Tuesday, November 22, 2011
72 Hours in Tokyo...
**YOU NEED to copy & paste the YOUTUBE link below in your browser to watch the COOLEST & CRAZIEST Travel video ever to understand why and how I wrote this article.
(I tried to post this video link below but the embedded code was disabled so just):
Copy & Past link into your browser now or--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7Z35_x7eT4&feature=related
Or go to YouTube and search "Victors Trip Rules of Attraction Scene"
Anyone who has flown to another country, backpacked or gone on vacation before can relate to this video (hopefully, with exception the hard drugs & European prostitutes)
WATCH THIS 2 MIN VIDEO NOW BEFORE READING THE REST OF THIS POST (or the rest of this article won't make much sense):
WATCH NOW-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7Z35_x7eT4&feature=related
Now, I will attempt to re-create a similar montage of my recent trip to Tokyo Japan
"Fri Nov 19th 8am, woke up dazed & confused surrounded by boxes in Busan South Korea after a short 4 hour sleep.
I am currently in the mist of moving into my new 'upgraded' apt in a few days after I get back from Japan. View from my new loft apartment. BTW, this is a big upgrade from the tiny cell / apt I was living in back in Seoul:
Looked at my watch and freaked out. I only had 90 mins until I had to get to Gimhee airport to fly to Tokyo Japan for a last minute 3 day whirlwind spur of the moment trip.
Grabbed my bag, a bagel, threw my passport and a bunch of Japanese Yen I exchanged from Korean Won at the bank yesterday from a beautiful Korean girl who spoke no English. She could have been 16 years old or 40, its hard to tell over here.
Got on the flight, it was packed, no leg room. Downed 3 Sapporo beers. Ate some sushi and passed out for the duration of the 90 minute flight.
Woke up when the pilot starts speaking Japanese stating we are descending over the biggest metropolitan city in the world where 34 million Japanese people rushed around like polite robots.
I left Narita airport and was immediately terrified looking at the Tokyo Subway map. Intense.
Some woman sold me a subway card and pushed me through the turn style. Then I was unleashed in the biggest metropolitan city in the world...
The subway ride to DT Tokyo took longer than my flight from South Korea.
The subway is confusing, cramped, and very convenient & inconvenient at the same time. I finally got the hang of the hundreds of subway lines and took it everywhere.
Saw the first actual house I have seen in months (there are no houses in Korea, only tall lego like apartment buildings that all look the exact same).
A Japanese business man sees me looking at my map and asks if he can 'help'. I say 'thanks' and bow, but decline his offer. Then moments later an attractive Japanese girl asks me the same question. I accept.
I finally come out of the underground tunnel into Harajuku park.
Japan's famous fashion 'hang out' area. I am shocked, its the middle of downtown Tokyo and it is the cleanest and quietest city street I have EVER seen.
Everything & everyone seems totally zenned out. Yes, its busy with people everywhere, but its organized chaos.
Shot a video of a walking tour DT Tokyo (fyi: a couple of cute random Japanese girls that come up to talk to me in this video, it was pretty funny actually :)
I see a Japanese girl with pink in pig tails, short mini skirt and knee high socks (seems to be the common look here), I'm a fan.
She was surrounded by 4 Japanese punk rockers dudes with Mohawks and piercings. They see me starring at their crew and invite me over. We exchange awkward greetings, pose for pictures with each other and then I bail.
So far Japan is a nice change from the the crazy street mayhem that runs wild back in Korea.
No horns were honking, no loud music blaring out of shops, and even more bizarre, no one was speaking. Total calm.
I see a mother and her son both wearing a Komono. It was incredibly cute and culturally inspiring.
I get back on the subway. I want to see Shibuia crossing, the busiest street crossing in the world. I get there at rush hour and can not move in the subway and get caught in the masses of human traffic. I feel like a giant as I am about 1.5 feet taller than everyone (I am 6'7). Picture of me towering over Koreans in Seoul Station:
I get ushered across the famous crossing in a title wave of flesh. Its like being part an organized ant farm, but with people.
I take a Shibuya Crossing Video of my view from a Starbucks, from above the crowds.
I can't find wii fii or phone signal anywhere on my iphone. Worried I can't message to meet my girlfriend (actually, ex girlfriend b/c we broke up a week before my trip to visit her here in Japan). Talk about bad timing. I was supposed to stay with her here in Tokyo at her place, but after we split I graciously declined that offer.
