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Indonesia

Apr 27, 2010

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Welcome to Slide Night, where we delve into our travel photos and tell the stories behind them.

This week it’s Crikey intern Patrick Tombola’s turn.

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Padang, Indonesia

Patrick writes: I had been talking to two of the four women in the photo for some time. My fixer/translator told me they had lost all their family nearby during the Padang earthquake that shook Indonesia in September 2009.

It was only after two other women from the same village arrived that I came to realize how “nearby” was another term for disappeared, swallowed by the earth. Continue reading “Slide Night: The four women left behind”

Laos

Apr 20, 2010

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bandanaPicture this. It’s 7 in the morning and you’re boarding your bus in Luang Prabang, Laos for the 10 hour trip back to Vientiane. It was a tough ride on the way up, so your apprehension is peaked for the return journey.

There’s also the fact that the guy driving the bus bears a striking resemblance to the guy you saw passed out drunk in the markets the night before. You’d worry, but the petrol fumes pouring through the air conditioning unit are bludgeoning your thoughts, which is also a bonus because the trip through the Laos mountains must be where the phrase ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ comes from.

But you have your seat, and with no one in front of you at least you’ll be borderline comfortable for ten hours. Then they board. Two continental Europeans. Noisy. Late. Wearing matching hot pink bandanna’s. And with only two seats left on the bus guess where they’re sitting?

The guy wastes no time and as soon as he’s sat down goes into a full body lunge, feet pressed against the seat in front of him to maximise leverage as he pushes his seat back until his headrest is lodged between your veterbrae. Infuriating.

Now you would think when this happened to me, I would just say “Ummm, excuse me Hans. I can see your enjoying your extra seat space, and I hate to be a bore, but your currently cleaving several of my most vital internal organs in two. By the way, matching headbands, how courageous! They look great.” Continue reading “The war against reclining”

Gentlemen of Leisure

Apr 16, 2010

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kebabI got into a fistfight in a kebab shop in Northumberland.

I was up near the Scottish border working on a telly show that was shooting in the town of Alnwick (which is inexplicably pronounced Annick). Anlwick is conventionally described as a “charming little town”, but I hesitate to use this description as is not in the least bit expressive. It is hard to avoid. Towns such as Alnwick seem made to be described that way. The words picturesque, scenic and quaint also spring to mind without adding further nuance. “Well preserved medieval market town”? Perhaps.

But the truth is if I were to give a really accurate description of Alnwick based on my experience the words “hotbed of white supremacy” would almost certainly be included.

If you haven’t heard of Alnwick, you will almost certainly have seen its castle, which is used as a backdrop in the Harry Potter films, as well as other classics such as The Spaceman in King Arthur’s Court. Alnwick Castle is still the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and driving past one night we noticed the blue flickering light of a TV in a third-storey window in the east wing — presumably the Duke and Duchess were watching Snog Marry Avoid? along with the rest of England.

We wrapped up shooting in Alnwick on a Friday night, and most of the crew immediately headed back down south. For one reason or another, my colleague Greg and I had to stay an extra night. And of course, being Friday night we decided we may as well go out and see what the Charming Little Town of Alnwick has to offer in the way of nightlife. From that point on getting into a fight in a kebab shop was probably inevitable, but somehow we still didn’t see it coming — even when our local contributors suggested we head to a pub called the Hairy Lemon.

If it was binge drinking and ’80s disco we were after (which, let’s face it, we pretty much were) then the Hairy Lemon was certainly the place to be — helped by being the only place in town open after 11pm. It was at around this point of the evening things started getting racist. Continue reading “Gentleman of Leisure: Northumberland, where the racism and kebabs fly”

On travel

Apr 15, 2010

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nothinglike2A few weeks ago Tourism Australia launched its new campaign, further consigning Lara Bingle into the dustbins of history.

The campaign has the tagline “There’s nothing like Australia”, with the idea that Australians will share their stories and photos about their lovely home country in order to get others to flock here and spend their dough.

The Crikey Daily Mail has an interesting story today, written by Elizabeth Redman, about the legalities of the Tourism Australia competition — be aware, you may be signing away more rights than you realise.

But after seeing many of the ads today, I’ve realised that this is a Crikey competition waiting to happen. All the ads have the “There’s nothing like…” line, begging for you, helpful readers, to offer your own suggestions for Tourism Australia’s new campaign.

Serious, silly, ironic, it’s your choice.

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I’ll get the ball rolling:

There’s nothing like… never having to see Lara Bingle on telly again.

