The Pissing Fountain

Belgium is one
of my favorite
destinations in Europe….

Brussels is home
to quite a good
number of restaurants
and bars, along with
friendly people and
plenty of sights
to visit.

And beer

several of the best
beers in the world
are brewed there.

Despite some similarities,
it’s quite different from
France in many ways,
as I’m sure Monsieur
Hercules Poirot would
be quick to tell you.

One of the more peculiar
landmarks one should see
in the city of Brussels is
commonly called the
“Pissing Fountain” –
but more correctly:
the Manneken Pis
statue …
(or ‘Little Piddler’ ).

It’s called that because
it looks like the bronze
kid depicted by the
statue is pissing on
passerby’s.

Sure,
and not only
is it famous, but
there’s been one
like it in Brussels
since 1618, although
it has been moved,
as well as re-cast,
several times over
it’s history.

Originally, it’s main
purpose was to provide
fresh water to local
residents, but by the
middle of the 1800’s,
it had evolved into
more of a local
landmark, and over
the years, has drawn
attention from not
only tourists, but a
number of thieves
as well.

It was first swiped,
in 1747, by a couple
of French Grenadiers
who had been posted
to the town –
– the residents were so
enraged about it, they
threatened to revolt.

The King of France
ordered it returned,
along with a gold
brocaded robe and a
sword for the statue.

Which kinda
contributed
to a tradition that
continues to this day –

– a couple times a week,
the statue is dressed up
in some kinda costume,
from a wardrobe that
contains over 1000
different ones.

And on the anniversary
of the founding of the
Free University of Brussels,
November 10, the statue is
connected to a keg of beer
for the benefit of visitors.

As one can imagine,
souvenir postcards
from the site are
very popular,
— and we have
several really cool
vintage ones today.

I hope you like em.

.

!!! HOY !!!

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No Ordinary Ordinaries

This is a big ole world —

and although I
certainly recognize
that it’s impossible
that we should all
get to know each other ,

( heaven knows exactly
what THAT would
teach a person about
human nature )

— it’s nice to find things
that we all seem to have
in common, no matter
how far you get from home.

And there are a surprising
number of things, once
you start counting.

One of my favorites is
— FLAVOR —
the love of delicious food
is something you will find
in every part of the world.

Sometimes, of course,
how you define ‘delicious’
requires more of an open
mind and things may take
a little getting used to,
perhaps even an adjustment
made to accommodate
your new surroundings.

Just remember —
— if it’s the
spécialité de maison,
smile and say YUM.

It’s true, though –
ingredients can often throw
you even if you ain’t usually
scared to stray out of your
comfort zone.

Another is seasoning –
– what you and
I might think
is ‘too hot to handle’
wouldn’t impress
the average 5 year
old Thai kid —

— and what seems ‘too fishy’
to your Aunt Sally might be
right up the alley for a
resident of the
Hawaiian Islands
in their ‘Poke’.

How do you like salt
in your coffee ?

Folks in parts of Ethiopia
won’t drink coffee without it.

Textures and scents that
you’re not used to can also
throw you —

— chewy drinks like:
Bubble Tea In Taiwan
or
my friend Juanita’s Orxata —

or that sticky, smelly fruit
from Southeast Asia
called Durian.

Condiments can seem
very strange, too —

Banana Ketchup
is a popular
one in the Philippines —

and in Sweden,
they’ve got
some stuff in a tube they
spread on toast
that’s supposed
to taste sorta like caviar
but is actually cod roe  –
called, oddly enough –
‘ Kaviar ‘ .

And it does beat
eating dry toast, so….

As like we say around
here a lot, it’s all about
perspective.

Culture is like that too.

And that’s why travel
is so important –

— it exposes and opens
one up to the possibilities
in food,
in clothing,
in life style,
in attitudes,
— in every thing.

It doesn’t mean
that you’ve
got to put yak butter
in your tea the
rest of your life,
if you don’t like it once
you’ve tried it –

— but it does
mean that you recognize
that people have
the right to like it
the way they like it.

And why would you
have it any other way?

!! HOY !!

.

The 1948 Tucker ’48’

Preston Tucker was
a real innovator –

that, no one in the
know even questions.

