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Thursday, January 7, 2010

23 years down, 477 years to go

Hey everyone who doesnt read this. FUUUCCCKKK. no-one just read that, so i can say whatever i want.

so the yesterday was my birthday! w00t! and actually, it was a pretty good day. it has been snowing here, so i decided to go sledding. it was actually a whole load of fun. there was quite a few people there, all strangers united in their innate need to sled. XD i also went walking through the woods, which were so inherently beautiful in the snow. all in all, a very good birthday. and lots of Facebook love. XD

so, whats worse then a hundred dead babies nailed to a tree?

One dead baby nailed to a hundred trees. HA!

today i went to see Sherlock Holmes at the cinema. It was an BRILLIANT movie, and i would thoroughly recommend it. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are spectacular.

its been a weird week or so since new years. lots of snow (what?!) and of course, i am now no longer with job. i need to do something bout that. :q

so anyhoo, if you ARE actually reading this, thank you. please read my last post too.

IF, however, you are NOT reading any of this, go smack a turkey. go on. DO IT.

till next time!

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Annual Yearly Check-Up.

and so ends another year...and, even more importantly, so ends another decade! crikey.

looking at the decade as a whole, its been a pretty good one for me...much more interesting and exciting than the 90's! the 00 decade saw me have a 99.9% increase in my anime intake. not bad, huh? from "i like pokemon" to...well... you just have to see my room. XD i've also grown up a helluva lot during the last decade, my drawing skills have increased dramatically, and i've travelled alot too.

so yeah. a good decade. ^^

as for the past year of it: well, i spent a large chunk of it overseas. Working at camp for the third year running, then travelling on to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand (which. was. AWESOME!) Hong Kong, and then a dream come true as i made it to JAPAN BABY! YEAH!! two weeks, one in kyoto, one in tokyo and i loved every second of it. it was amazing.

the rest of the year has been pretty good too. I passed my Motorcycle theory test a few weeks back, Luna (my dearly beloved motorscooter) reached 10,000 miles this year. i attended an anime all-nighter earlier this year, which was fantastic.
overall, the none travelling bits of the year have been fairly peaceful and relaxed.

its not been a fantastic year for art or stories, though the ideas keep flowing and i keep submitting stuff, which is good.

new anime this year? uhm...not much. I've recently taken to watching the Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei series, which is very funny, if a little bit dark. I also watched all of Solty Rei, which is a decent series, and i've watched the first half of Eureka 7, which is a good series. I've also taken to watching Kamen Rider this year, mostly Decade and Double, but i got the opportunity to watch some of the older series in Thailand. XD

This year has been an ok year for Gundam Models, though im rapidly running out of room, so i have to limit myself these days. ^^;;;

and, whilst i still spend huge amounts of time online, my little communities are starting to break down. I honestly believe MyO is on it's last legs, and i havent the urge to build up my Worlds. deviantart has been kinda quiet recently too, but i put that down to christmas mostly.

so, in summary, its been a very good year. and, as we swing into 2010, and I personally swing into being 23 years old (im such an old fart ;p )
i hope that the future will continue to be rewarding as 2009 has been to me. i've had a great year and i hope you have too.

a quick shout-out to any of my readers who still pop by from time to time (Princess, sbsp, angel zakuro etc)
and a big shout out to all the people i met this year and all my friends, who made my adventure truly fantastic. ^^

till 2010 then!

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Seasons Greetings to all my friends, new and old, near and far.

im sorry i havent updated recently, but with a lack of readership coupled in with a few other factors, i really havent felt the urge to. its been a good month since i last updated. i'll try to update some more in the new year, but i have a feeling this site is breathing its last few breaths. ^^; still...2010 is a good year to finish i feel. unless things perk up again. in which case, who knows when i'll finish. ^_~

still, i hope everyone has a fantastic day. and i'll update in about a week.

ttfn! merry christmas!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

its just been one of those days

Its been the kinda day where, if you saw it on TV you'd say "that sorta thing never happens in real life". its been weird.

for starters, my dad decided to bleed the radiators in the house today. its generally a good idea to do it at least once a year and let all the excess air out of the pipes. the radiator in my room is hard to get to, and when i popped open the valve, i dropped the valve key under the bed (sometimes known as the "forbidden zone"...even i fear to go under there!). this meant we couldnt shut the valve and soon enough water started to spurt out of the pipes. we managed to find the key, but only after we had turned half my room upside down. Irony of ironies...my parents are always complaining at me to clean my room, and today they left it in the worst state its been in for a long time. ^^: go figure.

