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Vienna Sewers with the Third Man - This One's a Stinker!

Very much like I bumped into the Polanski film Cul-de-sac's tv-cast, and ended up visiting the filming locations later, I happened to watch Carol Reed's great classic The Third Man and had to Google right away the whereabouts of the shooting locations. Indeed, there are at least an organised walking tour, a museum dedicated entirely to the Third Man movie, and a tour in the sewers. Sewers! I had been in Vienna couple of times earlier, but it never occurred me you can actually enter the sewage system and experience the real deal yourself. The sewer walking tours are operated by the Vienna sewage system maintenance guys themselves, so in addition to witnessing some authentic Third Man locations, you'll get to learn about the history and the present of the Viennese waste water system and witness the actual movements of bowel movements...

In the movie the water was flooding over that wall.
The sewers entrance was at the very same spot where Orson Welles' character Harry Lime escaped his pursuers. The building in the background was easily recognisable from the film, and especially the underground entrance with it's peculiar opening splitting in triangular parts and the underground spiral stairway were really familiar looking. Next to the entrance there was a giant red concrete sculpture depicting a sewer system manhole grating, a shape which serves as a mutual symbol for different Third Man attractions in Vienna the two other of which are a walking tour and a museum.

Before entering the sewers the guide handed out helmets for everyone and down we went. Quite soon it became also nasally quite obvious that we were indeed in a sewage system. The tour included four or five stops where the guide told us about the sewer system operation and some of them were easily recognised as actual filming spots from the movie. On couple of these undeground locations there were nice multivision slideshow montages projected creatively using the sewer architecture as screen. In the slowly flowing channels the waste of  Vienna was drifting with all imaginable human bodily secretions.

Back on the ground we gave back the helmets. The disinfectant liquid that was put available for the visitors was really popular.


Pop Rice Vietnamese Style

The Singing Cock
At Mekong delta there are many places where local people show tourists how to make pop rice Vietnamese style. Basically the idea is the same as in making pop corn, but a rice grain has to have certain amount of moisture in it to be popped. I would also assume that the grain has to have its shell to be able to pop, so if you're going to try it at home, make sure to use unmilled rice. What makes the rice popping special in a village at Mekong delta is the use of heated black sand in the process. The rice is poured in a large hot pan with sand already in it, and it is vigorously stirred until the rice starts to pop. Then the contents of the pan is sifted so that popped rice remains in the sieve and the sand goes back in the pan. The popping itself takes no more than 20-30 seconds. The taste is somewhat close to pop corn, still different. Apparently there is no oil used in Vietnamese style, at least where we witnessed rice popping, so snack-wise pop rice isn't very unhealthy.

The following video shows the popping part. There was a hennery nearby, and the cock was constantly singing every few minutes. Apparently it somehow got on my two-year-old son's nerves, since he started imitate the cock-a-doodle-doo song every time the cock sung. You can hear both the cock and my son singing during the first seconds of the video clip.


The Mummified Monk of Samui

The shrine
Koh Samui's top attraction? Easy: the mummified body of Loung Por Daeng (aka Phra Khru Samathakittikhun aka Dang Piyasilo), a Buddhist monk, who predicted his own death, which occurred at 1973. He died while meditating at the age of 79. The body didn't decompose normally, but was rather mummified probably by dehydrating very quickly. After decades he still is in amazingly good shape. At least for a dead guy, that is.

He left his disciples instructions to place his body in the temple of Wat Kunaram in an upright cross-legged position 'to aspire the future generations to follow the Buddhist teachings and be saved from suffering'. The story doesn't tell if it was also his instructions to have those nifty Ray-Bans, but they were said to be placed on the remains of his nose, because his sunken eyes started to look ghastly. To be honest, the result - a shades-wearing mummy monk sitting in a glass casket (like Rascar Capac in a Tintin comic!) - is still a tad appalling.

Loung Por Daen
I'm not sure if he was still alive when this photo was taken.