He was heavily involved
in automobile racing
since the early 1930’s,
and during World War II
developed a high speed
armored combat vehicle
for the Dutch army,
a swiveling turret mechanism
for the U.S. Navy, and a
fighter aircraft for the
U.S. Army Air Corps.

He also started plans
for a brand new kind of car –

one that could put a lot of
the technological breakthroughs
of war-time into practical
peace-time application.

This car,
the 1948 Tucker ’48’
– was certainly different –
a directional third headlight
that would follow the radius
of the steering wheel aided
the driver in cornering at night –
a roll bar and a specially
constructed protective
safety frame –
along with a ‘pop-out’
shatterproof windshield,
a padded dash and a collision
‘crash chamber’ built in .

The emergency brake
even had a separate key to prevent theft.

The ’48’  had been
loosely based on
the designs for the Tucker “Torpedo”
(which never actually
went into production)
but the production model ’48’
lacked certain innovations
from the Torpedo that would
have given the car an even
more interesting edge –

— like doors that wrapped
up into the roof,
a centrally positioned
steering wheel,
and front fenders
that turned when the
car was cornering.

The introduction of the car ,
along with a lot of pomp
and circumstance,
also had
it’s…. well, problems

— the prototype couldn’t be
started on its own power,
two suspension arms broke,
and it overheated as it was
driven onto the platform.

These kinds of issues
contributed to giving
consumers the impression
that perhaps the Tucker wasn’t
all that well constructed.

Still, the car was striking  –
and was making
Ford and GM
very, very nervous.

It caused enormous
pressure on them,
and they in turn
brought it back to bear
on the new company.

To make the difficulties on
the release of the new Tucker
even worse-

— certain advertising claims,
and wonky project fund raising
helped bring charges of fraud
by the Securities Exchange Commission –

— charges which Tucker was
later cleared of, but the
damage was done –

And in the end,
the Tucker ’48’ was gone before it
really had a chance to get started.

Only 51 production vehicles
were ever produced…

and their value at auction
has consistently held around
over a million dollars a piece
for the last couple of years.

!!! HOY !!!

Vacations Are Over-Rated

Damn ,
it’s mid-summer,
and there’s no sight of
any potential for a nice
vacation for me so far —

Nope.

No scent of sea breezes
on sandy white beaches
for me right now.

And we won’t even talk
about semi-naked women
bearing little blue drinks
with umbrellas in ’em….

No chance –
busy,
busy,
busy.

I won’t kid you and
tell you how much
nobler it is to work
a thousand hours
each and every week
and personally
contribute
to the national
productivity
average ,
’cause that’s all
just bullshit.

There’s just
about nowheres
I’d rather be,
than on vacation
anytime-
— anyday.

And in the
middle of summer?

But a man’s gotta do
what a man’s gotta do –

so here I stay and
hope I at the very least
catch a glimpse
of decolletage
at the gym or
on my way
to work to ease
my working
man’s pain a bit.

Poor, poor,
pitiful me.

Hey,
I really don’t even
need the blue drink.

Anyhoo —
I figured that since
I can’t go on vacation
right now, that maybe
I could bring a bit of
vay-kay to the blog
today….

So, vintage postcards
of other people having
fun will have to serve.

Sure, they’re goofy –
the best vacations
always include some
silly, off-the-wall shit —
to take you away
from the ‘every-day’
to the ‘not-very-often’.

That’s why I never eat
at places that advertise
‘home-style’ cooking —
–if I wanted that,
I’d stay home.

Which is what
I’m doing,
anyway,
like it or not.

Ok,
I’ll stop wingeing.

Enjoy these postcards.

I’m gonna go put the
office TV on the
Travel Channel.

Maybe
Samantha Brown
will be wearing
something low-cut.

Hey-
it could happen.

And,
please—

— send me
a postcard
if YOU get to go
anywhere interesting.

!!! HOY !!!!

Climb Mount Fuji

1

When it comes
to travelling,
the Far East
has always been
my favorite part
of the world.

And, it’s hard to
beat Japan for culture,
charm, and historical landmarks.

