Month: December 2017

Some nights in Bangkok

Even though hangover 2 is on Netflix I did not watch it to prepare for Bangkok. Actually, I did not prepare at all. I planned to read up on Bangkok in Hong Kong or the flight over. But Hong Kong was such a rush with so any things to do and so many great people to do things with that I never found the time to read.

On the 20th I had to get up at 4;45 to catch a cab with Alex to the airport. Unfortunately the first bus runs at 5:15 and takes at least 45, but more like 60+ minutes to the airport. And my luggage drop off closed at 6:55, Alex even earlier at 6:35. The night before I had Korean food, dumplings, and Macanese food, which proved to be not the perfect combination, especially combined with less than 4 hours of sleep. So I went nauseous and tired to the airport. The line at the luggage drop of was huge, Hong Kong airlines was not the most efficient company in processing check ins and drop offs. So I waited for more than 45 minutes, until rather exactly 6:55, to drop my backpack. The gate was one of the very last gates with boarding starting at 7:25 and the time from check in to the gate being 20-30 min including a train ride. So I hurried through security, passport control, and train ride to arrive just in time for boarding. However, in my condition I was not in the mood for reading up on Bangkok, so I decided to wing it and hoped that Corinna knows what to do.

I arrived on time in Bangkok, bought my SIM card, and headed towards our airbnb guest house. I met Corinna at the Skytrain station and we started to look for our guesthouse. We walked straight to the street that was shown on google maps and ended up in the middle of a little side street full of street food. Unable to find the correct house we asked one of the ladies who sold food, but she wasn’t able to help us. But she pointed us into the opposite direction, as the street is quite long and continues on the other side of the highway. We walked back and then finally found the guest house, so we dropped backpacks and went back to the other end of the street to get some food. My first Thai food was fried rice with pork and basil, which was perfectly spicy even though I ordered only little spicy. We continued walking along the small streets to discover more street food and small restaurants, all filled with local people who were on their lunch brake. As far as I could see, we were the only westerners around.

In the evening we had our guided tour “hidden gems of Bangkok”, which started strictly speaking not in Bangkok but on the other side of the river. We walked to a small temple where we took a longtail boat to one of the more distant temples from the tourist areas. The temple was almost empty, and we were able to take a look into the main chamber just as the monks came in for their evening prayer. Next we went to one of the richest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pak Nam, as it is the temple of the founder of a popular meditation technique. The first floors show various gifts the temple received over the year, from statues to watches or other valuable trinkets. On the top floor a neon green shrine with alien-like lighting was the centerpiece. The green glow was really fascinating. It completely lacked the glorious, golden presence of the normal shrines, with their flowers and presents. It really felt like out of this world.

We crossed the river and went to the market area. First stop was the food market, which was about to close down. We went to a small food stand where the lady was already waiting for us. Here we were supposed to try one of the most famous and most delicious Thai deserts, mango with sticky rice. Our guide explained that it is very important to have the right kind of mango. In Thailand there are dozens of mango variants, all used for different purposes. The perfect mango for eating with sticky rice is Nam Dok Mai, a completely yellow mango with a very sweet taste and very tender structure. It is a rather expensive mango, why many cheap places show them in their display but use cheap, sour, and stringy mango. The sticky rice tastes quite similar to milk rice, but with coconut milk. The combination of the rice with the coconut milk and the sweet and tender mango is most delicious. I was really surprised, since I am not the sweet tooth, how much I liked this combination. Mango that really tastes sweet but fresh, with the mild and creamy coconut rice was the first Thai food experience in this trip that really changes my view on food.

Next stop was the flower market. What I expected to see were a vast variety of colorful flowers in buckets, where the florists make the fanciest bouquets for you and the air is filled with all the exotic scents I can and cannot imagine. But it was completely different. The stands offered plastic bags filled with the ever same flower heads, mostly orange, some yellow, and a few other flower parts. It was less of a flower and more of flower parts market. A little bit like when you go to the animal market and expect to see various animals to buy but in the end it’s a butcher market and all they sell is meat.
The flower parts are not used for home decoration or as gifts, but for making presents to temples and Buddha. You create flower chains in the ever same way with the ever same flowers to donate them to Buddha for good luck. Our guide bought us each a flower chain to donate to Buddha later, so we will have good fortune.

