Bye for now

Bye for now

So last year I spent 176 hours on a plane, that’s almost a full week breathing recycled farts and eating non-specific meat dishes.

Obviously I joined the Qantas frequent flyers program to reap the benefits of such expansive traveling. Recently I discovered that only a few hundred points showed on my statement so I sent and email to Qantas, then another, then called from Denmark (involving twenty minutes on hold to Australia which is not cheap). Anyway seven emails, three extended phone calls, three emails to LAN airlines and another phone call later, Qantas has coughed up 2520 points.  If I am lucky this should be enough for a taxi from Spurs to McDonalds in Devonport, it may even buy me a glass of water, no lemon or ice, when I go to Asia…Shucks thanks guys. I will definitely check the booking class next time I fly with them (nothing to do with business, first, economy etc apparently).

Thank you for your patience, I am now vented. Anyway, what has been happening? Quite a bit of Uni. I have been lazy and used my last few blogs to beta test my two Uni assignments, Arthur and I have finished all the climbing courses available and I have got my jollies playing with the bottle recycling machine at Bilka. Bilka is Denmark’s answer to Kmart.

Australian recycling involves leaving a plastic crate on the street overnight to collect flys and be picked over by possums and stray dogs. In the morning a man swinging ape-like from a fly blown truck grabs the crate, ensuring the whole street gets a good look at his sweaty hairy bum crack, and throws it into the back. The truck then takes the recycling to the municipal tip where it is dumped with all the other rubbish as recycling costs more than it pays. The citizens sleep easy knowing they are doing their bit for the, “Greenhouse, carbon warming” or whatever those mad scientists call it.

However, Danish recycling machines are a wonder of modern scientific creativity. I am surprised that Intrepid tours to Denmark don’t include a visit to use these amazing contraptions. My theme of Denmark being very clean and ordered extends to the recycling machines, they are glistening clean with blinking lights and a soft female robot voice telling you to “Insert bottles now, please” Even the machines here show good manners behind the soft electric hum of progress.

They look like a vending machine with one hole for 1.25L bottles and one for cans. Most drinks sold in Denmark have an extra tax added on the bottle plastic. This tax is redeemed at these awesome machines. You simply feed the bottle in and get you money back, while sticking your nose to the hole to see what happens if you are a curious geek. I inserted the bottle (as I did this I was kind of hoping the sultry voice would say something like “Yeah, give me that bottle baby”) and couldn’t resist a peek.

Peeking through the hole with eager anticipation as Jette casually tried to distance herself I saw three conveyor belts roll the bottle about to read the barcode. The machine took the bottle through to a back room via a small tunnel lit with red lasers, much like a CAT scan machine. You may not believe me but just as the bottle tumbled away out of view I spotted an Oompa-loompa working behind the scenes. He caught the bottle, while singing;

“Oompa-Loompa bottley-doo, I have a Danish refund for you”

He squashed the bottle and put it in a crate to be sent off for recycling. Once we had fed the machine with all our bottles the friendly robot said “One moment please, calculating refund” Then to my immense joy the machine spits out a ticket which we can exchange for either money or a discount at Bilka. I love machines, if this writing gig does not work out I may just join the bottle collectors in town, I will be working in the fresh air AND get to play with these machines. One of the bottle collectors is a smelly looking Chinese woman who wanders Aarhus with her trolley collecting bottles. I figure she has either substituted a gambling addiction with a bottle machine one or she is in love with the Oompa-loompa, which I can appreciate. Bottle-lady shows up at outdoor concerts and sunny parks, she tears bottles away from hapless vacationer’s as they take their last sip and scuttles away to these reverse pokie machine to collect her bounty. This women, amongst others, combined with the population’s general cleanliness leaves Aarhus spotlessly neat and free of detritus.

Anyway enough about bottles. I have only decided yesterday to raise the bar on my Nepal mission. Initially I planned to climb to camp four to watch my mate Mal fly off the summit with his speedflyer then go down. My training has progressed nicely so I have added an extra three bottles of Oxygen to my bag, just in case I feel good enough at camp four to try for a summit. This both excites and scares me more than I can describe. I have no idea how I will perform at such extreme altitudes and cold but having been to 6000 meters a few times I figure it would be a shame to pass the opportunity to at least try.

My training for the climb has involved swimming and indoor climbing. Arthur, my very agreeable climbing partner, and I have just progressed to lead climbing. This is where the rope follows you up and you clip it in as you climb. Before we had the rope already attached to an anchor at the top. The problem with lead climbing, and the fun, is that it is necessary to clip the rope into anchor points along the wall as you progress. This involves stopping at a point where almost two metres of rope is untethered, holding on with one hand and pulling and clipping the rope with the other. Basically we both try to push ourselves and have taken some ripper falls.

Initially I did not trust Arthur to stop me, it is nothing personal, just that he is lighter than me and tends to get airborne when I take a decent fall. This added element of technicality increases both the challenge and fun. Last night however we added a third element of fun to indoor climbing, that is the top belay. One person, say me, leads to the top of a route and clips a separate strap into the anchor. This holds me independent of the rope. I then belay Arthur (pull in rope and catch a fall) up, Arthur then clips in at the top next to me. Space is at a premium and a few times we have found ourselves inadvertently playing footsies or bumping each other around. Once both of us are anchored to the top we untie from the rope, which takes huge amounts of trust in the thin strap, and take turns abseiling down again. We collect the clips from the wall as we descend. It is marvelous stuff. “Just hanging out at the gym” as Arthur once put it. At the time we were dangling from our straps twelve metres off the ground, playing with our knots and shiny clippy things.

Well, sorry to end on a diary-type boring blog but that will be it for my Danish stories until mid-November. If you have made it this far, thanks and I will speak to you from Jakarta.

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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