Tag Archives: Travel

10 Years!

Ten years ago today I sat hunched over my laptop in my new dorm room at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University and tapped out a blog post documenting my trip from America, creatively titled Traveling to Japan. Drew’s Journal was born. Ten years!

My version:

I freaked out, went to Japan, built a career in China, international trader, THAT’S WHAT I DID!

And here’s the passport stamp that started it all:

On 2005-09-11 one life ended and another began.
On 2005-09-11 one life ended and another began.

What will the next ten bring?

Stitching for Sanity

I’ve been known to state that during any given week at work I’ll enjoy my job 4 days and on the fifth day want to either throw myself or somebody else off a building.

What I’m saying is from time to time things can be a bit stressful.

Additionally, one of the lesser known aspects of my job is being feted at dinners – and occasionally banquets – all over the world. In America that means you can look forward to a fantastic steak and high-priced cocktails. In Asia that means seafood and whores.

Yep. Whores.

Continue reading Stitching for Sanity

Super geparkt!

During my recent trip to Germany I achieved three major milestones in my life all within two hours:

  • I drove a Mercedes for the first time
  • I drove 200 KPH on the Autobahn
  • I received a sarcastic parking note from an unknown German

The Autobahn was lots of fun. It felt quite strange to be blowing past cars in the slow lane without needing to worry about the po-po. It was also disconcerting to never see a posted speed limit. What a wondrous country!

We went to an outlet mall and I might have parked the Mercedes with a tire or two over the line… but we got there early and I didn’t want to risk dinking a coworker’s car! Well, when we left several hours later there wasn’t an empty spot in the lot and I had the post-it under my wiper. This is way better than a parking ticket though, which is what I thought it was at first glance! I love the competing smilie/frownie faces…

Imagery’s Impact Depends on the Viewer’s Own Perception

A picture conveys one thousand words … we all know this old bit of wisdom. What’s rarely discussed, however, is which one thousand words.

Monday morning’s first rays of sunshine found me queuing bleary-eyed at the departure terminal McDonalds in Hong Kong International Airport. I had been awake since 0400 and looked it. At that moment nothing in the world was more important to my frazzled, sand-in-the-gears neurons than acquiring a cup of hot, black coffee.

After placing my order I had a few moments to contemplate my existence (there was quite a horde of us twilight zombie travelers patronizing the Golden Arches) while my order was prepared. It was then that by chance I gazed downwards directly into the eyes of a darling little girl…

"Oh, what a darling little girl! And look she's smiling like Ronald because of how Ronald McDonald House Charities have improved her life!" (intended reaction)
“Oh, what a darling little girl!
And look she’s smiling like Ronald because of how Ronald McDonald House Charities have improved her life!”
(intended reaction)

Now, I’m not here to cast aspersions on RMHC. It seems they are a legit humanitarian operation. However, I am here to shame whoever designed this particular advertisement…

…because the thousand words that materialized into my consciousness were decidedly not the thousand words the marketing and advertising design team intended!

Let’s look a little more intently at that sweet cherub:

"Dear Buddha I need some black coffee... what's taking them so long? *looks down* OH THAT POOR CHILD!" (my 05:30 sleep-deprived reaction)
“Dear Buddha I need some black coffee… what’s taking them so long?
*looks down*
(my 05:30 sleep-deprived reaction)

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Ronald around these parts. He doesn’t feature so much in the advertising campaigns anymore. McDonalds propaganda in China focuses on happy teenagers and young twenty-somethings having exhuberant, musical meals at sparkling franchises. I guess that’s down in Shanghai? Because it sure as hell isn’t what happens in Shenyang.

In Hong Kong I was subjected to an overly long video about a couple holding their wedding reception at a McDonalds! All I could think about was serving BigMacs for the main course and having a hot apple pie wedding cake (ok, actually that second part sounds pretty awesome). How would you even invite people to an event like that?!?

Anyway, the point is that when I looked into that girl’s face, her appearance definitely did not call to mind Ronald himself, but instead a rather … different … personality.

"Let's put a smile on that face!"
“Let’s put a smile on that face!”

Anatomy of a Scam

Being neither elderly nor born yesterday, I have a reliable internet and email scam detector installed between my ears. And yet, to quote an old soccer coach, “we must give the credit where the credit is due.”

