Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Humanitarian Cat For President!

As you would know by now, FortunePalace is the last place to find isssues of political ilk. Hell if if was up to me we'd all look to form a congress of primates and have them spin a big banana-wheel to make decisions.

However, given the structure we have I'm considering running for President. 'But Cat, we aren't a Republic.' True enough, but I really just want to have a cute secretary say 'But Mr President...' before every sentence. Moving on!

No-one enters the political arena without some quick vote-grabbing ideas, mud-slinging of opponents and a token nod towards humanitarian issues. I'll skip the first two and focus on what I think you (the voters) are really after.

Behold! FortuneCat's Plan for a Better World!

1) Gone will be the days of wrist stamps pass-outs at nightclubs. Each person will walk in, arms in the air. You'll get a custom-ink deodarant rolled-on under your pits and away you go. This will help combat the suffocating body odour that now assaults our airways as a result of the new anti-smoking laws.

Walk into a place, flash your scented pit and away you go. Available in UV-reactive for the ravers out there.

2) Ambient music in all toilets will be mandatory. Sitting in tense silence as your co-worker squeezes out the better part of a hot vindaloo is plain wrong. Same goes for hearing someone choke back on their vomit in a club, lest they puke up the E they swallowed. I think a little Enya could help us all here.

"Did you.. just lay cable?

3) Close-sitting on public transport will be a punishable offense. Thats right, all those losers with no friends/ways to meet new people, you cannot just sit *right next to someone* when there are plenty of more spacious seats available. And dont go spinning that 'I cant travel backwards' rhetoric either, creeps like you are plenty backwards already.

4) Dentists will be required to update their magazines. I haven't seen such a conscious decision of rich people not to spend money since Trump refused to upgrade his gerbil hair-piece. Imagine the awkward moments for parents when children ask why Diana is waving on the top of the Twin Towers in New York. Move with the times people, as we speak Angelina is adopting another poverty-stricken child to work in her soon-to-be-released Homewrecker line of lingerie, and we need to know about it.

With ideas like that and plenty more, how could you not Vote 1 -> FortuneCat.

The power is yours!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thankyou for smoking - outside BITCH!

So we had a house-warming on Saturday night to celebrate our new residence. Given the geographical location, we should have had devonshire tea with Mozart playing, instead we rocked out with pizza, laughing gas and psychadelic trance music. Take that Toorak!!

Before long we headed down to Mothers Milk on Chapel to drink from the proverbial teat as it were. 12'o clock struck, the princesses and their pumpkin carriages disappeared, and so did the smoke.

Yes, let me be one of the many who are hailing legislation for a change. I know! Who would have thought we'd actually be thankful for government. But its true - smoking is now banned inside pubs and clubs. The difference was quite startling, our eyes no longer in a constant state of waterishness, our lungs no longer hugging themselves in half-pain. What it did mean was there was a constant stream of people going in and out, in and out, oh, oh, yes right there at the entrace, suck it down, mmm...

Ahem.

As I was saying, tobacco lovers had to weave a dance I'll coin the 'smokers nutbush' as they side-stepped their way back and forth to get their fix.

And thats one dance you wont catch me grooving to ;)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cereal Box Psychology

You stare at the wall of wheaty goods. Which one to pick I wonder... Too kiddy. Meh, too healthy. Too.. colourful. Ooooh, whats this? One in three chance to win? FREE STUFF? OMG like totally sign me up already.

And so I bought NutriGrain, all my hopes and dreams hanging on that *free prize*. I even captured the moments for you on film - such suspense and drama like this doesnt come along every day.

I think I can feel.. something?


SCORE!! My precioussss...

Now as you can imagine, at this point one is feeling rather chuffed with oneself. You did after all score the ultimate in cereal box prizes - a mini-speaker. Thats right, plug it in anywhere and be prepared to blast your elderly neighbours into next week with its RAW POWA.

Unfortunately, said mini-speaker has the balls of a Tour De France rider. And going on the doping charges they've been facing lately - I'm talking teeny.

So! Should you follow your inner-consumer whore and buy cereal with prizes only to be let down so completely? Sure, why not. Because even if the functionality of the prize is lacking, no-one can deny its street credibility (particularly not after viewing the pic below):


For the ultimate in 'portable-cool', get mini-speaker

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oprah? I hate Oprah! Ohhhhh Opera...


No its not the accented drawl of an old digger answering the door nor the concatenation of two fine things, Carmen is an opera - apparently. A fact I was blissfully unaware of until Thursday night when offered a free ticket. The conversation went something like this:

"What up biatch?!"
"Sup pimp daddy. How would a night chillin' at the Opera suit yo fine ass?"
"The Opera you say? Why my dear lady, that sounds ever-so splendiferous! I shall wear my new tuxedo, cane and top hat."
"Dont forget your monacle good sir. I shall have Charles pick you up in the Bentley at 8."

Carmen is chock full of songs you hear and go 'ohhhhhh I know this!' which make is very n00b friendly. Unfortunately there was a glaring lack of big-breasted viking women wearing horns. They was however some great singing and music, along with a suave-matador that had most of the women swooning (along with a few men).

It all ended rather abruptly, and I couldn't help but feel there needed to be a Directors Cut. Y'know, that final scene where the bullfighter kills the stupid angry army guy, takes his former woman and makes passionate gypsy love while an aroused bull watches on. Yes, it was agreed on the night that what the Opera needs is more sordid animal love triangles. It'll engage the youth of today don't you know.

Friday, June 01, 2007

*incoming transmission*

A campfire under the stars flickers in the dead desert wind. An old man hunches over and whispers conspiratorially "so many people are lost souls, running on empty. They end up here in search of... transmission fluid."

Indeed. They also go to Pharmacy vs Magic City 'Transmission' @ Metro. Take a thousand ravers, add chemicals, pumping hard dance and glow sticks and you pretty much have this event nailed.

There were three stages per se, with the top floor being uplifting dance, the middle glass room having everything from Prodigy-remixes to D&B, and the main floor being a bastion of all that is bassy, hardcore and flamey. I say flamey because when there werent 3 shaven-head German DJ's pumping up the crowd with Nazi-esque hand movements, there were dancer-girls with hoola-hoops ablaze, doing their thang as it were. Needless to say it was pretty groovy.

We're not evil - we're happy damnit!

Generally at these kinds of things you get up, go crazy and dance, get massages, give them, meet randoms, rinse and repeat. That seemed to be the recipe of the night. Unfortunately there didnt seem to be that many 'nice' people, with a few having a distinctly off-putting vibe, but we live in our own reality where nothing affects us anyways.

