a tick-tick-ticking of nails on the concrete and saw something furry go into an alleyway. I thought it was a cat, so I went over to call it, but looking in the shadows I couldn’t actually tell whether it was a cat or a dog. It just sat there looking at me while I whistled and trilled at it, and then it turned its head slightly and I could see the silhouette of a definitely non-feline nor canine muzzle. I tried to get a photo of it but, as you can see above, my camera decided to be uncooperative. The guys made fun of me for being so excited, but… BADGER! (and Thufir hadn’t seen one before either, so ner )
    The goodbyes in Hastings were particularly sad. ‘tis a shamefully poorly kept secret that Grlump is my favourite, my Little Brother in the Playground, and I’m genuinely sad that I’m not going to see him again for years, most likely. I really miss him, and I want to bring him here to show him all my weird collections of stuff I think he might be interested in – or willing to feign it politely. And I can’t properly express how much fun I had with FiftyEyedFred on our impromptu wine-on-the-beach session. I’m glad we got to spend that much time hanging out, and wish we could have some more. I’m gonna miss you house-heads-of-a-private-school-in-a-thousand-year-old-abbey boys, more’n I reckon you know
    The next morning, Thufir and I were on our way to Wiltsire.

    The train got us into Pewsey, tired, cranky, sniping at each other and lugging around ridiculously huge bags... and then the people at the Bed and Breakfast weren't in We ended up having a morning drink at the pub down the road until they turned up, earlier than expected.
    The B&B itself was a really nice little place. Had a comfortable loungeroom with a nice big TV, a little bitty garden with an ancient dog and an elderly black cat, and cosy rooms with HUGE beds. The loungeroom was full of books about crop circles and goddess landscapes and astrology and the like - the lady of the house's I believe. There were also some sci-fi and Pratchett - the man of the house's, as I understand it. We didn't see the latter very often; the wife appeared to be the one mostly in charge of the B&B. Usually their guests only stayed one night, maybe two, so she didn't really seem to know what to do with us staying a whole week. She ended up allowing us to use the washing machine and some kitchen stuff, which was fine. We didn't intend to get any of our meals there, wanting to just buy really cheap stuff, but we shouldn't have bothered since we ended up eating out every night anyway (the lack of cooking facilities didn't help that). In the end we ate one tasty dinner and one tasty breakfast at the B&B, and got one of those for free; on our last night, there was a couple there that wanted a room each, so Thufir and I got moved to the other room. Which was even better than the original, so it wasn't exactly a downgrade requiring them to make it up to us...
    Anyway, we spent a day working out what we were going to do for the rest of our time there. The first thing we decided to do was walk all the way to Avebury, about 12km to the north-north-west as the crow flies. Of course, neither Thufir nor I are crows, and our route was significantly further than that - about 20km according to Google Earth. It ended up taking us 6-7 hours, and we did not take enough water. I intended to buy a third bottle on our way out of town, but didn't It was a shame, because it made the walk significantly less enjoyable than it would have been. There was a magnificent crop of blackberries to help make up for it, though, so it could have been worse (and Pewsey blackberries are delicious, by the way).
    The walk started with a wander through the back-lanes of Pewsey, as per the directions of our hosts at the B&B and a couple of people we met along the way. We bought an atlas of Wiltshire which was extremely helpful - helluva lot better than Google Maps' terrible directions. We crossed the canal, traversed some rather muddy patches, and wandered through the farmland. We supposedly passed a historical feature of some sort very early on, but we didn't end up going up to have a look at it and weren't sure what we were looking at anyway (this was a theme of this trip).
    There was an odd little village full of quaintness. Just outside of this place we got a bit lost, and discovered a really weird house. Someone inside kept watching us as we circled around it and recovered our path. Sometime later we caught another sight of it from far up above. Still have no idea what was going on with it, and considering all the stories of crop-circles and UFOs around the place it was kinda creepy. But no doubt it was just some rich person's country getaway.
    At the other end of the luxury dwelling spectrum we came across some gorgeous thatch-roofed cottages, and then a loooong, sloped - but very pretty - lane. Thank goodness for the blackberries that were growing along it - they were delicious P: Also there was a giraffe for some reason.
