Bleats

If You Get A Chance To Drive Through Tokyo Half-Blind In An IRL Mario Kart, Do It, It’s Epic

Bowel-inducing levels of terror. Would 100% do again.

If I were to sum up Japan in a sentence, I would describe it as a cauldron of curiosity and weirdness, topped off with a dash or two of quirk. I mean, what other country has hotels run by robot dinosaurs?

But those things pale in comparison to the greatest – and possibly scariest – thing to come out of Japan since the Japanese bidet: real-life Mario Kart.

Speeding around the streets of Tokyo in tiny go-karts while dressed up as your favourite fictional character is the dream of many Mario Kart fans and I can confirm that it is every bit as good as it sounds on paper.

It was also 10 times scarier than I initially bargained for.

Me the entire time.

The go-karts pack enough grunt to get you up to 80km/h at the blink of an eye, which would normally be fine if not for the fact that seatbelts are optional and these vehicles are nothing more than a flimsy metal frame where the “bumper” is literally just a pool noodle and your knees are the crumple zones.

But all these worries quickly dissipate when you fire up those go-karts for the first time and begin the drive through Tokyo. The sound of those little things pushing to the limit, the smell of burning petrol, and the wind running off your face is just intoxicating, so much so that you’re able to (mostly) ignore the stinging cold that comes with driving an open-air go-kart during the Japan winter.

Now here’s where my real-life Mario Kart experience goes pear-shaped.

The experience in a nutshell.

Due to the lack of facial cover, my contact lenses dried quicker than water on concrete during an Australian summer and fell out of my eyes within the first 15 minutes, rendering my vision from 20/20 to “why even bother having eyes”. Couple the loss of contacts with the fact that my drive was scheduled to run from 6pm to 9pm, I was basically driving around Tokyo for 2.5 hours at night time while half-blind.

Getting chased around by Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees is terrifying. This is a level beyond that.

Not only was the world a literal blur of colours and lights, I wasn’t able see the important hand gestures issued out by the tour guide, all while I and 11 other go-karters were powering along the streets at around 50-60km/h on average. My brain entered a new realm of white-knuckled concentration in trying to make sure I didn’t accidentally rear-end the bloke ahead of me because my sub-par eyes misjudged the braking zone.

What nearly happened on too many occasions to count.

During certain speedier sections – such long sweeping runs over bridges and lengthy tunnels – those go-karts got up to 85km/h and you were one pothole away from spinning out into a wall or into the freezing Tokyo bay water. Let’s just say I was glad I wore brown pants underneath my Piccolo costume that night.

But for every bowel-relieving moment experienced during that blurry drive, there was an equivalent rush of adrenaline and exhilaration that made everything worth it.

Sure my stomach dropped right out of my body when I hit a misplaced speed bump at 70km/h, but I also got to drive though the famous Shibuya crossing with the nighttime crowd’s surprised eyes all on me. Somewhere out there is a random Japanese person’s phone filled with photos of cold and secretly-mortified me dressed in a Piccolo costume while driving a go-kart.

Actual footage of me driving the go-kart.

While my heart rate had more spikes than a cactus, especially when a huge truck sped past me in the next lane, I also got to drive past landmarks like Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge. Granted that I may not have been able to properly see and appreciate the full beauty of these places, I have it on good authority that it was all stunning. At least the photos all looked lovely.

So in summary of the real-life Mario Kart experience – Colder than being naked on Antarctica, high risk of accidents and death, shenanigans and a numb butt, and a stunning tour of Tokyo for the able-eyed.

Would 100% do it again, but with glasses instead of contacts and about 10 more layers of clothing next time.

Japan's Latest Attempt To Combat Drug Addiction Is Weird And Will Make You Hungry

Better than not doing anything I suppose.

For all the many world-leading things Japan is good at, the country is still lacking a bit when it comes to drugs and combating addiction.

The zero-tolerance country has had a weird outlook with drugs for ages, which has roots from a post-WWII drug addiction problem. Overwhelmingly severe penalties to those commit drug offences, yet the number of Japanese youths using cannabis is rising and measures to deal with illicit drugs have been downright comedic.

That brings us to Japan’s latest attempt to deal with its drug problems. A recent print ad was spotted in the Kagawa Prefecture that teaches kids to say no to drugs and eat udon noodles instead.

I’d make a “what were they smoking” joke here but the Twitter user who shared that glorious ad already did it by writing in the caption “drugs are clearly already being taken here.”

As for what that ad says exactly, here it is the translation (via SoraNews24):

How to Say No to Drugs

Use our SUTEKI (wonderful) method to say no:

Slurp udon instead of slurping drugs

Use caution when picking what you consume, like choosing good tempura

Take some udon instead of taking drugs

Eat the udon happily

Kindly go home after you’re done eating

Instead of another white powder, have some wheat flour

If you’re confused by this, you’re far from the only one.

That’s just one of many questions we have about the ad.

Firstly, why? What does SUTEKI even mean? Who is the target for this ad besides udon lovers? Does this mean udon haters will fall into a drug-filled hole?

Okay, to be fair to the poster, udon is absolutely delicious and I would happily eat that all day instead of taking drugs.

Now there is something of an explanation as to how this ad came to be. Apparently it was the result of a competition to create a drug awareness ad using the “SUTEKI” acronym, and seeing as how the Kagawa Prefecture is famous for its udon, some genius decided to combine the two things.

