Monday, November 1, 2010

The Rest of Tokyo

The Quick Sum up of Tokyo!
On Monday morning we got up bright and early (and ON TIME!) to catch the NEx (Narita Express) to Narita airport to pick up Beno! Beno was pretty tired, but keen to share his Contiki stories while we all tried to talk at once. We went back to the hostel, (Futon style) and got set up, letting Beno have a shower and us adjust our plans to kick out Disneyland after DisneySea sucked so badly.
We then taught Beno the ways of the Subway (quite easy despite the whole ‘Japanese’ thing) and headed to Akihabara, the infamous electrical district. Being honest, while it was interesting to see, there weren’t many great bargains to be had, so we didn’t really buy a whole lot. We finished up at Saizeriya, where Sarah told the waitress I was allergic to Buffalo cheese to get the pizza I so desired. It worked, and the pizza was quite enjoyable, so we felt no regret.

On Tuesday we went to Asakusa temple, the main temple and “tourist trap” of Tokyo. We were quite excited to see all of the shopping stalls, as Beno was looking for Sake cups, Sarah was looking for keyrings and I was looking for wall scrolls, several of which I bought! At one point, checking out all the scenery, we got separated and had a bit of an adventure trying to find each other, but find each other we did! As for Asakusa, the shopping was very good but the temple itself was quite small, which was a little disappointing for us, but a novelty to Beno. It did have the 5 layered pagodas that are so common in Buddhist temples however. After Asakusa, we had a bit of fail. We were hungry and planning to introduce Beno to Kappa Zushi, having looked one up on the net. We walked through Shibuya and even into Harajuku for a decent while before finding out there was in fact no Kappa Zushi! This did not cheer us.
We finally ended up (we were actually searching for Japanese food for Beno) at Shakey’s all you can eat pizza place, which was surprisingly good! I had a good number of different pizzas- pepperoni, corn, pumpkin like cheese, and just removed everything that wasn’t cheese! They also had a rather meatless but tasty curry with rice, and dessert pizzas! The pizzas had marshmellow, apricot, apple and icing sugar! Generally (apart from the rather lacklustre corn pizza… yes I tried it, no I wouldn’t do it again!) it was an impressive (and quite cheap) lunch.
Finally, we wandered up through Harajuku and randomly stumbled upon Meiji Shrine, which is beautiful. It’s a classic random-forest-in-the-middle-of-the-city temple, and we quite enjoyed wandering around. Finally we hopped on the JR line and headed to Tokyo Tower, which is basically a slightly larger, red version of the Eiffel Tower.
I’ll admit, I closed my eyes on the way up- it was very high! When we got off at the top observatory, we found the “disco” lights mentioned in the brochure; these lame lights turned green blue or red every few seconds on the floor and were hardly noticeable. It was awfully sad. The view however was not- it was the city of Tokyo lit up from the baseball stadiums to the rivers. And yes, we did get a bombshelter shot. On the lower deck there were sections of see through flooring, which Beno quite enjoyed (jumping on!) and Sarah had a shot at and I did not go near! There was no way I was getting on that section of see through flooring, NO WAY! Then we went home and (the end.)

Wednesday was Fuji-Q, which you've (better have!) read about, and Thurs/Fri was our trip to Hiroshima. On Sat we went to Hakone and it was pretty arse, the pirate ship was too crowded and the ropeway was just average. Then, sunday morning, with tears in our eyes (the light was eyewateringly bright at 4am) we farewelled Beno, hoping he'd be able to find his wahy to the airport later, and headed to London! Wheee!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

FUJI-Q Highland- the land that is of a much higher quality than DisneySea... Which is shithouse.

***First of all, updates will be in no particular order as we're short on time and net availability!***
~Keep an eye out for youtube links, easy quick and a good idea of what happened!~

The day began horrifically early with Sarah giving us a stern and unfriendly “7 minute warning”. After the 7 minute warning expired and I was still attempting to sleep, Sarah started with “Get up. Now.” So then I kind of had to, or she’d turn into a giant mutated Sea Bass and take over Tokyo.
Beno was surprised that we actually made the train- ALL our trains- on time, (yeah dad, I know, be surprised. Twice that week I got up at 5:30am and been ON TIME. Hopefully the world isn’t ending) and the train reminded Beno of the Adelaide Uni Library- lots of Asians sleeping! It took a while to get to Fuji-Q, but I enjoyed the ride as we all hit play on the ipods and literally bounced along the whole ride. Two stops before our destination, the train paused and as the door was open, we got our (only) shots of Mt Fuji! We were lucky it was that clear; as we later discovered the old man Fuj likes to hide behind the clouds and he does it well.