    This lane got us into the country proper, and we stopped for lunch in a sheep field. Our picnic spot had a pretty nice, very green view. There were also some mounds in the area that made me think there might have been something going on there archaeologically, but our maps didn't say anything, so maybe it was just from farm-related diggings.
    After lunch our route took us across the chalk hills with spectacular views. We made our way to a hill that was an ancient fortification. There Thufir had a nap while I went exploring. While we were there, a helicopter was going up and down the valley doing terribly impressive maneuvers. Bunch of show-offs.
    We went down that hill (pausing to say hello to some cows) and then went up the next one, looking everywhere for Adam's Grave that was meant to be around there somewhere. We had no idea what Adam's Grave was, nor what it might look like, and we were pretty disappointed when we got to the top of the hill without seeing any sign of it. There we sat around a bit, looked all over this hill and started thinking... This was a very odd shaped hill. With a very lumpy top. And a big rock at one end of the biggest lump, the first such rock we'd seen on the whole walk...
    Turns out we couldn't see Adam's Grave for the hill
    Our hostess had mentioned there being a cropcircle around somewhere. I'm not sure whether it was the one she was talking about, but we saw a pretty impressive specimen from Adam's Grave - the first and only crop circle I've ever seen. There was also apparently a white horse around the corner, but it wasn't very old, and we'd already misjudged distance pretty badly with Adam's Grave, and we were getting pretty tired and thirsty, so we decided against going looking for it. Instead we headed off down our path some more.
    There was a small fortification outside a farm at the base of Adam's Grave, but it's hard to see. There were also supposedly some tumuli, but we couldn't see them. In any case, the countryside was pretty gorgeous, and the quaintness was almost palpable.
    We never quite made it to Salisbury Hill, although we did espy it from a distance. We found the place where a very old stone and wooden circle once stood, though. Just before we went walking along the Stone Avenue we followed a sign into a field pointing to a stone circle about 500m along. We didn't so much find a circle as a bunch of overgrown rocks, but there was nothing else in sight that it could've been.
    In any case, we went back and followed the Stone Avenue to Avebury. The avenue was really gorgeous, and must have been marvelous to behold when it was first built. There were all these impossibly ancient monoliths, towering implacably in bizarre shapes and forms. It was kind of strange the way the road was almost, but not quite, parallel to the avenue, so that eventually it cut through it. These were the first standing stones I'd ever seen, and as I'm sure you can tell they really left an impression.
    The Stone Avenue leads straight to Avebury, and that was impressive. It's worth looking up on Google Earth if you get the chance. The Avebury circle is a really massive ditch and mound circle, at least a couple hundred metres across, and dotted with rows and circles of huge standing stones. All different shapes and sizes, and some of them carved here and there. There was one stone in particular that was clearly shaped, with geometric blocks carved out of it, but I have no idea what it was meant to look like - it's like the stonemason was interrupted part-way through. The town of Avebury itself was sort of awkwardly perched across the western side of the huge circle like a cat flopped over the side of the bath. I looked into its history a bit, and from what I gather the town used to be a lot bigger until it was bought - the whole town - for its historical value, and mostly demolished to make way for archaeology. Except the pub, of course. It was a surreal place, and somewhere I'd like to visit and contemplate again someday.
    Just the trip home again was a journey in itself. It was nearly impossible to find even remotely reliable bus times online, but I thought I found something that worked. Then when we got to the bus stop in Avebury and compared it with the timetable there it was way off. We ended up having to get a bus all the way to Swindon, where we discovered that we'd missed the last bus back to Pewsey by about 10 minutes. We had a look at the trains, but we'd have to get it to Reading and hope there was another train from there to Pewsey. Not willing to take that risk, we ended up getting a 50gbp taxi all the way back home
    Bonus: when we told the people at the B&B about it, they said if we'd called them they would've come get us from Avebury for half that At least we saw a White Horse on the way.

