the happy idiot

The travels of an Austlalian on the trans-Siberian Railway

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hello to anyone who is still checking this blog.
Yes I am still alive . I'm in Saint Petersburg and I haven't yet needed to sell Chris's internal organs on the black market to pay off the mafia after a senseless week of drunken debauchery.
I know I have been slack in updating and I can't promise that I'll do any betterbefore I finnish my Journey, but I will post all my notes oncem I'm back in Australia. on the down side any photo's that get published will not be my own as my camera is living a new life with an unknown Russian some where in Irkutsk. Any way thats all for now.

Friday, September 15, 2006

We're on a train rushing through Japan's rugged landscape, steaming out of the dark into pasture filled ravines, then plunging back into the darkness of another tunnel. Every time the effects of the last night start to drag us down, Haze looks over at my leather jacket, then at me, he chuckles to himself and drifts happily back to sleep.

In one of the few moments of inspiration of the day Haze had suggested that we take refuge on the train and head straight for Toyama and leave Tokyo , a city of more grand beauty and heat than we alcohol sweating mortals can handle.

After getting off at Toyama we discovered that our hotel was at the next station. So we stood on the platform blinking at two trains as they sped off toward our destination. Realizing that we now had around an hours wait before the next train we looked around for something to eat.

Japanese train station have the coolest Kiosks in the world. Unlike the usual dirt and grime encrusted hovels with displays of crisps and chocolates that haven't been produced for the last 18 years, last centuries newspapers, and baine-maries full of stale, shriveled, luke warm chips and frankfurters floating in urine coloured water; kiosks in the train stations in Japan are sparkleing clean, ordered and serve some of the tastiest noodles you'll ever get. It's such a simple system, you buy a voucher from the vending machine give it to the personat the counter and in minutes you'll receive a real ceramic bowl full of fresh noodles. awesome!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The first Lemon Warped Around a Gold Brick experience starts like this:

We wander around Shinbashi for a while trying to find Ceigen's (Haze's friend) office. "It's this way." " If we turn left here..." "Gimme a look, is that right?" " Hey haven't we been past here before?" "Twice!" We eventually found the Building and started opening random doors until we found Seigen.

Ceigen is a great guy, all smiles. He greets us warmly, offers us juice and takes us off to the hotel he has kindly organized for us. We dump our stuff and head to the bar for a beer, the first of many! We meet Ceigens wife at a Yakitori resteraunt. We are greeted with gusto by the Worrior Chefs that run the place, an intimidating bunch. The resteraunt is run like a military operation, orders yelled out like comandments and delivered with precice methodical movements to the super heated hotplate. Bourdain and Ezard would have been proud. Here the Sake flows like the Amazon. Chris, Haze and I each have two bottles of Sake in front of us, one cold one warm. Every time we take a sip Ceigen and his wife generously fill up our glasses, every time a bottle is emptied a full one magicly appears. The Sake and skewers being demolished at a rapid pace. Halfay through the meal Hana, Ceigen's daughter, arrives having just managed to get out of work. Aftershe arrives we are offered some mushrooms "Matsutake" we're told. Hazs tells me that it's $100 a plate! I would have been floored by the generousity if the sake wasn't already doing that for me.

After dinner we bid fond aduie's and head off to meet another of Haze's friends, Gaigin Girl, at a small Irish pub.We convince Hana to come with us. 'For one drink!" she protests. After a beer there Gaigin girl informs us that she has booked us into the Absolut Ice Bar and that she booked for five people, "so, Hana you can come too."

The Ice Bar is, funnily enough, made completely of ice. I mean completely of ice, everything, the walls, the bar, the glasses, all ice. We dress up like Eskimos from Xanadu in these big, warm, silver coats and head into the ice cave. It was amasing, they had Esher prints carved into the wall. Vodka was being comsumed at an alarming rate. "I'll buy this round." "Here drink this." "Hurry up and finnish it's my shout!" "I'm already at the bar, you'll have to skull!" After 45 minutes and uncounted vodka's later they kick everybody out so that with the numbing of the cold and the vodka we don't freeze to death, way too easy to do.

Once outside in the humid Tokyo night, with an idiot grin on my face, my eyes blinking at a food van called the Happy Orange, I was piled into a taxi and we headed off to Rapongiand into an ex-pat bar.

Haze looked around the bar at the polariods of previous punters stuck to the walls and the ceiling and decided that more than anything in the world he wanted to be immortalised along with them. How to do it? Simple, buy the entire bar a round! On discovering that he didn't quite have enough cash to do this Haze turned to Chris and I, who wanting to help a brother out opened our wallets. Fortunately Hana, who's one drink had long since fallen by the way side, sugested that it may not be the smartest idea and that we should possibly find another bar, so off into the hot and steamy night we went.

It might be a good time to mention that when I left Australia I was expecting the weather to be similar to Melbournes' i.e. mid teens or cooler. I could not have been morer wrong. Japan had been experiencing a heat wave, it would have been at least 30 during the day and not much cooler that night. Wandering the streets of Tokyo was akin to being in a sauna.

As we wandered (staggered) the laneways of Rapongi we came across a couple of locals sitting out the front of a Rock'n'Roll and motorcycle memorabilia shop, out back was a bar. Awesome. We got some beer from Ted, the owner, introduced our selves to Ko, this cool Japanese, esoteric biker dude who lives in Berlin. I perused the leather jackets, top quality second hand. Ted offers us some refreshing flavoured ice thing. American Biker jackets. I do the conversion, Yen to Aussie dollar. More beer, now scotch. The nights' starting to get a bit sketchy. Ted pulls out this wikid WWII German Military jacket. Ted takes Gaigin Girl for a ride on his bike, woo-hoo.

Eventually around 2:30am we pour ourselves out into the dark and head our variousways. Hana, quite sensibly, left several hours earlier. We leave Gaigin Girl heading off into the night...

Ring. Ring ring. Ring ring. ignore it and it will go away. Ring ring. Ring ring. Ring ring. "Haze, you'd better anwser that. "( Where am I?)
"They want to know if we're comming down for breakfast."(Who's 'They'? Who am I??)
"OK. What time dose it finish?"(My mouth feels like a pub carpet.)
"What time is it now ?"(Which way is up?)

We crawl down to breakfast like shatter glass all angular, fragile, pointy.

We're sitting alone in the giant dinning room.
"Hey guys, I bought a cool leather jacket last night." I say. Brightly the first smile for the day strolls across my face. "It was a bargin, only $50 Australian!" I'm starting to feel much better.
"Are you sure?" Chris asks. "I think you might have miscalculated. I think you need to add another zero."

Haze smirks, then sniggers... then laughs...And laughs, laughs loudly, laughs long. Chris joins in with glee. I'm now wishing I felt as good as I did when I woke up.

I'm sitting slumped at a table in a hotel, one day into a 2 month journey. It's 27 outside. Haze is laughing in the background.
I'm now the proud owner of a very expensive, warm leather jacket. Wikid