Saturday, December 19, 2009

Me and the Little Bee

Hoi An is little more than Chinese temples and tailor shops. We visited this shop 2 years ago, and as soon as I walked up Bee recognized me, gave me a big hug and asked where Abby was.
Everybody who has been to Hoi An has had clothes made and has their favourite shop. Cloth Shop Nguyen located inside the main tailor market at stall No 1A, is by far my fave. I had other clothes made in other places and none were of the quality that I found here.
The stalls are named and numbered, but all you have to do is look for the shortest girl in the place and you will have found Bee. Her name fits her perfectly because she is always busy and fliting about, finding cloth and helping her many customers.

Viet Pick Up Truck

In Vietnam motor-scooters are used as SUVs, minivans and as pick up trucks.
This is not an uncommon site, in Vietnam, or any where in Asia really.

Hoi An Fresh Beer - Self Portrait

Me drinking "fresh beer" at a river front restaurant in Hoi An, Vietnam. It is blazing hot and quite humid in Hoi An; the fresh beer quite refreshing, and cheaper than water.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Celebrating Football Victory Over Singapore - SEA Games

At home if any country wins any major soccer game, whole areas of the city comes to a standstill. Especially if one of those teams is Italy, Portugal or Brazil. For every round of the Euro or World cups cars drive through the city, flying the winning nation's flag and honking their car horns.
I was in Hoi An a smallish city in southern Vietnam when the national team beat out Singapore in the semi finals the locals went crazy. It was almost like home, except everyone was on motor-scooters.
The final game is tonight versus Malaysia. If they win, I can only imagine that Hanoi will erupt into total pandemonium.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm a walkin' talkin' stereotype.

I ate a few doors down from this BBQ joint. I think I know what this is, but am not totally sure.
I mean we've all heard the urban myth about the teacher on a year long contract who came to Vietnam. She went to what she thought was a pet shop and picked out the cutest puppy she saw there. She handed over the money for her new pet, they picked up the dog, broke it's neck and took it around back to clean for cooking.
I left the image as large as possible so you can be the judge as to what kind of animal this is.

Hoan Kiem - Hanoi

Hoan Kiem is a large lake in the middle of Hanoi's old quarter. In the middle is a Chinese style bridge that takes you to a temple.

Hoan Kiem by day
under Hanoi's perpetually gray sky.

Hoan Kiem by night,
seen from the 2nd floor of a Western coffee shop.

Chiang Mai Graff

Graff is rare in Chiang Mai, other than crappy tags, so here is a few decent things I found.

Chang - The animal not the beer

This elephant gets walked around one of busy non-tourist restaurant strip. For 20B you buy a bag of sugar cane and feed the poor beast. This is the closest I have ever been to an elephant. It's nose is all snotty. I gave him I nice rub on the cheek when I was done, and he gave me a little trumpet.

Gayest. Pants. Ever!

This is why (amongst other reasons) I now call myself a flashpacker and not a backpacker. It is almost as if he wants people to laugh in his face. I mean I did!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Capable Minority

At least in Hong Kong they allow minorities to run business and acknowledge that they are capable people. Much better solution than sectioning them off into ghettos or jails, condemning to the drug trade or landscaping jobs.

Look Both Ways Before You Cross The Street - Pt 2

I posted a video a while back of the traffic in Hanoi. It really must be seen to be believed.
Shops set out little stools where you can sit on the side walk and drink your morning tea or coffee and have a smoke. In fact the sidewalks are little used for actual walking, but rather are used as large motorbike parking lot/cafe.
I filmed this video over my morning coffee (the thick black Vietnamese Style drip coffee) and last Kratak (Indonesian clove cigarette...the two btw are a match made in heaven...if you discount the 10x tar level)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Koh Samui - Mui Bungalows

I hate Koh Samui, hated it 8 years ago and hate it even more now. It is Khao San meets Pattaya (without the pedophilia, just prostitution); basically the only things I hate about Thailand.
That said we found this little piece of paradise on Baan Lamai Beach, called Mui Bungalows and it became the only reason to stay. We hit just before high season so we got a hut away from the beach with A/C, Sat TV and a fridge for 400 B. The night food market was nice too, but everything else sucked, especially the tailors constantly bothering you walking down the street.
A hint to those thinking about having clothes made in Samui. Don't! The quality is shit, and overpriced. Wait for Chiang Mai and do your research. Or better still Vietnam.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prevent Diseased Rodent Nuisances

These signs appear in Hong Kong alley ways. Often these alleyways hide wonderful little noodle stalls, however I had difficulty finding any. The government has recently started a "Clean Up Hong Kong" campaign and it seems many of these noodle stalls were victims of the purge. That said it is also the lead up to the South East Asia Games which are scheduled for the 2nd week of December, so they will likely reappear after the games are over, which is when I will be back through HKG.