    Speaking of White Horses, Thufir and I originally intended to go see the Uffington Horse on the Saturday - literally the only day it was possible to get there by public transport. In the end, though, we decided that it was going to be too long a journey for too short an expedition. The experience of the Avebury walk didn't help, either - the trip was slightly complicated involving a series of buses and/or trains, and after that debacle we didn't know how reliable the trip to Uffington would be. That was a very sad decision to make, as the Uffington Horse was one of the main things I really wanted to see in the UK.
    Instead, Thufir and I went for a walk around Pewsey itself. We went wandering out of town - passing a bizarre Muppet Show installation that appeared overnight for some reason. Trusty guidebook in hand, we set off to see all the sights - starting, unexpectedly, with yet another White Horse. I don't think it's particularly big as far as White Horses go, but once we clambered up the surprisingly steep hill it certainly seemed impressive enough. We stopped there for lunch and admired the view. While we were there a couple from... shoot, where was it? Holland, maybe? Belgium, I think, turned up. I asked them if they knew anything about the OTHER White Horse you could supposedly see from there, and they let me use their binoculars to see if I could make it out (I couldn't).
    I managed to convince Thufir that we had enough time for a bit of a walk to another long barrow nearby, and I think it was pretty nice. There was a lot of countrysidey stuff, and the fields below made an intriguing multicoloured patchwork. Dotted around on the map there were a bunch of "ancient agriculture features" (or something like that). With nothing else to indicate what was going on, I can only assume they were things like the stepped hillsides and the strange ripples in the earth.
    I thought that was a funny thing about that area, and about the UK in general. If, in Australia, we had man-made landscape features that are thousands of years old, you can bet we'd have them surrounded by informative plaques, pointed out in detail on maps, described in pamphlets readily available at most tourist-oriented businesses nearby, maybe some tour guides... The UK, you have an ambiguous little symbol in a map book. I feel like history is taken for granted over there... I suppose they do have plenty to spare.
    We found that long barrow in the end. As expected, it looked like a little hill on the hill. Here, again, Thufir had a nap while I went exploring. The barrow had a dip in one end. I gather, from later information down near Stonehenge, that these dips (I saw a similar one on Adam's Grave) are from archaeological digs performed in the 1800s and not, as I was musing at the time, the location of the original entrances to the tombs.
    From thence we made out way back down into the valley. Unfortunately neither of us thought to take a picture of our descent as we were making it, but I assure you it was extremely steep and quite nerve-wracking on occasion while we were going down.
    On our way back we passed some weird little woods and looked some more at the picturesque countryside. We'd been looking for fancy feathers with which to decorate Thufir's stylish hat, and I managed to sneak two of them on it without him noticing. What japes!
    After getting a bit lost, even within sight of the town, we managed to make it home, just in time for Doctor Who!
    Incidentally, when we got back there we discovered that the B&B had two new guests: the Belgian couple we'd met at the White Horse!

    The Sunday was Bath day. And no, I don't mean I had a shower (although I may have done that too). We were going to Bath, which was the place my Mum specifically singled out as a place I should see while I was in Britain. Seeing as she was basically funding the entire expedition, I thought I probably ought to go have a look.
    The first exciting thing about Bath was on the way there. The train passed yet another White Horse. Although we only saw it from far away, it looked positively humongous. But we weren't devoured by the gigantic equine, and we made it to Bath where we met up with lesser_minion, who'd come out for the day trip.
    We spent the first while looking for somewhere that was nice and cheap, and also open, for lunch. I believe we eventually settled on bagels, which were quite tasty. But while we were wandering around lost and aimless, we also took in some of the sights of Bath: we saw the pretty little park (that you have to pay to get into), the canal, a mysterious castle far off in the distance, and various other quaint and impressive sights (most of which were probably older than Australia). And also a squirrel.
    We went to the cathedral there, which even from the outside was a strange and formidable piece of art. It is decorated with gorgeous and sometimes really weird carvings of something like a Tree of Life, and creepy-looking angels climbing up and down ladders.
    Inside it continued this mix of strange and spectacular: the walls and floor were lined with... graves? Tombstones? Memorial plaques? I'm not sure exactly what they were, but they were everywhere - it was literally impossible to avoid walking on them. Some of them I know are older even than western knowledge of Australia, because they say so.
    The ceiling had this lovely scalloped design, almost fungal in appearance, and of course the stained glass was gorgeous - there was one set that depicted the colonies, including Australia and New Zealand. For some reason India got to be represented by St George and the Dragon, which doesn't seem very fair. And then there were some decorations that were just plain creepy.
    From the cathedral we headed to the baths of Bath themselves. It was very cool, so impossibly old and beautiful and laden with historical significance. And the pools themselves looked so inviting, I desperately wanted to go for a dip: the last dunking pool was particularly picturesque with its treasure-trove of coins, but the disturbingly bubbly, boiling secret inner sanctum pool was also intriguing.
    There were lots of interesting bits and pieces in the museum the baths have been turned into - I think my favourite was the signet stones that had been washed out of people's rings. They were tiny but beautiful, with intricate little pictures cut into them. All in all, I'm glad my mum urged me to go see it, and I'd recommend the Baths to anyone with any interest in history.
    Sadly lesser_minion, Thufir and I were kicked out of the baths just before we'd really finished looking. But never mind: Minion took us out to dinner at a pretty great place that did amazing hot chocolates (a favour I hope to repay some day), and we wandered through the darkened streets of Bath to catch our trains back home.

