Want to see Garth Brooks in concert in Hawaii for free?

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Garth Brooks concert – would you like to come with me? Spare ticket Saturday Dec 10

I have unexpectedly found myself with a spare ticket to the Garth Brooks concert in Honolulu on Saturday night (Dec 10). I’d originally planned to bring my special lady friend but alas sometimes things go sour.

So rather than let the ticket go to waste I’d prefer to share the company of a fellow Garth fan who will appreciate it. I’m not looking for money – just a reason or reasons why you should come with me.

Email your reason to: anthony <at> ambientwhispers.com
Include something about your self and contact details (or be prepared to leave contact details on Saturday morning).

I’m currently on a cruise ship with intermittent net access but will be arriving in Hawaii Saturday morning. If on Saturday morning I have anyone interested in accompanying me I’ll contact you then.

If you’re interested my name is Anthony. I’m Australian, 42, on sabbatical and wandering through the United States. I believe in honesty, new experiences and living each day to the fullest. I have a dry sense of humour (blame the Oz background) and love laughing and smiling.

And I love Garth.

How simple is the choice in the US election?

As an Australian looking into the states from the outside the choice seems simple: a professional politicians (with some flaws) or a bigoted megalomaniac with dictatorial designs. It’s little wonder most of the world doesn’t understand why this is even a race. However it’s not quite that straight forward.

As a political junkie I’ve been mostly in heaven this past week being in the states for this election. I have constantly struck up conversations with random strangers, probing about their beliefs, philosophies and political opinions. They have ranged from intelligent discourse to incoherent raving but it’s been fascinating.

However, after a week I think that Australians are underestimating the blind allegiance vote, the not-a-a-racist-but-you-are-dude vote and a section of the community that is hard to define but may be scarier than we realise.

The best example of this is a lady with whom I had an hour-long discussion last week. She thinks Trump is a disgusting pig who should be locked up but is STILL voting for him as president because she doesn’t want a Democrat-leaning judge on the Supreme Court (there is one vacancy atm and looking at the ages of the others more are likely soon). She hates everything about Trump but hates the idea of abortion being legal more.

Now she’s not the redneck racist stereotype we’d like to believe. She’s educated, compassionate and her stances on other things such as Standing Rock lead me to suspect she’s not even overtly racist. But she would rather support someone who she herself sees as “a bigoted idiot” than risk losing sight of other beliefs of hers. And she’s not alone. I’ve spoken to hispanic and african-american people who will vote for Trump. That seems inconceivable to most of us but they each have their reasons.

I’m not talking about the blindly allegiant or the brainwashed cults: these are people who could easily be your neighbours and friends. Yes some of them are anti-Hilary for various reasons (some valid, some not) but for most of them it’s a lot more complex than just black or white.

An interesting day ahead.

Defining the Future of Journalism – considering new opportunities for journalists in a digital scenario

The word online connotes a whole different world. The significance of the element opens the door into another realm completely. Not to mention, the technology that surrounds this phenomenon. Okay, yes, maybe it sounds a little scary – and it can be if used the wrong way – but I’m talking about the weird and wonderful world of online story telling…or as us ‘professionals’ like to call it…online journalism. So, what is online journalism?

Multi-media platforms have become the essential to the survival of what we know as traditional journalism. Innovation in the industry is about understanding scope. Journos are now taking technology as their story platform and taking that platform to their audience in more ways that you could imagine. This has also instigated the chase to find new, engaging and interesting ways to tell the story because what differentiates your story from everybody else’s version on the world wide web?

Look around on the train or the bus on your way to work. What do you see? People on smart phones and more people on smart phones. Hence, creating content that makes sense on a mobile phone is vital – if it doesn’t work on mobile you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it at all. Just the same as print media, where a news editor has to make the header and written content fit perfectly into the space provided, online media has to take into consideration the layout of the viewing platforms and devices.

But, now, it’s not just about fitting in the lines. The opportunity and capacity for imagination and inventiveness has sky rocketed beyond expectations. The audience is now used to a certain quality online that they demand more. Brisbane Times Chief Editor Simon Holt describes the audience as the hungry beast and their newsroom works tirelessly to feed it with wide-ranging variety and taste. Augmented and virtual reality online fabricates a new engagement for the viewer. Infographics have become the key to compiling data in an attractive, comprehensible way. The social media forum also allows them to play a role in the making of news, and comments and likes are just the beginning.

