Monday, January 28, 2013

Tokyo - Day 2

We slept in today, and it felt amazing!  We were all so exhausted from our lack of sleep on the ship that our cozy little floor mats did the trick.  Patrick was the only one that didn't get good sleep.  He headed off to go with Protei on their trek to do more investigating with their boats in Japan.  They'll be doing a lot of hiking and roughing it, but Patrick is going to gather some amazing footage, so we've all agreed it'll be a worthwhile adventure.

We headed off to find some breakfast around 10am.  We realized, in the daylight, that we're in a great location in downtown Tokyo.  It's actually a very expensive part of the city, and we really got a great deal with our Airbnb apartment.  If you haven't checked this out already, you should definitely use them when you're traveling.  Airbnb.com where you can rent people's houses or apartments around the world as you would a hotel room.  It's awesome!

We walked around a bit, getting our bearings, and had a good laugh at how lost we were the night before when we were trying to find the apartment building.  We tried to follow the directions, but got them wrong and found ourselves in a little courtyard in the middle of high-rise apartment buildings.  The courtyard or park, I guess you could call it, had public restrooms, and I was so glad because I had so much Jasmine tea at last night's event.

I headed in to the female side, and opened the stall door only to reveal a small porcelain hole in the ground.  It had water in it, and was shaped like a tiny, flat urinal in an oval shape.  Ooooh boy.  Toilets in Japan are quite interesting.  Whether they're high-tech enough to give you a spray-down, play a little tune to cover your biological sounds and have a heated seat for comfort, or they're low-tech enough to be a hole in the ground, they make bio-time interesting.

Anyway...back to our morning walk.  We found a little restaurant that had a good price and pretty pictures outside, and let ourselves in.  They had just opened for lunch, and we were the only patrons.  We settled down to a table and looked at the woman there handed us menus.  There was no english in sight, and she was standing there, pressuring us to order.  Some of our companions were set on Udon, so when they said that, she laughed aloud and repeated something that sounded similar.  We weren't sure what she was saying nor why we were laughing, so they just said, "Hai."  (Yes, in Japanese)

Pointing to our lunch.
The woman turned to Matt and I, and we hesitated then randomly pointed to pictures.  She seemed satisfied with our order and headed back to yell at the cook.  We crossed our fingers in hopes that we didn't order the sheep stomach or raw octopus.

Our orders came out amazing!  It turned out that we were in a Chinese restaurant in the middle of Tokyo.  So, they didn't have Udon, but whatever Mark, Larissa and Jessie had was pretty good.  We snarfed it down and headed for the train to meet the Unreasonables from Vita Beans who were meeting with a private school called Tokyo International School in another part of Tokyo.

When we arrived, we found a school teaming with life.  The kids were brilliant and the teaching methods were ridiculously hands on.  Patrick, the head, led us around and talked to use about their beliefs of keeping the creativity in kids.  We interviewed the kindergartners as they were read a book, then the eighth graders who were creating speakers from scratch in shop class, then to the fifth graders who were putting together Key Note presentations about NGO's.  (yeah, seriously)
My and Jessie's favorite new candy. Grape Fettuccine!

It was a fun experience to meet all the children from all over the world, and see how magnificent school could be.  Patrick talked about how long it took to convince parents that the children were actually learning, because there aren't hours of homework and memorization tests to study for.  Parents expect "rigor" and Patrick argues that this school offers a far better method of teaching than just memorizing facts.  It's all through experience.  Look it up if you get that chance: http://www.tokyois.com/main/

We went back to the apartment to meet up with the rest of the film crew who had been shooting b-roll around Tokyo while we interviewed at the school.  As soon as I hit the train, I realized something terrible was on the way.  It hit me: my first bout with food poisoning.

The film crew sent over a sushi-eating photo while I was sick.
I was doubled over with stomach pain and started sweating and shaking, and in our tiny little one bedroom apartment, I holed up in our single airplane sized bathroom.  Bad news!  The team could wait no longer, for there was fresh Japanese sushi to be had for dinner, and I sent them along without me because I was feeling so terrible.

I'm doing better now, but am ready to snuggle up on my floor mat and kiss the rest of this day goodnight.  I have high hopes that I'll still get a chance to try real Japanese sushi, but also have a tiny thought in the back of my mind that wonders if raw fish is the best thing to move forward with...

Tomorrow we head to a water conference with Pedro of Aquaphytex, then make our way to Kyoto for the next part of the Unreasonable event in Japan.  More adventure to come!