Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rant without content

I just wrote a post and decided not to post it because no matter what my intention is, it only sounds angry.

I just want to say Stop reading this and then trying to turn it around to make me out to be a bad guy. The only thing more offensive than finding out that you're still here is finding out that my honesty is not acknowledged in any other way than to be used as a pawn for you to turn it against me.

I wasn't making sh!t up the first time, I wasn't making sh!t up last time AND I'm JUST. SO. OVER the petty nonsense that's evolved that there's never going to be any need for you to pretend I'm making sh*t up again. Subtle enough for you?

(Note to everyone else - hey! how's it goin?! Working on that application and still a SpazzMySpazz - Brb!)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Peer pressure suckered me in so I CAN STALK YOU

Hey team - I got suckered and made myself a myspace thango tonight... if you're into that type of thing, comment/email and we can hook ourselves up.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Job stuff's stuffed stuff

This isn't a work rant as such... it's kinda like a call for opinions, but my mind is already kinda made up AND I'm not expecting too much response as it seems I have to do boring stuff while everyone updates and comments during the week, and then I'm doing nothing but the internet on weekends while everyone else is doing fun stuff.

Anyways - when I got back from holidays I was informed that our team has been identified as being affected in a 'thing' that's going on with government areas around the place. Basically, in the next 12 - 18 months, 8 people from my team of 10 will be of no use anymore - the system they support is being replaced with a new one and managed by someone else.

The majority of these people have worked together for the last 10 years or so - under my boss' boss. They are the main reason I like my job - I work with fantastic, hardworking, lovely people - the majority of whom I would consider good friends. They help me out to make me seem smarter than I actually am, they keep the system running amazingly without recognition and they're always genuinely interested in each others lives.

When I was informed of the upcoming change, I was also told not to worry as I (and one other guy) are 'out of scope' and won't be 'excess' - our branch head will try and keep us somewhere in the branch, else we may get moved to another decision. "But don't worry".

It hasn't been talked about too much at work, I guess people are trying not to think about it - until this week, when one of the guys forwarded me a job application - I presume half jokingly.

Here's the lowdown:

- Classified two levels above my current position (of which I only secured within the last 4 weeks or so, after over 18 months at the classification lower than that) - However the pay scales differ such that it could be considered only one classification higher than my current;
- Different organisation (I've only ever worked as a pube in my current organisation); and
- Pretty much the same as what I do in my current job but with a bit more of a 'grownup' twist.

The classification thing is a bit of a worry, as I'm not yet that confident of being 'worth' my current classification - although I have acted in it for like 9 months or something.
Pro: More pay!
Pro: Would get to keep this classification if I transferred to another organisation from there
Con: Scary to consider being that classification.

Being at a different organisation is a bit scary too - having only been a pube for less than 4.5yrs and only ever under the one boss' boss and in the same organisation and building and even the same row of bays in the at building. There is a bit of a trend of people leaving the organisation too - the team that was mentioned when the option of staying in the branch was discusses is about to lose their best (and my favourite) team member.
Pro: Dadsy and Eldest bro also work there (in different areas, so it's not dodgy)
Pro(ish): The only other guy I'd be happy to work with (out of my team) is leaving too
Con: Having to meet new people - I'm not much of a meeting people person.
Con: Moving away from my friends (and other staff) at current job
Con: Min 30 minute drive to work (rather than my current 7 minute drive)

The work is slightly different too - my current job but with some extra stuff that I don't currently do - 'analysis' 'workforce planning' 'people management'...
Pro: Obvious room for growth
Con: Not actually qualified/trained to do that sorta stuff
Pro: Surely they'd train me in it?

Thinking about it sends me round and round in circles...

My boss has looked after me so well so far
BUT she can't hand hold me forever
BUT I won't be working with such awesome people
BUT I can't work with them anyway as the team is going to be thrown out anyway
BUT I'm out of scope so should be thankful
BUT it's not my fault I'm out of scope - I always seem the be the last one to leave a sinken (or sunken ship)
BUT I know the data at my organisation quite well
BUT I didn't know it when I started there, so I can obviously learn
BUT I rely a lot on my team members for help
BUT surely that's the same everywhere

et al.

Anyone wanna be me for while?