^^Last photo is Mt Fuji!^^

Anyhow, at 9am sharp (actually I think it was 9:06 but 9:06 sharp doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?) we got off at Fuji-Q Highland and bought our tickets to pure awesome. We were directed to put our ticket in machines, which Sarah quickly figured out actually took our photos to give our own personalised free day pass. We then came to a vending machine which held plastic envelopes for your free pass and came in colours. Inadvisably, I accidentally bought a pink envelope (I say inadvisably because I was wearing a red dress) thinking it was a deep purple. We later realised they were coloured for each of the Fuji-Q “rangers” (think Power Rangers) who represented the rides and generally appeared to get up to a lot of strange things. One of my favourite things in the park was actually just watching the rangers be weirdos, which they excelled at. They did some strange dances (one with fans, one with clapping) and fought people in black costumes who seemed to be lead by a green painted old Japanese man. Yes, I did say weird.

Fuji-Q Weirdo Rangers
(I particularly love how the hotel just falls over)

Red Ranger!
The red ranger was a bit of a character; he was introduced in the video as the guy who tries to elbow the Green ranger out of the way (gives him a nice shoulder bump). The red Ranger’s ride was what I like to refer to as “McCrazy Red” because the actual name was in Japanese and I therefore have no idea of the actual name. McCrazy red (also McCrazeh) was a hell of a first ride- we basically picked the coolest looking rides first to make sure we didn’t miss out (piss off DisneySea!) We got to watch the Red ranger do the ride (You’ll see in the video when available) and grew steadily more nervous. (It probably would have been a good time to take out life insurance, is all I’m saying). Super mega intense. McCrazeh had a massive drop, two loop the loops, lots of ups and downs and a sneaky corkscrew. The seats also rotated upside down like the zipper. I insisted Beno had to go on the outside, not that it really helped, and Saros was in front of us. The staff clapped us as we left- BACKWARDS! We went up the giant hill unable to see where we were going. Beno and I thought we were at the top about 5 times.
I was muttering “oh shit… shit…. Shhhiiiiittt” and Beno was laughing nervously beside me. Sarah in front was mentally thinking “gettin’ a bit high now… gettin’ pretty high… nice landscape…. Getting’ real high…. AHHHHHHH”. I’d forgotten there was a tiny drop before the main fall, and I thought “hey, that’s not so bad” before we rolled over backwards upside down, dropped down the biggest plunge face first and we all screamed the whole way down (and actually, I think we screamed for the whole ride) and then straight up the loop the loop while still spinning in our seats! Basically from the first loop the loop I couldn’t tell up from down and the only thing I knew is I was going upside down regularly and I was screaming like my life depended on it. We finally got our bearings back a bit and were right at the end of the ride when the sneak corkscrew happened- a tight curl magnified only by the lightspeed twisting of our seats (I know I heard Beno swear) before we pulled back in, rather dazed, to the clapping staff.
It was a bit of a wobbly exit.

Eejanaika - The Red McCrazeh

Blue Ranger!
The Blue Ranger was Beno’s Ranger and seemed to be the ladies man (Pink was heartbroken by his wandering ways) but also had in my opinion, the best ride; Fujiyama.
I’ve said many times before I’ve a fear of heights but can now clarify to include ascending see through elevators (oddly specific, I know). For some reason, it’s the slow rising sensation that scares me more than the drop and this held true for the Fujiyama.
First off, there’s no upside down parts so after McCrazy red ride, we mistakenly thought it would be tame. I repeat, mistakenly. Fujiyama has won Guiness World Records for height and speed. The ride only has a lap bar, and the seats have quite low backs, which contributed to my nerves as we slowly inched up to the first huge ass drop. Helpfully, there were signs pointing out “20m”, “40m”, “60m”, “79m” as we rose.
I’ll interject at this point that each ride had more than one car; luckily enough, we got the Bling Fujiyama, the pure gold cars rather suited to our pedigree. The first drop we paused just enough to appreciate the yawning chasm below before we all screamed the whole way down, gaining some air time (ass rising off of seat time) before heading straight back up almost as high! We stayed at that height and got a nice view of Mt Fuji as we did a u-turn and then properly saw the rest of the ride for the fist time. I think it may have been Sarah who muttered “Oh, shit”. (That might have been me, in which case it was Sarah who later muttered “This ride never ends!”, I did hear a few distinctly higher pitched “woah”s from Beno) Fujiyama is the longest coaster I’ve been on, and from that point it was another drop and then ups, downs, sharp side turns and … well repeat for a few minutes! When the photo was taken, I looked like a total minger with my head looking like a demented Rav 4 add and my dress actually pushed off my shoulders! In short, Fujiyama = Fujiawesome.


