A Tale Of Two Cities

Tokyo, Japan

The first leg of my trip had me land in Tokyo, Japan. It was a real thrill for me to visit Japan because I was born here 28 years ago. I left when I was 1 ½ (well, with a little help from my parents). I don\’t remember anything because I was just a baby. I want to say it was symbolic being there, so close to where I was born but I felt just like anywhere else. The culture is quite strange and I had no clue how to do things like go from A to B! Luckily I had Rivas.

I know Rivas through Chris. I stayed with him, his Wife Masako, their daughters Megan and Momo and Masako\’s Mother and Father. It was truly a gift for me to stay with them, they live in an ordinary Japanese home in residential district where very few foreigners go or live.

The Culture & City Life
In the city centers like Shinjiku and Shibuya there are people in every direction. The place is packed!!! Even more so than New York. I just heard Tokyo is the most densely populated city in the world! The trains are jammed, the subways are jammed, the streets are jammed – all with thousands of people.

And they have themselves an eccentric culture!!! They are something else. Don\’t get me wrong I don\’t want to piss on their way of life! It\’s just so strange to me. A lot is based on the traditional life meeting technology and modern living. People go fucking nuts here because of the social pressures and the introverted nature of the society. I hear Japan has the highest rate of suicide in the world. It has to do with the fact that it\’s discouraged to show your emotion. Coming back after hanging out Rivas and I would see old drunken guys singing and in tears for whatever their minds were dwelling on. For the most part that was the extent of inner expression making itself outwards. The majority of the Japanese people keep to there own. On the trains you see everyone text messaging or reading or just staring into blank space in their own little world. The younger generation I noticed, more so near the hot spots in Tokyo for westerners, seemed a little more outward, but could still sense reservation. Rivas and I being a boisterous pair of lads and very extroverted were always getting stares at and giggles from the girls because we stood out so much.

We went to traditional sentos, or public baths where people bathe as in the old days before many people had showers or baths in their home. The sentos were one of my favorite things to do in Japan and not just because of the old, naked Japanese men! It was one my favorite pastimes because it\’s relatively inexpensive, (everything in Tokyo is expensive by the way), and in such a modern city it\’s nice to take part in an old world tradition.

I have never been so clean in my life!!! You come into the bath area and you sit on a stool in front of a shower head and clean yourself, then you get into the ofuro, it\’s a very hot bathtub, 45° C. I\’m not sure what it is in Farenheit, but it\’s HOT!!! You sit in that communal style and relax for 5-10 minutes then get out and clean yourself again.

My seduction to the porn industry
Rivas and I met this guy named Romeo, (of course it was! what else would it be?) We hooked up with him and some friends at a sushi restaurant and we hit it off with him. I had my camera with me and when it was revealed that Romeo was in the escort business Rivas concocted a little white lie that I worked for Larry Flint Productions and was one of Hustler\’s leading photographers until I had a drug meltdown and had to get out of the industry. So Romeo pays for our sushi which was probably 90,000 Yen, and we follow him to a S&M club where he had a girl coming to meet us. While we waited we had the pleasure of watching Japanese boys dress up as girls and be spanked by their mistresses. Pretty fun actually, (remember what I said about that locked up stuff? Well this is what happens when it comes out!)

So Romeo\’s girl shows up and then the camera came out and some beer starts flowing and I start flowing and shooting and having fun and everyones having fun and we shoot as much as I can then we start having fun with the chains and the whips and I\’m tying the Mamasan of the place up with chains and spanking her and then Rivas and I decide to go as the sunrises.

Good bye Tokyo
My Dad told me a myth the Japanese believe in before I left for Japan. The myth says that if you see Mt. Fuji as you leave Japan, you will for sure come back to Japan again.

Apparently I saw it from the plane when I was 1 and a half years old, (I have to take Dad\’s word on that cause I don\’t remember).

I did not see Fuji this time, so what my future holds for getting back is uncertain. I have, however, always wanted to go to the North island of Japan – Hokkaido to photograph the wonderful landscapes and culture there. And I have good friend who lives there, and enjoyed myself tremendously.

Chances are! I\’ll be back.

Bangkok, Thailand

I was not even prepared for Bangkok. I had no idea how crazy it was. This is how I can describe it so you get somewhat of a handle on what it\’s like; It\’s like Tijuana mulitiplied by 8, divided by a large filthy curving river. Instead of churches like in T.J. you have Wats or Temples every few blocks, and Monks dressed in beautiful orange robes walk the streets in the morning, (The monks can only eat what is offered to them and they have to fast from noon until the following morning.) Throw in lots of people, smog, and millions of the world\’s craziest motorcycle, car, taxi and Tuk-tuk drivers and you have the worlds most congested city and a small sense of the place.

Khao San Road
This is where all the backpackers and travelers go for guesthouses and knockoff designer watches and a fine selection of women and ladyboys, all of which are available for the right price. The right price is a very flexible concept as well.

It is a good place to base yourself out of if you want to see the older parts of Bangkok. The food is good, there are restaurant/bars that show the latest pirated movies and the big soccer matches (which by the way you slowly start to call Football because the rest of the world calls it that).

In fact at one place you can be eating Kao Pad Moo or Pad Thai, drinking a Singha beer, checking your email and chatting, while watching that night\’s movie.

I found that I got out of that area as much as I could to explore different areas which is easy because of the superfluity of Tuk-tuks.

Who was the man that decided strapping a lawn mower engine onto a Red Flyer Wagon and charging people to ride in it at very high speeds into oncoming traffic? I think Disney should replace “Mr. Toad\’s Wild Ride” (my favorite), with “Mr. Ping\’s Tuk Tuk Adventure Happy Show Ride” (a typical Asian name for something like that by the way) and just bring in some tuk tuks and their drivers.

The Market
So, I was walking around just basically getting lost one day and I wandered into this market. Inside all kinds of fruit, vegetables, herbs, live chickens, live fish, live eels, live turtles, and live! well, other stuff.

I had just taken some photos of a guy fishing with a net in the really dirty water of the Chao Phraya river and concluded that the catfish that were trying to jump out of the bin and attack me were the very ones he was catching. It was a disturbing thought! I don\’t think I will eat any fish here.

Muay Thai
I was so excited to see my first Muay Thai match. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand (Thai Boxing). Chris got me into it over a year ago he and I have been practicing it at City Boxing downtown ever since. So! with tremendous interest I found myself front row watching 9 bouts one night at Ratchadomnoen Stadium. It was so exciting to see my first fight in Thailand. The first 2 fights were boys about 10 to 12 years old. It was jaw dropping to see their ripped little bodies. These kids had abs that would make Arnold look flabby.


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