Photo Friday: Toilet Signs Of Japan, Sydney & Bangkok

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That Japanese toilet may look standard, but it’s far from it. It heats your bum up when you’re cold and plays music to drown out the sound of your shit dropping. Genius!

This past winter, I traveled for two months in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and a short stopover in Bangkok.

Japan and Bangkok had creative signs, while the places I visited in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines were less entertaining.

Japan


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Selfies 4 Eva

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I sense a lot of pink in these Japanese toilets. Tough on the gender roles, maybe?

*Bonus from Japan*

How to use a toilet:

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Sydney


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The Customs House in Sydney

Bangkok


 

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Love toilet signs as much as I do? Don’t miss pictures of toilet signs taken in the Australian outback, Southeast Asia and the Camino de Santiago.


Featured photo: Toilets in the Oslo, Norway airport. Can you feel the sleekness? 

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Character Tuesday: The Happiest Yoga Instructor

I took my camera to Abbotsford Convent on afternoon last fall in Melbourne. Practicing photography with my friends, we sat down to eat at Lentils As Anything, a vegan, pay-what-you-can buffet restaurant. The staff, who are all volunteers, are all ages and backgrounds, but often backpackers dressed in colorful, vintage clothes.

One waiter (pictured above) saw me taking photos and, despite his busy shift, posed for several shots. He was from Japan, but I can’t remember his name. After he posed, he invited us to his weekly pay-what-you-can yoga class on the lawn in the same convent. He smiled calmly as he walked with a lightness in his step and made each person feel welcome in his space.

The next week, I went back for his yoga class. When I looked around for me, the other volunteers told me he was at an immigration appointment. The next week, I left Melbourne, so I never got to his class.

This post is part of weekly series titled Character Tuesday, where every Tuesday I bring you a story about (a) unique individual(s) I’ve encountered. Like I always say, life can be good or bad, but as long as it’s entertaining, that’s all you need. This series is meant to celebrate our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

 

What I Did In…Queenstown, New Zealand & Around

 Queenstown, New Zealand & Around


Resources

Doll Poupee’s New Zealand Guides have stunning photographs and videos, and itineraries.

Official Queenstown, New Zeland site’s walks and hikes.

The NZ Tourism Vineyard directory. There are some beautiful vineyards a few minutes outside of Queenstown. Even if you don’t drink, they’re great for hiking.

Accommodation

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View from the Airbnb.

Airbnb
A beautiful apartment with big glass windows and a balcony overlooking the town and the Wakatipu Lake. Find out what other apartments are available for rent in Queenstown here.

EAT, EAT, EAT

Beespoke Kitchen (9 Isle street, Queenstown)
Awarded the best café in New Zealand. Healthy, chic and innovative modern Australian/New Zealand fusions. Excellent hot drinks. We thought it a bit overrated, however. Try the pumpkin soup.

Fergburger (42 Shotover St, Queenstown)
Lines out the door for these hamburgers. Order takeaway or get there extremely early to avoid the crowds. Extremely overrated.

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So famous it’s bad. Literally, it wasn’t a good burger.

Patagonia Chocolates (50 Beach St, Queenstown)
Insanely expensive, but insanely delicious-looking desserts created by two Argentines. Find your alfajors and Argentine backpackers here (to my delight).

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Too bad I didn’t want to spend $5 on a cookie!

Cookie Time (18 Camp Street, Queenstown)
You can’t walk past here with the urge to be ten years old and eat the bowl of cookie dough before it gets put into the oven. But those are just the smells. The finished product was, most depressingly, not as inspiring. My homemade Tollhouse cookies are much more delicious.

What I did

Milford Sound
Took a day trip with Real Journeys from Queenstown. With its impressive waterfalls and piercing colors, this is a must-see. The only downside was being in a tour bus for five hours and our anal guide wouldn’t stop to go to the bathroom.

Around Queenstown

Arrowtown
Ate at The Chop Shop Food Merchants (Arrow Ln, Arrowtown), another healthy modern fusion restaurant. Saw the Lake Country Museum, but only the free ANZAC exhibit. Drank local craft beers and met locals at Fork and Tap (51 Buckingham St, Arrowtown).

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Yummy meal at The Chop Shop in Arrowtown.

Dunedin
That’s pronounced Du-need-in, not Dun-a-din, for all the confused out there. We made a brief stop in Dunedin to see architecture. Spent time in the extensive and impressive Botanic Gardens. Ate at The Reef (333 George Street, Dunedin) a seafood restaurant. Walked up the Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world and subsequently couldn’t stop looking at my step and stair count on my health app. Stayed at The Sahara Guest House (619 George Street, Dunedin), a refurbished Victorian house that might have been the filming location for multiple murder films. Great staff, though.

