Cute & Kawaii / ,

Best Pix from Bangalore’s First Ever ComicCon

The blog has been ill-attended these last few weeks, with the move to India. Several grand projects are already underway here, but we’ll have to keep those hush-hush for the time being. But in the meantime, we did manage to escape the craziness of the city for Bangalore’s First EVER Comic Con this weekend!

It was tiny — the space was the size of a high school basketball court — but it was slammed with fans. And a few of them even thought to dress up.

Plenty more pix, after the jump!

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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

Rajnikanth the Superstar

I couldn’t resist adding a second clip from Adhisaya Piravi, Rajnikanth’s 1990 epic.

“Whatever you hear,” says the gangster to his bodyguards, “screams, punches, cries for help… I don’t want you to turn around.”

Then Rajini the Superstar just happens to drive by.

Such bizarre new wave editing. And what a hero.

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Extraordinary Eats / ,

Beijing’s Single Most Horrific Meal

The Beijing Penis Restaurant, officially known as Guolizhuang, doesn’t just serve cock. You can get absolutely anything there.

Stewed Deer Face. Sheep foetus in brown garlic sauce. Peacock claws. It’s like a Guangzhouren’s wet dream.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 13 Comments
Strange Tourism / ,

Peking Opera Dreams

I’ve long dreamed of full Peking Opera costume and makeup. After five hours and far too much money, it finally became a reality.

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Historical Wonders / , , ,

You Won’t Believe These Bizarre North Korean Stamps

On my way out of Deshengmen Tower — where you’ll find a strange collection of ramshackle museums crammed in together — I noticed the most remarkable thing for sale: old North Korean stamps, celebrating European regal excess!

There was the Versailles stamp, which reeks of excessive opulence…

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Strange Tourism

Adventures in Cockfighting

Most people come to Bali to Eat, Pray, Love. That’s not what I came for.

I was in Ubud, a town of foreign divorcees. They meditate in temples, crowd organic spas, and queue up teary-eyed outside the toothless medicine man’s home. It’s a town of romantic desperation.

Ironically, it’s also gagging with cock. The art museum has a room of dongs, gift shops sell boner-shaped bottle openers, and our classy hotel — full of erectile gongs and circumcised bathroom locks — resembles a Jack Shamama film.

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Chinglish, Extraordinary Eats / ,

We Ate Beijing Enemas, So That You Didn’t Need To

“Why not start today with a plate of freshly-fried old enema,” I thought. It was bright, garish, and advertised on the wall. “It must be good.”

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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Chinglish, Events, Extraordinary Eats / ,

On Eating a Steaming Hot Bowl of Sweet AIDS Soup

“I’ll have the AIDS soup,” I said.

It wasn’t officially called AIDS soup. Not now. Shortly after I’d blogged about their deviant menus, the restaurant had crossed out every appearance of the word “AIDS” with a sharpie. Now it was simply “Strong Tibetan Sheep Placenta Nourishing Soup [XXXX].”

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Offbeat Museums / ,

Rediscovering Beijing: The Ancient Observatory

The author of the the 1897 guide book charts the Astronomical Observatory as one of the must-sees of Old Peking. It’s his first stop on any three-day tour.

I’d always planned to pay a visit. But how would it look today?

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Historical Wonders, Strange Tourism / ,

Rediscovering Beijing: Finding the Elephants

On using an 1897 guidebook to explore modern Beijing…

My adventures begin with the elephants.

A few hundred yards westward of (the Shun-chih-men) is the place for the Imperial elephants, the Hsün-hsiang-so, a large enclosure in which the elephants of the Court are kept… The intelligent animals are taught to salute the Emperor by kneeling down, and receive a kind of adoration.

A central-Beijing stable with kneeling elephants? How much cooler can you get?! I had to find this place.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Historical Wonders, Strange Tourism / ,

Rediscovering Beijing with an 1897 Guide

Did you know that Beijing has a dozen or so elephants that kneel as the emperor passes by? Seriously.

At least that’s what my book says. It’s a Beijing travel guide from 1897, author unknown, that Charlie Custer found on archive.org. The copy originally belonged to Herbert Hoover, China expat and one-time US President.

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Copyright Carelessness / ,

Bootleg Wikipedia-Brand Bread

Why buy generic no-name Beijing loafery when you can pay just a few extra kuai for the sweet wheat of Wikipedia-brand bread? Oops, sorry, Wekipedia-brand.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Cute & Kawaii /

The Cutest Slippers of All Time

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Sweet Movies and Wild Books /

American Imperialist Bastards in a North Korean Comic Book

I don’t speak a word of Korean. I wish I did, if only so I could read this North Korean comic that’s been sitting on my bookshelf for years.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Strange Tourism /

The Pyongyang Metro

North Koreans are proud of their metro. And so they should be. It’s one of the deepest, it’s breathtakingly gorgeous, and we were only allowed to ride one stop. (Although I’ve heard tourists can now ride the entire length.)

Here are some pages from a great 2004 picture-book I bought in the metro, bluntly titled The Pyongyang Metro.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 5 Comments
Offbeat Museums / ,

The Chinese Businessman Museum

With only ten days left in Beijing, I’m realizing how many things I’ve left undone. The Summer Palace… Fragrant Hills… the Chinese Businessman Museum!

It’s ugly, so you might not notice it. It’s in Sihui, so it’s hell to reach. It’s expensive, so who wants to enter.

And it’s also a lie.

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Strange Tourism /

A Vomit Bag from North Korea

I loved the streamlined 1950s design, like a classic car. This was the look of everything on the Air Koryo flight.

This trip was about two weeks after Michelle and I started dating. (I guess you know some gal is okay, if she’ll agree to go to North Korea on your first date.)

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Strange Medicine /

Snake and Scorpion Liquor, a Perfect Present

On a trip to Laos, recently, my parents found the perfect birthday present for Michelle: matching bottles of snake and scorpion booze. Recognizing the fact that my mom doesn’t drink, this strange gift oozes with awesomeness.

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Sweet Movies and Wild Books / ,

A Brief Aside on Dr Rajkumar, the James Bond of Southern India

Alone in the hotel, drinking Kingfisher and watching old Karanataka films. In 1981’s Keralida Simha, an honest cop has to break up a party of riotous and drugged out delinquents. And it’s something akin to poetry.

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Offbeat Museums / ,

Castration Classes at the Beijing Eunuch Culture Exhibition Hall

The first time I ever met The Professor, he told me about the eunuch museum. He didn’t say much. Just that there was one. In West Beijing.

“You really should go,” he said. “It’s… well, it’s interesting.” He adjusted his glasses the way a professor should, but he wouldn’t say more.

A few weeks later, I found myself staring through smudged plexiglas at the only remaining inhabitant of the Beijing Eunuch Culture Exhibition Hall. He was, of course, dead.

Covered by an imperial yellow sheet, this junkless monk apparently died of lead poisoning. 400 years later, he was dug up and stuck in a case. His name wasn’t recorded, but I doubt it was Tian Yi.

Tian Yi (田以) was the most famous Chinese eunuch that ever lived. He served a series of three Emperors, and carried his genitals in a jug. His 1605 funeral was insane: the government shut for days, hundreds of eunuchs attended, and he was buried like a king. And just like any other Chinese royal, his grave was robbed.

“I’m too scared,” said a Chinese teenage girl. “Can you come with me?”

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments