Rotation Sushi

There is a rotation sushi (as we call it) restaurant fairly near to my house that I have taken a liking to. As opposed to the (I assume) widespread belief that I eat sushi daily, I, in fact, eat sushi maybe a few times a month at most. You can buy it at my local supermarket though, which is convenient. I prefer not to as it is expensive and not very good. Rotation sushi places are popular because they are 1. Cheap, 2. Fun, 3. Delicious. What more could one ask of a meal?

Basically what happens is you sit down on a little stool around the conveyor belt, with the sushi chefs in the middle. They arrange the sushi, and place it on plates (coloured according to cost) and place the plates on the conveyor belt. Then, when a plate of sushi comes your way that looks appealing, you just take it and enjoy it.

You can eat a variety of (possibly deathly) fish and other sea creatures. If you don’t want to eat them, just leave them on the conveyor belt and the kids down the line can have ’em.

Yay for rotation sushi.

conveyor belt sushiConveyor belt sushi.

shark sushiSHARKKKK!

fugu japanese blowfish sushiふぐ – Japanese Blowfish. Possibly deathly, fortunately not this time.

conveyor belt sushiThe empty plates are piling up!

This has been another addition of “Rachel’s experience in Japan”.
Until next time,
xo R

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Monkey Forest Road

Now, I don’t want to scare you off seeing monkeys completely (as I did with Danica & Seonaid when they visited Japan), so I will first show you this picture of a cute monkey:

look a baby monkey
Awww! So cutee!

Now I will show you this photo:

me + katie + monkey = love 4 eva
This photo is less cute than the previous.

(Please take the time to appreciate the awkwardness in the above self-timer photo. Also please note that the monkey is licking the wall.)

As I said, the monkeys of Monkey Road in Ubud, are uniquely bold. These monkeys are not afraid of people, as hoards of tourists trek through their territory daily. This makes them, a bit more rambunctious than other monkeys I have encountered. Let me recall for you one terrifying monkey story, that took place literally seconds after the above self-timer photo was taken:

Two monkeys, with little babies on their backs, were having a bit of a dispute. Perhaps about a banana or whose baby was cuter – I don’t pretend to understand a monkeys ways. The argument escalated, and as one mother monkey began to back away, a small wayward human child got in its path. It its surprise, anger, confusion, and rage the mother monkey grabbed the little girl by the leg and bit her. The child was quickly attended to by her mother, and the monkeys fled. We watched as the “helpers” arrived (there is no actual staff of the monkey forest. It is quite literally just a forest where monkeys live, and you enter at your own risk). The girl had stopped crying and it appeared the monkey didn’t actually break skin. Nonetheless, she was whisked away in a car last we saw.

The moral of this story? Especially when visiting other countries, you must remember that you are a visitor, a guest. In this situation, we were not only a visitor to Indonesia, but a visitor to the monkeys territory. Take caution when around wild animals, and be respectful of the environment and the locals (human & animal). And for the love of God, watch your kids!

Christmas in Korea

So, I went back to Korea. Here’s the story:

Took the ferry (the good ol’ Sunflower & Beetle that you may remember from my previous visit). I hope thats the last time I make that trip. It’s not that bad, its just so time consuming and not actually much cheaper than flying. I flew home from Seoul – Matsuyama and that was much quicker. (Although a bit dramatic – As we were landing the plane suddenly pulled straight up in the air and the pilot comes on and says “we can’t land, bad weather”. I nearly pooped my pants. Fortunately we managed to land on our second try. But then I was strip searched in the Matsuyama airport – I later found out that a JET in another prefecture was arrested for trying to smuggle in marijuana to Japan. All JETs are now subject to full searches, apparently, when we return. Katie & Deandra said the same thing happened when they flew back from Hong Kong.)

