Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas mix 2008

Christmas in my apartment

Without further delay I present my Christmas Mix for 2008. There are a few Christmas Mix 2008 CDs floating around and hopefully reaching some mailboxes before the 25th but if one doesn’t reach your mailbox in time you can download the whole thing here (using the very nifty drop.io):

Christmas Mix 2008

Track listing:

  1. Vivaldi: Gloria in D, Rv 589 – Negri Vittorio
  2. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Death Cab for Cutie
  3. It’s Christmas! Let’s be Glad! – Sufjan Stevens
  4. Every Christmas – Destroyer
  5. Angels We Have Heard on High – Sufjan Stevens
  6. Blue Christmas – Bright Eyes
  7. I Love N.Y.E – Badly Drawn Boy
  8. Chestnuts Roasting on – Arcade Fire
  9. I Saw Three Ships – Sufjan Stevens
  10. Christmas Reindeer – The Knife
  11. Ding! Dong! – Sufjan Stevens
  12. White Christmas – Mark Kozelek
  13. Donna and Blitzen – Badly Drawn Boy
  14. Christmas Blues – Canned Heat
  15. Christmas Song – Mogwai
  16. O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Sufjan Stevens
  17. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – Polyphonic Spree
  18. Jesus the Mexican Boy – Iron & Wine
  19. Holy, Holy, Holy – Sufjan Stevens
  20. Fairytale of New York – Stars

Bonus Track for download only: Christmas Must be Tonight – The Band (Can’t be found on any of the CDs. Special huh?)

****

P.S.  I’ve lifted giant chunks from other compilations. Links to the original albums:

A Very Indie Christmas

Songs for Christmas

About a Boy

Shine

The Sea & the Rhythm

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Going Postal…ugh, I’m so sorry for this title

I had the most outrageous experience at the post office today. Why do the most harrowing experiences in any foreign country tend to happen at the post offices. I think I will set aside another post to chronicle my experiences of post offices in foreign countries. There’s probably a whole book in it.

Yesterday I successfully wrapped and jammed into one box all my presents for nieces and nephews. The box I used was the one my lamp came in, perfect shape and easy to carry. I taped the box up like a mad man, laughing at the thought of the recipients trying to open it later. Well, joke was on me…

I printed pretty labels for the front and back of the box, and realised I’d forgotten to include the letter I’d written so made a special pocket on the side of the box for my Christmas Note. It was was a packaging site to behold.

This morning I took it down to the post office with a few other letters and small packages, so proud of my preparedness for Christmas (assuming that six working days is enough for international mail). When I got to the post office the woman greeted me with:

“You can’t send that box”

“Why not?” I asked

“It doesn’t have the Thai Post logo on it”

What?! In the best of circumstances I’m a bit of a pushover, I have a fear of authority from way back. Ordinarily if the post office lady behind the counter tells me I’m not allowed to do something I nod and plead for forgiveness for  my insolence. But not today, the Christmas (fighting) spirit infused my body and I fought back. Not so helpful with a non-confrontational culture of Thailand.

I questioned her ruling on my box and she insisted that I would have to transfer my goods into a sanctioned Thai Post box. A brown box almost identical in size and appearance to my own.

I argued (without raising my voice) that the branding strategy of Thai Post was not my concern and that a brown box be a brown box, but my logic fell on deaf ears. I even questioned whether my other mail, in standard white envelopes, would have problems if they didn’t display the requisite number of Thai Post logos. Yes, I sank to argumentative lows. The supervisor stepped in to assure me they’d give me the new box for free and even help me repack it. Lovely sentiment, but he didn’t realise how much glitter I’d added to the box before sealing it.

So we opened the box and the glitter came flying out. It was pretty funny, but I think I’d pushed the post office lady to her limits because I could only get the smallest smile out of her.

Here’s the box, never to be received by those intended:

Note my fancy photo editing skills

Note my hi-tech photo editing skills

It was even fancy on the back

It was even fancy on the back

The last funny moment was when she’d finished the transfer to the new box and gestured to move my box behind the counter, presumably to a trash pile. “I’ll take that back, thank you!” She could take away my dignity but I wouldn’t let her take my Christmas box.