Application closes Thursday.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lazy Enny's Pasta Dinner

So - not sure what to cook for dinner tonight? Why not try my lazy pasta!

You'll need:
1 bag pasta (Penne or spirals)
1 jar vegetable pasta sauce (usually tuscan vegetable - check the ingredients for no added cheese, milk solids or cream)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 jar No Name sliced olives (they're there for texture, not taste!)
1 small packet of pine nuts
1 small container semidried tomatoes from the deli
Squirty Basil and Squirty Parsley (from the squirty tubes in the veggie section)
Garlic in a jar

Boil your water and put in your pasta.

While your pasta is boiling, heat a frypan and brown the pine nuts - take them out and put them aside once they start to brown because their oil will keep cooking them after you take them off the heat.

With the saucepan still on the heat, add a little olive oil and a teaspoon of garlic from the jar - keep stirring it so it doesn't burn, then add the sauce, diced tomato, jar of olives (drain the juice out first), the semidried tomatoes and a generous squirt of each of the basil and the parsley (that's the fun bit of dinner).

Simmer the sauce till the pasta is ready, then drain it and add it to the sauce.


It's quick, easy, filling and makes enough for dinner AND lunch for two people!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

(Enny-)Penny for your thoughts

Overall, blogging has been a great experience for me - I've met lots of lovely people, I've learnt a lot, I love reading other peoples perspectives and there are some amazingly fantastic writers around the place. I do wish I were a better writer, and I'm sure I could be if I tried, but I'm just not the one to get in there all thoughtful like and structure a properly spelt, well planned piece of work (I tend to rush something off before martial arts or after uni or on the weekend when normal people are doing other proper things). I'm more of the verbal diarrhea type of writer, the "if you were a friend of mine and I'd had a few cruisers, I would rant to you like this and then you could talk back at the end" kind of girl. And I don't mind that about me or about all this - it's more honest and more me AND the one time I wrote a blog-style email to a friend I was having an issue with, he PS'd at the bottom saying that he likes the way I write. Which still strikes me as odd, to this day.

Please note, I just spell checked that paragraph and corrected four mistakes, so perhaps it would be in everyone's best interest if I just clicked that ABC button every so often?

Anyways, with all the flowers and bunnies and rainbows I've gotten from this, there has been a bit of a dark side to it. Not just in the way that 'internets' has become my number one hobby (and a time consuming one at that) but in the way that I feel I have to cloak or hide or only allude to certain things that are on my mind - all for the greater good. I've heard about the people who've blogged about work and been caught out, and that would totally suck so I'm trying to be more careful about that sorta stuff, but I've also had my own experience with RL people reading what I've said and then inflicting on me the stomach churning roller coaster ride of anger, nausea, panic and concern. And I'm in no way keen to relive that experience - not one iota. But I hate not being able to be me, in my space.

That whole incident (I'm sure y'all remember? It started from here and only got wooooorse) has been an unsightly chapter of my life -one that I don't think I'll ever be able to just forget or dismiss, one that's affected me here and in RL. I won't lie - things have never been the same since. Thing probably won't be the same again.

I went through panic, anger, ignorance, anger and then back to panic. It started being about me, and then it grew and enveloped quite a few others. And not everything fell back into place - it all feel a bit skew-whiff, a bit crooked, tattered and hanging around the edges... and no can (or wants to?) put it back into place.

Now I have to be careful because I'm tired and my horoscope for yesterday warned me not to say stupid things because they're likely to blow up in my face.

When you hear/see/know things about a friend of a friend of a friend that are slightly worrying, do you feel concerned? Do you kind of feel like you take part of that on yourself? Do you think and think and think on it? Do you ask questions and get opinions and clarify the situation in your mind?

Because that's what I do.

I don't think it's just because I have a tendency for being nosy (though I'm sure that many others perceive it that way). I mean, I know that's true - I like to know stuff - I don't deny it. But I think it's something deeper than that.

Plus I catch yawns easily and I read that the easier you yawn, the more empathetic you are. Seriously.

So when I hear something 'worrying' about 'something', I can't help but take it on and think it out.

There are a series of relationships that were affected by my thoughts, to varying degrees. My friendships, my blood relationships, and those that are somewhere in between.

So while this is my space - this is not my space.

