Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Do the monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest (Ubud, Bali) bite?


After my first exhibition and book launch, I recovered by going to Bali with one of my dearest friends, Lou Pardi and my boyfriend, Tim. We started off the trip by picking up Lou from Ubud - where two of my favourite foods are to be found. So first we indulged on the babi guling (suckling pig) at Ibu Oka 3


Babi Guling spesial at Ibu Oka 3
Then we headed over to Bebek Bengil ("dirty duck") to feast on our winged friends

Nasi Campur at Bebek Bengil
Feeling ridiculously full, Lou and Tim insisted that we go for a walk to settle our stomachs. I really didn't want to go to the local tourist attraction - The Sacred Monkey Forest - actually none of us did but it was the only place nearby that promised an uninterrupted walk. So off we went.

Mandatory awkward tourist photo in the Sacred Monkey Forest 

Action shot
At first I was content making fun of the whole thing. I watched other tourists with disdain as they bought bananas, coaxing the monkeys to climb them so that they could take photos. Some of these same tourists screamed repeatedly once the monkeys started climbing onto them...as they had just encouraged. I was feeling like a cranky petulant teenager when I spied some the baby monkeys being nursed by their mothers and switched into appreciative photo-taking mode:
awww baby monkey suckling
Nawww baby monkey!

Nawww lazy big monkey!
Exploring the sites, my back was getting attacked by mosquitos and so we decided to leave. That was until I spied a sign for "Public Art Gallery" and promptly followed the sign down the stairs to this pretty spot:



So pretty, I started taking photos of a particularly cute little monkey:

http://picasion.com/i/1V1pY/

I took quite a few photos of this monkey until I thought I should focus the lens on some of the others...


But "particularly cute" monkey had other ideas...

"Particularly cute" aka "Asshole Monkey"
The incident
For me it started when Tim called out to warn me to watch my feet, I looked down to see "particularly cute" monkey. I was wearing a maxi dress so I took a step away just in case the dress got in the way. But "particularly cute" monkey reached out and grabbed the hem of my dress, shoving it down his gob rapidly. Gah! Naturally I started pulling my dress away, saying "no, monkey, this is my dress." Asshole Monkey pulled the dress back, harder. There we were playing tug of war - Asshole Monkey and me in a strapless dress with no bra underneath (it's hot and humid!). Lou tried to step in by saying "go away, monkey!" Asshole Monkey bared his teeth and started making hissing noises. Then all of his monkey friends around us got up, bared their teeth and made hissing noises. Asshole Monkey bit me on the calf. Ouch!

I realise that this is the point that most people would normally run. However I didn't want to leave Lou behind in a group of angry monkeys. So I stood my ground, pulling my dress back and started negotiating. "Hey, what's your problem? This is MY dress. I'm not doing anything wrong." Even after Asshole Monkey had bitten me on both thighs, and calves and swung up to look at me in the face, I was adamant, "What's your problem? I haven't done anything wrong!" His friend swung on from behind and bit me on the back of my neck and the other (or the same one?) bit me on the bum. I didn't scream- there were bigger monkeys around us with much bigger teeth. Tim was running around above looking for fruit scraps which he threw down, momentarily distracting Asshole Monkey and friends until they could quickly see that they were just fruit peels. Lou, eventually managed to run past me (I didn't see her go past in all of the commotion) to get help. By the time Tim dragged me up the stairs, Lou had run back with help. All of the monkeys stayed down the stairs. I had been bitten 7 times.
On the way to the hospital the next day, pointing out one of the bites. I think I'm also trying to give a "thumbs down" sign...

If you do get bitten, here's what to do:
  1. Go to the First Aid room (at the Sacred Monkey Forest) and get the wounds cleaned up.
  2. Go to BIMC hospital for tetanus and rabies vaccinations - ideally on the same day. While rabies has not yet been found in the Balinese monkeys, I wasn't going to give things a chance. If you have had particularly nasty bites (i.e. deep bites into flesh), you'll need the rabies immunoglobulin which we were told is not available on the island of Bali due to transportation issues.
  3. Upon return home, visit the Travel Doctor to complete the course of rabies vaccinations. Should probably do this before the trip!

Travel Insurance: 
My travel insurance covered costs incurred in Bali only (around $130AUD) - not costs once we reached home. I'll need to see if my Private Health Insurance covers the costs of seeing the Travel Doctor (around $300AUD - consultation and 3 visits for vaccinations)

Super clean - BIMC hospital in Bali - I went to the BIMC in Nusa Dua. There is also one in Kuta.

Happy snap with my treating doctor and nurse at BIMC, Nusa Dua.