Dancing to this stuff made me realise I should do it more often, so I encourage everyone to grab a ticket and join in the bright-coloured fun of the next event. Just dont focus on trudging home, icky and cold, at 9am the next morning. No, never focus on that!

We may rave but we're not crazy - smoking is baaad mmkay?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eurotrashed!

Like the sands in the hourglass, these are the days of our lives. For the past year I've my life's been more like a rock pool. Warm and salty? Hmm, what I meant was.. an ever-changing environment where things come and go.

What the hell, get to damn party reports I hear you shout. What is FortunePalace if not a warm & salty haven for deviate exploits? Well my friends, allow me a moment of reflections, introspections, and um.. erections?

Twas my 25th birthday last weekend and nothing seemed more appropriate than going to Eurotrash bar - considering thats what I was for 6 months. Now apparently you may need to actually *book* your functions here - you can imagine the confused door-troll that kept letting people in for 'Stus Unbooked Shindig'. But let them he did, and shin we dug.

Eurotrash for the uninitiated is a 3-level russian-kitch bar that plays funky electro. Grab someone special (or not so, lifes short after all) and head to one of the weird makey-outey booths that play fetish porn on a private screen. Now I didnt know these existed, nor had I seen women from the 80's repeatedly blow cigarette smoke onto each others naked privates. But as you might have guessed, it was as if all my birthdays had cum at once.

As is customary, I've sprinkled this post with some pics of us dirty, dirty Euros in *ackshun*

This heralds the return of FortunePalace by the way. I know its been in hibernation so to speak, serving merely as a diversion to the Cave, but relax max/maxine, I shall be filling your browser with Stu-inspired mayhem on a regular basis once again.

Thanks to everyone that came along, for those that tried but got lost. As for those that bailed - I really didnt want you there anyway ;)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blog #2 - The Search For More Money/Fame


This is a shameless plug for my second blog. Second blog? I hear you scoff. Yes, its true. Like dual-core CPU's, double-beef burgers, and double-ended dildos, I've come to the conclusion two is better than one.

Cyclops Cave is a place I leave reality at the door (for the most part) and indulge in creative writing.




By all means check it out, its sure to stimulate/horrify/alienate/connect you in some form (or your money back).

So what are you waiting for? Do like Ulysses and venture into the cave of purple-headed monsters.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Time Machine #5: White Mah-El in Kay-El

Flying from Europe to Australia is hell. Lets not beat around the proverbial bush. You have a 12 hour nightmare of a flight, a few hours at an airport, then another 8 numbing hours till you get Downunder. Actually to be honest I'd prefer a 12 hour anal probe, but enough about my fantasies.. basically it sucks. How to make it good? Why not stop over in Malaysia's capital, affectionately known as 'KL', and wash away that jet-lag, poolside.

Thats what I did. Service at the Impiana was impeccable - free iced tea and cool towls upon arrival, a grand foyer with classical trio's playing for your listening pleasure, and the best buffet breakfast I've had, period. All you can eat roti - cooked fresh on the spot, bacon, pasta, noodles, and pink guava juice are just what I had in my left hand. Okay you get the idea. The pool was great, Baby & I stared at the unbroken water surface which just flowed over the side of the building before diving in with grins on our face. Nothing like having a swim-hole to yourself, if you exclude a few pervy tradesman-types.

So whats Malaysia like? Well I only saw the city obviously, and I cant help but draw conclusions to my time in Singapore. Which would probably irk residents of both countries. I know if someone said 'Omg Australia is JUST like New Zealand' it would ruffle my feathers, even though it just might be. So not mentioning that again, MY has great cheap food, crazy motorbikes that swerve between cars like a scene out of Matrix Reloaded, markets that sell all kinds of food that scare poor innocent white bois like me, and more than enough shopping malls to satisfy your inner consumer-whore.

In my short time the highlight was definately Batu Caves. This Hindu site is the setting for the yearly Thaipusam, a hardcore religious pilgrimage-type thing where many devotees perform many 'acts of faith' including crazy face/body piercing. Theres certainly nothing like it in our country and definately has some big culture-shock elements. Unforuntely it wasnt on when we went, however it let us just relax and take in the site itself.

As you climb the many steps, the biggest danger is falling backwards as you watch the local monkeys take leaps of faith from tree-to-tree. Like a Japanese tourist watching kangaroos in awe, I stood around going 'hee hee! monkeys!' - fighting the overwhelming urge to grab a fluffy tail (which probably would have ended in me contracting rabies).

Inside you got a real sense of being somewhere special, from the light that poured in from above, the lush greenery that provided home for more monkeys, to the incense and prayers that people were offering which made it one of those places you just naturally lower your voice in. We sported 'red dots' on our foreheads [/end ignorance], which was definately cool too. Something I forgot to remove before hitting the mall later which drew a few confused looks from randoms.

KL has some groovy modern architecture and its somewhere I hope to spend more time in soon - so put the local Starbucks on alert, this fiend shall return.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Time Machine #4: Rainbow Stlyin'

According to Wiki, the Rainbow Serpents mythology is closely linked to land, water, life, social relationships and fertility. It pushed the ridges and the mountains up from the Earth as it snaked along underground waterholes.

Like its namesake, the Rainbow Serpent festival is an environmentally-aware gathering of social people, its main focus being music amongst various workshops, food, circus arts & crazyness. No doubt there was some fertility going on amongst the hippies too, although the thought of that act after 5 days of sweat, dirt and smoke is a fairly feral one.

The common theme amongst Rainbowaiins (or should that be Serpentites?) is that while similiar, Earthcore is 'too commercial.' This answer was the cliche of the festival, that had a few of us giggling in the end while the respondent stumbled to explain exactly what they meant by that. Now granted, Rainbow does have a more family orientated atmosphere. There is a kids area, as well as various entertainment like the ever-cool Amazing Drumming Monkeys (vids here & here). You can also bring in your own alcohol, so I suppose it gets anti-capitilist points there too.

To diverge for a moment, the Saturday night opened with an Aboriginal act consisting of about 9 members with didgeridoos, drums, DJ equipment, and both English/Aboriginal lyrics. The music was great, the whole atmosphere was fantastic and I have a greater understanding/respect for the indigenous people of Australia. I dont know why but it all just sounded so ancient, so tribal and wild, it was just very cool. It was like staring into a portal 5000 years into the past or something.

Some of the great, random entertainment

But black magic wasnt the only thing we'd come to see. A little white magic wouldnt go astray either - that of course being stereo systems that can shake the Earth so hard it would have the Rainbow Serpent grooving in it waterholes. And that is where commercialism comes into play. You see, for all its flaws, Earthcore has the most amazing sound system I've heard. The music becomes viscous and flows thickly and crisply while wrapping your whole body in it. And such quality comes at a price. Rainbow had some great DJ's but the equipment just wasnt of the same calibre.

