on japan (part 1)

Things I Will Miss About Japan (alternative title: things to import from Japan):

  • .. with taps, for convenient and eco-friendly cleanliness!
  • Vending machines EVERYWHERE, with recycling bins attached – so you can always find a drink, and always recycle the empty
  • Canned/bottled milk tea
  • Vending machines that deliver hot canned coffee and tea
  • Ticket restaurants! Pay up front, present ticket, receive food.
  • An amazing country-wide rail system that runs with eerie efficiency
  • Tokyo Banana! It’s delicious.
  • Gashapon! You do not want to know how much money I spent in vending machines in Japan, and not just on water/milk tea/corn
  • Tiny 600cc city cars. It’s like a scooter with walls!
  • Wet rooms and the art of sitting down in a shower. Makes for good, warm sleeping (even if you shouldn’t).
  • Japanese 7Elevens. “7Elevens are universal”, I foolishly thought before our trip. “You’ve seen one rancid hot dog at 3am, and you’ve seen them all.” Oh, how wrong I was. Japanese 7Elevens are EVERYWHERE and they are AMAZING and they are the true epitome of “convenience store”.
  • Onsens! More on this later.
  • Baby wall seats so you can put your baby down while you pee or wash your hands. It’s genius, and I don’t know why we don’t have them in North America. I don’t even HAVE babies, but I can immediately see how brilliant this idea is. Travelling solo? Don’t have someone to hold the baby while you do your bathroom business? WALL SEAT. Baby is safe, happy, and most importantly, off the bathroom floor while you allow a robot toilet to blast your nethers with warm, pulsating water. It’s like a gentle hug for your anus while you make silly faces for your wall baby.
  • In Japan, roaming trucks play jaunty tunes. Is it an ice cream van? A truck that delivers red bean paste and soy sauce? No! It’s the garbage/recycling truck, playing music to announce their approach! Forgot to set the trash out? No problem! When you hear the familiar tune, you can rush outside with your neglected waste. Smart *and* hilarious! Also, ice cream vans aren’t necessary because ice cream vending machines are totally a thing that are wonderful and so much cheaper in Japan.
  • Speaking of ice cream, you can buy soft serve waffle cones in the freezer section of convenience stores (including my beloved 7Eleven). They’re delicious, and like ¥130 (just over $1US/$1.50CDN).
  • Solar panels everywhere. If a tiny mountain town in the middle of Japan can have solar panels atop almost every damn building, why are we still arguing about them here?
  • Whiskey Ice. You can buy bags of crystal clear ice meant for whiskey sippin’ (or in my case, water) everywhere.
  • Cream puffs the size of my hand (which is admittedly small, but still large in terms of the mighty cream puff)
Things Japan is Missing:
  • Diet Coke
  • Me (don’t be jealous, London – I have so much love to give)
  • Every hotel room shower cap in a 4-city radius (sorry Japan, but I need them when I dye my hair)
  • The automatic Canadian reflex to apologize when you bump into someone (there are so many people in Japan that being walked into is just a way of life)
  • Escalators in most train stations – I have never walked up and down so many goddamn staircases in my life, but damn if my calves don’t look great

Things I Missed from Vancouver:

  • Cats
  • Soft beds/pillows
  • Being naked all the damn time
  • Bacon

Things I Will Miss, Period:

  • Being on vacation
  • Travelling with friends
  • The stillness of Takayama
  • The hustle of Tokyo and Osaka
  • The jaw-dropping beauty of Japan in full cherry blossom season
  • Vending machines

Trip Highlights:

  • The amazing lunch with an equally amazing view in the Tokyo Skytree
  • The show at the Robot Restaurant
  • Stumbling upon a Sakura Festival
  • Staying in a ryokan
  • Having an onsen completely to myself
  • Osaka Castle Park
  • The small bit of Kyoto we saw
  • Shibuya Station and the Scramble, where I got my Jet Set Radio Future and The World Ends With You fangirl on
  • The Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the National Art Centre in Tokyo
  • .. especially the Infinity Room
  • everything.

Things I Regret:

  • Not having enough time in Kyoto
  • Resorting to American food when exhausted
  • Not attending Kanamara Matsuri
  • Coming home
  • Not buying more gashapon items
  • Vending machine corn chowder

Things I Drank Instead of Diet Coke:

  • All the water (Japanese tap water is delicious)
  • Milk Tea
  • Canned cream puffs (okay just once)
  • Water
  • Pocari Sweat
  • Coke Zero (gross)
  • Coke (even grosser)
  • Coca-Cola Plus (Coke with fibre. Why?)
  • Water
  • Melon Fanta
  • Orangina
  • Qoo
  • Mango in any form I could find
  • So much water

Devastating Life Lessons Learned:

  • I will never be a flight attendant.

Hope you’re not tired of photos from Japan, because I’ve only been posting pictures taken with my phone. There are still the camera pictures to go through. #kimlichiwa


lonely in advance

I’m going to London next week, for two weeks. I’ll be working for half the trip, and exploring the city/revisiting favourites the rest of the time. As you can probably imagine, I am excited. I may already be packed, even. I could leave now!

As excited as I am (don’t let the lack of exclamation points fool you), I am presently allowing myself to wallow in the sads. I figure if I can get the sads out of the way now, when I’m in London I’ll have nothing but happy excited silly times because frankly that is what I do best.

