Thursday, October 19, 2006

Day 8 - Semi-world adventure

Day 8 - 08 October 2006

Ok stealing most of the text from Paul. Reading his blog, it was pretty much what I wanted to say, but since I'm a bit lazy, im gonna steal his. I'll add bits and pieces however and remove them as relavent. I'll also update it during the time as I get some names from Jen, she is really good at them :p (thx in advance J)

We left Cusco bound for Ollantaytambo which is a town built on mostly Incan buildings. In transit we passed thru the Sacred Valley of the Inca's which is a fertile valley with many incan ruins on its floodplain and the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The countryside is dominated by eucalypts bought here by the Spanish from California - not sure how long ago but not recently as they are well established both in plantations and growing wild.

The sacred valley grows a unique corn that cannot be grown anywhere else (or so the guide said)- it has very large kernels and is very substantial as a food - much more so than the simple sweet corn we are used to. As you would expect there are many varities of corn here and corn is a staple of the diet - they use it for drinks, sweets, soups etc etc. They make a purple sweet drink using the purple corn that is very tasty and refreshing. I think the name of the drink is Chicha. It was a really nice drink. We were all given a taste of it, and apparently it was a milder version of what they normally drinks coz Freddy, the guide, said we can't handle the full strenght.

We were taken shopping, and me, being me, didnt buy anything.. However, I had a game of soccer with kids and Brian. He is good I tell u, well, he has to be, he is Irish :p. After this, I was feeling too bloody crooke. Could've been the altitude sickness, but I think it was motion sickness. I was fine after being a bit anti for a while, and a whole lot of sleep.

We eventually ended up at this hotel that didnt provide any water after 7pm. It was lucky as some of us were just about to get into the shower and we had decided to have dinner instead first. Otherwise, they would've been stuck inbetween showers with no water.. darn it, maybe should've let them have their showers.

We were playing this game called Sapo (i think), which is kinda like darts. The aim is these fairly heavy gold coins into the frogs mouth which is on a table. However you can still earn points if the coin lands in any of the holes on the table. Well, it was fun.

The next day would be a treking day. Everyone needed a good sleep and had to get up early as we had to kinda argue with the hotel ppl to turn on the water at 5am.

Off to bed..

Day 7 - Semi-world adventure

Day 7 - 07 October 2006

Got up nice and early today. This is the day I meet the rest of the group that didnt turn up the night before. Met Paul at breakfast. He was feeling a little better, but not quite right. He was just gonna take it easy today and get himself fit for his tour. Felt a bit sorry for him. He is a lot more energytic that I am, yet here I am a lot more exicted and feeling better than him. Figured, hoped, he'd be fine. So had my last Peru breakfast with him. It was nice. He can see me all excited about my group. I had a feeling I had defo a good group, big but still a good group.

After breakfast, all of us go onto the small bus to head off to the airport to go to Cuzco. I still didnt know some of the folks who were on the tour. Although I did say hi to them all. We got to Cuzco, and got picked up by Boris, the GAP contact at Cuzco. He seemed to be a nice guy. He took us on a very brief tour of the city before dropping us at the hotel, Hotel Prisma. It was alright. Infact, Paul wanted to be on the same tour as me. He thought it would be amuzing coz he knows i've never been in a hotel that is less that 4.5stars and camping thing with no toilets around ;) Actually, he was really worried about me going up over 10000 ft of hiking as i was in a bad shape in Colorado.

So once we got to the hotel, Boris talked to us about the tour. This is when I knew who was continuing with me to the Amazon and who was leaving us back in Cuzco after the trek.

So here are the names who were on the tour with me..

- Aaron and Ashley, California, USA

- John H and Lucy, UK

- Brian and Gil, Ireland

- David and Vi, Canada

- Jennifer, Colorado, USA

- Dil and Sunjiv, Canada

- John C, Miami, USA

- Anna, Swizz

- Alex, Melbourne, Australia

- Sarah, Melbourne, Australia

So lunch time, we all head off to a lunch place.. this small place that was really nice. Ended up staying about 3-4hrs talking and mainly there was only 1 cook doing all the 16 dishes - entrees and mains. We talked a lot more, getting to know each other..

