Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tokyo - Too Many People

The first order of business was getting the hell out of Osaka. We were worried that the anal retentive employee at the front desk would be mad that we were cutting out early, but since this is the only place I've ever seen where you pay day-by-day, I'd imagine this sort of thing happens quite often here. In our haste, we neglected to follow some of the hundreds of pre-check-out rules. We definitely did not "fold your brankets" (I'm not making fun of their accents - that's how they spelled it on the signs).

We boarded a train to Tokyo (oh, how I missed these long train rides), and three hours later we were in the middle of the madness of Tokyo. I've been in Japan for nearly a month now, but nothing can prepare you for Tokyo. It has to be the craziest city in the world.

After a few not-so-difficult transfers, we were at the station closest to our hostel. The problem is I had felt so rushed at the Apple store in Osaka that I hadn't written down the name of the hostel we were staying at. All I had was a hand-drawn map that said to cross some water, pass the Mercedes-Benz store, and eventually take a right.

Unbelievably, we were unable to find the hostel with that detailed information. We wandered for close to an hour through tiny little residential and warehouse neighborhoods. The woman at a nearby information center pointed us to the Mercedes-Benz building, so we were at least in the general area of the hostel. We asked several people, but none of them knew any English. At one point, Pearl just opened the door and walked into some old woman's home. In her defense, the woman had decorated her house like a hotel, and even had a little "welcome" sign out front. The woman was pissed at us.

Finally, a nice cop gave us directions. It was to the sister hostel of the one we were booked at, but they pointed us the right way. And then we had to wait at the hostel for the receptionist to get back from lunch. Luckily for Pearl, they had an open bed that night, so she wouldn't have to go back to that old woman and ask to stay at her house.

The hostel is a step up from the one in Osaka (a pile of feces would be a step up), but it's filled with loud French people. Pearl and I are sharing a room with these three guys from California currently skateboarding around the country while sporting really trendy 1980s moustaches (when asked, "Where are you going next?" one responded, "We just go where the boards go, man.") The place is really hard to sleep in, but we shouldn't be here long.

After checking in we tried to find a cool-sounding restaurant in Lonely Planet. Of course, the maps were wrong and we never found it. I'm done following these maps. In fact, Pearl called her friends in Tokyo to show us around the next day so we don't find ourselves completely lost anymore. Because Tokyo is really, really big, believe it or not.

We went to the neon craziness of Shinjuku, where we had Chinese food, much to Pearl's dismay (it's like me going to Japan to have a hamburger). But she did speak in Chinese to the waiter, who made fun of her Wisconsin-accented Mandarin. The food was incredible, and I ate two full-sized meals, because it was an absolute steal. I spent the rest of the night wanting to either vomit or die, I was so full.

After dinner, we had only one destination in mind: the red light district! Lonely Planet was wrong again, but after about half an hour, we found it. You can tell when you're there, because there are hundreds of signs showing you all the choices you have for dancers/entertainers/sex slaves. Most of them are actually men, which was surprising. It was really funny to see some of the male escorts sitting outside their clubs, talking on the phone and doing normal stuff in front of the billboards offering them for sale. One guy in his picture was in full S&M gear - he even had The Gimp's mask from Pulp Fiction. It was a really freaky area, in short.

We then made our way back to the hostel at only 8:00, since we were exhausted from getting lost all day, and we had to get up early for the first market the next morning. Plus my modeling shoot should be coming up and I need to look well-rested.

No comments: