Bored Abroad

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Nov 6

Nightmare before Christmas

Hey all,

I’ve pretty much died on Tumblr judging from the previous lack of posts…I do hope to make amends…how about a short on the night life of Tokyo? Or rather what I’ve come to experience.

Seeing as Tokyo is a massive Metropolis it is a rather big place to go on a night out and “paint the town red” as it were. Or if you are my friend here, go out, get wasted, and end up in a capsule hotel with 2 pairs of Bunny ears (funnily enough one of which wasn’t his).

——Side Note——

A Capsule hotel is pretty much all in the name. A hotel for short overnight stops for those that have no where to go whilst they wait for the first train home. It pretty much is a wall full of Capsules, where you have just enough room to sleep. Pretty Neat huh?

————————

Anyway, my nights out so far are pretty much as foreign as you could get. Halloween was pretty spectacular as we were trying to find our way to  one bar all dressed as god knows what, whilst Japanese on the street were shouting “Happy Halloween” to us. You try orchestrating a march composed of the likes of Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu and transvestites and see how long it takes you to get to one place. Especially since the group wanted to photo-bomb every photo on the street.

We did try to get ourselves arrested by 9 girls in Police Uniform. Bet they were surprised to see us….

Although that didn’t end well as they tried handcuffing us to the other guys in our group and not them. Unfortunately. 

—— Extra Side Note ——

Sorry to the Family members reading that last part….
——————


But I thought I’d enlighten everyone with the apparent Foreign Party on the Yamanote Train line that goes around central tokyo. Apparently every year there is a costume party held on the train where they do their best to not let others on or off. Pretty much take over a carriage. Sounds like good fun to me. Although I can understand why the Japanese do their best to discourage it.

I was told by my friend not to show off my Devil Trident on the train too much just in case I might get kicked off….

Apart from the usual kicks of going out in Tokyo, I have to say there are a surprisingly good amount of street acts. I’m used to the usual rather poorly thought out guy in all white robes and white make up as he stares down passers-by, using his dog as a guilt trip for people to give him money. The people here though seem to be on a whole new level.

If it isn’t the group playing Samba music (where me, the Alien from Toy Story and a Transvestites all danced along to, whilst dragging random Japanese Salarymen from the crowd out to celebrate) its the Western guy playing amazing drums on random empty buckets.

All of which makes for a random night out, fun. I suggest you do it sometime, you’ll never know what you see. Especially around Halloween. 

I do have to admit though.  Seeing someone dressed as Santa Claus on Halloween was pretty much the best thing ever. 

An epic mashup.

Well readers…this was short and boring. I hope to peek your interests soon enough as I plan to pick this back up!

Next up! Dating! (Not me, although from what I hear its pretty damn different)

Fun Fact of the Day: Dressing up as a Devil will only earn you the compliment “Cute” in Japan. My Trident was laughed at and my ego dissolved. I shall make amends.


Kindest Regards,
Bored Abroad 

Oct 8

The good, the bad and the downright Strange.

Hey all!


It has been awhile, although no one really checks these things anyway I thought I’d dust it off and get back into Blog mode.

In all appearances I have at last, settled down here. With my commuter pass, my alien registration card, my phone and bank account all sorted. That though never means I can be prepared to see what I might see when I go out. Tokyo is a big city. There is always things happening. Don’t get me wrong its not all strange. Everyone is majorly polite (think this factor will be a big influence in the future culture shock I’ll get going back).


Take for instance the 40 year old Salary Man who held an empty bottle of water in front of his crotch to signify his genitalia ( a 2litre bottle I might add, don’t know if the size corresponds or if he really was just compensating) whilst standing, leaning back at an almost 45 degree angle and with his other free hand fanning his improvised manhood. All at the crossing. 

Thinking that that was strange enough I walked on, and whilst crossing the road saw what looked like a 60 year old man wearing a white dress and a wig. I’m not saying I’m against transvestites, this just didn’t seem to be a case of it. What with the can of beer in one hand and a look on his face that clearly read “Hangover Imminent” I’m sure that he must have started his night in other clothes. 

Readers. Tip of the Iceberg. Tip of the bloody Iceberg.