The second to last stop on our tour was the Wat Pho temple, famous for it’s over 30m long reclining Buddha. Most people think that the reclining Buddha is resting or sleeping but in fact it’s the dying Buddha. All Buddha statues show his life, from young years until his death. The reclining Buddha is the one who is lying on his death bed. By now it was already dark and around 8 pm, the main entrance of the temple was closed. But the side entrances are still open during the night, and while you cannot visit the inside of the temple hall with the Buddha statue, you can visit the temple grounds. And compared to daytime, you can visit them for free instead of 100 Baht (2.50 EUR) fee, and without the masses of tourists. The temple ground were almost completely empty. Just a few stray cats and a bike tour group were wandering between the pagodas and statues.

The last stop for the day, or by then night, was a small pad thai stand behind Wat Pho. The owner cleaned a small plastic lawn table and lawn chairs for us to sit, then started preparing pad thai for all of us. Our guide used the time to give us some background information on this famous Thai dish. It is actually not as old as you would think. Pad Thai was invented in the last century, as the king decided that all the noodle dishes were only Chinese dishes, and Thailand needed it’s own signature noodle dish. So he told to chefs that they should invent a signature dish for Thailand with noodles. And they invented Pad Thai. Essentially, it’s fried flat noodles with vegetables and sprouts, then some shrimp and fish sauce, spicy chilies of course, lime slices, and crumbled peanuts. All very representative of Thai and an ever present delicious treat from 40 Baht on the street to several hundred in fancy restaurants. The version we got here was the basic street food variant, with dried shrimp but fresh vegetables. A really tasty, spicy and fresh snack after 5 hours touring through the city.

To stretch our legs we went to a nearby rooftop bar with view across the river. The view was really nice, but the prices were adjusted accordingly. While a small beer is usually around 70-80 Baht (2 EUR) in normal bars they charged a steep 260 Baht (almost 7 EUR) for 0.33l. Maybe this was also one of the reasons why the bar was completely empty except for one other table. Looking down to the river we saw at least 10 or 15 river cruise boats all having their dinner and party events while going up and down the stream. Some boats with DJ, some with live bands, and some with only dining and no party. But the same for all was the lack of party mood. Music was playing loudly, but nobody was dancing, and the boats were half full at best. The supply largely exceeds the demand, which to me makes the cruises even less interesting and further decreases the demand. Half the boats would make it a lot more fun, I think.

After drinks we had to answer the question on how to get back to the guesthouse. We were in the old town, more than 7 km away from our place. There is no metro in the area, boats stop shortly after sundown, and buses are not really an option as they are unreliable, routes are hard to understand, and changing buses just adds more time because you never know when the next bus comes. We decided to start walking and see how far we get before we were bored and hail a taxi or tuk tuk.
The biggest surprise during the walk from the old town to Silom was that the streets of Bangkok, even though it was hardly after 10 pm, were empty. Tuk tuks, taxis, or motorbikes were still roaming the streets, but on foot we saw only very few people. No more food stands, no more shops. Then you turn around the corner and there are a few stalls, right after the streets are empty again. Then we entered china town. The first few blocks were still empty, then out of nowhere a night market started and from one block to the next the streets were brightly lit and so many people walking on each side that the cars could hardly use the outer lanes.

The Chinese night market was mainly food, and with a repeating pattern of shark fin soup, which is good for your health according to Chinese medicine, or birds nest soup, where swallow nests are cooked to extract the swallows saliva, which is good for your skin. Again according to Chinese medicine and bogus according to scientific medicine. In between the shark fin and birds nest stalls were all the usual suspects of street foods, and the night life was as I expected it from Bangkok. People sitting, standing, eating, chatting, and browsing along the stalls. But within 1-2 blocks, the busy life found to an end, and we walked the remaining 3km alone in the streets. Bangkok, the city that soundly sleeps.

Taroko letdown

The Taroko gorge is one of the highest rated sights in Taiwan. A several km long gorge, several hundred meters in depth and only a few dozen meters wide at some points, with cliffs of colored marble. Many people recommended it as must see, and hiking there was supposed to be an amazing experience. I went there today. Man, was I underwhelmed.

The closed rope suspension bridge in Taroko national park.

