Trinidad Carnival 2013

It’s been a long time coming but my Trinidad Carnival 2013 video has arrived. This video will give you a quick taste of what to expect at Trinidad Carnival! After reading the Trinidad Carnival Survival Guide, you should have already bought your flight ticket, booked your hotel and chosen your costume!!!

In less than a week, those of us who are lucky enough to be making bacchanal at Trinidad Carnival 2014, will be on de road and on de stage at Queen’s Park Savannah in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, Port Of Spain.

Don’t fret, there’s always Trinidad Carnival 2015!

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Wild Italian Man Wants To Eat Monja Too

Why would a wild Italian man want to eat Monja? Why is he wild? What’s Monja?

Those were some of the questions my good friend T and I had as we walked along Nishinaka Dori Street one humid evening. It had been one of those sticky hot summers Tokyo is known for. One that most people, Japanese or not, despise – the type that my napturally curly hair loves so much.

We were out of ideas as to how to spend the last lazy days of the Obon holidays. This is the occasion when many Japanese spend family time paying respect to their ancestors at grave sites around the country. Others go abroad to completely refresh and relax.

Since we had already gone to Malaysia and Singapore twice that year, we decided to stick around and explore our adopted city. As seasoned travel buddies we knew exactly how to signal trouble and make quick exits with our own arsenal of facial ticks and blinks. We also knew when to just jump in and make the most of it.

Earlier that day, I woke up to T’s phone call. Still drowsy from a night of clubbing, I answered.

“Where to today?”, she asked.

“I don’t know, T.”

She decided our fate on her Tokyo Metro map with a drop of her finger on a tiny square-shaped island in the Sumida Gawa River. Kachidoki.

So, we hopped on the Denentoshi Line (Hanzomon Line) and transferred at Kiyosumi Shirakawa station to the Oedo Line. Walked up the myriad steps and got out at a quaint little urban village.

Maybe it was the Obon exodus or perhaps it was almost dinner time, but the narrow, neat alleys and streets were practically empty. We walked down one of them and all around us were older machiya (townhouses) with smells of miso soup and fried goodies floating out of their windows. Hunger pangs hit us hard.

Stomach growling, T pointed to a small intersection ahead of us. We walked toward it and rubbed our eyes. A t-shirt souvenir shop/dry cleaner’s? With vintage PONY game machines outside? T-shirts with colourful aliens? T-shirts with rabbits making something? T-shirts about a wild Italian man liking something called monja?

Irrashai imase!”, welcomed the shop clerk.

“A beautiful girls. Speak Japanese?”, he uttered in broken English.

We smiled.

He proudly held up one of the many colourful t-shirts with that cryptic phrase and read it to us.

“Wild Italian man wants to eat monja too!!”

(In its original Japanese it’s いたりややじんももんじややりたい)

T and I side-eyed each other. With food on our minds and no time to practice English with the ojisan, we were about to head out and follow the delicious smells that caught our noses.

Reading us immediately, ojisan shop clerk asked,

“Do you monja?”

“Do we what?”

In basic Japanese we explained that we were starving. A huge smile appeared on the ojisan‘s round face and once again he pointed to the t-shirt. He explained that the Japanese phrase was a palindrome that had to do with eating monja and rabbits. Err, not eating them together. The rabbits were taken from a fable about them making mochi on the moon. He changed the story to rabbits making monja. Clever. Still confused we patiently waited for him to explain what monja was.

All he told us was that Nishinaka Dori is the home of monjayaki and that the best restaurants were all around us. Joy! He pointed at Tsukushiya and we quickly bowed and thanked him.

Tsukushiya is a small, traditional eatery with the zen-like bamboo interior you’d expect in any self-respecting Japanese dive. Tsukushiya serves only monjayaki (grilled monja). You order a variety of veggies that are served in a ceramic bowl. The waitress brings the batter and makes a show out of pouring mystery gooey stuff on your table. What??

Monjayaki as it turns out is a pancake-like meal made with a lightly seasoned drippy batter and vegetables. It’s grilled on both sides till brown over a large flat heating plate on your table RIGHT in front of you. It looks nasty while it’s cooking but smells damn amazing and tastes even better.

T and I quickly realized that any man (or woman) – wild or not – would love monja too.

Have you had any strange tales of searching for meals?


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Weird Japan Train Rides

I love Japan. I love Tokyo. I absolutely loathe train and subway rides in Japan.

I lived in Japan (Sagamihara, Yokohama, Tokyo and Yokosuka) for over 10 years but never got used to sitting or standing so close to so many people. Those stories you hear about riding rush hour trains in Japan are TRUE!

Living in central Tokyo was easiest because my commute to work was generally less than 30 minutes. But moving south to the seaside city of Yokosuka was a practice in patience and breath-holding (bad b.o.) on those 90-minute trecks.

