Sunday, February 22, 2009

hong kong (about a month overdue)

1 A Day in HK < from mid january>

So I arrived late last night in HK and had a pretty good day. The hostel sucks but other then that things have been going about as well as I could ask for. Last night I arrived at around 10pm and everything at Hong Kong airport was very fast and very efficient- on par with dallas fort worth (which was empty when I xferred from my eze → dfw to dfw → nrt marathon) and the tokyo airport for the best airports i've ever been at. Much much better then Tokyo was the commute from the airport to downtown. Whereas in Tokyo the options are, $300 cab (no joke), a $30 express train that takes 1.5 hrs, switching between an express train and then a local train for about $22 that takes a bit longer then 1.5 hrs or paying $12 and taking 2 hours and taking a local and then a non express train in Hong Kong it was about $13 and took 25 minutes. (I realize that Tokyos got a lot of people and real estate is v. expensive etc. but, I took that journey 5 times over the course of a month)

The hostel sucks. I arrived at around 11pm and the first thing I need to do when entering the building is fill out a piece of paper with my name, nationality, passport # and date of birth. Evidently its to prevent crime or something in the area. I should get a picture of the entrance but everything was boarded down with those metal shutters you see everywhere. Great start. There are people just 'hanging out' in these corridors of closed shops, talking on cell phones or just loitering. Not the kind of place I want to be- although certainly a lot safer then if I were to walk past the same situation in a US city.

Anyways, the upstairs looks like something straight out of a jackie chan movie. You know, the scene where there are like 50 triads chasing after Jackie so he runs through an old decrepit multi story building that also houses illegal immigrants working in a sweat shop and all looking at jackie with sad eyes when he busts in so then he must also protect as he fights improbably with random household appliances against guys on motorcycles with nun chucks. I'll post pictures eventually (I remember that I'm behind on the japan ones and will get to those later as well) but keep in mind that this place sucks. I guess its a decent experience though as on the hostel information sheet it mentions that “more then 70% of hong kong residents live in these types of buildings”

Luckily my hostel is decorated decently on the interior, but I'll be moving out of here after 1 more night. I have definitely seen some evidence that that 70% figure is probably true. There are some very nice parts of Hong Kong (which I've seen a tiny bit of but will see more of later) but one thing I have definitely noticed is that a lot of buildings look “okay” on the outside but once you enter inside they are old, falling apart and not taken care of at all. Its kindof weird, and I don't think I've done a very good job capturing it with my camera ( although thats a difficult task to say the least) but on the street level I don't think I've ever seen as many signs hawking rolex's anywhere else then in Hong Kong, but often you look at that same building, or the one next to it and you see half the apartment units look like the walls are falling apart and have what look to be 20 year old air conditioning units and a bunch of laundry hanging out the window.

Anyways, my main goals for the day were... see a museum, find a new place and do some research on finding a pingpong coach. I did well on both counts. For a new place to stay it seemed that it is impossible (or very very difficult) to find a nice place with a good location for under $100 a night. But I found one for close to $50. Thanks to Noah and Leon, who pointed me to the website I was able to book the ramada (no dad it is not the peninsula hotel) for literally 1/4th its normal fare. Awesome. Unfortunately its prices skyrocket back once Chinese new years starts, but i'll bite the bullet for that 1 or 2 nights and stay somewhere not so nice again.

Re: pingpong, I found a club and will get a lesson tomorrow. Price was a tiny bit more then I would like, but if he's good, and I think he can help me a lot then I'll pressure him for a discount based on me getting a lot of coaching over the next 10-12 days that I am here. I also made a post on a message board about coaching and someone gave me the number of a guy who was on the Hong Kong table tennis team- which basically means he is insanely good ( and he speaks english reasonably well or so i'm told) so I will probably try and explore that option as well. But at my level, given my lack of any playing over the past 4 years, the most important thing will be finding a coach who communicates and meshes with me well.

After pingpong I had a bite to eat, went back to the hostel, took it easy and then headed for the Wednesday night horse race. When I was there I tried to find some white people (there are a lot of them here) to get a drink with and have a good time. Luckily right through the gate I met 2 guys, one whose teaching english, and his cousin who was visiting.

