I really like this artist, she’s huge in England and Australia right now.
Wow. Wow. Wow. This last month has been filled with more heartache, more confusion, more randomness, and more close calls than I can describe here. While I was in London, I was trying to figure out what to do next because I’m becoming surprisingly burnt out. Finally I decided to stay in English speaking countries to ease the burnout a bit (at least I can talk to people if there’s no cool backpackers around) and so I bought a ticket to Australia. Which, just happened to go back through Japan. I felt like I didn’t spent enough time there before, so I decided to spend another week there in Fukuoka and Kyoto. This time it wasn’t about seeing stuff, but trying to understand life there and how to socialize. That was definitely an experience. Not many pictures and not too much sightseeing, but definitely a lot of crazy stories.
The rather boring London Bridge, right next to:
The very impressive Tower Bridge.
The Imperial War Museum, every boy/man’s dream museum.
The actual tank Field Marshal Montgomery rode around Africa in during WW2.
The V2 rocket, thousands of these were dumped on London.
I like this painting. There’s also a subtle insult to the French in this painting because their chunk isn’t smashed. The French were not able to mount a full military response during WW2.
I can’t even tell you how many chunks of the Berlin Wall I’ve come across in random various places. If you ever see a roughly 8 foot tall chunk of cement that’s graffiti’ed and has a lip on the top, it’s probably a piece of the Berlin wall.
Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column. In the background you can see the House of Commons and Big Ben too. The square is named for the Battle of Trafalgar and on top of Nelson’s Column is Admiral Horatio Nelson, commander of the British fleet during the Battle. This is easily one of my favorite historical events and just one of my favorite general cool things in the world. The Battle of Trafalgar is easily one of the most important events of modern world because it was such a decisive battle that it ended an era of naval warfare and it was nearly 100 years before another significant naval battle took place. The battle itself took place between the British on one side, and the Napoleonic French and Spanish on the other. Now, during these days, it was standard practice for naval battles to occur with each side making a straight line and heading into the battle. But, Nelson used an incredibly unorthodox method and instead spearheaded the French/Spanish line with two separate columns. If you think about it, this is kind if crazy to try because you can’t sneak up on someone in a sail boat, they can see you coming a long way off, so it’s not like this battle plan wasn’t being telegraphed to the French side. Either way, Nelson’s plan paid off and the French side was completely demolished. Interestingly, the number of casualties between the two sides is shockingly different by pretty much 10 to 1. On a modern battleship, there are all sorts of nifty gears and computer programs running which constantly keep a gun fixed on a target regardless of how the ship is pitching and rolling. But, back in the day, they didn’t have this kind of luxury, so you had to try and time your shots against an enemy with how your ship was rolling around in the ocean. Well, the French side employed high siding their shots, which meant they were timing their shots during their up swing, so they were mainly trying to shot the sails, masts, and rigging of ships in order to capture them. The British, however, were low siding their shots, meaning they were firing on the down swing, so their shots were being fired into the *crew compartments* of the French ships. So while the French were shooting the air, the British were shooting people. This is why the French were absolutely demolished in this battle. I can go on and on about this battle, *but* there are two interesting things that happened after this event. Firstly, Napoleon found out the news of the battle and deemed his Naval officers so incompetent that he stripped the title of “Sir” from their titles. To this day, French Navy Officers are the only military officers in the world that aren’t called “sir” by their men. The other interesting thing is that Admiral Nelson was, in fact, fatally shot towards the end of the battle. (I had to go way out of my way just to see Nelson’s actual coat that he was shot in which is pictured above. You can see the bullet hole from a French sniper as the white spot in front of his left epilate). Admiral Nelson was a senior officer and now a national hero, so after the battle, his body needed to be returned to England. During this time, and actually until not too long ago, a special rum was made for the British Navy, and each sailor was issued a personal ration of rum daily. Therefore, there was a huge cask of rum on every ship. In order to preserve Admiral Nelson’s body for the long sail back to England, the other officers placed his body inside of the rum cask on board one of the ships and instructed all the sailors to stay away from it. When they returned home, they opened up the cask and much to their shock, found it completely dry. The sailors had still been drinking the rum even with a body floating around in it. Forever after that, Navy Rum was known as Nelson’s blood. Not too long ago, the British Navy decided that having a bunch of sailors drinking rum everyday had no place in modern times, so they stopped issuing the rum and sold the recipe to a private company. Since most people reading this are in California, you can actually buy this rum at Bevmo. It’s called Pusser’s Rum (Pusser is sailor’s perversion of the title Purser, the guy on the ship who rationed out the rum everyday, therefore it was the Purser’s Rum). It’s pretty good, though a little sweet.
