Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This is Genius

Bear and I had a urinal at our house in BKK, and we never thought of this. Wow, leave it to a four star hotel in Southern Vietnam, and you get this!

Not in The China, But Close

This is actually in S.F.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Greatful Dead, Golfing, and Cambodia

I miss golf... a lot. Now that Siem Reap has two golf courses, I was hoping I would get a chance to play. Unfortunately, I haven't yet because prices are completely unreasonable - $70 for 9 holes at Angkor Golf Resort, and over a hundred bones for 18 holes at the Sofitel course. Ok, ok, they are nice courses (supposedly - I've only seen the Sofitel course), but it's just ridiculous to expect to pay that much. So on principle alone I'm waiting to play in Thailand.

To give you an idea of how golf and Cambodia mix, here is the quote from the American who won the inaugural Cambodian Open hosted last week in Siem Reap:
"This is awesome. I would like to dedicate this win to the Grateful Dead, as they have inspired me all the way," said Saltus, who has attended 153 concerts. (Full Article Here)

Go figure. Caution: the photo in the link above is kinda scary.

~ J-Dub

Friday, December 07, 2007

Suitcase Blues

I laughed to myself the other day when I realized that the extent of what I own fits into two bags that I can carry-on any international flight. In one way, it's liberating. I can book a flight tomorrow and pretty soon be in Botswana.

In another way, I do miss having a home. When Robert Earl Keen says, "there's nothin' better than your own backyard," I can't help but to become insanely jealous of everyone who has that comfort. The only way I can rationalize around it is to think that I would probably be bored quickly of having a backyard and soon want to be where I am now with my two suitcases.

Yet by living modestly for the past few years in Asia, I have a great sense of what I need versus what I want. It's a great perspective to have. I guess this happens when all day your around locals who are careful about spending 2,000 Riel [FN1].


[FN1] 4,000 Riel = 1 USD

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Serious Shit

I'm telling you; letting your kid poop in public is not cool. Dropping your infant's trousers to let him or her poop in the middle of busy market helps no one. Ok, Ok. I understand you don't have to find a toilet so you can hover over your assortment of twenty-cent-per-pair-cheap-ass socks that only Big Bird would buy, but really, that's just plain lazy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

China Makes No Sense

I don't care what anyone says, this country has a long way to go.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's Up is What's Going Down

J-Dub is back in the 'Bodia. It's been a crazy month, and no doubt this month will be no different since I'll be leaving at the new year. So many posts brewing in the back of my dome, but since I can't think of any right now you'll have to wait. But the big news is that J-Dub is leaving the 'Bodia, and with the end of that chapter will be the end of the Cali Thais. So the Cali Thais will be posting until the end of the year.... Don't cry the 5 people who still care about the Cali Thais.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

La La Land

It's been several months since the jump [back] across the pond and I feel like it is time to reflect on it a little. The transition has been smoother than most anticipated in the beginning, yet it is the subtle items that build upon themselves, like soft fluffy marshmallows stacking higher and higher until finally their weight is felt and their number many. Little things, good and bad that you don't notice until finally when you do and suddenly can't stop seeing them everywhere. Below we'll discuss a few of them.

Everything is bigger here. I mean everything... from the freeways to the food portions, the grocery stores to the waist lines. Let me say, my God this is a fat country. With that said, women also carry curves on their hips and on their chests. It's so much easier to distinguish girls from boys (and I'm not even referring to the ladyboys of Asia).

How this change in size affects me:
I'm reminded how much I don't ever want to become fat. Sure, it may sound bad, but fat people are the tubby, sweaty embodiment of laziness. Food portions are delightfully large, and it's great to get back to decent mexican food on every corner. As for feminine female forms - hell yes. How could I ever live without the joy of large mammaries bouncing from one shop to the next? I'm finding myself more open to both petite and curvy girls... and that opens up a lot of possibilities, however unlikely a positive outcome may be (more on that below).

Call me crazy, but LA seems so clean to me. Where are the choking odor-trails that lead you to (or on a hot afternoon, away from) the local fish market? One can safely take a walk down most sidewalks here without constant heed to avoiding steamy garbage piles, wretched diseased stray dogs, the mushy daily reminders those dogs leave behind, rotting scraps from the local restaurant, and unclean beggars clinging to their bottles of whiskey. Oh Bangkok, how your distinct smells will ever dance in my memories. At least I have the urine-soaked stairwell in the parking garage on the way to work to console me and provide a little familiarity.

Here in LA, I feel I've lost my superstar status. This is not solely because I no longer stand towering over the tops of jet-black haired Thais, my skin sparkling powdery white. My skin still keeps its lustrous pale-glow. I no longer feel the full superstar status because everyone else in this city seems to feel they have superstar status too. It truly is amazing to be in a place where everyone is better than everyone else... but I don't see how that math adds up. Let's just say LA is not a land of humble, outgoing Buddhists. Than again, the quirkiness adds a layer of entertainment, so there's that...

For my take on women in Thailand, look through past posts - there's plenty there. As for La women, I could (and probably later will) go into great detail about their unique character. For now, I'll allow this story to suffice:
This evening we were on our way to a movie and pulled up to a red light. I turned my head to notice a very attractive brunette in the car next to us. I look for less than 2 seconds before she turns towards me and caught off guard, I offer a completely innocent smile. Before I could even begin uttering the eloquent words "i'd cut off a finger for her" to my roommate, this goddess mars her own beauty with a fierce scowl and a quick-drawn middle finger intended for me (the finger appointed with some huge diamond-encrusted ring, naturally). She then lurches her car forwards, nearly slamming into the car ahead of her, simply to get out of direct eyesight of me. This whole event happened over the course of 7.3 seconds. Her judgment of me as a human took a mere 1.3 seconds. Extrapolating this data out, she went from zero to bitchy in record-breaking time.

