March 31, 2017

Jaipur 01

We arrived in the afternoon and decided to take an aimless walk through the Pink City, while picking up a few essentials (Dant Kanti toothpaste and extra film) along the way. We kept it light as the next day we'd be embarking on a 6am cycling tour of the city. 

March 17, 2017

Delhi 01

Red Fort
Humayun's Tomb
India Gate

National Crafts Museum


Amici Cafe
Rajdani Thali
Cafe Lota

March 7, 2017

India: Prologue

Where does one start? Breakfast.

To describe my first trip to India as overwhelming would be an over simplification. It'd be more accurate to say it required [and deserved] the full attention of all my senses. As a result of the constant stimulation, I neglected my daily journal entries. 

Now, one week later, I'm finally ready to dive back into the experience. This first post is to get the ball rolling. The following cities were visited & will be written about to some extent:



 red fort, delhi

November 10, 2016

The Big Sky State

Butte, Montana

 Open carry is a thing

 Copper Mine Memorial

 The Berkeley Pit

Hot Springs, Montana

Kintla Lake
Glacier National Park

September 1, 2016

Hasselblad 500c Test Run

I went on a hike a few weeks ago with my buddy Hannah and thought it'd be a good opportunity to snap some pics with the Hasselblad 500c my grandfather left me. All of these shots were taken with an 80mm lens, but I also have been playing around with a 40mm, 50mm, and 150mm lenses. The good news: the body and all lenses work great. Bad-ish news: there's light leakage, but that can be easily fixed. All of these were taken on Portra 400 film.

January 7, 2016

Gaita Colombiana

Roughly one year ago I traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia for two weeks to partake in Carnaval and visit family. While there, I partied hard, ate a lot of my favorite food, danced, and caught e coli, which rendered me useless for the second week of my trip. 

Before returning, I mustered the strength to pick up one item of interest: a gaita. These are wooden flute instruments that come in a variety of sizes and play a large role in Cumbia music. I've included one of my favorite songs, La Pollera Colorá, as an example of what it sounds like.

 Supplies (l to r): syringe needle cap, knife, twine, charcoal powder, and bees wax

Supplies (l to r): syringe needle cap, knife, twine, charcoal powder, and bees wax

Unfortunately my gaita didn't fair well on the flight home. The mouth piece fell out and left a big chunk missing. So, I did a bit of research and figured out how to construct a new headpiece. Below are photos form 

It begins with melting the bees wax, which will eventually have the charcoal powder mixed in. I sort of just guessed the amount to throw into the pot. 

While the beeswax melted I worked on the reed, which can be made from a syringe needle cap. I don't know for certain, but I think that wrapping twine around the syringe cap helps with the grip. 

Returning to the beeswax... after mixing in the charcoal powder, I let it cool off and solidify.                    

 Important note: This smelled awful and stunk up my apartment for days.

Important note: This smelled awful and stunk up my apartment for days.

 Ready to mold

Ready to mold

I found that it was easiest to mold the cylinder once the waxy substance was on the cooler side.

Next comes the knife and slicing the cylinder like a hotdog bun.

This is where the difficult part came in. Once the wax cylinder was tapered onto the body I had to place the reed correctly so that the air would flow just right. This took a lot of trial and error.  

In the end I got the gaita to play... but only 3 notes worth. Probably because it's a cheap souvenir not meant to be played seriously. Luckily my parents will be returning to Barranquilla soon and I intend to have them pick up another one for me.

December 11, 2015

béton brut

Brutalist architecture of Romania. 

October 9, 2015

End of the road

I've just finished packing my suitcase (dad is still at it) while eating too many chocolate-covered Turkish Delights. I'm pretty sure I've put on a few pounds on this trip. But it's all okay because tomorrow we return to Seattle. I return to being vegan, hitting the gym, and working at Msoft until I can do this all over again. 

Today was a perfectly paced final day. We treated ourselves to breakfast at Van Kahvaltı Evi in the Cihangir neighborhood. I had my first taste of Turkish coffee (I don't know why it took so long) and we enjoyed an array of mezzes. I warned my dad that I intended to go shopping after breakfast. He could come along or we could part ways, but shopping was on the agenda no matter what. We ended up parting ways. But not before we stopped into one shop that really left an impression on me.

We happened upon a plant store, Muz,  which immediately caught my eye even though there's no way I could bring back a plant from Istanbul. We went inside and they had a great collection of pottery and other non-living goods. I loved the way the shop was set up--part plant store, part artisan goods, and part coffee shop. 

After we split up, I made my second stop at Mono, a record shop close to our breakfast stop. There was a lot to go through, but I focused on the selection of records recorded or pressed in Turkey. I ended up only buying two records (they're pricier here than in Bucharest, where I bought 6). One is Beats & Pieces from 60's & 70's Turkish Psychedelia and the other is Karisik Disko.

More shopping followed, with lots of walking inbetween. I had plans to meet back up with dad at 3pm for our second cup of coffee, this time at Mandabatmaz. It's a small, traditionally-fashioned Turkish cafe that serves the richest coffee I've ever experienced. We sat outside on low stools caught each other up on what we had been up to the previous three hours. 

Once coffee was done, we headed back to the hotel for our spa appointment! We both booked a hammam/massage package, which started off with fifteen minutes in a eucalyptus dry sauna. When our time was up, we were led to the hammam...together. Once we realized they intended to have us bathe in the same room--at the same time--my dad and both enthusiastically repeated "father!" "daughter!" "not wife!". The misunderstanding was fixed by putting me back in the dry sauna until my dad was done using the room. And that was the last I saw of him. Just kidding. Once the massage and bathing and scrubbing was all done, I returned to our hotel room to grab my dad and set off for our fancy dinner. 

We had reservations at 6:30pm at 360 Istanbul, a restaurant that (you guess it) has a 360 degree view of the city. What's even better is that we were able to catch the sunset. I couldn't have thought of a better way to finish our trip. I put to my dad that we should each share what we'll miss most about traveling together. It was interesting to realize that our answers were very similar. It has been a wonderful experience getting to spend time with my dad as an adult. The last time I spent this much uninterrupted time with him was when I was a kid living at home. Our experiences in Romania brought up a lot of family history and self-discovery that I was able to process with my dad as an equal. 

I could dive deeper into what else I've appreciated about this trip, but I have to wake up at 3am and it's already 11pm. I need those four hours. So long, Istanbul.

October 9, 2015

Day 2 in Istanbul

I’ve just left my dad, half asleep, listening to Deep Purple in the hotel room. This is the night I will try and experience nightlife in Istanbul. I’ll admit I’m not off to a great start considering I’m sitting at a swanky cocktail bar, sipping on an almond-cinammon Disarono concoction, and hunched over my laptop. I’m a real party-starter.

Today kicked off with a very Maxim-esque adventure. We (ahem, “we”) accidentally left Romania with a borrowed cellphone and GPS unit, which my dad was now hell-bent on returning to his cousin as soon as humanly possible. It somehow turned into a two-hour endeavor, but we made it to DHL location and shipped our package off to Bucharest. Side note: we later received an email from Sergiu that there was no rush returning the items and to take our time. I’m pretty sure my dad opted for the one-day delivery, but I wouldn’t know because I waited outside and watched guys try and scam tourists.

 The Blue Mosque from inside Haga Sofia

The Blue Mosque from inside Haga Sofia

After our Turkish DHL experience, we headed over to the Blue Mosque. We arrived during the prayer hour, so we waited in the courtyard until we could enter the mosque. During that time we people-watched the hell out of our fellow tourists and were amazed at some of the outfits women had on. Were they really that tone-deaf to show up in mini-skirts or did they just not care? Maybe that’s anti-feminist of me to say.

Great. The bar I’m at is closing. I am a nightlife-curse. Time to gulp down this syrupy monstrosity of a beverage and change locations.

I am now at a bar called “Ugly” and I’ve just ordered a drink dubbed “Love Juice”. Aside from vodka, I have no clue what’s in it. Bottoms up!

Once we entered the Blue Mosque, the first thing that caught my attention was the stench of dirty feet. I know, surrounded by all that beauty and all I can think about are the stinky feet surrounding me. Once I worked past that hang up, I realized just how cavernous the mosque feels from inside. It possesses an understated type of beauty—much different from the exterior, which I found myself more drawn to. We moved quickly through the mosque, pulled by the waves of people around us. My dad made a point to take me to the place where my mom was yelled at when they visited. I guess she was in the wrong place at the wrong time (the men’s area of the mosque during prayer).

Leaving the mosque we had a clear view of Haga Sofia, our next destination. This is the historical site that won my day. Its exterior has a really intriguing structural style with varying depths and heights between rooms and domes, the result of centuries of remodeling. Inside was also a treat, where walls engraved with Islamic scripture stood in harmony with faded frescos of Jesus and his apostles. It was the most beautiful culture clash I’d ever seen.

Our final historic visit of the day was Topkapi Palace. My dad and I are still unclear as to where exactly the palace is actually located. All of the buildings we walked through were designated for council members, or events (such as the circumcision room). The palace grounds were large and had a mixture of old and modern buildings, making it more museum than palace. The real show-stopper (other than the circumcision room) was the terrace that gave a stunning view of the Bosphorus and surrounding land. Not to mention there was a fucking rainbow over Istanbul at that very moment!

 Circumcision room

Circumcision room

After our exhaustive string of tours, we headed back to the hotel with a pit stop at Kurukahveci Mermet Effendi Mahdumlari to buy some coffee beans. After an impromptu nap, during which I allegedly punched my dad, we set out for dinner at Ficcin, a great Circassian restaurant that had the most delicious potato dumplings. Like I told my dad, there’s nothing better than starch wrapped in starch.

That leaves me at this moment. Sitting alone at Ugly, drinking my teal-colored Love Juice.