Sunday, January 29, 2006

Big Trouble In Little China

Now that was a classic moive. Kurt Russell at his finest I reckon, and Kim Cattrall too. Why didn't they ever make a sequel?

Headed back into Chinatown again tonight to see the lion dances. Though it just wasn't the same without the very, very loud drums and gongs, and the very, very loud firecrackers with it's smoke lingering in the air and shredded red paper covering the floor.
But they did have plenty of lanterns, hot bowls of tasty noodles, dumplings, duck burgers (like peking duck) and sweet Chinese treats. Even bought some "peanut cake" - the melt-in-your-mouth kinda ones which are powdery on the inside and lethal if you inhale. Yum.

Nothing says Chinatown more to me than roasted meats hanging on hooks in the shop windows Dripping oil and fat is optional

Who else but Monkey and Tripitaka

Pigsy was handing out flyers

Sandy was no where to be seen

Once the drums started going, this guy was going off!! Like seriously. He was clapping and keeping in time, oooh-ing and aah-ing and gasping in awe. He was extremely entertained and for us, the entertainment.

Sue Yen with duck burger and siew mai

Along with some very comfy Juicy Couture Ivy League socks, Sue Yen also got me some earrings for my birthday, to replace the favourite ones I lost last month. Thanks babe! I love them and just your thoughfulness really puts a smile on my face. You rock! xox

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chinese New Year Eve

Woke up late because I went out to dinner with some teachers last night. Did my usual routine of laundry and cleaning then headed to Osaka to meet up with Hiroko.

It was really nice to meet up with Hiroko again. Hiroko was a Japanese student I had met in Perth about 5 years ago in uni. Through some programme, my Japanese class was teamed up with some visiting Japanese students who were in Perth to study English for 1 month. They were able to practise their English and we were able to practise our Japanese. She really enjoyed her time spent in Perth and I remember taking her out to Ohnamiya for dinner with another Japanese and Korean student.

We met in Osaka, her home territory, and she took me to E-ma shopping department for lunch at this cosy Japanese buffet izakaya style restaurant. The food was really good but I tried not to stuff myself so much. Her big news was that she got married last year! She showed me a photo and she looked gorgeous in her white wedding dress. We chatted, did some window shopping, had tea then parted ways.

Then I headed into Sanners to do some shopping. I got distracted and bought a jacket. When I was trying it on in front of the mirror I realised I was missing one of my earrings. How retareded am I? Evidently, VERY! I can't believe I've lost yet another one of my earrings! Rui - it was one of the ones you gave me last year - gomen!

So I back tracked as best as I could but gave up soon after *sigh* Though it was slightly comforting to know that I'm not the only one. As I was looking quite shady walking up and down the shops with my eyes fixed on the ground, darting into every corner and under every table, I spyed an earring on the floor. Unfortunately it wasn't mine.


After giving up I headed to Motomachi to meet Sue Yen, Cheiko, Hana, Sam, Leigh, Keita and Sasami for dinner in Nankinmachi aka Chinatown. Being Chinese New Year Eve, Sue Yen and I wanted to check out the festivites and eat chinese food. We saw the 'black light' dragon dance which was quite cool, then headed into a restaurant for our CNY reunion dinner of chilli prawns, chop suey, fried chicken, spare ribs and some beef stew thing.

It was interesting to see chinese food in Japan. I guess each country has their own standard and take on another country's cuisine. We were craving sweet and sour pork, spare ribs, crispy chicken, honey lemon chicken, chill salt & pepper spare ribs, combination clay pot and kai lan with garlic, but those usual favourites found in any local chinese restaurant back home weren't on the menu.

Then we headed to The Lockup, where Amanda, Rob, Steph and Adrian were having dinner, and joined them for drinks.

I can only imagine all the tasty treats and delicious dishes being served up at my family's reunion dinner back home. It's time like these that I wish I was back home with my family and friends - oh and the ang pows too.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Oz Day!

Happy Oz Day kids!

I propped up my Aussie flag on my desk today and gave out fun-size Milky Ways for the occasion.

But that doesn’t compete with what Cheryl did. Much respect girl! Here’s a photo she sent to us fellow Aussie JETs on what she did that day.

Yes, I got her permission first if I could post the photo up and yes, that is an Aussie flag tattoo on her cheek, Aussie flag draped over her like a cape and yes, she is wearing a green and gold T-shirt with Australia on it. Hardcore!

