Saturday, December 31, 2005

One Small Step: New Year Resolutions

Projects for 2006:

Build the KaraDome, a dome owned and built by me, Karamoon.
Get a decent computer job, preferably one which is very hard.
Present a weekly radio show.
Read every computer book I own.
Resist the urge to buy any books for a year.
Give a talk at HOPE in New York.

Happy New Year

I returned home from Berlin to a hero's welcome. 2005 has been quite a bad year for me, despite being full of good stuff. It's very much going to be a case of sink or swim for me next year. If things don't work out then I'll just go find something difficult and dangerous to do.

Friday, December 30, 2005

CCC Day 4: It's All Over For The Unknown Soldier

About half the people at the CCC have left so there's quite a strange feeling here.

"Quantum Entanglement"
I find it hard to get interested in anything quantum-related. I spent most of the talk using my laptop to read the Hack-A-Day website which is a daily listing of interesting projects on the Net for you to try at home.

"Covert Communications On A Dark Network"
Social networks are really, really interesting. Seriously interesting. Before this talk I had not thought about the "6-degrees of separation" theory which states that packages can be delivered anywhere in a system in 6 steps. This was explained in the first few minutes of the talk so I spent the rest of the hour thinking and writing about the theory.

"Lightning Talks Day 4"
I sat through a bunch of lightning talks but few caught my interest. I still think lightning talks are a great idea though.

"The Very Early Computer Game History"
This talk covered computer games from the 40's and 50's. It was a very fun talk but it was more interesting to see old computers than the games that were played on them.

"22C3 Network Review"
Although I didn't directly use the network much, it was nice to know that it was there. The CCC had several connections to the Internet, totalling 20 Gigabits. This is more Internet power than THE WHOLE OF AFRICA.

"22C3 Closing Event"
Lots and lots and lots of clapping. Rop talked about the reactions that he had got from the talk "We Lost The War" which he gave on the first day.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

CCC Day 3: H4RDC0R3

"Academic Tools And Real-Life Bug Finding In Win32"
This talk made me miss maths so much! The first part was on computerbility and the halting problem. The second part was on how to use software tools to search through source code and find security holes which may be there. Great stuff.

"Private Investigations In Searching"
Fravia was one of my favourite speakers at the CCC last year. He looked a bit different this year and may have been someone else... The talk was the same subject as last year but a lot of the techniques had been updated.

"I See Airplanes!"
I've been interested in passive radar for a couple of years now. This talk explained a lot of the science behind the idea and talked about several current passive radar projects.

"Lightning Talks Day 3"
Some interesting lightning talks, covering a wide variety of stuff. One that stood out was a talk by Christian Tan about how hard it is to run an record company that supports the free distribution of music.

"Learning JavaScript With The Google Maps API"
I've played around with JavaScript a bit, and for a long time I've been meaning to make some nice things for the Tokyo Robotnik website with JavaScript.

"Random Windows Stuff"
Ollie Whitehouse failed to turn up to give this talk, hopefully nothing harsh has happened to him. Fortunately Dan Kaminsky decided to give an impromptu talk on interesting things he has been thinking about recently. If Kaminsky joined the dark side he would be so much cooler. Whitehat hackers just don't get it.

A basic but interesting talk on the different satelittes that exist and how they can be explored with very common equipment.

"Intrusion Detection Systems"
A rather straightforward talk on IDS's and how they should be linked up on a LAN using a common data format.

A good technical talk on a way to actively discover what techniques malicious websites are using to attack computers which visit them. Kathy Wang, who I met last year at HOPE, is doing interesting things in this area.

"Breaking Down The Web Of Trust"
Americans generally shouldn't be allowed to talk about identity issues in an international context because they fail to understand that identity in some countries is not as big of a deal as it is in the US. In particular, the US uses social security numbers for so many things in daily life and also driving lisenses are used in many transactions whereas in many countries this would be unacceptable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

CCC Day 2: Picking Up The Pace

"A Way To Fuzzy Democracy"
I don't find fuzzy logic massively interesting, but it is quite useful. This talk covered voting systems where the votes aren't of equal weight eg. with a vote on a local issues, the closer you lived to the area the stronger your vote would be.

"3G Investigations: GPRS/UMTS"
I've always considered GPRS to be too expensive, but it's something I'd like to use in the future. This talk covered some basics on how Internet connections work with mobile phones and other handheld devices that use GPRS/UMTS.

"Military Intelligence For Terrorists"
This was really just a talk on GoogleMaps. The only surprising thing was how much people in the audience knew about aeroplanes. They were able to identify most of planes at various airbases that the speaker had found on google.

"Black Ops Of TCP/IP 2005"
Dan Kaminsky's "Black Ops Of TCP/IP" talks are always interesting and always entertaining. I love TCP/IP and it's great to see that there are people in the world who continue

"Search Engines: Oracles Of The Information Society"
Three random guys talking about search engines.

"Old Skewl Hacking: InfraRed updated"
I saw this talk last year at the CCC, and it hadn't changed much. I'm glad I watched it again though because it was very entertaining and besides, you can never know too much about infrared devices.

"Technological Art Off The Trodden Tracks"
This talk started with an overview of various new media art projects, many of which I was already familiar such as stuff from the IAA and the Critical Art Ensemble. The talk then tried to address the question of whether spoof art projects were just as effective as real art projects.

"Corp vs. Corp: Profiling Modern Espionage"
This talk was given by a couple of Italians. They basically said that corporations use very well-known hacking methods to spy on eachother.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

CCC Day 1: It's Good To Be Back

Nothing beats a good hacker conference. The CCC(Chaos Communication Congress) has been taking place every year since 1984 and is one of the most important events in the hacker calendar. 150 talks, 3000 hackers, computers, phones and phun.

"Private Investigations Keynote speech"
Joi Ito used his keynote speech to assert that democracy is broken but that there is still lots that can be done to improve things in the world. Ito is a member of several important international committees so he tends to say stuff like that...

"Understanding Buffer Overflow Exploitation"
A standard talk on the consequences of slack coding on VN architecture. Nothing special.

"Hopalong Casualty"
This talk covered ways of getting video surveillance systems to recognise varios types of activity, using weak artificial intelligence. There are several talks on machine learning, fuzzing, and other AI-related stuff at the CCC this year. Usually I'd say it's something that interests me greatly, it was, in fact, a big part of my life when I was younger, but with something practical like CCTV it seems silly to focus on what's interesting instead of what works.

"Hacking CCTV"
Fuck. Trapped in a German lecture. I had though that this talk would be in English because the description of it in the CCC programme was in English. Fuck.

