500th Post Anniversary!!!

500. Did you ever think we would make it? Can you believe I wrote 500 of these things? To commemorate the 500th post on my travel blog i have compiled the best of my blog up until now. I tried my best to compress the 3.5 years worth of this travel blog into 60 photos, complete with commentary. It's not an easy task to trivialize 3.5 years of traveling around the world into 60 photos. This blog has taken us from New York to China to Hong Kong to Japan to Korea to Spain to the UK and to France. This is not a best of photos post. These photos represent the best of my experiences thus far. If you're just joining us, here is my back-story. I was living in New York City slowly making progress as a freelance illustrator when one day my Aunt who was working for the Washington Post as their Beijing correspondent suggested that I come live with them in China. It had been 2 years after i had graduated and I was starting to get more and more illustration work, so i thought, maybe i might be able to actually do it. So I jumped. I lived in Beijing for 1 year and 4 months and my illustration business grew enough that i could make it in way more expensive Tokyo, where I lived for 1 year and 6 months. The earthquake happened, my visa was soon over anyway, and so I fled to Seoul for 1 month of fun. Then it was Barcelona sun for 3 months. Next was London, where I have now been living for 3 months with a visit to Paris in between. 500 posts. 500 adventures. 500 memories. Thank you readers and supporters. Here's to 500 more!

When I first started the blog back in new york the photos were this big and taken with a canon pocket camera. I've since upgraded the size of the blog photos and to one of the most expensive cameras you can get. In New York I had a bunch of friends and was kind an organizer. This is a dodgeball game. We got some mexican kids to play with us too.

the last ever Viva La Everything party that I threw with my roommates. We did this party maybe 6 times at Happy Ending Lounge and everytime it was a raging party.

upgrading laptops from that IBM thinkpad T21 circa the year 2000. I make my living with this 15 inch macbook pro. I do huge illustrations on that 15 inch screen and take it with me everywhere in the world. It's been up and down mountains in southern china. the logic board blew up in tokyo and i had to pay $600 to get it fixed.

this was a big moment. this was THE moment. That sack of crap was going in the dumpster and then me and bob were going to the airport to fly to China where my journey would begin. After living in NYC for 7 years I gave away most of my possessions. things that i spent years accumulating. That jar of peanuts? toast.

I met Angel on Flickr before i went to Beijing and met her the first day I was there and we've been buddies ever since. She helped me out with everything and all the friends i made in Beijing were through here somehow. If I didn't meet Angel my time in Beijing could have been horrible. What a friend.

Peking duck gets a shout out because it's my fave food from beijing. There is too much other good food from China to show here.

seeing the extreme poverty in parts of China was a good for me.

collecting cultural artifacts from China and everywhere i've gone.

Bob coming to China with me really helped. Its always awesome to have someone to share the first days of your new territory with. Sharing the laughs, the blunders, and the sweaty summer times. I also like laughing at bob when he does things like get minor heat strokes at the great wall 20 minutes in.

My first visit to Japan. This was a magical moment in Kyoto when i was by myself for the day and wandered onto this hill of jizo.

Everyone should just let Japan wash over you the first time you go there and you should really enjoy the first time you go there because it will be the most magical and crazy time. I bought this Gachapin costume and wore it around shibuya, it's polyester and it was july. sweat factory.

I saw 4 Olympic events in Beijing. Handball, Women's beach volleyball, Women's badmitton, and Track and Field in the bird's nest stadium. What an energetic time in Beijing and in life. I was getting the hang of beijing life and still seeing tons of new things everyday.

My visit to Hong Kong. people ask why i like hong kong and this photo is part of my answer. It is literally bursting at the seams with life. It's like a compacted chinese version of New York and there is this whole underground city too. I remember looking up once and it looked like the Jetsons city with multiple layers of roads zooming past skyscrapers

The biggest art i had made up to that point and turning point for me. I got this commission from Tiger Beer and could basically do anything I wanted so it was my first chance to put my chops to work combined with the new found inspirations from china. This illo won in a few competitions including Communication arts and Luerzer's 200 best illustrators worldwide.