So now I had to find my new accommodation for the weekend. We were still supposed to meet for dinner while I was in town. The EX:
I grab another Sapporo beer from a corner store. One of my favorite things about Asia, its lax drinking laws and ability to walk into any shopping mall or store with a cold beer in one hand and a stick of BBQ street meat in the other. Delicious & ridiculous if you think about it...
I see a street banner called "Take-Shit-Has" and take a picture. Since I have been living in Asia for almost 10 months now, I have seen some insane names of businesses, streets and even people.
I go and buy some over priced tacky tourist souvenirs just because I feel am I am supposed to.
I have developed a compulsive addiction to buying a t shirt from every country I visit. Its insane. I know.
My closet is packed with crappy t shirts from all over the world: Australia, Greece, Portugal, France, Israel, Egypt, Bangkok. South East Asia, shot glasses from Las Vegas I even have a F'n sombrarro from Mexico!
And now I have a Tokyo T-shirt and a Japanese headband. Check.
Then a random girl smiles at me from across the street as I come out of the store with bags of tacky shit. She walks over to me and asks me where I am from. We make small talk for a bit, she asks me where I am staying and invites me to meet her for drinks later. But I think shes possibly / probably a prostitute, so I give her a fake number when she asked for mine. I make an excuse to end the conversation, ask her where the closes subway is and then leave immediately.
So now I have to find the new place I am staying to drop off my bags. I do, its an absolutely AWESOME room on the 46th floor overlooking all of DT Tokyo.
Pimped out to say the least.
Video View from Tokyo Tower 46 floor from my room...insane view!
I take a deep breath, sit on my bed and immediately feel like Bill Murry sitting alone in Toyko and wondering, what the f&%k am I doing here?
I hooked up this amazing accommodation from a buddy of mine in back in Busan who met the owner in Tokyo a few months ago off CouchSurfing.com. I have heard of the site and this was my first time using it. It was amazing.
I had my own room, private bathroom and shower. Oh ya, and it was all for free!
This 2 bedroom place rents for 8,000$ USD / month. I learned quickly Tokyo is not cheap.
It had a better view than the Tokyo Tower that was just 2 blocks away.
I ditch my bag in my room, have a shower, and hit the streets for food, drinks and fun. Easy to find in this city.
We hit a tapas restaurant.
There is no waitresses because they have been replaced by an ipad like device that you order all your food and drinks off of. Japan's technology is light years ahead.
The New Electric Waitress:
Warning: soon all those slutty hostesses back in North America will be replaced by a small computer. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing yet. At least you don't have to leave a tip for it lol!
Bottles of Sake start to clutter our table. I eat some great seafood, and sushi that makes me drool still just thinking of it.
The streets are filled with drunk business men in black suits that all look the same.
We stay out late, hit a few different nightlife spots.
I drank some Redbull & Vodka and my heart feels like it gonna explode out of my chest. Caffeine totally cracks me out. I can' tdrink coffee or pop, my body is sensitive to caffeine. Suddenly everything goes blurry and I am in a rainbow of bright flashing neon lights.
I decided to walk back to my room.
Lied in bed. Couldn't sleep. I realized I either got food poisoning or the Redbull had me hard wired awake. Drank some tea to try and chill out. Felt tense. Still couldn't sleep.
Decide to go out for a walk.
At one point I see a staggering drunk Japanese man in a very nice suite that stumbles into a garbage can, falls down, and stays down. Passed out & blacked out.
No one even looks twice. Just another Friday night in Japan.
Along my way I pass a massage parlor (a legitimate one, not those shady ones). I walked in and there was a row of tables filled with little Japanese men and woman, getting massages on them. I decide to partake to help get to sleep. Got 45 min massage by a tiny Japanese woman who spoke no English.
The old Samaria looking dude laying on the table beside me was moaning as his even tinier masseuse stepped on his back and cracked it repeatedly. I couldn't relax listening to him groaning.
I finally leave, go eat some rice and seafood and finally go back home, take a long shower and fall asleep by 6am after realizing I was up for over 22 hours.
It rained all day and I had a dinner date to meet the ex that I came to visit. I met her in Roppongii. We had an awkward meal, followed by even awkwarder conversation.
Downed some drinks. Said our goodbyes, then walked out of the restaurant, and each other's lives. Breakups are a bizzar thing. You get to know someone so well, then all of a sudden they become almost total stranger and you wonder if you ever knew them at all. Like I said, its a bizarre experience.
I then cabbed to the the #1 'local' nightlife area called Shibuya. I hate 'foreigner bars' that are just a bunch of drunken ex pats dudes. I am told by 3 different club promoters on the street handing out fliers that the best local club is called "Womb".