    But that wasn't the last I saw of lesser_minion, no siree! That was the next day, when we all met up again to go for a walk to that stone circle to end all stone circles: Stonehenge.
    The Stonehenge was an interesting one for me. I wasn't ever really particularly interested in it - I think because I'd been given the impression that there was this great big fence all the way around it so you could only see it from the road, quite a distance away. Visiting it was pretty much just an aside: "Well, as long as we're in the area, I suppose we ought to...". And I'm glad we did, because it really was the very definition of impressive.
    Thufir and I met lesser_minion in Amesbury, which was... a town. Looked very town-like. We set off into the countryside; a relaxing, pleasant sort of region dotted with haybales and burial mounds. After a shortcut or two, we spotted it far off in the distance across the plain: the Stonehenge itself.
    We had to pay to get in (you have to pay to get everywhere; if I go back there again I may join that historical society or whatever it was that let you get into places cheaper), but once you were in it was much better than I was lead to believe. You can't walk right in amongst the stones, obviously, but the path around it gets very close at places, and it's just bound by a low single-rope fence (if you can call it that).
    Like I said, Stonehenge is like impressiveness made manifest. It's humongous, every piece fitting perfectly into its couple, and its simple, primitive appearance belies the technological precision that you can see must've gone into building it when you look at it carefully - and it's a more complicated construction than you think at a glance, or from pop-culture. It's just so, so very... incredibly... old, and it looks it. It looks like it's been there forever, and will probably be there forever still. I'm very glad I had the chance to see it.
    I digression, for a moment: you might've noticed that in a lot of these pictures, notably at Stonehenge, Bath and Battle Abbey, my companions and I have our hands apparently glued to our heads. This is because these places have audio tour guide things. I have mixed feelings about these things. On the one hand, there's some really interesting information, more than you could fit on boards, and you can listen to it while you're walking around. On the other, they fill up your entire time there so there's no time to just look at things or talk to the people you're with, and you can't skim over the information to find a point here and there you find particularly interesting. All in all I can see why they're popular, but personally I prefer the information board system, and I'd kinda like to see those places again without them.
    We took a different route home, during the course of which we discovered another distinctive feature of Stonehenge: you can't escape it. You can see it from everywhere, just about. And it seems to get bigger the further away you get. We walked along a "circus" thing, this long self-enclosed road-like construction - the function of which is apparently unknown - and across fields. There were burial mounds (or "tumuli") frickin' everywhere. On one of them I found this awesome, huge bright orange slug. It did this weird wiggly dance when I picked it up (I'll try to upload the video I took of it at some point). There were also some satisfactorily creepy little woods.
    We went back to the town, and said some sad goodbyes. It was a great day out, and I'm gonna miss lesser_minion a lot - he really needs to get down here so I can pay him back for that dinner.
    Then there was one last dinner, and one last bit of wandering around Pewsey, and Thufir and I were on our way to our last stop: London.

