Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 117 / Epilogue

Day 117 / Epilogue: (7 September 2011):
- Crashed at Aaron’s for a few days (2?), leg get better by itself, didn’t end up going to doctors, even though plan was ASAP.
- Oakland housing. Still have when finish writing on Dec. 10. (Eventually moved to Nob Hill in Feb).
- Spent a few days bumming around, Join MW2 in crunch. 0 to 100 hrs work weak shock.
- Mixups, etc., eventually got all my stuff, but had to pay nearly $1000 more. Much more than expected. Should have just couriered it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 116

Day 116: (6 September 2011):
- After the usual uneasy sleep & movies & etc, breakfast.
- Was a bit worried with time to make connection.
- Should have walked farther down line, ended up as one of the last to customs when was one of the first to be in area.
- Transferred to an agent. Surprisingly easy, didn’t even look at my transcript & diploma. “Will trust me on it.”
- I express my surprise, he says “we need more people like you” in the US. Want us in country.
- Flew out of LA, see the smog that’s ever present. Was so comfortable no longer in sweltering heat!

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 115

Day 115: (5 September 2011):
- Fully awake as enter Tokyo & off highway.
- Listen carefully to announcements. (Music for near stations).
- Surprised i can understand some. “sugi wa shinjuku eki higashi (ko?).”
- Happy to see my bag unloaded.
- Arrive early morning. Not many people around yet. Familiar blds.
- Grab stuff & enter station. Find JR to Yokohama.
- Train not crowded but full. Pretty fast.
- Get off station, after exiting once by accident & looking around, found some lockers I can use by subway entrance.
- Walk towards Landmark Tower. Nissan HQ. Walkways.
- Try to cool off at mall at base of tower, but not really cool.
- Tower not open until 10.
- Sit around a bit, look around tower grounds. Leg not fully feeling too terrible so decide break plan & keep going.
- Walk by amusement park: game sheds & roller coasters & ferris wheel w / giant clock.
- Circular road-crossing bridges. Large stores, etc.
- Wask to the old brick storehouses, but closed! look around outside & continue. Now all stores & trendy restaurants. New yet-to-open cup (?) ramen museum.
- Continue walking towards Chinatown.
- Rain. Quite nice by harbourside walkway & cruise terminal.
- Raised walkway between buildings.
- City streets pretty. Trees.
- Enter Chinatown. Many gates. Lanterns, narrow alleys, but colourful & neat.
- Lots of similar food as in Kobe, but less street food & more restaurants. Some plastic food (buns) look tasty.
- Found the multistory complex mentioned in LP. Pretty cool atrium with lanterns. Walked around a bit, ended up in some yet-to-be opened places due to back stairs.
- Didn’t visit a nearby tower I saw.
- Follow signs back.
- Walk around old storehouses, go in one. Trendy stores, nice lobby area.
- Nice Japanese city centre w / blds & stuff.
- Walked back to tower via the causeway. Nice park. Rest a bit. Fish in water. Old tram railway?
- Should’ve taken a long escalator / moving sidewalk from beginning.
- Tower open, so go up, even though weather is questionable.
- Bowing. Very fast elevators, mostly accelerating & decelerating.
- Great view at top. Harbour. Tokyo in distance (Shinjuku, new tower). On clear day, can see Fuji, but not today.
- Box-like blds below, in typical Jap. style. Rain patches.
- Ice cream cone tower.
- Sit & enjoy Yokohama beer & watch view for a while.
- Walk back to station, ask about Yokohama ramen & train to Narita.
- One place (which ben rec’ed) is closed on Monday, try other recommendation. Have ~1.5 hrs before I need catch train.
- Glad there is a cheap local train, not just express. Not that much slower, either. Didn’t have to take bus.
- Got to Yokohama, but there was no obvious ramen posted outside that was Yokohama style. Nice walk. Also intimidated by lack of Jap.
- In the end, ate at Ippudo across the street.
- Nice walk back, busy stores, lights, person holding sign with siren light on head, etc.
- Glad to get inside the department store connecting to station, as they have A/C.
- A bit sad but also exciting, since is last time outside on this trip.
- Get bag & ticket. Ask person at platform: “sumimasin” “hai.” Ask in English, he look not sure either, but sign says Narita.
- Long ride through Tokyo. Watch as approach & depart from close to new tower. Train quite fast, as usual.
- long passage through the countryside, where I had my first glimpse of Japan a couple of years ago.
- Uniformed school kids.
- Some English speakers got off @ Narita, not ariport, was considering making sure with them, but decided not to.
- Things pretty smooth at airport. Use phone card to call parents.
- Use leftover amount to call Ben. Out of money, insert more coins. A meter showing how much time left. When down to Y10 coins, rate of insert barely kept up with time!
- Turns out is A380 Singapore Air.
- Took Japanese meal option. Soba.
- Too lazy / tired to explore upper floor, especially with leg pain. Sit not in aisle or window.
- Looked up a few doctors, tried to make appt, but decided to delay due to $150 reg fee.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 114