Sea Goddess Temple - Kowloon HKG

Sea Goddess Temple Gates
Kowloon Island - Hong Kong

These are the gates to the Sea Goddess temple in Hong Kong. I always pop into temples to the Sea Goddess after my first trip to Georgetown Malaysia.
For a long time now I have planned on getting a large world map based loosely on Lui Gang's 1418 world map. These temples are rich with references for this huge undertaking. The idea is that I would roughly sketch out the whole map, then fill in areas as I visit them.
While the temples in Hong Kong are very much more alive than those in Georgetown, they will not allow photos to be taken of the interiors. Many white tourists seem to totally ignore the signs warning against photos, I think these people are big douche bags, and are why many Asians hate white tourists. That and the whole colonial oppression and introduction to opium addiction thing.

Sea Dragon Relief Detail

Popeye the Cockeyed Sailor Man --Toot Toot!

I think this speaks for itself!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Teaser Video

This is the sound I went to sleep to everynight.

Hang Yao means Long Tail Boat

Long Tails are a great way to island hop. Depending on the size of the boat you can get anything from a lawn-mower engine to a full on diesel truck engine cantilevered with a long drive shaft for the prop. This long tail is the ferry that runs from Koh Chang to Ranong. While most are controlled much like a little Johnson 9.5HP bigger boats get a bus-style steering wheel.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pollution Does't Just Kill Dolphins

It is also the reason there are no more dragons.

San Pan Off The Port Bow

Traditional Chinese junk sailing in Hong Kong Harbour.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Skin Bags

It is difficult to make out, but the sign says "Skin Bag."

Strange Fruits

These citrus fruits have a little "something" extra tucked under the rind.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Self Portait -

I am not much for self portraits, but damn it sometimes I just look so hot.


I have long thought that jeans worn under a skirt or dress is easily the worst fashion advance since people trapped gold fish in platform shoes. Obviously some "Project Runway" fashionista hopeful took the sexiest part of womens' jeans (namely the belt-loops and upper 1/8th of back pockets) and crossed it the height of Urban Outfitters outter wear.

Crap Economy - Part II

Mel's Montreal Diner...We Never Close...
Except when the economy totally collapses and we fail miserably.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hanoi City Map

Just for shits and giggles I have been making google maps of the cities I'll be visiting this time around. The spot that I seem to have the least information about is Ha Noi. There aren't any city guides for Ha Noi, and the only guidebook is Lonely Planet Vietnam, but at least it is sort of current.
I was hoping that people might be able to offer some input for this map.

View Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 2009 in a larger map

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

The afternoon siesta is a Latin institution, for man and beast alike. In Antigua the stray dogs camp out on the sidewalks, in what ever shade they can find.

Havana A Go-Go

Graffiti is rare in Havana, especially in the old quarter.
I snapped this across the street from a government sanctioned art sale.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lonely Streets Of Antigua

I took this photo during one of those rare moments when the streets of Antigua are not full of people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Golden Hand Of Buddha

I have no idea where I took this photo. I think it was in Ayutthaya, but who knows. There are thousands of buddha hands covered in gold leaf all over Thailand.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

T & K

Of all the places I have been and all the photographs I have taken this is by far my fave. As I have said in other posts I have a fascination with photographing Thai monks, and this photo is the source of that sparked it all.
I got dumped from the train in the middle of the night at some mysterious junction. I had no money so even if I had been able to find a guesthouse I would not have been able to pay for a room. I did the only thing I could, and slept on a bench in the station. When I awoke these two smiling faces were watching over me.
I walked around the town looking for a bank machine with no luck. The town was home to several monasteries and as I walked around I watched monks begging for their food. Hungry and broke I returned to my bench for more sleep before my train arrived. When I awoke again the same monks were smiling at me.
T, the older monk, introduced himself and offered me a share of his alms. T explained that he had gone to a monastry in the south to pick up K and bring him to his monastry. K's mother had recently died and his father was an abusive alcoholic.
As we traveled T emptied the bag that contained his morning alms. He would take a small bite then offer me the rest, when I offered it back he refused.
My first trip to South East Asia was rough, and I returned a wasted shell of my former self, and the change was sudden and dramatic, I went from 170ish lbs to under 120 in about a month. A few short days before my return I must have looked like a wasted and broken ghost. Having just met me he worried for my welfare and repeatedly offered me sanctuary at his monastery on Koh Chang.
This candid shot speaks to me on so many levels. The grain of the photo suggests a rugged simplicity, but more than anything are the subjects. This shot to me encapsulates buddhism, K's mischievous but innocent smile in the face of personal suffering, juxatposed against T's contemplative introspection.

