Yang Yang Up The Ying Yang

Joshy had been talking about this hippie dippy surfer enclave that pretty much straddles the 38th parallel on the east coast, called Yang Yang, for forever and a day.  Only he pronounces it like you’re pronouncing it if you live in the west, only it’s really supposed to be pronounced like they pronounce it in the east, like YahngYahng, but we’ll just keep pronouncing it like YangYang because it’s more fun that way.

Anyways, enough with the pronunciation lesson. Like I was saying, he’s been wanting to go FOREVER, but when his brilliant plan got thrown into road trip motion he went into mini freak out mode like OMG WE DON’T REALLY NEED TO GO. But we were getting the F out of Seoul, and we were utilizing that international drivers license that Dusty boy procured whilst Stateside.

So, after a minor hiccup and foreigner free pass at the car rental place, we rented our Hyundai and joined the swanky Sonata club of Korea.

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Of course no road trip is complete without a playlist, and my 7th grade crush’s recently dropped hit provided just that. Sean Sahand errrbody…while I crawl inside myself.

As much as everyone was enjoying the jam and the J’s, instead of the suggested 3 hours allotted for the journey, it took us approximately 7 hours to reach the glorious beaches of YangYang, and we forged through all types of weather to get there. I’m not kidding. We thought we were going to reach the beach and head right to the mart for hoodies and sweats. There is no shittier feeling than being dressed for summer in the middle of winter atop Mt. Seorak. But there we were, umbrellas turned inside out and eating piping hot hotteok to keep us warm.

They behaved for the photo, thankfully.

They behaved for the photo, thankfully.

Good thing we had our optimistic giant in tow, who knew the sun would come out tomorrow, because as soon as we hit the coast, the sun surely was a glistening. That was about the time we reached the vicinity of our beloved YangYang! Only we overshot it a bit, but that’s ok! We found the absolutely stunning oceanside temple shrine Hyuhyu-am and took a wander. It was so beautiful and magestic! You do not get to see these blue skies in Seoul, THAT’s for sure!

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Broing out.

When we finally got to YangYang, it took us a hott minute to find the pension that Veny took the reigns on booking after Joshua had booked a single bed in jumbled Korean for 4 of us. We love each other, but not that much. We didn’t mind the momentary confusion though because we were so obsessed with all the personality, tattoos and hairstyles in wild abundance. It felt like we stepped out of Korea for a weekend. Everyone was tan, and no one, NO ONE was sitting on their cell phones whilst in the company of another. It was wild. 

After dumping our belongings in our room that was the size of a California King bed (and that’s being generous), we took to exploring the oceanside town.

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This marks the first time I ever tried samgyeopsal. Couldn’t turn down pig from sweet ajummas. That’s a rarity. 

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These mushrooms looked quite phallic. So obviously I documented.

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Veny posed beside her unsuspecting fashion icon.

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Dusty boy got down ‘n dirty with his ajussi squat.

Joshy tried to shoot down a stuffed bottle of Cass with arms, to no such luck.

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And I hopped a fence (without falling) to sit on the wine cork looking things that break the waves on the dock.

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It felt amazing to breathe the fresh air and get that salt and sand between our toes.  And even though it was a sad realization that this was one of our last weekends together, I was so happy to be spending it with the ones who became my greatest family these past 3 years.

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That night we enjoyed each other’s company over some Sean Sahand serenades, some very strong beverages, some sparklers on the beach, and some cheese balls.

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We left a nice gift of cheese balls on the terrace for the next visitor.

Before hopping  back in our swanky Sonata back to the big city, we worked on our pasty city “tans” one last time, and enjoyed the gaggle of fully dressed Koreans enjoying  a day in the sun.

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To all those wishing to get the heck out of the landlocked concrete jungle of Seoul, I wish I had more solid directions than ‘just drive East’ to give you. But unfortunately I don’t because I didn’t drive, and I’m a moron with a map. While Veny was playing navigator for our Daddy Dustin, I was taking pictures of a sleeping Joshua in the backseat.

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If you get a chance, hit up YangYang. It’s definitely an unspoken about gem that’s more than worth the weekend jaunt.

 

The Grand Baby Tour Of Los Angeles

I like to refer to my last trip home as the “Baby Tour of Los Angeles” due to the fact that my trip entirely revolved around meeting new babies, peppered with the wine and sangria imbibement with friendzies along the way. Thank the heavens above for my Schaeffeur of a sister for shlepping my carless tuchous all over the greater Los Angeles area, and even deep into The OC.