In general I really dislike betting on things that I know I am a dog in. But this was pretty fun. Thanks to the Hong Kong dollar being “weak” (its pegged at 7.8:1), I was able to make bets of 20 HKD which, although being only truly worth about $2.50, felt like a lot more. You get to be really close to the action at this horse track, and another added attraction that makes it really cool is how downtown the track is. Standing by the track you just see big buildings all around you.

The highlight (or lowlight) of the night was when, after a few beers we made one of the cousins pick a horse by randomly pointing at the list with his eyes closed. Of course he picked the horse that had the lowest chance of winning at something stupid, like 50 to 1. The other cousin then goes on some rant about how his friend last time couldn't win anything to save his life and did that (picked with his eyes closed) for his last race and won. So we had to bet on this pathetic horse that had never won anything before. So what the hell- whats $2.50? We all place bets on the horse. The race starts and we don't hear anything about it. Okay whatever. Then about ¼ of the way in, we see it on the screen (we were at track level so we could only see the big screen when they were on the other side) that its in 2nd place. And we are just kindof laughing saying “oh yeah sure it'll burn out, it'll burn out”. Then it jumps into 1st place. But still the race is about a 1/3 of the way done, not even and again, most horses who are in the lead in the beginning lose- they just lose steam being out in front. By about halfway through its fallen back into 2nd and we're there saying oh yeah i'm sure he'll finish last now. But then we keep watching (of course) and he's hanging in there. Seems to be pretty close to the leader. I realize (and say) “oh man jockey is going nuts. The horse in the lead is starting to lose his lead and a new challenger is coming around from the other corner. We're getting excited. “Come on!!!!” we're all screaming. We see them running toward the finish, 3 horses neck and neck. We're screaming “COME ONNNNN”, the guys behind us are screaming something in Chinese and the group of Brits down the track are screaming too. And in an instant its over. We need the replay to confirm it, but we lose by literally 4 inches. What a bummer.

I picked one winning horse, his name was Engineering Wonder. I should've called it a night after that one.

Anyways in other news, I had food poisoning again ( I guess I didn't chronicle it the 1st time it happened- it was right after the Hiroshima post) and both times were very bad- ie, I couldn't take/hold anything down, lot of pain, lot of lying in bed/ talking to my mom asking why me.

/// i should've posted this a while ago and in general im pretty bad about this whole blogging thing. but eh maybe blogging just isn't for me. since hk i went to sydney for 3 days then new zealand for 2 weeks with noah and leon and getting to see a good friend from high school as well. good times all around. then i flew home, spent 3 great days with my parents and now i'm in toronto with kristin- enjoying the chance to see and catch up with a bunch of good friends.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the euphoria machine

hey all-

i'm in a hostel in tokyo with kristin right now. the past week shes been here has been great- we got to see tokyo together and just got back from kyoto. unfortunately, kristins got food poisoning (something i went through right in hiroshima) so we're a bit bummed out she has to go through this and that there is nothing we can do.

I'll post pictures and whatnot later (sorry guys!) i promise.

anyways, on a totally different topic kristin and i went to the mori art museum a while ago and we saw a picture talking about something called the "euphoria machine". we both found it extremely interesting, so i took a picture of the text (when no one was looking) and because i couldn't find it on the internet, i've copied it below:


The Euphoria Machine: Preliminary Reverse Engineering Field Laboratory - Raqs Media Collective tokyo, November 2008

What is the Euphoria Machine?

The Euphoria Machine Project is a recently instigated, but potentially long term Raqs project aimed at an artistic and critical investigation of the way in which the frenzy of economic growth and wealth creation acquires potent and symbolic and cultural forms.

Euphoria Machine is the name we give to the apparatus of desire and cognition that seeks to create a consensus within society for boundless energy and wealth, and effaces all the doubts and dissent about the ways in which this energy and wealth must be acquired.

Today, when there is a general perception of a systemic crisis of the global financial apparatus, fueled by a crisis of sentiment and the inverse of euphoria, a "reverse engineering experiment" on a machine that doesn't quite seem to be working as well as it is supposed to, seems to be timely.

Sometime after the second world war, Edward Louis Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, a key strategist of war-time propaganda campaigns and the intellectual god-father of the advertising and public relations industry, applied a key discovery he had made during the fashioning of the war propaganda to the future success of Capitalism. The discovery was this - in no other war in Human History, had wars been fought in the name of democracy, peace and prosperity. They had been fought for land, for the expansion of a particular dynasty or ruling groups' power, for religious zeal and for other concretely political purposes. The propaganda campaigns of the second world war however, successfully named a different kind of motivation for war - the desire for happiness, peace, prosperity and liberty. The identification of common virtues with the war machine proved to be a very successful motivator.