"Hacking Data Retention"
A good overview of data retention but not much that isn't obvious.

"Bad Trips"
A decent talk on how the WTO fuck people over through the use of trade regulations to assert Intellectual Property rights.

"We Lost The War"
This will be the defining talk of the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress. Rop and Frank said a lot of things that people didn't want to hear, let alone believe. The talk mainly covered the emergence of the surveillance society and the technology behind it. My favourite quote from the talk: "We need to build crypto and we need to build it fast".

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Packing For Hacking

My good friend Richard will be over in less than 7 hours to drive to Gatwick airport and I'm still struggling to pack. Like always, I want to take just hand luggage if at all possible. I have three main issues: which coat to take, which books to take and which shoes to take.

I've been listening to talks from hacking conferences all day so I'm feeling pretty psyched-up.

I settled on taking a yahting jacket, a copy of "The Art Of Deception" by Mitnik and a pair of army assault boots.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Karamoon's Christmas Address

Highlights of 2005:
Giving a talk on culture jamming at Norwich EASF
Getting a "Borders" bookshop in Norwich
Attending "What The Hack" in Holland
Attending "BrumCon", the UK's best hacker conference
Reading "Beneath The City Streets"
Going to Armenia
Being interviewed by the BBC four times!
Speaking to Tim Ireland on the phone
Making loads of amazing friends in Norwich

Aims for 2006:
Speak at a hacker conference
Pass lots of computer exams
Turn Norwich 2600 into a decent group
Publish Tokyo Robotnik Magazine

Watching Them Watching Us.

My good friend Dr Edward Bearskin came over this morning. Like all sensible people, we decided that the best way to get into the Christmas spirit was to stay inside all day watching cool stuff. First we watched "This Is What Democracy Looks Like", a documentary about the 1995 demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation. We then watched "The Yes Men", a documentary about the subversive infiltration of commerce conferences by anti-capitalist agents. Very inspiring stuff.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I Dream Of Jeannie

When I awoke this morning I recalled a strange dream I had had last night. In the dream I stabbed a man in the eye with my thumb. At the time, I thought I had destroyed their eye but it later turned out that the injury wasn't has serious as it had first appeared.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pass The Porcelain

This evening I attended the 50th lecture on Japanese culture organised by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts & Cultures. The lecture was given by Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, the director of the Institute. Dr Rousmaniere's lecture covered the emergence of porcelain in Japan, a subject which is of little interest to me although the porcelain was exquisite.

On my way home I met Pete Smith from Ipswich. I've met Pete several times at the East Anglian Social Forum and have always found him to be a source of stimulating conversation.

I watched an episode of the Japanese anime series Outlaw Star before going to sleep. I should probably watch much less anime, or much more. Either way, the amount of anime I'm watching at the moment is clearly sub-optimal.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Jar For A Head

I managed to obtain a ticket to a preview screening of "Jarhead". The screening was at a cinema I had not visited before. The reason I had not visited it before is that the cinema is in heart of "Riverside", an area of Norwich where the streets often flow with blood and people speak a strange tongue, as different from English as a monkeys are from chips.

The film was quite good. Essentially it was a remake of "Full Metal Jacket" set during Gulf War I. Harsh, but not harsh enough.

Attending the preview screening reminded me how much I hate students. If they are ouyr future, we're well-and-truly fucked.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My Mate Marmalade

After some shopping in the city centre, I hurridly baked a marmalade cake to take to the house of my friend Peter. I'm always wary of cooking things to take to other people's houses. I find it jolly embarrassing to eat a meal at someone's house, all the time knowing that my desert will put them to shame. Fortuanately Peter's wife Jacky is a great cook, so the meal wasn't upstaged by my fantastic, although slightly over-cooked, marmalade cake.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Got Wood?

Regular readers will know I often feel depressed after watching Woody Allen films. Today I felt the need to watch the 1979 film "Manhattan" while eating my lunch. Woody Allen films are depressing for me because they remind me that (1) I'm not anything like Woody Allen, and (2) that my life is not like a Woody Allen film.

Watching Manhattan made me think about how culturaly dead Norwich is. One of the major issues in the UK is that there are so few places to hang around. So much "public" space is in fact owned by various companies.

My good friend Suzi called my around 11pm and I discussed the cultural things with her. She seemed to genuinely understand my pain. We are going to start a book group in an effort to inject some culture into our lives. It will fail.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Looking at a far mountain?

The clowns at Amazon claim to have finally dispatched my Ethernet ADSL adapter. I'll be surprised if it arrives tomorrow, and jolly pleased. Assuming it arrives, I'll be faced with the task of getting it to work with my broadband provider and my wireless router, not to mention the task of setting up VPN access for my PC and Apple Powerbook.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Kein Mitleid Fur Amazon

Called the scum at Amazon again about the Ethernet ADSL adapter that they have failed to send me. I spoke to a woman this time. After calling the order-fulfillment centre she informed me that the item was, and always has been, in stock and that it hadn't been sent to me because the Amazon computer system couldn't cope with the fact that my one of my registered phone numbers didn't start with +44, the dialing code for the UK. The most sensible course of action would have been to commandeer a car, travel to the nearest Amazon office or depot, and send the managers and supervisors to Hell, possibly through the use of petrol and/or under-cooked chicken(which is lethal in the UK) Being such a sporting chap, I instead asked for an explanation to be emailed to me and a money off voucher...


Boris Johnson, the only person in British politics worth baking bread for, has today proved himself to be one of the greatest MP's to ever live. Boris has said that if he receives the leaked memo about Bush's plan to bomb the al-Jazeera TV station, and Blair's role in persuading him not to, he'll publish the document in The Spectator, breaking the Official Secrets Act and going to prison if necessary.

Go Boris, Go!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The blind leading the blind

Emily was off sick today and my boss wasn't at work either so it was just me and the office manager. I did, however, have the pleasure of training Claire, a young woman who is doing work experience with at my computer school. When I say young, I mean she is a few years older than me, as most people are. I also spent quite a bit of time teaching networking to Andrew, one of the few students who ever does anything. All in all, a very good day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Men at work

Due to various members being of staff being away, I had to work today.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I've got your number

Attended the SISJAC lecture on Japanese ceramics. It was held at Blackfriar's Hall, instead of the library in the Sainsbury Institute where the Third-Thursday lectures are usually held.

