February 2018
  • Day18

    Give up work pants

    March 5, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We un gracefully disconnected from the matrix. The weather held out as long as it possibly could before the grey drizzle became triumphant. Our fifth visit to Tokyo and miraculously the mystery, intrigue and immense amount of charm are still totally intact. Thank you google translate and thank you Tokyo.Read more

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  • Day11

    Disney

    February 26, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    A pallet cleansing of sorts lead us to Tokyo Disneyland. The crowds were minimal the lines were lines and the bathroom was behind closed doors. ありがとうございました東京.

  • Day9

    5000¥

    February 24, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    Seconds after placing a 5000¥ note in a vending machine and having it rip in two pieces we paused and looked at each other. It was like a perfect scene in a 90s movie that no one wants to watch. Where a series of extreamly poor timed yet hilarious events unfold. And what we had now was two pieces of what amounted to about 50$. If we were home we would go to the bank where they would undoubtably peer at us as if we were trying to pull a fast one and then begrudgingly give us an intact 50 dollar bill. We're not home.
    We entered what we thought was a bank only to leave the proud owners of Japanese car insurance, maybe it will come in handy one day. Second try was in fact a bank and after showing our fractured currency to the teller she nodded and handed us a paper to fill out. Normally filling out paperwork is unpleasant at best, but this time is was a near impossible challenge. The date line was easy enough to figure out, the rest no idea. Luckily the google translate was there to "help". The first line said cowboy mosquitoes. Maybe google translate wasn't going to help after all. With a bit of help from a friendly bank employee we were able to nearly complete the form except for the mosquitoes box. After some back and forth it was determined that we needed to write my name in Japanese. Having no idea how to accomplish this we resorted to google translate. We crossed our fingers and made our attempt. Hoping that google wasn't playing some elaborate trick on us and and we weren't writing mayonnaise baby
    we returned the paper. Miraculously moments later my name was called and an un ripped bill was handed to us via a tiny wire basket. Tokyo where normal errands turn into mini adventures.
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  • Day8

    Tofu?

    February 23, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Having traversed the cavernous hallways and back rooms of many high end hotels one becomes familiar with their inner workings. One unfortunate area of aquantince is the garbage. No matter how upscale the establishment the garbage bins have the distinct honor of housing the worst stench I have even come in contact with. This aroma of hundreds of pounds of decay is extremely unique to say the least and is able to permeate all the senses. Smell is bombarded, the air is thick, tear ducks attempt to cleanse and god forbid if you entered the room with your mouth open.
    While walking the streets of Taipei this sensory bandit reared its unmistakable head. Our pace quickened and eyes widened as the aroma swirled around us attempting to take us prisoner. The smell dissipated and we initially dismissed this as the fragrance of the sewer. That was until we visited the Raohe night market. It was here that the realization hit that not only was the stench not the sewer system but it was in fact a Taiwanese street food called stinky tofu. Calling this stinky was being too kind. Rotting corpse or broken garbage disposal tofu were perhaps more fitting names. The idea that you didn't run away from this but instead put it in your mouth was astonishing. I had to try it. If by chance I ever fell face down in the hotels garbage bins I could survive having consumed its contents. It would be a test of sorts a training exercise. But alas Lina's stomach couldn't take the fragrance and we were forced to make a quick escape. Stinky tofu untested.
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  • Day7

    Welcome to Taipei

    February 22, 2018 in Taiwan ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We again arrived under the cloak of darkness. This time however we were greeted with a veritable light show and extremely vibrant and energetic streets. We navigated the brightly lit sidewalks dodging scooters that seem to materialize out of nowhere. Ducking under awnings that served as cover for various street food vendors and assorted eateries we weaved our way to the hotel. The streets and sidewalks were buzzing with preparations for the lantern festival. What exactly it was celebrating wasn't clear, but what was obvious was the carefree upbeat attitude was everywhere. A pleasant reception. Welcome to TaiwanRead more

  • Day5

    Uptown?

    February 20, 2018 in China ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    The Bel Air Hotel a clear attempt at misleading potential guests into thinking this establishment might have any of the qualities of the up scale Bel Air neighborhood. This miss direction might work if you are under the impression that Bel Air is in Jacksonville Florida and is connected to a 7/11 and a vape shop and has free HBO. These types of obvious attempts at trying to build up a businesses image purely by name alone always evoke a smile out of me. Enter Uptown Records. The record stores in Shanghai seem to be in short supply with only a hand full of hits. While most indicated permanently closed. There was one named Uptown Records, so off we went. Following the directions we arrived at its supposed location with no trace of a record store in site. The block was scoured and still nothing. Just as we were about to write this off as google maps error,we noticed a poorly photo copied black and white paper attached haphazardly to a wall beside a door that looked like the last door you would enter before being murdered in a bad horror film. So in we went. The aroma of the dimly lit hallway matched its decor perfectly. Pipes seeped rust color sludge, assorted dried meats hung beside drying laundry. A staircase was barely visible at the end of the hallway, and as we approached it we could hear a very faint muffled sound of what might be music. It could also be the grinding gears of a killing machine. So we pressed on. Descending the stairs we arrived at a large open steel door that resembled a submarine hatch requiring us to step over its threshold if by chance this door swung shut our fates would definitely be sealed forever. Once inside the hatch a quick left and impossibly there it was a small record store. We entered and were greeted with a nonchalant "hey guys" by the potential owner of the establishment. The causal greeting seemed appropriate had we just stepped off the busy streets of Manhattan, but we had just descended into the bowels of this building like Indiana Jones and the owners lack of shock at seeing other people was quite alarming. We staggered through the shop in shock that such a place in fact existed until we noticed another door in the very back corner. Situated in the furthest corner of this shop stood a wooden door that appeared to have been on the receiving end of a boxing match and hanging in the middle was a sign that read pump hour 11am-1pm.Read more

