Saturday, September 29, 2007

Down Under / Over Easy

So I forgot to document the way that the water drains clockwise (I've also come to know that the Aussies refer to our water draining as anti-clockwise), but I did notice this below.

First, the socket looks like the "Scream" painting (Skrik, 1893 is a seminal series of expressionist paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch).

Second, in the land down under, the switch is down for on and up for off.

The toilet has two flush buttons. The one at the top has a line through the middle of it. I never heard a formal explanation for this, so I would assume that it's a half flush, and the bottom button is a full flush.

I'm not making any comparisons to the bathroom and my breakfast, I was just doubling up the posts.

I walked around in the morning and found a little cafe to have breakfast at ($35.00 just seemed too much for a meal at the hotel). I walked in and they told me that they had a special today and I said that I'd take it. I had decided early on in the trip that I would be eating some odd stuff so I decided to embrace it and try whatever came my way.

This is bruschetta bread with eggs and bacon. Pretty good stuff.


So I got in a bit late and decided to have dinner at the hotel. It was a buffet style dinner for only $35.00 and a mere $4.50 for a glass of lemon-aid. So I had lamb curry and then tried some octopus and some desserts.

It was still a bit early so I hit the streets. It was a Thursday night so I didn't expect their to be a huge night life, but we had decided to come to stay in Fremantle because it had a night life. What I didn't know at the time is that the people only come out on the weekend. So I would turn down a street and be the ONLY person out. It was a bit odd.

This is looking off to the right from my balcony.

Wild Wild Western Australia

Well, I've come to find out that Western Australia is the largest state and that it takes up about 1/3 of the whole country.

The capital city, Perth, is the most isolated city of over one million people in the world, being 1307 miles from Adelaide. Perth is closer to Jakarta, Indonesia (1,868 miles) than it is to Sydney(2,041 miles).

So, I flew into Perth and then Hired a car at the airport to drive down to Fremantle where I'd be staying. (I forgot to get a picture of the car so I found this shot online) :D

This is really me though. I propped open the door and set the camera's timer to take this shot. I had to take two photos and stitch them together.

Hello Kuala Lumpur

The Kuala Lumpur airport was pretty neat. I was sitting and waiting for my connecting flight and I turned on my laptop. I don't remember exactly what time it was back home, but I decided that I would use skype to call our home line so that Jenna could get onto skype and we could talk a bit. So I called up and then my computer started beeping that I was running out of power. I found a wall plug, pulled out the adapter and the web cam, and talked to my family. I had a few people stop and look at what I was doing. That was pretty cool.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Goodbye Chennai

I had a very strong WiFi signal in the airport. I got online and saw that Stephen Hird was signed on already. I got his user name and used vSee to videocall with him. It was pretty cool to be sitting in the airport in India and to be watching a video call with a co-worker in Phoenix Arizona. Pretty cool stuff.

So here's a parting shot of India.

Officer Money-bags

So, I asked a taxi how much he would charge to get me back to the airport. He said that he wasn't working right now and told me to move on. I walked out and stopped to talk to the police officer out front. I asked her where I could go and get money exchanged, or find a bank. She asked me how much money I had, so..... I LIED!!! I was wearing a money belt with my passport and about $140.00 dollars in it. I said, "I've got $20.00". :D

I reminded her that the exchange rate was 40:1 and she said that she would give me 30:1. Then she gathered the money together and handed it to some other guy so that he could exchange it with me. BUT, she only had590 rupees. Oh well, it was better than I had. So then the taxi driver who was standing there watching the whole thing offered to only charge me 250 rupees to take me sight seeing. I asked the officer if he was being fair and she chewed him out a bit, then he offered to do it for 200. (Don't I look hot and...sweaty?)

And with that, WE'RE OFF!!!

I didn't get a lot of photos of this adventure, but I did get lots of video. We went to the beach and I thought that I have to go into the water. I took off my shoes and socks and waded in. The beach was littered with garbage and people. I'm pretty sure that I was the only white person there. There were quite a few beggars that started following me at the beach.

My feet were totally sandy, so I wasn't ready to put my shoes on. My taxi driver said that we were going to a temple and that I should just keep them off. I was so scared of stepping on a piece of glass or something. We made it to the temple and the priest (or yogi I'm not sure what the right title is) invited me up on the platform. He said a chant, up flowers around my neck, and then ash on my forehead. He then put out the plate for me to make a money offering. So, I reached in my bag and grabbed a coin to drop in the plate. It was a 1 pound coin from my England trip.

I look like I just won the Derby!!!

National Park!!!

So I made it! There was a main road that went back to a dead end. To the right was the zoo animals, and to the left was this curb and then a bunch of garbage and rubble where the cars were parked leading into a dense forest area.

I sat outside the snake house fanning myself and drinking my water. I was still worried about my lack of funds. I was thinking that making it to the park was probably a good enough accomplishment so I would spend the last of my cash on getting back to the airport (and waiting for a few hours till my flight left). BUT, here I was, at the snake house, it only cost 5 rupees (but I might need that to try and get back to the airport). Well, I decided to pay. and go in. They guy stopped me and said that I had to pay 10 rupees if I was taking any photo equipment in. Well, I just couldn't part with another 5 rupees but I couldn't NOT take a some photos. Oh, right so the exchange rate is 40 rupees to 1 US dollar, but if you don't have enough money, what little you have becomes very valuable.

Ah, this photo of the snake house was taken from my seated position on the curb.

Um, this was the first thing I saw of interest. I pulled my camera out to take a photo (5 RUPEES!!!) and the thing jumped into the water liked greased lightning!!! It was kinda scary. Most of the exhibits weren't put together very well so I had a certain concern about the stability of the fence. So I moved on.

They were just sitting there = slightly less scary. So I left.

This cute little not-reptilian specimen cozied right up anybody with food.

I shot some video here too.

Sight Seeing?

So I had an 8 hour layover in Chennai (again). I went over to the tourist desk and asked what I could do. The guy at the counter was quite helpful. He said, "Go across the street and take the train for 4 Rupees. Then get a 3 wheel taxi for 30 Rupees and go to the national park. Then take another taxi to the beach and up the coast. Then get on the train and come back to the airport."

It sounded pretty good, but I didn't check how much money I had in my pocket before I took off. The taxis were swarming all over me. I made it across the street (ummm, scary!), and onto the train. I got off and decided that I would just walk. Heheheh, "It doesn't look too far on the map."

Right before I took this picture, so school girls stopped me. They asked where I was from and where I was going. They advised me that it was probably too far to walk to the park. One girl said, "Look at you, you're so white. So cute." Then she pinched my cheek. They said, "Don't forget us", I offered to take a picture with them and they all ran away. :D

So, I was hounded by another taxi. He wanted me to pay 60 Rupees for a ride to the park. I counted my money and I only had 55 rupees, but I still needed money to get back to the airport. The taxi driver said, "How much money do you make in the states? And you come here with only 55 rupees? sheeesh!!" Then he left me. I had to cross the road again, but this time there were many more lanes. There was a girl walking across at the same time, so I just waited and walked across when she did.

I walked for quite some time. I was smart enough to have some water with me. I was rationing it for my hike. I was carrying my backpack and pulling the video camera with me. It was very hot! I stopped after awhile and asked a traffic officer how much further. He said, "Not much farther, just about 1 more Kilometer". Hmpft!!! Whatever that means!! I think that the trip to the park was over 2 kilometers.

I wasn't sure how much further that I had to go, but I found this Temple and I stopped to take a photo for a bit.


So I landed in Chennai, again. I had about 8 hours to do, something. Well, that something started with a trip to the toilet. I decided to use the stall labeled "WWC". I'm assuming that stands for "Western Water Closet". The other toilet were, ah, they were what we used to call squatters. So, the first thing I noticed was the nice little sanitary spray to clean off the seat. But...

It just wouldn't be a toilet without a hose to clean off your backside. I just don't like walking into the stall to find water all over the floor.

In the Airport, Again

When Helen and I first landed in Coimbatore she commented that if felt like we arrived in Hawaii.
Hey look! I'm in the airport!!!

