Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Poor Have No Leejzuuure

I have a confession to make: I've started watching reruns of Miami 7. Did I mention this before? The bad bad 'comedy' with S Club 7 (before they broke up). It's amusing me, which is even worse but, in my defence, it IS in English. That isn't much of a defence, is it? Maybe if I say I never saw it in the UK I can be forgiven? Anyway, they show a scene or two and then have a discussion about it and translate and explain lines in Japanese. It's bad, but amusing.

Oh, and the title of this post is the first thing I heard when I turned onto Miami 7.

Pizza. This morning I bought a random slice of pizza from a bakery. By random I mean it was hot, looked nice and I had no idea what it was. Biting into it I discovered I'd bought a curry pizza. Curry pizza? Interesting combination, although somewhat unexpected. In fact, and I can't recall half the odd toppings I've come across here, pizzas here can be quite creative. For example, you can get natto on pizza (why?), lettuce and mayo on pizza, chunks of octopus (quite nice actually), smoked salmon, little fish (no idea what they are called but they are about a centimetre or less in length and come in salads and bags by the 1000...) I'll come back to this when I remember more topics.


Today was my final day in one of my schools. The day is being closed down so I'm being sent elsewhere. It was kind of strange saying goodbye to the students, especially two of my favourite lads... but I'll get over it, and I'm sure they will too!

I taught a pair of identical twin 5 year old girls today for the third time. They are very cute kids, but I found it pretty freaky staring at the two of them side by side. Kind of like double vision or something. And their mannerisms were the same too. I kept thinking of some horror movie or other that had young twin sisters in and being unsettled by that. They weren't like other kids their age either. They hate music and songs, so I didn't bother with any. They also seem to hate anything involving a ball. Their regular teacher wanted me to give a revision lesson but they weren't really up for any activity and definitely weren't up for repeating ANYTHING. Finally they seemed happy enough when I gave them a craft activity and left smiling and happy, which meant their mum was happy. And I was happy - that they'd left. GAH!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Stick Figures

I've realised that my stick figures are turning more and more into anime characters now. Not good ones, I hasten to add. But the hairstyles, the eyes, the mouths. And cats. My cats now look like the cats of a Japanese kid.

My hangman figures are getting fancier too as I wait and wait and wait for a student to think of a letter.


Today, I went to the post office to send money back to the UK for the first time. Luckily the form was bilingual but I had to fill out my address three times on one page and couldn't understand what the assistant was saying to me. Frustrating, but hopefully the money will get to my bank in the UK. And it was only 700 yen (about £3) to send it back this way.

I'm getting more and more frustrated at not being able to communicate simple things properly here. I suppose it would help if I actually studied a bit more...


I've never talked about a typical day, I don't think. Well, there isn't really such a thing as a typical day but an abbreviated version of yesterday to give you an idea:

1. 20-year old female student, pre-intermediate, 30 minutes: natter about holiday, do work on 'must' and 'have to', discuss her next holiday.
2. 60+ year old female student, intermediate, 45 minutes: natter about her family, natter about families in Japan, natter about the demographic problems in Japan, do some 'you should' book work.
3. 2-year old boy, 20 minutes: songs about colours and animals, colouring, counting, revising ball activity words (kick, throw, etc)
4. 3 x 6-year old boys, 60 minutes: energetic ball games, energetic running around games, circling things on board, colour word bingo, letter bingo, miming last weeks vocab, book work, more energetic games.
5. 2 x 8-year olds - boy and girl, 30 minutes: revising last lessons work with a sticky ball game, learning new vocab, miming game with new vocab, stations (running between different cards and shouting out vocab), energetic ball game.
6. 40ish-year old female student, 60 minutes: won't do book work. nattered about jack the ripper, baseball, boxing, tennis, literature, art, England.
7. 50ish-year old female student, 30 minutes: nattered about her family, looked at an article from last weeks Japan Times about Britains policy of getting rid of foreigners, did a gap fill exercise from the text book.

