Things I Learn From People Watching

Things I Learn From People Watching

“I like to prowl ordinary places and taste the people from a distance.” Charles Bukowski

People watching involves observing people to get a feel for the beauty and rhythm of the community around us. It’s about creativity and using the moments of watching to try to guess at another person’s story just from observation. People watching is a thing now. “Lets have a coffee and people watch’. It’s an activity like golf.

Observational learning occurs as a result of witnessing another person, but is performed later and cannot be explained as having been taught in any other way. People watching is very insightful and informative. It allows us to see humanity in all its diversity and similarity. Watching  other cultures interact in an airport teaches you very quickly that we are more the same than different.

Some places are better for people watching than others. New York, Paris, Tokyo, Miami, Rio de Janeiro and London present ideal venues for people watching because people know they’re on display, and being seen. Any city where people dress up to show the world their fashion flair or sense of style is likely to be an ideal people watching place.

The first thing I notice about people is clothes. What is the identity they want to portray to the world on this day? Are they wearing designer logos, team clothing or travel souvenirs? Are they being vintage or homeless? Sometimes that is hard for me to decipher. People who are too perfect looking fascinate me  – every hair in place perfectly made up and manicured. I wonder how much time they spent on that.

Tattoos are very interesting to me. What is so important that they want to see  everyday in the shower? If they are covered in tattoos (which I find beautiful), I wonder what it is they are hiding.

People are art – the way they sit , fold their hands, walk, run, laugh, frown, chew, admonish their kids, fight with their boyfriends or adjust their clothes. I love observing how people form groups and how their body language reveals what they think or feel.  It’s like deciphering a code. The way people carry themselves communicate their self-esteem and their emotional state.

The newest people watching activity is from homeland security. If you see something, say something. I’m not going into this because I do not know if I have any paranoid ignorant readers or not.

The most important thing is not to get caught. You don’t want to come across as a voyeur or psycho. Be conscious of other people’s need for privacy, space and respect people. Realize that you too are likely the subject of observation now and then, perhaps even as you’re people watching today.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Travel Things That You Will Probably Do Only Once In Your Lifetime

Travel Things that You Will Probably Do Only Do Once In A Lifetime.

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

There are many things I would like to do again in my lifetime, go back to Croatia and Turkey, spend more time in the Amazon, eat street food in Thailand and sushi at Tsukiji etc. Then there are things that I know I will only do once. (Croatia)

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Climb to the top of the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument , etc. Any monument that you climb is a “one and done” for me. (Washington)

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Shop at Harrods in London or Ginza Mitsukoshi in Tokyo. The largest department store in the world is a one time visit – especially for the food areas. i can’t focus enough to buy anything. There are better places to be in these cities. (Tokyo)

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Climb to the top of some big mountain like Kilamanjaro, Everest or the Matterhorn. If you are capable of doing this, it is great for your quadriceps but words like summit and base camp are frightening to me. (Kilamanjaro)

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Visit the coffee shops in Amsterdam. If that is where you are spending all your time in Amsterdam, you have a problem.

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See the Aurora Borealis.

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Walk the Camino de Santiago.

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Take a gondola ride in Venice. I had every intention of doing this but after getting woken up every morning to gondoliers singing Volare, I felt like i had done it and took a boat instead.

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Visit the Grand Canyon – still have not done this

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Walk the Great Wall of China.

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Visit the Acropolis, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Ephesus, Delphi, the Moabs or other famous ruins. They stay the same just a bit older.

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Go to Oktoberfest in Munich, Carnaval In Rio, Running With the Bulls In Pamplona, La Tomatina in Spain, Kumbh Mela in India ,Burning Man in Nevada, Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Chinese New Year in China and the International Balloon Festival in New Mexico.

I still have a lot to do.

Fly Safe,
JAZ

Ten Things That I Like To Do In Airports

Ten Things That I Like To Do In Airports

‘If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport”.  ~George Winters

I love hanging out in airports. It means I’m going somewhere. It’s a comfortable transitional place for me. Even in the most foreign feeling country an airport feels like an airport.

1. Buy trashy magazines.

2. Try a new kind of gum and if it’s a foreign country add in different kinds of sweets and snacks. Use up all my foreign coins.

3. Shop or look. Even if it isn’t Heathrow, Tokyo, Bangkok or Hong Kong there are always fun stores in airports no matter how small. I love the tourist gift shops to see what they think you should be bringing home. Heathrow has great sales in July in their designer stores.

4. If it is Heathrow,Tokyo or Bangkok get a massage or get my nails done. Yes it’s weird doing that in front of strangers but it passes the time.

