Monday, 23 June 2008

What makes me excited?


In a massive change of heart I have decided to take a laptop travelling with me!

It all started off with Claire mentioning that she had just got a new laptop to go travelling with...

- "I'm not going to take one" I breezily typed "far too bulky"

-"Not this one" she replied "its tiny, its called an eee, look it up"

Well, apart from the name instantly reminding me of my childhood friend, who I'm afraid will never be able to use one of these computers without bursting out laughing (eeeeeeeeee), I was kinda intrigued. So I looked it up!

Ever since then I have been in a kind of frenzy of excitement that only a guy that has discovered a new gadget can achieve. I started off thinking "Oh, I'll just get the cheapest one...". This is the Eee 700. And at £220 it is hard to say no to. But once I'd decided I couldn't say no to that... well... I may as well get the Eee900, with a whole 1024x600 (instead of the 700s 800x480) allowing most pages to be viewed without horizontal scrolling...

Then imagine my excitement.... A whole new Eee machine coming out in 8 days time! Woooo! This is the Eee901. All of the advantages of the 900, but with twice an much battery life, and some extra features...

So I think I'm going to get one of those. At £320 it is about £100 more then I was originally envisaging, and I am going to have to buy a 2.5 inch external hard drive to store all of my files, and maybe a new mp3 player (the eee runs linux, so iTunes is a no-no)... Of course there are a slew of similar micro-laptops coming out as well, but I've read the reviews, and I think I'll stick with this for now...

Of course a lot can change in 8 days...

Thursday, 19 June 2008

How to fall in love...

Something strange has been happening recently. In fact I suspect it has always been happening, but I have just never spotted it before...

In fact I think this could explain a lot of very strange things in life,. Phenomenon that I have been puzzled by in the past, all of a sudden seem to make sense...

So, what am I talking about I hear you ask? Well, it is to do with falling in love with someone, and why we always seem to fall for the wrong people. It especially applies to women, though i suspect that it applies to guys as well, just I am more likely to observe it in women. Bearing this in mind, the tale I will tell is from the female perspective...

It goes like this. Girl meets guy. He clearly isn't right for her. She knows this right from the start. The reason for this unsuitability can be one of many reasons. Maybe the guy is taken. Maybe he is gay. Maybe is the wrong culture, colour...... it could be almost anything. The important point at this stage is that it renders the guy utterly incompatible for a long term relationship.

The logical part of the womans mind knows this to be true, so it allows the woman to flirt with the guy. She does this knowing full well that she won't fall for him, because he is totally incompatible. She thinks it is just some harmless flirting and fun. However, the human is a complex beast. And the emotional side seems to operate on a completely different level from the logical side, often without the logical side knowing or suspecting what is going on...

So what happens is that the logical part of the brain knows that she isn't interested. However the emotional side doesn't listen. It responds to the flirting as it has been programmed to through millions of years of evolution; and proceeds to fall in love...

Love may be a strong word, lets say that the emotional side forms an attachment. The logical side often doesn't realise this, and certainly won't admit it, at least that is until there is the chance that the guy could be taken away...

And so heartbreak is born.

I think that this explains why women always (ok, not always) fall for the asshole, why it is easier to fall for someone on the other side of the world, then someone down the road. And why nice guys have such a hard time. After all, if a guy is "logically" ideal for a relationship, then all of a sudden there is tension (on both sides) and the naturalness of the interaction is suddenly ruined. Wheras if there is no expectation, everyone can relax, and everything "just happens" (how many times have I heard that?).

Black and white "Cash for Kids" Charity Salsa event


I went to a charity salsa event in Leeds the other day (on Tuesday the 17th of June 2008). Seeing that there was a theme to the event I of course dressed for the part. As shown in the picture on the right. ;^)

There was loads of advertising blurb about the event, so to save me repeating all of that I'm just going to copy and paste it...

"Black and White Salsa Charity Night

We would like to invite you, and as many guests as you wish to bring, to a charity salsa event at Quid Pro Quo, Greek Street, in the heart of Leeds city centre.

The night will begin with a fun salsa class designed for absolute beginners starting at 7.30pm. Followed by an intermediate class at 8.30pm and then music and dancing for everyone until late.

