Tag Archives: snake

Holidays in Noosa

Hello from the sunshine coast! I figured that after all the stress of being born Dominic deserved a holiday, so I packed him up and we’ve spent the last four nights at Noosa (also, the fact that some of my closest friends had planned to get-together for five nights up here may have been additional motivation). I was a little nervous about taking him away by myself at four weeks old, but it’s turned out to be a great decision to come crash this party. Three of my friends up here also have babies younger than nine months old so there have been many willing hands to cuddle little D, and lots of other parents to watch and learn from.

Learn I have. After some tutoring I’ve even graduated to bathing Dominic solo, and after an unfortunate poo explosion at the markets I’ve definitely learned to pack spare clothes in the diaper bag. Luckily for all concerned we’d just picked up Auntie Michelle at the airport and she was carrying a brand new outfit for him in her suitcase. Win. Well, except for the part where I had to strip off Dominic’s clothes in the park while he screamed so hard at the shock of the cold breeze and the general indignity of public nudity that he went purple.

We head home tomorrow and hopefully Dominic will behave as well on the four-hour car trip back as he did on the way up. And, look what we have waiting for us when we get home… Dominic’s first pet. He lives in and around the shed and Dad calls him Bruce. He’s not as big as the giant snake in Laos, but he’s still a good size. Big enough to play with, anyway.

Sorry, it’s been a while since we had a snake photo on the blog and I couldn’t resist. Here’s a couple of other less reptilian photos of what we’ve been up to lately. Hope you’ve had as much good quality time with friends as I have this week.

"I don't want kisses right now"

When I'm feeding in Ballina I can sometimes see wallabies in the garden

Hanging out with Dominic in Noosa. Do I look tired?? Yeah... I am.

Walks on the beach with friends at Noosa

Dominic - happy as a clam in the sling on the beach

Out for brunch with baby in tow

In which we talk about animals

On Tuesday afternoon Mum and I drove into Ballina to have tea with my grandparents. My grandfather is 86 now and my grandmother 85. Every year that I say goodbye to them after visiting I wonder if it will be for the last time. I know they’re thinking about it too, because my Pa’s always making jokes about how he’s an old workhorse about ready to be put out to pasture to die (mind you, he’s usually making this joke right after he’s been out and about on the property up here mowing the lawn or fixing things or otherwise getting up to active mischief).

I often don’t know quite what to say when Pa makes these comments, but sometimes I remind him he’s been talking like this for about 15 years now. Maybe longer.

“Well then, one of these days soon it’s bound to be true, isn’t it,” Pa says. Then he grins a cheeky grin and his green eyes twinkle. “Would you like another bit of sponge cake with that tea, love?”

My Pa is a sunny soul.

So every time I come home I’m thrilled that they’re still around, not least because if they weren’t I wouldn’t get a front row seat to delightfully random welcome-home conversations like this one:

“Oh,” Nana said, hugging me to herself tightly after I stepped through the door. “Oh. You’re here. You never change. Have you lost weight, dear?”

“Well, well, well,” Pa said, hugging me next. “Look who the cat dragged in.”

“Speaking of cats,” I said, staring past Pa’s shoulder and out the window, entranced, at the giant cotton puff lurking in the bushes below, stalking the birds. “That is the most enormous white cat. You haven’t adopted a cat, have you?”

“Nah,” Pa said. “He gets around here sometimes, climbs up the brick and stares at us through the window. Generally makes a nuisance of himself.”

“Oh,” Nana said. “The cat’s nothing compared to the gigantic crocodile we saw up the tree yesterday. Tell her Alan.”

“That was a goanna,” Pa said. “Not a crocodile.”

Gigantic!” Nana said, not missing a beat. “Six feet long.”

“It was six feet long,” Pa agreed. “All the birds were going crazy, squawking and shrieking. Way worse than with that cat.”

“Did you take a photo?” I asked. “I’ll put it on the blog. I’ve got a snake-like animal sub theme going.”

“No,” Pa said, regretful.

“That reminds me,” my mother said to her parents. “I have to clarify something. Remember when I showed you that photo of the snake from Laos and told you that Lisa took it?”

“Mum,” I said, horrified, “you didn’t, did you? I said quite clearly in the post that I never saw that snake myself, only the photo of it.”

“Yes, well,” Mum waved her hand, “sometimes it doesn’t pay to read things too carefully, that only ruins a good story. And it was such a lovely story I was telling people, too, about how Mike had found this huge snake – practically in your backyard – and fetched you to see it, and you’d taken this amazing photo, and then they cut the snake open and there was a person inside. Until your father told me it wasn’t true and that you’d never actually seen the snake yourself.”

“How many people did you tell this to?” I asked.

“Not many,” Mum said. “Not more than a dozen, I’m sure.”

“What about the man inside?” Pa asked. “Was that part true?”

“That part was true,” I confirmed.

“Anyway,” Nana said, “back to the crocodile up the tree.”

“The goanna,” Pa said.

“The goanna,” Nana said. “I was lying in bed that night and I couldn’t sleep, and all of a sudden I started thinking about how if it could get up the tree like that, quick as anything,” (here Nana demonstrated just how quickly the goanna ascended the tree with a series of frantic scrabbling motions) “then it would probably get in the house next.”

Mum and Pa both dissolved in laughter.