Today I received an awfully compelling scam email:


Let’s break down the points of interest:

  1. I frequently use Booking.com and that email address for business travel.
  2. The email’s visual design matches a standard Booking.com email.
  3. I have a real reservation with Booking.com that starts on August 8th.
  4. The room rate is exorbitant.
  5. You can change or cancel before August 6th (the day the scam was delivered).

One cannot say whether the timing and content was dumb luck on the scammer’s part, or if they somehow got some of my personal data and crafted a targeted email that at first glance looked like a reservation screw-up for my next business trip. Either way, it 100% got my attention…

Ultimately, though, the scam needs a hook – a way to snag the fish – and the method they chose to use is a bit dated:

Don't think I'm going to open that...
Don’t think I’m going to open that…

A zip file attachment? You’re gonna have to do better than that, lads!

Handy Phrases for Travelers in China

The Parents of the Drew will arrive in China on Monday night to lay gifts at the feet of the Exalted One.

To help them better navigate the currents of Modern China, I have prepared a concise list of handy phrases, both English and Chinese. The bearer of this list need only select the appropriate phrase needed given the situation (or desired situation), and point to the matching Chinese equivalent.

For the greater good of all Mankind, I have deigned to post said list here on Drew’s Journal. Behold:

Drew’s Handy Phrases for Travelers in China
Where is the bathroom? 洗手间在哪里?
I need to use an ATM. Is there one nearby? 附件有自动取款机吗?
No ice in my drink, please. 我的不加冰。
This is a medical emergency. 这是急诊。
Ha ha, no. I’m from Canada, eh! 啊哈,不,我是加拿大人!
I need a receipt. 我要发票。
Doggy-bag, please. 您好,我要打包。
Can you change my airplane seat to one in the Emergency Exit row? 我想把我的座位换到紧急出口那,行吗?
Does this taxi have air conditioning? 这辆出租车有空调吗?
I would like a massage, but not the sexy kind. I just want a regular massage. 我想要按摩,不是那种的啊。
I would like a sexy massage.
Is there any place offering that around here?
Could you please make sure the dog I am about to eat is happy before you kill it? They taste better if they are. Perhaps you could tell it a funny joke beforehand? That one about the poodle and the mastiff? 你能保证我要吃的这只狗是安乐死吗?如果是那样的话,味道会更好。或许你可以事先给狗讲个有趣的笑话,比如说像贵妇犬啊,藏獒之类的狗。
My hair is on fire and I require an extinguisher. 我头发着火了,快给我个灭火器!
I swear I’ve never done this before… but I saw you sitting there at the end of the bar and I just, well, I felt something. Like electricity just shooting through my body… what am I saying? Look at me I’m acting ridiculous! Hmm… Hey, tell you what – I’m in town on business for a few days and staying in a really expensive hotel… how about you and a few of your hottest girlfriends come and stay with me for the weekend? Here’s my room key… 我发誓我从未有过这种感觉……但我看到你坐在酒吧那,我就有种不一样的感觉。就像一股电流穿我的体内……嗨,看我在说什么呢?!瞧我我这语无伦次的/瞧我这没出息样/。美女,我想告诉你我因公出差要在这待上几天,我住在一家五星级酒店。你要愿意,和你的闺蜜来我这一起过周末啊?这是我房间钥匙……
In 99% of cases, the State Department won’t grant your child American citizenship unless we were married before he was born, so don’t even try it honey! 百分之九十九的情况下,除非咱俩结婚后有了孩子,否则美国政府不会给他美国国籍的。所以亲爱的,你想都不要想!
China? I love China! 中国吗?我爱中国!
People of China, your attention please.
I seek The Drew
大家请注意,我要找The Drew。

Traveling to Japan

From the moment my flight left Tampa at 7am Saturday morning the 10th, to the moment I stepped off the bus and into the blinding mountaintop sunlight at the entrance to APU, I logged exactly 44hrs of travel. Mind you, it needn’t have taken that long. My travel agent got a little carried away with the flight scheduling and took me on a minor jaunt to Osaka when I could have flown directly to Oita from Tokyo. However, spending the night in Osaka was a mini adventure in itself.

Continue reading Traveling to Japan