Countries Visited (not including Turnarounds): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brasil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philipines, Russia, Singapore, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City
London | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne
Seatguru - Most Comfy Seats On Any Airline
pprune.org - Pilot's rumour network
Kangaroo with a Sweet Tooth
Kronicles of Kris
The Adventures of Alle Malice
Joel's trek across Asia/Europe in a Hilux
Phil's Wine Site
I Can Has Cheezburger
The Flying Pinto
Girl on Raw
Things Bogans Like
Bobby at Up, Up and a Gay
Straight Guy in the Queer Skies
Skin by Falter
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
So I know I haven't been all that good on the updating front, but I do have a good reason, but before I explain in depth as to why, I'll give you an update as to what I've been up to since my last post, that for whatever reason I've been reluctant to post on until now.10 comments
Well I spent most of my free time in March trying to organise my Azerbaijani visa. I knew I couldn't do it in April as it was my reserve month, and I've heard from others who've travelled there that they can sort out the visa in 3-5 days. Which is 3-5 days without my passport, pretty difficult for someone in my job to do.
After a few colourful visits to the Azerbaijani consulate here in Dubai (and I thank my lucky stars that there is a consulate in Dubai, most of my other Australian mates had no choice but to send their passports off to Malaysia) I had a nice visa in my passport, and I have no idea why, but I bawled my eyes out after seeing it in there. I've never taken my passport for granted, but I certainly grew to appreciate it far more now having gone through the epic process. The consulate workers were asking why I was in tears, and I made up some bullsh*t story about being so happy I could go to Baku, but it was certainly more of a case of feeling the stress totally release from my body, the visit visa matter had been a weight on my mind for a very long time, essentially since Ell and Nikki won the ESC in Dusseldorf.
Well this was my reserve month, and I was actually quite pleased with what I was scheduled. I only had one turnaround, a Chennai, that was painless enough. I got pulled out for Amsterdam, and the first thing I did was hire a bike.
I knew after my previous journey to Amsterdam I wasn't going to spend it on foot again, especially since this time I intended to visit the cafes I fell in love with on my first trip there .
It was Good Friday, but that didn't stop me ordering Holtkamp's famous croquettes
Or their out-of-this-world Raspberry Tart. Phenomenal.
The entire trip from Dubai to Amsterdam was super busy, and having to operate as a Business Class crew member made things a lot more frustrating, but what got me through it was the thought of trying a slice of Winkel's Apple Pie. So good.
So the real reason I took so long to update? Well if any of you have been following me on Twitter you might have noticed that I have been attempting vlogs. Ever since my reserve month and my Seoul trip, I've been taking my 'bloggie' and recording footage, and the ones in both Seoul and Tokyo are both very shaky and very long.
I'm not even joking...
After my Tokyo trip though, I ended up in Baku, and have been filming what I can of the rehearsals. I'm still not entirely happy with the quality of the footage, but I figured if I don't bite the bullet and edit/post now, I'll never do so, and never improve, which at this point is just a matter of time. I'm sorry also it is so Eurovision based, I know that many of you are not familiar with Eurovision, but at least you get a fan perspective on the contest rather than the spiffy edited version the professional news networks will give you. And as you will all be able to see, the press filming area inside the Crystal Hall was too great a distance for the zoom in my bloggie to handle :-)
Part 1 of the Eurovision vlog -
And Part 2 -
Generally when we first arrived for Eurovision, the first week is usually the busiest as it's full of rehearsals and press conferences, so we were all planning to do most of the sightseeing in the second week. However due to the timing of the broadcast (it started at midnight in Baku) you spend the morning sleeping and my nights before the concerts were spent editing the footage that I filmed during the first week, so I did virtually no sightseeing in Baku, which I'm really not happy about at all.
National Flag Square, which used to have the world's largest flagpole until the record was claimed by a flagpole in Tajikistan. Those taxi's you see in the bottom of the photo were absolutely frustrating. On the upside, they were all metered and branded, and the drivers especially trained to know all the required locations accredited delegates needed to go. However, when it came to actually using them, there were more than a few times when I'd have to get out a map, point on the map where the big Azerbaijani flagpole was (which was also the location of the Baku Crystal Hall and the Press Centre) and the driver STILL wouldn't know where I wanted to go. And people think the Dubai Taxi system is frustrating...
Baku loved their fountains, and this was the most grand fountain I saw on my trip.
Not too sure, I think this is the Art Gallery.
Our accommodation was in a great location - The Old Town, known as İçəri Şəhər (pronounced Ichari Shahar) and this is the Maiden Tower, which I believe is the most prominent landmark in the Old Town.
So, quite shamefully, that was all the landmarks I managed to see in Baku. Then this happened, which fudged up my plans considerably.
This has made things about 10 times more difficult than it really has to be.
So here is the full story. About 1hr 15min before the start of the live Semi Final 2 I walked up to the (free!) BBQ that was held just outside the press centre. There was this flat concrete tiling, and a grassed area where the BBQ was, and they were separated by a raised curb of sorts. I stepped onto the curb, slipped, fell and heard a crack at the same time. At the time I could move my foot, then I could take maybe 2 steps on it, but about 5 minutes later my right foot was totally unusable.
