EppsNet Archive: Travel

How I Identified the Impostor

5 Jul 2014 /
Duplicates

Capgras Syndrome – The patient believes that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.

We’re going on an overnight trip out of town. Whenever we do that, my wife packs a bag the size of a steamer trunk full of clothes and god-knows-what for all eventualities.

This morning, when I went to carry the giant bag downstairs, I realized it was only half full. It was too light.

And that is how I identified the impostor.


Japan, Day 8: Walking in Tokyo

29 Dec 2013 /

Things you notice when walking in Tokyo . . .

1) There are lots and lots of people . . .

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

2) Most of them are not very tall . . .

Giant among pygmies

Giant among pygmies

3) Because there are a lot of people in a small amount of space (even though they are small people), Tokyo is built to take advantage of vertical space. For example, I’ve never seen a two- or three-story fast food restaurant in the U.S. but they’re common in Tokyo. Businesses that usually are two or three stories in the U.S., like department stores, in Tokyo are eight or ten stories.

Tokyo is a vertical city

Tokyo is a vertical city

Is that a McDonalds up there?

Is that a McDonalds up there?

Sake

Sake

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

Flying back home tomorrow . . . sayonara!


Japan, Day 7: Ginza

28 Dec 2013 /

Ginza

Ginza is one of the best-known shopping districts in the world, with numerous department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses.

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

One of our favorite stores was the 12-floor UNIQLO. They’re coming to Orange County this fall!

UNIQLO

UNIQLO

Uniqlo

UNIQLO

Art Gallery

Art Gallery


Kashoen Boutique

Kashoen Boutique


Ito-ya Stationery Store

Ito-ya Stationery Store


Ginza

Ginza


Ginza

Ginza


Japan, Day 6: Matusmoto Castle, Travel Day

27 Dec 2013 /

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto-jo) is one of Japan‘s premier historic castles. The building is also known as the “Crow Castle” (Karasu-jo) due to its black exterior. It was the seat of the Matsumoto domain. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail.

The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late sixteenth century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.

The second floor of the main keep features a gun museum, Teppo Gura, with a collection of guns, armor, and other weapons.

Wikipedia

Today was mostly a travel day, driving back to Tokyo from the lair of the snow monkeys. On the way back, we stopped at Matsumoto Castle, an impressive edifice built back in the late 1500s . . .

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle


Japan, Day 5: Snow Monkeys, Yudanaka

26 Dec 2013 /

Snow Monkeys

Jigokudani Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen) is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.

The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded despite being relatively well-known.

It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, the monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.

Wikipedia

Today we ventured into the cold and hostile forests above Nagano to visit the legendary snow monkeys.

The monkeys aren’t friendly or unfriendly. They don’t approach you but they don’t try to stay away from you either. They might sit still for a selfie but they won’t smile.

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Yudanaka

We stayed the night at a ryokan (bed and breakfast) in nearby Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring resort, where we enjoyed traditional accomodations, including a multi-course Japanese dinner and sleeping on the floor (on tatami mats and futons).

Our room didn’t have beds but it did have a flat-screen TV. There’s a limit to how much deprivation up with which a traveler is willing to put.

Traditional Japanese Meal

Traditional Japanese Meal

Onsen

Onsen

Traditional Japanese Accomodations

Traditional Japanese Accomodations


Japan, Day 4: Tsukiji Fish Market, Asakusa, Imperial Palace, Odaiba, Christmas

25 Dec 2013 /

Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji Market (Tsukiji shijo), supervised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (Tokyo-to Chuo Oroshiuri Shijo) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo.

There are two distinct sections of the market as a whole. The “inner market” (jonai-shijo) is the licensed wholesale market, where the auctions and most of the processing of the fish take place, and where licensed wholesale dealers (approximately 900 of them) operate small stalls. The “outer market” (jogai-shijo) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, and seafood, and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants.

Wikipedia

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market


Tsukiji Market: Inner Market

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market

There’s a temple near the market. We met these girls, who spoke a little English, not much. They were delighted to take photos with us. Japan is a friendly country. In California, if you asked strangers on the street to take a photo with you, I expect you’d get a mixed reaction.

