Thursday, 4 October, 2012
South Korea’s harvest festival, Chuseok, allowed everybody a little bit of breathing space away from work last week. The locals were blessed with an opportunity to eat rice cake with grandma between all the extra homework that such a holiday demands, while us, the foreigners, were mostly homework free and fleeing the country!
Ben and I went to Tokyo, and we were excited. The only issue being that we had a few opposing views on how to use our time. We both agreed to spend our initial days at the Meiji Shrine and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, both of which were really great places to visit. However, it was our final full day that raised a major debate.
Ben wanted to visit Disneyland, while I wanted to go to a strip bar. We’re blokes in our twenties, man. At thirteen we’re supposed to leave cartoon mice behind and become infatuated with boobs! Ben never got that memo.
Also, please reserve your judgement and allow me to elaborate. I didn’t want to go to a strip club that showcased real women, oh no, that would make me creepy. My desire was simply to see giant robot ladies with boobs, because, well, I’m in Japan and it sounds really weird, thus, very, very alluring!
In the end, we tried to cut the day in half. However, the night before was Joe’s birthday (another friend who happened to choose Tokyo as his Chuseok destination), resulting in us getting wasted. We, therefore, didn’t make it to Disneyland until midday. Consequently, lessening my chances of seeing nudey robots.
On a side note, Disneyland is also the least appropriate place for me to be fantasising about boobs, robotic or otherwise.
In honesty, the magic of Disneyland did enchant me temporarily – I saw Rafiki from the Lion King moments after walking in, and instantly became more excited than Jesus on the day he was given that myrrh. I then remembered that I was not looking at the heroic monkey that guided Simba to go back and save the pride, but instead, some random person walking around in a stuffy costume. Before long, I was back thinking about robots.
We stayed in the Magic Kingdom for around three hours, with most of that time being spent waiting. Disneyland is the only place in the world where people seem content to be in a fifty minute queue. They should start playing ‘The Lion King Soundtrack’ as people wait in line at the post office, that would clearly turn a few frustrated frowns upside down.
We managed two rides, shook hands with a few fluffy over-sized ducks and then left the innocent world of make-believe behind us, in order to seek a much more surreal, adult, pervy version of fantasy. The time for robot boobs was now upon us.
As it turns out, strip clubs are less signposted than a globally-loved theme park. Therefore, a little more difficult to find. We were wandering the streets for over an hour, and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to ask for help with directions; I mean, we weren’t exactly seeking guidance to a museum were we? So, in the end we gave up and grabbed some sushi, and as phenomenal as the taste was, I was left a little bit disappointed – you can find sushi shops in Korea, cyber tits not so much.
We polished off the rest of our dinner and then stepped outside, where we were immediately hijacked by a Nigerian man looking to take us to his bar. We did want a beer, and well, clearly had no clue when it came to navigating this area. Thus, agreed to let this eager salesman make his pitch.
The guy’s people skills needed touching up a tad. Whenever we showed signs of uncertainty, he was quick to switch from friendly to pushy, and even mildly aggressive. His trump card was weak too – being that we are from England, he started listing all the Nigerian players that have played for Chelsea FC – this did nothing to soften me up.
The stretch was evidently longer than ‘just around the corner’ and everything was beginning to appear extremely suspect. Still, the walk was only taking us down crowded streets. Therefore, we still followed the intimidating man that potentially wanted to kill us. My mum once told me to never talk to strangers, but I just always assumed I was now passed the expiry date on that one – I guess I was about to find out.
We did eventually arrive at our destination, which, as it goes, wasn’t actually a bar after all. We were instead looking at a whore house, one we were apparently naively shepherded to by our new pimp pal. The Tokyo guide book we picked up in the hostel lobby mentioned noodle restaurants, fish markets and shopping malls. However, a little heads up on the aggressive Nigerian pimps that might try and force you into paying for a prostitute would have been more appreciated.
It was at this point that we were no longer able to give our new buddy the benefit of the doubt – while I like to think I’m a fairly friendly guy, I draw that line at associating with pimps.
We obviously came closer to the promise land than he gets most tourists though, so it took a couple of minutes to shake him off. He pulled a poster of a woman revealing her breast from the wall, shoved it in our faces and exclaimed, “You are telling me you don’t want this?” The guy was well and truly barking up the wrong tree now. All I’ve been after tonight was some bog-standard robot boobies. While Ben, well, he is more of a Mickey Mouse kind of guy.
I tried to claim that I was married, which I quickly realised wasn’t exactly the right approach to take with a pimp, they’re hardly driven on morals, are they? My feeble attempt just meant that he would switch tactics and start pushing me to ‘try something new’.
Money. That is what this all boiled down to, he wants my green. I informed him that I am poor, which thankfully hit home harder than any faithful husband spiel was ever going to. That poster was then back on the wall faster than you can say ‘exploitative scumbag’ and we were being ushered to the door.
We stepped out of the entrance way, allowing a greater view of the entire street – and what did we happen to see? Oh, only the bloody ‘robot restaurant’ situated right next door! We were two hours too late for the show I so desired, but frankly, having more of an understanding of the kind of street it was located on, significantly lessened my eagerness anyway.
We both agreed that we needed a beer, also concurring that it would be far away from here.
We must have been approached by a further three or four Nigerian men during our pursuit for a return to normality. That said, not all of which were selling that particular service – one bloke simply said, “All holes, ¥20,000.” He was obviously just an innocent bloke offering a golf package. Although, he won’t get many takers at that price, I wouldn’t have thought.
We finally got away from the perverse of Tokyo, had a lovely beer and finished our night watching some Japanese wrestling on the TV in the bar.
The story’s moral – continue not trusting strangers way into your twenties, because they may well just turn out to be a pimp.