Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Police, Brought To You By...

What to make of this juxtaposition, spotted in 2006 in České Budějovice in the new Czech Republic?

A quick history lesson might help sort things out.

The brewing tradition in České Budějovice dates back to the 13th Century when the king, sick of having to drink wine coolers whenever he came to town, granted the town the right to start brewing beer. (Some historians also believe that the king, thirsty as hell, told the people to hurry the f--- up.)

Unfortunately for the people of České Budějovice they had no idea how to brew decent beer. Being cursed at wasn't helping either. Finally they went to their Braumeister neighbors in Germany for some help. The Germans, already fanatically nationalistic, said "Ja, das geht" but then later demanded that the beer be marketed according to the German name for České Budějovice, which is Budweis. And like a sausage from Frankfurt came to be known as a frankfurter, as another sausage from Wien (aka Vienna) came to be known as a Wiener, and as JFK came to be known as a jelly doughnut (a 'Berliner' in German), this beer from České Budějovice became known, in 1785, as Budweiser.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Crazytown , Japan

This is Shimamaki (pop. 4,000), a fishing village on the southwestern coast of Hokkaido, Japan.

Specifcally, this is outside the town's general store. I'm the tall guy in the back.

Shimamaki was having its annual summer festival when I rolled into town on my bicycle.

Things got pretty crazy for a small fishing village.

Fortunately there was a policeman guy on duty.

Unfortunately he was downing Sapporo beers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Armed & Friendly

Who Says The Royal Thai Soldiers Are No Fun?

You don't get this when you go to the Hard Rock Cafe.

In the small southeastern Thai town of Trat I did what I always do. I found a room, locked up my bike, showered and headed out to grab some dinner somewhere the locals congregate.

I didn't seek these guys out. They came and sat at my table. They chatted me up - in Thai, I guess. They ordered food. We ate. Then the guy in the white/tan camo gave me his gun.

Notice that the magazine is locked in place. Notice also where he has his hand very firmly in place.

These guys were cool, but they weren't stupid.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On the Road in Malaysia

3 Kids & Some Chicken

The road from Kuala Lumpur Airport to the coast is not a straight line so much as a flippin three-quarter circle.

Somewhere between Sepang and Sungai Pelek I got off my bike at this roadside stand run by these three electric teenagers. They spoke no English. I didn't even know what people spoke in Malaysia. But ordering five sticks of grilled chicken chunks doesn't take much more than a smile and a couple of gestures.

They went heavy on the spicy sauce for me. Then they started telling me "Three! Three!" This after negotiating a lower price in whatever funny money I was carrying on this, my first day in this new and, so far, perplexing country.

I could lie and say I'm too nice a guy to argue but really, I was just too tired. I dipped into my wallet for a couple of bills. They raised the decibel level. I looked up at their smiles.

And it hit me.

"Free," they were telling me. Free.

The rest of the ride to the coast, though in the dark, was a breeze.