They start making peace signs in photos very early in Japan. I saw kids as young as two years old doing it without being asked to. I asked our guide the reason for that and she said “Because we’re so happy.”

Tsukiji Temple

Tsukiji Temple


Tsukiji Temple

Tsukiji Temple

Asakusa

Asakusa is a district in Taito, Tokyo, Japan, most famous for the Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon.

Wikipedia

Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji

There is a long street lined with shops leading to the temple.

Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Shop in Asakusa (100 yen = 1 dollar, roughly)

Shop in Asakusa (100 yen = 1 dollar, roughly)

Across the street from the Senso-ji is the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center, designed by Kengo Kuma. Mr. Kuma is an acclaimed Japanese architect, although to the untrained eye, the boards in the windows might give the impression that the building is under construction or renovation, neither of which is the case.

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Twice a year — on New Year (January 2) and the Emperor’s Birthday — the public is permitted to enter the palace grounds. The imperial family appears on the balcony of the Chowaden Hall and the emperor normally gives a short speech greeting and thanking the visitors and wishing them good health and blessings.

If it’s not one of those two days (it wasn’t), the palace is closed, but you can still stand outside in the plaza and take a photo if you like.

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

Odaiba

Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s as a major commercial, residential and leisure area.

Wikipedia

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge


Odaiba at Night

Odaiba at Night

Christmas in Japan

It’s December 25. Christmas is not a big deal in Japan. If you say “Merry Christmas” to people, they’ll say it back to you, if they understand English, but it’s not a holiday and stores and businesses are open. New Years is the big holiday here.

They do, however, have a lot of what we in the States would call Christmas lights, but in Japan are called “illuminations.”

Illuminations

Illuminations


Illuminations

Illuminations


Japan, Day 3: Atami, Lake Ashi, Owakudani, Mount Fuji, Shinjuku

24 Dec 2013 /

Atami

Our hotel in Atami was on the eastern coast. Where we live in California, you can watch the sun set over the ocean every day if you want to, but here the sun rises over the ocean, which is a little bit different.

These photos are from the balcony of our room. If you look closely, you can see the United States in the background. It looks very small from this far away.

Japanese Sunrise

Japanese Sunrise

Japanese Dawn

Japanese Dawn

Lake Ashi

We started the day on a sightseeing boat at Lake Ashi:

Lake Ashi (Shinto shrine in foreground, Mount Fuji in background)

Lake Ashi (Shinto shrine in foreground, Mount Fuji in background)

Owakudani

Owakudani (lit. “Great Boiling Valley”) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (lit. “black egg”) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised.

Owakudani is accessible via the Hakone Ropeway. In the States, we’d call this a tramway. I swear to god when I heard “ropeway” I thought we were going to have to pull ourselves up the mountain with a rope.

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Our guide is on the right:

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Owakudani

Owakudani

See the large buildings at the bottom of the photo below? Look up a bit from the one on the right and you’ll see the stand where the black eggs are cooked up and sold. It’s a short hike up the mountain.

Owakudani

Owakudani

Owakudani

Owakudani

We ate some black eggs:

Owakudani: Black Egg

Owakudani: Black Egg

They also have black ice cream:

Owakudani: Black Ice Cream

Owakudani: Black Ice Cream

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji (Fujisan), located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” (Sanreizan) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku; it is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site, and was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22nd, 2013.

As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries.”

Mount Fuji as seen from Owakudani

Mount Fuji as seen from Owakudani

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

At the Mount Fuji Visitor Center, you can fold an origami Mount Fuji to commemorate your visit:

Origami Mount Fujis

Origami Mount Fujis

The yellow one is mine:

Origami Mount Fujis

Origami Mount Fujis

Shinjuku

Shinjuku (Shinjuku-ku, “New Lodge”) is a special ward located in Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration centre for the government of Tokyo. As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 312,418 and a population density of 17,140 people per km2. The total area is 18.23 km2.