On a brighter note, we still had a blast. I have to try to get this down on paper although I feel I'll fail miserably. Sometimes you have these unexplainable moments where you come to a deeper realisation about things. This was one of them...

I lay back, as I started to float, and my vision started to pixellate. Everything became hexagons, and then even my body and my breath and my mind was all a massive mosaic. It was like everything in the universe warped and flattened out into these interlocking hexagons, on a massive sheet of space-time matter. This sheet collapses in the middle, not unlike a black hole, and the hexagons were spiralling down into it. Spiralling through with it, it was like each level I came to I was expecting the end, but there wasnt one. Sort of like when you go too far underwater, and each second you swim to the surface, desperate for air, your panic rises exponentially as you are denied it. Thats what it was like, I couldnt believe it could go deeper, but with every level it did I realised there was truly nothing below and it was such a full-on realisation it scared me. Above the power of our brain to comprehend I guess.

It was this weird feeling of both macro and micro at once, coming from a swirl of hexagonal universes and drilling right down to seeing DNA and then further down into infinite subatomic particles as well - then right back out again, all in a couple of seconds. Again I dont know what it all meant or imparted to me, nevertheless I sat up and was in awe of the new knowledge of the connectedness of things I had. I'll never forget that ^_^

A special mention has to go to the guy in this video, who can sphongle with the best of them. We had great groove on, me in my crazy multi-tailed hat.

In boiling hot sun, I awoke to find the massive
shade had collapsed on me, shattering my tent :(


All in all, RS is fantastic fun. There is much more craziness, great people, a mix of decor and attractions, and all the Sphongle you can handle. Highly recommended for open-minded peoples :)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Time Machine #3: New Years Eve 2006

'To Den Haag!' we all shouted, as 2 guys & a girl set off on New Years Eve. We got the party started early to keep the car trip interesting, two sitting in the front passenger seat enjoying the effects. What can I say, the driver liked to watch.

Trying to follow hand-drawn maps in cities on the other side of the world can be tricky. Particularly when the streets you are driving on are a warzone. Everywhere you look, people were on the street were lighting firecrackers or bonfires. Our navigation options consisted of choosing the least 'flamey' roads in between ducking for cover in our seats as rockets shot above the car roof. I have never seen such crazyness in 360 degrees before. The city o Den Haag truly belongs to the people that night - zinging lights and ever-present cannon blasts.

12 o'clock struck and the mayhem was in full-flight. We just pulled the car over and cheered, wishing each other the best as our faces were illuminated by the lightshow around us. After asking a few inebriated locals for directions, we found the club and party we had tickets too. Time to rock!

Randoms for the win!

Or so we thought. Upon entering, the club sported all the bizarre decor and neon colours I'd come to expect of psy-parties, but lacked a certain something. Namely, the music was questionable and the weird house-turned-nightclub had some odd-shaped rooms. Who has a dancefloor in a corridor? Hmm. The main stage/bar area was cool though, and when the warm-ups left the decks and the main DJ's came on - it all came together. People, enhancements, music, and pure unadulterated bass. We let fly and shaked that ass for you (come on girl).

In between time we figured it would be fun to go outside in gale force winds, take off our shirts and play with fire-poi. Of course, by some of us, I mean our crazy South African friend. I played with fire poi while Al preferred to rug up with 3 jackets. After dazzling (or scaring) passers by with our skills, our poi-master run onto the road to breathe fire into the air, much to the joy of onlookers. Shame about that whole 'gale-force-wind-blows-fire-backwards' thing. He came with a healthy crop of facial hair and left without it. Hey its the fragrance of the month - Beardsinge, by CK.

All in all, a great time rocking it out in the Netherlands. Had a good NYE? Comeoninandcommentden.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Time Machine #2: Earthcore 2006

You are getting very schleepy... you believe you are a chicken... thats right, you are a tired egg-laying bird at Earthcore, in the year 2006. Now observe:

In a 4 car procession, we trekked into the bush for my second Earthcore. I wonder what type of sequel this would turn out to be, one of those 'bigger and brighter' ones or a 'bleh, more of the same' clones. We would soon found out...

The thing about Earthcore is you want to get a good camp spot. Along with everyone else. Arriving early wasnt enough, so we set out to get the best spot possible. So we proceed to go into the employee only area, and get yelled at by the camp-nazi. Chill out dude, take a muscle relaxant.

'Hey should we go through there?'
'Hmm, theres a sign No Entry - End of Camping'
'Yeah
but there are tents in there'
'Do it'



Beree vs. Straw Hat

We start talking to some randoms and then I sort of spot something in the river. Its sort of white and reflecty. My go-go gadget arm sweeps out and grabs it, doing so as to not draw attention to myself. Hello river drugs. No doubt some poor girl hid them in her bra and has gone swimming and they landed in my hot little hand. As it stood, the Gods of Earthcore smiled upon me, and said 'here my child, you have been rewarded for your loyalty. You have brought others here with you, to see and hear the will of Earthcore. Go now, and be merry.' I knew it was a sign, and as potentially dodgy as taking slightly muddy mystery pills from a river is, I just went with my gut - EC wouldnt harm me.

Friday night involved crazy glow-poi, Japanese psy-trance with live drumming, and the shaking of bootys. We grabbed our torches and headed back to camp (Survivor style).

You open your eyes Saturday morning. Dear god its so bright! It must be like 12.00. Nope, its 7.30am - shit! And its too hot to sleep now. Crawl out of the greenhouse that is your tent and lay down in the cool of the porta-shade thingy. Most of Saturday we just sat around the camp, venturing into town occasionally. Music was of course playing, there were all kinds of workshops, from yoga to spiritual journeys to wing making to second hand clothes fashion to twirling. Great isnt it? Nevermind the fact its too hot, you're coming down and you just plain CBF. When dusk is close at hand, its when you 'get ready'. Its like going to a nightclub, everyone gets excited, changes costumes a few times, the camp was quiet mayhem of people taking uppers, getting eye-makeup put on (hello Lindsay the T-boi) and making sure they know whats in every cargo pocket before we hit the town. We got a great group photo and then we were off.

If you see these people, run!

