Monday, August 30, 2004

Big 17 Typhoon!!

2 more days and then school officially starts and I start my classes! eeks!

Since then I've just been hanging out with the teachers, doing up lesson plans, visited the kendo and tea ceremony clubs, been taken out for lunch and a tad bit of sight seeing - "so I no complain"

Today I had to take 3 hours paid leave so I could head into Sannomiya and get my re-entry visa. I met up with one of the english teachers who had already taken the day off and so kindly accompanied me to the immigration department. We also headed to my travel agent and paid and confirmed my tickets. Long story short - all seats and flights were pretty much fully booked when I want to go, I'm guessing because of the 2 Japanese public holidays that fall in that week I'm away so I'm sure many people are jetsetting then. So I have to fly to Cairns, transit, then Sydney, transit, then finally Perth! But at least I get there on time thats the most important thing!

Then we went to Starbucks and waited till 6.30pm because then we had an ENKAI!!! (staff party - usually drinking and eating). It was at a really nice place and we had all sorts of yummy food and drinks and desserts! Before we went in the weather was cloudy but ok but while we were all being merry "Big 17 Typhoon" was causing havoc outside. When we finally left, it was so windy and stormy outside that when we got to the train station, there was this guy with a megaphone saying that the train would only stop at certain stations - and ofcourse that didn't include my stop!! So we all ended up taking the subway underground and one of the teacher's wives was picking him up so he gave 3 of us a lift home. Just running to the subway to the car was an effort. My excuse for an umbrella wouldn't even open!! And one of the other teacher's umbrella just died! It serious got torn and broke and died! It was sooo funny I couldn't help but laugh and we just ran like anything to the car!

There were all sorts of things rolling around the flooded roads. Pot plants, bins, signs, the odd power lines dangling down! Well I made it home alive and I must say it was pretty fun!

Go the enkais!

'Ahobonji' restaurant

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My first 'enkai'

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On the subway

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Weather report

Weather warning symbols - broken tree and man being blown away! Posted by Hello

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Shabu-Shabu? Shabu-shabu!!

This evening I was invited to my neighbours, Eric and Kanako for Shabu-shabu (basically like chinese steam boat). Shabu-shabu is usually eaten in Winter but they felt like it so they asked if I'd like to join them. I love shabu-shabu!! So healthy and tasty! Benny does a great shabu-shabu at The Bridge Cafe/Restaurant on Canning Highway in Applecross - definately try it!!

Anyways it was super tasty and Kanako makes her own seasame sauce and stuff - it was soooo good! We were sweating it out but it was sooooo good! Then the other neighbours dropped by and they have a son the same age as Jamie (Eric & Kanako's son) so they were running around mucking about. I only had 2 drinks and I was embarrassingly red! *sigh - what's with this missing gene?!*

My lovely neighbours

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Weekends filling up faster than you can say "Another vending machine?"

Hello peeps! Hope you all are doing well and staying out of trouble!

Well today was pretty full on - again! It seems that my weekends are always a buzz of activity, in stark contrast to my first 2 weeks here where I was doing my washing, ironing and grocery shopping. Well I'm still doing all that but my diary for the next few weekends now include squeezing in soccer, BBQ's, shopping in Kobe central (Sannomiya), yet another HAJET beer garden - a 'Back to School' beer garden to be exact but really I'm thinking it's just any excuse for a beer garden! Meeting up with 2 Japanese friends that I met during my high school student exchange to Japan in 1997, then flying back home for 2 consecutive weddings! sheeessh!

So today after doing my washing I headed into Akashi (5 minute train ride?) to meet the other JETs who were going to play soccer and get some practise for the Inter Hyogo AJET Soccer League. Now there were 2 groups of people of the 30+ people that showed up. 1. The hard core soccer players with the proper shoes, socks, sweatbands, shin guards etc and 2. The people who just went down to have a kick around and meet people and didn't really know how to play properly (geee bet you can't guess which group I was in!) The field that we were supposed to be playing in was preoccupied by rows of stalls, picnic-ers, a huge ass stage and speakers. It just happened that there was a big matsuri (festival) going on, with taiko drums and everything! It was pretty cool but we ended up finding some dirt pit to play a few scratch matches on. It was fun and great to meet up with people but boy did my body ache the next day! And my legs! And the hill!!!! Enough said!

Claire (2nd year JET who also happens to be from Perth and lives real close to me!!) had also organised a BBQ at her place that evening , so after soccer a few of us headed there. I got a ride with Jeff in his super kei-car aka suzuki swift(?) with Chris, Bron and Katie (all Perth JETs). Funny enough Jeff is from Canada and he actually worked/holidayed in Perth for 5 months!!! Small world!! We all had showers at my place, walked to the local convenience store to buy some food and then headed to Claire's. So much to eat, and drink (for some but I was good) and we had a great time just chilling out, speaking in English, catching up with mates and playing Jeff's weird but hilarious british drinking game - I promise to teach it to you guys when I get back!

Now Claire's apartment is well wicked! When she got there a year ago, it wasn't furnished or anything but now its so homey and kick-ass! She made her own bed, has a fish tank with cute little fish, has a spare room for guests, has a little BBQ on her balcony and has an amazing vegetable garden!!! I was so inspired that I'm now trying to grow my own mint, basil, tomatoes, cucumbers etc.

Anyway in Japan there is a 0 alcohol limit for driving a car, scooter or riding a bike!! So again we divy-ed up the people and let them crash with us. I had Chris and Jeff at my place for the night and they were such great guests, especially because they showed me this link to the most random and funny old skool GI-Joe cartoons that have been dubbed!! Check it out!! You won't be disappointed!! Its classic! Simply GOLD!! Definately two thumbs up!!

