Day 191 - Going Home

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
6th Day in Cambodia; Phnom Penh - Kuala Lumpur - Beijing

Shimou slept late while I woke up early to get a post up, just in case our 5h layover had shitty internet, and because the posting time would pass while we're in the air. 

Siem Reap > Phnom Penh

We managed to get Shimou a fix of Thai food, which was much overpriced compared Siem Reap, or even China. The scale of cheapness was Siem Reap < China < Phnom Penh. In general, go to Siem Reap, screw the capital unless you're here for the beach or the really creepy killing fields. Seriously, it's a field of skeletons and death.

Day 190 - On The Road, Again

Monday, August 15th, 2016
5th Day in Cambodia; Siem Reap - Phnom Penh

The Bus

"Oh man, succulent plants" popped into my head when we were puttering down the highway, flashing back to Lynn in Japan. The only time I'd ever seen succulent used was in the context of a steak, but I had no idea what it really meant. Color me surprised. It refers to retaining juice, as in what desert plants do.

Day 189 - Sister Srey Café

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
4th Day in Cambodia; Siem Reap


Start the day with the maid clock at 9am. Again. 

Our Resort's Street
The plan is to go to Phnom Penh today, but that got delayed again because the bus was full. There are multiple ways to get there, but the $15 USD luxury bus that has WiFi, outlets, and snacks is the one I mean. Unbelievable price for a 6.5h trip, I tells ya. 

Day 188 - Angkor Wat

Saturday, August 13th, 2016
3rd Day in Cambodia; Siem Reap

Maid Alarm

Wake up to the maids pointing at 9am wanting to clean the room. Thanks, but we're still sleeping. For some reason, I assume that cleaning staff don't usually come in until 10 or 11.

Day 187 - Off to Market

Friday, August 12th, 2016
2nd Day in Cambodia; Siem Reap

10 days until the first day of school. Huh.

Packed up and into the tuk tuk. Our next resort, TuCasa, is not where Google maps thought it was. I'm still happy to have it, even though it caused us to be driven around town until we found it. Please come back to China, Google. Please.

Magical Flutes

The resort is new, and run by a Japanese woman, Yumi. It's cleaner and more modern-feeling than the last one, but smaller. I prefer more of a local taste when choosing a place to stay, but hey, this one has someone playing flute in the background... Somewhere. I can hear them through the walls for hours a day. It's not a recording. 

Day 186 - Why Bugs Hurt People?

Thursday, August 11th, 2016
1st Day in Cambodia; Siem Reap

It's 9:20 local time, but 11:20 my time. I could have slept more, but why? I'm hungry and breakfast is served. Shimou, sound asleep, is certain to hardly notice my absence, so I steal away to the front of the resort and have a nice "moon smile" breakfast and coffee. This seems to be a light breakfast that you might find in the west. Eggs, toast, bacon. That last piece is important because it's uncommon to find in Beijing.

After enjoying the breakfast, I relaxed next to two sunbathing cats, eventually migrating back to the room to listen to Alan Watts talk about the universe and self. Also watch videos on the new virtual reality things. Shits getting cool. 

Day 185 - Sayōnara, Japan

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
Departure from Japan to Cambodia

After double-checking, we took the first steps toward Cambodia. Last visit to Family Mart for some rice balls, then hustling over to the airport through the rail and bus system. A small part of me is worried that stopping in Korea will be a problem for Shimou... since the fine print was somewhat vague about visas, but I'm pretty sure you don't need a visa if you're just transferring. Another is that the tickets I bought don't look legit, but Skyscanner hasn't given me any problems yet. Far from it, it's been the best by far flight resource so far. 

Day 184 - So Long, Comrades

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016
Outside the Airport Bus Station
11th Day in Japan; Osaka

I am glad I packed last night. 

With 6 minutes to spare, they decided it was time to wake me up. The maid arrives at 10 after, hyper apologetically, to announce that it's officially past our time. Quite the Japanese way of kicking us out.

Day 183 - Osaka Castle

Monday, August 8th, 2016
10th Day in Japan; Osaka

Kick today off with a castle that doubles as an oven. Osaka Castle does both jobs wonderfully. This time I brought my hat, shadow hopping my way between the ramparts. Even the shadows melt. Seems like half the people here are Chinese, a decent chunk are Westerners, and the rest are locals. 

Culture Capacity

We mix in with the shadows, along with our snow cones, until someone found the energy to fight our stationary inertia. It's a nice castle, well built, but I'm nearing my point of being cultured out. See, that's why I chose Cambodia after Japan. I don't actually care about it, but it's supposed to be a nice place to relax. The flights are looking to be a pain from here to there, with a seemingly mandatory layover that's longer than the flight time. Thailand, on the other hand, is less time, cheaper, no layover. Hmm, options. 

Day 182 - Ohayō, Osaka


Sunday, August 7th, 2016
9th Day in Japan; Kyoto–Osaka


They seem to really like pachinko here. I've seen at least 4 large buildings advertising it with big, broad letting, including one across the street from our BnB. Sure looks exciting! And I don't even know what pachinko is!

