A Travellerspoint blog

80s action advice!

Doing it like they did in the 80s, the big comeback! Que music!

I had a dream...

And in that dream there were some men, men's men. HEY! OK Ok so its not what your thinking!

These men don't give up when it gets tuff, they don't cry like a baby and go home...
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Did Frank Dux give up when he got blinded in the kumite??!?
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Nooooooo!!

Did Dutch run and hide when his team was wiped out and he was fighting an alien?!??!
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Noooo!!

Did private Joe.T. Armstrong give up when he came across laser toting ninjas!?!??
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Noooo!!

So its time for 80s action man strength and resolve!! Time to punch up some carcasses!!
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I've cancelled my flight back home and leave for Kyoto tomorrow!
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Thanks Maverick :)

Anyhow, lets see how it goes... so see you in Kyoto!
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Posted by CrackerjackHobo 06:18 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

The battle is lost, but not the war.

Homeward bound

Hi guys,

Its been a gruelling time and after the orthepedic advising rest for 3 weeks I don't think it worth going on in this fashion. Even if I decided to go on it would not be the same kind of travel experience, so I have decided to come back to Australia. This will not be the end of my travels as I am sure I will have many more in the years to come but I have taken my first step which could be said to be the hardest.

Thanks to all the people who read and enjoyed the blog, I feel I have let you down but this is the best course of action at this point for me :/

Regards,
Steve

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 01:43 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Niseko 1 - Steve 0

Bruised up and kicked in the guts...

snow

OK so I left off from Sapporo but I did it before my last night which turned out fun. Met some travellers at the Guesthouse, Canadian girl and Japanese fella. So we ended up going for some food, now the Japanese guy spoke only very little English which resulted in a lot of pointing, diagraming and acting...well that's charades huh..so yeah pretty much charades. So this guy is REAL excited and is looking up all these places. We end up at a 90 minute bar/restaurant place, so the deal is you pay for your food but you can drink all you want in the 90 minutes for only 980 yen (currently 12.45 AUD!). So safe to say I got quite drunk (not just free beer, anything). I forgot that I was on anti- biotics for my lip and well when you have an all you can drink there is a sense of urgency to the matter. The food was cool, we got a lot of skewered meats etc and sauces. In the end from what I figured out the guy was from Nagasaki and was in the navy as a pilot for submarine detector airplanes. Oh! I was amazed that the universal rule of 3 seconds IS actually universal (well worldy) , he dropped food and picked it up quoting the rule, he was chuffed it was also the same in Australia (He had never met any foreigners before us).

So I head off to Niseko at 5am having 3 hours sleep in the snowing cold with all my bags...feel what I'm trying to convey here??! Luckily the subway is close, the trip goes smoothly and the new guesthouse I will be staying at will pick me up at the station. The guy that greets me is young with an awkward demeanor wearing a leg brace (I should of noticed this as a sign). Arriving at the house Bongo I am delighted at how picture perfect it all is, the house was built by the father of the family who run the place. Walking in I get more excited by the amazing landscape and mountain views from the window, with warmth and a hint of wood fire in the air I already feel relaxed.

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Oh, on the way we stopped at 7-eleven to get myself provisions. I get like bread and jam and some snacks. So I head in and miss the chance to go snowboarding as they are just leaving, but I'm cool to chill as is so cosy feeling. I organize a snowboard and boots the next day and the Guesthouse guy lets me borrow his old pants,goggles and jacket. The other two guys staying are a Spaniard and a Canadian. The Canadian is going to same place and says he will give me a couple lessons etc. We get a lift to the Anappuri ski area by the mother which is great because I have no bearings on where to go. So we arrive, the Canadian sits me down gets me to clip on my board bum on ground (By the way never boarded ever in my life and ski'd once in shitty lake mountain cross country years ago) he proceeds to get me to try and stand and slide down whilst balancing in the like pose of a star jump only standing. Sounds easy huh?! Well I can't even get up halfway before I fall on my arse or jet off to the left (I know the reason why now). I am literally at the area where people just put on their gear and feeling kinda stupid already! The Canadian keeps saying just like your on your skateboard (I mentioned I skateboarded in the past to boast my considerable aptitude for balance sports). The Canadian wants to get on with things it seems and suggests that I would do better to learn up the slope where its less distance to fall (ie a bigger slope angle) and not as much ice. I feebly disagree and we take a gondala up the slope 403212_101..60666_n.jpg

OK so its been approximately 10 minutes if that. Now we are at the top and this is what greets me. 408537_101..30118_n.jpg
OK, so I hav'nt even been able to get up above my knees AND THIS IS WHAT GREETS ME!! (GET IT?!) I'm feeling a little un prepared for this, but the ONLY way down is off that what looks to be ...a cliff?!?