Each class is only £5.00 and all proceeds from the salsa classes will be donated to Cash for Kids.

The theme for the night is ‘black and white,’ so have fun and get dressed up!"


The night went very well. And you'll be glad to hear that I got my mojo back, salsawise! I think just having a few days off, between friday night and tuesday night, helped me to integrate some of the things i have learned. I seemed to pick up moves quickly, do them (more or less) correctly, and most imporantly when it came to the free dancing, I was having lots of fun again! Ok, so maybe a lot of the moves i was doing weren't strictly speaking salsa, or any good, but I was having fun, I was reacting to the music, and my partners were having fun. And I think that is the most important thing!

I might restrict myself to 2 salsa events a week from now on... which is going to be tricky I think. But it will be worth it to keep me motivated. (plus it will allow me to do other things, that don't involve dancing!!!)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

My after video.... honest ;^)

video

Salsa, after!

video
This is the real after salsa video. Not quite as exciting, but on the plus side, I'm in it!

The one above was Lee and Shelly. London, 2007 champions & voted UK’s top dance act. There is no way I can do the splits like that!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Overdoing the salsa...

I just got back from The Engine Shed. There I saw some amazing dancers, and did a bit of dancing of my own...

But I think I might have overdone it...

I heard tales of people plateauing in their salsa experience. They say that you get to a level, and then you can't learn any more. I think I was reaching that level anyway, but the last week of dancing really pushed me over the edge.

There was the Salsamatazz Masquerade Ball on Saturday, followed by Viva Cuba. About 7 hours of salsa (and a bit of tango and some bachata)...

Then the usual 2 hours of Bachata, and 1 of La Rueda on Sunday...

2 hours of salsa, and one more of free dancing on Tuesday...

An hour and a half in Guiseley on Wednesday...

The usual 2 hours of salsa (plus some free dancing) on Thursday.

Then this salsa night at the Engine Shed tonight. About 5 hours...

Which by my calculations equals about 21 hours of salsa (or similar dances) in the last 7 days....


That is enough for anyone! I am giving up for at least a week I think... or I would, but I have the Black and White Charity salsa event on Tuesday, which i definitely have to go to...
And a salsa Ball next Saturday, which I will also have to go to....

But apart from that I'm putting it on the back burner.... We'll see how I feel after that!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Friendship...

You're going to have to wait for the after video, at least until I can figure out a way to shrink down a video to less then 100 Mb.

In the meantime I read an article in New Scientist last night that touched my heart! It goes a little something like this...

"Making It Less Of An Uphill Struggle

Having a friend at your side can turn a mountain into a molehill.

Simone Schnall at the University of Plumoth, UK, and her colleagues asked students to estimate the steepness of a hill by tilting a board to match its slope.

Students with a friend nearby assessed the hill at 10 to 15 per cent less steep compared with those who were alone during the test. The longer the friends had known each other and the warmer their relationship, the less steep the hill appeared.


Schnails team also found thatjust thinking about a close friend or family member - as opposed to a neutral person, or someone you dislike - made the hill appear up to 20 per cent gentler (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, DOI:10.1016/j.esp.2008.04.011)."(New Scientist 14th June 2008, pg 15)

This seemed like a simple yet elegant proof that it is good to have friends, they make life seem that little bit easier! So everyone, take care of your friends, be there if they need you, and one day they will be there for you, ready to make your life that little bit easier...

:^)

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Before

To show everyone the extent to which my dancing has improved I am posting my before and after dancing videos.

This is the before, and shows me dancing at a friends wedding...

(on the plus side you can clearly see that I was enjoying myself...)

video

Monday, 9 June 2008

The Salsa Masked ball and being Molested in Bachata!


I had quite a busy weekend of dancing this weekend, in roasting hot temperatures. Pretty good preparation for my travels really...

There was a Salsa Masked ball on Saturday night. For some reason the hosting Hotel had its heating on at the start of the night. This on top of the naturally hot ambient temperature, the candles all over the place, and a room full of vigorously exercising people added up to a sauna-like atmosphere. But still, a good time was had by all. And I learnt my first bits of Tango... It was ok, but not as fun as salsa!

