Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pausing to say "Hello"


As you might have noticed, I've been on an extended, unannounced holiday from this blog. It was totally unplanned - a few days' break led to a few weeks' break led to a few months' break. How does Blogger even work now?! They've changed the backend completely. Wow. Guess I've been away for THAT long.

I have no other reason than I didn't feel like writing. So I didn't.

It wasn't like I was short on material either... From my last post in July till now, I've had one kitchen drama after another (and the kitchen is STILL incomplete, mind you), my siblings came to visit me in the dam, I went to Berlin to watch a friend run the Berlin Marathon for the first time, I went to Ljubljana in Slovenia and shot in the most magical Hobbitville forest, I went to visit some of my best friends in London after the births of their gorgeous babies, I was getting out and actually socializing for the first time in ages, even meeting boys and going out on dates and navigating the minefield that is "the dating game" (I hate it, by the way. Boys today are just too complicated), I've had visitors from out-of-town coming and going from my flat, I've been practicing ashtanga yoga a little bit, then I've not been practicing ashtanga yoga at all, then I've got back on my mat again and I'm still trying to find the balance between managing yoga and life, and life and yoga.

And y'know... I was just getting out there and "living life". And I guess I was getting out of my head a little, experiencing life without processing too much (or possibly maybe TRYING not to process too much!) I guess if this were a movie, this would be the part where a montage of different scenes from the past few months flies past in fast-forward. HAHA.

I definitely needed that blog-break. Not to say that I'll be back to regular writing again, but as with all things, it's always good to stop what you're doing, take a step back and put things in perspective again. When it came to writing about yoga, I felt like all I was doing was moaning about asana. "Wah wah wah, I can't do this and wah wah wah, I can't do that". I was boring myself to tears. I think I was/am also coming to a point where I don't particularly feel the need to share everything that's going on in my head about my practice. It helped me internalize stuff to blab about it before, but maybe it's coz my practice is taking a more inward turn that I haven't felt the need to talk about it. Also, I'd been going down the same stop-start-stop pattern in my practice that I wasn't even sure what to make of it anymore.

So... I just gave it a break. A break from all that writing and thinking and navel-gazing about it. And I think out of all that time-off to JUST BE, and get out and do stuff without thinking... Now that I'm finally sitting down to think about it, I'm gonna mix it up a little bit with my practice. Sticking to a 5 or 6-day practice a week is just not do-able in my current situation. Not if I also want to have more of a social life, or enough hours of sleep a night especially when work starts to go balls-to-the-wall busy again. And I'm done with feeling guilty and beating myself up on it when I can't stick to that practice schedule no matter what the reason (or excuse) may be. At this point, I'm gonna allow myself a 3 or 4-day practice a week (maybe less sometimes) and say "yes" to more social events. 2011 is my year of "speaking my truth" anyway, and the whole point of turning up on the mat, for me at least, is tuning in to a more mindful/ conscious way of living and not sticking to dogma for dogma's sake. And right now, it feels like this is what I need.

It makes me a happier person, and that's a good enough reason for me.

I guess that's the conundrum of being a modern-day yogi. I felt myself always having to choose between "life or yoga?" or "work or yoga"? (and I refer to "yoga" in the asana sense of "making it to practice") It shouldn't even have to come to this double bind, but I guess life just throws stuff your way and you just deal with it the best you can.

I'd much rather be caught in the RyGos double bind. Mm-hmm.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Girls in Yoga Pants...?

I think I'm gonna be sick.

There's a site for Girls in Yoga Pants now? I find this partially horrific and partially funny.

What will they think of next?

[UPDATE:] To even this out, someone on Twitter sent me a link for Men Doing Yoga. Hahaha!

[UPDATE 2:] I also just got another link for men and yoga in my inbox. Why, HELLOOOOOOOOOO! Yoga Dudes. It's probably also not fair of me to much prefer/ be less horrified with the yoga dudes links than with the yoga girls in pants link. I think it's coz the yoga girls are all cam-whoring as opposed to the dudes shots which are pretty artfully done. Y'know...? (or does this sound like I'm rationalizing now...?) HAHAHA!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Disaster Area

Amidst this rubble lies a kitchen in hiding.

