So, most people don’t know about the struggles going on in the PI these days. There are some crazy Muslim extremists in the south Abu Sayyef in the south trying to gain total independence from the north. Bombings, kidnappings, etc… you know how things go. Anyway, I got to go there this past spring with some journalists and I really saw a different side of the PI than most people. I went to all kinds of sites that had been destroyed by landslides. I witnessed American military people doing great things, such as medical, dental, veternary, and engineering missions. It was amazing and humbling to see the thankful faces of local people who had been cut off from the rest of the world for months because of a destroyed road. The scenery is great and the people are really accomodating and kind, even if opportunistic. Poverty is juxtaposed with wealth and excess. I literally saw a shopping mall with thousand dollar handbags just down the street from naked children playing in sewage. I stayed in a five star hotel for a hundred bucks, though! Just about every major drug company has plants there, but the employees live in corrugated metal shacks built in ghettos around the factories. It’s interesting, to say the least! I hear that a lot of “gentlemen travelers” frequent the country, too. I don’t condone it, but I certainly saw it. When you have the choice between living in a shack even with an honest job and prostitution, I can understand the choice.over 7 years ago
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I have zero complaints about the six months that I spent in Afghanistan. Well, other than the fact that it was hot, dusty, and I could have gotten killed. I was always warmly welcomed by the locals. Just about everyone who I came into contact with wanted to give me tea and chat. The women treated me as if I were a celebrity. I guess that was because I am a woman in the military and they saw that as an encouraging prospect. The food is great! Eating with your hands isn’t so bad! I mostly love the fact that life is simple there. It’s about keeping your family fed and safe- that’s it. I love the simplicity of life in Afghanistan. I went all over the country and I always had a good experience.over 7 years ago
So, I lived in Tokyo for almost two years. Given, I was in other places for nearly half of that time. It’s great, it’s annoying, it’s fun, but can be sedate. Just about everyone I know who has lived here (females anyway) don’t say that they adore it. Men, and women who are into Japanese guys absolutely love it here. There are tons of things to do and places to see. I never had time to get to everything I wanted to do. I would have spent more time out, but I just couldn’t stand to hear “iraishamasse” over and over again everywhere I went. I couldn’t bear the clicking of a thousand bow-legged girls in heels stomping around on the sidewalk. I think that a lot of foreigners come here with misconceptions: it is not the fuedal Japan that you see in movies and it is not just rows and rows of beautiful zen gardens and temples. It’s mostly just a concrete jungle full of bland, bleak buildings that all look the same. If you are lucky enough to live within the Yamanote line, you have easy access to just about anything in the city. If you have the grave misfortune of living out in the suburbs, be prepared for hours of time spent smashed on the trains against drunk businessmen.
Now, on to the good things. Efficiency and customer service. There is something to be said for the quick and consistent service that you can invariably recieve in Japan. No matter where I have been in the country, I always am greeted when I enter most establishments. Sometimes by every single employee. If I ever ask for something, someone will literally run to get it for me. Even in a gas station, you will get a very enthusiastic greeting and top of the line service. Try getting that in the states! Most people in menial service positions in America will treat you as if you owe them something, not the other way around.
And, oh… I could go on and on about sushi. I adore it and will miss it more than anything else here.
So, there, that’s it. There are so many good and bad things about this place. I tried really hard to love it. I explored, I learned, I even took Japanese, but I realized it just wasn’t for me. So, I’m moving back to Europe!over 7 years ago