I was attending with the lovely folks in the picture* , who shall remain un-named, in order to protect the innocent... We had a great time, and I met some excellent people, some of whom had travelled the whole length of the country to get there (you know who you are...)!

We also had a bachata class in at the ball (always fun) in which the teacher (a big fat black dude who was hilarious) made a point that the guys shouldn't thrust while dancing. I don't know if you're familiar with bachata, but it is performed very close to the partner, and there is a hip flick at the end of every step. This hip flick is supposed to be to the side, but apparently some guys (and one in particular) had turned this sideways flick into a forwards thrust.

I thought this was fairly harmless and at worst an amusing story until i came to my regular bachata class on Sunday. At this there was one, slightly older lady, who was doing exactly this! After every single step she would do a little *thrust*...

Not only was this painful and potentially debilitating (luckily I was a fair bit taller then her), it just felt all wrong. I couldn't wait to finish dancing with her, I felt used, and molested...

I think it maybe gave me a bit of an insight of what it is like for a woman to dance with a guy that is "copping a feel"!!

I'll never behave inappropriately at dancing again (not that I did anyway...)

*Just to clear things up... I'm not in the picture!

Friday, 6 June 2008

2 months to go!!!

It is two months from today untill I set off on my journey...

I can't believe the time has passed so quickly...

It seems like only a few days ago that I was merely contemplating this trip, and work were hassling me to see if I could give them a more definate time scale...

I know that the weeks are going to pass faster and faster up until the point that I go (and probably right up until the time that I return, but that is a long time away, no need to think about that!). It is starting to sink in now. Only 8 or 9 of each of my dance classes before I go. Only 9 more weekends. Only 7 more Monday mornings at work. The time is running out on my normal life!

Of course I have oodles and oodles of things still to be done before I go. I need to buy essential equipment. This includes, but isn't limited to a new backpack, a new mp3 player, a travel towel, some fold up salsa shoes, a hat (very important), some shorts, a leatherman, plasters, and other things too numerous for me to remember them all.

I also need to look into getting some foreign currency (the sooner the better given the way the pound seems to be going), get some insurance, possibly buy a ticket onwards from Cyprus. I need to book my salsa conventions, resign from work, possibly get a new bank account sorted, finish getting my innoculations and have a blood test.

Then there are the things I'm leaving behind. My friends. I need to say farewell to them all. (I still need some of their phone numbers after my last phone died!) My flat, I'm giving it up, but I need to pack away those items I want to keep, and find a place for them to stay (thanks to my Mum and Dad), and do something with all of the things I don't want any more...

I'm absolutely certain that there are numerous other things which I need to do before I go, I'm far too disorganised to think that I have remembered everything, and I'm sure that as the weeks go on I will find numerous things that I have forgotten. (If any of you can see anything, just leave a comment).

I was going to finish this post with a conclusion, but I can't think of one, so heres a quote instead...

"For my part I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for
travel's sake. The great affair is to move, to feel the needs and
hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off the featherbed of
civilization and find the global granite underfoot and strewn with
cutting flint." Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Sunburn!


I went walking in the Yorkshire Dales this weekend, and the picture on the right shows the results....

I am starting to wonder what 18 months of tropical sunshine will do to me if that is the effect of a single afternoon of Englands anaemic sunlight.

Better pack the factor 50!

I'm kinda hoping that when I return I will have bronze skin, and blonde hair, but given my previous track record I'm suspecting my normal "off-white" colour, and maybe strawberry blonde!

Inventory

This is a list of the things I think I'll need to take with me. It is work in progress at the moment, so any thoughts of other things I'll need let me know...

Backpack (one of those with a smaller backpack that zips onto it.)
Couple of t-shirts
Few pairs of pants/socks
Couple of pairs of shorts
Couple of pairs of jeans
Wide brimmed hat
Long sleeved cotton (top) shirt
Footwear (Trainers, sandals, fold up salsa shoes)
First aid kits
Condoms (lots)
Money belt
Padlock
MP3 player
Travel speakers
Mobile Phone
Couple of books
Sun glasses
Bathroom stuff (Shower gel, shampoo, hair wax, toothbrush/toothpaste, deoderant.)
Sunscreen/ aftersun (this item added after a recent walking trip in the Yorkshire Dales!)
Antibacterial Handwash (Thanks to Angela for advising this)
Malaria Tablets
Towel (travel)
Pens
Notepad
Leatherman
Torch (head torch)
Passport
Travel documents
cash/american express...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Innoculations

I went for some innoculations last week. The nurse who gave me them seems to be an inverted hypochondriac...

