Thursday, November 25, 2010

'Else' by Built to Spill is playing on the hostel bar's stereo right now. One of my favorite songs ever.

This thing was pure evil. The monkey, not his monkey.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Phnom Penh Tragedy

Yesterday some 348 or so people were crushed or electrocuted to death on a bridge during the water festival. It's all over the international news and I was about a mile away when it happened.

I was in a massive crowd for about 20 minutes around 7:30 PM. It was chaos - I couldn't really move, people were pushing me from behind - a lot like what happened on the bridge 3 hours later. But of course nowhere near as bad. I still had some anxiety at times because there really was no control over anything.

The King (I think that is the head of state) is saying this is the worst tragedy since Pol Pot's regime... which I witnessed today at both Tuol Sleng (S-21) Prison and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek.

Messed up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Phnom Penh

I'm trying to add pictures to this post the but internet is so slow here I can't even get one uploaded (oh, just got one). The door to my hotel room the first night here opened up into the middle of a cafe/reception area. The driving is back to Chinese intensity after a (sort of) small reprieve in Thailand. But it is awesome.

I stayed in Thailand a few extra days to see an incredible festival - it's three days long and I was there for Day 1. I showed up in Cambodia to find that they have almost the same festival here - also three days long, so I just experienced the final two. Out of control. Tonight I saw the greatest
fireworks display in my life and ate a bunch of street food (but not the bugs... or spiders... or snake on a stick you see in the photo above).

So in other words I lucked out big time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I don't have a whole lot of the trip left. Less than three weeks. Honestly, I don't mind the thought of coming back at all. As fun as this all is I realize I just kind of hit the pause button on life. I miss a lot of the people and things I have back home. The only thing I don't miss is work.

Pai is a tiny town in the extreme Northwest of Thailand. I took a scooter out into the countryside today and it has to be one of the most fun things I've done on the trip. Everything was beautiful. It made the 2.5 hour trip winding up and down mountains worth it, even though I was a little hungover and only got 4 hours sleep.

Oh yeah, last night in Chiang Mai was great too. I took an all day Thai cooking class and became friends with the instructor's son. He picked me up on his motorcycle (a real one, not a scooter) and took me out to local bars. It was awesome, miles better than all the tourist bars I see lining the streets on the walk from my guesthouse to the night market, full of 50 year old men and 20 year old Thai girls. Do the math.

Anyhow, at one point I took a sip of Chang beer and turned my head to see the eye of a baby elephant looking back at me. A guy was leading it around, looking for money to feed the elephant with. This on a packed street of open-air bars. No one batted an eyelash, except me.

I'm back in Chiang Mai tomorrow for the lantern festival, then it's back to Cambodia.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ko Samui

I already mentioned how my Dad and I made a snap decision to go to Ko Samui (island in the south of Thailand) this past Wednesday. What we didn't realize - as we flew through massive storm clouds on our approach - was that this is monsoon season for Southern Thailand. Whoops. Whole streets were flooded, the beach at our resort (yeah we stayed at a resort, deal with it) had been washed away, bungalows on the property next to our had collapsed into the sea... so, great job.

But 36 hours later it was an island paradise. Granted, a soggy island paradise teeming with mosquitoes, but a paradise nonetheless. We hit the beach (not at our resort), played pool at what may have been a front for a brothel (then again what isn't in Thailand?), rented motorcycl... motor scooters, got lost three times trying to find a 'view point' that may or may not exist and did some champion bargaining.

And I got sick too. Probably from the whole red snapper (very tasty variety...) I ate for dinner.

But it was awesome.


I'm back in Bangkok. My Dad flew out early this morning so I'm on my own again. I was supposed to take off for Chiang Mai tonight, but yesterday at the train station I learned all seats were booked, and I just snagged one of the last ones for tomorrow night.

It ended up being a good thing - I moved into a cool new guesthouse in a completely different part of the town and got to see new things... and then just now I randomly stumbled onto a huge street festival with some of the most insane acrobatics in the history of acrobats. It was the coolest and I would have missed out had I left today. Problem is I can't figure out what the festival was for. I asked a few people and while they could tell me the name in Thai they couldn't explain what it was in English. My guesthouse manager (100% ladyboy) conveyed that it's a religious thing for a god, not a holiday. But I need to know for sure.

I was really sick a couple days ago. I'm in Thailand so you know what that means... no not VD jackass. A little too much street food. Probably too much Chang beer too. I'm convinced Chang is the Modelo of Thailand. I love it.

I don't have an accurate count for various reasons, but I've taken well over 2500 pictures and video so far. That means I spend a lot of time transferring, uploading and organizing pictures. Which is what I'm doing tonight as I recover.

I don't have a whole lot of time left. Well under a month. I don't know where I'll be after Chiang Mai. Maybe Laos, maybe Vietnam or Cambodia. I might go back to China early before catching my flight home from Shanghai. We shall see. That's half the fun.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


One week ago I woke up on a night bus from Yangshuo, China to Hong Kong. Since then I flew from Hong Kong to Bangkok; Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia; Siem Reap to Bangkok and then onward to Ko Samui, where I am now. Insane.