I meet 2 English Teachers drinking Asahi beers outside a Family Mart, (a very common sight in Korea, was nice to see over here. Little known fact, Family Mart originated in Japan).
One ESL Teacher was from Ireland and the other from Australia. I have a couple beers with them outside sitting around a plastic table. They both tell me they have been living in Tokyo for 3 years so far, and that neither of them ever plan on leaving.
I am beginning to see why.
They also tell me to hit up Womb, as well as name of another list of other 'wicked places' I would never remember.
Womb is hard to find, its in a random non-descript back alley. There is no line, and unfortunately & surprisingly it does have a 3500 Yen cover (equivalent to about $50.00 USD) with no drink included.
Drinks inside are an extra 1000 yen (equivalent to about 13$ USD).
Needless to say it was an expensive night.
Ya, like I said Tokyo is expensive as hell. But well worth it.
I waked into a insane seen, its 2am, place is packed, 5 levels, 4 different DJ rooms and a TON of insanely hot Japanese girls. It makes clubs in north America look like a lame after school movie of the week. I scan the room, I am one of a small hand full of foreigners. Perfect.
The rest of the night is kind of a blur. Lots of drinks, (sake bombs), bumping bass from an array of speakers, thousands of people (myself included)dancing like maniacs, and lots of broken English conversations.
I end up meeting, drinking & dancing the night away with 2 attractive (and lesbian) Japanese girls who have been dating for over a year. Both spoke better English than I do. Seriously.
One left the the bar early. I ended up with the other in a Karaoke room until 6am. Enough said.
(Side note: here's a random pic of in a Karaoke room in Seoul from a while back)
I stumble into Shibyua subway station at 7am Sunday morning. The majority of people are on their way to work and or church. However there are a few other all night partiers swaggering in the isle.
I look to my left, and not even 8 feet way from me I see Japan's #1 famous baseball player and Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki (in his full Mariners uniform non the less) with his luggage.
Here is an MBL All Star Major Leager, (and the #1 Japanese icon) standing next to me on the subway at 7am on a Sunday morning (and I still haven't slept yet). As you can imagine, it was VERY unexpected sight to see.
I somehow find my way home, grab an omelet at street vender on the way. Open my bedroom door & CRASH hard.
~ ~ ~ ~
I wake up around noon. Eat breakfast on the 46th floor of this amazing place talking in the breathtaking view of the biggest concrete jungle I have ever seen.
It reminded my of standing in the Namsan Tower in Seoul a few months back.
Seoul City @ Night.
Realize I only have 8 hours left in this amazing country before my flight back to Korea.
Tick Tock, clock is ticking.
I jet out the door, hit the subway camera and map in hand and decide to take in some culture and palaces. I hit the Imperial Palace right downtown at Tokyo Station.
Sights & Scenes:
Ancient Japanese Palace / Park Video:
An akward Swiss tourist starts asking me to talk a bunch of pictures of her posing.
It was weird. I find most people from Switzerland I have met on my travels to be a bit...whats the word?..."strange." Friendly, but like I said; strange.
I had lunch with an older cool American dude I met who has been to Tokyo 13 times (has an office out here).
He claims this is the best city in the world, I nod my head in agreement.
Out of the literally hundreds of cities I have been to, its the coolest by far. Super clean, incredibly friendly, super fashionable, fascinating culture, and not to mention the abundance of nightlife and restaurants.
Its an amazingly warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. I feel like I am on vacation in Central Park in NYC, or even back home on the seawall in Stanley Park in Vancouver. Couples walking, people jogging, teenage Japanese kids riding bikes in the park.
I stop and buy the first newspaper I have probably ever purchased in my life.
I drink a beer and instantly remember why I never read the news. Its totally depressing.
A day at the park and palace was perfect way to unwind and detox from a whirl wind few days in the no stop action of the city life.
I lay down under a tree and reminisce on my trip.
Then I go deeper and start thinking about my real life stuff.
My career, my relationships and my life.
What am I doing here?
Whats the purpose of it all?
Will I ever stop this desire to explore new cultures?
Why am I so addicted to travel and is there any cure for this all encompassing infatuation called "Yellow Fever"?
All I can come up with is that 72h in this amazing vibrant city is no where near enough.
Now my mind wanders to already planing my next trip back here :-)
All the other 'deeper' questions will have to be answered in another article, or another country because I've got a flight to catch in 2 hours back to my new home, Busan South Korea.
Goodbye Tokyo Tower,
See you again real soon.
Another country & city checked of my to do list.