“How, love?” Pa asked between snorts.

“Walk right up the front steps and in the door, I’d say,” Mum said.

“Or maybe up the brick to the second story and eat it’s way straight through the window,” Pa said, gnashing his teeth.

“Impossible to stop, really,” Mum said. “It’s probably lurking around here somewhere right now. Oh, wait, I think I might hear it in the kitchen!”

Nana folded her hands primly and completely ignored them. That couldn’t have been easy, with all the cackling they were still doing.

“You never know,” she said, darkly.

We interrupt this week…

We interrupt this week of humanitarian work stories to bring you a public service announcement…

OK, not to bring you a public service announcement at all. To complain, basically. And also to bring you another picture of a snake, since everyone seems to love those. I am totally bewildered to find new snake related search terms bringing strangers to that post about Phoukhoun every day. Here are some of the highlights from the last week:

  • giant snake lao
  • massive snake
  • laosnake
  • giant snake in electric fence
  • giant snake bites electric fence (who comes up with these searches, and how bored are people???)
  • giant snake in amazon

No one is asking for my blogging tips, but here are two pieces of free advice – advice I bet you won’t find on the thousands of websites that do regularly offer blogging tips. If you want more traffic to your blog:

  • Write about big snakes.
  • And, toilets usually go down well, too.

Without further ado, here is what my mama emailed me this morning. Dad found him in the shed yesterday. They have named him Bruce. I think, from looking at him, that he’s the harmless kind (not the brown snake kind) so they probably just let him be in hopes he’d help keep the mice and rats under control. (Gee, Mum and Dad’s place is sounding better and better, isn’t it?)

They also sent me a picture of yesterday’s double rainbow, which made me totally homesick [sidenote: here comes the complaining] because yesterday was a 9.5 on the sucky scale. The woodworkers over the back fence have been at it for days now, from 8am to 5pm, with their electric sanders and their hammers and it’s driving me mental. I manage to hold it together OK during most days, and then I’m grumpy and exhausted when Mike comes home (because that’s rational and fair). It is illegal to do what they’re doing within city limits, so I had been holding out hope that city council would tell them to stop when we amassed enough data. But last night we got word that, “yes, there were laws, but… this is Asia, see” and “they are only trying to make a living.” This may not stop.

Now I know that some small part of me should be celebrating this as a triumph of small business, or lauding them for doing honest work instead of being out breaking into people’s houses.

But, yeah, after six days of this… not feeling it. Not feeling it at all.

And, to top it all off, just when I was trying to get to sleep last night at 10:30, karaoke started. Very loud karaoke. It went on until long after midnight. Long after I’d resorted to Ambien.

So I’d take the rats and snakes and mice at Mum and Dad’s place right now. That and their rainbows.   

But I’m going to put this up and go get some breakfast and sigh deeply and try again to find a way to block out the awful high-pitched shrieking from next door and get back to humanitarian work-week. Because I have a post today to write about a sick kiddo and a complicated situation, and then I have a bunch of work to do for a project in London.

May Your Day Be Silent.

(And if that’s not an official blessing in any faith tradition, it should be).

Photos from Phoukhoun, and a word about snakes

Today, here is a gallery of twelve photos from our trip to Phoukhoun last week.

Things that I didn’t take a photo of, but wish I had:

  1. The hot water heater in our bathroom at the guesthouse (that’s right, people, hot water heater. Hooray for hot water heaters!)
  2. The (very good, actually) piles of barbecue goat we ate for dinner.
  3. The big piece of intestine I accidentally picked up (and very stealthily fed to the dog underneath the table. Hooray for dogs!)
  4. The candles we were given to light our way when we reached the guesthouse after all that goat and discovered that the electricity was out. (Candlelight on a cool evening in the mountains makes everything feel like a story. Hooray for candlelight!).

And, finally, here’s a photo I didn’t take, but which stopped me in my tracks. It was taken up in the north of Laos. (So was a picture of what was left of the poor guy inside this snake, which I’m not going to show you.)

I have seen plenty of big snakes, but I’ve never seen one this big.

On the way back to Luang Prabang on Friday night we made a toilet stop at a small beer garden. The men, of course, could just wander into the dark by the side of the road. As Mike says, they are boys and the world is their bathroom.

I, however, had to be escorted to the sole toilet by a seven year old carrying a flashlight. Down the muddy path by a big pond we went, and up a small hill to a tin shed (where, I am a little ashamed to say, I took the torch and left the child standing alone in the dark, waiting for me to do my business).

“Khamsan’s ruined my peace of mind with that picture of the snake,” I said, a little crossly, as I climbed back into the car three minutes later. “All I could think about in the toilet was snakes.”

“It’s nice of you to blame that all on Khamsan,” Mike said, “seeing as how you stood there staring at that photo for a full minute, and then borrowed my flash drive to copy it. Besides, that snake wouldn’t have fit in that toilet, not even close.”

“It would have fit in the pond though,” I said. “It definitely could have been swimming around in that pond like a giant Lao Ness Monster.”

“I really don’t think it would choose the fishpond of a beer garden to live in,” Mike said. “Especially not one right beside the main road linking Vientiane to the north of Laos.”

“I might live in a beer garden if I were a snake,” I said.

“Well, then,” Mike said, “around here you’d be a dead snake.”