I spent some time talking to a friend of mine who works at British Telecom laboratories. I wanted to ask him about t eh role that British Telecom may or may not play in Numbers Stations, the short-wave radio stations used for one-way secure communications to spies around the world. I wasn't sure how to phrase my questions so I'll save them for another time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Going nowhere fast

Failed to go to London for the SISJAC lecture at SOAS on Japanese ceramics. Probably not a bad thing. Stayed at home studying instead.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The breakfast of champions

I had a mid-morning brunch with my friend Peter and his wife. We talked about the criminal destruction of the UK's library service as well as other issues of the day. It was my first time to drink coffee since Armenia. Coffee is very strange and I'm not all too sure why people drink it.

Spent a cold afternoon handing out anti-war leaflets with 5 friends. There was a good level of public support and some crazy kids helped out as well.

Friday, October 28, 2005

We're on the road to nowhere

This evening I attended a rather sureal meeting about a new road which will be built around Norwich. Only a handfull of people tuirned up, and the meeting was held in a very unpleasent pub in the centre of Norwich.

The road itself will be a disaster for the people of Norwich. Although local government are claiming that the road is required to reduce congestion in Norwich it is, in fact, a development road. It will be part of a project to encourage urban-sprawl. The project will involve 100,000 people moving to the outskirts of Norwich. Where the 100,000 people will come from doesn't seem to have been addressed yet.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Part of an unhealthy diet

I started the day off with a bowl of high-fibre cereal and skimmed milk. Things went rapidly downhill from there.

I spent a long time looking for my magnetic stripe card reader as I wanted to take it to the Anglian Linux Users' Group kit meeting. Richard arrived in his so-called car so I just put my Powerbook, some books, some Linux disks and some networking gear into a big rucksack and we left for UEA, where the meeting was being held.

The meeting itself was bitterly disapointing. Fewer than 15 people came, not many people had hardware with them and the room was crap. Life is full of things like these.

My lunch and dinner consisted of bakewell tarts, almond slices, 4 types of biscuits and several cuyps of tea. I can't go on like this.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

By a hair's breadth.

At 8:30 this morning I went to a local barber shop in order to have my hair cut. 30 minutes and 9 quid later I was almost unrecognisable.

At 10:30 I visited my good friend Edward Pacman. Edward had an old laptop which he didn't use anymore and had very kindly said I could have. I now own four laptops, which is a big increase on the one that I had previously. We drank tea together and Ed showed me the telephoto lense that he recently purchaced for his SLR camera. I don't believe Ed is a stalker, but he certainly has the equipment to be one. The camera has a full-auto mode which allows you to take 6 photos in quick succession. Coupled with the sports-mode autofucus system, the camera is ideal for people sitting in cars, photographing girls as they walk by.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Study Leave

Got up at 8am to begin the next phase of my life. It felt odd not to have to go to work. My running partner Edward Pacman is having a few days off as he works at the local university and term has just started so things are very hectic. I'm hoping that running with him every morning at 7 am will help a lot in my quest not be organised and not just lie in bed when I'm not at work.

I ate some rather stodgy porridge for breakfast and then got down to some study. My study mainly consists of watching IT training cdroms so it's not too taxing. I find that I can recall 60-80% of what I have watched without too much effort. I have piles of tect books which I will try to tackle next week.

I had a heavy lunch consisting of curry, nan bread and rice left over from last night. I then took a walk in the afternoon and returned home to do more study. Yet more study after dinner. I'm starting to find the guy in the training videos slightly annoying but fortunately I'm interested in the material so it's not such a big deal.

Several of my friends from SDF have left brithday messages in the guestbook of my website I feel lucky to know such lovely people. Please leave a message if you have time.

I'm still buzzing with energy from BrumCon. Although some of the talks were rather weak it was all very inspiring. Only working three days a week from now on will mean that I have far more time for learning important stuff, and less money to waste on unimportant stuff.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Very Sad Day

Today has been one of the saddest days I can remember. A few hours ago I got home from work to find a small package addressed to me from Canada. I opened it up to find the book "Access All Areas" by Ninjalicious, the editor of Infiltration zine. I had pre-ordered it months ago and completely forgotten about it.

I've been reading Infiltration for many years now. It has always been inspirational in its content and style. It has been a massive influence on my life, and was one of the reasons I started my website and blog.

While sitting on my bed, looking through the book, I noticed a slip of paper in the package. It said the usual thank-you-for-your-support type thing, but also said that Ninjalicious had died in August. I checked this at and found it to be true.

I feel completely devastated. Infiltration meant so much to me, and since I started reading it I always saw Ninjalicious and his girlfriend(later his wife) Liz and role models. Regular readers will recall that I listed them as people I wanted to meet in the very near future. That was the 19th of August, just a few days before Ninjalicious died.

In the past few hours I've been reading various things that fans of Infiltration have written about the tragic news. It's amazing to see how many lives around the world were enriched by Ninjalicious and his zine.

RIP Ninj, you are mourned by many.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Listening at Work

Just Emily and I at work today. A few students came in, but none whom were particularly interesting. I spent some time listening to "Off The Wall", one of Emmanuel Goldstein's radio shows. Goldstein is currently traveling around the world by ship, train and car, doing a radio show in each major city. See

Listened to Off The Hook when I got home. Goldstein is on the last leg of his trip, traveling back to the USA on a cargo ship.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Catching Up

Fuck... At the time of writing this post, the previous post is dated Friday, August 26th. My sources tell me it's not even August anymore...

I will go through my paper diary and write blog entries for the last couple of weeks very soon, so hang in there, and enjoy the wait:)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Chillin' on a Sunday in da Norwich area

At 2pm Suzi and I cruised over to the Norwich Playhouse, which is being used as a cinema while Cinema City is being renovated. We watched a film made up of clips from the East Anglian Film Archive. We very lucky to get in as the 250-seater theatre was packed out. While we were queuing outside the Playhouse my good friend and jogging partner Edward Pacman walked past. We agreed to meet up with him later as he didn't feel like joining the queue. The film was reasonable, but as I hate Norwich it was difficult to be too interested in it.

We then went over to the Stranger's Hall Museum where we had tea and biscuits in the garden with Edward.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Things I Miss While Traveling

(1) British Television
Although British television has been in rapid decline since the mid 1990's, it is still far better than the TV of any country I've been to. And it is in English.

(2) The British sense of humour
Although the British sense of humour has been in in rapid decline... The Lebanese man who was in my tour group on Tuesday made several crap jokes including Q:"Where does a bee go to the toilet?" A: "A BP station". I wanted to join in but then I realised that all the good jokes I know are about the untimely death of children, sex, sex and death or are simply to harsh to tell people who have eaten in the past eight hours.