shortly after that my mum called me downstairs, cuz she spotted a big bird in the garden. Whilst we do get a wide variety of birds of prey in england, we rarely get one roosting in our back garden! we ended up scrambling around for cameras and telescopes to get a good look at it. we eventually identified it as a Sparrowhawk. a very beautiful bird. ^^ its gone now, but it was sitting there in our apple tree for quite a while!

after lunch my brother was going to be picked up by some of his friends to go out for the afternoon. they got here ok, but as one of them tried to do a U-turn on our road to pull up outside our house, they got hit by another car that was being impatient. my brothers friend got whiplash, which is bad enough, but we're also not entirely certain that her car is going to be repairable. not easily anyway. compared to the idiot who hit her, whose BMW barely had a scratch on it. hopefull that'll all get sorted out though.

After that i went to Kung Fu Staff class, which i just returned from. we werent in our usual training hall, and ended up in the Judo hall. Fun, becuase it has a squishy floor and we can do stuff with the crash pads. not so fun because we cant go all out with our sticks, in case we damage the floor. not bad overall though.

so yeah. between these events and the crazy weather (sunny one second, pissing down with rain the next) its been one weird and hectic day.

yesterday i started work at my new store in Orpington. i can already sense that its going to be very boring, but i needed the work, and my boss was kind enough to hire me for christmas, so i guess i'll do my best! the commute isnt too bad, and the people who work there seem to be ok. we'll see how it goes. as it stands, i dont have to be there again till next saturday, so i got another week with which to do stuff.

i've almost finished my VF-25 model, except the WINGS BROKE. AAUUUGHH! they were so freakin fragile, it was rediculous. im gonna haveta glue em back on, but its gonna mess up the transformation sequence. stupid transforming model kits! arrgh!

i hope everyones thanksgivings were good! mine was great. i wrote on MyO (see below), went up to London, bought Gurren Lagann manga vol 3 (art is amazing!) and Dengenki Hobby Magazine, which came with a Gundam 00 conversion kit...its additional weapons that i can mount on any of my second season Gundam 00 1/144 scale models. ^^

then i went to see Mamoru Oshii's "Sky Crawlers" movie. It was actually a packed theatre, i didnt expect to see so many people there!
The film was great, very typical Oshii. Its about a squadron of fighter pilots who are children, and they fight in this war that is actually a huge game that is used instead of actual conflict. The movie touches on themes of war and humanity, but also touches on identity and meaning in a persons life. The visuals were amazing, with the planes (alternate-world war two style) being rendered in CG, but they had a real weight to them, and moved very realistically. The characters were typical Oshii too, with the main female character having these creepy doll-like eyes. and Oshii's trademark Basset Hound was present too. XD
The screenplay was sorta slow paced, with long pauses and lingering screen shots on things that seemed to have no relevance. but at the same time, when the action did heat up, the "camera" work was superb.
The music was great, done by Kenji Kawaii, but not too heavy on the acapella female choir that Kawaii is notorious for.
Some would probably argue that the film is too obscure, that alot of it makes no sense, or isnt explained fully. This, again, is very typical Oshii, who is quoted to have said that films "shouldn't be understood, but vaguely felt". whilst not always the best way to tell a story, it worked here, and i really "felt" this film.
the funniest part of it was that as the end credits rolled, most people got up and left, with disappointed remarks being overheard. some of us, however, stayed until the end of the credits, and were treated to a sort of Epilogue, which kinda gave closure to the whole story. As the lights came up, one guy turned to another and said "and thats why you should always wait until the end of the credits"

i couldnt agree more.

"Sky Crawlers" is a movie for anyone who enjoyed the original Ghost in the Shell movies, for people who like their movies to be very artistic. and if i could describe Sky Crawlers with just one word, it would be "Art". Not just visually, but in the sense that everyone is going to interpret it in different ways. You may love it, you may hate it, you may be indifferent to it. But it will make you feel something.
If you want your movies to have a definitive ending, or need a no-brainer movie that spoonfeeds you everything, give this a miss. If you want a movie thats gonna stretch your mind and challenge you to dig deeper into the storyline, "Sky Crawlers" is a must-see. i loved it.

so yeah. a very good "thanksgiving"!

till next time! ciao!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day

Hello Hello Hello and welcome from the United Kingdom.

and may i just say a very happy Thanksgiving to all my american compadres. I hope your day is filled with fun and turkey and stuff.

its been pretty quiet since i posted on sunday. the most i've done this week has been attending my kung-fu classes again. Mondays class was a killer...my stamina isnt what is was before i left! yesterdays class wasnt too bad, it was more focused on technique rather than stamina and power. ^^;

i also saw Spiderman 3 this week, finally. they were showing it on channel 5 here, so i recorded it and watched it on monday. i've never seen it before...it wasnt too bad actually. some of it was disappointing, but overall, i enjoyed it.

