Ashley Zoch

Monday, October 17, 2005

3 Rules of the Fishwife

We arranged a car to pick us up at 5:30am on Sunday morning to make the 200km journey to Agra. The morning drive was pretty uneventful. We saw a few camels hauling enormous loads of grain and a bear. I'm not too worried by crazy driving these days. I just assume everyone else in the country is used to it.

Sunrise over New Delhi.

We arrived in Agra and made contact with a guide to take us through emperor Shah Jahan's monument to his late wife - The Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is breath-takingly beautiful. The gardens are pristine and the Taj Mahal itself looks like it was built yesterday. The architecture is astounding - optical illusions everywhere, inlaid gems that glow in the moonlight and perfect symmetry wherever you look.

Approaching the Taj Mahal.

Our guide was a really nice guy. He showed us lots of really neat aspects about the design and history and showed me where to get some great photos. When we finished walking through I had a hard time leaving. I wanted to make sure I'd soaked it all in and had captured some memories with the camera.

Ash at the Taj Mahal.

We spent the afternoon at the Red Fort of Agra - built by the Moghal emperor Ackbar and eventually prison to his grandson Shah Jahan. Although the fort isn't as visually spectacular as the Taj Mahal, it's walls hold many remarkable stories of the area and it's rulers. We hooked up with another really great guide who showed us through with a nice mix of history and a few jokes ('Great kings were greeted here by showers of flower petals as they entered. Be careful not to be greeted by the pigeons that live here now').

Our guide told us lots of really great stories. My two favourites were :
Shah Jahan's wife gave him three rules before she died - look after my children (of which they had 14), never marry again, and build a monument in remembrance of me. The monument was, of course, the Taj Mahal but her request wasn't through greed. She knew that her husband would be grief stricken and would take his own life, so she gave him a task that she knew would occupy him for the years to come.

The Taj Mahal.

Shah Jahan filled one of his courtyards with water and then populated it with fish. Shah and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal would sit and fish from balconies at either end of the courtyard and compete for the most catches. The story says that Shah Jahan never won because he spent his whole time gazing at his wife.

They're a bit soppy but seeing as the Taj Mahal is 'the greatest monument ever built for love' I think they're appropriate. Shah Jahan spent his final days imprisoned in Red Fort and watching over the Taj Mahal from his balcony.

Entering the Red Fort of Agra.

The Red Fort has many clever architectural devices as well. The main one is the cooling system that involved hollow walls containing either people with big fans or running water pumped by elephants sitting on big leather bags (I can't confirm that last bit).

Matt & Ash seated on the Moghal throne.

We jumped back in the car headed back to Delhi. Along the way I saw the remnants of more accidents than I've seen in my entire life. We passed through an oil slick spilled from barrels on an overturned truck and a pool of leaking petrol from an overturned car. Fortunately our driver was a little less insane that most of the others.

Shah Jahan's view of the Taj Mahal, emprisoned in Red Fort.

We finished off the night with some Southern Indian at Banana Leaf. Matty had some sort of Indian omelette and I had the heavily talked-up 'Dosi' pancake. Both were quite nice and we ordered way too much yet again.


I'm in a little Internet cafe and I must be following a well worn path. A drop down box popped up when I typed that title showing previous users' blog titles - the ever faithful 'Oh Calcutta' and 'The Tout (Hear Him Roar!). It's nice to know I'm not alone.

We spent Saturday exploring central New Delhi. It took us a few circles to get our bearings, but we ended up with a pretty good look through the Connought Place (which is a big circle anyway). We wandered through a few markets but didn't purchase any of the billion textile products (what would Matty do with a Sari anyway?).

Book-shopping in Delhi.

By this time we've become old hands at dealing with the street touts so we decided to have a bit of fun and pretend we couldn't speak any English. This snowballed into our own Eastern European dialect mixed in with an occasional Three Stooges 'woop woop'. We dubbed it Absurdian and it served us very well - in riding us of pesky con artists and giving us a laugh at the same time.

