Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Got me some wheels

I finally got car. Hooray!

It's a second-hand, silver, 5 door hatch - easy to park and easier to drive. Yep, I copped out and got an automatic. After having driven manual ever since I got my licence, I decided to be slack and auto is just so much easier. One can do many more things whilst driving - applying lipgloss, eating a burger, looking at a road map, having a drink...all safely done ofcourse.

The only problem is that I don't have enough control and power to take off quickly at a set of lights. That and my left arm and leg seem to be getting bored.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Growing up

It's been fun playing with Callum and Sean again.

They have grown up quite a bit and I find myself being that aunty who gasps,
"Look how big you've grown!"
"How old are you now?"
"Come here and give me a hug."

Eeks! It has come full circle.

The other night the boys stayed over and we played lego. That familiar crunching sound of rummaging through the lego box for the right piece brought back childhood memories of hours spent on the lounge room floor.

When Brendon came over the boys had already gone to bed, so he decided to build a house for them to play with the next morning. This is the house that Brendon built...

Front of the house


The upstairs bedroom

The kids loved it (that is until Sean smashed it to pieces) but I think Brendon had the most fun building it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Getting out

A few friends from Japan asked me if I'd keep my blog after I returned to Australia.

"Hmmm," I thought. "Well, it'll go something along the lines of...Today I went to the shops and bought milk and bread. The End." Not exactly exciting stuff. Just everyday occurrences in Japan made for interesting posts. Going to the shops to buy milk and bread would lead to an adventure of some sort.

"But we're not from Australia and we've never been there before. So you have to keep writing so we can decide if we want to visit you or not," they replied.

Okay, okay. But don't blame me if they're lame. I see my days ahead full of exciting things like organising a phone, car, doing clerical stuff like health insurance, car insurance and *smack in the face from reality* looking for a job.

I can now understand all the information we got about dealing with reverse-culture-shock, the importance of getting back into a routine, going out, catching up with family and friends. For me, the mere thought of being here and realising that I'm not on holiday and that I won't be returning to Japan anytime soon is simply depressing.

So here's to getting out and good friends.

Tonight we went to The Red Herring for Pamela's birthday. It was really good to see the girls again and catch up since Marina's wedding.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bad apples suck

The more people I come across, the more I relate to a bumper sticker I once read,
"The more peope I meet, the more I like my dog."

I don't have a dog but if I did, I'm sure that I would like my dog more. I can't get over how rude people are here. I never really noticed it before I went to Japan. I think I always came across really nice people. But now it's so in-your-face obvious.

I know I can't keep comparing things to Japan but I'm in reverse-culture-shock mode so I'm allowed to until I become jaded again. But has common courtesy died? Is it too much to ask for good service or a smile nowadays? (you know you're getting old when you use words such as 'nowadays')

I admit that even in Japan you got people like that. I'm sure you get that all over the world. But wouldn't the world be a nicer place? You get good apples, you get bad apples. But the bad apple ratio here just seems to be a whole lot higher.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy family

Congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law! Yay!

The day after I arrived, my sister-in-law gave birth to a very small and cute baby boy, Alexander.

Eeeks! now that's 3 nephews' birthdays I have to remember.

Hello reverse-culture-shock

I was sitting in my new room (my sister's old bedroom) looking at my suitcase and coming to terms that I wasn't on holiday anymore when I heard the all too familiar droning of Brendon's car.

I had told him not to bother about picking me up from the airport because my flight was so late but he dropped by my house about 1am. Thanks babe, it meant a lot to me and made me forget about jumping on the next plane back to Japan.

Aren't I a lucky girl?
So what have I been up to since I got back? Not much.

I've been constantly cleaning, unpacking, washing, ironing and just relaxing and slowly settling back into Perth and the lifestyle here. Laying low.
Here are some food photos to keep you hungry hippos happy.
Mum made chinese dumplings
One night Brendon and I went out to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in northbridge.
Duck and mushroom noodle soup with stuffed chicken wings

Prawn dumpling noodle soup

This one is for you Sue-Yen...


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sayonara Nippon

While I've been living at Cheryl's house, I'm been living a very comfortable lady of leisure lifestyle.

The taxi company knows who I am and I haven't had to trek up that hill for almost a week. I've been able to sleep late and sleep in. I go out for lunch at all my favourite places one last time. I walk up and down all the malls one last time (unfortunately I can't buy anything because my suitcase is already overweight and I've sent 7 boxes home). It is bliss.

But living out of a suitcase isn't the life for me and as much as I love this place, I do look forward to going home. Who am I kidding? I don't want to leave but a holiday back home would be a nice refresher.

I wake up early, take my last taxi to the station and struggle with my heavy suitcase and bags to the airport bus stop in Sanners. Chieko is already waiting there for me. Gai-sensei and Taniguchi-sensei are also there to see me off. They had all offered to drive me to the airport but I think I need to get on that bus by myself and go through the airport by myself and say goodbye to Japan by myself. You know, getting closure and stuff.

I got on the bus and waved to them through the window as the bus drove off. My suitcase went through fine and the flight to Singapore allowed me to sprawl across 3 seats while my mind tried to digest that I was leaving. It really was 'the end of an era' - haha well quoted matey.

