Aug 31, 2012 - Musings    No Comments

Travel Experience: Bourbon Street

When people think New Orleans, they think Mardi Gras and those 90s “Girls Gone Wild” movies. I was told that my first trip to New Orleans should NOT be during this time, and I’m glad that I went when I did. I can’t imagine what the streets must look like during Mardi Gras. It was already plenty packed during a normal weekend.

Yes, they got beads after

Back in the day, the whole girls flashing for beads was just a Mardi Gras thing, but somehow it happens year round now. I definitely saw some women flashing (top and bottom) for some beads. Doesn’t really make too much sense to me since you can just pick them up off the street. So, that’s what Jill and I did. We picked up beads off the street and then started heckling some guys to “show us their tits”. Most of the guys were pretty confused and probably felt like we were taking advantage of them…which we were. I found it hilarious. Hey, why not switch the roles?

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Aug 29, 2012 - Musings    No Comments

Travel Destination New Orleans: Crawfish, Oysters, Booze, Jazz

The Ol’ Mississippi

I don’t know why I seem like a good travel companion. Maybe it’s because of my laid-back attitude. Maybe it’s because I tend to do things spur of the moment. Either way, I’ve gotten asked twice to go down to New Orleans. Once was for the Jazz Festival. I really wanted to go. We were planning on renting out a bungalow in the French Quarters and I’d heard a lot of awesome stuff about New Orleans. It didn’t pan out though…too many people backed out last minute and the flight as well as the cost of rental was too much. Luckily I got another chance.

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Aug 24, 2012 - Sights    No Comments

Photo Journal: My Photos of Japan

Japan was an amazing experience for me and I would love to go back there and visit for longer to really experience/eat more. For those that haven’t read the About Us section, I am in fact half-Japanese. I moved to the US when I was just a year old and 2010 was the first time I had been back since I moved. While I don’t necessarily feel like I was “coming home” it was an amazing experience. There is so much that the Japan has to offer from the deep cultural traditions and religions that are ingrained into the Japanese society to the crazy new technology. It’s really an almost perfect combination of old and new and a little weird. I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted, namely because my camera batteries were running out and I forgot to bring my charger. Still, below are some of the best pictures of Japan.

Aug 23, 2012 - Musings    No Comments

Travel Experience: Top 6 Things to do in Japan

If you are ever in Japan, it might be a little overwhelming deciding what to do. I was lucky enough to have some one guide me through the areas and also fortunate enough to stay with family. While some of my favorite memories of Japan are of the food that I ate, there’s a lot more to the country than just eating…I think.

6. Visit a Shrine

Ise Shrine

You don’t have to visit all the shrines in the area, but there are definitely some amazing ones out there. If you’re in Kyoto during the fall, the Kiyomizu-dera temple is a sight to behold. It’s a bit of a climb, but the view is definitely worth it. One of my other favorites was the Ise shrine in Honshu. Like most of the shrines, the Ise shrine is surrounded by nature, but there’s just something incredibly mystical about the area. Maybe it’s because the shrine was built to worship Amaterasu, the sun goddess, or maybe it’s the fact that we saw a very rare ceremony occurring that day. Either way, it was definitely worth the bus ride and wait.

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Aug 22, 2012 - Musings    2 Comments

Travel Experience: In Search of the Great Big Gundam

One of the main things I wanted to see in Japan was the life-size Gundam Statue in Tokyo. I never watched Gundam, but the thought of seeing a real-life replica of a giant mech suit seemed pretty awesome, and a great opportunity for some photo ops.

Naturally, when I went to Japan I hadn’t actually done ANY research on the location. I just knew it was in Tokyo somewhere along the water. I figured that the locals in the area would just point me in the right direction. Oh how wrong I was. The majority of the people had no idea what I was talking about and kind of stared at me and my mom with a blank look. The others that we asked directed us towards what they thought we were looking for, a Gundam inside a mall, a Gundam themed cafe? I was kind of interested in the Gundam cafe just to see what it was about, but it turned out to be pretty boring.

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Aug 17, 2012 - Musings    No Comments

Travel Experience: Japanese Rabbit Maid Cafe

Maids on the streets of Akihabara

When I decided to go to Japan, one of the things that I wanted to do was go to a Maid Cafe. For those not in the know, maid cafes are pretty much like regular cafes except the waitresses are dressed up as, you guessed it, maids. It makes a certain amount of sense that the place famous for the Maid Cafes also happens to be the techie/nerd area of Tokyo, Akihabara.

