Montevideo was a nice come down from the paradise of Buenos Aires and Palermo. Less glamorous, a little dodgy (I witnessed a knife fight and a purse snatching on the same day) but with a funky-cool vibe and interesting neighborhoods all the same. There’s a hipster-friendly mix of graffiti and desolation among the buildings comprising Old Town — the neighborhood looks like the set of Omega Man — a post-apocalyptic wasteland featuring trees growing from the sides of buildings that seem like a few decades back they were rather nice. A handsomely-masoned  building for the Bank of Uruguay sits across the street from an abandoned parking lot (?) lined with street art. There’s even a beautiful church with a single side of exposed brick beneath a snowy white paint that has the effect of a decaying underbelly. The neighborhood dogs are photogenic. But Monte has a more modern and charming side as well and a shore called the Rambla that locals stroll down or alongside in the sand. After Southeast Asia the beaches aren’t so grand – but in opposition to the knifey dark side of Old Town they are no less appealing. Even further North, up the coast of Uruguay from […]
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Ahh Mendoza. Malbec, steak, olive oil and endless, rolling hills of scenic views of the Andes. I wouldn’t know — I spend 5 days in Mendoza city which is, let me tell you, not nearly as cool as the surrounding countryside, villas, estancias or wineries. Such is the price I choose to pay while working during my travelling (instead of travelling to be on vacation). That being said I still had a really fun, adventurous time looking at stuff. My typical modus operandi when landing in a new place involves “hey I wonder what thing on the map is. I better go look at it.” I’ll get side tracked four or five times, probably lost and hungry. Eventually I’ll get to the destination either to be underwhelmed or excited about something else to venture to. I also end up discovering and solving a lot of micro mysteries. I think of them as micro mysteries because they are insignificant and only really mysteries to someone such as myself who has no idea what is going on or why something is happening. Para exemplo : “Why is there a line 100 people long outside of this store that looks sort of like a tiny […]
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I visited Córdoba because I had no idea what I would find there. Places like this are my favorite (cp Bucharest, Belgrade, Ljulbljana). I spend four days over a weekend here in Argentina’s second largest city after Buenos Aires, exploring and conceptualizing. I found something a little different from other destinations I’ve so far cataloged across Europe and Asia. As in Buenos Aires the spaces, blocks and buildings are broad instead of tall (ancho, no alto) but less so pronounced in Cordoba than in BA. Since the largest universities in Argentina are in Córdoba, you see a lot of young people when walking through town. This gives it an energetic, diverse personality. On a stroll through a park I witnessed a rock climbing class, runners, BMX mountain bikers, Crossfitters and even a guy doing some pretty advanced static jumps with his mountain bike. Crazy! So much for my previous inclination that Argentinians have a predisposition to be lazy. Just as in Buenos Aires, Córdoba has great night life, restaurants and venues on par with any cool neighborhood in the United States. Also as in Palermo it is easy to forget you are not in the United States at times. Especially with being able to speak Spanish, the […]
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South American summer has been a welcome change from 4 months in Asia. Ubiquitous beef has been an appreciated perk and during the month of February I’ve managed to average over one steak a day. My favorite cut is the bief de chorizo aka sirloin. An under appreciated cut in my opinion overshadowed by the more celebrated tenderloin, filet mignon or ribeye. Cheaper, with more fat and flavor (even if less tender) — a cheaper to boot. What’s not to love? Along with the beef I did my best to savor Malbec at every opportunity and did a 4 day trip to Mendoza to find it at its most authentic, local origin (and also McDonald’s). I spent most of the month of February living in Palermo, Buenos Aires, a posh neighborhood with restaurants, cafes and gringo tourists. There is a lot of graffiti and ‘street art’ and it’s not always entirely clear which is which. I started learning Spanish for the first time in my life. Five friends and I were together in a class with our sexy Argentinian teacher, Mariela, with classes twice a week. Surprisingly I love learning Spanish and hope to continue my learning during the next four months here in […]
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The transition from Asia to South America afforded a new personal record for flight time – 40 hours of travel time spanning 4 flights : Tokyo->Hong Kong, Hong Kong -> New York, New York->Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo->Rio; it would have been a little shorter but my flight from New York to Rio was cancelled. Surprisingly it wasn’t so bad – the white noise of an airplane cabin is perfect for working (until your laptop battery expires). I had never been to Brazil before and in order to visit I had to venture to the Brazilian consulate in Nagoya, Japan, pay $220 and fill out some paper work. The visa is good for the next 10 years so I am excited to make further use of it. One thing I learned in my short trip to Rio is just how immense Brazil is (200 million people and a land area comparable to the United States); many varied ethnicities and regional cultures as well as geographies. My short 5 days in Rio served as an aperitif to the rest of Brazil. I stayed in Ipanema, between Leblon and Copacabana for most of my time. The last night I moved to an AirBnb in […]
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My most laid-back destination this year, Koh Phangan is an island off of the Thailand mainland. It’s a beachy place without an airport and lots of expatriates. I arrived early here with about 20 friends to attend the monthly Full Moon Party (and flee the toxic smog of Malaysia). We rented an AirBnb on the north side of the island for the week before the party and afterwards moved to the south side (near Haad Rin beach) for the rest of November. November begins the rainy season here and most days it rains hard. I have a scooter that I’ve rented for the month and use to cruise back and forth to the Muay Thai gym on the west side (other side) of the island (about a 25 minute scooter ride away). Afterwards I  do running and swimming intervals along Haad Rin Beach and try to dodge the jellyfish.
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Penang was the first south east asian city I’ve visited. Unfortunately my arrival in early October coincided with the yearly jungle burnings in Malaysia and Indonesia. As the government of Indonesia attempts to create a cartel on palm oil, for months each year forested areas are burned to clear land for production. Unfortunately this results in an unhealthy, even toxic, cloud of pollution that sweeps across neighboring areas — including Penang. I didn’t see the sun for the entirety of the month I was there and many of the days the air quality index was “unhealthy” – smoggy, cloudy and disincentivizing outdoor activity. Luckily Uber is super inexpensive (and the currency, the ringgit is very weak to the US dollar) – so getting around was a snap, and everything else so inexpensive that weathering the toxic haze was at least economical. Penang is known as a foodie destination and is proud of its street food. I found the food generally terrific though the street food hit or miss. I ended up eating three entrees whenever I ate anywhere as the portions were modest and so were the prices. I found a wonderful Chinese restaurant around the corner from some coffee shops (affording a […]
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