Chiang Mai

You know it’s a good place when you have moisture in your eye as you’re leaving. Life is simple in Chiang Mai. Most people work to have their basic needs met and nothing more. They're not slaves to desires for expensive houses, cars and fashion. Thais spend their free time talking with friends, being creative or just relaxing. This kind of economy has kept costs low. A decent living (by western standards) can be had for about $500 a month. Many expat retirees come to Chiang Mai to live well on modest pensions and hope for a happy ending. The low costs have also attracted startups and digital nomads. Some western startups have moved their entire company to Chiang Mai. To accommodate the high tech migration very high speed internet is available and there are many co-working /creative spaces. Like everywhere else, consumerism is slowly creeping into Chiang Mai. Hopefully it won’t change too much, too soon. For now, I'll keep Chiang Mai in my back pocket in case things get heavy.



Wat Phan Tao
Taipei Gate
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Doi Suthep
Cooking Class
Tom Yum Soup and Pad Thai

East By South East

Dubai is like Vegas minus gambling, alcohol, shows and fun; so just giant shopping malls. Crucifixion and amputation are still acceptable forms of punishment and you'll get 60 lashes for kissing or cursing in public. Shopping can be serious business, gulp. There was a lounge behind a secret door in our hotel where they served alcohol and samosas to foreigners, otherwise 40 lashes for drinking in public.

New Old Dubai
Kochi India
50% of the population of Dubai is Indian. When I got to India I saw why there where so many Indians in Dubai; very few malls in India. Most Indians cannot afford McNuggets or Nikes so the corporate imperialists have ignored India for the most part. In Dubai they can earn enough to buy a decent pair of sneakers and send some home to their families. However it's going to be a cold day in hell before Indians kill a cow to make a Big Mac. Who will direct traffic? I kid, I kid. With globalization, the prices of everything are getting synchronized. This will drive India even further into the mall-less abyss.

Marmagoa India
Penang Malaysia
Kek Lok Si Chinese Temple Penang Malaysia
Singapore
Singapore has the highest concentration of millionaires in the world due to the absence of capital gains tax. Banks are full of investable money. Architecture is very modern and the newest technologies are quickly implemented. It’s like living in a very clean spaceship with many, many malls. Singapore has some strange litter laws though. $1000 for the first offence and $5000 for the second. And if you even utter the words "chewing gum" you'll be fined, jailed, caned, hung upside down, tarred and feathered and your entire extended family for the next three generations will be banned from ever coming near the country again ... They also have urine detectors in elevators. Once they sense urine the doors automatically snap shut and contain you until police arrive; not joking. Corporal is the punishment de jure. Canes are sold in most grocery stores so everyone can have a go. The best thing about Singapore is the food. The old school $3 street hawker stalls together with the strict hygiene police make the food scene very popular, safe and competitive. The best I've ever had.

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Singapore
Haw Par Villa Singapore

Israel

The endless beef. When we arrived it was the summer of love. By the time we left it was Friday the 13th part II. The suspense was the worst. I didn't know if someone was going to stab me or a rocket was going to fall on my head. Luckily most bedrooms are constructed as safe rooms with 3 foot concrete walls. Before leaving the house I would check the twitter feed of a popular ambulance service to see if there were any terrorists around @IsraelHatzolah No terrorists, great! Time for an iced coffee and falafel. I managed to tip toe past the terrorists and I'm able to report that “I was there and I saw it for myself.” Unsettling and heartbreaking as it was, I feel enriched by the experience. I learned that during terrible situations, life goes on. Holidays continued to be celebrated, children still play on the streets and grannies go to the market wearing brass knuckles. Those in power have an interest in keeping people divided. It’s easier to control a population if they have an enemy set in front of them wearing a different hat.