    The Succubus very kindly housed me, Thufir AND, in the end, Archonic Energy. Sadly the next day he had work, so it was just we three who went off into the city. We picked up a couple of extras along the way, though. This was the first time I'd ever met Onasuma or Nameless. I was pretty excited, and they were everything I imagined and more! Nameless is as gorgeous as advertised, but surprisingly a bit on the shy side. I'd have liked to get to know him in person better, and I still have to send him his present. Onasuma... I had pretty much no preconceptions about him, but I'm very glad he came. I think we clicked basically straight away (suppose he may disagree...), and I think I can reasonably safely call him a good friend, now.
    Thufir, Archonic Energy, Nameless, Onasuma and I spent the day at the British Museum. A full day wasn't enough, especially not with a break for lunch in the middle (Archon's treat! He's a big ol' softy, really, but don't tell anyone).
    There was, as you might expect, a whole lot of really neat stuff in the museum. There's not really much point going over it all; it's a museum, go see it. Things were learnt, shenanigans were had, and then we said goodbye to Onasuma (just for the night) and Nameless (FOREVERS D:), and Thufir, Archie and I had dinner with The Succubus.
    The next day we met up with Onasuma again and Archie plied us all with copious amounts of doughnuts, which we ate in the park. Then we played a whole game (!) of OotS before grabbing some lunch and heading off to the airport.
    For the several weeks up to then, incidentally, my cousin was in the UK. I kept trying to organise to catch up with him somewhere, but he was always in the right place at the wrong time - he was in Bath, for example, when I was in Hastings, and he ended up getting to London just as I was meant to be catching the plane. Very frustrating. I really wanted my beloved nerds to meet my super-cool and much-more-Aussie-than-me cousin, and vice-versa...
    Getting to the airport went perfectly. We gave ourselves plenty of time, I had all my documents and everything was packed and ready to go. I had too much stuff and it was too expensive to pay for the extra luggage, but I'd planned for that (and I will send Archie the money to post that bag here (plus a little extra for the trouble) just as soon as I get a settled address, or when he tells me he's sick of it getting in his way, whichever comes first). But then...
    Then...
    The flight was cancelled So that was all incredibly anti-climactic. Everyone on the flight was put onto one the next morning, and given free accommodation that night. But that didn't help the fact that I said all my heartfelt and sad goodbyes, only to then not leave the country.
    In any case, the farewells were made and with a great deal of sadness. It seemed fitting, I think, that Archonic_Energy and The Succubus were the first people I met in the UK, and among the last to see me go. I feel like there's some sort of symbolism, too, in that my departure party was twice as big as my arrival.
    I owe Succubus a lot (I shudder to think how much...), and for that matter Archie too. I look forward to opportunities to repay them.
    Although I'd only met Onasuma the day before, it still felt right that he'd be there to see me off. I confess that I may have developed a not insubstantial crush on him, and I hope he gets himself to more meet-ups because he'd be a fantastic addition.
    And then there was Thufir. Ah, Thufir... My constant companion for the better part of a month, and my close friend for months before that. He was truly excellent company, as patient as you could expect (or more), and just generally wonderful. I hope - nay, I demand - that he visits me here in Australia, the sooner the better. I'm proud to count him as one of my best friends.

    I made it to my replacement plane alright, and with mixed feelings (to put it lightly) I left Britain behind, and went home.



    Postscript
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2013-01-24 at 06:37 AM.

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    Awesome, you're doing it! I'm going to follow this one. And hopefully I'll eventually collide with it in real life.
    Attempting to say controversial things that everyone will agree with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    LOOK, A DISTRACTION!
    Shouldn't that have been "LOOK, A THREE HEADED MONKEY!"? Anyway, will look forward to following your progress from the warm and sunny to the freezing and wet...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Totally Guy View Post
    Awesome, you're doing it! I'm going to follow this one. And hopefully I'll eventually collide with it in real life.
    I'll be dragging her along to the UKitP meetup in February.. So make sure you get there..
    Quote Originally Posted by Archonic Energy
    Thanks KuReshtin, Chief Nerd-Hurder of the UKitP Clan.
    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    KuReshtin too, because he's awesome and a Swede, and therefore double awesome.
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Yay Serp's travel diary! Consider this followed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    What. Is. This. Madness.

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    Avatar by Kris on a Stick

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    Ha, Subscribed. Glad to hear you have fun in my country.

    Oh, there are a lot traffic laws here, Serp. Sometimes downright silly. People just don't pay attention to them most of time, at least not when there's no police around. That's bearable actually, its just people often don't pay respect not just to traffic law but to other road users as well.

    On the number of motorcycles, ... naaah. Trust me, you haven't seen anything yet. Watch A traffic jam in Jakarta. In some place its looks like the road is turned into a big river. Only with motorcycles instead of water.

    How's Bali food?
    Last edited by Salbazier; 2011-12-30 at 04:09 PM.

