That Time in Morocco

I’ve been looking up camping this week and got reminded of my time in Morocco. I  made a detour to Marrakesh 3 years ago and heard so much positive things about the place. It was supposedly a good introduction to how Africa is and words like ‘exotic’, ‘flavor’, ‘atmosphere’ were thrown around so much around the internet that I really did buy into it.

In retrospect, the main thing that ruined the trip for me was the heat. In Singapore, we’re perpetually in a high-humidity, 26-32 degrees Celsius type of weather but that has no competition for the type of heat you’d get in the Sahara in the middle of summer.

The thing is, you usually look up your next accommodation from the comforts of an air-conditioned couch even in a hostel. You’ll be munching on some chips, surfing the net and EVERYTHING YOU SEE looks great. If your hostel looks like this, you’d think words like ‘exotic’, ‘chill’, ‘atmosphere’.

Holy crap hot

I had stayed in a really budget ‘hostel’ in Marrakesh which is really a riad. Riads are basically houses built around a courtyard in the middle which is supposed to disperse heat from the surrounding rooms. In the riad I was at, there was no aircon and there was ONE fan to share in the room. It was also 40 degrees and I swear I’ve never in my life experienced air that still. There was a steadfast blanket of heat around me and it’s made worse by the thick carpeted mattresses that we slept on. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fallacy of Travelling Cheaply

I’m inspired to write this after reading a bunch of “How to travel <insert geographic area> for under US$50 a day!” posts. The bulk of them talk about how you can live off hot dog buns and the worst of them mention cheating on train/bus fares. The more reasonable ones talk about not entering much-hyped sites with a crazy entrance fee and to walk in some (free) park instead or to hang out with fellow travelers because the writers are ‘people persons’ which is still kind of debatable if you’re actually attracted to the spot by well, the sights.

Truth is, travelling is really not that expensive. I’d be quite hard-pressed to think of an instance where I had to spend more than US$50 a day on average including accommodation and sometimes, even airfare. I’ve been backpacking quite a bit over the last years and I daresay I spend less on some vacations than I would if I were to stay put. That’s including airfare. Here’s a list of what I do. (All prices stated in USD for convenience) Read the rest of this entry »

Baseball and Being Chinese in Yokohama, Japan

In Junior College (that’s the last year of high school in the US), I wanted to join the hockey or baseball teams. The practice days happened to both fall on the same day on the day I had lessons so it didn’t happen. I’d later go on to play a good amount of unicycle hockey in my adult life but I never managed to get into baseball. I think I got interested in it from how fun it seemed in Peanuts strips and when I was in San Francisco two years ago, I made plans to go to a game. Someone in the office had free tix too but I had work so I had to miss it and then tickets were out.

Since I didn’t have much plans in Tokyo sans unicycle, I made a point to get tickets to a Yokohama game.

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Yea, I do star Yokohama.

I loved it. I paid probably around US$60 for a ticket but I didn’t know how good my seat was until I got there and I was this close to the field. In the west you’d have hot dog stands all around but since it is Japan, the kiosks and food booths were selling… bento sets. Beer babes were obviously a global phenomenon. If you brought beer to the game, there are tables around the entrance with plastic cups so you can transfer them over; it’s quite amazing how organized the Japanese are. Read the rest of this entry »

Kamakura, Japan

It’s never occurred to me to explore the outskirts of Tokyo before and since I didn’t have a plan outside of the Tokyo Game Show, I thought I should bring my unicycle along and ride some trails.

Unfortunately, a week before I flew, a typhoon hit Tokyo, flooding the northern areas. The trains to Nikko were stopped until further notice when I was there and there were fears of landslides in the more mountainous terrain. I left my unicycle at home.

It’s unfortunate though because Kamakura would have been perfect for riding.

Located just 2 hours south of Tokyo (and connected directly from Narita), Kamakura is best known for the giant Buddhist statues around town. Most of the tourist spots are quite spaced out – close enough to walk but far enough to take up the bulk of your time. In short, it’s a great place if you’re looking for a good workout.

Kamakura

The Goddess of Mercy, mercifully perched on a hill.

I rented a bike on one of the days when it wasn’t pouring and I’m still amused at my inability to ride a bike properly. My biggest problem is in navigating the narrow walkways and judging how wide I am, a problem which the locals obviously don’t face since they’re all charging at me at full speed. I wish I had my uni. Read the rest of this entry »