juliet: (australia - kata tjuta)
I realised the other day that I never got round to uploading my photos from cycling the Great Ocean Road, and meandering around West Australia.

Great Ocean Road to Mt Gambier
South and West Australia
juliet: (waveform tree)
Sadly no tipi this year (the tipi people were all at Bestival instead, apparently), but Waveform was nevertheless once again splendid. [personal profile] doop heroically dragged the bike trailer with the MegaTent all the way there[0], which helpfully gave us somewhere to keep the bikes as well as actual space.

We did fetch up camped next to the Nitrous Kids (nitrous for breakfast, nitrous for lunch, and a fully balanced meal... no, wait, nitrous again), which helpfully enabled one to locate our tent in the dark. Just stand still, wait a couple of seconds... ffffsWHOOSH, aha, there it is. They were a little noisy but as I saw them carefully tidying up their campsite on Monday morning I will forgive them. Actually, the whole thing was remarkably litter-free, possibly due to the fact that about 50% of the people there seemed to be some variety of staff (or were at least accustomed to being staff at other festivals). Next to no nitrous canisters left lying about the place! Also on the 'potentially iritating drugs' front, Team Ket also remained largely not in evidence, apart from one chap who after a few minutes of uncoordinated stumbling was gently escorted off the dancefloor by his friend.[1]

We danced to lots of psytrance, some splendid crusty acid techno (possibly one of the Liberators, but it was bloody good whoever it was), a bit of random crusty folk at the very-UV-tastic solar stage, and Back To The Planet, who I last saw at Phoenix in 1994 (my first ever festival, awwww). They were ace. And/or I was monumentally nostalgic, whichever. Also we ate several vegan burgers, and sat around watching the world go by extensively. I had a go on a swing bike, and both of us got our faces painted by someone who turned out to be Ian Bell. [personal profile] doop managed not to fanboy too much.

Small festivals are *aces*. I hope they manage to run it again next year; the whole thing often feels a lot like a random conglomerate of crews who just happen by glorious serendipity to fetch up in the same field at the same time (although I am sure it actually takes a lot more planning than that), and as such you always wonder whether they'll manage to bring it together again next year... Still, 4 years so far ain't bad going. It is pretty much the *nicest* and friendliest-feeling festival I've been to; wish they'd bring back the compost loos, though!


[0] This was a Learning Experience in terms of the bike/trailer/train thing; mostly we Learnt that you need to allow rather more time for changes than normal, and that it's always quicker to rehitch the trailer even if this does currently require the use of a spanner. Plus not all trains will let you on, if they're small trains (but the odds decrease dramatically if you're running late, hence the need to allow more time).
[1] One often seems to encounter these teams of a K-ed up person with a sober-ish mate translating for them. [personal profile] doop is obviously the one who has these conversations most often, and he reports that they go a little bit like this:
"Hurbleburble hurble, vrrr."
"My friend here says that he thinks your glowsticks are splendid."
"Oh. Thanks."
"Vrrbur blurl, frr. Hurble!"
"He says that he finds the interplay of the blue with the green of the lasers particularly exquisite."
"Right. Good."
"Hurble, vr."
"He says..."
"'Nice one, mate.' Yeah, I got that one."
juliet: (bike fixed)
This week I have mostly been rehearsing for this performance in Trafalgar Square tomorrow (3pm and 4.25pm; the 4.25pm performance will be audio-described). Tandems! With singing! (I will not be singing. I will be concentrating on not crashing the tandem into the audience, fountains, etc.) The performers on the back of the tandems are all visually impaired, and the performance is part of the Liberty Festival, celebrating the contribution of Deaf and disabled people to London's culture.

The rehearsals have been great fun & I'm looking forward to the performances tomorrow; it'll only be 5-10 min, but there's loads of other cool stuff going on as well.

Unfortunately I have also chosen this week to acquire a COLD. Am self-medicating with power drink and curry.
juliet: My dog Sidney jumping off the bandstand in the park (sidney jumping)
Splint came off on Wednesday (a week early due to the physio miscounting, but they said it seems to have healed fine so may as well get on with it). This is VERY PLEASING. It's still a bit achey (especially when I do the painful physio exercises to get the range of motion back), but I can, y'know, move it around and so forth. (Still not v good at holding things, sadly.)

This also means I can CYCLE again, albeit somewhat against advice. (My justification: a) it doesn't hurt, as long as I take it off the bars for potholey bits so it doesn't get jiggled, and the physio said anything that doesn't hurt is fine; b) I'm riding fixed so don't need to brake with that hand, just to balance a bit; c) it says 'sport' is not OK and I do not cycle as a 'sport'; d) yesterday I met someone who broke his leg in 3 places and is still riding fixed in the walking cast, so, um, I am not the least sensible person?). It is *so* good to be back on a bike and not reliant on buses/Tubes/etc, especially as fares are bloody expensive.

I do not think I will be riding long distances just yet, though!

ION: Sidney is currently snoozing under my desk in just the right place for me to warm my toes up on her. Bless.