Last night I talked with the girls from the hostel to get information on bus schedules and hiking trails. All trails that appealed to me on the outdated website were closed or had no information besides the name. To take some of the hiking trails you have to apply for a permit several days in advance, but since I did not find any useful information on the trails, their duration, elevation, or difficulty online I could not decide for which of the dozen trails I should apply. And the publicly open trails looked sufficiently interesting for 1 day hike. So I took the bus from Hualien to Taroko and made the first stop as Shakadang trail, a trail along a river with 4km length (one way) and an estimated walking time of 3-4 hours. Based on that I expected a somewhat challenging trail with steps or steep slopes, narrow sections, and some feeling of achievement when you reach the top. However, the trail was a wide footpath, flat, and after almost 1.5hr, less than half of the estimated time, I have been back at the start. The view was nice, just by far not what I expected. So I did the next trail, a short 900m trail with a rope suspension bridge over a dried out creek. I started off full of enthusiasm, as I love crossing suspension bridges, but after a hundred meters I reached the bridge. But it was closed. An alternative bridge next to it was open, so after a few minutes I reached the end of the trail, a side entrance to the car tunnel that lead back to Shakadang trail.

Fun with selfies at the Xiangde temple.

I hopped on the next bus and went to the end of the Taroko bus section: Tianxiang. There a temple is overlooking the gorge. I went up to the temple and as most tour buses don’t go there, because you cannot go up by bus and have to walk, it was nice and quiet to look along the gorge. With the next bus I went back down to the swallow grotto, a trail that goes along the gorge with great views up and down the gorge. The trail was the old road along the gorge, quite narrow for cars, with a dedicated sideway for pedestrians. In theory a nice walk (but not a hike) if there weren’t dozens of tour buses going down the street all the time to bring the tourists to the cafe in the middle of the trail. So you walk down an old road, with a bus passing every 30 seconds and blasting you with noise and fumes. I walked the roughly 1.5km to the end of the road, and since there was no better way to get to the bus stop I returned the same way. Luckily the next bus was coming 5 minutes later and brought me to my next (and last) stop for the day, the eternal spring shrine. A temple next to a spring set into the mountains. When I left the bus I could see the temple already at the other side of the gorge. It looked really enchanting and I started to walk along the street toward the trail that leads to the shrine. Just 100m later there was a small passage I had to pass through. But it was blocked. The trail to the eternal spring shrine is closed. So I hopped on the next bus and returned to Hualien.

Long story short, Taroko is nice, but needs expectation management. If you like hiking that is at least somewhat challenging then the only viable options are the permit-only trails. But there is almost no information available online. Maybe just apply for all of them and check which ones you do once you in Hualien. Then you should have fin in Taroko.

Thumbs up

The last days I shared a room with a French guy in Puli. He told me that he was trying to hike back from a museum 7-8 km away from town, but for almost an hour no one stopped to give him a lift. That really confused me. My experience in Puli was completely different. During the 2 1/2 days where I was hiking around town I was offered 5 times a lift without even asking. From teachers who were eager to practice some English, to an old man in a pick-up who didn’t speak any English but was just happy to meet a foreigner, to high school or college girls on bikes who tried to convince me to ride on their Gepäckträger for laughs and giggles. Still, must of the time I declined the offer as I enjoyed to walk.

I don’t know what the French guy did wrong or what I subconsciously did different. But this really reminded me of Argentina 12 years ago, where people were just eager to talk to foreigners, learn why they come to their country, and send them home with good memories. It was heartwarming to see that this openness and friendliness still exists.

Hiking in Taipei

This morning was the first sunny day in Taiwan so I went for a hike up elephant mountain. From there you’re supposed to have a great view of Taipei with its landmark Taipei 101 in the foreground. After a short but steep 20 min ascent I reached the viewing platform. The view was really great and Taipei 101 with its bamboo shape is really a sight.

After taking a few pictures I thought what to do next. 20 minutes is hardly a hike. So I decided to follow the trail further into the forest to see where it leads me. Fewer and fewer people were in the trail the further I got. At one point an elderly, half naked man overtook me. “Where you go?” he asked. As I had no plan I honestly replied that I don’t know and just see where I end up. “Very nice route, good view, up that mountain.” he responded and signalled climbing up with a rope. I thanked him and he went on.

I followed the nicely made trail, paved with stones all the way, until I came to a crossing. The well prepared trail continued on the right, straight ahead small, old, and worn out stairs led steeply up the hill, and to the left a footpath went down hill. At the crossing the old, half naked man was waiting. “this path, very nice view.” he said to me and pointed up the steep stairs. Then he continued on the paved trail with his morning hike.