Just like the year before, I ended up finding Seb and we found a great stage to dance at. A stage show involving 8 guys and girls dressed up as heaven and hell kept us entertained, while the following DJ's were the legendary Raja Ram and Chicago. At 65 and 55 respectively, these old rockers can still party with the best of them. It was a sunrise set and night turned to morning. Raja Ram danced around like a crazy old man and played his flute, sung, mimed and pumped up the crowd while Chicago did the same with a plastic guitar as he spun the records. They just had the coolest samples playing through the music, the highlight being when a crazy elderly man tells a crowd of a thousand 'LETS MELT SOME FACES!' as the beat drops. Yeah baby!

In the end this EC was like Matrix Reloaded. Not as original as the first, but it had more punch to it. I had a blast and I cant wait to complete the trilogy. Lets just hope its not a soul-crunching disappoint like Revolutions. Wanna take the red pill? Leave a comment ^_^


Time Machine #1: I Love'd Techno

This place has been quiet for awhile now. Did the blog fad finally wear thin on this boy? Hell no, I was busy building a time machine, fool! So strap yourself in, we're going back to October '06 when I went to I Love Techno in Belgium.

ILT is a massive indoor dance party which attracts some of the biggest names in the biz. Carl Cox, Kraftwerk, Tiga, Dave Clarke, Tiefschwarz - the list goes on. So after spending the day in Brussels, a friend and I caught the train out to this event. The reason I mention it was because thats where the crazy started. People running up and down the aisle, music pumping from everyone's beatboxes, people snorting lines on the seat and selling party favours left and right - this was one partay carriage.

Fighting tooth and nail we clambered onto a tram and were huddled through the security gates. This event felt like a massive human experiment, with us the drugged-up rats buzzing to and fro to different lights and sounds. Were they monitoring our brains, studying the behaviour of animals in such alien conditions, or just sitting back and chuckling at our plight? Probably all of the above. We navigated mazes to gain entry to the stage rooms whilst angry, robotic security guards peered down from on high, just itching to kill something.


Inside the insanity continued. Such elaborate setups I had not seen before, with more than enough fit-inducing strobes burning into our retinas. The music is so loud you dont really talk, although the voices in your head certainly do their fair share as you ponder all kinds of scary thoughts.

Tiga - You Gonna Want Me

Dave Clarke was the man we went to see, and he didnt disappoint. By that stage I was kind of regretting the acid, as the stimuli here was just too full on. Nevertheless I danced up a nice storm, glowing poi in hand, and managed to meet a few nice randoms also.

This is bigger and better than any commercial party Australia is likely to see - I'm just happy to say I survived it. Bring on the outdoor festivals, I'm quite content to leave this asylum for sunglass-wearing zombies for now.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Burlin' round Berlin

With Prague at our backs we caught the train to Berlin. The scenery was varied enough, with grassy plains, quaint mountain villages and abandoned snowy ghost towns. We thought to defer to the professionals to see the sights of Berlin. For a city 9 times the size of Paris we had good reason. Turns out the tour guide was a good-hearted Australian (complete with 'thick, twangy, plebian accent' much to Alyssa’s bemusement, something Stu would deny in the coming days in his best attempt at a 'finely rounded, classy English accent', failing stupendously).

The greatest challenge of the tour would be the biting cold, which turned to snow as we hit upon the famous Checkpoint Charlie and Berlin Wall. To be honest they were fairly overrated. I thought the wall would be this huge grey structure with lasers and missiles and the bones of the brave and stupid piling up below. Instead it just looked like something from a Melbourne Sports complex. If you didnt have a tour guide you'd never even realise it was TEH WALL OF DOOM!!11. So, yeah.


The city can feel a bit grey and grim at times, with bullet-holes scarring many buildings. One thing that cheers everyone up is Berlins take on the 'Green Man' traffic light. ‘Ampelman’ is a happy, forward moving, good communist worker who is striding to work and symbolising everything the government wanted you to be. A little piece of propaganda and brain-washing goes a long way.

After the tour we visited the Jewish Holocaust Memorial - a sobering exhibition of the stories of many victims. It does have a cool kind of memorial/artworky/maze thing on top of it, which is kind of fun to play in. What is this memorial for again? Dunno, keep running between the blocks - wiii!!

Movie time! Get your servings of lame here and here.

We visited the town of Orainenburg (Onionburger to Stu) for more horrific crimes against humanity. The Sachsenhausen concentration camp, supposedly the first designed by an architect in an attractive geometric pattern (a marvel of art which unfortunately escaped the attention of its inhabitants). We got a handheld device meant to give us an audio tour ("Just like having a real tour guide, right? - Stu, who was very wrong) and wandered into the foggy grounds. A highlight (lowlight?) was seeing the site of what used to be the ovens, which could each incinerate 6 corpses at a time. It was hard to grasp that the disposal of human bodies had been turned into such a soulless, industrial process. Dusk fell more quickly than we expected and we were glad to walk out of the gate to return the useless audio device (which was still muttering pointless facts in a monotone voice like the titles of movies officers at the camp watched).

Frrrrom Praha to Berlin, we never made it to any discos unfortunately. While keen to party, the tours had taken their toll, and we were content to cosy up with a book or in Alyssa's case: Stu's DS Lite (warning: Sudoku ADDICT). Training home we reflected on the sights and sounds of Central Europe and frankly were glad to be back in good old Holland - the land of too much cheese.

Who goes to Prague in Winter?

Once upon a time... Stu & Al skipped to Prague. After battling airport security and loose pants, we made it aboard. Who's ever heard of SkyEurope airlines? Not us, but it must be noted their flight attendants are much more comely than the has-beens that are in Qantas' employ. Hey, a happy (and hard) passenger is a cooperative one. One could have mistaken Prague airport for Alaska. Visibility was down to 30 feet, the cold post-communist mist hanging around like a bad dictator (haha, ahem). Apparently it was -2, but I hear once you go sub-zero, your extremities cant tell the difference. The Revolution brought Pragueans many things - one of which is the right to spend Christmas Eve with their family. Thus, practically the entire airport was a ghost town, and about 40 freezing travellers were left out in the cold (literally). All we wanted was to be home for Christmas damnit – what was this, a Hollywood movie?

We arrived shaken from our drivers apparent contempt for human life (or maybe just ours). Knocking on the doors of Hotel Kettner, it seemed no-one was home - the hotel was closed. Seems our booking never made it through (that, or my credit card details had been re-routed to the KGB). We trudged a few blocks and after bewildering some locals with our question on directions (the general response from locals is a frown and a grunt) we found another hotel which was open. Hallelujah - we were saved.

The sun was shining but it had no heat to it per-se. Must be the Ozone layer or something (pfft who needs one of those - not Australia!). A highlight was Prague Castle. We both stood in awe of the Castle lit up against the darkening blue sky (did we mention it gets dark there at 4.30pm?). The photos dont do it justice, but this gothic church was definately worth the trek.

