Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My scientific discovery of a 3rd type of Tear

Evidently the chemical composition of your tears are different depending on whether they are tears of sorrow or tears of joy. For example, if you are stressed and have tears of sorrow, then you can expect different oils and enzymes and salt to make up the composition of the tear. Now there is even evidence that there are protein-based hormones including the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, which acts as a natural painkiller in times of stress (Source - The Topography of Tears by Rose Lynn Fisher).

Since my move to South East Asia, I believe I have made a new scientific discovery of a 3rd type of tear.... the tears that a human experiences while being out in public space while clenching his teeth, hands, and butt cheeks while praying to Buddha, God, and even L. Ron Hubbard for a miracle.  Yes - you guessed it.  Those my friends are the unique tears you get from being struck by a horrible case of diarrhea in a public setting miles away from a toilet.


The chemical make-up of this tear is so much more complex than the others because it is drawn from a unique composition of mixed emotions all striking you like a lightning bolt to the tallest rod on the Empire State Building.


It can hit you at anytime, but in my experience you usually experience it when your away from home, perhaps while sitting in a taxi stuck in traffic, waiting in the hall 5 minutes before an hour long job interview, while driving back home on a date right before you intend to get lucky, or while standing in a subway carriage that has somehow stopped in the middle of the tracks with a notice that the train will not move for another 30 minutes due to French labor strikes.



These tears have such a kaleidoscope of chemical composition due to the human body's natural chemical signals used to deal with the onset of change to its stress levels, that we are just at the beginning of understanding its organic makeup.


Here is the timeline of emotions: First comes surprise (what!)...then shock (oh no!)...then rage (I can't freaking believe this!!)...then fear (uh oh)...then blame (I knew that shitty restaurant was dodgy!)...then remorse (Why didn't I just stick to the soup!).  The only emotion that you are missing is relief, and you would be in serious trouble if that relief was at that very moment.


Why am I raising this subject now? For some strange reason, since I've moved here the foreigners in the region just love to exchange their diarrhea trauma stories like WWII veterans trading war stories. I've never heard of more incidents about body functions since the year all my friends decided to have kids and decide that the subject of kids diaper poo was awesome.


How do you end up inviting the Gastro Intestinal Boogey Man into your digestive track?  Let me educate you on the common methods found here:


1) Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam) - Evidently these street food delicacies have a secret flavor ingredient: A dime sized bacteria laden baby crab crushed whole in the pestel and mortar along with the other ingredients. My Thai friend Ton who is a chef has a few nicknames for it:   'Thai Jackpot' or 'Thai Russian Roulette'  See the crab below!?!  You didn't know did you and you've had how many papaya salads by now?  Jackpot!



2) Eat raw seafood at a restaurant that specializes in meat - The inspiration for this blog comes from my recent food poisoning at Lawry's Prime Rib in Singapore. A colleague of mine and I ate the raw oysters which were cold on the surface but warm in the middle which indicates that its been sitting in the heat and thrown on the ice at the last minute before serving. Or it could have been the chopped salad, which was chopped like days before and put into a refrigerator.  Our final theory is that it could have been the spinach which sits in their Jetson's era robot looking food trolley which looks like a giant metal bacteria petri box to me.




I ended up losing 10 pounds in 5 days. When I told my new fitness coach that getting food poisoning was more effective than his training regiment he was seriously pissed off!

3) Shower with your mouth open - Evidently I met a dude who lived in India for 4 years and he said that its often the water spray from your shower that will get you sick.  So avoid brushing your teeth in tapwater, drinks with ice, and showers with your mouth open.

4) Don't be a hero - Asking for your food to be spicy cuz' you think your awesome in Thailand is like asking Tony Jaa to to shin kick a grenade into your butt.



5) All you can eat Buffet - New Years dinner at Kho Pagnan Island several years ago, our UCPA French adventure tour treated us to a special New Years meal!  Thai hot pot Buffet!  Gotta love the french.  They love to eat all their food cooked rare and raw and never realized that the meat in their chopsticks has been sitting open air in the hot thai sun for days.  Elodie and I barely escaped with our lives because I cooked the hell out of everything, but everyone else described the aftermath as 'the battle of Verdun'.



