Wednesday, October 31, 2007


sorry to everyone who is remotely interested in my life and reads my blog from time to time. i know i have been bad lately. it is nearly november and i have yet to make a post about my time since moving here. i promise one will be coming soon. for now, here is an update.

I am moving into my new villa this weekend after a month and a half of shifty realtors, strange laws, u-turns and spinney's parking lots. the place is in umm sequeim 2, near the burj al arab, close to the beach with a shared pool and gym. it is really big with 5 bedrooms. next steps are to find some roommates, buy furniture and then relax a little. it will be one of 20 things to cross off my list before i can feel like i live here. other things still pending are: visa, bank account, canadian taxes, fix my phone, set up internet, get a car, etc.

on the work front, i have just moved into my new digs at business bay, which is the prime real estate in dubai. it is right below the burj dubai, the world's tallest tower. my office will have a basketball court, jam space, games room, indoor garden, and more. when it is finished being constructed i'll make a video tour or something. as far as work goes, i like my job. it is fun and the people are young and friendly. my clients are ok too. i'm just still trying to sort myself out here and make myself as useful as i can.

recently i've done lots of fun things. been to numerous house parties, performed a show with my new band, beach parties, gone camping, clubbing, fine dining, swimming, drinking... i've met lots of people too. it's really easy here because everyone is transient. people are outgoing but sometimes fake. you have to weed out the fake ones. basically i just go through my phone list once a week and delete any names that i don't remember who they are. there were 12 last week to give you an idea of how easy it is to meet people here. the two guys i am going to live with are awesome too and i hope that our new roommates will be as cool.

anyway, that's good for now i hope. later.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

syria is great

welcome to damascus, an enigmatic metropolis which has been the centre of human civilization for 10 thousand years. every major asian and european empire has left its stamp on this city, layering islamic, christian and jewish religions over an arabic base with splashes of greek, roman and mediterranean colours. it is a dirty, vivacious, calamitous place with endless snaking alleyways, a labyrinth of wonderful markets, sensational food, good nightlife and friendly people.

this is not a dangerous city (except maybe if jaywalking). people here are too busy surviving, learning skills that are normally imported in other places, because of global boycotts and devalued currency. young boys with axle grease smeared across their cheeks sit watching their fathers reassemble engines or cobble shoes on the sidewalk or bake pita in ancient stone ovens. when i asked why the syrians don't ask the government to create recycling programs to clean up the streets or build on a potentially great tourism industry the answer i always received was, 'we are too busy to worry about anything more than making enough in a day to feed our families.'

aleppo is syria's second biggest city and maybe even older than damascus. the streets there are narrow cobblestone paths through time. there is a great old fort in the middle of the city, dry dusty souks and great cafes. i think i ate something that didn't agree with me though and was sick for at least 5 days after. i don't blame you though aleppo... i will always love you...

latakkia is something else. situated on the thin strip of beach along syria's mediterranean coastline, latakkia is aleppo's bohemian cousin. beautiful beaches, crazy drivers, great food and gorgeous sunsets.

there is too much to say about syria. i think everyone should go there and get over their fears of all this american-propagated anti-terror axis of evil horse shit. rove is gone, cheney is skeletor and bush can't be trusted to butter your toast properly. don't believe them... believe me. syrians are nice, syria is great and children don't throw bombs at you.

things of note:
  • number one ultimate disco cab ride in aleppo. all the cabbies decorate their cars and this guy could drive, narrowly missing children on bikes, donkeys, orthodox nuns crossing the street while blasting the hottest lebanese dance tracks.
  • flying cockroach hunting in latakkia.
  • crazy bus driver who smoked, talked on his phone, played with the vcr and chucked vhs cassettes out the window while driving max speed and never inside the lines.
  • hairy syrian men scrubbing me down in a thousand year-old bath house in old damascus.
  • a burgeoning nightlife in damascus. clubs are catching on.
  • three young soldiers having fun, wrestling with an AK-47 in the middle of the sidewalk while we walked by. i thought i was going to get shot!
  • sheesha everywhere at anytime for any occasion.
  • scrubbing diab's house in aleppo.
  • endless cliff face and night lights along the latakkian coast.
  • the last rays of a setting sun glinting on the silver crescents of mosque spires over a shadowy damascus.
here are pics.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


hello everyone. sorry i've been a bit slow to update this since i came to syria. the internet is mostly dial up and there are rolling blackouts everyday. I will upload the pics when i get back to the uae but i will give you some highlights now.

