Tuesday July 31st: The Vacation-like Part Ends

Not that it’s any shock, since I’ve been mentioning it for the last month or so, but I’ve found myself exhausted. I’ve learned quite a lot about this whole traveling thing, taking pictures, work flow, and my likely required period of downtime.

Last night I said goodbye to my favorite soup and oyster omelet stand. The prior nights I respectively managed to communicate with them where I had been (yay being able to pronounce the cities!) and when I was leaving (with the help of a calendar on my phone). Saying goodbye was a little more elaborate and involved a grand total of 4 people assisting in translation over the course of the conversation.

I’m not sure there was a night in Taipei I didn’t at least get something from this stand, as they were really convenient, very polite, the right price, and made damned tasty food… so in as much as a person can be with 10 nights over the course of a month, I was a regular.

There are two men and a woman that work the stand, the main guy wears a red apron with the night market’s logo and name, the other guy works during some of their peak hours and when one of the other two goes on a break. Sadly last night the second guy wasn’t also there for the goodbyes, the night market wasn’t very busy due to the torrential rain.

On the 29th after communicating when it was I was leaving, the main guy indicated that the next night, he wanted to give me some of the red pepper sauce to take home. Over the course of my visits, each of the three staff members had their moment where they were both amused, and delighted seeing how much I used when spicing up my dishes. While flavor wise it isn’t notably different from most Asian red pepper chili sauces I’ve had prior there’s a great sentimental factor attached with these four baggies of hot sauce from what quickly became my favorite vendor at the Tonghua/Linjiang St. Night Market, and really the best place for soup I found on the island (when factoring quality and price).

Here without a common language between us, we bonded over food and managed to overcome the language barrier with physical communication, visual aides, and eventually when we really needed some finer bits of articulation, the kindness of others.

14 Week Damage Report:

I’ve managed to go through 3 earbuds, though I’m only claiming responsibility for the first pair, the other two clearly had poor manufacturing as they died within a few days of use, the cable for my headset degraded to nearly useless (again defect as I’ve used it maybe 30 times), I accidentally burned out the charger for my sonicare, the tripod is starting to break (have to manually pull the extension up instead of winding it and lost the square nut to tighten the rotation), one of the soles of my old sneakers I used for hiking is coming off, my fake dress shoes are scuffed beyond excuse (as I expected), my duffel bag is growing some small holes on the bottom and an outer layer hole on one of the grip straps, and the fabric near the loop patch on my camera bag is starting to come apart as it was frequently being grabbed by the hook patch instead of the whole loop patch as one would expect (I hope adding more loop space will help fix this).

We’ll find out more when I fully decompress and take a full inventory.

There’s a typhoon trying to build in the ocean, which was supposedly responsible for the torrential rain yesterday. Hopefully it won’t cause delay, though everything I’ve checked shows no delay in my flight to Korea. In fact, the only update I’ve seen is the suggestion that my flight to Seattle will land even earlier, giving me another 15 minutes of time travel, which as Jeff pointed out in and of itself, should be more than enough time to save Doc Brown from the Libyans.

Oh, sorry, now it’s up to an extra 23 minutes, for a grand total of 53 minutes. I might even make it through customs and have my bag by the time I catch up to my departure time.

I was told that I should expect traffic to be horrible this morning, so I shouldn’t leave at 10AM but rather at about 9AM. It appears the 2060 bus to the International airport runs every 20-30 minutes, though Google would have me think it only runs once ever two hours. I really hope Google is wrong. I’m probably going to be lazy and take a taxi to the bus stop, which is “only” 1km away. The sad part is that it will cost me nearly as much as the bus does… though that’s only because the bus is comparatively really cheap at about $5. It’s a 2 hour bus ride. We’ll see, there’s still the chance I might hobble it, though that means I have to leave with enough time for that, which means at 8:30 if I want to catch the bus that supposedly will be there around 9ish.

Of course I’m short on change, the bus costs $175, and I can only make $64 with exact change. Maybe I’ll see if anyone has some change upstairs. Need to go up there anyway to eat my breakfast mango, drink my yakult, and probably have one last ice cream bar that no one else seemed to want. I’ve tried sharing a few times since there were 5 bars and a maximum of 3 days. People are weird.

I guess this is going to be my last update until Seattle. Wish I had kept up with this more regularly, but I guess we’ll figure out something better later on. Probably a combination of setting aside a number of days I have to work each week so I don’t feel guilty about missing things, and doing 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off as far as moving goes, where I can decompress and catch up during those two weeks.