Here are just a few of my many Facebook rants that I shared with my friends from 2012. Naptural Born Traveller’s da da daaaaaa Weird Japan Train Rides – Best of the Best!
[quote]Ok…yes, I have large breasts but geez are they that spectacular?? Good Lord these 3 guys standing over me are drooling! The 1 one guy has his crotch in my face and is glaring at my chest and I just stepped on his shoe. He looked at me like “what?” So I shooed him away. I think he got the point. If he comes closer I will hurt him bad! 10/01/2012[/quote]

Nothing wrong with picking your nose and ears in private but do we need to see it on the train… 9/18/2012

Hey ignorant racist lady/man, I’m not going to attack you, I don’t smell bad and I’m not going to ask you a stupid question. I know you want to sit down and the only available seat is next to me so sit your f$&kin ass down! 9/17/2012

Aye aye!! Ojisan (old man) just get fresh with me on the Hibiya line. I offered my seat to him and he accepted but there was still room for me to sit so I sat. He says “sumimasen” and moves his arm next to mine to compare our skin colour and then quickly steals a rub on my arm! He have me a toothless grin and said “ii ne!” Man, he was too charming and fast for me and he lucky he wasn’t younger and pervier or else I would’ve slapped him! 8/23/2012

[quote]So they’re turning off the lights inside the Keikyu Line to save power. I just hope this doesn’t make things more romantic for the perverts! They better not do this at night! 7/9/2012[/quote]

It’s a huge problem when everyday you see men groping women on trains and the women stay silent. Culture is one thing but seriously, it’s not an excuse. I’m not a citizen so it shouldn’t be me to make changes. Tell me, my Japanese friends, what is being done to make women more confident about speaking up on sexual predators?? And what more is being done to teach men/boys how to respect women/girls?? 7/5/2012

It’s shame that wherever you go in this world warm weather brings out the stinkiest souls. #foul 7/5/2012

[quote]Something to think about if you live in Japan (YES THAT MEANS MY JAPANESE FRIENDS TOO!!) This message is from Joel Assogba (I couldn’t share it with the button so I cut and paste it):

Super Mario is not a Monkey
A Message to TBS- Television (TBSチャンネル):
On a Japanese TBS Television this morning (July 1. 2012), in a show titled 「アッコおまかせ」 “Akko Omakase,” broadcasters compared the Italian Soccer player of African origin, Mario Balotelli, to a MONKEY. How can this be possible in a society which is counting itself among the the G7?

If they compared Super Mario to a Monkey, then the…y must think of all of us, Black People as Monkeys. I have heard this stupid comment so many times from ordinary people on streets and bars, but if a national broadcasting corporation allows its broadcasters to make such RACIST comment, we have to sue them.

My Black Brothers and Sisters, and all our White and Yellow Brothers and Sisters that really want to make this world a better place; stand up and act. Call the television station to complain, write to newspapers to complain, get together and make a demonstration to speak out loud against Blatant Racism…  7/3/2012[/quote]

I swear! I’m so angry and I wasn’t even the victim! I’m sitting down on the train and in front to the left is a school girl. Just behind her I see a man’s hands sneaking behind her. He thought he was smart because he wasn’t rubbing her but he was caressing her skirt with the movement of the train. So when she thought she felt something he moved! I yelled chikan (perv) and he shook his head and I told her to be very careful. When he got off he bowed to her and me..Steups!! 7/2/2012

Walking through Yokohama station with the crowds…I swerve fast in front a lady approaching me (head down and reading). She looks up and instead of letting me just pass she speeds up and therefore I collide hard into her. She yells in English “EXCUSE ME!” and I keep walking (I had 1 minute to get my train) and don’t look back. I think I’m right what do you think? 6/27/2012

[quote]It appears to be that my chest has calmed the beast in Mr Crazy Ojisan on the train…he was talking to himself loudly until he sat across from me and saw something he liked…no I’m not flattered, I’m too tired to change seats. 6/21/2012[/quote]

Just had to tell some over made-up, LV-toting, spoiled party girl to “stop pushing me” and 「押せないで!」 because she seemed to believe that I was a frickin literal pushover! So her and her friend proceeded to try to bad talk 外人…that’s when I turned on my music and ignored them…I am so done with ignorant bitches. 5/31/2012

No it’s never ok to walk out of the bathroom without washing your hands! 5/9/2012

Last train home is l a t e 🙁 4/28/2012

Tell me why there are so many drunks and psychiatric patients on the Keikyu line at this hour??? 3/29/2012

Lol just got bombarded by 15 youngsters on the Ginza line with 20 questions! They were so cute! Why is your skin chocolate? What is your favourite animal? Do you like your mommy? What’s in your bag? 3/23/2012

Why on earth must people cough and sneeze without covering their mouths?? 2/10/2012

I go to Eneos for my weekly kerosene fill and this time the guy hands me a huge ripe daikon along with my change! Lol 1/25/2012

STOP the madness! Stop snorting snot loudly stop coughing/sneezing without barring your mouth! Nastiness! Maybe it time for me to leave lol 1/18/2012


My frustration was quite apparent in some of these status updates. Have you had your fair share of weird train rides in your city? Share your stories below 🙂