May 20, 2008

Unkept promises

I still own the Euro-Trip stories, I'm sorry. They're coming, eventually.

I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be writing about. It's crunch time, and I don't feel like working. And blah to me, because I know I'm going to pay for it, big time, very soon. Oh well.

I've recently developed a fascination for hardboiled PI characters. I'm not sure where that comes from. And my new favorite word is hardboiled. Which I like to think I am.

The worst part is, I think Snape-Dragon (SD) is actually a hardboiled type - the only reason I'm not quite able to refer to him as Spade, and not at Snape-Dragon, is that he's not... I don't know. Anyway. Since this realization boomed on me, I've found his company much more pleasant. Bear witness : 7 sushi-bar staff members who heard me laugh all night yesterday over his antics.

Then again, SD does have amazing, funny stories about all the places he's been - including the one dish in the world he was never able to eat, a green radioactive stew with suspicious, unidentified brownie-things. He can even be charming. Disturbing. Anyway.

I had a blast again - even after I'd left SD and gone almost home. Yeah. Almost home. Because there's a club downstairs where they have live cover bands every night - and good stuff, even if they don't do any Janice. I'd promised the barman I'd pop by - he's a bud - and ended up belting some John Lennon to a crowd of befuddled Malaysians. Such is my life.

Oh, and I'm in Medan. And there til next Monday. Mucho better, thank you.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 12, 2008


I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I became a troglodyte during the weekend. So I have nothing to say, save for the fact that:
1) I'm thankful there is Internet at the hotel ;
2) Golf on TV is boring ;
3) Thanks to the Dragon, at least I had a glass of wine on saturday night. That was the high point of my weekend.


Bene moved. Pesky illegal booze sellers, always on the move. Thankfully, from one dark alley to another, they were unearthed and booze was obtained.

All is well.

On another note, I'd somewhate lost my groove at work, but it seems to be returning. I'm very pleased to be safe from short timer's disease.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 08, 2008

I don't get this

So I blogged about my ordeal. Here’s the deal. My luggage NEVER left the airport of initial departure. Aaaaaargh. Good news is, I get my clothes tomorrow. Me happy.

Today… nothing of note happened. I did have eggplant juice a lunch, with spicy mango salad. Does that count? Since in Indonesia, the variety of available juices is mind boggling, I’ve resolved to try them all while I’m here.

So far I’ve had:
- Carrot juice (yummy) ;
- Avocado juice (delicious, seriously, there’s chocolate in there, it’s sinful) ;
- Starfruit juice (a bit bland, but whatever) ;
- Eggplant juice (dutch eggplant. It’s surprisingly pleasant).

I’m still struggling to put up the pics of my trip to Europe. My connection sucks. I’m sorry for the delays, really.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 07, 2008

Big UFO Landing pad

I was presented with a map of the town today... some indications on it are pretty "tongue-in-cheek" as the yankees say... for example:Road names include Pizza House road, Stadium road, Some road, Some bigger road, Some other road, Some main road... And landmarks include two "Secret beer shops", Some weird building, Crappy bridge, Big flaming pink [insert NGO name] guesthouse, Malaria Swamps, Puke green house, Governor's Pimp pad, Retarded intersection and my favorite, Big UFO Landing pad.

All restaurants have indicated "Beer!!!" under their pin, when they serve it, and directions out of the city include: "To north of Banda Aceh via crappy road and tsunami wastelands", "To west coast beaches, that wood fired pizza place and Meulaboh", and "To Medan and the free world, a hell of a long way."This goes to say, they haven't figured out street names and addresses in this country yet.

Also, yesterday went down in history as the day where we managed to find a cab (a becak, mind you, it's a motorcycle with a side care, and the most common form of transportation), which knew to take us to the expat restaurant with beer.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Once upon a night in Banda

On TV, for background noise, I put on the only occidental channel available, Star World, and right now, they are showing Friends. I've never followed the series assiduously, and so my understanding of the storyline is very limited, but I like the fact that it is almost every where I go. Consistency in a world such as mine, where everything is ephemeral, is much appreciated. I just got off work, a second day of a 6 week long assignment. My team and I are sitting in a place which we call the Fishbowl, because it is surrounded with glass windows, and I spent the day idly revising documentation, trying to find gaps in the system.

Indonesia is a strange place to be, and for all the painful memories it holds, I do like it. The language is exotic, the people are smiling, the architecture is alien and elegant, the food burns my pallet exquisitely, the smells assail me everywhere. Even cigarettes smell differently here: the Indonesians smoke Kretek sticks, and they contain clove. Some people don't like it, but I do – I find it spicy and pleasant, contrary to the ordinary stuff.