Part 2 of renovations = kitchen installation. I am living through this and can't wait for it to be over. Ugh.

Everything in this truck is basically sitting in my living room now. It's not that big of a kitchen; it's all packaging. And I'm dorkily thinking of the massive carbon footprint this one little kitchen has already left behind.

It was pretty cool how they used the vertical lift to get it all upstairs through the window though. And that crane in the middle of the road was lifting the stone counter top. Fun muscle man action. :D

Soon soon... This mess too, shall pass.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 15, 2011

Broken Leg? Do Your Practice!!

My friend Mel posted this on Facebook, so I reposted it on Facebook, and it's now making the Facebook rounds of every Ashtangi I know.

It's too good not to share here too.

As Sharath says, "Anybody can practice ashtanga yoga. Except lazy people."

Broken femur? DO YOUR PRACTICE!! Here's how this hero modified his Primary series (and part of Second).


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of Moving House and Visiting Teachers

Between work and dealing with the builder and figuring out what to get and what goes where in the new house and oh yeah, I moved in this weekend finally... I haven't actually had time to post updates! I don't think I've even shared a single photo of the new place here yet. I might just start posting random photo updates just coz that's faster and time isn't what I've got much of these days... (I actually started writing this post a week ago and haven't been able to finish it!!)

Oh yeah, and did I tell you Clayton Horton was also in town? He was here the last 2 weeks actually, and it's been great FINALLY having daily Mysore sessions at the shala. I'm totally lapping this up.

An observation I've made: I cannot function on 6 hours sleep, followed by a 2-hour practice, followed by a full-on 8 to 10-hour day at work. I used to make the joke that my yoga practice was the hardest thing I had to do of the day and since I'd be done with it by 8am, the world would seem all good after that. Unfortunately, I've realized that with what my job entails, I'm no longer sure if my practice is the hardest thing I do of the day. So you can imagine after Week #2 of Clayton in town, it's starting to kick my ass. I'm exhausted and miss the little afternoon naps I could take in Mysore to recover!

The first week Clayton was here, he also did a 3-day teachers' intensive. It counts for Yoga Alliance's 30hr continuing education credit. So glad I took some time off my day job just to reconnect with yoga and other yogis too! The first half of each day was spent discussing philosophy, and the second half of the day was spent on breaking down the Primary series and going through the various adjustments for it. It's been AGES since I've taught, and my adjustments are completely rusty now, I might need to start a little yoga-playgroup going to refresh my adjustments! Or maybe ask to assist my teacher at the shala... Too many things I want to do, so little time! Guess it'll have to happen AFTER the move and doing up the house. ;)

In the first couple days of Mysore classes, I was still getting back into my body and only doing Primary series. Like all teachers trained in the traditional Pattabhi Jois way, Clayton wanted to see me stand up from backbends, then dropback and stand up again 3 times before moving me onto Intermediate. I was totally crap the first few days - wobbly and crashing and hurling onto my knees... And then after a couple days, suddenly my body remembered what it had to do and everything clicked into place and it happened. WEIRD. I can't explain it except... er, muscle memory?

And since then he's been watching me do each pose at a time in Intermediate. He asked where I was up to, then said "Let's start with Pasasana". The next day after Pasasana, I lay down to do backbends then he told me to continue through to Bhekasana. And the day after that to go to Parsva Dhanurasana. And we're now up to Laghuvajrasana. I'm pretty happy hanging out here at this pose and working my way through it (my regular teacher M gave me Kapotasana about a week before Clayton arrived, but I am so totally not ready for it at all!) I've been so completely exhausted the past couple days of practice, I've been coasting my way through it, ie., not really putting in 100% effort. Conserving energy! I have my whole life to figure this out, I'm not gonna kill myself to try and impress a visiting teacher... ;)

There's something about this teacher-student relationship in Ashtanga that I find compelling. The student learning to submit to teacher - I totally get the humility and respect it takes to do this. Interestingly, I used to be of the theory that "you are your best teacher"... But I'm now going through the phase where I feel you can't really say you're your best teacher until you've had enough time and training with a GOOD teacher, who can spot your weaknesses and imbalances and guide you to where you need to be/ what you need to work on. Only when you've been shown the way and can feel it from within can you tap into that again when you're on your own.

