Thursday, March 31

Bleeding heart

There is a place in this world in which I know for sure I want to spend eternity. It is the place where I want my ashes scattered. It is a place so close to my heart that I have deferred thinking about visiting it when I go back to Romania this year, because i know I will only get to spend about 1-2 days (only the days, not the nights) there. However, I am thinking about it now because I talked to my friend (the one that is following a book - see links on the right) and he said that he has bolted a route for me and Marian as a present for our wedding. And there we were this morning, speaking on the phone over Skype (they are in Brazil right now) and he tells me this (that he is giving the route to me, and that Marian and I should name it) and i start crying and I haven't really stopped ever since.

Anyway, as far as he told me, the route is the one that starts on the wall behind marian and that gorgeous dog in the picture below. I do have a better picture of the wall but it also contains my big ass and I don't think you would want that. Hopefully this year Marian, Sandra, Doris, and I will go there and Marian and I will get to name the route. I don't think we will get to climb it, because the weather is shit at this time of year, but at least I will get to say hi to the woods and the dogs.

Wednesday, March 30

One picture Tuesday

Well ... it is tuesday still in some parts of the world ... Anyway, yesterday I realized that while I do share a lot with my Singaporean friends, I do not share (at least with some of them) my love for animals. Mostly because I think people here do not really have pets and, being such a small island, are not really in contact with animals throughout their life. I hope to rectify this during our trip this summer but I do not know if it will be possible. Certainly shots like this one below will only be possible if sandra safely climbs up a tree or something.

Monday, March 28

Why I hate movies

... and i love books.

Yesterday Marian decided to take me to the movies. We went to see "The Adjustment Bureau" which turned out to be exactly the kind of movie that I like. No, not the romantic, lovey wovey movie kind, but the kind that has a happy ending, and in which, more importantly, nothing eternally bad happens to the characters you like. That is, even if something bad happens to them, they eventually jump back up and finish the movie on a happy tone.

I have realized that the reason I do not like movies or going to the movies is because it is not usually the case that the characters i like end up still being ok and in one piece by the end of the movie. And the thing is, life is full of crap anyway, so why go to a movie where you get even more crap?

Which is not to say that I only read happy books, but with a book, whenever something wrong is going to happen to somebody I like, I just put the book down, take a breather, don't think about it for a few days, and then come back, get a little dose of the unhappiness and continue this way until the book is over.

But going to the movies or watching movies with Marian I cannot do the same thing, which basically means that I have to have somebody swear on their lives that nothing extremely bad is going to happen in the movie before I agree to see it.

And of course, Marian sometimes lies, which is why sometimes in the middle of the cinema you can hear me say: "you promised nothing bad happens!", "YOU PROMISED!".

Wednesday, March 23

Why we've given up on violence

... And it's not because we smoke too much marijuana and decided to make love not war.

But because accidentally brushing hard surfaces with our palms brings tears into our eyes and makes us squirm while others helplessly watch and think "Dude, it's just a harmless brushing ..."

Or accidentally bumping into somebody on the street or having somebody step on your toes. Or, god forbid, have somebody really shake your hand (seriously what's with people and death grips?)

And you can't really hold heavy stuff with your left hand (your elbow hurts from that massive fall you took - also the last moment in your bouldering history when you were brave) nor can you wash the dishes (rough skin on your fingers will peel) or hurl wet dishes at somebody.

And the thought of raising your hand and forming a fist makes you realize that you have to bend that elbow and flex that biceps, and if you've been climbing too hard or too weird last night you will know that a) your elbow hurts and b) you can't flex your biceps because it's momentarily on a vacation sipping pina coladas by the pool and icing itself.

And you can't really shout at somebody because last night you took a 2 meter plastering fall on the hard mattress that even your superhuman ang moh friend can't catch and momentarily your lung is still peeling itself from its ribcage.

Have we been climbing for too long? Or are we just getting older?

Tuesday, March 22

One picture Tuesday

And the reason why I still have red hair and red hands:

Holi Celebrations on Sunday! It was fun, colorful and exciting! And most probably I will never do it again :)

Monday, March 21


There are moments when I hate my supervisor with the wrath I usually save for arrogant sons of bitches and mean people, and moments when I like him so much I am shitting rainbows. Today was one of the latter as I noticed that he put the cup I gave him (World's Best* Advisor) on the same shelf where he puts all his memorabilia, like plaques, juggling balls from SMA, and a data-center truck from Sun.

* where "Best" is defined over the set An, n=1 of advisors who would take me as their student.

Friday, March 18

Annapurna Circuit Trek - Part VII

[Read the rest of the annapurna story here.]
Day 14. Tatopani to Gorepani and Poon Hill

This has got to be one of the most beautiful and tiring days of the trek. Mostly because we have been walking for two weeks now and basically we could use some rest. And some air-con. And some wifi connection. But who cares when everything is so beautiful around us!