We'd figured we'd earned a decent meal, and what better choice to make than the fine local Czech cuisine. A round of your best processed meats sir! Stu opted for the '3 meats/3 dumplings /3 cabbages in vinegar' while Alyssa got the 'tough-as-old-boots beef'. Neither was particularly memorable. They did however serve us up some fine Absinthe and Jagermeister, which Alyssa sculled and Stu choked on.


The next day we trained out to Kutna Hora, a place we really knew nothing about. It had a Bone Church and thats all it needed. I could reel off facts about the thousands that lost their lives to the black plague, or the stories of the mad priest who collected their bones and decorated a church with them, but frankly we were a bit too weirded out to remember any details.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Belgium By Day

In a cruel twist of fate, my girl was in an accident and left me with a spare ticket to ILoveTechno - one of the bigger parties in Europe with a line-up to make Melbourne dance-fans drool. Threatened with beatings, I was told I had to go and find someone to take her place. Enter a jovial South African friend, and off to Belgium we went.

'Hey we're at Antwerp.'
'Cool.'
'Wanna check it out?'
'Um... maybe we shouldnAaargh!'
*is dragged off train*


So we had a walk around Antwerp. Where the f*ck is Antwerp anyways? We werent sure ourselves, and proceeded to look for a Coffee Shop. After all, if the place is selling weed it has to be Netherlands. Our search took us to the dodgier end of town, where I walked into *the lowliest bar I've ever seen*. Seriously. Three local undersirables hung out the front.

'Where are we?'
'Earth'
(oh great, a comedian)
'No, I mean what country'
'Haha, you dont know what country you're in?'
'We're tourists!'
'This be Belgium mon'

Belgium! We had arrived, land of chocolate, beer, and bohemian funny-guys.

Calling their place of worship a bar at all is a huge overstatement. Take a danky little room, put a plain high wooden bench down the middle, put two drunks *completely unconscious* on said bar, a grey drunken Groundkeeper Willie look-a-like sipping whiskey, and an African barmaid who looked like she'd rather slit your throat than serve you a drink. All this at 10.00am. We were just glad to walk out of there in one piece.

The rest of Antwerp consisted of patrols of Jewish people in their traditional outfits (and they have some crazy hats let me tell you), diamond shops, homeless people and abadoned construction sites. Not exactly a joyous happy place filling visitors with warm rainbows. We quickly jumped on the next train.

I met a man in Brussels. He was, six foot four and full of muscles (sing it! I saiddoyouspeakamylanguage? Hejustsmiled andgaveme avegemitesandwhich!) Singing Downunder, we trekked across Brussels, had a cosmopolitan lunch, listened to Native American Indian street-performers and found some botanic gardens. Brussels has some great architecture, both traditional and modern, and we took some happy snaps for all our fans. Refreshed and re-energized by the wonders of gravity, we were ready to party.


Respect my balls

Friday, October 20, 2006

Stu in Fairyland

Choose your own adventure time!

You have been out all night dancing a moonlit beach under the influence of psychotropics. You stumble in the door at 9.00am, shoes filled with sand. The phone rings, you are meant to meet your friends at a Theme Park today.
What do you do?
a) Tell said friends you had some bad chicken, and are violently throwing up
b) Fling the phone into the corner and crawl into bed like the Gollum you are.
c) Pour the sand out of your shoes, shiver and freak out in the shower, and go to a Theme Park on no sleep.

In case you didnt guess, I picked option C!

Efterling is the Netherlands oldest theme park, and was apparently one of the first - predating Disneyland. The thought of in-your-face clowns, cheesey gift shops and screaming kids didnt really appeal to my scattered brain., but I went along anyways.


I'm happy to say the whole experience was remarkably pleasant. The place has this magical fairy tale theme going on - from the twinkly music the play in the carpark, the giant witches castle that is the entrance to the fairy floss they serve to every kid. The attractions are scattered throughout little lakes and gardens and it all has a peaceful, tranquil feel to it. Its a theme park done right in my opinion, and the little boy in me rejoiced.

After dancing all night I was famished, and in true Dutch fasion I stuffed my face with a big cream waffle and big cotton candy. Afterwards my stomach wasnt too happy, and thus I could only take on a tame rollercoaster.


All in all, I can recommend this place to anyone wanting a relaxing day on family-friendly rides and perhaps just relaxing in a rowboat on the lake. Thrillseekers should look elsewhere for kicks however.

Thus ends a short entry - all you anti-bookworms can rejoice now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Moonshine Baby

‘What does that sign say?’
‘Straat 8’
‘And the one before?’
‘Straat 7. And before that, Straat 6 & Straat 5.’
‘I have a horrible feeling Straat 1 is in the other direction.’
‘Mother #@*&$%!!’

So, two fiends and I had walked a beach for 45 minutes the wrong way. Talk about logistically challenged. Fast forward another hour and we spot a lone source of light ahead on the beach. The night sky is dark, but a full moon is beaming down at us. The roof of the party tent is a rainbow of visual lights (even at this distance) and all our weary aches melt away as we realise we made it. Woot!

With the help of various enhancements, the party truly begins (hell, I am the party anyways right? :D) and I found myself out of the tent and on the beach dancing. Gale force winds were blowing, the sea was crashing on the sand, the moon beaming down - glorious. Some Dutch guy came out yelling ‘Duuude, its freezing out here – I think you should go inside man!’ Well, I wont repeat my answer here, but needless to say I said in no uncertain terms that:
a) I couldn’t feel the cold
b) My fellow party-goers should be out here too or else be labelled ‘he of no backbone’
c) He should move out the way or be hit by my wild dancing

A friend lit up his fire-poi and enjoyed the fresh air with me. I borrowed some glow-poi and did an impromptu performance with them. Basically, I fell in love with these glowing balls of light. We examined them closely and decided these were little worlds in our hands, and we wouldn’t give them up for anyone. Unfortunately, they didn’t belong to us. When the good-spirited guy who did came to retrieve them, I ran into the distance maniacally swinging them above my head yelling ‘just TRY to take them off me, eeeehehehehe’. Ahem. Eventually I did give them back, and feel bad for my actions. But hey, who can resist little glowing worlds. Not I, good sir, not I.

Later…

Ever watch the twilight zone? They usually depict a scene where normal people are doing normal things, until this horrible *creeeeeeeenk* (insert scary noise) moment when they realise things just got weird. That happens on acid. People were dressed up in tribal clothes with face paint and feather in their hair (no really) and when I saw them they were these ancient figures dancing and chanting (again, they may well have been). All this under a full moon, I decided I should take off my shirt on the beach and be filled with lunar energies. I know, I know, I’ve joined the sweaty ranks of guys that rip off their shirts but this was different, I swear! (Blush) Brushing everyone in a stinking hot club with your sweaty body and being alone on a beach are quite different... I hope.