A good teacher doesn't just help you physically on an asana level either...a good teacher can tell from the way you breathe how this can affect you energetically, or how it can affect your Vata/ Pitta/ Kapha doshas... (just from the quality of the breath, length of the breath, inhales versus exhales, at what point in the vinyasa you breathe and how this affects you, etc.) I realized this just from being in the same room as Clayton, seeing what he picks up on in different people's practices, including mine. Such wisdom comes from years of experience and a depth of study on various subjects.

While breaking down Laghuvajrasana with me one day, I had a moment of realization, that AHA! moment when I understood why some teachers put such a focus on learning to dropback and stand back up again before moving students onto the Intermediate series. It became totally apparent in Laghuvajrasana that day when Clayton was explaining how to use the inhale to come back up from the floor again (I still can't go all the way down to touch my head to the floor. If I do this, I get stuck and can't come back up). It's a totally similar movement/ action to standing up from a backbend!! It's using that inhale, pressing the hips up and forwards that's similar. Sounds easier than it is, of course.

A great thing that's spun off from his workshop series is there's a group of us who enjoy the regular morning practices so much to the point where we were bummed that the shala still only opens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for morning Mysore classes. So we asked if the shala was STILL not gonna open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, could we start a self-practice group on those mornings instead? And TA-DAH! We got a set of keys to share between us. :)

This morning, there were 5 of us in self-practice including Clayton (he flew off to Barcelona today and wasn't teaching; just practising). This little group feels really promising, hope we get to keep this up!

I have to say I've really enjoyed having a visiting teacher for a solid long stretch. 2 weeks is a luxury! Usually most workshops happen over a weekend or the teacher visits for a week... But having 2 solid weeks with the same teacher really helps expand one's practice just that little bit more. And the whole shala just feels a lot more inspired too.

So now maybe I need to start working on my next post - the before and after shots of the apartment!! Mind you, there's still sweet f**k all in the living room except for a TV. I'm thinking of having a ghetto-style housewarming party where everyone has a picnic on the floor (nope, the sofa hasn't arrived yet). And since the kitchen doesn't get installed until 2 weeks' time... People will just have to order takeaway pizzas or bring their own food. Hehe. Fun times!! :)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

What the Governator Taught Me About Laghuvajrasana

Yes, I'm referring to Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, that BEEFCAAAAAAAAKE megalomaniac sex-fiend? Yessiree, he taught me something about yoga.


A couple weeks ago, I went to a screening of "Pumping Iron". It's a cult-classic documentary from the late '70s about the world of bodybuilding. And of course, it stars good old Arnie, pre-Hollywood fame. He was already the 5-time Mr. Universe/ Olympia winner by this time and was defending his 1975 title for the last time before retiring from bodybuilding. A 24-year old Lou Ferrigno, aka The Incredible Hulk, also makes an appearance as the "pipsqueak" upstart who hopes to take the title from old-man-Arnie (or rather, Lou's dad seems more intent on this).

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this. It is a HILARIOUS documentary that gives a good glimpse into the mindset of what it takes for world domination. At least in the bodybuilding world. And actually, maybe this same narcissistic god-complex is required to make it in Hollywood too. And maybe also in politics, if Arnie's behaviour and later accomplishments in life are anything to go by.

There are some priceless gems spouted out of Arnie that make you go "WTF?!? This guy ACTUALLY became the Governor of California and was seriously considering running for President?!" Case in point, my favourite WTF moment when he was talking about how bodybuilding made him feel:

"It's as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is, you know? As, ah, having sex with a woman and coming. And so can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I'm getting the feeling of coming at home, I'm getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night. I mean, it's terrific. Right? So you know, I am in heaven."
- Arnie

... ... ...