The people are friendly,
Osaka is world class fun,
and the countryside is beautiful —

But,
the highlight,
surely,
is hiking Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji,
( 富士山, Fuji-san )
the traditional sacred
mountain of the Japanese,misstokimatsu

– and Japan’s highest peak-
is located on the largest island Honshu, about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The Mountain is named after the fire goddess Fuji of the indigenous Ainu people.

Actually, it’s the most sacred of three ” Holy Mountains ” ,

……. the others being Mount Haku in the Ryohaku Range,

and Mount Tate,
the home of the famous Shomyo Falls
( the highest waterfalls in Japan ).

It’s about a two hour bus ride from Tokyo,
and on a clear day, you can see Mt Fuji from there.

It is an active volcano, and
it last blew it’s stack in 1708–
… although many Japanese
scientists are predicting
another eruption at almost anytime now.

That doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t go for the
summit, though.route

I mean, you survived the Maya ‘apocalypse’, dint ya ?

And if it’ll make ya feel any better, you can visit the
shrine of the goddess
Konohananosakuya-hime,
near the summit, whose
responsibility it is to keep
the sacred mountain from erupting.

Seriously, though…
this trek is made by an
estimated 250,000 folks a year,
……… and about 100,000
of them are tourists.imperial

While it is definitely a strenuous hike to complete in one day, if one breaks it into two or three parts, it’s accessible to just about anyone in reasonably good condition.

But, the average Japanese who makes the trek- leaves in the afternoon, hikes all nite, and makes the summit in time to enjoy “Goraikō” — the sunrise breaking atop Fujisan.

There are 10 ‘stations’ along the route
from the base to the summit,
and there are paved roads
that go all the way up to the ‘fifth’ station, 10
which is about half way up.

If you go in climbing season,
which is about 6 weeks long, and starts July 1, you can ride a bus up to this point.

Most of the rest of the year, you could drive up there and park.

Entry points to this 5th station are on each side of the mountain, and the most popular trails are accessed from here.

There are actually eight major routes from which to choose, depending on the length of your desired hike, and the difficulty involved.

There are four trails that start at the foot of the mountain, and four more starting at ‘fifth’ station.

The most popular routes
can be accessed here, Lake Kawaguchi2
with it’s large, comfy rest huts,
and Fujinomaya — the highest of the ‘fifth’ stations.

The Yoshida trail, with it’s many old shrines and facilities like teahouses and rest huts, is also accessible from here,

— but beware– it’s crowded as all get-out in season.

It’ll take the average person about 6 hours up, and 4 hours down.

The oldest trail, Murayama, on the seaward side of Mount Fuji, has been in use for at least 1200 years, extends from the base of the mountain, and has deep roots in Shinto tradition.

Depending on the route you take,
and how fast you’re moving,
it can take from 4 to 9 hours
of walking to ascend from fifth station to the summit.

Footing is pretty good on these trails most of the way, but it’s important that you take your time, especially if you’re hiking at night.

The trails are mostly well packed, but with some looser stuff close to the top, and of course, a steep grade.

3And let’s not forget how high up you’re gonna be — so high altitude sickness is a possibility.

( Remember — breathe , step, breathe, step — and don’t forget to hydrate! )

Rest often, and be
aware of your limits.

You are the best judge of what you’re capable of..
…………. don’t push too hard.

Once you make the summit,
you can hike around the crater —
500yen ( yes, I told you —
it’s a volcano ),
for about a mile-

……… and it’s as level as trail as you’ve ever been on, thankfully.

On this trail, you will reach a marker that identifies it as kengamine
… the site of an old radar station,
and the highest point in Japan.

Sounds easy enough, huh?

Yeah… right.

An ancient Japanese saying says it all:
“One would be a fool not to climb Fujisan once,
….. and one would be a fool to climb Fujisan twice.”fu

It’s certainly worth doing, but, there is definitely some stuff you’ll want to bring with you.

This list is not all inclusive, I guess…
…. your mileage may vary,
……. but you wanna have this stuff at very least.

A light backpack to put the rest of this stuff in.

A good head-mounted flashlight and a small hand-held one.

Water and food.
Enough.
Not too much.
Remember, you gotta carry it.

