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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