Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Year in Australia: Part One

For those of you who may be labouring under the delusion that Australia is in fact solely in the southern hemisphere, allow me to introduce you to Australia’s one and only colony. That’s right, the colonies have started colionalising. Something very wrong about that. But for the sake of informing phil phans, your favourite blogista ventured into enemy territory armed only with his English accent and oodles of gentlemanly charm.

Our story starts one wintry morn in the industrial port of Akita City. I left Honjo at 3.30am, boarded the ferry and anxiously tapped away at my mobile for news of Manchester City’s fortunes against Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn scored a last minute equaliser to rob city of a crucial three points. Even from my vantage point aboard a Japanese ferry 6000 miles away I could tell the Blackburn goal was totally offside. Feeling justifiably hard done by I did my best to catch up on some sleep, failed and ventured outside to brave the sea air. 30 seconds later I returned inside with substantially bluer nipples, and spent the rest of the voyage watching 24 on my laptop in the warmth of a cafĂ© serving karray raisu. Curreh to those wot know.

A largely uneventful crossing brought me to the port of Tomakomai, where a relatively stress free drive brought me to northern Japan’s biggest city, Sapporo. I needed directions to my hotel, so thought I’d try asking a friendly native. My first attempt at interaction with the locals was not altogether successful. Obviously the following dialogue was actually conducted in Japanese.

Me: Excuse me?

I don’t know exactly why she saw the need to run across the street to get away from me. I even dothed my cap to appear less threatening.

Thankfully the next person I asked was more helpful, and I found friends, food, and drink! Lots of drink. All you can drink for £7 in fact. My god that was dangerous. Drinking contests with barmaids ensued. Naturally I emerged victorious. These are very short sentences.

A friendly Kiwi who had lived in Sapporo for 4 years was our guide, taking us to a number of small friendly establishments that would have no doubt remained unseen by our gaijin tourist eyes. Naturally the red light district was part of the tour, and I have to say the brothels were remarkably well advertised. Zero subtlety in this, just a big poster of a girl with a price list. Also for a foreign customer it was 5000 yen more expensive! Naturally my outrage made me hungry, so I went to get some grilled chicken on a stick. Right tasty it was too.

My memory of the evening is patchy, and I woke up with a hangover that felt a bit like I had slept with a small elephant on my head. A morning stroll through Sapporo took us to an intriguing charming little local coffee shop called "Starbucks", where a ‘ratte’ and a muffin were consumed. Feeling suitably refreshed, me and my three travelling companions piled into my mazda with much excitement and indeed, plenty of ado.

Captain Cooke and the good ship mazda sailed on in search of this mysterious australian colony...

More news when I can be bothered!


Lawson is a Japanese institution. This is a doubly impressive achievement given it is actually unpronounceable to Japanese people. Essentially these are small identikit shops found on national roads selling most things a reasonable size newsagent would back home. They sell a variety of “food” and a vast selection of equally edible cartoon pornography. And today I made a discovery in my local Lawson that will both shock and amaze. Lawson has started selling…

Wait for it…

Strawberries and whipped cream SANDWICHES.

Tokyo may have the most Michelin starred restaurants of any city in the world, but this single discovery entirely negates all that good work, proving once and for all that the Japanese should not be allowed kitchens. I now intend to apply for the job of school chef, and provide these children with a hearty diet of Lancashire hotpot, bangers and mash, toad in the hole, with fish and chips on Fridays.

And if I mess things up I can just rustle up a tuna and jelly sundae which I fully expect them to chow down gratefully.

Edit: also who the fuck is buying those cherry blossom flavoured kitkats???