Layer your clothes… mtfujitop
bring something light, and something warm.
( You’ll need em both, even in August, on Mount Fuji.)
and gloves.
and a rain poncho.
… and good boots or walking shoes.

.
Other Stuff to Do :

Now, if you decide that all that uphill stuff ain’t for you, you can still use the Ochudo Trail, to see beautiful Mount Fuji.

It is also road-accessible from 5th station, where the very mild trail picks up and winds around the mountain at roughly the same elevation, and is about 5K long.

Down the access road towards the base of Fujiyama, be sure to check out the gorgeous Five Lakes.

Or, if you’re feeling very adventurous and have taken all your meds…..

You might visit
Aokigahara
” Sea of Trees” —-4

otherwise known as the famous ‘Suicide Forest’ at the northwest base —

this place is so creepy that ….

…… well, some peoples say it makes em crazy.

Come to think of it ……
— forget I mentioned it.

If you’re ready for more information,
why not visit http://www.japan-guide.com/
……… for all kinds of stuff from where to stay to how to get there.

Totemo tanoshii go ryokou wo !!

And tell Miss Tokimatsu I said ‘hello’ !!!!!


Miss Tokimatsu

Fruity and Weird

Somebody once said
that travel broadens
the mind.

And I’m pretty sure
it broadens the rest
of you, too —

Just think about
all the
yummy food choices
from around the world,

bana

…….. and you’ll see
what I mean.

Having traveled
for a living for
as many years
as I did,

I have to say
that it gets
into your blood…..

One of the things
I always enjoyed
doing was/is
stopping in
at the local
farmer’s market.

Every city/country has
their own version of it,

— and several places
have some
spectacular ones.

I always rave about
the Khlong Toey
Market in Bangkok,

— even though,
my love for the place
and it’s fresh produce almostdurian got me thrown out
of a hotel —

Well, ok —

the sign in the
hotel lobby
did clearly read :

” PLEASE –
NO DURIAN
ALLOWED
IN HOTEL”
,a1

… but I just
kinda figured
that was only
for the tourists.

Ummm….

They won’t even let you
on the local Metro system
with it, dummy…..

No, Mister Muscleheaded —

it definitely applies to YOU.
(especially)

Let that be a swallow
lesson to you —

One more incident,
…. and we sic the
Arintharats on you.

Seriously,

I’m not even saying
I like the foul smelling,

even more foul tasting
fruit all that much…..durian

I do see why my
Thai friends love it –
— yep.

Thai food is all about
balancing the five flavors of food,

And Durian has ’em all
packed into one fruit.

But if you’re asking
what it tastes like to me….tatse

Well, imagine a mush
made out of:
grapefruit,
garlic,
onion,
burnt caramel
and kerosene —

then,
amp up the skunky
aroma to eleven —

— and you have thebreakfast
flavor and smell of durian.

It’s obviously an acquired taste,

and I haven’t really
acquired it.

But, I love to buy
strange fruit at Asian
farmers markets —

— and then,
bring ’em home,
and punk my friends.

Sure,
I can get Durian here
if I look hard enough,

But my friends will
suspect I’m up to
something if I
just spring a sudden
taste test on them
out of nowhere……

If I’ve just gotten back
from SOMEWHERE,

on the other hand,

everybody knows I like
to bring weird stuff back —

…. and usually,
they’re willing
to try some of it.

Poor dumb bastards.

Ah well.

I had a special mission
the last time I was over there–rambutan

I have this friend at my gym named Pam,

— and she’s a bit
of a primrose.

Anything that looks even remotely suggestive will
cause her to melt down,
blush all over and freak out.

So, of course,

I brought her back
a kilo of Rambutan.biscuit

These are really
mild tasting
and
wild looking —

— the flavor is a cross,
perhaps, between a Kiwi,
and a Lychee.

( ummmm–

A word in your ear about
bringing exotic food
back from far away lands —more

— the customs boys
don’t really LIKE it. )

Ahem.

Anyhoo….

back to my gym friend.

She takes one look at those
hairy little fruit Rambutan balls,

……… and she almost loses
grip of the treadmill.

So worth it.

Definitely.

!!! HOY !!!

PS: Thanks to Jen at
Blog It or Lose It
for the “Bite Me”  picture!

swell

.