Once the war ended, Bernays realized that the same process could be replicated in "peacetime" - only this time, people must be made to realize that a contributing their labour to capital, or buying goods that they did not necessarily need (in order to keep the machine of capital running) could be done by identifying these acts with basic human drives for beauty, health, happiness, love, joy and contentment. So, people were told that they could feel a profound happiness, if they bought a shoe, or went to work in a call centre. This was a subtle but significant shift, in that it divorced a good from its function. A shoe, for instance was no longer something that covered and protected your feet, instead, it became a key to your personal well being. A job was no longer something you did to earn a living: it became a mark of your special identity as a human being. The building blocks of Capital were internalized as personal drives.

To us, this marriage between deep seated internal drives and the running of the bast impersonal network of a global economy is the secret of the Euphoria Machine. Is it also the material that fuels the machine. The extraction of this material both requires as well as results in the subordination of the complexity of human life experiences to the needs of capital.

It is a short distance from desiring a thing for the feeling we are told its possession will induce to acquiring stakes in things that do not yet exist simply because we are told that the calculus of prosperity depends on the acquisition and transaction of virtual assets. The current financial crisis emerges from a drive to acquire and transact things that are notional rather than real. Thus we have notional assets, notional debts underwritten by some very real transaction costs involved in the transfer and exchange of notional assets and debts. It is when the real costs overwhelm the notional returns that we experience the opposite of euphoria. Currently, the Euphoria Machine's exhaust only produces despair.

This apparatus - Euphoria Machine - takes (for us) the form of an imaginary machine - a meta machine that works as the conceptual engine of the desire for the perpetual energy and limitless economic growth.

The current hype around the so-called "Indian" economy, both within India, and elsewhere in the world (despite the easy gestures towards "doomsday" in the global economy), is an instance of the working of the Euphoria machine.

At earlier times, the excitement around the post-war economic boom in Japan, or the rise of the "Asian Tiger" economies in the Nineteen Eighties, or the current mania around the Chinese economy, as well as the earlier "boom" periods in transatlantic and western European economies are all instances of the Euphoria Machine at work.

The key product of the Euphoria Machine is processed perception. The perception that all "growth" is wonderful, that happiness can be indexed by GDP, that there is such as thing as an "Indian" Economy, and that this thing known as the "Indian Economy" is booming. Even the idea that there is such a thing known as "Indian" Art, a small but symbolically significant cog in the machine of the Indian Market in niche high value goods is booming. All these are products, and by products of the working of the Euphoria Machine.

The iteration of this Project at the Mori At Museum for the "Chalo! India" Exhibition takes the form of the processional elaboration of the "reverse engineering" of the Euphoria Machine at work. We start with the assumption that we know the machine exists. The projects intent is not to prove or demonstrate its existence. Its proofs are all around us, in plans, projections, advertisements, policy statements, blueprints, balance sheets, reports and so on.

Instead, the project aims to analyze its constituent parts, their operations and their interconnections in such a manner as to show how the "fuel" (human drives and desires) is combusted and how that energy runs the moving parts of the Machine so as to achieve the desired end.


I found this pretty intense. Some random thoughts

>I just finished reading guns, germs and steel and beyond it being excellent at arguing against still prevalent ideas about racial superiority that still transcend our culture it made me realize that societies where people have material possessions have only existed for a short period of time. Prior to this, we were hunter gatherers where all items people owned must be carried etc. Have we humans evolved in the this brief time period? Do we typically only like things when we buy them because hunter gatherers were never able to keep things so they only enjoyed the initial act?

>Is it true that wwII was really only fought for peace, prosperity and democracy like it was said? I find this hard to believe given hitler (and japans) quest for domination that was not unlike that of Napoleon, Charlemagne and other past heads of state. But, I am by no means an expert on this so i'm curious what others say. the ideas of mass marketing to appeal directly to the ideas of love, beauty etc I can imagine reach untold levels in the recent past - but I have a hard time believing they were non existent before

>I need to think about this some more but Kristin and I visited my homestay family for a dinner. And seeing the girls, and how happy they were is/ was amazing. I don't know how to explain it, but these 2 girls play, laugh and have a good time all day long. I think if someone wants to find real happiness they need to observe it in someone else and find out what makes it work for them. because happiness by virtue of consumption doesn't exist (as far as i know).

thats all for now- best wishes for a happy new year in 2009!


Monday, December 22, 2008


hey all,

i am in hiroshima right now and visited the hiroshima war memorial museum today. It was easily the most depressing and intense museum/ place I have ever spent a significant (3 hrs) amount of time in. It was excellent, in the way requiem for a dream was an excellent movie but extremely hard to grasp emotionally.

I should preface a few things when talking about the museum etc. I view it, first and foremost as a reason to promote anti war movements and the destruction of nuclear weapons.

1st, I agree entirely that the atomic bomb was not necessary for the surrender of the japanese. General Douglas MacAurthur (commander of us forces in the pacific) said so himself repeatedly, along with many other members high up. There were ample reasons for the united states to use the bomb, due to their investment and the postwar landscape with russia. How history would be different had we not used the bomb etc we will never know- but in my opinion its not "the point" of this.

I think knowing that brings up the true issue I have with war. Based on what the "japanese" did in china and south east asia (nanking as a great example but certainly not limited to that), i think one could argue that "they didn't deserve pity in war" or that it isn't really the united states job to do what is just and fair.

But on a personal level, people are people. And the truth is the difference between a child or a mother in japan or one from america is not significant. A child in japan is not an evil person any more so then a child born in germany in the late 1930s or 1940s. Heck, the current pope was forced to enlist as one of hitlers youth.

And that to me is what makes war so horrible, and the exhibits this museum had so powerful.

I would rather not go into detail about what i saw in the museum, and I felt it was wrong to take pictures (although I ended up taking one- see below) but I think I should say this: the atomic bomb created a fireball 280m in diameter and 4000 degrees Celsius. The blast of heat itself raised temperatures 2 km away up over 1000 degrees celsius. The city of hiroshima was at the time constructed mainly of wood and at those temperatures wood naturally combusts. Skin chars black. Although many perished instantly, there were countless stories of people who survived the initial blast, spent the rest of the afternoon only to find the burnt remains of loved ones or went home to be with their family only to die within the next day/week or month. I hadn't been that close to tears in a long time and I am 100% certain if I had been with my homestay family- the mother and 2 adorable girls I would've balled my eyes out.

I don't know how future wars can be avoided. Its obvious that countries like the united states that are host to huge corporations that produce weapons of war, there is a vested interest in not bringing peace and having arms races. And I know many conflicts have persisted for 100s and 1000s of years. I will say though that I think/and hope the world works toward a decrease in nationalism. This could/ probably should be an entirely different topic, but I do not feel any closer to a person from Detroit, or California then I do someone from Japan. And I think that if globalization helps people understand that we are not all so different then we can work towards solidarity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Homestay

So its already* been 12 days in the homestay and now I'm back to living out of hostels for the next while. I must say, while I love traveling- I love seeing new things, eating new foods meeting new people getting lost etc.- there is something to be said to not worrying where you are going to sleep at night, to not need to have any security over your belongings etc. In hindsight, instead of a RTW ticket, having just picked 3 places to live for 2-4 months each might've been slightly superior. I think it might just be part of my personality and everyone is probably different on this.

Anyways, living here was great. For the first time in a good 3 months I had home cooked meals. I got to hang out with 2 adorable little girls. I think the experience, when weighed versus living in hostels gave me a very different look at the country/ culture etc. For example, during these 2 weeks I had one drink was at lunch yesterday. I woke up every morning at 7 (at the latest) and went to bed well before midnight each night. Besides putting me in a more natural rhythm then I was in during high school (and something I hope to revert back to when I settle down) this prevented me from seeing much of the youth culture in Japan except for the people I saw on the subway. And I haven't seen the city lights at night.

On the other hand, I know a lot about how Japanese people live in small houses (its not bad at all), what they eat, where they sleep, what they do in their free time. Relationships between kids and the mother (and the father).

I think given that I have the opportunity to experience both the family life and youth culture in Japan I am really glad I went for it.

For those curious about both go and cooking, I have some unfortunate news.

re: go. When I got here I did some internet research for go clubs and came up empty handed. All that i found was someone who wrote an article about a go club here 20 years ago. I emailed a few people and made a craigslist post also asking for a partner and asked the next day when the host family had a gathering of about 8 friends. No one knew anyone who played go. So I gave up.

re: cooking. Every meal (except for noodle dishes at lunch) included a bowl of rice. Breakfast was usually leftovers from dinner the night before - exceptions being
pancakes, eggs or a pan fried fish.

