Friday, January 29, 2010

Linguistically Speaking.

Well, what an absolute whirlwind of a summer! Not only did I experience four rather body-shockingly distinct time, language, and climate zones, but in recollection it was also one of the most fun summers of my life.

Sometimes it helps to put things in context, so with the help of one of my famous 'bullet-point lists', here's the rundown since mid-november. You can follow along using the handy 'place - place' headers I've included for your convenience. Finally, you'll know it's time to turn the page when you have an apple iPad.

Van - Melb
I got back into Melbourne to surprise my sis at her 21st. It went off without a hitch, and after getting up from the floor it was all hugs and smiles from her.

Melb - Merimbula
Three days later it was off to Merimbula, a coastal town on the VIC/NSW border. I'd been lucky enough to arrive just as some of my best friends were departing on a road-trip, and after unpacking my bags from Vancouver I now packed them up again and we were off. That week flew by in a haze of alcohol-infused-water-sand-cardgame-topfun-jumping-pillow action, and soon it was back to Melbourne again.

Merimbula - Melb
A short (insert adjectives such as 'fun', 'wacky' and 'zany' here) time in the city, catching up with as many people as I could and enjoying Melbournes balmier climes, and then the whole family - cousins included - were all packing our bags once again to head to Hong Kong for Christmas, which was amazing.

Melb - HK
Hong Kong is so incredibly urban, yet industrial, with a healthy dose of overdevelopment thrown in for good measure. The famous 'Star Ferry' which used to take a good ten minutes to cross from Hong Kong to Kowloon Side now takes just five due to all the reclaimed land. I found that rather amusing. On Christmas eve a spectacular lights show is presented from no less than every single building in the city. Lasers fly off into the night sky above, the entire side-face of most of them glow with precise neon-flavoured madness. in short, the entire city becomes a big light show, every thing coordinated to the microsecond to music on the radio. Oh, and this happens every night at eight o'clock too.

HK - China
From HK it was off by bus, ferry and foot into China on a whirlwind tour of an escape our ancestors made from the Japanese during the second world war. What followed was a bizarre and surreal retracing of the journey, hindered at almost all turns by the Chinese government and their officials who accompanied us wherever we went. I suppose this was to make sure we didn't take photos of anything we oughtn't or just to shoot us if we started talking negatively about their government. I couldn't quite tell which, but it's always shades of grey with those wacky cats …

China - HK
And speaking of language barriers, the next leg of the journey had a distinctly interesting flavour. It was in HK for New Year's eve that my bros and I found ourselves in the ex-pat and westerner party central in HK which was a whole bag of fun in itself. Merely to illustrate the scene in your head, Hong Kong on New Year's is a very crazy place. The whole central city is traffic controlled - and I mean pedestrian traffic. To get where you wish to go is to enter a veritable labyrinth of insanely complicated one-way barriers, leading you slowly around in circles until you eventually find a policeman's blind-spot and hop one of them. The place you end up at is Lang Kwai Fok, a street six, maybe seven hundred meters long packed to the rafters with pubs and clubs. Nobody can move an inch due to the sheer quantity of people packed into the place, and drinks are served in plastic cups, so you can wander out of one pub, onto the street, and into another, if you don't mind losing said drink, and getting a limb broken. Good times. Sidenote, people from the Netherlands taste like fruit.

HK - Singapore
We stopped over in Singapore … hey, it counts if carbon was emitted darnit!

Break time, fun game! Can you spot Che Guevera?

