Japan

Tokyo to Bangkok

image

Spent my last day wandering around at the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s second tallest tower after the Burj Khalifa. After spending a couple hours there people watching and browsing the shops, I grabbed my stuff and headed to the airport. I just wanted to chill there before my flight.

The flight was on ANA, an Asian airline that is know for amazing service. I must say I was happy from the moment I sat down because I managed to get a bulkhead seat with no one beside me!
image

Along with that, they started the flight off with a hot towel service, followed by drinks and a snack. Alcohol included for free too. I had some white wine along with their signature drink called Aromatic Kabosu. It’s a fresh my squeezed fruit juice that I’ve never tasted before.
image

That’s a nice touch! Good luck getting that in Economy class in North America.

The dinner was next and there was a choice of a traditional Japanese meal or more traditional western meal. Of course I chose the Japanese meal, which consisted of a fish and rice dish, noodles, miso soup, green tea and a dessert pie type thing. I also had beer and wine, because why not. It was a 7 hour flight!
image

I watched started watching some random Japanese game show, followed by anime and music videos.
image

Those weren’t keeping my attention so I put on “The Beach” on my iPad starring Leonardo DiCaprio, not the best idea because it starts out all fun and yay Thailand, then gets a bit crazy! Still a good movie and got me ever more excited to get to the beaches. I also watched “What If” and fell asleep during it, I think it was a mix of my exhaustion and the couple of drinks I had.

Once landing in Bangkok, I navigated through the massive airport to get through customs, then grabbed a shuttle to my hostel called Nest Boutique resort. I forgot I had booked a private room, so that was nice. I got myself organised and passed out.
image

Today was my first full day on Thailand, so stay tuned for my first experiences in Bangkok!

Sunday Funday

First up today was browsing through Family Mart, which I found out as I explored is the Japanese Walmart. The only reason I was browsing a grocery store at 10am was that I needed to kill some time as I waited for the rest of the shops to open.

image

image

I wanted to go to the Uniclo right near my hostel to buy the winter jacket I saw the other day. I decided I really liked it and is worth shipping home. I managed to grab a couple of boxes from a local 100 yen shop (Dollarama type store) and hoped it fit (it did). Got the jacket and won a scratch and win prize of 500 yen to use in the shopping centre I was in, and used it to buy an assortment of Japanese candy to ship home as well.

image

image

I wasn’t planning on sending anything back, but I want some of the cool stuff I’ve seen.
After wandering around for bit, I dropped my stuff off at the hostel and headed for Ueno. There is a giant park here along with a place called Yanaka Ginza that’s known for the wandering cats that hang by the Yuyake Dandan staircase. Sadly I only saw one cat, so that was slightly disappointing. However I did manage to have some delicious crispy snacks from a local shop, along with some street side dim sum. So tasty, I just love trying random foods everywhere I go here!

image

Next up was Ikebukuro, home to Sunshine City entertainment complex and about a billion arcades.Sunshine City is home to a couple of mini indoor theme parks, J-World Tokyo and Namjatown. It is also home to a Pokemon store, which was the most insane crazy crowded store I have ever seen. The line must have been 250-300 people long and wrapped around the whole place. Just for Pokemon!Pokemon Store Sunshine crazy lineup
As I wandered the streets, I popped into a couple of the arcades and pachinko places. These people mean business. There were so many types of games I have never seen, and their favourite is called the UFO, or as we call it in North America the claw game. The prizes are stuffed toys and action figures, but people treat these games the same way as gambling. Interestingly enough, gambling is illegal in Japan so this fills the void for people since they cannot win money, prizes are given out instead by trading in your tokens or balls.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-WYyD9VTg6UA/VI08jfMUF3I/AAAAAAAAMqQ/5tPHB34Djlw/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_161742.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092592451268384626″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_161742.jpg” ]