One young fellow, who we named 'Shorty' spent almost an hour by our side trying to steer us to some market while failing to understand a word we said. He certainly wasn't a quitter.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

You Had Me At Hello

We both woke up a little worse for wear on Thursday. Matty was still nursing a flu/allergy/cold/malaria/dengue and I was dehydrated and sleepy (not sure why - might be the Indian Summer). We wandered outside around 9am to discover that nothing was really open and the touts were out in full swing. For a couple of hours we wandered the streets and were accosted by every scam in the Lonely Planet guide - cheap rides to markets (with a commision), directions to 'government' travel agents (with a commision) and creeps following us around for blocks. We decided this was too much and headed back to the hotel.

I almost expected to spend the day at the hotel, but I had a quick flash of brilliance and suggest a visit to the museum. Quiet, cool, peaceful.

Serenity Now!

We wandered around the exhibits of carvings and bowls and identified what we could with our limited understanding of Hinduism and Buddhism. My brain started to kick back in and I realised that although I don't place the same level of importance on the arts as some folks, it's almost the only thing that remains four thousand years later. There were some cool swords and stuff too.

The (dark) Museum.

The Museum is quiet heavily guarded and requires a metal detector check and a frisking as you walk in. The same occurs on the way out, presumably to ensure you don't have Shiva 'Destroyer of Worlds' hidden under your shirt. These checkpoints are staffed by guards in military uniforms with machine guns.

Matty proceeded through the metal detector as I opened my camera bag for inspection. As he stepped out of the detector the guard motion for him to come over for a friskin and checked him over with one of those magic wands. Satisfied that Matty wasn't smuggling any artifacts he gave him a hug and said "You come back".

At the time this amused me somewhat, but the more I thought about it, the funnier it became. I re-imagined the scene with Matty coming up with a quick quip along the lines of "You had me at hello" or "You're the reason Cavement painted on walls". The whole thing was inappropriate and bizarre. I loved it.

We caught a confused taxi back to the hotel. Apparently there are three hotels with the same name in Delhi, but he just picked one and headed there. It wasn't the right one and after consulting the trusty compass I finally got him turned around (in between his pleas for us to visit markets).

Matty & The Giant Latte.

Delhi was a whole new town when we got back. Everything was open and the streets were teaming with normal people who didn't want to follow us around. We stopped in a chemist and picked up a cocktail of drugs for Matty's flu and then picked up a few books from a vendor on the street. The streets are liberally scattered with book vendors selling all variety of novels for a few bucks each.

We had an afternoon meal at Ruby Tuesdays. Long ago we stopped the standard practice of three meals a day and now we just eat when we're hungry. Often it's one meal a day in the mid afternoon. Ruby Tuesdays is a franchise restaurant something like the Hard Rock Cafe. They played Deep Purple all afternoon. I don't mind Deep Purple but Child in Time isn't really afternoon cafe music.

Pegasus Pub, Delhi.

We did a few more laps of the shops and finished the day with a few quiet beers at the bar next door.

82 Hours on the Tarmac

We arrived at Goa airport in plenty of time to discover that a Sahara flight that skidded on the tarmac in Mumbai was still there (3 days later). We got on the plane and ate breakfast while the captain tried to keep the angry mob from revolting. Then we got off the plane and sat back at the terminal for a while. Then we got back on the plane and sat for another while and finally we said a fond farewell to the state of Goa.

Finally in the Air!.

Our travel book makes numerous references to the difficulties a traveller may encounter in Delhi - dodgey taxis, hotel booking scams, hotels with no vacancies, etc. We made an effort to book something and arrange an airport pickup in Goa, but it wasn't to be. I was a little hesitant as we collected our luggage but we jumped in a pre-paid taxi and headed to the first hotel on our list - Hotel Jakaso Inn. We got a couple of rooms and headed next door to the Pegasus Pub (a traditional English Pub in the heart of Delhi).