Today we finally left the road and travelled through villages and up various fields all the way up to Gorepani and Poon Hill. We started the day early, us and the two groups of tourists left. They were carrying almost nothing, as the rest of the things were carried by their porters. Please excuse the "holier-than-thou" attitude, I guess we were all pissed by the fact that our only pair of pants had so much dust in them they could walk by themselves, whereas you could see the porter-tourists in clean clothes!

We started with a light uphill through terraced fields.

And despite the heat and the long climb, we were still able to enjoy the fantastic views. That white fang in the background is Dhualaghiri, at only 8,167 m.

Marian of course is not praying to the mountain or the ipHOne, but taking the GPS coordinates.

The valley is beautiful and the sights and sounds we see and hear distract our attention from the fact that this is one serious uphill we have to face.

We reach Gorepani around 4pm in the afternoon, totally and utterly spent. With a last push the boys go to change money whereas I go up around fifty more steps to the hotel with the best view, as recommended by lonely planet. And best they are, with fantastic sunsets over the Annapurnas.

The boys settle down to some chess while we wait for a mostly carbohydrate dinner.

We go to sleep early because in the morning we have to wake up at 4am to go see the sunrise up at Poon Hill. Tonight, Marian and I are lucky because the stove pipe runs through our room and is saving us from the cccccold outside. And it was ccccold, as you can see I am wearing my heavy duty jacket.

Day 15. Gorepani and Poon Hill to Pokhara
Today was an even harder day than yesterday. We wake early to go see the sunrise at Poon Hill. Because we are not carrying our back-packs, we literally fly the 300m to Poon Hill (3210m). We are the first to reach the hill and also most probably the first to freeze our asses off because it still takes a while until the sun rises.

The panorama with Dhaulaghiri and the Annapurnas warms our hearts.

One last look at the mountains and we head on down.

And down we go, over a series of infinite rock steps, of different height and width. I remember three things about the day.

First, this young boy saw that I wanted to take his picture and turned his sister around and gave us a fantastic smile!

Second, we ate passion fruit straight from the tree. And third, a bunch of schoolkids from Singapore recognized my marathon t-shirt and had a chat with us.

Other than that, the stairs went on and on and on and on.

Finally, we reached the village before Nayapul around 3pm +. That was when I realized that one of the people in Gorepani had told us that the last bus was at 4pm. And here began our last bid for the bus, because we really really wanted to be in Pokhara by the end of the day. We reached Nayapul around 4:10pm, but the buses were still there. However, the only places available were ON the bus, so we took a cab instead, at roughly double the price of the bus ticket, after ample and furious negotiations.

In Pokhara the next day we walked around the lake, the guys had a shave, we had coffee and fresh pastries, and did a lot of souvenir and clothes shopping.

But most importantly we had beef steak and beer, by far the best steak I ever had in my life, most probably because it was so well deserved.

Thursday, March 17

Owned by an engineer

The reason why I have not been writing much about my climbing is that the quality and the frequency of it has been slowly deteriorating over the past weeks. True, I did go on a job hunt and to get my dress, but still, I have been training less hard and my climbing has been less than enthusiastic. This has resulted in a slight weight gain which does not help the quality of the climb and the freshness of my fingers. Top that with my expensive and TIGHT shoes and life is not good in the land of the elephant.

Yesterday I was commenting that "my butt is like a black hole!!!"

And i peel of the route and slump down on the mattress. At which point Dodo goes:

"Claud, your butt is not a black hole!"

"Yes, it is... It has infinite mass and nothing in this world can budge it from its position!"

"No, it's not a black hole, it's not single point!"

And thus, the two-pointed black hole was born.

Tuesday, March 15

One picture Tuesday

One of my best moments in Sydney was eating a very un-spicy tom yam soup in Hyde Park, in the company of greedy seagulls and a paper on emergence.

Monday, March 14


Yes. I have just returned from Sydney where I found, loved, and took home my wedding dress. No, I am not letting Marian see it. Mostly because I've been to a wedding where I saw the groom's jaw literally drop when he saw his bride for the first time. So I want this to happen to me too, and, being the ass that I am, I have already informed Marian that should his performance not be adequate, he will rot in hell. No pressure, no pressure! The dress is sekretly tucked away in a blue bag, but I will unveil it again to selected few in about two weeks to put in some de-humidifier.

But what I am disclosing here is the fact that although my dress is white, my shoes are bright red, as shown below. Bright red and comfortable some more, just right for an all night dancing of traditional romanian dances.