And they made pancakes for breakfast too!! Chris - Mr. Organised (he had made the pancake mixture and put it in a container and even packed in an egg- all in his bag! So impressed!!), Mr. Swiss army knife (he's like a mr. handyman-DIY-Betty frickin' Crocker all rolled into one), Mr. GPS man (apparently he can lead/direct you anywhere, has an amazing sense of direction and is navigator man for Jeff in the car, armed with only a Japanese road map!!! and streets here don't seem to have signs on them!) After breakfast we met up with the others at Porto Bazar and went shopping!! My ironing still needs to be done but now I have a nice new black top! yay!

The Engrish T-shirt I bought for my nephew

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How many guys can you fit in a Kei-car?

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Chris calculating our sushi

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My yummy choc-chip pancake courtesy of Chirs & Jeff

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Jeff and his pancake flipping skills

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Claire, Bron, Me, Jane & Mary Posted by Hello

Claire's Inspiring Vege-Herb Garden

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Tasty BBB!!

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The clown-car in front of my place. Posted by Hello

In the car with Jeff's live commentary on crazy Japanese drivers

Sitting in the Kei-car with my knees to my chest. Posted by Hello

Soccer at Akashi Park

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Taiko drum performance at Akashi Park

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Time-Out in the shade!

Me, Katie & Lisa Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 26, 2004

My Laaaaarge Weekend in Kobe!

From Mass Email:

Welcome to yet another exciting chapter of Christine`s happenings and mishappenings in Japan - ahhh the land of the rising, freakin` hot sun!

Well I hope everyone back home is doing well - please send my regards to those I do not have email addys of. Should be back in Perth for about 10 days at the end of September for the weddings - I have still yet to find some cheap air tickets and re-new my multi re-entry visa.

Yes, I have been in contact with Rui Hsian and she`s living it up too...more so than me I reckon, lucky thing is so close to Tokyo!!! but last weekend I felt there was justice. You see we had the Hyogo Prefecture AJET (Association for JETs) Kobe welcome beer garden party on the roof top of the Sogo Department store! It was all you can eat and all you can drink too!! So a few of us went into Sannomiya (Kobe city central) to do some shopping beforehand, which is kinda crazy coz I found out that the 2nd year JET who lives near me and has been taking us out went to the same high school and was in my sister`s year! alas...what a small world! Anyway she showed us where to get english books, music, mags, HMV, Starbucks, food brands from back home etc then we headed to the beer garden which was like a big reunion with all the other JETs!

Anyways, mental note - lessons I've learnt :
1. Dont get so excited about all you can eat and drink because it hits hard
2. Yakking in squat toilets is not fun
(Yes, can you believe it?! In a country where you can get high tech toilets that have seat warmers, spray water, odour control and water sound effects, they still manage to have squat toilets everywhere! *shudder*)
3. The last train to anywhere stops about midnight which leads to my next point
4. You have to stay out all night till the next train at 5.30 the next morning!!
5. If you're staying out ALL night long, dont wear your nice heels!

But it was fun nonetheless, after the beer garden we all headed to this bar/club called Sally`s which all the senior JETs were warning us about but said it just had to be experienced, I didn't think it was THAT bad in terms of seediness and meat market-likeness which they said it was but it was good to hear some familiar hip hop r&b tunes, though the dj sucked ass big time, it was like ok start, stop, play next track and let's try to mix 2 totally different un-mixable tracks together - saj you would have cringed! I know we all did giving the `just because youre foreign don't think you're a dj` look to the dj.

The JETs I've made friends with are all pretty cool and we all kinda stick together coz we`re all in the same boat, ie. we have no idea whats going on!! And i believe the `for my dear life, please help me!` look must be universal coz when a seedy old japanese man and seedy other random foreigner tried to dance with me and hold me and kiss me, I just put on that face to my mates and they were in there to help me before you could say `sayonara sucker!` It was quite funny coz one texan guy goes `hey she's my girlfriend` but the other canandian guy said the same thing at the same after the inital `oh crap there goes the plan` a kiwi girl jumps in going `hell no, she's MY girlfriend!` We couldn't stop laughing so I think the seedy men just backed away. So even though I dont have my man or my girls here to save me, I've made heaps of nice peeps from around the world that are willing to do so!

6 of us who had no homes to go to, then went to some Japanese joint for some food then had an hour to kill and alas went to a 24 hour karaoke place. Yes those of you who know how much i don't particularly care for the good ol` ka-ra-o-ke I resisted as much but then it was either that or be left out on the streets by myself. So we got a room for an hour with all you can drink and belted out the likes of Paradise city, Sweet home alabama, Under the bridge, Queen and the Beatles. Then as the sun rose we stumbled out, made it back to the trains and went home. I was so knackered and icky and tired i literally had to peel my jeans off!! *ewww* I had a canadian (Jon) and kiwi (Mel) crash at my place coz there were a lot of JETs from up the northern part of Hyogo and so we divided them up and housed them hehehe it was nice to have company and we took them out shopping the next day at the seaside factory outlet.

And now alas I'm back at school - oh-so-tired but getting by. Ok better sign off now, I swear this one teacher is walking by every now and then tee hee hee I just play the dumb foreigner...should be getting my home internet by next week so till my next installment, stay out of trouble and drop me a line! Would love to hear from you all back home!

love & samurai pizza cats!

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Dan & Me

What a small world. I met Dan at the Kobe Beer Gardens and he went to High School with Bron (Perth Jet). He also happens to be my boyfriend's, mum's, best mate's daughter's(who I recently met in Malaysia)boyfriend. And Dan also knows my sister and brother-in-law from Curtin. Crazy!
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The 5.30AM train home Posted by Hello


Miako & Jon Posted by Hello