Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ubud Wandering

Hi! I'm the guy who writes less and less frequently. Something about being busy bla bla bla excuses.


As we begin to branch out from Seminyak, one of the recommended spots to go do stuff is Ubud. There are bike tours and yoga retreats and mountains 'n stuff, all of which sound lovely, but it's just a spine-wrecking and nausea-inducing two-hour bus ride away through shattered roads, choking traffic, and dense clouds of plastic smoke. Put me in, coach!


We make a stop at the terraced rice paddies of Tegalalang, which are cool, but the Hustle is alive and well here, too. Wanna walk up to that next level? Perhaps you'd consider a donation? Oh, that's all? Got any more? Dude.

The famous terraces

Life groweth

Next stop is Ubud itself, where we've got this eco bike tour thing booked the next day, which deserves its own post. The right thing to do is probably to spend a couple nights in Ubud, thus sparing ourselves the soul-swallowing bus ride back to Seminyak where we're still resident (and then back and forth again the next day...), but we're not yet this smart.

Anyhow, our mission today in Ubud is to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest, which is cool, but the Hustle is alive and well here, too, except this time it's the monkeys.

God forbid you wear a hat or glasses or carry any visible food, because if you do, a shrieking monkey will stalk you, climb on you, steal your shit, and then go hold it hostage for a piece of fruit. Our mate Ruby even acquires a for-realz monkey bite and gets to buy a few rabies shots. Lucky girl.


Mission accomplished

At the end of the day and after a couple of really nice meals/snacks, we return to Seminyak to practice our Hustle Avoidance Skills for a couple more days, but we have located a driver who's down with the whole photo stop thing, so that's sweet.

Rural scene

Soggy feet

Unfortunately, most of my memories of this day are tainted by the spectre of clenching my exhaust valve like a toddler holding a helium balloon (see aforementioned note about GI problems, and in case the simile doesn't compute for you, the answer is "with singular and consuming focus"), but I'm a trooper, and promise to only complain about it to anonymous strangers on the internet instead of my travel companions.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Uluwatu and Wedding

Well, it now appears that I write blog posts once a quarter, so perhaps this is a good indication of what my day job workload has been like.

Anyhow, continuing on with photos from our trip to Bali, I have noted that the purpose of our trip was a wedding for Ethel's BFF from Ireland, who now lives in Perth. Bali is a cheap, nearby, and boozy holiday for the Aussies, but it's a lot further from nearly anywhere but Western Australia.

The wedding party is staying well afield from Seminyak and in the greater Uluwatu area. They've rented a pretty epic villa, which most definitely wasn't built with drug money, and it provides a welcome respite from the madness of Seminyak. Unfortunately, it takes an hourlong taxi ride on utterly decrepit roads to get there, so the trek there is an adventure in and of itself.

Wedding night moon

This villa overlooks the Indian Ocean, and the views are correspondingly amazing. No wedding photos to share as they had that department covered.

The next day affords us the opportunity to explore a little bit more around Uluwatu and its cliffs and temples.

Missteps punished here

Temple carvings

One of many examples of Hanuman

Wedding hangovers subsiding, we then return to the villa for a markedly less formal party, a refreshing break from the pomp and circumstance of the day prior.

Horrible villa

The afterparty quickly devolves into all sorts of shenanigans, a direct consequence of putting a bunch of vacationing Irish and Aussies in close proximity to a supply of alcohol.

Coming through

On the catwalk

Good lift from the footy team

After this party, the wedding-related festivities have come to a close, so we're free to move about the country for the duration of our stay. We've got a few more days of being based in Seminyak and its Hustle, but we're ready to go explore and see what there is to see!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Our MEL layover is the price of admission for cheap passage to Bali. Ethel's childhood bestie is getting married there and it's the type of shindig that's not to be missed. When we get off the plane, we're flattened by the heat and humidity, and this is followed in short order by the extortion visa fee at passport control. Minutes beyond this, we are thrust directly into the maelstrom of The Hustle: every two seconds, we're solicited for something or other (ride to town, carry your bags, directions to the ATM, etc etc etc). It's a taste of what we'll experience over the duration of our stay, and it's oppressive. We've got a ride prearranged, and my instinct in cases like this is to act like I belong (and mind my valuables), but that's an impossibility in a place like Indonesia.