Thursday, March 10

A story of pigeons

Yesterday I went to Bondi beach. It's Australia's most famous beach and (I guess) surfer's paradise. I say it was surfer's paradise because there were no other people other than surfer's in the water. Probably because the waves were gigantic? So gigantic that I am still picking sand out of my ears? [this picture is taken from the water because Maxi is waterproof!]

Anyway, after hanging out at the beach and working (I kid you not), I went in front of McDonald's because this is the only place in Sydney where you might find free wifi - yes, it's still the bronze age here. And here I saw at one point a large number of pigeons rushing out of McD.

Turns out, that the pigeons would wait outside until there were fries or other crumbles on the floor (see reflection).

Then they would slowly approach the door and wait until people would walk close enough or inside such that the door would open.

They would shy away and wait until the people would walk in and then follow immediately.

Made it!

Tuesday, March 8

One picture Tuesday

One day I am going to make tom yam soup again and drink it by the glass. I miss chillies!

Monday, March 7

Why I love my family

Because no matter how many times I say "No, you don't have to worry about my wedding dress", "no, i do not want to come to sydney", "no, i will find my own wedding dress", and finally, "no, i don't like that dress", they will not even listen to me and insist and insist until their faces turn blue and my ears turn red. I also love my australian family because one of them, namely my aunt, tries so hard to please everybody and ends up distorting and changing facts just a little bit. Like if let's say my cousin said "great to see you all, thanks for the dinner; will see clau again i hope", her version of events is "your cousin really loved having you around!!" :)) and this kind of stuff that does not go well with my scientist brain. To the point that sometimes I get incredibly frustrated.

Yup. And if you are still reading, I will tell you about Sydney! First of all, I can't show pictures because the wifi connection here is a) NOT FREE?!!!! and b) if it's free it's super crappy, so you'll had to wait until I get home for some pictures. Today I have also realized that I am truly addicted to chili. I had my first australian tom yam and i nearly cried because it was not spicy at all even though i insisted for extra-extra spicy.

I spent the last three days hanging out with my uncle and my aunt. On saturday my uncle and I went running in the CBD, around the botanical gardens, opera house, the rocks, etc. It was FANTASTIC!! Plus we topped it off with a guiltless turkish spinach and feta cheese kinda-crepe from the saturday market at the rocks. I enjoyed it more because i rarely get a chance to really talk to my uncle. He is a very smart individual but also so fucking choleric that you can't have a conversation with him without trying to kill him within 30 seconds. But running helped calm the spirits down and we got along just fine.

On Saturday night we went to where captain Cook first set foot in australia.

Then we drove through the city - it was marvelously empty since everybody else was at the annual Mardi Gras!

On Sunday we ran on the beach and chilled.

Sydney is overall MUCH bigger than adelaide, much crowded, dirty, cosmopolitan, whatever you want to call it. I like adelaide more. I guess I am getting old :)

I love my wedding dress, for many reasons, one of which is that it's decent enough such that i don't have to shop for another one.

Being away right now for so long is a good exercise because I get to see how it will be away from my peeps. I am slowly approaching the threshold. This is because usually when i am away I spend those three days or so shopping and thinking about what prezzies I am going to get for the people back home. This usually involves visits to numerous supermarkets, candy stores, t-shirt shops and fresh markets, so I am kept busy. I am almost done with everything - still have half of marian's present, but after this I will still have half a week to mope around and wait for my dress to be adjusted.

Today I went to the climbing gym and I missed singapore even more, as the guys there were spotting amazing one-packs and all of them were top-less. NUS climbing gym guys (and your six/eight packs), I salute you!

Did I tell

Wednesday, March 2

A near miss

Tomorrow I am flying off to Sydney to find a wedding dress (more about this in another post entitled "Why i love my family"). So of course I made an appointment with everybody such that we can either a) climb or b) have dinner, seeing how i was fucking convinced i fly off at 23:55. I even almost bullied Sandra into bringing her shoes to climb seeing how i will not climb (in singapore) and neither will she (ahem) for the whole of next week.

Of course today, giving it another check just for the sake of it, I found out i am flying off at 19:55. A very near miss. Quite a big fucking scare as, after my previous miss, I never ever want to miss another inter-continental (notice the implications that missing continental flights is ok) flight because of my own scatter-brain (notice the implication that it can be marian's fault for example) for as long as I live.


Tuesday, March 1

One picture Tuesday

Today the boss came with a stack of papers and said: "I want these reviewed by tomorrow" [and this is why the reviews on some papers out there MIGHT read: "Perhaps the presentation of the paper could improve such that reviewers could actually understand better" or "Please do not use Google translate to translate your paper" ] So instead of the elaborate post I planned to explain today's picture, i will just give you these lines.

Behold, the king of all fruits, love of my life, perpetrator of angry burps, fatter than a pork steak, stink-ier than a dead rat, and smoother than a baby's butt!!