Off to Tokyo

First of, a big thank you to all the loyal supporters of the House of Panda (HOP) (or would “tHoP” be better? it sounds funnier, at least to me…) for your suport. I am happy to report that I am still alive after my little misadventure with a marauding Japanese press gang and have thus far avoided a life of conscripted servitude as a fake minister (see entry below if you don’t know what I’m going on about).
A monk shopping in Tokyu Hands. I wish I had been more brazen and gotten a better picture.
I’m off to Tokyo tommorrow! I’m sort of happy, sort of concerned, the former because it will be nice to get back to civilization for a while and the latter because a) I’m about to walk into some major drama I’d rather not be a part of (not my deal, but I got dragged into it) and b) I’m doing the time honored “tokyo on a budget” routine.
Tokyo is one of the most interesting and enjoyable cities I have ever been to – that is to say, provided you have money… Tokyo with no money = one gigantic disappointment of an experience you’d be better off without.
Case and point, I give you the last time I was in Tokyo (a couple of years ago when I dropped by to visit a friend, not this years orientation) I was pretty dirt poor. I was only there for 1.5 days and 1 night on my way back to the states. I had about 1man en (~$100 US) with me at the time. Surely you’d think you could survive for a day and a half for $100, right? (I had a place to sleep already sorted).
I forgot who this is. But it’s not Natsume Soseki.
Not when grapes are 8000 yen (~$80 US)…
Ah, but they come with their own carrying case, you see…!
Okay, okay, so I was shopping for grapes in the basement of the Shinjuku Takashimaya, which is sort of like going to a Gucci store to buy a pair of socks. Yeah, you could do it, but wouldn’t Wal-Mart be much better? Regardless of where you buy your grapes though, the point still stands – Tokyo can be hella expensive. I blew through that 1man in the first 4 hours, then joined the bums in Shinjuku park for the remainder of my stay. Nice fellows, those guys :)
Speaking of nice fellows, I’d like to bring up a little phenomenon that always seems to occur whenever I travel. You see, panda is an extraordinary packer. No, seriously, extraordinary. As proof, I give you exhibit 1, my trusty Timbuk2 bag:
My trusty companion. Ninja panda provided for scale.
inside of this single strapped messenger we have (not an exhaustive list by any means):
1. a full 3 piece suit: pants, suit and vest
2. 3 dress shirts
3. 4 T-shirts
4. a pair of jeans
5. a pair of sweatpants
6. a sweater
7. a fleece vest
8. 5 pairs of socks 9. a sufficient supply of panda pampers ;)
10. 2 ties
11. belts, hankerchiefs, etc.
12. assorted toiletries
13. various electronic doodads to wile away the time
14. a copy of Henry Kissinger’s “Does America need a foreign policy?”
I will let you save your marvelling praise for another time.
Unfortunately, a certain traveling companion of mine (who shall remain unnamed) does not share panda’s prediliction for professional packing. As opposed to my solitary sleek black monument to efficient travel, my dear friend insists on bringing along everything but the kitchen sink (and in its place a makeup kit that requires several small sherpa to move from location to location). This would not in and of itself be of particular note, except that this person is a 5’1″ japanese girl who weighs all of 110 lbs or so. You know what this means – due to inescapable societal pressure, yours truly ends up carrying the bulk of whatever steamer trunk full of this fall’s fashion lineup she decides to bring for even the smallest of trips.
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Sometimes I wonder if this is a gender-linked issue ;) . All my male friends, as well as my father and brother are more than capable of surviving 4 day journeys with little more than a back-pack full of random clothes and a razor (though for varying reasons: my friends because they don’t really change their clothes… uh… ever, my father because he was in the army, and my brother because the poor boy, bless his heart, doesn’t have enough money for a Cup Noodle ramen, let alone clothes. *makes mental note to send brother some food*).
That having been said, my mother is a horse of a completely different stripe, so to speak. I made the mistake once of mentioning to her that I “travel light”. She took this to mean that I didn’t require any check-through luggage for a month long trip to Panama – not only am I presented with 2 gigantically overweight and unwieldy luggages to schlep overseas for her, but they’re covered in a beige and pink floral pattern last seen on my grandmother’s sofa upholstery.
But the story doesn’t end here. So ungodly heavy are these hideous luggages (they were so ugly small children ran screaming as they saw me round the corner dragging them behind me) that I didn’t even bother question what was inside of their 1960′s acid trip curtain-inspired polyster shell – I just checked them through as quickly as possible.
Imagine my suprise later when I came to discover that they contained not only part of a disassembled rocking chair…! but also an entire stainless steel kitchen cart, about 10 pounds of assorted Readers Digest BIG PRINT EDITIONs, but also a large assortment of small children’s clothing sealed in plastic ziploc baggies with names written on post-its stuck inside.
I will leave it to your imagination how I managed to explain that one to customs. Especially when they found the artificial christmas tree in the other luggage (I am not kidding).
Japan flying by from the window of the shinkansen
So, perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions – after all, two instances do not a trend make. But all I know is – regardless of how efficiently I pack, I know I’m always going to end up carrying three times as many bags as I had planned. :) C’est la vie.
Anyway, I probably won’t be able to update until next Monday or so (provided I survive my Tokyo-on-a-budget weekend and don’t end up selling my body on a shady corner of Roppongi for onigiri). So until then, loyal fans of the HOP, have a good weekend. See you all next week!
Now listening to: Have the mp3 player filled with most random collection of music you can imagine.
(You can never tell what you’ll be in the mood for when you’re sitting on a train or bus crammed next to some stranger who smells like feet. *random tangent*)
11:45 am

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