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Thursday
Aug042005

South Korea

My holiday officially starts, a flight to Seoul. Yet again there was no vegetarian food on the plane, but this was made up for by the stickers "don't wake", "wake for food" and "wake for duty free" that I could stick on myself. I read Kris's two Russian books, and started on the history of 1812. Read Seoul Lonely Planet again. Became shocked when the whole plane put their arms in the air, then worked out that they were simply all doing the recommended exercises. Synchronised.

Hubris makes me attempt to use public transport to go from airport to hotel in a new country. The bus trip to the city worked out okay, but the map was useless to find the actual hotel! To be fair the map couldn't have been helpful anyway, due to the lack of names for the relevant streets. I wandered up and down for an hour, with my heavy backpack, sweating in the evening heat of Seoul, when I decided to do the only logical thing - pick the most European Restaurant to eat in, and ask them for directions. "Tom's Pizza", sounds like they would speak English, yes? They didn't. I had to point. Turns out that they understood English though, because when I left they took out a map and showed me to walk up the street and turn into the third narrow alley (then into a sub alley). Either I was going to find the Seoul Guesthouse or I was being lured into losing a kidney to the Korean blackmarket.

The guesthouse is gorgeous. It is a Joeson-era Hanok house, with a series of small rooms built around a central courtyard. I get to sleep on a yo on an ondol floor. The ondol floor is the traditional Korean form of heating, being a clay floor with a wood oven underneath to keep it warm (during winter that is). This is the reason why Koreans never wear shoes into the house - being the only warm spot, everything is done on the floor. To have a shower I opened up some ricepaper walls and closed off others to turn the bathroom into an ensuite. I like it, you turn walls into doors at will.

Monday
Jan032005

South Island, New Zealand

Friday
Dec242004

The Three Sisters

Saturday
Dec182004

Margaret River

Wednesday
Dec152004

Perth

Saturday
Dec112004

Rottnest Island

Saturday
Apr242004

New Caladonia

Sunday
May252003

Heron Island

Saturday
Jan182003

Canberra bushfires

On the 18th of January, 2003, severe bushfires swept across the ACT and Canberra. About 70% of the ACT was burnt, Mount Stromlo Observatory was destroyed and the fire reached into the outskirts of Canberra. More than 500 homes were destroyed and four people killed, and for a time it looked like it could have been much worse, with small spot fires on Black Mountain, right in the heart of Canberra. These photos were taken from my apartment as the waterbombing helicopter filled up from Lake Ginninderra.

Tuesday
Dec102002

Brisbane