I had two cancellations also.

At this point my brain stopped functioning. A regular occurance. And one of the reasons why I study so little Japanese.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Violet, You're Turning Violet*

* line from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in case you don't recognise it.

Purple. This is a good strong colour. I have a couple of bits of clothing in purple and think it's a bright, sunny and friendly colour. Lavender and violet though are not good colours.

I have a student who is known, by far too many people, as 'purple woman'. She oozes lilac/violet. Today, for example, she wore a lilac shirt over a lilac t-shirt and had a large lilac bag. BAD, BAD, BAD.

I don't think she realises it also makes her skin look rather violet.

She's not the easiest person to 'teach', but she likes me. This isn't necessarily a good thing. She won't use a text book or any sheets and will only do 'free conversation'. Now whilst, as a teacher, this is good because it means I don't have to prepare anything, I also have to put up with her moaning that her English was better 15 years ago and her whingeing that her grammar is crap, but she won't let me help her to make it any better. And sometimes I really just don't feel like talking... Oh well, it's only once a week.


After my NOVA rant (reminder: I do NOT work for NOVA), we had a meeting today and, thankfully, I won't have to pay anything. This is a massive relief.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Statue of WHAT?

I often have no idea what my students are trying to say. Written work can be even worse. I mean imagine trying to correct a student's grammar when you are clueless what they mean. Mr Teacher once told me he tells his students that it's his job to know what his students mean. Unless he can mind-read then I'd like to see him faced with some of my students!

Take today, my foundation level student who, bless her, tries really hard for me, when being prompted at what a well-known New York statue was called told me it was the 'Statue of Penis'. Or at least, that's what I think she said. There are moments when you don't ask for something to be repeated. I have NO idea what she actually said, but it didn't sound like 'Liberty', and that was good enough for me.

A few months ago my ten year old students managed to pronounce 'swimming' as 'kissing'. That takes some doing, no?

A ten-year old student once wrote on the board, 'the penis on the table'. The same student told me today that her (male) dog was at the hospital for an operation so it wouldn't have babies. Some things are not worth correcting!

I'll have to start making notes of more of their comments I think.

Oh, and typhoon 11 has now passed after a vicious night of full-on-ness!


Japanese weather forecast just told me us to 'take care when choosing your clothes'. Gotta love this bilingual telly stuff. Has me giggling far more than is healthy when faced with a news and weather broadcast.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Japanese Television

In England I watched too much television - trashy television mainly and, when I got here, I realized just how much I didn't miss it.

My neighbour had a bilingual telly. This means some programmes are made with an English voice over, or are shown in the original language (in the case of movies). Unless you have a bilingual TV you cannot turn this function on. Anyway, my friend has now moved into a gaijin house and I've inherited her telly. The news cracks me up. The voice that does the English translation is a (non-Japanese) man from - well, I'm not really sure where he's from, but it's the same man every night. He may be Aussie, but it's VERY hard to tell. His voice is very boring anyway. The way of reporting cracks me up too. It's so boring and repetitive and waffly, and whenever someone is interviewed the strange-English-speaking man keeps saying: 'This man says', 'This woman says', 'This man says', etc, with no attempt at making it more interesting.

The weather is the biggest story here and weather reports and stories go on a long time. I particularly like the 5-day forecasts where we are warned / assured / told that it could all change though.

Joe Public doesn't take part in quiz or game shows here, as far as I can tell. They have celebrities taking part and winning instead. In the UK, any shows like this where celebs win things or money, the gifts are always donated to charity.

One channel seems to have a programme on every night where strange masks or hair pieces are worn (imagine you can see the rubber parts and you're getting there).

Other programmes I've seen have comedians hitting members of the public and laughing hard about it.

Of course, the bilingual movies make it all worthwhile and the odd nature doco. Generally though, it appears to be a lot of low-budget garbage. I'm almost glad I don't understand more, although it is amusing to look at.

