News flash: after news reports that Cambridge Analytica stole 50 million Facebook users’ personal information, CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied any knowledge of the crime. In other news, 50 million Americans woke up to surprise subscriptions to Pravda newspaper. “Cool, free stuff,” said one delighted US citizen.
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.
Because fuck it, he thought.
He had had his heart broken many times before. Sometimes through inaction, sometimes through neglect, sometimes through bad luck.
Each and every time a new heart had filled in the hole.
For this small grace, he was thankful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dried, older arm
burst from the tree
and was dropped
limb to limb
needles and bark
before landing on
the silent earth
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.
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.
Where’s the Tokyo Skytree #2?
Where’s the Tokyo Skytree #3?
Taking batting practice in a batting cage in an arcade in Asakusa.
Watching the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
They were in playoff contention but lost the game.
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.
The Electric Light parade.
You’ve got a friend in Toy Story.
Stitch and Pluto in a tiki float. Not sure how these two got together. >_<
Procession of electric lights.
Nothing like taking a drive on the Autopia at night.
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.
Mysterious Island in Tokyo DisneySea. That’s the line for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction.
Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall in Cinderella’s Castle.
I love these dioramas. They are charming to me.
View of Fantasyland from the balustrade of Cinderella’s Castle.
Closing time at the park. Goodbye Disneyland.
That’s all for now.
Penthouse photo album: Day 3 of my 2011 visit to Disneyland. Already I had fulfilled life long wishes in my first weekend trip to a Disneyland resort. A ride on the Star Jets. A round at the shooting arcade. 3 days at Disneyland!
What could be left to do? How about photos with many more face and costumed characters?! How about meeting some cute girls who were Disney fans like me?! How about a trip to old school Tom Sawyer’s Island?!
Coming right up!
Day 3: Tokyo Disneyland
Outside the main gate, Pinocchio greets me.
Flashback: I did the same pose at LA Disneyland. Go back to my old post to check it out:
Even the pets aren’t safe at the Haunted Mansion.
Spookyville Halloween Parade, we meet yet again!
I haven’t been on this island since a trip to LA Disneyland when I was 6.
Hi Ho, off to the bathroom I go!
I got lucky during a trip to the bathroom. I stumbled onto the face and costumed characters as they began walking into the park. They are coming from that gate at the back of the photo.
Chim Chim Cheere, it’s me and Mary!
Bibbidi bobbidi boo, Cinderella is with the prince and not you.
An actor’s life for me, low pay and misery!
I finally made it to the bathroom only to find Peter Pan ahead of me in the line. lol
Stitch is uber-popular in Japan.
No trip to Disneyland is complete without Mickey.
Their dance routine is terrible: no BONES about it.
They are skeletons. With lots of bones. See, it’s a pun!
Spookyville Parade yet again. She keeps following me everywhere!
Pluto! Good doggy.
Stage show for children.
Look who made a new friend.
Hamming it up! Everyone needs to Vogue occasionally.
Where there’s Woody…
… Jessie can’t be far behind.
That is all for now. Be Well.
Penthouse photo album: I was a California child. Birthdays, Grad Night (special night for High School Seniors) and special family outings often meant going to Disneyland. A trip there meant strategically planning when to hit the e-ticket attractions (early in the morning or the last hour of the night) and how to best use the rest of the day to avoid the inevitable crowd in the park. It was a childhood dream to spend a weekend at the park. How great it would be to be able to hit every major e-ticket in the park in a single trip and then spend time doing some of the more unusual attractions there, like the shooting gallery in Frontierland or the arcade in Tommorland.
What could be better than that?
How about 3 days at Tokyo Disneyland instead?
In 2011 for my birthday I took a trip to Tokyo and, for the first time, spent 3 days at Disneyland. Not only did I get to return to Tokyo Disneysea, which I had visited in 2007, I got to go to Tokyo Disneyland for the first time… and during the Halloween season!
Not only is the park well maintained and run, it has a number of attractions that no longer exist back in the states: such as the Star Jets ride. In one trip I got to fulfill 2 wishes – a weekend at Disneyland and a ride on a Star Jets rocket! Pure Bliss!
Here then is my photolog of my first two days at the Tokyo Disneyland Park, October 2011.
Day 1: Tokyo Disneysea
Tokyo Disneysea Maritime Band. It was the park’s 10th Anniversary.
Time for a little drum solo.
Photo spot in Mediterranean Harbor.
Children posing with The Genie in The Arabian Coast.
Max Goof in his South American outfit, and me in my Japanese outfit.
Chip and Dale’s Day of the Dead parade.
Be Magical nighttime show.
Time for dinner: at the Zambini Brothers’ Ristorante.
One of the few vegetarian dinners I’ve found on the menu at the park.
Day 2 Tokyo Disneyland
My new best friend.
Outside the Country Bear Theater in Westernland.
Cinderella’s Castle, World Bazaar.
Busy day, as you can see.
Apparently it was a school holiday, so the park was crammed.
Good old Jungle Cruise.
Swiss Family Robinson Tree.
One of the great things about Tokyo Disneyland is it still has some of the attractions that LA Disneyland no longer has.
My dream is to live in a tree house.
Log riding down Splash Mountain FTW.
Welcome to the Spookyville Halloween parade.
Taking the pole position at Autopia.
End of Day 2: Cinderella’s Castle.
That is all for now. Be Well.