Now I know you want to see these babies as much as I did, so join me if you will.

But first, let me back up to August when I was enjoying my first evening basking on my balcony in the Mexico of Bali, Kuta, where I was forced to spend 1 wretched night. Wretched until the best Facebook message ever popped up! I’m pretty psychic (sometimes), and well, when I got a random message from Kendra, the first thing I thought was “I BET SHE’S PREGNANT.” We don’t message to say hello on the reg, after all. Sure enough my psychic powers were on point, and along with a sonogram photo, her little man had a due date of February 18th, meaning I was definitely coming home for a visit come winter time. He could not have had a more perfect debut date to match up with my vacation. That, and he was born a few days before I landed, so he was ready to rock n’ roll for Auntie D’s arrival! Good going on the baby making calendar Kesslers.

At 6 days old, little Grouchy Gavin was the perfect Pororo model! And look at the size of that hand! He’s gonna be a giant just like his daddy!

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From Bali to Seoul to Irvine and back to Seoul, Auntie Danielle would like to thank Social Media and technology for allowing her to virtually be there every step of the way, including live updates during the entire labor. After all that, she just can’t believe she’s holding you! It’s true love.

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We even got to enjoy a Skype date this past weekend. Gavin has changed so much! He is no longer grouchy, has learned how to flash his gummy gums, has Kendra’s chin and Justin’s Japanese eyeballs. I am even more in love, and hope to be back in the States (for a quick sec) in time for his 1st birthdizzle.

Here I am oogling at the cutest baby hoodrat in all the land.

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Another little munchkin on the “Baby Tour of LA” was my friends Alessandra and Steve’s little Cuban cutie. Leah was 6 weeks old and has the most pinchable cheeks, big tummy and curious eyes. Alessandra plopped her into my arms right when I walked in the door, and she was so unfussy the whole time. Definitely a sweet little love bug.

I stole this shot after our stroll around the neighborhood when she was ready to trek around town with mommy.

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Next up was a revisit to the juiciest Georgia Peach in the whole entire land, none other than Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s little baby doppelganger. Last I saw Georgia, she was 4 months old and cooing on her back while Chizzy and I played with her underneath the baby mobile. This time she was riding her Grandma’s back around the living room like she was a pony, kicking her daddy out of her seat in the living room, pointing to her belly button, and trying on Mirandawg’s highest of heels. Uh oh. Cutie trouble awaits! I just. I can’t handle it.

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Like mommy like baby.

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And the final little babe to get the Schaeff treatment was a very special one. Due to family politics, I thought I was never going to have the chance to meet my 2nd cousin, my cousin Jackie’s son Kian. I’d always see photos of him on Facebook and get a little sad thinking I would probably never meet him. He recently had surgery on his brain and has had to wear the most adorable race car driver helmet during the healing process. Well, seeing photos of him rockin’ this helmet made me even more sad. BUT, I am sad no more thanks to my cousin Danny! Danny (yes, sista and I have cousins with the boy versions of our own names) helped arrange everything, and sista and I popped on over to play with kutie Kian, Elmo and his elephant.

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Our little race car driver is so darling, and even crawls like a little monkey, of course making me love him even more. I am one happy camper after this play date!

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That about does it for the “I’m so old my friends are all having babies” portion of my life.

I will leave you with the cutest babies in the whole wide world, my little perfect puppy Presley and Cilly Cilla girl.

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3am puppy modeling hour.

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It would be incomplete without this creeper shot taken by my darling sista.

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As you can see, this trip home was not lacking in the heart explosion department. Thank heavens for tiny creatures.

Culture Shocking My Pants Off In Reverse

For the second time in the past 2.5 years, I made the flight home to the land of LALA, mostly because lots of my friends are maturing at a more rapid pace than I and are bearing children, but also to see lots of lovely familiar faces (but that jibber jabber is for another post).

I’ve been home since I’ve left, and that was after an even longer period of time than this time, however this trip actually felt quite a smidge different than the first. I’m not quite sure why, but it did. It was mostly in the realm of culture shocking my pants off in the weirdest and most microscopic ways. While you may laugh, these are real things that made me feel like a foreigner in my own land of reign. Super weird to you, and even super-er weirder to moi.

Landing In America and Still No English.