i've also spent alot of time this week on my new 1/72 scale VF-25F Messiah valkyrie model, from Macross Frontier. Its been a long time since i built a transforming plamo, not since my Zeta Plus MG. model technology has come along alot since then, so im hoping the transformation sequence doesnt ruin the model... transofrming models are notorious for being a bit lame when it comes to poseability. Since the Messiah's main gimmick is being able to transform between Fighter, Gerwalk and Battroid mode, i would hope the designers have put every thought into making work. we shall see. I havent finished it yet, it is, by design, a very complex model. it took me almost ALL of Spiderman 3 to do just the legs/engines. either im a very slow modeller (quite possible) or this is the most complex model i've put together in a long time (also very possible).

either way, im having fun with it. pictures will be up when i've finished.

Today im heading up to London to go see a movie at the Institute of Contemporary Arts...its one of the few places around here that show anime movies with any sort of regularity. as mentioned in my previous posting, im going to see Mamoru Oshii's "Sky Crawlers". i only have a vague idea of what its about, but it should be a fun night out. The last animated movie i went to see at the ICA was Vexille, which i really enjoyed, despite it being an Appleseed knockoff. I also went to see the Cowboy Bebop movie there, years ago now. so the ICA and I have had a good history. ^^

so, today is Turkey Day. XD
and on Thanksgiving, its become a tradition of mine to post up a list of things im thankful for, despite not being someone who celebrates Thanksgiving. (to any new comers, im British, we dont celebrate Thanksgiving.)

so here it is, in all its glory. to my regulars, its probably 90% the same as previous years. ^^;;

Things I Am Thankful For:

1: God, for creating everything, and for sending his only son to save us all.

2: My family, for their unending supporting everything i do.

3: My friends, who i seem to get more and more of every year. ^^ for the laughs, the gossip and for making me happy whenever i hang out with them.

4: My body. i need to take better care of it, but its always taken exemplary care of me!

5: Having a roof over my head, and food in my belly, especially in these times of economic stuggle.

6: For having a job is said times. as boring as it gets sometimes, it does help pay for things!

7: For Camp Pecometh, and another year of awesome times. Thanks to all the amazing people i met, and to all my amazing friends for hanging out with me and for making Camp the Best Job On Earth.

8: For this world. As much as we dont take care of it, and as much as it is filled with pain and strife, it is so inherently beautiful.

9: For the opportunity to travel, for the people who looked after and supported me through it all, to the people i met along the way, and for all that i experienced and saw. Thank You.

and now for the smaller stuff:

10: For my scooter, my laptop and my car... what i do without them!!!

11: for the internets! to enable me to keep in touch with everyone, to allow me to have a friend network that spans the globe.

12: for Gundam. and other anime and manga in general. XD

13: for Laura, my guardian angel, and Tessa, my muse, who keep me safe, and occupied. XD

14: for music and art

15: You, who reads my pitiful spewing onto the world wide web. thanks for stopping by. i hope you continue to do so.

and lastly:

16: Butterflies. this should be obvious by now.

have a great day my friends.

until next time!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

i know i have a penchant for long posts, even when i have nothing to talk about, but today is the exception. honest!

Heya folks. its been a quiet week for me overall. i've just been trying to get myself sorted.

last sunday i went back to my Shaolin Staff class, which was fun. im so out of shape from the 6 months i've been away though! i was so stiff for a couple of days after! ^^;; im going to another class today, i'll remember to stretch before and after this time. ^^;

the rest of the week has been real quiet. i moved some stuff up into the attic (mainly empty model boxes. :q ). whilst i was up there i looked through some of the other boxes i had put up there last year, and i found my mini screwdriver set! i have been looking for that for ages...for some reason i had left it in my 1/100 Kampfer box and moved it up into the attic last year. im so absent minded sometimes, its redonkulous. :p but i found that, so thats good.

i've also booked my theory test for my motorcycle, and that's in two weeks. hopefully i'll pass and then i can do my full motorcycle licence.

my boss called me up and asked if i can start work a week earlier. i was ok with that so im now going back to work next saturday.

i went to see my nan. she hasnt been doing too well lately, so i popped in to say hi. it was good to her and my grandpa again.

