First Post from Nepal

I have posted a blog entry in my YAUC Blog here.

Tokyo Rive!

Hey, more fun with voyeurism!  See what Tokyo’s lookin’ like right now:

Tokyo Rive!

Ginza, Tokyo

Tokyo Ladar!

Kanto Radar 
Kanto Plain, Honshu

“They like me! They really like me!!”

So the other day at my elementary school I had an experience that made me pause.  Japanese adults are not so animated, or silly, or loud, or spontaneous, as us Americans.  They are all around more subdued, and strict.  So you can imagine how well us English teachers go over.  They love us!!  They go crazy for the fun, smiley, funny, silly, dancing, singing English teacher.  I don’t know what they think of us precisely, but they do love us.  Heck, it could be due in large part to just being foreigners with strange hair and skin.  But that’s not what I care about. 

 What I care about is that, despite acting like a big kid, these kids (some of them) actually admire and trust me in a way people who aren’t parents seldom experience.  It’s a subtle thing, but it’s the difference between just getting hi-fives in the hall and what happened the other day.  First graders are, of course, less bias and more needy.  But a first grade girl was being picked on a little by some boy.  It wasn’t even malicious.  It was just normal first grader stuff.  But she was starting to cry, so I told him to stop, and apologize.  He felt sorry, because he was just screwing around, but it was too late, and she was all teary, and puffy faced.  Well, instead of just hiding her face, or turning her back to the others in embarrassment, she came to me, and buried her wet face in my stomach.  It was so cute.  You see what I mean - this is something mostly experienced for the first time by parents.  It’s great feeling to be trusted so much that I sufficed as a temporary mommy tummy to cry into. 


Disney Sea

Entrance to Disney Sea

I said I’d never go, but I guess I kinda meant Disneyland.  About a month ago I went by the huge Disney Resort area on the train and saw exactly what I expected at Disneyland, but was very surprised at what I saw at Disney Sea.  It looked like Venice!  They had recreated Venice at the entrance to Disney Sea, and a huge volcano in the middle of the park.  I could see a full-size cruise ship, and what looked like an American city from 100 years ago.  It was very cool.  I knew that in Japan everyone considers Disney Sea to be the adult version of Disneyland.  They serve beer, and it’s one of the most popular (and “meaningful”) places to take a girlfriend.  But before I saw it I scoffed at the idea of not one, but TWO Mickey Mouse Mecca’s right next to each other.  It was just a gimmick to make more money off the Disney-idolizing culture here in Japan.  And I still think it’s just a gimmick.  But after seeing it last month, I was actually really interested in going.  I made plans with some ex-students to go next weekend, but when they cancelled earlier this week, and my friend told me he was going to Tokyo this weekend, it sort of fell together. 

The enterance is designed to look like Venice 

So after running some not-so-productive errands in Shinjuku (the “Times Square” of Tokyo) with Hiroe, we met up with Casey (the birthday boy) and went out for Mexican.  Hiroe’s sense of direction is famously flawed, but somehow she found the hole-in-the-wall basement restaurant (we literally had to walk through the kitchen to get inside).  It was Hiroe’s first time eating Mexican, so of course we had to teach her about Tequila (lick it. stick it. suck it.), and we all got full on tacos, enchiladas, nachos, Coronas, and margaritas.  We left a little late for Disney so by the time we got there we had less than 2 hours. Since Disney Sea is geared towards adults, it’s also open late.  The after-6pm tickets are almost half price, and the crowds are thinned out by then.  During the day the wait for rides and shows are between 2 and 4 hours each!!!!  No joke!!!  Nothing is less than an hour wait, and 3 hours seems to be the norm.  This is one of the MANY reason’s I had refused to go to Disney before.  It’s reDICulous!!!  But, though we got there as all the guests were leaving, and we sort of had to run around the park quickly, we didn’t have to wait in any lines.  There was only 1 ticket window open, and we had to fight our way through thousands of couples stampeding in our direction, but once inside things thinned out considerably.  Unfortunately all the beer stalls had closed (it wasn’t even 9!!), and many of the other shops, and attractions had closed, but all the big rides, and stuff we were interested were still open (for the time being…).  The map they give you is not exactly “accurate”, so we wandered around quite a bit, being sure not to dally at any one thing.  The ride I had really wanted to see was this HUGE new building that looked like a Richard Scary Love Hotel, but was going to be a haunted house according to Hiroe.  We thought it would be open, but it turns out it won’t open until September 4th (I guess I’ll be going back…).  So we wandered around until we found the entrance to the volcano. 

