Thursday, March 31, 2016

robot sharks, stinky fish, and losing a child at the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world!!

When my twin sis and her husband came I was worried we weren't going to be able to find enough new things to do!!  I am not a fan or repeating places and things and since we have spent the last 1.7 years exploring Japan- we are starting to run out of ideas!!  I should not have doubted Japan.  We found PLENTY of new and exciting things to do!!

The Tsukiji fish market and Robot Restaurant are my two new tops favorite Tokyo adventures :)

The robot restaurant is in downtown shinjuku (the brightest and busiest japan nightlife) and was probably the most insane show/event I've ever experienced. It's all crazy. all japan. all amazing. It's a must see if you ever go to Tokyo.

It's a combination of a light/laser/pyrotechnic show with power rangers, sharks, and giant robots.   It is a little bit arts and crafty with some of the robots being held together with tape and random fabric pieces- but that made it all the better.
Japanese anime and their fettishes with silly animals and bright colors is really a lot of fun.  The whole show was major sensory overload.  Mermaids, rabbits, daruma dolls, unicorns, you name it- the show had it.
even the walkways to get into the show were seizure inducing!!
this is one one of the stairwells.

the food (bento boxes) at the show is cheap and bad- so we opted out. we bought some drinks and buckets of caramel corn.  The japanese love their popcorn.
The room for the show is pretty small- so every seat is a good seat.  we had to duck out of the way for the giant t-rex and dragons!!   It was so much fun.

all of the different costumes are outrageous.  this girl looked like rainbow brite!!

some of the stuff we watched- I couldn't even process.  here there was a shark battling a robot with a group of fairy nymphs.  They were trying to save the earth from some evil monsters (who looked a lot like terribly costumed and poorly choreographed power ranger bad guys).

a continuation of saving the earth.  This dinosaur/dragon was SO big. it took up almost the entire room. we had to watch our feet and heads so we didn't become additional casualties.
the final parade of robots was more like a disneyland electric light parade!  if the show wasn't quite so long and so loud- I thnk our kids owuld have loved the show!
we even got our own dancing glow wands!
Shinjuku!  We haven't been able to do a ton of nighttime tokyo exploration thanks to our kiddos- so it was s much fun being there late at night.

We spent an extra 2 days in Tokyo with Laney and Taylor celebrating our birthdays and enjoying typical Japan.

I can't believe we hadn't done the Tsukiji fish market yet! it's the world's most famous fish market and is being torn down this year!!  the Japanese are really angry about it and want to turn it into an UNESCO world heritage site!!  it really was astounding.

The wholesalers do NOT like tourists in their market.  There are lots of rules about going in and you have to stay out of the way.  No strollers. no sandals. no loitering. and no kids.  we totally broke the rules.  we carried our youngest monkeys and swore the boys to non-shenanigans.  They loved the market, too.

metta plugged her nose all morning.  I think I have been completely desensitized to the fish smell here.  I didn't notice a thing.  Laney commented several times that locations all over the city were stinky.
almost all of the world's blue fin tuna comes through Tsukiji.  I'm assuming that's not the tuna that comes in my 'chicken of the sea' can!!!

the market is full of little motorized carts driving maddeningly through the aisles and roadways.  I think we almost lost a kid to one of them at some point.  I'm the only one that got honked at, though. I was in the way while snapping pics.

I can't even imagine how much fish comes through here every year.

I REALLY want to come back without kiddos so I can focus on taking pictures.  It was really hard to get good pics while holding a kid or trying to keep one from being run over!

Here are the little carts I was talking about!

are these scallops??  They were 800 yen a piece.  I can't believe the strange sea creatures that people enjoy eating,
this old man was so bothered by all of the scurrying tourists!  the wholesale market is only open from 4AM-10AM- and only from 9-10am for the public!  I can understand why the Japanese who actually want to buy fish don't love us.
I saw THREE separate people with bloody fingers at the market!!  there are almost as many sharp knives as there are fish!!

Just outide of the wholesale warehouse there are rows and rows of outer markets selling fish and other weird foods. 
Tradition dictates that after walking the markets- you have to stop and and have sushi and sashimi for breakfast!
this guy is a famous sushi man.  I was hoping to see him!  but we only found his statue.
and his truck.

we did stop and eat the obligatory fish market sushi- and laughed so hard tears streamed down our faces.  I laugh a lot when laney is around.
She tried her first raw fish sushi.
and nato.  Nato is the world's most terrible food. really- it's #1.  Fermented soybeans sitting in their own waste.  we gave laney some nato sushi and told her all the kids love it.  It's the go-to japanese breakfast for them.   She nearly died.  I don't think she stopped dry heaving for five minutes.  This picture is so terrible but describes perfectly how it all went down.  it really is BEYOND terrible.   We caused quite the ruckus with our insane laughter.
Outside the markets we found a really unique shrine dedicated to the fishermen.  We see a lot of shrines here- but haven't ever seen any with the giant dog/dragons.

we also spen part of an afternoon and evening checking out typical crazy tokyo.  Taylor stood out like a sore thumb on the subways!!
shibuya is the famous busiest pedestrian intersection and square in the world.  It's like a sea of ants!! and I loved this picture of a kimono dressed woman getting into a taxi :)

We hung out on the upper floor starbucks to watch the crossing at shibuya as it got dark and then decided to take the subway back to our hotel.  The subway is on the other side of all that craziness.  By the time we walked over- it was dark- but Zeb wanted to take a look at the 'hachi' dog statue right near the green train car in the center of the picture below. We all shuffled over together but Zeb and Kent made it first.  Just as Kent turned to see where we were- Zeb disappeared in the mass of people.  He said he was looking around at everything and didn't realize that he kept walking.
It was slightly terrifying. There were SO MANY PEOPLE.  and it was dark.  and he's short.
Kent and taylor were standing up on a cement flower bed next to the hachi statue screaming Zeb's name and trying to spot him- Laney was searching on the ground- and I was trying to search and maneuver my way through the crowds with mack in the stroller and Ike's hand gripped (now VERY tightly) in mine.  THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE.  You couldn't see past the head in front of you.  just look at the picture and imagine a little boy lost in there!
I'm not sure how much time passed (it was probably 5-7 minutes).  It felt like forever.  Luckily we had bought Zeb a 4-5 foot skinny bamboo rod as a souvenir and I caught a glimpse of it above the crowd.  I left Ike and mack and ran towards it- only to have it completely disappear again.  Seriously- it was like a movie!  And now I had been separated from Ike and mack!!  I ran towards where I thought the stick was going- but made it to the road and he was nowhere to be seen.  I was panicking.  I ran back towards my other kiddos and saw Kent up on the concrete barrier shouting "zeb!" and jumping down.  He'd found him!  ugh.  it was terrifying.  Zeb realized- after a few minutes- that he'd become separated and was making his way back to 'Hachi'.  We've talked to the kids MANY times about what to do if they get lost.  STAY PUT.  Zeb knew he was still very close to Hachi and was returning to him so he could stay put there.  We'd all uttered several prayers and I'm so glad Zeb was calm enough to do what he knew he was supposed to do!  the Subway there has several lines and leads in every direction!!  who knows where he could have ended up!!

Here's another terribly crowded spot :)  Harajuku is a must see for visitors- but gets SOOOO busy.  You just can't imagine how many people are here!!  and this day happened to be a japanese holiday.

The craziness of Harajuku is always fun!

and we always stop for treats at 'candy a go go'.

I've got more of our non city adventures that I'll get to later today!! It was SO MUCH FUN having laney and taylor here.  I really do laugh so so hard when they are around,

Monday, March 14, 2016

the end of Cambodia.

I am really missing cambodia right now :)  
One of my very favorite things about Cambodia was the fruit shakes.  EVERYwhere you go you can get a fresh fruit shake for 1$.  they take the fresh fruit right off the cart in front of you and blend it up right there.  They were SO good.  Mango and pineapple were my favorite.  I go places like this and realize that even though I hate to admit it- maybe I do love tropical places and warm weather because it means fresh cheap delicious fruit ALL YEAR LONG!!
oh- and cheap massages.  this fish massage was ridiculous.  it also cost 1$.  creepy is the only word to describe it!!  it took every ounce of will power to keep my feet in this tank.  as you can see from the look on my face!!!  metta would not even try.  and zeb and ike dropped their toes in once or twice.
I think it was so hard for me because the fish LOVED my feet.  they swam away from everybody else and directly to me once my feet entered.  Those gnawing little mouths felt SO STRANGE!!!
here's a pic of the boys when they first tried it!!!  zeb and ike's soccer outfits came from the market, too.  They cost 8$ for the whole outfit.  Their friends have them and they were so excited to get their own.  Ike got Germany and a Messi set and Zeb stuck with Brazil like his dad.
we also got leg/foot massages at the market in downtown Siem Reap.  They were also 1$. can I move to cambodia?!

I don't even know what this stuff was.  

it's got to be a sea creature, right? I just have no idea.  Our kiddos couldn't stand the smell long enough to find out.

It was so hard for me to see all the cheap fruits and veggies and know we were going to have to go back to japan where everything was so expensive :(

there is an area of Siem Reap full of tourist shops, restaurant, and even a few street shows :)  This father/son duo was pretty cool.

Several people stopped and took pictures of this tuk-tuk full of crazy kiddos!!

I love markets and shopping.  There is something so exciting and fun (and sometimes stressful) about searching and bargaining for the perfect souvenir!!!  we got a cool wooden carving of a head from the Bayon ruins here at the night market.

I think miss metta looks like such a ragamuffin here! and I love it.  we were so dirty and tired from all of the excitement.

Our last night we visited a small 'made in camboodia' market that guarantees their goods are handmade by locals (not just chinese imports). It was here we found one of our favorite purchases on the trip! This is a local artist who draws scenes from the temples. He used a simple cheap mechanical pencil to draw this!!! The Bayon temple was my favorite and I was so happy to find the picture.

the next few pictures are from "angkor wat".  I have to admit- this temple was the least impressive to me and was kind of a let down after the hype!  It was definitely amazing the morning of the race- and it is astounding- but it was crowded and over hyped :)  I much preferred the less crowded and less roped off temples!!
Plus- it was REALLY hot this day. and we were out in the direct sunlight.   But- it was really amazing to say we were there- at angkor wat!!!
and I loved the monkeys all over the grounds.  I'll never tire of monkeys.
I'm thinking metta got a little too close to this one!!!

the baby monkeys are my very favorite.

the very tallest portion of angkor wat is restricted to children under 12. so we took turns going up.  and the kids played games down bottom.  They were such a spectacle and people loved them.
The views up top were so so.  still too hot and bright :)

There's a temple a ways outside (I think it was called Bantey Srei) of Siem Reap that we also visited.  This place had the most intricate and astounding small carvings.  Mack wasn't impressed.  He just wanted to play in the red dirt.
but- honestly.  these temples just got more amazing.  each one had something that made it unique.

we tried to find every spot of shade that we could.  This was mid day and it was scorching!!
when I was taking pictures at this corner of the temple- Zeb overheard a German tourist nearby.  Zeb stopped and asked him if he'd ever heard of the story about JFK eating a 'berliner' for breakfast.  The tourist thought it was so funny and impressive that Zeb knew that little tid bit of history.  I didn't even know it!!  I had to ask Zeb what he was talking about!!

metta bought her favorite souvenir here.  A stuffed elephant mom and baby.  she has to buy things in families.  She's so weird.  Also, I love this picture of mack and his buddha belly.  I'm sorry that you look weird here, kent :)
I should have taken more pictures of all the craziness we saw on the roads here!!  we saw entire families on one motorcycle!!  there were toddlers standing up on motorcycle seats between parents all over the place!!

On our last day in Cambodia- we took a boat ride out to Tonle Sap.  It's a fishing village that is located on the water.  the houses, schools, and stores float.

The giant Lake is full of snakes- and these people wanted us to pay them to take a picture of theirs.
Once aboard the floating store- we did take some pics with this guy.  I'm quite certain these types of snakes are NOT living here in in the wild- but they made for a good picture :)

The city was pretty cool.  I don't know if the people enjoy having tourists came and 'stare' at their way of life- but the ones we met were pretty friendly.

this little girl was the daughter of our boat driver and she was so much fun.
Cambodians are some of the friendliest and happiest people I've come across.  I loved their country, their food, and their hospitality!!
The very last thing we did- before heading to the airport- was take a giant stationary air balloon up into the sky to give a farewell to Siem Reap!

Our days in cambodia were unreal!!  I would LOVE to go back one day and see other parts of this country.