Shibuya Cat Cafe – A Must Visit in Tokyo

Even if you’re not a fan of cats, visiting this little cafe in Shibuya is a must for a Tokyo tourist.

Why? Because it’s just so… Japanese.

In a town with very little persona space, interaction with animals is likely very low. So it makes sense that this little 3rd-floor cafe and cat zoo could flourish.

One drawback…. It’s not cheap! not by a longshot. I think Nikki and I spent close to $35 for our visit to the cafe.

For starters, you basically pay for your time with the cats. We had about an hour, if I remember correctly. The price also included 1 drink.

The cafe has a number of toys you can play with, but if you want any food for the cats, you need to buy it. And that might just be the best deal in the place – Because by their reactions, these cats are hungry!

The cats are pretty friendly, but you can’t throw them around. The owner makes a big deal that if you throw the cats around, you’re probably going to get kicked out. We were pretty nice to the cats overall.

Here’s the video!

Nikki and I are Officially Married in Thailand!

Today, 12/21/2010 (how about those numbers!), Nikki and I are officially registered as a married couple. Our wedding took place a couple weeks ago, but we signed the forms in Bangkok today.

We celebrated with a dinner atop the Baiyoke Sky Hotel at the Crystal Grill buffet. The restaurant is on the 81st floor, and we had a decent view of Bangkok. However, we weren’t facing the river, so there wasn’t really a lot to see. Nice enough anyway and the wind wasn’t bad.

The dinners, with outside seating, included complimentary wine and coffee. And because we ate everything on our plates, our server refunded us 200baht each! pretty great! (I have to admit, the food was subpar overall, but the ice cream was great! and wine wasn’t bad)

Near the end of the dinner, a small trio offered to sing us a song, so I told them to sing “close to you” – here’s the video of the song!

Now we’re home, and we’re married. Time to get back to work :)

Here’s the story of what it’s like to get marriage certified in Bangkok:
It was quite a process to get registered in Bangkok. We started on Monday at 7am by visiting the American Embassy where we both got affadavits that stated neither of us had been married before. Then we need to get those translated to Thai language for about 350baht ($11.60) for each document. Someone on the street offered to translate the docs for us for only 200baht, but we didn’t trust them.

After the translation we headed across town in a taxi (cost about 200baht) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here we had to get our documents notorized by the Thai government. We paid for the “express” notorization, which cost 800baht per document instead of 400baht, but it also got our docs stamped and handed back to us the same day instead of us having to return the next day to pick them up.

Even though we waited about an hour to hand in our documents at the MFA and we paid for express service, they still told us we would have to wait until 3pm to pick up the docs. So we decided to visit the immigration services and check on a marriage visa for me.

It was just a short, FREE, bus ride to the immigration offices, where we talked to an official about getting me a marriage visa. He told me since I wasn’t planning on staying in Thailand for a full year, I should just do a visa run instead.

Since my latest entry visa runs out next week, I’ll be flying to Kuala Lumpur on Monday to get a new tourist visa. Once that expires, Nikki and I will head to Buenos Aires, Argentina and meet up with Charles Visconti!

Anyway….. Once we picked up our documents, it was pretty much too late to do anything more. We went to the government district office near our apartment to see if we could sneak in, but they said they weren’t doing any more marriage registrations that day. That was the end of day one.

Day 2 was today! We arrived at the BangRak (which means “love district”) district office by 8am, but we were still late. A group of farangs and their Thai girlfriends were already waiting. Of all the couples in the office, there were really only 3, including Nikki and I, that looked legit. And we were treated differently by the staff than other couples. IDK, maybe legit couples are just less interesting.

Either way, this visit took another hour and a half, but once we signed the docs, we were officially married in Thailand!

It’s been a lot of work the last couple of weeks, and Nikki has definitely bore the brunt of it. Thankfully she’s held up well and we can get back to a more normal routine.

I’ll have another post soon recapping the Thailand trip… sorry for the delay!

Shawn Visits the Giant Buddha (Diabutsu) in Kamakura, Japan

Ever wanted to know what a giant Buddha looks like? Here it is!

This is Japan’s second-largest Buddha statue.

I was pretty interested in going to see this statue, and Kamakura overall. This town is known for having temples and is revered as a decent day-trip from Tokyo. Unfortunately, it’s a tourist trap!

I can’t say I’d go back to Kamakura. There’s really not much serenity at these temples because of all the tourists. Don’t get me wrong, temples are great places for tourists to visit, but I haven’t been to temples so commercial as these ones. It was a quick in and out to see the Diabutsu, which was cool, but probably would be boring for most people.

At least my video makes it look awesome!

Eat 20 Bowls of Noodles in Bangkok (Victory Monument) and get a FREE Pepsi

Nikki and I visited a noodle shop in the Victory Monument district of Bangkok – why is this cool?

Because it was a noodle shop with a challenge —- eat 20 bowls and you get a FREE pepsi! can you believe it?!?!!

I didn’t come anywhere close, even though the bowls are pretty small. The noodles are pretty decent and there’s a wide variety of types – I just had the beef and the seafood soups.

Each bowl of noodles costs about 9baht or about $0.33. It’s not a lot of food, but it’s worth it! Just be careful if you’re going to try it… If you’re not accustomed to eating Thai food, you might get a case of diarrhea (I’ve been warned). I came away unscathed and with a full stomach.

Shawn Visits Fish Sanctuary in Bangkok – Wat Rakang

About a month ago I got to trek around Bangkok a little with Nikki and her father.

One of the places they took me is Wat Rakang – a fish sanctuary on the Chao Phraya River.

While it’s not a normal tourist destination, it was a cool 15-minute stop on the other side of the river.

It’s pretty amazing to see – I’m talking hundreds of fish jumping all over themselves to grab some bread that temple visitors throw into the water. I used to be amazed when I would visit Cedar Point in Ohio and see the HUGE fish that swim in the park’s pools. Those fish have NOTHING on Thailand’s sanctuary fish.

BTW, these fish are protected by the temple – so NO FISHING!

How The Bangkok Locals Get Their Drink On!

Ever thought about drinking from a plastic bag? Sounds ridiculous right?

It’s actually pretty great! And thank you to Bangkok for showing it to me!

Many drink stalls and carts in Bangkok (usually only on the street) will serve you fresh mixed tea and coffee drinks, sometimes sodas, in plastic bags.

First, the vendor fills the bag with crushed ice, then mixes up your drink and pours it in. Usually any drink like this will cost about 15Baht or about $0.50USD.

The plastic bag makes it really easy to carry around… although I think most vendors put too much ice and not enough drink in. That’s the Bangkok way I suppose.

If you want to try this, get the sweet iced coffee Oreleang (I love this) or some black tea that looks orange. both are refreshing!

Bangkok Tuk-Tuks – HOLD ON!

Took a quick trip on a tuk-tuk today with Nikki and her father – we we’re handing out wedding invitations to Nikki’s extended family.

If you’ve never ridden a tuk-tuk, this video will give you an idea of what it’s like. My best advice: Keep all your limbs inside the vehicle!

Tuk-Tuks constantly weave through tight traffic and if you’ve got a hand hanging out, you might lose it. You won’t see a whole lot of weaving in this video because traffic was pretty dead today.

Here’s the video!

Jokes for Breakfast in Bangkok

Some of you have been wondering what kind of food I’ve been eating, well here’s one of my morning staples – JOKE!

It’s a rice porridge dish made with pork sausage – and if you don’t tell them otherwise: pork liver, pork intestines and other porky goodness. I also ask for an egg in my dish.

So here it is, wish an tutorial as to how to order two bowls of pork sausage porridge.