Tag Archives: old

Tokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and Yanaka

When night came, we headed to Shinjuku where all the neon lights are. Outside of one of the many Sanrio Hello Kitty shops that they have in Japan, I found the biggest Hello Kitty statue I have ever seen.

We also found the infamous Robot Restaurant and climbed a stepladder for a photo with one of the robots. The area was lively and we stopped in a restaurant that served whale bacon and made soft serve ice cream instantly. We declined the former, but my daughter enjoyed the whole process of the later.

Most of the locals were playing a betting game where they betted on rolled dice for free beer. I think my husband wished he knew how to play.

The next day we woke later, exhausted from all the walking and almost overloaded with sight seeing.

We went to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, part of which is set to close in early 2017. There were enormous slabs of tuna everywhere prepared in any fashion you desired. My husband had raw fish and sea urchin for breakfast, followed by eel skewers for a snack. I couldn’t quite stomach it and had omelette instead.

I liked the huge mushrooms of many shapes, the paper-thin sheets of Nori seaweed and the lollies that were made to look like a tray of sushi. One question we never had answered was where is the inner market and how do you get there?

Next we went to Yanaka old city. It was small and hard to imagine that this was once the centre of Tokyo. The main street had tiny shops. My daughter enjoyed reading the Japanese manga fairy tale books and we liked looking at the houses, both small and grand.

We went back to Shinjuku in search of one of the Alice in Wonderland restaurants. Finding one of these themed places was a little bit of an obsession for me. After a lot of searching, I thought, why is an Alice restaurant so hard to find? But I suppose that’s the whole point.

Eventually we found it, down the rabbit hole elevator in the basement of a non-descript building. It was closed.

Instead, we went to Omide Yoko Cho memory lane for a tasty traditional lunch with Japanese beer and went shopping in one of the many Uniqlo’s- the Japanese brand that has now taken the world by storm.

Back in our neighbourhood, my daughter played in the block courtyard park before we went to dinner at one of my husband’s friends places. The local lady of the house served Daiwa Sushi (make your own) and the thinnest and tastiest slices of Kobe beef that we had ever eaten.

Related posts: Tokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and Shibuya, Tokyo, 2016: Ueno and Harajuku, Japan, 2016

Old Colombo, 2015

When my daughter was 2 years old, we decided to go to Sri Lanka. My husband had never been before and my parents came along for the ride. We landed in Colombo in one of the hotter times of the year when you are sweating after five minutes and as soon as you get out of the shower.

My Aunty Maryann and Uncle Tommy were kind enough to put us up in their house in the city- big enough for us all now that their two daughters had moved to other parts of the world. The house was tiled and airy with an open courtyard and many fans.

My daughter loved the tuk tuks in Colombo. Nothing delighted her more than setting off in one with her grandparents and chasing my husband and I in another. On our first tuk tuk ride to the local Kol Pitti market, we happened upon a parade for the St Thomas College annual cricket match. There were lots of floats with music, people hanging out of cars waving flags and revellers zooming around on motorbikes.

Kol Pitti market was filled with colourful fruit and vegetables, live chickens, raw meat and a fish stall. From there we took another tuk tuk to the Galle Face Hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean. A white washed leftover relic from the colonial era, the hotel was beautiful and the kamikaze cocktail in the 1864 bar was well made.

The next day we went to Colombo Fort- an old part of the city that had only just been reopened. The clock tower was tall and striking and I loved the elephant heads on one of the old buildings. My parents enjoyed pointing out old eating and drinking haunts that they hadn’t been able to get to for a while and we stopped at a yummy short eats restaurant for lunch.

One of my favourite buildings was the old Dutch hospital with its various courtyards and fancy shops. From here we braved the FOSE market in Pettah. It was ridiculously busy and a world away from the local market. Every imaginable item that you could want was for sale- from toys to food and souvenirs to clothes.

Related posts: It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Sri Lanka, 1998, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994

 

Singapore, 2012: Old vs New

The next day, my husband and I headed back to Chinatown to explore further the mix of old and new. The old colourful Hindu Sri Mariamman temple was still there along with the Buddha Tooth Relic temple.

There was an old Buddha statue near a new perspex temple and old markets next to the new Tin Tin shop. My husband was a big fan of Tin Tin from his days of living in Belgium and he was happy to find some of the books in French so that he could teach the language to our child once it was born.

Another Asian favourite of my husband’s is a good hawker centre, so we found an authentic one here for lunch. The humidity being cut briefly by the afternoon rains was an old familiar Asian experience. One clap of thunder was so loud that it made me jump.

After the rain, we went into to the new Marina Bay Sands to journey to the top. We got a tip that the best place to go was the cocktail bar at the curved infinity pool where you got the view without having to pay for the observation deck.

From the bar we could see the shell like Art Science Museum, the Singapore Flyer and the domes and trees of Gardens By The Bay that was currently under construction. It was a clear day so I felt like I could see almost all the way to Malaysia.

