Thursday, March 29, 2007

On the frickin' Nile!

So after Aswan we embark on a two day Felluca ride down the Nile to Luxor. A felluca is a sail boat with a massive flat mattress covered bit we just lazed about on for two days, these mattresses where covered in material with Winnie the Pooh playing basketball... so Egypt.
It was fantastic. Although the wind meant we spent most of the time sitting on the banks of the Nile. It was fully catered and we had some beers so we had a great time maxin and relaxin in the sun. When ever we stopped locals would always appear trying to sell stuff, to talk to us or just to see what was up. I love the locals, although the ones that see a lot of tourists can get annoying asking for 'bashesh' (a tip), and repeatedly saying "hello, hello, hello, bashesh, hello, hello" until we moved on. Fair enough though, everyone loves free money.
Ros, Trevor, Ahmed, Karen and a ridiculously good looking stranger enjoying some beers and shisha on the banks of the Nile... I think I am living the dream.

Yes, yes I am in fact living the dream.

Keep it real people. I love you all.


Well, after a massive 14 hours train ride (most of which was spent sleeping or listening to Shooting Stars) we arrived in an incredibly hot place in the middle of the desert on the banks of the Nile called Aswan. Aswan was very cool, it has the exciting hustle and bustle that Cairo had, but was about a million times smaller (literally). We chilled in Aswan then took a boat up the Nile to a Neubian village for a feed and some learning (so much learning when you are a tourist...). The boat ride was sick, totally calm, super warm, sun setting. We stopped at a beach for a bit and just chilled, with the golden sands of the Sahara on one side and the Nile on the other.. so we played Hacky Sack. This is where we chilled on the beach on the Nile. Crouching there is Big Jim who is on the tour with us. He is a semi-old dude from the States, real good sort. All the people in the group are absolutely super.. Canadians, Aussies, Poms, Americans, Brazilian and a couple of Kiwis. All good looking (which is the most important thing).

The next morning we got up at 4am.... yes, 4AM!! That is early on this side of the world too. We then joined a convoy to Abu Simbel. Firstly, all tourist have to travel in convoys of buses with police escorts in case of terrorists, its really not necessary though, I haven't seen any terrorists lately, but so so so many police with AK-47s lurking about. Secondly, Abu Simbel is a place with some really old rock stuff, just like all the other really old rock stuff we have seen. So many temples in Egypt.

See, big old stone things. It hard to comprehend the age of all the stuff we see, which makes it all hard to appreciate. What you can appreciate it the millions of tourists, mostly inappropriately dressed Russians.
Well, that was Aswan. Generally for me things are going very very well. The food here is awesome, the people I am meeting are fantastic, and we only shower every couple of days, I am living the dream! And did I mention the Shisha? I think I am addicted, but its just like eating apples....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cairo - Part III

Spent another day in Cairo wandering about, got some "interesting" shisha from an cool little local shisha place in some back alley. Checked out the Coptic Churches (saw a cave where Jesus and Mary hid out back in the day) with Fiona. Had some more Shisha... met the tour group then went and got some more shisha... and fantastic last day by myself. Big ups to Fiona for be fantastic and showing me a side of Cairo I would have other wise missed.

The next day was the first of the group trip. We first went to the Egyptian museum... heaps of real old stuff. Was pretty interesting. Then the pyramids baby yeah!

Saw three pyramids up close, and the sphinx. The Pyramids are actually massive! We then rode some camels around the pyramids, sounds real cheesy and touristy, but was fun.

Then a 14 hours over night train to Aswan, Southern Egypt...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cairo - Part II

I hope you don't get too use to these daily posts, I just stumbled across an insanely cheap Internet cafe and needed to upload and email some photos to a dude I just met on the street. I broke all the rules and hung out with some boys I met on the street. They took me back to their part of town which was super awesome, real old school. There house was 200 years old and the place was busy as, so many people (I was still the tallest and by far the whitest). Had fun hanging with them talking sports and NZ, they offered me a cup of tea... which I took, probably shouldn't have but it was the best cup of tea ever! Real good. Then caught a bus back to my part of town, had to jump on and off as it was moving. Man I love Cairo.
A random street.

The same random street. It is really hard to capture the shear massive-ness and busyness it a photo. And I don't have my camera out very often as its feels rude, draws a lot of attention and I look like a knob.
This is me and the boys outside their house. They were cool, they guy on the end was working on fixing some welding equipment beside us, and through a translator was asking about how to export to New Zealand... it was interesting.
Well, back to it for me, I think I have a dinner date with some Sudanese guys tonight, it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cairo - Part I

"Welcome to Cairo. It is now 6:20am local time and is 16 degrees Celsius...". Oh boy. Landing in Cairo was quite surreal, looking out the window at all the ... brown. So many buildings, so massive. It was feeling like a completely different world until I shared a joke with a border security guy with a machine gun who spoke no English... what was the joke you ask? Pretty much that I am massive. I am stoked I am massive here as well as in NZ. I am still me!

