Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Interesting Life and Honoring Our Veterans

Paul Loong
I came across an interesting documentary about Paul Yoong on television. And detailing his life on this blog will take a long time. But long story short is Paul was a POW in Japan during WWII. When he was freed by US forces he moved to the States and started a journey towards citizenship.

Back then it was not easy for a Chinese or Asian decent to get a citizenship and the options were few. One option was to join the Merchant Marines and serve for 5 years. So he did. After those 5 years he was denied citizenship and was threatened with deportation.

Then the Korean War rolled around and he joined the US Army because that was another way to earn US citizenship. When the war was over he was honorably discharged and yet again denied citizenship. Screwed up right? He didn't slouch through the Korean war. He was a gunner in a tank battalion. He was even a tank commander for a day.

Finally as a last resort he sought help from a politician who realized Paul Loong deserves to be a citizen of the United States. But his extraordinary life story did not end there. He went to Italy and studied to be a doctor among younger med students. He even learned to speak Italian. When he earned his degree he came back and worked at a hospital for Veterans.

Asian-American Vets at Kim Lau Square
He didn't take advantage of his citizenship. He really earned it. And he loves the United States and what it stands for. Have you heard of anyone who joined the army in another country to earn a citizenship? Only in the USA. And his isn't the only story.

In NYC Chinatown every year during Memorial Day there is a small gathering of Chinese Veterans who saw active duty in the US merchant marines and US military service. Most served to earn the right to be a US citizen.

And each of them have their own stories of personal struggles in the US.

And every year I pay a visit at the Kim Lau Square, named after another brave Chinese-American who served in the US Air Force as a bomber and died.

It's a small ceremony where you can go honor Veterans of Asian decent. Sadly, every year I can see that the numbers of older Veterans is dwindling. And I'm sure most have similar stories like Paul Loong.

While I honor all serve in the military, having met with and knowing a handful of Asian-American WWII through Vietnam Vets really hits home.

A well deserved memorial for all Asian-American Vets

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nasty, Gross and Weird...

I just came across this article http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/world/asia/thailand-fetuses-black-magic/index.html and not a whole lot of things really surprises me about Thailand but this one takes the cake.

As an Asian myself, I know we do a lot of weird things. The guy is Asian too from Taiwan but born in England and he's young, just 28 years old. But personally, I don't think he believes in black magic. Probably just a mule who really needs the money and would do anything, including something as dumb as this to make some quick  cash.

Makes you wonder when all this nonsense is going to stop.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Celebrating Mom's Day with a 5lb. Lobster

So today is Mom's day. So as a family we are heading out to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner tonight.

My uncle owns a seafood market and he generously provided us with a 5lb. Maine lobster.

Right now we're keeping the big fella at the restaurant's little aquarium so we don't have to lug it around. Since the aquarium is right by the store front a lot of people stop by and snap pictures.

The lobster's claw is massive, about the size of my hand and wider. Normally markets will strap a thick rubber band around the claws so people's fingers won't get caught in it. It's also to keep other lobsters in the aquarium safe from fighting.

But guess what, they don't make big rubber bands for a lobster claw that big. Luckily the lobster is slow out of the water so the guys who delivered it to the restaurant managed to stick it into the tank without a hitch. I can imagine the damage that huge claw can do.

The chefs will be preparing our big fella with scallions, ginger, some egg, a little bit of  fermented black beans and some ground pork. And we'll be ordering other favorite dishes too. It'll be awesome as always. Happy Mom's Day!

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's with all the questions about Bangkok's red light districts?

Nana Plaza has a bunch of go go bars inside.
Not quite sure what's happening but every since a few weeks ago I started receiving a lot of emails and comments with questions about Bangkok's go go bars, massage parlors and where and how much to pay for Thai prostitutes.

I'm no expert on Bangkok's nightlife. And I only visit the red light districts when my business clients or friends are in town. That's pretty much it and they know more about the naughty side of Bangkok more than me because they've done all the research before arriving.  So I don't have any extra information or the 'inside track' as one email stated.

I haven't made a reply at all simply because I figured if I answered one email or comment I'll be getting more and more follow up questions. Besides, there is so much information about that stuff circulating around on the inter-web. So believe me I won't be doing anyone a favor.

Though I can understand people who search for info about go go bars and massage parlors in Bangkok probably wants up to date information. You know, like a reporter on the ground.

Well  I'm back home in NYC now and won't be back in the land of smiles until September so not much I can do from here. And even if I had the time to I wouldn't go out of my way to find answers for complete strangers

And even if I was back I might not be able to hang out with my friends and business clients at the red light districts because my fiance will castrate me. A Thai woman scorned is no joke.

Anyways as I said there are a bunch of websites with guides about Bangkok's nightlife and a I put up a few links on a post I made last year http://thewayfaringsoul.blogspot.com/2011/06/bangkoks-naughty-red-light-districts.html.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Cool Weekend in NYC

Sometimes I actually forget how cool NYC really is. I know that sounds dumb and all. After all I've been blogging about staying in Bangkok the majority of the year. Well, it's true. I can't explain it. Nor will I try. It is what it is and it is how I feel.

