peteg's blog

Andrew X. Pham: A Theory of Flight

/noise/books | Link

This is a collection of shorts and offcuts from the past decade of Andrew X. Pham's life. As such there's a lot of ultra-light flights, a little hang gliding and many truncated romances. For whatever reason he self-published this one; perhaps it is just too hard to coordinate with an old-school publishing house from that house on the Mekong River (near the Thai/Laos border) that he doesn't talk about. Or maybe he is too happy with his present partner and situation to disturb that equilibrium.

As always he writes engagingly and generously. These tales are mostly not as searing as his earlier accounts of his family and perhaps signal a conclusion to his restless years, if not his crazy-bravery. One could wonder if the various protagonists deserve a right-of-reply, though perhaps they will make themselves heard on this wonderful internet contraption.

I found out about this book via his Kickstarter project for his cookbook. Both of these are now available from Amazon on their Kindle platform, for bargain prices; cheaper even than on the streets of Sài Gòn. The Kindle app on the iPod Touch is quite usable, and the cookbook quite amusing.

Tea Gardens / Hawks Nest / Myall Lakes

/travels | Link

I figured I'd chase some sun and try snorkelling somewhere new, so I headed up the coast. Albert and Sandy suggested Myall Lakes, just north of Port Stephens, as a place to camp, and Andrew T reckoned the bay itself contains stuff to look at, so it seemed like a natural first-stop.

Well, the short story is that the northern side of the bay is mostly mangrove swamp, and from my experience down at Woy Woy visibility is quite poor at river mouths. I happened upon the surf life saving club on the ocean beach at Hawks Nest, and the blokes there suggested I try going along the rocks at the south end of it, about a ten minute walk from the closest carpark (for those without 4WDs). I got down there with my gear only to find a bloke trying to hook a shark in about a metre of water, perhaps ten metres from the shoreline and less from the rocks, and decided to hoof it back to the car. There were loads of fisherman there so I imagine the sea had a few other carnivores hanging around. I took a dip a bit further up and found it quite pleasant in.

I camped the night up at Myall Lakes, solo at the Boomeri site; it's the last one along the road coming from the south, and unlike the others is not on the lake. Some dingos turned up as the sun was setting but kept their distance and only looked hopeful. A possum demanded food as I wandered down to the loo for something to do after dark, which set in around 6pm; the days are so short right now that I was all ready for bed by 6:30pm (tent up and food in gut), and boredom set in soon after. I finished Andrew X. Pham's book, and I must say that the iPod Touch is backlit is mighty convenient when camping.

The next day I took a quick dip in the lake, which turned out to be a tea lake! I haven't seen one of those in about a decade. A bit cooler than the ocean but just as pleasant. After that I got the car ferry and headed up to Forster along the Lakes Way. Again I tried snorkelling at Forster along the rocks but the surf was just large enough to dissuade me from finding out where the fish hide from it.

I guess I was dreaming of Gordons Bay-type inlets, and too blasé to the shark issue. I got bored and drove back to Sydney.