I originally started this site as a travel blog but it has since taken on a life of its own and I write about whatever comes to mind. Politics, culture, my experiences around the world and in my own country. Feel free to follow me and leave comments!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

China a go go yo yo

I'll be leaving for China at 4 IN THE MORNING. Urg.... It's going to be a looooooooong day. And seeing as how 200+ million people are going to be traveling for Chinese New Year I may just have a nervous breakdown at the airport. In my town I sometimes go an entire day without seeing or speaking to another person. Anyways, I'm sure I'll end up waiting in Chinese customs for two hours with a bunch of Turks and Iranians again. Sigh... I'll be better about posting stories from my trip when I get back.

Travel in China,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Island in the Sun

Back in the Christmas of 2009 I went to Puerto Rico with my two bfffs(best f*ckin friends forever). Aaron is a guy I met in 9th grade and we've been cool ever since. Now me and Gerardo aka "Jerry" have been bros since 6th grade. That's a super long time. That's almost half my life! Anyway, Jerry invited us to join his family on their Puerto Rico trip to visit some relatives. Before the trip I knew next to nothing about Puerto Rico except that people there just absolutely love cocaine. And when we got there I was expecting to see a bunch of dirt roads and banana plantations. When we landed in San Juan this is what we saw.

Not a dirt road.

We stayed with Jerry's aunt who lives in a style of concrete house typically found in the Caribbean because of the frequent hurricanes. One thing that I noticed was all the gated communities on the island. The crime rate is very high but most of it is petty stuff like car break-ins or gang on gang violence. So just keep your nose clean and your powder dry and you should be okay. Another thing is that Puerto Ricans seem to have an aversion to air conditioning. It was December when we went but the temperature was still in the 80's and low 90's and all we had was a busted ass window unit that would shut down the neighborhood power grid if you set it on high. No joke there. It happened like, five times. The power grid in general just sucked. There were blackouts everyday. And I still have no idea why that is. I figured that with Puerto Rico being a territory of the US it would have pretty decent infrastructure but I guess not. They should hurry up and apply for statehood so they can pay taxes and get some federal dollars. How am I supposed to thrash dudes on Xbox Live if the power goes out every two hours? For real?

Now let's talk about the beaches. You can't talk about the Caribbean without talking about the beaches. We went to three beaches. Two of which are local secrets that tourists don't know about yet. The first was like a little bay surrounded by volcanic rock or something and the second we had to hike down a trail in the jungle to get to. And the touristy beach was great because we went before school got out so there weren't a bunch of tweens walking around trying to look hot. The water was bluer than back home and I could see about 10 feet or so in.

Notice the shark nets.

And how about all the sites to see? Puerto Rico has a rich history. Christopher Columbus himself landed on the island and soon preceeded to rape and murder the native inhabitants(Sarcasm. Kind of). The name Puerto Rico means "rich port" and it became a center of trade during the Colonial Period. Few centuries down the road, Spain pissed of the US and lost the Spanish-American War in 1898 and Puerto Rico became a territory of the US, along with the Philippines. Along the coast you find some old Spanish forts turned into museums that are pretty awesome. And unless my memory is starting to go from all the Pomtinis I've been knocking back, I believe one of the guides said that in five hundred years none of the forts had ever fallen to enemy forces.

This fort is the best fort ever.

Aside from the big fancy hotels in the tourist district of San Juan, pastel colored houses in the suburbs and the plantain plantations there is the only tropical forest preserve of the US in the interier of the island up in the mountains. Just be careful though. There's spiders the size of your head. We went to the summit of one of, if not the tallest mountain of the island where their was a three hundred year old observation tower. From the top we could see several of the islands cities.

Proper tower protocol is to see spit over the side and see who's hits the ground first.

How about some of that awesome Puerto Rican culture? Let's start with the food. It was fantastic overall. I wasn't too fond of some of the plantain dishes. For those of you who don't know a plantain is like a banana if the banana tasted like a sweaty foot and it's used extensively in Central and South American cooking. One of the most popular local dishes is called Mofongo which is made from crushed up plantains and mixed with butter and spices to have the taste and consistency of mashed potatos.

It also looks like hammered shit. I had it twice. Once with fried pork and then with diced conch. Freakin' delicious. Moving on from food. Puerto Rico has some of the best cigars I've ever had. Freshly made and treated with tender loving care. Mmmmmmm. And fairly cheap as well!

