Monday, April 30, 2012

Interesting things about the Vietnamese

These are things I noticed during my four-day stay in Ho Chi Minh City. Feel free to disagree but personally, I find it interesting how the Vietnamese...

1.      ...are hardcore motorcyclists! People-watching became more interesting with the city's main form of transport. Almost everyone rides one: the young, the oldeven preggies! 

Motorcycles are a normal sight in Ho Chi Minh City. Don't avoid them. They avoid you. 

2.      ...refer to the toilet as "WC". I'm used to calling it “CR” or just “washroom”. The waiter gave me a funny look when I asked what it meant. 

"Water Closet"

3.    ...aren't in to junk food. I’m almost certain that I'm wrong but chips were nowhere to be found! The only "junk" food I saw in the grocery was instant noodles. Is this why plump people are a rarity?

Dried fruit chips seemed to be the commonest chips around.

4.    ...like to practice their English. It takes guts to approach a stranger (a tourist, at that) and talk about random nothings in a second language. The locals aren't the best in English but they acknowledge the need to learn and be good at it hence, the regular practice. Keep it up!

These college girls asked me what it takes to be famous! 

They interviewed me about the weather. It was so hot that day!

Our conversation lasted for more than an hour. It was cool how our group kept growing!

5.    ...love the park! The city is abundant with parks and these are conducive to learning, socializing and physical activity. I think the Vietnamese would rather be there than shopping. 

Some teachers would hold classes in the park at night!

6.    ....never seem to run out of hotels! In the city, people usually live in four to five-storey buildings with narrow openings that run deep inside. Most of these have many rooms, which the owners convert into a hotel. Talk about putting resources to good use!

Typical street with residential buildings / hotels around.

7.     ...aren’t into basketball. From my observation, they’re more in to volleyball, badminton or that feather hacky sack! 

The feather hacky sack seems to be a popular hobby for school boys.

8.       ...bury their departed in the backyard (or in the fields). This is more common outside the city, though. Cremation is said to the twice as expensive as a burial.

It's normal to have tombs in the yard.

9.      ...have sophisticated baggage counters! Maybe it was just at that particular mall. 

Look! Lockers!

10.    ...put themselves to good use. Sure, there are lots of people out of the streets. Notice, though, that all of them seem to have work: selling cooked meals, fruits, vegetables, or lottery tickets. Very commendable! 


Everyone seems to have work. No beggars in sight so far!

What other interesting things about the Vietnamese are worth pointing out?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Things to Eat in Tokyo aside from Sushi and Tempura

No adobo, nothing Italian, and definitely nothing Chinese. I wanted to eat local food in Tokyo. And so I did—lots of it.

Aside from the regular sushi and tempura, here’s my top 10 in no particular order:  

1.    Ryushanhai Ramen
After a tiring day walking around the city, plus the fact that it was 0*C out, this sure warmed me up. The miso soup base is intense and the noodles are perfect with it. Runny nose alert!

Price¥600 (~Php 300)
Where: Ramen Museum, Shinyokohama

2.    Gyoza
We chanced upon this restaurant near our hostel that served it. Heaven! The gyoza went so well with the rice that had pork toppings! The best fried pot stickers ever!

Price¥380 (~Php 190)
Where: Ramen Kagetsu Arashi near Asakusabashi station

3.    Sashimi with Rice
My trip to Tokyo would never be complete without eating sashimi, my favorite Japanese food. Quite pricey but it was worth getting lost and finding this random restaurant.
 
Price: ~ ¥800 (~Php 400)
Where: One of the alleys near H&M, Shinjuku
(The Tonkatsu there was really good, too!)

4.    Mochi with Ice cream
Tried it for the sake of trying. It’s different but yummy! And yes, it's served cold. I forget which flavors we ordered but it was #1 and #2 best sellers.

Price: ¥150 each (~Php 75)
Where: Mochi Cream, Akihabara 

5.    Beef Shabu-Shabu
All-you-can-eat and all-you-can-cook beef, vegetables, and soup! I’ve never eaten that much beef before! Though I think it was the sesame sauce that made it all yummy. 

Price: ~ ¥2,000 (~Php 1,000)
Where: Mo-Mo-Paradise, 8F Humax Pavillon, Shinjuku

6.    Japanese Strawberries!
They’re HUGE and really sweet! It was a definite must-try even if I’m not a fruit person. 

Price¥380-500 a pack, depending on freshness (~Php 190-250)
Where: Groceries and Supermarkets

7.    Beef Bowls
We ate at this fast food place near our hostel because it was really cheap. The place was small and cramped. None of the waiters spoke in English. It was a nice experience. Orders were even taken electronically!

Price¥380 (~Php 140)
Where: Near Asakusabashi station (I don't know the name of the place!)

8.    Onigiri Rice Triangles
It’s small but quite heavy on the stomach. It’s a meal already. Very flavorful!

Price¥200 (~Php 100)
Where: Omusubito, Akihabara

9.    Odd Flavored Popcorn
Curry, Salt and Pepper, Milk Tea, and Soy Sauce are some of them. Tried all of these for the sake of trying. My personal favorite is the curry. Least favorite was the milk tea.

Price¥300 If I remember correctly (~Php 150)
Where: Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea

10.  Takoyaki Balls
Octopus balls have never tasted THIS good. They don’t scrimp on the octopus, too. These were big and the filling was really gooey. Burnt my tongue from excitement.

Price¥420 / ~Php 215
Where: Omotesando St., Harajuku (right outside Kiddy Land)
Click here for map.

Here are some stuff I regret not eating—if only we didn't run out of time... and money:
  • Sushi and tempura at the local sushi bars with the conveyor belt! Wanted to try it for the experience. Had my share of these at a particular restaurant. It was... normal.
  • Packed sushi and sashimi from the grocery. ~¥200 (~Php 100) for 8 pieces!
  • Fresh sashimi from Tsukiji. Too bad it's so far away and waiting time in line is an hour.
  • Food from Maid Cafe. More for the experience rather than food.

McDo Japan!
Wanted to try the food that wasn't anywhere else in the world.

Spaghetti in a Bun! 
Saw this in a convenience store. Looks... interesting!

Eggs 'n Things
The Japanese seem to love an American breakfast even for merienda. The line was so long!

Crepes!
Wanted to try those with strawberries in it. Quite expensive, though. Around Php 250

My standards for Japanese food were definitely raised to a whole new level. There’s really nothing like authentic Japanese food… in Japan.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

February Fashion in Japan

It's as if they've been ripped out of a fashion magazine. Perfectly styled clothes, the occasional no make-up look, minus the Photoshop. The Japanese seem to pull it off effortlessly. 

I’m no fashion expert nor do I know much about it but I think they have a great sense of style. All the pieces that they wear go well together as if meticulously selected. I sometimes wonder if they have personal stylists. 

Needless to say, I had the grandest time people-watching and scanning them from head to toe. Hopefully none of them took offense. Here are random winter looks I saw in Tokyo:

I super like his jacket! 

People still wore boots on a sunny day.

Guy and girl kimonos!

I super like the girl's red backpack!

Layers!

Guys out on the street. I wonder how much hair product they put on.

Bubble jackets

Kimono!

People-watching seemed like a fashion show at times.

I super like his jacket... and bag!

Trivia: The yellow strip he's walking on has embossed lines to guide the blind.

It's normal to see people walking around with luggage.

Typical work outfit on the left.
I can't imagine wearing that everyday! 

How do they keep warm down there?!


She crossed the street effortlessly.

Yup, a lot of girls wore mini skirts or shorts even if it was 0* out.

They look like dolls!

Saleslady in Harajuku.

Who wore it best?

Baby girl look.

Interesting color combinations all over!

Her luggage is a definite stand out.

Prints.

Long skirts were a rare sight.

No socks! I wonder how cold his feet were!

School uniform.
(Some people wore masks if they had a cold. I think it's also for added warmth.)

These two reminds me of a pair in the office.

Formal wear! She was a secondary sponsor in a wedding.

I just had to take a picture of this!

Maids from the maid cafes? Not too sure.

The only Japanese I saw who wore shades.

Something interesting that my friend Tiff noticed while we were there: the Japanese don't seem to wear sunglasses! The sun was extra blinding one day and we were the only ones wearing shades! Is it because they have chinky eyes? Hhhhm.