i've been drawing up a storm this week...i've been inspired after so many weeks of travelling (and not being able to do much drawing) so i've currently got about three or four pictures on the go at the moment. unfortunatly cuz my laptop is still in america (and wont be home till december) i cant scan them or edit them...so its gonna be a while until i can share all these pictures. december is going to be a busy month on my DeviantArt page. XD

highlight of this week was going to London yesterday to see my friends Meredith, Jonny and Rachael. Jonny and Rachael worked with me at camp in 2008 and 2009 (jonny even worked with me my first year of camp in 2007) and Meredith worked with us in 2008 and she's currently living and working in London on a long term contract.
we all went to the Imperial War Museum, which i havent been to in a long while. it was pretty interesting, the funniest moments being when we all got into arguments...Meredith is American, Rachael is Australian and Jonny and myself are British, so each of our own national pride often ends up knocking against the others. it made for interesting (and occasionally heated) debate.
After the museum we went for a couple of drinks, and met up with Meredith's boyfriend. We headed back to Merediths apartment for dinner and we watched the end of the Australia-Scotland rugby game, which the Scots won by a hair. then we went back out again and went for a couple more drinks and some more heated debate.

all in all, a very enjoyable evening. also, i didnt get drunk at all, so the train ride home was pleasant and i slept quite soundly. ^^

That's it from me for now. This week im having another quiet week (get as much sleep as i can before i have to start getting up for work!) and on thursday im heading back into London to go see "The Sky Crawlers" at the ICA cinema. "Sky Crawlers" is an animated feature from Mamoru Oshii, whose work includes the epic Ghost in the Shell movies, so it should be a pretty good night out.

i also believe Thanksgiving is on Thursday (someone correct me if im wrong) so my standard Thanksgiving post will be up around then, probably. ^^

till next time! (oop...another long post! sorry!)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

"so you're a PC and Windows 7 was YOUR idea...well at least we know who to blame..."
btw, im a PC, so im allowed to knock PCs.

heya folks (all ZERO of you reading this). im gonna try and start posting again regulalry and see if my readership picks up again. if not, i guess i'll close down this faithful old site and just post sporadically on my world on theO VV. *sigh*

ah well.

i've been back home about a week, and its actually been pretty productive. i've managed to get Luna (my ailing and dearly beloved scooter) back up and running and all road leagal and stuff. only had to replace the battery...which was new last year. >.< but hey, sitting in cold storage for 6 months would kill anyones battery, so...

i have also discovered that my old job at Covent Garden is no longer available. BUT, not to worry: i have just discovered this morning that my old boss, who used to be manager at covent garden, has a space for me at his current store, in Orpington, which is actually closer and easier for me to get to than covent garden is. which is convinient. not going to lie though, im going to miss working in central london. its a good place to be based in. ah well.

what else have i got up to this week? i've already bought four new volumes of manga since returning...
Gundam 00F vol 1
Black Lagoon vol 8
Evangelion Shinji Ikari Rising Project vol 2
and Yozukura Quartet vol 5

and thats in addition to the many manga i picked up during my travels in america... i literally have no room left in my bedroom. im gonna need to get rid of some old stuff. >.< still, i got three weeks to sort myself out...hopefully i can manage that.

i also went to see "Harry Brown" at the cinema yesterday. its the new British gangster (sorta) movie, and it stars Sir Michael Cain. its very good, though incredibly violent too. i dunno if it'll ever get released in the states, but if it does, and you wanna see Cain in fine form, go see the movie.

i even found the time this week to make up a Gundam Model thats been gathering dust since i left in may. Gundam Deathscythe Hell Custom, 1/144 scale. it was actually pretty simple to put together. ^^
my next model project is my 1/72 scale VF-25 Messiah, from the TV series Macross Frontier. its a little more complicated, so may take me a while. looking forward to it though!

und so thats all from me for now. keep an eye out for more updates at this address, and i may even post a few things up on my various Worlds on VV. unfortunalty most of my work and stuff is on my laptop, which i do not have in my possession at the mo. still, we'll see what we can do.

its good to be back. i just hope i start getting a regular readership again. fingers crossed!

till next time!

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One fish turns to the other and says "Dam!"

say it out loud, its funnier.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Home Again, Home Again.
Yup, it's true! i have returned!

here is the run down of japan:

basically: Kyoto was AWESOME!

i landed in Kansai International airport, and, more by luck than judgement, made my way to Kyoto by train and found some lodging for the week. It was a small Ryokan (guesthouse) in the traditional japanese style; futons for beds, tatami matting etc. the owners spoke good english, which was perfect for a tired english traveller late in the evening.

I spent most of the week visiting temples and shrines and all the traditional aspects that Kyoto is assosiated with. Kyoto is a nice small city and it is set out very methodically, so its very easy to get around. i did a section of the city per day, and most of the time i was walking.