Nevertheless, my friends, good journalism will always remain good journalism and throwing crap up online (which happens frequently these days due to the ease of the medium) will not suffice. The importance of interviewing talent, investigation skill and the foundation of news values are what they always have been. It is the speed at which they have to be done and the numerous platforms they need to appear on to make it in the public forum that has changed dramatically.

A rush and a blush: on my way to the job interview

An early rise, with the rare occasion of dressing in office attire and doing my hair and makeup. The kids I nanny down the road wouldn’t know what hit them; it’s a stark contrast to the shorts, t-shirt and messy pony-tail. I look at myself in the mirror, ‘the professional look’ is fulfilled as the words “the next business women of the year, Madison Scott” leave my mouth. I’m definitely one for self-affirmation to start the day off with a bang. The joys of living at home enlighten me as dad offers a lift to the train station. Lo and behold the legend has also printed off my design portfolio in full colour the day before at his work. However, this is where my luck ends.

 

The morning rush begins with jumping out of the car in the middle of an intersection at a red light, then running down the subway to my 7:20am train. I hop on the first carriage with a flick of the hair and an awkward retouch of that bloody G-string I have to wear with these tailored work pants. The whiff of a half-eaten bagel and a slight touch of body odour is not a pleasant aroma to get your head in the right space to tackle a job interview. Half way through the journey, post shuffling myself around the hoards, I realise I am receiving a glare from a middle-age man in a fluorescent-orange tradie outfit. I turn naively just turn the other way. Moments later, to my disgust, I look down to see my blouse half open at the top with décolletage and lacy beige bra on show. As an embarrassed scarlet straight forms on my checks, I fumble to fix myself up. My swift exit through the sliding doors onto the platform provides some relief.

 

Nevertheless, my friends, this was only momentary reprieve. With the human traffic flow of the morning commuters sweeping through the city, I suddenly feel like I too should be powering on. I start my confident catwalk, just like the other business women, getting a small rush from the sound of my clopity-clop high heels. Shit, what the f**k am I doing in this lavish la la land, I don’t know where I am going. I sheepishly go to the side and proceeded to punch the address into maps. Siri begins her guidance and I follow. Now, following Siri in your car is one thing but walking in the city with her on load speaker with everyone else listening in to the monotoned ‘turn left in 100 meters, then take a right-hand turn at Creek Street’ is a little different. Ok, now I realise, I am an official ‘newb’.

Maybe a coffee might help pick me up? Out of the 100 coffee shops I’ve just walked past I enter into Merlo…because, hey, there’s a cute guy at the counter. I come in with a smile. “Hi.” He’s got a nice smile too. “What can I get you?”

“A soy flat white, please.”

“Great, and your name?”

“Madi,” I say half expecting him to say ‘nice to meet you I’m Sam’ or something back.

“Is that all?”

“Oh and maybe your number?” (Alright, yes, now I’m just dreaming)

Once the love story was over I proceeded to get out my wallet to pay. Much to my disgust for the second time today, I see my shirt button has popped open again! I quickly bring my wallet to my chest. You’d think he’d give the coffee for free after that display, but, no, he pay waves my card and I hurry to a table to gather myself. Well, this better not happen in the interview I think to myself.

 

Arriving at the office just a tad hot and flustered (an understatement), I try to guzzle down a few glasses of water in the conference room before we get started. And so it begins…but, don’t worry, the job interview went a little better that the voyage there.

Art to Arrest: the ‘good-for-nothing-girl’ stirs an issue in the history of mankind