So a typical dinner would be

Miso soup (includes onions, mushrooms, some seaweed)
A stew. includes ground beef, skinned/boiled potatoes, steamed carrots, green onions, radish (i think)
bowl of rice

things to add to the rice. one was small fish called "jacko" (as in wacko jacko)
another was a mixture of ground beef and i think ginger? Although it wasn't very strong tasting so it might've been something else.

In general - for cooking japanese foods i was a little dismayed by the fact that most of their cooking supplies were particular to japan. I will hopefully visit (and document) a trip to a japanese supermarket with kristin but they have a lot of things readily available (fish in particular, but also things like sticky rice and some food on sicks) that I have never seen in north america. I remember kenta complaining about it in uni, but i thought he was just making it up.

anyways, from here a friend of mine is visiting tokyo in transit from la to china for a few days so i look forward to seeing him for the first time in a pretty long time. Our plan for tomorrow morning is to visit the tokyo fish market - which i still haven't gone to, but I think I may end up visiting 3x before leaving this country.

After that I am off to visit Hiroshima, Kobe and Osaka. I'm not going to see Sapporo because its too cold and I am going to hold off seeing Kyoto until Kristin gets here because that was high up on her list.

I want to make another post about some observations about the social culture here and hopefully I get around to it.

To everyone reading- Happy Holidays- enjoy your christmas, hanukkah or solstice and best wishes for the new year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


edit: I know, there are no posts for el calafate/ torres del paine/ iguazu falls/ lima and machu picchu etc. hopefully you aren't holding your breathe for those becaues they probably aren't coming. Except maybe something on Lima/Cusco.

anyways, onwards. I think this blog will take a turn for more of a freestyle writing rather then a honky dory i saw this i saw that type of thing.


Do you remember the first time you went to a big city? By being in a city, I don't mean when you're behind the glass of your parents car the entire time, or on a grade 5 field trip. Or even the city nearest to where you grew up. I mean that first time when you are walking around the streets of a city, in awe of the endless tall buildings, seeing millions of people walk by you each going their own way, doing their own thing, on a whole totally oblivious to you. It probably would help if you were alone at this point.

I think some cities more then others have the ability to put you in your place, to slap you in the face and say- hey there are 6 billion other people out here, I'm sorry but the world doesn't revolve around you. Now get over it and do what you were gonna do already.

I think there are a few cities in the world that do this better then others. In North America, I really think New York City is the most obvious example, but I remember also having the same feeling when I first arrived in Toronto. I never felt that way with Boston, but I think part of this comes from being somewhere new and not having familiarity with it and its people. But, on the other hand- I didn't get that feeling in Buenos Aires, Rome, Paris etc- so it might also require a city with a lot of hustle and bustle.

I really (really) get that feeling here in Tokyo. But its not as cold as New York (figuratively) and its not as cold as Toronto (literally). But its big. It's imposing. I was up in a tall building and looked out and as far as the eye could see i saw buildings. In all 4 directions. I've never seen anything really like it. Most are under 10 stories, so this wasn't new york city where your eye is restricted by all the mammoth buildings next to you.

They have a subway terminal here that I visited the other day (Shinjuku station) that services 3.6 million people a day. Think about how many people that is. How many could you become good friends with? How many would you hate? How many have common interests as you?How many of them will you ever meet? Probably 0. But thats not neccessarily a bad thing. Thats just life.


Okay so beyond all that I'm pretty impressed by Tokyo. I don't really feel “lost in translation” per se, but I have found it sometimes challenging to get from point A to point B or to order something off the menu. BUT- according to Kenta he had trouble using the Tokyo Metro as well so i don't feel so bad. And I think the difficulties is part of why I'm traveling. Iguazu falls, the glaciers of el calafate and machu picchu were quite incredible- but Puerto Iguazu and the town near El Calafate were soulless, and Cusco is but a shell of its former self. Buenos Aires was nice and interesting but I felt disconnected from its true character- I'm not sure why.