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    Blurg. What a night.
    Y'all'll be getting a few days in a clump. Maybe not quite right now (depending on what my cousin's doing (who left me all on my own on the beach )). Some good stuff, though. And photos! And a VIDEO!

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    Ouch, sorry to hear that you had a bad experience
    Last edited by Salbazier; 2011-12-31 at 02:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salbazier View Post
    Ha, Subscribed. Glad to hear you have fun in my country.
    I am! It's gorgeous!
    Quote Originally Posted by Salbazier View Post
    On the number of motorcycles, ... naaah. Trust me, you haven't seen anything yet. Watch A traffic jam in Jakarta. In some place its looks like the road is turned into a big river. Only with motorcycles instead of water.
    Oh, I believe you. If Denpasar is ridiculously busy, somewhere like Jakarta must be total chaos.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salbazier View Post
    How's Bali food?
    Variable. Not a fan of deep-fried eggs, really liked this mixed-bird dish I had today (even if there were mostly bones).
    Quote Originally Posted by Salbazier View Post
    Ouch, sorry to hear that you had a bad experience
    Ah nah, not really. Just hurt my feelings and mildly inconvenienced me, you know? I'm starting to forgive him now - I mean, how much do I owe him for everything he's doing for me? I think I can grant him one hook-up without thinking of telling me he's not coming back and I'll have to make my own way home. I'm magnanimous like that.
    Anyway, the taxi driver was very friendly and chatty, even if I am pretty sure he rorted me.

    Updated some stuff, including some photos. Fiddling with the video, so haven't gotten the rest of the pictures up yet.
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2011-12-31 at 03:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    Ah nah, not really. Just hurt my feelings and mildly inconvenienced me, you know? I'm starting to forgive him now - I mean, how much do I owe him for everything he's doing for me? I think I can grant him one hook-up without thinking of telling me he's not coming back and I'll have to make my own way home. I'm magnanimous like that.
    Anyway, the taxi driver was very friendly and chatty, even if I am pretty sure he rorted me.
    Well, good then. You are a nice person, Serp

    Bahasa Indonesia
    Mind if I being pedantic?

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    Di sini and di situ instead of dis ini and dis itu
    Hati-hati instead of Hari-Hari
    I don't know der. Must be a local slang. In proper BI it would be mereka
    Saya ganggu actually translated to I annoy. Should be Saya terganggu
    Minta means ask/request, so minta? is like short for (May I) ask/request (this/that)?
    Last edited by Salbazier; 2011-12-31 at 06:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Cool. Hope this goes well for you. As a reminder, while I can't put you up if you're near Monterey/California's central coast hit me up and we'll do things.
    My motto: Repensum Est Canicula.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Are you going to put up spoilers for where you're going next, or do we just have to stay tuned to find out?
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Sounds like you're having fun Serpy Kinda jealous now... not that I have any desire to go to Bali, but I like traveling.


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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Quote Originally Posted by Salbazier View Post
    Mind if I being pedantic?

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    Di sini and di situ instead of dis ini and dis itu
    Hati-hati instead of Hari-Hari
    I don't know der. Must be a local slang. In proper BI it would be mereka
    Saya ganggu actually translated to I annoy. Should be Saya terganggu
    Minta means ask/request, so minta? is like short for (May I) ask/request (this/that)?
    Terima kasih, pak! No, it's good. Like I said, I think I get my point across, but it's a long, loooooong way from perfect, and I've still gotta improve a lot.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Are you going to put up spoilers for where you're going next, or do we just have to stay tuned to find out?
    I've only been talking about it for the last 6 months I'm in Indonesia for about 3 weeks (going to Lombok in a few days), then on to Scotland.

    Alright, he apologised for bailing on me (his words), and I said what I wanted (that I don't mind if he leaves me somewhere, just tell me if he's coming back), and he's going surfing so I'll tag along and swim, so kami bagus. All good.
    "He ended up at a friend's villa." Ha! Scoff! Derisive laughter!

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Ooh. For some reason I didn't think you were leaving until early 2012.

    Sounds like a lot of fun though. I'm jealous!

    Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to give you a place to stay at, but if you're ever near Vermont for some bizarre reason, I'd love to meet up with you.
    Last edited by Nix Nihila; 2012-01-01 at 01:44 AM.

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Updated for New Year's.