A trip to western China, to Li Jiang. I saw the most beautiful village, the only hierglyphic writing still used in the world by these guys, the worst worst worst bathroom i've ever used, a pristine lake village high in the mountains where the women hold all the power, and climbed the jade dragon snow mountain that is 4680 meters.

chinese new year is a sight to behold. weeks of fireworks at all hours amongst other things. i hope to see it in southern china or hong kong where there is even more fanfare someday.

seeing the thousands of buddah's carved into this mountain in Da Tong, which has the coal plants where all of beijing's power comes from. Also saw the hanging monestary hanging on the side of a mountain on this trip. and I saw an average sized chinese city and how dirty it was. it was a good character building experience.

another commission for Yahoo! Philippines where i could do anything i wanted. It's proved to be a theme that when I do what i want I make my best work. funny right?

Debbie and Salih coming to Beijing. the first time i could share the craziness of china with my friends from NY. It's nice to have that reality check.

food is so cheap in china that i didn't really have to worry that much about where to go eat because everything was available to me (the A-hole American earning dollars). pictured here are xiao long bao and tofu "brain". awesome breakfast time food. The best times in Beijing were exploring alleys on my bike and trying new food at new places.

my parents came to China. it was good to share this new crazy world with them.

another do whatever you want job from Yahoo! Singapore.

I lived near Lake Houhai in Beijing. i spent many a day biking, jogging, eating, and relaxing around this lake.

a trip i made by myself at the end of my time in china. i went to southern china, to yangshuo, guilin, long ji, and rode a boat down the Li river. this rice terraced village at Long Ji was the most amazing memory of China. the sun was setting as i walked around the rim of this utopian village.

Next up Japan, WTF. what a country. every western person is drawn to it, every asian person too. its a weird, wacky, wonderful place and it was my dream to live there and I did it! Here is a scene from Design Festa that they have a few times a year in Tokyo and you have to go!

Karaoke in Japan is far superior to anywhere else in the world. sound quality, song selection, food and drink are far far far above everywhere else i've lived in the world. and japanese people are by far the most fun to go to Karaoke with. Here are my old FIT buddies Yuri and Fumika.

The first of hopefully 12 years of Japanese new year's cards featuring the asian zodiac animal of that year. 2010 was the year of the tiger. i did 2011 the year of the rabbit. next year will be the dragon. this is signifigant because it's all paint and no photoshop at all. If i want to be a real painter i have to keep doing this.

did i almost die? I woke up in the hospital not knowing where i was. I was there for 4 days after being hit by a taxi somewhere near akasaka in tokyo. my skull was fractured and took 3 months to heal. I have to remember to live my life to the fullest and all that other good stuff that you're supposed to feel when you have a brush with death like this. talk about dramatic, this is as dramatic as it gets.

one of my favorite moments from Japan, this day at Yoyogi park during cherry blossom season in April. warm weather, cherry blossom petals falling, sake, and friends and strangers laughing really hammers home the Japanese utopia feeling.

everytime i look at this photo i get the feeling of spring, that feeling of anticipation and wonder. This IS my romantic image of Japan and i can't think of a better one. This photo is pure magic, and its real and exists in Kyoto and probably many other places around Japan during cherry blossom season. it makes me sad to look at this too because it's over. the moment in this photo is like a cherry blossom, its so beautiful but only lasts a moment before it's over. maybe if i was older i could be one of the people that appreciates that they had this moment instead of feeling sorrow that it's over. maybe when i'm older i will feel that when i see this photo.

Fushimi Inari in Kyoto is probably my favorite shrine. I went to Kyoto maybe 4 times before and never went here and when i finally did a 5th time I was blown away and couldn't believe i hadn't been here before. things like this are why i want to live in countries i go to for extended periods of time as opposed to just visiting and being a tourist.

the iga ninja festival. a day of running around in a rented ninja costume with the rest of the town makes you gotta love japan.

I've been to Korea 3 times since I've started my worldly travels. Everytime was to visit Yoon. One time I had horrible horrible food poisoning and was up all night throwing up and went to see his doctor uncle. I was supposed to go to Chongju but took the wrong bus to gyeongju which is at the other end of the country. what a horrible sweaty food poisoned day. but funny for others. enjoy.

Marco was my best buddy in tokyo. we were in the same class and i don't know which one of us hated the school more. and bob came to tokyo for another installment of raish brothers good times.

sushi in japan is the best. and its cheaper than anywhere else. both obvious points but i'm just sayin'. i mean it blows everything else away.

a huge development, getting into the DSLR game. i started with this Canon 40D and 6 months later made a huge leap up to the Canon 5D mark II. from here on out the quality of pics on the blog were 100x better.

my japanese family, the sugimotos. I went to school with fu-balls in New York. Also i ran a half marathon in 1 hour 42 minutes.

climbing mt fuji. it sucked and sucked even more going down. but at the top it was heavenly. i would never do it again though. but its one of those things you can brag about. even though all you have to do is set yourself in motion, get your friends to go, buy the bus tickets, buy some water, and start walking, and then anyone can do it, including super old elderly people (and they certainly complain a lot less about it!). but still its something to brag about.

festivals, another reason to love japan, and this moment at this festival is one of the great memories. the awa odori festival in koenji, tokyo. these girls are about to spring into a high energy routine along the street lined with people drinking, clapping, and being merry.

another kind of do what you want job for a book on phobias. this is the fear of crossing bridges.

for some reason I love the movie step brothers. It features olan mills/sears studio portrait style portrait of the two brothers and the whole family. Me and my assistant bob whipped together this makeshift studio. we are totally serious.

trip to nagano to the onsen town and the hot springs monkey park. he's not really smoking, its photoshop, sorry to burst your bubble.

Earthquake! my visa was about to end and I was about to get ready to end my life in Japan when a 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan and caused a huge tsunami and nuclear power plant disasters. I spend a few days in my apartment nervously working on the most laborious advertising project ever as aftershocks and nuclear radiation fears increased. finally i ran away like all the other foreigners in Japan did. I fled to Korea floating on a rubber tire.

trip to the DMZ, the demilitarized zone between north and south korea. things are super serious there. it was weird to see the land of evil before my feet. North korean soldiers were staring at us. Our cable car thing got stuck in the 3rd underground tunnel that the north koreans dug into south korea and for a minute i thought it was all over.

The car show in Seoul. Man what a day. I usually scoff at these car shows and these girls but once you're in there your primitive caveman with camera instinct comes out.

piles and piles of Korean meat.

I have known Yoon for 10 years since we were roommates at Yonsei University in Seoul. Since then our friendship has seen many countries, which of course means ping pong matches. Recently Yoon got this trophy for us to trade back and forth depending on who wins. It currently resides in Seoul with Yoon but not for long.

screen golf in Seoul

14 or 17 hour layover in Moscow, flying from Seoul to Barcelona. I slept on the floor with all of my bags looped around my body in the cold of the airport overnight. Actually got a few hours of sleep.

La Sagrada Familia, the best of Antoni Gaudi's architectural works in Barcelona. it is a sight to behold.

festival de sant joan is the biggest beach party in Barcelona and other areas along the coast. it marks the longest day of summer i think. jumping over bon fires more than 3 times or something like that brings good luck. it was super fun

spanish food is awesome. salmorejo is one of my favorites.

the running of the bulls in Pamplona is the biggest party in Spain. i got the most drunk in my life ever and don't remember anything from midnight on. it is scary actually and i'm lucky to still have my expensive camera. people just party and drink in the streets 24 hrs a day for a week. oh man.

Next stop, London. Regents Canal in London and the Sandwich Barge, a narrow boat with a cafe on it

my flatmate Lucy and one of her dogs Wilf.

The Strawberry shortcake kitchen.

huge poster for Facebook Singapore featuring some of the archetypes of people from the countries I have lived in.

Cafe in San Germain in Paris and people watching.

The streets of Paris and the grandiose architecture.

What does the future of the blog hold? Bob is coming to London for 2 weeks before xmas and then we are flying back to new york for xmas. I'll spend 2 weeks in NYC and after that I am coming back to London for a month. Then i'm moving to paris for either 3 months or 1 year if i can get the artist visa. after paris it's kind of in the air still. I will try to get a special business visa for Hong Kong because i still really want to live there. if i can't get that visa will i just live in HK for 3 months? can i really see myself in south america? it's kind of distressing that i have no goal that i am super hellbent on accomplishing now that my goal of living in Tokyo has been realized. Have i ruined the specialness of the world for myself? Will this blog see 500 more posts of me living in other countries? Stay tuned to find out.


Sarah Dawson said...

Looks like you had a fulfilling time in China and the rest of the countries. Keep travelling and blogging! :)