Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tomahawks 1st hangover breakfast in Colombia - Caldo de Costilla

So, the other day I got a wild hair and took off for Colombia. Being back in the USA for very long tends to get on my nerves pretty quickly. I flew out of Tucson to Dallas, then caught the flight to Bogota. It was not a bad journey. Aside from the 8+ hours of layover time, almost enjoyable.

I spent my first night walking around , sampling street foods and scoping out the countless hot ladies this country seems to produce. There must be something in the water here. And, in keeping with tradition, I managed to score some pussy on my first night in country.

After walking around for a bit, I bought some roasted chicken and empanadas, and grazed those while downing several beers. Of course, I had to top off the evening with a few shots of whisky. This morning I have a fairly decent hangover due to the booze and being a bit dehydrated from the plane trip. I went out and bought some Caldo ds Costills - beef ribs and potatoes in broth. It is about as good - if not better than menudo in Mexico for a hangover.

Ill have more info to follow down the road.
See you on the trail!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Customizing My Ruger LCP for Everyday Carry (Jake Zweig)

I came across this article on my friend Jake Zweigs pistol mods. Im just helping to spread the word. Jake is a good dude. I met him on the season 1 shoot of "Dude you're screwed".

Tomahawk - see you on the trail!
By Jake Zweig
A gun is a tool. You choose the tool that best fits the job. My job every day: protecting myself and my family. As a Navy SEAL, that’s what I went looking for. The right gun would be practical for everyday carry in a side pocket, and it would shoot when I needed it to shoot, where I needed to shoot it. I spent a year making the choice and decided to go with the Ruger LCP .380. Of course, the gun would undergo a few modifications before I would be completely happy with it . . .

This gun was purchased used, for $200, from my gun guy in Maine (you the man, Phil). I wasn’t planning to decorate my library with this firearm, so I asked for a gun that was cosmetically beat up but ready to be reborn and fulfill its promise. I was already planning the changes I would make to this gun, to make it work the way I wanted.
I don’t give two cents what the gun looks like, only that it’s solid and well made. It has to be easy to carry, which is the entire purpose of this gun. And must be reliable. Once I got it, I put 200 rounds through this one without a single malfunction.
 The Ruger LCP comes with a press check window so that you just have to look to the side to see if there is a round in the chamber. The double action trigger pull is long, which might keep you from shooting yourself or the wrong person in an adrenaline-spiked reach for your gun.
With extended magazines that are readily available in the marketplace, the gun was easy to control and keep on target. I was drilling double-taps at 15 yards, and able to hit the kill zone of the target with very controlled fire from 25 yards. Inside of 15 yards, the gun shoots as well as many a full-sized pistol, just not as comfortably.
I had a few issues with the LCP, but nothing I didn’t know about going in. It’s a good gun. Ruger did a good job. However, Navy SEAL Real World Gun Rule: when it comes to protecting me and my family, good isn’t good enough.
First, the sights suck. SUCK. Ruger shouldn’t sell a gun with sights like these. You will need to replace the front sight at the very least to make this pocket pistol go. Innovative Arms did a kick butt job on my LCP with a respectable turnaround time. They milled out the slide and installed a low-profile, nicely rounded tritium front sight and a matching custom dovetail in the rear. You can expect to spend about a buck fifty on this mod, but it is worth every dollar.
Second, I was having an impossible time changing magazines. The small mag release button goes flush with, and recesses into the hand grip once you start to push on it. Larger thumbs like mine don’t depress the release far enough.
Compounding the problem is a strong combat grip while squeezing gun. Trust me, if you every need it for self defense, you will be squeezing the gun. But your squeezy finger would be on the back side of the magazine release, blocking its movement. If the shit goes down, I want to be fighting with my gun, not fighting with my gun.
I pulled the magazine release out of the gun and welded another 3/16 onto the button side of the release, then sanded 3/16 off of the opposite side. Now it works like a champ.
 Lastly, there’s appearance. I know I said I don’t give two cents what the gun look like, as long as it go bang. That’s not completely true, but only for practical reasons. I was going to give it a Cerakote finish, but they wanted $100 to do the job. So I went with the color spray paint that best matches my skin tone.
 If I have to confront somebody head-on and they see me, they will spend a half second figuring out if that’s a gun in my hand or something else. That’s all the time I’ll need to double tap their ass.
 I choose to carry with a stock 6-round magazine with a 1.25 inch Garrison magazine extender, so that my whole hand is on the grip. I back that up with two 15-round magazines from ProMag, and they work flawlessly.
 A note on round selection
I add this section because it’s a very important part of this gun choice. With all the hyper-expanding rounds on the market today, it’s key to understand that this gun is pushing bullets out at about 1000 fps. There isn’t enough ass in the bullet to get it to expand and do damage. For this reason I am running FMJ and in the future will have some homemade SUPER +P rounds in FMJ.
I wish it came in 9mm (in the same size) and double/single action, but those are the only things that could make this gun better.
I am very happy with my ability to shoot, move, and communicate while employing this firearm. With just a few minor modifications to the sights and magazine release, a good gun becomes an awesome choice for everyday personal and family protection.
Ease of carry, combined with the ability to put rounds on target in stressful situations makes this Ruger LCP an absolute keeper!