I've opted to skip dinner out tonight. For that, I have a lot of good reasons. One of them is, I'm running out of cash, and I can't go to the ATM until tomorrow. The other is, since my luggage got lost on the way here, I have few clothes, and it's so hot and humid outside, my scant reserves are going to dwindle much too fast if I go out again. And… well… my boss is moody tonight, and that means unpleasant company – so I'm skipping. Best to be alone then poorly escorted. I'm alright, though. Now, if only my room had more natural light, I'd be happy.

I'm not particularly depressed... but this inspires me with a poem that echoes of the darkness surrounding my sleepless state.

My name is solitude, in a cave of darkness I dwell.
Arpeggios and songs fill my mind, treasures unshared, unkept.

My name is longing. I seek warmth and only find the chill
Of all that is lonely and sullen, of all night’s obscurities accept.

My name is ugliness. Nothing beholds that which will
Seduce or ensnare, but all that is monstrous, in the lottery, I swept.

My name is solitude, and I wish to be broken.
My name is longing, and I wish to be sated.
My name is ugliness, and I wish to be reclaimed.

Oh, lotus-eater, where art thou?

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

May 05, 2008

A commute…

So I’m back…. And I’m blogging, and blogging about sunny and exotic Indonesia rather than about medieval and mind-boggling Europe. I’m so unpredictable, I should get an award. So after a whirlwind passage home in Canada, which followed my gipsy vacation touring Europe, I had to once more traverse the world to go to work. This is my commute. It starts on a Friday night, and ends on a Sunday evening. It lasts over 36 hours, before I can lie down and collapse in Morpheus’ arms. It brings me to the brink of fainting, to seizures in an airplane, before I can rest. It makes me lose patience with annoying officials, and it deprives me of my personal belongings.

Flippin’ air control
Travel time: 0h
Cigarettes: 1 (before boarding)
Annoyed and concerned Beaver: 1
Phone calls to travel service: 1
SMS to mum: 0
Comment: Flight no. 1 was late, because air control didn’t give it the go-ahead. There is no other connecting flight this day – so I’d have to sleep there at my expense and fly the next day if I miss it. I take a gamble and fly anyway.

G*ddam security goon
Travel time: 3h
Cigarettes: 0
Free Bacardi and coke: 1
Phone calls to travel service: ½ (Line is cut and plane takes off)
SMS to mum: 1
Comment: Because of this, I almost missed flight n. 2, and might still have, even though through sheer power of running I made it to the security checkpoint 20 minutes before take-off. Indeed, a security guard at the gate in JFK airport didn’t like the logo on my boarding pass. I had to perform a “stand in”, a standing up version of Martin Luther King’s “sit-in” for them to call the airline and get me on board.

The moron next-door
Travel time: 21h
Cigarettes: 0
Free Bacardi and coke: 1, plus 2 wines, dinner and breakfast.
Phone calls to travel service: 0
SMS to mum: 1
Frustrating stops in Germany: 1
Comment: But I made flight n. 2, and it lasted a painful 21 hours, with a neighbour more inclined for conversation than for sleep, or watching movies. But I survived….

Foot worship
Travel time: 4 h standby, 2 hours flight
Cigarettes: 3
Free Bacardi and coke: 0. I get coffee instead
Phone calls to travel service: 0
SMS to mum: 1
Comment: Flight n. 3 was fine, and waiting for it was lovely. I bought expensive shoes and got a free foot rub while chatting with another passenger.

Travel time: 3.5 h standby, 4 hours flight
Cigarettes: 0
Free Bacardi and coke: 0. I could really use one though.
Phone calls to travel service: 0
SMS to mum: 1 (very late, after I arrived and dug up my charger and spare phone from my carry-on.)
Comment: Upon getting off, I had to collect my luggage and recheck it into Flight n. 4. Lo and behold, my 16 kgs (yes, I travel light) of luggage never made it past JFK. So I file my complaint and walk over to the domestic flight counter to find that I had to stay on standby and maybe not be allowed to fly… due to a mess-up on my travel agent’s side.

Anyway, so here I am, in Banda, working and blogging instead of working. It’s kind of nice to be back, in an odd way. My “sister” has lent me clothes until my luggage reappears… Singapore airlines does not know where it is in the world. Me… in the meantime, I enjoy my nasi goreng and much deserved sleep. I work, effectively do work. I teach French to the Professor, and I bide my time. After lunch at the Chinese place, I bought a pack of kretek.

I had dinner at the Pizza House (an imitation of Pizza Hut, yes yes) and after a walk back home in the putrid and strange smells of Banda Aceh, amidst the loudness of the becaks I sit to write this.