Awesome. Welcome to La La Land.

Monday, October 29, 2007

E-Dog's Blog - Teach in Taiwan

If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to teach full time in Asia, the Cali Thais aren't teachers so we can't help. But our buddy E-Dog is in Taiwan and it turns out he has a blog about all his wacky adventures in Taiwan. Check it:


Bear and E-Dog, along with Jdub to a lesser extent because he was in Cambodia more often than not, got hypy (sp?) in BKK and now all the girls are sad because none of us are there full time. Sorry ladies (see 'What I Deserve' by Bear)


It's the small signs that should worry you the most when you go to pee by the side of the road in Cambodia

Samboon is a brave Cambodian.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

CNN's AC360 is Ridiculous

CNN's Anderson Cooper (aka AC360) is a goof ball. The pretty boy is promoted to be a hard-knocking, untold-story teller, but he couldn't be further from it.

The first clue came a couple months ago when he reported from a slum in Phnom Penh. He was doing a special on the sex trade, and the story focused on how terrible the expats are in Cambodia, and how they all exploit underage girls. While there is no denying that the sex trade is a problem in many parts of South East Asia, AC360 focused exclusively on foreigners' dirty deeds without even mentioning that the majority of exploitation is hard to capture because the majority is the local people participate and support it. Funny how he didn't go to the places where the Cambodian business men go..... With all sorts of hidden cameras and secret informants, AC360 focused on the white people and made the story seem like all expats are shady, sex crazed animals.

Why can't he be fair and balanced like Fox News? (and why doesn't Fox News have an international channel?)

Then, a couple days ago, he was in Thailand doing a special on "Planet in Peril." Again, he brought the secret cameras and local experts, but this time the story was on the endangered animals that can be purchased at the weekend market. It was ridiculous. The local Thai people came across as shady and evil.

AC360, Bro, what happened to your tolerance of different cultures and ideas? Is it wrong that I want to have a neon turtle from Madagascar? What if I take care of it? What if I help support a poor family by buying it?

"This is Thai culture. You don't understand Thai culture.....", the Thai's often remind me with a smile.

~ Jdub

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Japan Photos

If anyone reads this blog anymore, here are links to my Japan photos:


I'm not moving there lest I'd become an alcoholic living in a closet surrounded by people who never make eye contact.

Any suggestions on where to live?

~ J-Dub

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ninja Status

In Japan .... Wow. I really want to be a Ninja right now and sneak around like the BIG KAT on too much PBR because it's like everyone in Japan is a Ninja. Making eye contact is the first obstacle. If you can do that, then you have an 'in' and you can talk to the Japanese, but making eye contact is not easy..... This is the Ninja way.

Started in Kyoto, the cultural center of Japan, and I quickly realized why I love traveling. It's a challenge. I had booked a 'business hotel' (the basic equivalent of a closet with a bed and shower) four nights. It was on my flight from SFO to KIX that I realized I was traveling into the future, and I was arriving a day later than I thought. i.e. I left on a Tuesday afternoon and booked Tues night's accommodation in Japan, but it was really Thursday when I arrived. So I basically booked an extra night - amateur night, J-dub..... But luck was on my side, despite my flight in SFO being delayed 1.5hrs. which left approximately 40 in Soeul to catch my connecting flight. Oh, I made it, Ninja style, with 10 min to spare, and I was the last one on the flight.

Arriving in KIX the efficiency of Japan was clear: Immigration - passport, visa on arrival card, boom, finished. Baggage claim, boom, got my bag. Customs - give them the form, boom, go ahead. Sign marked Information - give them the address of my hotel in English, they give me the address and directions in Japanese for the taxi, boom, done. Walk across a corridor to the train station and exchange a train voucher for my train pass, boom, now I can travel anywhere on the trains for 7 days. At the same office, I booked a ticket for the last night train leaving for Kyoto, boom with 4 minutes to spare. Made it to Kyoto and checked into my hotel. I explained my adventure to the hotel reception at close to midnight, and woman was nice enough not to charge me for the extra night.... that's Ninja status.

More pics to come, - Jdub

P.S. Click on Pics to enlarge...........................

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What I Deserve.

It's been a while... ok, it has been ages. I've thought of countless things I need to get around to posting and haven't yet. What's my excuse? Maybe it's settling back into a Western life. Maybe it's figuring out a new job. Whatever the excuse... it's not good enough.

When I decided to return to the States I had a few criteria that were important in my head to fulfill, to make it all worth while. *Find a good job with good starting pay in an interesting company doing something I'd look forward to when I woke up in the morning; so far (one week down), so good. *Moving in with good friends to make the living situation rewarding day in and day out; absolutely - my new roommates are hilarious and enjoy my pointless stories. *Living life a little more fully; I'm on the path to that, and putting up few roadblocks in the process. Hesitation is just an obstacle to having fun, right? *And finally, dating the kinds of girls I should be dating; no settling, no selling out, no one that any friend would later say "dude, she was not cool." Fuck that, time for cool.

Here's where I'm at now: good job, check - living with good friends, check (be it currently on the couch, it's still better than living with my parents, though I love them dearly) - making each day begin and end with a big smile, check - dating quality girls... and there in lies the rub.

Don't get me wrong, I've dated some great girls here. Really cute models, funny chicks, and deep-souled individuals - but none strike the right tone yet. I'm all for pointing out my flaws early on so they know what they are up against. Self-deprecating humor rings loud and clear: I know my weaknesses (though you may find it hard to believe I have any, a few are hidden in the mix), but I'm getting the sense that people here don't always know a great thing when they see it. I say this because I had my first reminder of what it is to be back in Southern California. Oh Thailand, what makes you so sweet?