We arrived in Busan (or Pusan), and headed to the station to grab the Korean version of the shinkansen to Seoul. We had a pickup from the subway stop by our hostel guy, which was wonderful considering the amount of luggage we all decided to bring. For anyone looking for a good hostel to stay at in Seoul, I strongly recommend BiBim Guesthouse. It’s your fairly average hostel in terms of style, but the two guys working there, Konda & Panda, make it wonderful! It’s the little things, from the personalized homemade breakfast right when you wake up, to the Korean survival guide they hand you when you first come in, that make your trip easier. They booked all our day trips for us, and gave us recommendations on everything. They were lifesavers multiple times. Loved it.

Anyway, Seoul was wonderful. I did some shopping, H&M & Forever 21, something I am so deprived of here in Japan!

But let’s get to the good stuff:

Seoul Tower on Christmas Eve
The night of December 24, we headed up to the top of Seoul tower, to get a nighttime view of the city. The 4 of us (Me, Katie, Deandra, & Gavin) were the ONLY non-couple group. Apparently that was the romanticy-couply thing to do on Christmas Eve! But we embraced it anyway.

Christmas in KoreaView of Seoul from Seoul Tower.

Seoul TowerToronto, that-a-way…

Christmas Day in Korea
In search of a home-style meal, we headed to The Rocky Mountain Tavern where we were able to get a real turkey dinner (!!!!). There needs to be more foreign bars like this in Shikoku.

Christmas in KoreaChristmas Dinner in Seoul.

Visit to the DMZ
Another great Korean adventure was heading up to the De-Militarized Zone between North and South Korea.

DMZThe North/South Korean Border

The best experience here at the border was meeting and chatting with one of the guards. It was at this point, where we were looking into North Korean territory, and taking photos from behind the line, when we almost got into a little trouble.

DMZNorth Korea

You are only allowed to take photos from behind this yellow line, as the photo shows. Watson so hilariously exclaims, “Well, if someone wants to climb on my back and take a photo, but from behind the line, is that still okay?” I didn’t think it was such a good idea to test that theory, what with all the armed guards and such, and just as Emma is about to climb on his back, a guard walks up and says, “Hey, so, yeah, I’m just not going to let you do that.” He had a bit of a chuckle to his voice, and a few minutes later says, “Actually, I’ve never seen anyone try that, that’s pretty hilarious.” So we stop and have a bit of a chat with this guy, who we found out grew up in Chicago and goes to university in — (some other state. I cant remember now! I want to say Michigan? Anyway..). Due to his maintaining Korean citizenship, he has to fulfill his mandatory 2 years service (“77 days left!”) before he returns to America to finish his education. As we’re talking to this guard, getting all the details about the Korean army lifestyle, a passerby approaches and says to the guard; “Sorry, I can’t help but overhear. Your English is so good.” The guard laughs, looks at him and says, “Thanks bud, so is yours.” We all cracked up. The funniest part of the trip, and the coolest; nothing like getting the inside scoop from a solider himself! Especially one that, spending the majority of his life in America, can really tell us the differences. Unfortunately we were kept on a tight schedule, and couldn’t talk to him for long.

We also visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The story there is quite sad, as much of the palace was destroyed by the Japanese. But we got a free guided tour in English, saw the changing of the guards, and got our culture fill for the day in. A recommended sight for sure. But we checked our Japan pride at the door this day.

Royal PalaceGyeongbokgung Palace

KOREAN FOOD
I can’t mention Korea this time around without giving a detailed explanation of the deliciousness that is this country. The food is AMAZING in Korea. Obviously, the best thing is the Korean BBQ. Each table is equipped with a little grill, and you make the meat yourself. Then, you wrap it in a piece of lettuce after dipping it in amazing sauce, and enjoy! We could not get enough of it! They have “Korean BBQ” here in Japan, but as is so often the case, nothing compares to the real thing!

Korean BarbequeAMAZINGLY DELICIOUS

Korean BBQCooking up the meat and the kimchi and other veggies.

Korean BBQReady for eating.

WELL. That’s all for now! Next post will be about NYE in Japan! Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays. Wishing you all health, love & happiness in 2013!

xo R