Friday, July 31, 2009

Three Nights in Bangkok...

... and the ping pong ball is your oyster, apparently.

After spending a night in Battambang. (Translates as Disappearing Stick.. Magic stick helps raise a humble cow herder to kingship, then the stick vanishes when he needs it most and the king gets it in the neck. Moral of the story "Don't trust Magic Sticks") we made our way to to the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Oh, how I love ridiculous bureaucracy and paperwork. I love even more GirlClumsy's and my steadfast refusal to jump the queue even though the tour guide, a local Cambodian named Pheap (Pee-ip), urged us to move ahead past others. I think queueing is genetically encoded into the anglo-saxon genome.

Finally we arrived in Bangkok. Venice of the East. Grimey city of 11 million. Many many tuk-tuks (taxi motorcycles that try to take you to shops you dont want to go to) and many many people desperate to get me to the dreaded ping pong show.

Now, I am as red blooded as the next man but I really have no interest in this sort of melarkey. One of the eager men that wanted me to follow him to pleasures both genital and sport related was so confused that I didnt want to go. He kept following me asking again again "You want Ping Pong Show?" The more I rebuffed him the the more confused and eager he became. Thinking I might believe it to be a boring ping pong match and not a young lady showing her mastery of genital hydraulics he started miming the actions from the show and gleefully yelling "Ping-Pong.. banana.. COKE BOTTLE!" ... Oh, the hilarity. I was approached so many times in the first evening I am worried I must look like "One of those Ping Pong Guys (tm)" brrrr.

Had a good look at the Grand Palace in the centre of the city (Very Cambodian in style.. I'm just saying that to piss the Thai off. Thailand was originally a Cambodian province that broke away about 800 years ago. For the rest of my life intend to point at things that look thai-ish and say "Cambodian?".. and then duck) and the Reclining Buddha statue (46m long, 15 high, gold plated from head to foot) at the WatPho temple. Biiiig Buddha.. smiling in that calm way that seemed to say to me "Hey Atheist, I could crush you like a bug. I won't... but I could".

GC and I are off to the Tiger Temple tomorrow and then off to the River Kwai for some more dark tourism.

The fun never stops!

Monday, July 27, 2009

You Siem Reap what you sow

I was 311 kilometres outside of Phnom Penh, sitting in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Siem Reap, dressed in my ridiculous Vietnam war era cloth hat, nursing yet another Angkor Beer when I started wondering "How did I get here?". Why was I here? What was the reason? Why was I becoming a bizarre Hunter S Thompson parody?

I could feel The Fear start to wash over me in waves but i wrestled the demon back into its box by slamming down a pint of the 75 cent local beer. Soon I could feel the warm fingers of dutch courage reinforce my testicular fortitude.

Then it all came clear...

The last time we chatted, dear reader, was back in Central Vietnam. I could regale you with tales, tall and true, about the journey south but I will leave that to the highly accomplished Girl Clumsy.

My story begins aboard a public bus heading out of Vietnam into Cambodia. Blasting in my ears from my portable music magic box is the Dead Kennedy's "Holiday in Cambodia". It is important, gentle reader, to have the right music for each country you travel. Vietnam has a massive range all going back to the American War. I chose "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and "One Night in Bangkok" from the musical "Chess" will play me into Thailand.

The music sets the mood... and the wailing guitars of the Dead Kennedys pumped up for this unknown destination.

The first thing i noticed was comparative poverty of Cambodia compared to Vietnam. Now, don't get me wrong, the average Vietnamese is not wearing Gucci and buying this season's Prada bag... well they are but they are all cheap Chinese knock-offs - but i digress. After Pol Pot's little 4 year soiree through this land they lost nearly 50% of their population either from having their faces ripped off for being educated, related to the educated or standing upright at the wrong time or from dying from starvation after the glorious Year Zero. Let me tell you, Year Zero it was... everything was razed to the ground... schools, universities, hospitals - you name it. It has taken these people all this time to get off the ground.

But they have their sights aimed high and a spirit to match. It will be interesting to see how much this place grows in the next ten years, as long as their cold war tussle with Thailand over "who-owns-what-province" doesn't go hot.