Afterwards, when we were less energetic and fully clothed, we trekked back. We arrived at this deserted town, where literally no people were to be found. The place was deserted. One of many twilight zone moments that night. We saw hotel in the distance, and thought ‘hmm, that should be open right?’ With some trepidation we tip-toed on red carpet and through golden revolving doors into a 5 star resort. Still deserted mind you. A somewhat startled reception girl called us a cab, and we strolled along ruby carpet into a white Mercedes taxi. Nothing like being chauffeured to a train station while looking like tribal zombies. Did I mention I’m enjoying the Netherlands? :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pick up those feet soldier

Greetings nublets, I have returned! And what a deal I have for you today. Two seperate party reports in one blog. How can you argue with that kind of InSanE value? You cant, shant and wont.

Rotterdamfinewaytospendanevening

After Dave Clarke rocked my socks, flicked my switch and floated my boat at Mysterland, I figured I should see him again. After all, which DJ *doesnt* sound good when your head is buzzing with strange imported Mexican mushrooms. So to Rotterdam we trekked. What IS it with the Dutch and their tokens? I havent been to a club yet where I could flash a wink and a 20 at a barmaid for their best rum (since when do I drink rum anyways?). You have to first buy 'tokens' from somewhere. Tokens! I havent used tokens since my childhood worlds collided and one establishment clearly lost its mind, combining the awesomeness of both video games AND mini golf (OMFG!!). It was too much for this child I tell you. Golf 'n' Gamez was my childhood dream
come true, and I had a birthday party there of grand proportions. I do however digress...

For better or worse (read: worse) I was going relatively clean, and ye olde RedBull & Vodka didnt quite turn my knob. Some nice dancing was done, however to be honest, I've realised that clubbing is really overrated. Too much control, too many security guards, too many tokens. In fact the only reason they are good is they have dark corners to drag cute concubines, and mine wasnt present *pout*.


Dave Clarke was...... good, but not the kind of good I remembered. Then again this was just a club night and previously I saw him in an enormous party tent at the biggest outdoor gig of the year. A good friend of mine would liken it from using a Japanese robotic dildo to a vibrating Nokia - it just aint the same.

Getting home was a bastard, but when isnt it? Fortunately the boredom was broken (however briefly) by random drunken Dutch street fights across multiple platforms. Ah, Rotterdam - the place to take your kids at night. Or not.


Wheres mine damnit!


ImoudownadarkroadLOSTItellyou

Hands up who's heard of Ijmuiden? Liars. Try no-one, barely even the locals. Pronounced *something* approximate to Imoudown (thus the title) this ass-end of the world is a beach town on the west coast (yoyo wess siide, what!)

Its 11.00pm Saturday night, I'm playing game boy in my underwear when someone buzzes me. "Beach party, Ijmuiden, catch a night bus. Cya at 2.00am"

Ok.... thats random. 15 minutes later I'm out the door and ready to boogie. Actually thats a lie, I spend a little time getting all fabulous and *then* I'm out the door. What, a boy has his pride yknow.

Training to Amsterdam, I hop on a night bus. Yknow those ones that take 2 hours to get you home because they zig-zag all over the state? Yeah, those. We get to the very end of the line and the bus driver announces "Ijmuiden". I look around. There are two nerdy looking guys at the back of the bus in Nicklodeon T-shirts. The landscape? Apart from being very dark, I appear to be in a deserted street quite far from any forms of civilisation.

Stu: "Um.. there is meant to be a beach party at an Inn somewhere... bus driver do you know?"
Driver "Oh that Inn... geez thats like.. a 45 minute walk at least."
Stu: "Great."
Nerds: "Ar yu goin to thart partee too?"

Great, a party, nowhere to be found, that these geeks are attending. Sounds lovely.

Anyways we managed to bribe the bus driver to take us closer as a personal taxi. Getting out, said geeks only had 1 Euro. 1 freaking euro? Bloody university bums. I gave the good sir 10 and said thanks.

Half an hour later I could have killed him. He dropped us GODKNOWSWHERE and we spent most of our time climbing grassy sand dunes in the dark. The nerds kept saying how they never do *anything* like this, and they would remember it forever. They also argued over tiny amounts of weed they were putting into a cigarette. I'm thinking... dudes.. you have like, no weed, at all, it wouldnt get my grandma high, stop arguing and smoke the pathetic thing you have. Eventually we cross the last dune and see the party raging on the beach - Amen!

It was all up from here, and when I say up, I really mean it. Forbidden fruits of every flavour flowed freely at this party, and even the owners of the beach-front bar seemed to be on it. Psytrance was pumping, people playing with fire-poi, glowing juggling balls and generally dancing like new-age acidic wizards. We saw in the sunrise and good times we had by all.

Unfortunately getting home was yet another mission. First we abandoned the road for some track, and got hopelessly lost amongst grassy dunes for an hour. We trekked past concrete bunkers that were relics from World War 2 and eventually found a twilight-zone town where no buses existed. I got home at 1.30pm the next day and collapsed on my bed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Alice in Mysteryland

Aeons ago, in a land before time, I was browsing internet forums looking for things to do in Holland. Someone mentioned 'Mysteryland' briefly and there it floated on the breath of the wind...

Fast-forward to last Saturday morning. I awoke in my usual zombified state: loping around in my underwear, eyes closed, reaching out blindly for cereal. What can I do today... today.. hmm, the 26th.. and a single thought tingled in the back of my brain. I think theres some kind of Mysteryworld.... thing. Google revealed there was indeed an event on - and if I didnt get my act together I would miss it entirely!

The rest of the morning was a blur. The only clean clothes I had were pants and a jacket - I cycled commando desperately shopping for some underwear and socks. I also tried to buy a ticket to Mysterland but it had already started at 11.00am - I was half an hour too slow. I would have to buy one at the gate.

I caught the train to Amsterdam fully-clothed (always a bonus), armed with joints and mushrooms, lots of money and a determination not to miss the biggest party of the year.

Chatting to some likely train randoms I found out they dont actually sell tickets at the gate - well not officially. Luckily there are many scalpers lurking about, and I picked up a ticket no worries. Yay! I didnt even get too badly ripped off, despite being a foreigner.

