Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sunday Afternoon Bike Ride

Wish I took my camera - this was such a photogenic afternoon... I do love this city!

A secret bikeway weaving over the freeway interchange, over the pedestrian bridge into the Botanic Gardens where people were lazing, weddings were being photographed... then through the CBD - I love how there's nothing going on there on a Sunday afternoon except for the occasional bar. Down under the Story Bridge and along the floating walkway - a fantastic way to see the city, the bridge and the river. Past Owen and Corrina's old place at New Farm... I was a bit sad at that point. Continued along the river walkways in front of old Wool warehouses converted into luxury apartments, still lots of people enjoying a beautiful afternoon. On the way back, I wove around side streets that I never knew were there. I love how there's always another quiet little street full of beautiful old queenslanders here. And none of the roads are straight, and none lead you where you think they will...
I love how I can find myself back on Brunswick St and not really understand how I got there...
I love riding back to Gibbon St at the Gabba and although it's one of the most run-down, ugly, emptiest little street in the city, it's the place I most want to come home to! I guess familiarity does that...

Now to some serious West Wing watching!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Boring Ramble

First of all - I've got photos from Jo and Mikey's wedding in Adelaide at our homepage
I don't think I've ever done a boring ramble about my day blog... so here goes!

Woke up at 6:30 when TripleJ sprung into life on our clock radio. So I got up then, washed up from dinner (Di made what WAS going to be a Vege Lasagne, but turned into a cheese sauce broccoli thing that was YUMMY.). Had breaky, fed the fishies (we had a neon die yesterday, and our Angelfish aren't looking the best - I think Sword and Dagger, our new shark fish are picking on them.)

Drove to work with Jay and the Doctor. I enjoy our 15 minutes alone together each morning. They are getting better I reckon - no Adam and Wil, but a worthy replacement. Didn't get to hear whether anyone called from North Queensland where Cyclone Ingrid was crossing the coast.

At work, Steve was off to the USA to do our biggest delivery of STUFF yet. He dropped in to pick up some things, then left. Ian, our CEO was just back from a 2.5 week trip to USA/Singapore so there was a bit of catching up there... then it was business as usual - sitting at my desk responding to interruptions, researching new technologies, working on what priorities are... chatted to Bede - guy who used to work for us who had just arrived in Seattle where he is starting work for Bill at Microsoft. Also said hi to Owen in Vancouver for the first time in a while...

After lunch we had a 'million dollar meeting' - a meeting with a rep from the government who is helping us get a big R&D grant. So that was sort of interesting.

Ended the day playing with bluetooth and a business card scanner... and watching our crazy CEO run around the office Skyping with his bluetooth headset...

Came home to find Di and Loz on the couch watching Bride & Predjudice - it was up to the 'No Life without Wife' song... definitely the low point of the movie. Well, A low point anyway...

So that's about it - a seemingly boring day in the life of Brad, but one that I found not disagreeable.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Thursday, March 03, 2005

View from the fort at Sariska Posted by Hello

Di and Sonu Posted by Hello

Friday 9th January 2004 – Sariska Tiger Reserve, India

Travel Log Extracts continue...

See photos from this day on our website HERE

This had to be one of the best days we’ve had in India!

Got up early in Jaipur and had breaky at 7am. Then rickshawed it through the quieter morning streets straight to the bus station where, after making a few enquiries, we got a ‘computer booked, seat allocated’ ticket to Sariska Tiger Reserve. While waiting for the bus, a young boy selling newspapers in Hindi tried his darnedest to sell me one. He understood that I couldn’t read it so sprinted off… a few minutes later reappearing with an English language paper! I bought it and whiled away the time reading the ‘Matrimonials’ and local news about how much money the government was wasting, small riots claiming the lives of truckdrivers who ran over someone and what was going on ni Bollywood.

The bus was off and away by 8:30. About a 3 hour ride – not too bad… and nice scenery. It is always nice here to go down a road lined with Eucalypts. Brings on some nostalgia! Most of the trip was “freeway” (divided road). Don’t for one minute think that it was a ‘free way’ though. At one point the driver stopped and abused a truck driver for driving on the wrong side.

After turning onto a smaller side road and travelling for another hour, we were in the middle of the bush when people started saying ‘Sariska’ to me and motioning us to get off. The bus hardly stopped and we jumped out at a place that seemed at first look, deserted. Except maybe for the Tigers watching us. But as the bus moved off, we noticed buildings on the other side of the road.