Pink Ranger
The pink ranger had no discernible purpose except to be a female and love the blue ranger. She carried food for both of them, only to drop it dramatically in the cafeteria when she saw Blue flirting with a group of girls in the park. Fail! (I wanted to return my pink envelope, quite unimpressed). Her ride was quite similar to the Tower of Terror at Dreamworld- a high speed roller coaster. Instead of running up the side of a tower, it had a very steep arch (90 degree drop!) which was very full on! The line for this one was fairly long, and had an indescribably French sounding song which seemed to go something like this…
“(In French) I’m excited… I’m impassioned… Don Don Pa. *Breathy voice* Don Don Pa. *Girl breathy* Don Don Pa.” This song looped for about an hour and a half while we kind of wanted to die… or kill whoever invented the “Don Don Pa” song. Please, when you see me next, ask for a rendition of don don pa.
This time I was on my own and was blown back by the fast take off. Heading straight up the arch freaked me out to the max, and the drop was, in Sarah’s words “hurty”, and as Beno mentioned, we did again get airborn, totally leaving our seats if not for the lap bar! (To clarify, Sarah smacked her head on the way down) . Then it was back to the boarding shed, with a quick bombshelter photo (aww yeah) which actually sucked for me- I leaned forward for the photo, only to have my head smacked back too when we sped up again. At this stage, all of our hair was pretty much irredeemable (Beno’s not quite so noticeable) as you can probably see. We got a lot of airtime, which did not bode well for hair time- when I tried to brush the knots out. Be glad I’m not bald- I know I am!


Green Ranger

The green ranger was quite the character- a clutzy, often unconscious type. Whenever the rangers got on the rides (leaving smiling and waving, returning off balance and wiped out) the Green ranger usually returned unconscious or limp as a noodle. His intro had him see a young boy fall over, rush to help him, fall over himself, and be helped up by the little boy.
He was Saros’ Ranger (I was jealous she’d gotten Green first) and luckily for my envy, had a kind of average ride-basically the claw at Dreamworld, just slightly smaller. Again, it was a top 5 ride so there was indeed airtime to be had (we had the best angle, though Fuji was covered in clouds by this stage) and spent a lot of time screaming or exclaiming “woah!”.

Yellow Ranger
The yellow ranger was again quite the eccentric chap- in the intro he was seen crawling along the ground, exclaiming in delight when he found a coin. He also was a major star in a video when the other rangers stole his suit! The Green, Red, Blue and Pink rangers were sitting at a table, when the Yellow ranger, only in white underwear and his helmet, creeps out of some sort of cupboard and tries to find his suit, getting quite agitated as the others share lunch and laugh at his misfortune! He does however, find a solution which the others aren’t so keen on…
The Yellow Ranger’s ride was the Lucky Cat boat ride, which was a lot cooler than we first thought, figuratively AND literally. The temperature was pretty cool, and the water was freezing so we decided to get cheap raincoats- which we needed!
For whatever reason, no pictures were allowed which sucked. It was a bit like the 5-6 seater round boat ride at Dreamworld, first we went up a big incline, then dropped into a slide. We got sucked into a whirl pool with a surprisingly steep drop. It was enjoyable but not too scary.