After so many meals, movies and duty-free shopping, I eventually arrived in Perth around midnight. It was cold. It was quiet. My parents picked me up from the airport. Driving back home, looking out the window realising where I was, my heart sank and the tears started.

It's really over.

Why did I leave?

I miss Japan already.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Last day

For my last day in Japan I headed to Kyoto with Marissa and Sue Yen.

We did a bit of shopping and walked around in the heat.

Then we headed back to Sanners and Marissa went off to a dinner engagement while Sue Yen and I went to a very oshare cafe which I've always wanted to go to. It's on the side of Daimaru and opens out onto the sidewalk. The waitstaff are suited up immaculately and they only serve drinks, cakes and sandwiches.

After walking around and trying to soak up as much as I could, it slowly hit me that I would be on a plane tomorrow. Leaving for good. It felt weird. Hello anxiety.

We went to Chada Thai for a dinner of pad thai, pineapple rice and cashew chicken. So tasty but we just couldn't finish it between the two of us.

Then we met up with Marissa again, along with Leigh and Alison and headed to Junkara for our last karaoke session. Our first room had a technical problem so we were moved into the safari room - check out the zebra print seats. Nice.

Me with the ashtray cymbals and Leigh's makeshift drums

Our last song was chosen by Marissa. Goodbye by the Spice Girls - oh so very appropriate.

Goodbye my friend(s)

It's not the end

So glad we made it

Time will never change it.

Thanks for the memories guys! Thanks for sharing my fan-Japan-tastic experience with me and making it that much more enjoyable. Gonna miss you guys heaps. All the best and keep in touch.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Last weekend


I had my last hair appointment at D:UC. I'm going to miss their amazing service (wash, style cut, blow dry, head and shoulder massage, complimentary drink and chocolate/rice crackers - and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg!)

In the evening I headed to Chieko's place in Takarazuka. Chieko and Jun were already kitted out in their yukatas. Sue Yen lent me one of hers since I'd already boxed and sent mine home. Chieko's mum helped put mine one and served us homemade anmitsu - delicious.

After picking Sue Yen up from the station, we walked to Chieko's family friend's apartment which was right by the river, where the Takarazuka fireworks were being set off. We had an awesome view.

Afterwards we sat inside eating and talking. We met Noriko, the daughter of Chieko's mum's friend. She works as a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific and now lives in Hong Kong. She also did a year exchange in Perth when she was a high school student.

Back at Chieko's place eating homemade chirashizushi.

It was about 11pm when we finally decided to go to karaoke. It was an all nighter session but luckily Chieko was driving so we didn't have to wait for first trains.


We got home about 4am, showered and knocked out. Chieko gave us vodafone t-shirts to wear to bed - it was her present to us as she used to work for them. When we finally got up the next day Chieko's parents prepared a huge brunch of burgers, fresh bread and fruit. We were so spoilt. We picked up Jun and dropped Sue Yen home for her shodo lesson. Then they dropped me back to Cheryl's place and headed to Porto Bazar.

Mecha arigatou Chi-chan to Jun-chan! Totemo tanoshikata! Ogenkide!

In the evening I headed to Sanners for my last Starbucks matcha frappuccino while waiting for Alison, Marissa and Leigh. Met up with Sue Yen again and we headed to Lois Cafe for dinner.

Wandering the streets of Sannomiya on a summer night - gonna miss it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Takoyaki party

Today I met up with Sue Yen before she had work. We went to Osaka for lunch at a Korean place. I had the yakiniku set (yakiniku for lunch?! I have to do it all before I leave) and she had the kimchi bibimbap.

That evening I went back to my apartment block because my neighbours threw me a takoyaki farewell party. It was so tasty. Yusuke bought fresh Akashi octopus for the takoyaki and an assortment of sashimi. We made a variety of takoyaki with cheese, kimchi and sausages.

I'm ever so thankful for my lovely neighbours who helped me settle into my life in Japan. It was great to have such wonderful and caring friends living next door. Yusuke and Noriko have already moved to a new mansion, I've just left and soon Eric and Kanako will be moving to a new place.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh sweet pineapple

Leigh and I have been hankering for hawaiian pizza for ages.

Pizza in Japan is an experience within itself. They like toppings such as mayonnaise, corn and other things you wouldn't really think of. Couldn't we just bring a can of pineapple to them at ask them to put it on top? *sucking air through teeth* hmmm chotto

Leigh came up with a glorious revealation one night. How about we order a normal ham and cheese pizza and put our own pineapple on top? Even better, how about we pan fry the pineapple first so it'll be hot and tasty.

Finally a pizza night was organised and I met up with him after work, lugging a can of pineapple in my bag. We headed to Domino's and there was a 'new item' on the menu - Tropical pizza. It had ham, cheese, corn, mayo and onion. Needless to say we asked for no corn, mayo or onion.

Miwako brought a really sweet rockmelon (melons are really expensive here) and we had a surprise strawberry roll cake for Sam's birthday.

Then we headed to Gakuentoshi's local karaoke joint.

Sam's ring of fire

Adrian being discreet while pouring shouchu under the table
I'm not a fan of karaoke but I've come to enjoy it a lot with the 'socially exclusive' Kobe crew. Nothing beats Alison's showtunes, Leigh and Marissa's disney duets, Sam's random rap selections and the interpretive dances. Good times.

Our final song