There’s nothing like… going to Thailand instead because flights are cheaper.

There’s nothing like… passing out drunken on a summer’s day after sinking lots of piss while watching the cricket.

There’s nothing like… skinny dipping at Bondi

There’s nothing like… Melbourne coffee, Sydney Harbour, Western Australia’s beaches, Tasmania’s apples and the red dirt in the middle.

We’ll rustle up some First Dog merchandise or DVDs or whatever is floating around the office for the winner.

On travel

Apr 14, 2010

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by Alice Terlikowski

News in Sydney’s media of a young Scottish tourist who had been bashed by a group of youths in Sydney this week got me thinking, is violence in Australia towards foreigners worse than anywhere else or is it just because we’re here that we hear about it?

Recent news of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne, fatally and critically attacked Irishmen in Coogee, a disabled Canadian bashed with the pole from his own wheelchair and now a Scottish man forced to undergo brain surgery after getting bashed in Sydney has all been at the forefront of Australian media in only the last few months but I delved a little further to see if this news was travelling beyond our shores.

There’s no denying that once something is published online it’s pretty much accessible to the entire world but I conducted an experiment on Google last night seeing what happened when I typed “tourist bashed” into its global search engine, Google.com.

I was shocked to find that out of the 11 stories on the first page of the global Google search, ten were related to tourists being attacked in Australia, the other was in New Zealand. So I searched again with “tourist attacked”. The result, four out of nine. What about “backpacker attacked?” Continue reading “There’s nothing like Australia’s violence on tourists…”

China

Apr 8, 2010

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Pretend that you’re a million miles away from your desk and travelling somewhere, with our Slide Night series, where readers share there travel snaps and the stories behind them.

Dan Miller is back to share some more of his beautiful photos. Dan is a Melbourne-based photographer. His recent work has explored the consequences of rapid modernisation in Mongolia, and life in temporary living spaces in China’s post-earthquake zone.

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Zhang Qun’an, 69, and her husband of 51 years, Deng Mingyuan, 77, pose for a ‘wedding photo’ at the edge of a camp for earthquake survivors, northern Sichuan, China, July 2009


Dan writes: While travelling in the north of China’s Sichuan province in mid-2009 and preparing to work on a photographic project about the lives of survivors of the May 2008 earthquake, I was introduced to the lively ‘Grandma and Grandpa Deng’. Zhang Qun’an, 69, and her husband of 51 years, Deng Mingyuan, 77, whose home at nearby Qingping Mountain had been destroyed in the earthquake, had been living in a temporary camp with other survivors from their village for nearly a year.

From then on, until I had finished my stay at the camp a few weeks later, the Dengs put my translator He Song and I up in the steel-and-foam room next to theirs, feeding us, doting on us and jealously guarding us from their friends. While I continued to meet and photograph the other villagers from Qingping at the camp, I was dying to photograph who I thought were the most adorable old couple I had ever met.

“Can I photograph the two of you today?” I would ask, just about every day. Continue reading “Slide Night: A photographic farewell”

On travel

Apr 6, 2010

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book clubMy partner and I have been together for nine years now, but the last four months has been the longest time we’ve spent travelling together. Due to this fact, we received one of the all time great holiday platitudes for couples before we left: “This will either make you or break you”.

I’m not entirely sure what “make us” means, considering we’ve already been together almost a decade. Perhaps marriage, which neither of us finds very appealing. But if this is the case, does that mean two drunken morons who tie the knot in Vegas after one night have made it?

As for “breaking us”, I think not. There has been ample things that might have broken us, and a year off holidaying isn’t anywhere near the top of the list. There’s the fact that one year I gave her an unwrapped book for her birthday. Two days late. The fact that she has to order wine by the glass at dinner because like that Biff Loman of sitcoms, George Costanza, I don’t drink wine. I drink Pepsi. And of course the fact that once this holiday is over, getting 50000 Xbox achievement points moves to number one on my life goals list.

So how does a couple “make it” through this? Firstly, you need to find a partner who’s a much better person than you. Also, I’ve often considered pity an underrated weapon in the poor man’s arsenal.

That’s not to say of course that we haven’t argued while on vacation. Arguing is one of the rites of passage for travelling couples, and we’ve both become adept at those wonderful holiday games, “Who’s fault is this?” and “You know what your problem is?”. The most fun though has been partaking in the Passive Aggressive Book Club. Continue reading “Passive Aggressive Book Club”