When we find our ride, I'm ready to tune out the world in the relative safety of the car. Hahahahaha. Entering the flow of traffic is unlike anything I've ever experienced in many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of miles of driving (I think I'll write more about traffic in Bali later on). Our route takes us down progressively more ridiculous streets until we're finally in a dead-end alley so narrow that the driver must stop at a cutout so that the car doors can open.

Anyhow, we have successfully arrived, in one piece, at the villa we're sharing with 6 other people, so we drop our bags and immediately retreat across the street for a cocktail. Having a 10pm introduction to the madness of Seminyak is amply disorienting...sights, sounds, and smells all make equal assaults.

Anyhow, our villa is lovely and serves as a ready respite from the madness down the alley, around the corner, and in the whirlwind of Seminyak's main drag:

Quite nice!

We've got a few days in Seminyak, and I can't say that I've got much nice to say about it. Between the drunken Aussies, the din of car horns, and the oppressive humidity, the silver linings are few and far between. I count them as discovering an awesome coffee shop, being able to relax in the villa's relative silence, and oh wait that's about it.

Also, I pretty rapidly contract some sort of bug, probably from eating salad or the ice in a drink or something, and enjoy this as my primary view for a couple of days:

Game of Throne

While some of the other places we'll go don't feel as sketchy, Seminyak itself feels -super- sketchy to me, so I usually don't even take the camera with me when we go wandering. In hindsight, I was probably overly cautious, but my general approach when traveling is to be as small of a target as possible.

Beyond the "small target" effort and the "leaky gut" escapade, a fair bit of bandwidth goes toward not dying. Pitfalls are around every corner - they include, but are not limited to: exposed rebar, jagged open drains, rabid dogs, insane drivers, Australians, corrupt police, heat, humidity, carcinogenic plastic smoke, and machetes. As facetious as I may come off, these charming dangers are actually a lot of the fun of traveling. I know that we could, wallets permitting, be whisked off via helicopter to some exclusive resort, but that's not really experiencing a place, is it?


Standard state of disrepair

I take particular notice of this scaffolding right down the alley from our villa. I don't have my camera with me the day prior when it's twice as high and five times as sketchy, but you get the idea.

Totally fine

We do find some nice cafes and whatnot. Unfortunately, I have just recently finished reading Snowing in Bali, and it's hard for me to look at any capital-intensive (and conspicuously empty) restaurant and assume that it's not built on bales of coke.



Deliberate vintage

Ah, whatever. Still a nice spot for breakfast.

Perhaps more noteworthy than these various sources of discomfort is that there's a huge disparity between wages and the cost of all things related to tourism; it feels extremely exploitative towards the Balinese. This is my first time traveling somewhere "dirt cheap," so maybe I'm just extra-attuned to it, but the general theme is that of squalor just over the wall of every four-star resort, and it's quite hard to reconcile. This is another topic that will be a recurrent theme as I take you on a fair and balanced tour of the place :)

While it's unfortunate that Seminyak itself is the lowlight of the trip for me, it does mean that better experiences are in our immediate future!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MEL Layover

On a sunny day last year, Murphy and I find ourselves with just the wrong amount of time in the Melbourne airport...far too long to really feel like staying in an airport, but barely too short to escape and make an excursion into the city for a quick lunch. Changing from being a transiting passenger to a passenger entering Australia and then subsequently having to re-clear security has both time and cost implications, and Tullamarine isn't right by Melbourne's CBD, either.

This great indignity means that we do get to explore more of MEL than we would have otherwise, and it happens to be a pretty quiet day in the terminal, so we find ourselves enjoying an atypical luxury in an airport - isolation. Entire departure areas without a soul in sight are seemingly around every corner!

Of course, this means that I've got ample time to wander around with my camera, in between lunch breaks, coffee breaks, duty free breaks, etc.