While people say they don't read this, I can't believe that - I can never fully believe anything, because I've already been naive about it and if f*cked me over. And while I can tell myself that it doesn't matter - that they said they don't read it so they can't get angry about anything I've written because 'they don't read it' - it doesn't matter.

I do know in my heart of hearts that if I knew someone blogged about me, I would read it. I would not be able to not take it to heart because I really am a bit of a sensitive little thing on the inside. I would probably do the same and put up walls and live daily experience with a faux air of confidence and optimism and ignorance and control. I would probably also do the same and lie somewhere in between - with moments of honesty that are indeterminable from the real honesty that we had before.

I do also know, as I am learning, that suffering in my life is only as a result of my thoughts and my views - I choose to be affected by things that I see and hear and sense and know. That ultimately I can escape the suffering in the refuge of knowing that really it doesn't matter, it's all external distraction.

I do also know that I have a hard time letting go of my suffering, my badges, my pains.

I've tried many a time to express things here in an underhanded way, to get my message through in a 'subtle' way, and expressed disinterest in whether it's had any effect in real life.

And while I really need to go to bed as I've stopped making sense, I would like to say:

The only person that can look out for you, is you.

The only person who can and should decide what you do, is you.

If you want something, there's nothing wrong with you outright asking for it.

And if you don't get it, it doesn't mean you should bow down to pressure, go against your beliefs and go against your gut.

Do not forget who you are, and why you are the way you are. There are reasons, measured reasons and logic behind your beliefs - you did not adopt them overnight, nor should you forget them overnight.

If you are not happy or comfortable, do not pretend to be. That is not going to make anything ok.

If you pretend it's ok, then voice that maybe it's not, only to find that people know it's not ok but carry on nontheless - that's not ok.

If you find yourself being different people to different people, then maybe stop and think. How would you feel if you saw that yourself? What would you feel for that person, about that person? What would you want to say? What would you want them to say to you? Then put yourself back in your place and look again.

The big picture is important, and it is made up of many small pictures.

But you cannot skip the parts that just don't seem to be working and then get to the big picture unscathed.

I worried about the real you before, and I worry about the real you now.

If you find yourself torn and conflicted, then listen to the noise.
If you find big things becoming small things - they don't stop being big things.
If it's not turning out like you thought it would - it's not going to end the way you wish it would.

If you realise you're contradicting yourself, if you realise that others realise you're contradicting yourself and still charging on, you are the only one that can resolve it.

So stop listening to everyone else, inlcuding that arguing voice in your head, and listen to you. The real you.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I sense danger...!


I got to bed just before 4am this morning - I had actually 'finished' at 3, but I couldn't get the stupid email file to send properly... I left it sending while I showered but it still hadn't sent by the time I got out and I wanted Bed NOW so I left it running overnight and shut it down this morning before work (for which I was a leeeedle bit late) (and my hair was still wet when I got to work).

I was telling The Hun about the stoopid home internet after I polished off the last bits of the (mediocre at best) assignment and tried sending it from work - which ALSO wasn't working properly.

"You shoulda stopped the downloads."
"I did!"
"Well, how big was the file?"
"Eleven thousand."
"11 meg?!"
"No, no ... eleven thousand kaybees"
"Hunny, that's 11 meg - of course it wasn't sending."

I know that's a bit big as I tried to email 17meg of photos (zipped) to some friends and it wouldn't send.

Moral of the story? F*ck uni.

That is my favourite saying at the moment - mostly because I say it sarcastically to The Hun many times a night, but Ipause before saying the 'ni' part. Good times.

I popped home after work (heh, almost typed 'pooped') and picked up the lappy so I could see the lecture notes- a collection of slides containing notes from two other units here at the uni, text from wikipedia and pictures of a treacherous path up a hill - one of those presentations that your public servant friends constantly spam you with thoughtfully forward on.

Now I'm sitting in an amazingly comfy chair outside the room my tute will be in in 15 minutes - it's kinda like a futon and low to the ground and feels like I'm resting on a doona.

Last week I made it out to the uni after almost deciding to notify the tutor, only to find that the email I'd been sent stating that the tute room had changed must have been incorrect - there was no one in either the old room OR the new room. I later found out that the email was incorrect, but the third website for this subject (yes! three! why?!) contains the correct tute room. I fricking hope.