(3) British Health And Safety Laws
There are few things I like more than safety. British people may generally be a bunch of blithering idiots, but they do adhere to H&S regulations, partly because they are strictly enforced. There's something wonderful about being able to push a button, lean against a railing, drink a glass of water etc. without the feeling that it may be the last thing you ever do.

(4) My garden
Chillin' in my garden, particularly with a book, is one of the greatest pleasures in my pleasure and leisure filled life.

A Lunch To End All Lunches

I had a long lie-in this morning, followed by a long shower and a long period of trying to watch CNN without exploding with anger. The lack of news coverage is just one of the thousands of reasons to hate CNN, but is probably the most important one. The main news story from the US seems to be that Bush is becoming less popular due to the situation in Iraq. Hardly surprising. nor interesting. Most programs on CNN are actually just 30 minute adverts for the USA. Even the weatehr reports are crap.

I left the apartment at 1pm and, after a long search, eventually suceeded in finding the New Deli Indian restaurant I had spotted a few days before. I had had a strong craving for curry when I got up this morning, and although it had faded slightly I felt it wisest to satisfy my craving instead of eating pizza.

I was the only customer, and the waiter was lonely so my three and a half hour lunch inolved a lot of conversation. The food was first class, and there was a lot of it. I had am Indian soup to start with which was creamy and peppery. This was followed by a potato pakora with mint sauce. My main course was chicken curry and lentil curry served with rice and nan bread. I drank "Silver Lining", an alocohol-free coctail of pineapple, chopped fruit, chocolate sauce and cream. I also had two glasses of mango lassi(a yogurt drink) For desert I had something made from dried milk, deep fried and served with a honey-syrup. After that I had a fruit ice cream sundae and a cup of Masala tea. Although most people know me as "Karamoon, prince of Tokyo" I felt far more like a king eating such a decadent lunch on a Thursday afternoon.

Countries I Will Visit Soon, And Why

(1) North Korea
At the HOPE conference in New York last year I watched the North Korean propaganda film "The Four Seasons of Pyong Yang". It was impossible not to fall in love with such a strange, beautiful and stupid country.

(2) China
Many aspects of China, good and bad, are changing rapidly. China needs to be visited soon, before things change too much, I will probably spend most of eitehr 2005 or 2006 living in Shanghai, Beijing and the Chinese countryside.

(3) Hong Kong
I don't include Hong Kong as part of China because I strongly believe that it should either go back to British rule or become an independent country instead of being controlled by mainland China. I first became fascinated by Hong Kong when I watched the Wong Kar Wei films "Chungking Express" and "Fallen Angels". Since then Hong Kong has haunted my thoughts and dreams on an almost daily basis.

(4) Turkey
Although I have been to Turkey a couple of times before, I have not been to Instanbul, neither have I discovered an ancient underground city. I hope to do both these things during my next visit.

It's been years since I was in Egypt but my memories of camels, the Nile and King Tut's tomb are still crystal clear. Watching the sun rise from behind the Great Pyramid is a magical experience that I will never forget, at least not until I see something more impressive such as a monkey who can play the piano while smoking a cigar...

Thoughts On Fashion

Several fashion trends have upset me deeply over the past few years. The following is an analysis f the said trends and why I find find them so distasteful.

(1) Girls wearing skirts and trousers simultanously
What the fuck is up with these girls? I heard that they wear skirts over jeans etc. to disguise the fat that they have a fat arse. Doesn't this practise just highlight the fact that their arse is too big? The girls in question should do us all a favour and drag their fat fucking arses into a gym.

(2) Girls wearing Playboy-brand clothing
For fuck's sake. Playboy is a porn mag. It makes a sickening amount of money from the pathetic exploitation of women. The girls who wear Playboy clothing should be fucking shot. No warning, no discussion, just two shots to the back of the head. It may sound like a harsh course of action, but really it's the most humane thing to do.

(3) Chinese writing on clothing
The beginning of the end for Ikea was when they started selling wllpaper with meaningless sequences of Chinese characters dotted all over. Nothing proclaims "I'm a fuckwit" more strongly than a t-shirt with the Chinese character for water on the front. What the fuck is it supposed to mean? "I like water"?, "I very much hope to work for the water maketingboard of Great Britain someday"?, "My name is Water, pleased to meet you"? The only possible use for Chinese on a t-shirt would be to write "If you can read this you should fuck off back to your own country, but give me sweet-and-sour-chicken with egg-fried rice and wonton soup first"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Places I visit on the Net when bored

Tim Ireland's great blog covering UK issues.
UK political blog.
The best of the Net, once a week.
Doxpara Research is the site of Dan Kaminsky, a truely elite compuer security researcher.
Posts from IRC chat sessions. A must read when you are bored out of your skull.
Even though I made Tokyo Robotnik, I still laugh out loud when I read it. It simply is that good.
Kathy Wang is, like Kaminsky, truely elite, and she also reviews tea.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Scene By The Sea

I tried to watch some CNN while I drank my oral rehydration solution, but the poor satellite reception and dire quality of news content made it impossible. CNN in the USA is, I'm told, even worse than CNN Global because it covers far fewer international stories. Such a thing is too horrific for me to imagine. Death to CNN and all those involved with it...

I went to the tour office and chatted to one of the managers for a while. She was friendly, motherly and intelligent. We discussed the lack of promotion in the UK and Europe of Armenia as a tourist destination and also the poor quality of telecoms infrastructure which causes no end of problems for Armenian businesses.

Shortly after 10 am we sent off in the mini-bus. The tour group consisted of a Russian woman and her teenage daughter, a Russian family and the Lebonese couple from yesterday's tour, and of course, The Great Karamoon AKA "Adventure Boy". Guiding us was Gohar, a quiet young lady who had spent 6 years studying langauges in Moscow.

After about an in the mini-bus we reached some ancient churches.(yes, more!) One of the churches was still in use and, through a series of peculiar events, I found myself in a small room with the Lebonese couple and a guy dressed in a black robe who I assume was the Pope(except the Pope is always in white on TV...) The Pope was undersandably very pleased to meet me. So please, in fact, that he forgot how to speak and just stood there mumbling before touching my head and making me kiss a book. I left he to meditate on what was probably the most Holy experience of his life and got on the mini-bus with the crazy Russians.

After another hour we arrived at Lake Sevan. The lake is about 2000 metres(6000 feet) above sea level and is fed by melting ice from the surrounding mountains. The lake feeds a single river which was used in Soviet times to generate electricity. This had the unfortunate effect of causing the water level of the lake to drop by 2 metres and so the hydroelectric powerstation is no longer in use. Electricity is a massive problem in Armenia. They mainly use coal and oil, which they must import and they have one nuclear power sation which will probably melt down inn the next few years of be destroyed by an earthquake.