Either that or learn to take fewer pictures and then write and research less for the writing. Well, I got the fewer pictures down, kinda, mostly due to the exhaustion and nagging frustration of the backlog. I still have thousands more, but I took fewer on average in Taiwan than in previous months.

Realistically, I don’t see either of those two habits lasting very long though. I mean, I was back to usual taking lots and got something like 900 pictures last night.

So… I guess this is it, other than the 2 months of writing to catch up on and one month of photos that I plan to burn through in August.

As odd as it may seem to someone who has never played Homeworld, I assure you, this song makes me think of home insofar as the home you came from rather than the one you grew into. Which is thematically consistent with the narrative. Associations like that are why I love scores as much as I do.

Arrival in Taipei or “It’s really hot and humid outside.”

Had to adjust my clocks, as I’m now UTC+8 instead of +9. Almost missed my flight by initially getting on the wrong train (right track though). Thankfully the airline staff was really, really, helpful.

I did forget to move the knife out of my food bag and into my checked bag though, so lost that. Still, I purchased a cheap one for pretty much that reason. I’m only sad because it turned out to be a pretty decent knife, often better than what the hostel had to offer, even if smaller.

Also I got frisked, (before that happened). Not sure why, but I was in such a hurry I didn’t really give a damn. Besides, I’m sure being drenched in sweat made it unpleasant for the guy. Turns out trying to hurry with 60lbs of crap for over two kilometers in 80F weather is… well I’m not in shape. That much has really become apparent to me during this trip.

Not looking forward to walking another 1km in 90+F (65% humidity!) weather in Taipei, I was approached for a taxi and thought, “Eh, what the hell.” $40, but it’s an hour long trip from the international airport to downtown Taipei. So, I didn’t think it was unreasonable. More than most of Korea (though taxis in Seoul were about that price).

My hostel is about 1.5km from Taipei 101, so that’s neat.

Also a preview from my last night in Seoul. I liked it enough to clean up the dead pixels and the weird line that occurs on high ISOs.

This hostel has AC going constantly. So hopefully that will alleviate some of the issues revolving around it being too friggin’ hot.

I meant to write a joke about that, and how only about three people here are familiar with Paul & Storm, in my last post… but it was too friggin’ hot. So hot I managed to burn (or cut?) a bit of flesh on my left thumb’s pad, just a few millimeters below the nail. Don’t remember doing it, but as I switched trains I noticed it hurt.

Tuesday July 3rd: Quick Update from Seoul

So Seoul has been kind of a bust as far as my doing and seeing things. The weather hit me like a rock and kept me down, but unable to sleep. I’ve managed something like 3-4 hours a night which isn’t really conducive to full day adventures in 30/90ish degree weather with 50-60% humidity.

Going to try to get out today finally seeing something other than the few blocks around me, but I told myself that yesterday too.

I fly to Taipei at 11AM tomorrow.

Since Taiwan wants proof that you are leaving in under 30 days, I also purchased my ticket back to Seattle from Taipei so I can leave after circumnavigating the island. Oddly the flight has a layover is Seoul, but it was over $100 cheaper than had I taken the same flight directly from Seoul. Airfare makes no sense. So basically, even though the flight to Taiwan is ~$350, all things considered, really it’s $250.

The other funny thing is that I’m flying out of Taipei on July 31st, at 1:30 PM, and if the projections hold, landing in Seattle on July 31st, at 1:00 PM. So using local time, my travel time will be -30 minutes.

I think there might be a reason UTC exists.

Also, yes, originally I was going to fly out today. With my blah, the flight times, the lack of price differences, I decided to wait a day and have a jet engine or two be my symbolic firework. Aaand seats reserved. Hopefully I’ll luck out and get a nice afternoon look at Seattle.

At this point I have my doubts I’ll be caught up until I get home, but hopefully I’ll get writing again soon, which is to say, hopefully the use of AC is less stingy in Taiwan.

Sorry for the delay and disappointment.

May 24th and 25th: Hiroshima

This is a long one folks.

From Osaka station, it took about two and a half hours to get to my hostel in Hiroshima. It would have been a little shorter, but for my unfamiliarity with where things are and the strange pace I take on when carrying my luggage.

