Valencia, my home.

Almost two years ago I moved to Valencia, Spain, a city that I’ve never been nor heard of until my friend told me about it while I was struggling with life. A little more about me, I was born in Toronto, raised in HK and the UK, and then decided to start over in Tokyo but got fed up with their living system and now started all over again in Spain. And I think I’ve found happiness in this city.

This city is just amazing, even though it is small compare to all the cities I’ve lived in, it has everything, there is so much to do, even if I am not doing anything, just wandering the streets makes me happy, not to mention the weather, it rarely rains, sky is always blue, doesn’t get too cold, but it can get pretty hot during summer times, but there’s a beach just 30 mins from the city by tram, (10 mins drive) and the beach is just lovely, very long and big (that sounded wrong, sorry) and there are bars and restaurants with the endless view of the sea….and without seagulls! I hate them, they attack people, during my years in Brighton, you really have to protect your food if you choose to eat outdoor.

Heres something that I’ve learnt in my first week, Spanish people speak super fast and English might not be so useful sometimes, they eat 5 times a day, lunch at two and dinner at nine, smaller shops are close from two to five due to ‘siesta’, means afternoon nap, people will randomly talk to you with light speed, still struggling with the language not kidding, took me one and a half-year to be able to fake myself as a Japanese, but with Spanish, it is difficult (also the fact that I am asian doesn’t help). It was a real challenge at first, especially the part finding a flat when I didn’t speak ANY Spanish at all, I got lucky with the help from the internet then people, still took me more than a month to find a decent and well-located apartment.

Today, after almost two years of Spanish lessons, I am able to read a book, listen to the morning radio (con Alfredo Menéndez), watch Spanish Netflix with (Spanish) subtitles, pretty proud of myself. I was told not to promote this city cause its such a great place to live, but since there are not too many readers following this blog (yet, heehee), might as well blog it before it gets more popular. Most people know Madrid and Barcelona when they talk about Spain, I love both cities, so big and so much more food choice, downside is there are so many tourists, and a lot of  European capitals are so expensive and somehow, with same franchise, chain stores and low quality (made in china) souvenir shops. Even though my city is becoming more and more popular, a lot of the original culture still exist, such as some famous festivals like Fallas (I will blog about it someday).

So yes, I couldn’t think of anywhere else to die in better than here, I love Valencia and I hope I can be here forever, I’ll defiantly cry my eyeballs out if I have to leave, and people, you are welcome to visit this amazing city, I would recommend visiting in March(biggest fest), May or Sep(summer but low season), just…dont think of moving to my city, it’s starting to get a little crowded 😛

 

-Z

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Independent mind

Not too long ago during my coffee chat with a friend, I’ve been analyzed as an independent person, something that I’ve never thought about. Well, because I am self unemployed, I would only consider myself as a spoiled brat who moves around the world to pick up languages and not work. To some people I’m living the dream, to others I’m an useless human being not contributing to the word. To me, yes still a brat but to be honest, if I have the ability to do what I want without having to struggle with money (living in Spain doesn’t cost much), and money is to be spend (yep judge me), you can’t take them to your grave so why not enjoy it? Not saying spending everything on material, but more importantly on experience and self improvement.

I am not independent, not money wise, but I think I have an independent mind set. A lot of my friends(in Asia) are trapped in the rat race, they aren’t happy with their life, I always ask “why don’t you consider moving to another country and see what happens, live a little, go on an adventure?” They would answer “I really want to but my family is here”, “what can I do outside my country “, “you are crazy”. Yes I agree I am a bit crazy. It takes courage to move to a new country, where no one speaks your mother language, nor second, nor third… you have to do everything(mostly), you are on your own, the hardest would be leaving behind everything such as friends and family, family will always be family, but I lost touch with some friends every time I start a new chapter, it is not easy to keep contact due to many reasons, time difference, new adventure, new people, new everything. In the end, who makes effort to keep the relationship, are the only ones that matters.

Settling in a whole new country isn’t an easy task, it’s out of your comfort zone, new system, different taste, culture shock… you are on your own but not alone, it’s ok to ask for help, there’s nothing to be afraid of and not a sign of weakness, people need people, and they will help within their power, if not then puta madre, move on. Eventually things will work out if you don’t give up.

Life’s short, take risks.

-Z

Quick simple TOKYO guide for beginners

Main area tip:

JR Yamanote line (train line, green) :

SHINJUKU:
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, giant Godzilla, the cocoon tower, shopping, Golden Gai(very interesting nightlife, mini traditional Japanese bars), love hotels, SAMURAI MUSEUM, robot cafe, red light district

HARAJUKU :
Takeshita street, shopping, Meiji temple, Yoyogi park, omotesando(most expensive street in Tokyo, go up crossing bridge for nice view),

SHIBUYA :
shopping(tokyu hands and Loft have nice interesting products), most populated crossing, hachiko statue, clubbing area(I personal recommend club WOMB), Nonbei Yokocho(similar to golden gai but area smaller), food

EBISU:
Museum of Yebisu Beer, good restaurant area especially bbq chicken (yakitori)

SHINBASHI:
good restaurant area (many food all the way to YURAKUCHO station)

TOKYO STATION:
biggest underground street (good walk during rainy days)

AKIHABARA :
electronic good, maid cafes(cute Japanese waitress in maid costume will dance and sing for you, don’t expect good food)

UENO :
zoo, very nice park, a lot of museums

Oedo line (underground, merlot):

Roppongi:
the expats area, nice place for drinks, roppongi hills(nice outdoor area), Tokyo midtown, clubs, party

AZABU JUBAN:
nice food area

Akabanebashi :
TOKYO TOWER !!!

Tsukijishijo :
fish market (tho it moved to another city but I think the outer market is still there, many sushi restaurants)

Other areas:

Odaiba area :
Bay Area, Life-Size Gundam Statue, Toyota showcase, nice walk

Yokohama area :
Bay Area, nice walk, one of the first ports for foreign trade, china town(but I do not recommend eating there)

FOOD tips~

SUSHI

-rotating/train sushi stores are fun but don’t expect quality
-standing sushi stores are cheaper plus good quality
-if you go to nice traditional restaurants ask for OMAKASE (chef’s choice) feel free to tell him what u don’t like or can’t eat
-there’s A LOT of cheap shitty sushi stores in very touristy area
-order enough must finish everything or the chef will be pissed

RAMEN

-different soup base try Tonkotsu (pork bone stock, very rich and rich flavour)
-must order Gyoza !
-always finish the noodle (no worries about the soup) same reason as sushi
-share one ramen between 2 people otherwise you’ll be super full, can always order more they serve very quick

IZAKAYA

-very local Japanese restaurant bar
-food not bad
-cheap beer
-all you can drink menu
-very noisy tho
-smoking is usually allow indoors

BEEF RICE – gyudon

-“fast food” but healthier
-cheap and yum
-very busy during lunch hr (12-1pm) but short waiting time cause all business people inhale their food

UDON, SOBA

-light soup noodle
-don’t eat at store that’s inside a train station
-usually hidden restaurants are better

TONKATSU

-deep fried pork served with rice and sauce is awesome
-Omelette rice
-only in Japan!
-very smooth egg
-rice in omelette
-usually comes with fried rice with tomato sauce

 

-Z

Some people should just keep their hands off alcohol

I love alcohol, I drink almost every day (cause wine is cheap in Spain!), but I wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic, I enjoy it, and I don’t abuse it anymore, I am getting old and my crazy party days are over, so sad that I’m not 18 anymore where hangovers don’t exist. I did have bad times where I drink to forget my ex, cause breakup sucks and I was sad and it ‘numbs the pain’, it kinda did turn into heavy drinking..well at least I was only hurting myself but not others. It lasted for a good few months but I figured it was kinda pointless of not being sober every day, plus exams were coming up guess that helped. (LOL)

I had friends (past friends) when they drink, their inner(true) personality would emergence. There was this girl friend of mine who cries almost every time she got tipsy, a guy friend that would pick fights at bars and clubs, another girl would get grumpy and verbally abusive and ruin everyone’s night. I don’t think anyone enjoys drinking with people who act like them, such pain in the ass dealing with all the drama that they uncontrollably create. Some people just can’t handle their alcohol, if they knew and still drink, they need help and as their friends, should not encourage them to do so.

In china, people do business over dinner which involves a LOT of drinking, not just normal wine but Chinese rice wine which normally contains around 70% alcohol, and they have to down it, so bad for the liver, not only it has a very high percentage of alcohol, it might also be ‘fake’ alcohol, I found this on google “It’s generally made from one of three bases: ethylene glycol, which is essentially antifreeze, attacks the kidneys and heart and is potentially fatal; methanol, which attacks the retinal nerve and can result in blindness; and isopropyl alcohol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol.” WOW, that shit’s dangerous, so when you travel to China beware of them, though I don’t think I can tell the difference, at least not until the next day when that killer hangover kicks off but it’ll be already too late. Why do they have to ruin everything? Urg

In the end I just wanna say that drinking should be a thing to enjoy, a life style, an ice breaker, elegance (or not…) but my point is, it shouldn’t be abused, we shouldn’t abuse anything at all, because all of you who are reading this blog have more than enough in life, cherish what you have and never waste alcohol, there’s a saying in Asia (china or Japan I do not remember) “the god of alcohol will get mad if you waste even a single drop.”

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-Z

Winter is here

this is NOT about Game of Thrones.

It’s December (right!?), time flies and winter has arrived so that means it’s Shabu season! (shabu is Japanese style hot-pot) as you know I am Asian (from older posts), the season actually doesn’t really matter, we can have hot-pot all year every day, very big thank you to the invention of the air-conditioner.

So recently I’ve introduced Chinese style spicy hot-pot to my European friends and they loved it, also they can handle the heat, so glad! At the beginning, it was quite funny that they kept asking me ‘so what do we do now?’ Well, basically you just cook whatever you want in this big shared pot of soup, easy, the rules are, remember what you put in it, if you forget food will be overcooked, also beware of food thief. because hot pot usually involves a lot of friends, and its one of my favorite gathering because there’s food.

There are two types of people: one usually put stuff into the pot and sometimes do it for others, the second type never contributes but seemed to always have food in their bowl, why? cause they steal! I remember busting my friends on ‘stealing’ from the pot, such fun times, guess its time to plan my trip back home!

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-Z

Different views on marriage

Let’s talk about marriage, actually, just me typing about it (haha…). Before I start, I would like to share a little more about me, I am Asian in my mid 20s, but I’ve been living in different countries since birth, I have friends all over the world (kinda) and I found out some very interesting things about the topic, such as when they get married, religion, tradition and the idea of family.

Due to the fact that I am Asian, I’m in this period of time when I’m starting to get questions from my family ‘what are you doing with your life? Are you dating? When will you get married?’. Every single time during family gatherings, thank goodness my mom has an open mind, or else I’ll be bugged every week. I have friends (around my age) that are engaged, married, had a kid and going to have another, and some panicking, some are under stress or haven’t found ‘the one’ and time is ticking.

let me explain why ‘time is ticking’, the number 30, for Asian women, (I can’t speak for whole Asia, for example, Japan and HK, two Asian country I’ve lived in before) 30 is the limit, and if she hasn’t sealed the deal, engaged or dating, means that no one wants her, and there’s a term (yep) called the ‘leftover lady’. What the… right!? So does that mean the only achievement for women is to get married, have a family and then she won’t be judged? Isn’t that a bit harsh? Yes, it is a fact that us females have a shorter time limit to reproduce than men, but we aren’t wild animals anymore (also as if there aren’t enough humans on earth already). But there can be other life goals such career, self-improvement, explore, finding happiness, etc.. I don’t know you name it. This life thing isn’t only about getting married or having kids (maybe to some people if that’s what they want), there is so much more to it, and yes, you only live once, why not try to make it to the fullest, judge less and live more.

On the other side of the world, like Ireland (cause I have a very good Irish friend), people tend to get married later, and they aren’t really worried about it, so, my friend, she’s in her 30s, moved away from her hometown to escape her control freak ex-boss, to live in Spain, and she’s totally loving it (and she’s staying), I’ve never heard a single worry of dating or marriage, well, maybe once she mentioned that its a bit difficult to meet a gentalmen (or maybe just laziness…) I suggested online meeting people such as Couchsurfing. She replied ‘yea…but there is so much to do in this city, there’s always something going on and I don’t have time for that’ and she is somewhat right, maybe this city is too awesome that guys don’t matter….