So - If any of you are interested in participating in cataloging this new 3rd tear, come pay us a visit.  We will put you through one of the above steps and then get you stuck in line somewhere like the local immigration visa office to reproduce the perfect 3rd tear environment.



Friday, November 8, 2013

Bangkok has him

Its done.  We did it.  We arrived and thrived in Bangkok. The Venice of the East, The Big Mango, The Bangers...

However, I've got an eerie feeling that things aren't the same anymore.

You kind of get that strange feeling that your not in Kansas anymore when Ronnie Mcdonnie is greeting you at the airport and it doesn't quite feel right.
 

We got ourselves setup with a really nice apartment in Ekkamai, which is actually the Japan town of Bangkok.  We set ourselves down to have our first night out and a  frosty beer.  This is not a vertically challenged thai woman, but a 12 year old girl pouring me a cold one. I had to explain to her not to put much foam on the top to pour the perfect beer.



LOD and I are always travelling and working, so we needed some extra help to get the house chores done.  When we asked our housekeeper Lehk if she could make us a thai dinner once a week, she got so excited and now sends my wife regular food porn photos on her cell phone.



We tried going to one of the vacation islands for a weekend island to stay at a beach resort.  The beaches were over-run by a zillion russian girls doing 1980's sports illustrated swimsuit edition poses in '1001 Arabian Nights' swimwear.  The Russian Harem Kitsche picture session started to drip feed in the morning but by the mid afternoon I felt like I was on a photo shoot for the Russian remake of 'I dream of Genie meets Baywatch'.


I didn't have the balls to take their photo so I had to rip off the photos from this website to capture the true essence of the experience (and yes, this shit's for real  http://www.haremswimwear.com/).

So that's it for now folks.  We are landed, healthy, and happy.  All the best to you.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Frank Vs. Ze Angry French Mob

I have a tendency to rate my days, and May 27th was definitely rated "Triple Grade A Crap Day." 


I've just stepped off an Air France plane at Paris Charles De Gaulle coming back from Heathrow.  Travelling in Europe these past few years has generally been a pain in the ass....With all of the Volcano dust, global warming weather, paralyzing french strikes air strikes, paralyzing french train strikes, coupled with soul crushing road traffic.. the chances are high that you should get ready to bend over the minute you step into the airport or onto the tarmac.  I won't get into the boring details of my travels.. but it was definitely one of those lube me up and bend me over days. 

Funny enough, when I got out into the taxi Queue, I was approached by a Korean college student in Paris who spent his evenings driving Koreans around in Paris to earn some money.  Feeling like I needed a good injection boost of Karma, I pulled out of the line and hopped into the Korean Gypsy Cab.  I was thinking.. Korean Karma for helping this young student should straighten out my day.  Right?  Wrong.

An hour has passed and this kid has no idea of where the fast routes to my house are.  If there was a traffic jammed route, he took it.  I realized he didn't speak French and probably didn't have a license.  As we start getting more into the Paris Arrondisements, we hit another traffic spot.

This one is different though.  As our korean gypsy cab rolls forward to the front of the line, it gets engulfed by what appears to be a mix between the Castro Street Halloween parade and the Movement for French retirement at age 36.

My Korean guide had no idea what the G8 was or why people dressed like the Judas Priests with big chain necklaces of the Euro hanging around his neck.

5 minutes passed without any movement.  10 minutes.  15 minutes.  Bump! The car behind us hit our rear bumper.  We turn around hoping that no one was hurt.  Oh shit, its another crazy french parisien woman who thinks that she is more imporant than you.  She's yelling at us to drive forward, regardless of the fact that there are about 2 other cars in front of us that are blocked by the 500 angry protesters in front. 

Paris, with all of its lovely things has just too many people. You would think that with such a lovely city, people would be more friendly.  In the One man stand up comedy smash "How to be Parisien in one Hour" Olivier Giraud explains "Why are Parisiens such assholes?  We have shitty jobs, with shitty pay.  We live in shitty little apartments that are so small that your girlfriend can give you a blow job while doing the dishes at the same time"

So being the victim of misguided agression is kind of an occasional event for me in Paris.  Kind of like enjoying a nice spring day and getting crapped on by a bird every once in a while.   Angry Parisien lady behind me can't put 2+2 together that there is nowhere to go? Well, I don't really think she was thinking, "maybe if I just ram peoples cars they will understand that they need to ram the other 2 cars in front of them and then run over the 500 protesters."