My next destination was something right up my alley called Tokyo Dome City. It is an entertainment complex that has an amusement park, stadium, hotel, shopping and other awesome stuff. Totally my thing. As I wandered around looking at all the attractions at the park, I was awestruck about how cool Tokyo really is. I know I keep saying it, but there is so much to discover here. My style of travel is to do a lot of research before my trip, then as I venture around I find even more things to see. I like to be flexible and just wander, which is how the best experiences always happen.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-9kRYio1wKEw/VI1FW1Vx5qI/AAAAAAAAMq8/xO7QNf967CQ/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_164428.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092602129480017570″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_164428.jpg” ]

Since I was at an amusement park, I had to ride something. I didn’t want to pay for a full pass as it was around $40, so instead I picked one attraction that was very unique: The Big-O Ferris Wheel. It happens to be the worlds largest centreless ferris wheel. Tickets are 820 yen, so about $8, but the experience was priceless. Not only do you get an amazing view of the city for 15 minutes, there is a built-in multimedia screen that lets you select music for your ride. I listened to some incredible J-Pop as I made my journey up and around. How cool is that? I’m totally terrified of heights, but this was so much fun.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-E71nUoQbYN4/VI1ngsNL1SI/AAAAAAAAMsk/e_3j9UCbmHU/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_182319.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092639682222085410″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_182319.jpg” ]

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-a3LQkEBDr2E/VI1nepjGHSI/AAAAAAAAMsY/ooJh96XEmfY/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_180630.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092639647148940578″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_180630.jpg” ]

I also managed to visit the 45th floor of the Tokyo Dome Hotel. FYI I always walk through the front door of many hotels like I am staying there and never have any problems wandering around and exploring. You can have some awesome experiences this way, like incredible views of the city and super nice bathrooms, all for free! Tokyo Dome Hotel view

Finally my last stop was to visit Akihabara, home to a million electronic stores and a large hobby shop filled with awesome comic and manga fan-boy things. I don’t know about 99% of the popular anime, manga and other things here, but I plan on getting into it more in the future because it’s all so cool. I keep overusing the words cool and awesome because I really don’t know how to describe everything im seeing. Sensory overload. That is how I would describe this whole experience. Akihabara fun prizes

As always after my 12 hour day, I am exhausted. Off to bed in a bit and spending my last half day tomorrow heading to Tokyo Skytree before flying to Bangkok tomorrow night. I know I’m going to miss the magical toilets here, along with about a million other things. It is all good, because I come back for 24 hours on my way home to Calgary! God I love this place!

Lost in Translation

Woke up early again today with plans to head off and explore the real Tokyo. On my way to the train to start my journey, I took a stroll through the Sens?-ji Temple and market area as everyone was setting up their shops for the day.

image

Grabbed a One Day ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway so I could traverse the city.

image

For 1,000 yen it let me travel around the city all day on the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines. I must also mention the Tokyo Tourist Guide has been a life saver, I’ve literally used it at every turn to find my way around and also decide where I want to visit. Grab it at the airport!

My first stop was in Ginza to check out the Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. What could be better than a market visit early on a Saturday Morning? Also famous for it’s fish auctions for which people wake up at the crack of dawn to witness. Walking through the market was a voyage of discovery. Men zipped around in electric carts delivering styrofoam containers of fish in ice as fishmongers sliced up tuna and shucked oysters, all fresh from the boats. The smell of seafood permeated the air as I avoided puddles of water and navigated through the massive terminal, passing buckets of fish guts around every corner. It was definitely a cool place I would highly recommend on a trip to Tokyo.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-J2nLVXzeieQ/VIulRk27yDI/AAAAAAAAMcI/KoJ3y8EslSU/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_093906.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092144642319173682″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_093906.jpg” ]

After traversing through the giant market and terminal, I took a quick tour of the main road in Ginza, which is basically a high-end shopping area like Bloor St. in Toronto. I then headed for Shibuya. [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-tLD9sgPXLSs/VIulVXNaNWI/AAAAAAAAMcg/B_dfOC1uxKQ/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_113013.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092144707374822754″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_113013.jpg” ]

