Tokyo Damage Report

norway 1

this trip. . . . it is dildos.

 

I had to leave Japan until my Visa paperwork came through. What kind of visa? I don’t want to wreck the privacy of my friends. Suffice to say that the new visa involves a ring, a nurse, and a ska band playing "It’s a Pirate’s Life For Me!" So, while waiting for my Visa, I decided to go travel to Europe. And it was the worst. Trip. Ever.

sat-sun 21 and 22 July
go to Iceland. my goal here is simple :
see the glaciers before we Americans totally wipe them out, and see some whales before the icelandicers wipe THEM out.

the whole trip took around 20 hours.plus, EVERYONE  and I mean EVERYONE  on the plane was reading the same exact Harry potter book. I never read about him so I spent the flight imagining what a Harry Potter story MIGHT sound like. I kept laughing so hard it was a nuisance for those around me.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF ICELAND

the Iceland air stewardesses wear really painful looking spike heel pumps. Just looking at the heels makes my feet AND my balls hurt.

you don’t usually associate Vikings with swamps, let alone volcanoes with swamps or swamps with deserts . . . but that is Iceland!! Whether due to global warming, the near-total deforestation of the island by Vikings, or just natural freakiness, the whole coast is a swamp. Around the airport, there’s plenty of deserts too but they are all covered with even more moss than the swamps!

Iceland people: holy moly, dood, they DO all look alike.  not only that, but they all look like bjork:

deep-set eyes, no lips whatsoever, huge round foreheads, heavy dark eyebrows even on blondes, and such perky noses it is ridiculous. like I expect them to be twinkling their noses constantly a la bewitched.

I mean, it is weird to see damn Bjork everywhere . . . weird. that is like, imagine you are a foreigner and you went to America for the first time and there was john Travolta, pumping your gas, john Travolta making your bacon and eggs, you call the dude to  do your taxes and there is john Travolta.  I guess this kind of genetic self-similarity is to be expected from a tiny island with no neighbors , but bjork?? That is even weirder because she is so unique. Seeing a million of her just isn’t right somehow. plus, on top of that even. .  . to an American (of any race) the idea of ETHNIC white people is just odd to begin with.  like not bad, but kind of adorable and silly at the same time.

"with" in Icelandic is pronounced meth, as in the drug. So at pretty much any restaurant, you can order like steak meth salad, or spaghetti meth meatballs.

the language has even more diacritical marks than regular Scandinavian.  not only the slash through the "o" and the dot over the "a" but like 10 more ones.  that is great and exotic and whatever, but what really gets on my tits, what really makes me want to smack a Viking, is their "D". they have a slash through every damn "d".   you dummies!  you put a little doink on a letter to announce to the reader that it is pronounced differently than it usually is. but if you put the mark on every time, it defeats the whole purpose!  it can’t be always pronounced different than a regular "D" if there IS no regular "D"!!!  knock that shit off!


(at least they don’t like razor scooters)

the coins here are big and heavy, like when d&d players talk about "gold pieces". just like that, but it is only worth like a buck twenty five.

 

Iceland has these marvelous roadsigns that appear when you are leaving the city limits or town limits: it is a simple black and white silhouette of a city skyline, with a big red bar across it. It is supposed to mean “Leaving the town so you can speed up a bit” but taken out of context it looks like an icon for “End of civilization as we know it!”

for a volcanic country, Iceland is flat as hell.  I mean there are mountains of course but few and far between. the coast is so flat and convoluted, from the beach basically it looks like an archipelago.
I assumed Iceland was just one big volcano, like a child’s drawing of an island- – a triangle!

 

MY IMAGE OF ICELAND

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .@ <–me ("I can do this in an hour!!")

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .^

. . .. . . .. . . . . . . ,,. ./ . .\ <– snow

. . . . . . .. . . . . . ../ ^^^^^^ \

. . . . . . . . . . .. / / . . . . . . . . .\

. . . . … . . . . / / / / . . . . . . . . . . . . \

.glacier –>.// / / / . . . . . . . . . . . . . .\XX < — city

^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^–^– waves

. . . . . . . . . [ < ——-1 km —— > ]

 

 

Turns out, Iceland is BIG, dogg!!!   so big that the capital city is like at least 3 hours from ANY of the scenic spots the guidebooks recommend.  it is like going to Omaha and planning a day trip to the statue of liberty or grand canyon.  NEVER STAY IN WRECK-A-VIC.