So we were getting nowhere fast (literally), the driver can't speak french, and the cops were nowhere in sight. Fine. Time to take matters into my own hands.  I stepped out of the car, walked down the road and found 2 policemen.  They were the only 2 there, since this looks like it was an ad-hoc mob gathering organized by someone's dungeons and dragons facebook fan site and not registrered as an official protest with the government.

"Excuse me officers, we've been here for 20 minutes and there is no direction from the police about whether we should wait or we should turn around."

They replied "Maybe you should wait.. we're bringing more people over."  Then smoke start rising from the middle of the crowd as we are speaking.  "uhhh.. maybe you should turn around instead."  Yah, no shit shirlock.

I go back to my Korean Gypsy Cab and tell him that we need to get out of here.  Only problem is that we are crammed so tight we can't reverse (because crazy parisien woman's car is on our ass), but the car in front of us has an opening to get out that we can follow. 

In order for my Kimchi mobile, to get from point A(Angry pitchfork Mob)  to point B (my home) I need the Mercedes to move.  That can't happen as long as the protestors are in the way. I step out of the car go next to the Mercedes and start directing them to move, while clearing the bystanders in the way.


Now mind you this is a G8 summit protest.  We are #3 in line and the first car is an american stretch limo rental.  The #2 car is a mercedes.  Obviously, those who are in protest of excesses of wealth see them as a target and begin to taunt the drivers.



Some 25 year old drunken french guy with a pre-mature beard and baggie pants starts to block my efforts. "Non Non Non Non... Vous pouvez pas bouger.  C'est un Manifestation (no no no.. you're not allowed to leave, this is a protest)."  The french idea of getting things done via a protest is to piss off as many people as possible.  Not necessarily the ones who they are protesting against (Back to my Pigeon Crap on a lovely spring day theory). 

I tell the guy, "I'm just trying to go home, so I'm turning us all around".  Him and all his other drunk pals in baggy pants start blocking the car too.  "Non Non Non.. this is protest" In a manner that inferred, I was SUPPOSED to be blocked... that's how protests work (duh?).  I think he understands protests as if I were a collective participant in it who just decided to drive his car into the mob in order for it to be inconvenienced for their cause.  And now I decided to leave the party early (your messing with the plan man!).

He stands in my way.  I spread my arms turn my butt to him and start walking backwards to deblock the pepole and  clear some space for the Mercedes to move. 

"You let me go!" he says.  I'm a bit confused because my back is turned to him and no one is grabbing him.  His other little friends start smelling a fight, so they start circling with hungry eyes to direct their pissed off anger at the world, the G8, capitalism, retirement at 62 (still the among the lowest in Europe). I just realized that I'm dressed in a suit, speaking with an american accent, trying to help the mercedes and the limousine get free, and a foreigner.  Remember that Pigeon theory?  I'm just about to get crapped on.

These guys are half drunk little boys so I stand up to them and say we are getting the hell out of this place whether you they like it or not.  The first guy squares off.  He wants to throwdown.  His buddies probably are looking forward to the first thing they are going to break today.  I square off and look the guy straight in the eyes.  You can see it in their eyes that they are thirsty for blood.  You can see it in my eyes that I've had enough of my Triple Grade A crap day.  In fast zippy, pissed off motions, I start pulling off my tie.  I pull off my jacket.  I fold it because it looks like I'm just about to get my hands dirty for a throwdown.  I look to throw my jacket on the ground, but there are too many people around.  These guys are cracking their knuckles.  I head to the car to throw my jacket in with the Korean Gypsy who looks like he is shitting his pants.

I flip open the rear door.  Throw my jacket in like I mean business!..  and I mean business!

Then I open the front door, sit inside, lock the door and hide in the car. 

What am I stupid?  There's an angry, blood thirsty mob of unemployed drunken youths and only two useless police officers who can't even direct traffic 50 yards away!

30 seconds later, the cars behind us started to move in reverse and we started our retreat.

The drunken bearded youths were waiting for me to put my jacket away and come back for the fight.  Hey, Where'd he go? When they realized I was leaving, they were like "Hey, not fair!  Where you going?" with their arms up in the air. 

Ha ha.. piss off you retards.  Fighting me isn't going to make any difference to globalization.

At the end of the day, its just misguided pigeon crap.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to do for New Years in France

So what do for a New Years escapade to France?

Many people ask me what I do for New Years in Paris. Perhaps they imagine New Years in the city of love to be filled with the swirl of the city lights, the gaze on the Eiffel Tower, the romantic cruises on the seine river....

Nyahhh... We go for steaming bowl of Pho noodle soup and tender morsels of Camobodian style Loc Lac Beef at Tricotin - Hands down our favorite Hole in the Wall Asian Diner in Paris.

Why? - It comes down to two reasons: Prices and Reservations.

There are half a million tourists that come to Paris expecting the Soiree of a life time and therefore they make you pay for it. It's ok to shell out $400 for dinner if you flew halfway across the world to get there for that special France moment of champagne and truffles to celebrate a successful 2010 but for us who live here, we will probably eat at that same restaurant a few times in the year so it begins to lose its luster once the price begins to double.

The other reason why? Unless you reserved in November for your must visit restaurant, you will most likely not get a seat unless you are an entertainer with a single word or symbol for your name.

So what would I suggest to you my Jet setter friend?

Experience, the charms of small rural villages in France.

Stay in a quiet bed and breakfast and discover the treasures of the French terroire. Try a real crepe made with the local ground flour, the cream from the dairy, and the eggs from the farm next door. Drink the local wine, and eat a plate of stinky cheese.

If your flying into Paris, its best to do something within easy access. North of Paris, is Normandy. My favorite region is around Mont St. Michel. That in itself is probably the top destination in france outside of Paris.

It is an 11 century monastery built on an island that is only accessible by foot when the tide goes down.  The moving tide is the fastest in the world and claims several lives each year.  Unless you can run faster than a horse,  or surf like a Hawaiian  you will most likely not make it back. Luckily there is a bridge now so you don't have to be an expert in tidal charts to get there.

Around there, the food is also quite unique. Especially if your into seafood, but if not, the food is still amazing for the carnivore in you(Agneau pré salé is a lamb that eats a unique herb in the salt marshes of Mont Saint Michel - http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agneau_de_pr%C3%A9-sal%C3%A9).

http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/index.htm?lang=en



For small villages, I like to go to Cancale, which is famous for its oysters. I like to go straight to the beach where you can buy a dozen fresh oysters for $5 and a bottle of iced crisp white wine to wash it down for $6. Just ask the locals where the trash for the oyster shells are. "Just throw it back into the water!" You mean, I pay 11 bucks AND get to shuck, slurp, and promote littering???!! For some reason it appeals to my caveman instincts just to eat a raw creature and chuck the leftover carcass back into the sea.



Cancale is right around the corner from the Mont St Michel and for evening entertainment you can visit Saint malo around the corner and get a glimpse of how the French used to indulge in luxurious carnival getaways 100 years ago. I consider it the Coney Island of France.



http://tinyurl.com/36jaoon

This trip is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from paris. Trains do stop in the areas nearby from the terminal Montparnasse in Paris (Granville and Avranche i believe). http://www.sncf.com/en_EN/flash/


If you want to go East Bound of Paris for a 45m-1 hour drive/trainride, I suggest to take a trip to Champagne country. Reims is the capital of the champagne region, and boasts world class brands such as veuve clicquot (There is a picture of Jean Claude Van Damme attending a party on the wall), Tattinger, and Pieper Heidsick.

http://tinyurl.com/2uu5b3s




For me, I actually like to go a little bit smaller and make my way through Epernay. Think small town, wall to wall champagne houses. Take a car and a designated driver (or a bus tour from the tourism office) for the charming Champagne country road tour and relax those jet lagged feet in one of the local country house spas. Not a big night life here, so spend the night in reims and organize a day tour in Epernay if you fancy to mix partying into the thrip.

