Tokyo: travel tips for cyberpunk tastes

The top tip is: just go. It won’t be the futuristic Babylon that you expected but more the projection of the 80s which dreamt of it, and it will be unparalleled (also might not stay this way forever).

Walking down some well-documented neighborhoods -Shibuya, Akihabara, Ikebukuro,  Shinjuku and the like- is enough to dose you on vertical neon, food stalls, high fashion, sararimen, shrines, crazy trinkets, nylon umbrellas. Assuming you’ll evening stroll through one or two of those, here are a few extra, focused, things to look up or under for.

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Yokocho alleys
Alleys jammed with tiny izakayas, real sararimen nests.
Celebrated ones: Piss alley in Shinjuku, Nonbei in Shibuya, around and under the railway bridge at Shimbashi.



The artificial islands and the bay
Where you realize that everything solid in your field of vision is manmade.



Radio Center electronics mall
Radio Center is a sensation. A small passage close to Akihabara metro station (35.698316, 139.771861). And an old, half-used, three-storied narrow building next to it. Grab it while you still can.

 
Read on for artificial skies, vanishing rivers and more bittersweet fluff.

Seven things I learned about North Korea while living in the South (or some cheesy title like that)

Everything below comes from gladly living in South Korea in 2015-17; also from being frequently asked lately if I wasn’t afraid to be there. (A hypocrisy in the media’s way of presenting things was not without its role, either.)

tl;dr: A Korean acquaintance told me that if North Korea didn’t develop nuclear weapons USA would have already invaded it.

Hey, this is still a photoblog. Tea house at Gyeryongsan mountain.

 

* South Koreans never speak bad about “the North”.
(Well, at least they never do to foreigners!)

They are disapproving of the regime, of course, but they don’t view North Korea as an enemy. Mostly as the lost half of their country.
(…and with this I don’t mean “the half which has to be taken back”.)

* South Koreans don’t worry about attacks, yes, no matter what the media tell you if I may say so.

People outside asked so many times if everything was alright and if the public was panicking, and every time it felt comical to everyone inside. The reason is that both governments behave the same way (see below) and that neither side is willing to break the equilibrium of many years.
Disclaimer: That was the situation while the undersigned was there. She doesn’t know about recently, but she’s ready to take bets that they worry more about the Trump than about the Bomb.

* The South Korean government prohibits speaking good about the North.

Two years ago an American author was expelled after saying that beer is better in North Korea. http://bit.ly/2yfPtdy
Oh, by the way, three years ago the only parliamentary leftish political party was shut down for alleged ties to the North. http://lat.ms/2xqZZtT

This way for more – war games and folk attire.

Taipei: 10 travel tips for cyberpunk tastes

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1. Night markets

 

2. Night markets

 

 

 

3. Fucking night markets!

I probably need to get specific at this point.

When most people get ready to leave their job for the day, the stalls and shops of night markets start preparing for business. Around sunset and up to roughly midnight it feels like the whole city is outdoors, having dinner, socializing, playing and shopping in the streets. About a dozen big markets are scattered around Taipei plus every neighbourhood practically has its own, down to a street lined with food stalls every few residential blocks.

One could speak for hours (it has happened) about the energy and character of Taiwanese night markets. But this won’t do them justice.

Indicatively, two of the largest ones are vast Shilin and old Raohe. Locals often consider the large ones too touristy and prefer more earthy ones for their dinner, like Jingmei or Huaxi street, the “snake alley” (the latter is in the old downtown and one can still have snake and its byproducts in there; don’t miss the surrounding alleys; remember, you have cyberpunk tastes). And for your literal street wear there is Wufenpu, all dedicated to clothing.

 

2. Guanghua electronics market

 

A day+night market, complete with its alleys and eateries, selling electronics. Enough said. For good measure, right next to it you have the digital plaza, a kind of techie mall. The higher up you go on its floors the lower-level you get, from flagship stores on the ground floor to capacitors on the fifth. Interestingly, there are chances your gadgets will be recommended and your new computer modded by young women here.
(Note that an actual mainstream gamers’ mall opened next to the plaza just recently; but it’s not part of this list.)
Tip: Cash might be your friend.

 

 

 

3. Temples

You are bound to step into a documentary that you never dreamt of adding to your to-do list. Only that it will be real, everyday life.

The temple and the drone (at Confucius temple, Tainan).

It’s not only markets. Read on for decadence, glamour and crowds. Skyscrapers and noodles.