For some odd reason I had a layover in Dallas on my jaunt home to LA. Why that makes sense, I have no idea, but I did. After getting through security I had to empty my bladder so I went to the restroom. While I was doing my business, all I heard being spoken around me was Spanish. I know I’m in Tejas, but it was so bizarre to me. Here I was in my own country, land of (obviously many languages, but…) English, and still none in sight, aside from the TSA people that were so cheery and talkative.  I’m so used to Korean making up the white noise in the background of my life these days, and when a different language was being spoken my ears perked up, yet still no super understandable cigar to be found.

Fondling Money & Pressure To Order At Starbucks.

This was perhaps my 2nd day home and the oddest of the odd in my book. We’ve got Starbucks aplenty in the Koko, though I actually don’t go much, unless it’s the holidays or I’m homesick or I’m with my lassie, Veny, and we only eat and drink American things together. It’s our thing.

Well, I was home and I really had a hankering for a Starbucks visit. I’m usually a weird person at the counter on any given day because I usually always order 1 of 3 things, but sometimes I feel like I’m gonna be spontaneous, and then I’m not, then there I am standing there trying to make up my mind, then spit out a wild order of “I’ll have a tall cafe latte. Oh! nonfat!” (Nonfat milk is like nonexistent in Korean coffee shops, so I forget).

This time I still ordered my nonfat tall latte, but that wasn’t the issue. Rather it was the swiftness of the process that caught me off guard. I felt so pressured from the second I stepped in front of the girl taking my order, to blurting out my order to fumbling with my dolla bills. For some reason the fact that I had dollars in my hand opposed to wons made me nervous, then throw in coins. Eeeesh! It was weird. I’m just used to muttering “tall capay latte” and it still sometimes getting lost in translation just because I’m a white face staring back at the scared-of-foreigners Korean face, and then forking over some wons, and it just being an all around slower process.

But like, 2 minutes later my beverage was ready. I was shocked by the efficiency. In Korea, there will be like 5 people making one drink and it’ll still take a year to receive. Blown away, off I happily walked with a puzzled 5 minute encounter giggling in my brain.

When Collin and I had our rendezvous, I had this feeling reassured when he told me some of his most uncomfortable moments upon returning to the States involved paying for things. Phew!

Another Starbucks Soiree.

I went to another Starbucks with sista, this one being the little setup in the local Vons. Much like Cori made fun of me for saying “bye bye” to everyone while we were in Thailand, Jacquie made fun of my way of ordering my tall iced Chai tea latte (one of my 3 staples).  Apparently I was talking to the barista like he was a moron and I needed to speak as if I wasn’t in Asia anymore and he was in fact a capable human being. Well, apparently I didn’t realize I was talking in a drawn out dialect. It’s become a way of life that is unbeknownst to me at times. Adjustments people!

Supermarket Window Shopping.

The morning I went to the DMV to renew my drivers license (I’ve got a great new picture, BTW, and I no longer weigh the 105 lbs. I never was), was also the one day my mother let me cruise around in her vehicle. I took the liberty of showing myself around the neighborhood and those adjacent to see the new popups since I’ve been gone. I was pleasantly surprised. But that’s all besides the point.

I took a trip to the local Trader Joe’s, because I miss it so, and I just have a love for supermarkets. They’re actually one of my favorite things to see when I travel because they’re so unique everywhere you go. Another aside, sorry. Well, I went to Trader Joe’s and I just wandered the aisles to look at all the things that I just can’t get in Korea. This was my preliminary visit to Trader Joe’s. I had to mentally prepare myself for treats to bring back with me. I told this to my sister and she thought I was so weird. I literally just wandered, read labels that don’t require me to Google Translate and checked out the new delicacies that have been added to the shelves.

I definitely felt weird whilst doing this and then exiting without dropping a penny. It’s the little things, like being able to read a label and know exactly what a product is before purchasing.

Nail Talk Jibber Jabber.

On mine and Kayla’s day of wandering in the sun, we also went to get our nails did, something I haven’t actually had done since I was in Vietnam 2 years ago and got them done for $2. I’ve become my own personal manicurist and pedicurist and I thoroughly enjoy it.

In nail salons people sit and talk talk talk, mostly about how the nail polish shade they’ve chosen is going to change their outlook on life for the week, or the latest celebrity gossip, and this was the first time I was acutely aware of all the chatter going on in my vicinity. As I said before, I basically swim through the white noise of Korean being spoken everywhere, so actually being able to fully understand everything being spoken around me  made me so aware of how stupid most people sound.  I’m obviously guilty of the celebrity gossip because I love it, but seriously, most people just need to STFU because they sound like idiots.