You can do bed and breakfast here (Auberge in French), but I think that a stay at a Chateau is simply delightful (pronounce this with a snobby high british accent). Dinner is usually a 4 hour affair, served on silver platters and an endless succession of mini plates inbetween your apperitif, appetizer, main course, cheese course, desert course, coffee, digestive drink, and finally the stick your toothbrush in the back of your throat to induce dietary hurling course.



For the West of Paris, I would recommend to take a 2 hour trip to the king of the castle regions, Tours. Let's just say that a stay at hotel there resembles more of a hunting lodge than a castle.  Tours was once a big hunting destination and in most hotels and restaurants that I stayed at, I had to eat next to a stuffed turkey or the head of a slain bambi mounted on the wall.

There is a scenic route that goes through dozens of historic castles.  My only reference point before this visit was sleeping beauty castle in Orange County, California so I was pretty impressed to see actual castles with actual inhabitants.



Ok, so we spoke about North, we spoke about East, we spoke about West.  What about the South of Paris?

My first introductions to the region South of Paris was in my level 2 French course with Professor Eric at the French Language Institute.

"Here is France.  It has 8 sides to it.  we call it the Octogon
What is here in the middle of France?"

Me: Trees!
Classmate 1: Mountains!
Classmate 2: Rivers!

"Professor Eric:  There is NOTHING!  C'est Vide (empty)!  There is No reason to go here! Just avoid it all costs.  They don't even have teeth!"

So there you have it folks.  Thanks to professor Eric at the French language institute I have no advice for you for South of Paris except for where to get gas.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I'm in Sweden and not a freaking meatball in sight

If you ever wanted to get a tan in your sleep I recommend trying a hotel in Sweden. Every morning I wake up at 2:30 am and if you were here in my room now you would say that my room more resembles a tanning salon than a hotel room.

For those who are just as ignorant as I in the ways of life above the 59th parallel , let me explain. Because it is so North, the sun goes down at 11 PM and comes back'a blazin at 2:30 am during this time of year. I guess I had to learn that little bit of geography the hard way, because it is as FREAKING BRIGHT as a my little pony magic rainbow in my room.

Compounding the problem is the fact that i sleep with my eyes open. Yep. OPEN... ask Elodie.. she will confirm.

So I've been invited to do some work in Sweden for a week and got super lucky with the fact that the hotels are fully booked. So i basically had the choice of being put into a room with no windows (it's no wonder they have a high suicide rate here) or the luxury suite on the top floor (sweeeeet). Well, I got placed in sweeeeeet for a week!

Its my first time to Sweden and I thought that I did have some notion about what life in Sweden might be like. I was actually quite surprised to see how much of it I got wrong:


Surprise #1 - You indeed are ugly.

So of course, you would think that if you came to Sweden you are surrounded by beautiful blonde model quality women all around you. Not at all true. There are beautiful brunette model quality women all around you as well. Having just flown in from Paris, I was quite surprised by the fact that there is no way you can't feel underdressed around these guys. It's like they are all dressed for a private yacht party, and you were dressed up as their galley cook.

Surprise #2 - The Swedes are not as progressive as you would think

The princess of Sweden just married her gym coach..which you could say is pretty progressive. The rules state however that a commoner male can never marry into the family and become king. A woman can however make it all the way to the top. Eh hem.. glass ceiling???

Surprise #3 - Swedes sit upon a throne of lies.

I've been here for an entire week and not a god damn meatball in sight. Who said swedish people eat meatballs? All I see is freaking sushi bars. And these sushi bars aren't even japanese. They are thai and chinese people prentending to be Japanese. Whenever I ask a Swede where to go for some meatballs, they say "Try Ikea"

Surprise #4 - I am getting a stocking full of coal for Christmas this year

I have never seen a reindeer in my lifetime. Yet someone asked me to buy a reindeer fur as a present. So I've got this incredibly huge Rudolph Rug rolled up in my suitcase.

Surprise # 5 - Koreans are allergic to Reindeer

My eyes are freaking itching like crazy ever since I bought that damn thing. Who knew that Koreans had this genetic weakness?

Surprise # 6 - Swedish people like to make fun of Norwegians

They nickname them "Seal Clubbers of the North" or simply just call them Norwegians.

