Tokyo Weekend

Imagine a city of wires, of networks and circuit boards. A city where the arcade chimes of prizes, the clinking of coins and metallic squeals of excitement echo around you, buzzing alongside an endless trail of shimmering lights. This city is electric, it hums quietly with the static of millions of lives. It pulsates.

This city is Tokyo, and it is the furthest East I have ever been.

From the onset you are infused in technology, of scanners and screen, automated gates, tickets and buttons. Everything happens in seconds, and you are gently pushed forward in a stream of information while you try get up to speed. As you race in to the city, you notice how clean and orderly everything is. The buildings stand millimetres away from each other in their own special place, the streets are so clean they glow. Everything is efficient, even the compact doorways and windows try to conserve as much space as possible. Things are vastly different here, but that calm, polite static pervades the city, never leaving anyone behind.

The first stop is Asakusa, the ‘old town’. Although there is an antiquated air to the spotless streets, even they have been fused with supersonic tech. Here, thick cables wrap around ancient temples, and multicoloured lights glow from within paper lanterns. A Maiko, an apprentice Geisha, shuffles past airbrushed graffiti.

Next up is Akihabara, the Manga centre of Tokyo. Here, the old is only drawn and laminated, portrayed in saturated comic books as fantasy heroes, veneered to the sides of buildings for a few months at most. This is a land of Lego, of plastic and pachinko games.

Dusk is the perfect setting for the next adventure; a short trip through Shibuya, the busiest (and probably most photographed) intersection in the world, before heading to the centre of this sprawling chandelier, Shinjuku. This is the hub of Tokyo, packed to the brim with bars ranging in size from three storey restaurants to tiny rooms where the bartender takes up half the space. Each room is its own universe, the decorations ranging from leopard print covering every surface in one, to a fake lobby to Hell in the next.

A morning in Harajuku contrasts the wild evening by dousing it in sugar. Hereis where you’ll find the famous Lolita paraphernalia, the sweet and mischievous characters in anime that are dressed a specific way. Here the people sparkle in high-school-sweetheart outfits, and an army of Hello Kitties rampage through candyfloss covered stores.

Across the way is Yoyogi Park, the place it is said that takes on a Cosplay sheen every Sunday. Although the chances of spotting an intergalactic superhero isn’t certain, a lazy summer day in the park does offer a pool of manicured natural beauty amongst the towering skyscrapers.

And before you know it you are being whisked back to the airport, eyes shining and mind vibrating from the pulse of this cyber city. As you rise up through painted clouds from this vivid dream you are immediately left wanting more, to go back through the looking glass for just a little longer.

Credits:

Music: d’ne, “Like Physical (I Do Not Love. Remix)”

Camera: Canon 5DMkII

Editing Software: Avid Media Composer

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and you realize why as soon as you arrive. From contented to coy, serene to mischievous, this is a land infused with expression, both in open-hearted friendliness as well as towards the more sensual aspects of human nature.
Welcome to the land of the Free, where desires are embraced, the good and the bad, and if you are not careful you can get swept away by your own choices.

As a city, Bangkok represents the pinnacle of this ethos; a whirling, compounded place echoing with the bustle of scooters, vendors and growth. It is a place of fortune, gamble and luck, where everything has a price, and everything is deceptively cheap. It is a city with many names, from the traditional ‘Khrung Thep Maha Nakhon’ to the blanketed term ‘Bangkok’, and just like its elusive names, in this city the same thing can have two very different meanings.

Travel Tip:
To truly explore the city’s many delights, however, I recommend that you travel outside of the famed ‘Koh San Road’ and into the depths of this urban paradise. In order to see how residents navigate the colourful spectacle of the city, head towards Sikhumvit Road or the Chinese Market along Yauwaraj Road. As Koh San is away from the MRT and subway system, you might think the taxi fare is too expensive to warrant the trip, but there is a way to travel through the heart of the city that is often overlooked by tourists.

In order to see Bangkok the way it has been seen by residents for hundreds of years is to take the Chao Phraya Express Boat. For 15 Baht (US$ 0.50 at the time of writing), you can purchase a one-way ticket on one of the many ferries that ride up and down the river. Except for a few stations (Koh San Road being one of them), you can pay the fare on the boat. To do so, just listen out for the ticket seller rattling a box of coins and pay them the exact fare.
The most complicated part about the procedure, however, is to figure out which ferry will take you to your destination. The ferry’s work on a colour-coded flag system, where each stop will display a variety of flags, and any boat that matches that colour will stop at the terminal. In my experience, the ferry’s with the Orange Flags took me to all the destinations I wanted to get to for a fraction of the taxi fare, and even managed to do it quicker than the time it would take for the taxi to navigate through the central city rush hour traffic. Now you know…

So, despite the multifaceted aura that surrounds Bangkok, the metropolis does seem to draw in people of all walks of life who have one common objective. From families to business professionals, gap-year students to spiritual thrill-seekers, people flock to this city for its longstanding reputation as a tourist destination. Whether your goal is to shop, eat or be merry, this city will cater for everybody’s tastes.

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