We polished off a few drinks and Matty retired due to a mild flu. I struck up a conversation with some folks from Spain and joined them for a few (too many) drinks. They didn't have much English and I only had some cowboy movie Spanish so we made lots of hand gestures and kept the chatter pretty simple.

Loo & Aloo

Monday night ended with a nice electrical storm over the beach. We watched for a while under the thatched roof of 'our' bar and then fortunately had a drip free night at our bungalow.

Stalls Palolem Beach, Goa.

I snuck in for a quick dip in the sea on Tuesday morning and then we spent a few hours wandering the stalls. I struggled to remember where anything was despite the fact that there were only 2 streets. We sharpened up our (pretty hopeless) bargaining skills and picked up a couple of CDs and T-shirts.

Palolem Cows being Sacred.

We took a mid afternoon taxi back to the town of Vasco da Gama and stayed at a decent little hotel called La Paza Gardens. I think they were a little taken back by my questions about rooms with toilets and so forth, but we'd been staying in some pretty basic accommodation, so I didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be a pretty flash hotel by local standards with a couple of restaurants, bar, gym and pool table.

Catholic Church, Palolem Beach, Goa.

We were pretty darn happy to have a warm shower and a few channels of TV to watch.

Our village of Bungalows at Palolem Beach.

We sat down for a nice slow lunch of Chicken Tikka Masala, Kebabs and some nice Nahn. We had the Nahn with potatoes and spices as well, but I can't remember it's name. Aloo Paratha maybe. The food was nice and the staff were concerned that we thirsty Aussies were ordering Pepsi after Pepsi but didn't finish the (too large) servings.

We finished the day with a few beers in the empty hotel bar.

Mondays Rule

There's not much I can say about Monday at Palolem Beach because we did nothing.

Relaxing outside our Bungalow.

We took some washing to be done.

A local Fisherman.

We did a quick blog update and checked the news.

Inside our Bungalow.

We ate a pretty nice Margherita pizza for lunch.

Sunset at a Beach Bar.

We drank some beers at a bar on the beach.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The King and Jack

Monday Morning. Woke Up. Checked Out. Room was way overpriced.

The domestic airport is pretty new and looks great but it has been savaged by 'war on terror' security measures. Much of the original fitout has been temporarily modified in order to satisfy additional checks so it doesn't flow and it's hard to work out where you should be next. We arrived nice and early planning to relax at the gate but the security checks only let passengers in 30 minutes before boarding so we ended up on the floor in the main terminal. The plane was late and I struck up a conversation with a nice bloke from Benalla, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand and working in India on an oil project. His plane was even later than ours.

We arrived at Goa airport and arranged a taxi ride to Palolem beach. The taxi rank used a pre-paid flat rate system so there was no question about the 800 Rupee fee. Although it's only $25 I would have wondered if we were being ripped off otherwise. It turns out the trip is almost 2 hours and over 60km. The zipped off in a little minivan and enjoyed a couple of hours of jungle-y countryside.

Palolem Beach, Goa.

Palolem beach is considered the most scenic in Goa and it really is beautiful. It's about 1km of clean white sand and blue water. The beach is backed by hundreds of stilted beach huts mostly made from bamboo. We walked through a few of the 'villages' and rented the first available room - $5 each, three beds, fan on the roof, mozzie nets and no bathroom. Our village is centred by an old Portugese Catholic church.

Sunset at Palolem Beach, Goa.

We spent the evening at a little outdoor bar next door with tables and very comfortable wicker chairs on the sand. The sunset was terrific. Kids were playing cricket on the beach in front of us, we were enjoying a slow Kingfisher beer and the DJ was playing Jack Johnson. Travelers wandered the beach during the evening juggling and showing off various circus tricks with staffs and balls on ropes.

It was pretty close to perfect.

Jack, the Kingfisher and I

Matt Knight Reports...

Left Mumbai yesterday headed for Goa. The plan was delayed for about an hour but the flight is only 45 mins so it was sweet. The plan was jam packed with no seats left. After arriving in Goa and getting to the beach I can understand why.