Shimou and I decide to skip going to Nara, the place with the deer. Part of me wants to, but part of me doesn't really care to spend hours getting to, from and around another temple. The rest of the group decide to go anyway. I plan to be back, and can check it out next time if I'm still raw about it. 

Day 181 - Castles and Temples

Saturday, August 6th, 2016
8th Day in Japan; Kyoto

Best Way to Start the Day

When all the 4 of the girls have finished getting ready. I piece myself together in the 5 minutes it takes. Maximum sleep, least amount of waiting. Some seemed displeased that they had to wait for me at all, but I'm hard pressed to feel bad.

We hop on the bus after buying a day pass, which you swipe when you get off. I wonder what happens if you get on without any means to pay. Aurora misplaced her card somewhere between buying it and getting on the bus, so they just let her ride for free after looking for a minute and holding the bus up. I guess that's what happens.

Day 180 - On the Train to Kyoto

Friday, August 5th, 2016
7th Day In Japan; Tokyo–Kyoto

Breakfast of
Start the day with 50 min to get everyone up and packed. Sushi and coffee jelly for breakfast. The jelly was... a mistake, too sweet, and too much gelatin swashing around in my stomach.

It was brought up that "the Japanese eat people," which sparked a debate and, thankfully, concluded that any people who are in desperate enough conditions will run a high risk of eating people. Cooler heads prevailed on a potentially heated topic. While Aurora jokes she'd want to live here, she still seems to believe the propaganda pushed about the Japanese being monsters. Also surprising, the Chinese government had taken down the anti-Japanese link she'd sent me two weeks ago, possibly because the content was too graphic.

Day 179 - Temples and Sushi Trains

Thursday, August 4th, 2016
6th Day In Japan; Tokyo

"Wǒ de tiān" Shimou's cousin says, passing my bedroom and seeing that I'm still sleeping at 9am. That's Chinese for Oh my God. We went to bed at after 3, and somehow they're all up around 8, acting like I'm the weirdo. They just arrived, chomping at the bit to go; I've been vacationing for almost a week, and that's if we ignore the 3 weeks before that. Shimou says this cousin tends to wake up early in general, so this probably seemed like an eternity to wait around. We let them go ahead, giving them directions.

The insects here buzz with ever-increasing intensity, sounding like a futuristic bomb charging up, about to explode. Lots of variation, too, so you never know if a time traveller is hiding in the bushes about to blast your face off. It is Japan, after all. 

Day 178 - Tokyo Tower

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
5th Day in Japan; Tokyo

Just some dude eatin' lunch
Run packing protocol, and we're out the door. Near us is a walking street market (an arcade?) where we stop at one of the traditional ramen restaurants. They have machines at the front listing the name and picture of whatever you might want to order, you insert the money and it pops out a little stub. If you want a larger size, pay the "upgrade" price. After you have your ticket, give it to the waitress and grab a seat. I rather like this form of payment because it allows you to get up and go whenever you want, and you don't have to worry about whether you have enough cash or not.

Day 177 - Ueno Zoo and the Maid Café

Surprised me
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
4th Day in Japan; Tokyo 

Pokémon are everywhere, and I'm going to catch some of them. While Shimou gets ready, I pop over to the bakery and gather some breakfast, including a Totoro bun. I'm an illiterate mute, which the locals seem to assume, luckily. Whenever at a cash register, they say a lot of things before accepting the money. Usually it's "this is X yen, this is X yen, total is blah," which I see on the display and just place the money in their little money tray. It makes sense to do it like that, but took me a while to adjust to always putting the money in the tray and not handing it directly to them. Why is handing money directly to people sometimes considered rude?

After returning, consuming, and leaving, we pass a girl dressed as a maid. She's handing out fliers near the subway, and appears discouraged. I want to check out a maid cafe and hope there's a map on the card, so I ask for one. She was overjoyed that I took it, thanking me both in Japanese and English. 

Day 176 - Tokyo Bathhouse

Monday, August 1st, 2016
3rd Day in Japan; Yokohama - Tokyo
  • Wake up
  • Pack
  • Double Check
  • Lock yourself out as you juggle luggage
  • Repeat every other day

Shimou and I grabbed lunch at a market near the subway station. We play the game of "Shimou reads the characters and Phil finds the close approximation English word" when reading the sauces that are at our table. This particular example was flench on dressing, leading me to think French dressing. Ranch as a close second.

Day 175 - Japan's Most Famous Chinatown

Sunday, July 31st, 2016
2nd Day in Japan; Yokohama

Watchful Eyes

This could be yours for $65 CAD
I'm paranoid. Standing in a pharmacy near the heart of Yokohama, people keep staring at me. I'm walking around the aisles, looking for what's the same, what's different, and finding these faces out of the corner of my eyes, peering just over the shelves. I give a sidelong glance, awkwardly, to see who it is that's staring at me. It's a cutout. They seem to place them right where a person's face would be. Yeah... they were all just cardboard.


Day 174 - Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, July 30th, 2016
1st Day in Japan; Yokohama

Sleepless in Tokyo

4am touchdown. It’s been a rough flight because we had an hour of sleep between the two of us.