IOON: the allotment has some weeds in, but happily also some actual veg. Also strawberries.

I am sure I have been doing things other than having a broken thumb and visiting the allotment of late, but apparently I have forgotten all of them. This is what happens when you don't update very often. This weekend I intend to visit the carnival thing that's happening in Southwark Park (no dogs, sadly, so Sid will have to miss out on the dodgems and tango lessons), and go check out the gardens on the barges at Tower Bridge (part of Open Garden Squares Weekend). So I hope it stops raining before then.
juliet: (bike fixed)
Currently there are on our balcony two (2) bikes which are surplus to requirements. Any takers?

One low-ish-end (£300 new a couple of years ago) Trek hybrid, suitable for someone around 5'7" to 5'11". FREE to a good home.
One Trek road-bike (red 1.5!), suitable for someone 6' or so. (I'm 5'10" and it's too big for me; someone a bit bigger than 6' could probably get away with it as well.) Cassette & crankset have been upgraded; front shifter is a little sticky but functional. This *may* have another taker, but please do say if you're interested. Cost around £300.

Both were when last looked at in working condition; I'm happy to undertake to check brakes/steering & pump the tyres up before they're collected (i.e. so that they'll be safe to ride away) but both (especially the hybrid) may need a little TLC to make them properly pleasant to ride. (I might be up for negotiating a fuller service in exchange for beer tokens :) ).

Collect from our place (Bermondsey) ASAP.
juliet: (Default)
Me guest blogging on the Geek Feminism blog.

(ION, this weekend I will mostly be learning to teach people to ride bikes. This is great, apart from the bit where it means doing *actual learning work* for 8 hrs a day for 4 days, which is tiring. Especially when you haven't done anything that looks like full-time work for a year.)
juliet: Shot of my bookshelves at home (books)
(today is the day for many postings...)

Only one more book to go on the list! This one was recommended by [livejournal.com profile] envoy, and it is about BIKES. Specifically, about couriers (the subtitle is "Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power") & Chicago.

The blurb describes his prose as 'poetic' - this is kind of true, but sometimes it gets a bit much. It's almost frenetic sometimes: you get the feeling that he's the sort of person who's always on the move. And of course this links in nicely with the way he talks about riding as a courier: the focus on speed, the way in which it takes over your body and your life, that you almost can't stop moving even when you get home at night. I recognise that feeling: the muscle-twitch you get after a long ride which along with the time it takes the adrenaline to disperse makes falling asleep incredibly hard[0] right until it suddenly all gives way and you collapse.

I could also recognise the way he talks about riding city streets, and reading the traffic. Obviously I'm not a courier and I don't do this full-time; but I've spent a lot of time over the last 7 years riding around London, and you do pick up a feel for how the traffic moves and how to put yourself smoothly into and around it. Which can also take a certain amount of nerve, but when it's working, it's an amazing feeling. (I am going to stay away from his take on the Red Light Argument, other than to say that it's interesting, that I can see his point, and that of *course* couriers are going to jump lights when they can get away with it, they're on pay-per-delivery and not high pay at that.)

He talks a bit about Critical Mass, as well - he was involved while the Chicago police decided to crack down on CM by arresting everyone in sight, and of course that wound up upping the activism. I was interested as well by what he says about the tension between his activist involvement & his courier job (or more accurately, his colleagues): that the couriers weren't all that interested, in many cases, in the activism side of things. (Although I think in most or even all cities where there's a CM, there's tended to be at least some courier involvement.)

In the end he quit & went back into art gallery stuff (and got more heavily involved in bike activism) - mostly because he seriously wrecked his knee. Couriering is the sort of job that tends to do for you physically, one way or another.

Fascinating book: definitely recommended to anyone who cycles or is interested in bikes. (Hard to get in this country, so let me know if you want to borrow it!) And in particular to anyone who enjoys traffic-jamming :)

[0] The canonical example of this for me is trying to sleep at the 400km point of the BCM. twitch twitch twitch.
juliet: (Default)

And lo! I am back in Perth again. Where it is sunny and warm and other suchlike things which I was led to believe that Australia would feature but have so far been largely failing to materialise. Also I am staying in the One World Backpackers which is lovely -- cheap wireless, free towel, free breakfast, nice garden with hammocks, lovely sofas in the living room.

The last few days of cycling have featured: hills; trees; a crazed avian cyclist-assassin. Finally, a use for the helmet, viz, protecting my delicate scalp-fleshes from the CLAWS. Shouting at it had no discernable effect, so I sprinted instead. Apparently I can go quite fast when I have the incentive. All scalp-fleshes thankfully still intact.

The trees were all very nice. I climbed to a 61m fire lookout (up pegs stuck in a treetrunk;, went on a tree-top walk on a slightly alarmingly swaying walkway (it was fabulous, though, to see the trees from that height); and cycled for 27km through forest on a road which saw a car about once every 15 min, so it was mostly just me and the trees. And the hills. And lots of birdsong (but no crazed assassin-birds).

