Old Habits Die Hard

I have a shitload of work to do and have been drinking all kinds of caffeinated drinks for days so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that this combination of work overload and sleep deprivation finally managed to awake my wanderlust. Which means I’m even more miserable because I don’t have time to leave my apartment for more than an hour a day. And that’s just not enough!

Today I finally caved and went for a longer walk (which reminded me so much of my midnight walks in London and Tokyo!). It was either that or going to sleep and I have too much work to even think about sleeping for next 36 hours.

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After this power walk I feel less like a caged animal and more like a human. And it’s a good feeling.

I was rather pleasantly surprised by the weather: there was no icing and temperature was around ten degrees Celsius which is quite hot for December in Poland. I recorded the video below just four days ago:

▲ This is how Polish usually winter looks like. ▼ I’m not gonna complain about it yet, but I hope in about a week or so there’ll be more snow. At least that much:

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photo taken by my mum a week ago

BTW, anyone recognizes what I was listening to while recording the snow? How about a small hint? 😉

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It’s snowing there, too!

Turtle Apocalypse

I’ve never been afraid of wild animals (except for bears but hey, bears can easily kill you!). So imagine my surprise when I felt terror at the sight of a small turtle. In my own defense I must say that it was one spooky turtle…

spooky turtle
source: bestanimations.com

OK, maybe not that spooky.


But let’s get back to the beginning of my day. Meeting the turtles happened somewhere towards the end of it.

I’m not sure if I’ve told you this, but I got rid of my sleeping problems (hopefully for good). So now I have mornings! To celebrate, I spent the entire morning watching a certain Taiwanese drama that started off great (for a Taiwanese drama ;)) but quickly went downhill. I blame hormones for the fact that it moved me to tears a couple of times! So if you’re here because you are looking for a review of Easy Fortune, Happy Life – I’m not sure what to tell you. First episodes were great, the rest – not so much. I liked the heroine. Male lead is hot but his acting was poor and his character is so much worse than his rival that I wanted him to die some terrible death. I want some happiness for Dong Jie. And for Yan Yang. These two made it watchable. But still, I probably won’t ever rewatch this.


I went out around 3 pm (this time to avoid scorching heat, and not because of Netflix) to 木場公園都市緑化植物園, a botanical garden in Kiba Park. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of this botanical garden. I kinda understand why there is no entrance fee. It’s more like a botanical patch in a medium-sized park.

So the garden was a bit of a bust, but maybe it’s because of the weather or the fact that it’s September? Who knows. However, I liked the park. It’s a nice place, especially for runners. Lots of vending machines (= water) and tracks with cute distance markers.

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Kawaii!

Tons of people (of all ages) working out and running. Awesome!

One more thing I liked about Kiba Park was that:

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You can see Tokyo Skytree here. I feel like it’s everywhere I go.

Huge bridge connecting two parts of the park. As I said before, I’m not a fan of bridges, but this one is so massive that it’s impossible to not feel safe here. Unless there is an earthquake. OK, mind, why would you do that?! I refuse to do listen to my treacherous thoughts. Let’s talk about turtles.


Okay, long story short: after Kiba Park I went to Kameido Tenjin Shrine. There is something you should know about this particular shrine: it’s a home to lots of turtles (and carps, but that’s irrelevant to the story). You can usually watch them from the bridges over Shinjiike pond in the shrine grounds.

 

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This is the second arched bridge (counting from the main torii), called Onnabashi (女橋: woman, bridge).

(I love this place.)

