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Trip Report Diary of a Cranky Traveler: Rizzuto seeks Food, Clothing, and Light

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November is a grim time in New England. The sunny days of October, filled with crisp air and glorious foliage, give way to a persistent gray murk, punctuated by icy crud falling from the sky. The days grow shorter and shorter, and when the disgusting month is finally over you can look forward to 4 long months of winter. Unless you have a trip planned for the end of November, which is what his little post is all about.

[Incidentally, for an excellent description of this revolting month, pls see Thomas Hood's November - http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/november-2/. Leo McKern does a perfect reading in one of the Rumpole episodes.]

Back to traveling. I had 130,000 American miles (almost all fropm credit card bonuses), which was just enough for a modest round-the-world trip in business class, flying to Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Lyon (France). Japan is at the top of my current favorite list in large part because it's a place where everything always works right, Hong Kong is a joy because it's the land of instant gratification, and Lyon has its annual Festival of Lights, a 4-day extravaganza in December where fantastic light shows are put on throughout the city.

In Japan, my goals are self-indulgence, sushi, and tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is a simple food -- a pork filet that's fried in a light batter and served with a delicious sauce -- but it's one of the great comfort foods of life. I've got the addresses of hole-in-the-wall places in Tokyo and in Gora where the tonkatsu is said to cause paroxysms of unspeakable delight: we shall see. I'll also be spending a couple of days at the Hyatt in Gora, decked out of course in my yukata, and taking the the waters and the air.

Hong Kong is where the clothes come in. I am of a shape (spherical) to which Macy's does not cater. And yet, I don't mind walking down the street in clothes that fit. Hong Kong, where the Customer is King, is where men like me get decent duds. Walk into a tailor, and I've got (literally) hundreds of bolts of cloth to choose from. So I choose this one and that one and those two and ok, those two as well, then let the man do his tape measure thing, answer the "dress right or left?" question, and three or four days later I've got a bunch of slacks and shirts. To pass the time during those days, there is much to do. I am very much on a char siu hunt -- char siu, which has many alternate spellings, is a BBQ meat that can have the same effect as tonkatsu -- and there will also be some tastings of egg tarts along the way.

Finally is Lyon. The motherless French swine nearly ruined my trip when they rearranged the dates of the Festival and I had to scramble to change my hard-to-get FF award tickets (the Festival is always 4 days and usually ends on Dec 8; this year they announced, long after I'd got my original air tix, that the Festival would begin on Dec 8). No matter, I was not going to be outwitted by the Snail-eaters.

(I especially enjoy going to Hong Kong and France back-to-back because the places are, in so many ways, polar opposites. In Hong Kong, the customer is king; in France, he is a nuisance to be barely tolerated.)

It's Thursday evening, I'll head out early tomorrow. Cheers,

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