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More adventurous than the average bear

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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Australia 2011 - Day 2, Part 3 - Melbourne: Egyptian Exhibition

"He was a genius - that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities." - Robertson Davies


Australia 2011
Day 2 - 30th July - Melbourne: Egyptian Exhibition
(Part 3)

We then walked around to meet someone.

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Pink flowers

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Pink flowers closeup

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Various perspectives on Bank Street

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"Results based beauty."
At first this seemed very stupid (is there hallucination based beauty?), but then again beauty is all delusion anyway, so results don't necessarily matter

We went to a gelato shop. Gelatissimo, in fact, which was just as expensive in Australia as in Singapore.

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Flavours of Gelato

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"Death by Chocolate. 16 Tempting Chocolate Gelato Flavours"
Considering one flavour is Snickers, it's not as tempting as it might sound

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For some reason they have "hot gelato"?! Also notice how cunningly the menu is arranged: the price is given for 2 flavours, then 3, then 1

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Queue for place. With guy in top hat and red coat

My meal timings were thrown out of whack so I got something at 7-11, where:

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The hot stuff isn't tasty and the tasty stuff isn't hot

I then got a lift (yay) to the museum for the Tutankhamen Exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

There was a display of an old computer, CSIRAC (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Automatic Computer).

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At first read it sounds impressive, but one notices the caveats: this is "the only intact first generation stored-program computer still in existence"

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More on CSIRAC

While waiting for my slot (entry was timed at half hourly intervals, though one could go in until 5 minutes before the next timeslot, or something like that) I bumped into 2 friends, who I didn't know had hooked up (I assume).

Photography inside was prohibited, but there was a replica of the Mummy of Tutankhamun outside:

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Information on mummy and replica

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View from Mummy Replica's feet

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View of head

3D view of tomb burial chamber

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On the burial chamber

There was an audioguide for the exhibition, but it was A$8.50 on top of the already-princely exhibition fee of A$35 so I demurred.

This was the largest exhibiton to go to Australia.

There was an "elaborately decorated chest" from the 18th century, from the reign of Amenhotep III - probably a gift from Amenhotep III to Yuya and Tjuya, and found in their tomb. Its colour was as fresh as if it had been made only 20 years ago. Seems photography was allowed when the exhibition was in San Francisco and New York, so:

I'm guessing shipping to Australia was too expensive for photography rights, and they needed to earn more money from the gift shop; tickets were US$27.50 in San Francisco

Statue of Khaemwaset and his wife Manana from the reign of Amenhotep III, found at Zagazig. It was very intricate, especially the hair. Pity about the vandalised face of Khaemwaset though.

There were huge light blue ankhs. They were as high as from the tip of my third finger to my wrist.

There was a funerary figurine of resl from the reign of Amenhotep III. The hair frizz was like that of modern women of African descent. The eyes were interesting also.

Shabti of Ptahmose in multiple colours. It had blue hands and a blue face, hair striped yellow and dark blue, dark blue eyeliner and hieroglyphs on a cream body.

Irritatingly, once one had moved from one of the 7 divisions of the exhibition to another, one could not backtrack.

Serpent goddess - a winged serpent with a human head. Meret-Seger or more likely Meret-Hekau
This was a first for me - I never knew you could have outstretched wings without them breaking. Also the other Egyptian gods I knew/could remember either had fully human bodies or had animal heads and human bodies instead of the reverse.

Shabti boxes. Tomb of Tjuya and Yuya. I liked the bright colours and the concentric colored rectangles.
(full size)

From the same tomb they had 4 solid vessels on a stand, probably imitating the real vessels (for entrails), with painted animals on top - a frog, a cow (with a gazelle on the front of the mid-section) and a bull.

There was a "Djed" (stability) hieroglyph represented in the form of a many columned amulet from Amenhotep II's tomb. It was slightly longer than from the tip of my third finger to my elbow. There was also a model of a staff in the shape of a "was" (domination)

Head of a bovine goddess/cow from the myth of 'the Celestial Cow'. This myth was a new one to me:

This exhibition was especially interesting because of the colours. Most Egyptian material I'd seen either had little or no colour or the paint had faded in intensity. This was not the case here. Also this exhibition had a lot of wood, which even in Egypt does not last that long.

