With our 100 000 yen dinners behind us, Ivon and I decided to shift focus to more casual eats, simpler drinks, and putting a little something aside for retirement.  And so, rather than have the concierge recommend something for us (the last “casual” lunch spot they suggested ended up costing us about $150 a head), we elected to go for a stroll and just go where the mood took us.  On this night, it too us to Bangkok Kitchen, a bustling Thai restaurant on a restaurant row just under the train tracks near The Imperial.  There, we enjoyed some pretty good pork skewers and fried fish, a less sweet version of pad thai than the one I’m used to back home (according to Ivon who worked at a restaurant back in the day, many North American places prepare pad thai with ketchup), and a very good green chicken curry with sticky rice.  Then, for dessert, we had two Moscow Mules and a couple of Kishi-san’s special cocktails at Star Bar.

We wandered about the streets of Ginza for a while and, as usual, were approached by guys trying to hustle us into some of the local clubs. 

“For five thousand yen each, you can go to the club,”one guy explained on our first night.  “In the club, a girl will talk to you.” 

Naturally, the prospect of a real live girl talking to me for only fifty bucks sounded great, but in the end I figured I’d put the money to more practical use.   Like booze and macarons.  Anyway, we ended up declining – as we always do – and the hustlers always react – like they always do.  No, they don’t continue their hard sell.  Nor do they curse you.  Nor do they quickly move on to their next mark.  That would be so un-Japanese.  Instead, the moment you say not thanks, they immediately apologize and bow as though they’ve done something to offend, continuing to to mutter whispered apologies as you walk off into the night.  Half the time I feel so bad, I want to run back and tell them all is forgiven and, hell, you only live once so why not spend five thousand yen on some girl to feign interest in what you have to say.

Ginza at night

The next morning, we had a sushi lunch near the hotel (the same chain restaurant we’d enjoyed previously but far inferior to their Tsukiji Market counterpart), then headed off to Ivon’s chosen “Destination of the Day”: the Ueno Zoo!

Oishii fugu! I think.
The crowded streets of Ueno where I scored some awesome novelty gifts for Christmas. I would've picked up one of those flashy green leather jackets with the dragon on the back but Ivon wouldn't stop. Apparently, he didn't want to keep the giant panda waiting.
We stopped to catch some baseball action. I used to hate to play it as a good and now hate to watch it as an adult. Ivon, however, used to play (first base) and enjoys the game's glacial pace.
Interesting police box. It almost looks like a samurai helmet.
This guy wowed the crowd by blowing up balloons with his nose. I may steal his act and take it to Stanley Park.

Eventually, we reached the zoo.  Ivon could hardly contain his excitement at the prospect of seeing that giant panda.  We bought our tickets and – uh…oh…

To his credit, Ivon did not burst into tears on the spot and, instead, shifted all that excitement to the prospect of seeing the polar bears, a noble and no less worthy substitute.

Anyway, we walked around.  Saw a bunch of animals.  Snapped a bunch of pictures.  I found it all rather depressing.  Until I saw the snow monkeys!

After which I got all bummed out again.  Not even a bunch of belligerent kangaroos could cheer me up.

Ultimately, our outing proved equally depressing for Ivon once he discovered that there would be no polar bears either.  Nevertheless, my buddy made do –

Tomorrow = our worst meal yet! 

Followed by one even worse!

42 thoughts on “December 20, 2010: Tokyo Travel Day #14! Bangkok Kitchen! Our day at the Ueno Zoo!

  1. This trip seems to be taking a turn for the worse. I’m hoping for a last great day! Before the return to even more depressing circumstances at home.

  2. Hello Joe.

    Ya know, one of my favorite players hails from Japan: Hideki Matsui. I saw him play for the Trenton Thunder (NY’s AA affiliate) when he rehabed his wrist injury. How was the game? Did Ivon see any players who might become future stars?

    I have seen one of the players on my local minor league team here in Jersey go to the NY Mets so there is certainly a lot of talent in the minors, and Japan has many great players.

    Best wishes for the rest of your vacation.


    Ps. How is Jelly doing back home?

  3. “…you only live once so why not spend five thousand yen on some girl to feign interest in what you have to say.”

    Wait. All this time here and I could have been gettin’ PAID???!!!



  4. well, at least you’ll soon be back with your girl Jelly. And maybe the worst meals will be like the flicks MSFT3K reviews. So aweful they are funny. As long as they’re not so aweful you get some gastro intestional problems. Anyways, one more day of work, then off for most of the Christmas weekend.
    Hope the last day and hours in the far east go well and thanks for sharing.

  5. I remember restaurant row under the tracks! I had a wonderful meal in a kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi place somewhere along there ages ago when staying at the Imperial Hotel.

    Hey, the Ueno shops look like fun and although there was no panda, at least you got snow monkeys! Not a total loss.

    Sorry that your meals have been so bleh. Or overpriced. Or poorly served. ??? how can you know your meal tomorrow will be the worst? Airline food?

    @das: Chapter 47. Yep, things get worse.

  6. Pity you didn’t get a ride to the Zoo in that Rolls. If you ever get down to San Diego, there are Polar Bears, Pandas and Koalas there.

    It looks like it’s a bit expensive to eat out in Tokyo. How are the prices at fast food restaurants like McDonalds, or do they not have any of those near where you are staying?


  7. Just heard about the cancellation. That’s a real bummer. The show was getting quite good (granted, I’m way behind, but I’m assuming the second season continues to be good). This just goes to prove that SyFy has very little interest in sci-fi any more. Which is really unfortunate. It used to be a great channel. Of course, I’m wondering what a lot of fans are: what does this mean for the movies? Is the series going to end on a cliffhanger? I’d hate for this to be the end of Stargate altogether (especially since we still don’t have a new Star Trek series to fill the void).

  8. @ Sparrowhawk – I KNOW…Chapter 55, and it’s not getting better. Poor Aloysius, I think he’s about to collapse…or implode…or both. 🙁 And gotta love Vincent…he’s Moonglum x 1000. 🙂


  9. So…you guys did go to the zoo. 🙂

    What?? No polar bears?? No giant panda?? Awwww…bummer. 🙁 Ivon put on a brave face like a big boy. 😉

    Yaaaay!! Monkeys!! Love monkeys! Awwww! 🙂 LOL! Kangaroos! Cool! Man…that one kangaroo gave the other a good kick in the gut. Quite feisty. 😀

    Sorry to hear the zoo wasn’t too exciting.

    Ivon is just the cutest with the big stuffed panda bear! 🙂

    Love the cute doggie in the outfit. 🙂

    BTW…any news on Jelly? 🙂

  10. @ Gilder & PBMom – Thank you. Feeling better, pain is gone, and gut’s on the mend (I hope!). Just wish I knew what caused it – I’m thinking smoked almonds…which, if so, is a real bitch. I love those things.

    @ JeffW – Yes, puerco pibil has a very intense flavor (well, at least that particular recipe) – that’s why I think Joe will hate it, him with his delicate taste buds, and all. 😉 I like strong flavors. Funny thing about that, since this attack of diverticulitis I’ve been on a bland diet and have had nothing but heartburn, but when I eat the spicy stuff never an ounce of trouble. Go figger. 🙄


  11. It’s a shame that Syfy cancelled Stargate Universe,but what more can you expect from a channel who’s definition of Scifi
    is WWe wrestling?

    Can SGU return if the last 10 episodes get ratings up? please answer?

  12. Okay…one last thing. You know how I hate American Football…and how I’m not an Eagles fan. Still, I have to give them credit for an amazing comeback in today’s game against the Giants. Down 31-10 with only 8 minutes to go in the 4th, the Eagles scored 28 points to pull off an incredible victory, highlighted by this last play, scoring with time run out:


    Yeah, I gotta give them credit for this one…as much as I hate myself for doing so.


  13. “…belligerent kangaroos…” 😆 Why would you find the zoo so depressing? I bet the animals are all very well cared for. Glad your snow monkeys live there when they are not playing football. It must be the #1 asked question for them to put up a sign. “Hey, where is the giant Panda?”

    “With our 100 000 yen dinners behind us, Ivon and I decided to shift focus to more casual eats, simpler drinks, and putting a little something aside for retirement.”

    Next thing you know, you and Ivon will be making your lunch at the hotel and packing it with you when you go out.

    “This guy wowed the crowd by blowing up balloons with his nose. I may steal his act and take it to Stanley Park.”

    Stop it! Don’t talk that way! I’m pretty sure you can find a better job than that. 🙂

    I love Tokyo, but I’m starting to get homesick for some normal family/dog/work blogs…

  14. For really sleazy bars to turn down the barkers, you need to go to Shinjuku. Used to be, for five thousand yen, you could have the panties the girl was wearing, sign them with a sharpie and tack them to the wall. Conversation was optional, but the two drinks were not. I know the sex shows are long gone. Tangent rambling: I used to live two and a half short blocks away from a bar, where the ladies, um, had this little booth with a curtain. They brushed their teeth a LOT shall we say? They liked me, I was decorative, my drinks were free. I think they just enjoyed talking to a female who didn’t judge them for their work. They would walk me home when they closed up so no sailor would harass me, then use my phone to call a cab. They closed down when AIDS became an issue and the dollar began falling. Lisa and Hisako, although I suspect “Lisa” was not her real name. Club Tampopo. There must have been a thousand Club Tampopos.