Gender inequality has plagued our world since the beginning of time. We only have to look into the first chapter of the Bible – a book in which around one-third of the global population adheres to – to see negative connotations regarding the ‘nature of women’. Art historian Dr Christopher L.C.E Witcombe says “Eve represents everything about a women a man should guard against.” The ‘untrustworthy, deceitful, seductive and disobedient’ associations in Genesis have strongly influenced the art world. Destroy the image and you can control the narrative thereafter.
In particular, arts representation of genitalia is a demonstration of male and female roles that systemised a powerful social order. One only has to venture into an art museum to see Ancient Greek sculptures where the men are confidently, physically depicted – or as The Guardian columnist Syreeta McFadden Greek explains it “the male statues rock out with their cocks out.” However, when it comes to the ladies most are robed. The ones that are shown in their birthday suits are all ‘Barbie-doll blank’ down there. Where is the equality in that? Patriarchy has attempted to obliterate imagery of the feminine since long ago; nevertheless male sexual organs were, and still are today, a proud statement of reality. McFadden explains that ‘scholars believe that this tied to the patriarchal urge and successful campaign to erase goddess cultures in antiquity.”
It seems this social order still persists today, where women who are ‘out there’ sexually are universally penalised for it. “Cultural norms expect women to be modest and discreet and paragons of virtue and chastity and, yet, men are universally assumed to be seeking sexual relations. This then relates through to how it’s portrayed in the artistic world.” says Social Psychologist Professor Barbara Masser. The world has recently witnessed this in Japanese sculptor Megumi Igarashi’s obscenity conviction, after she endeavoured on a mission to demystify female genitalia in the art world. A vulva-shaped kayak based on a 3D scan of her vagina led to her arrest in Tokyo.
The judge, Mihoko Tanabe, said that the data, though “flat and inorganic”, realistically portrayed the shape of a vagina and could “sexually arouse viewers”, as stated by Kyodo News. She has been shunned by the law for testing social standards. Tanabe, known as Rokudenashiko (roughly translating to “good-for-nothing-girl”), hasn’t harmed or hurt anyone in the process. It was merely an innocent creative expression. In an online post, she said: “Because female genitalia were ‘overly hidden’ in Japanese society, I did not know what a pussy should look like.”
What is more obscene is the Japanese courts’ hypocrisy where recently authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga and animated films, citing concerns over restricting freedom of artistic expression, Fairfax Media reveals.
“We are a really long way from equality. What we are seeing in the art world is a systematic, general opinion of genders,” says Masser. Art News highlights that works by women artists are still worth far less than similar works by men from the same generation and locale.
Artist Martha Graham once said “No artist is pleased. There is only queer divine, dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.” May future artists use their artistic ‘unrest’ to change the ingrained, unequal views in our world? Only time will tell.

Feminine Symbol

HACW 13: East to west (coast)

Distance covered: 106km
Headwind: not on the hills dammit
Temperature: 52.6 degrees! HOTTEST LEG YET!
Number of falls in the group: 5
Number of cusswords I heard on the road: approximately 110
Number of photos taken at the dam: something akin to a high school photo day
Number of fried chicken legs consumed: Unknown. I only had one myself but at least two giant trays ‘disappeared’

Just a wee blog today. Why will make more sense later.

Without doubt today was the most scenic of the tour despite us leaving the coastline and heading inland. It was also another day of rolling hills and short difficult climbs.

FullSizeRenderWorst of all it was the hottest day of the week so far. At one point one of the Gaiman’s recorded a staggering 52 degrees road temp. 52!

Oddly enough while a lot of riders found this day extremely difficult I was ok for some reason. The penultimate leg was certainly hot and I once again had to stop to purchase more water at a shop, but I found the beautiful mountains, jungles and rubber plantations so distracting I  finished the legs without noticing much discomfort.

Special kudos to the amazing Jen who shepherded the struggling like a master mother hen, ensuring they were safe and well hydrated.

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12795172_10153520513586448_7049043133196242834_oWe had an incredible start to the day when, only 10 kms in, we stopped at a school. There the incredible Gae addressed them in Thai and explained what we were doing. We were mobbed by these kids and we handed out little sticky hand toys but not before we sang Waltzing Matilda and Darryl and Michael performed an impromptu haka (which made the kids laugh incidentally).

The kids were incredibly excited and we left probably more pumped up than we had been earlier.

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For our second leg we had a short, sharp climb to a lovely dam and some photos. And what goes up must come down so it was a fun ride down from the dam before we returned to rolling hills and the hard slog.

Probably the biggest surprise of the day was lunch where, in addition to traditional asian dishes, we were also offered fried chicken.

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Most of the action today was off the road. A visit to some beautiful caves offered an opportunity for peaceful reflection as well as a chance to catch the breath once more.

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But the biggest event occurred once we reached our stunning resort in Khao Sok. If we thought the scenery had been great throughout the day we were stunned into silence by this incredible collection of cabins sitting in the shadow of awe-inspiring peaks.

With the exception of Peter, we rushed to our huts to change for a pool party. I single out Pete because he simply sank into the pool in his full cycling kit.