My Dad has been with me this whole week (well since Hong Kong) and before meeting me he flew from Ohio - LA - Beijing - Hong Kong.

In three days I'll be back in Bangkok (for the third time) before taking a train onward to Chiang Mai.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The good thing about traveling with my Dad is that he flies by the seat of his pants. I didn't know where I would be tonight just 18 hours ago - now I'm about to hop on a couple flights to a Thai island for three days. Hilarious.

Spent only a couple days in Bangkok but I will be back there a couple more times on this trip, just as I'm in Cambodia (Siem Reap) right now and will be coming back to this country in a few weeks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Only a Month Behind...

So I'll just talk about today. I'm in Bangkok now and my Dad is with me. We saw a couple temples and a palace today, so we're gonna balance the culture out by seeing Thai boxing tonight. I'm keeping a daily journal, plus working on videos, so that's why I'm so far behind. But I have virtually no plans for the next three or four weeks so I'm hoping to catch up on a lot of work in some cheap Cambodian and Vietnamese towns.

I was excited for Thai food and it has not disappointed. Super hot and super good. This is the Mexico of Asia.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's November 4th, so here is another video

This is HuangShan Mountain, the coolest place I have ever seen:

Shanghai :: Metric - I'm Alive

I am in Hong Kong and a new video is done:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tokyo, Day 3


Hard to believe this all happened so long ago. Well I guess it's only been three weeks, but it feels like 3 months.

We started the day intending to head out somewhere relatively close for a few hours, then regroup at the hostel and figure out a plan for the evening (not to mention find a place to stay in Kyoto, the next stop after Tokyo). We walked down to the train station and got coffees at mcdonalds while we did some more planning.

First up was lunch, and I was pumped to finally eat at a MOS Burger, a place I had heard about that sounds like the In-n-Out of Japan. We ate at the one we saw the day before in Akihabara. They were small burgers but they were good (not at good as in-n-out though), and I had another melon soda. Those things are genius.

Made a snap decision and decided to just metro over to the west instead of going back home. We visited Roppongi Hills, a mega-entertainment and luxury living complex in the heart of what used to be one of the seediest parts of town. The Mori Art Museum is at the top of the tallest building in Roppongi and we paid about $17 to ride to the top and check it out.

The views from the observation floor were rad. We could see all parts of the city, many of which we hadn't been to yet. It was just city all around, like a carpet of buildings. We found the best way to spend $5 and got a great picture from a photo booth. I noticed they were selling Holga cameras in the art museum store. Interesting.

The museum was pretty cool too, especially one installation where you walked 'underground' and then stuck your head up through holes to see trees and landscape 'above ground'. Everything was in white. It was cool, but later my camera somehow corrupted the pictures and video from the best exhibit. Thanks panasonic.

Walked around a bit after that but it was all malls and expensive shops. So we said screw it and went to Ebisu, a supposedly more hip and cool area. And most importantly - the Yebisu Beer Museum.

The museum is a poor excuse to have a bar, but the bar is pretty great. You can get snacks and try all four of Yebisu's brews - the regular lager, the BLACK, the amber ale and the stout. We ended up trying all four. The Black was hands down our favorite, followed by the amber. These were really standout beers that had been freshly brewed on the premises and the prices were totally reasonable. Wish I could use them in an upcoming beer tasting.

The sun had set and so we trained to Shibuya, the mega shopping and pedestrian area. 'The crossing', maybe the busiest intersection in the world, was pretty cool. So was the two story Starbucks. I think Jacquie was in heaven.

We checked out a Tower Records (they still have those?) in hopes of finding some band fliers so we could see a show. No dice. They don't really have places like Spaceland in Japan.

Jumped on the subway yet again and went to a district on the outskirts of town called Shimo-Kitazawa on the most packed subway care yet. We weren't sure how to get out. Jacquie had read that the town was a more bohemian place and we hoped it might be as cool as our little neighborhood in LA. It did not disappoint. After taking a wrong turn out of the station (a thrice-daily habit for us... I mean me), we found the really cool area stuffed with nice little boutiques and restaurants. Took a couple laps to pick out an appropriately 'cute' restaurant bedecked in Halloween decorations. Have I mentioned how nuts the Japanese are for Halloween? I think I did. They'll do anything if it makes money.

My Indonesian friend rice was solid and my peach (!) beer was surprisingly good too. There was real peach mashed at the bottom. And Jacquie's amaretto ginger ale was pue genius. The ginger ale is better than what we have in the US too, and you can even get it with wasabi if you want.

Had dessert at a place unfortunately named Moco. I finally got something I had been waiting to try - a melon float. Let me tell you something. Go eat a melon float. My god those things are pure candyland.

It was a long train ride home that night. We were dead tired but couldn't believe how much we had done, and couldn't believe it was only our third day in Japan.

I'd love to have photos along with these posts but I'm still behind the Great Ass of China and can only access blogger via a proxy I recently discovered. I'll try to pimp these out when I'm in the free world again.