Patiently waiting

Expanded metal


Pretty bird

When we finally get to board our flight, the day is nearly gone. It's my first time on a 787, and while it feels pretty much like any other plane, we're theoretically going to be less jet-lagged on the far side thanks to the lower cabin altitude. All that aside, I do manage to catch some great Australian sunset light on the engine and wing.

787 at sunset

Next stop DPS!


Friday, February 19, 2016

Renovated Reno Residence

Architectural photography is a form of this art I enjoy immensely, but is one I don't get to practice as often as I'd like. It's extremely time-consuming and super-technical; I also can't imagine what it would be like to do this during film days. Mad respect yo.

Whenever I have the opportunity to dive into some architectural work, I'm usually keen for it, and I feel fortunate to be excellent friends with a guy who produces astounding residential and commercial spaces. Lest this sound like an ad, Paolo, overlord at Tutto Ferro, cares deeply about his craft, so I love setting up a camera in front of his work.

Anyhow, these photos are from a house in Old Southwest Reno that underwent a lengthy and comprehensive renovation. It still (mostly) looks like an Old Southwest home from the outside, but nearly everything got given a good going-through. Here are my favorites:

Side walkway

Front yard

Front door


Sitting room

Many surfaces

Coolest guest bathroom ever; sunken Japanese tub

Stacked sliders

Back patio

Thanks again to the owners for graciously allowing access, to Paolo for his tireless work to transform the joint, and to top-notch photo slaves Nate and Murphy for tolerating the drudgery.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hookjaw Swoop

Ed. note: goddamn backlog.

Last year Two years ago, Murphy and I found ourselves indecisive about what to do over Memorial Day weekend, so we made a snap decision to go visit Hookjaw in Montana. Of course, we don't go there often enough, but it's grade-A R&R material whenever we do go.

Hookjaw is an official Guilt-Free Zone, which means that most anything goes. In practice, it's a little less hedonistic and a little more epicurean, which is a) just fine, and b) probably why it doesn't have tales of debauchery floating about.

It -is- the Wild West, so refreshers on gun safety are part of the customary menu.

Hold on tight, snowflake

Something something second amendment

Perhaps one of the more noteworthy aspects of Hookjaw is the ridiculous amount of territory that's easily accessible just out the front and back doors. Between the high concentration of fly-fishing temples, gigantic valleys, and expansive mountain ranges, there's always something to go explore. Grand views, details, and decay are all equally interesting given one's mood.

Aforementioned decay

Another day on the Jeff

Hookjaw is right along the Jefferson River, and the valley is classic Montana Big Sky. In addition to the obvious outdoorsman-type pursuits, there's easy access to hiking, trail running, and biking, which always perks up my little elf ears. I've gone for 20-mile runs up in the mountains and 2-mile trots along the river; both are equally rewarding, although the former usually means more treats.

Compliant willows

Beavers do their thing

Most days end with a beer in hand and a wander around the neighborhood. Everything's in a constant state of change due to nature doing its thing and whatever wildlife happens to be passing through.

Hells Canyon Creek

Post/wire detail

On this particular trip, Murphy comes equipped with a Tenkara fly rod, which she puts through its paces, at least in a cursory fashion.

Murphy takes a call from her stockbroker

Behind the scenes: -very- patient lighting crew

It's easy to lose an entire day to traipsing around up in the hills, mountains, rocks, streams, and forests. There's lots of evidence of human presence, but at any given moment, dollars to donuts you're the only one around.

Nice spot to relax

Across from the Tobacco Roots

The BBQ, campfire, and warm roof back at home base always mean that the day's sins are forgotten, swiftly after they're shared with whomever else happens to be crashing the party.

Lazy Jefferson

Sunset in the hills

While the days at Hookjaw always tend to be filled with something or other, sometimes frenetic and sometimes very lazy, it's always a relaxing way to disappear for a while. The 12-hour drive from Reno is a bit of a downer, but perhaps this is a small price to pay for a little slice of wild west paradise.


Past Detritus