When casually strolling through Ikebukuro I witnessed 5 men dressed in all black lycra. Each with a sash on that read something I couldn’t really understand. Not having my dictionary on me I decided to watch them as they walked single file in a circle, then over in front of a building where they danced. I use the word “dance” loosely here as all they did was put there hands above there heads like a pre-diving stance and then wiggled their behinds. Turns out when they gave me a leaflet it was for a massage/therapy building. 

If anyone can see the connection, tell me. I’m still scratching my head. 

I’ll start writing up some more soon! Thought I wouldn’t loose your attention so fast this time with a long-winded post! I’ll upload some photos in awhile as I have experienced my first all night out experience in Japan, as well as attempted to get into the Imperial Palace (Joking, we just walked around the outside walls for hours….)


Thanks for Reading,
Yours Sincerely,
Bored Abroad.

 

Oct 1
Hello Kitty Tour Bus!!!Only in Japan….. 

Hello Kitty Tour Bus!!!


Only in Japan….. 

Oct 1

Japan Challenge - 01. Tokyo Walk.

Hey all!


Been awhile but hopefully I can start updating a bit more now that I have some more free time…..

             ————————————-Yes Man————————————

Have any of you read the book or watched the film “Yes Man” ? About a Man who constantly declines offers and opportunities that come his way. He then joins a motivational group that make him say yes to everything.  I loved this idea of thinking and so decided to follow it for my travels. How else can you face the people back home and say all you did abroad was the same stuff you would have done at home? To the people that called me stupid for trying to find and or do random things like this then;  

Those that can’t or don’t want to see what the world has to offer outside the realms of the internet and the comforts of their living room tv I feel sorry for. There are a lot of things to see, and not enough time in one lifetime to do it all.  

I might make a checklist. See how far I can get in one year? 

——————————————Challenge Number 1—————————————-

Anyway I have been thinking of ages now on how best to see Tokyo. Or rather how best to see/experience Japan. I was trying to come up with Challenges so to speak. With this in mind my Japanese friend here suggested one. The Yamanote-line walk. 

The idea is that within central Tokyo is the green line called the “Yamanote” line or “山手線”. It covers 30 stations in a loop at just over 34.5km. We would start from Shinjuku (新宿) and go from that station all the way around, back to Shinjuku itself. At each station we would take a picture to prove we got to each. 

Good news is we did do it, in a startling 15 hours with only one hour for a lunch break. My legs sure didn’t agree with me afterwards but I’m glad to say I got to be able to say I have done it. 

I’l give you a run down on sights we saw;

- A 20 foot Gnome. Basically he was about 7 foot tall but his hat was stretched and twisted high above him. Looked like the kind of garden gnome you really didn’t want in your garden (although who wants them anyway?)
-  A big night time market that holds itself under a railway bridge! In any other part of the world I’d be sure it was a black market. But I’m sure black markets don’t deal in Crocs…(-.-;).
- Managed to find a big Beetle-like bug with pincers with which we put on someones nose. Yes it did clamp down. Yes he did scream. No it wasn’t a deep pitch of voice. Yes the bug did hold on. Yes he bled a little. No he didn’t bleed a lot. Yes he was laughing too…as were we all.
-Tokyo is one big concrete metropolis. Trains criss cross over head, go over and under, streets are in all directions zig zagging through suburban housing whilst every doorway may lead you down some stairs to some underground bar or restaurant. There are small shortcut entrance ways here and there that take you through Corporate buildings and let you pass through (to the stares of the men/women in suits).  And in spite of all this. There is ALWAYS a vending machine. 
-  Hello Kitty Buses. Tour buses with MASSIVE hello kitty painted sides/back. WITH pink wheels. Couldn’t believe it. Picture to follow! 
- There is a pizza hut in Japan. Delivery Only by the looks of it. All you can see is a big kitchen with a fleet of Pizza Hut Bikes. My favourite mode of transport as it always has a pizza.
- There was a television crew at one station, interviewing someone who was doing the exact same thing as us! And we were told to keep on walking by. I’m sure ours was better though.  And harder. 
- We found the Japan pigeon racing association? Or something to that effect if we translated it right. I don’t think you would ever find that on any conventional route to where you would be going. It was quite out the way. 
- Love hotels are everywhere, even in the most suburban of areas, and apparently it isn’t just a rest stop for the young. This couple must have been 50+ (good on them). I’m sure medical stimulants must have been necessary though.



