Monday, March 10, 2014

Good Food, Good Meat! Good God, Let's Eat!

This is by far my favorite prayer, and one my grandfather use to say all the time when asked to provide a prayer for the table. He was not a religious man, so the faster he could get to his plate, the better.

 This intro has nothing (or very little) to do with the content of this blog post. I don't care. That prayer makes me smile, and I hope that the next time you consume a meal, you think of it. My editor and boyfriend, Matt Coolidge, will advise me to edit this out. Again, I don't care. And, I hope you don't care either, reader. [Editor's Note: I don't care either - in fact, I actually like it]

 So, what is this blog about? The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh (PP). Yes, there was a lot of eating there. And if I regularly prayed for people's souls, I'm sure I would have done a lot of praying there. So here goes the good, bad and ugly of the PP.

 First and foremost, Phnom Penh was the biggest surprise of our trip. We went into the city expecting nothing and came out with a lot of great stories. It was one of the only places on the trip in which Matt and I could see ourselves living long term. It was a place that had tons of rats, dead and alive, on the streets. More prostitute bars than regular bars. And, bed bugs, or at least phantom bed bugs, in our 'guesthouse'! But even with all its seediness, I still loved it. And to think, we were originally going to bypass the Asian city of our dreams...

 Matt and I were not planning to go to PP to begin with, but had heard it was a great place to get an Indian visa (a completely different story that I hope Matt will share with you, as he did experience about ten mental breakdowns at the Indian Embassy. I hate to gossip about others' mental woes, so I will leave it to him). So, in desperate need of an Indian visa, we decided to take a five-hour bus from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to PP.

 The bus was smoother than smooth. The border crossing was clean and, wait for it, efficient! Efficient border crossings and transportation is a bit unheard of in Southeast Asia. We also got to take a ferry over the mighty Mekong! It was not scenic at all, but it is still fun to say you crossed any mighty river, right?

Took this picture as we were leaving Hoh Chi Minh City.

As we began to cross into the city via another river, there was a large slum to our right. I don't take pictures of slums as I don't want to exploit and/or glorify other people's poverty, but if you google "Phnom Penh slum," the second or third picture in the series should give a pretty accurate idea of the conditions there. The houses seemed to be leaning and falling into the river. It wasn't rainy season, but I figure during that time many houses must be completely submerged. Where do the people go?

 As we carried on towards the river and the proverbial "right side of the tracks," I heard a triumphant scream from outside. As I squinted my eyes and stared into the slum, I saw a net, 12 players... A volleyball game was in full swing!

Volleyball was a game of my childhood. A game that I played with white soled shoes, white socks and white knee pads. A game where you have to clean the court before you start. A game where you slide on the floor for so long because the sealant wax is so fresh and new. I love that smell.

It is a sterile game.

The most sterile kind of game you can find, sans maybe badminton.

 There was nothing sterile about the game outside of PP. The court was made of mud. There were no shoes, sock or knee pads. There was just the sound of the ball as it was being passed, set, spiked, and the cheer and slaps of the team when one made an ace and a groan when one fumbled a serve.

I discovered later that volleyball is played all over Cambodia. In most of Southeast Asia, soccer is the official sport. But in Cambodia, you can find a volleyball net in cities big and small. Even if the town does not have running water, there will be a net and a ball.

 Once the bus stopped, We were pounced on by tuk tuk drivers all wanting to know if we wanted to see the 'Killing Fields' or S21 prison (a school turned torture chamber during the Khmer Rouge regime). Matt and I started to run for the streets, and eventually found a guy who wasn't pushing a hard sell. He took us to our guesthouse.

I won't go into details about this guesthouse or about seeing all the sites of Phnom Penh. For the most part, the sites to see in PP will leave you depressed for months and the guesthouses are nothing to write home about. I think we actually stayed in a 'pay by the hour' guesthouse for the majority of our trip. Plus, we stayed in PP for two weeks! So to save you an hour or two, let's talk about why I loved

The Architecture:

There were beautiful French homes here that would tickle the biggest architect aficionado. The National Museum of Cambodia, which is a must if you ever go here, was gorgeous. The museum houses mainly ancient Khmer art from the time of the Khmer Empire (Wiki tells me that the empire started in 802 A.D. and ended in the 15th century). The building was started in 1917 and was created to resemble a Khmer Temple. There is a beautiful courtyard inside the museum with multiple koi ponds. I could have sat and lingered there all day.