After lunch, everyone split up into small groups, I ended up with Jen, Sarah and Dil. That was fun. We took a small tour around the city. and a few pics. Posted a couple of pics of Jen ealier on here.

End of the day, i think everyone was kinda tired and still a bit full from lunch, so gave up on dinner. However, Jen, Dil, Sunjiv and I ended up going to this very small place to have these small pizzas. The "cute old man" (as the girls put it) said he made the best and the fastest pizzas in the whole of cuzco (or was that the world.. umm.. ) well, yea, wasnt that quick and wasnt that great either.. or maybe that was just me as i wasnt really interested in eating. After that we were craving for some icecream or cake which the old man did not sell. So Dil and I went to a shop which was a couple doors (but with our sense of direction, kinda got lost and found it by accident when we gave up looking for it :p). So I asked for 2 pieces of cake to go. Now, with our lack of spanish, (Jen is a greak spanish speaker but she wasnt with us at the cake shop, just Dil and I), I asked for a 2 piece to go in English. The girl at the counter couldnt understand what the heck im on about, and a couple sitting at the table were basically on the floor laughing.. damn locals :p.. So here came my handy hand signals... i pointed to the cake, then in the air, with my hands, i make a box, put them in the box, put the box in a bag, and held the bag and mimicked as if i was walking off with it. The darn couple were almost literally on the floor now. The lady at the counter had a to contain herself a bit too.. and Dil was just oblivious to the whole thing. well, cant really blame her, she was a bit tired. So was I. So got the cake, and when back to the small hotel, and started eating it. Lets just say it wasnt the best cake in the whole world, but kept eating it, well as much as we could anyways..

So headed back to the hotel, and had a good sleep. The next day we were driving off somewhere.. not sure of the names. From now on, each of the blog entry is gonna have spaces in it, as Im not entirely sure of the names of the places.. lets see how i do..


Day 6 - Semi-world adventure

Day 6 - 06 October 2006

Today was a day of travel. Morning flight to Lima from Iquitos. As always, I guess, the flight was late. Got to Lima, and lets just say it was totally different to Iquitos. I was kinda missing Iquitos already, but was trying to have an open mind. Heck I have had an open mind to everything. This was my first trip that i've done outside my norm.

Most of the day Paul and I went around the city of Lima with a guide and Alex. Alex is from Melbourne, and yea, I think all you Aussies should know from that :p. Sorry Alex, had to say it.

Paul was still sick and was debating weather to go out to tour the city or not. Eventually we did. We went to the San Fransisco, and checked out the cathedral. Paul wasnt that keen, as he was sick and he was that keen anyways. But once we got to the catacombs, it all changed. It was nice. Seen all the various bones and skulls of the 25000 bodies burried there. They were all neatly arranged which was a bit wierd as.. i dunno, it was just wierd.

Paul got lost for a bit, but yea, after finding him, went back to the hotel as he really wasnt feeling too well.

After a bit, that and a bit of lunch, it was time to meet the tour group. Met some of the people as not everyone had arrived by then. We went out for dinner and drinks and it was great from the start. I had a feeling I was in a great group.

We had 3 from Australia, 4 from Canada, 1 Swiss, 2 from Ireland, 2 from UK, and 4 from US. The age range varied from 22 to 50-something. It was defo fun. Will post the pics and names of everyone in the next blog (probably when i get back to AU as the computer i'm on has no usb.. bugger).

after drinks, went off to bed as had an early flight to Cuzco, our base place for the tour. Lima was our meeting and departing spot.


Day 5 - Semi-world adventure

Day 5 - 05 October 2006

Early rise for us to get to the boat before breakfast for a quick tour of birds of the Amazon. Got back to breakfast and Paul and I were just telling everyone what they missed out the night before. After breakfast, Jamie and Nikkie (the English couple on their honeymoon) along and Paul and I went off for a quick hike to check out the local wildlife. Got to see monkeys and sloths and owls and more birds and insects. Got to learn about the plants which was quite interesting.

After the hike, we were fishing on the Amazon. Can you believe it.. fishing for pirahnas and others on the Amazon river. My first time fishing, and it was on the Amazon. Awesome. 3 out of the 5 fishes I caught were pirahnas. Paul caught 1 or 2. And that was it. I caught the most. I was happy.. heck, i was bloody excited. I was having the best time of my life.