The long weekend in Bangkok: unabridged

Were you suitably teased by my long weekend teaser? I imagine the reason why I don’t have a long list of comments begging me to write more about the weekend is that your longing is so great that you can’t verbalise it. I understand…those photos were pretty amazing.

Well, just prepare yourself to have your expectations confounded.

I had a special visitor this weekend, who, until the last minute thought he wouldn’t get into my airport-blocked city. And then, as the sea parted for Moses, the PAD protesters left the terminal and all was good again.

Sooooo are you dying to know who visited? Who towers over me enough to take this photo of the top of my head?

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Thaaaaaat’s right! The very tall MARCUS (friend not brother)

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Looking here as though he might punch the reclining Buddha in the soles of his feet. Way to aim for the most sacred thing in the universe ever.

Taking advantage of Muslim public holidays that both countries of our residences observe (Eid Al-Adha), Marcus quickly popped over from Aceh for a wee vacation.

We just ate food and wandered around on Marcus’s first day in town (Friday) so I didn’t bother getting my camera out for that. On Saturday morning though, we did lots of great stuff and I just didn’t take any photos!  We took boats up and down the river, had a delicious lunch by the river and went to Khoasan Rd to look for old hippies who forgot to ever leave the stinky back packer mecca.

On arrival at Wat Po however, it was clear the camera needed to come out…and it didn’t get put away until sometime on Tuesday (note that Marcus left on Monday morning but by then I was just snap happy).

Some photos of Wat Pho

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long-weekend-wat-pho-statue-6

The temple has these excellent statues dotted around the yard.

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long-weekend-wat-pho-3

The main event at Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha statue, which is housed in a room whose walls are illustrated beautifully.

long-weekend-wat-pho-walls

long-weekend-wat-pho-reclining-buddha-3

As we wandered around the temple Marcus was stopped by some students who asked him to complete a survey that tackled the lighthearted subject, “Are you prepared to die?”

long-weekend-wat-pho-marcus-survey

He had a lot to think about.

We left Wat Pho and wandered to the flower market as dusk descended. I had a fleeting and rare moment of knowing where I was in Bangkok and realised we were nearby to the lovely Amarosa, a bar overlooking the river and Wat Arun.

long-weekend-wat-arun

long-weekend-wat-arun-2

After enjoying mojitos and playing with the settings on my camera to get these lovely shots, we went down to the pier and took the boat back to more familiar territory. We spent the evening at Suan Lum Night Bazaar and rewarded ourselves for an excellent day out with burgers at the American pub.

The next morning we headed out to JJ market to do a wee bit more shopping and I learned the extent of Marcus’s gusto and natural talent for haggling. It was such a great JJ day. It wasn’t too hot and stinky and even though it was crowded and manic it seemed a bit calmer than usual. The market was full of great smells (antiques, food, incense) and we found a corner of the market with old Buddha statues and a violin stall that was a delight to be in.

After a few hours of shopping we decided to get some sushi, one of Marcus’s “I’ve escaped from Aceh, please feed me” requests. I knew of a couple of tasty places, but thought I should ask my friend who knows the best of everything if she has a favourite sushi haunt.

Oh dear, Oishi Grand Sushi Buffet. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Firstly, I’ve never ever seen so much sushi. Secondly I may not have ever seen this much food. It didn’t stop at sushi at Oishi Grand Sushi Buffet. There was tempura and the bbq grill (where they grill on command!), dim sum, pasta, rows of food I didn’t even look at, and a huge dessert section. Obscene amounts of food.

Ro joined us for lunch and things got a bit silly.

long-weekend-sushi-buffet

Best thing about this shot: after it was taken Ro said to Marcus “Don’t think you’re actually eating my gyoza”

If he wanted more gyoza he could have had 150 of them freshly grilled at his request because we were in crazyland.

long-weekend-sushi-buffet-22

This was the photo AFTER we’d finished eating. We’d eaten so much that all those delectable little morsels went begging. Actually, we did eat some of what’s shown here, but we definitely fell short by a long shot.

The next thing on our To Do list was take stupid photos amongst christmas directions, so we did.

long-weekend-christmas-wonderland-sarah

long-weekend-christmas-wonderland-marcus

long-weekend-christmas-wonderland-ro-with-an-r

Oh man, I love this photo. Ro wasn’t as excited by the “R for Rowan!” moment as I was. But now that she looks back on it, I bet she loves it too. Expect your R for Rowan christmas card in the mail shortly.