 My eyes were constantly looking around and finding one architectural embellishment after another in that enigmatic capital. Through the grime of the walls, you could see its old grandeur - and potential for new beauty. Not to mention, the boulevards were big here. I mean, they were French boulevards. It was easy to walk everywhere or ride your bike - the city is flatter than flat too!

Beautiful building we passed on our way to the Indian Embassy. Purpose:unknown.

Matt requested that I take this picture of him outside the National Museum.

A building from the Royal Palace in PP

Statue of Ganesha, a Hindu God, outside of the National Museum

A beautiful boulevard in PP

Photo from a balcony downtown. I think I can see a rat from here.

Matt Coolidge original of the Royal Palace

The Food:

Khmer people are very adaptable and hospitable. Something that is so apparent in the cuisine and service of Cambodia. Cambodia does not have delicious food. A lot of Khmer food will shock you more than wet your chops (yes, we ate snake!). Some common roadside snacks are crickets and duck embryos. But, you will always be greeted warmly.

 Now for the adaptability: Khmer people are great at creating other countries' cuisines. Matt and I ate delicious pizzas, amazing burritos and anything our little hearts desired. We ate well and we ate cheap. You can find western food all over Asia, but by and large it is crap and you are better sticking to local cuisine; Cambodia was the exception.

The logo for our favorite Mexican joint in PP. It was owned by a guy from Dallas.

Fish Amok. Another Classic Khmer dish. The fancy fish amok come in bamboo like this one. It is similar to a curry, but without the spice. We had it once. Enough said.

Did I mention, you could get a proper cocktail here too? Most cocktails I have found in SEA taste like sweet vomit or pepto bismol.

 I was going to write another section entitled 'people,' but I have way too much to say in that department. So, if you are interested in reading more about the crazy characters we met (think cocaine highs and Russian refugees), read the next blog: The Lord's Prayer.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Hood Rats Thoughts on Beijing

Beijing really blew my mind. I came in with no expectations, other than the city was smoggy and had the Great Wall. Even with the smog indeed being unbearable at times, I still loved Beijing. How unbearable was the smog, you ask? A friend told me that teachers get paid 50 percent more to live in Beijing than elsewhere in China because of the smog. I already covered Saul the Smog in my last blog, so let's talk about something else. First and foremost, there is a crazy energy that you get in China. I think the energy is a mix of hope and fear. China is growing really fast and there is a lot of opportunity for the middle class. They're major consumers now, which is something that is relatively new and very pervasive (Malls, Malls, Malls - sung to the tune of "Girls, Girls, Girls" by Motley Crue). One example of this phenomenon in action - as recently as 15 years ago, if you wanted to buy a washer, you would need to enter a lottery to get a ticket to buy one. Now, you can simply go to the store and buy it (and many, many people do). There are still some restrictions on purchasing power, particularly around cars. You can easily buy a car, but there is a bit of a wait to get your license plate. The government is doing this to cut down on pollution. There seems to be, at least on the surface, the ability for folks to move up the socio-economic food chain. However there still seems to be a healthy degree of simmering fears just underneath the surface. Information is not freely exchanged, and people who were raised during the ill-fated Cultural Revolution, in which Mao essentially tried to purge the country of all Western influence, still carry painful, vivid memories of that traumatic time. Sorry to start it off so darkly, let's get back into Beijing. Again, there is so much growth here. About eight years ago, there were only two subway lines in Beijing, now there are up to fourteen and they are expanding rapidly. Same with the train system. There are a ton of new high-speed rails that were created two years ago. BART, please step up your game. People have been incredibly friendly to us here, and many have asked to take pictures with Matt. Yes, Matt! I have been pushed out of pictures on more than one occasion. There are a great deal of historical relics in Beijing, each of which have been beautiful to see and well worth it. If you guys want me to describe in more detail the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, just let me know and I will do a more detailed post on it. China also takes karaoke to the next level. My friend invited us to a karaoke night with his friends. We went to a huge palace-type complex. Prior to entering the karaoke room, there was a grocery store where we got our beer and snacks. Matt quickly found a friend who loved rock music. His name was Rock. They sang Sweet Child of Mine and Don't Want to Miss a Thing. Actually, Matt sang most of the song. Usually you exchange the mic, but Matt really is a solo act. Also for those of you thinking of venturing to China, you must go bargain shopping. In Beijing the big market is called the silk market. They have everything you want and more and they all try to trick you into paying too much. Luckily, I was with Matt who fancies himself a connoisseur at bargaining. At first I was a little skeptical of his claim, but let me tell you, the man has style. At one of the shops the woman bargaining with Matt got all huffy and yelled, "Why you so tough?" Telltale sign that we had won that round. Moral of the story? When in Beijing, if you leave a vendor close to tears, it means you were not screwed.