The capital Phnom Penh is a bustling city, all mad asian energy and anarchy. They want to build a 75% scale replica of the Sydney opera house on the banks of the main river... mad! GC and I drank at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penh (It is the places to be seen, donchaknow) and wandered the Russian Markets. I discovered GC was the world's worst haggler.

Cunning Cambodian Stall Woman - You give me 3 dolla, I give you shirt
GirlClumsy - NEVER! You give me shirt, I give you.... 2 dollars, fifty cents!
Cunning Cambodian Stall Woman - *Stunned* Um... OKAY!
The Wah - *Face Palm* DOH!

Not as amusing as watching GC single handedly stimulate the Cambodian economy was our visit to Pol Pot's S-21 secret prison. The fact he turned a high school into a place where thousands were incarcerated, mutilated and murdered makes my blood boil. I never realised we had an Auchwitz so close to our shores. From there the fun continued with a visit to the Killing Fields.
Holy Crap in a bucket. 17000 killed.. not with guns but with crowbars, axes and other blunt instruments of delight... and don't even ask me about the babies... If Pol Pot wasn't dead I'd kick him so hard in the groin his ancestors would wince.

Fun Fact - Pol Pot was a very charismatic man. Supposedly, all that knew him personally thought he was erudite, charming and friendly. You'd be grinning all the way up to the point he had his hired goons remove your face with a sharpened shovel. How do these bastards get loved so much... is it sort of mass murderer's cologne?

Anyhooo.. enough of the ugly past. GC and I blasted out of Phnom Penh and wound our way to Siem Reap (Another Fun Fact - Siem Reap translates roughly into "The Death of the Thai".. its good to see that even in Asia people fight, squabble and steal land from their neighbours.. huzzah for humanity). Siem Reap is a touristy (as far as that term applies to a place with only 11 years of stability since the Vietnamese pissed off) town that supplies eats and sleeps for the nearby Angkor Wat (and the more impressive complex Angkor Thom) temples.

You all know Angkor Wat... Buddhist/Hindu temples, one thousand years old, in the middle of the forest... Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft - Tomb Raider and shot up many of these temples in the name of Mom, Apple-Pie and the Almighty Dollar (actually I think Lara is English but I just don't care). GC and I were at Angkor Wat before dawn to see the sunrise be reflected in the pools in front of the main temple complex. Unfortunately my Sun God powers failed me again (missed the total solar eclipse by TWO days). I am starting to think my Sun God powers are euro-centric. Buddha and Shiva might be tagging teaming against me to deliver a Buddhist/Hindu Smackdown to my secular testicles. It didn't rain but the cloud cover was thick. No sunrise for us! We spent the next 7 hours wandering through literally kilometres of temples and ruins. Angkor Thom is a staggering 9km square!

Had the absolute time of my life.. and that was before the Elephants! We bought a hand of bananas and fed the Elephants as quickly as they wanted to be fed.. we had no choice :) I was in awe of these beautiful creatures. I kept giggling like a school boy. I think GC might have video evidence. I was enthralled by the way it would suddenly contract its pupil and really LOOK at me... mainly when I stopped feeding it bananas. When I ran out of food for it I showed the mighty beast my hands were empty. The elephant looked at me for a long moment and then took one large step forward. Its huge trunk came out and I was effectively frisked. Obviously these elephants are no one's fool!

Oh, don't get me started about the monkeys. They jumped our bus and refused to get off. Fun!

This is turning into a massive tome, and so, gentles all, I will leave you with this thought from the deck of the Foreign Correspondents Club here in Siem Reap. The local beer in Cambodia is cold, cheap and the best beer I have ever tasted.

I dip my ridiculous hat to Cambodia for that alone...

Monday, July 20, 2009

From Hue to Hoi An

With the brutal jellyfishing behind us, GirlClumsy and I moved onto Hue (Hway... actually, if you want to pronounce it properly you have to say Hway as if it was a question "Hway?". The upwards inflection at the end is the correct way to say it in vietnamese. Scary tonal languages!)