The end

Finding a cafe away from home

It’s Saturday morning and I’ve just set myself up at a coveted table with powerpoint in easy reach at Starbucks near my house. There are about four cafes with wireless within walking distance and about 78 million more within a short skytrain ride, and here at Starbucks I begin the journey to find my favourite. 

Early polling suggests a favourable approval rating. 

Pros:

  1. Shameless amounts of whipped cream added to coffee,
  2. Christmas music*,
  3. aforementioned powerpoint,
  4. speedy wireless access.

Cons:

  1. the Thai love of the iced frappucino, there is a lot of noisy ice-blending going on, 
  2. expensive wireless access. 

That’s four favourables to two unfavourables and the whipped cream is worth two points, so Starbucks is doing well. Of course, it’s still a one-horse race so we’ll see what the next competitor has to offer.

*I need to qualify adding Christmas music as a Pro because I can see that I’ll be taunted for it. I like to think this blog doesn’t shy away from the controversial stance so here I go. 

My friends have told me that Thais will celebrate any holiday, as was demonstrated at Halloween. The shopping centres are elaborately decorated (elaborate doesn’t even come close to describing the decorating style at the fancier shopping centres. It’s a site to be seen and I’m sure a whole army of illegal migrants must have been involved in the construction). Shops will devote 50-70% of their floor space to holiday-inspired sale items that they couldn’t expect to sell more than a small portion of. But that doesn’t seem to matter because it’s a holiday to be celebrated at all cost. 

Needless to say then that Starbucks (and probably every other Starbucks in the world, which kind of negates the need for that earlier explanation of the Thai love of holidays) is already well and truly Christmas cheery, with the Dark Cherry Mocha Frappucino and the christmasy mugs and chocolate eggs (…?)  The thing about it is, and this is where I get controversial, the elaborate decorations in the shopping centres or the string quartets playing carols in the atriums, don’t inspire any Christmas cheer in me at all. Maybe it will in, oh say, December, but for now it seems so blatantly commercial that I’m not that excited. Not bothered, by not excited. But, Christmas music in Starbucks…it just makes me want it to be Christmas right now! I sing along and get warm and fuzzy inside. I have no idea why…but naturally I have a theory. Two, in fact.

1. Starbucks favours Nat King Cole and jazz classics for Christmas which I think may have super powers to melt even the scroogiest heart.

2. The music and the rushing around and the noise remind me of Angus and Robertson days! And now that the long hours running and the angry, frazzled customers, and the worried looks as people whip out their credit cards again are all a thing of the past, I just remember the fun we used to have as we slowly lost our minds, working the 14th day in a row, singing to the silly songs, fighting over which CD to play, and of course, the times when we wore our pajamas for the 24 hour trading days at Chadstone. 

Regardless of expensive internet, I think there might be a few more trips to Starbucks in my future…Until December 26 at least.

Photo album from Australia

My camera sat at the bottom of my bag for most of the time when I was in Australia, particularly on Christmas day which was the when I saw all the kids. Stupid Aunty Sar. So even though it is incomplete, here is the photo album of my trip to Australia for Christmas, a photo-journal if you will (you won’t? I’m not surprised).

Day One:

Lucky for me Lara was only working a half day the day I arrived so after a quick drought-sensitive shower we went out for lunch. Lara is living in Kensington now, right near by this record store/café called White Rabbit. I liked it a lot.

Later that evening Lara and Paul put on one of their fancy dinners. Here they are preparing food while I watch.

Clare came over (she lives right around the corner), and she gave me these extremely cute biscuits for Christmas.

Here are Clare, Lara and Paul after we all had very full and satisfied bellies.

Amanda came over too. Her face is blurry in this photo because she is laughing (almost certainly at one of my very funny jokes), but her excellent new dress is in focus, so that’s alright.

Day Two:

Most of this day was spent shopping with MJ, Beck, Siobhan, Jess and the kids. It was a surprisingly tolerable day of shopping so close to Christmas, but I hope you will understand that I didn’t bother to capture the DFO shopping centre in all it’s glory.