Pictures of food... And a beautiful gorge

I plan to send more pictures, but currently four is all this internet can handle. Matt and I just finished a two day trek in the Yunnan Provence. The trek takes you around Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is a contender for the world's deepest river canyon and also the primary tributary to the upper Yangtze River. The river has a legend, which involves a tiger... Apparently, many moons ago, a tiger jumped across the river rapids to escape from hunters. The rapids are daunting. A friendly English lad told us that in the 1960s a few expats tried to raft the river. They died. Damn hippies. The first day, we hiked for about six hours - straight uphill. We arrived at a hostel and spent the night. It was the first time that I have seen stars in China. It was also freezing. I wrapped a towel around my head and wore it all night. The same friendly English lad asked me what I had on my head. I simply said, "heat." English people = not intuitive. On our second day, we got up with the rooster and trekked to the magical tiger rock. They carved the path onto the mountain and it was a straight climb down and up - one slip and you are dead. They had plenty of ladders that you could climb as short cuts. These ladders scared Matt shitless. As always, I calmed him down and we made it safe and sound. Below are a few pictures of the gorge and some Boa tsi (steamed bread with pork). We eat this almost every morning for breakfast.

The Etiquette of Karaoke

Back when I lived in the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, my friends and I would occasionally go to Karaoke. Although my set of friends in San Francisco is the most elite and posh group the city has to offer, we usually decided to leave the royalty of the W to grace our gold plated shoes upon the vomit and beer stained floors of Market street.


Cheap drinks and old bartenders who had nothing to lose… If you have to question the latter of the two, maybe we should sit down over a nice beer and talk about the state of ‘desperation.’

But back to the topic: Karaoke.

My friends and I would go to this real dive on Market, I believe it was called “Moores’ or some Irish name. Every bar in my neighborhood was named after an Italian or Irish family. Did I mention I lived on the cusp of the Tenderloin, one of the most dangerous districts in San Francisco? I also lived on the cusp of the Castro, which is the gay district. I felt like my neighborhood bars had the blend of rough hooligan homosexuals. I know this may seem like an Oxymoron, but they do exist and I shame you for stereotyping.

Occasionally on Wednesday nights I would go out for drinks with my friends and inevitably we would end up at this bar. Some of my friends would go home preparing themselves for their 'big job' on Thursday, but I was an intern with no mortgage. I thought it was either now or never and I only needed five hours of sleep to be a functioning adult; I need at least eight to be a functioning child. Now maybe it was due to late nights out or the state of the economy, but when I became ‘fun employed’ or as I told the Unemployment Office ‘a desperate job seeker,’ I went to the Karaoke joint more periodically with my ‘self-employed’ neighbor.


He always bought the drinks.

Once inside the warm and musky smelling bar, my friends and I would sing the likes of Snoop Dog and occasionally our friend Katie who knows how to sing would belt out a rendition of “All that Jazz” to the delight of the bartenders and the Karaoke fanatics (Yes some people go to Karaoke eight nights a week and treat it as a second job)…

Now if you have never been to Karaoke and if your voice is below par it is always necessary that you pick a song that everyone knows and can sing to. Nobody wants to hear a bad singer and the elightest Karaoke peeps will boo you off the stage or talk really loud while you are trying to sing, “Come to My Window” by Melissa Ethridge. Side note, nobody came to my window that night.

The real challenge of Karaoking is finding the songs that the crowd is going to like. Unless of course you have an amazing voice like Christina Aguilera and can blow the audience out of the water with your God given talent, but this only comes along in a blue moon and if you think you have a good voice, just Karaoke one night and you’ll know if your hidden talent is really a talent. kiss. That being said, if you are like 99.9% of America or the world for that matter your voice is probably bad, thus when you go to Karaoke you need to pick the crowd pleasers, not the ones that will showcase your cat-like voice.

