Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Christine VS Japan - Round 2

I was lucky that on both flights (Perth to Singapore & Singapore to Osaka) I was in a row of empty seats. Good thing too because I was a wreck. You'd think that after each time it would get easier. But it doesn't, it gets harder. It gets worse.

I didn't have the appetite to eat anything so I tried as best as I could to lie down and sleep across 3 seats.

It's taking me a lot longer than I expected to get back into my life in Japan. I guess culture shock does exist and perhaps that's what I felt. When I was back home, although I was 'home', it didn't feel like it because I was in holiday mode and living out of a suitcase. My daily routine, my apartment, my life right now was in Japan. Yet now that I'm back in Japan, I know it's only temporary and I'm back in that sub-reality bubble.

Talking to other people, we've experienced how rude people are back home. Especially in the service industry. They really don't give a crap compared to the usual polite, obliging Japanese staff. But I guess that's like in any country. You get good apples. You get bad apples. However I was very impressed with the sales chick in Cue who was great. So those of you in Japan, don't take it for granted. You'll miss it once it's gone.

I was back at school the next day. We have our Open High School next week and I have to do 6 presentations about Australia. This is where junior high school kids come to school to see what high school is like. All my teachers were lovely and asked me about my trip, my family and Brendon. It really helps that my teachers are such wonderful people who look out for me.

My neighbours have also been great and supportive. Not to forget the friends I've made in Japan (JET and non-JET). So that's what I think is the cure to settling back into Japan. Going out and surrounding yourself with wonderful people (that and some retail therapy).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Last moments

I love getting snail mail.

Although it's so super convenient with the internet and emails, it doesn't compare to the feeling you get when you receive a letter (a real letter! not bills) in your letterbox. I used to write a lot when I was younger and had pen-pals in other countries. So waiting for the postie to deliver the mail and seeing, holding a real envelope with your name handwritten on the front was the greatest feeling ever.

My 2nd years holiday assignment was to write a letter and send it to me in Australia. So when my letterbox filled up with colourful, sticker-clad envelopes addressed to 'Ms Christine Cheng' with Japanese stamps, I felt like an 11 year old again. However this meant I had to reply to 45 or so letters and post them an Australian postcard each.

My favourite quotes from the letters (as they were written):
"Are there falling snow in Australia? Please attentively walk!!"
"A cry of a cicada is noisy in the Japanese summer."
"Do you zeal thing now? I zeal 'high school baseball' now."
"I'm very sprits. Does Chris Sprith?"
"I like ice cream very much. But eating habits is very properly I want."
"Japan is a cicada's twitter very annoying. I am a dislike it."
"Japan is hot and everyday is the state of the steambath."
"Dear Miss Chris! How are you?...Me? (chuckle). I fine thank you!"

My last two days in Perth were more relaxed and just spending as much time with Brendon as possible. We had JoJo's pizza takeaway while watching CSI, went shopping, had coffee and Donut King donuts and played with my nephews.

While I was packing, Callum was looking through my bag and found my ofcourse he decided to brush his teeth with my toothbrush! From the look on my face, my sister laughed and quickly took it away "Callum! You're freaking out Aunty Christine!" Callum just giggled cheekily. I couldn't help but laugh either. It was too innocent, too funny. I love playing with kids but once they start drooling on me or smelling funky, then I'll just politely pass them back to their rightful owners.

One lunchtime Mum had made noodles and Callum pointed to the jar of chillis ad said, "Mummy likes chillis."
So I asked, "Callum, do you like chillis?"
"No. Chillis. Too tasty. Tooooo tasty!" hahaha

My last dinner was with Brendon, my brother, sister-in-law, my sister, brother-in-law and the kids. Both my parents had previous engagements. We went to the Bridge again and although the food was great, I didn't have my usual ravenous appetite. I think something in me clicked and I realised that my holiday was over. Anxiety took over.

We went home, finalised my suitcase and unlike other times before my flight, I had about one whole hour to just chill out at home with Brendon. We just talked and basked in each other's company, in silence and in saying the things that we never get to say to each other when we're at the airport.