I guess I haven't felt the sting of a night of strikeouts in a long time... and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Ok, maybe not strikeouts, but no big hits either. And if that is one of the precepts for opting to return to this part of the world, what will it take for a few more grand slams? Guess I need to put forth more effort than merely trying to speak the local language (don't get me wrong, I have to try that here too... I'm so behind the times with the lingo: "not" jokes are no longer in). Let's just say the re-integration into American society is not as smooth as Johnny Walker Green Label on a Saturday night back at Bed Bar in BKK.

Check back in next week, as I have a new strategy I want to test out on the "locals" - really, who doesn't love a guy in a Santa costume?

Until next time,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tiger Putting

Recent reports suggest Wood's discrete drinking of vodka in Aquafina water bottles has helped "Tiger Putting"

(Picture from ESPN's website)

~ J-Dub

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Upgrade" in Cambodia

I'm overseeing the "upgrade" of wireless internet right now. Whenever the word "upgrade" is used I now reach for the closest bottle of booze to numb the pain inherent in the indelible true nature of "upgrade," which is "your shit will be fucked up for at least 2 weeks, and hopefully after all the fucking around it will be better than if we hadn't touched it in the first place."
~ J-Dub


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Only in Thailand

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Things I Miss

This is my third summer in SE Asia. No question there are things I miss about the States:

9.) Snow (I think I remember what cold is)
8.) Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream (any flavor, I don't care)
7.) Celebrating the 4th of July
6.) The Jo-Tel & The Yeah Area
5.) House Parties, a good selection of beers at bars, and proper dank
4.) Comedy Central & FX
3.) Playing lacrosse
2.) Chicks who have a good sense of humor beyond Tom and Jerry cartoons
1.) Friends & Family

~ J-Dub

Friday, July 27, 2007


Old Market, Siem Reap Cambodia
(Click to Englarge)
~ J-Dub

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Best pick up move

The premise for the following move is so ingenious it should be in a movie [FN1]. Although it has yet to be tested outside of my dome, the sheer hilarity of it even if you fuck up bad would be awesome. It's too bad Johnny D isn't here right now, because he would be perfect to play the following Dude. A drunk Johnny D, of course.

Here's the typical situation: Hot girl is talking with friend(s) in a club or bar. Dude needs an 'in' to break the ice.

Here's the solution: Dude politely interrupts and introduces himself. He explains he has a friend who has been watching her all night and who really likes her 'style' but this friend is too shy to talk to her. So the dude proceeds to tell her about his friend - a few intimate details mixed with flirtatious banter. Then the dude asks if she would be kind enough to meet him. At this point, it's up to the girl to give the yeah or nay. If she says yes, then all dude has to do is reintroduce himself...... The 'friend' was the dude.

But for it to work, it requires a few things done well:

1.) The dialog must be prepped beforehand. The delivery should be completely natural.

2.) Dude must make the girl laugh in some way, like with a corny joke that the 'friend' told him. That way, the girl is prepped for the zing.

3.) Dude should mention something else ridiculous that he can use after the 'in', like saying 'just so you know he has a tendency to get naked in public places.'

4.) Have a friend fairly close by who can overhear the conversation. If it bombs, he can jump in to save the Dude by introducing himself, and trying the routine again.

When are you coming out, Johnny D ?

~ J-Dub

[FN1] If anyone has seen a movie with a scene like this in it, please let me know which movie. If it has already been done, I am completely willing to accept that. It's like time when I was in 7th grade and wanted to patent an ingenious idea that was sure to make me rich - vehicle headlights that moved in accordance with the steering wheel. Turns out, it was already invented some 60 years earlier, referred to as 'directional headlights'.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dinner: Selected Photos

Friday, July 06, 2007

Domain Name Confusion

"Intercapping is often used to clarify a domain name. However, DNS is case-insensitive, and some names may be misinterpreted when converted to lowercase.

For example: Who Represents, a database of artists and agents, chose whorepresents.com; a therapists' network thought therapistfinder.com looked good.

Another website operating as of October 2006, is penisland.net a website for Pen Island, a site that claims to be an online pen vendor, but exists primarily as a joke, as it has no products for sale. In such situations, the proper wording can be clarified by use of hyphens. For instance, Experts Exchange, the programmers' site, for a long time used expertsexchange.com, but ultimately changed the name to experts-exchange.com.

Leo Stoller threatened to sue the owners of StealThisEmail.com on the basis that, when read as stealthisemail.com, it infringed on claimed trademark rights to the word 'stealth'. "

- Source Unknown, Hats off to A for the link.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ode to Steven

Justice walks where the criminals are many,
Out there with them all,
You right wrongs a plenty
So calm, so quick, so tall.

They say the good are few and in between,
and that only God can judge a man,
But your kung fu is plain mean
I've seen part of Attack Force, damn.

Chief hanker chief with the pool ball
is my sweet nickname for you,
Because no matter big or small,
Biker dudes' teeth are reduced to two.

I defend your masterpieces and art,
when only Korean One plays your films, Geez,
Quick with the trump card,
Like haven't you seen Under Siege?

When you get mad,
Would-be felons run for the hills,
You don't say anything, it's rad,
I'm so jealous, where can I learn your skills?

Best wishes to you and your band,
I'm your biggest fan,
I haven't heard any of your shit
but I'm sure it's legit.

Goin' loco on your solos,
Serenading all da' ladies with your ballads,
No matter fast or slow,
Chicks love you like Vegans love salads.

In the face of adversity
I respect how you're so calm,
throughout any calamity,
That's why I love lightningdrink.com

~ J-Dub

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Happs

My New Home

- Charles Murray's "In Pursuit: of Happiness and Good Government" is awesome. Murray, who also wrote "The Bell Curve," is plain genius. Pick up a copy- you'll love it.