Shibuya is most well known for its crazy scramble intersection, which can be seen in countless movies and music videos. People watching is the name of the game here, and I found the Starbucks to be a great place to get a nice view.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-3ShueYAGzns/VIvGAXe3-KI/AAAAAAAAMeE/hIqWe6vVwSM/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_133434.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092180630554540194″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_133434.jpg” ]

After spending some time wandering through the stores here and having McDonald’s for lunch (yes I had to try it once!), I headed up the road to Harajuku. Sadly, I did not see any Harajuku girls as promised by Gwen Stefani, however I did find an amazing candy store where you can watch them make the candy right in the store. I was fascinated, so I ended up buying a couple of bags.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-Swrsf43c9eY/VIwFqRsBCbI/AAAAAAAAMhs/DSLRGFnjkC0/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_160424.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250619786103218″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_160424.jpg” ]

Another highlight was an amazing store called Kiddyland. It is a 6 storey toy store, filled with tons of random amazing products that I have never seen before. I wanted to buy everything, but managed to leave with nothing. The place was packed with people, so it was difficult to navigate a bit.[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-2JbvYI4CLzQ/VIv3Y9ZTZqI/AAAAAAAAMgo/mxbY6N6BsLA/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_151754.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092234929118340770″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_151754.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-CQMX4sJG40E/VIwFzk20_zI/AAAAAAAAMjA/ub0k9ojxh4I/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_150113.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250779550547762″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_150113.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-HypGyMWvhTo/VIwFyN-P69I/AAAAAAAAMi0/ew9vlR7H_5I/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_145930.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250756227787730″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_145930.jpg” ]

 After Kiddyland it was getting dark out, but I took a stroll through Yoyogi Park to take in the atmosphere before heading to my last spot for the day: the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku.[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-e8gOJEPSodI/VIwEFoTezJI/AAAAAAAAMhE/VQpSi5OOJL0/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_163102.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092248890690423954″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_163102.jpg” ]

It has a free observatory on the 45th floor with views of the city in all directions. It was incredible to see how spread out Tokyo is in all directions, I just wish I had come in the day so I could see Mount Fuji.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-UNY3PvEyg78/VIwFuK6ssSI/AAAAAAAAMiY/WINRDoDui_Q/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_174008.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250686688112930″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_174008.jpg” ]

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-EPenyJn81Dg/VIwFv1IxsFI/AAAAAAAAMig/LfTdAjkMRqE/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_174958.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250715201318994″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_174958.jpg” ]

While I descended I remembered the Park Hyatt Tokyo was in this part of the city, and it was on my must see list of destinations. If you’ve seen the movie Lost In Translation then you are familiar with the amazing view from the bar at the hotel, where scenes from the movie were filmed. It really is a gorgeous hotel, unique in that the lobby is on the second floor of an office tower, and everything else is way up on the 42nd floor and higher. While I didn’t have a drink at the bar, if you have an extra 1800 yen I highly suggest it for the view alone. [pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-7dk25KjchsE/VIwtfPxHW4I/AAAAAAAAMlU/0B8Wj5nEs10/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_190817.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092294410757168002″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_190817.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-vOvzP1Prm1I/VIwN8PNedsI/AAAAAAAAMkk/MbDjssBPBiQ/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_185906.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092259724451804866″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_185906.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-61brzhhqWDM/VIwNroh4wjI/AAAAAAAAMjw/eTp3NoAikGE/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_185506.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092259439190524466″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_185506.jpg” ]

 After venturing through the hotel and wishing I was staying there, I headed back to my hostel. I ended up on the wrong train so had to backtrack. I was impressed that this was the first time I got lost all week on the train. The walk home was beautiful, with everything lit up and still bustling.[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-dDbkH2wplpU/VIwttswOTXI/AAAAAAAAMl0/usTfLzTw3qE/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_205506.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092294659056225650″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_205506.jpg” ]

I needed to do laundry so I just chilled out at the hostel and got that finished. I would say it was a very successful and crazy busy day. Just the way I like it! Tomorrow is my last full day and I still have a long list of things to do. I have also decided to buy a bunch of things and ship them home. There is so much cool stuff here I just cannot leave without taking a few things!