The volcano looms over the whole park 

I have to say the architecture and design of this resort is OUTSTANDING!  From the “American Waterfront” buildings, mills, elevated trolley, and cruise ship, to the interior caves and lagoon of the volcano, everything was beautifully designed, and a true fantasy world for adults.  Though we sped through it all, the Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, and Mediterranean Harbor were all fantastic fantasy worlds that weren’t for children.  The antiqued facades, and elegant “torch” lighting were a credit to our imagination of these cities lost in time. We ended up only having time for 2 rides, but boy, were they good rides!! When we finally made it to the volcano, we found the ride called “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.  There was no line to speak of, but the labyrinth of hallways, bridges, ramps, industrial elevators, and halls we had to pass through was very telling of the length of the lines during the day.  This was probably one of the 3-4 hour waits.  We still had to wait about 5 minutes for the 200 people in front of us to be efficiently swept away in their “earth-mover” roller coaster cars.  The ride was mostly fire and brimstone type scenes, with dragons and real fireballs.  There were a couple times we slowed down to look at some truly beautiful special effects.  And then we plummeted into darkness, and a series of free-falls, all the while accelerating!  It was REALLY stomach turning!!  The climax was being SHOT OUT OF THE VOLCANO at a pretty much zero gravity trajectory.  All we could see was darkness, when suddenly the beautifully-lit waterfront, and Little Venice, and Arabian Coast was surrounding us as we fell towards it momentarily and then back into the darkness of a tunnel.  It was the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on!  I don’t get scared too much by these things, and I’m definitely not a shouter, but it all happened so quickly I couldn’t maintain my composure.  It was great! 

Falling, and accelerating through the center of the earth!! 

Next was a quick walk to the Indiana Jones ride.  It was also good, but it was mostly the eerie sets that we slowly passed that made the ride fun.  Again we had to walk for about 6 or 7 minutes through caves, and Mayan Ruins, and over swinging bridges just to get to the ride.  At least Disney gives people something to look at while waiting 3 hours for the 3-minute ride… This ride didn’t have too many vertical drops, but there were some SERIOUSLY amazing effects.  Aside from just barely missing the famous giant stone ball (from the movie), they somehow created a huge, glowing smoke ring that got shot at us at high speed, and enveloped the whole car.  It was so thick I really thought it was something solid or liquid.  When it hit me in the face it turned out to be just some sort of gas.  And then it was gone.  It was very cool, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. By the time we got out of that ride we only had 10 minutes left.  We headed to the Arabian Coast, which was beautiful.  Perhaps the most beautiful of the “lands” in Disney Sea.  But just was we were going to another ride the park made the announcement that it was closed.  It was exactly 10:00.  They run a tight ship there at Disney Sea. 

Arabian Coast is fantastic

We made our way out with the few lingering people who hadn’t left earlier in the night, and caught the last train home.  In short, I will admit that Disney has done a good job.  And I dare say I will be back.  I had thought 2 hours would be more than enough to walk around and say I’d “done it”, but I will be the first to admit I was wrong about my generalizations about Disney.  There wasn’t a single Mickey costume in the park.  It was about as “Disney” as Sixflags, but done with a certain class (and a bigger budget). The full-size cruise ship is dry-docked in the resortSo, to those of you still young enough to be using your imagination, I DO recommend an evening at Disney Sea if you ever find yourself in Tokyo.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.  

Arabian Coast merry-go-round 





The other day I got on my bike to go to work and was biking out of my bumpy parking lot when I noticed something jiggling on my handdlebars.  LOOK!!  A cool frog decided to sun itself on my bike!!  I don’t know anything about frogs in Japan, but I do know that some can cause skin irritation, so I decided not to touch it.  I biked down the street a little, but then got worried it might jump off into traffic.  So I found some bushes and scared it into jumping into them.  Cute little guy!!

Cute frog on my bike

In other news, I spent the weekend updating the YAUC Orphanage website.  It’s not finished, but I added some cool features, like a secure login to sensative files, a free volunteer blogging program, and a personal letter from none-other.  Later this month I’ll be there, and I want to create a backup of each kid’s medical file and personal history.  Right now there is only 1 copy, and if it gets lost, the kids will technically not exsist!!!  So this new secure site will provide security of identity, as well as be a valuable research tool for volunteers.  The blog might just be a fun tool for volunteers, and a great way for prospective volunteers to read about unbias experiences.

 Bought a new fork for my bike yesterday.  Cost WAY more than I planned, but I missed the end of the auction for the cheapers one.  Noel, you can start drooling now:


EC90 SL (but I got a straight fork!)