- My iPod shuffle died when I was, curiously enough, running with it. Apparently, it doesn't like sweat making it's way into the components. Apple kills me. How can they market a product for running that dies when you run with it? (And it's not like it was wedged in between my nuts. It was clipped to the outside of my running shorts.)

- I joined a gym at a nearby hotel for two months. This will undoubtedly motivate me to preserve my stellar fitness.

- The monsoon season is approaching, and it's raining for about an hour everyday in the afternoon. I love the rainy season. Less people, cool weather, and neon green rice fields everywhere.

- I saw a 5 foot frog-eating snake crawling through the garden the other day. The Cambodians are terrified of snakes, but love to eat them. It was fun watching them all poised with brooms and bamboo hunting the snake.

- Vista is a slippery wicket. Slick new look and feel, but it fails terribly at retro-compatibility. Quick Books 2004, for example, doesn't run on my new computer with Vista, so I'm forced to either upgrade to the new version ($400) or buy a second hand computer with XP that can run the older version ($250). Ridiculous.

- I miss Bear.

~ J-Dub

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Da Marathon

I finished my first marathon in Thailand, and must say it was pretty awesome. So many damn hours of running in dust and heat of Cambodia finally paid off.

The race was slow, long, and painful at times. It went like this:

I woke up nice and early last Sunday morning at 3:30am to be sure I could eat some food and drink plenty of water. I applied the necessary tape and Vaseline to help prevent chaffing, grabbed a few baht, laced up my shoes and was ready to go. There were some other runners from Malaysia, Singapore, and Germany staying at the same bungalows as me, and when we met in the lobby at 4:30am there was much discussion of racing strategies. Everyone was shocked that I didn’t have a wrist watch and lacked a clear projected time for finishing. I told them that since it was my first marathon, I just wanted to finish the race in one piece. They laughed and before long we piled into a van and drove to the starting line.

When we reached the starting line, I thought we were in the wrong place, because the scene looked more like a discotheque with loud speakers, neon lights, and people everywhere. But sure enough it was the right place. The sky was black, but the vibe was electric. With five minutes until go time, people from over 40 countries were stretching and loosening up.

The first 5K was pretty slow, and I was terrified of not having enough energy later in the race, so I tried to keep a slow and steady pace. Despite running in darkness and with no sun, the humidity was high, and the air was sticky. When the sky lit up about 40 minutes later, there were some dark clouds in the distance that looked menacing. Sure enough, at the 10K marker it started to rain. Then it started to rain really hard. Then the thunder and lightning came. Everything I was wearing instantly became soaked, including my shoes which felt like lead weights.

Fortunately, the clouds meant no blazing sun, and it was a tropical rain storm, which meant a warm rain. After about 25 minutes, the rain stopped, but thanks to the humidity (wink) I was saturated for the remainder of the race. The two pairs of thin socks I wore proved to be a small miracle- no serious blisters during or after the race!

The course started through the city streets with motorbikes, cars, and trucks passing dangerously close, and I tried my best to run along the shoulder with all the other runners. It then made its way into unpopulated undulating hills with jungle all around. Fog from the nearby coast hovered among the rubber trees and rows of pineapple fields. It was gorgeous. The scenery was helping to distract my attention from my legs, which did not like the hills and from my feet which did not like my wet shoes.

Kilometer 12-30 were kind of a blur. I remember running along the ocean at one point thinking how lucky I was to be running in paradise. At another point I remember passing a novice monk following his elder collecting morning alms and watching me at my snail’s pace with a curious smile. As I reached the 30K mark at 3hr, 36min and fatigue was truly setting in. I found I was walking more now before and after the water stations.

It was tough getting to each of the next kilometer markers. There were only a few people around, and more often than not, I found I was by myself. It took a lot of positive self-talk to keep going. At kilometer 34 there was a set of rolling hills that I was totally unprepared for. This really took it out of me…. The course just kept going and going and going.

I reached Kilometer 38 and was greeted by some familiar faces cheering me on – The Jaw, Bear, A, C, & C.

‘Run, John, Run,’ little C said.

I stopped for a minute for some hugs, and then kept running with The Jaw and Bear by my side. My cousins were great motivators telling me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do most: walk. As the last of the race was approaching, more and more people appeared cheering me on. So I kept running, albeit very slowly.

I reached the finish line (42Km) with A and kids there again cheering me on. I couldn’t help but smile and crossed the finish line at 5hr. 29min. It was a magical moment. I felt tired and weak, but elated at the same time. Months of training in Cambodia alone had been for this moment. It was surreal. I had visualized it many times in training, and it was finally here. I made it!

~ J-Dub

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Note on Self-Reliance

I live at a place where I don't have to do my own laundry, cook for myself, or clean my room. I can't help but wonder whether having cooks, cleaners, wait staff, and all the others weakens the spirit of self reliance. Does the effort and time saved by these assistants surpass the countless headaches caused by them?

~ J-Dub


Friday, June 08, 2007

So What is it Like to Live in Thailand?

Crazy things have happened to J-Dub and Bear while in Thailand that probably shouldn't be written on this blog. So rather than write about them, we'd like to share with you the dudes who own The Big Mango, a bar in a red-light district of Bangkok. While the Cali Thais' actions do not necessarily resemble anything they talk about, it gives another side of BKK that plays a small part of what it is like to live in Thailand. We give you:

The Big Mango Blog

Thursday, June 07, 2007

From Weird to Normal

After living in a foreign country for a couple years, the things that were surprising, weird, odd, and funny at first tend to become more and more normal. I really should do a 'you know you've been in Asia too long when...' but a post like that must be really funny and I can never remember all the good ones when I sit down to write. Damn.