I know this walk may seem extreme as a last minute decision or as any kind of decision. And believe me it was, I remember the next day I had 9:00am Class to attend. Trying to walk to the train station at a regular pace was impossible. Its rather hard to look cool when you can’t out walk Grannies. 



Fun Fact of the Day: Sushi at lunch time +  long lengths of exercise +heat =  a dangerous equation. I’m just glad there is a Convenience Store around every Corner, and in 90% of stores there are toilets. 

That would have been an unhappy end to the walk believe me. 

This may be a rather “boring” challenge. I guess its one of those “you had to be there” type things. Hopefully there might be several different ones coming up. Any ideas too please message me, trying to find unusual things to do in Tokyo is hard (surprisingly).


Yours Sincerely,
Bored Abroad. 

Oct 1

You’re dead, Carl. You say “no” to life and therefore, you’re not living

- Yes Man.


Words to live by when travelling abroad…. 

Breaking (Language) Barriers

Hey all!


Thought I’d post now on how much hassle it can be to attain the necessities to everyday living whilst in another country. Such as a Bank Account and Phone.


At first I when I opened the Bank Account with my friend I did think for the first time in my life that I actually missed the customer service back in the UK, although after reviewing the differences for both I’m pretty sure I’ve come to the steadfast conclusion that, after being smiled at by customer service (something I’m not used to in the U.K) and treated with honourifics I do prefer Japan . In my opinion the differences go like thus.

UK;

  • opening an account may take awhile, 
  • processes/post may be delayed, 
  • long queues at the bank  
  •  may get the one drunk nutter in front of you drinking his 2 litre bottle of Fanta with his takeaway who is constantly badgering the staff members about international transfers he has to make urgently. 
  • Native Language! 


Whereas in Japan;

  • Efficient service.
  • Completed in 1 hour or less.
  • No long queues or nutters.
  • Postman delivered my Debit Card, at the Specified Time, on a Saturday, DURING a Typhoon. They really took the “Rain, sleet or snow” motto to heart here.
  • Paperwork was long, and numerous. I’m pretty sure no one in Japan can properly go into hiding. My paper trail alone could probably be enough to make Al Gore cry.
  • It was all in Japanese. Japanese. Japanese. Although they are very helpful and I have to admit it is nice to see the person at customer service constantly smiling, the fact was if you don’t go in armed with the vocabulary for the session then may God be with you. I’m pretty sure sign language didn’t help either. I’m not sure how to point out that I’d like a debit card or what kind of interest rate suited me best with my hands. I’m sure pointing at the ATM isn’t a way to go either. 



Now I may be writing this a bit biased, but being from Gibraltar, and having to do these things in U.K. it can be quite annoying when I’m not allowed to. In other words, Britain has a claim on the Rock’s sovereignty but then when it comes to showing my address or background its just “no”s and awkward looks. Bit of a rant but hey whats a blog for?
To be fair I do miss the Nutter in everyday queues, usually brightens my day.

With the account sorted I could now get a phone, which again took another hour of specialised Vocabulary, negotiation, practising my signature on at least 20 different pages and the salesman adding extra charges here and there. 

Although again it was polite, fast and efficient. Although what did get to me slightly was the fact that there are no 1 year contract plans, only 2 year minimum. So cancellation fee here I come. Sly bastards too made me pay extra for the phone charger which came separate.  However, you get internet access, and free texts/messages/ calls to other people of the same provider. I made sure to roll with what I thought was the most popular provider to younger people; Softbank. I also decided to go with them just for the fact they use an awesome talking Dog who plays the Father of a Human Family in their commercials. Apparently the Father used to be human until suddenly he just turned into a a Dog? 

I guess though to be able to get a bank account, bank book and a phone in the space of 3 hours is incredible. With everything working as it should I was quite glad, although never have I just wanted to keel over and forget about every thing.


—————————————Hair Cut————————————-

I might as well include my first Hair dressers experience whilst on the subject of customer service here. This. Was. Incredible.

This time I made sure to get the right vocabulary for the different parts of the head I wanted cut or thinned out. I’ll only point out the Major Differences.