I am ludicrously healthy at the moment: lots of energy, clear skin, cold wet nose[0], that sort of thing. Apparently getting 8 hrs sleep a night and lots of outdoor exercise, on a diet of lentils, rice, veggies, and porridge, with very little alcohol, is good for you. Who knew? I have developed legs that Chris Hoy would be proud of[1] and I laugh in the face of hills[2]. I look forward to all of this deserting me in the New Year when I go back to *not* spending my entire time on a bike. On the downside, WA is apparently Mosquito Central, and my legs are all over bite marks/scabs where I've scratched too much. Bah.

I have also developed a list of Good Songs For Cycling To, which includes:

  • Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang)
  • Baby I Don't Care (Transvision Vamp)
  • Up In Our Bedroom After The War (Stars)
  • Born To Run (Springsteen) (sadly I do not actually have this with me on this occasion, but I once got from Trafalgar Sq to home via the Embankment in 17 min flat with this on repeat.)
Since I am of the opinion that if you're not capable of singing at least a bit whilst cycling, you're trying too hard[3], I have been able to cause much alarm in roadside cows. Transvision Vamp in particular seem to make them stop and stare, although tbh roadside cows will stop and stare at pretty much anything. I guess there's not much entertainment for them.

Off back to Adelaide on the train tomorrow; for now I think it may be dinnertime.

[0] This is actually true on occasion, e.g. when going downhill fast into the wind.
[1] This is a gross exaggeration, which is probably for the best as Chris Hoy, whilst a splendid and very impressive chap, is also a freak of nature who has leg muscles where normal people just have, like, skin.
[2] This is an outright lie.
[3] This is not actually as lazy as it sounds. Broadly speaking the higher your heart rate, the more you're using carbs instead of fat, and breathing hard is a decent stand-in for heart rate. And high carb usage = more chance of bonking. Which is bad, if doing long-distance.

juliet: (Default)

And lo! I am back in Perth again. Where it is sunny and warm and other suchlike things which I was led to believe that Australia would feature but have so far been largely failing to materialise. Also I am staying in the One World Backpackers which is lovely -- cheap wireless, free towel, free breakfast, nice garden with hammocks, lovely sofas in the living room.

The last few days of cycling have featured: hills; trees; a crazed avian cyclist-assassin. Finally, a use for the helmet, viz, protecting my delicate scalp-fleshes from the CLAWS. Shouting at it had no discernable effect, so I sprinted instead. Apparently I can go quite fast when I have the incentive. All scalp-fleshes thankfully still intact.

The trees were all very nice. I climbed to a 61m fire lookout (up pegs stuck in a treetrunk;, went on a tree-top walk on a slightly alarmingly swaying walkway (it was fabulous, though, to see the trees from that height); and cycled for 27km through forest on a road which saw a car about once every 15 min, so it was mostly just me and the trees. And the hills. And lots of birdsong (but no crazed assassin-birds).

I am ludicrously healthy at the moment: lots of energy, clear skin, cold wet nose[0], that sort of thing. Apparently getting 8 hrs sleep a night and lots of outdoor exercise, on a diet of lentils, rice, veggies, and porridge, with very little alcohol, is good for you. Who knew? I have developed legs that Chris Hoy would be proud of[1] and I laugh in the face of hills[2]. I look forward to all of this deserting me in the New Year when I go back to *not* spending my entire time on a bike. On the downside, WA is apparently Mosquito Central, and my legs are all over bite marks/scabs where I've scratched too much. Bah.

I have also developed a list of Good Songs For Cycling To, which includes:

  • Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang)
  • Baby I Don't Care (Transvision Vamp)
  • Up In Our Bedroom After The War (Stars)
  • Born To Run (Springsteen) (sadly I do not actually have this with me on this occasion, but I once got from Trafalgar Sq to home via the Embankment in 17 min flat with this on repeat.)
Since I am of the opinion that if you're not capable of singing at least a bit whilst cycling, you're trying too hard[3], I have been able to cause much alarm in roadside cows. Transvision Vamp in particular seem to make them stop and stare, although tbh roadside cows will stop and stare at pretty much anything. I guess there's not much entertainment for them.

Off back to Adelaide on the train tomorrow; for now I think it may be dinnertime.

[0] This is actually true on occasion, e.g. when going downhill fast into the wind.
[1] This is a gross exaggeration, which is probably for the best as Chris Hoy, whilst a splendid and very impressive chap, is also a freak of nature who has leg muscles where normal people just have, like, skin.
[2] This is an outright lie.
[3] This is not actually as lazy as it sounds. Broadly speaking the higher your heart rate, the more you're using carbs instead of fat, and breathing hard is a decent stand-in for heart rate. And high carb usage = more chance of bonking. Which is bad, if doing long-distance.

juliet: (Default)

The intention today was to cycle from Port Fairy (where I currently am) to Portland, and thence to Mt Gambier tomorrow, in order to get a bus to Adelaide. But this part of the journey was only really for logistical reasons; the bit I wanted to do was the Great Ocean Road, which I did over the last 5 days. So when I awoke to a stinking headwind this morning, and the nice VLine bus man assured me that the bike would go on the bus to Mt Gambier, I thought, sod that then. So I am having a nice relaxing day in Port Fairy, eating cake and checking the internets and such. You may wish to keep your thumbs crossed for me that the VLine bus driver agrees in re the putting of bikes on buses.