Oh noes! Teh internet nearly ates my rambles...

Has anyone googled "Fucking harvard referencing" lately?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quickie Uni Goss Party

Jus a quickie today - I have a 20 page report due tmr that's worth 40% and so far I've set the porchlight on so that baby Jesus knows where to stop in to do a spot of document/workflow redevelopment...

There's a few things that I want to write about too - eating overseas, clothing, my sexy new shoes and... other things.... that I can't talk about because the 'watchers' are lurking and making me hold back... so I need to think some more.

Anyways - the real reason I'm updating?



Sunday, May 13, 2007

This is not a tribute...

It's a shoutout to middle bro, who turned 22 on Wednesday (after suffering through three days of a vomit bug and coming out of it six kilos lighter) and who had a bit of shindig tonight where he reminded me it was his "one year anniversary" of declaring his love "for the enny penny".

Happy belated birthday middle bro!

ALSO - you all know Bjork is my fav artist, right? Well, I bought Volta today and whilst I'm yet to listen to it all they way through yet, I defy you to listen to this song and not admire it's awesomness... enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Wake up Call

We received a phone call at 6:30 one morning while we were in Bangkok - a wake up call that was 'accidentally' sent through to the wrong room.

This was the same hotel where you'd often get 5am, 6am and 7am wakeup calls as a bunch of feral kids ran up and down the hallway (can you tell I just wasn't a fan of the place?).

This morning I was given an interesting wake up call as The Hun was up and jogging straight out of the room just after 6am.

I was understandably puzzled, but not for long - I soon heard the contents of his stomach rapidly finding a new home*.

So - what's been your most interesting wake up call?

*We think he's ok - no rash, no muscle aches, no fever - so perhaps a bug that middle bro had earlier in the week and managed to pass on even though he's feeling fine and they only sat next to each other for 90 minutes at dinner last night.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Potty mouth

*** now with bonus paragraph! ***

Because I'm supposed to be writing a 20 page report on my works study assistance policy and preparing a speech on whitegoods and industrial relations, now is as good a time as any to post about my biggest cultural shock on our holiday. Toilets.

Please note, this may not be anything new to some of you, but keep in mind this was my first O/S trip (excluding the work visit to Hobart).

Basically, Thailand has four types of toilets:

Normal toilets - Stock standard, run of the mill loos with paper provided. However, we did notice that hotels in Thailand provided less toilet paper - no refill in the cupboard, and not necessarilly a full roll to start off with. Not so awesome in a country renowned for giving whities the squirts.

Hosey toilets - These can come with our without paper, the premise (we believe) that you hose yourself off instead of using paper. This caused me much confusion at the airport in Phuket when I couldn't see the flush toggle for the toilet lid and tried to hose the toilet to 'flush', which instead left the toilet too full of water to flush properly and a befuddled enny sneaking out towards to the baggage carousel.

Scoopy toilets - This is when the hose is considered a luxury and you are instead suprised with a tub of water and a smaller tub. The premise is that you then scoop water out of the big bucket and somehow 'sort yourself out'. I don't know how there aren't more people walking around with embarassing looking wet trouser strains.

Squatty toilets - I actually paid 2 baht to use one of these (as the guide indicated it was one of the cleaner ones we'd see during the day) until I realised that it was a squatty - having had no prior experience I wasn't about to give it a run for my money, knowing I would have to wear the same pair of pants all day. The Hun actually experienced one step below this when we went elephant riding as the loo there was in fact just a hole - the only time I ever thought I would hold an upset stomach for a three hour car trip, but I did it. DID I EVER!

Japan was a big happy change from Thailand in this regard.

The first toilet I encountered in Japan was in the airport and featured two types of spray (gentlemen spray and the slightly more thorough lady spray WITH temperature and power control), heatedtoilet seat (with different heat options), odor control (with different strengths) and a flushing noise (with volume control) to ease you into it. I've said it before and I'll say it again - heated seats are the shizzle (Adam - my dad said you can already buy Japanese loos here? I'm so there when I'm a homeowner!).

