Monthly Archives: September 2014

Robot restaurant – Can Japan get any crazier?

Words cannot describe what I experienced at this show that I saw in Tokyo. It was mental, really.

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The Robot Restaurant is a popular tourist attraction in Shinjuku. The name Robot Restaurant doesn’t actually describe it very well. It’s not really a restaurant and it doesn’t only have robots. It has lots of different machines and contraptions and even more Japanese girl dancers, who seem to wear less and less over the course of the show.

I took some pictures but if you want to get an even better feel for what it was like, watch my little video on YouTube.

Spectators sit in three rows on either side of an aisle where the show happens. Robots and girls do come very close, much to the excitement of a lot of Japanese men and much to the confusion of everyone else.

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But before we headed down to the second or third basement level where the show takes place, we had to wait in the waiting area that looked like this:

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By the time that I had been in there for five minutes I was so high on neon lights, glitter and the reflections thereof, that I wondered if I’d ever be able to calm down enough to sleep that night.

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First day in Tokyo

Yay! Finally back in Japan after a year. I was so excited on my first day in Tokyo that I had to photograph anything and everything. And it wasn’t only the excitement of being in Japan. The day also marked the beginning of my big trip through Asia which I’ve previously written about.

I arrived in the evening and just went out to have dinner before I crashed. It had been a long journey.

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On the following day (my real first day…) I walked from my own Tokyo apartment (OK, I rented it through Airbnb) in Meguro to Shimokitazawa. Google maps said that it would be about an hour’s walk. I had no idea if it would be a nice walk but I figured that as I was in that phase of finding everything amazing, it didn’t really matter if it was going to be picturesque or not. I would love it anyway.

I saw tons of photo ops on the way (as expected).

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The joys of travelling alone

I’ve got my big two months trip coming up and I’ll be travelling alone for large parts of it. Several people who I’ve told about it were curious/horrified/worried about the idea that I would be going alone. I’ve travelled by myself before in Europe, the USA and Japan and I have to say, I really like travelling alone.

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Now, this is nothing against my friends and family and I do like going away together with others but travelling alone is a completely different experience for me.

When I travel alone I can decide exactly what I want to do. If I want to spend hours in one temple and take photos and change my film five times, then I can do it. Or if I decide that the temple is really boring, I can just go. Without waiting for anyone. Off to the next adventure.

I can get up early and be the first tourist on the Empire State Building and don’t need to agree this with anyone else. I can eat bowls of soba three nights in a row and no one cares. I enjoy my independence.

I also think, if I’m with others, I can’t really take in the details of my surroundings as well as I would when I’m alone. Usually I’d be chatting away about something and miss the old lady watering her plants.

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I like taking a lot of photos, so I might run of mid-conversation and take a shot – or miss that shot altogether if I don’t want to be rude.

Maybe photography is one of the main reasons why I like travelling alone. I can walk around the same place for ages, take photos of details or random things. I can take time to change my film and find the camera at the bottom of my bag that I want to use for this specific shot.

And photography might also be the reason why I don’t feel lonely when I travel alone. Because I know that I can share my experiences with others later.

I also don’t mind eating alone. In fact, I can sit in a restaurant for a long time, just observing people. I don’t bring a book or an iPad, I just sit and stare. It’s brilliant.

Safety could be a concern, depending on where I travel to. But seeing that I’m planning to mainly go to Japan, South Korea and a couple of other South East Asian countries, I’m really not that worried. I don’t feel that these are dangerous places.

The only thing that I don’t really do when I’m alone, is going out to bars or clubs in the evening. I don’t like coming home late alone in a place that I don’t know very well. I usually go back to the place I’m staying at after dinner at about 9pm or so and spend the evening catching up with the internet or reading.

But overall, I’m really looking forward to spending all this time alone.

The big trip schedule

I have finally nailed down the route that I want to go on my two months travelling starting very soon!

After I had such a great time in Japan last year I knew that I definitely wanted to go back. And this time I’m giving myself a bit over three weeks in Japan, starting in Tokyo and then moving along the south coast of Honshu (the main island) to then explore the fourth biggest island Kyushu and ending in Osaka. Thank god for the JR rail pass which makes all this affordable.

Here are some shots from my Japan trip last year. I’m not a very stylish traveller as you can see but who cares when you can soak in hot springs and eat fish all day?

I’ll then be heading over to South Korea to spend five days in Seoul – just because it’s close, you know? Might as well while I’m over there and Seoul sounds like quite a cool place.

I’ll then fly over to Hanoi to meet up with my boyfriend and we’ll be travelling down the coast of Vietnam and across to Cambodia together. After these two weeks he’ll head back to London and I’ll be on my own again.

Next stop is Penang in Malaysia to eat lots of street food, look at some great architecture and hang out by the beach before ultimately flying to Hong Kong, my last stop on this trip where I’ll be visiting some lovely friends!

This is me in Hong Kong almost 10 years ago now, trying to throw a paper with a wish tied to an orange into the Lam Tsuen wishing tree. I remember that I just didn’t manage to make it stay on one of the branches, much to the entertainment of my friends.

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Anyway, in total this means for me:

  • new countries: 4
  • countries that I know are great and I can’t wait to go back to: 2

Works for me!

Please leave a reply if you have any travel advice or tips for must see places for any of these parts of the world!

I’m planning to blog about my experiences now that I have all this travel writing knowledge, so stay tuned…

Is it possible to starve on a plane?

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There’s nothing worse than starting the descent to your destination after a long-distance flight and feeling hungry. OK, there are of course worse things like war and racism and people like Putin having so much power. So let’s say it’s ‘rather unpleasant’ to be hungry on a plane.

After a 10 hour flight of eating airplane food which is basically designed to keep the toilet queue short, I usually feel a mixture of sick and hungry. If I’m lucky I get some dry croissant or sandwich just before the descent starts but that still doesn’t really do it for me. And then, by the time, the plane finally touches down and you finally get into the airport (probably via some stupid bus because the plane parked miles away), stand in the immigration queue for ages with no access to food or water… I’m just not amused.

And that is why I come prepared!

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