damascus is fantastic! i love this city. it is dirty and crowded but the city is vibrant and historic. on our first night here we went to a club (clubs are a very new concept her) and had a lot of fun. went to the souks (markets) in old damascus and it is a magical, historic area. you can't help but feel like you went back in time. the people drive like maniacs but it can be fun and dangerous. syrians, having been isolated by western and even middle eastern powers, have little access to imports and so are very resourceful. it is not strange to see a 1950 mercedes benz or big chevys driving around. the weather here is fantastic. very similar to toronto i think. cool evenings and hot in the sun (unlike the uae when i left which was 49 degrees). we took a day trip to this famous church (yes there are plenty of catholics in syria) near this large mountain with a huge fissure in it and then went for one of the top 5 best meals i've ever had on top of a mountain. the food is by far the best thing about this place. i've been trying to take pics of all the meals. i can't tell you the names of everything we ate but it is all so fresh and tasty.

just got back from aleppo yesterday, which is another large gorgeous city. the streets are all winding and the buildings are a thousand years old. we saw an old fort in the middle of the city and sat in nice cafes relaxing and watching people go by. we are going to latakkia tomorrow, which is on the mediterranean, and will do some sight seeing around there.

anyway, the moral of my post is that, people shouldn't believe what they hear in the news about a certain place. syria is not unsafe, it is very friendly, cheap, beautiful, modern and fun. so visit. j

Sunday, July 29, 2007

land of sand and glass

so i've been in the uae for almost two weeks. i was originally planning on being in syria at this time but i opted to stay and fly to syria the same time as ayham. this allows me more time to try and arrange interviews as well as a chance to do some more fun things in the area. first off, let me explain a bit about what i have learned from my time here.

the uae is not just dubai, though that city is definitely the busiest and craziest. i've been staying mostly in abu dhabi, which is the capital city and the emirate with all the oil. both are growing quickly, however, the atmosphere in dubai is a little maniacal in that there is an obsession to build and build so that the culture of that place is rooted in the fact that it is desperately looking for a culture. there are gleaming shopping centres, giant hotels, skyscrapers everywhere but the sense is that it is a city in progress. there are more buildings with cranes on them than ones completed, the road systems are a spaghetti plate of roundabouts and overpasses that are seriously obstructed by construction to the point where even the best vehicle gps systems are useless. the night life in dubai is great but expensive, as it is noticeably more liberal in terms of dress and attitude. in abu dhabi, however, there is plenty of construction and growth, however, it seems more planned, more controlled. i suppose it is because there is always the reassurance of oil money here, whereas, like a younger child growing in his older sibling's shadow, dubai seems in a rush to make a name for itself, often stumbling but ultimately growing into an eccentric billionaire. there are other emirates as well. on the other side of dubai is sharjah, where men can't wear shorts and sheesha is forbidden. each has their own laws, speed limits and i find it a bit confusing.

anyway, i've been eating really well here. plenty of middle eastern places as well as western fair. there are also many great places to sit and chat, smoke sheesha and drink tea.
last night ayham arranged for us to go on a desert safari. it was great. we drove across giant sand dunes through the desert to a more touristy spot where we ate, watched a belly dancer and basically let our stomachs settle from the turbulent ride. the best part was by far the dunes. there is so much sand. an ocean of it really. i don't know how it got there but it is very impressive. four wheel drive jeeps were zipping tourists all over the place, kicking up sand and sliding down steep slopes. i'm surprised that no one gets into accidents. i got some good pics though so check them out.

hope everyone is doing well wherever they are.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

oman...oh man!

so i arrived in the middle east. so far it has been pretty amazing. there has been some good luck and some bad luck but ultimately things have turned out great.

despite some confusion and mishaps in the uae (flat tires, delays, cats in the engine), ayham, diab and i managed to cross the border into oman, a small gulf country made up mostly of sand, rock and water. i didn't know this, though i guess it was a major news story over here, but oman took the brunt of a major hurricane a month ago and much of the country's infrastructure was destroyed along the coast. that being said, our plan was to do some off-roading along the coast and camp out along the many beaches. none of us knew where we were going but we managed to reach the city of muscat, oman's capital and from there drove into the mountains into a fairly secluded area and a gorgeous beach where we camped the first night. it was in this area that we first realized the destruction caused by the storm. a whole village by the beach was pulverized, their date palm plantations uprooted and roads demolished. sufficed to say, there were no tourists and hardly any locals around so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. it was gorgeous. we built a big fire and smoked sheesha all night long.

