Asia Tour 2007: Part 3 Shanghai


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Having celebrated my 38th birthday in Macau, I was now set to embark on the next leg of my journey: a train trip from Hong Kong to Shanghai.  I bundled all my books and clothes into my travel suitcase and backpack and took the bus down from the peak where my hostel was. As the driver swayed and swerved down the mountain road, I blasted NIN, Too Short, and Timbaland on my iPod, watching the fauna zip by the window. Soon enough I was unceremoniously dumped off at the Sai Ying Pun MTR station. 

As I took the MTR to the train station, I pondered when I would really know that I had left “The Pearl of the Orient” and arrived in “The Middle Kingdom”. As it turned out I didn’t have long to wait. As soon as I had turned over my train ticket at the gate and taken the elevators down to the train platform I came upon a large scrum of people, looking like something out of Night of the Living Dead, jammed at the doors to the train carriages. 

I caught the attention of a train clerk and in fumbling Mandarin asked where my train car was and then, even more boldly, ordered a bottle of water delivered to my car and berth, “Car 4 berth 3.” An hour later I asked another clerk when I would be getting my bottle of water. I then learned that my bottle had been delivered to Car 3 berth 4. 


After that inauspicious introduction I found my next week in Shanghai to be packed, pulsing, polluted, phosphorescent. From the bright and shiny exterior of Pudong to the teeming subways and chaotic roads, it was hard to find a quiet moment in the city. Everything screamed for your attention: the bright lights of the buildings and malls at night, the hucksters and touts yelling out as you walked by, the vendors riding bicycles with speakers bleating out ads for their wares, it just never quit. When my time finished after a week I was thrilled to have been in the city but also ready for a quiet sea voyage to relax before reaching Japan.

Unfortunately my calm sea voyage, as I imagined it would be, was a rough a violent one and I spent the night at sea next to a porcelain god. I was more than relieved when we reached the calm waters of the sea of Japan two days after departing Shanghai.



On the train from Hong Kong to Shanghai.

Although the trip was hot, cramped, and smoky… I enjoyed the chance to see the Chinese countryside. I chatted with a guy I was in the same cabin with and he helped me get a legit taxi (and not a rip off pirate one) when we arrived in Shanghai.

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My first free day in Shanghai. Check out all the bicycles!


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No… cars don’t drive on the left in China. They drive on the right but the totes put their wares onto the street in front of their shops, so the cars have to drive into the oncoming lane to avoid plowing into them. 

Welcome to China!

Pudong, a commercial district across the river from the Bund which is the old business district of Shanghai.

Two competing visions of the city, one new and one old, placed adjacent to each other. 

 Pearl TV Tower, Pudong District. I spent the afternoon in Pudong doing some sight seeing. At the time the NBA was having an exhibition game in Shanghai and that afternoon I saw a couple of the players shopping at a mall in Pudong.

Nanjing Road, Shanghai.

At this point I was still cash poor so I spent many hours window shopping in this area. The “Road” is a long concourse that functions as a walking street with a lot of foot traffic coming from the nearby business district and subway.

Nanjing Road, Shanghai. pt.2

While I was on a stroll here one evening a tout stopped me.

“Where do you come from,” he asked.

“America,” I answered.

“America? Do you have a gun,” he asked.

“No, I don’t,” I answered.

“Oh. I want a gun. Guns are cool,” he finished.

True story.

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Nightclub crawling in the French Concession Area, Shanghai.

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A weekend in Old Town (Nanshi), Shanghai.

When I went the place was crowded with tour groups whose leaders shouted through megaphones. Not exactly a quiet excursion, to say the least.

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A weekend in Old Town (Nanshi), Shanghai. pt.2

I think these are Koi. They were in a fish pond in Nanshi.

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The Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A couple of backpackers I met in the hostel I was staying at took a day trip with me to Suzhou where this garden is located. To say this garden is beautiful is an understatement.

It was like walking through a painting.  Every angle was sublime.

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The garden is divided into three sections: the western, the central, and the eastern sections.

I believe this pond is in the central section, but I cannot recall correctly if it is.

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To find this duck pond you have to walk behind a quaint house and then down a slope to a pond that runs underneath.

I love that to find it you have to do some exploring.

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It wouldn’t be a legit blog post without a selfie, so here it is.

Also the Geek necklace is there for street cred, because fans.

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Remember how I said every angle in the garden was designed to be appealing? I submit this as proof. 

I also believe the placement of the paths and ornate doorways like this one has something to do with Feng Shui and is meant to direct the energy flowing through the environnment… but I am no expert on the matter so don’t quote me.

Or do quote me.

I’m not your boss.

… or am I?

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My group left the garden and as we began making our way back to the train station, I spied this shop owner standing outside her stall in the fading light, so I took a snapshot of her.


I believe this is the Beisi Pagoda.