5. Sit in the lounge, check my emails, listen to music, read, write my blog and sleep.

6. If its Miami – have Café Cubano, LA – Chaya Brasserie, Chicago – Einsteins bagels, London – Gordon Ramseys Plane Food, Boston – Legal Seafood and Hong Kong – Hungs Delicacies. When I am in Tokyo I buy green tea Kit Kats like everyone else does. . In all other airports, explore!!!!!!!! Try some food place that isn’t Subway or Mcdonalds.

7. Try to guess where people are going. Try to guess what Asian language they are speaking or what Spanish-speaking country they are from. Speak in a fake foreign language and watch people try to guess what language I am speaking. Pick out the people who might be terrorists.

8. Try to guess who’s carry on luggage is bigger than regulation size and will they get stopped. Try to guess by looking at them what kind of stuff they have packed in their carry on luggage, why they bought or borrowed that particular piece of luggage and how they fit everything in.

9. If it’s early in the morning wait on the line at a Starbucks – that could take a half hour in a large airport. If I’m bored I’ll change my drink order a few times and ask questions. I’ve always wondered about people who do that. Are they just looking for someone to talk to or are they really so undecided about coffee?

10.Take a moment to be grateful that I’m in an airport and going somewhere,

Fly safe,

JAZ

Thirty Things That I Wanted To Do In 2014. Did I Do Them?

Thirty Things That I Wanted To Do 2014. Did I Do Them?

“Every hundred feet, the world changes.”  Robert Boitano

  1. Go to Colombia. Yes
  2. Go To Southeast Asia. Yes
  3. Go to Seattle. Yes
  4. Read more books on the 1000 Books You Have To Read Before You Die. Yes
  5. Go to the theatre with my son. Yes
  6. Meditate every day. I think this may be like a dieting resolution. I will make it every year. Still not every day.
  7. Do an Urban Art tour in LA. No definitely in 2015
  8. Do a spa day with my daughter. Yes
  9. Watch even less Real Housewives. Yes they are getting boring now that so many of them are going to jail.
  10. Go to Guatemala. No
  11. Go To Miami. Yes
  12. Have more spiritual friends. Now I want to have less spiritual friends.
  13. Eat less sugar. Hmmmmm not sure but probably not.
  14. Go to the Bridge On The River Kwai. No
  15. Try ten new restaurants in LA. Yes Orsa and Winston, Bucato, Sushi Tsujita, Bachi Burger, Cleo, Republique, Wallys, Everleigh, Carousel and Escuela De Taqueria
  16. Try ten restaurants in other places. Yes Andres Carne De Res – Bogota Colombia, Matiz – Bogota, Colombia,  Salou – Cartegena, Colombia, Morning Glory –  Hoi An, Viet Nam, Golden Rice – Hue, Viet Nam, Pepper Tree – Phu Quoc, Viet Nam, Washoku Bar – Tokyo, Japan, The Dining Room – Siem Reap, Cambodia, Salumi –  Seattle, Washington, Anchovy and Olive – Seattle Washington.
  17. Have ten meals with Kitchensurfing. Yes
  18. Go back to Japan. Yes
  19. Spend more time at 826 LA.Yes
  20. Practice tai chi. Yes sort of.
  21.  Go to a ryokan.Yes
  22. Go To Angor Wat, YES ( a bucket list item)
  23. Drink less coffee maybe No
  24. React less. Maybe
  25. Go To Agua Dulce. Not yet
  26. Get more people to read my blog. Still trying
  27. Do more yoga. Yes
  28. Go to Bainbridge Island. Yes
  29. Go to the Grand Canyon. Not yet.
  30. Go to a Grouplove  concert. Yes

Not too bad.  Two thirds yes. I don’t beat myself up over stuff like this. On to the 2015 list. I’ll make it smaller and harder.

25 Things I  Want To Do In 2015

1. Do something big that I am afraid of.

2. Drink less coffee.

3. Go to Rio.

4. Go To Another Grouplove concert.

5. Finish my hamburger blog.

6. Get more people to read my blog.

7. Try eleven more new restaurants in LA.

8. Try eleven restaurants in other places.

9. Go to another place on my bucket list.

10. Read more books – the kind you hold in your hand that smell like books.

11. Go to Sao Paulo..

12. Meditate every day.

13. Look up less random questions on the internet.

14. Go To Brazil.

15. Have more real friends.

16. Go to The Stanley Film Festival.

17. Get more involved at 826 LA.

18. See ten documentary films.

19. See ten foreign films

20. Eat less gluten.

21. Read more of other people’s blogs.

22. Do more beach walks.

23. Be more grateful every day.

24. Finally do that urban art tour in LA.

25. Be a tourist in LA.

Happy New Year and Fly Safe,

JAZ

Sushi At Tsukiji (Tokyo)

Sushi at Tsukiji (Tokyo)

“Heaven has no taste. And not one single sushi restaurant,” I said. A look of pain crossed the angel’s suddenly very serious face.” Terry Pratchett

I’ve eaten great food before. But all raw fish aficionados should make a pilgrimage to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo in their lifetime. The best and freshest fish are known to come from the Tsukiji Fish Market. (squid and red snapper)

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The sushi bars that surround the market are the epicenter of sushi culture.

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The lines for the best ones start at 5am when they start serving. They usually close around 12. The restaurants outside the market can stay open for twenty four hours. The sushi restaurants are small, crowded and sometimes the chefs take something right out of the tank in front of you and prepare it. I think it was still moving.

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o-toro (fattiest of the fatty tuna) was the best tuna I’ve ever had. The whole piece melts in your mouth. You don’t even need to chew. It tasted fresh and rich in flavor with gorgeous color and marbling.

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I’ve never had uni that was this amazing. I’ve never even liked uni before. Sea urchin at a lesser degree of freshness tends to be overly mushy, taste a bit rank and looks like it’s covered in a sort of mucus. This was the best I’ve ever tasted.

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Eating sushi in Tsukiji was a near spiritual experience for me and I’m sure it would be for anyone that loves sushi. (o-toro and anago)

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I don’t know where it could be fresher and better. (fresh clam soup)

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It is always hard to start eating sushi again after leaving Japan. Thanks for a memorable lunch Hiro.

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yo I sorano tabi o,

JAZ

Top Ten Reasons To Visit Tokyo

Top Ten Reasons To Visit Tokyo

“The overriding sense of Tokyo…is that it is a city devoted to the new, sped up in a subtle but profound way: a postmodern science-fiction story set ten minutes in the future.” David Rakoff

If you haven’t been to Japan you are missing out. I can’t wait to return.

1. It is so exciting. Whatever cool electronic experience or sleek new building we have in NY, they have ten of them.

2. Their subway system is crazy good, clean, efficient, on time, safe restrooms, vending machine heaven, huge shopping malls and delicious food.

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3. The food in Japan is outstanding and served beautifully. Everything is amazing but the sushi and sashimi will change your life.

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4. It is one of the safest cities. The Japanese aren’t big on scamming tourists. It doesn’t go with their mindset of politeness and duty.

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5. You can take a quick train and end up in an hour at a ryokan ( typical Japanese Inn and bath house) in Nikko and see the temples which is what we are doing. . Or go to Kamakura and see the giant outdoor Buddha if you haven’t already. (I have)

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6. Their museums have weird exteriors but interesting exhibits. There are a few exhibits I want to see this time.

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7. Tokyo street fashion is amazing and so entertaining to see. Even in this global society, it hits LA a few years later. Fashion changes so quickly in Japan that it is easy to find trendy inexpensive pieces. Fashion chain stores offer high-quality Japanese-made clothing in the latest styles — at reasonable prices. Halloween in Shibuya!!!!!

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8. Tokyo has the world’s best customer service and multi stage gift wrapping for anything you buy. It sometimes feels a little stalky as they follow you to the door carrying your beautifully wrapped purchase.

9.Tokyo has the most expansive sake list. Remember if you are drinking, Tokyo has very strict drunk driving rules for drivers and passengers so take one of the hundreds of cabs around at night.

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10. The most interesting thing about Tokyo is the juxtaposition of the old and the new. The unparalleled mass transit system and skyscrapers are next to shrines and paper lanterns. The fancy shopping malls are near small noodle shops and Japanese pastry stores. It is unbelievably crowded during the day, Nobody seems to sleep except on the train,  but it can also get very quiet late at night.

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For more Tokyo blogs

https://travelwellflysafe.com/2012/08/06/things-i-have-learned-in-tokyo/

https://travelwellflysafe.com/2013/06/11/onsen-and-ryokan-in-japan/

https://travelwellflysafe.com/2012/08/25/japanese-food/

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/things-i-have-learned-in-japan/

yo I sorano tabi o,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Tokyo

“We mustn’t allow the characteristic Japanese aesthetic to die out. Aesthetics also include things like a sense of responsibility and a sense of justice. They also incorporate a respect for other people and for nature, an appreciation of the gift of life, and courtesy. They even extend to the ability to look at the world around one, properly.”            Tadao Ando

Things I Have Learned in Tokyo

Tokyo Narita airport is so far away from Tokyo, the word Tokyo should have been left out.

There are a lot of rules to wearing a kimono correctly. Most modern women have not gone to kimono school so they go to the hairdresser to have them tied correctly and have their hair done traditionally. I did notice free kimono lessons in the airport in Tokyo.

If you squeeze a lemon and put a slice of lemon in your sake, it cuts the hangover time in half.

Japanese toilets do everything automatically except actually extract the waste products from your body,. The seats open. They self clean and can play several songs while doing it. There are actually clean bathrooms in train stations.  Be careful pushing buttons if you don’t know what they are.