One thing that happened that was truly amazing was we went for a swim at night and were terrified to see that the waves were glowing in the dark. at first we thought it was the moon but there was only a small crescent moon. we went into the water and every step we took, the moving water (more specifically small particles in the water) glowed an eerie green light. we began splashing around, noticing that the algae, plankton, shrimp or whatever they were somehow absorbed the kinetic energy. when we splashed each other, the particles would remain glowing on our skin for two or three seconds. it was insane. even though it was pitch black, we could see each other swimming under water, glowing like mermaids or something. i don't care if you don't believe me because we all witnessed it. at one point i put my foot down and something bit me and i screamed like a girl, running towards shore, glowing water splashing all around me. it was all a little too freaky. the rest of the night we spent sitting on the shore watching the waves materialize out on the water, rippling like the scales of silver fish across the expanse of beach as the water ran over our legs, receding to leave the particles glowing on us like LEDs. eventually we went to bed.

in the morning, i felt sick and ended up pucking florescent yellow until i produced a small white worm with a black head from my stomach. i don't know where itcame from but it was obviously not meshing with my body's chemistry because when it was out i felt great. we explored the beach for a bit and then headed out into some mountainous areas to find an oases where we could sit in the waterfalls. unfortunately, along the way we witnessed more of the hurricane's destruction. the mountain roads were so badly destroyed by landslides and areas where large flash floods ripped away the roads we couldn't proceed to much of the areas we wanted to go on our second day. we spent the whole day driving, getting lost at detours where the bridges were washed out until finally finding a place to eat.

there was one town that was literally abandoned. the only inhabitants were goats, sitting in window sills and on door steps. it was like all the villagers were turned into goats by the storm. i think i might write a short story about it. anyway, we decided to turn around and head back to muscat and stay in a hotel. we went for some drinks at the intercontinental there (you can only get alcohol in hotels) and played darts and pool and just relaxed. we made it home the next day, despite some hassles at the border. ultimately it was a fun trip. i want to go back to that beach from the first night though. that place was magic. here are some pics.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

off again

this is sort of like timelapse photography except that there is little correlation between shots. ultimately, these pics are just glimpses of my life the last couple months. the first is canada day in toronto. the second my pally andrew and his gorgeous daughter. my cousin sean and i at a bar after seeing kid koala play. finally, a pic of the view from my mom's front yard in the beach. i'm messing with it to see how i could use it for some flyers or somethign. anyway, tomorrow i leave for the uae, oman and syria. i'm pretty excited but not nearly as much as i would expect. i guess it will hit me when i get there and i see my buddies ayham and diab. i'm going to try and keep this blog going like i did in asia. hopefully you will all be able to keep up with me in my travels. i will be glad to have the company. good luck, peace, love, happiness and all that... j

Monday, April 23, 2007

Niagara falls

so i know that it's been a while since i updated this. i've been busy. eat it! haha, just joking. but really, the things that have been going on in my life since i've been travelling seem unworthy of my blogging. regardless, i figure you deserve to be updated on my life and i need to do this basically so i can remember the stuff i did when i am old and senile.

so epa, the guy who owned the bar i frequented in hong kong, was in toronto visiting tai. we decided to take a trip to the casino in niagara falls and to see the falls and all that jazz. i've seen it before but not in winter. it was kinda cool seeing all the ice built up around the chutes. they still had the lights going so it was a neat effect. also i won about $120 at the casino. fun times. here are some pics for you.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

white trash party

a buddy of frenchie's from his work threw himself one hell of a white trash party for his birthday. we went over to carl's place to shotgun some beers from the can and then headed over to labyrinth for the festivities. i might have gone overboard a bit in trying to maintain a good 'white trash' resemblance because i ended up kinda sick at the end of the night. lets just say that ketchup chips and kraft dinner don't mix with beer and tequila. i went for the nascar/wigger white trash. but check out the pics to see the different variations on the idea. the pics are hilarious.