I quizzed Gohar on the new US embassy which was built a few months ago and is the largest US embassy in the world. One can't help but think that it will be used by US special forces when they attack Iran, and also by the CIA as a spybase. Gohar knew little regarding the embassy but thought it had been built without the use of any Armenian labour.

We had lunch by the lake in an open-fronted building that looked like a Marguitte painting. The food was excellent, particularly the barbequed fish. The tea was disapointing, but then again I'm disapointed by tea wherever I go anyway.

Anahit, the guide from yesterday, was also at the lake, giving a private tour for an Armenian family. We exchanged contact information in case I ever need a multi-ligual microbiologist or she ever needs assistance from The Great Karamoon.

After lunch we had an hour in which to chill on the beach etc. I spent most of the time looking at the scenery and reading, the Lebonese couple slept, the Russian woman and her daughter sunbathed and the crazy Russians went for a swim. Needless to say they swam too far, got lost and were 45 minutes late, which angered the Lebonese couple greatly. I found it hard to care, probably because I care about very little these days.

We eventually left Lake Sevan, and returned to Yerevan, stopping on the way to collect some shiny black rocks. When we arrived back in Yerevan I went looking for pizza, which I found at "California Pizza" on Marshots Avenue.

One of the few notable things about California Pizza in Yerevan is that it is also a shoe shop.I had a very peculiar, and on balance, disgusting, BBQ chicken pizza. I remember reading the description of the pizza on the menu and thinking that it sounded strange, especially as celary was one of the toppings, and yet for some reason I ordered it anyway. Very, very harsh. There is, however, one redeaming feature of the restaurant and that is that it is on the first floor and I was thus able to look down physically, as well as metaphorically, on the people of Yerevan as they walked past in the street.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


With the aid of an alarm clock I was able to get out of bed at a reasonable hour, which was good because if I had overslept I would have missed a great day trip.

I went to the office of Sati, an Iranian company that runs tours in Armenia. On the way I went to a pharmacy and purchased some more oral rehydration therapy powder. I paid 1450 drams for 5 packets, which I found rather odd because another pharmacy had changed me 4000 dram for 4 packets. I didn't care enough to say anything though.

I was the only person on the tour who didn't speak Armenian, despite the fact that the other tour-goers were from all over the world. As everyone had a good grasp of English, the tourguide ended up giving the whole tour in English, which I appriciated very much.

The tour itself involved visiting some ancient churches, which were just like all the other ancient churches I've seen(and I've seen shit-loads) The scenery, however, was breathtaking from the moment we left Yerevan. Armenia has stunning mountains, and for such a small country, feels incredibly spacious because the countryside is so untouched. I took a load of photos, which will be posted here or at when I get back to the UK.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Where And Why

A fellow SDFer helpfully pointed out that a post explaining where I am and why would be helpful.

I'm in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Armenia is a small country trapped between Turkey, Iran, Azubaijan and Gerogia. I don't know too much about Armenia, other than the fact that it's a jolly nice place to be in, at least if you are only visiting. Check out the wikipedia page if you want to know more.

As to why I'm here, part of the reason is that I couldn't afford to go to Japan(although this has worked out almost as expensive!) Another part of the reason was to meet up with a friend from SDF.

I very much urge people to visit Armenia. It's a bit like Turkey/Egypt/Greece. Cheap, hot and friendly. I shall certainly be returning sometime soonish.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Long Walk To Freedom

With the aid of a map, and a keen sense of smell, I navigated my way to Freedom Square. Not much to write home about sadly, just some statues, dusty trees and cafes. I walked to Marshots Avenue, to look for the day-trip pickup point which I would have to be at on Monday morning. A wedding had evidently taken place somewhere, and those involved were driving alond the road, making a great deal of noise. The more noise they made, the clearer it became to me that I didn't give a fuck about the wedding, and in fact I just wanted them all dead. I had an image in my mind of the cars piling up in a twisted mess of fire death and confetti. Despite my telekinetic effortsm the dream did not become reality so I decided to get something to eat instead.

I chanced upon a basement cafe called Teapot. Everything in the cafe was yellow, which I found mildly distressing after a while. I ordered a sandwich, mashed potato, mineral water and Chinese jasmine tea. I left shortly after 4pm.

A Splishin' And A Splashin'

I really must avoid caffeine at all costs. I had great difficulty in getting to sleep last night, which wouldn't have been so bad if I had had something better to do than read Wired and watch CNN, two of the must mind-dumbing activities in existance. At least I've learnt never to travel without a laptop and/or some good books.

Over a period of a couple of hours I drank another litre of Oral Rehydration Therapy solution, and ate two shortbread biscuits that I had been given at Heathrow airport. The ORT solution tasted like sweetened seawater and the biscuits were slightly gritty. I then had a shower, which turned out to be a rather tricky endevor. The small bathroom in the apartment contains a toilet, a washbasin and, connected to the taps, a shower. There is a small drain near the base of the washbasin pedestal, but the tiled floor doesn't slope towards it and there seems to be no designated space in which to stand while showering. I took everything out of the bathroom that I thought might suffer water damage and placed it in the kitchen. I then showered as best I could, trying to get as muchof the water into the sink as possible although water still covered most surfaces of the bathroom after a short period of time. It was a nerve-racking experience, but in the end, even the elemental power of water was no match for my interlect and skill. After my shower I took a couple of hours to compose myself, and then left the apartment.

Armenia and the Armenian People

Although I haven't spoken to many Armenians, those that I have spoken to have been friendly and intelligent. Shop keepers have gone out of their way to help me, as have the staff at the Internet cafes that I frequent.

People here seem relaxed but slightly bored. They often seem to be waiting for something, but what that something may be is unclear.

Armenian women wear flashy clothes, with lots of jewelry. The men look smart by English standards. They wear dark shirts with dark trousers and leather shoes. Few wear sports gear.

Yerevan is very, very dusty. Dust is, I imagine, unavoidable in any dry country but I can't help thinking that the people in Yerevan make things worse for themselves by using cement and concrete at every possible opportunity, and leaving piles of rubble everywhere. In Eygpt, Turkey and Greece I often saw people sprinkling water on the streets to keep the dust down. It's a practise that doesn't seem to have caught on in Armenia yet.

Spending one's time wondering the streets of Yerevan would be extremely plesent, if it wasn't for the cars. Wherever one goes, regardless of the hour, one is plagued by traffic noise, air pollution and the constant threat of being run over while crossing the road. The streets are full of a wide variety of shops, many of which are of interest to the browser, although the concentration of beauty salons can be quite upsetting at times.