On our last day in Singapore we went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. We saw the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, a statue of Chopin and Swan Lake with fountains, swan statues and real swans and turtles. We went behind a waterfall, which triggered the old memory that I had been there before.

I’m not usually a flower person, but we figured it would be rude not to go into the National Orchid Garden while were here. After all, the purple flower is the national emblem. There were arches of golden orchids, an interesting cage display and a tiger orchid fountain.

The waterfalls in the cool room were another welcome reprieve from the heat. We got lost heading out of the gardens and found it hard to find a cab home, so that evening we took it easy by dining at one of the riverside restaurants at the foot of our hotel.

After a hectic couple of days in Singapore, my husband was looking forward to some relaxing beach time on Tioman Island and I was looking forward to returning to the island that held old memories from the last time I had been there.

Related posts: Singapore, 2012: Part 1

Old Skool vs New Skool

In the office there are old skool workers and new skool workers. Those that have a methodical, often longer way of working at things with great attention to detail; and those that work creatively, quickly, but not perfectly.

And it got me thinking about other old skool versus new skool ways of doing things. And whose to say which way is best?

Take bus tickets for example. You used to be able to pay the driver with actual money to get on the bus. Then we moved to pre paid paper tickets and now we have automatic electronic plastic tickets. Easier and quicker, yes, but much less personal as you don’t even have to speak to the bus driver anymore.

That’s even if you are listening to the outside world, as you might have your earphones on listening to music on your phone that you are live streaming from the internet. No more records, CD’s, MP3 players or even iPods anymore. More portable, but less tangible. I secretly still love buying a CD and popping it on the shelf.

And what gives you that capability to do all that live music listening- your smart phone with internet of course. No more dial phone, home phone, car phones or even mobile phones anymore. I must admit that I love my smart phone and having everything available 24/7, but I also enjoy switching it off and leaving it at home when I go on holiday.

If you are driving and don’t know how to get where you are going, talking Google maps will get you there. No more asking directions, Gregory’s books, maps or even static maps on your smart phone anymore. But there was that time that Google maps sent me down a dead end street and I had to find my own way out in an area I was completely unfamiliar with proving that even technology isn’t perfect.

Socialising and Dating will also never be the same. Forget the old skool way of meeting through friends, at a party, on the street or even at a bar. Everything from a film buddy to a husband can be found online these days. Sure it’s great to know up front what people are looking for, but it also kinda takes the mystery/fun/spark out of it doesn’t it?

The world of traveling has also changed. It takes less time to get to places and if you are in a new skool place to you, chances are that it is old skool to someone else. No one uses guide books, they use ebooks. Blog advice has replaced the advice of locals. Sometimes I find myself writing about a hidden treasure and I almost don’t want people to go so that it remains old skool.

And I still love taking my real Lonely Planet guide book with me and asking a local for their opinion on what I have read. After all, we can’t get free live streaming internet on our smart phones with Google maps everywhere right? And that’s why I love to travel in the first place- to get off the grid, feel something and discover the new skool experience in the old skool.

Related posts: Real Friends vs Digital Friends, Traveller vs Tourist,  Reinvention, Universal vs Personal, What’s in a number?, By special request…

What’s in a number?

I am going to my cousin’s 21st birthday this weekend and I must admit I am a little afraid.

If it’s anything like the year of 21st’s that I went to when I was 21 it will involve buying a hip flask or a vase as a present depending on your gender, dressing up in impractical fancy dress, drinking far too much and mixing drinks, dancing crazily, throwing up, drinking some more and waking up in either a car or a barn.

I feel like I am far too old to be contemplating such activities and am quite glad it’s actually not expected of me at my age. It has a time and place, but I prefer to enjoy my weekend DAYS now rather than spending them hung-over until it’s time to start drinking again.

So, it got me thinking about what makes me feel old?

When I delayed university for two years and then had to enter as a mature age student- that label made me feel old.

When I asked one of my younger friends if they liked “Things that make you go Hmmm” and they didn’t know who C & C Music Factory were- that made me feel old.

When I realised I got my belly button piercing BEFORE it was cool- this made me feel old, but also very cool so that was ok.

When I turned 25, I had a quarter-life crisis. So by the time I turned 30, I was over feeling old due to the age that I was.

When I think of all the technology advances I have seen in my lifetime- that is the best indicator of the path of time. In the past, the move from records to tapes seemed huge. But now, technology moves at such a fast rate I have seen the move from tapes to CD’s to MP3 players to iTunes.

When I went on my first trip to Europe by myself I had to use pay phones to keep in touch with my parents. Now there are mobile phones, email, Facebook and Skype.

Finally, when I got a mortgage, got married and had a child- this really made me feel old! So maybe feeling old is directly proportionate to the amount of responsibilities you have in your life?

But at the end of the day, age is just a number, not how we feel. And we are all still 21 on the inside right?

Related posts: Cocktail Hour in Sydneytown, Get your groove on, By special request