We took a 2 hour car ride to get the Palolem beach then walked around looking for some place to stay. We managed to get some wooden huts on the beach they cost us $5 a night. They are very basic huts, but there is a bed to sleep on and a restaurant next door. Ash and I dumped our packs, and took a seat next door in the restaurant watching the ocean and a game of beach cricket.

I sat in my chairs, kicked back and had a kingfisher beer. After about two hours the game of cricket got called due to bad light. We sat in the restaurant for another couple of hours, sipping on beers and listening to Jack Johnson.

I think I am going to enjoy Goa.

Hooray for Bollywood

Our goal on Sunday was to visit one of the restuarants listed in our travel guide for lunch. We selected a rooftop cafe called Koyla noted for it's Arabia meets Cafe Del Mar atmosphere. We caught a train to Churchgate (catching a train from our hotel in the suburbs to the tourist & entertainment district in Colaba has been a common theme) and a taxi to Koyla. We discovered that it was only open for dinner and the guide had mixed up it's AMs and PMs.

Hanging out on the Train.

We headed back and passed 'The Oval' a well known grassed area popular for cricket. We decided to stop in an watch for a couple of hours. About 10 games of cricket were being played throughout the long stretch of grass. They ranged from a handful of kids with a tennis ball and only one stump at the bowlers end up to a fairly senior grade kitted out in full Test regalia. We watched the kids for a while and then sat down to watch the serious stuff. The level of cricket was pretty high in general.

Fun Cricket.

We were approached by an Indian fellow named Terrence who invited us to join a couple of English blokes who were watching at the other end of the field. After some introductions and small talk we discovered that Terrence had grouped us up for a larger potential market. He talked non-stop for the next hour - tall tales about his life interspersed with offers of accomodation, the 'weirdest' city tours, parts in Bollywood movies and cheap beer. My favourite of his tales involved a girlfriend who ended up marrying his father and then gained 120kg. He told us it was karma.

Serious Cricket.

We discovered that time had gotten away from us and make a quick exit to reach the Eros Theatre across the road to catch an afternoon matinee of the Bollywood blockbuster 'No Entry'. The theatre was a beautiful old building with a balcony level and an enormous screen. We managed to get a rough idea of the film's plot and enjoyed the elaborate dance numbers (which we realised were used in place of sex scenes). The almost full house loved every moment of it. A lady across from me rocked back and forth in her chair with laughter.

We jumped an express train back past Khar station (oops!) and caught an Auto-Rickshaw back. The Auto drivers are crazy, but much less so than their Thai counterparts. We made it home safely and had a couple of beers at the High Tide bar across the road before moving on to the hotel bar for a nightcap.

Indian Buddies.

The hotel restuarant was full with families and other revellers. I got talking to a group of guys and we decided to join them for a beer. The group of 6 or so bombarded us with questions and offers to take us around the town. It was a mix of friendship with the ever present sales pitches when the opportunity arose. Indian men are a lot more open with their gestures of friendship so there were arms over the shoulders, hands on the knee, too many embraces and even the odd kiss on the cheek. We're still not sure if some of them were gay (I can't think of an amusing innuendo).

Drinks with the Boys.

We polished off a few rounds of beer and declined their offer to head out to a disco in favour of getting some sleep before the morning's flight.

Very Good Cricket Team

Matt Knight Reports......

They longer I stayed in Mumbai the more it grew on me. Having said that I was glad to leave for Goa which is 100 times better in comparison.

Spent Sunday in Mumbai at the cricket and then off to the movies. Cricket is massive in India. Everyone plays or follows the cricket, and as soon as we mention we are Aussies the standard Indian answer is "Very good cricket team".

It was good to just kick back in the shade watching the game. Some guys from England where also there and we ended up having a chat. We were planning to go down onto one of the ovals and join in, but time got away and we couldn't play.