So I strap up at the edge and with encouraging words from the Canadian I go for gollllddddd annnd fall, and fall, and fall, and fall, basically... I am doing snow situps whilst sliding forward. The Canadian has already boarded to where the first platform for the open gondalas is far to the left and calling for me to come to him, so I ferociously do more snow sit ups not moving left nor right but just down. Finally he yells "are you going down?" To which I only have one real answer "Yeah!" like it was the plan I had all along deciding not to come over and meet him. So I'm getting hella tired and but I am making progress, I figure out that the foot you put your weight on is the way it will turn (hence why at start I would go left, back foot carries the weight and he was telling me like a skateboard!). So now I'm standing and can slide down star style, then I advance to what I call "leaf drifting in wind style" where star positioned you move side to side.
OK I'm about half way down (oh I tried one of the open lifts up but you have to keep on the board, think usual suspects walk when Kevin Spacey leaves the cop station, that is excactly it ..on snow...with a board on one foot, so you have to slide off right away and of course I fell and made a hell of a racket and decided that even snow situps is cooler than being tangled in the lifts), so I get cocky and start angling more and more forward then spin and slow down, works out pretty well. By the end I'm pretty chuffed with myself and glad I'm at the bottom. I wait for the Canadian as I assume he will meet me at the base and had probably gone up and down a few times already as my escapade took only a mere 2 HOURS!! Haha. At least the view when you fall is nice 385088_101..57907_n.jpg
So I wait for him for like an an hour wanting to show him my skills from just one trip down. Finally getting bored and thinking I'm just wasting time I decide I will just go up again, that was the last I saw of the Canadian. The second time down was great I stayed up most of the way and even went speeding around a difficult corner from the first time whilst facing the slope like a pro (so to put in perspective I took a half hour to get to the bottom). Because the second go was so good and the day was getting on, I decided to do a third go. Everything was fine but not as sweet as that second time but good enough until the very bottom where I had a wide expanse to me left and thought I would try going the hard side then stopping, well with the board moving ever faster and my difficulty in slowing down on that side. It ended in feet to sky, wrist to ground and with elbow to ribs...and it HURT!
I knew I'd hurt myself but not how bad untill later, as my primary and growing concern was, where was I and how do I get back to my warm cosy cottage!?!? I was still holding on to the hope that the Canadian was looking for me so I made myself visible at key points. You know, its ironic...the one time I want to be recognizable and my red jacket mixes in with all the other bright colours (makes sense if you read last entry)! It is dark now and everyone is leaving there is no foreign help desk place at all, I have no idea of the cottage address, have no phone or anything. I start contemplating walking (it would of been wrong choice) but I manage after a while mind you to find a bus timetable, but fortune does'nt come easy... it's in another language. I finally find a map with bus routes and some how piece together where I need to be and point to the place on my map to see if it stops there to the bus driver, he tells me no and my hearts drops. Looking at the map again I'm pretty sure that he does go past and it is dark and snowing so i try pointing again, he emphasizes no (the no movement seems to be the deal or no deal sign) and points like a half inch up the street. Bloody hell, I just want to get closer not be dropped off at the doorstep!!

Finally I arrive back at the driveway to the cottage. I envision everyone frantic with worry because I have not come back and most likely the Canadian has already (having to explain why he ditched me all alone :)). This did not seem to be the case at all, to my disappointment as Yohei (the son and staff member if you will running the place) has friends over and is having a party for new years eve with some traditional Japanese moochi making, which is heated rice then put into a tree trunk with a bowl carved in the top and beaten with a big wooden hammer to a pulp. By the way I did'nt mention that the first night I helped bring up the trunk from a snowed over barn with a friend of Yohei's named Passion, he was more of a game show host than a person...it was one of the hardest things I have done in a while, it was some serious Rocky 4 training in the snowy woods stuff! I felt obliged as the son was injured from a ski accident (the sign earlier!). IMG_6604.jpg Well I drank and ate moochi, spoke with locals, got more drunk with the father communicating through music, he loves jazz and Bossa Nova.
I had a go of doing the hammer and the funny thing is that when I do something hard, you know like a karate chop I can say "hai"sometimes. So essentially I was yelling "Yes!Yes!" with each whack of the hammer, that's bad enough I know. But then they are all saying something to me so I recognised they were helping me out and giving me the right word to yell when i smack the rice, so I start yelling it with gusto which makes them all crack up and I laugh. Yohei comes over and I quickly as him what it means and he tells me "Sound with no meaning"! ha :p