Surprise # 7 - ABBA is for the tourists and Mama Mia is not shown year round

Even those damn Paraguay flute players with the funny hats play "Take a Chance on Me" on the street corners. It's kind of like listening to Rod Stewart played on the bagpipes.

Surpise # 8 -

The alcohol tax is uber expensive. Buying a round of drinks for your friends cost as much as a round trip ticket back to France. Since the country is cold, freezing, and envelopped in darkness half the year, the gas companies lobbied to make this reliable source of social heating less accessible to stifle the competitive market.

Surprise # 9 -

Don't ever do anything nasty against the Swedes. The Danish beheaded a bunch of Swedish aristocrats 200 years ago and they are still pissed off about it today. There's not a moment that doesn't pass where the Swede's don't talk about their retarded neighbors and how they got to go to the World Cup despite the fact that they they are cold blooded murderers.

Surprise #10 -

If you are famous and die in some gruesome way, the Swedes immediately think about the retail value of your demise. A visit to the Royal Costume Museum has on display all these original bloodied and muddied outfits when the Kings and Princes were all stabbed, shot, or clubbed in the name of their country. Even the poor horse of the king got stuffed and preserved in clever decision to increase ticket sales.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Korean Fried Movie

I have come up with a new rule that I should try to live my life by:

Live life as if you only had three more months to live...in Scotland.

It's 6:30 am and I'm wide awake. In any other location I would be sleeping just until the dreaded morning buzzer of my alarm sounds off. I mean, I should be sleepy....  But with this much fun, how can I not jump out of bed?

My first month was spent living a month with a fanatical Green Peace spanish hippy vegetarian archeologist, which got to be a little tiring after a while.  She was clean.  She was quiet.  But she had this talent for making slight snipey comments about my ways from the top of her legume crested throne.

"No need to throw your leftover food into my garden compost box.  You boiled the vegetables so they have no more vitamins left for my plants."

"Your cheese is non-organic and full of chemicals."

I have since been liberated from the veggie-nazi and feel like every day is a new opportunity for precious memories to be made.

Scotland has got to be one of the greatest places I have visited in Europe.  I now live a 5 minute walk away from a castle.  Wait, I live next to a castle?  How freaking cool is that?  I live in an international heritage site!  Getting lost has never been so fun, with the cobblestone roads.. smokey grey buildings.. It feels like your in Disneyland, but that mouse you see on the path is a real one who's ancestors spread the Black Death to a quarter of its inhabitants.


What's it like to hang out with the Scots?  Well, first off get used to saying "Huh?" .. because you won't understand a freaking thing they say until you've been here for about 3 weeks.  My only real reference to the scottish accent is Mike Myers SNL sketch "If its not Scottish its Crrrrap!"

I have an affinity for Scottish people because they are very proud of who they are but will never radiate an ideology that they think that they are better than anyone else.  While they do have a few historic lows (losing to the English, potato famine, the deep fried mars bar..) they have created some of the worlds greatest stuff (golf, whisky, Sean Connery).

So while I am here, I would like to share a bit of my action packed days by giving you my Top Tips on how to have a successful visit to Scotland!

1) Play Golf:
Personally, I wake up at 7 am to practice golf in my front yard.  I live on the steps of a centuries old public park and golf course and take advantage of the empty surroundings and free facilities.  Only in Scotland can you find a place that believes that every citizen should be entitled to a chance at the sport.

2) Drink Coffee:
I mean drink good coffee.  The place just inspires a morning coffee to soak in the atmosphere and get the mind into its creative state.  JK Rowling spent a year writing Harry Potter in the Elephant Café just up the road from my place. You can get the idea of where she took all of her inspiration from.

3) Buy some fish:
They are more of a rare occurence than before but you can still find a real classic fish monger in many local neighborhoods.  You can buy fish that is fresher than Big Foot's dick for the same price as a Mcbarfburger here.  Throw a white filet of fish in a pan with melted butter topped with lemon juice and you will never reacher a higher point of enlightenment.