I visited some really grand temples, filled with tourists both foreign and japanese, and i also visited some really small ones with hardly anyone about. at one of the more famous temples i drank some water from the spring that is reputed to give you good luck, and also meant to be quite theraputic. i also visited The Golden Pavilion (literally...bright shiney gold) and i attempted to sneak across the Nightingale Floor at Nijo-jo; a residence of the Shogun back in the 17th-19th centuries. (i failed. epicly.)

some of the highlights for me were wandering down the "Tetsugaku no Michi" or "Path of Philosophy", which was a nice serene walk down a path by a small canal. I didnt do much in the way of philosophising, but i did manage to get some postcards written. :q
I also went to see the famous Zen Garden at Ryoan-Ji. Again, i didnt get much in the way of enlightenment from it, but it did give my feet a chance to air out!

The most spectacular place i visited though was a shrine complex called Fushimi Inari Taisha. Essentially its a number of shrines set across the base of a mountain, connected by these paths that are covered with thousands upon thousands of vermillion Torii, or Shrine Gates. its hard to describe without pictures (which are coming) but it was very surreal. There was one point where i found myself completely alone on the path, and far enough back in the complex that it was almost completely quiet, apart from the ambient noise of the forest. i actually stopped and took it in for a few minutes... in all my travels i dont think i've ever encountered anywhere so tranquil, so utterly still. it was kinda moving. "Be Still and know that I am God"...that was the phrase that popped into my head then and there. :)

I did some other things too, particularly as Kyoto is a modern city too... i visited the International Manga Museum, and i also played a few games in one of the modern arcades.

Its the two extremes that won Kyoto for me. Yes, it is a modern city with a capable transport net work and all the modern amenities one could possibly want. But as you find yourself walking down a busy street, fighting for space amongst the crowds and dodging the hundreds of cyclists that share the walkways, all you have to do is make a turn off the street and you'll find yourself almost alone in a quiet neighbourhood, a far cry from the city you were in literally seconds ago.
I also really enjoyed the traditional aspect of Kyoto, the small streets with the traditional crafts for sale, the locals who walk around in kimonos, the small cafes and bars in the old style. I realise that its all kinda put on for the tourists, but unlike a tourist town in, say, Thailand, which is very much in your face, trying to sell you an experience, Kyoto just kinda takes it easy. They realise that people come to see the old cultural roots of Japan, so they just incorporate it into their lifestyle and carry on as normal, letting outsiders come and experience it at their own pace.
The duality of both modern and traditional, of hustle and bustle combined with slow and relaxed really worked out for me, and i enjoyed myself immensely.

Other little things did it for me too, like seeing the hundreds of vending machines, or hearing the little jingles that almost every commercial has attached to it. the sounds of the crossings, or hearing the delightful Engrish on the trains. The Kyotoites themselves were very friendly, and very patient with the english idiot with next to no knowledge of japanese. The few i did have any sort of meaningful interaction with almost always left me smiling. Every now and then I'd see something bizarre and i'd think "man...Japan is so weird!" and yet it all just kinda wraps up the whole experience for me.

Kyoto...a little bit of everything. i hope i may return one day.

now Tokyo...thats a crazy town.

Tokyo was a lot of fun. I was staying in a guesthouse in Ueno, which was on Tokyo's equivalent to the Circle Line, which meant the rest of the city was pretty easy access to me. I got to the guesthouse fairly early, so i decided to spend my evening in Akihabara!

Akihabara is Tokyo's gadget centre, filled with shops that themselves are filled with gadgetry, toys, dvds, cds, books, cameras, models...you name it. i returned there a few times over the week...lets just say it was never cheap. :q

One of the first places i visted was the Suginami Animation Museum, which had a a few interesting exhibits on how animation is produced. they also had a fairly extensive library full of production sketches and groundwork for various animations, which i happily perused for an hour or two. the best part was getting the opportunity to create my own little animation, the results of which can be found on facebook..i'll try to upload something here. it really makes me appreciate the hard work it takes to produce a full length feature film! ha ha

i also spent a couple of days on Odaiba, a small island of reclaimed land just off the coast of tokyo bay. i went there one day t see what was there, i ended up going on a huge ferris wheel and poking around a car museum and a science museum. I returned there a couple of days later to see an ASIMO (Honda's autonomous robot) presentation, and i also visited the Panasonic Centre which displays all the latest technology from Panasonic, the best being this concept for the TV of the future. It essentially is the entire wall of a room, with the ability to recognise the user as they walk up to it, change the size and position of the TV "screen" to follow you around the room, and also allow you to access the internet, music, photos, and use a videophone for communication with other "wall" users. They say they havent quite figured out all the mechanics yet, but they are confident that they'll have a production model on the market by 2015. you heard it here first folks.