The moral of this random shit is don't go to the Monkey Forest unless you're aware that you might get bitten. And visit the Travel Doctor before you go somewhere because you never know...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A prayer for gay marriage

"Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord."
This is one of my favourite things that the priest says when closing Mass.

So it was both a responsibility and privilege when I was asked to read this prayer at the wedding of some very dear friends of mine, just recently:



"We are reminded today that many do not share the same freedoms that we do. Like our friends in same sex relationships who cannot take part in the ritual of marriage. 

We pray that we might live in a just and equal society that sees and values the Love and Humanity in each other."



We tweaked the wording but I really like the sentiment of this prayer. It is peaceful and loving. It is unselfish and kind.


The moral of this random shit is: listen to your heart and do good. It serves us all.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Everton Bus Shelter

"STOP THE CAR!!!!!" I yelled. My fella surprised, glanced over and caught just enough of the sight to see that it was worth finding a safe spot to do so. "Huh?" was the response from Lou in the back seat in a tone that said, "whatever-the-hell-could-be-so-important-that-you'd-yell-unwelcome-like-that".

Well dear reader, here's a GIF showing what brought on the outburst:

creator


Here's the ensuing photoshoot:




More GIF showing that Lou soon saw and also loved the Everton Bus Shelter:


gif


The moral of this random shit is that needless to say, the countryside is full of some awesome stuff - get out with your mates and enjoy it!



Love this bus shelter? Read about the "Mad Lot from Everton", the awesome crew behind the Everton Bus Shelter! Thank you for the joy you added to our roadtrip today!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vintage books on Australian flowers

I love flowers.

So I am particularly pleased to have picked up these vintage books at the Maling Road Antique Market in Canterbury for $2 and $3 a piece, check out the covers:

tumblr

The photography is beautiful in that saturated sunny-hazed way of the 1970s.

I love both covers but the black-eyed red Sturt Pea reminds me of the Fred Williams exhibition I visited earlier this year where I marvelled at his abstract, vibrant Australian landscapes and appreciation of the Sturt desert pea:
Sturt desert pea (1974) by Fred Williams

Such gems; goes to show how it pays off to have time to rummage through the bargain box!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Different


As someone who spends a lot of time looking past the grey swarm and “seeing people”, I get annoyed when people only see me in one way. That is, when they only see “Asian”, “Girl” or “chick who likes fashion”. It affects me professionally, socially, romantically. Melbourne writer Benjamin Law wrote about race-based attraction on Grindr and as a single looking for that someone special whilst out and about in the city that I love; I can add that it was character-building to so often be met with prejudiced eyes.

I love being Australian. I’ve lived overseas and goodness, you should see how I wave the banner for home by sharing Barbeque shapes, Tim Tams and showing “the right way to have Vegemite” – just a smidge over lusciously-buttered bread. However, I also know that despite being born here and being so proud… on home ground the sense of comfort that I have in being Australian can be whipped out from underneath me at any time with a  “so, where do you come from?”

A few years ago now at work, a senior staff member asked me to give a team presentation about Chinese New Year. Because you know, I’m Chinese. What they didn’t know is that my heritage is Indonesian Chinese; my Opa (that’s Dutch for “Grandfather”) sent his daughters to Australia because the Indonesians under Suharto were curtailing Chinese rights. My parents’ Chinese schools, the Chinese-language newspaper were closed down, Chinese people were required to change their surnames to Indonesian ones to stamp out Chinese culture.* I had to Wikipedia the presentation.

However while fuming to my friends about the presentation, I was taken aback when one of my well-meaning friends exclaimed, “yeah Chezzy, why you? You’re not Asian, you’re Australian!”

-

There’s been much ado online about this interview that Herald Sun Fashion Ed Kate Waterhouse held with the insanely fabulous, Christina Hendricks. As a fan of the TV show Mad Men, I am also a very big fan of Hendricks’ portrayal of feisty Joan who at the point I’ve watched up to (end of Season 4), seems to be realising that men aren’t the answer and she’s gonna have to save herself to have the life that she wants. Anyhow in this interview that has gone viral, Waterhouse asked Hendricks’ "what it was like to be a role model for full figured women" and "to tell a story, to give an example to show how." Hendricks took offence at the question, shut down the interview and later called the question “rude”; which got me thinking.
Being "different" can have its downside but... 
Tell me if it's different but I related to Hendricks' reaction; I find it disappointing when people choose to focus and constantly refer to my being Asian in the way Hendricks might feel constantly being seen and referred to as “full-figured”. There is a shitload more to each of us. But for some reason, society or the people in positions like Waterhouse can only see how we're different, to them. And to be fair, it's not just Waterhouse, in an interview with the cast of Charlie's Angels, Rove McManus asked Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz "how hard was it to learn martial arts for the film?" indicating that he didn't need to ask the third Angel, Lucy Liu. Liu quipped, "why? because I'm Asian?"