So after being carried Bodyguard-style through the backstage area by my friend Paul and getting this cool spray stuff on my ankle, I was transported by ambulance to the nearest appropriate hospital, and with no waiting time (it was, quite literally, only 1 minute from the ambulance to the x-ray room - having both the Eurovision accreditation and the accident happen on press centre grounds meant pushing aside other sick Azeris. I did feel bad about it though) I was X-rayed, the fractured fibula was confirmed, an injection of heaven-knows what was administered via the, er, glutes, and I was fitted with a gargantuan plaster cast. As I was being transported by the ambulance back to Baku Crystal Hall, the female paramedic got so motion sick we had to let her out to throw up, then security wouldn't let us back into Crystal Hall. Once the arguing had stopped and I was allowed back inside, I was plonked on a wheelchair in time to see Estonia, Slovakia and Norway perform on the monitor, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lithuania perform live.
The last few days in Baku weren't too bad, but it was frustrating how little things that used to take no time before the fracture now required an immense amount of forethought and energy. I had to rely on my Baku flatmates for food. Travelling from the accommodation in the Old Town to the road where the Eurovision taxis stopped was challenging due to the cobblestone paths, and incredibly painful due to the crutches. I had to wait for an escort to go through the restricted area to get me a wheelchair just so I could get to my seat in the arena. It took me about 40 minutes to shower. It took me about 4 hours to pack my suitcase for the flight back, with assistance. It didn't help that for the first 2 days on crutches they weren't adjusted correctly and I had very sharp pain in my upper arms every time I needed to use them. Actually every single day I was in the plaster cast I did in fact slip and wind up flat on the ground, constantly frustrated with myself for getting injured in the first place.
It had some highlights though, this letter from Tooji being one of them
And a sympathetic bear hug from Ott Lepland being another :-)
But when I was able bodied I did get some nice photos with the artists.
Myself, Icelandic Jonsi and my flatmate Belinda. We were convinced the Icelandic delegation were stalking us, particularly Jonsi. First time we saw them was at Eurovision Village and it was after they qualified so everyone was really bleary-eyed. Second time was again on the Bulvar, but with Greta Salome and Fridrik (He performed in 2008 as part of Euroband) in tow. Then Belinda had them on her flight out of Baku. I didn't mind though, he's still as good looking as he was when he first competed in 2004, and the entire delegation was super nice.
Max Jason Mai, competing for Slovakia. Also surprisingly nice. During rehearsals he had his leather pants so low everyone in the press area could see his butt crack, and you can tell from the vlogs that the press area is kind of far from the stage!
With Jedward, competing for Ireland. They took one look at us, and we had no flags with us or anything, and they said in unison "THE AUSTRALIANS!!!"
Trackshittaz, competing for Austria. Was so disappointed they didn't qualify, I actually liked their song and I felt so bad for Manuel (on the right) that he had to use the wheelchair after tearing his crucial ligament on stage during the live Semi, especially considering I had to use the same wheelchair 2 nights later...
Soluna Samay, competing for Denmark. Also very sweet, and totally didn't deserve the placing she received in the Final.
Baronivsky Babushki competing for Russia. These ladies were the hardest to take photos of, as every time they entered the press centre they were followed by a mob of paparazzi. As cute as they are, the song really was gimmicky and didn't deserve 2nd place.
And here we have the former winners all on stage. Dima Bilan, Ell, Nikki, Marija Serifovic, Alexander Rybak and Lena Meyer-Landrut. This was the moment that, to me, made the visa hassle, the plane trip, the tickets worth the money. Until Ell and Nikki started singing 'Waterloo' that is. Then it just descended into chaos. Still better than Emin though.
Now I'm back in Dubai I've gone through 2 more casts
The green one was fitted whilst the swelling was going down. I really didn't like this one, it looked like a DIY job out of gardening material that someone grabbed during an impromptu trip to Ace Hardware/Bunnings.
Now I have the purple one, which will stay on for about 4 weeks or so. I'm allowed to partially weight bear from tomorrow, which I'm excited about, but I'm also not looking forward to the pain involved and the probable use of painkillers required to get through this stage of the injury.
There are other things about the fracture that still frustrate me. I guess the lack of flying pay is the big one, but I'm dealing with that via budgeting, stretching my leftovers as much as possible. Every time I shower, I put a plastic bag over the cast and seal it up with rubber bands and tape, but I still somehow manage to get water into the bag. So far out of all the times I've showered since the fracture, I've managed to keep it dry only once. Cooking in itself is challenging - there is a real moment of fear when I've finished boiling pasta and I'm trying to transfer a big pot of boiling water to the sink balancing on one foot. But it's the lack of cleanliness in the apartment that is annoying me the most, as it's pretty hard to use a vacuum with one hand and trying to stay upright with crutches in the other. I'm trying to grin and bear it, trying to resist the urge to call for a maid to clean up. I can last another 4 weeks.
*On a side note, I need to say a massive thank you to the ESC Insight team, Terry Vision and the escxtra team for kindly accomodating me in the press centre.