There are literally dozens, if not more, maid cafes to choose from. There were the standard maid cafes, a working lady cafe, a cat maid cafe…the possibilities were endless. It seemed like there was a cafe for every type of fetish. My mom and I checked out a couple, but the majority of them required membership fees to gain entrance. The one we finally decided upon was a rabbit maid cafe called the Hand Maid Cafe – Usagi no Mori (Rabbit’s Forest).

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Aug 16, 2012 - Musings    2 Comments

Travel Experience: The Path to Becoming a Maiko

Yes even the back of your neck is painted white

When most people think about Kyoto they think Geishas. Before they become the glamorous geishas, though, most start off as maikos. The most important thing to dispel about geishas and maikos is that they are NOT prostitutes, at least not true the geishas and maikos. They are more or less entertainers trained in the arts of tea ceremony, dance and music. Maikos can range in age from 15 to 20. Any woman older than that is deemed too old to be a maiko, but can become a geisha without any training as a maiko. For maikos and geishas, there is generally a year long training session where the women learn the various aspects of hospitality, traditional dance and playing the shamisen. Lucky for me, there are plenty of places scattered in Kyoto that offer you the Maiko experience without having to train. All it takes is a kimono, some white make up and lots of hair wax.

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Aug 15, 2012 - Musings    No Comments

Travel Destination Japan: Shrines, Bathhouses and Okonomiyaki

“Hi Jasmine, do you want to go to Japan, I’ll pay for your airplane flight?”

“Umm….YES!”

It had been a couple months since a bad breakup from my ex and I was looking for any reason to get my mind off it and to get out of New York. Travel to Japan with my mom, a native Japanese? HECK YES! I wasn’t really sure what to expect, neither my mom nor I are good planners when it comes to travelling, but that’s part of the fun. I had no idea how cold it would be over there in November, but I packed my favorite (and only) leather jacket, basic necessities and, of course, my camera. It was the first time since I was born that I would be going back to my “home country”. I was pretty excited. During the time, I was working as a bartender, so it was easy enough to find people to cover my 5 shifts and besides, a lot of people owed me. Passport? Check. Toiletries? Kinda check. Clothes? Check. Was I missing anything? Oh most likely. I was more or less ready for my 10 days in Japan.

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Aug 14, 2012 - Musings    No Comments

Drinking Lesson: Hangover Flight A Horrible Idea

This is how I felt

 

Kim and I arrived at Station Guest House in Budapest on recommendation from several of our fellow romanian archaeologists. We were only staying for the night as our flight back to the states was early the next morning. From what we heard, it was cheap, fun and clean. That’s all we really needed.

The hostel itself isn’t really much to look at on the outside. Considering that we were only staying there for a night, we didn’t care too much so long as it had a bed. Turns out, we probably didn’t even need the bed. We arrived tired from the long train ride and sad to leave behind our friends. In the 2 weeks that we had stayed there, we had developed close relationships with everyone and it was kind of a bummer that we weren’t going to stay for the full 5 weeks (later on we heard that we left at a good time since the remaining weeks were mostly rained out). We were greeted by a dog, a man who looked like a retired Hell’s Angel and a bunch of young, broke travelers just like us. Our spirits were lifted. Our spirits were lifted even more when we saw that they had a 24-hour bar and a free pool table.

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Aug 10, 2012 - Musings    2 Comments

A Brief Archaeology/History/Biology Lesson from Romania

Aside from drinking copious amounts of beer and finding the little trench kitty, Tisca, we actually found some things of archaeological importance at our dig sites. We were looking for the temple area and the fortified acropolis. We eventually found one of the walls ┬áthat surrounded the fortress in my trench – Trench 4.

It might not look like much, but this is the site where we found the wall of the Dacian Fortress

The fortress was pretty much the last holding spot of the Dacians and where the Dacians took their last stand against the Roman expansion. While eventually the Romans overwhelmed the Dacians with numbers, the Dacians put up a pretty good fight due to their strategic location (the fortress was on top of an incredibly steep hill, which we had to climb daily) and their will to remain independent. We found the outer wall (or was it the inner wall?) of the fortress that showed signs of being burnt. Makes sense since the entire village of Tilisca was burned to the ground by the Romans. While during the 2006 excavation we didn’t find the temple or the minting building, the wall area was a huge find. We also found ceramic shards, spear points, knife points and lots of brick.

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