The Great Ocean Road, however, was a fantastic ride, even if I did have a headwind for the first 2.5 days. Executive summary of the 333km ridden from Geelong to Port Fairy:

  • Oh wow, how amazingly pretty is that?
  • OMG there is a koala! And another one!

The detailed version )

[0] Humour me, kids, I have been all on my own on a bike for the last 5 days. There's only so long you can spend going "OMG this is insanely beautiful", though I admit I've been doing my best to push the envelope on that one. In between times you end up occupying yourself with such activities as making up stories about the social lives of soft toys, practising whistling backwards, and trying to get a song, any song, in your head that isn't either Waltzing Matilda or Papa Was A Rodeo. Thankfully I do very much like the latter, which is handy as I've had it as an earworm on and off now for about 5 years.

juliet: (Default)

The intention today was to cycle from Port Fairy (where I currently am) to Portland, and thence to Mt Gambier tomorrow, in order to get a bus to Adelaide. But this part of the journey was only really for logistical reasons; the bit I wanted to do was the Great Ocean Road, which I did over the last 5 days. So when I awoke to a stinking headwind this morning, and the nice VLine bus man assured me that the bike would go on the bus to Mt Gambier, I thought, sod that then. So I am having a nice relaxing day in Port Fairy, eating cake and checking the internets and such. You may wish to keep your thumbs crossed for me that the VLine bus driver agrees in re the putting of bikes on buses.

The Great Ocean Road, however, was a fantastic ride, even if I did have a headwind for the first 2.5 days. Executive summary of the 333km ridden from Geelong to Port Fairy:

  • Oh wow, how amazingly pretty is that?
  • OMG there is a koala! And another one!

The detailed version )

[0] Humour me, kids, I have been all on my own on a bike for the last 5 days. There's only so long you can spend going "OMG this is insanely beautiful", though I admit I've been doing my best to push the envelope on that one. In between times you end up occupying yourself with such activities as making up stories about the social lives of soft toys, practising whistling backwards, and trying to get a song, any song, in your head that isn't either Waltzing Matilda or Papa Was A Rodeo. Thankfully I do very much like the latter, which is handy as I've had it as an earworm on and off now for about 5 years.

juliet: (Default)

The last few days have been very busy. Here in helpful bullet point format for you:

  • Second day at the Angkor temples was also great. Ta Prohm (featured in Tomb Raider, apparently), which is falling down to various extent, is fantastic clambering-over-rubble fun, and pleasingly quiet, as soon as you get off the wooden path they've laid for the tour groups. At sunset I got Ta Keo all to myself, due primarily to the fact that about half an hour before the sun actually went, it started tipping it down. I sheltered in the top tower and watched the deluge, which was very pretty even if a sunset, per se, did not happen. On descending, the food/drink vendors outside came running over to offer me a free umbrella, but I felt that this probably wouldn't work well with cycling, especially as I already needed one hand to hold the torch.
  • Less good: getting hit by a motorbike on way home from Ta Keo. I am basically fine - bruised left elbow and wrist, enormous bruise on my arse (I think the motorbike handlebar end must have hit me there), couple of grazes, one of which is on the side of my foot and is most irritating. Possible slight whiplash, although that didn't show up till Wednesday morning and thus could be related to Hideous Bus Ride (see below). Anyway: I am still not quite sure exactly what happened, as things are slightly blurred between moment of impact, and standing by the side of the road inventorying bits of myself and being somewhat surprised that everything seemed to be broadly intact. I do remember that I made a hell of a racket, partly in an attempt to alert other traffic to my existence whilst I scrambled off the road, and partly in the hope that someone might stop. In fact, the bloke who hit me came back - although at the time I didn't know if that was who he was, because he didn't speak English and I don't speak Khmer (and was too busy shaking anyway). He put me and the bike on the back of the motorbike, and took me back to his house. Which was initially confusing, until he phoned his brother, who does speak English, to translate. We agreed that he'd take me back to the hotel and they would sort things out re the bike in the morning, so that is what happened. Anyway: no major harm done, but it was bloody scary.
  • Tuesday was Siam Reap to Bangkok. Minibus arrived at hotel, and I got in, assuming that (as per the Phnom Penh to Siam Reap bus) this would take us to the bus station, where we would transfer to the real bus, with a/c and nice seats, to get to the border. Not So. Scrotty minibus (and I had the seat over the wheel arch, Deep Joy) for entire 6-hr journey to Poipet, on the Cambodian/Thai border. Over the most appalling dirt-plus-pothole (mostly pothole) road it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. Also at frequent intervals there was a big swerve off the road as they're rebuilding all the bridges and have built dirt-and-pothole detours around them. Minibus did not have a/c, so all the windows were open, which when driving through a big dust-cloud for 6 hrs means that you get very, very grubby. My back still aches today, and I genuinely do suspect that this is road-related rather than accident-related. Anyway, we finally reached the border (I note for the record that Poipet is a dump, really: even bigger potholes and rammed with goods lorries), and I ran away from the minibus, deeply grateful that I'd only booked to the border. (Well, I say "ran"; in fact I mean "limped slowly and pathetically due to hideous wound in foot".) Then I ran away from someone else offering another minibus. Instead, I got a tuk-tuk to the bus station, where I bought a ticket on a lovely, comfy, a/c and toilet equipped express bus to Bangkok. Even got a bizarre Thai film featuring a humorous transvestite and some kind of heroic contract killer (or possibly a bodyguard - he was cute, wore black, and shot lots of people, but only Bad People) to watch as a bonus.
  • On arrival in Bangkok I got on a moto for the first time (and bargained him down to 60% of his original price, thus only getting overcharged by probably around 100% instead of 200%); got on the SKYTRAIN which is a TRAIN in the SKY and thus very exciting (actually it is the Tube in the sky which is even more exciting); found a hotel; washed my trousers for the 2nd time (finally the sand from the accident has gone, hurrah); went next door to the hotel and ate pizza (it was 2130 and I seriously could not face going any further); went to sleep mmm lovely sleep.
  • Wednesday morning I had approx 6 hours in Bangkok, which seemed like enough time to do something nice after I'd collected my train ticket and dumped my rucksack. So I went to the post office (three letters! Thank you Mum, Wendy, and Kat!), and then to the river, where I got on a river boat up to the Royal Palace. Why doesn't London make more use of the river? I know we have a couple of commute-type boats, but they're so damn expensive, and IIRC fairly slow. The Bangkok one is both cheap (25p flat fee) and pretty whizzy, although you do get splashed a bit. The Royal Palace was very, very, very shiny. Lots of gilt and coloured glass. Mostly what I saw was the Emerald Buddha (actually jade) which was interesting, but possibly more interesting was the large number of people coming in for actual worship (i.e. not tourists). Then it absolutely tipped it down for a bit, so I didn't really see much else before having to set off to walk through Chinatown back to the station.
  • Back on the train from Bangkok to Butterworth after my Cambodian bus interlude; once again v comfy, and this time you have the option of dinner being brought to your seat. Veggie option available and everything! Comfort levels generally quite high; I approve.
  • The people across the aisle from me, Meg and Jeff, are also travelling from the UK to Australia overland! So chatting to them was very nice, and I shall be following their blog.

Now I am in Penang (just across the water from Butterworth) for about 6 hrs, having finally located a left luggage option for my rucksack which consisted of a broom cupboard opened by the station manager. Found food, had a little wander, here checking the emails now.

juliet: (Default)

The last few days have been very busy. Here in helpful bullet point format for you:

  • Second day at the Angkor temples was also great. Ta Prohm (featured in Tomb Raider, apparently), which is falling down to various extent, is fantastic clambering-over-rubble fun, and pleasingly quiet, as soon as you get off the wooden path they've laid for the tour groups. At sunset I got Ta Keo all to myself, due primarily to the fact that about half an hour before the sun actually went, it started tipping it down. I sheltered in the top tower and watched the deluge, which was very pretty even if a sunset, per se, did not happen. On descending, the food/drink vendors outside came running over to offer me a free umbrella, but I felt that this probably wouldn't work well with cycling, especially as I already needed one hand to hold the torch.
  • Less good: getting hit by a motorbike on way home from Ta Keo. I am basically fine - bruised left elbow and wrist, enormous bruise on my arse (I think the motorbike handlebar end must have hit me there), couple of grazes, one of which is on the side of my foot and is most irritating. Possible slight whiplash, although that didn't show up till Wednesday morning and thus could be related to Hideous Bus Ride (see below). Anyway: I am still not quite sure exactly what happened, as things are slightly blurred between moment of impact, and standing by the side of the road inventorying bits of myself and being somewhat surprised that everything seemed to be broadly intact. I do remember that I made a hell of a racket, partly in an attempt to alert other traffic to my existence whilst I scrambled off the road, and partly in the hope that someone might stop. In fact, the bloke who hit me came back - although at the time I didn't know if that was who he was, because he didn't speak English and I don't speak Khmer (and was too busy shaking anyway). He put me and the bike on the back of the motorbike, and took me back to his house. Which was initially confusing, until he phoned his brother, who does speak English, to translate. We agreed that he'd take me back to the hotel and they would sort things out re the bike in the morning, so that is what happened. Anyway: no major harm done, but it was bloody scary.
  • Tuesday was Siam Reap to Bangkok. Minibus arrived at hotel, and I got in, assuming that (as per the Phnom Penh to Siam Reap bus) this would take us to the bus station, where we would transfer to the real bus, with a/c and nice seats, to get to the border. Not So. Scrotty minibus (and I had the seat over the wheel arch, Deep Joy) for entire 6-hr journey to Poipet, on the Cambodian/Thai border. Over the most appalling dirt-plus-pothole (mostly pothole) road it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. Also at frequent intervals there was a big swerve off the road as they're rebuilding all the bridges and have built dirt-and-pothole detours around them. Minibus did not have a/c, so all the windows were open, which when driving through a big dust-cloud for 6 hrs means that you get very, very grubby. My back still aches today, and I genuinely do suspect that this is road-related rather than accident-related. Anyway, we finally reached the border (I note for the record that Poipet is a dump, really: even bigger potholes and rammed with goods lorries), and I ran away from the minibus, deeply grateful that I'd only booked to the border. (Well, I say "ran"; in fact I mean "limped slowly and pathetically due to hideous wound in foot".) Then I ran away from someone else offering another minibus. Instead, I got a tuk-tuk to the bus station, where I bought a ticket on a lovely, comfy, a/c and toilet equipped express bus to Bangkok. Even got a bizarre Thai film featuring a humorous transvestite and some kind of heroic contract killer (or possibly a bodyguard - he was cute, wore black, and shot lots of people, but only Bad People) to watch as a bonus.
  • On arrival in Bangkok I got on a moto for the first time (and bargained him down to 60% of his original price, thus only getting overcharged by probably around 100% instead of 200%); got on the SKYTRAIN which is a TRAIN in the SKY and thus very exciting (actually it is the Tube in the sky which is even more exciting); found a hotel; washed my trousers for the 2nd time (finally the sand from the accident has gone, hurrah); went next door to the hotel and ate pizza (it was 2130 and I seriously could not face going any further); went to sleep mmm lovely sleep.
  • Wednesday morning I had approx 6 hours in Bangkok, which seemed like enough time to do something nice after I'd collected my train ticket and dumped my rucksack. So I went to the post office (three letters! Thank you Mum, Wendy, and Kat!), and then to the river, where I got on a river boat up to the Royal Palace. Why doesn't London make more use of the river? I know we have a couple of commute-type boats, but they're so damn expensive, and IIRC fairly slow. The Bangkok one is both cheap (25p flat fee) and pretty whizzy, although you do get splashed a bit. The Royal Palace was very, very, very shiny. Lots of gilt and coloured glass. Mostly what I saw was the Emerald Buddha (actually jade) which was interesting, but possibly more interesting was the large number of people coming in for actual worship (i.e. not tourists). Then it absolutely tipped it down for a bit, so I didn't really see much else before having to set off to walk through Chinatown back to the station.
  • Back on the train from Bangkok to Butterworth after my Cambodian bus interlude; once again v comfy, and this time you have the option of dinner being brought to your seat. Veggie option available and everything! Comfort levels generally quite high; I approve.
  • The people across the aisle from me, Meg and Jeff, are also travelling from the UK to Australia overland! So chatting to them was very nice, and I shall be following their blog.

Now I am in Penang (just across the water from Butterworth) for about 6 hrs, having finally located a left luggage option for my rucksack which consisted of a broom cupboard opened by the station manager. Found food, had a little wander, here checking the emails now.

juliet: (Default)
Safely arrived in Beijing this afternoon. Customs yesterday (Mongolian then Chinese) only took 5 or 6 hours, not bad. (Some of this was the bogie-changing process, which I'd actually inended to skip this time, but our passports weren't returned in time.)

Decided to get a taxi from the station rather than the tube, due to stomach cramps & consequent headache, ill feeling, grumpiness, etc. Taxi queue enormous but fast-moving; reached taxi and showed my Piece of Paper on which hostel name in Chinese and little map were (as provided by hostel). Driver peers at the whole thing in a confused fashion, but heads off. I assume he's worked it out. Not So. A couple of minutes up the road, he requests the phone number of the hostel, and phones them for directions. And then again five minutes after that. Still, we got there in the end, and the couple of quid it cost was well worth it.

Treated headache, grumpiness, etc with the following:
- shower (water took 5 min to run hot, which had me worried, but got there eventually)
- fried veg & rice
- ibuprofen
- BIKE BIKE BIKE BIKE HURRAH

Some or all of the above worked (actually it was probably mostly the bike, at least in terms of the grumpiness. I hadn't realised how much I've missed cycling, & it's only been a couple of weeks!).

The bike in question was a very elderly single-speed sit-up-and-beg, 10 Y (about 85p) for the day, or in my case the rest of the afternoon. After much fiddling with the saddle height in consultation with the elderly mechanic (the universal language of Bike Gesture), I set off happily up the road. And promptly ot lost, but lo! I did not care. I managed to fetch up in approximately the right place eventually, and the nice thing about being on a bike is that it doesn't *matter* that much if you get a bit lost, because it never takes long to get back on track. And I was enjoying pottering around, anyway.