A few people expressed concern at the hygienic nature of this decision but that paled into comparison when, much later at the fines session over dinner, he fined himself for um… relieving himself in the pool. As did young Ashleigh.

12829051_10153519597401448_9094578519451533536_oBut as horrifying as that was to many of us at least they had the good grace to admit and pay for it: there were quite a number of others who would later admit in hushed tones that they too put the urine in communal.

What’s that you say? Urine isn’t in the word communal? You’re right – and I wish some other people had noticed that…

But before we’d realised what had been unleashed on us we did enjoy a great pool party. We knew we only had half a day of cycling to come the following day and an array of emotions were starting to come to the fore. Excited at the prospect of finishing and sad at the prospect of our companionship soon being over. This manifested in boisterous bombs, animated conversations, heartfelt hugs and lots of laughter. Maybe a bit of booze as well.

Michael Fox shows us his levitating trick
Michael Fox shows us his levitating trick

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It was Bernadette’s birthday today (a lovely ’28’) and to celebrate we not only sang the obligatory birthday song but Darryl and I performed a piece from Les Mis (the ABC cafe) as a duet for her. It was seemingly well received by the group and Bernadette appeared very touched. So much so that I didn’t have the heart to tell her that – in the musical – nearly everyone in that scene died the next day.

But not Darryl (aka Marius) and that’s all that matters. Mr Music lives on to entertain us another day.

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HACW12: Interlude – what’s important?

Today was a rest day so there was no riding and our bottoms got a well-deserved rest and for a few hours we escaped the pains and fears of the week’s ride so far.

Then we received a message from Emma.

As part of this experience people can work in the orphanage instead of riding and many partners and people did so again this year. There, they not only play and interact with the children but work on projects while the kids are at school. This year they were creating not only a garden but a giant fish pond so the orphanage could establish a level of self-sustainability with food and even sell off excess for a profit.

Emma was amongst those there and while we shared information via the group’s facebook page throughout the week, what she wrote that day woke us from our reverie. She wrote:

[box] 11 March at 00:54 Tonight was a tough one for me… Whilst on one hand it was a massive celebration of 8 of the kids birthday, with cake and lots of dancing, on the other it really hit me how much our love, support and fundraising means to these kids. After a wonderful night when they were all getting ready to say their prayers before bed, one of the little boys (Captan) started to cry. We asked the staff why he was crying and they asked him and replied in Thai ‘I miss my mother’. It really brought it all home for me, that whilst these are some of the happiest faces you’ll ever meet, inside they are just little kids without a mum or dad. Lucky Louise was there to comfort Captan, but I just wanted to share while I sit here with lots of tears. You are truly their heroes and what you are doing is showing each and everyone one of them that someone cares, and let’s face it, every child deserves that. Thank you for pushing through the struggle, I promise every kilometer is worth it xx[/box]

It reminded us that while we get a break from the ride, the kids we’re riding for only get brief breaks from a very rough life. They have a wonderful community of support and 111 ‘brothers and sisters’ but for many of them they will never again know the touch of their parents. Sombre and humbling.

After that we were all itching to ride again immediately.

Lou comforts Captan
Lou comforts Captan

HACW 11: The wall (aka The Day Of Doubt)

Distance covered: 131.6km
Headwind: some legs no, some legs most definitely
Temperature: the road temp hit a staggering 46.2 today.
Number of falls in the group: 2
Water consumed by the group: almost 400 litres

 

Today I hit the wall. And it hit me back. Repeatedly.

No silly wordplay today. No whimsical attitude and carefree humour. Day 3 was bloody tough. Grueling in fact.

Today we hit our heartbreak leg. I seriously doubt anyone who was here will ever forget the fourth leg of Day 3.

I have to confess I’ve been okay with this ride so far. It’s certainly very hard and each evening I’ve been sore and tired but I have never once thought I couldn’t do it. It was just a matter of how much I was going to have to push myself. Ah how my hubris was about to be punished by the gods.

I hate admitting it but during this leg I finally knew doubt. A couple of times I was struggling for air and wondering what the hell I was doing there.

1609911_10154139659782203_1436799844455573582_nI honestly thought – several times in fact – that I couldn’t get to the end of the leg let alone the ride. At 27 km it was on the longish side but the heat and the unrelenting hills combined in a tortuous manner which left us literally gasping.