Here’s why the sads: I’m going to be lonely in London. I’ve realized that while I love exploring and seeing things and experiencing Diet Coke in different time zones, it’s a thousand times better to do those things (and more) with someone else. I asked Ed if he would come with me for even part of this trip, and he didn’t want to – rumour has it he wants the alone time so he can have affairs – so I’m going to be all by my lonesome and that is making me sad. I am a selfish creature: I want to have excellent adventures, but I want to have someone to share them with. I have the “someone” part down, but he’s not interested in accompanying me (for a variety of reasons). I reluctantly get it – not everyone is cut out to hop on a plane for 9 hours to go to a repeat destination just because they weren’t kidding when they said they didn’t want to be in North America on inauguration day – but I’m still sad about it.

Clearly I’m just going to have to save more money between trips, and pay someone to be my travel friend.

Okay, off to be sad for a bit. I’ve got a few more days to be sad, and then I will make a list of Things I want to Do while Adventuring.

happy place

happy place


london: getting here

Logistically, the flight was amazing. I never thought I’d be one of those people who opt to pay a little more for a decent flight (and I mean little – it worked out that the best possible times for our flights were also the cheapest), but after experiencing Discount London Airlines two years ago, I’ve gladly jumped at the chance to fork over more cash in exchange for budget luxury. We’ve flown to London twice now via Virgin Atlantic, and both times it was great with this trip in particular being extra great:

  • The flight was far from sold out, meaning we were able to snag an empty row of three seats of Ed to crash out on (take THAT, guy who tried to reserve an entire row for himself via throwing his iPad onto the seat only to have the sky waitress instead give the row to the 8.75 month pregnant lady two rows ahead of me)
  • USB PORTS IN THE SEAT BACK my phone was never less than 80% charged all flight and it was heavenly
  • Wifi was available, but for £14.99 ($28CDN) the Instagram pictures of my dinner could wait until we were on the ground
  • Speaking of dinner, it was quite good and served as soon as we were in the air, so no weird smells were being carted down the aisle while we were trying to get some sleep
  • Free entertainment on demand – tons of movies and TV shows, and a small selection of video games that were all free to view/play
  • Alcohol for some reason! Ed opted to try self-medicating with cognac and wine with dinner, and it was both complimentary AND complementary
  • Tons of leg room! Even with our extra bucks we still flew super cheapo economy style, but there was ample amounts of leg room for me to flail around in
  • No babies! While we were checking in, a family with three screaming children were in line next to us and brought on all the trepidation – boy was I relieved when I snuck a look at their boarding passes and realized they were flying to Germany
  • Free socks! You get a little care package on Virgin flights that contain a sleep mask, earplugs, a toothbrush and tiny toothpaste, a pen, and socks. These were very helpful, because I actually lost my socks on the flight (don’t ask) so I was able to put on fresh socks for the rest of the journey

There was very little turbulence on the flight, and we landed in London at 2:45pm local time. We were so early that we had to take the scenic route in:

Unfortunately, even with all the extra space on our flight, I couldn’t sleep at all. I had just enough room to myself to be awkward – I couldn’t lay down without contorting my legs Cirque-style, and I flopped about restlessly when sitting upright. I was too hot, then too cold, and my underwear was giving me an atomic wedgie. Even after I threw decency and caution to the wind and allowed my nethers to be exposed to anyone who dared peer at them in the darkness, I couldn’t catch any sleep .. so by the time we landed, I was a loopy mess. Luckily, I had some backwards foresight* into the situation, and had opted to go Balls Out Fancy by booking a car service to deliver us unto our AirBnB, so after a brief waiting period (before which we figuratively waltzed through Customs and our bags were coming ’round the bend when we pulled up to the carousel) we were in a car to take us to where a bed was waiting.

.. eventually. See, this was my first time actually driving across London and not just for a short cab ride – we literally went from West London to East London, cutting directly across the city. It took almost 2 hours to arrive, because London traffic is somewhat of a nightmare (and terrifying holy crap) .. but once we got in, we were golden.

The AirBnB I booked is nice and functional, and situated at the base of a gondola for some reason. I rented the whole place (other people scare me), and later this week, Heather and Renee are flying in from Vancouver to join us for a week so the extra room made sense (and also Ed has to work a bit while we’re here, whereas I am a shiftless bum with no job hahHAEHhaehEHA). Today is our first fully conscious day in London, and we have a small but essential list of errands: get UK sim cards for our phones, explore the area, and officially start our London adventure.

EXCITED. If you want to follow along, I’m tagging all our photos and Tweets with #ekuk2!

*: Ed rarely sleeps on flights, and can be somewhat cranky and incoherent without sleep .. so instead of dragging him through London via public transit with all our bags, I ordered a car. This was somewhat flipped, because I was the one incapable of stringing a sentence together and really needed to not rely on my brain to get me all the way across London – but either way, it was a good decision and only slightly more than taking the Heathrow Express halfway to our destination and hoofing it with three transfers the rest of the way.

what is this "share" you speak of? i don't care if barry and josh are on here, get your own damn diet coke

what is this “share” you speak of? i don’t care if barry and josh are on here, get your own damn diet coke