Moving On Up

I got a call from Ani this morning. Her mobile phone has been stollen, which means that to call her I must risk speaking to her mother or father, neither of whom speak a word of English. Life goes on.

My sickness continues, and I feel dehydrated no matter how much water I drink. Action must be taken if I am to avoid making the journey home in a body bag.

Edging closer to my final hour, I decided that my best chance of survival lay at the Tourist Information Office, and so it was there that I headed.

My speed of travel has increased greatly. I am now able to cross smaller roads alone and I adjust my pace and direction so as to cross larger roads with the help of unwitting strangers. I therefore had little trouble reaching medical help and travel brochures.

When I arrived at the Tourist Office I explained that I was dying and that I needed to buy some medicine. To die in the Tourist Information Office of Yerevan would not be an altogether unplesent experince. It's air-conditioned and all the staff are female. The young lady who came to my aid was particularly attractive. She had short, spiked hair, a great smile and was about teh same height as an Umper-Lumpa from Lumpa land. Without laughing, I managed to tell her that I needed oral therapy. She took me to a nearby pharmacy where I bought 4 sachets of oral-rehydration therpy powder for about 8 us dollars.

At 2:30pm the apartment owner's son came down and helped me more my stuff into his family's apartment on the floor above. I felt very uncomfortable about displacing him, his mother nad his grandmother, but it seemed impossible to disuade them.

I ate Paklavca and drank thick Russian coffee with the family, as well as a refreshing drink made from a fruit similar to the appricot.

I went back to the tourist information to enquire aout the day trips that were available. I booked a place on a tour for Monday and collected some leaflets. I also spoke to a tour operator about joining a 2-day walking tour in the mountains. She'll email me tomorrow if there are any places available.

I returned to the Luna Cafe to eat, again having chicken soup but this time followed by a very dry chicken kiev and rice. I couldn't eat much, but I did eat all of the soup. Just like yesterday evening, my thoughts were of violence, the reason being that the cafe was playing the same music DVD, featuring a chunky, loud-mouthed whore(Mika Costa???) who made me want to rain fire and death upo all those who have, knowingly or unknowingly, wronged me in the past few years.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Two More Lists

People Who Will Be First Against The Wall
(1)People who clap to music
(2)People who like to sing
(3)People who dance
(4)People who carry musical instruments in public
(5)People who tell me they are having the greatest time ever
(6)People who smoke anywhere near me
(7)People who write books on the history of salt, fish, zinc etc.

What I like
(1)Women who hug me
(2)Gun control
(3)Well designed computer software
(4)Drinking water
(5)Friendly, intelligent men with massive beards
(6)Films about nuclear war
(7)Strangers who say good morning when I'm out walking at an unusually early hour
(8)People who drive very well
(9)Novels and films where the main character dies
(10)People who dress badly because they don't give a damn

More lists

Ten People I Want To Meet Very Soon
(1)Borris Johnson(Super-dude)
(2)Harmong Koraine(Screenwriter of Gummo)
(3)Brian Cox(Actor in Manhunter
(4)Jeremy Paxman(News God)
(5)Braccos(Italian friend from SDF)
(6)(7)Liz and Ninjalicious(Writers of Infiltation Magazine)
(8)Chun Sue(Author of Beijing Doll)
(9)Richard Bach(Author of Johnathon Livingston Seagull)
(10)Kurt Vennegut(Author of Slaughterhous Five)

Ten things I want to do before I die
(1)Write a cookbook called "Beyond Cooking"
(2)Give a talk at HOPE or DefCon
(3)Be able to do backflips
(4)Crack a safe
(5)Make a side-scrolling adventure beat 'em up for the Amiga
(6)Go to space
(7)Finish and publish my novel
(8)Kill the 10 most annoying people in my life
(9)Discover the lost city of Atlantis
(10)Find an elegant way of breaking prime-factor cryptographic systems

A Home From Home?

I got a call from Evelina saying that there was a problem with the apartment, a water leak of some description. She said that the apartment owners wanted me to move to another apartment upstairs. Trying to be helpful, I said it was no problem and that I would move whenever was required. As the conversation progressed, however, it seemed that I am to move into the apartment owners apartment, and they are to move into mine. I can't say I'm happy about this.

Walking The Streets In Search Of Eats

At 6:30pm I managed to have my first proper meal since arriving in Yerevan four days ago. I found a bistro called Cafe Luna and ordered chicken soup followed by chicken fillet in a tomato, herb and sour cream sauce, with rice and bread. I thought the sauce might be too rich for me, but I needed something very appetising or I wouldn't have been able to pursuade myself to eat it. The food was excellent, and I regained some of my appetite. It was great to be sitting outside, watching the world go by and thinking about what direction the next few years of my life will take me.

Like most Englishmen abroad, a considerable percentage of my time is spent writing lists.
Things I shall do before the year is out:
(1) Build a geodesic dome
(2)Get an article published in a national newspaper
(3)Watch every episode of Monkey! in order
(4)Be good at something

Foods I will eat more often
(2)Seasonal vegetables

Things I shall do to improve my quality of life
(1)Phone people more often
(2)Exercise twice daily
(3)Sleep even less than I currently do
(4)Set up wireless Net access at home
(5)Write more letters
(6)Laugh at idiots
(7)Watch Taxi Driver at least once a month
(8)Reclaim the parks of Norwich, by force if neccessary

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Weak As I Am

I woke up feeling slightly better, but still very much ill. I had had very strange dreams, most of which were based around drowning at night. I put this down to too much time spent in the bathroom.

I still very very weak, so despite my lack of appitite I thought I should eat something, both to regain strength and to put something solid in my stomach. For the last few days I've been living off fruit juice and tap water. I ate some bread that I had previously bought. It turned out to be sweet, and reasonably palatable.

At 1pm I went out for a walk which made me feel better. I bought some chese, fruit juice and toilet paper. Most toilet paper here seems to be made of shredded cardboard, asbestos and carcenogenic binders. The cheese claims to be "Premium quality processed cheese". It tastes very processed and not at all quality.

At 3pm I decided to head for the Internet cafe. Although it is less than ten minutes from my apartment, getting there involves crossing a major road. Few people in the UK would ever consider trying to cross a busy motorway, but that is essentially what I must do to go anywhere. And so it was with great aprehension that I left my apartment once more...

At Death's Door

It's 6pm, I've finally got out of the apartment and am at an Internet cafe, which is noisy and smokey.