We walked up to the registration office and arranged a jeep (“Petrol or Diesel?” – Petrol is quieter apparently. Nice that they gave us the choice…), a guide, driver and tickets into the park. The nice guy said to be back at 12pm. We filled the 45mins we had to wait by heading over to the nice, and also deserted (Except for 3 or 4 staff) RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation) guesthouse. We managed to convince the guy in the restaurant, who was tucking into a thali, to feed us. We only had a couple of options so each took one. Di – boiled eggs, me – veggie patties, and some chapatti each. And a Pepsi. After managing (with some difficulty) to find someone to pay, and attending to nature’s call, we headed back to the park office, paid 2000 rupees (about AUS$50) and got a driver and a jeep. Dunno what happened to the promised ‘guide’…

Our driver at first seemed silent and mean, but ended up being a nice guy – his name was ‘Omi’. We drove into the park along a narrow bitumen road and our first stop was a Park Ranger’s house, where a young antelope was lazing on the lawn. Its name was ‘Sonu’, and when called, it came over and nuzzled us and we could pat and hug it!! You can imagine Di’s delight! After not-enough-time, we headed off. A short drive to a small lake where we saw more antelope, peacocks and then, a crocodile lazing on the bank! I asked if we could walk closer, and we started to, but heard another jeep coming. Omi said “back in the jeep! – walking not allowed!”. The crocodile sped into the water and I into the jeep so Omi wouldn’t get into trouble.

We continued driving along rough dirt tracks seeing monkeys, spotted deer, antelope, wild boar, peacocks, some cows/buffalo and villagers. There are a lot of villages in the park - about 20. We got out at one point and walked to a beautiful pond with palms in it where Tigers/Leopards/panthers/jackals come to drink. Saw a BIG eagle and a kingfisher. A bit later we saw some spotted dear fighting and also some jackals (pretty small dogs) at another waterhole. We were loving it!

Sariska Tiger Reserve is about 640 square km, surrounded by small rugged mountains with dry, hardy small trees and occasional areas of palms and beautiful Dr Seuss-looking big trees. Lots of monkeys too.

Then we headed off to the ‘fort’ – mentioned to us at the park office as an ‘extra’ that we paid for, not really knowing whether it would be worth it. We drove up into the mountains, off the bitumen road, then unexpectedly through a MASSIVE, majestic stone ‘gate’ standing on it’s own in the bush. Very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. We continued along a rough track along a narrow valley for 15 minutes until finally it opened out into a huge round valley with a hill in the middle, capped by the fort – beautiful and magnificent. We didn’t expect it to be SO spectacular! We had to weave around a fair bit to get there, passing a few villages with waving kids. Stopping in one for a chai (20 rupees – 60cents! (Chai normally costs about 5 rupees)) but it was worth it for all the fantastic photos of the kids that Di got. (Such shallow tourist types aren’t we….)

We continued on around the fort hill, through another village and up to the fort on a steep road. At the top we got out, and with Omi as our guide, explored the magical place. Apparently (someone explained later), this fort was used by a Mughal Emperor to incarcerate his older brother so his leadership wouldn’t be threatened. The views were fantastic, and the thought that a tiger or panther might be lurking inside was a bit exciting too. We walked around the walls, then into the small decaying palace. Omi yelled and stomped – too scare away any lurking creatures. On the way out, Omi said we could walk down the old walled passage, winding down the hill to the lake at the bottom, and he would meet us there – which was GREAT. It was cool to have 15 minutes alone to walk down the hill and see the beautiful sights – the lake, ducks, birds, palm trees… The precious minutes spent at that fort were some of the most special in all of India. No other tourists. Just us, with some of the magical history of this nation.

We stopped briefly in the village again and got more photos – there was one cute old lady smoking a pipe, but she laughed when we tried to photograph her with it and kept it hidden if we tried.

We drove back to the main park area, stopping at a park office where tame birds ate peanuts from Di’s hand.

Then a roundabout route, keeping an eye out for Tigers, with an extra passenger – some guy with a big stick that we picked up… he was a park guard I think - to the monkey temple – quite boring unless you’re a Hanuman (Monkey god) fan. Stopped there for a while (Omi had a Chai) then drove slowly back out of the park. We took one off-road route and Omi stopped silent for a while. As we left, he said “99 percent Tiger sleeping”.

Oh well – we didn’t see Tiger, but had a great day. He dropped us on the road at the office where we waited for a bus, chatting to a park guide called ‘Rohit’ while we waited. Learnt a lot more about the park, but were glad we didn’t have a guide talking to us ALL day. Omi’s occasional comments were all we needed.

When the bus arrived around 6pm, the doors opened and one guy got out (well, more came out briefly as intestines might spill out of an overfull, split belly). The bus was packed – but somehow we managed to squeeze on, and after a stop, Di scored a seat. Then I did – in the front section. It wasn’t a bad three hours. A guy next to me gave me some small deep fried spicy ball things that he bought at a stop. YUMMY. I saw them cooked in boiling oil, so they were safe (I hoped).

Back in Jaipur around 9pm we ate at Dasaprakash restaurant – same chain as the one at Agra, then home to bed and a long sleep-in.

I finished reading ‘Chasing the Monsoon’ too – a great read about a guys journey following the monsoon up through India, eventually to the wettest place on earth.