1/28/13

Philippines

I didn't get to go to nearly as many places as I wanted to in the Philippines, mostly because it rained everyday, my bike got pretty rusty, and I spent most of my 2 months playing pool in Manila (the Mecca of pocket billiards).
 MANILA
Manila is a pretty crazy place indeed, here were my first impressions:
-Filthy
-Homeless people everywhere, mostly children
-The majority of women seem to be prostitutes
-The food sucks

On my first night I went into a bar and was attacked by 'freelancers' (prostitutes who don't work for the bar, they just work for themselves and are usually older.) I met an American guy named James, he was a stocky ex-marine and he really played the part. He talked a lot, maybe a hundred words to my one, and he liked to tell me lots of stories, mostly about how many asses he has kicked or about prostitition. He would say things like: "It's like McDonalds bro, you look at the menu then order what you want, same thing with these girls, you discuss exactly what you want and how much it's gonna cost before you leave the bar."
James was not a very likable man, but interesting none the less and I quietly listened to his crazy ass stories at various bars till about 3am when I decided to call it a night and head home. As I was leaving he gave me one last little gem for me to contemplate on my long walk home through Manlis's backstreets and alleys: "Be careful walking home bro, if they're this big (he held his hand to his waist) then they're beggers, don't worry about them. If they're this big (hand at his belly button) then they're pick pockets and if they get to close just give 'em a little smack in the back of the head. And if they're this big (hand at his chest) these are little fuckers you really gotta watch out for, 12-14 year olds are addicted to crystal meth and they make guns out of rat traps and 22 bullets and POP! (jamming 2 fingers into my kidney) and thats it bro, you will watch them run off with your backpack while your bleeding in the gutter"
"Okay thanks" I said, "I'll keep an eye out for the rat trap ones." I put on my backpack and left. 
Fried tofu was one of my favorite things to eat

Pork Sisig was also pretty good, it's a hash with a fried egg. I asked the guy what the meat was and he said 'The pig face'

Getting my bike fixed, it got pretty beat up on the flight from Japan

Jeepneys and pedicabs are the main forms of transportation in Manila

Pretty sweet bike

Jeepneys are covered in shiny metals and usually lights and loud shitty music

A pedicab driver

No jeepney would be complete without a reference to 'god' or 'jesus'

A little girl who lives on the street and carries around her little brother asking for money

One of thousands of brothels
SOUTH THROUGH LUZON 
Luzon is the main island in the Philippines and after a couple weeks in Manila I was keen to get out and see some of the nicer parts of the island...
Mountains...

A lazy afternoon near Lucena



A sweet rice cake steamed in banana leaves

I assumed the elevated roads through the villages were designed for flooding


 
Everytime I want to get a photo of some nice power lines there always seems to be a volcano ruining the shot

A typical meal in the countryside is rice with liver or kidney in a tasty sauce

 
MASBATE - CEBU
The island of Masbate was pretty cool, no tourism and pretty laid back...



Pork belly marinated and spit roasted with crispy skin, oh yeah!



Bohol - Siquijor
I had some pretty close calls going through security check points as I took ferrys from island to island. Going from Cibu to Bohol I was putting my bags throught the x-ray when I noticed the 2 police dogs waiting for me inside the gate. I was nervous because of the ounce of grass riding shotgun next to my manhood in my bicycle shorts, luckily they were bomb dogs! whewwwwwwww!
An old church left behind by those Spanish bastards

Vegetables in a spicy coconut sauce






King and Queen of Siquijor
 Dumaguete
A small city on the island of Negros where I spent a week relaxing, smoking pot, and reading books...
The harbor had very rough water and people lined up to watch people being shuttled off of a sinking ship





12/15/12

Japanese Food (a la Osaka)

With regards to travel Japan is an amazing place; beautiful and tranquil with a very unique and progressive culture. But at this point in my life I much prefer cycling countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam because they are cheaper and offer much more in terms of adventure and excitement. My first 40 days in Japan I was on such a tight budget that I ate only at supermarkets and my diet was mostly made up of fruit and rice...until my mate Jon met up with me in Osaka, at which point he and I went nuts and ate everything we could and Japan became possibly my favorite food country on earth...

I've divided this post into 5 sections:
Street snacks and diners
Noodles
Okonomi-yaki
Shabu shabu
Sushi
Street snacks and diners - On the cheaper (but still expensive) side of things there is a ton of street food on offer all over Osaka where a typical meal is around $4-$7 with sit down diners costing slightly more.
Tako-yaki (octopus balls) is definitely the most famous street food in Osaka




The batter forms balls around chunks of octopus as they cook

The finished product is covered with a spicy bbq sauce, mayo, and dried fish flakes

Seaweed ice cream

Gyoza (fried dumplings)

Street pancakes made from egg
 
  
The best late night meal that a drunk person could ever ask for: a big raw steak with pepper and butter sizzzzzling on a hot cast iron pan

Noodles - Hot bowls of noodles on a cold November day are extremely pleasurable
Soba

Udon

Ramen

More ramen

Okonomi-yaki -These 'pancakes' are made of a batter with rice and various kinds of stuffings, pretty much anything you can think of can be put into these things, and then they are cooked on a hot griddle in the middle of your table. The Japanese seem to love restaurants that have a 'hands on' aspect to the meal, meaning that you cook it yourself at your table, which I really like.
Batter and slabs of bacon go on the grill

covered with various sauces..

...and a thin mayo..

..and finished with more sauces and fish flakes

cheese doing what it does best: oozing

Shabu shabu - One of the best meals of my life. All you can eat raw beef and pork, which is dipped quickly in a simmering broth and then into a citrus soy sauce, and all you can drink beer/sake/plum wine for about $60/person. I wouldn't be surprised if this particular restaurant decided to revoke it's all-you-can options after me mate and I ate 10 plates of meat and drank about 20 drinks in 1.5 hours. 
Preparing to devour a massive meal

Jon Doig pictured here with a beer, a cigarette, and chopsticks full of thinly sliced pork. He would be a pretty shitty Muslim,  but an ideal dining buddy

Oh yeah

Sushi - My favorite of all, you sit in long narrow restaurants and small plates of sushi slowly pass by you on conveyor belts with each plate costing about $1.50, Jonni and I averaged well over 30 plates per meal and were quite proud of our 'stacks' which serve as concrete evidence to the other patrons of the restaurant, as well as the employees, that we don't f#$% around.