I still have pains in my stomach, and haven't been able to eat much. Is Karamoon going to meet death in Yerevan? Keep visiting to find out...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

After The Bomb

I woke up many times during the night and early morning, each time vowing never again to have caffinated drinks after 8pm. I finally got up at 9:15 am, exhasted and in quite a lot of pain. I had slept with my arms twisted under my body and had had vivid and disturbing dreams involving the deaths of many people, none of whom were Condelise Rice.

Ani arrived at 9:30 am and we went for a walk. Ani pointed out places of interest although most of them involved "famous" Armenians who were unkown of outside Armenia, at least by me anyway.

We had some tea at a bistro and I tried to eat a breakfast of bread and chicken salad.

The Last Supper?

I ate a light dinner consisting of a can of Pepsi and a 500 ml bottle of chilled tap water. I then read for a couple of hours, took a long bath and went to bed at 1pm

Walk, The Second

The pavement was very uneven, and missing in parts, and the buildings were in a pretty poor state of repair. Many were in use yet unfinished, and everything was caked in concrete dust. After walking for about 10 minutes I found a flight of concrete steps leading into the ground. I ventured down them, hoping to find a huge underground complex from Soviet times, full of dead soldiers and military computers. Instead I found an unfinished pedestrain underpass. There were just bare wires where the lights should have been but I managed to make my way through it, and back, before continuing on my journey.

The next thing of note I found was a heavliy fortified building which turned out to be the headquarters of the US Peace Corps in Armenia. The US Peace Corps is a voluntary program which teaches the English language and American culture(sic!) to countries who can't say no.

While I was loitering with intent, an Armenian security guard came out of the building to see if I was a volunteer. We chatted for a while and then I went in search of a restaurant and food shop that he had mentioned. I didn't find the restaurant but I found the shop so I sticked up on supplies and walked back to my apartment.

Into The Wonderful

I ate some bread and cheese, and then did some reading. I called Ani, the Armenia girl I met in Heathrow, and we arranged to meet at 9:30am tomorrow for a walk and some tea.

I was tempted to stay in the apartment reading and writing all evening, but thought better of it in the end. I set off for a walk at 6pm with no clear plan. I performed a kind of linear search for adventure, walking along the route that Evelina and I had taken, but turning off the route every few minutes to explore a side road, and then returning to the route. It was a search method I had learnt from the SAS survival handbook, and it's used to locate people who have gone missing on a path or a river...

I got to an Internet cafe that Evelina had spotted on our walk, and I spent an hour writing emails, chatting on SDF and trying to log into my Blogger account. Every time I logged into Blogger I was taken to the blog of an Armenian girl who must have used the computer prviously to blog. Clearing the cookies and cache failed to help. I resolved to try again tomorrow. The Internet cafe charged 400 Armenian drams, which is slightly less than one US dollar.

I left the Internet cafe and walked back to my apartment. It was only 8pm and I didn't feel like staying inside so I set off for another walk. I wondered along the main road near my apartment in search of whatever Yerevan had to offer.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The First Morning(Not the Creation one, the other First Morning)

I took a long and relaxing bath, and ate some food that Evelina had kindly provided for me.

When Evelina arrived at 12 we walked to the tourist information office. Like many countries that British tourists seldom visit, the biggest danger is simply getting run over while crossing the road. Trying to get to where you want to be is a complete nightmare. Although there are pedestrian crossings, the timing on them is a joke, and far worse, they use the US system where turning cars have priority over crossing pedestrians, or at least don't have a red light. In the UK, when the green man lights up to say it's safe to cross, it generally is as all the cars get red lights. I also doubt that many of the cars here would pass UK safety tests. On a couple of occaisions Evelina and I had to cross six lanes of traffic, most of which wasn't in any particular lane...

The tourist information office gave me some tourist information, the most useful of which consisted of a map of the centre of Yerevan.

Evelina and I walked the streets, drank iced tea, and walked some more. Evelina had plans for the evening, and needed some sleep, so she went home after walking me to my apartment.

Where's the bunting?

I walked out of the airport, brushing aside several taxi drivers. I was met by by friend Evelina, her brother and her mother. No red carpet, no fanfare, and not a single piece of bunting in sight.

It was great to finally meet Evelina. We have been close friends for several years after meeting on the Super Dimention Fortress, an international computer community based on several massive unix servers.

Evelina's brother drove us from the airport to Yerevan, passing through a copy of Las Vegas on the way. We reached the apartment that evelina had found for me slightly after 6am.

The apartment consists of a large bedroom conating a piano, dresser, a bed and a sofa bed, a kitchen/dining room and a bathroom. It felt huge and luxurious after spending so much time in airports.

Recent time spent in airports:
Heathrow: 11 hours
Stanstead: 9 hours
Prague: 9 hours
Yerevan: 1.5 hours(although it seemed like days)

Evelina was very tired so we decided to meet at midday. Jetlag, caffiene and excitement coupled with the fact that I had slept on the flight, meant that I wasn't tired at all. I did manage to sleep a bit, and felt quite refreshed when I woke up at 10am.


Zvartnots airport is a masterpiece of Soviet engineering. It reminds me of a dam pump-station I saw in a book on photographic intelligence.

The first problem I had when I got to immigration was that I didn't have a visa application form. Some people had the forms already, presumably they had been given them on the plane while I was asleep. There were two small visa kiosks, both with large queues of people trying to get visas and visa forms. After about 20 minutes I got hold of a form, which looked like a kid had made it. I filled it in and then rejoined the queue for another 20 minutes. In exchange for the form and 30 US dollars I got a small sticker in my passport. I should have got an e-visa while in the UK, although it would have cost double. When you buy cheap, you pay with your life.

Just as I thought I could queue no longer, I joined the queue for passport control. Yet another 20 minutes of my life were stolen from me. The only question I was asked was whether I had come from Viena. I said I hadn't and was allowed to pass. I imagine anyone traveling from Viena got shot for being a fascist.

The next challenge was finding my bag. It took my a long time because there was nothing to indicate which bags had come from which flights. Eventually I found it and was able to pass through customs with the ease of a skilled smuggler...

Yerevan In My Sights

Thank fuck, I'm finally going to Yerevan!

My flight from Prague in the Czech Republic to Yerevan in Armenia was very turbulent but I still managed to sleep though almost all of it, waking up only for some typical airline food. My plane arrived in Zavtnots airport 20 minutes late, and I arrived 3 days late...

Tired and bored. But not hungry. Or bothered.

I am sat in Prague airport waiting for my flight to Armenia. Every joint in my body hurts from 4 hours of sleeping on airport seats.

