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June 16-July 3, 2010

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January 29 - February 5, 2011


Konnichiwa amigo-san,

A special shout out to all my Mexican/Japanese homies. This email marks the end of our long journey bounding across hemispheres intent on seeing different stars and watching toilet water spin both ways.

When you last left your heroes, Southern Australia was at their forefront. From Kangaroo Island we decided to swing by the Barossa Valley, Australia’s biggest wine region. After a near barf enducing ferry ride, a rental car switch, and a few hours of driving we arrived at the first of three wineries. The Barossa Valley is known for its’ shiraz wines, but being equal opportunity drinkers we sampled all over the wine map. I’m happy to report that every time we moved to a new winery, it seemed better than the last one. Also, Tiffy’s nose got tingly-er. Not sure why.

The next two days were spent driving The Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. We took the Princess Highway and fortunately had no Bowser sighting (our princess was in another castle). We drove this road because of the cool rock formations to be seen – The 12 Apostles, London Bridge, Caveman’s Dong, and Admiral’s Arch (only 3 of those are real). The first day was like driving Wyoming, lots of nothing, very brown, snakes waiting for me to run them over. The second day we arrived at the ocean and the rocks were awesome. Back in the 1800s there were over 30 shipwrecks here. I’m pretty sure it’s because on all of those boats the captain allowed his wife to ride along and every time they’d make a hairpin cliff chasing turn the captain would look over and the wife would be holding on with white knuckles and would sigh in relief until the captain just wrecked the boat.

Melbourne was as good as this sentence.

From Melbourne we journeyed onto Tokyo, land of vending machines, three-packs of used school girl underwear, and robots. Two of three ain’t bad. To say that Tokyo was a sight explosion on the senses is like saying the WWF wrestler The Ultimate Warrior was a weakling when he got possessed in the wrestling ring by Indian spirits (hooray to the three people that got that reference). Our first train station featured thousands of short folks scrambling in all directions trying to avoid the mop headed white guy pushing a bag their same size and wielding a large backpack that clanked (note to self: it’s not wise to buy five bottles of wine and haul them on your back when you still have five travel days left). I may have maimed a few, this I cannot remember because I’ve used a good portion of my Japanese memories on word memorization (“Eggo…Hannah say, ‘mas que?” (do you speak English?), “HAI TIFFY-SAN” (Yes, Tiffany), “ego hanna mas cas see” (not sure what this means but it took me three days to get “do you speak English?” down), bee rue (beer), and “Domo Arrigato Mr. Roboto (The American band Styxx? They suck)) and figuring out fancy toilet functions. The first time I used the latrine the seat was heated. Tiffany used one that made flushing sounds if you pressed a button. I was shot in the butthole with a stream of hot water that was both pleasantly refreshing and warmly violating when I pressed a button that I later dechipered had a picture of a butt being sprayed by water. I also entered a museum toilet that opened the lid for me. Arrigato toilet-san. How do I import you to America? Maybe they have one that turns into a jetpack that I can fly home.

Tokyo itself was an explosion of electricity, aforementioned small people (I was taller than 99% of the population), ancient temples, strange foods and smells, and Suntory whiskey products. You can buy beer in street vending machines (which you see every two blocks). Everywhere you walk in a train station or popular place is real similar to walking in a mass of people after a football game, except the football game always just got out. We were on the lookout for Engrish (bad English translations) and did our best detective work in California themed shopping stores. Example-san – “”.

We ate at the craziest restaurant I’ve ever been to in my life. Recommended by our book, we entered a basement with a traditional Japanese restaurant with only six tables. We took off our shoes and sat on our mats. The owner, who I had called earlier in the day and referred to me as “Crow” (a Japanese attempt at Cross) was possibly insane. This was a good thing. He brought us hot towels on the head of a robot. He brought us a menu with a flower on it that he pretended to bring to orgasm. He brought us beer and sake in mugs that belched and shook when you tried to drink out of them. He let us a pick a country when we ordered our drinks. We picked France. Soon French music played and he came out with an easel and a beret on and proceeded to sketch a picture of Tiff for five minutes. He translated our four food options by using a hand puppet to act out four stories that he told in broken English. We played carnival games. We played games where the loser got shocked. We played games where the loser got shot in the face with water. His mom was the cook. We dined on pumpkin and chicken. When another table chose Spain for drinks they were delivered by the owner in a bull mask after he finished a Spanish flamenco dance with castanets. It was the best dining experience of my life (unless you count the time that I slapped Wayne Gretsky on the back and yelled, “what’s up Wayne?” 45 minutes after eating nachos at a Clippers game as a dining experience).

We saw the Imperial Palace from the outside (not that cool). We saw temples that had swastikas on them (who knew that Hitler was a demon and a copyright infringer too boot?). We breathed in smoke on our put it on our weary feet and legs and cleansed ourselves with water. We threw monetary donations and clapped twice. We ate things on sticks from strange stands in alleys. We ate strawberries in clear goo. We grabbed sushi from a rotating conveyer belt. We met a life goal of mine when we witnessed the most amazing subway display of my life. At morning rush hour people would line up to get in the subway cars. They’d get totally packed and the “it’s leaving bell” would ring, which signaled five more idiots to try to fit in. This brought guards in neat blue uniforms with white gloves over to try to force the doors closed while another guy would try smashing the person hanging out and their stuff into the subway car. We saw Mount Fuji from the window of a bullet train traveling over 200mph. We got lost all over in a city with minimal street names and guide book directions like “Take Exit 5, and go perpendicular to the train tracks on your right. Pass three alleys and turn on the crooked street.

Needless to say, I consider Tokyo to be one of the greatest cities I’ve ever visited in this whole wide world.


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