I followed the old mans recommendation and crawled up the mountain. First it were only steep steps, but they soon turned into a climb with safety ropes and slippery rocks. With both hands I held on to the ropes when climbing the mountain. After a few minutes I reached the viewing spot. And it was worth the climb. No other person around. Just me and the mountain. And in the distance you could hear the singing monks in a temple. Or so I thought.

After a couple of minutes enjoying the private view I continued the ascent. The vertical climb had been replaced by steep steps, and I followed them towards the origin of the singing monks. With every step they got a bit louder. Behind a few trees then the surprise; my climbing path rejoined the wide hiking trail, which must have meandered up the mountain on the other side. I took a left and continued on the trail. After a couple of meters was a resting place where a few elderly people were doing yoga. The monks singing in the distance was their boom box.

It seemed that Sunday it’s mandatory for seniors to go hiking. For most of the time I was the only one under 60 on the trail. And the seniors were really open and friendly. Like the one who recommended the viewing spot, or a lot of other elderly who stopped, asked where I come from, and welcomed me to Taiwan. All in English. At one point I stood in front of a map to see which route to take. A man came to me, asked in very fluent English where I want to go, and then explained which route to take. I’m impressed by the level if English proficiency across all age levels in Taipei.

Now I’m heading towards the central mountains. Let’s see if I’ll be as heartily welcomed there as in Taipei.

Welcome to tomorrow. Welcome to Taiwan.

I just arrived in Taiwan and already had the first very pleasant surprises. First, the wifi was open and free of registrations. OK, not the best idea from a security point of view, but at least without the hassle of registering and the forced forwards to accept the terms of service. Then you don’t need to fill out these random sheets of paper with name, hotel address and intent of visit. You just scan a qr code, fill out the info online and are good to go. And lastly, when you exit the security area there are booths of all telecommunications provider with prepaid data sims for all stays, from 3 till 30 days, all with unlimited data. I got 10 days for 14 EUR, and the girl behind the counter had the sim card changed, the German android configured and Internet up and running before I had my credit card ready. And even tethering (hotspot) is allowed. This is how it is supposed to work. This is tomorrow.

Japan travel cost

If you talk about going to Japan one of the first reactions you get is “oh, Japan is expensive”. After 3 weeks I can tell you the perfect answer for this is the German “Jein”. So yes and no. I found that the variance is a lot bigger than in Germany, or at least you don’t see directly if the place is cheap or expensive. The best example for me are beer and coffee. In Germany, for a cup of regular black coffee you pay between 2 and 3 EUR. In Japan, I found that coffee is more between 250 and 600 Yen. 250 Yen are about 2 EUR, 600 are almost 5 EUR. But from the outside the coffee shops look the same. So if you travel on a budget it’s extra important to check the menu before ordering.

Since a lot of my friends said they are interested in visiting Japan as well I decided to give an overview what the cost of travel in Japan is, based on my travel style.

Accommodation

This is maybe the biggest cost factor in the budget planning. Space is expensive in Japan, so if you want a spacious hotel room with private bath and things like that, you better start saving. On the other side, simple hostel dorm beds can be surprisingly cheap. In most hostels the dorms are like capsule hotels. Each guest get’s his or her own little capsule with lamp and power outlet, enough headroom for sitting up, and a curtain to close for privacy. Capsule hotels work in the same way. Towels, shampoo and shower gel is usually included as well. The price was mostly 2000-3000 Yen per night, so around 15-23 EUR, especially if you book ahead. Double or twin rooms in hostels or guest houses were significantly more expensive already. Here, prices were 3500-4500 Yen per person. Still not including a private bath.

A capsule hotel, on the left the view of the dorm with all the capsules. On the right the view into a capsule. It’s high enough for a normal man to sit upright on the bed.

Traditional housing, a ryokan or temple stay, is always more expensive, but totally worth for a night or two. Having to set up your futon to sleep, from a European perspective, on the floor, is more fun than it sounds. Combined with the paper thin walls and sliding doors this is a very particular experience you shouldn’t miss. So plan some extra money for that.