The Western Wall
Israel Defense Forces
The Dead Sea Scrolls
My Cousin Arik and I
Tel-Aviv
Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Stone of the Anointing

Paris and Berlin


After arriving in Paris the first thing I noticed is how exhausted everyone looked. It reminded me of growing up in NYC; nerves fried and tired. The chaotic environment instantly made me uneasy. I knew it was going to take a few uncomfortable days to acclimate to the chaos. I often hear people say people from big cities are rude. They aren't rude. They have to perform with laser like mental focus to accomplish routine daily tasks. Otherwise they would be distracted by everything and would get nothing done. When you interrupt them, they must break concentration and step out of their rhythm. It's like interrupting a musician during a song. What the hell do you want! is the normal response. I saw this transformation happen to everybody who moved to NYC. It would take about 6 months before they become hardened New Yorkers. They would start saying things like I love the smell of garbage in the morning. At this point they're hooked on the adrenaline the chaos provides. It's a love/hate relationship. Many New Yorkers say how much they hate the city but they would never leave. Even if they do get out they will never be completely comfortable living in a smaller town. They will always remember what it felt like to live in a place where they were slightly more alive; even if they were exhausted everyday.

Berlin Wall
Holocaust Memorial Berlin
The Louvre Paris
Moulin Rouge Paris
Yves Klein, International Klein Blue  Centre Pompidou Paris
Bram van Velde, Neige  Centre Pompidou Paris
Eiffel Tower

Eastern Bloc

Mid Summer Festival Riga
Lithuanian National Theater
Trakai Castle Lithuania
Uncle Edwards, Aunt Tanya, Uncle Sasha and I Jurmala Latvia
Wroclaw Poland
Uzupis: A neighborhood in Vilnius that created their own constitution and flag

Constitution Republic of Užupis

1. Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, and the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
3. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation.
4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
5. Everyone has the right to be unique.
6. Everyone has the right to love.
7. Everyone has the right not to be loved, but not necessarily.
8. Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unknown.
9. Everyone has the right to idle.
10. Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat.
11. Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies.
12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
13. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of nee.
14. Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.
15. Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation.
16. Everyone has the right to be happy.
17. Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
18. Everyone has the right to be silent.
19. Everyone has the right to have faith.
20. No one has the right to violence.
21. Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance.
22. No one has the right to have a design on eternity.
23. Everyone has the right to understand.
24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
25. Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.
26. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday.
27. Everyone shall remember their name.
28. Everyone may share what they possess.
29. No one can share what they do not possess.
30. Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
31. Everyone may be independent.
32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
33. Everyone has the right to cry.
34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
35. No one has the right to make another person guilty.
36. Everyone has the right to be individual.
37. Everyone has the right to have no rights.
38. Everyone has the right to not to be afraid.
Do not defeat.
Do not fight back.
Do not surrender.
Riga

Budapest


Széchenyi Baths
Széchenyi Baths
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
House of Tara
Shoes on the Danube Bank

Meet the Flintstones



Cappadocia is a surreal place. If Fred Flinstone, John the Baptist, and C3PO had an illegitimate child, it would be Cappadocia. Everywhere you look there are caves built into volcanic rock formations that were once inhabited or still are inhabited by humans. Some of these caves are now upscale hotels with amenities and some are ghost towns. Hiking the mountains and valleys was like walking on another planet.


One night at 2 AM we heard loud booming sounds coming from the street below. At first I thought the jerks next door were doing construction in the middle of the night. But then I realized it was too rhythmic to be hammering. Then I considered an invasion, but I was too tired to do anything about it, so I fell back asleep. The next day I found out it was the Ramadan wake up call. A drummer goes through the town waking everyone up so people can make breakfast before the daylight fast. The wake up call continued daily, but we got use to it.

Rose Valley
Church
Cave Homes
Highway Patrol
Goreme 5 AM

Constantinople

We haven't posted in a while. Some people have inquired about our well being. Thank you, we appreciate the concern. Everything is going as planned. During the past five weeks we've visited London, Istanbul, a few Greek islands and the western coast of Turkey. We are now back in Istanbul getting ready to fly to Cappadocia tomorrow. Hope everyone is doing well.

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Grand Bazaar
We helped these girls with conversational English homework
Turkish Coffee and Turkish Delights