Other rides we went on were the Great Zaboon, a rather disappointing water boat-drop, without much awesome to it but with a LOT of splash (which onlookers from the bridge regularly got caught in to our amusement), the Ferris wheel, Beno and Sarah went on the Mad Mouse which they didn’t rate, Beno went on a swinging chair (yellow builder video)ride, a sky cycle one (fun) but in the end… the worst part of the day was…

…missing out on the last ride for Fujiyama by 3 people. They literally let the people in in front of us then closed the gate. McCrazeh Red was already closed by this point, disappointingly. After stopping to buy some cool things (I bought blueberry cheesecake flavoured kitkats in a special MOUNTAIN BOX) and some pretty gross icecreams (that was NOT white chocolate!) we headed back on the train. It was actually a bit of a fiasco, as we caught the local train (not knowing when the next rapid was) and the next rapid passed us! Probably added an extra hour to our journey! Also, we saw the most hilarious man who actually looked like he’d had a car backfire in his face. No kidding, his face was quite a bit darker around the edges (I don’t know whether he had coal dust on his face or his skin was just like that?) and each time he looked up, he wore an expression of such surprise it was comical. Not once, this guy would look up from his book as if to say “Why did a cannon just explode in my face?”

After that, we pretty much just headed home (occasionally affecting looks of utmost surprise and cracking each other up) to get some well deserved sleep. If you do one thing in Japan, it should be… well probably Kyoto. But right after Kyoto… Fuji-Q. Fuji-Q is the bomb… (the bomb that exploded in that guy’s FACE! Ha ha… yeah. Right. Anyway)

Miss you as always, miss Fuji-Q, miss the weirdo rangers.
Kisses and all!
Shout out to Georgelocation for the comment- we are not impressed stupid DisneySea!
Beno’s home now, but at the time, he missed you too.
xx Carly

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DisneySea is unbelievable!

Beautiful landscapes, exciting rides, famous characters? What more could you ask? We ended up running late to get there, but as it was raining, we figured the rides wouldn’t run until later anyway. We got there just before 11 and headed in, excited. The buildings were fantastically detailed and looked beautiful, and the Halloween theme pleased me to no end!

The happiness ended about there. We headed to “discovery port” or “discover how crap this island is” and saw a cool roller coaster. We decided to grab our first fast pass, thinking we’d come back in about an hour; this assumption was incorrect. The fastpass hadn’t been signposted, and unfortunately, it was not “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” as we’d assumed, but “Journey to a particularly shithouse piece of junk without a real point of existence” aka “2000 leagues under the sea”. Our disappointment was compounded, when we found out it was 11am and we couldn’t get another fastpass until 1:40! Then, even better, our fastpass was actually for between 3-4pm, so not that “fast”! Way to go DisneySea!

My real beef with Disney is they let in so many people. If I’d wanted to admire the scenery, I could do so, with 50 or so people in front of every angle I could possibly try. When we were thirsty, we could hop in a 20 minute line to get a drink, if we wanted hot chips, probably a 40-60minute wait. Most food stands (even for things like hotdogs) had a long, long line. When we passed ice cream stands, you guessed it, a line, though luckily for us, we’d come prepared with sandwiches! Of course, with so many people lining up for food all over the park, the rides had to be free, right? Wrong. Two trillion people were lined up at every ride, and by the time we’d gotten our fastpass to “2000 seconds of crap”, the fastpass options for “Indiana Jones and the temple of waiting forever” and “may well be a good rollercoaster but I’m still stuck in the temple of waiting forever” had shut, not that we could have had one until 1:40 anyway…

Depressed but determined not to waste our money, we decided to line up for “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull that curses you to be stuck waiting forever”, unluckily, we were indeed cursed by the “crystal skull that curses you to be stuck waiting forever” and our wait time was forecast at 180 minutes. That’s 3 hours. I want you to look at the clock, and set an alarm for 3 hours. When it goes off, you can see all the things you’ve achieved, or all the things you had more fun doing than standing in a line with an incredibly annoying little boy-monster behind you wishing you were having your fingers shut in a drawer because it kind of sounds more fun.

^^The toom of doomed to wait until you're 109*^^
*Except in leap years when you must wait until 113.

