About Me

If you want to get a different perspective on my journey, try this blog from Zac. A friend I'm travelling with. zacstravelcolours.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Proposed Internship Role

I'm very excited to start my first week at Caboolture News. I'm hoping to have a lot of work thrust upon me due to the small nature of the organisation. I would love to get involved with some of the day to day necessities of local journalism. Council, police, traffic crashes and sport all appear to be key tenants of a local newspaper and I want to try my hand at all of them. Of course initially I'm sure I will be escorted by the working journalists there but I fervently hope I will be trusted to report on some of these issues on my own by the end of my time there. I'm also looking forward to learning about how journalism and photography can work together to bring a newspaper alive.
I've no idea what the first week will be like but I'm sure it will be a completely different experience from my previous time at both Channel TEN and QUT News. Caboolture News is obviously much much smaller than TEN and I'm sure I'll be working a lot less autonomously than I did at QUT News.
Most of all I'm just keen to see the day-to-day workings of a newspaper as compared to a radio station or a TV station. I'm sure the people I'll also learn a lot from both the people I meet in the office and out on the job.

Aims and Objectives
Aim: Gain more exposure for my work
Get something published in my first week
Earn a lead story on any page of the paper by the second week
Earn the back page for a sports story in my third week

Aim: Gain more experience in critical aspects of local journalism
Attend a council meeting or court hearing with a journalist in my first week
Call police for the description of a crime in my second week
Attend and report on a council meeting by myself in the final week

Aim: Learn more about how a local newspaper operates
Discuss what makes a compelling newspaper with the editor in the first week
Get similar feedback from journalists throughout the course of my internship
Sit in with an editor as the pages are put together in the final week

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The beauty in the distance

I saw you standing by the way
And thought myself lucky, to see your face
I saw such beauty, such style and grace
Hello, I hoped you'd come and say
To shine your light upon my day
I hoped to kiss your lips with haste
Through your shining hair my love I'd trace
Your eyes, your smile, they made me sway

But when I saw you drawing near
Your style and beauty turned to nill
Your eyes, your smile, they made me ill
Your hair fell lank and rank with lice,
In my mind that old refrain I hear
Nice from afar but far from nice

Gulliver's Fourth Journey: Warnerversal Island

First off, sorry to my two followers who I have seriously neglected these past months. This is an exercise I did for a creative writing class. It's my attempt to satirise the modern music industry (Hence the brilliant name mashup title) through the lens of Gulliver's Travels. Let me know what you think.

Journey Five: Warnerversal Island
The island was inhabited by three tribes, each entirely separate and willfully ignorant of the other, except for when the necessities of everyday commerce forced them to interact. The Dylans (when left to their own devices) made music the likes of which I had never heard, far outstripping our own musicians and conveying such emotion as I never thought possible. They were a small group, outnumbered by the Katters, who controlled the island's food production. The Katters saw this love of music, but paid it little attention.

Many hundreds of years in the past, the Murdochs, a cunning minority group, realised the Katters would subconsciously react to certain elements of the Dylan's music. Over the years they'd studied these elements, isolating them and eventually removing them from musicality entirely. They had so far distilled the elements which the Katters reacted to as to be able to completely control them with a series of different high-pitched screams, groans and smashing sounds. These sounds were played all over the island, and in time, the Katters had taken them to be real music, as the Dylan's were forced to make these crimes against creativity in order to survive.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Are we slowly killing Asia?

Is Vang Vieng flourishing or sinking under the weight of tourist dollars?

One thing I’ve noticed in the Laos country side is the state of the villages. The people don’t look poor. They look happy. Content. Firstly, a big disclaimer, I spent exactly zero seconds talking to these people, I saw them through a bus window and I saw them with western eyes. Plus, I was hungover, feeling sorry for myself and the idea of a simpler life was suddenly pretty appealing.

In a nutshell, here’s my thinking. Judging by the rest of the country (and my wildly unresearched impressions), the people in Vang Vieng would’ve been pretty damn happy before all this tourist money started coming in. Sure they might not have had big TVs or Smartphones (although they did have rusty satellite dishes), but they had family and culture.

Now they have a little more of the commercialised crap we all crave, but they have to deal with westerners in bikinis (they’re not big fans of exposed skin above the waist) taking over their town. They might have a successful restaurant and be able to comfortably provide for their families, but that restaurant sells everything from marijuana to opium and blasts Family Guy 24/7. Once again far be it from me to judge whether this is a good deal or whether they’re even bothered by these tradeoffs. I’m just raising a thought.

The final big concern in a town this successful, this attractive to tourists who want to blow money on all sorts of indulgences, is it can’t be too long before outsiders move in. People are already flocking from other parts of Laos, how long before it’s people from Thailand, India, even Australia running the show? And how long after that before it’s ruined? Before this sleepy little river town becomes just another Phuket? Now this is decades away from any sort of reality, but the fact it’s even a possibility should be a huge concern.

In the end, the question which I’m not at all equipped to answer is this, is the extra money really worth the cultural erosion which comes with such an influx of tourists? The streets of this sleepy town are crowded with near naked westerners, often drunk or more out of their mind and The beautiful river at the heart of the city is undoubtedly less healthy than it was

On the other hand, these flocks of people would seem to indicate maybe life isn’t so great in the bush. The more I write about this the more I realise I’m completely unequipped to write about it. I know so little about these people and their beautiful country. Sorry for an unsatisfying ending but that’s it. Questions and more questions. I hope it at least made you think about tourist destinations (or anything else) a little bit more.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Vang Vieng: The place God would come to party (and possibly does)

Firstly, a note on the title. While in Asia we've seen a decent amount of people who look like they could actually be Backpacker Jesus. Maybe none more so than one particular backflipping, whiskey skulling man right here in Vang Vieng.
Blatantly stolen from AdventurousKate.com because I'm waiting for people to upload photos.