There is also an overabundance of bad singing, and many of the presenters on the comedy shows - no, pretty much ALL the presenters on the comedy shows, shout and overanimate like a bad children's presenter.

And as for the learning English programmes: I have never heard half the expressions they teach. Long may the English conversation schools continue in this country.

This also means I'm watching bad television. Last night I watched Miami 7 (yes, the programme with S Club 7 doing there thang), and I also watch things whose title I'm ignorant of. I did pick up a great avocado, banana, prawn recipe this morning though....


Typhoon 11 is on it's way. (They are known by numbers here: it means the eleventh typhoon this year).

Also I've now read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I said I'd get around to it eventually, and no, I didn't buy a copy. I really enjoyed it too. Still don't get the hype and the need to rush and buy it and be one of the first to read it though.

Oh, and I'm back into the teaching thing now (in other words I think all my classes today were fab, fun and interesting). I just have to get back into Japan now. I'm hoping this is just a holiday hangover.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cuddly radish, anyone?

Daikon's are large Japanese radishes. Today I saw there is a whole range of cuddly daikon things available - from daikon mobile phone holders, to cuddly daikon toys, holders of various things, purses, etc. Oh and non-cuddly daikon key chains, of course. I resisted the urge to buy any cuddly daikon products.


I saw a girl at the station this evening. Over her t-shirt she wore a bikini top. Whatever.


I'm currently trying to remind myself why I like Japan. I'll get there. Hopefully.

Monday, August 22, 2005

F*** You NOVA

NOVA is one of the larger English language conversation school groups in Japan: with one of the worst reputations. Before going any further let me just clarify: I don't work for NOVA.

Anyway, there has been a debate going on for a while, thanks to NOVA, on whether teachers in conversation schools should pay an extra (rather big) tax towards a pension, etc. This won't be optional. NOVA has, apparently, got a fair number of long-term teachers over 50 and this is why their union (yes, they have a union, ffs) pushed for this to be brought in.

We're having a meeting next Monday about this but, my understanding is that anyone that works over 30 hours will have to pay this tax. On an average week, I don't. If I do a cover day (making a six day week) then I do. Likewise when we have to do spring and summer schools, the hours can pile up.

If you don't stay over three years you can claim this money back. That isn't the point. The point IS I won't be able to manage if this extra money goes out of my account.

Starting from this month, I have to start sending back money to the UK for a loan commitment. This money from my account plus the extra tax (we are taxed anyway) will leave me well and truly screwed. I can kiss goodbye to my trip plans which, funnily enough, is the main reason I'm here.

Right now I'm (suffering from very very bad PMS) totally not into Japan or into teaching. This is not helping the way I'm feeling.

I'm utterly enraged. Thanks a bunch NOVA.

Link 1
Link 2

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Home, sweet, messy home.

I'm back!

Hong Kong, in addition to Marks and Spencers, and all the English brands I hadn't realised I miss, had a WHSmiths. I saw English newspapers and English magazines. Not newspapers IN English, but English FROM England. By 'saw', I mean 'saw'. They were all firmly wrapped in plastic.

And pharmacy things. So many pharmacy things that I used in the UK but cannot find here in Tokyo. The bag of pharmacy things I brought back weighed a few kilos, and thankfully, customs didn't feel the need to poke into every tub, tube and bottle in the bag. Guess I look too daft to be seen as suspicious. Happily I'm now stocked up for about the next 9 or so months on some of the things.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Plans, plans, plans

I did have plans to do many things whilst here. Those plans kept changing and finally I didn't even make it over to Lantau let alone Macau, or some of the areas on Hong Kong Island I'd intended to see.

Woke up, late, to rain again, which stopped and started all day, but wasn't too bad on the whole. I needed the sleep as I couldn't drop off for ages last night and finally felt much much better when I did wake up. Headed down to Marks and Spencers and, although I couldn't find any work trousers, I manage to get a pair of jeans, a pair of shoes and some knickers. (Knew everyone would want to know that).