Halfway through my quads were trembling uncontrollably and I was starting to worry about dehydration and/or heat exhaustion as I thought I might be wobbling around on the road. The fact I wasn’t sure speaks to my state of mind and mental capacity.

Then I wasn’t thinking at all. At one point I was jolted from a mental fugue when I almost hit a coconut on the road – which at speed wouldn’t have been pretty. Most concerning was that a second after the shock awakening I had the thought that it wouldn’t have been too bad as at least I would have got to rest in the ditch by the side of the road.

I was all by myself and had no idea how that happened. I’ve spent most of the ride helping others and staying near other riders but somehow there was no one in sight when I needed some proof of life – or sanity – the most.

I was almost gone both mentally and physically. And although the tears hadn’t quite appeared, I now knew firsthand how easily they could come to the fore.

12821608_10154139659777203_6351419819981530705_nI was trying desperately to compose myself when thankfully another rider appeared before my descent into madness had taken hold fully. Paul made me focus on why I was doing the ride and asked me questions in an attempt to distract me from my pain.

In truth I was cogniscent enough to recognise what he was doing but the reason I kicked on was actually because I didn’t want to let him down. I didn’t want his efforts to be in vain.* And he reminded me of the children we were riding for.

They have so little and compared to that my pain was temporary. I chided myself and lifted. Not in a Hollywood herculean comeback complete with soundtrack– more like a slow limp: just enough to roll into the lunch break humbled by the elements.

Paul saved my ride there. I was pushed to my very limits and he pulled me back from an abyss.

We limped into the lunch break to what looked like a war zone. Bodies were strewn everywhere. Some were fast asleep, others just re-gathering themselves or moaning quietly.

A part of me was ever-so-briefly relived to see even the serious athletes and cyclists were struggling before feeling for them too. I don’t like to see anyone in pain and this was a very sombre picture. Like a civil war battlefield where those still able to stand moved quietly among the wounded offering tender touches and soft words of support.

12792121_10153511497726448_7110186444956773482_oGone was the normal repartee and noisy laughter. The air was a mix of relief of survival with a touch of apprehension of what was still to come.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending. The last two legs after lunch were surprisingly easy compared to the fourth leg. We had survived the crucible and emerged stronger for it. Despite the many tears, vomiting and fatigue we survived.

And having now done 330km it’s all downhill from here.

Well not literally as we have lots of rolling hills on Day 4 and the little matter of an entire mountain on Day 5, but you know what? I now know we can do it.

That we WILL do it.

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I can’t believe it’s taken me three days of riding to realise what the four fingers of the front riders who come back means. I naively thought it meant four kilometres to go but today I realised it really means “FOR f***’s sake cycle faster”.

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Today’s singalong (which of course took prior to the descent into Dante’s Inferno) was with Nikki and Hannah. We sang songs from Frozen, The Lion King and the Little Mermaid. My favourite was the duet with Nikki singing “Love is an open door”. Spot the parents.

Also spot the two who ran out of breath shortly after the singalong. Note to self: only sing on downhill or flats.

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The GetAboutAsia Rider Of The Day

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We have such a wide array of skill and fitness in this group I don’t have much to say about the top riders. The leading group is very strong – even in the heat – and their fitness is impressive as is their willingness to ride back to encourage us. So while I don’t have specific stories about them I do want to give a shout out to Anthony (the other Anthony), Sean, Megan, Scott, Alex, Patrick, Andrew, Troy, Beau and Jodie. I’m told there is debate about whether to include Cam and Peter in there. This will no doubt play out in the comments below…

But I do want to make the point that the girls have more than held their own, impressing everyone with their strength. Megan is simply awesome while Jodie climbs hills as well as Sir Edmund Hilary.

To me they’re all incredible athletes excelling in trying conditions for an amazing cause.

 

* At one stage he asked me what I’d do in past situations when the chips were down and I responded with “I’d get angry and it would drive me on” but when he encouraged me to get angry I spat out “f*** you Anthony for agreeing to this ride. You suck!” I don’t think it was what he expected but it was a sign that my sense of humour hadn’t quite perished.

 

 

Motherhood: a message to all mothers and mothers-to-be

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.” “We’re taking a survey,” she says half-joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.”

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of “Mum!” will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her
baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

mother-loveI want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming
children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter’s hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Please share this with a Mum that you know or all of your girlfriends who may someday be Mums. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart.

