Bustin' A Fat Chill [UAE, Sri Lanka, Kuala Lumpur - December 2012/January 2013] / by a zugunruhe

This was supposed to cover my time in the UAE, with Ruwan and Tuyen in Sri Lanka, and with Aaron and Jessica in Kuala Lumpur. Instead it chronicles the growth of my head and facial hair.

In the near month I spent abroad, I drove around most of UAE while sleeping in my rental car, decided to grow a beard on top of a mountain in Sri Lanka, and had fish eat my feet in Malaysia after eating the best naan I've ever had.

This is video also received a bit of praise from Parts and Labor as well as Chris Weingarten (who recorded a most excellent drum track for this song). Even though it was just a quick mention on Twitter, it gave me an ungodly amount of excitement.

The Trip


I only had a day and a half in Abu Dhabi and I spent nearly all day at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This mosque took nearly three decades to complete because the entire complex is made with materials from all over the world. It is the most ornate anything I've seen in my life. 

To my knowledge, there are only a few mosques open up to the general public in the UAE. Keeping in mind that these are still functioning religious facilities, they close down completely to non-muslims for a brief period to allow people to come in and attend services. While waiting outside for my chance to come back in, a prayer was broadcast on the loudspeakers.

One thing to mention about the layout of mosques in Abu Dhabi is that each mosque is linked together, meaning that every prayer and prayer call is transmitted to each mosque from the Grand Mosque where it is then broadcasted from the individual buildings. That is why in this recording you hear a slight reverb in the prayer. The echo you hear is more of a delay effect caused by every other mosque in the region playing the same sound but with a slight lag rather than the sound merely bouncing around (as the island Abu Dhabi is on is quite flat and the mosque isn't near many tall structures). This is much different in Dubai where the mosques are more independent and will have their own prayers competing for airspace. 

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, I parted ways with Ruwan and Tuyen to board a train to Sri Pada/Adam's Peak. Along the way, I accidentally boarded a 3rd class car instead of a 2nd class. Here I learned about the intricacies of train toilets first hand as I urinated directly on the tracks though a hole in the floor.

Sri Pada is a peak in the hill country of Sri Lanka. The story behind it (from the Buddhist perspective) is that this is where Buddha stepped down from the heavens. For Hindus this is Siva, for Muslims is is Muhammad, and for Christians it is Adam (hence its other name, Adam's Peak). At the top is a monastery that houses a large imprint of a foot and cared for by a host of monks.

The climbing season for Sri Pada is late December through March. Other parts of the year the path isn't lit and the weather can make it unsafe. It is customary to climb the peak at night and arrive at the top a little before sunrise. To do this, you begin at the bottom of 5,200 steps at 2 am and climb straight up. Luckily, I had made friends the night before while we were all getting hustled by a 15 year old girl and we all climbed together.

We arrived at the top around forty-five minutes before sunrise. As is customary, we rang the bell to signal how many times we had climbed the peak and removed our shoes to visit the footprint. We quickly put our shoes on as well as the other articles of clothing when had removed on the climb. The body heat we had accumulated on the steps had quickly dissipated in the early morning mountain air.

As the sun started to rise, a group of monks started to play drums which brought an incredible feel to the atmosphere. Looking out, as the morning lights started illuminating everything below, you start to see seas of clouds with islands of smaller mountain tops peaking out. It was a truly surreal experience.

It was at this moment that I decided to grow a beard.

Mostly because I had left my shaving equipment with Ruwan and Tuyen.




0:01 - 4:11 - everything



2:38 - Touching the shark at Dubai Aquarium




2:46 - Train ride to Hatton 



3:13 - The view from Jabet Hafeet at Sunset



3:34 - Worlds End cover-up



The Video

Probably my favorite video in terms of how everything came together and fit to the song. I consider Fractured Skies my favorite song and, like the North Korea video, I wanted to make sure this video did the song and subject matter justice.

The "Les Dudis" Intro was a ton of fun to shoot. Mostly because I would just drop my camera down in random places and people would stare at me (The same goes for the location-on-knuckles-and-little-hand-dance thing). For this version, I had the time to re-edit the cuts so that they synced to Chris Weingarten insane drum track a bit more. I love how it acts as a visual overture for the video.

I made sure to get plenty of slow pans to fill out the horn section at the end and did my best to shoot unique occurrences in each country. From the open door train cars in Sri Lanka, to catching the light bleeding into Batu Caves at the perfect time of day, or flying over Dubai and getting an ariel view of the ridiculous sight there. 


The Music