Justin.Lina M

Joined January 2018
  • 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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  • Day6

    36000'

    January 13, 2018, Labrador Sea ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    36000 ft in the sky ,7 hours from London and a million miles from nowhere. Staring into the frozen ocean where no one will ever go. The cracks spread out in every direction like travel less highways. Inspiring and terrifying all at the same time. Soaring above this alien landscape should be reserved for sci-fi movies but here today I can sit comfortably (three seats all to my self) from a aluminum tube with a small porthole to view it all, very strange. Multiple visits to Lina's new favorite cake shop and to many records later we're on our way home.Read more

  • Day4

    Rule 7.6

    January 11, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Throughout our travels we've established a few rules we try to stick closely to. Today we've added a new edition to that very list. While booking accommodations in a new area besides looking at photos and reading reviews it's not always easy to get a sense of what the surrounding neighborhood is like. In order to remedy this we've establish rule number 7.6 the Whole Foods rule. We let the organic market do the research for us. If they've taken up residency in the area it's mostly safe to assume that the neighborhood is either up and coming or its already arrived. If organic snacks, vegan cafes and designer pastries isn't your speed and you prefer to stay in a more adventurous area feel free to see rule number 9.6 the pawn shop rule.Read more

  • Day3

    The test

    January 10, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Normally as a rule we don't split up. With no way to communicate, going our separate ways could be a recipe for disaster. Although it should be noted that plenty of people pre cell phone has successfully navigated the city and rendezvoused with friends without a digital companion to assist them. We decided to give it a try as a test of sorts an exercise in pre 2000s living. Several rules were put in place, we will meet here at this time. If by chance one of us didn't show up protocol 2 would be put in place which was turn on cell phones. If scenario 3.4 happened (which was if one of us were to meet Huge Grant we would enact procedure 7 and so on and so forth. So there I sat as the metro whisked me away from Lina at a random station in a foreign city hoping that we had covers all our bases. Clutching my map I headed out to East Finchley to a record store that was having an annually half off sale hopping to get there a bit before opening for my best chance. As I approached the store about 40 other people had decided to arrive before me. And now we had all decide to stuff our jacket clad bodies into an area that was much to small for so many patrons. This was Tokyo metro at rush hour mixed with Black Friday with a sprinkle of championship parade hysteria for good measure. Squeezing my way through the crowd
    I managed to grab a few things as I floated by and then found myself in the queue to pay. After payment I was again whisked away and found myself outside the shop. It was then that I realized that our meet up time had come and gone. A small panic set in as I went through the mental role call of procedures to find the chink in our armor. I had thought we had done everything right. Had the Huge Grant clause been enacted? Had Lina been given access to the royal palace? These were the only scenarios that seemed plausible. Just then as I was about to return to the 2000s and turn my phone on I saw her walking up from across the road. Our test was a success.
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  • Day2

    Portholes

    January 9, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    The sun has disappeared. In its place an impossibly thick wool blanket of grey lays just out of arms reach. We spent the late morning walking around the shoreditch area of London. Upon exhausting the areas offerings we set out to a new location via a few shoreditch back streets. It was on these streets that we stumbled upon what Lina proclaimed to be the best thing she had seen yet. Hidden in plain sight down a semi steep set of stairs below a small shop was an even smaller quaint kitchen. This miniature cafe seemed to be frozen it time and it wasn't hard to imagine an elderly English woman warming up tea and biscuits while baking Lemmon drizzel cake and tarts and bottling homemade jam. We soaked up the ambience while Lina sipped on a mint tea and daydreamed about the English countryside. After finishing up and ascended the stairs back into shoreditch and it's hustle and bustle we half expected the inter dimensional portal we just traveled through to swirl around and close up forever with an electrified crackle closing off the quaint English countryside for good. No electricity no snap or crackle just a door in a row of doors on a row of buildings, maybe all these doors hold some kind of mysteries.Read more

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