I visited a Photography museum and got some stunning pictures of Tokyo and of Mt. Fuji. I spent an evening in Shibuya and all the craziness that goes on there at night. I went to see Michael Jackson's "This is It" at the cinema (pretty impressive) and i even spent one night at a Japanese Public Bath, which was a colourful and different experience. :p

Overall, whilst not as peaceful or perhaps even as enjoyable as Kyoto was for me, Tokyo was a real colourful city, postively pulsating with life and energy. It was easy to imagine that I was all alone in a crowd, but even then that wasnt enitrely true. There were a number of occasions where people went out of my way to help me find where i was going or to help me out in some way.

I really enjoyed Japan, and if my knowledge of the language was a little better, im certain it would be a place i could quite happily spend a lot more time in. plus a little extra money wouldnt hurt. :q

und so my trip has come to a close. Its been a real wild ride, from my summer at Camp Pecometh, to the insanity of Los Angeles, from the beautiful Sydney to the bustling heart of Singapore, from kooky kula lumpur all through the amazing country of Thailand and onto the booming metropolis of Hong Kong, finally ending up at the serene and picturesque Kyoto and the throbbing pulse of Tokyo.
I started the trip with real trepidation and uncertainty, in Singapore with no real clue as to what i was doing and unsure if i could continue. but i put my head down and powered on through, and found that i really enjoy the nomadic life, as annoying and frustrating as it can get. I came out of Thailand stronger and more independant then when i went in, but found, through various encounters, that my newly discovered social side is quite a handy skill to have in my arsenal and it really did help to enhance the whole experience.

A huge thank you to Nolan and Amy from Canada who really helped set my mind at ease in K.L and who hung out with me in the evenings, a thank you of biblical proportions to Rebecca Hanna for sharing a room with me on Samui and then going on with me to Phangan and sharing a room with me there. I dont think i'll ever forget that day we spent roasting on the beach and then ducking inside the Irish Pub when it started to rain. :)
and a heartfelt thank you to Laura Donnelly, whom i only met for one night but it turned out to be the best night of my visit to Hong Kong, if not my entire trip.

thanks to all my friends at camp pecometh. rock on 2010! Undying gratitiude to my bro Stephen and Michelle for putting up with me in LA and also to Kay and Mark for giving me a place to stay and so much support whilst i was in Australia. also thanks to Asya and to Pat Donnelly (it was a good trip for hanging out with Donnellys) and wife Jackie for hanging out with me in Australia. i'll have to go back sometime.

thank you to you, who have read my posts and kept up with my epic voyage.

and finally, a million thank yous to those who will never read this blog, to any person who helped me out, owned a hostel in which i stayed, booked stuff for me, and even to those who just smiled at me as i went on my way. i cant remember them all, but without them, this trip would have been next to impossible.

i'll try to start updating regularly again and also try to start visiting people again, though my laptop is in america, and so im having to use my bros computer at the moment.

its good to be home. i cant say that i dont miss travelling and the open road though...i guess i'll just have to start planning my next adventure!

till next time folks!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Elephants and Hong Kong.
Heya folks. if you havent yet, you should totally go read my previous post from Thailand. tis awesome. (me being modest and all...)

today's update is rehashed bits from my travel-blog on Facebook. it covers my journey from Chiang Mai to where i am now...

here we go

Chaing Mai is a large but quiet city, with lots of temples. I took it upon myself to visit a few of these on the first day, and on the second day i did a jungle adventure called "Flight of the Gibbon", which is a series of zip-lines and abseiling through the rain-forest, some of the zips being over a 100 metres long, zipping straight through the canopy. The great thing about it was that it was eco-friendly too, with much of the profits going to rain-forest conservation. Guilt-Free Fun! and i upheld the Pecometh Challenge Course Tradition of doing silly poses in my harness whilst photos were taken. these will be posted at the next available opportunity.

after that, it was time for ELEPHANTS. i spent two days and one night at the Chaing Mai Elephant Nature Park. it was crazy and surreal helping feed and wash these magnificant creatures, and helping prep their food (they eat a lot) but i also learned a lot about the history of elephants in Thailand, and despite them being a revered and national symbol, the torture and suffering the average working elephant goes through. The owner of the park, a Thai Woman known as Lek, has to put up with a lot of opposition and very hard work to promote her methods (she gets no finiancial backing from the government, and elephants aren't cheap), but her love for these animals is blatantly obvious, and you can tell that her elephants are happy too.