Firstly, after deciding a style for my hair cut the hairdresser then pushed a button that raised my chair vertically, so much so that he didn’t have to sit down, he constantly stood up whilst he cut my hair. It almost felt like an Alien abduction experience. 
The cloth to cover me when he cut my hair was green, and there were almost like Metal Bars similar to the Stirrups in Maternity wards, which propped the cloth up to prevent hair going on my shoes, this did give the effect that I had somehow been mistake for a women whose water had just broke. Also when washing my hair the sink was moveable and he positioned it behind me whilst pressing another button which made my chair tip, backwards and downwards.  Last time I was in that angle in a chair was during a theme park ride.  

Lastly, this took all my effort not to laugh whilst in the Hairdressers. After he had washed my hair he did the usual towel drying thing that most hairdressers do only this one put the towel over my ears then making sure his finger was covered by the towel, inserted said finger into my ear and twirled it about. Both ears at the same time mind you. I tried not to crack a smile  but I’m sure I grinned. He probably thought I was enjoying it. 


Anyway I think I ranted enough for now on this! Next up should be my Epic 35KM walk experience around Tokyo.

Fun Fact of the Day: Blue Rinse still exists here apparently, as well as purple . I’m sure I just saw a 70 year old Marge Simpson get on the train.  


Yours Sincerely,
Bored Abroad 

 

The onset of the Typhoon in Japan helped show me what other Gadgets are out there in Japan waiting to be discovered.

I give you…the Umbrella Dryer.  

Chasing Pavements. Part 2.

Hey all!



Well after moving in, unpacking my 20kg worth of stuff and buying supplies it didn’t leave much else but ranting to do! Here are some of the other parts to the whole moving-in process.

As some of you should know, University dorm’s usually require an upfront payment, which I thought mine also would. So I tried to prepare the cash before hand (not having a Japanese Bank Account yet). This left me in the awkward situation that, one of my cards (not to mention names) refused any transactions I tried to carry out. Even just checking my balance.

The best part to this (sarcasm) is that I told this bank 2 months in advance, where I would, in what part of the world, even which cash machines I would probably use as well. They then took this information, marked it on a folder clearly labelled “For shredding” and then decided not to inform the Fraud Squad.

They also had the audacity to tell me my card was fine on their computers.

Well if they wanted a war I could give them that from halfway across the world. I phoned my Mother. I’m sure she fumed into the local branch and hopefully told them where they could shove their card. 

Anyhow it turns out that luckily, my rent apparently (as well as the initial deposit) is paid in one lump sum in 3 months time. So with a lot of cash on me. I hit the town. (>.O).  Kidding. I saved it (if my Mother is reading this I did…).

Well that was one rant over! Now to the next Alien Registration. As I said before I had to get a Visa to come to Japan in the first place. That meant I was legal to be here. Or so I thought. I also need an Alien Registration Card. Let me tell you know that the Men in Black had less forms to fill in than this City Ward Office.

Getting there was no problem. The only desk available was the English/Portuguese help desk. Where I might add, no english was spoken apart from when the Woman said “What is this?”. So, she went over the form slowly, telling me where to repeat the same details over and over again, then to go away, do it and then come back later. 

So I did this. I got back. And she checked it fast however two problems came up out of this situation. I want to state right now my Japanese isn’t Fluent. And even if it was I’m sure I couldn’t have described to this woman any better than where Gibraltar is. As I’m UK but my address is in Gibraltar I had no post code and no country after Gibraltars name. As Gibraltar. Is just Gibraltar.

With her giving me examples of places in Japan that were inside of other larger places I did managed to convince that no Gibraltar was not in the UK (as some people think) and that it really was at the bottom of Spain. I might try to carry a Map on me more often. After this lengthy process of World Geography, I had to go to a machine to purchase tickets which I could exchange for copies of the form I needed to prove I had registered as an Alien (the card won’t arrive for some time now).

I guess this is getting long as well. Wait eagerly for Part 3 please. I’ll tell you just how much opening a bank account/ getting a Japanese phone, in Japanese, can make you not want to live.


Fun Fact of the Day: If a product such as a deodorant, facial wipe or shower gel says Ice Type or Super cool on it. It will burn the sweat off you. In fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t feel my Manhood after stepping out of my first shower in this room. 


Yours Sincerely,
Bored Abroad

 

Typhoon, Earthquake and free space. I’m just a Godzilla Attack away from my “Japanese Natural Disasters” Bingo, and I’ve only been here 2 weeks!

- Mike Denuyl

Master of Hell I believe. Quiet one I can tell you… 

Master of Hell I believe. 

Quiet one I can tell you…