Hectic life of tokyo

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
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Trip End Aug 16, 2006


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Monday, June 5, 2006

Alright peeps...

So its update time again. We`re in our last few days in Tokyo now and since it has been raining all day I thought I might as well do something constructive. I`ve uploaded photos from New Zealand, Fiji and Tokyo aswell as an Alligator video from Brazil which has to be seen to be believed.
To pick up from where I left off, we decided to get the hell out of New Zealand as it wasn`t as fun as we`d hoped, the budget was getting seriously out of hand and the weather was wet and cold. We got a cheap flight from Christchurch to Auckland and moved our flight to Fiji forward by about a week.
The flight was only 4 hours and I was sat next to a Fijian guy who was happy to tell me about the best places to go and which beers to drink. He also insisted on us drinking as much beer as possible on the plane since his neice and best friend were flight attendants and he`d heard that English people can hold their drink, so I could hardly let the side down! We arrived in Fiji in the evening and after stumbling through customs we walked out into a balmy 28 degree heat and were immediately sure we`d made the right decision to leave New Zealand early.
We stayed a few days in a hostel on the beach just outside the main town Nadi, and took some time to do absolutely nothing. Over the next few weeks we stayed in various types of resorts around the Fiji area. We visited two islands, one off the East and one off the North of the main island. I feel like I should be giving you a run down of what we did in each place but the fact of the matter is that we spent most of the time lying by the beach/pool and generally being incredibly lazy. Luckily, this is what`s known by the natives as adopting `Fiji time`, which basically means doing everything at about half the speed you would normally.
We stayed at easily the most basic and also the most luxurious places so far in the travels. Club Masa was a half mile walk from the nearest road along a beach path and had no phones, electricity or hot water. It did however have a certain atmosphere even though there were only 6 of us staying there and the family running it made us really feel comfortable with their kindness and the amazing meals they cooked for us every night.
On the flipside, Mango Bay, known as a `Flashpacker` resort, felt like we were being permanently pampered. One evening we were sitting on the beach and sent Nick to get some beer, he came back telling us that they wouldn`t serve him, only to be followed a minute later by a waiter who had walked all the way from the bar carrying a large tray of said beverage. We asked a security guard as a joke once if we could have a fire on the beach and a few minutes later one of the resort managers came down to tell us he would get the staff to collect some wood and build us a fire if we wanted!
Fiji is made up of roughly half indigenous people and half Indians who were brought over by the English. Initially, when the English first discovered the island they planned on teaching the Fijians farming methods and business practises.This idea was quickly abandoned as the Fijians weren`t willing to give up their laid back lifestyle. This is still somewhat the case although the Indian immigrants (many of whom were initially eaten by Fijian canibals when they were first brought over) try their best to get the Fijians to work at a reasonable speed.
Our last few days on Fiji were spent at the island of Nananu-ira, probably Nick and my favourite place in the time we spent there. This was primarily a diving based resort so I got a chance to do a few dives, one of which was called `shark junction` where I finally got to swim with sharks. It was absolutely amazing and I`m really hoping to be able to do some more in Thailand, especially as there is one dive where whale sharks are regularly seen.
I suppose the only downside to Fiji was the lack of washing facilities which meant that by the time we left, both Nick and my clothes were either soaking wet (our tent got flooded on Nananu-ira), or severly smelly. This led to extreme measures such as Nick converting a pillow case into a shirt (see photos).
After two and a half weeks, half of which was spent travelling with a couple of crazy French guys and the other half with a couple of English girls we flew out to Tokyo, entering once again into the world of foreign language.
Tokyo was all we could have expected, lots of neon lights, confusing signs, incredibly hectic and generally lots of fun. One thing we were glad of was that it wasn`t as expensive as we thought and sushi/noodle meals could be bought for around 2.50. We spent our second night in one of the legendary capsule hotels, which consisted of a tiny room just big enough to climb inside complete with reading light, TV and radio. Comedy pyjamas were provided as can be seen on the photos.
We`ve spent the rest of our time staying at a hostel in a little suberb near the centre of town which is surprisingly quiet. Days have been taken up wandering around the streets/temples and yesterday morning getting up early to go to the biggest open air fish market in the world (it did take us a few days to get out of Fiji time and on a number of occasions we lay down for a rest only to wake up 4 hours later having missed half the day)
The Japanese culture is governed by rules and regulations on how you`re expected to behave. Shoes are never worn in houses, loud voices in streets are not tollerated after 11pm, everything has its place and people are generally very trusting and friendly (beer is available 24hours from vending machines on the streets and underage drinking is not a problem, somthing I couldn`t see happening in England). This attitude did enable us to always pay half price for tickets on the tube by claiming `we didn`t realise we were buying childrens' tickets,` and getting student admission to all the attractions we went to; well, we are on a budget!
Since our Japanese is restricted to `Konichiwa,` and `Arigato,` we have been relying on international gestures which can normally convey as much as we need to say.
Its Friday evening here and we are just about to cook some stir fry for dinner and go and get our one free beer of the evening from the local bar (nice perk of the hostal we`re staying in!). We fly out on Sunday morning to Bangkok, and back to South American prices which will be a relief.
I`ve been getting some interesting updates on the banter from back home, keep them coming!! Its weird to think we`ve got under 10 weeks left on our travels, and have been gone for almost 4 months, I just hope South-east Asia doesn`t go too fast although thats normally what comes from having fun.
Hope everyone`s well, I hear the weather has started to pick up there, although try to keep some of it for August when I get back!!

Take it easy all

James
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