After finding my way out of the Hiroshima station, I found myself with two options, I could grab a local train and then get on a streetcar, or just get on a streetcar and ride for an extra 10 minutes. I opted for simplicity in a new place rather than saving a small amount of time. Also there was a guy with a Care Bear bag (thanks phone!). Maybe it was just cheap, but I like to think it is some weird cross cultural hipster thing. Continue reading

May 23rd and 24th: Osaka Around Shin-imamiya/Shinsekai

Funny story. I ended up staying in the “shady” part of Osaka. Hell, one of the worst parts in Japan, I guess. I didn’t know ahead of time, the reviews for the place I stayed were reasonable, and there was a zoo and a tower within walking distance, and it was only a few stops away from Universal Studios, couldn’t be too bad, right? Continue reading

Thursday June 14th: A Bit More Daegu, A Bit Less Costco

I swear I’m working on old posts and processing pictures. I even have two new sets up on Dropbox…

So Costco needs info from the card I didn’t bring to issue a temporary. Well, unless it is normal for people to just know their membership ID number and expiration dates off the top of their heads.

Anyway their food court looks to have the exact same selection but I couldn’t see the prices to compare. I walked back to the hostel taking some pictures along the way, noticed there is now a black spot that appears when there is less light hitting the CMOS, such as high f stops and just non-day light. It is a gradient of appearance, but with the self correction stuff and enough light it isn’t noticeable. Still that is kind of upsetting. Yay! Crap in the camera bits normally safe from crap.

Oh, and the person at the hostel never gave me the door code. It’s 7PM and no one is here. Hopefully they won’t all be out until 1AM again… that would be… less than ideal.

 

— Someone came by. Turns out someone was here, but quite asleep. I now have the door code.

24 hours and no issues with the internet yet. This is a record.

Daegu: New Hostel

While it isn’t amazingly fast, the connection here seems to function thus far, but things were looking pretty good in Suncheon. I don’t want to get my hopes up quite yet, as tomorrow, it may decide that it doesn’t like my hardware anymore.

Still, we’ll see how much use out of it I can manage.

Monday May 21st: The Eclipse and a tiny bit of Nagoya

Just to start off with, the last post I still hated writing about and I’m not particularly in a great mood for this, that and I’m feeling the pinch of time, having a few hours left today and tomorrow to hypothetically catch up. It’s not going to happen. Anyway, this is going to be a shorter than usual post, and if you want a way more awesome article about the eclipse that almost had my pictures in it, look no further than a friend’s article on astrobites. If you want pictures waaaaaay better than mine, head over to In Focus.

(Hey look, I found the “Read More” button!)

Continue reading

May 16th through the 18th: From Sapporo to Hakodate to Tokyo

On the 16th I worked on getting caught up, getting my initial train and Sapporo posts up.

I met Michael who in theory has been waiting weeks for me to mention him, and is likely already back home after spending time with is father in Tokyo. He did something quite cool, he rode a bike from the Southern tip to the Northern most tip of Japan. When we met he had about 2 days of riding left from Sapporo. Made me wish I had spent at least a little time outside the cities… but alas.

For my last night in Sapporo I once again splurged and had a second bowl of soup curry, this time at a 19 out of 40 on the spicy scale. Much better than a 9. (Soup Curry photo set.)


The 15 vegetable one the night before was prettier.

Continue reading

Brief Real Time Update!

I finally worked through the last 5800 pictures, compressing and uploading 22% of them. Tomorrow I plan to get writing, since I have something like 8 articles I should write, ideally before I arrive in Korea and have to start writing about a different culture.

After visiting it yesterday, I was curious about the Kirkland brand cheese, mixed nuts, and chips available at a nearby supermarket. People told me that there is a Costco in Fukuoka. Turns out there is! Sadly there’s no way to get there without a car, or walking about 8.5km from the last train station and back. Guess I won’t get a chance to see the prices, and if they have something like the drink and a Polish sausage for 150 yen. Not that I took my Costco card with me.

I did break down and buy cheese. It’s cheaper than it is in Korea according to everyone who I’ve met just coming here briefly to renew their Korean visa. I paid about $12… well, after they removed the tax, $11 for it. I’m not entirely sure why they pulled off the tax at this market, it didn’t advertise as being a possible duty free, still, I’m not about to complain, especially since it doesn’t seem that they do much in the way of discounts come 9PM, much to my chagrin.

Still, sharp cheddar, and enough to keep me going for the next month. 2lbs (907 grams) for $12, or 100 grams for $8. Hmmm, let me think about that. Thankfully South Korea doesn’t really care about bringing food over as long as it is obviously not in a quantity meant for resale. This also means I’m going to scope out some zip bags/plastic wrap and a knife at a 100 yen store tomorrow because while I don’t trust a chef’s knife that only costs $1.25 for much of anything, it is being purchased basically as a disposable cheese utensil.