O degrees longitude in Greenwich. There’s some really cool history about how the pocket watch was developed specifically for sailors to figure out their longitude. It took a long time and lot of different versions to get it right, because obviously a grandfather clock doesn’t keep time well when the pendulum is swinging inside of a pitching and rolling ship on the open ocean. The pocket watch was never really intended to be just a time keeping instrument.
The actual untouched underground room in London that was the European Allied WW2 War Room.
My kind of guy.
Everything is real in this Vegas.
[In the Tate Modern] “’My paintings have no titles because I do not wish them to become illustrations or pictorial puzzles’. Still wrote ‘if properly made visible they speak for themselves’. In a letter discussing this work, he explained that the red at the lower edge was intended to contrast with and therefore emphasize the depth of the blue. He saw the yellow wedge at the top as ‘a reassertion of the human context – a gesture of rejection of any authoritarian rationale or system of politico-dialectical dogma’.”
This artist is a *genius*. That’s *exactly* what I was thinking before I read the caption.
Welcome to the HMS Belfast
[Caption below a picture of a bunch of bearded sailors on the Belfast] “Bearded officers of HMS Belfast, January 1944. Sailors have been allowed beards since 1869, when the Captain of the Royal Yacht told Queen Victoria: ‘more bad language is made use of during the quarter of an hour devoted to shaving than during any other part of the day’. Permission had to be asked of the Captain – ‘permission to grow, sir’ – and, if granted a ‘full set’ had to be grown, as mustaches, beards, or sideburns on their own were not allowed”. I understand *completely*.
So the type of diving I plan on getting into involves navigating through areas like this, but underwater. I don’t think I need to even mention doing that is absolutely dangerous as hell.
A rather calm station in London on a Saturday night.
There was a big festival going on right outside my hotel in Tokyo this time around, so I got to walk through this mess every time I wanted to get on the subway.
The cleared view.
I’m so sad this came out blurry, but the jacket says “Nothing Last Forever, Onry Love”. I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard.
Last time I was in Japan I missed out on trying Fugu. Fugu is Blowfish or Puffer Fish and each fish contains enough poison to kill 30+ adults. Only licensed chefs are allowed to even touch the stuff. Well, I got my dish at a recommended restaurant, which was surprisingly deserted, and when it came out, the waitress insisted on watching me try it. After a couple of bites she finally left, I took my picture, and I kept eating. When I finished the plate, they wouldn’t bring me my check, and as I sat there, I was starting to feel a bit odd and was getting shaky. Then, the chef comes out to see me, and it was an *extremely* nervous looking 20 year old guy. OMFG. I finally get my check almost an hour after finishing, and I start walking around as the strange feeling gets worse and worse. My chest is starting to hurt, my arms are becoming stiff, my throat is tightening up, and my thoughts are starting to become random and slow. I had read that one guy used to intentionally poison himself with Fugu liver and would go into a coma for 3 days, so I was really trying to pay attention to how I felt, but wasn’t too concerned with dying at this point. But, after two hours, since I hadn’t fallen on my face, I figured I wasn’t going to, so I tried to sleep and proceeded to have one of the most fitful nights of sleep of my life. Imagine shooting pains all over your body all night. I’ve talked to other people that have tried Fugu, and no one else had my experience, so I’m pretty sure I got mildly poisoned. But, it’s all good, I’m feeling great and causing trouble as always.
This may very well be the creepiest entrance to a clothing store ever. All manikins.
Really nice shopping mall in Fukuoka.
“Yet a sailor’s life is at best but a mixture of a little good with much evil, and a little pleasure with much pain. The beautiful is linked with the revolting, the sublime with the common-place, and the solemn with the ludicrous.” ~ Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr. (From the book I’m currently reading, which is is an awesome book by the way, and I didn’t realize when I started reading it that this is *the* Dana of Dana’s Point, Orange Country California)
Anyone that’s ever spent any significant time in the ocean knows this to be true. Being a mariner is not about loving the ocean…. It’s something else, more like respect.
