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May 2016 – Simon go back

I’ve been away for a while, mostly for work, and then (for the first time since school holidays as a teacher) – on leave! This post is just a personal post, I thought I’d share some of the places I went and what I was up to (with some pics along the way)…

I went back home…then, en route back to Australia, went to India – where I learnt about the Simon Commission (‘Simon go back’ became pretty well my standard greeting).

Mid-April I flew back to the UK, landing on the Saturday and – in a bit of scheduling I’ve vowed never to repeat – after pub lunches both Sat & Sun, caught another flight to Oslo, and then on to Trondheim. I promptly went deaf for the rest of the week. I spent a night in Trondheim catching up with my Cambridge friend Mona (who is in a cool  education research/application role there).

Visiting Trondheim

 

Then I flew down to Oslo, to give two talks in the Mediate lab invited by Sten Ludvigsen. The first talk was broadly about my PhD work, which I framed in terms of ‘sites of epistemic cognition’, while the second introduced an (in submission) paper I’ve been working on with Karen Littleton around a social account of epistemic cognition.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Flying back to the UK, I hit up the April 22nd OU graduation, at which 3 other doctoral graduands and I received our doctorate – entering into the academic community and sitting on stage……in fact, I was literally the 1st graduand of the whole ceremony – along with undergraduate and other postgrad students. Lovely event :-).

OU Graduation

OU Graduation, with parents

OU graduation, the supervisory team

OU graduation, the supervisory team

From there I caught the train up to Edinburgh for LAK16, where I was co-chairing a half day workshop on temporal analytics, and a full day workshop on writing analytics.  We were trying to do something a bit different with both of those, steering well clear of the ‘paper presentation’ and ‘sage on the stage’ tracks while still having a paper submission (temporality) and expert panelists (writing). I’m now workshops and tutorials co-chair for LAK17 and pretty interested in how we run interactive workshop sessions anyway, so I’d be happy to chat to people further on this.  I also participated in the ‘Learning Analytics for Learners‘ workshop, giving a talk on our CIC Around platform. I’m presenting a related talk at UNSW next week so will share more on that then…

Leaving Edinburgh

Leaving Edinburgh

Back to England I spent the weekend with family, then headed off to India (full g’photos album) for my first proper leave (no laptop, no intention to work while away at all) in 18 months.

Having said I’d never jump on a plane after a long haul flight again…I sprinted off my flight from Dubai to the Air India desk, the woman in front of me died of old age before the checkin woman got to her so happily I just managed to checkin, get through security and jump on a quick flight up to Amritsar to meet my friend (and do some hanging out over delicious food). A welcome slow start to the next day in Jalandhar, before heading back to Amritsar for the Wagah border crossing, and the Golden Temple at sunset. Next day lunch at Haveli, and then the train down to Delhi to stay with friends in Kailash Colony (hospitality aside, favourite Indian thing of the day: Someone ordered Domino’s Pizza to be delivered onto the train…).

Wagah Border Crossing

Wagah Border Crossing

Golden Temple Amritsar

Golden Temple Amritsar

Two full days in Delhi, managed to pack in visits to: Qutub Minar (tallest brick minaret + monuments), Dilli Haat, Lotus Temple (a favourite), and dinner/drinks at ‘Town Hall’ in Khan Market.

Qutub Minar

Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple

Day two was Jama Masjid, and the Red Fort, which we just about survived the heat of to get to Big Chill for a beautifully air conditioned Italian. Spent the evening chilling, including having pani puri/golgappa at Anupam sweets (and I didn’t die).

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid

Red Fort

Red Fort

Next day, early morning flight to Leh to stay at the beautiful Saraha. As Leh’s at an altitude of 11,500 ft (3500 m) you’re advised not to do much for the first day…so we didn’t. We did, though, head up to Shanti Stoopa for sunset – well worth it (the headache, uhum).

Leh - View from the hotel bedroom balcony

Leh – View from the hotel bedroom balcony

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

Day two in Leh, we headed to Gurdwara Pathar Sahib and (over the road, up the hill) Nishan Sahib. A short drive from there is ‘magnetic hill’ – stop, turn engine off, car rolls up the hill…pretty cool – and then on to the view point at the meeting of two rivers (Indus and Zanskar). Heading back into Leh we had a slow lunch and then went to Leh Palace.

Nishan Sahib

Nishan Sahib

View from Leh Palace

Monks admiring view from Leh Palace

Day three we started a long overnight trip, driving up the highest maintained road in the world to Khardung La Pass (18380 ft) to get to the Nubra Valley for a night. Driving back on day 4 we stopped off at Diskit Monastery.

Khardung La Pass

Khardung La Pass

Diskit Monastery

Diskit Monastery

Day 5, we did another long drive, up the Chang La pass to Pangong Lake.

Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass

Chang La Pass

Pangong Lake

Pangong Lake

Headed back to Delhi next, staying at the Royal Plaza, and heading immediately for lunch at Gulati (buffet, focused on butter chicken). Afternoon was spent watching my (Indian) friend be robbed blind at Janpath market, and: having coffee, exploring fabindia, & grabbing a drink at Lord of the Drinks in Connaught Place. Quick trip to India Gate, and a tiny dinner at the hotel Skybar.

Sunset by India Gate

Sunset by India Gate

Next day I flew off to Jaipur to stay at Moustache Hostel. After a resting evening, I went to Jantar Mantar (astronomical instruments), the City Palace, the impressive Hawa Mahal, having dinner at Copper Chimney.

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

View through one of the Hawa Mahal windows

View through one of the Hawa Mahal windows

Last proper day in Jaipur I headed up to the Amber and Jaigarh forts stopping off at Curious Life Coffee Roasters on the way back into town for the best coffee I had in India (and, probably more expensive than I’d pay in Sydney…).

Amber Fort, Jaipur

Amber Fort, Jaipur

Following day I took a train to Agra, staying for the night (Agra stinks of raw sewage by the way), so I could get to the Taj Mahal at dawn, before getting a train back to Delhi for my evening flight…train was scheduled to give me 7 hours in Delhi (plenty of time to buy Masala Uncle Chips to bring home)…but turned up 1.5 hours late, and then took 1.5 hours longer than it should have (“hm, I wonder if I could order an Uber to this field…”).

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal


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