Lawrence
Ate at 26 on Ross (26 Ross Place, Dunedin) for an insanely good chorizo and bacon melt. Beautifully presented and top quality brunch items.

 

& more…

My dad really loved these donuts (pictured below) and he wouldn’t stop talking about them during our road trip.

naptimewithyasmine-qt22Also ate at The Wobbly Goat Cafe (17 Holyhead St, Outram, Dunedin) on our drive to Dunedin, where we got a glimpse of small town New Zeland life. Alexandra had a fish and chips shop on the main street that my father was a great fan of (I didn’t try it) and we got the chance to see their local and organic foods and crafts markets.

 

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My sister admires the view in Milford Sound.

Featured photo: the official photo of the “What I did in…” series. Taken at Sunshine Juice in Tokyo, Japan.

“What I did in…,” is a new series where I aim to detail some of the most fun (or worst, if I want to warn you) activities, eateries and places to stay. I might also give helpful resources I used to prepare, if applicable. This isn’t meant to serve as a an all-encompassing travel guide, but merely an example of some of the possibilities for that destination. 

Photo Friday: Toilet Signs Of The Outback: Stuart Highway

Toilets in the outback were few and far between. After all, often buildings and people were few and far between. When they did come along, though, the toilets signs we saw had personality. With the exception of bathrooms around Uluru, the figures on the toilet signs were of white Australians, playing off of the ‘sheilas’ and ‘blokes’ theme. Maybe it was the image of the rough and tough outback explorer that sold well to the tourists, or maybe it was a deliberate political decision to ignore the original residents of those areas.

In northern Queensland, the toilet signs were typical.

Heading towards Alice Springs and Uluru, they began to gain more character.

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Going north towards Darwin, the toilet signs were more tourist-oriented.

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Interesting in other toilet signs? Check out toilet signs of Southeast Asia and the Camino de Santiago

Interested in other stories of the outback? Read about the best roadside pub barman, naughty signs in the outback, and how Erin escaped from the job from hell


Featured photo: toilet sign at Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock.

Character Tuesday: A Phone Repair Man, A 1975 Date Stamp and A Lot Of Flirtation

Yasmine’s note: It’s been a long time since I’ve written my weekly post “Character Tuesday.” My three months at the mine filled me with so many personalities it was hard to keep track of, and even harder to imagine writing about them (but you can read overviews of them on the series Mine Camp Diaries). There was still one, a Filipino phone repairman, who stands out among the rest. Maybe it’s because I recently traveled to the Philippines, or maybe it’s because when I tried to escape the characters at the mine, I only found more back in Darwin. Against my will, Edward ended up being a fixture during those three months.

The first day I met him

People who live in Darwin say it has two seasons: hot and hotter. The first day I met Edward, it was still the hot season, but because I was so unused to being under the climatic fryer it felt much more intense than just ‘hot.’

I was temporarily living at Chili’s Backpackers, a hostel on Darwin’s main pub street, Mitchell Street. It was full of screaming, drunk British people and 18-year-old German girls who weren’t really sure what to do next in life. I was sitting in the open-air common room on the second floor when suddenly my phone went black. Nothing. Wouldn’t even turn on. I walked outside and a few feet away from Chili’s I saw a phone repair store.

I walked in and saw a short, scrawny Filipino man sitting at the desk. I explained to him my problem. He told me that my phone was still working, but the screen was broken. I noticed he was wearing camouflage army pants and a polo shirt as he spoke to me in perfect English, with only a hint of a Filipino accent.

He told me to sit down and started to test a few things to confirm that it was a broken screen. Other customers came in and out, and in between answering their questions he asked me some. When I told him I came from the U.S., he began to call me “Miss America,” a name that would carry through the remainder of our short working relationship. He stared at me while he looked at my phone, he was intrigued and very obviously enamored and didn’t stop at the small talk. He wanted to get straight to the core of who I was.

He started by asking me if I liked to go out, and motioned towards Monsoon’s, one of the most popular backpacker and military bars in town. Darwin has military bases for several countries, making it one of the most unbearable places to get drunk. You’re just trying to dance when an 18-year-old, 5’2” bald American tries to flirt with you by screaming into your eardrum over the pounding music. “Why don’t you find a German girl your own age,” I’m tempted to say.

Edward was still examining my phone when asked me if I liked movies. Asking someone if they like movies is a like asking if someone likes music, or if they like to eat. Of course. Even if someone isn’t a movie buff, they at least have a movie from their childhood that brings them good memories, or if they’re from the U.S. have probably watched movies socially.

“I like superman,” he said, “I can be your superman.” I laughed, unsure of what other kind of reaction a statement like that warrants. I could have said “thank you,” but that’s a bit too acknowledging of what he had to say.

“Give me a half hour and I’ll fix it, Miss America,” he said. “It’ll be $130 but if you decide now I’ll give you a discount.”

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“Everything is very expensive.” That’s how I feel about Edward’s phone repair prices. Photo taken in Spain in April 2015. 

“Okay, thanks,” I said, “I’ll be back in a bit.”

In his closing line before I walked out, he referred to himself again as “superman” and made some sort of comment that communicated he was my superman and could do anything for me. Thank you, because I needed one.

When I came back a half hour later, I was halfway nervous he had looked through all my photos. There wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, but it’s just weird. It’s like knowing someone robbed your house when you were asleep. I would know how creepy that is, because it’s happened to me.

If when I dropped off my phone Edward was hinting at romantic interest, when I picked it up, he was showing complete honesty.

“Let’s go see a movie together,” he said, “We both love movies.” Even though it still pains me to turn people down (I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings), I’ve had enough feminist education to know that dancing around the subject and saying “maybe” isn’t benefitting anyone.

“No, I don’t think I’m interested in that, but thank you,” I replied. That’s about as honest as I could muster.

He didn’t stop there, though, he tried a few different times and in a few different ways; Asking for my phone number, asking if I wanted to get drunk. As I was walking out, I said,“You know, Edward, I think I’d like to keep this a professional relationship.” And I politely smiled, waved, and left, noting to never return to that phone store again.

Round two

After the first time I met Edward, I didn’t think I’d ever see him again. Nor did I care to. I don’t like people that put you in positions where you are on edge but feel like you have to be nice.

But two weeks after, right after I came back from the mine, I was at Chili’s when my screen wasn’t working well. I can’t remember exactly what it was doing, but the color was off, it was blurry and I was mad I paid $120 (with the discount) for a broken screen.

I didn’t want to go back to Edward, but I had a warranty there. After all, he had told me he was my superman and anything I needed he would do. So I rolled my eyes and walked across the street to the phone repair store.

When I walked in, his face lit up. He was helping two European backpackers with a new phone case, and suddenly very aware of my presence. He suddenly looked frazzled. His movements became more jerky and his eyes were spinning every which way.

Maybe he thought I was finally interested. Maybe he thought I missed him. I could see his wonder growing by the minute as I stood near him, waiting for him to finish explaining the phone cases to them. The feeling of having people be affected by your presence is both an uncomfortable and ego-boosting feeling. Even though I only wanted to get my phone fixed and spend the rest of my day doing other things, like writing or researching, I couldn’t help but enjoy the sense of power his nervousness gave me.

He looked up at me: “Miss America,” he said. He looked back at the two girls he was helping. One of the girls said in a thick German accent,“But this is $40 and there’s no screen protector.”

He looked at her, and he looked at me, and he hesitated. Suddenly he barked, “Fine! I’ll give it to you for $30!” And he threw it down and grabbed the credit card machine.

Turning his attention to me, we began to go through same conversation as we always had. He asked me hopeful questions, wondering what I was up to and why had it been so long since I’d seen him. Changing the subject, I told him the problem and he told me to again come back in a half hour.

After I came back, he asked me out again, an invitation which I rejected, this time a bit more forceful than the previous. I walked out, but only a few feet out of the door I realized my phone said “August 27, 1975.” I grunted out loud and cursed Edward. He must have done this on purpose to lure me into his closet-sized, dodgy phone repair shop!

“Edward, what IS this!” I screamed as I walked through the door, “Why does it say it’s 1975!” He suggested I update my phone, log onto the WiFi, or change it myself manually. I challenged him, wondering why suddenly, after I visited him, that it just now changed. He tried to work on it. A few minutes later, he said he fixed it.

I walked out and read the time stamp “September 2025.” “UGH!” I screamed again, this time too frustrated to even try. I let it be, and now I  still have photos that say they were taken in 2025.

The Last and Final Time

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“The end has arrived.” Graffiti in Leon, Spain. Taken while walking the Camino de Santiago, June 2015. 

Three weeks after my phone decided it was 2025, it went black again. I was thoroughly dreading seeing him again. I surely could have gone to another phone repair shop, but I didn’t want to spend more money than necessary. I had already spent so much with Edward, and besides, I was trying to save  for my upcoming travels to the U.S. and Argentina.