There were also squat toilets in Japan - though I'd say roughly 50/50 squat to western ratio, enough such that I could hold out until I found a western one (they were usually marked with a sign on the door). Again, it's not like I could practice at home to get my technique right, nor did I really want to sans pants in the Tokyo National Museum.

Another welcome change in Japanese bathrooms was the fact that there were lids on the ladybins. I'm not kidding. VERY GLAD FOR THAT.

I forgot - some of the toilets in Japan also have a faucet thing on top of the cistern - such that when you flush the toilet a stream of water comes out of the little tap and into the sink balancing on the top that then (presumably) goes into that tank bit to refill the toilet. I can't say I was all that comfortable washing my hands in toilet water...

Myeh - I guess it's not much of a post. But I guess I never realised how much we take our 'clean' toilets for granted (I can only imagine how D'Jen would cope walking into water soaked cubicle after water soaked cubicle courtesy of the host and bucket strategies).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Holiday wrapup!

Well, it might just be best to get this over and done with in one go (get ready for a long one, methinks)!

We were up at 4am for the life to Sydney Airport that mumsy and dadsy kindly offered us. The Huns travel nerves and anxiety about leaving a messy house for the housesitter meant that he didn't get to bed until after 2:30 that morning, and that although I was much more relaxed about our house of squallor and in bed just after twelve, I wasn't asleep until after 1:30. People of earth: if you are about to haul ass internationally, get a good nights sleep first.

The line to check in was long and customs is quite a scary place - I was a bit worried that it seemed quite confusing when we were still in 'our' country. The flight was long and uneventful and we after landing in Bangkok we had a short wait before flying off to Phuket - not only did the takeoff include the same bone-jarring rattles that the previous flight did, there was an issue with the lights and air conditioning delaying our take off by an extra half hour.

We arrived in Phuket and were greeted by The Hun's workmates fathers friends brother (Tiger) who drove us the 40 minutes or so to our hotel - he spoke fair enough english, but anything he didn't understand he let just hang in silence. At the hotel, we also got to experience the awkwardness of exchanging money in the foyer (cultural faux-pas as that's meant to be done in envelopes) for show tickets, ferries and for a SIM card - we also didn't give him enough money and received a confused phone call as we'd presumed we'd handed over too much (baht can be quite confusing at first, I swear!).

The view from the hotel (the 15th floor of 18 as we were repeatedly told by Tiger, the hotel staff and the bell boy lingering in our room for a tip which was confusing as the guide said there's no tipping) was pretty dissapointing - we were pretty anti holiday at this stage as we felt we were in the slums:
(I know you can still see the ocean, but it wasn't how I'd imagined tropical Phuket)

Tiger picked us up and drove us to Rasada pier for the ferry trip to Phi Phi which took about 90 minutes and a hotel dude was waiting to carry our bags up to the top of the hill in a wheel barrow thing - The hotel was beautiful:
(That's ours in the middle - Thailand loves stairs, I bought tiger balm as soon as I could)

We walked up the evacuation route to see the view - you can see how the Tsunami would have affected the island, sweeping straight through the middle. We also witnessed some poms getting conned by a Thai guy claiming there was a better few five minutes round the corner - he and his posse then took over their prime viewing spot.
(They're still rebuilding - though there is protest against the mall they're building there that hasn't actually been approved by anyone but is going ahead anyway)

We went for an all day longboat tour trip where we saw how they steal the swallows nests for their soup, the island where they filmed the beach, Monkey Island where we witnessed (not really) Borat feeding a wild monkey, another island where we watched the guides spend over an hour trying to completely fix our long boat (that broke a belt in the middle of the ocean and had to be towed for a while), stopped a few times for some snorkelling (not me), saw one of the other longboats break down and have to be towed back to the other island and a rocky, swaying, cold view of the sunset.
(I guess Borat does not fear of the rabies)

(Longboats - transport of those who laugh at reliability and timeliness)

We had some nice food, saw lots of tourists, walked up a lot of stairs and talked about the heat. After two nights on Phi Phi we returned to Rasada pier in a crowded ferry that had windows that looked unopenable, not enough life vests from what I could tell and four stairs to get out that were each as tall as the distance from the floor to my knee (I am totally not suprised to hear that a ferry caught on fire like the day after we left there) and were picked up by the driver of the resort we next staying at - Kuraburi Greenview Resort, 3 hours north of Phuket in Phang Nga:
(Super cute and had a waterfall shower that was nice but not entirely practical)