As I travel across the world and go to many different Karaoke joints this idea of singing the crowd pleasers holds the same note. Although in different countries and even regions the songs change drastically. Here in Korea, the crowd pleasers are old Korean songs that have really high squealing sequences or surprisingly ABBA, more specifically Mamma Mia theme songs. Just like the Castro back at home, Momma Mia was a hit!!!

Koreans call Karaoke joints Noribongs and they are not like your average Karaoke facility. Instead of a large room with strangers Noribongs are private and just amongst friends or foreign hooligans who have met and bonded throughout the night.

Each person picks his or her ‘Go to Song’ and then they sing it to their friends. Usually, everyone in the room sings the songs together and people can share the stage. This isn’t always the case. I have had a few nights where microphones have been punched out of my hands. Some people are just spotlight hogs and let me tell you these are never the people that you want to Noribong or Karaoke with as they have in fact lost the essence of Karaoking: Togetherness.

I have also had my ‘Go to Songs’ skipped, this happens quite often when I am Noribonging with a certain character who will remain unanimous until I leave Korea. I fear that my Noribonging privileges will be taken if I announce the culprit via the internet.

In Japan I did a few Karaoking sessions. One place that I went was similar to the Korean Noribongs, but another one was the American style Karaoke with strangers singing together in one big room. I would like to give a Japanese perspective of my experience, but each time I went I was surrounded by a strange nationality called Australian. I figured these chaps would love to sing songs like, “I Come from a Land Downunder” or be all up in arms over Kylie Minogue, but there mouths salivated to Billy Joel and “Creep” by Radiohead.

As a side note, “Creep” is also an underground Karaoke song. Almost everyone and their mother knows that song and it has great climatic stages to get the audience really ‘in it.’ It also boast simple, but true to life lyrics like, “I wish I was special. You’re so fucking special!”

Now, I’m not trying to stereotype the Australian musical choices, people were throwing out lots of great songs not just Billy Joel (not to say Billy Joel isn’t an amazing musician because he is…), I was just surprised by their choices. I guess… I just felt like an outsider looking into classics that I grew up on. It was as though they were singing their national anthem… as though there was a hidden message to these songs that I had just not heard before… as though the song was originally played in the key of G, but for some reason because of the equator the Australians always knew the song in the key of C. And while I sat there sipping on my wasp vodka (yes a wasp was in my vodka) I couldn’t help but think, “Do my Korean friends feel the same way when my American friends and I sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at the Noribongs?”

Maybe I felt this way because of the etiquette or should I say essence of Karaoke, ‘the knowledge of your audience.’ I didn’t know if the Australians went on long road trips with their parents and sang such classics as “In the Middle of the Night” by Billy Joel or if my Korean friends turn on the radio station with their girlfriends and belt out in unison “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler…

I guess Karaoke just makes me miss home. It makes me miss really bad radio music and the 90s. I don’t really know the moral to my story, but hopefully it will inspire you to head to your local Karaoke bar and indulge in bad music and hominess.