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Hamaca - Spanish
Duyan - Cebuano - Philippines
Ang Roeung, អ្​ង្រឹង - Khmer - Cambodia
เปลญวน - Thailand

The Hammock, one of my favorite pieces of equipment for world travel. I always have a quality hammock and tarp in my bag when I hit the road. having a hammock and tarp with me gives me a place to sleep, or build a base camp. Even when making short hitch hiking trips from the Jack Mountain field school to Presque Isle Maine, I had my hammock and tarp. They served me well on a few occasions where I was unable to get a ride. Once while on the road between Ashland, Maine and Presque Isle , I was unable to get a ride. It was raining, I was soaked, and it was getting dark. I decided to head to a copse of trees and set up my hammock. I busted into the woods and located 2 likely looking trees.

 I took out my hatchet and cut off the dead branches up to the height I wanted to set my tarp. I hung the tarp , then the hammock . Next I threw the only dry clothes I had with me (Cut off carhartt  shorts , a hoody, and some smartwool socks) along with a large piece of parachute cloth I use as a "blanket". I also threw in my Nalgene bottle of water and some trail munchies.

Standing there in the waning light, soaked to the bone, it was cold and depressing.The thought of spending the next 12+ hours in a hammock under a tarp in the cold was not appealing. So, I stripped off my soaked clothes and hung them to drip "dry" by morning, then dried myself off as best as I could with a spare bandana. I was shivering as I pulled on the shorts, and hoody.

I crawled in , wrapped myself in the parachute cloth , ate my trail munchies and sipped water. It was going to be a long cold night. I tried to get my mind right by thinking about warm tropical climates,long flowing hair, and silk teddys bulging from their fleshy cargo.........I was so glad that I had my hammock and tarp with me, otherwise id be walking along the road all night in the dark and rain and cold.

Where did the Hammock Originate? I have seen hammocks all over the world. I had 2 set up at my house in Cambodia. And later on at my place in Mae Sai, Thailand. I have slept in a Hammock at the Aeta Village in the Philippines, and all over central and south America. I began to wonder how they were simultaneously  in Asia, the south pacific and Latin America. Did the Spanish or Portuguese introduce them to Asia or were they introduced to Latin America and elsewhere...It is a good question.

 All Central and South  American countries  have a  ancient history associated with hammocks. It is generally accepted that the origins of the hammock began approximately 1000 years ago in Central America by the Mayan Indians.  They designed a web-like hammock which is still in use today and considered to be the most ingenious and comfortable of all hammocks.

Some of the  Early hammocks were made from the bark from the hamack tree, which is where the word “hammock” comes from. Hammocks are beds used to guard against animal and bug bites. Because the hammocks were suspended above the ground, inhabitants were protected from harmful creatures that carried diseases.

Because of the numerous trade routes used by the Indians of Latin America, the hammock naturally found its way to many other Indians. Hammocks were soon being made from indigenous fabrics and materials which resulted in a many types, which have evolved to the classic cloth/fabric hammock, typical of Brazil, and cord and rope hammocks similar to today's styles.

Nearly all sources mention Christopher Columbus in the discovery of the hammock. However, the hammock actually dates back more than 1,000 years ago to Central America, far before Columbus was alive. As mentioned above, the hammock was used as a form of protection against harmful creatures on the ground. Christopher Columbus was introduced to the hamaca (hammock) during his travels at the end of the 15th Century by the Taino Indians, a Haitian tribe, in which he brought a variety of hammocks to Europe where they gained appeal. During this time, European weavers began crafting hammocks out of cotton, canvas, and other cloths, as well as sending these materials to weave hammocks in the New World. By the mid 16th century in many parts of the world, the hammock was used as an alternative to the traditional bed. The U.S. military even turned to hammocks for sleeping when away from home. Hammocks quickly gained widespread appeal by both the wealthy and the underprivileged, and by the end of the 19th century, the first mass producer of hammocks opened in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina.