After school I met up with Cheryl for a belated birthday and Oz day celebratory dinner. We headed to Brazil again where we had yet another amazing and filling dinner. Cheryl had the ABC set, where you got to choose various dishes from quite a delicious selection, and I had the Sukiyaki set (it was quite a large serving, tasty and full of meats, veges and tofu). They were out of soft serve ice cream so we couldn’t have any parfaits. Instead we ordered normal ice cream with chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of nuts. How delightfully toothsome! (This was actually a word I found in my thesaurus for ‘delicious’ during one class.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shopping Role Plays

One of my lessons for my first years was to write out a shopping role play script between a salesperson and a customer. Today we started some of the presentations and it brings such joy and warmth to my frozen cold fingers and toes when my students really make an effort and enjoy what they’re doing.

I don’t really care too much about grammar as long as they can express themselves and get a message across. To me, that’s what communication is all about.

We encouraged the students to use facial expressions, crazy ideas and gestures to make their role plays more interesting.

These examples remind me why I get up every morning (even on those dark, cold Winter mornings), walk up that hill (rain, snow or shine) and greet my kids with a big smile of genki-ness.

A: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME!!!
B: Oh, may I help you?
A: Yes. I’m….
B: May I help you?
A: YES!!! I’m looking for a watch.
B: (Walks away and looks at the TV for a long time)
A: (Looks confused) No!! Not watch TV. WATCH!! (points to wrist) I feel out of place!!
B: Here you are. (takes off his watch and gives it to other student)
A: Thank you!! How much is it?
B: 100 yen.
A: (Hands over 100 yen) Thank you. Good bye. (waves)
B: Good buy?? (angry face)….Good bye! (smiling face)

Apparently student B loves puns and play on words. His English is quite good but he will say and do some pretty random things. For example, one time when I said “Don’t look at the paper yet. Turn it face down. Face. Down.” He would go “Face down? Face? Down?” while planting his face down on his desk. Cheeky!

A: Hello. May I help you?
B: Excuse me. I’m looking for a new girlfriend.
A: I’m sorry. It is not my shop.
B: Really? Let’s see…
A: How about me??
B: Really?? I’ll take it. In fact…I wanted you.
A: Really?? Me too.
A and B then run towards each other in slow motion and embrace while the whole class, including us teachers, howl with laughter. Public display of affection between male students is quite common. No matter how blokey, tough, cool or bad they may appear, they have no qualms about sitting on each others’ laps, hugging each other from behind or bear hugging while jumping up and down. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but I’m sure it would raise a few eyebrows in other countries.

After another role play, a ‘customer’ student walked behind the desk and pulled that escalator move where you slowly walk down and disappear behind the desk. It was classic.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One year older, one year wiser...

...let's hope so.

So I'm officially 24 years old now, and what's new? I still feel the same but I've had an amazing past year - lot's of learning and new experiences. I'm still short and look 16 years old, so I think the growing has been mostly on the inside.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful emails, messages, voicemail (Loreen from London en route to Perth via Singapore - that message was classic! Hope you have a good holiday back home) and keitai mails.

School was normal, just felt like any other school day. Though one of my teachers remembered and told the students in one of my classes and they all clapped for me. One boy even dug into his pocket and gave me a snoopy chocolate. *Awww*

I also had my adult english night class after school so I went to Reve Chef and bought some cakes to share. Reve Chef is a famous cake shop in Kobe and it's desserts are amazing. Not only their presentation but the variety and tastes are always an indulgent experience. Though their prices make it only a 'special occasion' experience.

I hadn't told them it was my birthday but one of them remembered somehow and had organised a beautiful Reve Chef fruit sponge cake with candles and everything! When they suddenly turned off the lights, revealed the candle lit cake and started singing Happy Birthday, I couldn't help but tear. Japan has made me so emotional. I was so touched. Then I revealed the cakes I had brought and we stuffed ourselves silly.

It had been a long day and I finally got home at 9pm. At 9.10pm the doorbell rang. It was the delivery guy. At 9.10 in the evening - you bet. As soon as I opened the door and saw the big box, I knew it was flowers from Brendon. He had sent me red roses before when I had the chicken pox. I couldn't stop smiling. Even if it was just to the delivery guy and then to myself in my apartment.

