Thursday, June 30, 2005

English lessons

Since my school has a special environment protection and disaster management programme, they have a student exchange to Nepal where they discuss and learn how they handle earthquakes and emergency procedures.

One of the main teachers who runs the programme used to be an English teacher and he usually goes with the exchange group. But this year, he's busy with something else so its vice principal (doesn't know much English) and Geography/World History teacher and Kendo master who will be going. Geography/World History teacher and Kendo master went to Nepal last year and had the main English teacher to help him out. But now he's in charge of this year's group of 10 students and vice principal because his English is slightly better...and he's freaking. hehe

He asked me to have English conversation lessons with him if I was free because he is very nervous about his English ability. His words exactly..
"I am very nervous...anxious. In charge of 10 students and vice principal. Vice principal can't speak English. If anything goes wrong..*slices his hand across his neck* parents will be angry." hahaha he's so funny.

So now I'm having classes with him about once a week. I go through vocabulary with him such as hotel reservations, boarding a plane etc. Just last week the good news came that since they now have to transit in Thailand for one day and vice principal was getting nervous too, they have hired a translator to join them for the trip *phew* I think I was starting to get worried.

We still have our English lessons but this week he taught me some basic Kendo moves in English with the help of our dictionaries. He has been playing Kendo since he was in Junion High School and now is a level 7 rank - which is hardcore.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Student Shinanigans

My students are so cheeky!

We've been doing some fun classes playing games so the kids can practise their English. One game is the Body Parts game. Not only does it teach me the names of body parts in Japanese but the students brush up on their English. They have to stick the names of body parts on one student and we check it at the end. As you can see they look so cute.

We also played a Pictionary type game and one of the words was 'Harry Potter'. Some boys shouted out "Chris-sensei! Chris-sensei!" as the answer. So I went to look at the drawing the student did and it looked NOTHING like me. 1. I don't have short hair and 2. I don't even wear glasses! They couldn't stop laughing - so cheeky!

I also have been doing Self Introduction speeches with my 2nd years and we've discovered that we have a lot of baseball boys in our OC class. They're so funny and they really try so hard.

Two girls also said that they wanted to marry a foreigner in the future. One goes, "I want to marry a foreigner. A good guy. This is very important for me." My teacher and I had to hold in our laughter.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Feels like Friday

It's Monday but it so feels like Friday.

Why? Well what better way to end a Monday at work than to go out for dinner with friends then get naked and jump into an onsen together. Sure it seems strange but now that I'm in Japan and have fallen in love with onsens - it's no biggie anymore.

After school I met up with Cheryl and Claire (who had just got back from the World Expo in Aichi the night before!) at Akashi station. It was good to bump into Clay at Starbucks while I was waiting, haven't seen him since our January ski trip.

We headed to the Okonomiyaki dojo and were so lazy that we let the helpful worker ladies cook our okonomiyaki for us. After that we headed to "Tatsu no Yu" (Onsen of the Dragon) which overlooks the ocean and Akashi Bridge. It was a hillarious adventure with Claire dinking me on her bike, me sitting on the seat with my skirt hiked up to my knees, dodging traffic and Cheryl laughing at us from behind on her bike.

The onsen was aweseome. It had hot indoor baths and a variety of outdoor open air baths too. They also had the electric bath (hot bath that apparently shoots out electric shocks good for the heart - electricity and water? what the?!) the cold bath - eeks! sauna, jet bath (like a jacuzzi), scented baths and these stone pots with running hot water from bamboo taps that you just sit and soak in (feet and arms in or out). I felt like I was being boiled for some cannibal soup. They also had deck chairs where you can just laze around and moonbake. Would be perfect during the day if you wanted to tan without getting tan lines.

The place also had a restaurant and vending machines with flavoured milk and juices. Claire headed home but Cheryl and I headed to Mister Donuts (no indulgent night would be complete without it) and watched people set fireworks off at a nearby park.

It was so good to come home and not have to worry about anything. I was fed, washed and clean and ready for bed.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Picking Vegetables & Tombs

I was invited by one of my teachers to join him, his wife and his daughter to pick vegetables at his friend's farm.