    Hey Salbazier, wanna show me around Borobadur and the other temple near it? I've always wanted to see Borobadur, and Sam tells me the other one's even better and less "touristy", but it's gonna be kinda a pain to organise it, 'specially as it seems he won't want to come along. I'd be happy to pay you... Buuuuut I know it's a long-shot, so tidak apa-apa.

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    Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll's Avatar

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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Bali sounds like a lot of fun!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    What. Is. This. Madness.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    It is! :D
    But uh... Don't drink the water, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on the loo <.<

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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    I rarely drink water, generally juices and milk, but I'll keep that in mind. When travelling anywhere outside yer big 1st world cities, that's true. Sometimes even in the big cities too: I know I have a friend here in Toronto who has to have a purifier on his water because the pipes up and down his street are lead...
    Steampunk GwynSkull by DR. BATH

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    What. Is. This. Madness.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Added a bunch of photos.

    edit: *notices censorship*
    *sniggers at implication*
    *makes lightsabre noises*
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2012-01-02 at 01:46 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    Interlude: Insecurities
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    I'm feeling awfully fat and ugly/plain, here. Almost feels like I'm the only overweight person on the island, and most of the Indonesian women in particular are beautiful. But eh, that's okay. I'm here to have fun, not hook up, and the relatively healthy food and activity and stuff may well help slim me down a bit.
    Well, I don't know if it will help at all, but I think you're absolutely gorgeous and I know others who agree with that assessment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
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    Forgot to say, first or second day I bought myself a dress. I think it looks pretty nice on me - a gorgeous blue, reasonably flattering cut, Sinta called it "Balinese style" - but as my first attempt at haggling it was a disaster (Sinta tells me I could've gotten 3 of them for that price), and it's still not what I want. I really need a super-cool, cotton summer dress for when it's really, really humid and hot, and this one's made out of... I think something synthetic, and it's too tight around the chest to be really cool. Ah well. It's still nice.
    Ooh. Any possibility of pictures?
    Last edited by Nix Nihila; 2012-01-02 at 02:28 AM.

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    Lady Moreta's Avatar

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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Oooh so pretty

    And monkeys!

    Looks like you're having a great time Serps.


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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    Updated for New Year's.

    Hey Salbazier, wanna show me around Borobadur and the other temple near it? I've always wanted to see Borobadur, and Sam tells me the other one's even better and less "touristy", but it's gonna be kinda a pain to organise it, 'specially as it seems he won't want to come along. I'd be happy to pay you... Buuuuut I know it's a long-shot, so tidak apa-apa.
    Owww, that's so nice of an offer. Ummm, I'll be happy to, but... Well, I'll feel bad to take your money for one, especially since I'll likely make a lousy tour guide. Still, when you'll be in Yogyakarta?


    Awesome photos and video by the way!
    Last edited by Salbazier; 2012-01-02 at 05:11 AM.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Serpentine's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nix Nihila View Post
    Well, I don't know if it will help at all, but I think you're absolutely gorgeous and I know others who agree with that assessment.
    Ooh. Any possibility of pictures?
    Thanks. A couple of particularly nice pictures - some of which will, indeed, include my new dress (look for pics of me drunk in blue) - are helping.
    I'm doing a lot of strange fluctuating between "Hey, was that guy checking me out?" "No, of course not, fugly." "That dude's looking at me..." "He's marveling at how fat you are, duh." I'm pretty sure the "truth" is somewhere in-between, but it's getting kinda annoying.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Moreta View Post
    Looks like you're having a great time Serps.
    I am!
    Quote Originally Posted by Salbazier View Post
    Owww, that's so nice of an offer. Ummm, I'll be happy to, but... Well, I'll feel bad to take your money for one, especially since I'll likely make a lousy tour guide. Still, when you'll be in Yogyakarta?
    Well, I'll mostly just need help getting picked up from the airport, finding somewhere to stay, and getting places. Basically I'll end up paying someone to do it regardless, and it'd be nice if it's not a complete stranger, y'know?
    I'm not sure, but I can work it out. You interested?

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    I dunno how it is on Bali, but in Thailand, it's "good-looking" to be on the chubby side. Still got mixed feelings about it as a kid though...
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  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: Serpentine's Travel Diary Thingo-Whatsit

    More photos added.

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