I said goodbye to my Dad and left for the airport. My Mum, aunt, Rui and Joel met me at the airport. I didn't want anyone to see me off at the airport this time because they'd see what a big sook I've become. The ride there in the car with Brendon was bittersweet. I was doing good until I hugged Rui goodbye. I don't understand how little tear ducts can pour rivers. It just hit me that this time she wasn't coming with me. This time she won't be in the same country to call up and talk to and laugh about all the random Japanese experiences we've encountered.

Walking through the gates the questions came flooding back, "What are you doing?" "Why are you doing this?" "What have you done?" "Is this what you really want?"
Hugging Brendon, walking through the gate, then turning back to wave goodbye, then turning back was the exact moment my heart made it's way up to my throat.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Enjoying the company of others... and friends.

During my trip back we also went to Rockingham to visit Brendon's old family friend, Aunt Gina. Aunt Gina has been a friend of their family since Brendon's Dad was studying at uni in Perth. She's also Brendon's sister's Godmother. With a great sense of humour, she is such a lovely lady with a big heart. She has also well travelled Japan and has friends around the country. We went to the Ploughmans for a homecooked roast lunch (lamb for me ofcourse although the beef and pork were also tasty), then finished with coffee and a chocolate cake she had baked the day before. Peope inspire you in the littlest of ways.

On Sunday it was hard saying goodbye again to my Church kids and friends. As soon as I had to hug them, I had to blink back tears, "When are you coming back?" "Are you leaving again?" "When will we see you again?" "But you just got here?"

See you in a year *blink blink*

I then met up with some friends at Kings Park for a BBQ lunch and random spurts of sports. Man I miss sausage sizzles. Thanks for organising Poe. We had bouts of footy, touch rugby, baseball and frisbee action. It was so good to be able to run around on lawn - soft, green grass. It's hard to find a nice patch of grass or field to play on in Japan without worrying about falling over and scraping your knees on the gravel pitches.

Courtesy fo Poe's selection

Dan scores but then in true form, stacks it!

Bonnie, Yen and I were pretty good baseball players (thanks Coach Steve), even though we keep throwing the ball at each other. Sorry for hitting you Yen haha my bad! But it was a fun afternoon of eating and chilling - what I do best.

Me pitching to Yen (before I hit her - Gomen!)

Mike & Yen

Bonnie & Steve

Me & Frances - the esky warmers

The boys retarded game of "Let's see how much pain we can inflict on each other by ditching the frisbee at each other"

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Second helpings

Brendon's Mum bought some Brumby's (it's a bakery for all my non-Australian friends) lamingtons. Yummy! They were so big! Huge I tell you! So fresh and soft with the chocolate still gooey. Washed down with a hot chocolate - perfect.

Went to the Old Swan Brewery again for dinner, this time with Kean and Sharon. It's so good to dine with other people who love and appreciate good food, wine (damn you, sickness!), dessert and company as much as you do. We were so impressed with the desserts!

My king snapper
The vanilla bean panacotta with red wine pears and the apple rhubarb pie.
The delectable chocolate fondant hadn't come out yet.
Then we headed to the Atrium Cocktail Lounge at Burswood for drinks. The piano singer chick was really good. I thought that Perth's Winter was going to be laughable seeing that I already survived Japan's Winter with uninsulated housing. However it came around and bit me on the arse and I caught the dreaded flu-bug that was going around. So it was lemon, lime & bitters for me.
Both sick and tired
Yen, Sue Yen & Bonnie
Brendon, Winston, Janlyk & Michael
Kean & Sharon

Dolly, Pete, Nik & me

Belinda, me & Frances

Friday, August 19, 2005

Food Appointments

Had lunch with Danielle at C15, the old Dome in Applecross. It's very nice now complete with a lovely water feature, good variety of food, delicious selection of cakes and bar. It was great to see you and catch up babe. Can't believe you tried out the shirukens on a cardboard box?! haha William Shakespeare - all the way.

Then had coffee there with Natalie. Thanks for scoring the freebie Baci's with our cakes, you little charmer you! haha

Also had tapas there with Sarah and Oonagh. It was great to see you girls - Arigato! I've been to that place about 4 times since I was back. It's really good, go check it out.

