Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yokohama - Landmark tower

Landmark tower is Japan's tallest building (up until the official opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree in May).  There's an observation deck on the 69th floor, which is thankfully enclosed.  Take a look:

Ok, even if those obligatory videos don't tickle your fancy, this last video is actually pretty cool.  Shows the speed with which that elevator carries you down the 69 floors.  My ears popped about three times in that minute.  And yes, they've got that whole hyperdrive star-smearing effect up top.

Here's a cool panoramic shot taken with my phone:

And lastly, the world's largest ferris wheel (I think it might also be the world's largest digital clock).  I'll probably head back on a clearer day to take a ride on that thing.

On my train ride back I snapped a picture of these cute little plastic containers hanging off the straps in the train.  They might be hard to read, but they basically tell folks to stay off their cell phones when on the train =p

Yokohama Chinatown!

Having never really ridden public transportation, figuring out in a foreign language was surprisingly not that difficult.  Thank you Japanese people for making it easy!

So how it typically works is you walk up to one of the pay stations, and up on the pay stations is a map of where all the available trains are headed.  The cost of the trip will depend on the distance from the station.  I didn't take a picture of this whole process because the combination of (1) foreigner trying to decipher the maps, (2) taking a long time to perform #1, and (3) fumbling around my pockets to figure out which coins to insert into the machine would probably lead to some very grumpy Japanese commuters.

Anyways, 550 yen later, I was on my way to Yokohama Chinatown via the MiratoMirai Line!

These buns were made to look like panda bears!

These were by far my favorite.  They're kind of like a hybrid dragon dumpling.  Imagine a dragon dumpling with a fried bottom.  So it's kind of like a wuo tiep + xiao long bao!

And these things are RIDICULOUSLY juicy.  I bit into one while seated on the steps of a temple, and the sumbitch shot out onto my pants/shoe.  That was almost a two foot trajectory!

Aforementioned temple + newly purchased sausage.  They looked so tasty!

I saw this advertisement.  Figured I'd keep a record of it here.  The dental office looks pretty slick, doesn't it?  Clean and modern.  More like a spa than a dental office, I think.

Random goofiness

Ever seen one of these?  I haven't in the states...

What about this outlet thing?  Child safety my ass, I took me five mins to figure it out.

Ramen Mutsumiya

First Japanese ramen experience!

Got the shio ramen:

(+) ramen was a slight bit softer than al dente, the meat was nice thick cut, puree'd garlic was available, relatively cheap at 680yen
(-) broth was average, only one slice of that thick cut of pork, egg was a 100yen add on.

Damnit Japan, I thought ramen was your thing!  I figured it'd be like walking into a chinese place and ordering beef chow fun, NOBODY fucks that up.  I'll keep looking.

No work = explore some more!

My supervisor has a bunch of meetings on this day, so I decided to take the opportunity to explore.  I saw a mall on the bus ride towards the base, so I figured I'd scope that out.

This mall was pretty big, about 5-6 stories high, with damn near everything you'd need: Market, clothes, IKEA-like shops, car dealerships, gym, arcade, etc.

One of the first things I saw reminded me of Kyle.  I figured he'd go nuts if he saw this play area:

Again, the video is kind of abbreviated because I was being shy about recording things =X

Just wandering the aisles of the Japenese market, I found a creepy jdm dog featured on this doggie pad packaging:

Wandering deeper, I saw an aisle full of pre-cooked tempura and other goods!

Again, yes, I was being a punani, I don't have pics of the other snacks I got.  I did buy some fried fish balls and the sesami ball with that golden cream stuff inside, it was so good!  Even though it had probably been sitting out, it was still better than fresh ones at dim sum back home!

I also saw a store that looked suspiciously like a Krispy Kreme, and I could not resist this churro-lookalike pastry.  5/10 though, kinda hard.

Exploring/eating outside the base, night 2 or 3

*Disclaimer: while writing this blog, one thing I didn't realize was that it's a lot easier to describe what I'm experiencing with a picture than to describe it with words.  In the first couple trips out I was a bit more hesitant to take out my camera phone because I didn't want to look like a dork, but that has since worn off.  From this point on, if I forget to take a picture, it means that I just straight forgot.

Anyways, I decided to leave base on a Tuesday or Wed night to get some ramen.  Problem was that I didn't have any idea which way was "out" so I had to ask some folks (names were Roland, Jeremy, and Beth) who were walking around on base.  It turned out that they were heading out to eat, so I asked if I could join.  They agreed and we all went to get curry.

So, we went to this one curry place that seems really popular amongst Navy folks, called Coco's.  Coco's is known for their spiciness (ranging from levels of 1-10), and their cheese topping.  I've never seen or even knew of cheese as being offered as a topping for curry (Michelle said she's heard of it), but it ended up being really tasty!  As for spiciness, they warned me not to get much hotter than a 2 or 3, but I figured that bac gui's don't really eat spicy food so I went for a 5, which worked out pretty good.

As for pictures of this specific outing, refer to the disclaimer above.  My bad.

My humble abode

After arriving at base, I was escorted by my new boss, who is an awfully nice fellow, to my room.  My room is situated in a building called the stork's nest, which is suppose to house patients who are either about to give birth, or just recently gave birth.  But, I think it's a bit different for my floor (I'm on the third floor), since it states "Japanese Physician's Quarters."

When I first walked into the room, it was set up like a Riverside dorm room, with two twin beds on either side of the room.  Figuring that I was done with that shitty style of living, I reorganized, as you can see:

The lighting was initially very dim (which makes for a pretty poor first impression of the room), but if you know me, I've already got 300watts of retina-searing lumens in this biotch.  If anyone on base needed to know which room of the stork's nest in which I lived, I'd tell them, "just go to the one that looks the brightest from the outside windows."

The only thing that sucks is that I don't have internet in my room.  I have to go downstairs to the common area , of which I have yet to shoot footage.

This is probably one of my favorite parts of the room:

The very first night there was a water show at the park adjacent to the base.  In the picture above, it'd be halfway down that little peninsula-looking thing on the right side, to the right of that arch.

Colder than I thought

I finally found a decent internet connection to be able to crank this thing out, so here goes...

Alrighty, one week into being in Yokosuka, Japan and so far I'm thoroughly enjoying most parts of it.  As for the other parts that aren't being thoroughly enjoyed, I'll get to them soon enough.

The whole trek took about 20 hours total.  Fourteen hours from LAX to the HK airport (which flies right the hell over Japan, 4 hour overshoot, btw).  Then another four hours of making up for the four hours of backtracking.  Then another two hours from Narita Airport (NRT) to the Yokosuka Navy base (by bus).  Surprisingly, the twenty hours of travel weren't too bad.  Cathay Pacific had some weird pseudo-reclining method where the seat doesn't actually recline, but the cushion portion of it just kinda shifts downward.  If you were tall, you'd be effed since your knees get pulled forward toward the seat in front of you.  Not so much of a problem for me because well, fck off =p

When I first set foot down in Japan, the first sensation that I felt (which continues on to this point) could be summed up by "nippy."  It's just cold here.  I left socal cold for semi-real-ish cold.

This was the first drink I purchased.  I thought the jdm (japanese domestic market) goofiness would = tastiness, but I was wrong, hah.  I would later learn that this type of tea, which to me tastes a lot like burnt *something*, is pretty popular.