After a bit of fishing, we got back to the lodge for some lunch, and had to get ready to head back to the Iquitos. A long boat ride with no dramas later, we got to Iquitos and back to the hotel Paul and I were staying at.

Some of the GBIF folks were still there, so met some up again for dinner. Maneul met us and took us to his friends bírthday party. From there we all went to this rave thing was quite interesting. It was fun, but had to leave early as had a 6am flight to Lima the next day.

We said our goodbyes to all, and headed off to bed.

It was my last night in Iquitos, my favourite place in the whole of Peru I seem to realise now. Beautiful place, beautiful people, great culture.

done a quick packing.. and to bed...

Day 4 - Semi-world adventure

Day 4 - 04 October 2006

Had more eggs and ham with toast, and Paul and I were ready for our amazon trek. The tour guys picked us up at the hotel. We basically checked out, but leaving our luggage at the hotel storage for a couple of days. Got to the harbour, and onto the boat, to start our Amazing Amazon Adventure. Went past the river restaurant we had dinner the night earlier. Also saw these dead fishes and all the crap floating around in the river. Didnt see them the night before.. obviously. I was staying away from the water.

So with an open mind and a blocked nose as I left the air conditioner on the night before (idiot me), headed out into the Amazon river. Paul was a little bit sick, bad belly and all.

After about 1.5 hrs, we got to this small village. Had to have a 10min stop here as the guy had to make a quick call to the head office to tell them that we were still fine. The boats are these small, but long wooden things with a switchable motors and petrol cans. After about 15mins, the typical peruvian time of delaying things, we headed out back in the Amazon river, and after 30mins into the journey, the motor broke. Great I thought, was a little peeved. No way of communicating, and could see a dark could in the distance. Fortunately, had a smaller motor which we decided use to head back, along with the water, back to the small village and wait for a rescue boat. The 30mins travel with the speedmotor took us about 1.5hrs back with the smaller motor. Got back there just in time a rainstorm hit us. That was quite fun actually. Getting stuck in a rainstorm on the Amazon river. I thought, oh wow, this is one for the books. The strong current was taking with it a lot of debris, infact basically dead tree trunks. One of them got stuck to the boat bars, so all of us pitched in to make sure it doesn't take us with it :p

After a while, and getting watched by the kids like we were monkeys in a zoo, we got out of the boat as they prepared a small snack. A tuna sandwitch.. was nice. Got to see kids having fun after the storm jumping into the Amazon for a swim along with the debris. I was gonna jump in myself, but for the fact that I can't really swim and the toilets were just around the corner with all the crap feeding back into the Amazon, I thought it was best to stay away from it all. I was feeling a bit crook, so got back into the broken-down boat, got some advil, and waited. 15mins later the rescue boat arrives to everyones relieve. We then head on to the Muyuna Lodge which takes us about 2hrs. I had a good nap, and got up to realise that my whole freaking left hand was sunburned.. darn it...

So jumped into a smaller boat as it was a "dry season" and the water was a bit shallow. Watched a lot of birds and a few locals and villages on the way. I was in the Amazon, my dream place. It was bloody awesome. Got to the lodge. It was bloody awesome. I was finally there. The Amazon Jungle. Slap, Slap Slap, Ouch. Darn it. Lots of mozzies. Still, we prepared for this. Got that mozzie lotion out, it helped a little, but I was wearning my hoodie, so that was ok. Covered myself with clothes, except for my face.

Checked into our room, Paul and I shared this small thatched hut with no electricity and just oil lamps to light up the room. Atleast it had good beds and a working and clean toilet. Still loving it. The wildlife was busy chirping away, just like a jungle cd that people sleep to. It was awesome. After some dinner, the rest of the group we met on the tour wanted to get some sleep, so Paul and I being the curious cats that we are, got the guide to take us out that night. It didn't matter we were really tired, all that mattered was we wanted to check out the Amazon night life. And believe me. It was awesome. Got to see tarantulas, snakes, frogs, bugs, katydids and felt a lot of mozzies.

Got back to the room an hr later, to get some sleep as had an early morning boat ride to check out the earybird risers.

ah.. good sleep in a fully netted hut. No need for that darn mozzie net I bought. ah well..