Nonetheless, I do have one story about getting a massage in the bathroom of a Cambodian Club while trying to take a piss. Now a whole post could also be written about the club scene in Cambodia. It tends only to be fun if it's your first experience or if you're too drunk to notice the ear-bleeding volume levels, the epilepsy-inducing neon lights, the pre-teen looking crowd, and the stank of cheap cigarettes.

Last night was neither my first time nor was I really drunk, but I managed to have a lot of fun. When I had to go to the bathroom I was reminded of the first time I went to the bathroom in a Cambodian club. I asked my cuz where the bathroom was and he told me.

Then he said, "Oh yeah, don't be surprised if someone massages you while you're in there."

J-Dub, "What?!?"

Cuz smiles.

Before I finish the story of getting my first massage while taking a piss, I have to re-tell a joke a Cambodian named Sela just told me. It goes like this:

A rich man is at a beer garden. The waiter gives him the menu and very politely tells him what he recommends to eat. The rich becomes angry because the waiter is so polite and yells at him. He tells the waiter to bend over and then slaps the man across the face.

The waiter leaves, and comes back a few minutes later. Knowing that the rich man will get angry if he talks politely, he asks the man what he wants to eat in a very impolite way. The rich man becomes angry again because the waiter talks to him impolitely. He tells the waiter to bend over and slaps him again due to his attitude.

The waiter leaves and is now very mad. He decides to pee into the man's beer so he fills up the bottle with his urine. Then he goes back to the table and serves the rich man his beer. Before the man drinks it, he asks the waiter which year he was born. The waiter tells the man. They are the same age, so the rich man hits his hand on the table, and tells the waiter they are now friends. So he tells the waiter to drink with him. The waiter joins the man at the table. They raise their glasses to drink, and only the waiter drinks his own urine as the rich man asks him where he was born. After drinking half the glass, the waiter tells him. They are from the same town. So the rich man hits his hand on the table again, and says they must drink again. When they go to drink, the waiter drinks all his urine, but the rich man doesn't drink anything....

End of joke.

Back to the massage thing. So as I head to the bathroom, everything appears normal and innocuous. So I head to the troff and relieve myself. Before I get things started, a Cambodian comes up right behind me in some ninja type stealth. As every man knows having some dude standing right behind you while you're trying to get things started is terribly distracting. And it wasn't like he was waiting for an empty urinal, because I was the only horse at the troff.

So I continue my business trying to think of baseball, and not the dude giving me a massage. Having recently arrived from SF, I was a bit apprehensive about it. But I manage to finish, and when I was zipped up, the dude grabs my chin and top of head. He yanks it at a diagonal direction wrenching at least three vertebrae in my neck. Then in the opposite direction. It was amazing how dangerous it was, yet how great it was. Then I was led to the sink where a hot towel was waiting. All this service was well worth the suggested gratuity of fifty cents.

Fortunately, I had some forewarning about having a dude approaching so I didn't hit him when he started to massage my shoulders. Now I have to say, it was very weird at first. While the Khmers must be some of the least homophobic people, I didn't know that at the time. I just thought it was super gay. But after seeing hella dudes getting massages while taking a piss, it's now just kinda normal. Funny to think that this happened two years ago, and what's more weird isn't the massage itself, but how normal it is now.

~ J-Dub

J-Dub Stays in Asia

J-Dub loves Asia and is staying longer. He is now living full-time in Cambodia.

He is going to miss Bear Bear, who is going back to live in US and will probably make three times the bones he makes right now. Like PETE in a Jo-Tel-all-over-the-map kind of way, we all hope he will continue to post on the Cali Thais blog even though he won't be in Asia, since only his posts get comments.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Three Things to Survive

Up until a generation ago, in South East Asia there was a saying. “There are only three things you need to survive: land, a cow, and water.” Having all these things meant villagers could work their land, produce a crop, and provide for their families.

As the growth of globalization now reaches villagers in some of the most remote areas, this saying has mutated to reflect the changes of time, causing an alteration in two of the three aforementioned necessities. The motorbike has replaced the cow, and the TV has replaced water (or at least the need for clean water, anyway).

The motorbike not only provides better transportation than a cow, but it is also more reliable. It can be used to find employment in the cities, and perhaps more importantly, it is a status symbol for the up and coming generation. The motorbike as a sign of wealth is clearly evidenced by young boys, sometimes three on a bike, driving slowly and aimlessly around town on their shiny new motorbikes. Where are they going? Who knows? They probably are doing what the Cambodians call darling, driving around town looking for fun. A sight none too different from the average character on BET glorifying the notion of sittin’ sideways in a cherry low-low.

While the motorbike switch makes sense, the fact that TV has replaced the desire for clean water shouldn’t baffle one either. Rather it should illustrate the priorities of the villagers.

Imagine you decide to go camping, and in the haste of your decision you are in such a hurry that you just get in the car and drive. Then imagine driving into a hot and tropical land amid a milieu of rice fields far from any semblance of a town or city. For the sake of this exercise you then sell your car to buy a hectare of land with a bamboo hut on stilts and now have $100 left. You need water so you decide to dig a hole and water starts to collect. Soon the water turns brown because there is nothing to protect the hole from the elements, and mosquitoes make it their new home.

What would you do with that $100 (and had no other options) - Would you use that money to buy a TV, or buy a water well?

These are the decisions that villages are forced to make on a regular basis, and often villagers chose the TV. Even in remote villages with no electricity, villagers watch their favorite soap operas with the help of used car batteries that are jimmy rigged to the appliance’s cord. To a certain extent, it makes sense. It would be damn boring living in the countryside. While it’s great to go camping for a week, I don’t know about having to do it all the time.