Karl the Fog vs. Saul the Smog

Karl the Fog vs. Saul the Smog For those of you that are unfamiliar with San Francisco, let me preface this by saying that San Francisco is a foggy city. It is surrounded by cold waters (the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay), and to the north and east are climates that stay relatively warm. The cool waters mixed with the warm inland weather make for an ideal breeding ground for fog, especially in the summer months. Fog is so pervasive in San Francisco that it has been personified. We call him Karl the Fog, and he has his own Instagram and Twitter handle. To me, Karl is a wet blanket sort of friend. He crashes a sunny birthday party at Golden Gate Park and ruins it with his gloom. You were just starting to feel warm and fuzzy at Dolores Park, and then Karl rolls in to tell you that he's having the worst day of his life because his fish died + his Netflix queue is all screwed up. Your warm and fuzziness ceases to exist and you have to packup your blanket and go to bed because Karl's depression has left your bones chilled. He can be a bit obnoxious at times, but he can also be incredibly beautiful. When I lived on Nob Hill, I would sometimes walk to Grace Cathedral at night and at the top of the steps before the door, I would turn to look at the city and it would just be a blanket of fog. It looked and felt as though I was sitting on top of a cloud. It was just me and Karl up there, and our conversation was sweet and melodious. Since being in Beijing and Xian, I have met another grey matter that lurks just below the skyline - and also in the lungs. I have named him Saul the Smog. Saul is the type of friend that shows up to the party way too early, smokes the entire night (even when the host has asthma) and doesn't leave when you ask him to. He is like a drunk uncle that lingers in the house with a cigarette always lit, and with his hands in his pants. He gives the babies dreadful coughs and makes the adults as a addicted to tobacco as he is, because, hell, if you are already dying from cancer through secondhand smoke, you might as well get a buzz while you fall to the grave. There are no redeeming qualities to Saul, and since entering Beijing - and Northern China as a whole - he has not left. I do not know if it is because of Saul, but I have noticed a lot more people smoking in Beijing, and also hacking massive, mucus-filled loogies that can be found everywhere: on the bus seats, on the toilet and sometimes even on my shoes. Saul is a pain in my ass and has left my virginal lungs with tar. Okay, he hasn't. I did live in San Francisco, where the fog prompts many folks to smoke another type of substance. Sans Saul, Beijing has been an amazing city that I will write more about in my next blog. Till then, good day!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Smell of Pepper

Zooming down the gravel road on my newly rented moped, my senses were elated by the smell of Kempot, Cambodian pepper and the breeze across my nose. With my friend, Tim, a little way in front of me, I accelerated the bike and searched in the distance for his ocean-blue helmet; I had chosen a bad time to fasten my pace. I was just approaching a hill that curved down to lead onto a bridge with a small creek and a big drop-off below. I was scared and knew instantaneously that I could not control the bike as well as I thought. I slowly began to break, but with a manual bike, once you break, you lock the front tires. I had two choices: attempt to steer the bike down the hill and cross the bridge or force fall to my left. I chose the latter of the two.
The crash was loud, but not deadly (obviously). I looked first at myself. All I could see was blood seeping through my yoga pants and blood and gravel intermixed on my left arm. Screaming for Tim to come, I then noticed the bike: broken. The clutch was messed-up and the breaker bent in. My heart sank, but then was re-lifted when Tim came running up the hill--actually hobbling as a couple weeks before he had hurt his foot while on a moped. Struck stupid, Tim was unable to help soothe me. I knew that I needed to take the reins of the situation: get to a hospital and then fix this bike before the owner charged me an exorbitant rate to fix it.
I found a few people on the side of the road. Through hand gestures, I was able to get a crowbar and bash the clutch and breaker back into place. A family took me into their home and gave me their child’s t-shirt to wipe off my arm. Considering this was probably the only t-shirt this child owned, I was driven to a quiet cry-session. When questioned of my tears, I blamed the wimpy sobs on my arm. I toured their pepper farm with a smile and tons of questions (even though my arm was killing me), and purchased some of the most aromatic black pepper I’ve ever smelled.
After I was done with the tour, the grandma of the bunch tried to put anti-freeze or something of the sort on my arm to help with the infection; I politely declined. The son and owner understood and hopped on my motor bike to take me to the nearest road-side doctor, while his sister and mother road behinds us. Tim took the caboose role.
Once at the doctor (an ancient man), I realized he did not speak English. Thinking quickly, I began to speak broken French as Cambodia was once a French colony. He smiled and responded in French. We were able to communicate what happened to my arm, what he would have to do to repair it (just some antibiotics and rubbing alcohol), and of course what exactly was wrong with my friend Tim’s foot. Nothing, but a sprain and lack of rest as Tim was attempting to party his ass-off and see all the major historical sights before he had to leave his beloved South East Asia.
Not wanting to waste a day in Cambodia, Tim and I hopped back on our bikes and road around the countryside. We watched a beautiful sunset and ate peppered crabs fresh from the Gulf of Thailand.
Arriving back to our hostel, everyone was worried about me, especially Maggie who had ditched Tim and me that day to wander around Kempot with a local man. As usual, the local man fell in love with Maggie and confessed his love to her, only to be denied by a clueless Maggie who thinks all men just want to be her friends. A yeah, a right. As she was simultaneously trying to sooth me and run away from her new suitor, I sat there in an amazing bliss. I had survived my accident, spoken French, eaten delicious crab, watched a beautiful sunset with my ginger best-friend(not an Orangutan named Suddam, but Tim), and was the center of attention to the bustling hostel. The day couldn’t have been better.

