Friday, May 31, 2013

Tokyo temple and Arisugawa memorial park

Next stop was the Tokyo temple. We got off the subway and saw the sign right there....turns out it was just the church office building. Someone inside showed us the way to the temple a few blocks away. Its in the same neighborhood as lots of the embassy's so the neighborhood was beautiful and looked very affluent. The temple was of course beautiful and the little tiny grounds had lots of blooming flowers. Across the street was an incredible park. Lots of people walking their perfect little dogs and running there. There was also a big coy pond with tons of little turtles sunning on the rocks. So nice to get out of city and into nature for a second.

This place is crazy pt. 2

Saw more crazy stuff today. Still blown away each time we head into the totally crazy subway stations. We walked by a gas station where there are no pumps and the hose just hangs from the ceiling (very innovative) saw some super tall crazy buildings in our wanderings, and on the side of one of them was this massive clock. Everywhere we go I'm blown away.

Tsukiji fish market

We started the morning EARLY this morning getting up at 315 am to catch a taxi to the fish auction. Only the first 120 people are permitted to watch the auction thst begins at 530. We got there and they gave us each a blue vest and then we sat and waited forever. We sat and talked with Dan from Portland who is a neurosurgery resident/base jumper....very interesting to chat with him. So eventually they came and filed us into this huge warehouse where we watched them auction off these massive tuna for the sushi restaurants. Quite a bit of theatrics and hand gestures to it all. It seemed like the New York stock exchange of tuna. Very interesting to witness. Don't thing I've ever in my life seen fish that big! When the auction was over they filed is out through this crazy busy market with little carts driving all around and past this massive pile of Styrofoam they were grinding up and back to the sleeping streets.....just another totally crazy thing about this city!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gone with the wind

Since I knew there would be quite a bit of travel time on this trip I decided to bring along an epic tale. On the eve of the end of the trip I've just finished the love saga of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. Such a tragedy!! Besides the love story, it was very interesting to read about all these people in the context of pre and post civil war. Interesting to see it from the perspective of the confederate army. I feel like there are always two sides to every story and two sides to each side. Praise and blame to be placed on each. I loved the swarthy captain Butler the best, what a charming, witty character. Can't wait to watch the movie again! Totally worth dragging that huge novel all over Asia.

Dinner al fresco

For all the high fashion and advanced technology in this city we have found it severely lacking in one way. Pretty much everywhere only takes cash, which is only a problem when you've run out of money and none of the arm's in the area accept MasterCard....ugh! 7-11 was the only place we could find that would take visa so we dined on the curb in front of 7-11. Classy as usual :) it was all good and well until I spilled half my fancy ramen bowl in my purse and then it started to rain....then it turned into a bonafide giggle-fest and memory. It was actually a pretty tasty meal. On our way back to the hostel we checked out a karaoke place but a Russian kid explained to us that it pretty much only had Japanese songs there and it wasn't like karaoke place in the states, you just rent a room and a microphone and go to town. Daren really wanted to sing me some songs but we decided we could just look up some songs on YouTube at home....haha.

Amayoko street market

This afternoon we took another train to a street market. Again, just very interesting to wander around and take in the sights and sounds of the city. And we found some fun funky Tokyo fashion as well. Don't let Darens face fool you....he was loving shopping time (half that stuff is his :) we took a break and sat outside this cool temple for a bit as well. Nice to escape the chaos for a minute.

This place is crazy!

This is the craziest most foreign place I've ever been. First of all the train system is insane. Over the course of the day I've accumulated 3 different train maps. All equally confusing. We saw a noodle vending machine. So what you do is outside you pay and push the button of the noodle bowl you want the go inside and they serve it....innovative. we wandered into a gaming place lined with what looked like slot machines. It was some kind of pin ball gambling game....what? Then saw this place selling huge red octopus tentacles. And they are huge on cleanliness here....see that sink right below the payment desk at the mini mart. So many crazy foreign things!

Harajuku street

This morning we haeded out for breakfast, at was about 11 since we got in really late last night so we took the desk girls advice and got beef bowls. A very authentic experience. When it came it was my worst nightmare....sketchy meat all over the top. I didn't look and followed the addage I learned on my mission.....chew twice and swallow. Turns out it wasn't bad at all. It was sliced super thin so no chewy parts.....thank goodness. Then we took the train to Harajuku street, which is the heart of the fashion district here in Tokyo. They had a huge mall we went into with about 6 floors of shops and on the top was this beautiful rooftop garden and sitting area. We sat and had a snack and enjoyed relaxing. This cheeky little bird tried to swipe my scone....nope! Like a Japanese squirrel :) then we walked through some of the smaller streets and shops. Found some unique ones. Cell phone cover shops and dog clothing shops mixed in with clothing shops. I must say that I really like all the men's fashions I've seen here but the women's are all a little too frilly for my liking. Was really fun to wander the streets and window shop though.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On to Tokyo

This morning at 4am we caught a taxi to the airport to start our long journey to Tokyo. I was very sad to leave Bali....could have happily spent a lot more time there....ill be back some day! Caught a 3 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur. We had a five hour layover so we figured we venture into town for a bit. Once we got through immigration and customs we talked to the taxi people and realized we were an hour from downtown which didn't make it worth it so I did get a Malaysian stamp in my passport but only made it as far as the sidewalk outside the airport :) was stunning...really :) so we hung inside and ate another terrible meal at the only coffee shop that would take visa in the airport, discovered a whole bunch of fruit we had never even heard of before at a juice stand. Played 21 AND 31 (pretty sure Daren made that one up) ....for the record I beat him heartily at 21 (yessss) and also discovered that Daren's beard is long enough to stash stuff in (eeeww) Daren and I are both reading epic novels that we like as well (me- gone with the wind and him -counte of Monte Christo) so the time passes quickly. So we walked quite a ways out onto the tarmac to our budget airline and then boarded a 7 hour flight (no tv's -thank goodness I like reading) to Tokyo. Made it with no problems except 2 loud kicking kids behind us that we were lucky enough to escape. As expected this country is spotless - nigh unto Germany. I've never seen so.many options at a toilet so I had to document (bidde front, bidde back, how much water, dryer) I had a hard time finding the flush button. Got some good food finally and headed for the subway to our hostel. My jaw almost dropped when I saw the map. Probably a hundred lines and maybe a thousand stops! Made the London underground look like a toy.....luckily they are helpful and efficient like German's too so there was an attendant to help us find our way and get tickets and a helpful citizen that helped us make it on the right train.  By the time we got on the train it was after midnight and we were stunned at how it filled up as if it had been a 6pm train. Looks like they're pretty hard workers. The guy across the way struggled the whole way....didn't even fight his exhaustion and his neighbors just had to keep elbowing him off their shoulders....pretty funny to watch. Anyways, I'm very excited to be here. It is a world of difference from what we left this morning!