I mean, seriously right?!? I was in hysterics with a good LOL. (Especially considering the whole fiasco with his housemaid in the past month)

Anyway, while doubled over in laughter, Arnie also said something else that made me recall what my yoga teacher was telling me about building up my leg strength for Laghuvajrasana. She said that I should go down and come up a few times, going down lower each time, or at least training myself to keep dipping down lower each time before holding there for the final 5 counts. If I don't do this, my body will never get used to how it should be pushing itself lower to the ground.

Arnie basically said the same thing about doing reps in training. He said his competitor would do 10 reps of something, but he would go beyond this, doing an extra few more... coz "the last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That's what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they'll go through the pain no matter what happens."

OK, so maybe only the first sentence in that quote is applicable. The rest is completely egotistical, unyogic and totally not applying Ahimsa to one's self.


Well, at least I got something out of that, right? Basically - don't be a wuss. To get the hang of Laghu, I should just rinse-and-repeat like my teacher and Arnie say. From a physical point-of-view, at least I know what good I'm doing.

Yeah Arnie, I'm gonna be a champion, just like you! *cough*


Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Union... With Pain?

As my boss instructed, I've been going to yoga this week. And I've noticed something interesting I hadn't noticed before.

After a month of on-and-off flakey practice, without any semblance of even the full Primary series at any one point in time... Getting back on the mat again was of course going to be brutal. Apart from the obvious muscle atrophy - OK, that's a bit dramatic but you know what I mean with the loss of strength and flexibility... I also started to notice how out of alignment I'd become - that weird scoliosis in my tailbone that's twisting my pelvis hadn't been noticeable in the last month, but in the last week since I've been back on the mat, my pelvis and back have started to feel out of whack again. The knots in my shoulders and neck which hadn't been noticeable in the past month have suddenly flared up again and are screaming out for help. So I've booked an appointment with my Osteopath.

With the amount of bodywork I've had over the years, I know that these chronic issues didn't just "suddenly flare up". They've always been there, I just haven't been tuned in enough to feel them. Which makes me wonder... I've tended to "blame the yoga" for some of these muscle knots and aches that I've had. It's easy to think this way especially since I'm starting to feel them again now that I've started up my practice again.

Now I'm realizing that it's not actually the physical yoga that's causing these knots and aches. My body issues are there and have been there... The yoga's just helped me tune into them. In the past couple of years, I've learnt that most of my issues are simply posture and ergonomics when I sit at my desk, coupled with the effects of the scoliosis. I can't believe that a month without practice had made me so out of tune with my body - to the point where it didn't feel like I had anything wrong. Actually, I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Coz now that I'm more in tune and feeling these aches and pains, I've gotta spend more money to do something about it!

Yoga as "Union" - a blessing and a curse at the same time. HA!

So it's back to the Osteo tomorrow for a bit of a tune-up.

In other practice news, I've still been working on standing back up from dropbacks. It's touch and go: sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. Today, teacher M said something so many teachers before her have told me "You're thinking too much about it. Don't think, just do." She told me to stop rocking back and forth so many times before standing up, coz she can see me starting to analyze the move the more I rock. HAHA! (I think I usually take about 4 rocks before hurling myself up?) So I cut it down to about 2 (I think? I dunno, I wasn't counting. See? I stopped thinking about it!) And her advice worked! Somehow when there's a teacher's eagle-eye on you too, you're just able to channel something from within and just do it. Weird.

Also, since my practice at the shala has been sporadic, I've only mostly been practicing the Primary series while I've been there. I've started to add back my Intermediate poses again and today teacher M asked "You're not doing Kapotasana?" I replied my last pose given was Laghuvajrasana. And she dangled the carrot in front of me by saying "Oh, I think you're ready for Kapo, but let's see you practice through Laghu a few times more first if that's been your last pose."

Holy shit! OK, I know you're not supposed to want poses and to be honest, I'd given up hope already having been stuck at Laghuvajrasana for 1.5 years now. HAHAHA! So this is kind of exciting. There is some kind of method to this madness of being given poses... Right now, I'm finding it's injected a renewed enthusiasm for my practice. I could've mail-ordered a pair of Lululemons for a similar effect, but somehow this feels more satisfying. And smug. ;) I'm allowing my ego some room here even though I'm TOTALLY counting my chickens before they hatch (which never bodes well, so the ego will be properly put back in place in no time...) :p


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Boss says "Go to Yoga!"