We are different to the norm. Hendricks has her figure and I have colour. And it is the first thing that a lot of people see. Tina Fey wrote in her book, Bossypants, that she could tell a person based on how they treated her after seeing the scar on her face. You know what they see, it's always interesting to see how they respond.  I try to stay calm so that I can tell the difference between rudeness and ignorance and try to react appropriately. The difference between some drunk guy in a bar yelling, “KONICHIWA” in my face and the staff member asking me to give the presentation on Chinese New Year: the first instance, rudeness; the second, ignorance. 

I also don't believe in the level of political-correctness that we've come to in some places; to the point that we also don't reasonably call things as they are. I’ve been reading Layne Beachley’s biography and she talks about the teasing that she used to cop from the boys who surfed on the best part of the beach; where she wanted a go. The boys dished out the teasing and Beachley learnt that she liked standing up for herself.  Sure Waterhouse’s posing of the full-figured question (seriously "tell me a story" - come on, Kate!)  to Hendricks was clumsy and came across to me as condescending coming from one so (as she puts it herself), “slight”. I do feel though that Hendricks could have reacted in a more sophisticated way with a clever answer that would’ve had us fist-pumping. Like “only the full-figured ones? Only women?”

So regardless of whether we've dealt with the way that society looks at us, why should Hendricks, any person, even have to be a role model? This question was posed by Melbourne writer, Clementine Ford, in her reaction to the Waterhouse/Hendricks interview. Now, I’ve referred to Ford in the past as her pieces often express how I feel about a situation, albeit with far more advanced writing skills and facts and stuff. See how her work is quoted by Hugo Schwyzer in this piece on Jezebel. Such good brains. So much so that I was getting ready to defer all critical thinking to Ford until she wrote this piece on the Waterhouse-Hendricks saga.

Christina Hendricks isn't the first female celebrity who's had to bear her actual career being sidelined for the less interesting pursuit of Professional Role Model, and she certainly won't be the last. We have this incessant need in our celebrity obsessed culture to turn potentially unwilling and often inappropriate people into ‘role models’.

And why do we reward women for modelling good, conservative behaviour to young girls and punish those who refuse to play the game?

I’m tired of being told that I need role models to look up to, particularly when they reinforce very limited versions of womanhood. I agree that we need to showcase more diversity in the media, but offering patronising squeals about impossibly beautiful women isn’t the answer.


I grew up in the suburbs blaring Bon Jovi. I loved “Sleep when I’m Dead.” The video clip of a bunch of cheeky, womanizing rockers inspired me years before I really understood what their songs were about. I don’t believe that we can choose who we influence or are role models for. I believe that there are folks who work in the public eye who genuinely want to do a good job because they know that they have the skills and talent; the attention they get is a by-product that comes with the territory and which is something they have to go on and manage. While I was photographing Winter Olympian Steven Bradbury last year, I was struck by how many random people would stop and wait to shake his hand for something that he did a decade ago. A bloke stopped with his family, pointed out Bradbury and told his kids about the gold medal. Bradbury, an athlete will tell you that he worked damn hard and persevered against all odds to achieve what he did but people will always see him as a fortuitous accidental winner (even though he'd worked for 12 years, represented Australia a bunch of times and also won by accident in the semi-final in the lead up to the final). Bradbury uses that profile to speak on the motivational circuit and showcases his own cheek through the jokes that he makes that may shock the audience but drew lots of laughs the two times I've heard him deliver them. 

Which brings me to my next point that  I also disagree with Ford’s assertion that we necessarily have to, “behave”. I agree that Disney infantalises its female talent such as Miley Cyrus etc. but Disney does not have a monopoly on creating role models and neither do conservative parental groups. We're never going to please everyone but I do believe that with the rise of self-publishing, "the different" are able to put out their own stories and grow a readership to such an extent that there has been a shift in the public conscious. I feel that the public eye is ready for the less-angelic - where it is humble, self-aware more authentic and therefore, resonates. Take Gala Darling for example, creator of the Radical Self Love Project. If you haven't already - make the time to watch her TEDx talk below: 
Lady has been through a lot, what a trooper. But she battles through things and in doing so, shines a light for others to live their authentic selves. And she's one of gazillions of people who do this everyday which goes to show how widely we can take inspiration/role modeling from when we choose to look past what's shown to us on TV. Another "different" role model is blogger Carly Findlay who amongst many other things (like our mutual love for Bon Jovi) blogs about her life living with skin condition ichthyosis.