Kuraburi was quiet, though we went on a speed boat trip (after a trip in the back of the ute which I spent clinging on for dear life as I watched the road and the lane lines zoom past at an alarming rate) to the Surin Islands where I snorkelled for the first time in my life - I freaked out at realising there were only a few steps off the side of the boat before the endless depths below, that I'd have my legs dangling in the endless depths below, that I'd have to let go of the boat at some stage and that I'd be looking down into deeeeeeep water... but I overcame a fear of water and heights and did it nontheless and it was beautiful.
(Not where we snorkelled, but a different beautiful view of Surin)

After two nights there we were off to Patong Beach (after experiencing our first bout of stomach 'issues' - why they even bother having tap water mystifies me as it's not supposed to even go near your mouth!) after stopping for an elephant ride through a rubber plantation on the way (which once I was there realised was pretty un-vegan) where we were scammed into buying pretty much the same photos as the elephant man took for us, but I felt we couldn't say no and the place looked pretty squalid.
(Bumpier ride than we originally thought!)

Patong Beach was full of bogan aussies and lots of people asking if we'd like a suit, tshirt or massage. It was also super hot, but we had fantastic accomodation (you could watch the tv from the bath!) and we went and saw the Phuket Fantasea show which was an amazing spectacle - it features the greatest buffet in the world (not entirely true for veg*ns, especially those with upset stomachs) and a show with dancers, lasers, fireworks, elephants, tigers, clowns, hens, goats, birds and acrobats. The grounds around it where you wander around is full of stalls and had an amazing Swarovski store (featuring gigantic Swarovski pelican) and an arcade where The Hun won me a pikachu toy in a hurry as his white shirt was showing a multitude of beach stains under all the blue lights.
(Where all the magic happens - would you believe they suffered $100,000 damage in the Tsunami?)

(Picture mainly taken for The Huns sister who has pelican-phobia after a head-pooping incident down at the Bay)

Our second day at Patong Beach, Tiger took us on a sightseeing tour of Phuket (complete with video camera on which he filmed 20 minutes of us acting awkward as we were being filmed) where we saw two beaches, three lookouts, had lunch by the water which was beautiful, saw a shell musuam, a Batik shop (I had no idea how amazing it is until I saw it being made), a pearl shop, an AMAZING jewellery shop (sadly, no souvineirs from there), the outside of the zoo (it was late when we got there so didn't go in), an amazing temple grounds and a cashew factory (where The Hun sampled dorian fruit (heh heh) and he fell in love with Sesame honeyed cashews).
(This was so amazing in person - at the top of a viewpoint)

(One of the temples in the ground - it was hot but beautiful)

(When I asked Tiger if we were to be wary of monkeys at the top of this viewpoint hill, he laughed like I was a crazy ignorant tourist until I pointed out the sign - we did see a monkey in the top of a tree and skirted it accordingly)

After Patong Beach we flew back to Bangkok where we spent three nights in a dingy, rundown, smoky noisy hotel, mainly hanging out at MBK (seven level shopping centre) and watching movies (Meet The Robinsons is HILARIOUS, Wolf-something-or-other is TERRIBLE) but we did go on a day tour with my bosses neice which was easily our highlight of Bangkok. She took us to the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of jade but has three interchangable outfits) where we were toured by a crazy little Chinese lady ("You make photo now, ten minutes, lets go"), Wat Pho, Old Bangkok Shopping Centre to eat some bizarre Thai desserts, a boat tour with an orchid garden before a giant storm and a vegetarian restaraunt for dinner.
(My only photo of the emerald buddha - you're allowed to take one but only after praying for permission - I guess I didn't pray hard enough).

(Palace Gardens - that dude has palaces everywhere - we saw two different ones!)

(Reclining Buddha - 45 metres long, 16 metres high)

(The base of the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho)

The lowlight of Bangkok was our tour of Ayuthaya - severely overpriced and not including half of what was mentioned in the itinerary (anyone else want to pay over $100AUD pp for a four hour that doesn't include the amazing buffet lunch and an air conditioned boat ride return? No? Good) but did include some amazing sites - Ayuthaya is the old capital which the Burmese burnt down and has been partially restored - and The Hun wasn't entirely convinced our guide wasn't a ladyboy.
(You can only wonder how it would have looked pre-BBQ)

(A lot of the heads were sampled as 'souvineirs', the rest were taken by musuems - it was a bit eerie!)

