Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A plane, a bus, a ferry, a boat, a little bit of walking and a lot of motivation

Looking forward to our long stay in Thailand as it seems to be a really unique land with the culture to match.  Its also terribly cheap which is an adorable little quality for a country to have when you are a traveler without a job.  But there is a special excitement in the amongst us for our stay on Koh Phangan out in the Thai sea. Its a long trek to get out to this little rock and it all begins with a flight to a southern province of Thailand called Surat Thani and rolls into a tangled mess of buses, ferries, and Thai long-tail boats but ends with us setting foot on a warm sandy beach of a coastline of only palm and coconut trees completely unobstructed by modern architecture with the exception of only the occasional hammock between those trees swaying in the breeze. 

The official Bangkok welcome catfish

Rolling into our pad for the next two days in Bangkok we see we have a beautiful view of a nice little canal and a temple just beyond.  My eye becomes immediately fixed upon what appear to be some strange creatures stirring below the surface of that questionably tainted water.  I run down the stairs and find a thrashing cauldron of catfish 25lb+.  Catfish in these densities and of this size immediately trigger for an angler such as myself the question... 'to noodle' or 'not to noodle'. Ohhhh boy, this is a rare and great opportunity for an adventurous angler unexperienced with the ways of the deep south US and their catfish heritage.  Perhaps if I had knocked down a few Singhas earlier I may have been sufficiently lubricated to try and tackle such a mission.  Fortunately the fear of one of these monsters getting the better of me and dragging me into his turf to get throttled amongst the mass of writhing fish deterred me... just for now.  But the fish must sleep too...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yakiniku: more gratuitous meat grilling for your pleasure

Using what may be the most fantastical dinner table ever invented, Japanese Yakiniku involves cooking various kinds of beef, steak, chicken, and veggies on an open fire pit and grill built directly into the dinner table and flush with the dinning surface.  Genius strikes a gain here folks, the Japanese know how to do some grilling.  Why have I never even had this as an option on my dinning furniture?  You would be hard pressed to find a man that would turn down the option of an open fire pit in his dinning room table... sounds like another opportunity for vast wealth and riches.

FYI - The Yakiniku is hands down amazing.  If you can find it get it.  I would use it as a marinade on steaks, probably letting them soak for just a few hours.  I personally do not prefer the many teriyaki steak marinades, but yakiniku on the other hand is a whole different ball of meat.

Goodbye land of the rising sun

Just posted a few photos to evanRphotography.com... need to work on many others taken in Japan before posting more.  Unfortunately just realizing exactly how poor the light was while traveling much of the country, which made for some real subpar images.

Off to Bangkok first thing in the morning.  Goodbye land of the rising sun...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A series of tubes

Life is complicated.  Routing your city with two overlapping subway grids makes it even more complicated. Way to go Tokyo.

Some leftovers

A few photos I have yet to post, including some of thirty foot high giants of the scale that could battle Mothra...

Visual stimulation

Tokyo can be characterized by many things, but most notably its visual stimulation.  Bright lights, bold colors, large signs, futuristic logos, and amazingly beautiful writing (kanji) combined with an endemic order and continuos motion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nobody sleeps like the Japanese

In general the Japanese seem to be a very pleasant people... industrious, orderly, and conservative.  However, it appears to be common to fall asleep wherever and whenever the mood may strike.  Maybe this characteristic is a function of the exhausting hours people work or perhaps due to a penchant for large bottles of cheap rice wine.  Probably also a reason for the many hostess bars, french maid cafes, love hotels, and fantasy lounges must, for what I can only imagine as a means of release from the strict and rigorous daily grind in this country.

Tokyo Sparrows v Yokohama Baystars

Some observations made while attending a Japanese baseball game:
   1. Seating in the stadium based on team allegiance is strictly enforced.
   2. The home team has just as many vendor stalls devoted to the opposing teams gear as it does its own.
   3. There were 26, yes 26, home-run spotters in the outfield stands that spot incoming balls and blow whistles and wave red flags to alert the crowd to get out of the way.
   4. Baseball fans avoid catching baseballs as if they were contaminated with H1N1.  Just as Americans dive for that home-run ball, it is not a surprise to see a Japanese dive under their seat to avoid a ball.
   5. You must root and sing for your team on for the entire half of the inning in which your team is batting. No exceptions and the Japanese are more than willing to teach a Westerner the fight song so they can keep up.  This is by far the loudest and most vocal display I have seen while in Japan.
   6. The stadium fills up from the outfield forward... the most unpopular seats are those near home plate.
   7. Forget the cans, the Japanese beer girl carries an entire keg on her back and can dispense drafts to an entire clan in seconds flat.
   8. Don't eat the meat on a stick at a baseball game. While typically an advisable option everywhere else in life... stick to the miso hot dogs at the ball game.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another day another temple... now with deer

Today we stomped Nara... except these temples are inhabited by a kind of friendly deer that follow you around the city... and try and eat your shirt and steal your papers when you are not watching.  Also home to the largest buddha statue residing in what may be the largest wooden structure. Tonight back to Tokyo and exploring some more of new Japan.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kyoto temple kick

We are on a shrine and temple tear through the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto,... including Ryoanji, Rokuon-ji, Kiyomizudera temples, and more. Kyoto remains home to much of old Japan since it was one of the only centers to avoid bombing during the second world war. Really neat stuff but the weather was is still not cooperating.

Japan tour


What a genius idea... a meat cook-out on your own dinner table. Someone deserves a medal. Fresh vegetables are boiled up in a large bowl to create a tasty bath for cooking beef. A grill under the bowl is used simultaneously for browning all sorts of delicious items such as steak, duck, chicken, pork, and more veggies. But the sweet, salty, and savory dipping sauces a-plenty are the real mark of a culinary adventure. Someone should popularize this stateside, they will make millions... hibachi ain't got nothing on this.

A maze of tunnels

Making our way back toward Tokyo we are setting up for the night in Osaka, JP's third largest city.  Its amazing how many enormous metropolises exist in such a short proximity of each other along this southern coast of Japan.  Each having an expansive maze of tunnels and train lines which puts NYC's underground to shame.

Himenji castle on a bullet

After crashing a night in Tokyo we headed west on a Shinkansen bullet train and ended up in Himenji. Despite a bit of rain we stormed Himenji castle, the oldest unrestored woden castle in Japan, standing since 1609.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And we are off

Finally on the road after all of the planning, questions, and dreams.  En-route to the land of the rising sun.  We will see what adventures await us.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Last American Meal

Why not sample some fine American cuisine just before traveling abroad extensively and being divorced from artery clogging high fat American fine dinning. Down a highway, across a bridge, and over a river we found flavor country in an grease stained brown bag... a tasty little temptress, the Five Guys double bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions and fried peppers, and crispy jalapenos for some, awaited. Cheese overfloweth, ground beef so tasty, and peppers and onions peeking out from underneath the bun just to say a quick inviting 'hey there big boy'.  So good, yet so so naughty, I will miss you America.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Party On

Thanks from Teya and I to everyone who came out to celebrate our last days in Hoboken until the wee hours of the morning.  It was great to get all of our friends under one roof for some good times.  It was a blast and begs the question why the hell did we not have more house parties... giddy-up.