Anyway back to the topic, another (Asian) friend of mine, she use to live in HK a year ago until she broke up with the guy and moved back to America (she was raised there), during her time in HK, she gets depressed while talking about marriage, I remember she sometimes just randomly ask her ex whether he will have her as his wife and when she broke up with him she’d sometimes be paranoid, that, she’ll never be a wife, no one loves her…..and she’s only two years older than me. But recently she had changed since she moved back, I think surroundings matters, in America people, promote feminism, and us girl have to right to be equal as men, there’s less pressure on the subject, and I am happy that she’s enjoying life.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not support feminism after watching Ali Wong’s talk show (it is on Netflix!), she said “I don’t want to lean in, okay? I want to lie down. I want to lie the fuck down. I think feminism is the worst thing that ever happened to women—our job used to be no job. We had it so good!”, I don’t want to work, I am a dreamer, so… I guess my best luck is to get married to a rich husband.

 

-Z

A Japanese reality show that reflects the reality of their society

Thanks to a friend who strongly suggest me to watch this reality show on Netflix, which I did and had finished the whole season within a week, it sucked a piece of my soul out of me(HAHA). A little bit about me why I have such strong feelings about the show, due to the fact that I’ve lived in Tokyo for a nice few years, I learnt the language and their culture, I have a clear understanding of how the dating system works in Japan, which (I think) is the leading reason to low birth rate. It’s ironic how one’s culture can be the death of their nation.

The show is called Terrace house boys and girls in the city, it was set in the capital of Japan, where the selected three guy and three girls were to share this mansion located in the heart of Tokyo, huge house with a pool(a goddam private pool in Tokyo!!!), and be filmed daily. Meanwhile, the hosts who are ‘watching with you’ would talk about them and give comments, their conversations are gold. Whenever a person leaves, a new member would join, so there are always six people living together. Throughout the season, people would leave and new people show up, their daily routine continues, guys be guys trying to date the females, went on dates, some worked out, some didn’t, but, nothing REALLY happens. (I didn’t expect much anyway)

***SPOILER ALERT***

I won’t go into every detail so chill.

First episodes as they arrived at the mansion on by one, briefly introduced themselves and roamed around the place, as soon as they discovered the kitchen the males said (something like this) ‘we can leave the cooking to you girls right’. How sexist, but sadly its true. Japanese women are expected to do chores and cook meals every day. In workplaces, women are usually treated unequally and have a low chance to be promoted, it gets worse when she gets married, where she will be pressured to leave work and be a housewife instead, it’s another reason why many refused to create a family than to be ‘forced’ to leave the job they like. Basically once she gets pregnant, farewell to her career.

In one of the early episodes, all members gathered around in the kitchen and talked about life goals, one of the girl, lets call her office girl,  shared with the group that she wants a cafe because she likes coffee and she wants to bring people together etc, had lead to a very harsh judgmental comment from a guy who’s was tap-dance teacher, something like ‘what you said about your dream was really general and doesn’t seem like a goal, you lack ambition’. Well, first of all he should totally be slapped in the face (I would), secondly, not all humans have a clear vision of their life goal, some have a concept of how they want their life to be, for instants, I don’t know the meaning of my life, I do random shit all the time such as moving to Spain (best choice ever made), learning a new language, starting this blog….. Sometimes in life, unexpected affair happens, and stops you from achieving your goal, what do you do? Stop living? No! You survive and search for another, nothing is easy and take time to figure out this life thing, every soul that is breathing have their struggles, and we won’t understand everything, as for outsiders, sometimes its best to stay silent.

Weeks passed, baseball guy left, the show had another guy replacing his place. Just less than a day, this super chilled out, half Japanese who was raised in Hawaii stepped into the house(with shoes), which he will be the only one who isn’t from Japan. During the show I can totally see the cultural difference he was experiencing, realizing how different dating could be in Japan. One scene where he took his crush out, he took her hand while wondering at the Christmas lights(she didn’t refuse), when they went back and he told the guys, they FREAKED out, so apparently Japanese people never hold hands (right!?), before and after dating, and before they do anything, the guy needs to pop the question ‘will you be my girlfriend’, if she says yes, they kiss, once. (NOT French style and still no hands holding)

I will not spoil any more of the show, to summarise it, I would say Hawaiian guy probably made full use of the house and took all advantage because he stayed, and that is smart, I would totally stay till the end no matter what, cause, in the end, nothing really happens. however, I do actually recommend watching it IF you want to know more about Japanese culture or you are curious about why the population is decreasing, or maybe if you are considering dating a Japanese, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, that show is addictive. ENJOY

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-Z