The Bollywood movie was also an experience. We had a little time to kill after watching the cricket so we stopped off in a cafe. About 30 mins before the show we left to get tickets and the lines where out onto the street.

The movie itself was ok but way too long. The Indians seemed to love it but I personally can not see it winning any oscars........

Sun is Shining

On Saturday morning we caught another crammed train to Marine Lines station and wandered the town until we found an internet cafe. We caught up with some mail and the recent earthquake up North and then headed off in search of some markets. We found plenty of stalls along Mahatma Ghandi Rd and looked through a variety of knock-off electronics and the like, but we never made it to the actual markets.

A Typing Service.

We found a McDonalds for lunch and had to try it out (plus they had air conditioning). I had a Veggie Burger that was the equivalent of a normal hamburger, just minus the meat (and not much in the way of veggies). We wandered past the grand English Victorian style University and then caught a taxi up to Chowpatty Beach.

Crazy Taxi.

It was hot and the sun was shining, so we decided to kick back at Ideal Corner - a Parsi style cafe, and do some people watching. As the evening drew closer we decided it had reached a civilised hour to enjoy a beer. Unfortunately after a couple of conversations with the waiter we discovered that it was the anniversary of Ghandi's death and Mumbai was 'dry' for the day. We sipped some some Lassis instead.

India is Really Big.

We ate a quick dinner of Tikka Masala and 'Veggi Mexico' (an odd but delicious combination of Mexican and Indian food) with some great Butter Nahn.

Gents at Chowpatty Beach.

We wandered Chowpatty beach as the sun set and took a few photos. Chowpatty is pretty dirty, so there's not much swimming, but there were plenty of families and couples wandering along. We turned down the many offers of head massages, enormous balloons and rides on little 50cc motorbikes.

We've had what I would consider 'the full experience' in terms of catching crowded trains, so we opted for a taxi home. It ended up taking longer and costing more and it wasn't really much more comfortable. We did get to see some other parts of the city though.

A Fool at Chowpatty Beach.

We finished off with another attempt at a beer at the hotel's bar. It turned out that it really was a 'dry' day so we had a couple of Cokes instead and hit the sack.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


I opened the blinds of my 2nd floor room at the hotel to reveal 2,000 Indian dudes standing on the road outside. I don't really know what they do down there. Matty describes it as 'milling'. We wandered through the crowd to the Khar Railway station and bought a couple of 3rd class tickets to Churchgate.

Milling outside our hotel.

The trains here are quite a spectacle. Actually the trains are just old clunkers, but the number of people that squeeze into them is incredible. They leave the doors open and people literally hang out. I don't think the class of ticket matters either as every carriage is packed. They do have a separate ladies carriage that looks much more civilised, but we haven't been able to get skirts that match our eyes.

Me at the Gateway of India.

We walked from the station to the famed Gateway of India. We browsed a few hawker stalls on the way and picked up a new compass and a cheap watch for Matty. We encountered a few beggars and touts. The most amusing one was a fellow who was 'visiting from Goa and had lost his passport'. I thought he wanted to stay in Matty's room in return for accommodation for us at his house in Goa. It turned out he just wanted some cash.

Matt with his adopted family.

The Gateway itself is a nice stone arch. We were accosted by all variety of balloon salesmen, photographers and a holy man that said a prayer over our heads and wrapped a dyed cloth bracelet around our wrists for a few coins. We made short work of getting rid of the bracelet but still ended up with dyed yellow wrists. A family of tourists from elsewhere in India approached us to take a few photos of us with their daughters. They didn't hang around long enough for any chit-chat so I think we were just some novelty white men. It took a while for me to realise they wanted us in the photos and not just taking them.

Matt & I outside Elephanta Caves.

We caught a slow 'deluxe' ferry out to Elephanta island and hooked up with a guide to show us through the caves. The guide's name was Madan and he lived in a village on the island. There are some 120 odd steps up to the caves. An odd gent behind us opted for a Palanquin (think Cleopatra) carried by four weary Indians that had to stop occasionally to regain their strength. The passenger bore quiet a resemblance to Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now with his hefty girth, white Indian shirt and sun hat. He turned out to be from Sydney and he was as camp as a 3 bob note.

