1000th Post 10 Year Anniversary - Part 1

By coincidence today June 1st 2018 is the 10 year anniversary of when I left for the airport to fly to Beijing to go on a 6 year international hobo's journey.  This is also exactly the 1000th post on this here blog.  I wondered if I would ever make it.  It was really hard to pare down 10 years of adventures that have taken me to many countries so here are 155 photos in two parts that may not be the best photos but they are stand ins for the feeling/experience at the time.

I started this blog a few months before I left for China.  In that time I stopped working at the graphics lab at FIT, had several going away parties and pegged a bunch of Mexican kids with dodgeballs that we convinced to play with us.

I flew to Bejing with Bob since I was going to live with my aunt in Beijing Bob was more than welcome.  Bob is not made for this world so bob was sick a lot of the time and tired all of the time.  Here he is after a heat stroke trying to make it up the last set of stairs of the great wall.  I wish that feeling could be bottled, the feeling when you step out of that ultra cheap taxi with your brother, in beijing, on your very first day, knowing this is now your city and anything is possible.  We had no idea what was going on and I loved it.  China is so far from New York in every way it was really out of this world.  I like the 3rd worldness it's got going on.  I also avoided a lot of the 2008 recession because china is so cheap to live in.

Japan was always my dream and I took a short trip from Beijing and was bitten by the Japan bug hard.  This mossy hill at Kiyomizu Dera in Kyoto was dreamy

saw the 2008 summer olympics on 4 separate days including track and field in the bird's nest because my aunt was working for the Washington post and scored these tix.  We were really close.  I also saw handball, beach volleyball, and badmitton

My aunt went back to DC for good just before we were supposed to move into the diplomatic compound at Qi Jia Yuan.  You have to show your passport to get in and I was just a little piece of sh!t living with ambassadors and other super important people.

The best part about living in Beijing?  cruising around its flat streets, taking photos, seeing crazy stuff, eating anything you want because everything is so cheap, buying souvenirs, listening to bumpin' tunes in your headphones, not worrying about crime.

Chinese street food is legendary.  Jian Bing is one of the best

So many random adventures.  This one is in Tianjin with Yoon at some weird cover band club and the night went on to be weirder and more bizarre wherever we went in Tianjin.  The weird thing about China is you don't know the cultural norms or what's weird, what's normal, what's cool.  This is magnified when you venture outside of the tier 1 cities like Beijing.

A trip to western China near Shangrila where the air is clean.  These minority people are the last on earth to use hieroglyphics.  I don't remember how but I asked the girl in the red coat and her friend to have a drink with us later that night and their english was good and they could really go places but said they can't because their parents can't farm without them and I felt sad for them because they showed a little sadness, but just a little.  

the highest mountain i've ever been on, those are glaciers.  4,680 meters

the grossest thing I ate in China, 10 yr old pig where the meat is taken out so its basically 10 yr old pig fat just sitting on the floor of this cabin.

Lu Gu Hu in Yunnan is quite a journey to get to on scary roads but when you see it appear around the bend its amazing.  there's also a matriarchal village where the women hold all the power.

Lunar new year in China is crazy and there are fireworks at all hours of the day and night for a week.

went to Da Tong buddha statue grottos and the hanging monastery twice.

Peking duck from Da Dong and Hot pot are my two fav foods in beijing but xiao long bao and dou fu nao at breakfast time is super cheap and super soul satisfying

my parents came to china and this photo is a testament to how they did everything and had a great time.  If China is mindblowing for a then 29 yr old then its gonna be even more so for my parents.

another trip to Japan, I think this was for John Ribiero's wedding.  This time i went to Nara, which get's less props than Kyoto but it's a nice quieter alternative.

I taught english briefly and it was such a weird experience.

after a few months in the diplomatic compound I moved to Ji Shui Tan near lake Hou Hai with Nana and Zizzo was just down the street.

cruising down the Li river on a solo trip, the most rewarding trip of my journeys I think.  It was my last week in China, I had been there for a year and a half and I spoke enough chinese to have super basic convos with people.  I was really in the middle of nowhere

dragon's backbone.  I stayed in this village, ate in the back kitchen with the home family, traversed I don't know how many miles with a very old guide woman to the next village up and down mountains.  

I moved to Japan, my life dream was accomplished.  This is also a shout out to Japanese home cooking.  Fumika's mom made this.  Its great seeing a rural house and rural Japanese life.

fall leaves in Japan are great, this is in Kyoto

it's been 9 years since I was hit by a taxi while on a jog in Tokyo and the carpe diem feeling has faded.  I had this photo on my phone screen for many years as a reminder that you can leave this earth at any time so you'd better make the best of it.

fav time and place in the universe?  Cherry blossom time in japan.

Iga ninja festival with fumika

also on that trip was tanuki town, tanukis are my chosen spirit animal.

design festa is great to see if it's going on when you're in tokyo.  so much crazy stuff happening.

so i had to go to japanese school every day for 3.5 hrs for a year to get a student visa to live in Japan for longer than the 3 month tourist visa.  So I paid up my $7,000 and did just that.  The class was like 80% chinese kids, 18% koreans and 2% me and marco from spain.  Most of these peeps were like 18-20 yrs old but they didn't want to go drink after class.  Marco and I were so frustrated and wondering what the hell is wrong with kids these days.  

shout out to happening upon random festivals at anytime and any place in Japan.  There is just culture oozing out of everything/object/place.

climbed Mt Fuji and don't want to do it again.  It was cool though but going back down, slamming your knees into a giant pile of black volcanic sand for hours isn't so fun.

sumo was one of the coolest things I witnessed in Japan.  I went by myself so i was able to move around freely (cuz you're not supposed to).

ran a half marathon with Fumika's family.