Wikipedia

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is 48 stories tall, and splits into two sections at the 33rd floor.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The 45th floor of each tower has a panoramic observation deck. It was late afternoon when we got up there.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Dusk

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Dusk


Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Sunset

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Sunset


Japan, Day 2: Kinkakuji Temple, Nishijin Textile Center, Tea Ceremony, Bullet Train, Atami

23 Dec 2013 /

Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkaku-ji (lit. “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (lit. “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.

The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397, when the villa was purchased from the Saionji family by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and transformed into the Kinkaku-ji complex. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son, according to his wishes.

During the Onin war, all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. On July 2, 1950, at 2:30 am, the pavilion was burned down by a 22-year-old novice monk, Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released because of mental illnesses (persecution complex and schizophrenia) on September 29, 1955; he died of tuberculosis shortly after in 1956.

The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt.

— Wikipedia

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple

Nishijin Textile Center

Nishijin is a district in Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan, and (by extension) a traditional textile produced there, more narrowly referred to as Nishijin-ori (Nishijin fabric).

Nishijin weaving was created in Kyoto over 1200 years ago by using many different types of colored yarns and weaving them together into decorative designs. These specialized procedures are tedious, but necessary to obtain the spectacular design needed to ensure the quality of Nishijin weaving.

— Wikipedia

What the blurb above means is that images and patterns are not dyed after the fabric has been produced, the yarn is dyed before weaving, which yields the finest quality but is much harder to create.

Kimono Show

Kimono Show


Kimono Show

Kimono Show


Kimono Show

Kimono Show

Tea Ceremony

We participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, involving the preparation and presentation of matcha, a powdered green tea.

Fun fact: You don’t enter the tea room through that big opening in the front. You sort of crawl in through a small door on the right-hand side, which you can’t see in the photo. There’s a traditional reason for this, something to do with samurai not bringing swords to the tea ceremony (they won’t fit through the little door), but in modern times, it seems a bit of an unnecessary ordeal.

Tea Room

Tea Room

Bullet Train

We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Atami. These trains run on time. If the board says the train leaves at 3:12, it leaves at 3:12. Don’t show up at 3:13 and wonder where your train went.

Bullet Train

Bullet Train


Bullet Train

Bullet Train

Atami

In Atami, we enjoyed a traditional Japanese dinner, so traditional that our guide was unsure of what a couple of the items were. Atami is on the eastern coast and has a spectacular fireworks display that they shoot off over the bay.

Traditional Japanese Dinner

Traditional Japanese Dinner


Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks


Japan, Day 1: Osaka Castle, Todai-ji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple

22 Dec 2013 /

Osaka Castle

The main tower of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometer. It is built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using a technique called Burdock piling, each overlooking a moat. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers.

The Castle grounds, which cover approximately 60,000 square meters (15 acres) contain thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government.

In 1583 Toyotomi Hideyoshi commenced construction on the site of the Ikko-ikki temple of Ishiyama Hongan-ji. The basic plan was modeled after Azuchi Castle, the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga. Toyotomi wanted to build a castle that mirrored Oda’s, but surpassed it in every way: the plan featured a five-story main tower, with three extra stories underground, and gold leaf on the sides of the tower to impress visitors.

Osaka Castle: Otemon and Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Otemon and Main Tower

My son asks me, “Couldn’t invaders cross the moat on this bridge, just like we’re doing?”

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that the bridge was added in modern times, not as part of the original construction.”

Osaka Castle: Moat

Osaka Castle: Moat

We entered the castle through the Otemon Gate:

Osaka Castle: Otemon (Western) Gate

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

There was a gentleman at the castle with a large supply of something or other that birds like to eat, so the birds followed him around:

Osaka Castle: The Birdman

Osaka Castle: The Birdman

He didn’t speak English but he kindly shared some of his bird food with us:

Osaka Castle: Feeding the birds

Osaka Castle: Feeding the birds

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji (Todai-ji, Eastern Great Temple), is a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara, Japan. Its Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as Daibutsu. The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara“, together with seven other sites including temples, shrines and places in the city of Nara. Sika deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, roam the grounds freely.