Then went and bought up a pharmacy - all on brands and things from the UK that can't be found in Tokyo, including decent toothpaste with flouride, and all sorts...

Had to bring it all back to the hostel which, with lunch and all, meant my time was running short and I figured Lantau wouldn't be worth it. It was a shame, but never mind - I'm sure, sooner or later, another shopping trip will bring me back to Hong Kong.

So, I went to the Art Museum instead, then took a ferry back over to Hong Kong Island and another tram (rattle, rattle, shake, shake) to Causeway Bay for supper and a wander around. Had a very interesting dessert of sticky black rice and mango. There was a drink on the menu called 'whatever', which I questioned and was told something about the waiter just makes it up. Next thing I know I have a 'whatever' in front of me - and it tasted like mouthwash. I felt I was being rude but, when asked if I liked it, I told the truth - so they let me choose something else!

Got the tram and ferry back, and that was that.

Good trip with loads of choice of things to do, and still loads left undone, and tomorrow I leave at 6am to go back to the airport. No more holidays until November now, when I'm hoping to go to Osaka...


I'm ill.

The ever changing hot (outside), cold (inside) and getting wet again and again, and not sleeping enough has given me a nasty cold that's been developing well since last night.

Anyway, snuffles, etc aside: this morning I met up with Miranda again and we went to City Hall for dim sum. Spent a couple of hours there eating and nattering and enjoying... It's a massive place with huge round lights made up chandelier style, but not hanging down, and lots of red and gold and NO WINDOWS. We didn't know if they were renovating or if it's a permanent change, but covering where the windows should be were large pictures depicting the view!

From there I went and got the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak. Trams have been running this route for over a hundred years and it's so steep it is amazing the thing manages to get up, in my opinion! You could certainly feel the pressure in your ears and back as it tried to struggle up the large gradient. Looking out the windows, the buildings appeared to be sitting at a 45 degree angle or so. Odd. Getting to the top, the view wasn't as clear as it could have been but was still certainly worth having gone up for, and the on-off rain was off at that point, so even better. I decided to walk away from the lingering crowds and went for a wander that I thought would take me right the way around the peak, eventually. It was a lovely walk, until I got confused and couldn't work out which direction to head in or which of two roads to take. Luckily a cab went past, so I got it back around to the tram station and had a wander around there.

After taking the tram back down, I was feeling pretty crap, so all of my various ideas - to go to Aberdeen, to Causeway Bay, etc just sort of evaporated and I headed into the Botanical Gardens and Zoological Park - or whatever it's called and spent a couple of hours wandering around in there not looking at any green things and sweating my way around looking at caged things. Yes, I know... but let's not go there. I've not been near a zoo in about 20 years. Saw lots of birds, a heap of different primates and a very bored looking 6 foot python.

Then, I decided to take one of the narrow double decker trams - just for the hell of it. I have no idea where it went - West Point, or something - but I just wanted to go on one of the trams and for 2 HK dollars (about 30 pence) it was worth it, then I hopped onto another one and returned to where I'd started from!

Miranda had mentioned (naughty Miranda) there was a food hall / deli with lots of English things in it. I had to go and check it out and must have looked pretty silly, walking around gasping at the sight of foods and drinks I've not seen in nearly a year. I wanted to tell someone, but resisted, thankfully. I saw quite a few of the things I've periodically missed and saw a bottle of PIMMS. I picked it up and put it down about half a dozen times before deciding I couldn't really justify the price. Tomorrow is another day though, and I've promised myself that if I do well buying from Marks and Spencers (clothes) that I might treat myself... but then I'll get frustrated at not being able to find the right lemonade in Tokyo!

Anyhoo, I bought olive bread, olives, hummous, walkers crisps and a couple of deli salads and had a little picnic in my bedroom. Very happy. Though feeling a little sick now.

That deli alone ('Olivers', in the big building opposite HSBC by Central Station at the side of Statue Square) could make me consider moving to Hong Kong!

