So what else did we do in Tokyo besides celebrating false birthdays? Me, Katie and our tour guide Toshi went to Akihabara – the electronic district. We saw a huge queue to an arcade and decided to take a peak…
We then had a look in a temple...
Followed by a little trip to Takeshita street full of funky shops and the nearby bridge full of even funkier shoppers.

Toshi and I saw a Japanese garden while Katie looked at some dresses.

We then went and saw lots of fat men in nappies try to push each other out of a circle of sand – commonly known as Sumo.
Watch in HD!
There are a lot more videos on my youtube account.

If a night of watching fat men grapple with each other wasn’t homoerotic enough, we then stumbled across the most extravagant Hello Kitty store ever. It was fabulous!

We finished the night by going round a Ferris wheel and saw the city at night, (I didn't really see it because I was too distracted by the impending sense of doom that I always feel when I'm more than 2 meters off the ground. It was horrible) which was spectacular… or generic, as all major cities look the same at night. In fact I feel so strongly about this that I vow to never go up a tower or round a Ferris wheel again to see a major city at night. A side note but look at this photo taken by NASA of India at night during Diwali.
We’re gonna finish with a quick sprint of our last two days. We went to another temple, which was really beautiful.
Actually, in Japan they are called shrines, since they are more spiritual than religious, and I personally found them much more calming and contemplative than the Buddhist temples we've seen so far in Korea and China. There were lots of interesting things going on, including a big thing with smoke coming out, that people were patting all over their bodies to get rid of evil spirits.

Katie Got Her Fortune Told
Then we went to a cool market to look for goodies!!

Went to a park with a lake and saw an incredibly strange mime.

After, we had a look around the business area called Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi, and it was full of tall buildings.
And we finished in Shibuya to do some people watching…

I would like to finish by saying that you should not fly with a cold. I did and I lost hearing in my right ear for over 10 days. However during the flight, we did snap a few photos of clouds as it was a lovely clear day – helped me forget about my troublesome ear!
And the several free beers that I had helped me ignore Dave's moaning about his troublesome ear. So all in all a lovely time was had by all :)


After I caught the blog squirts, I have encountered blog constipation and not because of lack of events or worthwhile stories. It’s due to me trying to focus on my future by looking for work, as well as (finally) starting my new sitcom, which I have been meaning to write for over two years. My bullshit and creative juices have been salivating like a rabid dog, just not all over this blog and your shiny reading glasses.

Anyway, today we’re writing about Tokyo as we visited in September for three nights and had a whale of a time . Not a blue, sad whale struggling with weight problems, but more like the sort of fun a sprightly sperm whale might have swimming around. In fact, I shouldn’t really use the idiom “whale of a time” because if there is one animal that truly despises spending time in Japanese waters due to fear of death, it is the whale.

When we arrived, I had arranged to meet an old school friend called Toshi who was from Tokyo and was generous enough to pick us up from the airport, drive us to our hostel and show us around the city. Toshi, you were a wonderful tour guide and I certainly learned a lot, especially when you were talking about Japanese history on the ride from the airport about, and I’m sure Katie’s dreams were full of tales of emperors and whatnot (she slept – the two hour flight took a lot out of her). Thank you so much Toshi, as I said, I will happily return the favour in Korea or if you visit me when I’m back in London.

The reunions were only just beginning though as we met up with Lau and Dan, who we know from London. Dan, as you might remember, recently visited us in Korea for about 2 weeks when we went to Seoul and that art exhibition. Lau is an old school friend of mine who does not like to get naked as much as Dan. However, Dan was not topless when we met up, but if the night went where I hoped, it would not stay like that for long.

All five of us went to Shibuya crossing – that famous zigzag one where it is incredibly busy and great for a photo.
After dinner (to be spoken about in a future blog by Katie) we went for drinks. It started with an eerie walk through a scary corridor full of various screaming zombies to get us started – quite weird for a bar. Dan and Lau decided to tell them it was my birthday, which it wasn’t, and it meant that I got some special treatment.
Due to it being my birthday, we went to a private room with no air conditioning and suddenly the lie was not paying off as we dripped in sweat while deciding what to order. The bar certainly had a theme, which is best explained in photos.
Our drinks selection.
Lau doing his own Chemistry
This bar excited the chemist inside me and I enjoyed mixing A+B+C = D+R+U+N+K. They even had little 80-90% alcohol pills that you swallowed. My lecturers and teachers would be so proud…
Dan Not Naked
Unfortunately Dan and Lau were flying home the next morning so it really was a brief encounter at the end of their two week holiday.

So that’s the first day and night covered of Tokyo and the next blog will cover the remainder of the trip (including some cultural stuff). But thanks Dan and Lau for coming to see me on my imaginary birthday, I had a wonderful time and the imaginary cake was awesome.

Shanghai Snacks and Beijing Bevvies

As promised, here is the second instalment of my Chinese food blog. This one is dedicated to all of the weird and wonderful snacks and drinks we enjoyed (or not) during our trips.


First street food, in Shangers. I had grilled aubergine, Dave had
mystery meat on a stick. Lots of bones in the meat but not bad.
Served to us by a guy who looked like he belonged in a film
about Chinese martial arts gangs or something!
Bike power! Fried noodles on the back of a bike - didn't try
them but there were a lot of different types to choose from.
Dave eating a kebab in snack street. Nothing weird. Just a kebab.
Dumplings! We ate them for breakfast every day in Beijing.
These were standard pork ones that we took to eat in a park.
No idea what this was but it was delicious.
Potato, meat, crispy tofu coating?
Spicy and amazing, I want more!
Green tea ice cream oreos...I thought they were mint and was
very disappointed but I suppose they weren't that bad.
BOURBONS! What a find! Sadly most of them were eaten
by the mouse in our hostel room...
Pot noodles. Nothing special, we are used to them
in Korea. However, Dave's came with 4 different
sachets of flavour to add! 2 powders, 1 paste and
1 packet of dried veggies etc.
"Walkers" in China has various categories of crisps.
These were "Cool & Refreshing" - Lemon Tea Flavour!
Tasted just like lemon tea, which was very odd.
"Intense & Stimulating"
Numb & Spicy Hot Pot Flavour. Nothing special.
I think the dude in the corner is famous.
"Cool & Refreshing"
Blueberry Flavour! I'm not a fan of blueb's and so
since the flavour was pretty accurate, I gave them a miss.
They were as weird as you'd imagine really.
"Cool & Refreshing"
Cucumber Flavour.
These were...odd. I feel they had potential
but they kind of tasted like slightly off cucumber
and reminded me of soggy sandwiches. We bought
them at the airport in an attempt to spend our very last
pennies before we got on the plane...
The crisps still left us with change so at the very last minute we
bought this little snack-feast from a vending machine, right before
we boarded the plane. Challenge completed! Less than 1p left!


Coco, how I miss thee! I think this was one of our very first
drinks in Shanghai and we definitely hit the jack-pot. The shop
sold various cold milk-based drinks (tea, coffee, chocolate) that
you could enhance to create the most amazing beverage ever.
There were 2 different jellies you could add - vanilla pudding
or coffee - as well as tapioca pearls. The milk tea had a chai/char
like flavour and I became addicted. Everyday I would nag Dave
to help me hunt one down but to my horror, they only seemed
to exist in Shanghai! Even with our last pennies,
I tried to negotiate a final taste of Coco heaven.
Luckily, the train journey we bought the water for
wasn't one of the long ones, or we would have be
screwed. It was the end of our trip and we decided
to buy the cheapest bottle of water we could find.
It tasted like vodka. We didn't drink it.
We saw people everywhere drinking these. They looked like
clay pots with a cloth lid on. It was shockingly expensive and
was just really sweet plain yoghurt. Wish I'd bought a Coco.
So, there you have it. All of the culinary delights and frights of our trip. 

Coming up next we have an account, or two, of our trip to Tokyo last month - don't miss it!

Chinese Chow-down

Here it is - the long awaited food blog. I decided the easiest way to do this was to just fill the post with all of the pictures we took of our food (practically every meal we ate for 2 weeks), add captions and let Dave's camera's "food mode" do most of the talking. So here it goes...

The Duck
I have put this first because I imagine it is the thing you are the most interested in...maybe I should have put it last then so you'd still read the rest! Anyway, obviously once we got to Beijing, getting some authentic duck in our bellies was a priority. It was our one big splash-out meal so we went for a few starters, as well as the full-on duck experience. So here it is...

Starter 1: Cold, shredded duck and noddles with an
unusual flavour. Not that meaty, but Dave enjoyed it.
Starter 2: "spring rolls" that were very disappointing.
Hardly any meat and a dry, eggy outside layer.
Not off to a great start.
Then the pancakes arrived. Exactly the same as we get at home.
We didn't realise but there were actually 2 layers,
so we had loads left over at the end of the meal!
And here is the duck! We had the whole thing to ourselves!
They carved it up near our table and brought it out in parts...
First the skin. This was to be dipped in sugar and eaten alone.
It wasn't crispy and tasted nothing like the Peking
duck we have at home but it was delicious.
It melted in my mouth like MJ's face under house lights and
when I bit down it flooded my taste buds with delicious juices.
This is the meat. It was very moist and subtly flavoured,
and again, nothing like we have at home but very yummy.
We had a plate like this each!

This was the head, complete with brains. No thanks!
Dave tried a bit and confirmed that it did indeed taste like brain.
The sauce wasn't like the Hoi Sin we have at home but it was
really good. It was saltier, less sweet and had more of a soy flavour.
Finally they brought us some duck soup.
It was just duck flavoured water really.
Devoured. Delicious. Different.

The Mains
Right, on to the rest of the food! We ate a lot of different things and didn't really have much disappointment which was a welcome change to Korean food! Generally Dave found the portions to be lacking in meat, but then he always does. I was very surprised by the fact that there were very few new flavours - Chinese food back home seems pretty true to the real thing from my experiences. A few things stood out so I will elaborate on those but most I'll just name and you can imagine the flavours for yourselves :)

Our first meal...delicious beef that arrived lukewarm...
Fiery chicken full of bones, with cashews.
It arrived 15 minutes after the beef and 10 minutes before our rice! 
Szechuan style noodles. Cold, sour, spicy and yum!
After a long walk around the Forbidden City we found a
run-down looking restaurant and feasted on some delicious
pork in sweet chilli  sauce, beef in sticky soy sauce and fried rice.
In a really old Chinese feeling snack street we had some traditional
Beijing noodles. Cold, salty, crunchy and perfect with a beer.
In the lovely little canal village part of the Summer Palace we
had some sweet and sour pork with amazing garlicy noodles.
Beihai Park - some lovely meatballs with cucumber and bamboo.
And a huge side of roasted aubergine in sweet chilli sauce.
1st trip to the food court - Chicken and beef with an egg.
Some strange beef-filled flat was ok but kind of dry.
Chicken Chow Mein - exactly like the best you've had at home.
There were a few pieces of Pak Choi that added a nice crunch.
We didn't eat here but I was intrigued by it. You sat in front of
a pot of boiling broth while a conveyor belt brought you a
range of raw veggies, meat and eggs to drop into the pot.
Fancy looking (but surprisingly cheap) restaurant.
Roasted green beans, minced pork, chilli and spices.
Hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we had fried rice and a
lovely beef dish with green peppers and celery.
And some "meatballs" that were possibly made of
some kind of flour...or possibly actually testicles.
Either way the sauce/gravy was really good.
2nd trip to the food court - much tastier than it looks.
Really spicy salty broth with peppercorns, full of beef, veggies,
strange looking tofu and huge thick-cut noodles.
Food court at the top of the huge market Dave spent all his money in!
You paid for a plate and had a choice of loads of meat or veggie dishes.
We also had some noodles with cabbage. Greasy and great!
Probably our only disappointing meal. On a side road in a
restaurant where the owner was snoring in the corner.
I had cold Szechuan chicken which was ok but full of bones.
Dave had some naff prawns (the frozen kind) with celery.
The noodle soup was ok but we had some corn soup because
I've never tried it but it was sooooo sweet that we couldn't eat it. 
Breakfast of beef noodle soup at Mr Lee's in Xian.
A bowl full of meaty, salty goodness.
Bullfrog in XO sauce - quite bony but the sauce was delish and
frog had a lovely, fish-like texture and there was plenty of it.
Absolutely delicious beef stew with onions, carrots and celery.
The sauce was like a thin gravy and there was so much meat!
After another day of market-shopping we had some amazing
duck spring rolls, roasted garlic and aubergine and some beef
that was tasty but overwhelmed by onions.
In Hangzhou we asked Matt to take us somewhere cheap
for dinner because our money was nearly all gone. These
were the first of many dishes...roasted squash, onion and garlic
and some fantastic sweet sticky pork.
Then we had some Chinese leaves in soy sauce with chilli.
Some really spicy, peppery noodles with beef and bean sprouts.
More sweet chilli garlic aubergine!
And here you can see some Kung Pao chicken and dumplings.
We also had a couple of huge spring rolls.
8 sublime dishes (some of the best we had) plus rice for a
grand total of about 4 English Pounds each!
Our final proper meal in China - we put aside our money to get
to the airport the next morning and counted our pennies.
We hardly had anything left but the people at the hostel suggested
a hotpot place just down the road. It was a bubbling pot of
chicken and onions to which we added cabbage and potatoes.
It was really tasty and something new - the perfect final feast.

Ok I think I had better stop for now. I still have more to show you but I will leave it for another post. I am now starving and depressed at the thought of facing another lunch of rice and kimchi...

Come back soon for the second installment: 
Shanghai Snacks and Beijing Bevies!