Next.

No Crayon Pop.

Only mah peeps in Korea will get that play above there. Anyways…

Korean magazines looks like a crayon box vomited all over paper with flashy bubble print and exclamation points everywhere and guys with makeup adorning cover after cover.  There’s also very rarely American magazines in sight over here. So, while Jacquie and I were strolling through Westwood, we passed by a newsstand.  I had to stop and peruse a few because I was just so excited to see American magazines in English and without the Crayola effect.

I also had a couple incidents where I couldn’t put down the Us Weekly or People at the check-out counter. There’s just something special about having the Hot or Not, Who Wore It Best? gossip in your hands as opposed to a link on the interwebs.

I’m sure there were more exciting culture shockers that popped up, like just how capable of eating cheese for every meal I really am, but these are the ones that were super apparent to me, and when I told others about them they couldn’t help but laugh in my honor. Living abroad is weird, but returning back from abroad is even weirder. Are there any subtle but mind-blowing reverse culture shocks you’ve experienced?! Do tell, because I’m sure it’s happened here too!

Gettin JAPpy With The Japs

As many of you know, I have been super top of the pops over here in the visitor department.  So popular in fact, I actually can’t even keep track of how many people have visited me over the past 26 months, but I’d ballpark it somewhere around 15 or so.  October marked by faux-teen visitor, and one of my most anticipated because it has taken her forever and a freakin day to get her JAPPY ass out to see me! But let’s remember, all good things come to those who wait!

Well, it had been nearly 2 years since Cori and I painted ourselves florescent on the beach of Koh Phangnan, so we were long overdue for a reunion of loving and bitching and bickering til death do us part.  She came to the land of pig, where we ate lots of chicken, for 6 days, and then we flew our JAPpy selves on over to Tokyo for some bright lights, robots, green tea Kit Kats and some Japanese culture.

Starting with the Kokoness of her journey, I took her to all the visitor must-see hot spots, and she met most of those awesome folks who are left of my friend circle in the country. That was actually maybe the weirdest thing.  This was my first visitor since nearly everyone left, and part of the fun of having visitors is introducing them to your family in your home away from home. But c’est la vie and on with the show!

First things first, I’d just like to say how impeccable our timing was upon meeting at my subway station after her arrival! As I was coming up the escalator on my way home from work, Cori was walking just past the exit! It was pretty perfect. And there was embracing and extremely loud laughing, because it wouldn’t be a Diamond & Schaeff reunion without it.

Now let’s take a little jaunt through some of the highlights shall we. As it turns out, the spicy dakgalbi with an over-abundance of ramen, was her favorite meal in Korea. The chicken, vegetable and rice cake dish is also one of my fave Korean foods as well. Nom!

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We tried to kick her jet lag by going to Hongdae for some makkoli and dong dong ju times with Tim. We wanted his opinion on our new hairstyles. What do you think?

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Next we visited ZEN 1, a VERY old faithful staple of Hongdae times, where we met up with Jee, and I ducked down to look like a midget for this photo.

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The next day was filled with the clusterfuck that is Seoul shopping. We paraded around Myeongdong, then headed over to Namdaemun where she got acquainted with the efficiency of purchasing fancy new spectacles accompanied by prescription fillage. She also ate her second hotteok of the day while enjoying the ever-so-slight constant drizzle.

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Next came my super slutty moment. We hiked up Namsan Tower and locked our love down overlooking the glorious city of Seoul. Our 23 years of sisterly love is officially locked down forever. I am a slut because this was my third display of love to be locked up. But I guess as the saying goes, third time’s a charm.

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We even did this cute lovers pose on a love bench.

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We began our day of culture with a smidge of a bust, as I had no clue that the huge palace, Gyeongbukgong, is closed on Tuesdays. Here we are in front of the palace door, but we could really be anywhere with massive red doors since you can’t actually see the ornateness of the palace! Grrr!

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We did however meet a new friend, Darshan, who was very taken by the giddyness of the elementary students who were swarming around us. It does feel good to be a celebrity, I must admit! And in Korea’s homogenous society, there’s no shortage of celebrity status.