The last hurdle came right at the gate. They searched everyone for contraband and had an issue with my joints and shrooms. Apparently, while legal, they are banned from open-air parties. I argued that he was just stealing them but he said to give them up or leave. Fine, cunt. I'd come too far to get be pipped at the post, so I went on my way 'shroomless. Luckily, my train randoms saw my plight and were kind enough to supply me with fresh disco treats straight away. Eat that, Security Guard #431!


I'm not sure where to start explaining the madness that ensued. For most of it I just went back and forth from '...speechless' to 'OMFG'. Essentially, 17 stages with DJ's playing all day, motorbike ramps over lakes and flames, massive Orb shaped balls ontop of hills (with DJ's playing inside), bungee jumping from cranes (on top of aforementioned hills), and a giant crazy Castle-stage that had to be seen to be believed.


The sound systems at all the stages were incredible. At one stage I was dancing and put my hand on my throat. It was literally vibrating from the noise. I saw some great DJ's but in particular Dave Clarke. The headline act of one tent, I was thoroughly impressed. Much crazy Stu dancing was performed and I'm sorry you all missed it.

In an effort to turn FortunePalace into a veritable technological haven, here are some vids. The sound is a pretty dodgy because it was just too loud, but trust me when I say it was going off its tits:



This entry is long enough, but needless to say this was one crazy outdoor party. The best event of the year for me. And the next time 50,000 Dutch want to get off-chops, I might even have clean underwear.

Monday, August 28, 2006

How to turn your brain into Swiss cheese

Firstly apologies this blog entry was delayed. Damn elf trade unions had erected picket lines outside my office and were chanting 'Legal Marriage for Elves' and 'Die Elvaphobes - we're conscious beings too!' So yeah, for the sake of all fantasmic life-forms, please think of the little green ones.

The idea for the trip started when the LonelyPlanet guide claimed Switzerlands 'Street Parade' was the biggest street event in the world - with 500,000 people. My eyes lit up and my wallet spread her legs.

I started searching through clothes like a member of teen-girl-squad, wondering just what the hell I would wear to this occasion. Hello, what do we have in this pocket? OHSHITITSMYPASSPORT! Yes, my passport went through the wash. I panicked, called the embassy, realising they are useless pricks, I did the only thing I could - applied some much needed retail therapy.

With only 24 hours till my flight, all I could do was put on my award winning smile and "G'day mate!" attitude. Time to get patriotic. I'm Australian! We dont care for such things as mint condition passports and customs regulations. Its all "she'll be right" around these parts.

Apparently, that was enough, as I got through to Switzerland. Yay! Although I had to promise to get a new passport A.S.A.P. (which I still dont have) and marry off my eldest daughter to some Dutch officer.

Thanks to the power of MySpace (its a love/hate relationship ok...) I made some friends I was going to meet up with. I have to shoutout to them and say thanks, because if it wasnt for them I probably wouldnt have gone at all. So thanks Helena! This Swiss girl is also a keen music writer, you can check out a sample here.

So I get into the main station, Zurich Central, boom - its happening. DJ's have literally taken over the place, setting high up on a stage right next to the platforms. There is a massive crowd and people are dancing, already high. This is at 12.30pm - the parade itself starts at 3.00pm. I could tell I was in for a big day :)

We meet up and made our way through the streets - the whole place was buzzing. Every cafe had speakers out the front pumping music, waves of people going in every direction. I never imagined an event would take over the entire city like that - all the streets were cordoned off so it was car-free. It was also their national day I believe, so everyone was out and about - kids, families, and all kinds of costumes. Drag queens, girls in lingerie and high heels, gay men strutting their stuff and everything in between - quite the spectacle.

The parade itself was 32 'party trucks' each with dancers, party-goers and DJ's aboard. They ever so slowly crawled through the crowds, each with a 'moving dancefloor' behind them, as people danced along and followed their favourite sounds. We stood by and took it all in, going up to dance with stuff we liked, while watching them all go past. Rain hit for about 30 minutes, and that seperated the onlookers from the party-people. Half the crowd scurried for cover, or pulled out umbrellas (boo!) while the other half revelled in the cool water and danced maniacally. I'll give you one guess as to which group I was in :D

When all was said and done, after-parties sprung up all over the city. We caught a train to a complex called 'Rote Fabrik' (or Red Factory, for the non-germans amongst us). It was a big red-bricked.... well, factory-come-nightclub. It had a number of rooms, and we danced till we dropped circa 6am. After an entire day at the parade, I'll be the first to admit I was buggered.


Accomodation in Zurich that night was rare as hens teeth, so I just chilled out at the station and airport until my flight that afternoon. My brash 'planning is for the weak - just fly there!' attitude meant that there really wasnt time to do much sight-seeing, my flight being the awkward time that it was. But, thats life I guess (or is that just the price of spontaniety?).

After some begging and puppy dog eyes (who could resist, I ask you!), Dutch customs let me through begrudgingly. Collapsing onto bed I realised my feet were stab-wounds, my brain was cheese, and my spirit content.

Monday, August 14, 2006

For everything else...

Groovy New Outfit - $450

Plane tickets to Switzlerland - $365

New Passport after putting it through washing machine - $200

Partying at Street Parade with 100,000 Swiss- PRICELESS!!
Check back soon for a full report on the ups and downs of my trip!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Amsterdam Tails

1.00am. People crammed onto the train home in true rush hour style. Replace suits for party goers and I'm sure you understand the mayhem. I started talking to some groovy cats who were headed to a techno party. We bonded over our love of acid and the next thing you know, I said goodbye to my day friends and hello to my new ones. Jumping off at the next stop, we waited for our private transport to a kicking party.

Said transport was a small van, parked around the corner, so the police wouldn't see us pile into the back. Why is the inside of the van covered in heavy plastic (which would be perfect no mess solution for killing someone in)? Oh, that's just so no-one can see inside. It also means no-one can
see out. I could see the news story now. Naïve Australian found in bathtub missing kidneys, after he piled into the back of a van with strangers. Said kidneys were sold on eBay to a Russian collector.

15 minutes later we clambered out to see where we had been taken.
I dearly hoped it wasn't the lair of kidney thieves, or a youth hostel managed by Eli Roth. To my relief, it was neither (or both – I wasn't sure). We had reached what my pals affectionally called a 'squat'.


The Ghost who walks

Now, when I think of squatters, I think of smelly junkies who break into a house, leave used condoms on the floor, fill a room with rubbish and throw rocks at Current Affairs reporters. To think this was the company of people I'd be trashing on with didn't really thrill me.

