One Cup Moments: Buddha’s Crib

When all else fails: choice photos, and a strong steep of tea.

“One Cup” in Japan is style of sake that comes pre-packaged in one-cup portions. These photos are for you to enjoy with that one cup of anything – tea, honey, sake, or 50% ABV gin.

Buddha’s Crib
Taipei, Taiwan

Date: February, 2020
Behind the Lens: So my buddy buddha, he’s got a lotta real estate. In Japan, he likes it simple – just a buncha red-painted wooden LEGO blocks put together by the best wood-craftsmen ever. Over in Taiwan though, lemme tell you: bling bling!!

One Cup Moment: Night Lights on the Kamogawa

When all else fails: choice photos, and a strong steep of tea.

“One Cup” in Japan is style of sake that comes pre-packaged in one-cup portions. These photos are for you to enjoy with that one cup of anything – tea, honey, sake, or 50% ABV gin.

“Night Lights on the Kamogawa”
Kyoto, Japan

Date: June 2020
Behind the Lens: There I was, eating my bento on the side of the river, minding my own business. Then Kyoto gets in my face, being all “oooh I’m so beautiful take some abstract photos of me.” Damn Kyoto.
Tech: Olympus OMD EM-5 ii 12-40mm

One Cup Moment: Midsummer Dip

When all else fails: choice photos, and a strong steep of tea.

“One Cup” in Japan is style of sake that comes pre-packaged in one-cup portions. These photos are for you to enjoy with that one cup of anything – tea, honey, sake, or 50% ABV gin.

“Midsummer Dip”
Hamanako, Japan

Date: June 2020
Behind the Lens: A long time ago, I started shooting photos of birds. I guess one could say, I still am.

Jeju Island’s Seafood is…

Ever opened your fridge and smelled the stank of rotting seafood? Well if you have, you’ll get a taste of what’s coming up in this entry of the Quarter Life Crisis trip: a jaunt around Jeju Island, the tropical Hawaiian paradise-equivalent of Korea.

Camellia flowers enjoying the island weather

Well, it’s supposed to be a tropical paradise, but Jerry and I admittedly thought not twice about visiting Jeju island in the dead of winter. Thus, we found ourselves shivering through rain, sleet, and hail in some of the coldest weather we’ve encountered throughout the whole 3-month trip – excellent.

Bitter Cold + Coronavirus = No Tourists

Determined to make the most of our time, we managed to find a fishing charter to take us out for some deep sea fishing. Did we catch anything?

Hell yes we did. Bringing our booty back to shore, we had some aunties deftly slice up some sashimi and kimchi hotpot, and to our hearts’ contents we dined on Jeju Island’s bounty.

But without suffering, there is no enlightenment

(a.k.a. “No Pain, No Gain” for millennials).

The next night, Jerry and I stumbled onto a rather unassuming restaurant. Upon entering, we were hit with the stench of rotting fish.

That was hint #1. The other hints of the dangers that lay ahead include:
-No other customers inside
-Posters on the wall from the Korean equivalent of “Man vs. Food”
-The stench of rotting fish (not to be understated)
-A big platter of… rotten fish!


Unbeknownst to us, we had just sat down and forked over $40 for the restaurant’s specialty (and only dish): Hongeo-hoe 홍어회, or raw “skate fish” that’s been left at roughly room temperature for roughly a month.
Long story short, this fish doesn’t have a urinary tract, instead having evolved to excrete its pee through the skin (similar to the way we sweat out impurities after a long night of alcoholic indulgence). This pee (uric acid), soon turns into ammonia and thus prevents the fish meat from “going bad” as it sits in Uncle Kim’s basement for a month.

TMI?

As I was getting in my jammies for the night back at the hostel, I started salivating: it was time for the dramatic re-emergence of the Hongeo-hoe. Well as Jerry says about puking: you get twice the value for the same price!
Apologies for the lack of photos on this little drama: I was a little… busy.

After expelling the fish, I developed a fever for two days, but with the Coronavirus situation, I thought it best not to risk being put in a 2-week isolation chamber by an overzealous doctor.
Right as I thought I was going to meet Buddha, I recovered from the fever – thankfully.

That about covers our lovely days on Jeju, so here’s another moody winter pic to close out.

Moody Much?

Special thanks and much love goes out to Leslie for supporting my photography with your donation! 🤙

Team JAJY vs. Snow Mountain

Arriving together from Vietnam, Aitran (a close friend from high school) and I spend our first night gathering the members of our Taiwan 2020 crew. Once assembled, Aitran, Jerry, Yuji, and Jay rose once again at some ungodly hour (why is it always an ungodly hour for these things?) and journeyed to Wuling Farm to begin our 3-day high-altitude sufferfest.

Along the way, our loyal driver Ben, for whom without the trip would be impossible, stopped at an early morning bao restaurant in Yilan. the team made quick work devouring some 8 bao‘s, an equal number of fried eggs, and four bowls of steaming hot sweaty milk – all soon to appear from our rears in fabulous flatulence throughout the trip!

Arriving at the trailhead after many hours of winding roads, we began the sufferfest in earnest. Ladies and gents, without further I do I give you: Team JAJY vs. Snow Mountain.