  • Day4

    The line

    February 19, 2018 in China ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    Arriving in Shanghai was layered with question marks. We only bought our tickets a few days prior and with no visa (which is mandatory) we had hoped we would qualify for the 144 hour free visa. While standing in the customs line we were aware that we might be turned away from entering. But with minimal questioning (less than entering back into the US) we were let through. Now for our true purpose here Shanghai Disneyland. After finding out that it was in fact open for Chinese New Year we quickly found out that it was sold out.
    We then had a one day window before our visa expired to make it into the park. After several failed attempts at securing tickets we found out that an account must be made and a Chinese bank account was necessary. It appeared as though our efforts were in vain. That was until George stepped in. The hotel concierge using his own personal bank card secured us two tickets and armed us with all vital information for our visit.
    We had arrived, and our sixth a final Disneyland park was about to be checked off the list. The entrance was lined with police barricades in long switch back formations that ended in the actual turnstile. This was our first not so subtle bit of foreshadowing. After entering the park and basking in the castle (which is enormous) and the main street area we headed for the Shanghai version of Pirates of the Caribbean. We placed ourselves in line, it was here that we learned that "line" was in fact a relative term and forward moving crowd was more appropriate. If there is a type of line other than single file I'm not aware of it, but here it exists. Any free space beside you on either side would be filled/pushed past. The only exception seemed to be when someone looked up and saw that we were foreigners and a semi wide birth would be given. This was a panic attack on a turbulent plane during a Black Friday sale. Patience was our only tool and it was being used at an alarming rate. Very near the breaking point and after what seemed like an eternity we finally boarded our boat and experienced Pirates. This ride is what I imagine my very first
    ride on the original pirates was like. We glided through wide eyed and in awe the entire time leaving behind the "line" issue and finding ourselves totally immersed in this extremely convincing world. Deciding to eat immediately after our new line understanding was in fact a mistake. I found myself standing in the middle of the food court feeling unplugged from my normal grid and reinstalled backwards in an incompatible configuration like trying to play a VHS tape in a CD player truly chaotic. The remainder of the day was spend walking the park getting familiar with the layout and soaking up its attention to detail. Endured yet another "line" was just to exhausting so as night fell we perused a few gift shops (which also resembled Black Friday) interestingly enough when it came to paying people seemed less eager to push there way to the front of the line. A few metro stops and we were safely back at our hotel greeted by George and just a bit shell shocked from it all. Our sixth and final Disneyland checked off the list.
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  • Day3

    Welcome to Shanghai

    February 18, 2018 in China ⋅ 🌧 6 °C

    The skyline is dark and eerily silent,the streets vacant except for us. In a city full of millions of people it appears as though everyone has vacated and Shanghai is closed. At first it seems like our late night arrival might be to blame for this desertion. But as the sun rose and illuminated the grey blanket the covers the city we soon realized the truth. We had inadvertently arrived in Shanghai smack in the middle of Chinese New Year.Read more

  • Day2

    Before ride car cat banban

    February 17, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Staring at the flashing c:/< prompt on a monochromatic screen attached to what would now appear to be a small microwave, the thought that there had to be an easier way never crossed my mind. It was 87 and the small microwave in question was a cutting edge "portable" computer. The painfully tedious process of getting a game to load up and run properly, seemed neither tedious or painful at the time but rather futuristic and sleek. The fact that the game required 17 separate disks to work just seemed like a fine idea.
    Flash forward 30 some odd years and if by chance I have some issue where I can't triangulate my exact location on the planet while simultaneously listening to music and filming a high definition videos all on my playing card size pocket computer something must be wrong. Some day in the not so distant future even having to pull a device from your pocket to accomplish these tasks will seem inefficient. Flash forward another 30 years and having pockets will even seem to be a bother.
    Today we have pockets and pocket computers and today we have technology that can allow anyone on the planet to communicate in there native language (except for some dialects from Botswana) it is a truly incredible innovation that gets glossed over as normal. By waving our phone over foreign curves and slashes into focus comes familiar letters and numbers. However the side effect that this process unveils is where the true magic lies.
    No matter what ails you if for only a moment a smile and laugh can take it all away. This is where the google translate app truly shines. While I can't confirm that everything we wave our magic wand over is incorrect, I can confirm that it is hilarious. Ingredients on food packaging become bizarre country music lyrics, warning signs turn into quiet optimism. The mystery and questions unanswered lead to more deep pondering. Could riding my bike as a bachelor in the park lead to a box lunch? And why would the park be broadcasting this information?
    Comedy gold is around every corner and the mystery of foreign texts goes deeper than we could ever imagine. Thank you google translate and welcome to Tokyo.
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