Good point.

As funny as the poster is, drug addiction in Japan remains a serious issue and I don’t think an ad telling people to eat udon instead of doing drugs is the solution.

But look, if Japan can figure out a way to get robot dinosaurs to run its hotels, it can figure out a way to fix its drug addition problem.

We Spread A Million Bucks Around The World And This is How Far We Got

It's just a question of whether you want the boujee package, or the penny-pinching trip.

One of the biggest hurdles with figuring out any holiday is where to go and the type of vacation you want to have that’s within your budget. Some might fancy private jets and gold leaf on their wagyu steaks, while others might opt to backpack it up on cross-country trains with only instant ramen for sustenance.

With that in mind, we decided to do a little experiment: how far could $1 million take you and what kind of holiday could you have if you were to go First Class for everything or penny-pinch it the whole trip. Just to keep things simple and the math from getting too complicated, this will be a trip for one person (you).

Boujee First Class the whole way

Flights

First we need to figure out where we’re going and since it’s first class the whole way, we might as well take the longest first class flight possible direct from Australia.

One of the longest flights leaving Australia right now is a 17ish hour trek from Perth to London and first class return tickets are currently going for about $18,000. Adding in all the optional extras, let’s just bump that price up to about $19,000.

There’s the option of a private jet but seeing as those range between $500,000 to well over $1 million to hire, your holiday will consist of airport tarmac if you take this route.

Accommodation

After 17 or so hours of comfort on your first class flight to London, it’s time to get to your hotel and there’s nothing fancier than The Landsborough, which has a suite going for about $50,000 a night. Factoring in the $850-a-day private limo and your own personal chauffeur to take you wherever you want to go, let’s just put the price tag at about $60,000 per day to be conservative.

Things to do

You’re going to need to eat at some point and the best place to do that is Araki, a renowned sushi restaurant that’s arguably London’s best and most expensive dining place featuring a $1,000-per-person menu. If you don’t like sushi, there’s also other high-class dining places like Restaurant Gordon Ramsey and Dinner by Heston Blumentha. To keep things easy, let’s just stick to the $1,000 per meal price tag. That’s more than enough to stuff your face with top-of-the-line food.

As for activities, perhaps you want to gussy yourself up for a night out to the West End so best get a $38,000 haircut from celebrity stylist Stuart Phillips and a nice outfit that cost at least $10,000. Tickets for shows vary but the most expensive right now will cost about $500 for a top-class seat to see Hamilton. Since it’s a long and fantastic show, you’ll want to go back again so that’s another $500 there.

There a heap of things to see in London but rather than get stuck in traffic, best take a $4,000 private helicopter tour of the city. Since each tour only lasts for 30 mins, you’re going to be going back a couple of times. Assuming that if you pay extra the pilot will drop you off wherever you want so let’s bump the price up to about $8,000 per trip.

Conclusion

With a $1 million holiday budget, you can fly to London first class, stay at the fanciest hotel for about 10 days, eat anything you want at the fanciest restaurants, shop for the fanciest clothes, and see all the West End shows you want.

Living the fine life.

The Economy Class odyssey

Flights and travelling

Since you want to squeeze as much as possible out of your $1 million, the most economical travel choice is getting a round-the-world flight ticket. It only costs around $2,500 to visit several cities and continents so you won’t even need to bother deciding where you want to go.

There are various ways to get from place to place once you land but the best method is to get a rail pass. You can get these on the cheap in places like the UK and Japan, and each trip will cost you no more than a few dollars. For the USA, a rail pass will set you back anywhere between $700 to $1,400 depending on how many days and travel segments you want.

There’s also the option of buying a second-hand car or bike for a few thousand dollars and getting around that way, but mechanical know-how will be needed if you don’t want to spend money on repairs.

Accommodation

Hostels and AirBnBs are perhaps the most economical way of doing the whole accommodation thing. Given how prices range depending on which country you are in (it’s between $30 to $100 in the UK and Europe, around $100 or lower in Japan and Asia, and between $70 to $200 in the USA), let’s just average it out to be around $150 a night for simplicity’s sake.

Things to do

You can get some great food at next-to-nothing prices if you know where to look. Street food is mega cheap in places like India (we’re talking about a couple of dollars cheap here), convenience stores in countries like Japan and South Korea will be your best friend as you can stuff your face for no more than $10 with change to spare, and you can’t go wrong with $1 New York style pizza. To keep things easy, let’s put aside about $40 a day for food.

As for activities, many tourist places are free for you to wander around in,  such as national parks, landmarks, and museums. Some places  need tickets but those are generally within the $10 to $20 range so there’s no need to break the bank there.

Conclusion

Based on our aforementioned guestimates and using some conservative napkin math, $1 million will let you travel around the world a whopping total of 222 times if you penny pinch your money wisely.

To give your big travel dreams a chance of coming true, every weekend Western Australians can try their odds thanks to Lotterywest’s Saturday Lotto.

Plus there are special events like the Saturday Lotto Superdraw on March 30 which offers a Division 1 prize pool of $20 million! So if there’s ever a time to buy a ticket, now’s the time.

To play visit Lotterywest in-store, online or download the App.

Play responsibly. Visit gamblinghelonline.org.au, or call 1800 858 858.

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