Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My First Impressions on Japan

We arrived in Tokyo's Narita Airport in Japan yesterday and, to be honest, we were a bit scared as we were told a few things about Japanese people, many of them, not very good. However, we were pleasantly surprised from the minute we set foot on land. For starters, the airport seemed too quiet for such a big/important airport...or maybe it is because we come from Mexico City where everything is big and crowded at all times; anyway, the whole airport crew was really nice and polite the whole time -we'd been told migration was a bit like in the US, but not even close, they act just like any normal customs/migration agents. The fact that they had to manually searched through our bags opposite to pass them though a luggage scanner was a tad surprising though, I mean, after all, it is Japan and -being a bit exaggerated- you'd expect pretty much anything to be done by a robot lol (ok, not). But well, even after such long examination, the customs officer was really nice and all he asked basically was how long and why were we in Japan, then wished us a good trip.

After a bit more than 3 hours later, we arrived in our hotel but couldn't check-in until 3pm, so we just dropped our bags and headed off to town. The first place we visited was Shinjuku, where we went to the Metropolitan Government Building as there is an -free- Observing Deck on the 45th floor. The view was cool but it would have been so much better if it hasn't been that polluted.

Then, we went to Shinjuku's Central Park, where they have a nice shrine/museum thing and where people -apparently- go there for a mid-daypic-nic/nap trying to scape the humidity of the city.

After hanging in the Shinjuku area for a while, we headed straight to Shibuya -the busiest and one of the most touristic districts in Tokyo. We hung around there just getting to know the area a bit; there are a lot of stores, cafes, restaurants and fun stuff to go around. All the Japanese galore you could ask for is here, like this cute store with giant teddy bears!


Perhaps it was because it was day time or I don't know but for some odd reason, we did not recognize the famous Shibuya Crossing...we thought it was just another crossing as it really didn't seem as impressive as we've all seen it on TV/movies/etc. Until we did a little research and found out it was indeed THE crossing. Oh well, we're going back there tomorrow night to make sure we see and experience everything there is to see and experience.

After going around for a while, we were a bit exhausted after our 15+ hour flight all the way from Mexico City, so we decided to come back to the hotel (in Otsuka), take a shower and refresh a bit. The hotel is very nice I have to say, small like everything in Japan, but very nice, clean and the staff is very nice too. Once revived, I mean, refreshed, we went out to dinner and found this small Ramen place in a corner where the smell drawn us immediately, it was all-Japanese though so we hesitated about going in as we don't really speak Japanese (believe it or not lol) but we are really into trying as most local stuff as possible so we took a chance, took a quick glimpse at the Japanese phrase book on our phone, walked in, sat down at the stalls next to a guy and order 2 Ramens. Somehow, they understood us and served us too smoking hot huge bowls of Ramen. It was actually very good though a bit big for us and it was only 1200¥ (about US$12) for the both of them! The usual drink is plain water and you get that for free so it's all good. We were glad that our very first Japanese dinner couldn't have gotten anymore Japanese than that!

All in all, we are very pleased with Japan so far. Japanese people are far much nicer than their reputation lead us to believe. When we wanted to get to our hotel, a nice man drew a map for us and gave us the exact directions so we wouldn't get lost; when visited the Metropolitan Government Building an old man volunteering there gave us a guide around and told us about nice places to go in Tokyo and was very, very kind to us; when we wanted to a find a particular store, a guy went out of his way -literally- to take us there and didn't leave until we had an employee showing us what we were looking for; when we were looking to connect to wifi, a guy tried helping us and even offered to lend us his local credentials as wifi for tourist is not that common really. So, at least from our first day, it's safe to say Japanese people are very nice and quite tourist-friendly (unless you're a USAian I guess). But as far as we concern, we love Japan and the Japanese!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Things I Hate About Mexico City

I talk particularly about Mexico City because this is where I live, although from what I'm about to mention, a few of them may also apply to the rest of the country.

This is in no particular order:

1. Pretension: While a little pretension never hurt anyone, there are tons of people who have made a living out of it in this town, right Jorge Pedro? I am absolutely sick of him and all of his wannabe-minions. What ever happened to doing something because it's fun or just because you feel like it and not because it's the hipster thing to do?

2. Mexican politicians: They're all pigs and shameless, I know it's like that in every other country -pretty much-, but the ones here affect me directly, therefore, they're the ones I despise. Lately, more than ever, they all want to achieve power only to start stealing as much as they can without stopping even for one second to think about ANYTHING, not the consequences (general and for themselves), not the people they affect, nothing. So, they can steal MX$80 million and walk through life like nothing bad happened and while the country's poor are poorer than ever.

3. Injustice for the majority: Again, a global problem maybe, but we're talking Mx now. I know nobody said life was fair and trust me, I know that pretty well but injustice in Mexico goes beyond the normal, legally and humanly speaking.

4. Crazy Crowds: As you may know, Mx City is one of the biggest and most populated cities in the world and it has been for quite a while now, however, for the past few years the whole situation has gotten CRAZY! There are no longer rush hours like it used to, now every freaking hour of the day seems to be rush hour and I won't even talk about "Viernes de Quincena" (Payday Fridays) or rainy days, then the city turns into this unbearable chaos that makes you wanna move to Tibet and never come back! Everything is not full but super packed: movie theaters, restaurants, museums, bars, theater, transport, super markets; no matter what you wanna do, you have to be ready to break through seas of people with your elbows if necessary.

5. Economical inequity: Over time, the economical gap between the rich and the poor has grown bigger and bigger. Thanks to a crappy law system, corruption and greedy people, the rich get rich easier and faster than they did before and the same goes for the poor, now, I know there are a lot of people who's in that situation because they brought it on themselves (for both cases), but for the majority of people, it is all because of lack of opportunities to have a decent job and therefore economical growth and -on the opposite side-, too many easy opportunities to steal and make money off of places/people/situations where they shouldn't.

6. Traffic: I know it comes with a big city, but it has become a  very serious matter; not to mention when there are protests, parades, name it, Mx City has plenty of excuses to go around to make its traffic heavier than usual any time!

7. Crappy Neighbors: Always playing loud and lousy music, oh, and singing on top of it all (with a REALLY crappy voice and hurts your ears pretty bad!) I bet I'm not the only who suffers with these kind plagues though.

8. Stupid People on the Street: More than stupid, I mean people with no (or little) education. Those who cut in line, push you without apologizing, steal a taxi from you even if you were waiting before, bike in the opposite direction they're supposed to (and hunk at you on top of that), sit right next to you on the bus even if the rest of the seats are empty, doesn't answer when you politely greet them, and well, I could go on and on here, but suffice to say, anything people with no education do.

9. Taxi Drivers: While taxi services are generally cheap (compared to anywhere else in the world and even some parts outside Mx City) and quite convenient (especially if you live in the center), taxi drivers are a total pest -most of them anyway. First of all, whenever you DON'T need one, they almost run you over to get you to board them, when you DO need them coz it's raining or too hot or whatever, even of they're not occupied they don't stop, for some odd reason. Then, when you actually manage to get into one, they either have the meter fixed to their convenience (obviously) or they round up the fee, never down...coz, yes, you -customer- can lose 2 pesos and life will go on, but God forbid the taxi driver loses them...their world would end! There are a few exceptions who do their job impeccably, yes, but most of them are rats. 

10. Climate of Insecurity: The fact that you cannot go out for a walk 100% freely because you're too afraid a man (or more) will come out of nowhere and mug you is absolutely terrifying, especially if you know they can not only rob you but hurt you or even kill you. Now that is something I don't enjoy, you can leave you house in the morning and never be certain if you'll come back. Kidnaps, robberies, assaults, rapes, killings and whatnot are serious situations to be aware of and you can never be too precocious, but then again, what kind of life is that when you are?

Well, these are a few of the worst things of Mexico City, things I can no longer live with or to be more precise, I simply don't want to. Hopefully, many of these things will change over time, when we are no longer a democratic country only in paper but in reality and when we're ready to educate our children so they become lawful citizens with enough education to, both, behave in the society we live in and work for what they want for themselves. Once we achieve these two (education and democracy), I'm sure many things can and will change for the better for Mexico.