Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Yangon

I’m back in Yangon, Myanmar. It’s my second trip here; the first time was ten years ago in December 2004. It’s exciting to be back and see what’s changed as well as what’s remained. Since opening their economy up it’s been a boomtown. Growth growth growth! Lots of folks from overseas coming here to explore opportunities. Let’s see what I can stumble upon.

I was walking around in a quest to find toothpaste and water; it was about 6 PM so like any other city it was full of people who had just left work. Rushing for a bus, walking home, or heading to dinner with friends and family. It’s a time of year when the sun sets early but the streetlights haven’t turned on yet, which made the city surprisingly dark. But there’s so many people around and kids playing in the side streets that it feels safe. Watching the crowd run for a bus made me think that there’s a hidden Olympic sprinter waiting to be discovered in one of these commuters. The buses don’t have a specific bus stop but they pull up in an area running the length of a city block. There’s no indicator of where the bus is going so a guy hangs out the edge of the bus and yells the route the bus plies. The bus stops for only a few seconds, and they’re packed with people. So in these few seconds the people who need to get on that bus are running to it from wherever they had been standing, and the folks on the bus are squeezing their way out. It’s quite a sight.

Yangon at night

Abbey Road Crossing Cam

Amusing. They’ve set up a livecam at the famous Abbey Road crossing which the Beatles used on their album cover.

WATCHING STUPID TOURISTS ON THE NEW ABBEY ROAD CAM IS HILARIOUS

(The Thrillist’s headline, not mine).

I enjoy seeing famous sights in person but I’ve never been one to try to reenact a moment or have the need to capture a photograph proving I was there. Not that there’s anything wrong with it; I think I’m just lazy.

Still Life with Airport

From Douglas Coupland’s book “Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!”

You are in an airport and the year is 1962. Women around you are dressed nicely. You are wearing a hat. You are a fifty-two-year-old man eating roast beef in an airport restaurant, and the roast beef you are eating is marbled with globs of fat shaped like American states and counties. The air is silky blue with cigarette smoke. There are no black people around you. You are reading newspaper articles about birth control pills and about art being made in New York that uses comic strips and magazine ads as its creative nucleus. The ice in your bourbon is almost entirely melted. Your flight is announced and you go to your gate. You get into your seat, 3A, and the guy seated beside you pinches the stewardess’s butt. She giggles.

You cross a continent.

The car that picks you up at the other end is a machine that pumps large clouds of leaded blue smoke into the air while it idles. All the other cars around you are doing the same thing. None of these cars have seat belts. The sky is brown.

A woman on the sidewalk takes a pill. Pills of all sorts seem so common: amphetamines for people trying to lose weight, elephant-pill barbiturates for those in need of sleep. But your brain is calm. Your brain feels like a cathedral made of brown stone, light beaming in through stained-glass windows. You are witnessing the world, but you are not being affected by it. You are driven to a skyscraper where rich men are paying you thousands of dollars to say pretty much whatever passes through your mind.

12th & Broadway Diner in San Diego

12th & Broadway Diner in San Diego

My favorite restaurant of the trip so far. A no-name diner at the corner of 12th & Broadway at the edge of San Diego’s downtown. Ate there 3 days in a row. There’s something comforting about greasy diner food and unassuming places.

Travel and Lodging

May brings a lot of traveling.  Planned so far are New York City, San Diego, and London.  There’s a week in-between San Diego and London that I need to fill… whether it’s a road trip up Highway 101 or a short exploration of Chile, who knows.  Likely the former with the cost and time constraints.

I used airbnb.com for the first time to book places to stay.  I’ve been skeptical about it but find myself now fascinated.  The site encourages you to have a lot of communication with the “host” and the social aspect is interesting.  Hopefully the rooms I’ve booked live up to their photographs and reviews!

Since I can’t sleep tonight I’m going to go search for airbnb horror stories just to freak myself out.

Tartar

Randomly I sit here browsing through photos of past trips to Europe.  Primarily Paris and Belgium.  What I think about is how I ate steak tartar every day.

I love steak tartar.

BelgiumParis

This would be better if I actually had pictures of steak tartar.  I will have more soon.  Opening a raw bar on Orchard Road in a month or so.  Steak tartar, raw oysters, sashimi and more.  My dream of eating a meal of raw food is near complete!

Lisbon

Thanks to Yu-Mei for pointing out this New York Times article.

How I Fell for Lisbon

I spent a few days wandering the city back in September 2008.  I remember thinking that the endless steps kept all the Lisbonites (I don’t know what the locals call themselves) in tremendous shape.  No matter where I walked, it was always uphill.  But beautiful.

LisbonStatue

German bar

One of the memorable dining experiences for me this year was in Frankfurt, Germany.  I had a 24 hour layover on the way to New York, and since I had been to the city before I didn’t feel any pressure to see the traditional tourist sights.

I strolled around and eventually wandered into a bar by the hotel. It was 4 PM and there were three 60-some year olds having beers and chatting inside.

It was a simple place; you could choose to drink a Pilsner or… nothing else.  Which was great, sometimes we’re tired of making choices.  The food on offer was a small list of sausages.  Again, great.

There was no music, no TV.  I read on my Nook, drank my beer, and enjoyed currywurst.

Why the ‘Authentic’ Travel Experience Is a Myth

Good column on why the authentic travel experience that people build up in their head is a myth.

It’s always amusing to hear tourists mutter, “This place is too developed!”

Learnings from JFK Airport

Two things I have learned about JFK Airport:

1) If you have enough time to leave JFK Airport during a transit, you should.  They don’t have enough seats for all the passengers here and the air conditioner is weak.  On top of that there are flies buzzing around everywhere.  It is an unpleasant experience. (Terminal 4)

2) If you are heading into Manhattan from JFK airport I would suggest you take either public transportation (subway) or a taxi.  By no means take the Super Shuttle. It is a terrible option.  It costs $20 and is a shared-ride van.  You have to wait for the driver at the terminal, you then have to wait for your fellow passengers, then you drive to each terminal to pick up passengers, and then it’s up to the driver who gets dropped off first.  If you’re the last person dropped off, it may take you 3 hours to get to your destination.  A taxi costs $45 (plus tip) and you can leave right away and be dropped off at your exact destination.  Subway costs around $7.50 and takes an hour.

You have been warned.