I'm pretty sure I have the world's awesome-est boss. Yesterday, he said to me "You're pretty strung out. Have you been to yoga? I think you should make the time to go."

This dude does not practice yoga at all, but he can definitely pick up on how yoga affects me.

Once again, I've not managed to find the balance. I've been going through a slammed period at work, I get the keys to my new home tomorrow, and today would've been a year ago that K and I broke up after 5 years together.

So... there's a lot going on on every level and it really felt like I was at breaking point a few days ago. When your phone's still ringing at midnight with work calls and starts up again at 7am, and when you get a 15-minute respite from work only to have to attend to new-house stuff like choose tiles with the contractor or discuss induction versus gas cookers with the kitchen guy... it's a bit hard to tell your arse from your elbow when you're going from spinning one plate to another. And when I say "you", I really mean "me".

So... I've been strung out and exhausted. In my head, I couldn't really face having to get through a 2-hour practice followed by an 18-hour day at work with full-on stress. Leaving what... 4 hours of sleep?! When I got it in my head that "tomorrow, I will go to the shala to practice even if I don't get enough sleep"... some how this would add to my stress levels and I'd end up insomniac. Totally sabotaging all plans to practice in the morning since by the time I'd fall asleep, it would be 3am.

Some meditation and gentle forward bends before sleep has helped... But I guess I'm struggling with "that Ashtangi mentality" of "Do your practice" (EVERYDAY). I can't. I give up.

In the past year since moving to Amsterdam, I've learned to be OK with where I'm at with my practice. I mean... it's been 1.5 years since I was officially given my last pose, Laghuvajrasana, in Sydney. It used to upset me that all this starting and stopping of my practice because of my up-and-down work schedule had "stagnated" my practice.

But I guess that's only if you look at it on the surface, from a total Asana point-of-view. The other things I've learned along the way include being kind to myself - not beating myself up if I've missed a practice (or a few...), and also learning to accept that people go through different stages in life and your yoga practice needs to adapt to that too.

Sometimes I wonder how much of that is STILL making excuses for not getting on the mat and how much of that is really learning not to be THAT attached to the asana part of the practice. Even if I've done just 3 sun salutations or meditated for 10 minutes, I don't "count" that as having practiced. But dammit, it all counts!

So... Granted, I have been feeling lost of late, and it was good to have had a pep talk with the boss. He basically pulled me aside and we just talked. Talked about life stuff. Talked about finding balance. Talked about how at the end of the day, it's JUST work. He was basically telling me I need to reprioritise and put yoga at the top of my list, since he could see how I get affected when I don't practice. "Even if it means you come in an hour late coz you need to go to yoga, take that time. Otherwise when you work the way we work all the time, you're gonna burn out fast."

He's a pretty progressive boss, my boss. I am grateful to have someone as understanding as him mentor me at work. Guess I needed that timeout to pause just for a bit and think about what the hell I've been doing. I definitely need a holiday, that's for sure! Oh but wait, I have to fix this house up first. Arggghhhhhhh! Hahaha.

There's a lot going on. I just need to remind myself to take it one day at a time. Sometimes it feels like I need to take it one hour at a time. Oh, and... I need to GO TO YOGA!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gas vs. Induction Cooking

Totally non-yoga post. But the topic that's been consuming me all week has been: Gas or Induction cooktop? Oh, the joys of home remodelling!!

Since I posted a photo of a pair of questionable shoes I put on reserve yesterday and got an overwhelming response of NO!! DON'T GET THEM!! from the good people on Facebook, I figured I'd also post another question to help me with my indecision of gas cooker or induction cooker?
Incidentally, those questionable gladiator-flipflop Converse here:

(HAHAHA! I think I've been well advised about not getting them?)

It all started when I wanted to get a gas cooker with a single burner on each grill. It's just easier to clean this than to deal with lugging the huge grill that traditionally goes over 2 burners. But Miele only does single grills on a glass top. Like this:

Super stylish in comparison to the boring gas on stainless steel that is the usual, no?

