domingo, 5 de junho de 2011

Land of the rising sun: Tokyo 1

 So here it is, the long-awaited new entry in my adventures in Nihon, where the streets are clean, the people's politeness is just this side of fanatical, the food is deliciously healthy(or healthly delicious), and the toilet seats are electricly warmed up.
 First of all, I should introduce the fine portuguese people who travelled to Tokyo with me. And Telmo.
                                           Introducing The Tokyo Tuga Team

Liane, the mum

            If we were to think of our group in terms of dynamic, Liane would be the de facto leader of our group. The woman with the plan, she's the one always with an idea of where to go next. She's also quite like a mother telling her children to hurry up. "Come on, princesses, we're going to be late." "Andem lá, Marias". That position of hers remains regardless if it's just us or an entire portuguese class. An imposing young lady, she is.

Zé, the dad

              Continuing with the family analogy, if Liane is the pratical, straightfoward mother, Zé is the cool, relaxed father. "Hey, Zé, do you know the history of this palace?""No, ask Liane." Do you know where you're going?" "Hmm, you really should ask Liane". "Can I eat some of that?"No, ask Li... actually, this food is kinda weird, you can have it". Anyway, both of them love travelling, and are the ones who came up with the idea for the "Trip to Tokyo" all the way back in September, not to mention the one to Tibet and Shangai. Um milhão de obrigados, ó Zé. Um milhão de obrigados.

Skull, the cool uncle

       Pronounced as "school", not skull, but the meaning is the same, because portuguese accents work that way, and if any anglo-saxon has a problem with that, they can try saying "arroz de coelho" properly. Go ahead, Marson.
       Skull is Zé's longtime friend(ever since they were 8, I think) so he´s basicly the uncle in the family dynamic. He can be intimidating, which is useful if you want to break a line, but annoying if you want to catch a taxi. Rumors say his name was once Luís, but personally I don't buy it.

Telmo, the... umm... creepy uncle?...



And me!!!

      Yours truly. What? The intruduction? C'mon! If your not the least bit familiar with me, why would you even be reading this blog? It's not like I typed the words naked people having sex free porn on it. Except I just did. Well, if trolls start showing up, I'll delete those.
      Anyway, my place in the group dynamic? Well, dear readers, that's what the comments' section is for. I welcome my fellow travellers and Telmo's insight on how wonderful is the experience of having me around, looking slightly autistic and taking pictures of everything (even stuff that wouldn't interest a single setient being in the universe). 

The journey

We started our journey into the (further) east on a beautiful wednesday morning, when I soon found out I lost something I shouldn't have(don't ask). After heading to the airport, we met a portuguese on the way(TU ÉS TUGA, PÁ?!!) and I was interrogated during the check-in. The lady was really nice about it though. It was either because it's random or my beard scares people. Or both. My first taste of japanese culture was the typical in-flight message "Dear passengers, yadayadayada". The difference is the way it's said: in japanese it's really sweet, like the hostess just ate a really nice cake or had a shower after a long day of work. Honestly, she could have been saying "Die, you evil westerners who corrupt our holy land", I wouldn't know.
        We then left the Narita airpot to our hostel in the old area of the city, Asakusa, apropriately named "Asakusa Smile". There I met some interesting people. Some of them included your mandatory australian girl trio, a guitar playing dannish dude, an american who literally turned japanese via mariage, a brazillian lady with the only half-decent portuguese accent I've heard from her country(she still sounded a bit Ukranian, though), and a cute austrian girl who memorized my name because it sounds like "diet youghurt"(Kathy, I might never talk to you in my life again, but I'll never forget you for that). And, most of all, the dutch couple David and Merel, who later I would catch up in other cities.


Ps. The next day, we went to a wonderful, unexpensive waffle selling place.

    I just want to take this moment to thank Belgium for the wonderful invention of waffles. Thank you Belgians!

   But not these ones. They were probably too busy getting into bar fights.

"O no! A big monster that will eat anything on sight! Right next to Godzilla!"

