Karaoke Zombie, a Night Out, and Full Moon Over Bangkok

I have left Tokyo for the time being – it was ten days, but they passed so quickly. I could easily have spent another month and still felt like I’d only scratched the surface. Tokyo is that kind of city.

Lowie and Wataru flew up from Fukuoka to join CC and I in Tokyo. They arrived quite late on Friday night, but that didn’t stop us from going out to eat – Thai food, perhaps a foreshadowing of what was to come? Afterwards, we headed to a karaoke place local to Jinbocho.

In the U.S., karaoke is a public event. You sing in front of a bar or restaurant audience. In Japan, however, karaoke is done in rented private rooms. That way you can sing to your heart’s content without feeling like you’re performing before a room of strangers. It’s good for those of us who might be shy about singing in public, and it leads to interesting realizations.

For example, I’ve always assumed that I don’t sing well. That assumption was tempered by the belief that it probably wasn’t all that bad and that I was just being overly critical. Well, no. In fact, that night, I learned the truth… I can barely sing at all. Oh, I can match the rhythms alright, but other than that… might as well ask a metronome to the party. Ah well… I still had a great time anyway, and I enjoyed listening to the others, all of whom sang much better than I. We didn’t leave the place till 4 am, and so we were zombies the next morning.

That didn’t deter us though. There was shopping to be done. Specifically, Wataru wanted a day of shopping in Harajuku and Lowie was looking for a dress. Alas, a full afternoon of walking around (after visiting the Imperial Palace), and were left empty handed. I did, however, manage to get some shots of some the hip and fashionable out and about on a Saturday afternoon. The World’s Crappiest Digital Camera was really showing its limitations, but head on over to Flickr if you want to check them out.

In the evening, we celebrated Wataru’s belated brithday by fulfilling a wish for a fine dining experience. Apparently, it’s very common for CC, Lowie, and Wataru to eat out at funky places. But an evening of being serious, of “formal and normal”, that was unheard of. So “for the love of Wataru”, we all got dressed up – Samer in a suit, CC and Lowie absolutely gorgeous in their dresses – and we headed to Casita, a French restaurant. And let me tell you… I can’t sing their praises enough. Probably the best service I’ve ever received at a restaurant ever.

For example, we had accidentally walked past the restaurant, and when we called to verify the address, they sent someone down to the street to guide us back and show us to their 3rd floor location. Second example: whenever someone would rise from the table to go to the restroom, one of the staff would come over and refold their napkin. All evening it was like that, except without being snooty or pretentious. Just friendly, attentive care. And the food was very good too. I ordered one of the course menus; 6 courses for 12,600Y (something like 115US). A steal for the quality of food and service. Enough raving: 9.0 on the Samer scale. Highly recommended.

So now I’m in Bangkok. Safely arrived and a bit tired. It’s a longer flight than I expected. Maybe seven hours or so. JAL continues to impress, although I did have a scare at Narita. My luggage was apparently way over their weight limit, and I was looking at a 600US charge to bring it on the plane. Fortunately, since I’d booked through American Airlines, they ended up using their luggage guidelines (by piece instead of weight), and I didn’t pay a thing. Whew.

Bangkok was so pretty to fly into. As the plane came in, I could see the full moon from my window, shadowing the plane, reflected in the water. The little girl behind me kept saying “sugoi” (amazing) and “kirei” (beautiful). She was so sweet – in that moment I forgave her the times she kicked the back of my seat. It’s the little things, eh?

I took a shuttle bus to the hostel I’m staying at; Hosteling International’s Sukhumvit. Wow… cool place. Nice decor, clean – I like it. And just down the street is a series of (what look to be well established) food carts. A number of local people were eating, and the smell was amazing. I came up to one and pointed at the duck and pork. I ended up with the two meats over rice with a brown, sweetish, pepper sauce. Not bad. 40BHT, which is around 2US, I think.

I’m in Bangkok till the August 2nd. I don’t have any major plans other to do what I’ve been doing – going around and taking in what I can take in. I do have some shopping to do – hoping, hoping, hoping to buy a new camera cheap. I also have a short list of sights to see from my former flatmate, Goal. How it all plays out? Who knows… that’s part of the journey.

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~ by Samer on July 29, 2007.

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