Cool trailer for a documentary on ultimate in Chennai, India…and Fresh Off the Boat!

I had heard about this on Twitter, but only today did I watch the trailer since so many of my friends put in on their Facebook. My friend Alex Steele from Vassar actually played with these kids and helped out coaching them when he lived in India, which makes it extra cool. It does look pretty awesome, and combined with the premaire of Fresh Off the Boat, the adaptation of Eddie Huang’s recent memoir of his Asian-American immigrant experience, I think I’m losing a good deal of the mystery that surrounds my life. But maybe once in awhile it’s nice to be less impenetrable. Below are some links to interviews with, pieces about, and an essay written by Eddie Huang. I essentially agree with the first NYTimes article and the Chinkstranaunt himself…i.e. yes this is a bastardized and white-washed version of his book, but hopefully it will whet the mainstream’s appetite enough for following seasons/episodes to be more daring. I am, however, a little afraid that he’ll give away our secrets/mystique too much…but I think that’s probably an unwarranted fear. In any case, the show is premiering tonight at 8:30 PM on ABC.

http://www.nytimes.com/…/magazine/eddie-huang-against-the-w…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…/meet-eddie-huang-the-memoi…/

“175 Grams” | Sundance Short Film Challenge from Sundance Institute on Vimeo.

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Clamstache Funtimes 2014

This was the most funnest time I had playing ultimate in awhile. Well I guess Potlatch was pretty tight (and Wildwood wasn’t half-bad this year), but this was far cheaper and generally doper. Both were great combination of good ultimate, fun tournament, catching up with old friends, and making new friendz. Seattle was marginally more scenic, though I must say Clambake has got the dancing on lock. Plus I got to feel super useful helping to set up the champagne toast/announcement (and the DJ) at the partay. Wohoo.

Also we fucking won Clambake. So there’s also that.

To reiterate: I love ultimate the sport and ultimate the lifestylez…and I just might have to go into Emergency Medicine instead of Unspecified Surgical Specialty because of that. And I’m glad that even if/when I don’t have time to play on a “real” club team with practices and what not, I have hopefully reached a level where I can pick-up with decent “fun” teams for awesome times (though I think both of my Potlatch and Clambake team would’ve handily beat my club team). Given the whole med school thing, it’s been a surprisingly good year of ultimate for me; hitting up 4 tournaments including regionals with my open club team, plus Wildwood, Potlatch, Clambake…and Huck for Red October (Vassar alumni tournament) yet to come. My summer league team blew chunks, and despite being much cooler overall, my fall league team kinda sucks too. But I guess you can’t win them all eh? Or ever, if you’re Ironside (too soon? Good game Piers?).

Anywho, without further ado, I present to you the men, women, and children of the 2014 Clambake Mixed Champions, Hidden Stache (with nifty Picasa filters):

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I am officially giving up on finishing my travelogue…

…it’s been more than a year, it’s just not going to happen. Shit. Sorry. The pictures are on Google though I think. And maybe I’ll mention one or two things sometime…with the inevitable time warped perspectives….

Oh and plus I went to the west coast/London/Oxford/Italy at the end of the summer, so there’s all that backlogue too.

But stay tuned for a possible fall/beginning of 2nd year of med school update…?

 

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Madaba, Kerak, Wadi Dana, and Shoubak/Montreal

All of these things officially happened more than a year ago… Can’t say I’ve been busy up to my ears all of this time, but it certainly takes a certain threshold of leisure/free time/relaxation/guilt to work my way through one of these posts. And for some reason I’m not quite ready to just call it quits and just forget about this whole chronicle. The post, inevitably (hopefully?) will become more and more condensed as more and more details slip from my mind…

Anyways, after I woke up and headed out from the Black Ibis Inn I hit up the premier attraction of Madaba: the extremely detailed mosaic map of the Middle East as seen in 542 AD. The map itself was pretty cool, with pictorial depiction of the major cities and the major buildings within them. But what was even more interesting were the school students who cycled in to say their morning prayers. I guess the church is now a part of a Catholic/Orthodox school of some sort. One does not think of Jordan as having a significant Christian population, but it certainly did when it was part of the Byzantine Empire and it was interesting to see that some of that legacy still endures.

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After spending some time reflecting in the church I hopped into my car and headed south down the King’s Highway. First stop: Karak…a crusader citadel of Kingdom of Heaven fame (which I think is an underrated movie, but maybe that’s just because I personally find that time period extremely interesting and EVA GREEN). But before I get there I had about 100 KM of Jordanian highland to cover and the breadth of Wadi Mujib to traverse.  I had spent the previous morning walking up natural outlet of this massive valley, but I was not ready for the scale of the actual thing:

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After Karak, it was a couple of more hours drive south to Dana…and a supposed 5-6 hrs hike down to the lodge. Supposedly the sane route would be to drive to the village of Mansour at the bottom of the east-west valley and right off the Dead Sea Highway and have one of the Beduoin pick you up in their pickup truck. What I had planned to do was a 9 mile or so mostly downhill hike in the desert/scrub. Oh, and back out the next day. But hey, it was free eh? I arrived around 2 PM….and had to hustle (given the 5-6 hrs estimate I was given and my lack of headlamp) down the valley. In the process I neglected to bring enough water…of course. Here is the view down from the head of the valley, I was staying somewhere beyond the last hill you can see and around the corner.