I paid my respects to the god of learning (because one should never anger the god of learning) and decided to spend some time watching turtle from my favorite platform. Suddenly, I heard this unsettling noise somewhere near my feet. I looked down and saw it: a small turtle crawling out from under the railing and towards me. (This is where I should add that it was getting dark.) It did not respond to my voice and when I took a step back, it followed me. Freaky! Somehow, it reminded me of zombie which made this situation so much worse. But being a child of modern era, I still recorded the crazy guy:

Few minutes later a middle-aged sararīman showed up and started taking pictures saying that this was sugoi (I agree)! He also asked where it came from but my stupid brain understood the question too late, after I already told him that I did not speak Japanese. He left me with the turtle (by then I was sort-of ok with it and a bit afraid that someone would come and crush it) but came back after 5 minutes. I think he used that time to check some English sentences on his phone because he asked me where I came from and about the duration of my stay (I think…). He was really surprised to see that the turtle was following me (it’s a good thing that he did not hear me chatting with it about the dangers of staying on a sidewalk) so he took more pictures and went home saying “bye bye” and bowing his thanks (I think he recorded the turtle and me, walking together). Few minutes after he was gone I heard more rustling and another turtle started crawling towards me. I didn’t want to touch them (because wild animals!) and I had no food to lure them into returning to water so I spent fifteen minutes encouraging them verbally to get off the sidewalk. Finally, they relented. And now I think I’m a turtle whisperer (or a turtle bait). This was a bizarre experience!


On my way back I decided that I’m completely unprepared for hot weather, so I went shopping. Bought a yoga T-shirt (so expensive!) I already love, cotton pants (I really hope that they are not pajama pants!), and a nifty handbag described as a “multi-functional shoulder.” Fortunately, I did not bring more money with me – I found a shopping mall and that could’ve ended with me being broke.

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Not the best picture, but color is accurate

I also bought groceries – this time I managed to spot butter! Everything that was not butter was cheese and they usually write English “cheese” on cheese 🙂 I think I’ve mastered my process of elimination skills! And as at 8:30 pm it was still close to 30℃, I also bought some ice cream (not that good, but still cold!) 🙂

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butter, wet towels, and ice cream

And these eco-thingies here are wet towels. You get them every time you buy food. At some restaurants they give you “real” wet towels (by real I mean cloth), at pubs, burger joints, and Starbucks you get these paper towels. I think it is great. Kudos to Japan!

Sometimes a walk to the park is just a walk to the park…

But there are still a few things that I want to remember about last night (that sounds so spicy!), so before I add a note about today’s adventures (there was more than one!), I’ll write a few words about two hours of free time I had yesterday. Because I can.

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Star Trek: The Original Series

Let’s start with my destination. I guess by now pretty much everybody has heard about Hamacho Park (in Tokyo, obviously) which is said to be a home to many rare Pokémon. And the world is playing Pokémon Go. Well, I don’t know about the world, but I can tell you this: Japan IS playing Pokémon Go. I went to this park because it was close but when I saw that it was crawling with Pokémon Go players, I decided to check if the rumors were true. 10 minutes of playing, dozens of Pokémon caught. Some of them definitely rare.

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Scyther (CP: 963)

So if you are in Tokyo and into catching them all, you should definitely go there. If you’re not playing the game – avoid this place. It is really crowded and I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to call such a small strip of green a park – this is not a park.

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Friends

So yeah, it’s not that I’m not enjoying this game. I am. Seriously. But I don’t want to spend my limited time here looking at my cellphone.

I’m not sure if I’ve already said that, but I live in a land of bridges. I cross 3 or 4 bridges a day. Some of them small, some enormous. I used to be scared of bridges (something to do with my inability to swim and my fear of heights) but I’m not anymore (at least not of the small and medium ones) which is really good. Because:

And these are not all the bridges I had to cross yesterday. I think there were four or five. I would like to know if this river/canal/water-thingy has a name, somehow my Google Maps refuse to show me its name. [Update: Yes it does. It’s Sumida River. Of course!]

Anyway, a park, Pokémon, bridges, it was all very nice but the best thing that happened yesterday was me winning some strange lottery in Family Mart! Found it (supermarket, not a lottery) on my way back and as I run out of food supplies (and was I’ll-eat-you-alive hungry), I just had to check it for presence of food with English subtitles 😉 or English-speaking personnel. Discovered my favorite Scotch pancakes (I still can’t believe I buy them in Japan), delicious bread, and… milk!

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Nowhere on this carton it says “milk” so I had to use my mom’s method: shake it – if it’s sloshing about, it’s probably milk. And yogurt is thicker.

Checkout lady new only one English word: “one.” But that’s ok because that was enough. This is how she told me to take one lottery ticket from a box (I saw some guy doing that before me so I knew what to expect). And I won a soda! I know it’s not much but c’mon, I won a soda in Tokyo even though I have no idea why and how!

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my prize 🙂

I’m not even sure if I this is a soda. It tastes like a sparkling lemonade. I like it.

(Note to self: I really need to learn more Japanese.)

In classic black leather (or why yesterday was both really awesome and painfully terrible)

So yesterday wasn’t really THAT terrible, at least not the whole time. But it did not start well… I couldn’t sleep at night (if someone ever tells you that time difference/jet lag is not a problem, do not believe them!), got sleepy in the morning but decided against going to bed and floated about the house till 2 pm (it was so hot!).

However, I managed to fix my phone camera shutter sound problem! I know that it’s not really a problem but last time I was in Japan, I was able to take photos with my phone without the shutter sound so the loss of this function made me really confused. And, as as an introvert, I would rather bathe in a sea of snails than make myself more noticeable than I already am (being a non-Japanese in Japan). The Internet tells me that in Japan it is required by law that cameras have sounds and as this time I’m using a Japanese SIM card, my phone somehow lost the option of disabling the shutter sound. Yeah. No stealth photos of strange bags, awesome clothes, maybe-but-probably-not-famous people. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, right?

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source: online community

Anyway, after spending some quality time struggling with my phone and thinking that I would have to take all the pictures with my camera (which still has a silent mode, thank gods!), I downloaded some nifty no-sound camera app and voilà, I can take stealth photos again! Which is why I have a picture of my apartment complex now (not my floor though, I live on the 3rd floor).

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First floor

So I went out around 3 or 4 pm. It was still very hot (probably around 28 – 30 Celsius) but not I’m-gonna-burn-out-your-eyes hot anymore. Did I mention that I have sensitive eyes? 😉

I planned to go to Hamacho Park which is pretty close to my apartment (about 20 minutes on foot), so I dressed for a stroll. And that meant wearing my usual clothes + a pair of relatively new leather sandals. However, after going out I changed my plans and decided on going to one of my favorite places in Tokyo, Kameido Tenjin Shrine – about 70 minutes on foot to the shrine itself + various places to visit along the road (so many people hunting Pokémon!) and my precious little shoes killing my feet = 1.5 h there and 2.5 h back.

So I’m gonna be staying in for a couple of days because yesterday went like that (with some random pictures I took during my long walk there and longer walk back):

I thought these were some good shoes, I thought they had a style.
And so I brought them with me and wore them for a while.
And there was this one long path, a beauty to my eyes.

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Strumming my pain with real leather,
(day one, day one)
Stinging my feet with these straps,
(no more, no more)
Killing me softly with sandals,
Killing me softly with sandals,
Taking my whole life with these straps,
Killing me softly with sandals

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One of the cheapest vending machines I’ve seen in my neighborhood

I felt all flushed with fever, just stumbling in the crowd,
I felt my feet were burning, wanted to cry so loud.
I prayed that I could stop there but I just had to walk.

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Tokyo Skytree

Strumming my pain with real leather,
(day one, day one)
Stinging my feet with these straps,
(no more, no more)
Killing me softly with sandals,
Killing me softly with sandals,
Taking my whole life with these straps,
Killing me softly with sandals

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I took this on my way back in some small alley. I forgot to turn off the flash so I just hobbled out of there as fast as I could. Freaky!

I’m pretty sure I’m gonna visit this shrine again, so I will take better pictures then. My feet were already killing me when I reached it yesterday, so I took only a couple of pictures while stumbling on and did not even go closer to the shrine itself to pay my respects, just bowed down from afar (I feel bad about it).

When I was walking back I kept thinking about all these Japanese anime and movies I’ve seen with heroines having sore feet and men carrying them home. Maybe hurting your feet is a thing here?

 

Oh, and there was one more good thing about that day: I finally managed to buy milk and drunk “normal” coffee this morning!