I woke up at still dark early with REALLY SORE RIBS, complaining and grumbling I mope around and decide not to snowboard today. Drinks again and more moochi that night. I get hardly any sleep, I mention to staff on many occasions that I feel badly hurt and maybe have cracked/broken ribs. I'm met with blank stares and ahh OK's. I ask for English speaking doctors they say maybe in kutchan the next town but nothing else is done. I'm in the middle if nowhere and obviously not going to get any sympathy/help here. I still have one night and am not enjoying it at the place as the son is like having a guard in a two bedroom cell, he is obviously bored and will just sit in the room where I'd like to sit also but I would have to have awkward conversation. The place is new and he obviously is not sure if he's doing the right thing, there is no TV, no food, nothing really to do but lie on my bed in pain. So after some deliberation I realise it is quite early as I have not slept much and will just leave a day early. I say my goodbye and have to write a good thing about the guesthouse on paper and take a picture with the message held up (oh I forgot to mention that by the second day I had got a virus and was now erratically coughing which you could understand is not the ideal time when you have potentially cracked ribs). So I'm holding up this bogus writing of how great it is here because I just want to get the hell out. Finally I get a lift to the station say my goodbyes, but not without photo ops. I'm seriously sick in the snow on an outside platform with cracked ribs lugging around a full 75 litre backpack and two other bags, but things could be worse..I could be still at the guesthouse.
Finally after A LOT of pain I get to Sapporo and lugg the bags through the length of one large shopping mall to the taxis, I find where I have the address to the hostel but its in English and he does'nt know where to go. I look back toward the large shopping mall/major station and could feel the wall crumbling. Dutifully I trudge back. Now I have not been wearing the backpack, I can only lift it a little and kind of kick it forward till it hurts to much then rinse and repeat (oh, add in fits of coughing). I decide I cannot do it any longer so I see lockers and go to put in my bag, the cost is 700 yen, it only accepts 100yen coins...I have 6.
So again I trudge pretty much dragging it and coughing, I spy a little bit smaller locker and its 600 yen, I put it in and now without the backpack I can make better progress as I'm worried that the information desk will close and I'm not sure exactly where it is, quickly I store it and walk around the corner....there is the information centre...figures. So i proceed to the desk. Now I may of failed to explain the mask on faces thing in Japan. Yes it is for smog for some, but for a lot it can be for if they are sick and do not want to spread germ to potentially millions of people. So they are very germ aware and I have been getting dirty looks the whole way on trains etc and this lady is getting me at my worst just come from the cold and crouched over grimacing with weary no sleep eyes.
My first words are just a garble of mucas, I'm pretty sure she instinctivly took a step back. Anyhow by some awesome chance she had a brochure in Kanji for my hostel! So i get to the hostel finally, its about 8pm. I'm running on fumes and check in quickly, I explain my situation and why I am late and why I booked a day early. OMG I get sympathy and concern (The owners at this hostel have been great, I can't explain and is a great hostel too - INO'S Place in Sapporo), I mention doctors and she she has nearly already got me in emergency but I'm to tired and I need food then bed (feeling tired yet? I'm not finished). So i have to go up make the bed, unpack get dressed for snow again go out find food, decided pizza will be the easiest. Wait forever to get my pizza (ramen in no time, pizza like 40mins). I drop by the quickmart and get some cough lollies (I cough and point to my throat with the mentos flip movement). Eat then go to bed. People are in and out talking leaving the light on and generally being assholes, I try my cough lollies to find out it's gum. After an hour I mope down and ask if there are any single rooms, there is! So I change everything over, get into bed and finally sleep.

I'm now writing on the second day and trying to rest my ribs and get rid of the virus, I've shopped and got food and some what I think is pain killers and virus medicine and holed in for combat. So who knows where it goes from here, see if it repairs or not and I need to head back...

Oh, and lastly I am finally updating the "Culture Shock" entry with pictures, check em out.

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 16:10 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Sapporo

Where the cold gets colder

snow

So as my train heads ever northward it gets colder, it will be three trains to Sapporo. Tokyo - Shin-Aomori then I go underground, underneath the straight of water to Hakodate, then last train to Sapporo. I managed to miss my first train by like 5 minutes, I'd like to blame it on the rail system like I could at home but well I'm in Japan and that argument does'nt hold weight so I had to wait an hour and get all my new tickets. The underground tunnel is 100m under earth and another 140m of water on top of that at its max depth.
This is the station at Shin-Aomori, if its cold here its going to be hella cold in Sapporo! The lane way picture is my hostel, Time Peace Hostel. It is a very chilled out small hostel with the staff living in house and always has some kind of chilled music playing downstairs, which is toilets,bathroom etc and the chill out area is a lounge with a bar. Its cosy and I swing from enjoying it to feeling like I'm living in someone else's house. Most of the time there is no English speakers and I seem to be doing some things wrong which they make allowances for but I feel bad, but I have learnt that giving expressed apologies can just further confuse the situation.
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My bed is by the top right window.