Thankfully, squatters in Europe are basically just Metal Reggae Punks Who Listen To Electronica (what a stereotype that is). A fire out the back was surrounded people and a haze of ganja. Inside, a DJ pumped frighteningly fast techno out into the crowd of zombies. Said zombies don't really dance, they merely jolt on the spot as if they are being electrocuted. We weaved our way through, before they pointed to a scary dark stairwell, 'Lets go down there.' they suggested.

With a deep breath I followed them, to be greeted with another scene of electric zombies and the brain-washing fit-inducing strobe. Down a corridor, there was a chill-out room - which really was squatsville. Graffiti covered every inch of the walls, there was a shopping trolley in the corner filled with aluminium cans, and people sat around on ripped pieces of foam. The people were the same friendly MRPWLTE's that I'd met outside. I struck up a conversation with a few and they seemed impressed that I hardly knew anyone, could speak no Dutch, but had find my way to this rocking hovel. I merely nodded with the satisfaction that if there is a party to be found, this hound would sniff it out.

I spoke to the van driver who turned out to be one of the organisers of the party. After kindly giving me some great K, we space-walked around as he told me the mantra of 'Free Techno'. An underground movement, it existed merely to bring people together, for the music, and for fun. You kind of thing could not exit in a club. The moment money was involved, the vibe and essence of 'Free Techno' was forfeit. In this greedy, blood sucking corporate world, such free-thinking was so refreshing. So Support Free Techno bitches!


Long after the sun had risen, I made the trek home. People were still partying, and I had a feeling they would be for another day straight. With a smile I walked into the distance. Three hours, a sheep, a 2D man and a ladybug later, I fell asleep. To any onlooker, I would have been the definition of an electrified zombie.

I wonder why.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Amsterdam Heads

On paper, Amsterdam seemed to be custom made for me. Sexual flavours abundant in a melting pot of legal weed, dance parties and the biggest ecstacy production on the planet. Where do I sign up?

Well start as naive student, smile & nod, and cross your fingers. That's all Moses did, and the seas parted for him. While my oceanic exploits will be discussed another time, the cultural seas parted for me. They promptly crashed together again and have tumbled me back to the shore - leaving me wondering just what the fuck happened.

Cast your mind back...

Saturday afternoon. The Sun hits our faces as we step out of Amsterdam Central Station and into the madness. While this city is normally a writhing orgasm, today was a little different. Today it was a veritable bukkake party, as the annual Gay Pride parade was on. God help anyone that ordered Soup of the Day. These people weren't here just to see a standard sex show and get high – they were hoping to be get down and become the stars. We meandered to a canal and watched the floats. Leather clad men with whips & seatless pants, sailors uniforms, and mermaids were abundant – and these were only the spectators. Topless Indian lesbians, coloured head to toe in rainbow body paint danced gaily as a butch gold Buddha waved to the crowd. Two magnificent Queens surveyed the scene before them, atop a 20-foot mast. They seemed pleased with their homosexual Kingdom.

Here is a picture of me in a Giant Clog.

As day turned to night, the streets transformed into dancefloors. DJ's spun their records, infrastructure held dicso lighting above the maze of streets, and people were ass to ass. The million dollar apartments above the street had people dancing in every window, their half naked bodies gyrating silouhettes to the masses below.

All in all, it was a whole lot of fun, although I lost count how many times I quickly broke eye contact with strangers. It seemed everyone wanted to be my 'special friend.' I really needed this T-shirt.

The sad part was that the council had declared this year the street music would stop at midnight. For the most liberal city in the world, I thought that was pretty lame. We thought we'd head back, doing some window shopping along the way. The red light district of Amsterdam is pretty crazy, with girls sitting in the windows like store displays, tapping on the glass and beckoning you inside. There must be a few hundred of these, interspersed with sex shops selling every toy under the sun (for places it dont shine). Seemed there were a lot of straight people at the Gay Parade, and at this time of the night most had ended up down here for a good old fashioned perv (ourselves included).

We trudged back to the train, content with what we thought was the end of the night.

How wrong I was...

To be continued

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My trip to the Nether Regions - #1

*dusts off ye olde blog*

Goedemorgen to you all. I know its been a long time since you looked me in the eye (sing it!) but the window to this soul is open for business again (in blog form anyways). As some of you may know, I've been assigned to work in Holland - land of cheese & mayo. Vincent Vega spoke the truth, the people here do drown their fries in that shit. The good news being that the strange combination actually tastes good - for now this Aussie has shelved the dead horse.

The flights here were like many pills - both good and bad. The first trip was fantastic and spacious. Lack of patrons meant that the lovely Malaysian flight staff attended to my every whim, although
I only got strange looks when I requested foot massage. The second flight was one from a Nightmare on Elm street, with Freddy's claws digging into my back, the air conditioning failing for a few hours. Frustrated staff were too busy wiping the sweat (and dripping makeup) from their brows to peel my grapes. I swear I spotted gremlins on the wing, altho that may have been a heat-induced hallucination inspired by the Twilight Zone. Frankly, I was just glad to make it there alive.

Taking an old school train to the town of Utrecht, the countryside consisted mainly of Windmills and cows. Unfortunately, no Dutch village daughters complete in costume however. Upon arrival, I was swamped by people selling home loans, doing surveys and offering breast enhancements. The funny part was they all launched these tirades in flowing Dutch, with me nodding intermittedly. I'd then smile and put my hands in the air exclaiming 'I'm a tourist!' They would apologise and leave me alone. Dont know where something is?
Apply puppy dog eyes and foreign accent and people help you. I have a feeling I'm going to use this tactic back in Melbourne (komplete with dochsgy Euro acksent yezzum).

The main thing you notice here is the transport, namely the bikes. *Everyone* rides a bike here. Bikes have right of way, their own lanes, and have massive parking bays. The sad fact is, due to the no-helmet law, I havent seen one StackHat. I figure if I can get my hands on some orange stack hats I could start a new trend. After all, the key to Euro fashion is a combination of retro and the colour orange - how can I go wrong?

A few of us visited the Parade, essentially a big festival with shows and attractions. The best of which, was ze Silent Disco - an open air dance floor, where everyone had their own set of wireless headphones. A DJ pumped tunes directly into our heads, and while we all danced with reckless abandon, onlookers sat bemused as we seemingly grooved in silence. You really had to be there to appreciate it, but it really was an awesome experience. 50 people bouncing in sync to House of Pains 'Jump' was definately the highlight.


I embarked on a culinary adventure while visiting one of the restaurants on the canal. In an attempt to be a classy frenchmen (now theres an oxymoron) I ordered some Garlic Escargot. My reaction has been captured below, but to sum up the experience in a word: slimychewy. I swear the key to "delicasies" is to smear them with so much external flavours, the original pest you were going to sample is well hidden. Damn the French to hell I say.