Toronto Tornado Storms 2009

The local media outlets really made the most of this storm. For days amateur video and photos replayed on the news.
I took these photos with my cellphone from my apartment. They look west out over Humber Bay.

The Coming Storm

During The Storm 1

During The Storm 2

Sunset After The Storm

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bangkok, Thalland

I am starting to build a map of Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Hanoi. It is sort of a compilation from different sources, in the case of Bangkok from Time Out, Lonely Planet and a little internet research. The other maps will be detailed in their own posts.
I have been to Bangkok enough times, and am tired enough of the Kao San that unless something is of earth shattering interest or super-ultra new Abby and I will limit our visits to those with a practical purpose.
This map is by no means complete so I welcome input and commentary.

View Bangkok Map For 2009 Trip in a larger map

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Parkdale After The Strike

Toronto's garbage strike is but a distant, malodourous memory. I was going through the photos on my phone and came across this one. It is the first recycling pickup after the strike.
For 3 weeks after the strike walking or riding anywhere on Wednesdays (West Toronto's residential garbage/green bin pickup day) was far worse than the strike itself.

Pas De Flanage!

I snapped this sign in a stairwell at Ottawa's famous Byward Market.
A few days earlier I happened to be talking about the word "flanage" and "flaneur" with my father-in-law, I forget the exact context, other than it is an interesting word.
I also have an odd but practical love of signs. Having worked in film art departments reference photos like this come in quite handy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Existential Crisis

A few weeks ago my bicycle suffered a bit of a catastrophic existential crisis. After 12 years of dutiful, thankless service the hub of my rear wheel decided it was fundamentally tired of being, and rather suddenly, it ceased to be. Given the tensions and stresses on this little piece of titanium, it was a bit of an explosive event.

The people at the bike shop were amazed at the failure, and had never seen a wheel break in such a fashion. I kept the broken wheel as a trophy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Everybody Likes A Good Accident

I came across this accident the other day at the corner of Annette St. and Pacific Ave.
The Canada Post truck on its side tried to run the red light.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wat Pra Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

Thai Spirit House

I've Got The Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart

I loved this pop from Malaysia. Not sure if it is still available, the website is defunct.

Sisters are doing it...

for the master race it seems.

I think it used to be called "The Mitford Boutique".

Don Ho meets Broke Back Mountain.

Asia's gayest cowboy.

Nixon Was So Crooked He Had To Screw His Pants On

Much of Laos is littered with unexploded shells and other detritus from the U.S.A.'s illegal bombing campaigns. Many people in Laos collect this evidence of American war crimes to decorate their yards and such. Given that Laos is the most heavily bomb country in the history of the world (in terms of tonnage dropped) there are lots of fences made from weapons casings.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Been Drivin' All Night My Hands Wet On The Wheel

This photo was taken by Abby as we were driving into Mexico City. I look pretty calm and collected because we are miles outside the city. It took several hours and many near misses with VW bugs held together with bondo and duct tape to make it to the airport to drop off our rental car.
For a rental this car performed like a hero, other than its quirky ignition.
We ratbagged this Chevy Neon down the Pacific Coast, across the mountains from Peurto Escondido to Oaxaca, from San Cristobal De Las Casa up a narrow mountain road to the Operations Base of the EZLN, up the Caribbean Coast and back to Mexico City.
If you notice I am wearing Can-Pat Army pants which made me an object of interest for the Mexican State Police and Army. At every road block conversation was polite, and then as soon as my pants were noticed I was asked to step out of the car. It is to the Mexican State Police and Army that I owe my relatively firm grasp on Latin American Spanish.
Latin cops and border guards have an odd fascination with chickens. Leaving more than one town we were asked if we were transporting chickens. Crossing the border from Honduras to Guatemala there is a huge sign in English that informs travelers that it is illegal to transport eggs from Honduras to Guatemala. The sign is very specific about eggs, there is no mention of actual chickens.

More Buddhist Monks

Another Buddhist monk photo.
I think this was taken at Wat Doi Suthep just north of Chiang Mai, but am not totally sure. The sign on the collection box says "watpharthatdoisuther" which I think translates to Wat Pra Doi Suthep.