Today, we have expanded on the traditional hammock with improvements to design, materials, and comfort. Some hammocks are still used for insect protection with the addition of enclosed nets, and some are simply used as a luxurious relaxation portal. Hammocks today represent a luxury for many, but it can’t be taken for granted that the hammock is one of the oldest pieces of furniture in the history of mankind.


Sri Lanka - A true Tomahawk adventure

The Indian ocean pounds against the sea wall just a few feet outside the windows of my hotel. There is a clap of thunder and lightning brightens the sky. For most of the night I have been drinking Arak a distilled coconut alcohol , which is a lot like rum. I look out my window and In the distance through my blue alcoholic haze, I see nothing but darkness. I'm in Colombo, Sri Lanka, formerly known as Celon.

A couple years ago when I was working in Kuwait I had a 4 day weekend and sure as hell didn’t want to waste my time by staying in Kuwait. The country of Kuwait is the most Boring place I have ever lived and it seems that everything is illegal.
I hopped on the next thing smoking outta there and that was a Plane to Colombo Sri Lanka. It took about 4 hours to fly from Q8 City to Columbo, upon arrival I grabbed my bag at the baggage claim, then passed through passport control.
Outside I was immediately accosted by several taxi drivers claiming to have the "Best taxi in Colombo". I picked a quiet and assuming looking driver that was standing outside of the swarm of other drivers.

His name was (is) Sunil , Turns out I made a good choice, I told him I needed to go to the best 5 star hotel in Colombo. He dropped me off in front of the "Celon Continental Hotel Columbo", I thanked the man, paid him his fee plus a tip, then asked him to wait while i checked in.
He agreed so I slipped him a few extra rupees for the wait.
I proceeded to check in, drop off my bag, grabbed my camera then hit the door. Sunil was still waiting and I hopped in to the Taxi.
We headed out, I asked Sunil his rate for a 1 hour tour of the city, i cannot remember the exact fee but by western standards it was a ridiculously low fee.
It is a practice of mine to hire a local guide whenever im in a foreign city/country for the 1st time, so far it has worked out well.
As luck would have it Sunil was a Local guide also and had a cousin with a van and, for a fee we (all 3 of us) could tour the countryside the next day if I was interested.
We settled on a fee for a guided tour which would include the town of Kandi, the Botanical gardens, an Herb Farm, a tea plantation, and an elephant farm.
Sounded cool.
Standing outside my hotel the next morning at the appointed time, sipping an excellent cup of Celon tea I was surprised to see Sunil and his cousin arrive on time!
In most 3rd world countries they are habitually late, for instance; if a shop opens at 10 am, they show up around 10:20 or so, drink tea, chat with friends then finally open the doors at say just before 11.
Being from the west I find their casual approach to time a little annoying but it is something you have to deal with if you want to live in asia. It is the same in Singapore, Philippines, Thailand etc. similar to the "manana" attitude of the Mexicans.
Anyhoo, we proceeded out of town and up into the mountains toward the town of Kandi. We were driving along for about 15 mins or so when I spied a Billboard advertising "Tomahawk brand mountain bikes", we pulled over so I could snap a pic.

Along the road were many young ladies all dress in RED selling Cashews, I also saw Local men with birds and forest animals for sale . Once, I saw a guy with several porcupines for sale, I didn’t ask why but I’m assuming they are a food source.
we plodded along and stopped at the agreed on places, My favorite being the Botanical gardens outside Kandi.

I was informed by Sunil that the film "Bridge on the river Kwai" was filmed at the gardens and along the local river - kinda cool, its one of my favorite old movies.
The Tea plantation was interesting, I did the entire tour, sampled all of the teas, bought 1/2 a kilo of fresh tea, took some pics etc.
We had been touring the whole day and it was about a 6 hour drive back to my hotel so we agreed to head back. The entire day of exploration cost me about $30.00 and it included my guide’s fee, lunch, beer, tips, tea etc. a pretty good deal.
When I arrived back at the Celon Continental I partook of the excellent dinner buffet, and took in the Fashion show at the hotel.