Tokyo is tokyo. And like New York you can almost sense that people would identify that they are from Tokyo before they said they were from Japan (something again I think you see in NYC, Toronto). You see more of the trendy but completely impractical outfits worn by the younger crowd here. You see a lot of jeans, leather jackets, colored streaks of hair and ear piercings (on men and women). With the business crowd you see suits for men and dark outfits for the women. The older crowd is a bit more comfortably dressed and quite a few have surgical masks on (for reasons I'm not completely sure, as the air quality here is much, much better then that of Buenos Aires).

Before coming here I heard a lot of things about Tokyo. Daniel told me about how the cab drivers here wear nice white gloves and take their job very seriously. In Anthony Bourdain's Japan episode of “No Reservations” he talks about the attention to detail and how people here believe Perfection is impossible, but its what keeps people working hard every day. In "lost in translation" its portrayed as a society hard to penetrate. And I've also heard many times about how the people here are workaholics- spending hours upon hours in the office but* this is almost more of a cultural phenomenon, as people spend a ton of time in the office, but not the entire time working.

For the former, I definitely see and believe it. Cab drivers in Buenos Aires are part time crooks. They smoke in the cab, they try and take the long way to your destination and if you're drunk and its 5 am they will try and slip you fake money. In North America they are quite often university educated immigrants unable to land a better job. They might take you the long way, but in general they don't try and rip you off- but they certainly aren't too proud of their jobs. I have yet to take a cab here in Tokyo, but I have seen them work and they look about as professional as you can imagine. The cabs are clean, you could say spotless, and spending a few minutes outside a hotel entrance it is quite obvious they take their job very seriously. I've seen train conductors here with the spotless white gloves, standing with perfect posture at the 'helm' of the subway car, leaving their station on the minute. In North America and Buenos Aires, subway cars arrive when they do. Some cities have excellent public transit, others are more suspect. There is no real schedule, although they depart with the notion of arriving at regular intervals. Here, they arrive on the minute. When you enter the subway trains, schedules show at what time you will reach the next station(s). The only other place I've seen public transit like this was in Berlin.

re: lost in translation- i can understand it, this is a society very different and maybe a bit difficult to penetrate. I'll hopefully get around to a blogpost about the homestay I did and my experience with it, but I will say people here are unbelieveably friendly and respectful. And while I think its a vastly different culture, maybe impossible to penetrate 100%, things can be done to mitigate this, and by understanding and accepting that fact you'd be suprised how similar people are.

I think I've done a poor job of explaining what I like/ love about Tokyo and more maybe why I like big cities. I think when you visit Niagara falls or Mount Everest or whatever you go there, you stay in a hotel you look out, you see the falls or the mountain and you go “wow, thats a great mountain. Let me take a picture” and thats that. But in a city, you have some/more freedom to do what you want. To see what there is to see. I spent one whole day walking around Asakuska looking at Buddhist temples and another day getting lost (over and over) near Shinjuku station. Everything and everyone is super foreign to me. Everyone I have asked for help has been very nice and very polite. I've never for one second felt unsafe.

thats all for now

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Well Overdue, an asado and the super classico

So maybe my last post didn't rattle me to get up and post more like I had hoped. Maybe I need to set up a gmail alert to make sure I make posts on a regular basis. Regardless, in the recent past we had an asado on the patio at my place here and I went to the 'super classico'- a heated rivalry between Buenos Aires 2 most famous teams, River Plate and the Boca Jrs.

Boca Jrs is famous for its small, crazy stadium (the bombanero) and having many v. famous argentine soccer players play for its club including Diego Maradonna, whose widely considered the best player of all time. I know in the US most people say Pele was better, but going on that would be like asking someone from Kazakhstan who the best hockey player of all time is (Nik Antropov obv). In reality the main reason why people from the US say Pele is because of his exposure playing in the US but i digress.

Anyways, getting tickets in the first place was a long ordeal based on the stories heard about counterfeits. Luckily I was able to secure a set of 9 tickets via a friend of my ex spanish tutor. We took cabs to the game and the first thing i noticed was that sports stadiums outside of the US aren't "open seating". You either sit in the "home team" section or the "away". This causes a lot more rivarly and hatred between fans. In fact, it seemed like a significant portion of fans from both teams went half to watch the game and half to look at the other fans and scream insults. My personal favorite insult was "suck my d***, you f***** bolivian!" - just because well i'd never insult someone and end it with "you (insert country)", and argentines are notorious of blaming their problems on people from other s. american countries.