It’s true that some villagers do not understand all the principles of hygiene, sanitation, and health standards so education is a factor contributing to choice of purchasing a TV over the water well. Yet, villagers need a conspicuous and direct cause and effect relationship. If they drink from the pit 10 times and don’t get sick, how can you tell them that when they are sick, it is from the dirty water?

Nevertheless, all villagers would love to have a water well that gives them clean water. One reason is that it tastes better. Another is the water looks cleaner when it comes from a well. There is a belief that if you drink brown water from a pit, your skin will become darker. But water from a well is clearer, and thus your skin will become whiter. Seems logical, yeah?

So while many can’t save up enough money to buy a well, there are many villagers who do have the money, but choose to spend it on other things, like TV’s and motorbikes. Unfortunately health does not top villagers’ priorities until they get sick. So as globalization brings wonderful new technologies to even the most remote corners of the globe, villagers who make about $200 per year now face increasing desires that challenge their ubiquitous notions of what is needed.

~ J-Dub

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Leaving the BKK

My time in Asia is coming to a close so it is time to give a recap of the last few weeks up to today...

It has been absolute madness finishing up the last few weeks in BKK. Had to interview, hire, then train our new staff as best I could in a very short amount of time, deal with all kinds of crazy legal issues because we got screwed by our formal "lawyer" who turned out not to be a lawyer at all, accounting B.S. with back-taxes like wild because of false legal/ accounting advice, find and move into a new office, and basically hand over all of the work, structure and systems I have created over the last 2 years... oh, and pack up our entire house.

So on the night before J-Dub and I departed for Cambodia, I was at the new office with my successor/staff going over last-minute details until midnight, raced home to start packing, packed until 4am, up again at 8am and left in a van around 11am. It's a really weird feeling to know that Bangkok is not my home anymore, that all of my life now exists in two duffle bags and a small box. That's it. As we left Bangkok for the first time in about three weeks I had the time to just sit and think, and it was a really strange sensation to recognize I'm gone from here - don't know when I'll be back... and that I have no idea where I'll be next.

Our drive to the border went fine. Then we had the process of packing ALL of the boxes (an absolutely huge quantity of stuff) onto a wooden cart and having two Cambodian boys push the cart through the border for us, stopping to wait while we checked out of Thailand and again while we got our visas to go into Cambodia. They were really nice kids, though we were quite wary at first. Part way through - between Thailand and Cambodia - some Cambodian Immigration officers stopped us and wanted us to pay them for the goods going through to Cambodia. J-Dub and I pointed out that they were IMMIGRATION (which deals with people), not CUSTOMS (which deals with goods). The guy finally said "up to you" and we said "in that case, bye, have a nice day" because we knew they had no authority to stop us. When we did reach the Customs, then we hit bigger trouble. They demanded a receipt for the towels (about 100 branded towels for our B&B) and that we pay them the fine. We said, ok, if you give us a receipt then we will pay the fine, so our business can see the receipt from the Customs Agents... of course they weren't going to give us any receipt because their demands were - well - not entirely "legal." Finally we negotiated from $100 US Dollars down to a $12.50 bribe. Still annoying, but what could we do?

See, I think that the city of Poipet (the Cambodian city just past the Thai/Cambodian border) gives Cambodia such a bad name, particularly among the Thais. The police are so corrupt and the poorest of the poor come to this area to beg from the toursits passing through and the Thais who go there to gamble and generally look down upon Cambodians (which in turn give Cambodians a bad view of what the average Thai is like). Everywhere else, the people are so nice, so gentle and so sweet. Poor and poorly educated, but generally really good people. Poipet is to Cambodia what a sphyncter is to a Supermodel - a shitty part of an otherwise beautiful thing.

Anyway, once across the border we got in two taxis with our staff, Narla, and began the incredibly bumpy ride to Siem Reap. It had rained really hard earlier in the day - so hard that the taxis had to drive up onto the bus station passenger waiting area so the passengers didn't have to wade through knee-deep chocolate-brown water to get into their Camry. Needless to say, the road was absolute shit for a while. What took about 3 hours just a month ago, now took about 5 hours, and was a miserable ride. In the end, we made it safely though.

Just two quick days here in Siem Reap that have flown by too quickly. I leave with The Jaw tomorrow afternoon for Luang Prabang to begin the guide training and meeting with our partner companies. From there, on to Vientiane, Hanoi, Hue, Hoian, Saigon, back to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, then down to Phuket for J-Dub's Marathon, then to Krabi for a few days, back in Bangkok for three days, then... back to the US. After that, I don't have a plan in the world... except maybe a long nap.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Good Are You Hopping?

(Click to Enlarge)

Seen in the countryside of Northwestern Cambodia. Sometimes graphic pictures are needed in places where many can not read, and children play with unexploded ordinances.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Poppin' Collars in Space

Courtesy of the Daily Mail

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Silent Killings - Thailand's Tumultuous South

I'm often surprised by what makes the news, and maybe more importantly, what doesn't. For instance, today on the Headlines page of BBC World News, one of the more reputable mainstream news sources, caried this: "Scientists discover a mineral with the same chemical make-up as the fictional kryptonite seen in Superman." I'm not certian that references to a comic book-turned-movie are necessarily front page news, but I guess that's kinda cool. But there is much happening in our world that deserves a little more coverage than Superman's nemisis in mineral form.

What if I told you that there is a battle lead by Muslim extremists that has taken over 2,000 lives in the past two years? And what if I said this violence has included beheadings and mutilations, some caught on tape for the purpose of making a political statement? Or that the majority of killings were carried out with the use of home-made I.E.D.'s. Any guess where on the map this is taking place?

If you guessed Iraq, try heading east about 3,750 miles and you'll end up in Thailand. That's right - Southern Thailand is home to a growing battleground of terrorist violence, though much of the world has never heard a word about it. While the reasons behind the violence are varied and complex, it will suffice to say that the pridominately Muslim population in Southern Thailand is fighting back against the discrimination and poor treatment in an otherwise overwhelmingly Buddhist nation (surely an oversimplification of a complicated situation).

