Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The Definitive Tokyo Blog
So finally the time has come for me to leave Tokyo. Let me tell you about a few of the things I have seen, Done and had done to me. You May have noticed that the previous entries seem to be incoherant at times. While you can probably bet that I have been incoherant ｍyself for much of them, the blog wierdness i have to blame on these computers. The space bar is about the side of the ctrl key and any key around it immediately changes everything to japanese and causes weird formatting stuff to happen.
So I've nailed down just about every tourist trap/sacred shrine in Tokyo now. I had at night out partying in the entertainment district called roponngi. Its full of ex-pat bars and tourists from around the world (its also the only time/place in Japan where you see any black people). The subway stops running at midnight so if you want to stay out past that, you have to wait until the trains start running again at 5;00am or take a cab that costs about as much as 5 nights stay in my hostel. The club we were in had a cover of about $35 canadian and was full of models and NCAA basketball players. The VIP section has a sign that said "You must be this high (on cocaine) to Enter. The Imperial Palace is beutiful, the Meiji Shrine is Beautiful and blah blah blah. Neon signs here dominate skyline and leave you with sun-spots in your eyes if you stare too long. You know that massive pedestrian crossing you see in movies and stock footage and demonstration DVDs they play on all the TVs in Future Shop? I went there and the experience i can best liken it to is being in a mosh-pit at a hardcore punk concert full of business men on cell phones and trophy wives with shopping bags and I was there at a quiet time of the day.
Getting by with English here is easier than you think though most people do not speak it. Most people speak a little bit so if all you want is a little information, you will probably get it. Getting into a cab and just saying "love hotel" does nothing though. It helps knowing Japanese words as well.
Aragato Gosaimas = Thank you very much
Gomenesai, Bacca Gaigin = I'm sorry, Forgive me, I am a stupid forigner
Both get used a lot and usually draw laughter. The people here are very friendly and are usually very eager to help. The city is the cleanest and safest ive ever been in too.
Two nights ago I climbed Mt Fuji. Its about 2 hrs away by bus. I started climbing with an American and a couple Koreans around 8:45 at night. We arrived at the summit around 4:00 am. The temperature at the top was about -1c and I had sweat through all of my clothes. The air up there is pretty thin and i saw a lot of people with altitude sickness (puking, headaches, gasping for air). There are huts you can rest in and buy noodles or tea for about the cost of a monthly lease on a Mini Cooper but they are the only places you can go to get warm. The sky started to change colour slightly around 4:45 and people were getting excited. around 5:05 the sun was about to appear on the horizon though it was particularly cloudy. by this time there were probably 200 people at the summit with more on their way. The climb itself wasn't that bad. some parts are really steep while other parts consist of countless long switchbacks of loose rockey terrain. The climb up was well worth it though when I saw the sun breach the horizon. The clouds parted just as the massive orange ball appeared. A Japanese man that sounded just like Mr Miyagi somewhere on the summit began yelling very epically "Ohi-yo Fugisan! BANZAIII!!!" (good morning Fuji, Banzaii (a Japanese expression of glee)). The crowd echoed the Banzai. I just got a tingle down my spine while writing that. Hundreds of meters below there were other clouds the sun was rising above. I met a stereotypical jolly german guy with immaculate enlglish but sounded hilarious that was willing to take lots of photos of me. After the sun was up the temperature became a little more livable but I noticed my lungs were very sore from the thin air. The crater in the centre of the volcano is almost as impressive as the view of the lakes, forests and mountains surrounding the area. After a few photos i decided it was time to head back down. It took about 3 hrs and was easily the most physically strenuous thing ive ever done in my life. There is a seperate path for people going back down that consists of probably 80 switchbacks covered in loose dirt and rocks. My knees hurt so much when i got back, i considered buying a cane to help me around. Plus the complete lack of sleep, nutrion and total phsical exhaustion from the climb up and alititude. The only thing that keeps you moving down is knowledge of the fact that no one is there to help you if you give up and resting will probably make your legs tense up even more.
When I got back to the base I slept on the concrete for a bit and my Korean friends were able to get me on a bus back to Tokyo (which i did not have a ticket for). I celebrated with a beer and shower and 3 hr nap before going out again last night for dinner and some more sight seeing. Today my legs and knees are still sore but not nearly as bad as i was expecting. I have, however seem to have lost all feeling in my big right toe.
I am leaving Tokyo tonight for Kyoto (assuming i can book a hostel there (everything seems to be full)
Some pics so far-
Me on top of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver
Sensoji Shrine a few minutes away from my hostel
what the Hell am i eating? Is that a dead shrimp?
That messed up intersection with a few of my closest friends
nothing like a quiet market for some relaxed clothes shopping.
Some things here are so beautiful it is humbling
Me at the Meiji shrine. not bad eh?
I took a picture of some nice japanese people having their photo taken. Its nice japanese people having their photo taken. They were dressed well and seemed very nice. That is all that is notable about this picture.
some drummers i happened across in the shopping district
Mt Fuji from the bus on the way there
This is the Sun rising from the top of Mt Fuji. I have never seen anything so beautiful in all my life.
Me at the summit of Mt Fuji with some Japanese guy that really wanted his picture taken with me.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Tokyo pt 2
after a rough evening and morning in Tokyo I found my stride pretty quick. I met up with another Canadian from Scarlem and she and my american friend and I went out on the town. I dont know how to communicate what we did without being really boring about it. Ill be quick.
There is an OLD shrine just around the corner from the hostel along with an entertainment district full of shops, restaurants, pachinko casinos (like slots machines designed to bring on early onset deafness). We went to a fish market that smelled so bad I thought God had turned hsi back on the japanese for good. However, eating sushi that was reeled in that morning is an emotional and life changing experience well worth it.