So I got a bit lost from the directions of turn left at the vending machine....there are vending machines EVERYWHERE! If your curious here's what they look like IMG_6354.jpgIMG_6285.jpg
So I went out to explore and got hungry and found a store which also uses vending machine style to pay for food, no till necessary! So you go to this machine and put in the yen for what you want and choose it, a ticket pops out then you hand the ticket to the person and they give you your meal, simple.
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I'm loving the snow and my hiking boots that I got for tropical weather are really holding out, warm and no wet socks but they still gave me hella blisters I'm still having to deal with on my first day. When I walk around the city I have some great moments of that looks really beautiful which do not translate to camera. It was snowing hard when I woke this morning, snow is pretty mesmerizing to watch, much like a campfire. Here is a video so you know what I mean...

Had I realised that in Japan no one wears bright colours I may of thought twice on a bright red jacket, I'm like the cherry on the top of a huge chocolate cupcake when i walk around. They seem to be quite fashionable thruout Japan and the style is not to unlike that of Melbourne in winter. There is a strange ubundance of short skirts here, not that I'm complaining but I thought that when i got to a sub zero part of Japan that would end but no there are girls with high thigh shorts when it is snowing and I have like 30 layers on, crazy.

I had a bad day a bit yesterday, sometime traveling alone does'nt feel so good but I feel better today. I guess it is normal and it is still early in the travels so I will persist on. I have a feeling that Niseko is going to be fun and am actually a little excited to try snowboarding, I hope everything works out...snowboarding in Japan can't be to bad a place to spend new years.

Oh! I had my first stack today on the ice going ass over tit on the street! It is not a good idea to suddenly change direction and speed, duly noted haha. A quik dust off with swearing and off I shuffle not looking at who saw and might be laughing lol.

I found a shop today that my 13year old self would of loved (I must not be that mature as I loved it now also!), it was filled with air pellet pistols. I took pictures as i need a real pistol license to have them in Australia..so in order to get an air pistol why not just get a real gun then if I have the license, nevermind me I'm just bitter :p There was also a huge collection of butterfly knives and pro slingshots and well pretty much any other banned cool thing from your childhood. I took some pics of the pistols etc IMG_6394.jpgIMG_6393.jpgIMG_6391.jpgIMG_6389.jpg the pamphlet had machine guns to like the Sopmod M4, Steyr HC, sniper rifles, even a SPAS12 Shotgun!

For dinner I got to do what I've wanted to do since being here is eat some Ramen, I had thought it was an originally Japanese dish but it is actually Chinese which the Japanese have taking a liking to, anyhow I find a place called Ramen Alley and it is about two shoulder lengths wide with small ramen shops on either side. I finally chose one and had the confusing all of ordering, well I'm glad I had my raincoat on because it was raining ramen when i was eating it..there must be some kind of a trick to it haha. On the whole it was nice for a cold nights meal, though it burned me (chef did warn me saying "atsui, atsui!") a little. Its a fair serving too for about $9-$10 AUD. The strange thing and in someways quite annoying for me is that no one eats or drinks on the run, it is frowned upon for some reason which is why there are hardly any bins on the street. I mean you can go to a 7 eleven equivalent and there may not be any bins to put rubbish in, you must have a seat or something to eat generally.

Here is an assortment of random pictures of Sapporo I have taken. I also got some more photos of Shinjuku that I lost, I will be posting them into the "Culture Shock" blog.
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OK, so if you got through all them then good work :) See you on the slopes for New Years!

Oh! I just arrived in Niseko,the Guesthouse looks amazing! Here are some quick pics for what's to come. Every window I go past has an amazing view, the worries I had of it not being next to skiing could not be more from the truth...I'm smack bang in the middle. The Guesthouse was built by the father here and the family has only just opened their house this December for guests.IMG_6575.jpgIMG_6592.jpg270_IMG_6590.jpgIMG_6587.jpgIMG_6586.jpg

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 23:41 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Sayonara Tokyo

Off to the cold north I go..