Monkey at Elephanta Cave.

There aren't any actual elephants on Elephanta island. There was a statue of an elephant, but it was destroyed and reassembled somewhere in Mumbai many years ago. There were plenty of monkeys though. Our guide held us back at one cave entrance while a poor unsuspecting tourist wandered in with a bottle of Pepsi. A monkey shot out and nabbed it from him before he knew what happened. We watched the monkey skillfully uncap the bottle and enjoy the fruits of his attack.

Me inside Elephanta Cave.

The temple caves were quiet interesting. They are devoted to Shiva (Destroyer of Worlds - my favourite of the million plus Hindu deities) and were hand cut into the mountain in the 7th century. Madan explained the meanings of the various carvings and told us a few stories about the temples. We understood about half of it, but I thought it was awesome because many of the same themes were presented at the Hindu temples in Angkor, Camobodia, so I knew a little about it.


We took dinner at a nice little restaurant in Colaba called Ali Barbar's Cave. We didn't realise until we saw a menu that the food was a mix of Chinese and Thai - not Indian, but we ended up enjoying some really nice Pad Thai and Lamb.

We weighed up the options of train vs taxi as night drew in and ended up walking back to the station after some unsuccessful negotiation with a taxi driver. The morning train ride was nothing compared to evening 'peak'. We crammed into a carriage and watched the people wash in and out at every station. At one of the major stations a serious and synchronised 'group push' was enacted to get everyone out. Fortunately we were on the right side when we arrived at our station. We get a great many strange looks. I'd love to know what people are thinking.

We finished off with a Kingfisher and an early night.

My Friend, where you from friend?

There was some though Ash may be making up some of the blogs, so I have been asked to verify the stories - Matt Knight

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go - I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Actually that is a lie, I'll be back on the 18th Oct..... but it's a good start.

Traveling with Ash to India. There was a third to our party but due to illness 1 day before going, all plans changed and he had to cancel. Lets start at the beginning of this adventure.... and yes, it will be an adventure.

Packed the bag and drove from Bendigo to Melbourne on the Wednesday afternoon after calling Ash to confirm we had visas. I was a little excited about the trip and have great expectations of things to come. We flew with Singapore Airlines, which are the best airline I have flown with. Good seats, plenty of meals and on demand videos.

The only problem with the flight was that I was stuck behind a man that had the seat fully reclined all the way. This was merely an inconvenience rather than an annoyance.

Flights include a four hour stop over at Singapore where I managed to pick up a video camera. Got into Mumbai at about 11pm, then waited for 20mins for the bags to arrive. The hotel we are staying at sent a guy to pick us up, and we really struggled to understand what he was saying. We got to the hotel after a few detours around midnight and then had a quite ale (kingfisher beer) before retiring to our rooms.

My room was not what is shown on the website. I may attempt to compare what they have displayed with a few photos I have taken. The room was dirty, but it is a bed and somewhere to sleep.

We went to the Gates of India along with Elephanta Caves yesterday. We started out by catching the train from Khar Road to Churgate station. The train system has first class, economy with men's and ladies carriages. There is no difference between first class and economy except the price - everyone jumps onboard and pushes like a rugby scrum, with the guys guys trying to get off doing the same. There are no doors on the trains so there are also a number of people hanging on to the sides.

After negotiating the trains, we then walked a little way before getting to the gates of India. Here we met our Indian Tourism Delegates (beggars) who range from 3 yr old kids to 80 yr old men and women. They didn't brake into any Bollywood style dancing and therefore did not see any money from us.

There are hundreds of street peddlers trying to flog off a range of items nobody wants. We must seem like an easy mark as we seemed to cop a very high number - Might be due to the white guys in shorts and tee shirts with the back packs on....