Off to the Airport

Ok, so on the road in India, you honk your horn A LOT!! The protocol is to let the other drivers know where you're at so they don't run you off the road. Some of the service and larger vehicles have "Sound Horn" printed on the back.

So, if you work for the power company you have to be good at untangle knots!

Final lap

So on my final lap around the school we ran into a bit of rain. So the students lined up their shoes and umbrellas in the hallway.

This woman was working to sweep the stairs. Her "Broom" is on the stairs near her feet. I've also learned that sometimes the Indian people will put a large swipe of the ash on their forehead to help keep them cool.

This is the instructor that will be participating in our Video Evaluation project. His name is Sivadasan and he's been teaching at the school for about a year. He was a bit nervous to be video taped, but he seemed very grateful to have us working with him.

DOH! I'm such a dork! As we were walking up to the school of business we met one of the instructors and I can't remember her name. I love the traditional clothing that the women wear. They all have such bright colors and detailed patterns (and I'm wearing an off-white polo shirt).

Early to Rise...

Man, I don't know what I was thinking! I got up early so that I could everything ready to go, but it took a lot less time then I expected.

I had planned on wearing my traditional Indian shirt today, but it was too small. The sales person looked at me and said, "You need a size 44". When I went to put it on It was a size 42. I packed up all my luggage so that I would have time to go back to the shop and get the right size.

Thanks to Kim, I was able to take advantage of the spare time to wake up my brain a little by doing a little Sudoku.

I also took another walk around the house and snapped this photo.

OH YEAH!!! So I stayed at the traveler's "Hotel" when I had my layover in Chennai. I was surprised by the small room and thing mattress. Well, this is the mattress in my guest room. It's the same size as the traveler's hotel.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On the road Again

Well, it wouldn't be a trip if we didn't have a few snags. We got Helen to the airport only to discover that her flight was canceled. They said that they tried to contact her, but couldn't. They rushed around a bit and found a solution. The airlines arranged a flight to Chennai, connecting to Bangalore so that Helen could make her connection to Singapore.

Into the city

I've been on the road a bit here in India, and these Trike taxis seemed pretty scary. Riding on the roads is like going down a creek. There's a current and a flow to it. Sometimes it's moving fast, and sometimes it's slow, but it's always moving.

We stopped in for a bit of shopping and we were attacked. They started throwing out all there scarfs and shirts and whatever. If you showed a slight interest they just kept pulling out more items for you to be interested in. Everything seemed to be about 10% off.

Hey Look! It's Sonic the Hedgehog shilling Italian Ice Creams. THAT'S GREAT!!!

We stopped by a Temple near a hospital on the way to dropping Helen off at the airport. These boys flocked to us. The tall one in the back said that he's 14!

Mmmm PURE!!

If there's one thing that I've heard about India it's their abundance of 100% pure treated water.


I better eat my breakfast because I've got a big day ahead of me. I think there's some lentils in the curry, and then rice with some very nice red sauce. To the right is a type of tortilla type thing, and the bottom are some fried cauliflower I think. All Veg, All the Time.

Shree asked Helen to speak to some of the students at the school of business. The photo below is the school. He told us that a lot of the 3rd and 4th year students were dropping out to go into the workforce. His concern was about the students preparing for a job, and missing out on the opportunity to be prepared for a career. He asked if Helen and I would give them some encouragement to stick through till the end of their schooling.

I put together a very quick presentation. It was a series of photos of me walking and then hitting a wall. It then pulls back to reveal that I've been walking on some stairs. I jump and hop and finally get up over the stairs, but then I have more stairs to climb. I told them that they need to prepare to overcome many tasks, not just one.

India is starting to grow on me

There must be something in the water. I was getting ready for the day and I found this GIGANTIC eyebrow. Um so, I... well... I just thought I'd share. :D

I'm on the Top of the Roof...

One of the other things that I saw around the campus was all of the other people that are making a better life for themselves by being part of the operations of the campus.

I was up on the roof looking around the grounds and I saw these guys going about to work. I love that guys hat.

This is a shot of the University guest rooms.

I guess it's a bit small, but in the lower right of this photo I've put a small red circle. I thought it was interesting the way that this bird was just hanging out up there.