2016 Top 10 Birthday Wishes for Joe

The ballots have been cast and the votes are in. It’s time to announce the winners of the 4th annual Top 10 Birthday Wishes For Joe Awards!

#10: Chaz Davis and the brotherly love


#9: Juan Jose Abisambra and the respect shown


#8: Timmy Untrauer and the odd birthday image


#7: Dustin Claudon and love knows no spelling


#6: Aspasea Elina and the #ThugLife


#5: Maya Yuwono for reminding me to treat myself


#4: Khalid Miah for giving The Notebook style kind of love


#3: Pat Hall for the Chinese flashbacks


#2: Aunt JoAnn for making a grown man cry


#1: Lauren Skora and her birthday novel

For all the people who didn’t make the list…time to step up your birthday wish game next year!

Inner Demons

Homeless man in Singapore

Everyday he sat at that same spot,

leaning against the grimy pillar,

avoiding eye contact with passersby.

Despite never making a sound, his presence was always felt.

There was an evident torment in his eyes.

Was it regret? Guilt?

What caused this man such deep anguish?

I shall never know.

Although I do not know what troubles him, I can somehow relate.

For we all have demons buried within us.

Some are just better than others at hiding them.

The Rain Man

Water engulfed the pavement.

Lighting bolts rained down upon him.

The deep boom reverberated off his bones.

Yet to no avail.

He continued pounding the pavement.

The roar of his feet rivaling only that of the mighty thunder.

Man running in the rain in Singapore

Now drenched from head to toe,

he sat down.

With the raging torrent streaming down his face,

he closed his eyes; consumed in the moment.

Man sitting in the rain in Singapore

Finally, he unraveled his legs and lay upon the concrete.

The rain climbed ever higher, seeping into his ears.

Eventually the water had reached his cheeks, grazing his lips

Yet he remained still.

He seemed unfazed despite the imminent danger.

He took a deep breath. And in one last rush, the waves washed over him.

And he vanished.

Man laying on the ground in SingaporeFrom that day forth, every time I gaze at that spot, I see him. I see the Rain Man.

7 Reasons You Should Visit Taiwan

I’ve just returned from my annual trip to Taiwan for Chinese New Year – every time I leave a piece of my heart there. Here are seven reasons you should visit Taiwan and fall in love with it yourself.

1. Child LaborChild Labor in Taiwan

Once the driving force of the Industrial Revolution, child labor has since been outlawed in the U.S. Thankfully Taiwan is keeping this proud tradition alive as children help prepare a plethora of mouthwatering street food. Gosh bless them.

2. Hospitality 
Taiwan Friendship

The Taiwanese are so warmhearted and hospitable that they make the rest of the world look like massive a**holes. I challenge you to find a Taiwanese person that doesn’t have an angelic face and heart of gold. It’s like trying to find a sober Irishman during St. Patrick’s Day.

3. Fashion

Taiwanese FashionWhile New York and Paris might be known as the fashion capitals of the world, Taiwan is setting the fashion world on fire by incorporating bold colors and gaudy jewelry into its signature style. Combine a dash of sass and you’ve got the makings of the next Versace’s of the world.

4. Food
Taiwanese Food
Taiwan CookingTaiwan Restaurant

Food in TaiwanThe word diet doesn’t exist in Taiwan (or at least isn’t practiced). And for good reason. With a veritable cornucopia of scrumptious dishes available, you could eat one new Taiwanese dish everyday for the next 30 years and still not scratch the surface of the country’s prolific culinary offering.

5. NatureTaiwan Nature

The Portuguese called Taiwan, Formosa, which translates to “Beautiful Island.” Blessed with breathtaking beaches, picturesque mountains and crystal clear waters, Taiwan is a hippie’s paradise.  

6. ShoppingTaiwan Night MarketMuch like Walmart in the states, Taiwan’s night markets offer anything you could think of. Hello Kitty iPhone cover, they’ve got it. Vintage Super Mario Bros. video games, they’ve got that too. Skimpy lingerie, they’ve got you covered. It’s a one-stop shop for all your random shopping needs. 

7. Pretty Girls

Pretty Taiwanese GirlsTaiwan arguably has the prettiest girls in Asia, or the world for that matter. I should know, I married the most beautiful one. Don’t worry, ladies. There are plenty of pretty boys for you to feast your eyes on.

Am I missing anything from the list? Tell me about it in the Comments section.

Putting the “Magic” in Magic Hospital

Some of my photos were recently featured on the children’s charity organization, Magic Hospital’s Sina weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) site. The caption reads: “Just received some photos from handsome photographer Joe, who participated in a group activity at the Magic Hospital. Such beautiful and professional photos. Cute kids. Magic Hospital: laughter is the best medicine.”

Here’s the original photos.

If you’re in Beijing and looking to volunteer with some great kids then I highly recommend the Magic HospitalMagic Hospital

Love Advice From a Taipei Taxi Driver

Taipei Taxi Driver

(Photo courtesy of Taipei Times)

What taxi drivers lack in book smarts, they more than make up for in street smarts. My taxi driver in Taipei shared some invaluable advice on love and life.

Me: Are you off for Chinese New Year?

Driver: Nope, I gotta work everyday.

Me: That must be terrible.

Driver: No, it’s great!

Me: Why is that?

Driver: Don’t have to listen to my wife nag.

Both of us chuckle.

Phone rings.

Driver answers.

Woman yelling in the background.

Driver hangs up.

Driver: That’s my wife. She’s from China. I told her I was with a customer. She doesn’t care – says she’s gonna go back to China. I said, great, at least it will be quiet in the house.

I’ll give you a bit of advice: never marry a Chinese girl.

Second piece of advice for you: Find you a rich girl. That way you only have to work at night. 😉