Halloween is maybe the most fun day in Japan.  In a land where you must stay in your box halloween allows peeps to put on their "masks" and step out of their boxes and talk to any stranger they want and have unbridled fun for once.

Nagano trip.  snow monkey park and onsen circuit.

I was at a cafe with a friend when the big earthquake hit.  No one knew if this was really happening and it just kept intensifying.  Afterward I rode my bike home and saw all kinds of chaos and then saw this on the news.  Tsunami's and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima happened later.  Lots of foreigners were leaving japan and the gov't wasn't really saying what was going on.  Was nuclear fallout coming?  Was that the big one or was the big one still coming?  There were big aftershocks all the time and it was impossible to sleep and my nerves were shot because on top of all of that i was working on the biggest highest paying Advertising job ever and the deadline was approaching.

a few days later I said ok fine I should escape to Korea.  I stayed with Yoon.  One day we went with the embassy peeps to the DMZ and were going down in the tunnnel under the DMZ to see the North Korean border kind of and the thing stopped and we were stuck there and it was kind of like oh no, are they coming for us right now?

long overnight layover at the moscow airport.  I slept like this on the cold floor.

I moved to Barcelona.  I lived with Marco and a bunch of other people in a big airy, sunny barcelona apt.  There was a lot of going to the beach, drinking cheap beer, eating at 10 or 11 (spanish dinner time) and not working so much (just like a lot of the spanish peeps we knew).  This was in Madrid, the first day of the anti austerity protests against the gov't, banks, political corruption, etc.

After seeing Salih and Fu's Canon 5D Mark IIs in action I got bitten by the photography bug and got a much lesser 40D in tokyo and finally upgraded to the 5D mark II ($2500) which is a lot of money but I don't regret it.  This would eventually meet it's demise in Paris in a sudden rain storm (supposed to be weather sealed though).  A few month's later I got the 6D after mulling it over.

Festival Sant Joan in Barcelona, you're supposed to jump over a fire a certain number of times for good luck.  The Spanish have parties for everything all the time

trip to london for Angel's wedding.  Trafalager square became camp potter as all the peeps camped out for days to see the newest harry potter movie or something.

running of the bulls in Pamplona.  The most drunk i've ever been in my life and I don't even remember if I ran with the bulls or not.  It's a week long 24 hr party and it really got me.

we walked along the costa brava which goes all the way up to france.

Valencia another city by the ocean.  Horchata is from Valencia and spanish horchata is thicker and delish.
and how can i forget the spanish food.  I love the spanish way of eating.  

moved to london and found Lucy online and lived in this ex council flat with her super pink kitchen.

Mel was visiting London on a whim and Jen came with her.  this is the first time I met Jen (not here at the W hotel but before that at dinner).  Jen was none too impressed and we didn't talk much.

Regent's Canal with all it's house boats, my fave place in London

The Tottenham riots approached our flat but never made it

Lucy and Wilf 

Visit to Paris, this is my aunt and uncle's house that i'd later live in for a year.  On this trip I talked to her about living with them and they were so generous to have me

Kaz the golden doodle (RIP) I spent two summer with this guy just me and him when the Ray fam when back to the states for the summer.

Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford on a trip with Steven.  Little did I know that years later in New York Steven would become one of my best buds.

I flew back to NYC to accept this Steven Donhanos award from the Society of Illustrators, never to return to London

another time I met Jen in NYC.  She was again none too impressed.

two month trip to Asia with that sweet advertising money.  Vivi's wedding' happened to be at Cherry blossom time which was super swell.
it was really fun this time around being back in Japan after a year, i mean I got my back scrubbed by this random dude at the bathhouse.  I later found out that oldschool protocol is you scrub their back back and its not weird.

rooftop in Seoul that Ivan somehow knew about that there was access to.

road tripping with yoon and his mom to Daegu and beyond.  We f'd up the car chassis trying to get it out at nigh without turning on the engine and waking up his mom.

Beijing and beijing buddies again.

club in Chengdu with Will.  This is not a tier 1 city so i had no idea what was going on.  it seemed so weird and off to me but to everyone else it was normal.

largest stone buddha in the world at Leshan

and I finally went on my Yangtze river cruise after seeing it on big bird goes to china when i was like 5 yrs old.  This was another super rewarding solo trip.  Hanging out with random chinese people on vacation for a few days on the boat.
I thought I lost the data on my harddrive but tons of money got the data recovered ($960!!!!!!).
the worst bus ride of my life, all the seats where taken so i had to sit in this fold down seat over the stairs where your feet can't touch the bottom for hours.
I stayed in this motel that I realized was so shady that i put the bed, tv, garbage can, anything else i could in front of the door so no one could force their way in.  Again maybe i just don't know what's going on and it was fine or at least ok.

had buddies in Shanghai this time around so it made it more fun.

spent 2 weeks in Hong Kong this time so I could really explore and it was amazing.  Just look at it.

a couple days in Singapore.  Norina showed me around.