For those of us who know that we’re different…Society isn’t going to get over our being different to the “norm” any time soon. So for the most part we will be token representations of “our kind”, we will have to answer the most inane questions. I know that Findlay cops an obscene number of comments from perfect strangers. It's tiresome. But once we get over our being different, we get to move on and shift focus to our other talents and work. It’s up to us to shape our own paths and not buy into structures that will package and market us out as things that we’re not and in the case of Disney starlets; at an age when we’re not sure what we are, just yet. And it's not just for ourselves or other people "like us", it's for everyone. 

In case you're wondering about what I did with the presentation; I ended up seeing the latter as an opportunity to do what I enjoy the most; create engaging content to educate and entertain. I got Caucasian Nick to deliver the presentation in Chinese and I in English. It was well-received although the senior staff member seemed to think that I took the piss a little. Yes I was but I like to think that it made the point that there was more to Nick; unexpectedly fluent in Chinese and knowing about the traditions as he’d studied and lived in China; and more to me as people expect me to be some sort of compliant little Asian girl without spark. Ha.

Being different. How people respond to you says a lot more about them. That said, how you choose to deal with them or let it affect you says lots about you. And if you can use it for good, why wouldn't you?

*Dad was able to switch back to his Chinese name when he reached Australia because it was on his original birth certificate but we no speak the Chinese. But before you feel sorry for our loss of cultural heritage, it's not all lost; we still get red packet. woo.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

True Self: Ballerina Barbie and me

I never really wanted a Barbie a doll until I was around 5 years old and saw the one on TV.

I remember watching the ad; there was a stage with deep-red velvet curtains. A spotlight beamed and in twirled the Ballerina Barbie. She had a tutu and pink ballet shoes that laced up. I was mesmerised.

I wasn't sure I was supposed to believe in Santa but that year my parents seemed to really want me to. So when they asked me to find what Santa had brought me that year, I ran to the fireplace and-oops look - Santa had dropped a present there! When I tore the package open- well it really was Christmas ;)

I remember going to school and for the first time noticing that my hair wasn't like that of the other kids. I got home and looked at Ballerina Barbie and noticed that she had their hair. It was so long, yes she had plenty; surely we could share! So I pulled out scissors from my pencil case and carefully cut her long blonde hair. I put the chunks onto sticky tape which I then stuck over my own black bob and went to check myself out in the mirror.

I was so surprised. I was so disappointed; I didn't look like them. I looked like me but silly. Ridiculous. I looked at Ballerina Barbie with her new bob; she didn't look as good as she did before either. Most people would realise that they needed a better hairdresser but there was something about that moment. It made me realise that I wasn't ever going to be like anyone else, that it was better for everyone if I was just me.

Mum asked me why I'd cut Barbie's hair; I told her it was because I thought that she'd want to have a bob hairstyle like me. Mum's kept all of my toys and I remember coming across Ballerina Barbie when we were moving house; gosh how I felt a pang of shame when I saw her.

Tonight. I bought a piece of artwork. It's for a good cause and was priced ridiculously well but brought these old memories up to the surface.

A collaboration between artist David Bromley and photographer Christian Blanchard to help raise funds for Fitted For Work... I remember the impression it made on me when I first saw Bromley's portraits of Asian girls. Sure they were topless but it was the first time that I'd seen a contemporary artist portraying Asian girls in a sensual, alluring way like the blonde ones...

Me with photographer Christian Blanchard and his collaborative piece with David Bromley
I have no idea where I'm going to put this piece when I finally take hold of it.

It is going to be on display for a bit - so I've time to think.

In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out this piece and 51 others in this really great exhibition titled True Self produced by The Jacky Winter Group and on display on level 1 of Melbourne's GPO until June 24.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The time I fell off Kealey's shed

There are things a fashion blogger will do in order to get the right shot. Like fall off the roof of a shed into a vegie patch, then climb back up in order to "get the shot".


Random shit that I left behind to get the shot:


my skin...

Shit happens, carry on
Back on solid ground
My hero :)
And now for some shots of the delightful Doris who pretty much fulfilled what I was hoping to achieve; I now realise that it'd mean not wearing high heels ;)


Many thanks to the awesome-face Kealey for helping me get my desired shots and not photographing me while I was splayed in her veggie patch!

The moral of this random shit is to make sure that your tetanus shots are up-to-date... and if you're going to fall into a veggie patch; take care to avoid the pumpkins ;)