I like Hong Kong. The people may be much (much) louder and less stylish than Tokyoites, and the city may not be as sanitized (how refreshing!) and is certainly more overrun with tourists (but I guess so are the touristy areas of Tokyo) but it just has a nice feel to it. A nice buzz. But so did Taiwan.

I think the main thing is that I'm enjoying the whole Asia experience at the almost one year point.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Meesy? Baggy? Watchy?

Today I walked around every sodding market in Kowloon. Ever one. I thought it'd be fun to follow a walk in one of the books around the markets. My feet may never forgive me. Especially as I couldn't actually face buying anything.

The day was nice and dry, but extremely humid, as I trundled through the crowds in all the clothes and things markets having every second vendor shouting over 'meesy, meesy, baggy? watchy?' at me before I could even think about looking. Most annoying. Then there was the bird market - where I saw people walking their birds and a lot of birds in little cages, parrots chained to stands, etc that upset me. I know I was expecting to see that, but it did still shock me somewhat. Poor things. I wandered past the goldfish market again too and saw lots of animals that, quite frankly, must have been drugged. Can you imagine a display of 10 kittens where every single one of them is asleep, and in the box next to them a bunch of puppies - all asleep. Upsetting. I also wandered through the flower market which had, er, lots of flowers.

There's a jade market here. I'm generally totally indecisive and get very flustered if forced into making a decision. The biggest problem with the jade market was it was impossible to browse without a vendor immediately pouncing on you. Since Taiwan though, I've been on the hunt for a jade bat - I want a little dark green bat, with it's wings open. It's an auspicious symbol and, therefore, I'd have thought it easy to find a good selection. In Taiwan, I found none. Here I found a few - but nothing like I had in mind. I did learn the Cantonese (?) word for bat though. I've now forgotten it.

Before I ventured on the marketothon, I'd planned to do four museums. Hey, I'm like that on holiday, okay? As I managed to spend four hours in the History museum alone, I gave up the idea of any others. I found it really interesting though and er, can't actually think of anything else to say about it. It was good!

I finished off the evening with a lovely rice, seafood, pineapply thing served in a half pineapple, and then saw 'Charlie and the Chocolote Factory'. Interesting film, great music, scary Johnny Depp.

Funnily enough, going back to my room, I found the original 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' on - Johnny Depp's Charlie is definitely more insane, but the ending is better in the new one.


Last night I think I made the day for a couple of 13 year olds, when I told them I thought they were about 20. I now officially accept I'm useless with people's ages!


I have a TV in my room and the majority of the adverts are public service announcements telling people how to live their lives - what they must eat, what they must do, what they must not do, etc. I'm going to try to remember to take some photos of some of them. There are posters around too telling (I suppose) teenagers to talk about sex with their parents. I get the impression people are basically being told what to think...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Liz, Miranda and Ruth

Crashing later than intended meant getting up a tad later than intended. Woke to a chillier day than I've had in ages, but it humid-ed itself out later and warmed up. Due to my perfect timing, I've arrived in Hong Kong to an unseasonal typhoon. ie - it's been chucking it down all day.

Sidenote: this seems to be somewhat of a thing with me, Asia and the weather. In Tokyo, in the almost-year I've been there, it's been colder than normal, wetter than normal, had more typhoons than normal and had more and bigger earthquakes than normal. Oh well, maybe I'm a deity and just not aware of it?

Anyhow, I'm not too bothered. It means there's no danger of burning.

This morning then, I had the plan to try and get a trip on a Chinese Junk (there's only a couple a day and you have to pre-book, even though it's free). Going down in the lift from the hostel there were a couple of other foreigners, so I asked them the best way to get to the place to book the Junk, down by the ferry terminals.

They were both heading that way (separately) so we all travelled down together. The guy went off and the girl, Liz, said she planned to try and get a ticket for the Junk too. We were unsuccessful, unfortunately but decided to go and get a coffee and then went and had dim sum together.