Made it to the Forein Languages Bookstore, which was my destination, in order to get a better map (not much better, but there we go), a phrasebook (success!), and a reading book as I have finally finished the Baroque Cycle. Wah. Returned to my Glorious Steed to discover that it was now a push-bike in the strictest sense, viz, the pedals were no longer making the wheel go round & the only way of moving it was to push with the feet on the ground. A nearby traffic directing person dropped his flag and rushed to my aid, but was unable to assist - we established (again with the Universal Language of Bike Gesture) that the chain was fine - it was something to do with the axle/freewheel. I said "thank you" a lot and set off to scoot/walk back home. Even this did not dent my new good cheer, as I pottered round the Forbidden City, got lost again, and wandered home past lots of busy restaurants and shops and barber shops and shiny neon things and red lanterns...

As you might have gathered, I have only been in Beijing for about 5.5 hours & I already love it. It's busy and noisy and bright, and much though I do like being outside in quiet beautiful countryside etc etc, I am basically a city person :) Everyone also seems friendly, and cheerful - multiple traffic warden/driecting people helpully pointing me in the right direction when I accidentally tried to take illegal turns (road markings a bit unclear...), the chap who tried to fix the bike, a nice girl on a bike who stopped and helped when I was perusing the map & being lost. It just feels like a nice place to be.

Also they have lots of bikes, and that invariably makes me happy. Although no one seems to know how to signal, and absolutely no one has lights. (I knid of approve of this, in a complicated way which has to do with why the CTC opposed mandatory lighting regs back in the 30s. NB this does not mean I approve of riding without lights in the UK now, where we have a different set of expectations :) ).

Anyway, my headache is returning so I will go eat & have ibuprofen again, & maybe go to bed early or something.

BTW, apologies for any typos or odd formatting in this - I'm having to write it in w3m on the, as LJ appears to be blocked (well: it won't load in Firefox, and it loads just fine from the once I've sshed in there, and China notoriously blocks lots of things, so...). Most odd.
juliet: (Default)
Safely arrived in Beijing this afternoon. Customs yesterday (Mongolian then Chinese) only took 5 or 6 hours, not bad. (Some of this was the bogie-changing process, which I'd actually inended to skip this time, but our passports weren't returned in time.)

Decided to get a taxi from the station rather than the tube, due to stomach cramps & consequent headache, ill feeling, grumpiness, etc. Taxi queue enormous but fast-moving; reached taxi and showed my Piece of Paper on which hostel name in Chinese and little map were (as provided by hostel). Driver peers at the whole thing in a confused fashion, but heads off. I assume he's worked it out. Not So. A couple of minutes up the road, he requests the phone number of the hostel, and phones them for directions. And then again five minutes after that. Still, we got there in the end, and the couple of quid it cost was well worth it.

Treated headache, grumpiness, etc with the following:
- shower (water took 5 min to run hot, which had me worried, but got there eventually)
- fried veg & rice
- ibuprofen
- BIKE BIKE BIKE BIKE HURRAH

Some or all of the above worked (actually it was probably mostly the bike, at least in terms of the grumpiness. I hadn't realised how much I've missed cycling, & it's only been a couple of weeks!).

The bike in question was a very elderly single-speed sit-up-and-beg, 10 Y (about 85p) for the day, or in my case the rest of the afternoon. After much fiddling with the saddle height in consultation with the elderly mechanic (the universal language of Bike Gesture), I set off happily up the road. And promptly ot lost, but lo! I did not care. I managed to fetch up in approximately the right place eventually, and the nice thing about being on a bike is that it doesn't *matter* that much if you get a bit lost, because it never takes long to get back on track. And I was enjoying pottering around, anyway.

Made it to the Forein Languages Bookstore, which was my destination, in order to get a better map (not much better, but there we go), a phrasebook (success!), and a reading book as I have finally finished the Baroque Cycle. Wah. Returned to my Glorious Steed to discover that it was now a push-bike in the strictest sense, viz, the pedals were no longer making the wheel go round & the only way of moving it was to push with the feet on the ground. A nearby traffic directing person dropped his flag and rushed to my aid, but was unable to assist - we established (again with the Universal Language of Bike Gesture) that the chain was fine - it was something to do with the axle/freewheel. I said "thank you" a lot and set off to scoot/walk back home. Even this did not dent my new good cheer, as I pottered round the Forbidden City, got lost again, and wandered home past lots of busy restaurants and shops and barber shops and shiny neon things and red lanterns...

As you might have gathered, I have only been in Beijing for about 5.5 hours & I already love it. It's busy and noisy and bright, and much though I do like being outside in quiet beautiful countryside etc etc, I am basically a city person :) Everyone also seems friendly, and cheerful - multiple traffic warden/driecting people helpully pointing me in the right direction when I accidentally tried to take illegal turns (road markings a bit unclear...), the chap who tried to fix the bike, a nice girl on a bike who stopped and helped when I was perusing the map & being lost. It just feels like a nice place to be.