The Japanese have the same Kanto – Kansai (east – west) competition going that LA and NY has. Tokyo is East and Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe are west. It is is also carried on very politely so it takes a minute to realize they are insulting each other.

Tokyo loves cartoon characters. Everything has a mascot. The police have a smurflike character. The fire department  has a firefighter with a big helmet and horns. The railway has a penguin (which you see everywhere).  All the large companies have cute little characters as in cute never lets you down.

The Imperial Palace buildings and inner gardens are only open on Jan 2 ( for New years greetings) and Dec 23 for the emperor’s birthday. Ive never been in Japan on those days.

In Tokyo, you stand on the left on an escalator. In Osaka you stand on the right. This is always a problem with my sense of direction.

In Akihabara, in Tokyo ( the electronics area) there are many maid cafes. Women dressed as French maids are the waitresses and say things like master can I serve you? They stand on the streets and give out flyers. Modern geisha culture?

Anything can be made out of tofu.

21-21 in Roppongi  is designed by Tadao Ando. It  is Japan’s first design museum. Helsinki has had one for years.

Seeing  Mt  Fuji from Tokyo may not seem like a much of an accomplishment but it is hardly every visible.

Some Japanese wear masks because they are sick, some wear them because they don’t want to get sick and some wear them for allergies. How do you  know which one you are sitting on the train next to?

Tokyo has a no talking on the phone policy on the trains. That doesn’t include texting, emailing or playing games but it does allow tired office workers and students to sleep.

Nothing is so distasteful to the Japanese as feet bottoms  (except when they are giving those painful foot massages). Sox are preferable to bare feet.  There are toilet slippers and other slippers.  Don’t walk out of the bathroom in the toilet slippers.

View is the most important thing to Japanese people when reserving a hotel.

 

Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is one of the largest fish markets in the world. It handles 2000 tons of seafood daily. It has become such a large tourist attraction and was not built for that so they limit the number of people now to 120 per day.  No heels or sandals (I definitely broke that rule). No small children or pets. No large bags or suitcases. Don’t touch anything. You must apply to see the tuna auction at Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center) at the Kachidoki Gate, starting from 5:00am on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is good to have fresh sushi for breakfast after the auction. The restaurants are open from 5am to12PM. I recommend eating at Ryu.

Sumo wrestling goes on for six hours. Luckily they only televise one hour and with the close-ups that is enough.

The current Kabuki-Za Theatre is closed until Oct 2013.  ( and when they give a completion date in Japan, it is usually correct, unlike here where they just rely on destiny). Kabuki combines different art forms such as dance theatre, music, costume design and set design.  There is a theatrical form of mime that has become associated with Kabuki Theatre. It is all blended together with the stories that have entertained the Japanese for over four hundred years. Kabuki is repertory theatre.  The same plays are regularly performed. There is no director and very little rehearsal time.  The actors have rehearsed  these roles since they were very young and should know them by the time they are performers. Make sure you get the English earphones so you can follow the story.  The performances are usually about five or six hours long. Sometimes you can purchase tickets for shorter time on the day of the performance. I did two hours and loved every minute of it and didn’t think I would – definitely try it.

The customer is God. As in “May I have the honor to serve you?’ Your happiness makes us smile.  Giving candy after a purchase, wrapping each individual item and carrying your package to the door is business as usual.

Harajuku in Shibuya has become known as the place for the most extreme teenage street fashion. Harajuku girls are girls dressed in many different styles of fashion in Harajuku. There  is punk style, ganguro – bleached hair, fake lashes and fake nails and tan (California girl rebellion against Japanese culture), cosplay – costume based from manga to bands, skaters and goth. Takeshita dori is the main street and is ridiculously crowded on the weekends.

Japanese love coffee.

The Sensoji Temple (the oldest temple in Tokyo) is Iocated in Asakusa.  It is nice to get out of modern Tokyo and feel some of the old Japanese culture.

As a fan of taxis, what is better than white gloved drivers with lace seat seat coverings and automatic doors? ( of course none of that matters if you are not with a Japanese person because they don’t speak English and you will not be able to tell them where you want to go)

Tokyo is officially the most expensive city in the world.

The Tokyo skytree is the world’s tallest tower. It is 634 meters and double in size of the Eiffel Tour. It has many shops and restaurants and yet another aquarium in Japan.

Shibuya crossing is one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world.(Im from NY and I was a little bit intimidated)

Do not even think about drinking and driving in Japan. The legal limit is less than one drink.  The fine is huge and you could be thrown in jail. Do not even think about getting in a car as a passenger with someone who has had a drink. You also will pay a huge fine.  There are always many taxis in the bar areas.

yo I sorano tabi o

JAZ