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28 February 2007

Effects of Mouldy Coriander Dip on Human Physiology

I am proposing a scientific health experiment for the benefit of lovers of coriander dip and the broader public good. The first step is already complete.

Today I ate an entire tub of mouldy coriander dip. Partly because I love coriander dip and also partly because everything else in the fridge required heating to eat. This tub tasted rather funny to me, but the taste of deliciousness overpowered the taste of oddness sufficiently that I ate right to the bottom. I have often been curious to know if mouldy food is actually bad for you. This is especially relevant to coriander dip because it so often seems to go mouldy and because it is so tasty. I frequently want to eat a tub, only to find it is already off. Depending on the results of my experiment it is possible that we have all chosen not to eat mouldy tubs unnecessarily. While that is a sad thought, I think the benefits of knowing the truth are worth the immediate pain.

My experiment is thus.

  • Step 1: Eat entire tub of mouldy coriander dip
  • Step 2: Monitor self and check closely for vomiting

As you can see much of the hard work is already done. I will post the results as they come in.

Update: The results are in.

2007 Semester 1 Timetable

2007 Semester 1 Timetable, originally uploaded by Nutloaf.

27 February 2007

Wisdoms with Sister

I love Wisdom with Tabith. Undoubtedly Tom's finest work.

26 February 2007

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Libby and I spent four hours yesterday at the biggest Paddy's Market in the world. Friendship at breaking point. Although I did buy a lot of nice lamps.

25 February 2007

Train Trip

Our train trip last night was the funnest. It was third class, which only had seats but wasn't actually that bad. But it means that people make friends with you because they think you must be hardcore. We were offered food and drink and lovely smelling face wipes all night long. We met a nice group of two girls and a fellow early on and they gave us a rather substantial dinner.

Throughout the night they gave us many lollies, pickled mango, face wipes, mandarins, cold water, sticky rice with beef and curried egg and sweet milky wafer biscuits. Libby suggested I date (with view to marrying) the pretty, young one but we all got tired and fell asleep before I could take her aside for a serious talk (the girl, not Libby).

We offered them some our suddenly embarassing snackables but they politely declined all of them except the orange drinking yoghurt. I'm not sure if they actually liked orange drinking yoghurt or if they simply felt that they refused us more times than was friendly. Having now drunk my first orange drinking yoghurt I'm going to have to assume they were just being gracious.

We also consumed rather a lot of our own snacks. Although Libby managed to scoff the finest treats while I was snoozing, including the remains of the roast almonds which she had so innocently suggested we save until later.

Amidst the feasting I started reading The Beautiful and the Damned by Fitzgerald. I suspect reading this book will be the single best thing I have ever done for my friendship with Libby.

Sleeping was a fairly awkward matter, me being rather too tall for the seats. I ended up following the lead of our friend and sleeping on the floor underneath the seats. He had troubles because his tummy was too large to slide under the seats. I had troubles because I was sufficiently tall that my feet or head would jut out into the next group's cabin. It was as dirty and claustrophobic as you fancy, but mercifully comfortable after sleeping on the seat. I discovered in the morning that the padding I had been using to save my hips was actually a small piece of beef Libby had dropped under the chair the previous night.

I was also worried that someone would tread on my during the night with so many bits sticking out from under the seats. Luckily we were sharing our area with a light-footed grandmother who hopped about without ever touching the ground. When, ready for a shiny new day, I woke up at 3am she offered me an apple. She proceeded to cut and peel it, segment by segment until I'd eaten half. When Libby woke up a little later, she got the other half. She was the best.

24 February 2007

Nong Khai

Libby and I are sitting for the day in Nong Khai. It's a hot little town in Thailand just south of Vientiane.

At the border, we crossed paths with an efficient-looking Canadian biker tourist. He ended up well in front of us during the usual passport/visa/departure-card shenanigans but as we walked out the other side we saw him walking assertively back towards us with a can of Pepsi in his hand. He smiled at us and said that Thai Pepsi did not taste as good as Lao Pepsi. Abandoning your plans to travel through Thailand for that sort of reason might seem a little drastic, but I can think of several friends who probably understand the same sort of sentiment if not the precise complaint.