Day 3 - Semi-world adventure

Day 3 - 03 October 2006

The day we were really in Iquitos, Peru for. The day Paul had to give a final presentation to the GBIF community about the GBIF MAPA project. Paul was a bit nervous, so I think I gave him a few words of encouragments, told him how if he can survive working with me, then he shouldn't have any problems doing a presentation. I'm pretty sure I could be making it up, but for the moment lets just assume I've done that, unless Paul comments on this blog saying that was all crap :p.

So after hearing what Donald had to say about what he was working on at GBIF which i was in awe as he was doing very similar things to what we've already done, it was Paul's turn. It was fine. I was sitting beside Joanne (the AU head-delegate).

Then it was the moment I was really waiting for. The Pxyis guys who got the other grant for the year. It was their presentation. Paul mentioned their presentation was a bit off in Cape Town. So I was really interested in what they've actually done, and believe me, IMHO, their presentation was a bit of a disaster. Nothing worked fine, they tried to do live demo. hahah.. suckers :p.. sorry, just had to say it. The main reason for my interest was that it didnt work for me when I tried it out before I headed into this presentation, and I figured I was missing something basic. I was happy to know that their app itself was kinda crap. They, however, kinda had the right idea i think, but yea, not really sure how it will help the biodiversity world. At the presentation, the guy kept saying "we get a lot of grant from the Canadian govt, so what you guys gave us are just peanuts", so it makes me wonder, why the heck did they even apply for the darn grant. Ah well, not my problem. I'm happy the team at the Australian Museum and Colorado Uni did a bloody great job. I'm proud guys..

So after the presentation, Paul and I were contemplating if we should go to one of these conservation areas. It was quite expensive (it was about US$300 for 2 days 1 night). Manuel gave us another option was was a bit cheaper US$200 for the same amount of time. This was in the amazon, and it was one of the best decisions.

So Manual took us to yet another small market and showed us around. Paul and I then headed back to the city square to the hotel, paid for the amazon trip who suggested they'd pick us up the next morning. Happy about that, Paul and I went off to grab some drinks and then meeting Manuel for more drinks.. Ended up having dinner with Otego and Frank (from Species 2000) meeting us for drinks and dinner at this river restaurant. It was an awesome experince. We had to catch a small boat to the restaurant which was neat. All 5 of us went back to the city for some GBIF fun night, dancing away to some great music. Will update this blog with some pics when i get back to reality. The music was great, my dance partner was even better.. Paul was really happy he got to dance with Hemina from Columbia :p After the dancing Manuel and Otego took Paul and I out for some real fun places. It was really wierd. And we were out until past 3am. Man these guys know how to party.

Then headed off to bed, needed some sleep as Paul and I had to leave fairly early to go to the amazon.

Yet another fun day...


Day 2 - Semi-world adventure

Day 2 - 02 October 2006

Well day 2 was quite interesting. Had eggs and ham with buttered toast for breakfast along with my malarial pills. This was the first time I've had eggs and ham mixed together, and the first of many. It was quite interesting.. i liked it..

So what did I do today.. Paul and I went off to check out the hood, the local market and let me tell you something, it was a damn interesting and yukky and a defo a good experience. At first I thought, wow, this is different to Australia, but heck it was good to be different. Got to see how the people get on with their everyday lives. Soo different from Australia, but my mind goes back to India again. I don't remember much of India to tell you the truth, but i'm pretty sure it is relatively similar.

The stalls were fairly small but you could pretty much everything from a variety of vegetables and meat ( including chicken - live and dead, red meat, seafood - croc tails, turtles, phiranhas and various others, to even medicinal herbs). There were even them witch doctors who were selling quite some interesting medicinal stuff for various types of desiseas including cancer..

We had to go buy a half-sleeve shirt for Paul as he was getting too hot and it was fun, we had our first proper conversation in Spanish asking for a shirt. It was fun. And cheap too, AU$15 from memory.

It was soon lunch time, and yet another hot day, so Paul and I got back to the hotel, cooled off for a little bit, and then went off to grab a very good meal. I think we just sat there for about 3-4hrs ordering stuff, the waitress was quite patient with us, bringing us stuff.. and the whole thing was quite cheap. I can't believe how fairly cheap everything was in Iquitos. And the people too, they are bloody awesome.