We toured bizarre shopping districts where the faux punk scene for young non-comformist japanese kids go to buy pre-ripped jeans and shirts emblazoned with real-honest-to-god nazi insignia. The street was called Takashita. Ill let you dwell on that for a moment.
Friday, August 25, 2006
I got into Tokyo last night. another 24 hrs of the pain that is being awake. I got a the pain that is being awake. I got a good 1 that is being awake. I got a good 10 hrs in LA though. The flight was very comfortable and i met some cool people on their way to thailand.
In the immigration line @ narita airport outside tokyo I met an line @ narita airport outside tokyo I met an american dude that was a lost and alone littly puppy, just like me.
a train ride happened. a cab ride happened and checking into a hostel happened. then drinking happened, the vending machines sell massive beers for about $140. It only took two and i was feelin pretty relaxed (drunk). We met another WAS feelin pretty relaxed (drunk). We met another american kid that is fluent in japanese and is studying japanese lit. he walked us through some quiet commercial neighbourhoods where we sat down for sushi and I celebrated my 24th hr awake. You can fully drink on the street here. its not even illegal. The sushi here. its not even illegal. The sushi here makes the sushi at home look like kraft dinner with a side of rancid egg salad.
I woke up this morning jet lagged and.... woke up this morning jet lagged and.... lost. up this morning jet lagged and.... lost. I kept asking myself What the hell am i going to do? where do i hell am i going to do? where do i go now? how do i get by. My american friend woke up later and we wandered the neighbourhood looking for an ATM that accepts our cards and a place for breakfast that didn/t scare the shit out of us.
off the cuff, Tokyo can be a pretty intimidating place when you dont know the city, the language or even what lies beyond the next door.
i admit pt 1 of the tokyo blog is a little depressing and makes me look like a little candy-ass. Wait for part 2. Im on top of the world now
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
What the hell am I doin drinkin in LA?
What the hell am I doing drinking in LA?
Well, I'll tell you.
The calamity that has befallen me in the last x hours, I can't begin to describe. I will try to make it short.
My flight from Van to LA had to turn around after half an hour because our cabin was not holding pressure. We sat on the tarmac at YVR for a few hours and we eventually changed to another plane. Turns out when we were landing the Pilot didn't dump enough fuel into the ocean and he damaged the plane on our landing.
flash forward 4 hours of sitting next to the most annoying 18 year old god has created and a crying baby to bring up the rear and I am in LA. We did however have the company of the devastatingly handsome Pierce Brosnon and the guy from the A&W commercials (and he is full on skid in real life - denim jacket, jeans and a wallet chain to boot).
My flight got in after my contacting flight to Tokyo went out. So they put me up in a Hotel in Los Angelas for the night. This place is to smog what Van is to mountains. The people are rude, greedy and bigoted and those are their good points. After landing in LAX I learned that 90% of the people who had missed connecting flights had already been rebooked to fly out today. not me though. they lost my luggage. I finally got it back at 6:45pm.
So I checked into a hotel at Air Canada's expense and I will be flying out tomorrow. I've spent my time here draining scotches with some dude I met in Vancouver at 7:00 am this morning. He wants me to go to a strip club but he is drunk as fuck and more than a little creepy.
oh yeah. I've been awake for almost 40 hours now. I don't know why I haven't crashed but whatever.
I'm Drinking in LA
I'll sleep when I'm dead.
I must say this is some adventure.
Monday, August 21, 2006
So long Vancouver,
Ok. After 2 weeks of retirement in Canada's most beautiful city, its time to say goodbye. There is nothing I've done here that I do not recommend anyone reading this also do. Now, I have been drunk foor the better part of the last two weeks so consider that part optional but I think everyone should:
-Hike to the top of Grouse Mountain in North Van
-Buy scale replica plastic guns in Chinatown
-Ring up a $200 bill at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
-Have your credit card mistakenly sent home with a stranger that lives in Langley BC by some coked out waitresses, use cunning gumshoe skills to track said stranger down and meet a sweet girl willing to drive you out there to get it.
- Catch some pepper spray in the throat and nose
-Hang out with real honest-to-god hippies
- Find an obscure European barber shop and get a straight razor shave
-Make big talk about going to a nude beach and put it on the bottom of the list of priorities.
-Bike along the seawall of Stanley Park stopping to admire the mountainous scenerey, salt air, cruise ships and sea planes playing chicken
- Subsist entirely on Sushi, Pad Thai, Pho noodles and cheeseless $1 pizza.
- Help put the kids of Heinekin shareholders kids through university
enough about that. My flight leaves in 9hrs and I still have some loose ends to tie up. One of them is named Kaylne.
My love to friends and family at home, patients at the office and anyone else that might be reading this.
My next post will be from Tokyo. I will be culture shocked, exhausted, confused and irritated and lost. In short, mildly more pleasant than you know me to be
also: follow this link to see an entertaining picture from bowmanville that I sent into collegehumor.com a few weeks ago: http://www.collegehumor.com/pictures/alcohol/1700553/
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
If life has tought me no other lessons...
I stopped in at a travel place today and learned a few things. Namely among them that you cant just fly to Japan, Korea, China or any of those other loser countries with a one way ticket. No proof of exit = no visa. I understand it didn't use to be that way. I'm going to do a little more research myself before i confirm the booking they have held for me which includes preset flights to Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Hanoi and so on and so forth. I am tentatively booked to fly out to Tokyo on the 22nd
So im stuck in this dreadful shit trap of a city called vancouver for two more weeks.
seriously though, this is the most beautiful city in Canada and the weather is amazing right now.