T O K Y O

Well well..

I had the privilege of finally broadening my Japanese exploration outside of airports, train stations, and strange internet cafes. The past few days completely changed my views about this lively, eccentric city. I didn't have any intentions to explore Tokyo on this trip but it just sort of landed in my lap due to some stand-by struggles. I had traveled through Japan once before but it was sadly a string of unfortunate, peculiar events of which I will spare you the details. Nevertheless, I was eager to see what Tokyo is all about so I scrolled through Hostelworld and Booking.com until I came across somewhere magical.. 

Toco Tokyo is a traditional Japanese style home turned into a hostel with delicate, minimalist decor. The charming lobby and bar area is decorated with dried flowers along the walls and colorful wooden stairs. This little sanctuary is an oasis nestled in the midst of the city.

Once you walk through the bar area, double doors open to the outside into what looks like a Japanese tea garden. There is a beautiful walking or meditation area with rock sculptures dispersed throughout the greenery and stone paths. The footpath leads up to a sliding door where you leave your shoes in your cubby and put on house slippers. The wooden floors and "shojis," or Japanese style sliding doors, open up to a large living space with beds on the floor for the staff. A quaint kitchen area with the same humble yet intricate details provide for a lovely space where the crew cooks breakfast for guests each morning. Breakfast at Toco Tokyo includes corn on the cob, miso soup, and "onigiri," which is essentially minced tuna packed inside of a rice ball. 

Tokyo, in general, surprised me quite a bit. The area that I stayed in has such a charming character, decorated with succulents, flowers, and old-fashioned bicycles.

I did not spend too much time in Tokyo before heading off to Myanmar but there was one spot I will never forget, Shibuya Crossing. It is supposedly the world's busiest intersection where up to 2,500 people cross the street in just one light. It is said that 45,000 people cross this four way intersection in a 30 minute period...! Many of the people were just tourists, like me, taking photos and standing in disbelief amongst the organized chaos.

The rest of my time in Tokyo was spent people-watching, eating sushi, slurping noodles, and getting lost with my camera. It sounds like I have described this sweet, sincere little neighborhood but as we all know, that is not Tokyo. The culture and style in Tokyo is about as diverse as their varieties of sushi. The streets are filled with human sized Pokemons, eclectic outfits, and all the different hair colors imaginable. You will find yourself amused and lost amongst the many towering H&M, McDonalds, and Starbucks just as any other bustling metropolitan of the world. Since I was only in this massive city for just a few short days, I was not even able to touch the surface of Tokyo's depths.  I kept some Japanese Yen tucked away as a promise to return and give this city the proper time that it deserves. Until then, I am off to Myanmar to explore the best kept secrets of Southeast Asia. 

SPICES OF INDIA

Khari Baoli

What a place.. I am not even sure how many people know it as Khari Baoili but the name dates back to the 1600's when the spice market was first built. The streets are lined with narrow, deep shops one after another, each overflowing with various spices and nuts. Some of these shops have been there since the market opened and run by the 9th or 10th generation owners.

enter the unknown world

 

Millions of hardworking, stinky men pour in and out of the alley ways, each contributing their parts to intertwined chaos. As you stroll along the sidewalk your eyes are constantly shuffling around, scanning the scene at all there is to be seen. It is complete and utter overstimulation.

 

Somebody taps your arm and you look down to see a barefoot, messy haired little girl holding a half-naked baby as she asks you for milk money or a pack of biscuits. As if that doesn't tug on your emotions  enough the ravenous dog behind her limps around through the sewage sipping on some black street water and eating plastic wrappers. Men surround you everywhere you look. They are either in full power work mode or passed out in the streets reeking of p i s s. There is no justice in calling it pee, urine, or tee tee in the streets of Old Delhi. It is piss and there is no other way to describe this abundant rancid stench.

 

You bump into tourists from all over the world because no matter where you are going your eyes are much too occupied to be staring at the ground in front of you. Shop owners are shouting about offering mango tea or cashews for the road. Sales are taking place right and left: jasmine tea, dried papaya, himalayan salt, and rose water. It seems like you are in the midst of all of the action until you venture off into any of the small winding alleys. You keep walking through this rabbit hole of incredible perfumes pouring into your nostrils interrupted by the occasional sneeze. 

working to eat

After you spend hours wandering and wondering, you fall back into the main street, which is quite obvious because you recognize where you are even if you have never been there before. You are back in the piss filled fragrance of the beautiful, bustling disarray of Old Delhi, India. I do believe my eyes have been graced by some of the most striking scenery on this Earth from the beaches of Thailand to the Alps of Switzerland, but there is something so mesmerizing and captivating about India. It is the way that the pieces all fall into the most miraculous and complex puzzle. It is the way that your mind can be taken away in an instant by a life changing moment. It is the way that you can feel your heart actually growing and molding from feelings you did not know that you could feel. That is India. That is Old Delhi.. It will move you, change you, shape you, and completely rock your entire concept of life as you've known it. Just ride around the city on a rickshaw around 6am and you will never feel the same way about life ever again.