Friday, March 31, 2006


Back in Shanghai to sort out our Russian visas. It appears that when you combine an old communist country with another one which makes out to be one, the time it takes for anything to happen that involves both countries is more an act of attrition than it is a bureaucratic headache. Our hostel, which we've used as home base has random outcroppings of renovations going on, which made the kitchen disappear one morning, only to magically reappear when we returned home later that day. This morning when I got up for my morning piss, combined with the flickering of the fluro in the bathroom, the banging of wood and tool made it seem if I was in a night club, pissing into a pot plant on some drunken misguided mission to prove my manliness to friends. We went down to Yellow Mountain on Sunday and got back yesterday. Pretty spectacular stuff. Highly recommended and if you ever visited/studied at Flinders Uni, the 50kms of stairs will make you feel right at home. Had a little out of the way spot called the bridge of immortals, which could only be reached by a 5km walk down into the valley and then back up into the mountains. I suggested to one of the local that a flying fox should be installed. Not surprisingly, this didn't translate too well. Anyway, it hink I'm going through that "no one back at home cares" phase of overseas travel. Don't mind me, I'll just eat some unbelievably tasty 20 cent dumplings and remember where I am.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

chinese tanks anyone?

Pictures say a thousand words. And words are easily intercepted by curious government agencies.

So I'll let this one do the talking

Saturday, March 11, 2006


next time you zip something up, take a look at the letters inscribed on the clasp. I bet in 9 out of 10 cases it'll say "YKK" on there. Well it appears they make other stuff too. here in j-land the locks on windows are also 9/10 YKK made. The company's product has made it onto my Hard Yakka pants, my One Planet backpack and my Mountain Design jacket. I didn't know that YKK is actually a Japanese brand and has been around since 1934.

YKK stands for "Yoshida Kogyo Kabushililaisha", with Yoshida Kogyo being the founder of the company, which was originally known as San-Es Shokai. but the full name is Yoshida Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (吉田工業株式会社). I guess after careful consideration, they choose not to use all three of the Ks in their name.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

So very tired.

It's got to the point of where Luke and I don't say anything to each other on the lift. Not that we're sick of each other, we're just that tired. Strange when your entire day's conversation consists of:

"which way do you want to go?"
"where do you want to meet?"
"did you see that *insert stupid injury risking snowboarding thing here*?"
"that run was totally awesome"
"I'm fucked"
"where do you want to eat lunch/tonight?"

Basically, things have become rather primal. We both smell a bit. We spend all day traversing moutains and hunting down vending machine food. you know, cave man stuff.

then there's nightboarding. and it's exactly that. for every skier, there is at least 20 boarders.

now for a little rest, some dinner and then a few rounds of boarding under the lights.

Monday, March 06, 2006

same same but not different

Foreign Familiarity

Back in Niseko for a second round of snowboarding and I'm stunned at how normal everything feels. I remember last year how the Japanese culture broke my head apart. Then in February, my head was blown apart by the culture and the quality of the snow. And now, this time it all feels so ordinary and same same.

The flights were all the same time (although we did leave from the new Adelaide terminal)
The flight numbers were all the same (JL778)
The plane from Sydney to Kansai was the exact same plane (747)
We sat in the exact same seats (28K)
Watched the exact same movie (Zorro)
Stayed in the same hotel (not the same room, but seeing how the decor doesn't differ from room to room, it felt the same)
Caught the same plane from Kansai to Sapporo
Same bus from Sapporo to Niseko
Same conversations with random Australians (were do you go snowing back in oz? you wont believe how good it is here)

But this familiarity isn't all bad. The manager of the place we stay at was very pleased to see us again. Kimiko is very motherly, so Luke and I brought her some koala shaped chocolates and snake shaped jubes.

We walked in to Abucha, a local Izakiya restaurant, and the staff were very Happy to see us and were genuinely interested in our adventures since the last time we were in town.

the snow, while theres less of it, is still great.

And I know that in under two weeks I'll be meeting up with Pippa in Shanghai. This is furher proof that comfort and adventure don't have to be mutually exclusive.