But then of course the Miele showroom people showed me their epic-stylish induction cooktop and explained the joys of induction cooking (more energy-efficient, safer coz no open flame, only the part where the pot touches the stove heats up. And "If you want a stove that's easy to clean, this is the easiest of them all". Blah blah blah)

My sister also said "Eric Ripert uses Miele induction, so should you." Okaaaaaay. I had to google who Eric Ripert is, so obviously this is not going to influence my decision. HAHAHA!

OK - barring the huge additional expense of an induction cooktop, my main concern is: HEALTH EFFECTS. Anybody got a clue?! Mr. Google is throwing up mixed reactions and pretty much "non-conclusive evidence since not enough research has been done".

An induction cooker works by electromagnetic waves reacting with your magnetic pots/ pans and heating them up. Some kind of (minimal) charge/ radio-frequency radiation can be transferred if you touch the pots or stand too close (like... about 30cm too close). Say what you like, but I fall into the "better safe than sorry" category and hardly use my microwave oven these days because of the same mixed reports people have had on its health effects.

Which is kind of why I'm eyeing this induction technology with suspicion too.

Anybody have an opinion on this topic, please? (Otherwise I'm gonna stick to good old gas and get them stylish gas-on-glass cooktops).

Discuss, please! :)


Monday, May 9, 2011

Casualty of Yoga

There are casualties of war, and then there are casualties of yoga. Today, I took a hit for yoga.

OK, I'm being a Drama Queen.

It's not really an injury or anything serious per se, but I've noticed an extremely peculiar phenomenon. Basically, when I've had a bit of a break from yoga and then go back to it again, the little blood capillaries in my face burst and I end up with little blood-red... er... blood spots on my face. They're not bumpy, they're just red spots under the surface of the skin. They don't hurt, they're just downright FUGLY. Especially after a couple of days when the fresh blood-red colour becomes... erm... PURPLE. Y'know, like how a bruise would react.

Actually, I thought it was just the yoga practice itself that maybe made me heat up or something, thus causing these red splotches.


It happened to me when I was in Prague too. I didn't have time to do a full-on Ashtanga practice, so would either do some meditation or pranayama, followed by headstands. Ladies and gents, I think Sirsasana is the culprit. Must be all that extra blood rushing to the face or something while I'm upside down!!

Today, I finally made it back to the shala again and just started back with Primary series only (on a separate note, I was surprisingly strong and bendy. Funny how a break from the yoga does this. Also, Hello Summery Weather! Heat really helps to open up everything!!) But I digress.

So after today's practice, I looked in the mirror after my shower and was shocked to see this FUGLINESS on my face.

I'm warning you. It's pretty graphic and not pretty.

You have the chance to stop and look away now.

Are you ready?

I've got an extreme close-up of the burst blood capillaries too.

OK, you've been sufficiently warned.

Here goes...

That's not as bad as the close-up shot you're about to see. In my defense, I can unequivocally tell you that before this morning's practice, my skin was smooth. No zits or anything. All this redness came up after practice!


... ... ...

... ... ...

Let's go!


WTF right?!

I can handle bruises, I've had them everywhere from practising yoga, but er... ON MY FACE?!?!??? I'm a little bit too vain for this.

My teacher M at the shala had spotted my Sirsasana issues. Remember my moment with Sharath? Well, I could hold Sirsasana a wee bit longer in Mysore earlier this year, but still couldn't hold it till the end of Sharath's count. Teacher M in Amsterdam spotted me in it a month ago and basically said "you need to push your hips out a lot more. You're using too much of your arm strength right now and not using the balance in the pose enough. Coz you're not completely vertical."

AHA! No wonder I was getting all tired out in it. So I've been pushing those hips forward and getting over that fear to cross the last bit that would get me completely vertical. Who'd have thunk. I suspect this might be what's getting me red-faced? Maybe?