Anyway, we got to the Gates of Mumbai which is a tall arch. It is interesting without being exciting. After viewing this we then sat down for a moment and were approached by some girls to take a photo. Ash and I assumed it was another scam but they wanted to have their photo taken with us. We obliged for a few happy snaps and they were on their way.

We got a couple of deluxe boat tickets to Elephanta Caves, which again is the same as normal ticket.... and had a gander. We hired a guide to take us through the caves, which was very interesting, and took numerous photos. Plenty of monkeys to see on the island also.

The tour took about 4 hours including the boat trip there and back and then we had some dinner. We had Thai food in India.... got the train back to our station, although we were worried we may miss our stop as pushing our way through the crowd was going to be hard. But alas, we got off and walked back to the hotel, had a quite drink and an early night.

If you have ever been to Fiji, Mumbai is similar to Suva - big and dirty....

Meet our Demands!

We loaded up the fancy new backpacks and hopped on a Singapore Airlines flight to Mumbai, India on Thursday. The service on Singapore Airlines is pretty impressive. They fed us about 100 times and all the TV stuff is on-demand.

We stopped off for a few hours at Changi Airport in Singapore. Matty picked himself up a sweet video camera and we ate some more food. The flight to Mumbai was more of the same.

We arrived in Mumbai around 11pm and were picked up by a driver from the hotel. The hotel itself is pretty average but the staff are nice and they enjoy a chat about cricket. We snuck in a longneck of Kingfisher and hit the sack.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tell me, Clarice - Have the Lambs Stopped Screaming?

We spent the weekend camping at Starlings Gap - a little way out of Warburton. I drove up with Shew, followed in a convoy by his Intellectual Property lawyer buddy Dave and we met Tayls, Tam and Ethan at the site. We setup the tents in the dark (have we ever not?) and enjoyed a few beers by the fire. I brought along the guitar and played what I thought was a reasonably broad repertoire, but I was still inundated with requests for the themes from Superman and Never Ending Story and The Little Drummer boy.

Camp Site at Starlings Gap.

By way of quick explanation - Shewie pretty quickly runs out of pop songs that he can name and I struggle to know any of them, so the requests rapidly spiral into anything that pops into his head - be it orchestral works or Christmas carols featuring drums.

He also doesn't know how to pour a standard drink.

I spent most of the weekend kickin' around reading or strummin' around dodging requests (I wonder how many people do include 'Love is a Battlefield' in their acoustic guitar repertoire?). We had a nice warm fire and the whole place mostly to ourselves, save a few very seriously kitted out bush-walkers. Intellectual Property law plays a big part in both music and software development, so Dave and I had a good yak about it on Saturday night.

The area has been logged for over 100 years and relics of the early sawmills are scattered around the walking tracks. Tayls and I checked out a 100 year old 'steam log puller' (my terminology) near the camp site and he did a darn good job of explaining how the whole thing worked. I wouldn't have been surprised to see him tinker around a bit inside and start it up!

Steam Log Puller (thing).

Darren and I often talk about how there's two separate but almost equally enjoyable parts of going away. The trip itself and all the talking and planning beforehand. Camping has an extra one - having a hot shower and getting clean once you get home. Nothing beats getting cleaned up and chillin' out on a Sunday.

Blogger's spellcheck suggests 'she' as a replacement for Shew.

Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!

We went to see Princess 1.5 and The Winter Ship at the Northcote Social Club a couple of weeks back. I have been trying to see the princess for some time now, so it was good to finally catch her. She played a great set with the boys from Because of Ghosts and it was exactly what I was expecting. They play a really nice combination of post-rock-like progressions with samples and dream-like vocals. It has a very modern, current feel to it. That's not a very good explanation, but I know what I mean {please insert smiley here Blogger}.

Princess 1.5.

I could only stay awake for a couple of the Winter Ship's songs, but there was a bunch of them playing violins and stuff and I'd like to see them again. I was fighting off 24 hours of 'aeroplane awakeness' and I finally lost.

The Winter Ship.