After a six hour hungover bus ride along some more of Laos’ atrocious roads (I mean bad, really fucking bad.  The windiest, steepest potholiest excuses for transport you could ever imagine), Vang Vieng needed to be pretty great. It was. It is. I just don’t want to leave.

I should explain. About a decade ago Vang Vieng was just a tiny river town in Laos which few westerners had even heard of and even less actually visited. I’m not sure exactly what happened, other than some enterprising backpackers had their way with the place and now it’s a hedonistic paradise.

There’s a river, giant rope swings, giant towers, giant buckets, giant inner tubes and what seems to be every beautiful mid 20s westerner in Asia. After what I said about Phuket, I know it seems hypocritical for me to love this place, but I can’t help it. It’s Phuket done right. It’s a place where even shy people can feel comfortable walking up to almost anyone there and having a chat. The bars actually employ people to go around and start up party games and just generally get everyone having a great time.

As a party destination, I couldn’t imagine anything better. But it’s just as great completely sober (even if it’s pretty hard to avoid the tiger whisky they shove down your throat as you go into the bars). Although there’s a good chance the river isn’t quite as healthy as it once was, the surrounding mountains are just as picturesque as ever. You're deep in conversation with an absolute stranger, tearing up the dancefloor or throwing yourself off ten metre plus platforms into the river and then all of a sudden you look up. You're surrounded by astounding natural beauty. And I mean astounding, those mountains which dominate every single part of the town never failed to make me double take. The feeling's almost impossible to explain. Try to picture the best night you've ever had, and right in the middle of it you realise you're right there in the most beautiful picture you've ever seen. 

In this place, it's impossible not to have a good time.

And rope swings. Seriously, rope swings. These things are insane. Coming from Australia where OH&S has ruined most things, they’re such a breath of fresh air. I’ll admit they’re a little dangerous (several tourists die every year) but that’s mostly stupidity (code for way too much alcohol/magic mushies/backflip attempts) rather than actual danger from my experience.

If you need a summary, or a TL;DR version here it is. Vang Vieng is the coolest damn place on earth and if you’re one of my close friends you can expect to be dragged there before you’re 30.

Next post: I'll talk about the darker side of the town. I'll try to explore it with a less selfish "This is the most fun ever!" mindset. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Asian Adventure Day 8: More Buddhas than you could poke a prayer stick at

I’m just a little bit in love with Laos. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it until today, but I think I’ve found the reason. It’s not the kind, happy people, it’s not the price of everything, it’s not even beerlao (not that all of those things aren’t great).

It’s beauty. The place is just stunning, out of this world beautiful. Everywhere I look, there’s a gigantic river, mountains reaching to the sky, a Buddhist temple drenched in gold, and green as far as the eye can see.

Today we went to Pa Kou cave, a place only discovered in the last few years. The Tuk Tuk ride out was horrible but what we saw made every pothole, every little almost vomit burp more than worthwhile.

Inside are thousands of little Buddha statues, placed there by I don’t know who, I don’t know when. It’s pretty spiritual, I think.

But for me it was the natural formations of the cave, the surrounding mountains, the seemingly never ending river which blew me away. You can be struck dumb by the green cliffs in front of you, before realising there’s another one behind it. Your eyes refocus one more time to find another and another towering mountain range just out of reach.

I think the pictures might do a better job of explaining it, but nothing will even come close to the real thing.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Asian Adventures Day 7: Water water everywhere but not a thing to drink

Of all the days we’ve spent in Asia, today is undoubtedly the hardest to describe with mere words alone. Someone with far more writing talent than me would probably simply say something like: We went to some awesome waterfalls, jumped off them for a while, had lunch and then went to some more awesome waterfalls which we also jumped off. But I’m going to have to use a whole lot more words than that. Plus a bunch of incredible photos.

And I forgot to mention, we rode elephants. That’s right, riding elephants was the third or fourth most memorable thing we did today. Pretty incredible.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of a five tonne beast between your legs, I shall elaborate. First of all, elephants are prickly as fuck. Wear long pants or live in regret. Secondly, be prepared for the vast majority of your weight to rest directly on the spot between your legs, whatever that may be. It was incredible to see just how much control the mahouts (elephant trainers) had over these gigantic beasts. Despite the animals’ ability to kill a man with a single swing of their trunk, they seemed more than willing to obey them.

Now let’s get to the waterfalls. Here is one of them.

And here is another.

They were incredible, even these photos don’t come close to conveying their majesty. But I think the most remarkable thing was just how lost you could get in the moment, chatting, eating lunch, whatever, and then all of a sudden you would look up. Every single time I took a fresh look at the falls I was absolutely blown away.

These falls are nature at its best. No question. Life at its best even.

In one day, I rode an elephant, walked amongst some of the most picturesque jungle in the world, whiled away hours jumping off two different waterfalls, both of which are among the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and ate literally the best fish I could ever hope to consume. You think that’s good? The whole thing cost me about $30. Incredible. I know I’ve used the word a lot but there’s just not much else I can think of to say.