This teacher is really nice and I also talk to him in English so he can practise his English. He's a maths/table-tennis teacher and he likes to talk about his family and has such a kind heart.

His daughter just entered high school and enjoys English, so she wanted to meet me. He asked if I could spare my time to 'play' with his daughters so they could speak English.

They picked me up at the station and we drove somewhere in Suma and hiked to this little area of rental farms surrounded by forests and hills. A lot of people rent space to grow vegetables and set up their own little farms. It was so random that in the middle of Kobe city suburbia there are these little vegetable farms that made me feel like I was way out in the middle of nowhere.

His friend had this amazing farm set up with rows of carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, garlic, spring onion, pumpkins, corn, eggplant, raddishes, cabbage, beans and more. We put on our gloves and happily picked vegetables and filled up several plastic bags. It reminded me when my mum used to take me to the vegetable farm on Christmas Island to buy fresh veges. The heat, the smell of dirt and lush greenery, the creepy crawlies and the snapping sound of fresh vegetables.

They then took me to a Japanese style restaurant for lunch where I had a mini shabu-shabu set. Then we went to Goshiki Auka/ Kotsubo Tamulus which is an ancient tomb and burial ground from the Edo period (built at the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th century). The total length of the tumulus is 194 metres. It was then later reconstructed but since the reconstruction work was given priority to the investigation of the mound surface, no investigation could be made of the burial facilities. It is believed that Lord/King/some important person is burried there.

It also offers a great view of Akashi Bridge and Awaji isalnd.

I'm slack

I do have heaps of photos to post up but right now I'm slack.
They will be up eventually.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Van Gogh & Suma Beach

Since I missed the "Van Gogh - In Context" exhibition in Tokyo (damn those long lines *shakes fist in the air*) I promised myself to see it when it came to Osaka. The exhibition is a collection from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kroller-muller Museum in Otterlo. It also featured work by Gauguin, Monet and some others.

It was so good.
Although since I am in Japan, long lines and crowds are a prerequisite for any event. It was ridiculously packed that you couldn't really enjoy it without being shoved or pushed by some obasan. Trust me, little old ladies are the worst. Even more lethal when they're on bicycles!

But I was very satisfied to be able to see some of the works I had studied in art - 'The Potato Eaters', 'The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum', 'Irises', 'The Courtesan' and others that I can't remember the names of.

I was in awe. Van Gogh is my favourite. I remember in class having to paint a self portrait in the same style of a particular artist we studied and ofcourse I tried to paint with Van Gogh's texture and shading but alas, to put it plainly, mine was crap.

Afterwards I headed to Suma Beach to meet up with Chris, Jeff & Lisa and also Sam had told me it was Leigh's birthday. I got there quite late and we just hung around playing frisbee. It was so hot and Suma Beach ain't the prettiest beach ever to be seen. To put it plainly, it was crap.

The sand isn't like back home. It's more rough and is a mixutre of broken pieces of sharp shell and rocks and rubbish. I didn't even want to go in the water. It smelt funky from a mile away. I can't believe people were swimming in it.

Apparently Jeff went in AND put his head under! eeeks! That water could easily have borne flesh eating viruses.

Then we headed back to my place to wash up and went to Porto Bazar for dinner. We went to Gaylord Indian Restuarant (there's one in Sanners too) and had a feast! Chris headed back home and Lisa, Jeff and I went to Polo Dog for some drinks.

Suma Beach Posted by Hello

Frisbee action with Lisa & Jeff Posted by Hello

Just don't go in the water Posted by Hello

Trying to be a koala Posted by Hello

Too much sun Posted by Hello

@ Gaylords Indian Restaurant Posted by Hello

Too Hot!! Lisa & her new set of wheels Posted by Hello

Cobra attack! Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

All you need is KOBE Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Warren's Birthday

I decided to head to Namba (Osaka) on a weeknight *heaven forbid!* for Warren's birthday.

