8/30/09

2009 Adventure, Indonesia

Bukit Lawang national park.

Children alongside the road near Bukit Lawang.

That's a Muslim Mosque behind the Marlboro billboard.

A waterfall near lake Maninjau

A pig hunter having breakfast before the hunt.

Pig hunters before the hunt.
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A pig hunter, during the hunt.
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Pig hunters after the hunt.

Sitting on the Equator

The worlds largest flower, the Rafflesia.

8/26/09

Gundam

While I had hopped to witness giant robots battling in the skies over Tokyo during my time in Japan, Odiba has the next best thing. Once an hour this life-sized Gundam comes to life with flashing lights, bursts of stream, and a moving head. Unfortunately this Gundam is not a permanent fixture of the Tokyo landscape and will be returning to space next month.

8/23/09

Kopi Luwak

Last week I crossed a culinary line from which there is no coming back from, I drank a $20 glass of poo poo.

Kopi Luwak coffee beans come from the island of Bali in Indonesia. Here the tropical climate along the equator is perfect for growing coffee. Within the jungles that surround these coffee plantations live a small cat called a Luwak. Typically these cats typically subsist off of fruit growing in the jungle. However when the coffee beans ripen, the Luwak cat comes out of the jungle and helps itself to the coffee beans growing in the plantation.

When the Luwak cat eats the coffee beans, it is only able to digest the red fruit that surrounds the coffee bean. The coffee bean itself passes through the cat’s digestive system intact and is left as poo poo around the coffee plantation.

Though no one is willing to say why, someone began collecting the Luwak’s poo poo, drying it out, and using the coffee beans to make coffee. Since there are not a great number of these cats and their little digestive systems can only handle so many coffee beans, Kopi Luwak coffee is exceedingly rare and therefore rather expensive and difficult to find.

My experience last week was not with a pure glass of Kopi Luwak, but rather with a bend which including it. When I ordered the coffee, the owner of the coffee shop invited me to smell each type of coffee that was included in the blend. Though Kopi Luwak looked like ordinary green coffee beans, its smell attested to its origin.

Upon my first sip, I was rather surprised by the funny sensation it set off on my tongue. For you see as the coffee bean passes through the Luwak cat’s digestive system it absorbs the cats “inner juices”, which I assume are what my tongue reacted to. The coffee itself was also quite different in taste. Though I drank the blend black, it was very smooth and had a mild, but full aftertaste.

Now had I finished this cup of coffee anywhere else in the world, I would have just paid the bill and walked out the door. However the Japanese have a fanatical way of taking things to the next level. As I began to leave the coffee shop, the owner called after me, and then handed me something. I looked down to find a surgical mask in my hand. For a moment I had no idea what was going on.

That was until the owner told me that the coffees aftertaste could last for nearly 12 hours, but that strong smells would overwhelm the aftertaste. Thus if I wore the mask, I could preserve the coffees aftertaste for the rest of the afternoon.

For a moment the idea sounded ridiculous. Who would want to wander around in a surgical mask all afternoon to prolong the taste of poo poo coffee in their mouth? But then again who was going to care. So with surgical mask in place, I strolled into the streets of Tokyo with the smell of Kopi Luwak enlivening my every breath.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_luwak

Go Go Curry

That’s my friends is $10 worth of Japanese curry rice, tonkatsu (fried pork), and cabbage. It may have been as big as my head, but in under an hour it was all inside me.
My friend Jie opted for a smaller plate, but ordered a raw egg and nato (fermented soybeans) to complement his curry rice and tonkatsu.

8/6/09

8/7/2009

Sunrise over Tokyo from the roof of my building

2009 Adventure, Singapore

Thaipusam in Little India

Thaipusam in Little India

Thaipusam in Little India

Singapore, Litter Free

Thaipusam in Little India

8/1/09

2009 Adventure, Cambodia

A temple under reconstruction, which had been bombed and then mined by the Khmer Rouge

A Stupa outside of Phnom Phen

Phnom Penh Royal Palace

Phnom Penh National Museum

A rest stop on the road from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh

A passenger on my bus

A young boy selling snacks at a rest stop on the road from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh.

A young boy stealing a seasoned sun dried clam.
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*The moment after I took this picture the carts owner
saw what he was doing and yelled at him. The little boy
smiled and ran away.
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Ankgor Wat

Ankgor Wat

Bon Dance

She, well actually its a he, always enlivens my daily rides through Ueno Park. With wig and hat, nearly everyday she can be found dancing away.

She prefers the music of Peruvian Flute Bands, but will dance to other types of music when the Peruvian Flute Band is on holiday. As for her dance style, it can be described as her own rendition of the Japanese Bon Dance.