  15. Awesome pictures.

    The zoo is a snooze-fest for the men of the house here (Patrick & Jeff). They don’t even pretend about it.

    @Ivon — Sorry you didn’t get to see the bears that you wished.

    @Joe: Bet you can’t wait to see your Jelly girl. I assume is still headed in the right directions with no set backs?

  16. Hey Joe,

    Your pictures show a beautiful view of the city. It is fun to see the diversity…in architecture and in food. Sorry to hear the food is going down hill. Hope you are sleeping better.

    Love your show-n-tell as always. Makes everything seem for real as I read your words. Places and things I will never see in person or touch. But because you are willing to share…I have a beautiful view. *smiles*

    I wish you wonderful surprises in the short time left.

    Best to you Joe,
    Cheryl 🙂

  17. To Joseph Mallozzi,
    I think you are not very sad to SGU was cancelled … Do you care stargate ? In France, many of fan are angry against you, what do you think about that Mr Mallozzi ??

  18. But wait, what happened to the Giant Panda? And the polar bears? Talk about your cliffhangers …

  19. Hello Joe,

    my wife and I are very sad to learn that Stargate is no more!

    By chance we have dvd.

    But is it still possible to have those two movies of yours Atlantis and SG 1 ?

  20. Snow monkeys, cute, Ivon and Panda, even cuter, but please -please no nose balloons.
    Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  21. I am sorry to find out about SGU. Even though I did not watch, I still wished it luck. The way SyFy and MGM have done is why I quit watching SYFy.

  22. I hope MGM and Spyglass will green light the movies. They and SyFy have promised fans. I hope they do not disappoint the fans.

  23. Hey, now, I have 1 of those green leather dragon jackets. Its awesome.

    Meant to comment before, but those are hella sized snowflakes in your Tokyo pix. Amazing melt rate.

  24. What was unfortunate to see was the cannibalism coming from fans of the prior style Stargate shows who seemed to want only a never ending repetion of the same formula. I will miss SGU especially now that we’ll not get to see the progression of the main arc (which strangely parallels a recent science). Here’s hoping we can get at least a couple or more SGU movies to wrap up the arc.

  25. Hello!!!

    ça va bien Joseph? moi super!!! Je passe d’agréables moments en famille et entre amis..ça fait plaisir! Je vois que vous aussi vous vous amusez bien :)…donc,tout va bien dans le meilleur des monde..=P

    Je vous envois pleins de gros bisous 🙂
    A bientôt,
    anais 😉

  26. From the Q&A on this blog with Erika Kennair:

    “How important is the Stargate franchise for Syfy channel?”

    “EK: The Stargate franchise is extremely important as it’s our longest running franchise, and it is pure science fiction.”

    I guess it’s not that important!

  27. I really have enjoyed your vacation pictures! Honestly, I can say I’ve never seen a dog wear a hat before.

    Thanks for sharing the memories with us! How many more days in Japan do you have?

    I’ve been to Hot Springs, AR. Funny line from Hubby: The suitcase is not a Tardis….

    Picture from Hot Springs: http://twitpic.com/3hlz5e
    It’s nice that not all communities have cut down their X-mas light displays.

    Das: I’m glad you are feeling better. Which novel are you on?

  28. I hope you realize that your poor review of the ristorante honda probably got that guy fired and forced him to commit seppuku. Way to go guys.

  29. Also have you ever been to that famous intersection they always have in movies? The one that you can also cross diagonally.

  30. @ Das

    thanks so much for making me spew coke out of my nose!!

    (um, that would be the drink, not the powder!) 😀

  31. Bummer for Ivon on the Giant Panda. 🙁 It would have been on my list too if I was over there…or if I ever had time while in China to actually visit a zoo!
    ummm…and on baseball…. 🙂 “I used to hate to play it as a good and now hate to watch it as an adult.” soooooooo you were actually “good” before you became an adult? 😉 😀 (that gave me giggles)
    I like those pics of Ginza at night. I swear if I ever ended up there I would have to go to the Star Bar! I’m not a foodie but would definitely be interested in trying out some of those drinks! 🙂

  32. To Erika Kennair

    If the Franchise is important to SyFy do something to keep it like supporting the SGA and SG1 movies green light and do not thumb your noses at the fans.

  33. I agree with you Antonio. Plus they have thumbed their noses up at the fans.

  34. Giant pandas? Is it some sort of wild myth that the zoo is trying to dispel or are there really giant pandas at the zoo?

  35. @ ladyhgiggle Niiiice catch! That’s my girl! Auntie Social taught you well. 😀


    PS. EVERYthing gives you the giggles! 😉

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