We (Warren, Mari, Chie and I) went to Namba Parks for all-you-can-eat-and-drink chinese food at Hong Kong Chon Long. haha classic

It was really good and we ate way too much, again. There was a buffet table set up, a little drink bar, dessert section and chicks in cheong sams pushing dim sum carts around.

Afterwards we met up with Marcia for a bit then headed home. I got home pretty late but had a great night catching up. Mental note: stop over eating.

Chinese all-you-can-eat/drink Posted by Hello

Hmm plastic food Posted by Hello

Mari, me & Warren Posted by Hello

Me, Warren & Chie Posted by Hello

Namba Parks Posted by Hello

Warren busting a capoeira move Posted by Hello

The Nippon rocket in the middle of the train station Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

Dinner at Claire's

After school today I headed to Claire's for dinner.

Cheryl had just finished her exam that afternoon so we decided to have a nice, relaxing evening. I really admire Claire and Cheryl who are both doing correspondence post-grad studies while they're over here. I, on the otherhand find it hard enough to get all my washing, cleaning, grocery shopping and ironing done on time. hahah tragic, I know!

Claire made a delicious curry, I made some lamingtons and Cheryl picked up a Cafe Latte Vienetta - yummo! Washed down with a Canadian white wine and a cup of tea, it was a nice, relaxing evening - perfect.

The real adventure started heading home. Claire's apartment blocks has really good bulk rubbish. In that I mean that people throw out some really useful stuff that us JETs need to furnish our apartments, eg. tables, desks, chairs, bookshelves. One time during their early morning walks (in which I have now given up on since I'm slack and value sleep more than exercise) Cheryl scored this wire shelf/rack thing and some teacups, and Claire scored this gorgeous but huge glass box with a complete musical doll set from Girl's Day and a samurai armour suit display thing from Boy's Day. Long story short, they carried all these up to the 5th floor of Claire's apartment and now we were going to transport the wire shelf/rack thing back to Cheryl's place. Imagine 3 gaijin balancing this huge wired shelf/rack on a bike pushing it up and down hills to get to Cheryl's - it was a real work out but hilarious nonetheless.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fathers' Day

Happy Fathers' Day! (well in Japan anyways)

It's actually my Dad's 60th birthday and he celebrated with a big dinner party in his true random form with live band, dancing, surprise lion dance and 250 of his mates. I really wanted to fly back for him but since I'm already going back in August, my bank account didn't really allow for it.

Claire had her final BBQ at her place today. I was so excited to eat BBQ-ed food I decided to get organised this time and bring some marinated (garlic & sweet chilli) chicken wings - yum! Having a BBQ on the 5th floor of an apartment building on a tiny little balcony is just hilarious! Being eager to start BBQ-ing I volunteered to start it up and managed to get covered in charcoal. After going through 2 match boxes, Claire decided that we just throw some kero on and light it up. Worked a treat!

Stuan brought these wasabi rice crackers which were lethal. There wasn't a dry eye in the room and I couldn't believe how Struan was chowing them down. However Chris' chilli chocoalates from Korea were surprisingly quite tasty.

After Claire's I raced back home, (there's never a bus or taxi when you need one!) and headed to Sanners for dinner with one of my teachers to meet his daughter. She is my age and used to work in Mexico something to do with whale-watching. She studied something like marine biology I think. I also met 2 of her friends and their sensei who travels around the world researching marine life. He had these amazing photos of whales off the coast of Mexico (he even gave me a photo straight from his albulm of a humpback whale and a drooling, dozing sea lion) and for all you Perthites, he also visits Albany too for whale watching! Sugoi!

We had dinner at Hikari so I was able to catch up with Masa and Shuhei. News was that Shuhei got married only 2 months ago! Omedetou!

Japanese Graffiti @ Claire's

"I'm so in LOVE HAPPY LIFE by *picture of cat*" Posted by Hello

Me & the barbie on Claire's balcony Posted by Hello

My carbonized sweet chilli garlic chicken wings Posted by Hello

BBQ - Japanese style Posted by Hello