I ended up playing tour guide to both of them for a little bit, and introduced them to King Sejong and his concoction of Hangul (the Korean alphabet).  Then in Gwanghwamun Square, we got dragged in by a very persistent ajumma for a rendition of the “Conga”, and got a taste of traditional Korean dress, dance and song before heading off to a naengmyeon and bulgogi lunch in the traditional Hanok Village.

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The most fantastical part of our “Day of Culture” was by far our afternoon of traditional Hanbok dress up. We went to a place on the main Insadong road that Veny actually told me about. There you have several different options ranging from getting full hair and makeup done for a professionally airbrushed photo session, to the bare minimum of just trying on the hanbok to take your own cell phone photos in their gallery.

We opted to have our hair done in full traditional Korean fashion, and then couldn’t have chosen our hanbok any more appropriately. Cori was the Queen, and I was her faithful entertainer.  We took the professional photo and then tore up that gallery area. I’m surprised we weren’t asked to vacate the premises prematurely.

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The next thing we did, which I have done more than a handful of times since moving here, is something I am EXTREMELY proud of Cori for trying! Before coming, I kept telling her I was going to force her to try the live octopus, which is a super Korean thing to do, and every time she squirmed with a big fat HELL NO. Well, that got flipped upside down!

My favorite person to do the Noryangjin Fish Market with is Joshy, because he will pretty much try any slithering sea squirt that lies in those tanks.  So he met up with us for the venture and helped initiate Cori into the world of live octopus eating!

On her final day in Seoul, she came to school with me and got the chance to see what a Korean elementary school is like, and meet my most adorable 4th grade baby dolls. Unfortunately my 5th and 6th graders were gone for the week so she didn’t get to meet them. I thought the 6th grade girls would especially love her because they are obsessed with all things girly and fashionable. Bummer!

Most importantly, these little peaches were SO excited to meet her, and have since thrown her name into the greeting each class! “Good morning Ms. Jin and Ms. Danielle and Ms. Wanda and Ms. Candy and Ms. Cori Di-A-mond!” Pardon the awful bottom picture, but, please take note that my little peach Paul is holding Cori’s hand. Not enough hearts to go around!! ❤

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And with that, two Jewish American Princesses were off to get all kinds of Jappy in the land of Japs!

To begin, I absofuckinglutely LOVED Tokyo! I already knew I loved Japan after going to Osaka and Kyoto, but Tokyo really solidified it. As the cliche goes, it’s like a breath of fresh air stepping onto Japanese soil from Korea. People dress to their own heart’s desire instead of blending in with the next, and something about Tokyo just feels HUGE. I love Seoul, but Japan just has this huge heart pumping through it. The buildings seem bigger, the lights seem brighter, and the people make a conscious effort to not shove into you like you’re some inanimate object.  Aside from their facockta subway system and the radiation, Tokyo is one of my favorite cities I’ve traveled to.

We were there for 3 glorious days, and our feet shlepped us and our wallets so many places, each offering its own unique vibe, of which I’ll highlight my favorites.

1. Robots vs. Pandas vs. Dinosaurs vs. Pole Dancers in Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s Red Light District

Yes, I know what 3 letters come to mind. WTF. And that’s exactly what you should be thinking, because we were thinking it during the whole show, and I’m still thinking it now, even though my mind was utterly blown into fantastic smithereens.

After getting a few snickers from asking where Kabukicho was (this is the Red Light district), we could not find this Robot “cafe/bar” for the life of us.  We actually thought it was just a cafe/bar type place where robots served you and you could come and go as you pleased. But no no. After scouring the district for quite some time, passing it unbeknownst to us several times, we decided to give up, til we met our new friend Frank, who was innocently looking for a Penguin bar while on a business trip. He remembered seeing the robots, and threw searching for said Penguin bar out the window to come find this Robot joint with us.

We found it, and it was NOT a cafe, bar, whatever you wanna call it. But rather, it was a full blown show encapsulating the above title header. And it was worth every last penny of those 5,000yen (~$50), even the horrendous bento box dinner we were served.

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2. Barbie Lingerie In Harajuku

Cori’s top priority in terms of districts to see was Harajuku. These are the girls made immortal by Gwen Stefani in the early 2000s. We actually went to Harajuku a couple times over the course of our trip, but we only really saw 2 true Harajuku girls, which kind of bummed us, but mostly Cori, out. That, and we didn’t ask to get a photo of or with her because we thought for sure we’d see plenty more. Negatori Yakatori.