My two fellow companions: Tim-the-Ginger-Zasly and Maggie-the-dubious-lover-Quinn

Monday, September 6, 2010

Room 203 (Don't read if you are already worried about my travels)

I woke up with an aching stomach and a severe headache--drinking rum(Tanduay)with Filipinos will leave you like this. As my friend Maggie continued to slumber through my whispers, I decided to venture outside of our hotel room and into the loud streets of Dumaguete, Philippines. Not knowing the time--I don’t have a watch--I figured I could go to a grocery store and pick out some fresh mangoes and healthy yogurts for breakfast.

I made my way down the spiral stair case and approached the lobby. In front of the sliding glass door two police officers stood talking with the hotel’s security man. I thought that was rather strange, but then, police are always roaming the streets and having casual conversations with locals anywhere you go.

After shopping and making some appointments, I came back to the hotel and found that the police officers had quadrupled, and this,of course, resurrected red flags in my head. The desk clerks were busy shuffling papers to avoid my eyes; there was a strange smell wafting in the air. Having a very sensitive nose, I can usually place smells, but this was a smell that I’ve never known. It was a mixture of dead fish, human excrement,and rotting. As I began to make my way closer to the stairs, the smell began to intensify. I wanted to ask questions, but decided it best to go to my room. As I began my ascent up the stairs, a police officer cut off my path and began to climb the stairs with a towel over his face. Curiosity got the best of me. I decided to ask a very non-ostentatious question, “Why do you have a towel over your face?”

The man stared at me for a millisecond, and with his cold dark eyes he replied, “Because there is a dead body.”

At that instant I froze in my tracks. I looked at the man searching for more of an explanation or sympathy for the corpse, but received nothing. The officer proceeded to head up the stairs and turned on the second floor--the same floor that my room was on. As soon as I turned the corner the scene unfolded to me:

An uncountable number of officers now stood in front of the room next to mine. Large camera lenses were pointing at something in the room and one could hear the loud fluttering sound of their flash, the tearing of duct tape, and the clattering of a gurney.

I sprinted to my room, pushing through the officers and attempting to arouse Maggie who had not been awakened by the forensic noise. Maggie had drank a little more than I the night before, and was still in a dream when I woke her up. She was lethargic and confused. She assumed that I was lying about it trying to get her up earlier than she wanted. But slowly she realized that I wasn’t playing my usual games and the sleep cloud began to clear into a small panic, “What if we see the body?” she said.

This hadn’t occurred to me before, but as soon as the words were uttered I decided this was something that I didn’t want to see. Luckily she agreed. Eventually we devised a plan to stay in the room for a little while longer to avoid seeing the police carry the body past our room. We also turned on the TV as loud as we could to muffle the sounds of a crime scene that was becoming more and more grusome as we waited patiently in our room.

Twenty minutes passed and I couldn’t stand to look at the peach walls any longer. I could only imagine that the next room was a mirror of our room, and knowing that what I was seeing could have been someone’s last image was starting to mess with my brain. The phone rang and the front desk informed us to leave as soon as possible. I asked her for some details about situation next door, but she told me it was under investigation, and she didn’t have the liberty to say. She simply said to put a towel over our faces because the smell has gotten much worse.

As we opened the door, we noticed most of the police officers had gone and there were just a couple of men with latex gloves. Maggie began to sprint down the stairs and I followed her. Outside on the streets a mob of Filipinos attempted to look into a black van that was acting as a temporary tomb for the 203 occupant. Once Maggie and I finally pushed our way through the door we began to run. We ran so fast and so far that we eventually made our way to the downtown, where a tricycle picked us up. We told the man to take us to the closest hostel. Once we arrived at the hostel, we didn’t negotiate the price and ended up paying triple the average fare, but we didn’t care: we were away from the mob, the smell, the unknown story.

I took a deep breath and looked at the clock--10:30 a.m. Thus, before 10 a.m. on September 1st, 2010 in Dumaguete, Philippines, Maggie and I slept next to a murdered body, ran from a mob and were screwed by a tricycle.

We could only go up from here.