segunda-feira, 4 de abril de 2011

An apology

 It's been more than one month ever since my last post.
 I am very sorry.
 Originaly, I had planned to write about my stay in Japan while I was there, as in, a live blog. But the thing about Japan is that, because my stay in each city was relatively short, I had to make up for it by getting up early, and going to bed late so I could see and experience as much in the city as I could (the same applies to Korea). Which left me either to busy or too tired to do a proper blog post (those familiar with my nature know that without a decent night's sleep I'm quite useless, and clumsier than usual). So I just told myself that I would see to it as soon as I got back in Beijing. As we say in Portugal: "Leave not for today what you can do tomorrow".
 So when I got back here, I still had a whole week before the new semester would start again. But then after two whole weeks running from place to place, I was content to let my lazy ass rest on my chair and just take it easy for a while. And go out at night. And get up late. And go out at night again. Or watch a whole season of Showtime "Weeds" in one day. You get the picture. Then the new semester started. And so did homework, and lessons to catch up. No biggie, I thought. I can manage. And then I got a part-time job as an english teacher. The rest is history: every time I'd think about updating the blog, I would either remeber that I should be reviewing for the Zonghe lesson, or I'd waste time surfing the net, talking on facebook, and finding out how Nancy Botwin would talk her way out of being shot dead because she screwed up her drug-dealling again. And so time passed, with my blog simply lying here without any updates.
Until this special weekend in China, in which we had classes on Saturday(these barbarians!), but were free on Monday and Tuesday. The portuguese crew decided to take advantage of it and spend two days in the city of Datong, where we watched the Yungang Grottoes, mountain side caves with 51,000 Buddhist statues carved inside them (we didn't watch ALL of the Buhdas) and the Hanging Monastery (more on that on a future post. yeah, I know you heard that one before). Then on the way back to Beijing something funny happened: apparently our bus driver took a wrong turn, and instead of the normal highway we ended up on a highway meant only for trucks. Did you know that there are highways for trucks only? And that the one to Beijing can have a line 100 killometers long? I didn't, neither did my tuga friends, so we were quite surprised when became completely surrounded by trucks, miles and miles of them, and even more so when all of them stopped, leaving us stuck on a stuffy bus after dark. Aparently there are only so many trucks that are allowed into Beijing in the course of one night. The people in charge of the bus seemed to find it quite funny, as they explained us the situation (I use the term "explain" loosely). As the queen would put it, we were not amused. Eventually, the bus driver called the police to help us out. He seemed to be really worried about being at the airport on time (don't ask). Twenty minutes later a police car showed up and helped us get out of the "Truckway" by making the vehicles in front of us move along. However, we had go back a while before finally being on the right road to Beijing, which wasted even more of our time before arriving there. In the end, instead of the of arriving at 6 o'clock, we arrived at 10:30. Tired and hungry. Oh well. 5个小时在路上,10个小时在路上,都不是差不多吗?
 What does all of this have to do with my blog? Well, as we were stuck in the bus for hours without anything to do but talk, my colleague Zé, who travelled with me to Tokyo in February, brought the topic of my blog into the conversion. While Ponta backed him up (paraphrasing):
 (Tranlated from portuguese.Duh) Zé: "Hey Diogo, weren't you going to write this really neat blog? Cuz it's been more than 1 month and we haven't seen anything."
Me:"I've..I've... I've been busy"
Ponta:"Ohhhhhhhh - So busy. He's such a busy man".
Zé."Soooooooooooo busy..."
Me:"HEY! I could make a post TODAY if I felt like it!"
Zé:"Hey, you don't have to be so upset, we're just talking to you. If want to be agressive with someone, be with Telmo.
Ponta: "Yeah, Telmo's nobody's friend."
Ze:"But seriously, do you really think you're still going to update anything today?"
Me:"I'll do it JUST BECAUSE you said I wouldn't do it. JUST BECAUSE."
And I later said something unflattering about his mother, but that's off-topic.
 Anyway, here it is. My third blog post. Bet you were thinking that it would never come. Well, since I'm quitting my job next week, and so I'll have more free time, expect new posts soon. I'm tired, now. 10 hours on a bus will do that to you.
Take care, mes amies. 回头再说啊!

quarta-feira, 9 de fevereiro de 2011

Land of the Rising Sun - Prologue

 On the topic of my first impressions on Japan, this will not be a long post, mostly due to the fact that i'm just too tired and my head feels heavy regardless of the fact that there's no alcohool involved. Having only 3 hours of sleep will do that.
 So, here's a couple of things about Tokyo, and by extension Japan that I can think out of the top of my head:
 - Massive contrast with China. People respect the crosswalk, traffic lights, smoking bans, and, on top of it all... I never once saw a japanese person spitting on the street.
 - On the other hand, they are just a bit too restrained. Me and the other tugas would go to a subway full of people, and would find ourselves the only ones having a conversation. Everyone else would either be playing with their psp, listening to their mp3, or... staring at the floor. Just staring at the floor. Well, at least they wouldn't do like thew chinese and try desperetaly to get a seat in the subway as if their lives depended on it. Although that's always fun.
 - Their extreme politeness may be a cliche, but not an inaccurate one. Nobody ever said so many kind words after I bought something, despite the fact I didn't understand half of them.
  - They are a bit too obsessed with cuteness.
  - They are a bit too obsessed with sex.
  - They are a bit too obsessed with cute sex.

  - It's very expensive.

  - I am loving it.

 Nao percam o proximo episodio, porque nos tambem nao!!!


domingo, 6 de fevereiro de 2011

Hello, everybody! (Hi, doctor Nick)

 Hello, then.

 Ever since I came to China, or even before that, I had this idea in the back of my head about making a blog about my experiences abroad, and maybe even about some random thoughts that I ocasionally would come up with. Problem is, the times I did remember this idea, I was always either busy, or lazy. Mostly lazy. So one year and a half have gone by, and outside of some very scarce photos on facebook, nothing came out of it.
 But then one day, after a I sent her a happy holidays message, my wonderful friend Carolina replied me saying that she would never forgive me if I dind't post anything on-line about my experiences outside of Tugaland, like some other of our friends did, and she will do now that she's going to Denmark for a semester.
 As such, I started thinking about it again. So two months latter, here I am. I am doing this blog on english because it's a language acessible for most people I know, but feel free to reply in any language I'm familiar with. Or not. Actually, learning a new language might be fun.
   Standart internet etiquette here. You may disagree with others, and ocasionaly use swear words, but to much assholery(is that a word?) will get your comments deleted.
 Grammar nazis are welcome (yes, mr. Madsen, I'm looking at you). I haven't wrote long texts using the roman alphabet for a while now, so I'm a bit rusty...
Okay that's pretty much all that I can remember for now. My next posts will probably be about my upcoming trip to Japan, so stay tuned!