eclipses, gold medals and movies

man, i love it here!
apoligies to anyone still in beijing, but it is sooooo good to be out of that smog hole, and waking up every day with sunny skies, hot days and crisp winds. things have been pretty manic since i got here. in fact, things have been pretty manic since i can remember, and here it’s no different.

i left beijing about a month ago. prior to leaving, bree sent me a link to a moby music video comp and i decided to enter it. since being in china, i had wanted to shoot something set on the great wall – with a location like that in my backyard, there was no way i was going to skip on an opportunity to film there. im mad into my photogrpahy at the moment, so ended up compiling a fun film with two mates – vinny and lotti – from over 3500 photos. we didnt win, but had a blast making it. you can check it out here

then it was up to mongoila. i took the train, and had a week in ub catching up with mates and organising to start editing. i then put the tour leading hat back on for a trip out to see the eclipse. 40 hours in a russian van brought us to the edge of mongolia, and we set up camp on a huge basin with a few hills on the horizon. the eclipse was incredible. it took about 2 hours to become fully covered, was fully covered for about 2 and a half minutes, then took another two hours to uncover. well, i think it did. by that time we were well into the vodka and praising to wonders of nature and ranting about how could anyone need drugs when there’s so many natural highs such as eclipses, shooting stars, and peyote. and while it only lasted around 150 seconds, it was super eerie. as the eclipse started, the winds got up. slowly the light began to change, and about an hour into the eclipse, there was this incredible light – imagine being in the reflected light of a glass facaded building. then, with a burst of light, the moon covered the sun, we took off our flurescent lime, orange and pink $1 eclipse glasses, and the stars came out. the sky was a rich dark blue, the sun haloing around the moon, and there was a 360˚ sunset on the horizon.

then, it was pack up and back in the vans for another 6 days of driving to get back to ulaanbaatar. worked out we basically drove 100 hours over 10 days to see the sun get covered for 2 and a half minutes. the next one’s in india and lasts for a whopping 6 minutes something.

by the time we got back to ub, the olympics kicked off. i was hoping for karaoke at the opening ceremony, but was still pretty happy with the lip syncing and digitally enhanced fireworks. days later mongolia won its first gold medal, which was its first in 28 years. it was chaos. streets were closed off, the athlete – tukshunbayar, judo – was praised by the president on the main square, the prime minister got drunk, thousands took the the streets with flags, men hugged each other, debts were forgotten, the sick were healed, and all round miricles and wonders consumed the country into the early hours of the next day.

and then there’s the hip hop!

so. with all this action and excitement, i’ve even had a chance to work on my doco! i have slowly been catching up on the scene here – there’s no huge developments, but its awsome to be back and catching up wiht the artists and seeing what they’re up to. as we were always interested in the inclusion of traditional music in hip hop, i were very interested to discover that a french organisation is organising workshops and a festival in which 15 french and 15 mongolian traditional and hip hop artists will develop tracks together to create a range of tracks. these guys – machu and phanette – have done this twice before, the first time causally, and the last time wiht electronic music, and are a real inspiration. im even more keen to get some aussie bands out here to be involved next time in 2010. you can check out what they’re doign and the bands participating here

but back to the doco. ive spent ages writing, and rewriting the script, and am getting at a stage where i;m really happy with it (that could change very easliy!) i have a cool little set up that im couch surfing with and working loads on the project. the main theme is mongolia’s search for identity post socialism, and how hip hop has been involved in that. i am here for just another 3 weeks, so hope to have a trailer up before i leave. there is so many interesting elements to the scene here – its a nightmare trying to work out what to leave in and what to take out, but im making headway. albeit slowly. after mongolia, its back to beijing to box up my stuff there, and if all goes to plan, over to japan for a 3 week photogrpahy trip before heading back to the land of oz for the summer.

todays the last day of the games and mongolia has gone all out and won a second gold medal. i found out today that gold medal winners have already recieved literally thousands of girfs – including 1kg of gold from a mining company and an apartment each from a building firm! any budding athletes out there may want to check out flights to mongoila!

stay tuned. i’ll have an update soon and check out for photos.

im off to celebrate with vodka and mutton.


One Response to “eclipses, gold medals and movies”

  1. Anonymous says:

    hiya benj, thanks for the fantastic update on wha gwaan up north. been wondering ’bout where you are at. it’s great to hear you are still so active with all your various pursuits, sounds like them things are working for ya! alls still good here in melburn, bit over the cold now and am greatly looking forward to longer days and a bit of warmth. otherwise, still just working with my partner simon on putting together the Australasian World Music Expo happening here 20-23 November 2008. check out
    otherwise am wishing ya good vibes and much respekt!