Now, this is another reason I like travelling alone: random encounters. Liz is a Brit, in her early 30s and about 9 months into a round the world. With her arms covered in tattoos, back in the UK she worked for a motorbike company (some kind of salesy thing) and is also a trained mechanic. She comes from a small village and hadn't done any non Brit-by-the-sea holidays (Lanzarote, etc) before embarking on this trip. Interesting couple of hours but I had to leave to hop onto the ferry from Kowloon over to Hong Kong Island, where I had plans to meet Miranda - someone who posts on a bulletin board I frequent. Hong Kong Island, near the ferry terminal is full of very tall buildings, including a very interesting one with round windows, that's nicknamed the building of a thousand arseholes, or something like that!

Anyway, after a couple of gallons of tea at lunch time I was desparate for a pee... and headed into a nearby building in the hope of finding one. Didn't see a single sign until I reached a Starbucks that, although it didn't have one, had a sign for one. I stood looking around. The staff asked me if I was looking for a toilet and passed me a key! How sweet!

Met Miranda in Central Station which is massive and went to MARKS AND SPENCERS. I'm going to have to go back there and do some proper shopping in the next couple of days, I think. I've also seen loads of British brands here, many that I also saw in Taiwan, that they don't have in Tokyo. We wandered around a few more shops, went up the world famous longest outside escalator (longest anywhere maybe? I'll have to check) and ended up drinking wine in a bar as the heavens opened up again. Very nice.

I had to leave and head back to the hostel though since I'm meeting up with Ruth (another poster on the same board as Miranda) and her family half an hour ago! Apparantly, they are stuck at the airport though....

Never mind, I can figure out what I'm doing tomorrow in the meantime. I like Hong Kong!


Okay, so Ruth and her lovely family finally arrived and we tumbled out in to the rain to go and find some food... I want her daughters' amazing red hair. They are both gorgeous kids. Ate, came back, got soaked again and managed to lose one daughter. Meanwhile, Ruth and I were in a convenience store getting water, and hubby and other daughter came up (and got stuck in lift) thinking younger daughter was with us.... Mini drama but younger daughter was found waiting by the dead lift (Ruth and I had gone there first but, finding it not working, had come up in a different one) and all ended well.

And meanwhile, the rain continues on. I think I'll just get used to being damp over the next couple of days!

Hong Kong - Day One

Balls. Just managed to delete my post. What was I saying?

Oh, yeah - the hostel has free internet access so I thought I'd update the blog before crashing.

Dragon Airlines are stingy: When I asked for a vodka and diet coke they gave me a 3/4 glass full of diet coke and HALF a miniature vodka. We got little menu cards from them, but by the time they got to my row, the chicken was all gone. I did get three glasses of wine from them though and the dessert was haagen dasz, so it wasn't all bad. Plus I didn't get a fidgetty chatty person next to me and I got to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - which I did find a bit of a let down.

The flight was a bit choppy and we landed to steamy greyness. By the time I'd faffed and fiddled with putting contact lenses back in, going through passport, etc, it was chucking it down. By the time I got off the bus, it had stopped. The weather forecast for the next few days is hot and wet. Oh well. Less chance of getting burnt, but shame for the photos.

Found the bus and the hostel really easily. I do like travelling alone. The hostel, The Dragon Hostel, is pretty basic but it's nice and clean and there's tv in the rooms, free internet, etc. My room isn't en suite (I'm a cheap skate), but there's only about 5 rooms sharing the 'bathroom'. I use this term extremely loosely. It's a toilet and a sink and above the toilet is a shower attachment. It's got a pretty strong jet though, but it's weird all the same. It's nice and clean though, so I'm not complaining!

The hostel is in Mong Kok, in Kowloon, and I went for a long wander to get food and figure out what was around here. I know this is a really obvious thing to say, but it seems much more like Taiwan than Tokyo. I'm not sure what I was expecting. There's a buzz I really like and lots of people wandering around and vendors selling foods and drinks and magazines and all sorts on the streets.