We have mostly hidden out from the heat in this nice internet/ice-cream cafe. It's about 35 cents per hour which is damn cheap. Libby especially has utilitised its excellent ice cream facilities to the full. We interrupted our internet revelries to commence a bold search for pad thai which sadly ended at a grill bar run by an Australian fellow where we had a pizza.

We ate some pre-lunch snack vegetables and rice at a little street stall. The woman was a little shocked when I realised that my hard-won knowledge of Lao counting was transferable to Thailand. I probably repeated sii-sip-haa baht to her a little loudly and enthusiastically. I'm worried she just assumed that I thought that 45 baht for pre-lunch snacks was such an unbelievable bargain that I had to yell ou the price. It is a pretty good bargain, but when bargain hunting amongst people with a fraction of my income I generally try to be more discrete.

I have also drunk a fair bit of beer. Nice beer, but not Lao beer. Beer Lao vanished the moment we crossed the border. I fear that my short-lived love affair is over.

We're also about to head off on a 12 hour train journey half way across the country. What's even more fun is that we're in third-class. Hurray. Twelve hours of sweaty pain for the price of a Sydney beer.

22 February 2007


Lib and I are in Vientiane. It is very hot. And something made Lib vomit a lot, although that may not be Vientiane's fault.

I still like it here. I watched a lot of good movies on cable TV last night. Or perhaps I should say a lot of movies. They sure were a lot.

14 February 2007

Vignette URLs

Come on folks. It's 2007. When is Vignette going to get decent URLs. Lousy commas.

13 February 2007

Crawling ATMs

There was a fellow in the guest house this morning. He asked the guest house manager how to get to the border with Thailand. I'd just come from there, so I started to tell him how he could do it. He interrupted me and this conversation followed.

Man: Is that the market? I'm not going there. They'll try to rip me off.
Me: They're pretty nice. It wasn't expensive for me.
Man: They'll try to charge me 150,000 kip ($15).
Me: It's only 15,000 kip.
Man: No thanks. I'm not a walking ATM.

The conversation didn't even entirely make sense to me. I had thought we were just have a casual chat and then half way through I realised he was really angry at something (poor people I suppose). I'm not sure why he even asked the man in the first place. It's kind of like he has decided to boycott buying things to ensure he never gets ripped off.

The Beautiful People

When I first arrived in Laos I thought that all the people here were super-friendly. Everyone has the sort of wonderful smile you see in Jem and Jo's diaries. But I don't think the friendliness is the whole story. I think it may be also to do with the fact that Lao people are beautiful. Men and women and children are all beautiful. And not just some. Almost everyone. So the people are definitely amazingly friendly and smiley and merry. But also gorgeous and I've always thought of beauty as a kind of cheating.

Motorcycle Abuse

South East Asia has so many creative ways of abusing motorcycles. Each country has its own variation. Tuk-tuks, trailers, side-cars or simply squashing three grown men onto a 50cc engine. And yesterday, for the first time I saw a motorcycle bus. It was a motorcycle converted into a three wheel contraption then converted into and 8-10 seat bus. Is there anything a motorcycle engine can't do?

Marrieds Only

I'm staying at Sabaidy 2 Guest House in Pakse. They ask that men and women who are not married not share the same room. I've never seen that before, and it probably prevents the vast majority of travelling couples from sharing a room.

It's even more amusing because I am staying in a dormitory, sharing with four girls. Even I find that a little awkward.

Barack Obama

I quite like Barack Obama. Even when he talks about war.

Pol Pot

I finished reading a proper book on Pol Pot yesterday. It was a very interesting and unpleasant read. I was so eager to believe that Pol Pot was a bad person demonised by the West until everyone thought he was completely evil. We like to do that with communist leaders, while glossing over all the things right-wing leaders do wrong. But this time, I don't think that it is true. It's hard to explain why Pol Pot is so much worse than the regimes that came before and after him. They all abused their power and used obscene violence. But the Khmer Rouges promised such a great improvement in Cambodian's lives and ended up making them so much worse.