OK so for my last day in Tokyo I had to make sure that I visited the Tokyo tower. I don't know why but it would just not be right. Here is a picture...
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So to get the the first level is 150 metres, then if you want to you can go an extra 100 metres to the top observatory for more yen. So I couldn't go to half way and stop there, somehow I think this is how they plan it... devious! Well anyhow these are some pics of the views...
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So with the last thing done I'm heading for Sapporo in Hokkaido, I say good bye to my Kiwi mates wondering what mess they will get themselves into, here is a pic of what I last saw of them (They have matching bamboo and wooden thongs on aswell, after showing this to a Japanese person I found he head bands say "number one guy" or something like that...I'm sure this would only encourage them.
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Earlier that day I visited the Meiji Shrine and got some pictures, I could'nt take pictures of the place where you say your prays to the dieties as that is where they live which is understandable. I don't want the gods sending me as paparazzi! When the Japanese left the area of the shrine and even the park for that matter they would bow respectfully to the gods as they left, I was inclined to do so also but I think it would defeat the purpose of respect if it is something that I do not truly have belief in.
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The park I mentioned is Yeyogi Park, perhaps one of Yogi bears relative lives here, I'm not surwe. Anyhow it has these amazing gateways into the park which are quite impressive, with a beautiful back drop of a wide path and tree canopy kind of holding their arms over the path. The first day I went down this pathway was amazing as the sun was dappling through and the sun spots on the ground were magical. You see that's the things with the parks and the gardens in japan, in the pi tures you may seen the normal Japanese looking tree or plant but its the way that it looks in real life with the sun playing on its leaves and a shower of leaves crossing your view or a small bird delicately jumping through its branches. The gardens are to be experienced not photographed.
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Mount Fuji!.IMG_6267.jpg

Sooo Sayonara Tokyo you've been a gentle giant for my first O/S destination :) large_IMG_6265.jpg

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 19:53 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

AKIHABARA

The Tech Mecca!!

semi-overcast 4 °C

AKIHABARA
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So I decided to go to Akihabara the gadget mecca of the world! All bright eyed with the possibilities of the wonders I would see I set off on trying to navigate my way through the subway system, which I'm now getting the hang of (They have a kind of myki system here like in Melbourne, Australia also which helps me a lot), I've wanted to take pictures on the train but I think it would be frowned upon and have not yet built the courage to quickly snap one. Here are some pics so you can get a feel of what I'm seeing in Akihabara..
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The truck in the bottom left they have all throughout the more busy parts of Tokyo which play the music of the advertised popstar, its real loud too, but everything is in these areas. Shops play their own jingles outside their stores, hawkers yell out their wares from the shop fronts, anime dressed girls try to get you into their bar/cafe for a drink, that's one on the balcony (She hearts me, naww).

Well what I thought was going to be an easy find and just the hard part of choosing between the many choices turned out to be a bit of a pipe dream. I mean..Akihabara would be great ..if you were Japanese, living in Japan. I guess your getting the jist of this by now...everything is in Japanese software, out of all of Akihabara I only have 1 choice of what I want and its a kids Disney version for gawds sake!...sigh. I have tried since to see if I can order from the U.S. and get delivered here but can't from the place I usually order from, I will most likely get the Disney net book :( it may work as some kind of theft deterent maybe.

The Hostel is good, it has just got an influx of American/Aussies for Christmas it seems. I've got two kiwis, a Spaniard and an American in the room. The kiwis are piss pots and are breaking all the rules and being unruly which is amusing and annoying at the same time, but they're OK blokes. Oh I got the Shibuya crossing photos off the camera, here they are..
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You will notice the no smoking sign on one, in japan there is designated areas to smoke, no one smokes in the street as they walk that I have seen. Here are some pics from things I saw on trip there and back walking around..
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FamilyMart is where I survived on pre made sandwiches (no crusts for some reason) in Shinjuku and well a lot anywhere in Tokyo. This is one of the main four chains or so of conveniance stores here. Top left was just an alley I came across getting from A 2 B. The next two are of a police station round the corner from my Shinjuku capsule hotel, they are not fancy by and means, they are all like this. To the right of that is the wanted board out the front. The next two are of the temple just 2 minutes down from where I am now at the Hostel, the blueish tower is the Tokyo Sky Tree which is not opened yet till may next year but I liked the contrast of new and old.

OK that's it for now so a few pics to keep ya updated as the xoom and camera are now getting along again, oh I also lost a heap of really good photos of all my Shinjuku travels and where I was etc so pretty upset with that and deciding whether to go and do it again or not.

Ciao for now
Steve.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 22:56 Archived in Japan Tagged akihabara Comments (0)

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