‘Chicken soup for the woman’s soul’! By Dale Hanson Bourke

HACW10: Everything’s “fine” (Ride Day 2)

Distance: 108kms
Temperature: 43.5 degrees
Headwinds: very mild to non-existent
Secrets: galore

 

You wouldn’t think an exhausting long-distance ride would be a social thing during the cycling but you’d be wrong. There’s lots of talking and getting to know each other during the ride.

And yesterday’s duet with Darryl wasn’t a one-off either. For those of us who enjoy a sing there’s often a willing partner nearby.

While the leading pack stretched their legs today quite a number of us took our time and laughed about life at the back of the pack.

It’s amazing how social humans are even in the middle of hard exercise.

What’s even more amazing is how when people are exposed to heat and fatigue in a trapped environment like this is how much they open up. Conversation topics ranged from sexual fantasies, sexual adventures, mid-life crises, and a range of the deepest, darkest secrets you can think of.

And this from people I hadn’t met before last week. Great conversation and it’s a sign of a wonderful intimacy and trust. A bond forged in the heat of battle against the elements and ourselves.

In unrelated news I’m proud to announce the forthcoming publication of a book entitled “What’s said on the ride goes in this book’.

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IMG_0442

I was a bit spooked about the unsavoury incident of yesterday. What initially was taken as slightly humorous horror was, upon reflection, ridiculously serious. Most of the girls were isolated on the ride at the time and the fact he got on a motorbike and chased Deanna had the potential to be very ugly.

It only takes one idiot and two seconds.

And perhaps I’m overthinking or worrying about it but it really played on my mind. I spent my day near the back of the pack helping those who were struggling and doing my best to ensure no one got isolated so they were at least in sight.

It turned out to be immensely rewarding as I helped some great and determined people. Sometimes people just need a conversation to distract themselves from the pain and doubt and happily I like talking to people. It was anything but a chore so to be given a superhero award this evening was a bit embarrassing.

Especially when I tried to point out it might have been less altruistic and more poor fitness.

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Today featured the ride’s cutest water stop when we stopped on a Thai Air Force base and before you say anything, no I didn’t think the soldiers were cute.

anthony-meandmymonkeyBut what they shared the base with was undoubtedly heartmelting. Dusky Langur monkeys are incredibly gorgeous to watch and feed. During last year’s ride one of the riders was actually bitten by one of the monkeys at this very stop so we had all been warned to exercise caution so as to avoid as trip to the hospital for a rabies shot.

Note the pic to the right and how I’m exercising caution feeding not just a monkey but a mother monkey with the most adorable little baby. The human capacity to overcome logical warnings and caution in the face of big-eyed cuteness is both staggering and scary.

I should point that Paul – the rider bitten last year – returned again for this year’s ride. Though, come to think of it, I didn’t see him feeding the little critters this year for some reason.

Tell me you wouldn't forget about caution if these two were giving you big eyes
Tell me you wouldn’t forget about caution if these two were giving you big eyes

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The wonderful spirit really comes to the fore at the end of each leg. The faster, fitter riders obviously finish earlier but instead of making use of the extra rest time, some of them turn around and ride back to us slower riders. They offer encouragement and tell us how far there is to go (it is nearly always four kilometres for some reason) and ride in with the back markers adding quite a significant number of kilometres to their ride.

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Everyone gets clapped in with a sincerity that warms the heart.

It’s a camaradie that extends into the evening where ritualistic bonding takes the form of highlighting events of the day both positive and funny.

Minor mistakes – such as dropping your water bottle or sunglasses – are punished with fines. The extra cash goes to the orphanage as well so people truly get into the spirit of things nominating each other and even themselves.

In fact the part where people nominate each other becomes an hilarious spectator sport as fines can double if you unsuccessfully dispute them. And the appeal rate is worse than a Texan appeals court.

I would be breaking tribal confidence by disclosing too many charges but the most outrageous offence bought the house down in equal parts horror and humour. Daphne (nor her real name) dobbed herself in by announcing that when she was ridiculously sweaty and hot, she had grabbed ice from the drinking ice bucket, rubbed it all over her face and then put it back in the cooler.

Some people turned green and have sworn off ice for the rest of the ride.

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Today’s singalong was with Belinda and we belted out Ticket To Ride and some Robbie Williams.

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The GetAboutAsia Rider Of The Day