After that, it was time to get ready for yet another GBIF dinner. Went back to the hotel, had a nice cold shower.. ummm.. cold shower... and then off to this fairly fancy restaurant for dinner. It was pretty cool.. more pisco sour.. ah, loving this drink.. After dinner, and a few conversations, Paul and I went off to a local pub. A few "gringos" (thats what they call foriegners here) around. And a lot of little kids trying to sell you stuff, even polish your shoes for you. We had a litre of this drink I cant remember the name of, but i'm sure Paul still remembers. And we were talking a bit of shop.. after which we agreed that we should stop talking shop, and finish off the drink was giving us a light head and head to bed soon as Paul has his presentation the next day.

All phyched up, and Paul still nervous as he gets sometimes, we went off to our seperate rooms. Had yet another good sleep.. was awesome, no jetlag..


Sunday, October 08, 2006

A sneak preview of Cuzco...

Just uploading a couple of pics I took in Cuzco, the "base station" for my trip. Really sorry they came out bad and blurry, its a brand new camera that I bought a few of days before I left so didnt get the time to read the whole manual. :(

Friday, October 06, 2006

Day 1 - Semi-world adventure

Day 1 - 01 October 2006

So Day 1. Let me remember. Flew into Iquitos, Peru on Sunday 01 October 2006 at 8am local time. That was the end of a bloody long flight. The airport was interesting. Lets just say it works, i think :p. There were about 2 or 3 burned/rusted planes there and Paul and I started to take pics but were told off by the security gaurds :p. Apparently, one of the locals mentioned that before Lan Peru start about a couple of years ago, the local oldest flight company had some really old planes which apparently burst into flames. Glad things have changed since then :).

So the airport shuttle to the hotel was ready and waiting for us, but I had a bit of a security problem. Well, my lock on the suitcase was missing. So started to talk to the LAN security lady, and between her not knowing english and me not knowing any spanish, I gave up as I think all that i packed in were still there. Going from the airport to the hotel was interesting. It was like a flashback to my younger days in India. No road rules, a bit of pollution, but hey, atleast there were no cows on the road. After safely reaching the hotel, I checked in. Some nice people here. Had a shower, and Paul and I were supposed to go out, but it started pouring, so went back and I think i dozed off for about 30mins or so. Apparenly Paul tried to get to me later on, but I didnt respond so he figured i'd left already. So he went and had lunch with some GBIF people. Anyways, so met up with Paul later on, and went and got some bottles of water. Definaly recommed to use bottled water (from a supermarket) for brushing and drinking.

So later on, went off to the official GBIF welcome party later that night, which was interesting. The mayor and some peru officials welcomed us and after a few drinks and finger food, had to go get some proper food. So went to this place called [forget what its called, i'll fill this in later], got some food and a good time with some of the spanish gbif ppl. They are fun.

Slept like a log, finally some proper sleep in about 48hrs. It was nice.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Day 0 - Semi-world adventure

Day 0 - 30 September 2006

So forgot to start posting earlier on regarding this trip i´m currently on. Well, more like been really busy coz i´m off for a while. So gonna make this 2 posts... So here goes...

As all, or most, of you know that i´ve been working on GBIF MAPA, funded by GBIF. Now that we´ve pretty much finished MAPA, it is now time to present this great collaboration project at GB13. This meeting is being held at the Boat club in Iquitos, Peru. I was stoked that i´ve now got an oppurtunity to finally go to South America, well, atleast a part of it anyways, ok more precisely, just one country :)

So I figured, i´ll go to a few places around South America like the Galapogos Is, Bolivia, Chile, etc, etc. But due to time constraints, work comitments and, well, nothing else, I´ve had to cut my trip a little short as all those trips meant time away from work, which means, well, a huge backlog. But on the other hand, my sis is currently on a world tour herself (which doesn´t include South America, so not really sure how that really qualifies as a world tour, but lets not get into that now), which means i get to meet her in New York after my tour of Peru.

