Japan


15 CRAZY THINGS I’VE EATEN IN ASIA

Posted on February 8th, by Steven in Asia, Cambodia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, The Philipines, Uncategorized, Vietnam. 5 comments

There is an old saying that:

“the Chinese eat everything that flies, except airplanes; everything with four legs, except tables; and everything that swims, except submarines”

Food is central to Asian culture, not just the Chinese, but throughout all of Asia. Asian food is generally delicious, and often very strange, to an American traveler. Asians tend to use the whole animal. Sometimes the results are great, sometimes not so.

Here are 15 of the strangest foods I’ve had:

15. CHICKEN NECK
Qingdao, China

It’s the neck of a chicken, skewered on a stick and served with cheap drafts of local Tsingtao Beer. It’s mostly skin and bone. I actually like spicy duck neck, as there is some meat to enjoy on there, but the chicken neck is just not much of anything.

IS IT GOOD?  2/10

14. GOAT BRAIN
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Goat brain came served in a hot … Read More »



WHY IS TOKYO’S SKYLINE SO BORING?

Posted on January 29th, by Steven in Japan, Uncategorized. 5 comments

Although Shanghai now has the largest population of any single urban jurisdiction, Tokyo is still by all means the largest urban area in the world, and has been for some time. The sum of Tokyo’s greater metropolitan population is over 36 million, which still dwarfs its competitors for now. Tokyo overtook New York as the world’s biggest city in the mid-1960s and since then, Tokyo has remained at the top.

In addition to size, Tokyo is rich. Tokyo has the largest total economic output (GDP) of any city in the world, even adjusting for income vs. the cost of living (PPP).

Despite Tokyo’s huge population and economic development, the city cuts a rather unknown visual image in most people’s minds. Images of blinking lights, crowded crosswalks and bustling noodle shops define Tokyo. The skyline is rather nondescript. Shanghai has its iconic, twisting futuristic … Read More »



IS ASIA EXPENSIVE?

Depends on what you’re here for.

 

Different countries = different prices for different things.

Do you want to explore cities, see the big attractions, or experience the food and drink? For example, if you’re here to party, the Philippines generally has the cheapest drinks at restaurants and bars. In contrast, Chinese bars and clubs are expensive- comparable to North American prices, but the daily Chinese necessities (subway, street food, bottled water) are damn cheap, so if you’re here to take photos and explore the city life, China will be cheaper than the Philippines. Accommodation also varies in quality, type and price. Your sleeping standards could make or break your budget. In Vietnam, $10 may get you a comfy room with A/C, wifi and free breakfast. In the Philippines, a $10 room is nearly impossible to find.

Asia is a place that people … Read More »



10 BEST LOST-IN-A-FOREIGN-COUNTRY MOVIE CHARACTERS

 

10. DAVID LOCKE (Jack Nicholson); The Passenger (1975)

Native of: USA
Lost in: North Africa and Spain

Travel may be defined by leaving one’s established location. For some, it offers an opportunity to also leave oneself.

David Locke (Nicholson) is a cynical American journalist stuck in a North African desert struggling to make a documentary on political rebels. After a frustrating day of failure and now back at his sandy ramshackle hotel, he finds his new Englishman friend in the next room has suddenly died. Wanting a change, he decides to check out of the hotel, but only after stealing the Englishman’s passport and identity. As the movie trailer cliché goes “he would soon find out that he got more than he bargained for”. Finding an appointment book in the Englishman’s belongings, he soon goes on a bizarre, rather subdued (for Nicholson) adventure through urban Barcelona and … Read More »



HARAJUKU SUNDAY

Posted on September 17th, by Steven in Asia, Japan, Travel. No Comments

A surge of Tokyo pedestrians doesn’t shuffle.  A Tokyo crowd moves like a current, its unity seamless and sychronized. On a rainy day, from above, the umbrellas of Tokyo drift like leaves in a stream, independent and incongruent, yet guided by a common momentum. Down the narrowest alleys and side streets, these lids flock together like birds, graciously careful to not encroach or collide. Even for the most urbane first-time visitor to the city, swimming in a Tokyo crowd takes guts and determination. Observing it from a vantage point is often more pleasant, and far less embarrassing.

I remember exiting the Harajuku JR station on a Sunday afternoon in September, expecting to photograph the over-the-top fashions of the gothic Harajuku Girls. What I saw instead were hundreds of other downcast, yet eager faces peering from beneath the rims of their umbrellas. … Read More »



VISITING THE TSUKIJI FISH MARKET IN TOKYO

Posted on September 17th, by Steven in Asia, Japan, StreetFood, Travel. No Comments

The Tsukiji fish market is widely known to be the largest fish market in the world, as well as one of the largest markets of any kind, anywhere. No visit to Tokyo is complete without a smelly pre-dawn wandering. Bring your camera and plenty of battery, as the vivid colors and juxtapositions here are amazing. The market is set to move locations in early 2016 so if you want to see it at the current location, be sure to plan your trip soon.

Remember that bar in Star Wars? Yes, the cantina with all the crazy creatures jamming and fighting. The Tsukiji market is something akin to this, except that the characters are soon to be traveling down an esophagus rather than sailing through space. You will see creatures you could never imagine on a plate. They are squirming, spitting, twisting … Read More »



WHY IS ASIA SO SAFE?

How is there so little street crime?

Don’t get me wrong, there is crime in Asia. There is government corruption, bribery, domestic abuse and organized crime. However, a traveler is highly unlikely to get caught up in this. “Street crime” such as robbery, assault, rape and murder are astonishingly low, especially in North Asia (Mongolia somewhat excluded). In large Asian cities, I have no fear listening to my iPod and walking home through unknown neighborhoods for two hours in the middle of the night.

Travelers and expats appreciate this quality over here, yet can’t seem to explain exactly why it is. Rich and poor are living together. Surely, there are plenty of “opportunities” for crime walking down the streets. So why is Asia so safe?

Here are a few factors that likely influence the low street crime of Asia:

THE SHAME FACTOR

In the USA, … Read More »



NORTH ASIA OR SOUTHEAST ASIA: WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

So, what’s the difference?

To a non-Asian, the divide between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia is a curious one that takes much time to understand. But as a first-time traveler may find out, there are obvious differences in the people, the traditions, the daily lives and the social and political characteristics between these regions. Let’s try to break it down a bit:

Northeast Asia (China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia the Koreas, Japan and Taiwan) and Southeast Asia(Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore) are both extraordinary places to visit- with thousands of years of history, crowded metropolises, warm people and wonderful culinary traditions.

Generally, North Asian countries, while all having unique characteristics, are largely influenced by Confucianism and ancient China. With the recent economic rise of China, the continuing growth of South Korea and Taiwan and the established prosperity of Japan and Hong Kong, North Asia is one of the world’s most prosperous regions and also one of its … Read More »



VISIT ASIA. GET NAKED, SWEAT, REPEAT

Posted on August 6th, by Steven in Asia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, Travel, Vietnam. No Comments

The health benefits of a sauna are many. Saunas help open the pores of the skin and release toxins. Warm steam helps the flow of blood and relieves joints and muscle aches. You will leave looking and feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to hit the town again.

No trip to Asia is complete without visiting a sauna. So, experiencing rooms full of (mostly) old, naked Asian men, or women, is not what inspired you to buy that expensive ticket over here? You’re feeling a bit of unease about stripping bare and flapping around, perhaps protected by only a little towel? Well, we’ll try to help you get your toes wet with confidence:

1) ALL Asian saunas from Tokyo to Vientiane will require you to disrobe and shower before sampling the sauna rooms or hot tubs. So, first you will lock your shoes … Read More »





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