If you're planning on going there are some things you should be aware of.

1. Don't assume people know English. Just because it is a territory of the US English is not widely spoken. They teach it in schools but it's kind of like how they teach Spanish in American schools. Most people don't pay attention. Learn Spanish to get around.

2. Be aware of risks. Puerto Rico has a high crime rate. Don't look like a chump and you should be fine.

3. DON'T GO TO THE MOVIES. Puerto Ricans are worse than black people in the movies. I saw "Avatar" for the first time there and barely sat through it. I was about to get into a fight. They're loud as shit, always talking and walking around. If you want to see a movie just get it on bootleg around the corner.

4. Don't just hang around the toursist spots. Seriously. It's lame.

5. Don't neglect the tourist spots either! There's some interesting stuff to be seen!

6. Watch out for the Chupacabra!

Apparently they're attracted to rock hard abs and ladies who look suspiciously man-like.

More pics:

Check it out if you get the opportunity!

Travel in China,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

City of Life and Death

Holy crap dude. I've been on the lookout for good Chinese movies recently (kung-fu movies are awesome but don't really count) and I came across "City of Life and Death." It's a beast of a movie.

It's about the Rape of Nanking in World War 2. Let me tell you, I knew it was bad but actually seeing the brutality on film is something else. Really eye-opening. It wasn't a fiesta of Chinese nationalism like I expected either. I thought it was fairly balanced in its depiction. It focuses on the Chinese civilians and soldiers as well as the Japanese. Most of the Japanese are portrayed in a negative light just as they deserve but there is one Japanese soldier who is I guess what you would call the sympathetic character since he's an alright guy but he is forced into the events of the war. Not sure if I'm making sense. Anyway, it's very violent and loaded with blood and gore, rape, vulgar language, and all that jib jab. Beware. Check it out!

Travel in China,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Racism in China

I just wanted to write about something that has been on my mind for a long time, ever since I got back from China. Racism in China is something that has been discussed many times all over the internet but I thought I'd share my experiences. Many Chinese people would probably deny that there is racism in their country but their is racism everywhere. Even in a homogeneous society like some European countries. After all, who needs those filthy Irishmen or smelly Italians? But because most people in China are ethnic Chinese they don't get to see people from other races very often. White people occasionally, black people almost never. And this lack of exposure to other ethnicities (I use the term ethnicities because race has no scientific base. The more you know!) has created misinformation and just straight up ignorance. Check this picture out.

Yeah. I can kinda see how this would piss off a billion people.

In case you're totally clueless, it depicted black people as chimpanzees which is INCREDIBLY racist. Chinese people hate Japanese people for obvious reasons but why do they get to be giant robats while black people are apes? It's not fair. EXAMPLE TIME. Jen and I were sitting at a bus stop in Guangzhou with her parents. This old Chinese couple comes and sits down as well. They stare at us for a while. I make eye contact and do my best to look as non-threatening and un-creepy as possible. Suddenly the old woman starts talking and I automatically know she is talking about me. Much to my surprise my girlfriend and her parents start laughing and agree with her. I was befuddled! I love that word but rarely have a chance to use it. Later on the bus I asked Jen what the lady said. She pretty much said that "Mixed white and Chinese babies are beautiful but black babies are not. They are ugly."
WOW. I come from a small, kind of redneckish town in South Carolina and I've never heard anything like that before. After the initial shock I just chocked that attitude up to lack of exposure. I'm sure most black people in the world are alright people but most of what the average Chinese person sees is the black junkie or criminal in movies. What a shame. But it's not always easy for white people either! Especially if you're in a relationship with a local girl.It should go without saying that you'll get stared at and maybe the occasional rude comment. I only heard one of those but it was enough to piss me off. Apparently some jealous Chinese guy called her a traitor. If this was America I would have stomped him out in the street but because I was an "ambassador" for my country I had to be the better man and brush it off. Foreigners in China already have to work hard to overcome the stereotypes associated with them so getting into a fist fight with a big mouthed idiot wouldn't really help our image. But generally speaking, that kind of overt rudeness is very rare. I just got distracted and forgot where I was going with this but I think you get the picture. Happy New Year! =D

Travel in China,