So the plan is
- 5 days in
- 13 days on tour of Peru
- 4 days in NY with sis
- 3 days in Toronto with sis
- 4+ days in Frankfurt or around there

So yea, flight was about 36hrs :| with about 2-3hrs of sleep. It was a bloody long flight, left Sydney at 8am Saturday 30th October, went to Auckland, NZ for about 1hr stopover, then on a flight to Santiago, Chile, with an 8hr stopover, and yet another flight to Lima, Peru and then a 6hr stopover, then onto yet another flight to Iquitos, Peru, finally, the destination. It´s pretty different here compared to Sydney, but I guess I´ll talk about that in the next section.

cheers all

Sunday, April 23, 2006

CSS and JavaScript workshop - foundations of the new web

Russ Weakley and Cameron Adams are putting together an awesome workshop integrating CSS and JavaScript to help develop awesome new websites and web applications. I personally use a lot of AJAX on my web application at AM and DEC, and I think this will definately take over the web world soon.

In my opinion, this workshop is targetted at web developers who like to do things quick and dirty, who don't necessarily worry much about the backend styling, like using CSS. It is also targetted at designers who think CSS is much better than javascript to style the websites.

This workshop will show how these 2 main groups of people can come together and develop a much more better and future-enabled websites and applications using CSS and JavaScript.

The workshops will be held at all major cities in Australia, so it is definately worth checking it out. More info on Russ and Cameron are also available.

Life - Update

So, life, hasn't changed much since I last posted. Well, except, i've gotten a lot more busier with work, which I suppose I should be happy about. Better busy than not I suppose. Added a couple of my mates blogs on the right, so check them out under the Friends section.

Still working for Australian Museum and NSW Dept. of Environment and Conservation.

Oh, check out my Flickr site. Have some new additions; D.A.M.N Easter meetup (Dan.Ajay.Martha.Nick), Camara's Birthday Party, A Formal night out, and a whole lot more, and don't hesitate to provide comments.

Alright, back to work for me, so see you all. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Richard Ishida on i18n in Australia

Richard Ishida, chair of Internationalisation at W3C was in Australia for a week long talks about i18n and how web developers, content manager and designers need to think about i18n from at an earlier stage of the project.

i18n (short for internationalisation as there are 18 letters between the first and the last letter), is an area where companies need to look into providing a feature if they would like to offer their service.

For example, one of the global projects that i'm working on (details out soon), doesn't have i18n as a business case, but will be accessed by people all over the world. This is where if we as developers, technical architects, designers think about i18n from an early stage of the project, future devs on the project won't need to restructure most of code to include other languages in. As Richard says, it doesn't have to be a big detour from the normal coding to include i18n, but just doing things differently.

Russ, Lisa, Amit and I went down to the W3C/WSG-Canberra meeting (on Feb 10) and it was a great trip, a good talk, (alright food, what else do you expect from maccas and hungry jacks).

While we were there, we caught up with the Port80-Canberra as well. It was good to meet Damo and Nathanael Boehm.

You can find my WSG-Canberra pics on flickr. All WSG pics from Russ, Lisa, Amit (and obviously mine) are also available. These include the WSG meeting in Melbourne on Feb 9.

edit: Fixed link to Amit's blog (it went to mine doh!)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Four things

So i've been memed by Lisa, so now i've gotta put my brain to work. Here goes nothing..

Four jobs I’ve had
  • Technical Architect
  • Web developer
  • System support (Unix)
  • Internet/Intranet User/System support

Four movies I can watch over and over
  • Lord of the Rings I II III
  • Matrix I II III
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek (the movies obviously)

Four places I’ve lived
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Hyderabad, India
  • [my room]

Four TV shows I enjoy
  • Simpsons (and Futurama, Family Guy, Daria, South Park)
  • Anime (some types like Naruto, Bleech, Kenshin)
  • The Office (UK version, I think the US version is a bit lame)
  • Star Trek

Four places I’ve vacationed
  • Boulder, Colorao, USA
  • Berkeley, San Fransisco, USA
  • All around New Zealand and Australia (while living in both countries)
  • Singapore

Four of my favorite dishes
  • Mum's cooking
  • Fettuccine Carbonara
  • Most Asian dishes (Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean)
  • All types of deserts (yummm)

Four sites I visit daily

Four places I would rather be right now
  • In bed (hang on, i'm already in bed :p)
  • Somewhere cold (I miss Colorado, maybe in Canada)
  • At a BBQ (hang on, i'm going to a Australia Day BBQ Pool party in about 1hr :p)
  • Did I mention my bed? (oh yea i did)

Four bloggers I am tagging