Sunday, May 8, 2011

Freedom is just over there

While I have your attention I should tell you about Merisi - who is a truly wonderful photographer. 
If you have an interest in either photography or Vienna you should add her to your blog list – you will not be disappointed.
Almost everyone on the island was of Chinese or Eastern European  origin. The first time we were there we saw a party of Australians - but they may have been shipwreck survivors.
After taking a look around we realized that all the signage was in English and ‘Chinese’ (we cannot distinguish between Mandarin and Cantonese) . After much discussion amongst ourselves we figured that  there must be package tours out of mainland China – which would explain why everyone was shown to their rooms before us.
Everyone smoked. We may have been the only two non-smokers on the island – so we spent a lot of time dodging around in the bar and restaurants to escape the smoke. It was worse than Vienna because there were no ‘non-smoking’ areas at all – apart from our room – and that was a ‘no-water’ area.
We discovered that the best restaurant on the island was the one we had used when we were in the Water Villas. It was buffet style and had a surprisingly good menu. It was better the second time around – probably because of our experience on the Dream Smasher where we spooned down amorphous sludge at every meal.  
Weirdly – everyone arrived at 7:30  - and it was completely empty by 8:30. If you arrived at 8:15 there was almost nothing left to eat. Some people put their main course and desserts on the same plate. Never seen that before – but really the only way you were going to get any dessert was to get it at the same time as you got your main meal.
But you had to get the timing right when joining the queue or it did not work because it was a seething mass of humanity and was quite dangerous if you did not get it right – which we did not without a few practice attempts.
The first few times we just bounced off the periphery – a bit like a space capsule coming into the atmosphere at the wrong trajectory – and were flung back out into the balcony area. After careful observation we then worked out that forward motion with a crabwise sideways shuffle was required to merge seamlessly into the heaving throng.
Extreme flexibility was required because if someone stopped too long to examine the beef in black bean sauce then the whole line concertinaed and rear end collisions  could cause catastrophic damage to the dessert loaded plates. You needed to be able to segue out of the queue – and back in -  in the blink of an eye.
Our time was uneventful. We learned that the best way to find out about water was to keep the shower on. On the rare occasions when we heard the water drizzling we would rush in and have showers as quickly as possible before it went away again. We had lots of showers because we had lots of swims.
I did a refresher course on the Koran but learned nothing new. I also discovered something called  Junior MasterChef Australia. This reinforced my belief that those who develop TV shows will leave no barrel unscraped in their never ending quest to find the most eye-withering, gut-churning, nauseating pieces of toe raggery known to mankind to spread before those brain dead wretches whose lives are so intellectually poverty stricken that they are reduced to watching small children bake apple pies on TV. 
My sincere apologies to those who think this particular show is the best one on TV and whose children  just appeared on it.
Between our regular swims on our little beach – it was not really a beach it was a shipping channel - but who would split hairs over a trivial fact like this - we spent some time in the bar – counting down the hours to departure.
The final indignity came two hour before departure when a man knocked on the door and when I opened it he said ‘mini-bar.’ I said that we hadn’t used anything and started to closed the door and he said no he had come to lock it. I gritted my ears and said ‘what?’
He had come to lock the mini bar. I have been around a long time and no one has ever before come to lock the mini bar in any hotel I have every stayed. I was well stunned by this turn of events and watched dumbfounded as he came in, checked the mini bar - locked it and left.
What kind of people do they have in Camp Festering that they lock the mini bars? I think I just answered my own question. The type of people that you have to lock the mini bars two hours before they leave.  
I was standing there slack jawed and incapable of rational thought so Cate took me by the hand and led me down to the bar where she sat me in front of my MacBook and ordered me a Cappuccino.
She started drinking Zombies which were apparently very powerful. When it was time to go leave I discovered that she was incoherent and paralyzed from the waist down so I loaded her onto a baggage trolley and trundled her back to the room.
I got lucky and struck a brief water period so was able to make a cup of instant coffee to use as smelling salts and one sniff of these and she was back to her old self – as alert as a Meercat - and reaching for the telephone to verbally assault reception about the missing towel. 
I prized the telephone from her fingers and we left the room to start the long walk back down cannery row – which would take us to the boat, the airport – and freedom.


  1. You must have been able to observe lots of seabirds whilst out on that boat?

  2. I like the use of the phrase 'intellectually poverty stricken'. Describes a lot of the folk I encounter on a daily basis!
    Thanks for that one!

  3. Thank you, Badger, for so generously mentioning my name! I am blushing. If you ever want me to take your portrait, just let me know (don't worry about dressing up. I am a board-certified Photoshop surgeon and can change the colour of your T-shirt in no time at all). ;-)

    As to your story, you have me roaring with laughter. Sorry. I really liked the idea of vacationing right by a shipping channel. The dream of any sailoress, I suppose.

    I noticed one inconsisteny:
    How come that the bar all of a sudden brewed Cappuccinos?
    (I know, it's Cappuccini, but by the time any good Italian would need to say Cappuccini it's time again for un caffe' coretto, so English plural it is.)

    The unexplained locking down of your minibar is very suspicious.
    Anything you'd like to tell us?

  4. Locking the mini bar is to save you time. They will not have to check it at check out and thus save you the excrutiating wait time to make sure they charged you for anything you stole, such as the missing towel.

    Big Daddy tried the American early check out once, when the Chinese guy joined me in the bathroom to count the towels Big Daddy learned a new lesson.

  5. he he he - the sideways crab shuffle. love it. definitely know a little something about this from trying to pass any doorway or board/disembark from a plane in these parts. there's a lesson or two to be learned in swarm theory.

  6. Maalie: We did - they were all whiteish and all looked much the same to us - you will tell me there are 650 different varieties.

    Kathryn Ashcroft: And I thought the folk from Hull were intellectually gifted!

    Merisi: They always had coffee (after a fashion) at Camp Festering - but it was brewed from goat droppings. Cannot explain the mini bar thing.

    fmcgmcclic: So we actually got off lightly.

    TNDW: Yes - study the bees!!