Day 114: (4 September 2011):
- Sleep in a lot & pack. Take photo of possible housing location maps & map of Yokohama.
- Take subway with my stuff to Osaka station & store there.
- Walk to Fukushima: remember the alleys we stayed at on our last trip here.
- Go to a tskemen place from magazine. Passed another place with ume tskemen Ben also been meaning to try.
- Apparently, he got a free oyako don last time ordering the set.
- I got the set: this is my shot at a classic tsekemen.
- Very solid, delicious.
- When done, pour in the hot soup to remaining sauce.
- Ben told me how, but due to awkward Asian thing, I was still not confident in asking for rock.
- Rock was a dense piece of metal shaped like an eggplant, presented on a spoon in a bowl. Under directions from Ben, pushed bowl away & dropped rock in. Sizzling & sputtering. Delicious hot soup. As usual, cartoon & instruction of entire process.
- Yuzu sprinkle also quite good.
- Leg seems to be a bit better today, but not sure if I’m just getting used to it. A bit worried as i read if a cyst abcesses, surgury is the only way it will get better.
- Walk to Umeda Sky bld for Octoberfest. Meet up with some Apple house people. Sky starting to darken. Can hear music as enter grounds.
- A few beer tents, with diff. beer. Pay deposit for glass, get back when return glass.
- Had a dark beer (forget which) & 1L Bitburger.
- Amusing to see Jap. ppl in german costumes playing german music on stage. Bow at end of songs.
- See Jap. businessmen doing funky chicken.
- ppl. sing, dance.
- When rain starts, everyone seems to pull out their umbrellas, seemingly in unison. Forms a solid canopy (mostly clear) where everyone is sitting.
- After the event, walk to Osaka station together, there was time for dinner, at an izakaya - again, a good (real) last dinner before I leave.
- One of the cheap places in an “izakaya tower.”
- Basashi: chunks of horse meat & fat.
- Go to Osaka station, get my stuff, & Ben see me on the bus.
- Tell luggage handler I will get off at Shinjuku instead of Tokyo stn. as on ticket.
- Settle in upstairs, lucky no one sit beside me, so have some room.
- Peek out closed blinds to lights zooming past.
- Soon, on less populated highway.
- Stopped a couple of times, once at some highway-stop like place. Some people get on/off.
- Eventually, drift in / out of uneasy sleep.
- Wet towel drying beside me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 113