Upon closer examination of the violence, the statistics stand out as rather appalling. Nearly 3 people a day are killed in the three southern most provinces of Thailand. And the targets: most recent targets have been the elderly, school teachers, monks and passing pedestrians - all Buddhist, all civilians - purly for the purposes of terrorism. An average of over a 1,000 murders a year may not seem extreme - on par with LA County's comparable homicide rate according to 2002 statistics. Yet when comparing the size of the populations, the southern provinces have a murder rate that is over 5 times larger per capita than in good ol' LA County (complete with its gangs and violent reputation), and with all victims in the Thailand statistics are defined as 'civilian terrorism-related deaths'.

To drive the point home further, as of the end of March 2007, the War in Iraq had claimed 3,213 United States Soldiers' lives in the 4 years since the invasion. On average, fewer U.S. soldiers have died fighting in a war than have innocent Thai civilians in day-to-day life, yet where is the media coverage of this Jihad of the East? I am in no way belittling the loss of life of our Service Men and Women, but merely illustrating the extent of violence happening each day here in Southern Thailand while the rest of the world turns a blind eye.


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Monday, April 23, 2007

Like that Flock of Seagulls guy, I ran....

12 miles on Saturday. You wouldn't believe hot it is in Cambodia now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Land Mine Cambodian Princess Barbie

Land mines are still a big problem in Cambodia, and raising awareness for the cause is a major issues for some organizations. Unfortunately the picture above marks one of the tasteless advertising campaigns invented to raise awareness for land mines - packaging Barbie dolls as beautiful Khmer princesses with a bloody stump for a leg.

According to the Adrants article:

"BBDO is behind this attempt to get Singaporean consumers to pay more attention to the plight of Cambodia, which happens to be deluged with land mines. The campaign includes a direct mail component in which company execs with children receive the doll (and others like it) at the office "since parents are the most vulnerable when it comes to kids," adds Madon. This is so they'll talk to other office folk about the grotesque gift."

In this case, the merit of intent holds to reason (to raise money), but the means of its procurement not only disrespects the beauty of Cambodian women, but also trivializes the face of true tragedy.

Take for instance this recent headline, "Girl Killed in Accidental Rocket Explosion." The young girl was cleaning an ancestral alter, when she found a curious object - an unexploded ordinance. Not knowing what it was, she started to play with it until it finally exploded killing her and wounding her brother and mother.

I wonder if Land Mine Cambodia Princess Barbie will really do anything to help the family that suffered this tragedy.

~ J-Dub

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Stuck in Cambodia

I miss golf

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Heat

It is so hot in Cambodia right now. The humidity is terrible. Two showers a day just isn't enough. Getting out of the shower requires taking another shower. Being hot and sweaty and sticky makes it hard to get anything done.

~ J-Dub

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lessons Learned Managing People in Asia

Losing face in Asia slaughters the head of the prized pig. Telling someone they make a mistake can be tantamount to a complete cessation in dialogs between two parties. I have read much about this in books like "Culture Shock: Thailand", warning of the dangers when telling someone they fucked up, but this is much more difficult to handle in practice. The natural tendency is just to ream the person who is in the wrong. But doing this is not a good idea.

Whenever I fucked up as a kid, my father would never get really mad as much as show how disappointed he was at my behavior. This had a tremendous effect that I'm only recently starting to understand. It worked great. But in Asia, it doesn't.

I made the mistake of telling one of my teacher's that I was disappointed in him, when I made a surprise visit to his class to find no students. I called him in the morning so he knew I was coming, but why weren't the students there? Apparently they were busy cleaning their government school - a task that happens every so often - but I was a bit still perturbed. This was added to the fact that I was showing the school to some people who bought school supplies for the students, and it didn't look good that there were no students.

I kept my cool, but told him that I was a bit angry, and I didn't know if I believed his excuse. Shouldn't there have been at least a few students?

After that encounter, I haven't heard from the student in 2 months. He is unreachable and his classmates say that he is scared to talk to me now. This is good for neither him or me. I need him to help with our projects, and he needs to fulfill his commitment by helping in the community so he doesn't loose his much needed scholarship.

So I've learned a valuable lesson. In Asia, managing people should focus on encouragement, highlighting when people perform well, and offering suggestions to improve behavior.

~ J-Dub

Sunday, March 25, 2007

At the Gym

Dude in speedo: Why do you wear the dress?

J-Dub: Excuse me?

Dude in speedo points to J-Dub's tank top.

Dude in speedo: Why do you wear the dress?

J-Dub: I wear the shirt because in America it is respectful to wear the shirt while exercising.

Dude in speedo: Ok! Ok! Yeah! Sorry!

Dude in speedo stops watching Chinese Cartoon and leaves. 2 other fat dudes in speedos enter the gym and start working out.

I really wish I signed up for a month membership at a different gym.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Letter to all the Dudes at the Gym

Dear Fat Dudes Working Out in Speedos,

For the love of all things decent, can you please stop wearing speedos when you workout in a public gym. There is no justifiable reason to wear a speedo when working out. No on 'looks good' working out in a speedo. Even those body-builder dudes in the posters on the walls, whom perhaps you are failing to imitate, don't look good in speedos. The gym is isn't your own personal rec room, and we are not at the beach. Even David Hasselhoff would condemn how your undulating jiggle rolls when you lean over and grunt to pick up your 10 pound dumbbells.

Would it really kill you put on some shorts and a T-Shirt? After you leave the last piece of equipment, others have to use it, and wearing some extra clothes would prevent speedo-ass imprints on the equipment. You see, your speedo doesn't wick up 100% of the perspiration you expire, and frankly I don't like to use a bench knowing it was just abused by your speedo-ass.