Team JAJY is

 

In this episode of the Quarter Life Crisis trip, we rack up the following statistics:

  • Boba/Bubble Tea/Tapioca consumed: >8 cups (only $1.50 each!!)
  • An unrelenting daily lunchtime menu of: >30 bao‘s
  • Kind Taiwanese people: truly innumerable
  • The 3,886 meter (12,750 ft) high  Xueshan 雪山 “Snow Mountain” : 1
  • Noodles (instant or otherwise): >4 meals
  • Freezing nights spent spooning (Jay little spoon, Yuji big spoon): 2 nights
  • Otherwise sleepless nights: 5 out of 5 nights

Even the plants look cold

Aitran in her natural habitat

Noodles & tea, just the standard stuff
Goon Platoon

Stories from Sicilia Part One

Everything in Sicily is deep-fried, swimming in oil, and just fucking amazing

– “Papa” Giorgio Russo

Well, he wasn’t wrong. Our arrival in the southern island of Sicily began with oil, continued with oil, and ended spectacularly, with oil.

I could write a book about our time in the southern Italian island of Sicilia, truly a tome! But of all the deep-fried Arancini’s, velvety gelatos, and perfectly-pulled espresso’s, my most cherished memories of Italia are not of enjoying its killer food – but rather eating killer food in the company of cherished friends, new and old.

With that, let’s get to the photography, since this is a photo blog, right?
With this collection of photos taken just before the New Year, I focused on the transition from completely black-and-white photos to partially saturated shots, and by the end, you’ll find one of my favorite shots of the whole trip – in full color. Enjoy!

Within the hour of arrival, we find ourselves drooling over oily goodies (the notorious deep-fried risotto thing: Arancini’s!).

Within three hours, we find ourselves gorging on a regional specialty – Horse Meat Sandwiches. The locals here love to postulate: horses that lose during race-tournaments are slaughtered and consumed by hungry carnivorous Sicilians! Regardless of its source, the meat looked stunning.

But don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself from these three fabulous faces below!

For however many wonderful day-time adventures one can have in Sicilia, we lived the true locals’ life – that is to say, like creatures of the night.

Creatures of the Night

Surrendered to a life of ruthless night after night; surrounded by the musical roar of not-just-Italians (but Sicilians!); and bar none, humbled by the temporally and physically defying force of friendship. That is how we found ourselves cheers-ing into the new year – nay, the new decade!

Happiest of new years to friends and family.

Some Corner of Sicilia

Special thanks to Barton, Shally, Brenna, and Jenn for supporting my photography and this blog with their donations.

When in Provence

Surrounded by wheels of stinky cheeses and stunning sticks of crispy baguettes, Jerry and I find ourselves deep in the gastronomical equivalent of the promised land: France.

Walking off the bread and cheese in the Colorado Provencal, adjacent to Rustrel

Luckily for this dynamic duo, France is home to our close friend Maddie, whose family lives in the southern countryside village of Rustrel. It is here that Jerry and I lay our weary heads and enjoy the Christmas holidays.

We sleep daily until noon like Vanilla, Maddie’s 18 year-old cat

In lieu of hefty mountain treks, we saunter around the pastoral landscape, running into pleasantries including: medieval buildings, chanterelle mushrooms, grazing sheep, and a large man whose ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) we had to get un-stuck. It’s village life for sure – a stark change from sleepless Madrid and bustling Barcelona.

After a heavy feast of meats, fish, and of course, more bread and cheeses, we head out early on Christmas Day with Thierry to hunt for the tasty little fungus known as Cantharellus cibarius: Chanterelle mushrooms.

Heading out in the crisp morning air

Within 30 minutes, we find ourselves on all-fours, knee-deep in fungal fantasy – mushrooms, mushrooms everywhere! While Thierry and Jerry forage around for chanterelles, I spent the whole time (2 hours or so) picking mushrooms in one single small patch!


Back in the house, the family joins in to clean and cook the morning loot.

Our time in France ends soon, and while we’re sorry to say farewell to such great company (and not sleeping in smelly hostels with 15 farting, snoring men), our next journey crosses the Mediterranean Sea to the legendary island of Sicilia, where more friends and food await!

Yes we got the ATV un-stuck, and YES I drove it around after

A very special shoutout to Kate and George, who recently donated to keep me fed and happy.

Iron Buttocks in the Incan Andes

1 2 3 4 5 6… KRAKATOOOWW
” O.K. 6 miles away…”

Our final days in Peru saw Jerry and I fighting tooth and nail through thunder storms on the 5-day trek (trudge) to the Choquequirao Incan ruins and archaeological complex. Well, it’s supposed to be 5 days but we only had three to do it #fatalmistake 😏

An alright view, I guess

The trek is, elegantly, one giant ass descent into a River canyon and one giant ass ascent to the ruins, repeated in reverse like a very unfortunate and knee-busting déjavu. Along the way Jerry and I waded through downpours, trails-turned-rivers, lightning far too close for comfort, the kindest local villagers, cute farm animals, and an incredible series of Incan architecture from over half a millenia ago.

Millenial chicken spotted 🥑🥑👀

Along the hiking route, there are small villages accessible only by foot, and these locals are tough as nails. Many kudos to the two families who housed these drenched and dirty souls during venting downpours.

The llama terraces at Choquequirao ruins. The steepness of these terraces is fantastic for photography, less so for the hiker 💀


Since this is supposed to be a photo blog, I’ll shut up and let the picks do the talking from here 😘