When I walked towards Edward’s shop, I had a growing frustration radiating through my body. I was angry; angry that I felt like I had to be nice to this man who continually asked me out despite my rejections. I was angry that men are taught they have to be the saviors; that based on Hollywood movies, women really don’t know what they want – it just takes a bit of convincing and they’ll be yours. I was angry that Edward was nerdy and clueless, because he probably hadn’t had much luck with ladies before. The fact that he was so hopeful after  my standard politeness show his inexperience. I felt sorry for him. And worse that I was annoyed at him. Is it his fault that’s he’s a product of society?

I wasn’t just angry, but I was also dehydrated. I was tired. I had just gotten off of night shift and I was not in the mood. I didn’t have the physical or mental strength to handle the demands he required.

I walked in without a smile. I sat down and waited my turn.

“My phone’s broken again, Edward,” I said, quiet and direct.

“What’s wrong with you?” he said, “You look sad.”

I should have told him the truth right then. I should have told him that I wasn’t sad, I was just angry I had to be at his shop again and wondered why he persisted so much despite my best attempts to reject him.

I pride myself on being patient, but I had no patience for this man. Finally, after a few minutes, he sensed it. He didn’t smile. He didn’t call himself superman and he didn’t call me Miss America. I took my fixed phone and I walked out.

The next day, I left Darwin forever.


Featured photo: A graffiti seen near Burgos, Spain, on the Camino de Santiago. Seen in June 2016.

This post is part of weekly series titled Character Tuesday, where every Tuesday I bring you a story about (a) unique individual(s) I’ve encountered. Like I always say, life can be good or bad, but as long as it’s entertaining, that’s all you need. This series is meant to celebrate our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Hey, It’s 2017!

IT’S ONLY JANUARY 23 AND I ALREADY FOUND MY WORST PHOTO OF THE  YEAR!

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It’s all natural. 

….I also think I found my best selfie of the year so far.

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Who, me? Hottie?

Anyways….

It’s never too late to wish someone well.

That’s why, even though it’s almost February, I’m wishing you a Happy 2017. If the collective mood is any indication, we need a lot of positive energy. So here’s my contribution.

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A man walks past a closed kiosco and an empty Fernet Branca on the streets of Buenos Aires. Taken this November. 

2016 was the first full year Naptime With Yasmine was in operation (I began the blog in March 2015). In 2016, I traveled to San Diego, Dubai, New Zealand (South Island), Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima), Buenos Aires, Guangzhou and the Philippines.

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I’m still using that tote I bought in Barcelona. 

I spent ten months living in Australia, where I wrote many Character Tuesday posts on great personalities in that country-continent, several Photo Friday posts, and a new series “Mine Camp Diaries” during the three months I worked on a mine in Northern Territory. I gave advice (here and on other websites) on how to best try to insert yourself into all that Melbourne has to offer (Examples: feminism, personal and professional development).

I failed to complete my resolution of Photo Challenge of the Month, but it was fun while it lasted. I did a big road trip up the east coast of Australia and through the outback (plans in 2017 to discuss those), where I got to see some cool people and camped in front of Uluru. Unforgettable.

My biggest question of 2016 is: Who ended up using my DIY project idea?

What’s on for 2017, you ask? BIG PLANS, that’s what.

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What could be bigger than mate? I’m proud of this photo I took last November of Buenos Aires. 

I have plans to continue to give advice on Australia based on my personal experience on a working holiday visa. I’d like to share more travel stories on the places mentioned above and more photography. People, places and situations are noteworthy and hilarious, no matter what the year. At least we can be grateful for that.

I will continue the series Character Tuesday and Photo Friday, and there’s a new addition that I just posted today: the “What I did in…” series, which aims to tell you exactly what I did in a given location. No fuss, just straight up what I did and what I thought about it.

Thank you, as always, for being a great reader. I hope you find my content helpful, as that is the main goal. What’s the point of living through a situation if you can’t offer others advice based on your experience?

Have a meaningful, and most importantly, entertaining, day,

Allison

P.S. This may have been a new year, but the highest traffic to my blog in 2016 remained these posts that appear when people search for porn: Being a hairy woman, going topless in Ibiza, and being a ‘sex-positive’ au pair. I’m not complaining.

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I couldn’t help myself.

Featured photo: Taken from this Photo Friday post about a weekend in Sydney. I thought it was appropriate, as that is how most people feel about 2016. 

What I Did In…Guangzhou, China

This is the first post of my new series, “What I did in…,” where I aim to detail some of the most fun (or worst, if I want to warn you) activities, eateries and places to stay. I might also give helpful resources I used to prepare, if applicable. This isn’t meant to serve as a an all-encompassing travel guide, but merely an example of some of the possibilities for that destination. 

