Monday, 28 May 2012

Getting ready for the field trip

OK, at a certain point this stopped being field-trip packing, and became a creative procrastination endeavour, but how cool is this mobile spice rack made from a fishing tackle box?

So now I'm at Ramingining with colleagues, and the store  is very bare and we don't know when we will get fresh vegetables, but we can  eat saffron rice with infused with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom pods :)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Statement from the Yolŋu Nations Assembly

To the Leaders of the Australian Federal and Northern Territory Parliaments:

1. The Yolŋu Nations reject the Stronger Futures Bill (and those associated) and call on the Senate to discard these Bills in full. We have clearly informed you that we do not support the legislation.

 The Australian Federal Government can achieve all its aims through partnership in our communities. They have no need to grant themselves the continued and new powers contained within these Bills.

2. Until the Stronger Futures Bill (and those associated) are thrown out of the Australian Federal Parliament, the Yolŋu Nations call on all traditional owners across the Northern Territory to refuse:
a) participation in land lease negotiations with the Australian Federal Government, and
b) approval for any exploration licenses  

3. The traditional owners (T.Os) of prescribed community lands have been placed under extreme pressure from the Australian Federal Government to grant them head leases over these communities. T.Os want independently facilitated negotiations that can result in enhancing the interests of both the T.Os and the Australian Federal Government.

4. The Land Councils are increasingly being pressured by Government to act outside their roles and become agencies of Government. We want our Land Councils to advocate for our needs and not have their independence curtailed by Government funding arrangements and political interference.

The Yolŋu Nations call on the Australian Federal Parliament to ask the Auditor General for a review of the relationship between the Australian Federal Government and the Land Councils of the Northern Territory.

5. The Yolŋu Nations call on both the Australian Federal and Northern Territory Governments to end their interventionist policies and agendas, and return to a mindset of partnership based on the principles of Self-Determination.

6. The Yolŋu Nations call on the Northern Territory Government to reform the structures of local government (the Shires) to better reflect Yolŋu and 1st People’s government structures which will provide a more locally based and accessible form of local government.

7. The Yolŋu Nations call for an end to the Northern Territory Government’s Working Futures policy. For the sustainable social and economic development of our society Homelands need to be considered equal to communities that were former mission and government settlements.

8. The Yolŋu Nations call for an end to the Northern Territory Government’s Compulsory Teaching in English for the First Four Hours of Each School Day policy. To be successful we need education with instruction in our Yolŋu languages through all levels of schooling.

Djirrkaymirr Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra
Spokesperson Yolŋuw Makarr Dhuni


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Saturday afternoon update

Well this is a bit of a disappointing position from John Pilger: "Bradley Manning, not gay marriage, is the issue" . I for one don't see the need  to counterpose campaigns for peace, freedom and  equality like Pilger seems to be doing in this case. Yay for all the excellent comments people are posting.

In other news, a little Emma update:

In Vietnam I bought some very good headphones, and since coming home I've been having a bit of a musical revolution with my iPod- listening to music I've loved for years and hearing bass lines, backing vocals and harmonies I never knew were there.... Hmmm maybe my last headphones were just really bad.

Next weekend I am driving to Ramingining with some colleagues. Here it is on a map of my stomping ground:

It's my first time to Ramo, and the first  time in a while that I've driven rather than flown out bush. It's about 12 hours from Darwin, and  we're still waiting to hear about the height of a few rivers before we decide whether to take the Central Arnhem Road or go across the hoot.

Anyway it should be a hoot... especially if I can spend  my non-driving shifts curled up in the back of a 4WD with my iPod and aforementioned awesome headphones.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Vietnamese propaganda posters

One day we will move to Vietnam for a year or so (seriously! it's a plan!) and I will learn Vietnamese and know what these posters and billboards. Time will tell whether at that stage I regret putting them on the blog.

For now I just appreciate the colour they add to the streetscapes, and the quaint social/socialist-realism of them.

Featured at many an intersection. I guess it's about motocycle safety- no minor issue in a country where whole families are regularly seen aboard a single scooter.

In southern Vietnam during the revolution, women made up 40% of the guerrilla movement.

"Ever vigilant"... One of the many awesome posters on display at the Women's Museum in Hanoi - the most informative and well-presented museum we visited.

A woman's work is never done...

Yeah, no idea about these ones...

These two were outside a school in Hoi An,welcoming the comrade worker-soldier-scientists of the future:

In Vietnam, even the emergency fire instructions are cute and colourful!

And that is why I have to move there. Among other reasons, such as:

Monday, 7 May 2012

Buildings, bits of buildings....

We have arrived back in Australia, just in time for a depressing budget and the Stronger Futures legislation to (most likely) be passed by the Senate. Also, Emma is sick and in denial about going back to work :)

On the bright side, we can upload photos to our blog! I'm erring on the side of thematic image posts... So here's some pics I took of interesting buildings (and parts thereof) throughout the trip...

Stay tuned for pics of Vietnamese socialist-realist propaganda billboards (which we're open to people translating for us) and "cute dogs of Vietnam"!

*   *   *

The staircase at the first Vietnamese hotel we stayed at: Miss Loi's Guesthouse in Ho Chi Minh City

View from Miss Loi's window

Old meets new in Ho Chi Minh City

Uncle Ho holds court at the post office

The ceiling at Cafe 69, Old Hanoi

Railway line squeezed between houses, Hanoi

Peaking out into courtyard, Hoi An

With more to come.....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ill-met in Hanoi

It took me a couple of days to get used to Hanoi. It's busy and noisy and well... the humbug...

We haven't really seen much poverty in Vietnam. People seem to get by on small street stalls and motorbike taxis, which make everything run.

In Phu Quoc, I'd leaned my cheap shoe against the exhaust pipe of a Xe Om (motorcycle taxi) and caused the cheap rubber sole to melt a little bit. This made the shoe a little unbalanced and quite ugly.

While crossing a road and telling the fiftieth person that i didn't want a ride/pineapple/t-shirt/lighter, a man grabbed me by the shoes and began to glue the sole into a more fashionable shape. Oh crap..

The Lonely Planet guide specifically warns against the shoe-shone guys. They start before you can say no. They never set a price before they start and they always, always overcharge.

So the guy rebuilds part of my heal using some leather and glue and foam. The end result is functional if quite ugly and takes about 15 minutes. I wait for the hit. This should be about 20,000 Dong (about a dollar), with the obvious mark-up it'll probably be 100,000 Dong ($5 or a good meal in a fancy restaurant, he and his buddies will eat well tonight).

He types out the number on a pocket calculator: 900,000 Dong.


900,000 Dong is $30. It's last night's hotel budget. It's what I paid for these shoes, brand-new, two weeks ago.

So I start ranting and trying to bargain. Eventually, Emma points out that he doesn't understand that much English and my points about failing business models are probably not getting through.

I settle for 550,000 largely because that is everything I have in my wallet. By being quite gruff I manage to talk him out of following me to an ATM to get the rest.


Most of the city is actually quite lovely, with parkland and cute cafes and anything you could want to buy. I'll post photos later.

But my first impression of Hanoi - city of scams.

Photos later.