With every whiff of the clove-scented tobacco, I find inspiration. (See below post on Week 1, day 1.)

I am zen.

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

Setting the scene : EuroTrip (Week 1, Day 1)

A promise is a promise, and so the Beaver has many to keep, including the one to tell nothing and everything about her time off travelling. For a travelling beaver to chronicle trips abroad is nothing extraordinary, but these trips were not as ordinary as usual.

Why, you ask, oh gentle reader? Because this one beaver has, to this day, never blogged about personal trips, and always about work-related ones. Why, you ask again, o curious one. Because this has never happened before. Ta da! Now it has. I got 6 weeks of unpaid leave to enjoy myself, and between work and other things, I planned the whole thing almost to a tee.

Week one was special, because it was the onset of the trip. The stepping stone. The alpha. It was my arrival in England, and my first experience couch surfing. Well… let me tell you that the whole thing was a complete success.

Day 1 (Tues): Setting the scene

I arrived at Heathrow at around 12PM, and had agreed with my host to make my way to his home, in an ex-centred academic town. At the luggage pick-up, I strike a conversation with (you’ll never believe it!) an American contortionist who lives is Wales and works on cruise ships in the Caribbean. Thanks to him, I locate the bus station, or at least, the beginning of the way. In the tube transfer, I lose him and step on a lady’s foot who is a French-friendly English lady, actress by profession. After a short conversation on worldly things like the beauty of Niger and the pleasantness of TS Elliott’s writing, we split and I finally find my ticket to Ox.

Again, in the bus, I strike a conversation with a gentleman, Canadian (!), who just came back from volunteering in Tanzania and is off to visit a friend in Ox. After an hour of so of commute, I get off at my stop, and five minutes later, my host, whom I have never met, picks me up. For the sake of this blog, I shall refer to him as the Maltese Falcon. There is a joke in this, but only those who know will pick it up. Too bad, such is the nature of my blog.

The Maltese Falcon is a lovely man. Twice my age, crafty, story-telling, generous, quirky, full of life. His house, where I get my own room AND a set of keys, is a mish mash of items he cumulated throughout his life. I suspect they all have a story to tell, but he tells me they don’t. I choose to believe him, but I really don’t. Within 10 minutes of my arrival, a friend of his pops by, and a long conversation about diving in the Maldives and the Indian Ocean ensues … a universe I know nothing about. Another couch-surfer is bound to come by, and I am asked if I mind sharing the room. Since it’s not a bed I’m sharing, I don’t mind, and thus arrangements are made to meet at the bus stop the next day.

That done, I rest some, and wake up to join Falcon at the general rehearsal of “The Mary Rose: A boat of ill-repute.” The comedian, Kate, is wonderful. Her text is funny and socially-relevant. The interpretation of all parts is magisterial, particularly considering the fact that all are performed by Kate. After a pint of Cider at King’s arms, which is now my favourite pub in the known universe, my day ends.

Wed Day 2 … the mysterious Couch Surfer arrives
Thurs Day 3… A magical encounter
Fri Day 4… Off to London, and the underbelly
Sat Day 5… The bus tour, The Eye, Drinks at the Fire Station
Sun Day 6… The cruise and The Tower of London
Mon Day 7… A restful day and LOTR

Week 2
Tues Day 1... A silly day
Wed Day 2… Solitary at the Gallery and the Abbey
Thurs Day 3… A one hour flight
Fri Day 4… Dinner with family
Sat Day 5… Notre-Dame and Red-Beard Red Beard
Sun Day 6… Brunch with the girls, Ballons and missing the Train
Mon Day 7… Day one in Lux, walking around, the Tube and Zanzen, dinner with Matt

Week 3…
Tues Day 1... The City Museum
Wed Day 2… Art museum again, piscine and drinks at the Tube, meeting Loren and Elle
Thurs Day 3… Lazying around, and an evening entre filles
Fri Day 4… Le petit-train… Drinks at Scott’s and Café des artistes
Sat Day 5… Party at Andrews’
Sun Day 6… Bus to Frankfurt and flight to Madrid
Mon Day 7… A sick day

Week 4…
Tues Day 1… Walking around Madrid to Puerta de Alcala and Tapas
Wed Day 2… El amor en el tiempo del cólera ; Goya at the Prado and the Palazo Real ;
Thurs Day 3… Living Spanish, cooking for Gemma
Fri Day 4… A day in the air
Sat Day 5… On the town and a family dinner
Sun Day 6… Boot Sale, A Soldier’s Tale and crepes
Mon Day 7… Homebound

The Beaver
My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !