Ramblings from December continued..

Tokyo, 2017.

It had only been 10 hours into 2017, and I had already been chastised by a policeman, harassed by a homeless man and intercepted an attempted robbery.

But first things first..

I’ve never been one to celebrate New Years Eve, wherever I am on the night. Fortunately, the sheer amount of people in the streets of Tokyo and the icy cold wind had reinforced my decision to retreat indoors for the evening. What followed was a few drinks with my fellow capsule-dwellers, and a chat via text with a lovely man in Australia. Before I knew it, the time was 2:00am. 

It was 9:00am on the 1st of January when I emerged from my cocoon andpacked up in preparation to change hotels. The Japanese are sticklers for punctuality. It was only a week prior that I was yelled at for arriving at Reception at 10:04am. I casually arranged my luggage in a pile outside Reception and nipped to the store 20 metres away to grab breakfast.    

Breakfast sourced, I headed back towards my luggage. It was then that I noticed a Japanese man casually walking down the street carrying something that looked strangely like my leather cosmetics bag. I jogged after him and said “excuse me, but I think that’s mine.” He handed it over, mumbled something inaudible in Japanese and continued on his way. It was only after I returned to my pile of luggage that I realised that he had made off with my can of Acai energy drink. Which, in the scheme of things, was ok. I was just sooo relieved that he hadn’t picked up the bag to the left which contained my MacBook Pro and two iPhones. Besides, at the pace that he was moving, he clearly needed the can of energy drink more than I did. 

This is a valuable lesson for all travellers- choose a cosmetics/toiletries bag that looks stylish enough to pass as a handbag. Actually, he really should have thanked me for interrupting his criminal activity. I had saved him from the absolute shame that he would have encountered when he returned to gangland HQ. His equally dodgy mates would bring back iPads and jewellery, whereas he would have contributed..... a bag containing a plethora of half-used Mecca Cosmetica makeup and a month’s supply of disposable ‘Fresh Look’ contact lenses.

Post-burglary-interception, I took a taxi to my new hotel and left my bags there. Strong coffee and something called a VitaCig were next on the agenda. Coffee was easy to source. Despite being a non-smoker for a significant period of time now, a friend had given me something called a VitaCig. No tobacco, no nicotine, but packed full of vitamins. The prevailing wisdom of the developers was that when you inhaled, you absorbed the vitamins through the roof of your mouth. No lighter required. I was sampling this weird creation with my coffee when I was literally shooed off the pavement by an angry policeman. Complete with waving arms. I’m not sure if that particular move is taught at Tokyo Police Academy, but I later saw him use it on another innocent bystander. The problem with being chased onto the street was that I was instantly set upon by a homeless man who smelt like tuna and wanted to have a long conversation. It was a fascinating chat, with him ranting in Japanese while I kept nodding politely and taking tentative steps backwards.

So, why move hotels? Very simply, it had gotten to the stage where I had to leave my hotel in a disguise at night. The problem was that from around 9:00pm onwards, Nigerian touts would roam the streets directly outside of my hotel, trying to coerce foreigners into bars. If they were successful, the bar gives them a cut of whatever the foreigner spends on drinks. I was an obvious target- being female, alone and caucasian. At first, one of the touts would walk next to me, ask me my name and then ask me why I didn’t want to talk to him. Then it progressed to several of these huge guys blocking my path. I took to the usual methods of trying to avoid someone- earphones in my ears, pretending to be engaged in an important phone call, etc. I made sure that I was dressed as conservatively as possible. Nothing seemed to make much difference. Even changing routes and cutting through a lane at the back of my hotel wasn’t successful. These touts were literally everywhere. 

It all came to a head one night when one of them actually grabbed me by the arm. I had absolutely had enough. A quick pit stop at my favourite store Don Quijote (yes, they have spelt it incorrectly) ensured that I was now attired in a very fetching multi-coloured beanie (complete with wooden plaits) and surgical mask. I added my prescription glasses to the ensemble and felt much better. Even though I was curvier and taller than your average Japanese woman, my blonde hair and fair skin were now covered. I could now walk into my hotel without attracting a second glance from any tout.

Onto culinary matters, I began a love-affair with the fresh dumplings sold at 7/11. These became my staple breakfast. Pizza, chicken and seafood were my favourites. I’ve never been a pork fan (with the exception of bacon) so those dumplings were out. However...

“They don’t sell beef dumplings...” I whined down the phone to a friend.

“What? Of course they do. I’ll come with you”

Accompanied by said pal the next day, I wandered myself into the nearest Lawson’s Store. It soon became apparent what the problem was.

“They think that you are asking for a root.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Beet, not beef. Beet. Root. You’ll have to either ask for gyu niku or make some horns on the top of your head with your hands.”

Problem solved. 

There were two casualties of the trip. Firstly, my prescription Ray Ban sunglasses. I’m not usually a loser of possessions. But I had left them somewhere. I went to an optometrist to order a new pair as I had been surviving wearing my huge Dolce & Gabbana ‘Jackie-O’ style sunglasses courtesy of 2005. Yuck. What the hell was I thinking back then?? Anyway, getting across that I wanted the lenses to be ‘polarised’ was quite a challenge. The lady serving me kept repeating “polaroid, polaroid.” Admittedly, I do own a Polaroid Instax camera, but I had left it in Australia. Besides, this was hardly the time to take a selfie together to memorialise this frustrating occasion.

As it turned out, she actually meant ‘polarised’. Now we were on the same page. Transaction complete, I dashed out of the store to catch a train. However, half an hour later, I could not remember the name of the store, or where it was located...

Secondly, I had purchased the most gorgeous pair of black woollen Chloe gloves, with a little leather bow on each wrist. On my final day in Tokyo, I was wearing both gloves for most of the day. I arrived at Narita airport with only one glove in my possession. I still have that one glove. It is a sad reminder, but still so kawaii.

Things that I will miss about Japan: 

Alcohol being sold 24/7 at 7/11. Tokyo’s hours of operation, many places from 10am to 4am. Capsule hotels. Don Quijote.

Things that I will not miss about Japan:

Having consistently cold ears. Taxi drivers that blatantly exploit foreigners by driving them the longest possible route to their destination. Love Hotels with signs that state that if you’re not Japanese, you’re not welcome.

The morning of my very last day in Tokyo (pre-glove loss) I kept despairing about my new Ray Bans. I had paid for them in full when they were ordered.

I needed to find that optometrist....

x Mischa

 

Post Script: Out of sheer desperation, I ended up shoving the receipt for my glasses in front of a taxi driver. He was able to interpret it, and drove me to the store Paris Miki. I was then able to collect my glasses. They look ridiculous. Really too big for my face and an odd shape that makes my nose look even rounder. What the hell was I thinking??

Random ramblings from December.

I am currently writing this with Kanye West VH1 Storytellers playing in my ears. Unfortunately, this particular coffee shop in Shinjuku has an obsession with the music of The Beatles. I simply can’t stomach Strawberry Fields one more time today...

Has it really been almost 6 months since I wrote a blog post? How time flies...

So much has happened in that time. Firstly, I underwent surgery on my spine in August. I took a tumble whilst skiing in Hakuba last year and ended up with a prolapsed disc. L4/L5. The eight months of chronic pain that followed the accident were like nothing that I had ever experienced before. Not even Endone would touch the pain.

However, when I woke up in Recovery post-surgery, the pain was gone. I could feel my right leg again. I’m delighted to report that I’ve been pain-free ever since.

Secondly, I was offered a new position in Sydney, commencing in January 2017. It will be a completely new challenge for me, and one that I’m looking forward to. I am quite apprehensive though- I know 2.5 people in the whole city. My family and closest friends are all in Queensland. I’ve only been to Sydney a handful of times in my life. I can cope on my own quite comfortably for a short period of time, but I’m not sure how I’ll go long term. I also wonder if I’m a little too old to be essentially starting my life from scratch all over again. It also doesn’t feel real yet. I don’t think it will until late February when I’m pining for my old colleagues, my friends and family.

Back to (non-Beatles) music for a second. My little sister and I regularly swap song titles. One song that she introduced to me last week has become a firm favourite of mine. I would encourage everyone to stop what you’re doing, head to Officeworks and buy a few 8GB USB sticks. Transfer your 20 or so favourite songs and give them to your closest pals as a gift from the heart.

I once did this for my boss. It all started when he and I were driving to a meeting in his car. He turned the key in the ignition, and what should emerge from his car stereo? The Corrs. Good Lord.

It was at this point that I knew that he needed help. An intervention, if you will. 

The next day, I conspired with his wife to get hold of his car keys. I snuck into his car, ejected the CD of The Corrs, and inserted a CD that I had prepared the night before. It was comprised mostly of 50 Cent and Kanye. I turned the volume up very loud, locked the car and nipped off to replace the keys in their usual spot. 

Half an hour later, all hell broke loose after said leader was spotted heading towards his car, keys in hand. The second that the ignition was engaged, I could hear the thumping bass at the start of “Golddigga”. 

Next came a bellow of “MISCHA!!!” 

I casually wandered down. “Yes, did you need something?”

“You bloody changed my CD, now where is it? I can’t drive while this shit is on.”

“That’s right, blame the blonde. Blame the female.”

At which point, the CD came flying out the car window like a frisbee. Some people are so ungrateful.

I can’t describe how lovely it is to be back in Japan again. On Monday I had the pleasure of meeting three girls who work as escorts in Tokyo and internationally. I was nervous going into our meeting, as I had never met another escort before in my life. I’m happy to just stick to my tiny business model of six(ish) clients, and let the professional girls do their thing. Besides, my time as an escort is finite. If I should meet someone amazing, ‘Mischa’ will be sent on a very long vacation. Yes, I will definitely miss the friends that I have made, but in the end, one must look at the bigger picture.

Anna, Hana and Yuma were absolutely lovely. Despite our very different backgrounds and experiences, we got on brilliantly and many laughs were had. It was almost unfortunate that two of us had to leave to attend bookings, otherwise I’m sure that we could have stayed all night.

In the unlikely event that there are any other Australian escorts reading this, Japan is definitely not a minefield to make money. In order to compete, you will be charging less that your Australian rate. It is the busiest period of the year for the Japanese at the moment. The majority of my work here has been infrequent and more surprisingly... platonic. 

Earlier in the week, I had enjoyed a casual beer with a Tokyo-based journalist who has lived in many different parts of the world. When I considered his age, I felt like a real underachiever. He told me about some of the stories involving the sex industry that he had covered in his homeland. He also casually mentioned that the next day would be a big day as Putin would be in Tokyo.

After we said goodbye, I messaged the Tokyo girls:

Me: “Prepare yourselves, Putin is in town tomorrow!”

Anna: “I’m gonna hide under my blanket.”

Hana: “Hahaha! When is your wedding to him, Mischa?”

In other news from Japan, I’ve taken up swimming. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t actually swum laps of a pool since I was in high school. However, I’m pretty sure that an important guy that I know in Australia does laps before work. I assume that it must somehow prepare his mind for a busy day in the office. I’ve actually suffered from short periods of anxiety lately, and I thought that swimming might be worth a try. The closest Olympic-sized, heated, pool is only one train stop away from Shinjuku. However, there are soooo many rules. No tattoos, no makeup. Wearing a swimming cap is compulsory, as is wearing a bathing suit that reaches down to your knees (for women). You must purchase a pass on your way in the front door and display it in the glass panel of your locker. If you fail to do this, your locker will not lock. You must wear your locker key on your wrist while swimming in the pool. You must shower twice- once naked, once in your swimsuit. No plastic hand paddles are permitted. No diving of any sort- use the stairs. Flippers are ok, provided that they do not extend more than 10 centimeters from the end of your toes.

The first day was nerve-wracking as I strode out to the pool, pretending that everyone wasn’t staring at the exceedingly voluptuous caucasian chick. Just when I thought that I had everything covered, a lifeguard came running over with a roll of tape. No. I had forgotten to remove my small pearl stud earrings. They had to be taped over. 

I’m sticking with the swimming though. I generally (and lazily) place myself in the ‘beginners’ lane. This allows me to plod along at a sedate and thoughtful pace. Right next the the ‘beginners’ lane is the ‘walking lane’. Yes, as the name suggests, one popular activity here is literally walking laps of the pool. It’s not just the oldies who are into it either. 

While Japan never gets old for me, there is true joy in introducing parts of Tokyo to people that have never experienced it before. I remember grinning like a loon when I took my little sister to the Shibuya ‘Scramble’ crossing one night last year. She was just captivated. I’m hoping that I will get the chance to see such amazement on someone’s face again at some point in the future.

My new Mac Book Pro continues to baffle me at times. I am still blaming Windows 10 for the death of my three-year-old Toshiba. While outrageously expensive, I do like the compact size of the Mac. However, I fear that it’s going to take at least another month to get fully acquainted. I can’t move items around as easily, some things are back to front and I definitely do not understand how the touch pad operates. 

I’m working on a ‘changes’ list for 2017. Essentially, it is a list of New Years Resolutions, just less flippant. I’ll share once I’m done. Please feel free to steal any of my ideas or add suggestions.

Now to leave you with something that I heard again recently: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” 

Try to find some time to take care of yourself over the festive season.

Travel, clarity and change.

The time has absolutely flown and I’m back in Queensland enjoying the sun-, err, rain. My sojourn to Tokyo was magical, as it always is. There is something about landing at Narita Airport that lifts ones spirits immensely and erases any lingering memories of trying to sleep on a crowded plane.

I can’t accurately describe the trip as a holiday. It was more of an… adventure. I met extraordinary people. I climbed a mountain. Ate unusual foods. Got naked with beautiful Japanese women twice daily to soak in an onsen. Explored Love Hotels. Explored Love Hotels to the extent that a follow-up blog post will be required.

On a personal note, it was an interesting time for me. Mentally, I mean. A friend that I was meeting in Tokyo had to cancel; I would now be travelling alone. Two days before I flew out, there was a sudden death amongst my circle of friends. I was torn whether or not to go.

As it was, some time after arriving in Japan one client lost a family member, and another client ‘broke up’ with me. Both of these episodes left me feeling sad. Gentlemen- spare a thought for your lovely lady friends- they often have more on their brains than just liberating your cash. ;-/

But as Lupe Fiasco says, “The show goes on.” And it did.

I packed too much. I always do. Realistically, I could have survived with one set of casual clothes, two ‘date’ outfits and an armful of lingerie. Essentials that would not have equated to 25kgs, I’m sure.

I had forgotten about something. Something that I didn’t remember until I spent my first night in Shibuya.

I had forgotten all about travel’s ability to bring about clarity. That was when I began brainstorming, scribbling notes on my iPad. I did manage to decipher most of them, and offer this quick roundup:

In short, I need to begin the process of wrapping things up* here in Queensland. Realistically, I have done all I can here in regards to my RL (real-life) career. There are far more opportunities in my RL field in capital cities. So, by the end of 2017, I expect to have relocated to either Sydney or Melbourne.

But for now, my first task is to throw myself back into my university studies. Hence, there may not be as many inane, cat-centric tweets from me. Hurrah!

My second task is to begin ridding myself of material possessions that aren’t absolutely essential. Pairs of Louboutins that I don’t wear. Handbags that I don’t use. It’s amazing how much lingerie one can accumulate in an 18-month career as a temporary girlfriend. I’m quite looking forward to standing in my empty apartment with just a box of books, my phone and my cat.

I’m so fortunate that I have travels to look forward to. Melbourne tomorrow, Brisbane in three weeks, Sydney in September. Tokyo again in December and January. Availabilities remain, by the way. J

I must conclude by saying a huge “domo arigato gozaimasu!” to the people that I met in Japan. You are all stars. I love you all. I have been “loved” by a few of you. I have my fingers firmly crossed that I will see you again in December. I’m working on my Japanese already…

 

 *(If anyone reads this, please don’t send me a “sorry to see you go” –type message. I’m talking a time frame of 12-18 months, not tomorrow. And besides, travel is so easy that such a move is not really a big deal).