A photographic capturing of my atavistic adventure through Southeast Asia from Tokyo, Japan down to Bali, Indonesia.

July-October 2016.

Japan

   The beginning of my nomadic odyssey through Southeast Asia with my brother Raphael begins as we take on Tokyo. So much sashimi, so much Sapporo, so much sashimi and sushi, and of course some oishi (delicious) ramen--and a wretched "1,000 year old duck egg." Japan's highest man-made peak, Tokyo Skytree, and highest natural peak, Mount Fuji, both summited within 24 hours. Oh, and the atavistic ascent up Mt. Fuji was at night for sunrise and through a stretch of the Aokigahara Forest, known to many as the suicide forest. Losing ourselves in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo's Shibuya Crossing, Shinjuku subway station, Harajuku.

     More debauchery ensued in Kyoto with rainy bike rides through Nanzen-ji temple, musings atop an ancient aqueduct, geisha spotting in the Gion District, hunting for bargains at the Nishiki Night Market. 

     And Kobe, who could forget eating kobe beef in Kobe? And following it with a rejuvenating relaxation at a local onsen, or Japanese hot spring bath house.

     

    Destination #2 on the Southeast Asian Odyssey: China 中国


         After our whirlwind tour of Japan, Connor and I made moves to China, stopping in Beijing & Shanghai, to see if all those years of Mandarin classes were worthwhile after all.

    Highlights:

    • Discovering the purpose behind the notorious Beijing Belly
    • Sweating profusely trekking up & down the great wall and rewarding ourselves with a Tsingtao
    • Exploring the secrets of the (not so) Forbidden City
    • Poaching some New Orleans Pelicans dancers from Tracy McGrady's VIP table at Bar Rouge on a Shanghai rooftop
    • Chasing down a LaoBan on his motor-scooter via cab for an hour to recover my lost phone (standard jabinry)
    • White tigers walking down the Bund Boardwalk masquerading as distant relatives of Shia Labeouf

       

      Pit Stop #3 on the Southeast Asian Odyssey: Chiang Mai, Thailand

           The jabin chronicles continue as Raphael and I make our next stop in Chiang Mai. From learning how to ride a Lilo & Stitch scooter to taking care of some majestic elephants to gorging on spicy Thai food (laab kings) to decompressing at our rice & zen villa, Chiang Mai was a beautiful and wild welcome to Thailand. We may have missed the slow boat action (and Pai & Chiang Rai), but now we have a reason to go back someday. And go back we will.

      Laos

      Pit Stop #4 on the Southeast Asian Odyssey: Luang Prabang, Laos
           From Chiang Mai, Connor & I migrated to Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos. Nestled in an apparaent valley along the Mekong River and surrounded by stunning green hillsides, Luang Prabang provided some lush & vibrant landscapes, remarkably uncanny sights, utopic lounge sessions, countless baguettes & iced coffees, surreal sunsets, and a lesson in humanity.

      Vietnam

      Pit Stop #5 on the Southeast Asian Odyssey: Hanoi, Vietnam
           From Luang Prabang, Connor Keith & I flew into Hanoi for our first taste of Vietnam, literally. The Gorge Chronicles continued on in dramatic fashion. Bowls on bowls of pho. Endless street BBQ--in fact, so much street BBQ the locals thought laughed at our mountainous basket of kebabs until we downed that and went in for more. Doner kebab baguettes. Vietnamese iced coffee. Iced Coffee with Jamison. In addition to eating our way to happiness, we entertained our brains at a historical Confucian site, the Temple of Literature, as well as Hoa Lo--"The Hanoi Hilton", a colonial French-run prison for political Vietnamese prisoners and later on, a Northern Vietnamese run prison for U.S. POWs in the Vietnam War.
           More on an atavistic excursion to Ha Long Bay soon. On our last day in Hanoi, we took a rather bumpy bus ride 4 hours to Ha Long Bay for a day cruising around one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the remnants of Pangaea, hundreds & hundreds of limestone cliffs jutting out of the water and up into the sky. A truly atavistic & wondrous sight to behold.

       

      Pit Stop #6 on the Saga through Southeast Asia -- Hoi An, Vietnam

           The motto of our all too short stay in the Hoi An Hippie House: "yeah baby." From assimilating with the locals over some homemade whiskey & gecko moonshine which "make you man" to cruising on motorbikes to Marble Mountain to (over)indulging in 7 cent beers, excessive amounts of pho to skacking out on Vietnamese iced coffee religiously to eating to the point of self-loathing at Cay Me or Anthony Bourdain's Banh Mi hotspot to skinny dipping in the South China Sea--it was all a blur. Plenty of blurry memories, plenty of non-blurry photos. Thanks for it all and cheers to the Laguna Beach of Vietnam. Hopefully, we'll be back.

       

      Pit Stop #7 on the Southeast Asian Saga -- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

           In the city formerly known as Saigon, Raphael and I were given a sobering education about The Vietnam War. After our trip ti the UXO world heritage site in Laos where we learned that Laos was bombed more heavily than Vietnam during the war, we knew Ho Chi Minh City--where the war ended as Viet Cong tanks rolled up on the Palace--would provide a glimpse into the brutality, devastation, and loss caused in the battleground country. 

       

      Pit Stop #8 on the Southeast Asian Saga -- Siem Reap, Cambodia

           From the hectic hustle and bustle to the tourist trap of Siem Reap, a city built solely off the traffic of Angkor Wat tourism. Three days wandering the ruins of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Angkor. More than just a full day and sunrise at Angkor Wat though, we meandered through the primordial ruins of Bayon, Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider temple), Banteay Samre, Baphuon, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Preah Khan, Terrace of the Elephants, Ta Som, and Banteay Kdei. Heatwaves and sunshine alternated with booming thunderstorms. Doses of monasteries and temples by day, gorges and jabinry (debauchery) by night. Oh, it would be remiss of me not to mention I ate not one, but two fried tarantulas.


      Pit Stop #9 on the Odyssey through the Orient -- Phuket & Koh Phi Phi


      Bali

      Pit Stop #10 on the Odyssey through the Orient -- Bali

      Canggu & Ubud

           The last few days of camaraderie with Raphael were spent lying on the beaches of Canggu, zipping around on motorcycles through the terraced rice fields, a supremely funky getdown at Favela, and multiple "last suppers" of traditional Indonesian food. After his abrupt departure a day early, chaos ensued. An all you can eat BBQ without my gorger in crime. Bahasa Indonesian languages at a coffee cafe. And a motorcycle crash into a rice field, not my fault, but still.

           Then it was off to Ubud to teach English for three weeks. An immersion in the local culture of Penestanan Kaja: speaking the language, eating the food, and early afternoon sessions with my class of about 30 rambunctious 5th graders eager to learn. During my free time I toured around on a scooter--sadly no motorcycle--for journeys into the Monkey Forest (80% have rabies by the way), a cleansing ritual at the Temple of Holy Water, walks through the local rice fields as well as Tegalalang terraced rice field, caffeine fixes at a coffee plantation--where I tasted Luwak coffee, better known as shit coffee--and even a waterfall chase like the good old days: no phone, no map, and only asking for directions in Indonesian. It was all a beautiful, long ago but not long forgotten dream. Doses of dopeness and dopamine.