The exhibition claimed Tutankhamun's Death Mask was too fragile to move. While this was a valiant effort, I doubt it convinced many people. How old did they think we were? Everyone knows the real reason it won't leave Egypt is because the Egyptians will never let it out. If even cracked wood statues can travel, a golden Death Mask is more than travelworthy.

From the tomb itself: mirror case in the shape of an Ankh.
I loved the colour inlay.

Inscribed game board with 20 squares
One side was a board for Senet and the other was for Tjau. How innovative.

Ironically there were no mummies in the exhibtion.

Cosmetic Jar: "This jar once contained a mixture of plant and animal fats. A recumbent lion, identified as Tutankhamun, appears on top, while traditional enemies of Nubia and Western Asia are trapped below. This imagery represents the theme of order over chaos."
There're images of Bes on both side pillars.

Even Tut's Crook and Flail were on display - he must be lonely back in Cairo with so many of his things travelling. This exhibition has been travelling since 2004 (this means that they were safe from the unrest earlier this year). My theory was that they were raising funds and indeed I was right - as of April 2010 the exhibition had earned about $100 million, half of which went to Egypt and funded among other things a museum at Giza; New York in 2010 was supposed to be its "last stop", so it might indeed get extended again and perhaps move to Singapore after Melbourne (I'm sure they need to raise money to restore the artefacts damaged during the unrest).

They had a silver trumpet with a wooden core to keep its shape. The core was painted, though. Another not at the exhibition was made of copper (bronze according to other sources) and these 2 are the only trumpets to survive from Ancient Egypt. The other was stolen during the unrest (though later returned). Luckily this one was safe as it was on tour.

There was a lot of gold, like a gold fan depicting an ostrich hunt. Unfortunately the ostriches looked like ducks with long legs.

Carved folding stool painted to look like animal skin. This "carved folding stool" couldn't fold. Go figure.
The spots resembled leprosy.

Inlaid diadem with vulture and uraeus cobra (representing the 2 goddesses wadjet and nekhbet)
This was one of the less formal crowns of Egypt

The gift shop had personalisable 18k gold/sterling silver cartouche jewelry - whch was made in Egypt. Presumably this was to give it an aura of authenticity.

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I was in a magnet phase for many months so I got one of the Cosmetic Jar (the nicest of the magnets available).

Strangely the open gift shop (near the exhibition) had stuff from other museums: the British Museum, the Louvre, the V&A, Versailles and the Smithsonian. I asked if they had stuff of their own, and I was pointed to jewelry and told that in the real gift shop open during office hours one could find more of their own merchandise.

Outside the museum, I realised that I had dropped my mini tripod again - I'd dropped it once in KL but MR had pointed that out to me. I think it'd dropped because I'd put it in the wrong way around, with the big side on top rather than at the bottom of the pouch; this mini tripod was slimmer than my other, so it dropped more easily. The security guard at the door did not allow me back in: when I approached the door he asked me what I was doing and when I explained myself he said "no you're not [going in to look for your mini tripod], we're closed", and was not even apologetic or did not even ask me to return the next day.

So I took it to be fate that I lose my mini tripod (I would be out of Melbourne the whole of the next day and fly off the day after). It would've been easy and lazy to blame this on racism, but a more parsimonious explanation would be that he was not a nice person - to Asians or otherwise.

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Royal Exhibition building at night

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"Chai" restaurant: "Eat like Malaysian"
Grammar like Malaysian, at that.

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A plague on your grocery!

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I was told that Manhattan Terrace was a house of ill repute. It was just down from PP's apartment.

Returning to the hotel I discovered that there was Milo in the common dining area (with 2 types of fresh milk in the fridge). Naturally, this was Australian Milo and not that ersatz Malaysian rubbish.

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Australian milo! Lacking the magic ingredient (palm oil). Though the suggestion of using cold milk sucked as it couldn't dissolve the Milo powder.
After drinking Australian Milo I can't go back to Malaysian Shit, as its heaviness is apparent. Why do Singaporeans like it so? It must be a coarse palate. Or being used to it, such that when the palm oil is lacking one actually misses it.

I met an Australian woman who lived somewhere along the Great Ocean Road. Amusingly she asked me if I wanted to live in Australia (I should've referred her to the book "Australia's most deadly and dangerous beasts" which I saw in the tour bust the next day), but somehow we ended up talking about Christianity -_-
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