Friday, June 30, 2006

The legend of Tarumi

This is based on a true story that happened on Friday night.

One day after a long, hard week at work, two friends decided to meet up for dinner because they hadn't seen each other for quite some time. Let's call them Cheryl and Christine.

Christine and Cheryl's original plan was to go to Brazil, a local restaurant they would often visit. But when they got there, they weren't in the mood for what was displayed out in the restaurant's window.

Cheryl said she had heard of a really good thai restaurant in Tarumi. There was a rumour, no - a legend of an amazing thai restaurant near the undercover shopping mall that people from near and far would trek to in order to satisfy their thai food cravings in this foreign land. Of course Christine didn't believe her at first but the thought of hot thai food was just too tempting.

With not much else knowledge of this place, the two friends set out to find it. After asking various shop owners and walking around, they were just about to give up because they were so tired and hungry (oh so hungry) when they saw....a sign! Literally.

They followed the sign around the back alleyways and stumbled upon a little restaurant called Asian cafe & dining. The legend was true - they could hardly believe their eyes (or noses).

They were ecstatic (okay, maybe Christine moreso). She couldn't help but leap for joy and hug Cheryl for telling her about the legend. A thai restaurant in Tarumi? Who would have known?! How come she had never heard of it before?

They sat in excitement and awe of the nice, cosy decor, great range of asian drinks, desserts and delicious food. The prices and servings made their smiles even wider. They promised to return in order to try more on the menu. The two friends were able to catch up and leave very satisfied with very full bellies.

Chicken pho set

Prawn green curry set

The end.

NB: Such a shame that Christine only found out about this hidden treasure with about a month left in Japan.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How I got...

...instant cool and respect from my male students.

I had to do another presentation in the gym the other day. I'd done up yet another powerpoint presentation with lots of photos, animated slide transitions and things to keep my students from falling asleep.

The students had already gathered in the gym and were sitting down while another teacher and myself were setting up the projector and equipment. As I was hooking up my laptop onto the stage, I pulled the cable too much and it dragged the projector off the table and it crashed onto the floor. YIKES!

The look on the teacher's face and my face must have been gold because the male students sitting in the front row were in fits of laughter. They gave me the thumbs up and said, "Good job, Chris!"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Marissa & Leigh's birthday

Double trouble birthday shinanigans were expected for Marissa and Leigh's all nighter out in Osaka.

First on the agenda was the ever popular tabehoudai & nomihoudai (all you can eat & drink) combo at Suikouden.

Then it was off to Sam & Dave's (nothing but class there haha) for some booty shakin' to hip hop, reggae and random rock tunes thrown in. They really love their Bon Jovi, complete with hand clapping actions.

Where is the love?

Then we spotted poles on the stage and Amanda's moves were very impressive. Sam's moves are always impressive on the dancefloor so it goes without saying that he took to it like a pro.

Now in 'missed the last train' mode, we headed to karaoke to lull ourselves to sleep until the first train. I must say, SY & Adrian's Tevin Campbell and NKOTB duets, complete with spine tingling whisperings, were classic!

Amanda wowed us all with her awesome voice and Shakira moves

Who could resist?

Then it was hauling our sorry, old asses to the trains at first light to head home. Nice, empty trains - unfortunately they were all local ones, but we got the new ones.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Chasing fireflies

After school, adopted-Japanese-father-sensei invited me and two other teachers to go see fireflies near judo-sensei's house.

First we went to an izakaya for dinner and then met judo-sensei and his two adorable, little girls.

Then we went to this little river in search of the fireflies. There were only a few but they were so cute and magical - my first firefly sighting!

Then we said goodbye to judo-sensei and went to a bar decorated with Bob Dylan and Bob Marley record covers and posters. We ate, we drank and then when we thought we were heading back home, he took us to another izakaya style bar where we ate and drank some more. By this time I was tired and well ready to head home but we were dragged to another place where more food was served and drinks were poured.

Eventually we made it back to one of the teacher's car and got home very, very late.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Christine and Sue Yen's Bogus Journey

We woke up very early the next morning to get ready for the morning prayers at 6.30am. After that we went to another room for a kind of fire ceremony.

When we returned to our rooms, our futons had been packed away and our breakfasts were set out.

We were both way too tired so decided to get some more sleep in (curled up on the floor cushions) before the 10am check out. Then we set out to cover as much as we could on our little map. First we trekked through the huge cemetery to get to Okuno-in.

The snake and the frog

Wooden plaques in memory of aborted babies and those who died by drowning... so says my LP

The Willow Room in Kongobu-ji where Toyotomi Hidetsugu commited says my LP again

Beautiful rock garden

Somewhere, I think in Kongobu-ji, drinking complimentary tea and eating rice crackers while cooling off.

Soon our journey for zen, hot monks and getting cultured came to an end and we trekked home, not before grabbing the new 'asian spice' flavoured KFC for dinner.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Christine and Sue Yen's Excellent Adventure

With a title like that, we knew it was doomed from the beginning.

Right when we had just walked all the way down to the station and I realised I had left our tickets nice and safe in my desk drawer. D'oh!

I'd been wanting to go to Koya-san for ages now after hearing so many good reports and recommendations from friends. Meng Yen also stayed overnight there on Thursday night and came back with glowing reports of zen temples and hot monks. haha you crack me up, girl!

So since I had Monday off, Sue Yen and I planned to stay overnight at one of the temples there. Personally I didn't think the monks were all that hot and my first impressions were tainted when we walked through the gates and were greeted by a monk chatting away on his mobile phone, one monk chain smoking on the verandah and the three-legged dog.

Koya-san is in Wakayama prefecture and it took a while to get there. The cable car ride up the mountain brought us to a much cooler and lush environment. It was nice to be up in the mountains, especially with summer slowly heating up.

Koya-san was established by the monk, Kukai and is famous for being the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Many pilgrims make their way here and the cemetery that leads to Okunoin, is the largest in Japan. Koya-san has many temples that offer shukubo - temple lodging, and this includes a vegetarian dinner and breakfast. Koya-san is also famous for it's sesame tofu - deeelious!

We did a little look around our temple (Eko-in) and returned to our rooms for our 5.30pm dinner. We were quite skeptical about the vegetarian meal so we smuggled in chips and Pocky from the convenience store. We were so wrong. The food was amazing and even though it doesn't look like much, it's was so filling.

Our room

After dinner we went to do some exploring and took photos around our area. Lots of temples and intricately carved wooden gates, a creepy trail of red tori gates that led to some deserted shrine, nice shop with handicraft goods owned by a Japanese guy originally from Tokyo (who could speak Japanese, English, French, Chinese and Italian) and his French wife and an overall zen-inaka-laidback-feel to the place.

When we returned, our meals had been cleared away and our futons laid out. After a soak in the temple's hot bath, we relaxed and watched a bit of the World Cup before falling asleep.