After Chaing Mai, i caught yet another long train ride down south to Ayuthaya, a small city to the north of Bangkok. There are a lot of temple ruins here, and i hired a bicycle to go and look round some of them. riding a bicycle in Thailand is an interesting (read: NOT SAFE!) experience, as most Thai's seem to take the rules of the road as guidelines rather than solid concrete things to adhere to. :q it was an experience to say the least.

i then headed south to bangkok for one night. i stayed in a dingy hostel. the owner was really friendly and had some great advice, but the bed i slept in had bedbugs! >.< im still itching from the bites. fortunately i was only there one night. whilst i was there i watched "Inglorious Basterds", the new tarrantino movie. it was pretty good (if historically inaccurate :p) The fact that half the film is in french or german meant that i was reading subtitles almost as much as the Thai's were! ha ha.

Thailand has been really interesting, and a whole lot of fun. I feel like i really found my pace as a traveller there, and i'd really enjoyed the whole experience. The Thai's, on the whole, are very friendly, and a smile goes a long way. The land is pretty beautiful, both the beaches and islands in the south, and the mountains and forests in the north; though there is quite a signifcant difference in atmosphere between the two!

Then it was onto Hong Kong (King Kong's big, bad tempered cousin... )

it was a big change of pace from thailand. very hectic, very busy, hundreds upon thousands of people, often in your way. :q

the first day i kept myself pretty busy wandering around hong kong island. i went on the worlds largest outdoor (yet covered) esculator, and i visited a zoological garden. i went on the tram system (which i amway too big for...i could barely stand up!). i explored the streets and and in the evening i went up to the peak (they have a Madame Tassauds up there, didjaknow?) and saw the hong kong skyline all lit up.

the rest of the week saw me explore other parts of the island and on the kowloon peninsula. on the last day i went to Lantau island, which was very beautiful and very peaceful too. i caught a cable car across Lantau too, affording some spectacular views.
I also saw the brand new ASTRO BOY movie on Lantau.
now, i dont claim to be at all familiar with Osamu Tezuka's original "Tetsuwan Atom" manga, but i get the feeling that the new cgi film isn't exactly true to the original spirit of the film. i enjoyed it enough, but they could have done so much more with the concepts and plot lines that they threw up into the story, only to leave them dangling and ignored. the last 30 seconds of the movie is just dumb too. unnecessary.
still, the scene where Astro is learning to fly...can't deny that it looked amazing, and i wish i had rocket boosters for legs (and i guess a cyborg body strong enough to withstand them!! ha ha)

Sad to say though that my evenings were what really made the visit for me. one night i ate in a place called "Ned Kelly's Last Stand" which had a live jazz band playing there in the evenings. i liked it so much that i went back there the following night (although i ate somewhere different).

the most interesting eating experience was at a themed restaurant called "Modern Toilet". i'll give you three guesses as to what the theme was. it was very bizarre. you sit on toilets (fortunately not connected to the plumbing), and your food is served to you in bowls and cups that are shaped like urinals and toilets of various shapes and sizes. utterly utterly bizarre, but kinda enjoyable. definitely an experience i wont forget.

later that same night i went to an irish pub called "PJ Murphey's" for a quick pint and met the lovely Laura Donnelly and equally amiable and friendly Dave. Laura was from Belfast and Dave was from Coventry...they had both met at the pub before i had arrived. as they say, two's company, three's a party (wait...) and "just a pint" turned into something a darnsight more. still, i can cross "get drunk with an irish citizen" off my list of things to do before i die. ;) we had a really good time, even though we only hung out for that one night.

overall i enjoyed hong kong, but i gotta say that it totally wasnt what i was expecting.over the years i had built up a strong mental image of what i though HK was like in my head, and i was kinda disappointed when reality didnt match up with the fantasy. my own fault i guess. it was still a lot of fun, although one thing i really dont like about HK is the sense that the whole city is trying to inconvience the regualr tourist. stuff like "no refunds" and "exact change only", poor sign posting, restrictions of all kinds...i could go on, but more then once i caught myself thinking "what a stupid way to do things!". kinda dampened the whole experience for me.

but as i said overall, i had fun with the things that i did manage to do.

and now, i am in Kyoto, Japan! its a dream come true for me to be in Japan. i only hope it wont disappoint in the same way HK did. i gotta try and see it with fresh eyes and not bring any preconcieved notions to the table. i figure thats the best way.

well, till next time... which i guess will be when i arrive back home!!!

hope y'all are well! i'll try to start visiting your sites again as soon as i get back (though my laptop is still in LA, so that might be a little difficult!)

ja ne!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

DarkeAngel off on another Whirlwind adventure. AINT NO STOPPIN' US NOW~
Heya folks. Another update from somewhere in the world.

