Tuesday, February 19, 2013


My New Years resolution is to blog more (I aim the bar low, people) and since I have published a grand total of 4 blog posts in 2013 I ring in the new year as a resounding failure.  At least I'm not at a loss for topics to write about because I am hella behind on posting about the stuff we've done the
past few months.  Let me begin with:

Strawberry picking

Funny enough, the main task of my day strawberry picking was not to procure luscious, vine-ripened fruit.  It was to take a picture next to the huge-ass strawberry that happens to be located at the strawberry farm.

My girlfriend Karen (on the far right) has this "thing", and it's a really random, hilarious thing.  She likes to take pictures with Big Things, such as the aforementioned huge-ass strawberry.  Homegirl has traveled near and far to get her picture taken with big things.  So we went all the way out to this strawberry farm just so she could get her picture taken, which you can view at her adorably titled blog, Little Karen, Big Things.

I would like to bragmention that even though I farmed (yes, I farmed) nearly a kilo of strawberries that day I ate only two of them, which took an incredible amount of willpower.  Why on earth would I subject myself to such torture you ask?  Because this was in the 6 weeks leading up to my sisters wedding and I was on a brutally hardcore low carb diet in preparation.  It was pretty successful, if I do say so myself:

Fruit is sugar, people, whether you consider it "good" sugar or "bad" sugar, it's sugar.  I didn't get looking this way eating strawberries, I can tell you that.  I will cease evangelizing now, but let it be known I have the willpower of one of those monks that meditate for years on end.

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

A "flower festival", admittedly, sounds legit lame and not worth my time.  I was skeptical at first but holy crap, people, that flower festival was awesome!  It sounds like I'm being facetious here, but I promise I'm not.

The town of Toowoomba is about 2 hours inland from Brisbane and every year its citizens hold this flower festival.  Private residences open their yards to the public to show off their gardens, and these gardens are off the freaking chain.  I cannot imagine the time, effort and money spent tending to these gardens (though I think the term "grounds" is more apt here).

The millions of pictures we took don't do the gardens justice, so I will end my spiel about the-most-amazing-flowers-on-earth with this picture and quote from Martin:

"I'm going to a flower festival with three women.  How gay am I?!"

Even he admits that the gardens we saw (only two, because we're idiots and didn't know where to find the flowers at the flower festival) really, truly kicked ass.

A Day on the Green

In keeping with the plant-based theme of this post, our next activity is a concert held at a vineyard.  A Day on the Green holds different concerts each year, with different musical themes.  This being Australia, one of those themes is 80's music!

I don't think I've mentioned this yet but Australians love 80's music.  It's everywhere (at least in the greater Brisbane region of Queensland).  Over the loudspeaker at stores, on the radio, anywhere background music is played.

This is one of my absolute favorite things about Australia, as my top listened-to CD in high school was not Britney Spears or N*Sync, it was Monster Ballads.

We had a gay old day at the Sirromet vineyard listening to the classic musical tunes of....do I even need to type their name once you see this?

Devo!  I don't know why their silly hats are blue and not the iconic red, but everybody should recognize them.  Note that the action of the guy in the middle is, in fact, a whipping motion.  So much fun!

We also saw Simple Minds, who aren't as visually recognizable, but sang the theme song to my absolute favorite movie ever.  And I saw it live!  Like thirty years after it was popular!

I know a whopping one song by each of these bands, but cut me some slack because I was, uhhh, a toddler when they were popular.

This being a vineyard the highlight of the day, for my lush self at least, was proximity to wine.  80's tunes and wine....screw milk and honey.....Australia really is the promised land!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan

I'm about to say something that is downright blasphemous.  I will be shunned, mocked, and cast out like a leper but it needs to be said:

I liked Taipei better than Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is the cultural and financial epicenter of Asia, the perfect combination of east meets west well on its way to world domination, while Taiwan is a footnote on the map, at best.  There's something about it, something I can't quite put my finger on, that makes me recommend it high above Hong Kong.

Perhaps it is this short list of LOL OMG WTF pictures that draws me to loving Taipei:

What in the hell is that?

What in the hell is that green thing and why is it forbidden?

Why in the hell does this shopkeeper have Nazi flags on their wall?

Why in the hell didn't Playboy think to name themselves Sexy Nuts?

Disturbing/hilarious, all of it!

Perhaps what makes me like Taipei so much is the way in which we, big 'ol white people, were treated.  An example: While waiting in a long line for an elevator to get down 80+ stories the line dividers were parted and we were escorted out of the mass of people.  Where were we going, you ask?  Why, we were being escorted to a hidden, private elevator along with several obviously rich businessmen to jump the line and get to our destination 20 minutes early.  What did we do to deserve such treatment?  Be white, I guess.  One straggler tried several times to get on to our elevator but he was told in no uncertain terms that this elevator is not for the likes of him.  It is for important people.  It is for us.

I might have liked it because our hotel, priced at about 60 Euro per night, was nothing short of amazing.  It had a jacuzzi with a TV stationed above it in the bathroom and 2 channels in English: CNN International and (free, not even pay-per-view) porn.  Take your pick!  

The highlight of this already amazing hotel was the toilet, which housed more technology than all of the Apollo space missions combined.

Pardon my French, this was a bidet, not a toilet.  We couldn't read which setting did what, but the pictures on the buttons gave us a good indication of what was in store for us.  There was pulsating, there was swirling, hell there was probably even heated jets of water.  I've never had so much fun in a bathroom in my life.  Had there been a minibar I would still be there to this very day.

So far in this post I've covered Nazi memorabilia, white privilege, pornography and toilets.  I think this is the point where I kick it up a few brows and move on to the cultural stuff that we did.

National Palace Museum

One of the biggest museum collections in the entire world.  So big, in fact, that only a tiny fraction is on display at any given time.  They have Ming vases and stuff.  If you want to see the best stuff China has to offer...come here instead.

Long Shan Temple

A really beautiful, old, peaceful Buddhist temple.  Usually places of worship give me the heebie jeebies but I found the burning incense, praying people and offerings really pleasant and relaxing.  I also found them really hilarious.

One does not love their god until one leaves a box of white Oreos as an offering.  Maybe I'm an insensitive arse, but that's funny right there.

Taipei 101

The tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010, we went to the 80-something floor during the daytime to see as far as the clouds would let us.

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

We visited at night, so instead of sharing the place with busloads of tourists who scream a each other despite being one foot apart we shared it with teams of teenagers practicing hip hop dance routines to boom boxes.  It was really freaking cool.

The more I reflect on it, the more I like Taipei and I imagine the city is just the teeny, tiny tip of the iceberg of why Taiwan is great.

I liked Taipei because it was cheap, people spoke better English than they give themselves credit for, and the local brew, Taiwan Beer, is legit delish.  I liked that there weren't many tourists yet we weren't gawked at or openly avoided.  I liked that I saw several western families with their older adopted Asian children, showing them their fatherland.

Or, I might've liked it so much because of the free porn.