Tokyo Disneyland

Woke up at 5am today, so at least I slept a bit more than the previous day. For some reason I’m not the basket case I should be.
image

Arrived just after the 8:30am opening of Disneyland and made a beeline to Monsters Inc. Hide and Go Seek. It’s one of the most popular attractions here, along with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. I’ve learned that the cuter it is in Japan, the more crazy they go for it. This includes everything from the merchandise to the food. I mean where else can you get dumplings that look like the Green Aliens from Toy Story?
image

The weather was okay until mid morning and the rain kept going from a drizzle to torrential downpour. I gave up attempting to by dry, it’s wasn’t going to happen. Of course I left my rain jacket back at the hostel because I’m a genius and didn’t even think to check the weather. Lesson learned.

The rain did stop by early afternoon so both the Happiness on High and Santa’s Village Parade happened.
image

image

Must visit attractions here included: Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare, the Tokyo version of the popular Christmas overlay at the original Disneyland. Also, got a Fastpass for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and won the “lottery” for the One Man’s Dream show.
image

They love their ticket lotteries here, it’s very cool and people get super excited when they win. It’s the small things right?
image

It’s also interesting to note that for all the indoor parts of Florida & California that have air conditioning that is always too cold, all the buildings here are heated and are too hot. Guess you can’t win no matter what part of the world you’re in!

Haunted Mansion is located in Fantasyland, which makes this the only part in the world that you can get Dumbo in the shot with it!
image
I keep walking around the park going “that’s strange” because some of the placement of things is weird, compared to the US parks.

I waited all day to ride Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and it was well worth it. It’s a dark ride that uses trackless vehicles and is incredible. Your vehicle interacts with the other ones, zips around and you never know where you’re going to go. It’s sort of non linear to start, then you head into a big dance floor scene filled with music, lights, effects and is just brilliant. Finally you end up in the honey tree and it smells just like honey. The set design and everything is stunning, and gave me another wow moment.
image

Ended the evening by watching the Once Upon A Time castle show. It’s a mix of some light pyro and amazing projection mapping.
image

That’s it for now. I’ll be posting way more details on Theme Park Canuck when I’m back!

Tokyo Disney Sea

Brad Disney Sea

Yesterday, I woke up at the crack of dawn to make sure I was at the park for opening time. I anticipated it would be much busier than it was, as I’d heard people get to the park entrance an hour or more before it opens. After taking the three trains and hour long journey to the park, I walked right up to the ticket counter with no wait to purchase my 3 Day Magic Passport.

Tokyo Disney Park 3 Day Magic Pass

Unlike other Disney resorts, you can only park hop on the third day or later. I decided to visit Disney Sea first as its the only one of it’s kind in the world. It only took about 10 minutes to get into the park after the brief bag check, and it was very smooth despite the volume of people. As all the other people ran to Toy Story Mania (or full on sprinted in some cases), I grabbed a Fastpass for Tower of Terror then headed back to ride 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Tokyo Disney Sea Tower of Terror Fastpass

Both rides were fantastic and despite me having no idea what the story-lines were due to me knowing zero Japanese, they were both awesome! As I walked around the park I kept saying “WOW” over and over again. At every turn this place is the most gorgeous theme park I’ve ever visited. I had high expectations and they have been exceeded in every way. I can’t convey enough how amazing the park is, you just have to see it in person. You can tell they spent a billion plus dollars on this park, and didn’t cheap out on anything like some of the parks in other parts of the world (cough, California Adventure, cough). To be fair California Adventure is now way better than it was, thanks to Disney spending a billion dollars to fix it!

After snapping pics and video while I wandered around, I headed to get the famous Goyoza Pork Bun that I heard so much about. It was delicious, and I’m glad I got there first thing as the line was at least 50 people deep when I walked by again later. It is basically like a giant dumpling, but the most amazing dumpling I’ve ever had. I ended up eating two that day!

Headed off to ride Tower of Terror, followed by a quick walk through Mermaid Lagoon, through to Arabian Coast to ride the carousel, followed by the amazing Sinbad dark ride. It’s very similar to It’s A Small World, but with more advanced animatronics and a unique storyline. The song that plays is infectious, despite the fact it’s in Japanese.

I headed over to The Magic Lamp theatre to check out the show there, some sort of Aladdin themed magic show. They have iPad touch like translating devices, which helped me understand what was going on. Think of the show as a mix of live actors, effects and a 4D movie. Hearing the Genie speak Japanse was the highlight for me! While waiting in line I ended up chatting with an English guy who happened to do the International College Program at Walt Disney World and is also moving to Vancouver from Australia. What a small world!
I could go on for days about Tokyo Disney Sea, but I’m going to save that for when I get back. My full review and coverage of the park will be on my other site, Theme Park Canuck.
Now I’m going to finish my green tea and head off to Tokyo Disneyland for today. For the record, it’s 6:17 am on Thursday, December 11.

I’ve arrived in Japan!

image

Thirteen and a half hours later and I’ve arrived in Tokyo, Japan. The flight was pretty uneventful, however I must say I love the 747. So much more opportunity to move around the cabin and not be too cramped in my seat.

image

The onboard entertainment is pretty sweet…you connect to their WiFi using your own device and choose from a bunch of movies and TV shows that are on demand for free. It even pauses when they make announcements….pretty high tech. I tend to get movie ADD on planes so I watched: Friends, part of a documentary on Hawaii, part of Frozen, part of Forrest Gump, Delivery Man, Austin & Ally, A Christmas Carol, plus read magazines and books.

image

It’s also nice that they provide lunch, a mid flight snack and then breakfast. It’s rare that you get anything on flights these days, but I guess as you’re trapped on the plane for almost 14 hours they have to feed you! The nice Japanese lady beside me didn’t want some of her food and offered it to me, so of course I took advantage. Right before the mid flight snack I was ravenous, and scarfed everything down pretty quick.

image

Random moment: One of the flight attendants looked just like Bradley Cooper. Seriously they could be brothers. I kept doing double take a because the resemblance was spot on:

image

Let’s talk about the sleep situation….slept a bit. I popped a sleeping pill right after lunch and waited for it to work it’s magic. No luck…I think I slept for about an hour and a half in and out. So I took another one. I was wide awake for the middle of the flight then about 4 hours before we landed I passed out for a couple of hours. Total sleep time: about 4 hours or so. I’ve set all my clocks to Tokyo time and am just going to stay awake until a normal time tonight and then be set!

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-wAuQDa2RqaY/VIbMaSBMmpI/AAAAAAAAL8o/HrH4x5TUDAA/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_162323.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090780297950698130″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_162323.jpg” ]

Managed to navigate the two different train lines from the airport to the hostel. Wandered through the shops of Asakusa on my way. Can’t wait to take it all on once I’ve had a good sleep! Hopefully I can adjust easily to local time because tomorrow I head to Tokyo Disney Sea! I have been waiting to visit this theme park from the moment it was announced. Iany other Disney park on earth. They also have their very own version of The Magic Kingdom, which I will also be visiting. If you think I’m crazy for traveling to the other side of the world to visit a theme park, you don’t know me very well. However I will be taking in a couple of days of non theme park tourism, so I can see the real Tokyo and the awesomeness of Japan! Now off to grab a bite to eat, drink some sake and get a good nights sleep!

The Surreal Life

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-9oOO4PEtQmU/VIbdtJn24dI/AAAAAAAAMDc/ZmnHaAZrjEk/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_203053.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090799313812120018″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_203053.jpg” ]

After successfully navigating to my hostel using the very complicated yet super easy to use train system, I decided to head out and explore a bit before I headed to bed.

It’s was very strange sitting in a Japanese style quick service restaurant last night and realizing I’m actually in Japan. As I was walking down the street and looking at all the shops and signage, I kept thinking I’ll turn a corner and see the CN Tower in Toronto. I popped into what the nice girl at the hostel dubbed “Japanese fast food” after I asked for a place that is quick and cheap. The cool thing is you use a vending style machine to select and pay for your meal, then hand the ticket to the server at the diner style seating area. I ate a delicious pork & rice dish, along with tofu soup…I think. I attempted using chopsticks, but quickly got frustrated and used my spoon. I’m sure this is the case with many westerners!

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/–jt9ixJn4H8/VIbNaSVdNOI/AAAAAAAAMAs/aTCseOOs5Ng/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_185826.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090781397547300066″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_185826.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-xybS-kRtHvQ/VIbNYKY5tjI/AAAAAAAAMAU/a2ZrCX6vCPs/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_184948.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090781361054529074″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_184948.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-j-ZqIWs_jlc/VIbN9ZnXcXI/AAAAAAAAMC4/9JVpw8kS8Ew/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_183904.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090782000796889458″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_183904.jpg” ]

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-7_oWxeht8ug/VIbd7B14TMI/AAAAAAAAMD0/MuQlU1fv5nI/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_200223.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090799552241618114″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_200223.jpg” ]

I wandered around the area and walked into this Japanese arcade filled with Pachinko machines. It smelled of smoke and reminded me of the slot area in casinos, but much louder with a billion times more flashing lights. I have no idea what was going on, but it was really energetic and exciting!

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-KMiqKWyO3bo/VIbdgBV0iNI/AAAAAAAAMDQ/M9Z_ZPL94lg/s144-c-o/IMG_20141209_202710.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141209?authkey=ez0JjGCcBv8#6090799088250685650″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141209_202710.jpg” ]

I don’t know if it’s jet lag, the uncomfortable bed, excitement, or a mix of all three but I cannot get back to sleep. It’s 4am! After tossing and turning for the past hour, I’ve given up on the sleep thing and am now here on the computer in the common room sipping green tea. I was planning on getting up at 6:30am, so I’m only up a couple of hours early. Tonight I should be able to pass out after a 14 hour day at Tokyo Disney Sea.

In unrelated news, I finally got the notification to update my phone software to Android Lollipop. That took about an hour last night and I thought everything was ok. It is not, my phone is totally janked up and I now need to factory reset it. Don’t do the upgrade on your phone, especially if you’re on a trip! I’m currently working on erasing and resetting my phone. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m up early?

Language Barrier & Customs

So far I’ve survived my first couple of days after getting used to a few nee things. Walking into places and having people bow is strange yet super cool. I actually had to Google why they do it and when it’s appropriate. I also wanted to learn how to day “hello” as walking up to someone and starting to speak English just seems rude to me. Between saying Konnichiwa (hello) and Arigato (thank you) with a smile on my face, I feel much more comfortable asking people for help. Hopefully I can pick up a few more phrases as I go.
image

Speaking of customs…the toilet. I was apprehensive about using the bidet but I figured when in Rome! It was strange yet kinda cool at the same time. I get it now…plus the heated toilet seat also made the entire bathroom experience awesome.
image

Transit here is the most confusing and insane experience ever. I feel lost every time I get off a train, yet am managing to get where I need to go. Locals have been helpful to this foreigner, the puzzled and confused look on my face tells the whole story!
image

Food: Japan has these cool vending machines literally everywhere…train stations, streets and even tiny alleys. I thought I was purchasing an iced coffee drink in a can…instead it came out hot to my surprise. It was very tasty..but I unexpected for it to be cold!oimage
Of course everywhere the food is awesome, and I’ve become accustom to eating things with a bunch of unidentifiable ingredients. As long as it tastes good I’m fine with that!