I grabbed a Brewski and ambled across the street to the beach, I sat on some rocks in the darkness, drank my beer and listened to the surf breaking on the beach.
It had been a great holiday weekend so far the only thing I was dreading was going back to Kuwait.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cambodian roast pig - សាច់កាប់, and Filipino Lechon

Cambodian roast pig - សាច់កាប់ , and Filipino Lecon are pretty much the same thing.The word lechón originated from the Spanish term lechón; that refers to a suckling pig that is roasted. The Filipinos stuff the pig with veggies and herbs before roasting. Im not too sure what the Cambodians do. This type or roast pork, is the very definition of a simple good thing elevated to heavenly heights.

You can find roast pig in Phnom penh at the central market or in Siem Reap at any number of locations. In the Philippines Lechon  is (or should be) the national dish of the PI. I have found lechonerias in every town or village I have ever visited there.

I could probably live on lecon, rice and san miguel beer for the rest of my life and be happy. Id look like jabba the hut in a couple of months but, what the hell.

Talking about this food has made me home sick for Asia and specifically the Philippines. I cant wait to get back there and share a meal and numerous beers with my friends.

See you on the trail!


Pong tear and Balut

Pong tear and Balut are essentially the same thing. 10 or 14 day old chicken(in Cambodia), duck (in the Philippines) embryos hard boiled in the shell. In Cambodia, pong tear is cooked with lime leaf and served with a drizzle of lime juice,salt and campote black pepper. Im not really sure how the filipinos prepare Balut. I do know that it can only be found at night.

I have eaten both to be cordial at family parties or weddings etc. I usually have to have a good bourbon buzz on before consuming. I must admit. The Cambodian version is not as appealing as Balut in the PI. Mostly , it is the smell that gets me. Douse it with vinegar , close your eyes and eat. I like the Cambodia lime juice and black pepper additive. That combo makes the pong tear a little more edible.

When I'm around my friends in either country I don't want to look like a pussy so Ill hammer one or two down, just to save face. I need several San Miguel or Anchor beers to wash the taste out of my mouth. If you ever find yourself in Asia staring at a bowl of this delicacy, don't hesitate to give it a try.  Who knows?, you might like it.


Street food

Nana, plaza , Bangkok,The name originates from the Nana family (Lek Nana being the most prominent member) which owns much property in the area and has still much influence in Thailand.
It is an interesting place. Nana plaza has 3 floors of bars to take care of any type of fantasy you may have. There are numerous street vendors selling everything from cooked bugs to luggage. I have eaten some awesome street foods there. And spent wayyyy too much money in the bars. I have come away from there with some pretty severe skull cracking hangovers the morning after.
Anyway, one night in Nana I was wandering around drinking Chang and San Miguel beer on the street, just havin' a look to see what was going on.

I spied a vendor selling cooked bugs. I sampled a grasshopper and though it didnt taste bad, it had a smell that was not good to me. So, I passed on the others. I snapped a quick picture, and was on my way. Almost immediately I caught the aroma of Beef, it kinda reminded me of my moms pot roast back in the day. Anyhoo, I followed my nose to the spot where the aroma was coming from. I saw a large wok filled with hard boiled eggs and some strange looking cuts of meat in it.
It smelled great but had (to me) an un appetizing look.

Over the years I have been able to build up a tolerance for eating street food. When I first came to Asia I had a virgin stomach. And, each time I  attempted to sample some street food I’m looking for a sit down toilet in less than 5 minutes.

Previously,when I traveled to  3rd world countries, I always practiced what I call "Prophylactic eating" - that is eating nothing that does not come packaged, bottled or canned. The acceptation to this is fruit like pomelo, bananas, pineapple etc. which had a thick skin on it. But now? After 20+ years of traveling around the world, I have a gut that can digest a volks wagon and never to hesitate to eat street foods.

I do still use bottled water in Asia and other regions, I commonly only drink whisky , water , coffee and sometimes local beer like Chang in Thailand or San Miguel in the Philippines (my favorite). Recently in Thailand while visiting my friend Mams family I was exposed to a wide variety of interesting foods. Everything from water buffalo skin to ant egg soup. I tried a few of them and was pleasantly surprised at the unique flavors and textures. I have never been a fussy eater. All I really require is that food looks good, smell good, and tastes good. And, I admit, there are some things like pong tear in Cambodia or Balut (Hard boiled chicken embryos) in the Philippines , I will not eat.
I look forward to my next 3rd world adventure and any type of unique foods that look tasty.