Friday, 23 August 2013

To Japan!

I simultaneously love and hate travel. Usually I'm a creature of routine. Work, coffee, paper, friends, family, movies, and tv. Obviously, these comforts for me take a hiatus during travel, in one way or another. It usually takes me around a week or two to adjust to another routine, of strange places, strange food, strange language and culture - all of it I guess. But then I do enjoy myself. 

I still read The Age online though... 

So I'm in Japan. I've dreamt for many years of coming it and it hasn't disappointed me. This trip wasn't exactly what I imagined it would be but I'm having a ball. 

I've a bike at my disposal here in Japan and I looooove riding it to Ikebukuro (a local hub for me) and then I figure out the maze of the subway to get to all things incredible. I've had fun figuring it out on my own (with a little help from our friends at Google and some directions here and there). 

Starbucks is my dear friend here. I miss Melbourne coffee like you wouldn't believe and Starbucks is as close as it'll come. It's no Palate (on Greville St in Prahran), but it has good iced coffee (literally a latte with ice) and free wifi. Yum and yay.

I've visited Shibuya and Shinjuku - both incredible and very Japan. I crossed a cat cafe off my bucket list (kawaii) and I think I've filled my spare suitcase with shopping... 

I also enjoy trying out a few words of a foreign language, here I've said "nihongo ga hanasamasen" more than anything else. It's "I don't speak Japanese". I thought it was a silly phrase to learn in all honesty but it's the most helpful one. "Sumemasen" and "domo" are also equally as helpful. "Excuse me" and "thanks". People here will speak Japanese to you until you say that magic phrase and will probably continue in Japanese afterwards but with pointing, so it's a phrase worth knowing.

In a local restaurant I pointed to a dish I thought I might like, not having a clue what it was (thank goodness for pictures). The serviceman asked me questions in Japanese and even when I told him I didn't speak his language, continued without any English. We managed by pointing and with a handy calculator to show me the price. While I was waiting a lady who quite coincidentally worked there (I know her through a friend) saw me and offered me the English menu. Haha. I'd ordered twice cooked pork. Quite delicious. 

Some of the young children here wear squeaky shoes. Handy for mums in such a densely populated city. Endearing too. 

My feet are blistered beyond recognition - even the massage lady giggled when she saw all my bandaids. My hair looks like a birds nest. Everything is so foreign. But I'm enjoying my time here. I'm loving the pointlessness of meandering around a new place, for no other reason than I want to see what it's like there. I love having a cold bath and resting my sore feet at the end of the day. 

I'm truly happy I came here - Japan you haven't disappointed.