Hue is the old capital of the Champa kingdom and also of Vietnam in the past. It is biggish city with all the fun and frivolty a big city can provide, but more importantly it still has the walled imperial city at its heart. Our wonderful hostel/resort was in the middle of the imperial city. Oh, how the vietnamese ancestors must be rolling in their burial pots knowing that decadent capitalist westerners trample their ancient soil. Even more exciting we can get into the walled "Forbidden City" of the walled Imperial City. This was where the King and his 500 concubines used to hang out.. it is good to be the king, it seems. Most of the Forbidden City was bombed back to rubble during the "American War" (yep, not the Vietnam War.. but that makes sense here at ground zero) but now is being restored and rebuilt.

When Vietnam went over to communism with Colonel Sanders.. um, i mean Ho Chi Minh (He DOES look like the Colonel.. deny it!) the King stood down peacefully (at first). This means that many of his family still live in Hue. They are considered "small potatoes" in the glorious revolution but they are affluent potatoes.. with heads still attached to shoulders. Hue was the first city to south of the 17th parallel to fall to the north vietnamese after the americans decided to cut their losses and skedaddle.

We went on a fabulous motorcycle ride through the Hue countryside has all the gory details on that little piece of madness.

We then took a slow bus to Hoi An (Hoy Ann). Hoi An has a beautiful old town section with delightful little buildings and many markets pushed into the streets. You can buy everything from dead fish to dead flowers ;) I pointed out to Natalie that all the shops here are very similar. It is all "Dead Chickens and T-Shirts". I think that might sum up Vietnam's shopping entirely.

Fun Fact! Cat (Small Tiger) tastes like rabbit and Dog tastes like goat.. so now you know. Yes, they do eat anything made from meat, excluding people. You better be careful if you order a "small tiger beer". You may just end up with a plate of mysterious meat and a local brew instead of the small can of chinese beer you were after... sinister. The best beer by far here in Vietnam, so far, is Hudas. Oh, the hilarity in hearing the joke "Those are the biggest Hudas I have ever seen". My sides nearly split. (GirlClumsy has a pic with her Hudas showing.. and if you ask her nicely she might just post it!).

Not everything in Hoi An is dead chickens and tshirts. The ancient town is well known for cheap and fast, good quality tailors. The 2km square area has 400 tailors or different costs and quality.
GirlClumsy nearly blew a gasket when she realised she could have anything made from photos or internet pictures, and it would be tailored to fit her measurements. She has been a one woman shopping dynamo terrifying the population with her enthusiasm for shopping and her cheery "You give me another shirt/pants/suit for free because I am a nice person" (it even worked).

I had no interest in this coutre madness but GirlClumsy will not be denied. I was flung into Yali (the number one tailor in Hoi Am, supposedly) with but one mission "Get thee a suit, Mr Wah"

I had to brave the feminine terrors of the tailors. Lovely vietnamese woman ask "What cut do you want? What colour? What fabric?" HOW THE HELL DO I KNOW?! I am a colour blind man built like a belligerent potato and you think i know about fabrics?!

After much cursing, swearing, sobbing and pleading (all from me) I managed to have made a rather natty black suit with purple lining.

Oh yes, I am The Fashion Wah.

GC left me today to my own devices after we came back from seeing the Hindu ruins of My Son (Me Sun). They were very interesting and well worth a visit if you are ever in this part of the world. It is amazing how 70 temples to Shiva and Vishnu can be lost for hundreds of years in the Vietnamese jungles... well, actually it is amazing they dont lose more towns in these jungles. Very Jungly.

GC has been off having more jackets made up and threatened me with the phrase "I am going for a full body treatment at a day spa"... sounds positively filthy!

Anyhoo.. having a marvellous time here in Vietnam. This country has everything. History, food and enough different wars to keep you interested for decades.

Finally, Happy Birthday to my Mater!

and well done to the Americans for putting men on the moon 40 years ago...

Wah.. Out!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good Morning.... Hanoi

Well, GirlClumsy and I have arrived safely in Vietnam.

Hanoi is a mad mad city. 6 million or so and they all drive scooters.. anyway they want to. When you want to cross the street you just have to step out and face the madness. In the end the imminent vehicular death becomes rather blaise!

No Fear!

GC and I went to Ha Long Bay. Full of limestone islands jutting straight out of the ocean, and huge caves within those islands... and jellyfish.