Yes, to elaborate, we had all the fun of a four person family behind us! Oh wait Carly, you say. You’re not being very understanding- children will be children! Give them a break! I’ll give that kid a **** break in the neck! I’ll break his head clean off his shoulders if given half of a chance! To start off with, what parent takes a young child on a ride with a line for that long? Who thinks it is a good idea? So the kid starts off the first hour by repeatedly yanking the ropes in the lines. He runs from side to side and starts counting loudly and annoyingly. The parents do not attempt to hush or calm him. He tries to run in front of us to see ahead, and occasionally knocks us or our bags. (This happens about every 5 minutes, despite our clear looks of disapproval.)
The family did in fact chide him… when he pushed the tree next to us, which then released a shower of water (it had been raining) all over us and our phone. You’d think they’d get the message at this stage but no! Actually, the older sister took more of a parenting role than the mother, who mucked around with him in line (they were trying to push each other around- even though she was trying to distract him, you’d think she’d pick a more appropriate thing to do in a crowded line, right? What a retard.) All this time I was telling myself “Mum and dad would not want me to scream “URUSAI!” (shutup) in his face”, “mum and dad will not bail me out for assault charges in Japan”, “mum and dad don’t like it when I use the F word, even if it’s the U word in Japan”. Then I pictured Dad’s eye twitching as the little shit ran riot. During the second hour, he continued to attempt to push past us (I think Sarah discreetly bumped him/pushed past him where possible), whinged and had a cry, thus proving my argument that the parents should not have put a child through such a wait- both for the child’s sake AND for ours. At this point, I glared so repeatedly and malevolently that the parents should have felt my gaze burning like acid through their sternum, but alas, the mother instead pushed in next to me, knocking my bag, so I guess that’s where the kid got the atrocious manners from. The older sister obviously took after the father, who was quiet and kind of looked like all hope had been taken from him. The sister was quite nice, and told the boy off most times she saw us readying our firsts to punch through his face. Finally, when we had about a half hour wait left, he started almost yelling, and the father actually did tell him “urusai” (shut up- rude word)! Ugggghhhhhh.

^^This ride is taking forever... yeah, it sucks... wait, what is Indiana assface doing mooching around behind me instead of moving this line forward?!?!^^

^^This line was the fourth line where we queued in long lines to progress into the next room. At this stage I'd say we waited 2-2.5 hours and had at least another half hour ahead. The 200 minute wait and still the people entered.^^

When we finally got on the ride, it was okay. It was even a nice ride. Though occasionally bumpy and jerky, for the most part it was smooth and fast, it had some interesting scenery and a cool smoke effect. It wasn’t at all scary. It also wasn’t worth one hour wait, let alone 3.5. We walked out, disbelieving, and left the family of retards well behind, at this point, the waiting time had been acknowledged at 200 minutes.

We really did not care for “2000 leagues of sub par” but felt that we’d bloody better do at least another ride, ($60+ dollars! OVER SIXTY DOLLARS FOR TWO RIDES AND THE TORTURE OF WAITING?!) so rushed down there. Our fastpass, again, not really that fast, still made us wait about a half hour, though some chumps were obviously waiting longer. Yeah, the ride itself was average. It pretended to go under the water (it was okay at that, at least) and just had bubbling water between the window glass to give that effect. It was no adventure ride, that was for sure. I’m not even sure it was worth waiting the half hour with the fast pass for it! When we got out, it was hard to even walk through the streets there were so many people, and at 5pm, there were still lines at every food vendor and humongous lines for rides. We decided just to cut our losses and leave, as our feet were killing us, having been standing in line for so long.

^^In other news, this woman had a really wack jacket.^^

We met up with Ayumi for about 5 minutes, had a short talk, then left. Feeling that we had to end the awful day with some positivity, we went to Macudo. Again. Australians, I beg you, support Dreamworld! The rides we have in Australia (excepting the rollercoasters occasionally- haven’t tried Superman Escape) are superior to the rides I’ve seen in Japan with superior crowd control and variation. The only thing the Japan parks have is theming, which I’ll admit, is fantastic. After all that, I find the rides are better off at home!
Below is a letter I have composed to DisneySea. This is the censored version!