You can also see that when I took this photo night had come. My group had under an hour to catch the train so I took this photo as we were leaving Suzhou. 

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Photo from the deck of my ship. I took a boat from Shanghai to Kobe, Japan.

The sea was rough and I got so seasick I stayed overnight in the men’s toilet. The ship’s crew saw me stuck in there and the head of security came to talk to me because they thought I was a stowaway. When I say they saw me, I mean they saw my legs from under the crack at the bottom of the door of the stall.

When I say came to talk to me, I mean a succession of crewmen banged on the stall door and spoke to me in Chinese until they finally got one who could speak English and demanded I open the door and show my passport. 

Indiana Jones never had to deal with that shit.

Video as my boats departs Shanghai for Kobe, Japan.

Notice the heavy winds? Later that night those winds and the rough seas they caused would ruin my night.

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Calm after the storm. I took this photo the second night of my boat journey as we neared the shore of Japan.

Next time will be the fourth stage of my journey through Asia: Kobe, Japan.

That is all for now. Be well.


17 Draft 2

It was another one of those days.

Just a count the hours till it’s time to go home days.

Hide your phone under your Trig. book

text about weekend plans

maybe see a movie or whatever

you know same day as hundreds before.


The first student falls down to the floor next to you.

She was a new student. A transfer student.

Now she must be acting. She must want an early weekend off

starting with a trip to the nurse’s office.


The second student falls down just to your right.

You’ve been going to school with her since… forever.

Then all of them start to hit the ground.

16 students. All on the ground. All around you.


Then the teacher falls down.

All 17 lay there, eyes open.

You want to get up from your chair. You want to scream.

You want to try CPR. You want to yell.

You want to cry.

When you call for help it comes, but it doesn’t change a damn thing.

All of them are gone. No one knows why.

That’s it. All the rest of your years you will feel crazy.

Because this doesn’t happen in real life.





It wasn’t much.

Just an ordinary afternoon.

Trig. or AP English or maybe even Health.

Same day at school as any other day.

Then one student fell to the floor next to you.

Straight down to the ground.

They must be acting. They want to go to the nurses’ office.

Then sneak out of the office and go off campus.

You know, be a little naughty. We are just kids after all.

Then another student falls down. And another.

16 students fall all around you.


Then the teacher falls down.

They all lay there, eyes open.

You get up from your chair. You scream.

You slap them. You try CPR. You yell.


When you call for help it comes, but it doesn’t change a damn thing.

All of them are gone. No one knows why.

That’s it. All the rest of your years you will feel crazy.

Because this doesn’t happen in real life.



Asia Tour 2007: Part 2 Hong Kong & Macau


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All journeys have a beginning, middle, and end. My Asia tour had an auspicious beginning in Taiwan, but now my tale was to have some difficulty in its middle.

I landed at Hong Kong International Airport safely in mid-morning and after realizing that I didn’t know how to ask, “Where is the restroom” in Cantonese, and getting the correct directions from the airport staff only after squeezing my legs together and making funny noises, I made a quick trip to the ATM before taking the shuttle into town.

Only horror of horrors, my bank account was over drawn! The only money I had in the world was the twenty or so dollars I had in my wallet.

Now here I was, stuck in Hong Kong, only 1 week into my Asia tour with one more month to go, and I basically was out of money.

I got to my hostel and after logging into the hostel’s computers, I discovered that I had failed to finalize the sale of my stock portfolio. All the stock money that was going to fund my vacation had never been deposited into my bank account. What to do now?

Just like the ending of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, my friends came to the rescue. While I waited for them to wire me some spare cash, I spent the days walking around Hong Kong, window shopping and being a bum. I spent a week in one of the most expensive cities in the world living off of energy bars and instant ramen.



 Hong Kong


Anatole all the money is gone from your bank account.

You just got punked!

This was the view of HK from my hostel, btw. 


Video of the view from my hostel.


Daytime and the storm had broken.

Time to head into HK and peruse the offerings of the city. 


The old Ferry Building in HK harbor.


HK Courthouse at night.


Downtown HK at night.

I’m trying to divine how I will get money to survive on for the rest of my journey.


Remember when this was a thing?

This was the first time I saw one of these signs.

This is Causeway Bay, HK. It’s an upscale fashion/shopping district.


Two shop girls take a smoking break in Causeway Bay.


I came upon this Calvin Klein box display causing a bit of commotion, so I went up to examine why everyone was looking inside.




It was a Calvin Klein Obsession commercial come to life!


I spent my birthday exploring Macau.

Here is the burnt out edifice of The Ruins of St. Paul’s.


Selfie in the then newly open Venetian, Macau.


Harlequin inside the Venetian.


Gondola and gondolier in the Venetian.


In Mongok drinking some bitter medicinal tea.

Next time will be the third stage of my journey through Asia: Shanghai.