Both GirlClumsy and I were stung by jellyfish when we were swimming. It hurt, a lot. Even better, the boat didn't have any vinegar... mmm burning pain.

But we aren't dead... so nyah to you Vietnam!

The Wah adds jellyfish to things that can not kill him! BOOYAH! Take that gelantinous terror!

Monday, July 13, 2009


The second series of "Prognosis: Death! - RELAPSE" has finished.

It was an amazing experience to have a role in this totally improvised medical, comedy, drama, science-fiction mash-up.

We had excellent houses every night. On the final night we broke 100! ... and splashed quite a few with our stage blood as well... Where else can you see real, fake medical procedures on stage?

Dr Burton Mangold operates on himself

What is especially gratifying, and a little bit spooky, is the level of fandom that has built up around the production. We sold 20 season passes (see all the six shows for only $45 or $30 if you were concession) and 40 merchandising badges. We had quite a few patrons watching the show dressed in medical costumes!

"Prognosis : Death!" is a fan favourite and I can reveal that the series 3 "Prognosis: Death! - PANDEMIC" will make an appearance at the Arts Theatre next year.

Prognosis: Death! - RELAPSE

Season 2

Episode 4 - "St Love: Action Comics No.1"

The St Love Family Nuclear Facility suffers a catas
trophic meltdown. However, due to the expertise and quick thinking of Dr Burton Mangold not one person dies. And all this before the starting credits! Unfortunately the local wildlife is irradiated, including the St Love Sloth. Dr Ludwig LeStrange is bitten by the isotopic sloths and begins an amazing transformation into Sloth-Man! With his steady brachiating powers and his powerful grip he begins to fight crime in St Love. Little did he know that greta power leads to great silliness. A worker at the nuclear facility was also irradiated. When he is merged with Hammy the Hamster he becomes "Hamster-Man" and vows revenge on St Love. Can Sloth-Man overcome the vaguely piss-poor plots of Hamster-Man? Will it take all day? How will the staff of St Love Hospital survive the slightly ineffectual assaults of Hamster-Man and his sidekick Guinea-Piggy?!

Episode 5 - "St Love and the Odyssessy"

When a ancient vase, covered in ancient greek homosexual erotic art, is delivered to Chief Medical SuperIntendent Harold Dean, little does he realise what horrors it contains. Nurse Lottie Buble, ignored by her paramour Dr Burton Mangold, is possessed (possession happens a lot at St Love Hospital) by the man-eating (literally) Siren that lives in the greek vase. Her murderous rampage throughout the hospital leaves a trail of blood, organs and lilting singing in her wake. Can the surviving members of the staff track down the Siren and rescue Buble's soul? Can love conquer all? Can we ever get the blood out of the back curtain at the theatre?

Dare you enter the labyrinth of the Gay Minotaur?

The Siren stalks the Earth again!

Episode 6 - "St Love the and the Cursed Gold of Quetzacoatl"

We discover that St Love was founded when Spanish Con
quistadors slaughtered a tribe of Aztecs during an ancient aztec mytical rite. The Spanish steal the Aztec's idol but not before they are cursed by the dying priest. What aztecs are doing in this part of the world... we have no idea.

Years later...

Dr Rik Cocksteady has returned to St Love and has become th
e Mayor. He knows about the aztec gold and wants it for his own. Putting his devilish plan in operation he shuts down the hospital and takes the aztec idol for his own. Little does he realise that the idol is cursed! Soon he falls to its power and his madness grows. Cocksteady goes on a murderous rampage throughout the hospital (these happen a lot at St Love hospital as well) and it is up to staff of St Love to stop him. Will the hospital re-open? Will the Curse of of Quetzacoatl be broken? Will Cocksteady get the gold he really wants... Mangold? ... and who is that mystery man hiding in the shadows and why does he look so much like Dr Burton Mangold?

Hell hath no fury like a Nurse, and a Doctor everyone always calls a Nurse, scorned

The Wedding of Dr Burton Mangold and Nurse Buble

Another season behind us and so many twists and turns in front of us. What does the future hold in store for the staff at St Love Hospital?