That is she assumes that other people will get ill. It is quite a good quality for a nurse I guess, but as I sat there listening to her worrying about me getting diseases that had never even been found in a region, and reccomending that I get the innoculations "just to be on the safe side", I found myself wondering. Is it worth living your life in fear of imaginary events that might not happen in any case.

Sure, it makes sense to take precautions, like getting injections, but I wouldn't let the fear of diseases stop me from going travelling... So why would I let the fear of rejection stop me from doing other things in my life? Especially when rejection is so much easier to take (if approached properly) then... well... life threatening diseases....

I dunno, I'm not changing my life overnight (not yet anyway), but maybe I can stop letting fear run my life, at least a little bit...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Travel Itinerary

Thought that I'd post a rough itinerary of where I will be, and when.

If anyone reading will be in roughly the same places, at roughly the same times, we can see about maybe hooking up...

August 6th I fly to Cyprus. This is the only date that is set in stone at the moment.

I will be spending roughly 2 weeks in Cyprus (mostly in the Northern Turkish part). I plan to do lots of diving here. And lounging by the pool, and other such things...

Then I will fly over to Egypt (or possibly get a boat over), and spend 2 weeks in Egypt. In this time I will be visiting the Pyramids, possibly doing a bit of salsa, going to the Red Sea to do more scuba diving, and meeting up with some good friends I have over there...

After all of this excitement I will fly back to Cyprus, and do more diving,
and hanging by the pool, and whatnot, until the 12th of September when there is a Salsa convention starting (http://www.salsajamincyprus.com/).

Once the dancing has all finished I will be flying on to India. I'm not sure where I will be, but I plan to have a kind of flying visit of India, taking in a couple of towns for a couple of days and then moving pretty swiftly onto Nepal.

In Nepal I will be doing some trekking. I want to see the Himalayas from close up, and maybe I'll find a Buddhist Monastery or something and do some meditation on the top of the world. Nepal could take up to a month, and is one of the places I'm looking forwards to seeing the most...

After my calming time in Nepal I will be flying on to Thailand. Really there is too much I want to see in Thailand. I could probably spend 6 months just there, but among the locations I would like to get to are Chiang Mai, Pai, Bangkok (to visit some friends I made last time I was there. You know who you are ;^), Koh Tao, and a couple of other islands.

Somehow I have to fit all of this in before the 13th of November, when there is a salsa convention starting in Bangkok (http://www.salsabangkok.com/).

Once this is over I will be meeting a friend, and travelling with her to Cambodia. There I'm mostly interested in seeing Angkor Wat. But it will be interesting to see the culture and all that, and see how it contrasts to Thailand.

I'll probably pass back through Thailand after this, and on to Malaysia. Take in Kuala Lumpur and visit some good friends I have over there. Then check out some of their beaches (and maybe fit in a bit of salsa while I'm here).

Then on from Malaysia to Indonesia, where the plan is pretty much the same as in Malaysia. Visit some friends, see Jakarta, and then Bali, check out some beaches and just see what happens. It will be Christmas around this time, so I will either be spending Christmas and new year either in Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia. I'm not sure where yet, I'll just have to play it by ear...

Anyway, I have to fit all of this in in time to get to Sydney in time for the 29th of January (in fact, probably the 28th in time for my birthday!), which is when and where the 3rd salsa convention of my travels kicks off (http://www.sydneysalsacongress.com.au/). I'm hoping a good Australian friend will join me for this.

I think Allan will be joining me sometime about here, and we will travel around Australia, possibly doing a bit of work here and there (i already have my work and travel visa, and an Aussie phone number!). My Australian Visa lasts for a year, so I will take full advantage of this, and then depending on funds, I will see what I want to do next....

(But if I do have lots of money still at this point New Zealand looks nice, then South America for Mardi Gras and finally South Africa for the world cup. But we'll have to see about that...)