Thanks babe, you made my day. I love them! Even though we're so far from each other you still manage to put that goofy smile on my face. Thank you. xoxox

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Yay for weekends


Headed into Sanners in the evening. Surprisingly the train was over 15 minutes late. Doesn't sound like such a big deal but in Japan, it is. Japan is known for it's on-the-dot trains. Being on the dot or a little bit late, I can deal with. It's the being early and not-waiting-to-leave-at-the-time-stated-on-the-timetable buses that drive me insane.

Did some shopping and met up with Hana and Kana. Seriously. We went to Deli Cafe in the Sannomiya JR station for coffee and dessert - mine being a delightful caramelised nut tart thing. Then we went to Chey's House for a drink and met up with Sam and Leigh, who had just come from a bucks night.

Hana - Thanks for the message babe. It was great to catch up - you always have such perfect timing!


Headed into Osaka in the afternoon. While waiting for Sue Yen, I went to the Deli Cafe in the Osaka JR station and had a mixed fruit shake and raspberry & cream cheese danish. Yum! By chance Sue Yen spotted me walking past, looking down typing away on my keitai. Osaka station is huge. It's always so crowded and she only happened to notice me because she thought,
"Hey, that girl has a really bright, red scarf. What the? Is that Chris?"

We went to Yodobashi Camera to buy some electronic goodies then I took her to Elephant Cafe. I was so impressed by that place on new year's eve that I had to go back again to try more stuff. We had the pad thai, warm thai squid salad with lemon grass and fried spicy chicken with 3 dipping sauces. Very tasty. Although the lemon grass bits in the salad were hard and pokey - chotto abunai. It took ages to pick them all out but it was better than getting our mouths sliced up. Dessert was the Sweet chocolate cake thing and the White chocolate baked cheesecake. Both weren't that great. I knew I should have gone with the Berry mountain.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hyogo Mid Year Seminar

The Hyogo mid year seminar was held fron Thursday to Friday.

Overall it was a lot better than last year's one. I still managed to get lost on the first day (with Tez and Clay) but learnt from my mistake and caught a taxi from the station the next day.

The best thing about these get togethers is being able to catch up with people and faces that I haven't seen for ages, probably since the last conference. About over 400 Hyogo JETs descended upon Kobe and started the partying on Thursday night.

After the first day I headed to The Hub and had a few drinks. I also met a lot of the 1st years and a few of the new Perth crew. I wasn't planning on having a big night because it was only Thursday and we still had one more day to go. But then we headed to Second Chance for cheap eats. Their Happy Hour lasts till 9pm and all drinks and food are half price. I had the taco rice and the highly recommend ebi-mayo; fried prawns with whole grain mustard mayo sauce.

It was pretty much empty when we got there but then slowly more and more JETs came through the doors and soon it was packed as. After several dita-orenji's, a B-52 shot (courtesy of Clay - thanks matey!) and a mini tequilla shot (courtesy of the bar guy - domo arigatou!), I decided it was time to head home before the last train. I managed to get home, shower, have a cup of tea and then crash.

Jon & me

Chris & me

Brendan, Clay, me & the bar dude

Joe, Zack, Jon & me

Zack showing us how it's done (with Jon's supportive ass-slapping hand)

me & Lisa

Carrie & the rubber chicken

After the next day I headed home before heading out to the KR&AC for Miako's birthday charity fundraiser dinner. She's taking part in this year's Habitat for Humanity trip to the Philippines and they need to raise money for the building supplies needed to build a home for a family in need.

So Colin (CIR), Luis (some 1st year JET) and herself were auctioned off with dinner vouchers to some local haunts, just in time for V-day. They managed to rack in a fair bit of money and it's all for a good cause too. The food was really nice, for those who managed to get some, but they didn't make enough so the all-you-can-drink was extended. The chocolate mousse cake was heavenly! It was really good to catch up with everybody and even hit the dancefloor with none other than the dancing queen herself, Lisa from NZ. I met a lot of new people in those 2 days so I can't remember all their names but I think it was Alex from UK, Josh from Canada and a few of the Perth boys were quite impressive on the dance floor too. They had it going on.

With the birthday girl, Princess Hyogo

Lisa, Jenny, Katy & Emily

Lisa & me

The auctioners and auctionees

me, Cheryl & Chris

Tarumi girls - Krystal, me & Cheryl

me & the gorgeous and bubbly Karen from Perth (with Micah in the background)

Chris & Alex (who Lisa claims to be "the 2nd white boy who can dance")

Katey & Lisa

Perth boys doing the robot or the praying mantis, I think

me & Noel