Cleanup needed in operating room three

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

You Lucky, Lucky Bastard

Larry Niven, in his "Ringworld" novels, suggested the idea that human beings are the dominant form of life on the planet not because they were genetically predisposed to being smart but because they were genetically predisposed to being lucky. He even toyed with the idea of aliens breeding certain human bloodlines to create the ultimate lucky human.

Recently I benefited from good old human luck.

Before I go on I'll make the point that if you are reading this you are, like me, incredibly lucky in the first place. You were born into a time with amazing technology and freedom and you were born on a part of the planet that probably places you at the top 10% of the wealthiest people on the entire Earth.

Okay, segue over, now onto the Luck ontop of the generic luck.

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Education and, for my sins, I will soon be a teacher of children. I'll let that sink for a moment... Chilling, isn't it?

Last semester I was forced to do a subject called 'Advanced Calculus B'. I have no love for higher mathematics; I see its use, and I like using it as a tool of Physics but I get no joy from the mathematics itself. It is merely a tool I employ to complete a job. I may enjoy building a house but I get no joy from learning how a hammer or saw operates.

Last year I did 'Advanced Calculus A' and, through hard work and perseverence, managed to squeak in with a High Distinction. It was difficult and required a lot of effort but I seem to 'get' Differentiation of a function. It made some sort of sense to me.

But 'Advanced Calculus B' saw the onset of Integration, and that was a whole new, nasty smelling, kettle of fish. For those of you with knowledge of the subject you may find my difficulty at Integration perplexing. Integration is Differentiation in reverse. If you have a function and you Differentiate it and then you Integrate the new function generated you end up with the original function. It all sounds so simple when you put it like that. But for some reason I couldn't make the damn thing work. As the weeks went on Integration became more arcane and unfathomable. I kept hoping the light of comprehension would shine through the clouds of confusion... but it never did.

I was beside myself with worry. The final exam was in less than a week and I had to study for it and my Global Systems subject at the same time. I had ballsed up the mid-semester test something awful and the two assignments I had handed in were more amusing than enlightening (I have a habit of writing fun comics and gags on my assignments and exams when I am either confident or terrified of the work. It would be interesting to see if people could see which was which). As the final days of study approached I was bogged in the mire of Integration with no help in sight. As the cool kids say 'OMG!'.

I kept hoping to be struck down with Swine Flu or a bad case of Terrorism but to no avail. I was hale and hearty, at least physically; the stress was making as mad as a cut snake on LSD.

On the very final day of available study I went through the past exams of the subject. They had been posted by the lecturer a few weeks earlier. To my horror I flunked every..single.. one of them. Utterly ballsed them up. Completely fubared the lot. I was, as they say, up excrement stream without a method of propulsion.

The trip to the university and the exam room was a long and dark one. I took my seat with a class of, mainly, fresh faced and beautiful young nerds. My heart was heavy as I waited for the aging invigilator to ring the bell so we could respond pavlovian style and begin the exam.

And that, gentle reader, is when I realised how lucky I was. Much of the exam I had seen before! Less than 12 hours earlier I had been attempting a past exam and this new exam before me was 50% copied from that exam: almost number for number. Of course, there were a few cosmetic changes, an x squared to an x cubed, or a minus sign added here and there, but at its core it was essentially the same exam... and though I flubbed it the first time round it occurred to me that I could still remember the answers as given by the lecturer... Out poured the memorised answers, with a few necessary cosmetic changes. Slightly more than 50% of the exam pulled almost directly from memory. The rest of the work I manfully attempted. Writing and re-writing, scribbling ideas and concepts hither and yon.

At the end of our allotted time, the craggy faced old woman (who they seem to clone to watch over university exams), rang her little bell again to signal the end. I looked around at the beautiful geeks surrounding me. I could see an equal mix of terror and elation on their smooth, unblemished faces (but maybe that is a common mixture of emotions on the faces of those not quite through the Terror of Puberty). Making my way out of the university grounds I was numb. I couldn't believe how fortunate I had just been.

The full power of my fortune became apparent at the start of this week when I received my over all grade for the subject: a Distinction. Albeit, I had sidled into a Distinction by 1% but a 6 is a 6 and I will hear not a jot against it, Sir!

So, the 64 thousand dollar question is... can I Integrate?

Not really...