I went to see a new movie on Saturday called 'Safe' with Jason Stratham. Without doing a brief movie review, all I have to say is it's awesome. The story line was on point and it doesn't matter which movie star is in the movie if the story is stupid it will suck.

Afterwards I went to my favorite fast food restaurant, Chipotle Mexican Grill. I've been purchasing CMG stocks for a year and it's been good to me. Some food businesses just have that special something. Like Starbucks, another company I purchased stocks in. They sell what seems to be overpriced food but they sell and make money. Lots of it too.

Well, considering that CMG's food line consists of organic produce it's easy to see why they can justify charging the price they charge.

The pic on the left is a bowl with brown rice, pinto beans, shredded pork, cheese, sour cream and lettuce. All organic.

The price including a 12 ounce cup for soda came out to $11 bucks. There were so many customers inside and it's a weekend too. Can you imagine the money they make on a weekday on lunch crowds?

So that's one of the reasons why I purchased their stocks. Because they've connected really well with their customers the same way Starbucks has. But most importantly what ever they sell in CMG really tastes good and is better for your health.

Afterwards I took a walk around the neighborhood. And yeah there are plenty of changes in the streets of NYC. As I mentioned last time a lot of streets where vehicle traffic once held reign has now given away to public spaces.

Union Square

23rd and 5th Ave.

A lot of benches in many places now where anyone can sit down and enjoy their lunch. I can imagine the seats filled with office workers in the afternoon on lunch break.

And yesterday I walked around the South Seaport area where I live. It's one of my favorite spots to just sit down, think and reflect. I've been going there ever since I was a teen. I remember a few times when I cut school it's the place to hang and pass the day.

I have fond memories of the area, especially with my dad. We used to walk there a lot when I was a kid. He would do some stretches and I'd watch the freighters and Circle Line boats pass by. And I would just stare at the Brooklyn Bridge too and even when I was just a kid I knew that it was old.

After that we would walk all the way up to FDR. Sometimes we would race and of course he'd let me win. My dad, he was a great guy in every way.

Anyways, just like most of NYC the streets around Seaport is also experiencing a transformation for the better. More bicycle lanes. More benches by the East River where folks can walk their dogs.

So to me, NYC is a good place to live. It has its down sides and up sides. Just like Bangkok. And what place doesn't?

And I do feel very lucky that I get a chance to spend time in both cities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Something No Guy Wants to Admit...

It got cold all of a sudden in NYC. So I've been indoors for the past few days. Which is a good thing because I've always wanted to organize my pictures. Ever so often I'll come across something that just makes me crack up. 'Mister Minute' in all probable intentions is just an innocent little business. Talk about lost in translation. I took the picture while wandering around Tokyo, a few days right before the March 2011 earthquake.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring is here in NYC...

Of all the months I enjoy April the most in NYC. The weather is warmer and the women are wearing less =), thank god my fiance doesn't read my crap. And this is my usual routine. Leave Thailand in April to escape the dreaded heat and humidity and head to NYC for the cooler weather, visit family and friends, an annual visit to the cemetery, and of course to file my stupid taxes which are due tomorrow.

Total cost $7 bucks. So good it makes my tax bills melt away.
So I've been walking around the city, particularly my part of the neighborhood and around SOHO. And what I've been seeing looks good. There are more people walking around and about. Lots of tourists are around and everywhere I'm going I can hear different accents. Sure the weather has a lot to do with more people outside but I've noticed that particular areas in NYC that I go to avoid crowded streets are now crowded too. Many new businesses have opened up and around SOHO and seem to be making money.

Even my favorite pizza haunt I religiously visit three times a month seemed busy which is unusual for a Sunday.

Typically around my area, which is near the financial district, the weekends are quiet, because folks are off. But with the new 9/11 memorial and museum there are lots of tourists coming in and having a look see. And after all those years of red tape and squabbling over how the new Freedom Tower should be designed, well progress is finally being made. And it looks great! Can't wait for it to open up!

The new Freedom Tower by WTC ground zero
NYC is changing fast. There's no doubt about it. And the city is going greener too. Loads of bike lanes are being built and chunks of once congested roadways are now public spaces with chairs and tables to sit, eat and chill out on. I even saw a show where a river by Yonkers is being dug up to create another park. The city is definitely benefiting from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and all of his antics.

No, it's not a picture of a 7-Eleven in Bangkok. It's a 7-Eleven on Lafayette Street, right by Canal Street, so in Chinatown. It's not the first and as I recall there are maybe a total of 3 or 4 others in Manhattan only, built within the last 5 years. But I was totally surprised to see that one. What's next, a Sizzler?  Even though 7-Elevens and Sizzlers are US based it's shocking to see so few in the States compared to Asia.

On the Brooklyn Bridge
When the weather is just right, walking around NYC is a great experience. I've also been visiting friends along the way too. Mostly folks I've gone to school with and have known for a quarter of my life. Many of them have kids now and some are expecting. Personally I love to have kids too and it would be great to go traveling around with a little guy or gal.