Food

Eating can be surprisingly cheap in Japan. Having a bowl of ramen or Japanese curry easily feeds you and costs in the simple eateries around 600-800 Yen. Bakeries offer great snacks for a few hundred Yen, and many locals go to the food courts inside the shopping centers, where you get really good food for under 1000 Yen. Eating in a regular Izakaya, traditional Japanese restaurant/pub, will cost you 1200-1500 Yen for a set meal. Sushi in conveyor belt restaurants starts at 100 Yen a plate and goes up to several hundred for special plates. But for fine dining with Japanese beef, seafood, chef-selected sashimi and things like that you look at several thousand Yen per person. Not including drinks.

A really good alternative if you want to have sashimi but do not want to spend much money in a fancy restaurant, then go to the local fish market. There for a couple of hundred Yen you get fresh sashimi to eat right away. It doesn’t get fresher than this.

Simple set menu in an izakaya which includes the main, here the soup, plus rice and several small side dishes, for around 1200-1500 Yen.

For me, I usually grab something from a bakery or a simple eatery for breakfast, have some Ramen or small dish in the early afternoon, and something typical and local for dinner. This way I spend 2000-4000 Yen (15-30 EUR) a day on food, which is quite affordable for eating out all the time.

Drinks

What I really like about Japan is that in every place you go, you get water for free. Tap water is potable and every place where you can eat you get a glass of water even before you order. So it that’s all you need, drinking is free. A small bottle of water (0.5l) cost 100-120 Yen (1 EUR), big ones (2l) have the same price, just not as convenient when walking through the city.

Coffee has a wider price range, starting from 100 Yen at McDonalds to 500 or 600 Yen a cup at non-chain cafés. Black drip coffee, to be precise. Cappucino or latte macchiato are usually 100-200 Yen extra. Starbucks, as a reference, charges 300 Yen for a small cup of black coffee. So if you’re looking for something black and strong to wake you up in the morning, McDonalds is a safe choice. For a rest in the afternoon to watch the people passing by, chains like Starbucks or Tully’s usually have the best spots with great views from the upper floors.

Craft beer tasting set. Nice selection, but often too far away from what typical beer tastes like.

Craft beers are ubiquitous in Tokyo, either concentrated in craft beer bars or 1-2 on the menu of the more modern restaurants. But they are quite pricey. Around 1000 Yen for a small (350-400ml) glass of beer is normal, even more sometimes. Regular draft beer starts mostly at 600, if you get lucky it’s 500 and I even found places where they only charge 400. But the cheaper local alternative is shochu longdrinks, which are 400-500 a glass. A can of beer in the supermarket starts around 130 Yen.

Entertainment

A lot of the entertainment is free in Japan. Most temples were free, or you only had to pay to see the inner sanctum or special exhibitions. Also the viewing platform of the metropolitan government building in Tokyo is free. Other sights charge around 500-1000 Yen, but since I don’t like museums anyways I skipped most of these. Games in the slot machine halls cost 100 Yen, and you should really try one or two when you’re in Japan.

Another very special attraction are the themed cafés. Cat café, maid café, owl café, robot café. All very particular and sometimes entertaining. Usually you pay a fee per hour or half hour you spend in there plus one drink or meal you have to order. Half hour or hour, whatever their smallest unit is, is usually enough to get a good impression. Prices are around 1000 Yen for the smallest unit, cat cafés are a bit cheaper, but then sitting in a room with cats is not that special anyways.

However the main attractions, like the shimmering lights of the big city, the buzzing life, the exotic markets, and the special flair are free anyways.

Transportation

For long range transportation on the main Island nothing beats the Shinkansen. So fast, so punctual, so comfortable. It is as if you are flying on rails. But also quite expensive. Local transportation is, from a German point of view, difficult. Several providers offer local transportation, and with a ticket for e.g. the Tokyo Metro you cannot take the local trains or buses. So the easiest solution is to buy a contact-less payment card from one of the providers, for example pasmo card from Tokyo Metro, and charge money on it. You check in when you enter the station and check out when you leave the station, the price is then calculated and subtracted from your card. If your funds are not sufficient, you cannot leave and have to recharge. Pretty easy and convenient, as these cards work in almost all local transportation around the main island, and can also be used to pay in convenient stores or coffee shops.

Since I prefer to walk all distances below 2-3 subway stops I usually don’t spend much on local transportation. 2-3 subway rides a day is usually enough. The rides are around 300 Yen, more for longer distances. Google maps is quite a good source for connections and prices in Japan. I’d say about 1000 Yen/day is a good estimation.