That is all for now. Be well.

Asia Tour 2007: Part 1 Taiwan


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2007: it was a year of the Housing Bubble collapse, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the Iraq War “Surge” strategy. It was also the year of the first iPhone, the last Harry Potter novel, and the come back single of Britney Spears.

It was also the year of my first ever trip to Asia. With an itinerary of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe, and Tokyo, it promised to be an epic trip.

And it was. 10 years ago, before I left on my voyage, I teased publishing the photos from my adventures… and then life got in the way and I never did.

Now is the time for me to finally release those images. Starting now with the first leg of my trip from Sep. – Oct. 2007, this is my 2007 Asia Adventure: pt.1. A week in Taiwan. 



The streets of Taipei at night. My first night ever in Asia.


In Taipei the major signs are in Traditional Chinese and English.


I can’t remember the name of this garden. I think it was a zen garden.


Taipei 101. At the time I visited it was the world’s tallest building. It no longer has that distinction. Those circles at the top of the building’s entrance are meant to represent gold coins.


Some Japanese tourists I met while getting my ticket for the observation deck of Taipei 101. The elevator used to be the fastest in the world, and my ears popped twice while going up to the observation deck.


View of Taipei from the observation deck of Taipei 101.


This is a 5 story tall steel pendulum that hangs from inside the top of Taipei 101. It moves the opposite way against the winds that batter the side of the building, giving extra support to the structure.


Jake, a friend from work, asked me to take photos of graffiti in Asia, so I tried to get snaps from each place I visited on my trip. This one was from Taipei.


The youth oriented open air street shopping area, Xi Men Ding. It was here I met a local, Abby, who would serve as my tour guide/friend for rest of my time in Taipei.

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Abby and I chilling in an MRT station.


A model old Taipei village jail, with me in handcuffs for being a rowdy lout.


Abby as the head master of an old Taipei school. I think she wore the California t-shirt for me, since I am from Cali.


The main Taipei Railway Station. This view was from the window of my hostel. When I arrived I went from the airport to the railway station, and then walked across the street blindly looking for accommodation. Fortunately the hostel was nearby.


The National Palace Museum. When Chiang Kai Shek fled mainland China, he brought a ton of cultural relics and art pieces with him. They are displayed here.


Entrance to a night market. Inside you could buy snake juice, supposedly it helps with health. Also people would ride their motorcycles through the promenade even though it was illegal, which made for a chaotic environment.


Lungshan (Dragon’s Well) Temple. These dudes were carrying this shrine and motioned me to come over and help them, which is how I got the photo. This was very heavy and they carry them for blocks and blocks. I don’t know how they do it.


My final image from Taipei. I took it at the Taipei Zoo on a beautiful mid morning, my last full day in Taipei.

Next: Asia Tour 2007: pt.2 Hong Kong

That’s all for now.

Be well.

Tokyo Disneyland: 2011 pt.3


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Penthouse photo album: having shown photos of my three days at Tokyo Disneyland in 2011, what could be left? As with anything there is always more to uncover. Disneyland has two faces, one in daytime and one at night. Some locations are very different at night: instead of being seen under the light of the sun, they are revealed in swaths of color — bright splashes of purple, orange, and blue. The contours of trees are draped in tiny lights. Floats come out at night that never see the glare of day.

Also there is the neighboring city of Tokyo: cultural and historical nub of Japan, and the world. Here then are my photos of these other aspects of my 2011 holiday.



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Where’s the Tokyo Skytree #1?

The Skytree has become a new northstar since its construction. It can be spied from many areas in the city.


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Where’s the Tokyo Skytree #2?

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Where’s the Tokyo Skytree #3?


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Taking batting practice in a batting cage in an arcade in Asakusa.


TKD 3 Night 1

Watching the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

They were in playoff contention but lost the game.


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It was umbrella night and during the 7th inning stretch some kids came out with the cheerleaders and the mascot to do some dancing.

The fans held their umbrellas up during the seventh inning stretch.


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The Electric Light parade. 


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You’ve got a friend in Toy Story.


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Stitch and Pluto in a tiki float. Not sure how these two got together. >_<


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Procession of electric lights.


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Nothing like taking a drive on the Autopia at night.


TKD 3 Night 8 The newly opened Monsters Inc. Ride and Go Seek.

I got a Fast Pass for the attraction because another attraction had mechanical problems. To get the Fast Pass I had to speak, all in Japanese, with a park cast member and negotiate which attraction I could get a pass for. I felt super proud in being able to do it. 


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Mysterious Island in Tokyo DisneySea. That’s the line for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction.


TKD 3 Night 10

Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall in Cinderella’s Castle.

I love these dioramas. They are charming to me.


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View of Fantasyland from the balustrade of Cinderella’s Castle.


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Closing time at the park. Goodbye Disneyland.

That’s all for now.

Be well.