(One of the remaining heads, grown into tree roots)

(A turtle! Trying to eat a giant piece of fruit! It was SO HOT at this palace grounds in Ayuthaya and I had to wear a jumper to cover my bare shoulders, so I was potentially delirious)

We flew out of Bangkok just after midnight and arrived in Tokyo early in the morning before a bus ride to meet up with The Huns friend (S*) in Tsukuba where we FINALLY had a shower and a nap. Tsukuba is quite like Canberra, and we enjoyed a ride to the park to meet some of S*'s friends who practiced english with me while the boys played around with a frisbee and a soccerball. We had the day trip to Nikko (as previously mentioned) and saw some more beautiful architecture (quite intersting as the rest of Japan seems to be filled with square buildings) and I managed to resist my urge to murder some young European tourist boys who weren't being controlled by their parents.
(Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil)

(This artist etched elephants without having actually seen any before)


(Oooh - pretties!)

I managed to survive the overnight bus trip to Kyoto which was pure toture - 30 or so people crammed into the top level of a bus without air conditioning and not allowed to open the curtains left me thinking only of the potential brain damage I was receiving from breathing in so much of other peoples out air and why on the earth Japanese people were so conservative that they woudln't think of asking to have the fan turned on. To follow it up we had a day of rain where I got my sulk on at the fact my feet were SATURATED (my purple shoes are on their way to the bin!) and bought some new shoes (mens 7.5 as I was laughed at when I asked for a ladies 9) which helped a bit.
(Real life Geisha!)

We were staying in a traditional inn in Kyoto which was interesting - run kind of like a boarding school as we discovered when S*'s super drunk friend came back to visit on the second night and we received a phone call from the lady telling us it was past 11:30 (we were late for the 11pm curfew) and time for sleep. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, laregely because I was so exhaused at the end of each day I didn't notice that there were three other people crammed in on the floor with me. The day day of the cranky phone call we hired some bikes and rode around to see the the temple of 1000 buddhas (featuring a bonus 29 or so) which was amazing, as well as a temple at the top of a high street and a Geisha show which I and S*'s gf loved and which The Hun and S* slept through (until the final where they flick on all the lights at once).
(Kyoto temples)

From Kyoto we bullet trained to Tokyo and split ways - The Hun and I to stay in Roppongi and S* and his gf to return to Tsukuba. We visited Ginza, Shibuya (known as Shitbuya after we got lost looking for a Yakitori restaurant featured in the lonely planet guide and had to be helped by three strangers), Akihabara (where we bought an awesome new Canon S3 camera of which a new model was announced the day after), Ebisu, Shinjuku, Ueno, The National Musuem and Harajuku where we met up with Lulu! Lulu was entirely lovely and friendly and I'm so glad we got to meet her! She took us through the rain to where the Harajuku girls SHOULD have been had it not been pouring rain, a shrine where we very nearly lost my souvineirs and signed a wishing board (and Lulu bought me a token to open me to good luck opportunities to go with my 'calamity avoidance one I purchased near the healing springs), the comedy museum and a viewing tower (verdict: grey and cloudy) as well as a good lunch. The other highlight of Tokyo for me (other than Lulu AND SEEING NICOLE RITCHIE AND JOEL MADDEN ON THE STREETS!) was the amazing frozen strawberry daiquiri's at the Havana cafe near our accomodation (which slightly negated the fact we were there for cheap meals when the mains were $8 and the cocktails were $12). Yum. FAR outrated the vegan restaraunt mentioned in the guide book which was terribly overpriced and terribly bland which was frustrating.
(Crazy display in our hotel lobby)

(Massive gates - this is not the more famous one)

(Prayer cards go here!)

(D'jen - are you sure you weren't here too?! ;o) )

And that was pretty much that! We were up before 6am on Monday to train to the airport and arrived at the Jolimont Centre just before 1pm on Tuesday!

Hope anyone who managed to make it this far enjoyed it - regular posting to return shortly.