Cairo itself is super super awesome. I can only compare is Suva but about a billion times more massive (smells kind of the same). Its really brown and dull, yet vibrant and exciting at the same time. It was described to me as the City of Contrasts... which it very much is. Today I slept a lot after a long (yet surprisingly comfortable) flight, aside from the dude in front of me who thought his chair was broken as it wouldn't lean back... those are my knees man!

Just had dinner with Fiona, a new friend of mine, at the Best Egyptian Restaurant in Cairo (Ab Elsid). We were joined by Renee, the New Zealand ambassador, that was pretty cool. Also smoked some apple Sheesha... now that is good stuff. Its not often stuff you breathe is tasty, not like smoking at all! The taxi ride out there was an experience, the traffic and drivers here are fantasticly crazy, and there can't be any WoF by the looks of it, my Mirage would have loved it!

Cairo rocks.. and I haven't even seen any 'touristy' stuff yet. No pics right now sorry, I am working on it.

Dam... I love it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


So its 1 sleep until I leave the country. The reality is sinking in a bit now, I am getting a little emo about all the people and pies I will have to leave behind... but there is no point having feelings, they are well over rated. What was fantastic though has been the previous weekend. I was lucky enough to be invited to Rosie's Toga party on Friday night, and to co-host a Leaving/Birthday/Awesome party with my flat mates. I could write thousands of words describing how awesome the weekend was, but a few pictures would speak those words much more effectively. Firstly: Big ups to Nina and Ze German (Elizabeth) for being so darn fantastic in helping up put our party on, man I love couch surfers.

From the WDA to the ABC, to the RHS to the CBA. From Geraldine to White Rock to Sydney. There was a very eclectic bunch of people at the biggest party of the year, below is a sample of these ridiculously good looking people.

The most important guest ever.. OPTIMUS PRIME. And another distinguished guest.

Rangiora Old School... I love you Paul.

More good looking people. Its amazing that so many awesome people can be in one place. I feel sorry for every other place that has to suffer the shortage of awesome-ness.

And last but not least, a sneaky pic from the toga party the night before our party...
...I love Togas.

The next post will be far more exciting. Enjoy your week people, I intend to enjoy mine.

Keep it real.

PS Just had the best Roast Lamb meal ever... I love my mum and dad.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Optimus Prime!

Many great ideas have been born over a few quiet pints at many pubs throughout the world, but only a small fraction of these great ideas go full term and mature into true greatness. Below is a story of one such idea, and the journey it took. It all begins on Thursday 22nd February, an innocent enough day to be sure (aside from the folks celebrating Saint Lucia's Independence Day). It was on this day that I first met Sandra Dillon, a psuedo-couch surfer who was to become the central character in this adventure.

After work I met Sandra and we made our way to Barfly for a few quiet ales. It was here I invited Sandra to our party (Saturday March 10th, 288b Bealey Ave, be there or be square). From here things got interesting... I had decided to make invitation using the least amount of paper I could which meant certain details had to be omitted from the mini-invites, the biggest of the small details being that the party is in fact not just for me, but is also for Dave's birthday. Dave dutifully pointed this out, making for quite an awkward moment, one which could only be saved by me semi-token offering to get him ANYTHING he wanted for his birthday. Now Dave has always had a dream, a dream greater and more noble than any other. A dream so seemingly impossible that he had only spoken of it once before. This dream was of a life sized replica of Optimus Prime. If you are not sure who Optimus Prime is, stop reading right now and go learn up on him and don't come back till you can truly appreciate his awesome-ness.

Once Dave had laid out what he wanted I knew immediately I was unworthy of such a task, so I turned to Sandra and asked if she would be interested in taking on the job of designing and building a 7ft tall Robot in exchange for 10 nights accommodation. She immediately agreed and we proceeded to get ridiculously excited. Every second word for the rest of the evening was either 'Massive!' or 'Awesome!'.

From here we took a few days to collect our thoughts, and we began sourcing materials. The folks at Carton Pack were super helpful and hooked us up with the cardboard we needed at a reasonable price, and Bunnings were more than happy for us to purchase all the tools and paints we needed. So we got the tools, we got the materials, "we got the touch, we got the power!". Sandra then got to work on scaling up the small model we had and after some interesting metric/imperial conversions we got to it.

Things went very smoothly and less than a week later (half of which was spent watching Lawrence of Arabia, boy that's a long movie) we had an Optimus Prime. It could not have been done without the help of Talia an Israeli couch surfer, she was awesome. I also took a sneaky day off work to help, we all had to make sacrifices.

Quite possibly the first line being drawn. Notice the small scale model at the bottom and the plan. This was done very professionally... and Pop's worked out it cost us about $72,000 in labour, lucky for us Sandra agreed to be paid in nights on our couch.

Here is Sandra (top) and Talia during the final stages of production on the Friday cutting shapes.

And here he is, our very own Oprimus Prime. The Robot himself is massive and awesome. He can transform into a truck and back again. He can stand up and he can dance. Well, he can do most of those things...

Maxin and Relaxin..

I think I am in love. Optimus is going to be the distinguished guest at the "Tony's Leaving, Dave's Birthday and Pops' Awesome" Party we are having this Saturday night. So come to our party for the giant robot, but stay for the beer, little pies and good looking people.