To deal with potential riots, the "visitors" section is walled off by having empty sections next to them, and all 3 of those sections (the visitor and neighboring ones) surrounded by metal fences with barbed wire on the top. If that was not enough, a fireman stood on post above/behind the visitors section (to take care of roudy fans or deal with fires started in their section i'm not sure) and riot police guard the inbetween sections. And finally as a procedure at the end, the visitors section leaves the stadium 45 minutes before the home fans do, to prevent any scuffles outside.

There were a lot of fireworks during the game, and people were extremely lively. It was a good game, although the next night i was able to see an champions league game and the level of play was certainly a notch or 2 below. Also, unfortuantely river's team this year is pretty poor so the importance of the game was negated a bit. Anyways, it was a blast and pictures will be up shortly.

A few days after the game we hosted an asado on our deck. It got me back into cooking a bit which was great, and argentina is known for its great meats/ proveletas- so the ingredients for a great day were there. The sun was shining and a mistake that leon and i made in getting milanese steaks (ie thinly sliced) forced us to make skewers which as you'll see in the photos ended up turning out quite alright. It was just a great day to hang out, talk, enjoy the sun and be happy to be in Buenos Aires. We'll def be doing another one in the coming weeks, but i think we'll plan the next one to be in closer to the day our maid comes.

This coming Saturday im going on a trip to see Torres Del Paine and El Calafate. El Calafate is at the site of the Moreno glacier, which is massive and constantly calving. Supposedly the sounds of ice falling off into the ice is just incredible. They have boat trips out to see the glacier, and I can't tell you how excited I am to seeing/ walking on it. After this, Noah and I will be heading to Chile to a trekking park and to see the Torres Del Paine. These mountains are quite famous (and I'll have plently of pictures to share), and are stunning to look at. I love trekking and hope to make it a main part of my further travels, so I'm looking forward to getting out on the right foot (for lack of a better cliche)

anyways, I'll get around to putting pictures up soon. Hope all is well,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ugh I can do better

So i haven't done a very good job with this blog. I haven't been updating it frequently and I haven't been showcasing my amazing writing abilities... okay more then former then the latter but still a problem.

I'm finding a few things. 1st I need to write blog posts about things as soon as they happen as waiting causes a lack of enthusiasm (in this case i think perspective is a bad thing, as i can always give my perspective whether it be a week or a year later) and i want this blog to be full of my raw emotions/reactions to my trip.

2nd. I need to rework some of my trip. I'm rescheduling my flights almost totally from this point on, heading to Japan, then China then SE Asia or India (not sure yet) followed by Australia and New Zealand and then to Europe. I'll update that more once I figure this out myself (biggest Q right now SE Asia or India)

This gives me a few benefits. Given my current commitment to Japan for new years, this makes my trip a bit more 'efficient' and opens the door to seeing Sue (!) in Seoul around Christmas time, which would be great. And 2nd this forces me to travel alone, which I have grown to really like- and need to fully enjoy the places I travel to. and 3rd/Lastly - this lets me reschedule my flights a bit in the sense that I want to visit less places and spend more time there.

I feel like right now i'm in a cusp zone where if i stay somewhere for less then a week i should hostel it up and if i was there for a bit longer (ie 6 weeks+) I should rent an apartment. So I'm thinking I should also improve on coming up with focused goals/ activities to do in different countries. For instance

In Japan- learn to play go (maybe find a school/ tutor - of course i'd try and pick some up in the next month or so), or... learn how to play starcraft 2 like a champ (kidding)

China- Relearn/ get a coach for table tennis. I was pretty good in high school, so it'd be cool to try and get back into it again after so long.

SE Asia- hmmm learn how to cook thai food? Muay Thai (if i just choose to stay in thailand?)

India- uhhh, uhhhhhhhh play cricket? (suggestions needed)

Australia- surf or become the next mick dundee

New Zealand- the great walks of new zealand (obviously)

So in the near future I'm going to plan out 1) My flights and 2) My patagonia trip. I'll def keep updates on those (I hope) and then my next priority is learn some basic Japanese.

I've decided to curtail my spanish lessons/ learning to instead get some basic Japanese down- for this trip it seems to be wiser to learn some key phrases of a bunch of languages then to focus hard on spanish when I may never go to another spanish speaking country on this trip

its 3:30 am now, so thats all for now- but i hope all is well etc