Guangzhou, China


Resources

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Sunset near Liwan Lake Park

In this Pink Pangea article, I give advice for those stopping by on a 72-Hour Free Visa on how to most easily enjoy their time. This guide is a resource for those who don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese.

This Photo Friday post, I aim to show you some of my favorite images I took while I was there. I show the people, some of the food and interesting sights.

Accommodation

Grand Continental Services Apartment – Nomo Beijing Road
A moderately priced hotel just two blocks from Beijing Lu, one of the busiest pedestrian-only shopping and eating districts. The room had WiFi, multiple plugs and comfortable beds. The staff spoke English well, but a warning: be careful with the staff you trust for directions. I was told wrong directions multiple times, and once spent two hours at a bank trying to find my way to where I was meant to be going.

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Haizhu Square, Guangzhou.

EAT, EAT, EAT

Dim Dou Dak 點都德(聚福楼)
I got this suggestion from Thanis Slim and was not disappointed. Go to the location near Beijing Road (470 Hui Fu Dong Lu  惠福东路470号). According to those in positions of authority, one of the best places for dim sum in the city. I ate Har Gow (shrimp dumplings), mango and coconut sweet dim sum, and herbal tea.

Coffee Corner
This Korean-owned cafe has spectacular machine espresso, pastries to accompany and delectable Korean desserts. The WiFi works great and the rustic chic decor is pleasant. Location: right across from the Haizhu Square metro stop.

Cafe de Coral
This chain has disgusting instant coffee, but it was a great place to people watch and journal. I went to the Haizhu Square location, but there are several throughout the city. Plus, who doesn’t love the positive affirmations written on the wall? Examples: “Best of THE best/A Beautiful Day/Time of Your Life.”

Unknown Dim Sum place
Right down the street from Huangbian metro station, the third shop along Huangbian N. Road, is a place with delicious dim sum. I was here by accident after being told wrongly how to reach a museum.

Tao Tao Ju
Excellent traditional restaurant near Shangxia Jiu Lu, another pedestrian-only street near Beijing Lu, whose specialty was apparently ginger chicken, until the waitress laughed and told me they don’t serve it. I got the goose. That was interesting. Location: DiShi Fu Road 22.

PanXi Restaurant
Location in the heart of old Guangzhou, Liwan, this traditional restaurant had great food, fast service and an intricately decorated decor and gardens. I tried black fungus, sweet and sour fried fish, taro with blueberry sauce and savory min quiches, among other Guangzhou specialties. Well known by tourists and locals alike, it is definitely a must-eat!

Grandpa
Bubble tea chain from Taiwan. They say they’re the best. Find them in shopping areas.

Hot Pizza
For when you’re really down and out and want some western food. The margarita pizza wasn’t very good. Near the Central Business District (CBD). Location: 1/F, Tianyu Garden, No.136 Linhe Zhong Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, 天河区林和中路136号天誉花园首层

Old HK Cafe
Located a few feet away from Beijing Lu, this eatery is open late night. There were lots of youths around. I tried the taro filled buns, Congee and pork dumplings.

Grand Hyatt
I spent way too much money on bomb-ass high tea high up overlooking the CBD. Excellent service, the kind that makes you feel like you’re not a broke traveler. Need I say more.

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High tea with my friend Carina. We did, however, get massive sugar headaches. We brought it upon ourselves, most obviously.

What I did (that wasn’t eating)

Disclaimer: There is so much to do in Guangzhou, even culturally even though it doesn’t have as much fame for it as other Chinese cities. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up doing much between catching up on sleep from jet lag and getting lost. I did do some cool stuff, though.

Walk, walk, walk
I walked around Haizhu Square, Liwan district, the CBD district, Beijing Lu and Sh. angxia Jiu Lu. It was great for people watching, observations, shopping and eating random dim sum. In Liwan, we saw the elderly playing games, street musicians, local markets and even a Peking Opera performance.

Redtory Arts and Design Factory
I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved this space. This abandonded factory compound has been reappropriated to create a space for museums, galleries, design and offices. The various exhibits in various buildings featured artists from China and other parts of Asia, Europe and North America, among others. As the old buildings remain, the eerie and tragically beautiful space is ideal for photography.I saw the videography exhibit “Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition” that left me speechless.
Location: No. 128, Yuancun Si Heng Rd., Tianhe District, Guangzhou City Tel: +86 20 8557 4417;

Massages at Fu Yuan Tang
I read about these massages on this page. I had a lot of stress in my back from my heavy purse and this traditional Chinese massage forced it out of me. Address available on the link.

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High buildings in the CBD.

Featured photo: this will be the offical photo of the “What I did in…” series. Taken at Sunshine Juice in Tokyo, Japan.