One very attractive offer is the Japan Rail Pass, which is only available for tourists and allows the use of almost all Japan Rail (JR) local trains and all but the fastest Shinkansen and a few other exceptions. The rail pass costs about 30,000 Yen for 1 week, but if you want to make trips from Japan to Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka and other big cities within one week, then it really pays of. You can even use it within the cities for the local trains to save some extra Yen.

Cheaper than train but also slower are the highway buses. So they are a feasible option to save some money or to get to places where no shinkansen station is around, for example to mount Fuji. 1-2 of such trips will set you back another 10000 Yen, but if you travel longer than 7-10 days this might be really worth it.

Summary

To sum up what kind of budget you should plan if you want to visit Japan at a basic yet enjoyable level:

Daily budget
Accommodation 3000 Yen
Food 2000 Yen
Drinks 3000 Yen (1000 if you don’t drink alcohol, 200 if you drink only water)
Entertainment 1000 Yen
Transportation 1000 Yen

Plus per trip:
Japan Rail Pass 30000 Yen
Temple stay or Ryokan 10000 Yen
Kobe steak dinner 10000 Yen
Transportation 1-2 Daytrips 10000 Yen

So roughly 10k Yen per day, which are about 75 EUR, plus 60k (450 EUR) for one-time things. Not cheap, but still more affordable than first I thought.

German-themed evening

It’s funny how sometimes a theme creates itself over the course of a night. Last night I decided to try the famous Ishigaki beef. It is made from Japanese Wagyu cattle, the same as used for Kobe beef, but is only raised on this island. Within Japan it is supposed to have the same fame and quality as Kobe beef. So I walked though the center to find a restaurant that caters to solo travelers, has a nice selection, and is decently priced. After 15-20 min and a failed attempt to get a table for 1 I found “Native Deli”, which had an offer of chuck steak with soup and rice for 4000 Yen. I was heartily greeted and sat down at the counter. The chef didn’t look Japanese, but he sounded fluent in Japanese and spoke English with an accent.

While I waited for my steak I heard the owner talking to a couple a few seats down. He explained that he was from Germany but lived here for quite a while. Shortly after my steak came and it was perfectly medium, smooth as butter, and really delicious. Very tender, juicy, and a very mild beef flavor. Getting beef of this kind of marbling is rare and extremely expensive.

After I ate I started to chat a little bit with the owner. His name is Axel, he moved to Japan 46 years ago when he was 20 and lived in several parts of the country ever since. Now, at 66, he decided to move to Ishigaki to enjoy the more calm and relaxed lifestyle of a small island. So if you’re in Ishigaki and crave for some nice steak, I can really recommend his place.

On my way back to the hostel I passed a typical, small Japanese restaurant which had a small sign next to the door: “goat noodles”. I heard that the Ishigaki goat noodles are famous and very typical for the island. So I went in to have a small bowl of goat noodles before getting back. The owner, Toni, rushed out of his back rooms when I entered. A small, elderly guy with sweat pants, a towel around his head, and what looked liked a walmart west from the 80’s with his name on it. He greeted me and asked me where I’m from. As I replied Germany he became even more excited and told me he wants to show me German television. At least that’s what I got from his mixture of 80% Japanese with 20% English words in-between. So he climbed on a chair and turned his old TV on that was on a shelf below the ceiling. And a German documentary about a cruise ship started. He pointed on himself and then the TV, so I guessed he is on that show.

I got my soup and watched that typical German scripted documentary about the cruise ship coming to Ishigaki. They showed the intern on the boat, the life of passengers and crew, and then how they spend their one day in the city. Some went to the beach, some went to crafts classes, some went to neighboring islands, and three guys went to Tony’s restaurant for his famous goat soup. He showed me proudly the information material he got from the TV crew and his guestbook of foreign visitors. After his part he showed me a second show, this time a US show, where a biker who is cycling across Japan comes to his place to eat the goat soup. During the 30 minutes I sat there and watched his shows, he told all the Japanese customers who came in, ate, and left in the meantime that I am a German – that much Japanese I understand – and that he is showing me his show. The noodles were great, not too goat-y yet still with it’s distinctive flavor, and the free entertainment really time well spent. A very German-themed evening.