Later that afternoon I met Marty for a coffee. The photo below is actually of us having tea at Borders, because after sitting in a café for a while we decided we should try to be efficient and do some Christmas shopping. We lasted five minutes before I insisted we needed to take a break. Yes, we are sitting at the Gloria Jeans in the back of Borders, and yes, it is as uninspiring as you might think the Gloria Jeans in the back of Borders would be. But they did have these great Christmas cups.

Later on Elisa and I saw Into the Wild which I wholeheartedly recommend. Don’t bother reading reviews or plot summaries, just take my word for it and see it. I think anyone would enjoy it.

Day Three:

First thing on Friday morning I headed over to my house in Fitzroy to visit Greg. First thing on Friday morning we headed into the city to eat Yum Cha. The Ay Tea House that used to be a tea shop with a couple of tables to sit at has relocated further up Little Collins and has turned into a Powerhouse of Yum Cha. We walked in wearing our regular scruffy clothes and was greeted by a maitre’d (what are you thinking Ay Tea House? Maitre’d are weird and 80s) asking if we had a reservation. Umm, it’s yum cha dopes, you don’t make reservations. But apparently here you do and the place was packed but we were lucky enough to score a table anyway. Here is out feast of the fanciest dim sum Melbourne has to offer (OK, I’m sure it’s fancier at Flower Drum, but I’m just talking about places I could actually afford to go to). Delicious!

Day Four:

Lara has the most comfortable bed in the world and her cat Taffy agrees with me. She was pissed off when I woke up early and disturbed her sleep, but it didn’t take long for her to find a new comfortable position.

I have cats in my new house too, but they just wander in off the street.

I had the good fortune of being in Melbourne at the same time as my Indonesian friend Rini and her family. We met when Rini worked on a project with me and Nicole  at RMIT. Nicole had the family over for lunch and I got to be the surprise guest. Lunch was incredibly delicious. I ate about a third of the food cumulatively consumed that afternoon. I was very happy.

Later that afternoon I took the train to Shepparton and went to Jess’s house. Here is her gingerbread house. Don’t ask me how she made something that actually looked like it came from a magazine.

Day Five:

MJ and I headed back to Rushworth in the morning and got on with preparing for Christmas. To show you MJ stirring the Christmas Pudding I could post this photo:

But I think this photo gives you a better sense of what was going on in the kitchen that day:

Before you comment on MJ leaving it until two days before Christmas to make the Pudding I will tell you that instead of doing it six months in advance like she usually does, she kindly waited until I was available to partake. Nice MJ.

Day Six:

Shopping for groceries on Christmas Eve=bad.

Shopping for groceries on Christmas Eve with a mother who shows no respect for the shopping list I thoughtfully created the day before=hell.

Day Seven:

CHRISTMAS!

Here is Beck at the table for our quiet afternoon lunch before the whole family arrived.

There were five (F-I-V-E) people at the table! I mean, does that even reach minimum attendance to qualify as Christmas? We even had elbow room! It definitely felt like cheating.

That’s all the photos I have from Christmas. I blame the food and the presents. How can I think of anything else when my two favourite things are in such plentiful supply?

Day Eight:

I have been dreaming about Gingerbread houses for years, and suddenly two people I know get Martha Stewart-y and build GB houses like they’re working for a tsunami reconstruction project (ooh, nice intersection of blog themes Sarah…)

Meaghan kindly waited until I arrived on Boxing Day for the great destruction of this work of art (it has windows and wood panelling!!). I could show you a series of cute photos of Miles getting stuck into the house, but I think this photo gives you a pretty good idea of how things went.

Obviously by cutting out the middle-man (his hands) Miles could get to the smarties that bit faster.

I left Meaghan’s place leaving the smallest possible window to buy new clothes to take back to Indonesia, and in the rush left my camera behind. I was surprised and pleased to see that Ryan took the opportunity to show off his writing skills and excellent taste in godparents.

OK, so he didn’t write the sign, but you can see that he’s actually holding it up at the side!

After picking up the camera I ate the most delicious lasagne at Jess’s place and fell into a carb-induced coma.

The next morning at 6am Benj and I headed back to Melbourne where I got on a plane and headed back to Indonesia.

THE END