Day 113: (3 September 2011):
- Leg is really doing horrible. Very difficult to walk. Huge limping. Tired. Black pockets in central purple raised area. Very sentative.
- For lunch / brunch, go to Coco Ichi. I got Motsu curry with katsu. 1-10 spicy level. Ben get 10 (?, something high), I get 3 (happens to be on sale?). Very tasty & filling.
- Take subway to Umeda (“expert” train maps) & over to the games meetup. Pick up drinks & Tamade.
- Juso looks like a nice place. Pretty crowded covered walkway.
- Nice quiet street in rain. A few neighbourhood gardens w / vegetables. Bad limp. Difficult.
- Get to apt. of host: localizer, did english “objection” voice of Phoenix Wright.
- Huge apt. (Not too expensive, apparently). Ping pong table. IRobot, pool on roof, man-cave. See the ridiculous Mortal Kombat anims for first time.
- Some food (didn’t really eat). Hang out, talk (mostly to Ben, as I prob. will never see the others again). Ppl. drink, play video games. I try to sit a lot to rest leg.
- Ppl confuse hei matau for magatama.
- Ben’s umbrella gone from pile, swap. Nice in rain. Some take taxi. Say bye at Osaka / Umeda. UB exchange.
 -Back to osaka station, walk around the familiar under-station maze-like area where we had our first okonomiyaki 2 yrs ago.
- Had okonomiyaki & negiyaki at a LP listed place. Good, but not as good as the other okonomiyaki & negiyaki we had.
- Change my tickets to leave Sunday night. Stuck in Osaka, reminds me of “stuck in Olso.” Should have just flown out from Osaka.

Friday, September 2, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 112

Day 112: (2 September 2011):
- Windy & rainy. Typhoon. Pretty mild overall.
- Walk to Sukiya for gyu-don. Slick menu. Lots of choices & sizes, decide on medium original. Only Y280. Meal is instantly ready.
- Wet shoes again.
- Spend day researching housing, messages, etc.
- Pics of plane / flight info.
- Pack & wait for Ben to return, to ge to Tokyo together.
- Mostly indecision, but Ben took the earlier but longer bus, he leaning towards it.
- Just as I was about to leave, he e-mails buses cancelled due to typhoon. He is going to return ticket. Good thing he went, so he can sort things out!
- Walked to Namba to meet Ben.
- Random Jap. photographer (young, hipster-like). Old-school camera, going to take Shinkansen in morning to Tokyo.
- Had 2 drinks at izakaya & head back.
- See Big-man monitor, some cool streets. Considered eating at Namba & surrounds, nothing super interesting.
- Dinner @ Kurazushi again. Both felt bad for going, but cheap & tasty.
- Talk a bit, plan. Now can go to the Kansai games meetup ben wanted to go to.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 - NZ To SF - Day 111

Day 111: (1 September 2011):
- Since no longer going to Fuji, make plans of going to Nagoya on way to tokyo for flight.
- Leg really quite bad. Was hoping some rest will resolve it.
- Quite swollen. Central bump turning black & purple. Abcess? Extended hand-sized red & warm patch, almost like flowing down leg.
- For lunch, go to Metepo, as rec’ed by Ben. The guy co-worker says my stomach will be bad.
- Walk there after consulting Google maps, happy when see it.
- Pressed the button using copied Japanese & phonetic pronouciation.
- Ushered in, awkward due to lack of Japanese.
- Share table. Woman server keep saying something, I don’t understand. Eventually, one guy at table say “thick, no. Regular, OK?” Thanked him for translating.
- Very short talk: Canada, NZ. He point at some pickles for me.
- Ate pretty fast due to awkwardness. Less comfortable than hoped.
- Even regular was ridiculously thick. Not convinced I didn’t get the thick one. Glorious pieces of fat.
- Thick here is the only ramen Ben thinks is OK not to drink the broth.
- Rest of day: Made preparations for Nagoya, take photos of LP pages & research online.
- Dinner with Ben at an izakaya, fitting last dinner together.
- Delicious, as usual. Skewers (take off skewers during izakaya), self squeezed chu-hi’s. Fried chicken livers. Hoppy.
- Before dinner, I looked for ticket counters (bus), found, but decide not buy. Upstairs at Namba JR.
- Ben decide go to Tokyo w/ me. Ramen & baseball game. Contact Tokyo friend.
- Very few tickets left. Tour of new Osaka station. Y5000. Tickets on diff buses.
- Ben seen some Apple House people downstairs. Hang out in lounge with some cans of beer / fake beer / chu hi.
- French person get teaching job. Other foreign ppl. Koreans. Nice lounge area w/ TV. Counters.
- Leg getting bad. Careful what position it is in.
- Good thing no Fuji.