Brendon and I met up with Felicia, Sarah and Brendan for dinner. Went to Terazza because Il Ciao doesn't take reservations and it was too packed and we were too hungry. Felicia - all the best for the PHD, not long to go now doc. Sar - you can check out my teeth next time I'm back haha

Had dinner at The Bridge with some Church friends. Benny and the gang always make it a great experience there.

Headed to Siena's in Mt. Lawley for pizza (and really good cake!) with some of the boys and Dolly.

Peter, Nik & Brendon

Luke, Peter, Kean & Dolly

Met up with some of the gang for coffee at Gino's in Freo. My nipple gummy lollies and Karma Sutra rice crackers went down a treat.

Yen, Mike, Belinda & Sue Yen

Sue Yen, me & Rui

Brendon, Winston, Joel & Poe

Me with nipple lollie eyes and Rui the koala

Photo with the kids:

Mum, Callum (aka Nelly with the Wiggles bandaid), me & Sean

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Non-stop eating machine

Went to Ohnamiya twice for dinner. Both times they were flat out but it was still good to have a quick chat to the crew and eat the food there. Go all the way back to Perth to eat Japanese food? Well, it's just not the same. I just can't get enough of it. Especially Mori-san's green tea pannacotta. I'm a loyal fan.

Home cooking is the best. Brendon's Mum made chicken rice one night and I ate way too much.

Also had a steamboat with my family and rellies. Again, ate way too much. Steamboat is like Japanese shabu-shabu or nabe, where you cook your own food by boiling it. We also had a hotplate so you can fry up your own stuff too.

Front: Me, Lionel, Thibe & Brendon
Back: Andrew, Callum & Karen

Me & Seany

Had dinner at my Grandma's place one night. Roast pork and duck from the chinese shop and home cooked veges, omelette and soup. I miss drinking the many Cantonese soups with herbs, red seeds, dates, roots and things that look like bark that my Mum insists is good for me.

Mum, Grandma, me & Aunty Maggie

Bought KFC Zinger burgers and chips to my sister's place for lunch and played with the kids. Sean will grumble and cry, but once you pick him up he's peaceful and content. Callum made me a playdough cake, I read to him from our childhood storybooks "A piece of straw" (which happens to be a Japanese story) and "Each peach, pear, plum" and we danced the 'Shaky shaky bum bum dance' and the 'Fishy dance' which looks more like the robot. Callum doing the robot is classic. I couldn't stop laughing.

Callum & the blue playdough cake with matchstick candles

Bathtime for Sean

The Pingu outfit I bought Callum from Japan

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Night out

Even though we've been out clubbing in Japan, Rui wanted to go to Metros in Northbridge to feel that sense of familiarity again. Somewhere we used to go to, somewhere we were used to (that's not a good thing), somewhere a part of our life before Japan.

So we braved the surprisingly cold and windy weather and headed out. Due to the crappy weather and the flu-bug going around many people bailed, but the handful of us that did go had a great night out regardless.

Saturday nights are now called "$elebrity" RnB nights with the same kind of music as before, but with a sprinkling of old skool classics. It was good to see a few familiar faces and catch up (as much as you can have a conversation in a club) with some them, especially Jessica working in the cloakroom.

We had drinks, shots, shakers and Rui even convinced me to have tequila (nasty stuff which still brings back bad, hazy memories just from the smell of it). As soon as we "licked", our faces were puzzled. The bar chick had given us sugar instead of salt! *smacks hand against forehead* We continued to "sip & suck" then hit the dancefloor.

Pam - your 'running man' in stilettos was GOLD! Man I wish I had caught it on camera. Now that's talent! As quoted by Christina, "I'm a big fan of stupidity." Thanks for coming out and making it such a great night.

Brendon & me
Rui & Joel

Me, Pam, Rui & Sue Yen

Christina arrives just in time for the shaker

Ron, Brendon, Joel & Thomas

Tequilla with the lemon and sugar

For the Japan fans

Steve, me & Stuart

Thanks for the great night guys! xox