4) Take a ghost tour..I mean a REAL ghost tour:
What do you get when you combine an ancient castle, violent neighbors, and a plague?  Really Bitchin' ghost tours.  Many of the pubs I frequent seem to have their own local ghost... I hang out often at the Last Drop pub which is right in front of where they held the village executions.  The spookiest is the underground city where the city's poor used to live.  During the black plague they declared a state of emergency and mercilessly sealed the entrance, leaving its thousands of inhabitants to die.  Lot's of paranormal activity there evidently...

5) Drink a real Whisky:
None of this Glen Fiddich/Johnny Walker crap that you can buy at the airport duty free.  A glass of the local fire water will actually cost as much as a pint of beer yet make you wonder why you ever mixed the stuff with a coca-cola.  Aim for a small production or something from one of the smaller islands off the coasts. 

6) And my final trip suggestion....Eat something NASTY!
Nothing gets you into the inner circle of trust with the locals than manning up to the challenge of local fare.  My personal favorite is to walk into a gastro-pub and say in my really LOUD american accent "Soo Whats a HAGGIS??!"  You can almost hear a pin drop after that.  They are waiting for it to come.. They can't wait to see the expression on my face when I find out that its a sheeps heart, liver, and lungs, wrapped and simmered in its own stomach.  I'll turn to the local group of Scots next to me and ask them if I should try it... followed by a resounding "YES!"  In my opinion, its the best way to meet locals and you will most likely be bought a beer for your bravery.  Scotland is the only country where a stranger has offered to buy me a beer (and I swear it wasn't a gay bar!)

So while I pause to take some time to write this blog entry, I am rushing right off again to share in the splendid bliss of Scottish culture. 


I leave you with this photo of me eating a King Rib from the local Fish and Chips shop.  Its basically a deep fried patty of processed pork, breaded, deep fried, and then sitting under a heat lamp for 8 hours. 
Enjoy!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The saddest date I ever eavesdropped on

Morningside is the richest district of Edinburgh, and most notably known as the residence of J.K. Rowling and Scotlands patriarchs of culture. Its not your typical rich neighbohood with displays of wealth dripping at every corner. I find it to be rather a caricature of Scottish culture with churches side by side and little old grandmas in country clothing checking out the displays of little shop windows. The wealthy seem to just lock themselves up in their estates and send the servants to run the errands, making this seem more like a little country church town more than a Scottish Beverly Hills. The men dress like Sherlock Holmes and the women dress like they are on their way to a knitting club reunion. I'm here for 2 weeks as my new flat won't be ready until mid February so I'm renting a room with an old spanish hippy lady that sells jewelry next to Edinburgh Castle.

Living amongst the elderly does give you a different perspective on life. Conversations seem to drift towards loved ones lost and spirituality.

My heart is going out to this elderly couple on their first date sitting next to me at Falko, a popular German coffee shop in the neighborhood. Its impossible to not hear their conversation as much as I try to drown it out to give them their own privacy. These two seem to have met through a church lecture and are having their first coffee together. She confesses she doesn't understand much about men anymore and he it seems is clueless about the needs of women. It seems to me that both of their partners have passed on and now they are looking to restart their lives with the companionship of someone new.

She begins to talk about her faith and its clear she seems to be seeking a spiritual partner to share her life with. He seems to be of the gendre of old historians you see on the BBC that enjoy lecturing on arcane subjects that interest only a handful of people, none below the age of 60.

I can sense the heart sinking in the lady next to me. She begins to get deeper into discussion about her church lectures and he begins to fly this plane into the side of a cliff by continually changing the subject back to his history lessons. Evidently, he is convinced that the Holy Grail had come to Britain in the past and had passed hands with Merlin the Magician. As the druid religions were converting over to Christianity at this exact time, Merlin, as their religious leader thus had some involvement in the exchanging hands of the Holy Grail.

She changes subjects back to church and he then asks her if she would be interested in reading his book on the Holy Grail. I imagine it must be hard to move on when your older. You take it for granted that your partner listens to you and puts up with you for the past 50 years and suddenly you have to start dating again and become a good listener.

Their conversation has ended and she is digging to find a spark. She kindly offers to pay for the drinks and he suggests that each pay for their own coffee. That puts the final nail in the coffin. Perhaps in another life, another age, another time. This time though, both will go back to their homes empty handed. Her being dissapointed and him wondering why no one is interested in his stories.