If I saw an Integration on the horizon I could probably distinguish it by its sunlit silhouette but don't ask me if it is the Southern Hairy Nosed Integration or its more Northerly cousin.

Could I teach it to high school kidlings?

Probably not... but I never intend to teach mathematics to school kids, especially not university level mathematics. It is not one of my majors, thank the gods.

Did I cheat to achieve the mark I achieved?

Is it cheating when the lecturer is lazy enough to cut and paste 50% of an exam from three years ago and shove it this year's exam? I say, No.

Did you actually learn anything in the 13 weeks doing the subject 'Advanced Calculus B'?

I learnt that fortune favours the prepared mind. I learnt that I am a lucky, lucky bastard, albeit that didn't take 13 weeks to grasp but only the last three hours of the course, in exam conditions.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Prognosis : Death! - RELAPSE!

It seems you can't keep a good hospital down. ImproMafia's Medical, Comedy, Soap Opera "Prognosis: Death" is back at the Brisbane Arts Theatre for it's second season (codenamed - RELAPSE!).

You can read the synopses of all Season One in earlier posts in this blog

The medical staff of St Love Hospital have to deal with many strange events.

Monsters, Tragedy and ... Love!
(and don't forget the buckets of blood sprayed onto the cast each night)

Prognosis : Death! - RELAPSE!
Season Two

Episode One - "St Love and the Visitors"

Dr Burton Mangold stands up
Nurse Lottie Buble at their wedding and vanishes to places unknown.

... months pass at St Love...

One night a strange light from the sky attracts Reverend Jeremy Thistlewaite to the St Love National Forest. He is possessed by an alien life form that wishes to turn all of St Love into a race of mind controlled slaves in fabulous headdresses. When all seems lost it is revealed that the man everyone thought was the St Love Lighthouse Keeper was none other than Dr Burton Mangold in a cunning disguise! Torn apart by their conflicting desires, Mangold, Buble and the rest of the St Love staff have to somehow come together to fight back the FABULOUS alien menace.

Nurse Buble learns the meaning of the expression "Splashback"

Episode Two - "St Love and the Phantom"
aka "The Phantom of the Operating Theatre"

Dr Melody Carmichael (Intern) had a difficult start to her career. At St Love Medical School her mentor was tragically crushed by a badly stacked pile of George Foreman Grills. Many years later at St Love Hospital rats erupt from the basement levels of the hospital and a strange disembodied voice is heard calling to Dr Melody Carmichael (Intern). Could this be her mutilated mentor back from the dead looking for revenge? Who will the Phantom kill to gain his revenge? Can the Staff of St Love stop his mad schemes.. and is the mirror-ball in the St Love Dance Hall about to come smashing to the ground?

The Phantom of the Operating Theatre

Episode Three - "St Love and the Voodoo Curse"

Reverend Jeremy Thistewaite is struck down by a strange Voodoo curse and falls into a coma. He is replaced by the sensual latino Reverend Casanova Lovechild, The sexiest priest from St Love's Latin Quarter. Dr Melody Carmichael and Dr Ludwig LeStrange, one by one, fall to the voodoo curse becoming lust filled marionettes. Can all this evil voodoo be blamed on Reverend Casanova Lovechild? Why has Chief Medical Superintendent Harold Dean been seen with a creepy nun puppet that talks in a voice not his own? Can even Dr Burton Mangold, the best damn doctor in all of St Love, stop this VooDoo threat?

Feel the sultry, sweaty, smoky and sexy power of Reverend Casanova Lovechild, the sexiest priest from St Love's Latin Quarter

The first three episodes of "Prognosis: Death - RELAPSE" have been a hoot and a half. If you missed any of these shows, don't be disheartened! There are three more shows you can see.

Every night is improvised, so every storyline is fresh and new based on suggestions from you the audience.

This season we are offering personalised hospital ID bad
ges for sale at the show. Created by Dan Beeston ( these badges will make you one of the staff of St Love Hospital.

Personalised St Love Hospital ID Badge

For more information go to or

Welcome to St Love Hospital "You'll lose your mind, your heart.. and possibly your kidneys"

The Staff of St Love Hospital

All the photos were taken by St Love Hospital's resident musician, Kris Anderson or his wife, Wanda. Check out Kris' amazing impro-musical blog at