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We may have missed out on the Harajuku girls, but we did find the Barbie lingerie store, which to me is equally, if not more, fascinating, and a bit deranged.

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I also was overly and oddly excited about this Sanrio Surprises on Takeshita-dori, which smelled of gumdrops and cotton candy. I am made more aware of my Asian-ness in such moments.

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There was also this creepy rabbitequin.

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3. Writing A Note To Hang On the Tree Of Life At Meiji-Jinju Shrine

Cori and I took a break from Harajuku girl stalking to add a little Japanese culture to our lives.  We visited Meiji-Jinju shrine, located right by Harajuku station, which is the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo and was built to honor the soul’s of Emperor Meiji and his wife.  The shrine was dedicated to them in 1920, and completed in 1926.

It’s a beautiful walk into the shrine, filled with Iris gardens and so much lush greenery.

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And absolutely no shortage of decorative fermenting Sake.

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Once reaching the shrine, you are face to face with what I instantly called the Tree of Life. I don’t really know if that’s what it’s called, but it seemed properly suited. Here visitors have written hopes and wishes for the future, or struggles they hope for their family or friends to overcome, and just need some sort of little mighty push.

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I decided I had some things that needed some push, so now they are fully displayed for the daily world to see.1382924_10102721202275657_1361541361_n

4. Taking a Magic Carpet Ride & Meeting King Triton At Tokyo Disney Sea!

For starters, I had no idea that Tokyo Disney and I have been in the same grade all along! We just so happened to be there during its 30th Anniversary party! Lucky us!

If you sense an air of irritation in the photo, it’s because we were so rudely being pushed out by what I believe to be an intrusively rude Korean couple.

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We went to Tokyo Disney our first night, and actually barely rode any rides. In fact, the only ride I rode was a magic carpet in Agraba. It was a solo ride though, because Miz Diamond feared her tummy would act up. Hmph. At least I was thrilled with joy to have King Triton grant me such a warm welcome to his kingdom beneath the sea!

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5. Shoving Takoyaki Balls In My Face

One thing I regretted when I went to Osaka and Kyoto was being too scared to try Takoyaki, which are these fried octopus balls that are served slathered in mayo (vomit), and crispy onions. Well, I told myself that I would definitely shove them in my face this time around.

Turns out I didn’t see them anywhere, until our last day while visiting Senso-ji shrine. Due to the scarcity of them, I’m led to believe that Takoyaki is primarily a regional food of the Osaka area.  Either way, I grabbed 6 balls, NOT slathered in mayo, and ate 3 of them before contracting a stomachache.

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One little side note while on the topic of food, I did eat a fair amount of sushi whilst in Tokyo, because it would be an utter shame not to. But, one thing I was very aware of was the amount of searing being done to the sushi.  I’m not sure if this is normal in Japan, but I saw it done so frequently that I figured they were doing it to maybe sear out some of the radiation in the fish. Who knows, but just a thought!

6. Cleansing Our Dirty Mouths & Fortune Telling At Senso-ji Shrine

On our last day we decided to actually stay in our neighborhood, Asakusa, which was a remarkable hub for all the super cultural attractions. We visited Senso-ji shrine, which is another huge Shinto shrine.  Despite the rain, I really loved the walk into this shrine. It felt like real old Japan, and women in traditional kimono and parisol were not a scarce site.

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The shrine was gorgeous and massive on a rainy day.

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And there were tons of people dropping coins into the prayer boxes and carrying on with their prayers. One of us saved the praying for later after we chose our fortunes from these here boxes.

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You are supposed to politely shake that silver box, make your wish, and then pull out a numbered stick that corresponds with one of the numbered drawers. My fortune was a “small fortune” and said I have many good things coming my way if I put in the work.  Cori however, well, she got bad juju and went to smirk thru her prayers.

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Then we both cleansed our mouths. Nice try holy water, but not sure this is strong enough.

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7. Sensory, Porn & Anime Overload in Akihabara

This was by FAR my favorite district of Tokyo. Not because of anything I very much enjoy, but because it was SO (pardon my French) fucking bizarre! Akihabara is the electronic district, which also boasts a huge porn and anime scene.

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While here we saw so many different kinds of cafes being advertised, ranging from Maid cafes, to Domestic cafes, whatever the heck THAT means. Not to mention, I have never seen so much anime since my family’s family friend’s cousin used to dress up as Sailor Moon just on a regular Saturday. It was ODD.

Maybe the funniest thing though was the 6 floor porn building prominently situated right by the subway exit. The walls were plastered in Polaroids of naked girls and naked girls having sex. Then once on the floors, there was anime sex props up the ying yang, whips, dildos, vibrators, pretty much anything imaginable. And tons of people were just perusing at their leisure.

I especially loved pausing behind some creepy old man staring rather intensely at a leather whip.

Here I am with my gazoongas and kimono ready to get educated in Japanese sex culture! My, was it a thorough education!

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Kind of fun fact: This is a great district to do your duty free shopping in, as duty free shops are EVERYWHERE. I had a really early flight out the next morning and wasn’t able to buy my green tea Kit Kats at the airport, so I just did it here.

8. Romancing A Spider For An Exquisite View Of The City At Roppongi Hills

Prior to visiting Tokyo, I read that going up to Tokyo Tower for the city view was quite overrated, and that the view from the 54th floor viewing deck of the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills is far more breathtaking.  Not to mention, you get to see Tokyo Tower as part of your view and seduce a giant spider before making your way to the top.

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It cost us between 1,500-2,000yen ($15-20) and an ear pop in the speedy elevator to the top!

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9. Failing Miserably In A Japanese Photo Booth

I think it’s just an East Asian thing, the whole photo-booth-make-your-eyes-ginormous thing, but even coming from Korea, a photo booth in Japan was high marked on the to-do list! Especially since there are some pretty stunning glamour shots in mine and Cori’s past that desperately need recreation.

We found a Cherry Cherry booth and scurried in, only the whole thing was in Japanese so we had a few minor difficulties in navigation and procurement. Once we took our photos, filled with a heaping amount of awkward face, we waited for definitely over 5 minutes at the photo retrieval machine to no photos being dispensed. We then realized that we had skipped part 2. Part 2 being doodle all over and make your eye balls HUGE, obviously the most important step! Well, the language barrier interfered again and we ran out of time sans huge eyeballs, plus lots of Cherry Cherry baby.

Maybe our “thing” is just taking awful photo booth glamour shots! That’s it, it’s settled.

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10. Starf*ckers Come To This Starbucks

Located smack in the middle of Shinjuku’s busiest intersection, lies the busiest Starbucks in the world. When the lights turn red, the entire intersection opens up for pedestrians and it is a massive clusterfuck of humans, which can all be seen in perfect flourescent light stricken view from the top of said Starbucks. Stopping in the middle of the intersection, you know, to document it or something, is apparently similar to asking for a death wish.

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Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to highlight a couple things we attempted, but much like the glamour shots, failed at.

1. Radiation Overload At Tsukiji Fish Market

We had read about the tuna auctions that happen every morning starting at 4am on the docks at Tsukiji Fish Market. The fishermen catch fresh (radiated) tuna straight from the water and auction them off to bidders, and then everyone somehow kills themselves with radiation for breakfast.

We weren’t 4am ambitious, but we didn’t realize that the entire fish market shut down by early afternoon.  Coming from Seoul, I assumed it would be open all day, but just more insane in the wee hours. I was wrong, and after mazing through the endless back warehouses of the market, this is all we saw.

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So, if you decide to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, plan to get there EARLY. I imagine they close by 12 noon, so plan on making a Japanese breakfast out of the venture.

2. Hopping A Moat To The Imperial Palace

We didn’t really jump over or swim through any moats, but we didn’t get to tour the gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace where Japan’s Imperial family currently lives, as it was closed the day we went. We did however get this documentation of us in front of the moat in the rain.  The palace is also behind us in the distance.

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3. Bicycle Riding In Nakemeguro

Biking around Nakemeguro was highlighted as a must do in Tokyo, and since one of my favorite activities to do in a foreign country is whimsically bicycle around, I was all about it. Unfortunately we were totally let down when we couldn’t find where to rent the bikes! We found a bike parking lot, but our lack of Japanese speak and the worker’s lack of English provided for no such luck.

It wasn’t all a bust though, seeing as two vintage loving gals found themselves wandering down a quaint street lined with pink lanterns and littered with vintage shops GALORE. We ate our eyeballs out!

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To get here, you’ve got to get to Nakemeguro Station, and after exiting, it’s going to be down the first street you can turn down on your right.

After 10 days with each other, my Diamond and I had a wonderful trip, with a smattering of bickerings here and there, but overall just lovely!  Twas another adventure to add to our chronicles of taking over this fascinatingly beautiful continent!