Also they have lots of bikes, and that invariably makes me happy. Although no one seems to know how to signal, and absolutely no one has lights. (I knid of approve of this, in a complicated way which has to do with why the CTC opposed mandatory lighting regs back in the 30s. NB this does not mean I approve of riding without lights in the UK now, where we have a different set of expectations :) ).

Anyway, my headache is returning so I will go eat & have ibuprofen again, & maybe go to bed early or something.

BTW, apologies for any typos or odd formatting in this - I'm having to write it in w3m on the, as LJ appears to be blocked (well: it won't load in Firefox, and it loads just fine from the once I've sshed in there, and China notoriously blocks lots of things, so...). Most odd.
juliet: (audax)
So, last year I tried to ride twice the length of Wales in a weekend. And packed at 470k (3/4 of the way).

This year it was back again for another bash. But this time with the company of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] uon.

Cut for those not interested in long ride reports )

My that was long.

Anyway: I did it! I am still a bit shellshocked, tbh. Massive credit to [livejournal.com profile] uon, who kept me going for a full 30 hours, plus the next 12 hours in absentia by sending frequent texts. He did a fantastic job himself - made it to 470k in the end, which is 170k further than he's ever ridden before, on a much hillier ride than he's ever done before. A bloody impressive effort. And chapeau to all who rode, especially the ever-marvellous Charlotte and Liz.

Also: I love my bike very much!
juliet: (audax)
So, last year I tried to ride twice the length of Wales in a weekend. And packed at 470k (3/4 of the way).

This year it was back again for another bash. But this time with the company of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] uon.

Cut for those not interested in long ride reports )

My that was long.

Anyway: I did it! I am still a bit shellshocked, tbh. Massive credit to [livejournal.com profile] uon, who kept me going for a full 30 hours, plus the next 12 hours in absentia by sending frequent texts. He did a fantastic job himself - made it to 470k in the end, which is 170k further than he's ever ridden before, on a much hillier ride than he's ever done before. A bloody impressive effort. And chapeau to all who rode, especially the ever-marvellous Charlotte and Liz.

Also: I love my bike very much!

Ouch

Feb. 22nd, 2008 11:01 am
juliet: (bike fixed)
I fell off my bike this morning :-( Turning left off St James' Road onto a side road, and the road must have been slippery as the bike went out from under me. No serious harm done, as I wasn't going fast and basically just went down in a heap. I'm going to have a cracking bruise on my leg, and my back aches a bit. The bike is fine.

Nice drivers (one in car, one in van) waiting to turn out of the side road stopped and checked that I was OK. I am feeling a bit bad because I can't remember if I said thank you, but I'm sure they understood!

Continued to the osteopath. Osteopath tutor came in & did fairly hardcore crunchy thing on lower back. Sudden pain in upper back, burst into tears. Most embarrassing. The osteopaths said that it was to do with your body reacting to the earlier trauma, and also shock, and not to worry, but strongly recommended that I go home and have a nice cup of tea. Which is what I have done.

On the way back I noted that that bit of road has now been gritted. Don't know if someone else came off there, or if the van was a Southwark one & phoned it through. It is strangely cheering, though!

(To forestall any comments about the danger of bikes: in 7 years of daily cycling (somewhere in the region of 20,000 miles, I reckon), including on actual snow, this is the first time I've ever come off like that. I am pretty sure that I've fallen off my own two feet more often than that :-) )

Ouch

Feb. 22nd, 2008 11:01 am
juliet: (bike fixed)
I fell off my bike this morning :-( Turning left off St James' Road onto a side road, and the road must have been slippery as the bike went out from under me. No serious harm done, as I wasn't going fast and basically just went down in a heap. I'm going to have a cracking bruise on my leg, and my back aches a bit. The bike is fine.

Nice drivers (one in car, one in van) waiting to turn out of the side road stopped and checked that I was OK. I am feeling a bit bad because I can't remember if I said thank you, but I'm sure they understood!

Continued to the osteopath. Osteopath tutor came in & did fairly hardcore crunchy thing on lower back. Sudden pain in upper back, burst into tears. Most embarrassing. The osteopaths said that it was to do with your body reacting to the earlier trauma, and also shock, and not to worry, but strongly recommended that I go home and have a nice cup of tea. Which is what I have done.

On the way back I noted that that bit of road has now been gritted. Don't know if someone else came off there, or if the van was a Southwark one & phoned it through. It is strangely cheering, though!

(To forestall any comments about the danger of bikes: in 7 years of daily cycling (somewhere in the region of 20,000 miles, I reckon), including on actual snow, this is the first time I've ever come off like that. I am pretty sure that I've fallen off my own two feet more often than that :-) )
juliet: (bike fixed)

Southwark Council subsidise a small quantity of free bike instruction for people who live/work in the borough. I checked, & they were happy to do an advanced observation-type lesson, so I thought I'd give it a go.

writeup )

For less experienced cyclists the lesson is usually a bit more structured - he said he'd spend more time on the basics and talking about road positioning. I'd definitely recommend it - even if you do roughly know what you're doing, it's good to have someone point out your bad habits and give you tips. I certainly benefitted from it.

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