I’ve realized as I’ve been traveling around that I can’t deal with being away from the ocean too long. So much time spent diving, sailing, surfing, kayaking and just hanging out have solidified the mariner in me into something I can’t internally depart from. After spending a couple of weeks in London and a few days in Tokyo, I was feeling a bit off. The next place I went was Fukuoka. I arrived at night, and the next morning, I woke up and starting walking in a straight line away from my hostel, not knowing where I was going. I walked close to 5 miles in one straight line when I felt the wind curl around my body and I immediately knew, the ocean was within a few blocks of me… but where? I kept walking straight and reached a T intersection with such tall buildings that it looked liked any other intersection in Japan. I kept walking straight anyway, through a narrow pathway in between two buildings, and suddenly I came upon the previous picture. I was a bit startled to have just done this, and afterwards found out I had taken the shortest path straight to the open bay that leads into the Sea of Japan and thus into the ocean. Did I subconsciously realize this by seeing water from the train on the way in? I don’t know. Crazy. Regardless, I spent an hour watching the water rise and fall gently in the way that a protected bay does, and I felt at peace again, so I headed back into the city.
Again, the Colonel, but… seriously? It wasn’t even freakin November when I took this picture. Let alone… the Japanese practice Christmas? I’m soooo confused. On top of it all, the “I’m going to choke you” posture all the Japanese Colonel’s have just makes this weird.
The worlds largest wooden structure, which is actually only 2/3’s of the original size due to rebuild after fire. Inside this structure is the world’s largest enclosed Buddha:
The big guy. Solid bronze. I think the signage said this Buddha weighs something like 22 tons. Craziness.
And the scary Bodhisattva out front.
Best Gyoza (pot stickers) ever in Kyoto.
I still haven’t found out what these are called, but they’re the best snack ever. Fish wrapped in rice wrapped in seaweed so you can just pick it straight up and eat it. Delicious, small, and cheap. Awesome.
Is this just a Japanese thing? The picture makes it seem like people are dropping the contents from their purse/pocket right into the toilet.
I don’t know why the Japanese like him so much, but the only thing going through my head is Will Smith singing Getting Jiggy With It.
Night Time Kyoto.
Yastuhasi, a baked but very soft confection only made in Kyoto. It may very well be my favorite candy on earth, and it’s only made in one stinking city. Damn. I think I ate 10 boxes of this stuff by myself while I was in Japan, and I took another 7 boxes with me when I left. They’re already gone =(
Japanese style graveyard.
Randomly happened to be around at the right time to take this picture.
Next stop was Australia, where I am currently, and I can definitely say, this place is firggen awesome. Everyone is looking to have fun, the activities are cool, and there’s plenty of things here you simply won’t see anywhere else. About half my time here has been spent living on a boat, and I’m definitely cool with that. Anywho:
The view from the dive boat I was living on over the Great Barrier Reef. That’s Australia 25 miles away.
Into the deep on the Great Barrier Reef.
Night diving is definitely it’s own thing. In the first pic, you can see just how little is visible even with 6 divers with lights in picture. So, it’s nice when you’re swimming along and your light is showing you nothing but blackness, and all of a sudden two little green dots form in the distance. My brain was going “huh… I wonder what that is…” as a 6 foot reef shark swims into my face. I like company on my dives. No problem.
Random stuff on the ground in Australia
Koalas all over the place on Magnetic Island.
Feeding a Wallaby (miniature Kangaroo)
Getting pissed (drunk) in Airlie beach. I may very well live here next cause it’s all sailing, diving, drinking, and people looking to have fun. I can dig that.
Somehow this crappy picture was the only shot I got of the sailing ship I was living on in the Whitsunday Islands. It’s really hard to take a picture of a sailing ship when you’re actually on it. This ship is a World Champion racing vessel and the crew was exactly my kind of crowd. Aka, the slogan for the Boomerang was <while doing the fist on the bicep upper cut motion> “<bleep> off, this is the mighty Boomerang”. I want to work on this ship specifically.
Also, if you weren’t aware, don’t ever take bananas onto a sailing ship. Or any ship for that matter. I’m not kidding. I’ve planned on living on a boat in the future, and if I ever take any of you out and I catch you with a banana, I’ll <bleep>ing throw you overboard right then and there, along with your bananas. If you take a banana onto a ship, you’re likely to get everyone on board killed.
Seriously. This is a real thing.
Stop at the beach while sailing around the Whitsunday islands.
Watching whales go by our ship. We also got some dolphins hanging out with us during the day too.
Out and about….