asia places to go

when you give a cat a bath…

this sounds like a potential children’s book title that could be really fun. like if you give a cat a bath, then they will want a fluffy towel and if you give a cat a fluffy towel, they will want a pedicure…something like that. it could end so well with the cat having some warm milk and a nap at the end. maybe someday i’ll write that story but…

this is no such story unfortunately.

one thing (of so so many) that’s interesting living in a country when smart phones are still a thing of the future and internet costs per minute at a cafe, information just travels much more slowly. rumors are truth and spread like a spilled bag of marbles on a tile floor.

so here’s the story:

one day after we got home from work, we found a kitten right in front of our apartment. he was emaciated and just not thriving but he was oh so adorable. we took pity and did the responsible adult thing (or something) of keeping the cat and deciding to nurse it back to health. we started with giving it some food and love and soon the whole neighborhood was around us wanting to know what was going on. because if anything is going on with the white people, everyone else needs to know about it. everyone in the neighborhood came to check it out the time that we were beating a cockroach to death with a mag light (story to come), they came to check it out the day we were trying to wash our laundry by hand because we realized we didn’t have any way to wash clothes, and well they came pretty much every day to check in and find out what crazy shenanigans the white people were up to that day. so yeah pretty much story of our lives…

anyway, all the neighbors were flocking to try to figure out why we cared about some scrawny alley kitten and we told them we were going to clean him up and save his life. once we said the word bath though, you would have thought that we were talking about murder or something. turns out we sort of were. the cambodians said, oh you can’t give a cat a bath, it will die…the other expats on the street, the philipina ladies said, oh you can’t give a cat a bath, it will die…more neighbors showed up and said the same thing. we really made our neighbors even more interested in the antics of white people after this.

so we fed the cat and it seemed to perk up a bit. he was super dirty and gross so we went against all sage advice because i mean, come on, you can give a cat a bath right?? we gave him a bath, wrapped him up in a towel, put him in a basket and left for work!

when we came back, he was dead. i’m not joking. we gave a cat a bath, and it died! what in the world?!?! of course all the neighbors came by looking through the doors when we came back and we basically confirmed it for all cambodians, possibly the whole world:

people…when you give a cat a bath, it dies!

p.s. the photo above is not this cat, we never got a photo of our cat we had for a few brief hours…this is the one our over involved neighbor brought us the next day to, you know, mend our grief over the first one…we didn’t even really want a cat but then we ended up with this psycho of a cat…

asia places to go

the ‘hello’ toilet

on thursdays i try to do a little travel throwback, emphasis on the story from one photo

2004 – small village, cambodia, 35mm film

the first couple weeks living in cambodia, we met our next door neighbors. this seemed to be meant to be as they had only moved in weeks before we arrived and the mom, sinat, knew english. she had worked for an american family before and knew enough english to help us get around. she was an invaluable asset for us as she quickly showed us the ropes of getting a deal and not getting swindled. we learned fast that we had been overcharged for many things due to our somewhat…pale…nature 🙂 we became fast friends and she endearingly referred to herself as our ‘adopt mom’.

she had family in the outskirts of a town called koh kong and during one of the many weeks off we had that year (cambodians love their holidays), she invited us to visit her family. so haley, myself, our friend tak, sinat and her four children piled onto an overcrowded bus and headed to koh kong. the trip itself was an adventure with a few too many cambodians staring at us and talking about ‘barang’ (literally means french but generally means white person…they didn’t realize we could understand them), a few too many strong smells, and a few too few bridges. our vehicle had to drive onto overcrowded boats to cross small lakes, and got stuck in mud a few times along the way. but this story isn’t about the journey there, it’s about being there.

sinat happened to mention that we were the only white people that this little village would have ever seen in person…um…what?? coming from a san diego melting pot, that just sounded a little unreal. we didn’t actually believe it, especially when we got there and everyone said ‘hello’ to us. this little village is slightly floating and the houses are on stilts. the tide goes in and out underneath the wooden homes. everyone who lives here is a fisherman and living here provides easier access to the boats. we soon realized that the only reason people said ‘hello’ to us was because we were white, and white people on television say ‘hello’. in fact, no one there knew any english, and truly hadn’t seen white people in person before. we realized this when we started saying hi back to the kids and they ran away from us, the little ones even cried. if you know me at all you know this is a shock to the system! i am a kid magnet and to have them run away and cry, we must have looked like ghosts!

staying here for a week was a challenge in many ways. besides frightening children, we slept on wood floors, showered with a bucket and a barrel and peed in the hello toilet. the village toilet was literally a hole at the end of a small pier after a precarious walk on uneven wooden planks. think slum dog millionaire except not as nice because there was no door, only a piece of cloth, and the walls only came up about 3 feet. this presented a problem for a long-legged white girl trying to disrobe while squatting and trying not to flash the entire village watching a long-legged white girl try to pee at the end of a pier. the kids warmed up to us from afar and even ventured to say ‘hello’ but at first only when we were popping a squat. needless to say, number twos happened at night while saying a prayer that we wouldn’t twist an ankle on the rickety boards or worse, fall into the shallow mix of sea and waste below.