We entered Todai-ji Temple through Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate. In the photo below, the stand on the left sells biscuits you can buy and feed to the deer. More on that later . . .

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple: Chumon Gate

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple: Chumon Gate

Great Buddha Hall

According to records kept by Todai-ji, more than 2,600,000 people in total helped construct the Great Buddha and its Hall. The 16 m (52 ft) high statue was built through eight castings over three years, the head and neck being cast together as a separate element. The making of the statue was started first in Shigaraki. After enduring multiple fires and earthquakes, the construction was eventually resumed in Nara in 745,[8] and the Buddha was finally completed in 751. A year later, in 752, the eye-opening ceremony was held with an attendance of 10,000 people to celebrate the completion of the Buddha. The Indian priest Bodhisena performed the eye-opening for Emperor Shomu. The project nearly bankrupted Japan’s economy, consuming most of the available bronze of the time.

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsiu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Buddha

Todai-ji Temple: Buddha

Nara Deer Park

According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijo-kyo. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country.

Tame Sika Deer roam through the town, especially in Nara Park. Snack vendors sell “shika sembei” (deer biscuits) to visitors so they can feed the deer.

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

“Deer are not naturally aggressive if you’re not aggressive with them,” our tour guide says.

In other news, grass is green and water flows downhill. What would an aggressive deer do anyway? What sort of aggressive deer behavior should we be on the lookout for?

OK, I’ll tell you: You can buy shika sembei (deer biscuits) to feed the deer. Deer really like the deer biscuits. If you have biscuits, the deer will surround you and nibble on you. While you’re feeding the ones in front of you, the deer who couldn’t find room in front will nibble you from behind so they don’t get left out.

In fact, if the deer are not sure if you have biscuits or not, they may nibble on you anyway, usually in the area of your pockets, which would be an ideal place to conceal deer biscuits.

A good thing to know is that the deer do recognize and respect an open-handed, “See I don’t have any deer biscuits” gesture and will acknowledge it by not nibbling you.

These deer, sika deer, are regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. If that is true, the message the gods are sending us is “More biscuits, please.”

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: “More biscuits, please.”

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizu-dera, officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

Wikipedia
Kiyomizu Temple: Main Veranda

Kiyomizu Temple: Main Veranda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon  Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

The temple complex contains several shrines, including the Jishu-jinja Shrine, known as the dwelling place of the god of love and matchmaking. Praying there is said to help one succeed in finding an appropriate love match.

Kiyomizu Temple: Jishu-Jinja Shrine

Kiyomizu Temple: Jishu-Jinja Shrine

The temple is popular with young people looking for good fortune in love.

Kiyomizu Temple: Kimono Girls

Kiyomizu Temple: Kimono Girls

Japanese Lanterns

Japanese Lanterns

Kiyomizu Temple: Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Pagoda


Japan, Day 0: Floyd Mayweather at Panda Express

20 Dec 2013 /
Panda Express Logo

We saw Floyd Mayweather at LAX . . .

Actually, my son saw him. When the boy pointed him out to me, all I could see was the back of a smallish man in a black hoodie surrounded by half a dozen of the largest human beings I’ve ever seen. You have to get past those guys to get your shot at Floyd.

They were all standing on line at Panda Express in one of the food courts. Normally, I don’t envision famous, wealthy people eating Panda Express, and if they do, I don’t picture them standing on line for it. I picture them sending someone to fetch it while they hang out in the first class passenger lounge.

Good advertisement for Panda Express. Better than those ridiculous goddamn talking pandas.

In other close encounters with boxing legends, I once saw Sugar Ray Leonard and his family at Juice It Up.


Homicidal Cab Drivers: Another Reason I Prefer to Just Stay Home

8 Jul 2013 /
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/08/19346962-american-hacked-to-death-over-160-cab-fare-thai-police-say?lite

The Lesson of Travel

2 Mar 2013 /

Leaving home doesn’t make all your problems go away . . .