Eww. Those photos are disgusting. To make up for it, I'm leaving you with something a heckuva lot more beautiful. Variations on Surya Namaskara. I posted it on Facebook a few days ago but it's too gorgeous not to share here. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pretty Prague

Holy Tamale. It's almost been a month since my last post?! Where'd the time go? ...I'm not even gonna make excuses. I've obviously been busy. In between prepping a shoot, I bought a flat. It felt like when I was spinning plates in the air - once I put the work plate down, the house plate had to keep spinning. Since something had to give, I suppose it was keeping up with this blog. Sorry!

A couple weeks ago, I was in Prague on a shoot. Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Prague is pretty. No wonder people rate it highly. You definitely get the sense that this place was once a filthy RICH boom-town. There's gilded EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. As in... there are fancy accoutrements on the oldschool buildings, inside the buildings, and as a workmate pointed out, there are statues EVERYWHERE. In any nook and cranny they could find, a bust of a person would pop up or be built into it.

We had a wee bit of downtime on this trip (we actually had like 4 hours on a Sunday free to roam around! Wheee! Sounds sad that that was the only time we had for leisure, but that's quite a luxury when you're on a shoot!) And fortunately we were shooting in some pretty spectacular locations so we got to do some "sightseeing" while on the job. HAHAHA.

Check out the interior of the opera house. This place is bananas.

And the National Museum there's pretty bananas too!

The food was... Well... It was pretty much full of pork. I felt like I was in a Monty Python skit. Y'know, the one about the spam? Just substitute the spam with pork, pork, pork. And pork. Would you like pork with your potato-pork dumplings? Pork in your pork stew? Pork neck? Pork hock? Pork tripe? Pork sausage? Pork, pork, pork. And more pork for you?


(BUT... to the credit of the city of Prague, they actually had pretty decent vegetarian options on the menu so I was safe)

On the Sunday afternoon we had free, we made a tourist-blitz around the city. Well, just to the top of some hill to see the church and castle up there.

(We were cracking up that that looked like a medieval baseball bat. We are so cultured)

(I got photo-bombed there on the right. But as far as photo-bombings go, that's actually a pretty good shot!)

I thought it was pretty hilarious that all the tourists were stood in the middle of this amazing abbey, ALL with their cameras pointing skywards. People nowadays just can't stand still and take in the awesome wonderment before them without feeling the need to capture it on camera somehow. (and of course I'm the most guilty of the lot)

It was the week before Easter, so there were groups of ladies dressed up in traditional costume (at least that's what I think they are?) and they were singing throughout the church.

Is it odd that I LOVE this door hinge? I don't think I've seen a more beautiful door hinge in my life. And I never thought the day would come when I'd wax lyrical about a door hinge either.

This is their famous clock in the old town square. Unfortunately it was out of order, so we didn't get to watch the whole spectacle that happens at the start of each hour.

See what I mean by there are statues EVERYWHERE? I mean - they've put statues on pedestals in the middle of a wall. It's bananas.

A GORGEOUS art-nouveau building, filled with stained-glass and ornate artwork.

One of the highlights of this trip was shooting in the Barrandov studios. The Chronicles of Narnia was shot on the backlot here, and it's just pretty amazing to see soundstage after soundstage after soundstage in one place. The most famous (and oldest) soundstage here is Studio 4. It's entirely built out of wood and is basically where Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's filmmaker, shot most of his Nazi propaganda films. HOLY SHIT!!!

The caretaker here very kindly unlocked the studio and allowed us to have a peek inside this infamous place. It is still a studio in use till today. I have to say, the inside of this place smells DISGUSTING. Damp, dank, and it just smells really OLD and STALE (must be all that negative joo-joo from years gone by).

The interior is pretty spectacular though. Like a post-apocalyptic warehouse wasteland.


And then we walked round to the backlot. Yes, that same backlot where Narnia was shot. This same place was once a winter wonderland for that film, but now it's a medieval town. It's hilarious how the inside of the set really feels like you are in an old town, but when you knock on the walls, it's all wooden and hollow.

I love this shot showing you what a facade it is!!

And that's pretty much all I can share with you of the trip! The rest of the pictures can only be revealed after the spot airs. ;p

PS. Have I mentioned I'll get the keys to my new apartment on June 1? Yeah, MY VERY OWN HOME! ...Will have more rivetting updates soon of kitchen tiles and contractors. Haha.

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