Traveller's Teacup

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Posts Tagged ‘altai’

“Entering the snow leopards lair” story

A short story, I wrote about my recent snow leopard horse trek in Russian Altai’s remote Argut Valley was published today on the UNU’s Our World 2.0 site.  Enjoy and please share with friends!!

“The Altai mountain pony below me stumbles on a wobbly rock. I breathe in sharply as loose shale slides off the cliff’s edge and bounces towards the frozen Argut River below. Aduchy, my indigenous Altaian guide, twists around in his saddle and re-counts his travel companions. He motions for me to lean forward. Over the Siberian wind’s howl, my interpreter Irena loudly translates in her thick Russian accent: “Sit forward to help the climbing horse.” … read more here

And a rather wild and woolly shot from the field… here we are in the back country of Argut valley, Siberian Altai, Feb 2010. About -20 and Irena my beautiful Altaian friend and translator, is following on horseback. it was one of those days….the sun was shining and the heart was free and happy.

snow leopards on my mind

As some of you know, I was in Russian Altai (again) in March. This time, learning about the UNDP conservation and tracking of snow leopards in a remote valley about 40km from the Kazakh/Chinese border.

The story (with slideshow) is due to be published this week on Our World 2.0, and I promise to update it here for you as well.

I was really compelled to share this particular wilderness adventuress story. It left a lasting impression on me and I hope in some small way, I can eventually contribute to a larger climate biodiversity adaptation project being discussed.

During the trip, I learnt the Altai mountains are also full of wild wolves. As we slept in our pup tent, they sniffed about our camp at night leaving tracks which our guide Adduchee later pointed out. We never heard them, but as @andibartz points out on her blog, this little video is 500 times more rad than Wolf parade!! heehheeheee

Movies in Moscow – 27th-30th May

To follow on from the previous post… an invite has been extended for 3 of the Our World 2.0 Indigenous climate films to screen in Moscow at the H20 film festival from the  27-30th May, 2010. I think our 3 films will be screening on the Friday night (28th May) around 7:30pm. For more information check out the festival’s site:

I also found a short Moscow times article listing the 4 day program. After finally finishing the Russian subtitles for these beauties, oh, how I wish I could be there to cheer everybody’s stories along! Raaaaa!!!!!

3 traditional knowledge climate films selected for Australian human rights festival

Three of our Media Studio’s Our World 2.0 short documentaries “Land has Breath”, “The Forbidden Forest of the Dayak”, and “Fighting Carbon with Fire” have been selected to screen in 5 cities across Australia, as a part of the Human Rights and Arts Film Festival 2010.

They are part of an 18 month UNU project from 2008-09 (there are some previous posts about the filmmaking process of these docos on this site). These community collaborations, carrying important Indigenous climate change perspectives, will be screening in the festival’s “Reel Change – Climate Change shorts” program.  Other films in the line-up include the resounding short film “The Water Diary” directed by Jane Campion (The Piano), which premiered at Cannes Film festival 2006.

If you are in Moscow, this shorts program has recently been invited to screen there later this summer. We are busily adding the russian subtitles, and I’ll let you know when Russian dates are confirmed.

For Australian bound bodies, check HRAFF festival website for full program with specific venue dates/times.

PERTH 15 MAY – 23 MAY.

Originally posted on

Sleepy musings from Tashkent airport

When you get off the plane in Tashkent, the first thing that hits you is the smell of the desert. Its similar to the experience when you disembark in Alice Springs. A wall of dry, earthy air. A certain smell that you come to know in your hair and clothing.

It’s 4:05am and I’m on the red eye flight from Tokyo to Siberia via Tashkent. My travelling companions are a mixed bunch of Japanese tourists, cologne drenched Uzbeks, and a screaming baby who for hours has been trying to come to terms with ear compression. And then there’s the French tourists, a roly poly crew of “French” dressed gastronmi-philes. Their swollen feet swished into their iconic red and yellow reebok shoes. They were obviously all Japan souvenior-ed out. They slept like stones on the flight.

On the scale of horror aero-journies, this Uzbek airlines flight was painless. I sat next to a fastidious Japanese tour group leader. He spent the majority of the flight neurotically shifting a stack of airline tickets and catering objects around his grafitied tray table. As soon as we got off the plane, his little blue flag popped up and he started ushering his sleepy Japanese flock into the awaiting transit lounge buses. It was quite a sight, and an amusing reminder of my “group experiences” over the last 6 months in Tokyo.

Tray table - Uzbek airlines

Its nice to be back in Central Asia, even if it is only a transit lounge. My last foray in Uzbekistan had consisted of Dad and I exploring the ancient sites of Bukhara and Samarkhand together. As with most developing countries, tourists are a walking dollar sign and these places are no exception. One day, with our rucksacks secured, we said a stern farewell, turned our backs and walked across the road border to Tajikistan. On the other side, we celebrated with a jolly Tajiki customs official by sipping at a freshly made cuppa under a tree near his demountable.

OK, the Tashkent transit lounge is not Zurich. Its much more a scruffy soviet ballroom. Grand roman columns coated with fake marble wallpaper hold up a ceiling of fluros. In the centre is a grand staircase, where a red Turkmeni design carpet leads you to more chairs. The chairs are the only thing Zurich about the place. In one corner, saloon doors lead to a restaurant – a typical Central Asian affair, a room set up like a mess hall, at the end is a counter and behind it two sleeping dudes. Above them, a rickety shelf with beer, vodka, chocolates and nescafe bottles brightening the scene.

Venturing further, I realised I had completely blotted from my memory the toilet experience. In these parts, toilet paper is like mulched egg carton dried in the sun. The bin next to porcelain squat toilet, is where you put the toilet paper. Although a genius for sewerage, this bin full of stripped paper is a sight and smell to behold for westerners.

Taskent airport transit lounge

Strangely though, I missed this quirky world. Although Tokes has its major pluses, the Central Asian seeming chaos, moments teetering on catastrophe and the chintzy aesthetic has a place in my heart.

Dawn is breaking now and other institutional looking buildings outside the grand hall are starting to take form. I will be here enduring the bad Uzbek popmusic with my other Siber-bound companions till 11am, when we board a plane nose-bent for Novosirbirsk, Russia. Yes, its yet another cosmic solo adventure… this time to Southern Siberia to experience the August 1 solar eclipse with Russian friends at a remote meteorology station deep in the Altai mountains.