now you will say, dude, you stupid American, if you had read even a bit of a travel guide you would know those things.  But I say, if I had read even a bit of a travel book I would have been so irritated by the difficulty of travel that I would never have gone in the first place!!   Even opening a travel book is a huge stress. The only way I can even get the courage to go is to just go in blind, and arrive there before I get pissed off and change my mind.  This is the most wrong thing about travel — you spend most of your trip trying to solve the problems and avoid the tourist traps and by the time you kind of know what you are doing you have to leave and you can’t benefit from  the knowledge you painstakingly gained.  but on the other hand,

 

(?????)

on the other hand, nothing! Travel sucks!


the bus ride from the airport was so beautiful.  if I had had a car, I would have been all, "Ok I am done. I’ll just camp here by the side of the road. Ok? awesome."   all these totally unique jumbled volcanic rocks, covered with a riot of many bright mosses and tiny short grasses.  plus these giant sculptures of 3 ton rocks, stacked up all over the place.  I guess this is what Icelandic highway construction dudes do in their spare time.

the hostel is totally chaotic and run down and  the room is the width of 1.5 beds, but it is only 22 bucks a night so ok. Then I hie to the tourist building which has a huge – like 30 foot! – topographic model of Iceland, all 3D style, with the edges of mountains done choppy, all Lego style,  or like a myan step-pyramid.

here is the only thing you can do in Rekyjavik: go on a whale seeing cruise.

I will say this about whale watching cruises. do not go.
When you think of whales you think of like football-field-sized majestic beasts all encrusted with barnacles. The whales native to Iceland are no bigger than a fat porpoise but without the tricks.  they don’t even blow air in a geyser.  the only part you ever see is the dorsal fin, which protrudes like 6 niches out the water. Plus they can’t take us where there are lots of whales, because then we would see all the whaling boats killing those whales which would be kind of a bummer.  so they take us briefly out into the harbor where you can see like a dorsal fin every hour, except you can’t because there are 4 people in front of you and Scandinavians are tall, and even THEY can’t see it because it is in fact on the other side of the ship and in any case was only visible for 2 seconds. I mean I guess you should go if you want to teach your small child about futility or the power of the imagination or something, but otherwise not.

the announcer dude was really too slick —like he had this used-car-salesman kind of charm. On the other hand, he had a hard job: he had to wildly exaggerate the fun we were having,  to the point of vicariously enjoying the whales that most passengers never got the chance to see . . . while at the same time, he had to lower our expectations subtly to convince us that  50 bones was worth it to see a 6 inch dorsal fin. He was all, "Yes, and again we see our third whale, we are very lucky, so nice, 300 meters away moving very quickly now, yes, at 2 o’clock, that is very rare to see three whales, keep looking, oh! again for a third of a second, yes, very nice, 2 kilometers away! we are very very lucky today, very many nice whales for us, yes!"

His whole rap made me imagine him narrating his own sexual escapades. Now THAT would be worth some money.

Here is some science I learned, which I give to you for free:

* see some cliffs where you can clearly observe the geological layers, all Lego-layer style. I start laughing my ass off: “oh damn! the land IS like the sculpture at the tourist center!!! “

* puffins only live in the north pole, not south. plus they can fly, which is frankly kind of disappointing. It’s like they are trying to be penguins but they are hedging their bets.

*minke whales:‘ the "e" is oddly NOT silent.

 

 

after the first whale-sighting-less hour, I began to speculate. . . what if the whales were just simply all gone? Hunted to extinction? I was imagining the hapless president of the tour guide company, running around, all, “Oh shit, oh shit, what are we gonna do? The tour starts in 10 minutes and the whales are all dead, oh shit!” and then the camera cuts to the tour boat, and pans from the boat to some fat Icelandic guy painted grey, floating in a grey inner tube, with “Whayl” painted on his chest. And like the most pathetic cardboard “fins” taped to his head and arms. One fin already torn off and missing. The dude is some homeless drifter the boozed up and then sent out floating. All glassy-eyed and with 3-day stubble. All looking at the obviously pissed-off tourists and saying, “aw, c’mon! c’maaaaaaannn!!” all making gestures with his elbow in the water, as if nudging an invisible person next to him.

 

That would be so awesome!!

 

Or what if we DID see whales finally, but they were so passive/aggressive that they took all the fun out of it: “Oh, sure look at us. It’s not like we have anything else to do today. Stare all you want, we’re just dumb animals. It’s not like it’s demeaning or anything. No, that’s right, just keep looking, you retards. You happy now? You saw a big fat whale. are you happy now? It’s not stalky or creepy or anything, no just carry on. Just objectify me like I was a piece of meat, like I was some stank-ass narwhal or something, sure. Go ahead.”

 

Passenger: “Geez. This guy! I don’t know whether to feel bad for him or hit him.”

 

Or what if we went the whole 3-hour trip without seeing even one whale, and then as we come back to port, there are like 12 whales waiting there, waiting for US. And they’re as pissed as we are!! All, “Dood! Finally! We’ve been waiting 3 hours for you guys. We were promised a sighting of pink, camera-encrusted douchebags!”

 

As soon as we see the whales, the announcer starts playing games with us: “OK, very nice, he is on the left side of the boat, yes. At 3 o’clock! Everyone run to starboard. Ok, wait, now he is on the port side, yes, very close. Oops, you missed him, he is very fast, yes, a very fast minke, now he is on the starboard side again.” I thought he was trying to get us to capsize the boat a la jack sparrow!

 

Then, a minute later, a second tourist boat comes up and starts observing OUR whale. The fuck?? All edging in towards him. I was waiting for the captain of OUR boat to start yelling at the other guy. If we were lucky, the whole whalewatching-boat fight would escalate into some open Viking-longboat kind of warfare! Which would of course, be narrated by our super-slick announcer. “Yes, the captain of the other boat has placed a very traditional Icelandic curse on the mother of our captain’s children. This is very nice, now we may see firsthand the ancient Icelandic Viking combat! Underneath your seat, you will find an oaken shield and, to the left, yes, a birch spear with traditional bronze point. Please do not throw the very nice spear until the enemy longboat is approaching within 20 meters. The captain has donned his horned helmet, as has the enemy captain. He is approaching, yes, at 2 o’clock coming on 3 o’clock. Our captain is drinking now the very traditional herb hallucinogen with the purpose of entering a berserker combat rage. Yes, he has already drunk it. You can hear him, yes, bellowing commands to the nice Icelandic crewmembers? But, even we cannot understand him. He is, yes, completely berserk.”

 

Didn’t happen.

unlike most of my travels, this time I swear there were hella dudes giving me dirty looks.  like mostly older 40s and 50s family dads cold giving me the skunk-eye.  I have no idea why!  I didn’t have punk hair or nothing. 

I was coming down the super-steep boat-ladder-staircase thing when I see a dude at the bottom with a baby. I think, I should hurry up because he has a baby. I wind up falling down the whole staircase, generating a melon-sized bruise on my hip and spraining my right hand, just jamming the fingers into the metal of the staircase. My hand swells up and I can’t move the ring and pinkie fingers plus instead of helping me , people are looking at me even weirder now .

after seeing whales, I return to the same restaurant I went to for lunch, but they put me in the dark, feculent back room with a group of disabled people and cerebral palsy Vikings (led by  this  amazing social worker — a hulk-sized dyke with a Mohawk, coke-bottle glasses and a social conscience) . Not to be mean but the disabled people left the restaurant one by one, and as they did, I swear each time there was a huge clatter and sound effects crash from outside the door.

and now, bees:

big , fat, cold-resistant icelandic bees with their winter pelts.

also, the beautiful downtown rekjyavik cemetary:

ICELANDIC TOURIST INDUSTRY
they say that the tourist industry here has only 3 months out of the year to turn a profit so that is why they charge insane prices.
Reykjavik is a big city but they keep all the tourists in one section – the one on your tourist map. it is like a holding pen for tourists!!  you can walk 2 blocks and not see an Icelander. there are no useful stores in the tourist section of town. try finding a hardware or electronic store, or a supermarket with salads, or pretty much any regular store and you can walk for miles without coming close.  that is why I say it is a holding pen. the city is so far from anything interesting, that people wind up paying like 200 bucks for an 8 hour tour ; 3 hours out, 2 hours actual touristing, and 3 hours back. this leaves them with 8 hours in Reykjavik doing nothing, so they put lots of rip off tourist traps in the holding pen and leave us to spend our money on crap out of sheer boredom. 

 

renting a car is best, because not only do you have the freedom to go wherever you want, it is still cheaper than going on a guided tour!

return to my hotel but it is chaos ? some guy trying to haggle with the clerk over prices, while some dude moans in agony on the couch and his girlfriend tries to find him an icepack, while 2 confused Asian tourists wait bewildered. I am living in a . zoo.

on the other hand, it DOES have this amazing vending machine — cans of tinned nuts!


 

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