My flight leaves in 1 hour 30 and is only 4 hours or so, but because of the time difference I won't arrive in Armenia until 4:15 AM on Monday.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Airbourne at last

At 9am I was finally on a plane, going somewhere. I slept through most of the flight, although I was woken up a couple of times by the air-hostesses.

I arrived in Prague at 11:40 am and walked around the departure lounge, which was infinately better than those of eathrow and Stanstead, mainly because it contained a bigger range of shops that I would actually want to go into.

I found a "Japanese" restaurant and ordered yaki-tori(Chicken kebab), tenpura udon(fried fsh with noodles), rice and miso(soya) soup with green Japanese tea. The food wasn't too bad, considering the Chef was Chinese.

I found some very uncomfortable chairs to sleep on in a quiet-ish place and slept for four hours, waking up once an hour.

I got up and bought a couple of bottles of water, and a copy of Wired magazine. The water was refreshing, but Wired was almost unreadable. It was utter crap from beginning to end. There were only a few real articles, of which only one was of any substance and quality. To compound things, it was the July issue, and thus out of date anyway.

Early Morning In Stanstead Airport

I woke up at around 4am, feeling very cold. Two more items to add to the ever-increasing list of stuff I should own: A mini sleeping bag and a folding sleeping mat.

I collected my tickets and was told that check in would be at 7 am. I wondered aound for about 30 minutes before finally finding a place to sit down.

At 7 am I checked in. I had hoped to take my main luggage as hand luggage, but I was told that it was two heavy. The worst news, however, was that I would not be able to leave the airport in Prague. Spending over 9 hours in Prague airport is not an appealing prospect.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Waking up in Stockwell

I woke up at 6am. Spending the night on Phin's camping bed had been relatively comfortable although my bad felt a bit stiff. As I lay on the bed thinking about getting up, I thought about my future. It's certainly time for me to be more adventurous and start some of the many projects I've been planning over the past few years. Meeting BBC World Affairs Correspondent Jill Mcgivering in Heathrow airport could turn out to be a very important event in my life, as long as I don't waste the opportunity. Since coming back from Tokyo I've been painfully aware that I could have done so much more there. It's very clear to me that a little bit of decisive action on my partduring the next six months or so will allow me to do things that most people would find impossible.

Phin appeared at 8 am. It was decided that we should have croissants for breakfast. He went out to buy some while I tried to think what kind of hat I would need to make a sucess of my futre in...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Internet TV sucks

Spent most of the early morning struggling with the Internet TV in the hotel room. Every few minutes it would reset, possibly because of trying to load the Japanese character sets used in the subject lines of the emails in my inbox. I gave up after a while.

I got through to my travel agent, Charlie, around 10:30 am. He said he'd look in to all the different options that are available for me to get to Armenia, and give me a call back. He called about 15 minutes later saying I could fly out tomorrow from Stanstead if I wanted to. I asked him to book the flight for me but a few minutes later he called back saying that the option had fallen through but that there were a few more. In the end I decided to fly on Sunday 14th aitch Czech airlines from Stanstead. I'll be flying via Prague, and unfortunately the connecting flight doesn't leave until 9 hours after I arrive. At least I'll be able to visit Prague again. I'll arrive in Armeina at 4:15 am on Monday!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A food-less flight?

When I got to Heathrow I was handed a letter from Britich Airways saying that due to a strike by the catering workers, there would be no food or drink on any British Airways flights today. As compensation all passengers would be given a 10 pound voucher with which to by food.

I tried to print out my boarding card using the self-service machine but it was fucked. I took my bag to the quick drop-off point where I was given a boarding pass and told that there qould, in fact, be food on my flight because it was a British Med flight, which uses a different catering company to that of its parent company British Airways.

The journey begins

My aunt gave me a lift to the train station. I took the 9am train to London Liverpool Street station, then the Tube to Heathrow.

Things I've forgotten:
Alarm clock
Printout of Wikipedia info on Armenia
Why I used to be happy


Spent the evening packing my things for Armenia. I'm taking a 45 litre rucksack for my main luggage and a 25 litre litre rucksack for hand luggage.

Checked in online using the British Airways website. I couldn't get a boarding pass, instead I just got a message saying that I can print one at Heathrow. Still, at least I managed to check in, which should save me lots of time.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Kid's Return

I walked to Amsterdam central station without using my map. I had to pay for my ticket to the airport using Maestro as I didn't have any change and the ticket machines didn't take 20 Euro notes. I found the Easyjet check-in desk and joined the queue. It was already quite long, even though check in had only been open for 10 minutes or so. I passed through security, and went to the departure gate.

Arrived at London Luton airport at 8:45am. It was the most pathetic airport I've ever seen. Took a train into central London, then took the tube to London Liverpool Street station when I could catch a train to Norwich. I noticed that several people on the train had portable DVD players. I might get one soon. My aunt picked me up from the station, which saved me from the hellish experience of getting a bus.

Ate pasta alla carbonara for lunch.

Had a long bath.

Listened to The Clash.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Dim Sum Buffet

I woke up several time during the night and the morning. I kept thinking about the fact that I have to go to the dentist in a couple of weeks. It will be the first time I've had to have dental work done for 15 years.

At 9am I decided to wake Mike up so we could go down to breakfast. The breakfast was
included in the price for staying the night and was pretty good. There was a lot of stuff including cheese, meat, cereal, various breads, fruit, cake etc. I saw a couple of German guys at the table next to us who were filling there pockets with food, enough to last them a few days.

At 10am we went back to our room and chatted for hours about computers, film, music, travel and more computers. At 3pm we were getting hungry so we went out in search of food. I had noticed a Dim Sum buffet restaurant which only charged 7.5 Euros for all you could eat. To our surprise it was open so we ate there. After lunch Mike wanted to go to a coffee shop so we spent some time sitting in the Bulldog coffee shop in Leidesplein. It's not the kind of place I would usually go but they served great hot chocolate.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Hairy Mary

Took the train to Amsterdam at 1pm. The journey takes about 30 minutes. When I arrived at Amsterdam Central station I decided to make my way to the hostel on foot, following the tram lines. It proved to be somewhat further than I had imagined, but at least I got to see quite a bit of the city. When I reached the hostel I realised that it was the one I had stayed at when I last visited Amsterdam 7 years ago with my good friend Dr Edward Bearskin. While I was about to leave the room to go for a walk, a youngish looking guy arrived. He looked Japanese so I started talking to him. He was in fact fifth generation American-Chinese. We got on well together straight away, and talked about computers for several hours. I haven't shaved since I left England so I'm getting rather hairy.