Pol Pot was a narcisstic fool. Yet thousands of people supported him without question. By the end of his regime he had tortured and executed nearly every friend he had ever had. People he had known and trusted since he was in his early 20s he suddenly concluded were insufficiently communist and had them killed.

I don't really think the Khmer Rouges knew what they believed, except that anyone who disagreed with whatever it was had to be killed. They didn't even annouce they were a communist organisation until a couple of years after they were in power. None of them seemed to have even seriously read and understood Marx. Pol Pot admitted that he had tried but didn't really understand any of it. They seemed to have ended up being mostly inspired by Mao, but I think that even Mao was pretty disgusted by them.

Perhaps it feels like that in 30 years of existence their organisation didn't really make a single good decision. They seemed to have survived purely on Pol Pot's charisma. They had no greater goal in mind. The organisation existed purely to preserve its own existence. Pol Pot "converted" to liberal capitalism in the 1990s claiming that he was a pragmatist and would pursue the most productive route to national reconstruction. But he was never a pragmatist. No one could ever tell him anything. People who told him the truth were killed. People who suggested they pursue anything other that the most severe communism were killed, no matter how logical their compromises might have been. Pol Pot formally abolished families during his reign (seriously), but 15 years later he retired (temporarily) so that he could raise his own families. He appointed one of his most trusted commanders, Son Sen, to be in charge of the Khmers Rouges. A while later he took control again and had Son Sen and his extended family shot.

More recently Pol Pot seems to have realised that his regime messed things up. He blamed it on his followers claiming they had failed him.

I think Pol Pot is so uniquely repulsive because he had so much goodwill. He had enormous support from the Chinese and the Vietnamese which he used purely to make war (and eventually kill a lot of Vietnamese). When he took power the Cambodian people loved him. But in those three years he did more harm to the Cambodian people and more harm to the socialist ideology than I would have thought possible. His regime caused all the effects of an enormous genocide while believing it was helping the same people it killed.

Lao People

People in Laos are way too friendly. I am well drunk on gifted Lao alcohol.

Beer Lao is very good. Whiskey Lao is not so good.

8 February 2007

So Much Beer

Beer in Cambodia is the same price as Coke. But unlike Coke, I don't get sick of beer. So I end up drinking beer just because I'm thirsty. It's only 50 cents for a can of good cold Cambodian beer and it's the same for Asahi. Asahi is super fancy in Australia and I can't afford to drink it. Here I you could pour it down your shirt to keep cool.

Last time I went travelling I didn't like beer so it wasn't a big deal. Then I learnt to like it. This time it is a big deal. I finally understand what Ian was talking about all that time.

Kompong Thom

Libby and I have split up for a few days. I'm going to Preah Vihear and she is going to Ban Lung. We're going to cross the border in different places and meet up in Pakse which is in the south of Laos.

I'm going to catch some sort of taxi to some Tbeng Meanchey tomorrow. Apparently the trip costs between $3 and $160. I've agreed to pay $5 so I figure I'm pretty far up the good (for me) end of the scale. I almost arranged to pay $90 last night but thought better of it at the last minute.

After that I'll hire a motorbike to investigate some old temples on some old mountain tops. Then on to Thailand for a quick train trip to the Laos border. I'm meeting Libby on the 14th February so I'll have to be quick.

Kompong Thom is a really cool town. I had my best ever fried rice for lunch. So vegetabley and giant. They also gave me some delicious iced tea completely for free. Libby and I have been eating and drinking a lot of ice despite guide book exhortations not to. So far we haven't been sick at all. Except when we ate at Kiwi Bakery and Libby got sick. But we think that might have been to quantity rather than quality. For indeed the quality was most excellent.

My hotel is only $5 a night. It has towels and toilet paper. And a fan. And 32 television channels some of which are in English. Namely AXN, Cinemax, National Geographic and Cartoon Network. You may be wondering why I am wasting precious Cambodian travel time sitting in this internet coffee blogging when I could be watching Cartoon Network. A fair question it would be too. After finishing this and a quick beer by Kompong Thom's beautiful river I'll be off for some Tom and Jerry.

Speedy Computer

I'm in an internet coffee in Kompong Thom. My computer has a little sign.

AQUA The brand of new trend for high preference 2030 go.

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