I would also like to point out that the gym is a place to work out, and not your living room where you can lounge around and watch terrible Chinese soap operas at maximum volume. Could you please turn down the TV and start exercising your huge gut away? My iPod can only go so loud before my ears start to bleed bleed.

Thank you,


Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to Make Money in Asia

1. Select a product that sells well.
2. Create a crappy name that vaguely describes said product, and change the name.
4. Sell said product for slightly cheaper than original product.
5. Do not include any information containing location of production or distribution.
6. Watch the money come pouring in.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

J-Dub Goes Running -- Fuck-Off Cambodian Dogs

While running in Cambodia, I get to see a lot of the everyday life in the countryside. One thing that makes running difficult is the amount of fuck-off dogs. They are everywhere. Upon seeing a white boy running, they immediately begin to bark and sprint at me full speed, rabid teeth shining. The initial response can be terrifying, especially when it is unexpected and the canines come chasing from out of the wood work. But I learned to practice a local technique to ward them off - pretending to have a big rock in hand and throwing the imaginary rock at the dog. It works every time. The dogs back down instantly, and although they continue to bark, they stop the chase.

97% of Cambodians treat their dogs like shit. It's really quite sad. Little kids throw rocks at and kick their 'pet' dogs. Adults usually only care to keep their hounds fed well enough to barely muster up enough energy to bark and chase the white boy runner. Hell, Cambodians eat dogs (although they will deny it if you ask them). The canine is seen as very low animal in Cambodia. In fact, it is used as an insult to call someone a dog. I made that mistake when I said to my Cambodian friend Sina, "Thanks Big Dog," to which he replied,".... why you call me the dog?" Damn... That took a while to explain.

~ J-Dub

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Taken from a Conversation

On the way back from the market in Cambodia.

Makara: "Why do you think the old man likes the young girl?"

J-Dub: "Hmmm.... Why do you think the old man likes the young girl?"

Makara: "Yeah, because the old man has the car, the big house, has lots of money, and has the good take care skill."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Trouble with Innovation in Asia

There is a children's story told in Cambodia that extrapolates the innovative culture in Asia nicely. It goes something like this:

A coconut collector is taking shade from the mid-day sun in a palm tree. He looks over to his neighbor's land and thinks to himself, "If I hire a worker to help me to collect coconuts, together we can collect twice as many coconuts, and with the extra money, I can hire more workers to collect from my other neighbors' land. Then, I can hire even more workers, and eventually I could sit in the shade and would not have to work; I would only have to manage the other workers."

The entrepreneur then thinks to himself, "What will I do if I my workers become lazy?" He thinks to himself, "I know I will kick them!"

Just then, being so deep in thought, he kicks the air pretending to kick his imaginary worker, and he falls from the tree. On his way down, he grabs hold of a branch.

Dangling from the tree, he yells to his four brothers. The brothers run fast and see their brother in distress. They tell him to let go and fall into a pile of rice husks below.

"No, that will hurt," says the coconut collector, "Tie the four corners of your kromas [FN1] together and hold it tight to make a net to catch me."

So the four brothers follow his orders, and their lone brother drops from the tree. When he falls into the kromas, his weight brings all five of the brothers heads together and they all die.

The moral of the story is: "Don't think for yourself; Just do your job."

~ J-Dub

[FN1] A kroma is a multi-purpose piece of fabric used in Cambodia.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Corruption in Cambodia

So I have to get a extension visa to work in Cambodia for the next year. The official rate for an extension is $150 to do it myself (i.e. go to the Ministry of Labor Department, fill out paperwork, pay the fees, etc.) But the 'official rate' is much different from the actual cost. See, if you don't mind waiting 4 weeks to get your passport back, going to the Department multiple times because of 'errors', you still only might be able to pull off the 'official rate'. But most likely, you'll have to put some money on top of the application to get it back in proper shape. So I'm going with the other alternative - to go through an agent at a cost of $275. Where does this extra money go? You guessed it - to the guy at top of the totem pole in Phnom Penh's Ministry of Labor Department. I am so used to dealing with corruption now it is a bit ridiculous. While I understand it's a part of every developing country, Cambodia's corruption problem looks never ending.

Here is a fun game dealing with corruption in Cambodia:


~ J-Dub

Visit Burma

Burma (Myanmar) is damn awesome. Bear and J-Dub visited the junta-controlled country last month and loved it. The Burmese, unlike the descriptions of the Thai who refer to the Burmese as snakes [FN1], are fun, intelligent, and warm people. And the avocados are the size of human infants and taste amazing with a little added salt and a lime.

Nevertheless, I've never been to a country so backwards. No ATM machines anywhere, no credit cards are accepted. The most modern cars are from the early 1990's [FN 2]. Unlike the rest of Southeast Asia, your average Burmese doesn't have a cell phone, because a SIM card costs $2,500. They still use telegrams. Telegrams.

I'll try to post more about Burma later, but probably won't have time. So just check out:

[FN1] Scene: Thai guide, J-Dub, B sitting at a table.

Thai Guide: 'I don't want to say anything bad about the Burmese, but they are like snakes. Always go like this.'

Thai Guide uses her right hand to imitate a slithering snake.

B and J-Dub: 'Wow'

[FN2] A used 1990 Toyota Corolla with 200,000 miles costs $30,000. WTF?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Golfing in Hua Hin

Hua Hin, the beach resort three hours south of Bangkok, has some amazing golf courses, and I was fortunate enough to play at the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course on Sunday. Although my caddie wasn't cute and couldn't read the greens very well, I still had a great time. I even saw a monkey on the course.

~ J-Dub