Tags:

I Think We Can Speed Up the Drive to Vegas

2 Jan 2013 /

This guy was driving too slow

This guy was driving too slow


The I-15 to Las Vegas is mostly two lanes of traffic in either direction. This could work out okay if slower drivers stayed in the right lane but they don’t. You’ve got people driving at or below the speed limit in the left lane, which creates a blockade and jacks up the travel time.

In Paul Epps’s America, the area between Barstow and Vegas would be patrolled by military-style helicopters and any vehicle being passed on the right would be taken out by a well-placed missile.

“Wouldn’t that make things even slower?” my son asks.

“Initially, it might. But think about the deterrent effect. I think you’d find that in a very short time, slower drivers would stay in the right-hand lane where they belong. Good question though. You ask a lot of great questions.”


What’s on Your Nightstand?

17 Dec 2012 /
  • Lamp
  • Clock radio
  • Extra pair of reading glasses
  • Business cards, mostly my own
  • 1 pen, 2 pencils
  • Post-Its
  • Vaccination record
  • Schedule of classes for LA Fitness
  • Two or three dollars in change
  • Nine dollars in Candian coins
  • 440 Indian rupees

Sandeep Hornblower

2 Aug 2012 /
Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.

Even in an entire city full of motorists honking at one another, our driver this afternoon distinguished himself as the greatest horn blower since Horatio.

We were stopped in traffic at red lights, and he’d still sound the horn a couple of times just to stay limbered up . . .


Riding in Cabs in Bangalore

30 Jul 2012 /

The cab drivers here are either highly motivated to get you to your destination or completely insane. Or possibly both.

“Roads” and “lanes” aren’t well-defined. A lane is any relatively flat piece of ground, paved or unpaved, that you can take possession of and defend with headlight flashing, horn honking and aggressive refusal to yield.

Thoughts I’ve had more than once:

  1. Is this part of the road?
  2. Isn’t that a sidewalk?

Crossing Streets in Bangalore aka Human Frogger

30 Jul 2012 /
Photo by Rasidel Slika
A photo by Rasidel Slika on Flickr


Goin’ to Bangalore

21 Jul 2012 /
lighter moments.

I’m spending a couple of weeks in Bangalore at the end of the month. Travel is the most depressing thing in the world, beating out listening to other people talk about their travels.

Bangalore has been called the Silicon Valley of Asia. It’s like the Silicon Valley here in California, but with monkeys and malaria.

My boss has cautioned me to drink only the bottled water from the hotel, never the bottled water at the office.

“They refill the bottles at the office with their own water,” he said. “The hotel will give you two bottles a day, but I tipped the staff a dollar a day and they left extra bottles in my room. That’s a lot of money over there.”

I’m seriously thinking about tipping two dollars a day just to see what the heck happens . . .


Look Out, You Rock ‘n’ Rollers!

21 Jul 2012 /

My bizness is taking me to Bangalore, India, at the end of the month. I got vaccinated for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

I’m now immune to everything, including your consultations.


More Fun at Border Crossings

24 Jun 2012 /
Border Crossing

“Where are you folks from?” the border agent asks.

“Irvine, California.”

“How long were you in Canada?”

“About half a day.”

“Why such a short stay?”

“We’re staying in Seattle for a few days and just came up for a visit.”

“How do you like this cold weather?”

“No big deal. I grew up in cold weather.”

My son makes a sputtering noise in the back seat.

“Is he okay?” the agent asks.

“Well, unfortunately he’s got irreversible brain damage to his frontal lobes. We still love him though.”

“Is anyone in the car carrying $10,000 or more in cash?”

“American dollars or Canadian?”

“American.”

“I wish.”

“Is that a yes or a no, sir?”

“Sorry. No.”

After we pass through the border check, the boy says in a mocking tone, “‘I grew up in cold weather.’ In La Mirada.”

“La Mirada is subject to extreme temperature fluctations,” I reply. “Much more so than Irvine.”


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