Where exactly? At this precise moment in time im in Chiang Mai, which is in North Thailand. Its a pretty town, lots of temples.

The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least.

From K.L where i left you guys last, i headed North to the Cameron Highlands, home of Malaysian Tea. It was actually pretty nippy up there and it rained a lot too, but hey, thats why i bought a rain jacket with me.

Up there i did a tour of the area, which included a visit to a rose garden, a butterfly garden, a strawberry farm, a tea plantation and a Buddhist Temple. It was pretty fun. I actually really enjoyed Tanah Rata, the town where i was staying. it had a real cosy feel to it. ^^

After the Highlands i headed back into K.L for one night (and i watched G-Force...suprisingly good for a kids movie! Jerry Bruckheimer dontchaknow.) and then caught a plane to Thailand!

I arrived in Krabi, a small coastal city/town and spent the night there, and then caught the ferry to Phi-Phi (pronounced "Pee-Pee") Island, a beautiful, picturesque island with beautiful beaches and a butt-load of tourists. ^^; It was reasonably quiet though, and the island had a real social jazzy feel to it, which i really enjoyed. I was staying in a small beach bungalow, little more than a thatch hut which i had to duck to get in and out of. Not exactly the Ritz, but i slept pretty well there. I also went diving off the island, theres a beautiful marine park nearby and i did a refresher SCUBA course, that took in some real nice dive sites. I even saw a Leopard Shark and Moray Eels! We also went to Phi-Phi Leh, the sister island, and had lunch there. Phi-Phi Leh is home to the beach where the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo DeCaprio was filmed. I didnt go to see that beach though, partly cuz it was filled with tourists and boats and stuff, and partly cuz i was feeling really sea-sick. ^^;

After Phi Phi i caught a ferry, a bus and another ferry across the country to Ko Samui, an inherently touristy island. It ended up being too touristy, and i left after a couple of days. Whilst i was there i met (and shared a room with) an american called Rebecca...the hostel where i was trying to stay didnt have any rooms available, but just as i was about to leave she ran up and asked me to split the cost of her room with her...she was travelling alone, and she had booked into a room big enough for three people. I agreed, cuz it was late and i was too tired to go looking for somewhere else to stay, and we ended up hanging out together for a week or so. We went to Chaweng beach, insanely beautiful (Apart from all the touristy crap) but i ended up getting a little burnt! youch.

We both left Samui together afer a couple of days and we headed north to Koh Pha-Ngan (pronounced "Pan-yang") which i a slightly quieter island most of the time. It gets really busy for the monthly "Full Moon Parties", but we arrived about a week after the previous one, so it was very quiet and the rooms were pretty cheap. I went diving off the north coast of Pha-Ngan. Very beautiful, but insanely frustrating. There was a Whale Shark swimming about the dive site, but somehow, for one reason or another, i totally missed seeing it. Every other dive group there saw it, but mine didnt. arrgh! still, i enjoyed it. The dive site "Sail Rock" is reportedly one of the best in the Gulf of Thailand and has this real cool feature called the "Chimney", a vast vertical rock tunnel that extends down to the ocean floor some 20-odd metres below the surface.

After Pha-Ngan, Rebecca and I parted ways, and i caught a ferry, a bus and then two trains up to Chiang Mai where i am now. The Trains were 12 hours EACH. the first was an overnight sleeper train, which ended up not being very comfortable, and the second was a day train...pretty boring. The views of Thailand were great, but the lack of entertainment (i had read all my books and my MP3 player was out of juice) was mind-numbing. Lets just say it was a LOOOOONG trip.

Whilst im up here i plan to maybe see a few elephants, and i've also booked to do this Jungle Zip Line adventure, which sounds like a lot of fun. after that im heading back south, maybe stopping off to see some temple ruins, and then onto bangkok and then, Hong Kong! w00t!

its been real fun here in Thailand. the Thai people are really friendly, although they're always trying to sell you something, or convince you to go to/use their particular hotel/attraction/taxi/massage place/tailor/rental place. it gets very annoying after a while, but you just gotta smile and say "no thank you" alot. Often they'll try to get into a conversation with you (especially on Samui) and talk to you in a phony accent. I've had Thai's talk to me in american accents and Australian accents because i apparently come off as one or the other, but rarely, if ever, british. go figure.

anyways, if you just read all of that, go pour yourself a stiff drink. you deserve it.

till next we meet!

Darke "where in the world is...?" Angel

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