eventually we got the kids to realize we weren’t spirits from the tv or whatever it was they thought we were. they were really interested in our cameras and we took some photos with them. i’ll always wonder what they really thought. now that it’s been almost 10 years since this has happened, have they seen other white people? do they remember us at all? have they traveled to a big city in their life and seen how most people pee in much more private situations? i may never know…

asia places to go

hiroshima and miyajima, japan – ’12

 almost exactly a year ago, we were visiting hiroshima and miyajima.  so i’m posting this on the anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima.

traveling is so easy in japan, even though we had to figure out the system in each city (because the JR tickets don’t work everywhere). here, we took trolley cars like in san fransisco. there were more tourists here than any other place we visited on this trip besides tokyo and we met an americanji on the trolley. it’s always nice meeting other americans when traveling because we usually always like chatting. we also met a little japanese girl at breakfast who wanted to come over and say ‘hello’

more indoor malls, the japanese love their indoor malls!

the a-bomb dome. crazy that this is just right in the middle of the city. but what’s more crazy is that the bomb basically took out the entire city of hiroshima, and 67 years later, the city has increased six times its previous size! it’s a beautiful park with really great memorials to commemorate the day and wish for peace.

i love how everything was so linear, see how you can see the dome in the background below..

for dinner, we were recommended hiroshima style okonomiyaki. that literally translates to ‘as you like it’ they are like crepes on the bottom with cabbage and noodles, then you add anything you want to it. we did eggs, cheese and green onions and they make it right in front of you. it reminded me of a tostada, and we shared it, it was delicious! they came to be during WWII when the troops introduced flour to japan.

that night we wandered into an area labeled on the map ‘night life area’. we thought it might be a good place to grab a drink or a snack…turns out it was pretty sketch and was more than likely a red light district…whoops!! so we headed back to the covered mall and hung out at a three story starbucks instead.

we had also found out about a really cool island right off the coast. we were heading to our next destination after, so unfortunately we had to carry all our bags. but it was still a cool little random side trip. we took a boat (which took our JR passes!) and there were these temple gates in the water (o-torii gate).

surprise, there are tons of deer everywhere. at first we (ok probably only me) were excited to see them, and they were tame so you could pet them, which of course i love. but we soon realized that these deer are basically pests. if you plan to grab any food, you are suddenly surrounded by them and they start pulling at your clothes or anything you have with you. one chewed a hole in my bag.

here’s the bag this deer ripped into…there wasn’t even any food in there!!

this island is known for their flavor filled ‘cookies’. they had a variety, as you can see below. we loved the sea eel one…kidding! we got chocolate 🙂

we also got mango smoothies and french fries, random!

asia places to go

Sendai, Japan – ’12

another one of our last minute adventures. we knew we had some time to go somewhere but weren’t sure where to go…tickets to europe were out of control because of the olympics and we found out that japan wasn’t as expensive as we expected it to be, and we’d both always wanted to go there so off we went.

we went in august which is a time of year that they have a lot of celebrations so we tried to go around and find places where we’d be able to see some neat things. first stop, sendai! many of the celebrations in august have to do with the dead, specifically tanabata festival. it’s a long story but in short the stars align and they are able to commune with their dead ancestors, but bad spirits are allowed to come too during this time so there are lots of ghost stories. they make a bunch of things out of paper to put out their wishes to the dead. all these beautiful hanging streamers must have taken an  incredible amount of time to make! they were so cool!

we really wanted to be in hiroshima on the 6th but it didn’t work out that way, it would have been cool to see the floating lanterns in celebration.

jared was REALLY grossed out that i got this but it was soooo good!

japanese love their malls and there are enclosed shopping malls like this everywhere!

they also seemed to be shooting news or tv shows in every town we were in, so we made sure to walk in the backround of each one, hopefully we made some japanese TV!!

yup, makes sense…

that’s MISTER donut to you!

people in japan also love everything that is cute…and there is a lot of cute in japan 🙂

people can write their wishes on slips of paper.

there were lots of mocktography opportunities this trip 😉

see, cute! he dyed his dogs’ tails…cute or weird…not sure.

there aren’t a lot of gringos (err gaijins) in sendai so we’re not sure if they were having everyone do this or if we got made fun of a little…we still don’t know what this was all for but they made us put on these robes and pose for a picture. random!!

yep…err what?

soda…water…beer…just a normal vending machine.

and then we were off to our next spot on the bullet trains, stay tuned for more!

asia mock places to go play reminisce things to do


where it all started…if you’ve seen my facebook album full of what we call mocktography, you should know that it started way back in 2004. i was living abroad and before long, photos of statues and just posing and smiling became quite boring. i honestly don’t remember how we thought of it, but it became a hobby of ours, and jared and i have run with it. so here’s a few mock photos of when it all began.

we always enjoyed making other people pose to be part of the collection too 🙂

stay tuned for more fine art mocktography