^^These photos were taken within minutes of each other. The first was just the crowd on the path, not a line. The second is the line for the aquatic ride, while the crowd from the first are still wandering around. Take a close look at exactly how many people are crammed up under that shelter... just so you know, the line extended further on the right past the edge of the photo. Every ride we saw was packed like this, every food vendor had a line and there was still a crowd on the streets...^^

To DisneySea,
your themepark was arse. It was worse than arse, it was the biggest, prettiest pile of crap I’ve seen but it was still freaking crap. There’s no point in going if you let in so many people I can’t get on a freaking ride. I thought it sucked to pay for USJ’s fastpass, but your “timing”system is plain useless. If you can afford to have employees cleaning “pseudo-rusted-industrial-barrel-bins” that are SUPPOSED to look derelict and picking up individual pieces of popcorn in the middle of a giant, crushing crowd trying to move, you’ve got the freaking money to put a cap on park numbers. You provide an extremely poor, outrageously overpriced service and have probably made me grind half of my teeth to dust- I will forward you the dentist bill. If you gave me a FREE TICKET, I would still rather not waste hour after hour of my life, where I could have been doing something productive, like filing my nails, taste testing mouthwash brands or seeing if I can find animal shapes in clouds. ALSO, screw Mickey Mouse and all your previously good costumes ruined by Mickey ears!
I wish for you to catch fire, or spontaneously combust. Or… just freaking cap numbers.


Shout outs to George-"dogginme bro"-location, JHoop and the ever faithfully commenting Ben.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


On tuesday we decided to forgo the waterfalls in lieu of sleep, which was a sound decision. We caught the subway to Tennoji, then happily used our JR pass, which is very handy (not to mention kinda blinged up ;) and by a few trains eventually got to where we were going, (this thanks to Saros' planning). Old people pulled down the blinds on the trains, making it very difficult to tell where we were, but the sight of Darth Vader apparently promoting NTT Docomo (the service my Australian phone connects to) and Eriksson phones cheered me up no end.

The rapid service was smooth and... well, rapid, so we got to Kobe quite quickly. It was on the train we realised though Sarah kindly 'charged' my camera battery, it was obviously not plugged in as I had 1/4 left. At Kobe, we were immediately greeted by our regret that I had foolishly told Miho no Macudo until Tokyo (she wouldn't have known, but what use is your word if you break it?) and Saros insisted she wouldn't have it if I wouldn't. (I told her many times I would not do the same ha ha).

^^View from the JR Rapid train to Kobe- I think the best way to see Japan is from JR and Shinkansen!^^

We headed down the street to Nankinmachi (Chinatown) which was rather small, kitsch and disappointing, but interesting nonetheless. We bought prawn crackers. Sarah added a rather alarming chicken foot keyring to her collection, and I bought a tiny scroll. Then we walked down to the port to get some lunch- after much searching, we found a place that sold furido potato and had chip sandwiches- they were delicious!

^^Saros at the Nankinmachi gates, half way though was a nice pagoda...thingo, and the proud panda coke vending machine, although I read that the Zoo's Panda from China actually died. ^^

There was also a weird park with some things- we weren't quite sure whether they were submarines or space ships... There was a giant pirate ship, but you couldn't actually get on it, and it was... well derelict would be a kind description.

^^What is this?!?! ^^

^^ Scurvey Pirates ^^

Then we went for a harbour cruise!

^^This ship was awesome!^^

^^But we actually went on this one, because the awesome one was closed. :(^^

The cruise was interesting because for the most part, it wasn't actually pretty. Kobe is a business port filled with submarines, dry docks and huge container ships from companies like Mitsubishi and... I forget the other one! We sat and enjoyed the breeze, took some obligatory photos and the cruise headed back to the harbour.

^^We're cool.^^

We then went to Mosaic, one of Yoshida's favourite shopping malls. It was super cool 'cause it was decorated in Halloween stuff (we picked the BEST time of year to come here!) I really want to get a halloween wall scroll, but they're like, $25 and that's such a rip off! But I wantssss one precious! I also really wanted this wick house headband, but Saros told me I had too many. It was a sad, sad moment.

^^At the end of Mosaic mall, there was this small, sad amusement area, with a creepy tune playing from an almost abandoned carousel. It was quite eerie.^^

Then we finished off at Kobe tower, which wasn't bad for $6, but after everything we've done, it was a bit anti-climax. We looked, it was pretty, Saros bought an old-man-peg-leg keyring and then we went down again. Then we walked back to the station and caught the rapid train back. Then I had a sweet mousse cake after tea, and all was coolies.

- Carly, out.

Shout out to Ben, and rats on fire in the black sewers of venice!