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And this was what it looked like down on the valley floor. It did eventually get more shady but the sand was pretty annoying to hike on even carrying only my little summit pack. Oh, and I tied one of my Vassar ultimate jerseys to my bag and lost it somewhere on the way…causing me to backtrack and waste ~1hr searching for it to no avail. There weren’t many other people in the valley in the middle of the day, though I did come upon a couple of donkeys and a shepherd boy with his flock and at least a couple of tourists.

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Eventually I reached my destination…after about 4 hrs of hiking and a series of false hopes. They really should give some mileage information or a better map… It was quite a walk though, the vegetation changed pretty drastically as the valley closed in and the humidity raised. At one point I was walking through some legit riparian vegetation in/around a streambed. There were even insects. Passing through a stretch of Beduoin encampment filled with livestocks, dogs, and scattered tents where the employee and ancillary staff of the “ecolodge” lived I come upon my destination: the Feynan Eco-lodge.

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It’s a rather strange place. Cool in concept, but slightly awkward/not too awesome as literally the only guest staying there that particular night. I did enjoy running around the surrounding hills pretending that I was on the moon though. Amazing how much better I felt after chugging some water and not having to worry about getting stuck in the desert after dark. In hindsight, working my way through the valley under moonlight probably wouldn’t have been all that bad.

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Seeing as the place is an ecolodge…there wasn’t any electricity or A/C. Or a fan really. The rooms took awhile to cool down from the daytime heat so I spent the beginning of my night napping under the stars on the roof before stumbling down to my bed sometime in the early morning. Relaxing on the roof with some tea was a pretty peaceful experience, though I suppose a campfire, companions, and some s’mores wouldn’t have hurt. All in all it was quite an unique experience. Budgeting a little more time to the whole thing would’ve been smart, but there was simply too many things to see.

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The next morning I took my breakfast quickly and hoofed my ass back up and out the valley. It was a bit more bearable in the relative morning coolness…but the gain in elevation was not appreciated. Regardless, I was outta there and reunited with my trusty Nissan by mid morning and on my way south again to Petra via Shoubak (another crusader castle).

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Arriving at Petra in the mid-afternoon, I wandered around a bit before having dinner at the hotel and turning in early in preparation for an early start the next day. This was what my pack looked like after the couple of days in the desert (note the salty shoulder straps):

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Israel, as seen from Jordan

After breakfast at the deserted eco-lodge I retraced my steps and climbed away from the Dead Sea basin and up to the highlands towards an official viewpoint/informational museum. It was a pretty modern conservation center/office complex that had quite a few interesting displays on the geology and ecology of the area. Continuing with the trend, I was the only one there.

Looking west-ish from the Jordanian highlands over the Dead Sea towards Israel:

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After leaving the viewpoint I head up towards the town of Madaba, which was an ancient Christian settlement and a famous center for mosaics. Since I had started my day so early (in order to avoid traffic leaving Amman and to try and beat the heat) it wasn’t even lunchtime by the time I got to Madaba. After cruising through town and trying to find something to eat I gave up and continued out towards Mt. Nebo.

Looking northwest towards the Jordan River/Israeli border from Mt. Nebo, supposedly where Moses first saw The Promised Land:

They were doing some renovations when I was there, so there wasn’t much to look at other than the view. But there are a couple of churches being restored and a dusty little museum. Escaping just before a busload of students arrived, I drove down the road a bit and had a nice lunch before heading back into town to scope out my accommodation.

Lunch…$10?

The Black Ibis Inn took quite some scoping to locate, but it was quite excellent for something like $17 per night. It being summer, the owner’s sister were back from ‘merica with her kid so I was able to have a pretty extensive conversation with someone who grew up in the area. After sorting out the wifi and downloading Yeezus to my phone I went ahead and took a nice long nap in my A/C’d room. After I got up I followed LP’s recommendation to one of the best restaurants I went to in my travels. It was located in the picturesque courtyard of a historical mansion, complete with tastefully arranged flora and lanterns. I think during the day the house also serves as a museum. I couldn’t quite decide what to make of the cluster of MP5 toting professional looking soldiers loitering outside of the church I passed, but I settled on believing that they were there to protect tourists. This being almost a year ago, I can’t recall what I ate exactly, but I do remember the variety of puffy Arab bread to be quite outstanding. I also had some chicken hearts…and now that I found some pictures on Google+…also some delicious onion/lamb/pine nuts stew thing served in an Arabic tortilla bowl. And of course tabouleh. All told it couldn’t have been more than $30 or so.

After dinner I took a nice amble back to my hotel, stopping on the way in a mosaic workshop attached/affiliated to one of the churches in town. I chatted with the owner/artist for awhile and admired some of the ridiculously detailed and massive works he had in the upstairs gallery before settling on a few more manageable ones for souvenir/gifts. The man has been making mosaics for all 50 years or so of his adult life and is currently training his nephew to do the same. He also let me take a peek at the original Roman-era mosaics in the attached church. After picking up my hefty souvenirs I loaded up on some roasted nuts on my way back and then called it a night.

 

 

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