Singapore - Maldives
After two flights which gave us time to recover from New Year's, we arrived in the Maldives for a week. I can't tell you that a lot happened there. Really we just relaxed on the beach, snorkeled, and at one point ate something. Pure freakin' bliss I tells ya.
I did have a rather unique experience there though, as I decided to head into the main city for a tour one day. Nobody else was interested, so I went alone, and this proved interesting.
Illustration time! The Republic of Maldives is a country unto itself, lying under India in the middle of the ocean, right smack on the equator. With only half of the over 1,400 islands in use, and a population of around 300,000, it's not exactly a 'starved-for-real estate' zone.
The populance is a wonderful mixture of Sri-Lankans, Maldivians, and Arabs, the country having a huge influence from the East as a result of, well years of being near the east, and I loved it. The city of Malé - the capital - is it's own island a mere 1.7 sq km, and is fantastically colourful, both literally and figuratively. It was there I tried my hand at the local language.
Dhivehi is a nice mixture of local tongue, Sinhalese and Arabic. It's also ancient. Like, over 2,000 years old ancient - which I just love - and much is derived from Sinhalese and sounds very similar sometimes. It also has no vowels, so like Arabic, diacritic marks are used to insert those sounds into words, and like Arabic it's written right-to-left. Trying to learn it is a blast because there's only one English-Dhivehi dictionary about thirty pages long, and it's written in Latin script. So needless to say, I spent most of my sun-drenched days trying to transliterate the latin script into their script. Interestingly it was almost all correct when I had it checked, evidence that some languages actually are spelled as they sound. (Take that, usually [woefully] incapable brain!)
Lastly, as I was also the only English speaking member of our tour group, I had my own personal guide around the city. His name was Ali, and he's a young Maldivian who loves playing DoD, WoW, and probably any other game with a three-initial nickname. A tour of the town by foot, through the markets and streets, then on his scooter around the perimiter and through the streets again, this time with me hanging on for dear bloody life was awesome, and then it was back onto the boat, and back to the resort.

Maldives - Singapore
After a week of sun, it was off to Singapore for a few final days abroad. I won't go into detail, but Singapore is a freakin' rad city. Clean, fashionable and lady-boys are three words I'd use to describe it. Not that the lady-boys were that rad. They were actually mostly creepy.
Anyway clubbing (in the VIP lounge thanks to Warwick making friends with one of the club-owners there) and exploring were enjoyed by all.

Singapore - Melb
Back to Melbourne. The last hurrah before another year abroad. Here I said goodbye to family and friends once again, and set off on the next leg alone.

Melb - Van
Arriving back in Van, it was more whirlwind coffees, dinners and clubbing before cleaning out my room of two years, and once again heading off.

Van - Seattle
This was by bus. Early in the morning. After clubbing until three o'clock. Yay.

Seattle - Reykjavik
Still with me? Yep, off to Iceland on the way to Sverige. Icelandic air, by the by, is fantastic. Should you ever have the chance to fly, do so. Seriously, it was great fun. Lovely staff, fun, relaxed environment, and they are just crazy about their native tongue, they try to teach bits to you at every opportunity.

Reykjavik - Stockholm
Finally, it was another plane to Stockholm, and here I'll remain for a few months yet!
Upon arriving, I met a friend downtown who greeted me cordially, and who I'm currently staying with.
It's also pretty cold here, like -6 each day, and gets down to about -15 at night. But the city is really quite beautiful in the winter, so with my woolies on I've had no trouble exploring so far.

And there, dear readers, you have it! I assume you understand why there's been such a gap between entries now.

More is coming soon … but not too soon. I want to give you all a few days to finish this one. ;)



3 thoughts are now mine:

Kyle said...


So much travelling - I don't know how you did it! What a great life to have, no 9-5 day job to care about either!

I had similar time zone differences, Ireland to Hong Kong to Vancouver! Speaking of Hong Kong, I was there for a few days as well over the holidays -- 20 to the 24th!

That's mad about the Chinese officials stalking you guys!!

Maldives -- I've always wanted to go, it's a popular destination from Hong Kong too!

And Stockholm! Do tell us more about that.


Luke Davidson said...

Wow you've done a lot of travelling... and yet the one thing that stays in my mind is 'people from the netherlands taste like fruit'! Also you're language learning is similarly impressive, but not as impressive as I'll be when I simply speak into my iPad and it repeats everything back in Dhivehi to me. (Except I'll call it an iSlate for personal reasons.) :P Look forward to your sweedish adventures!

Jimzip said...

Oh! I forgot to reply to these ... how rude.

Kyle: Yeah, the Maldives was insane. Very very nice, and I'll never forget the colour of that beautiful water! And yes, China was a very surreal experience. I'm sure if I went there by myself and journeyed around it'd be much more normal, but having people watch your every step is a bit disconcerting! X)

Luke: Aye! Well I won't lie to you, I'm getting an iPad as soon as humanly possible... X) They're just so darned slick! And I'm very excited about the book situation there, at current I cart around four books in my backpack (you know that moment where you're packing things into it for the day and you're all; 'I can't leave *that* one at home ... I might wanna read it today!'. Yeah, that results in me always having them in there. Plus the computer, plus my notebooks and whatever other nicnaks I may stuff in that day, it's heavy!)

Anyway thanks for the comments!

Jimzip :D

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