Off the plane, waiting outside the washrooms, a baggage cart comes around playing the tune of that song, “hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go” as a warning song that it’s coming around. Cute.

From the Bus
Airport Issues

Day 173 - Bye, Beijing

Friday, July 29th, 2016
150 AQI

Offensive Rays

A kid burst out from an open store doorways, beaming at me. I shielded my eyes from this optic onslaught and fought through his smiling façade, holding on to the hope that the gym's air conditioning would have rejuvenating properties.

It’s true, what Alex said yesterday. There are new girls behind the desk. She seemed amused by a foreigner, unlike the one training her. Back home and plus 10 minutes, I’m packed and out the door. Shimou and I are heading to the Giant Bank in central Beijing to transfer our money. 

Day 172 - The Impossible

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
150 AQI
From the Window across
from our Elevator

New Shoes

Holy geez, Shimou actually pulled off the impossible. 

Finding places that will make you shoes for high cost and no guarantees is easy – no problem there. Well, if you read Chinese they're easy to find. But now she’s found a store that has casual, everyday shoes (aka non leather) that won’t cost me an eye.

Day 171 - Buying Money

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
150 AQI

Now is the day we buy moneyThe idea is funny to me, but that's what you're doing when you're converting currencies.

Yes, we’re taking out like, ¥20,000 RMB and converting it to JPY and USD. The banks will do it for free here, no problem if you’re a citizen. Thanks, Shimou.

Day 170 - Struggling Juggling

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
150 AQI

Struggling Juggling

Realized my posts were slipping while I’ve been working and reworking the first chapter. Gotta push forward, since I have a block with what to do next, and I know I'm making excuses. This book “Stein on Writing” has helped figure out how to progress and what to do next, indirectly.

Sitting in Maan coffee, writing out whatever I can possibly think of. Flooding the dam until it cracks. As a result, chapter two is extremely disjointed and nonsensical ordering, but... it's something.

Day 169 - Chinese Restaurants

Monday, July 25th, 2016
150 AQI


Waitstaff. You want them to be near when you need them, but you don’t want them to hover over your table, order-placing device in hand, watching you flip through the twenty pages of their menu while tapping their toe. This doesn’t happen all the time, but enough that it’s worth mentioning.

Something else you’ll find is that the waitstaff will hang out in the front-of-house in a restaurant when they’re not working, wearing full work clothes garb. There have been a number of times when we’ve come across people sitting in work clothes, eating, and had to ask if they were open. This, of course, doesn't happen in the higher-end establishments.

Day 168 - Creative Limbo

Oh look, a cute bear beside a coffee bean bowl!
Sunday, July 24th, 2016
150 AQI

Swimming my way through the muggy smog, I feel like I’m in some weird creative limbo.

...But first, some meat.
Creative Limbo

In the book “The War of Art”*, Steven Pressfield talks about the Eastern idea of “resistance” and argues that it is an indicator of what we most should be doing. Resistance is our internal fear of success, stopping us from stepping up. At any given time, we know what we should be doing, and yet we often fall short or don’t push yourself as much as we should toward the goals we profess to be willing to do anything for. We’d be willing to die to achieve these goals, but... not actually practicing. It hits us all.

Day 167 - Chinese Hospitals

Aside from the Caved in Sunroof, she's not so bad!
Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
150 AQI

Hellooooo, Nurse

Let’s spend time in a Chinese hospital shall we? Shimou’s eyes had gone bloodshot and hurt, without explanation. Personally, I would’ve waited another day to see if it rides out, but she wanted to see the Doc. He's a cutie.

Let's see.. F2 has the Rectum Branch.. F3's got the Bashroom, and F4.. well,
it's the place for some Tony Robbins.
The hospital is the one that Bunny had mentioned earlier, it’s only defining features are that it’s nearby, and inexpensive.

Day 166 - Charity for Naked Children

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
105 AQI

Charity Concert for Naked Children be given clothing. Dan had provided tickets as he was one of the event coordinators. Totally would've paid for it anyway, instead I donated the money through the purchase of alcohol. Only get down 1200 words today, with the daily target being around 5000. It's a bit of a struggle to juggle writing and editing the blog, but so far been keeping up. 

Just Cardboard Hoarding, No Biggie
Shimou is coming for the event. This is the assumption I've been going on, but she really doesn't seem to want to, eventually telling Dexter and me to go without her. A 35 minute uber later and we've arrived. Online, they said that they start at 7, we arrive at 7:45 thinking we're late, and grab a drink. It's nearly empty and nothing is happening yet.

15 minutes later, I'm reminded that I have online tutoring today at 8. Oops. I temporarily become "that guy." You know, the one hanging out by the washroom talking into his phone, crouching with a fruity drink in hand. 

Day 165 - Bringing Up Ayi

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
114 AQI

Elephant Head Hungry for some Man Meat
Day after the huge downpour. Rain washes the smog down into the ground, so some say. Should buy us some time until the blanket of white comes to smother us again. Should. Instead, we've surpassed 100 AQI overnight.

Yesterday, was 20. For perspective, Toronto on a bad day is 35, 50 tops.

Didn’t take long.