My greatest surprise was stumbling across The Goldfish Market. Oh my goodness! Dozens and dozens of shops all selling goldfish! Some of the luckier ones were in large tanks, the not so lucky ones were cooped up in tiny bags. And all sorts of colours. It was amazing to look at - if it wasn't for the part of me that was screaming cruel! cruel! traumatised fish! There was also an assortment of terrapins, turtles, crabs and all sorts waiting to be taken away to be auspicious in someones house (apparantly). I also saw a few nasty nasty pet shops that had poor little (but extremely cute) traumatised bunnies, puppies and kitties cooped up going mad. I hate pet shops but the animals are so cute - but it's SO wrong. I saw one bunny that had gnawed it's leg down to the bone. I felt truly sick. Poor thing.

Of course, I now want to go home and buy lots of fish and have a beautiful tank. I'd never get around to it though. And, if I did, I'd never clean it and they'd probably die. The few times I've had plants they've died as I've forgotten about them.

Had a lovely meal in some restaurant or other that I stumbled across - I love pushing myself to go into restaurants where I know I maybe can't communicate, rather than taking the easy options....

And then checked out some of the many, many, many shops around.

Anyway, there's other people (bastards!) waiting for the internet, so that's it from me for today.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hong Kong

I'm going tomorrow morning.

Be back on Wednesday.

Have a nice week. I know I will :D

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


We STILL have no water. The pump for the apartment block flooded and they are trying to get all the water out before sorting out the supply to the flats. This is HELL. I've stocked up on wetwipes and bottled water but I can't shower, flush the toilet, do any washing or washing up. HELL! I think if it's not back on by tomorrow I'll have to go to an onsen, but the point is that in this weather, you sweat moving between places and so it's the pleasure of being able to shower before getting dressed and when you get home and before getting into bed that is the whole point rather than the 'just getting clean' thing. Of course the other thing is that I have eczema and need to be able to get the sweat off my skin properly to lessen flair-ups.


Anyway, enough of that for now. Today I went with a friend to Odaiba. I went once before to visit a themed onsen but hadn't explored the town that time. We got a boat there - a very futuristic looking boat that resembled something from Star Trek, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the ride wasn't too picturesque apart from some nice bridges. Odaiba itself is a sprawling metropolis of greyness, once you get out of the shopping areas. It feels a bit like a large industrial estate. There were lots of queues for things we didn't bother with and we just wandered around watching people and nattering instead.

Oh and we went into two pet shops. The first had tanks with beetles for sale. HUGE beetles. They're very popular pets with kids here as apartments are so small. I did try hard, but just cannot see the appeal of owning a beetle. I mean, as a kid, I had a ladybird for a pet, which is a bit odd, but at least ladybirds are cute. In their own way.

The second pet shop was all kittens. I could have taken a few of them home with me....

I'm starting to no longer be nervous of cicadas. I wish I was a good enough writer to really set down the atmosphere created by cicadas, but I'm not and I can't. Imagine a tree or a bunch of trees or shrubbery with disembodied noises clattering and screeching out at you like some hugely magnified death rattle with the occasional 'voice' rising above the masses and making a noise which you cannot really describe as you've heard nothing like it in your life. Most of the time you hear a loud humming coming on masse. And then the one 'voice' raises about the others in a shrill vibration of short quick noises ending in a long rattle, before the mass humming resumes. Now and then a 'screech' will ring out. If you're lucky the stereo of clattering may calm down to an loud vibration. If you're very lucky, the only knowledge you have of the presence of a cicada is it's noise. And it's a noise you can hear most of the time around you. Sometimes it's the only noise.

Three days to Hong Kong. I'm still checking for messages in my Hong Kong thread (below), so please leave me some more.


2am update: the water is finally back on after being out since some time yesterday evening. Bliss. I just had a wonderful shower. I feel clean now.


The apartment block has no water. I smell. I need a shower. I need to flush my toilet. I need to do washing. This is horrendous. I am NOT happy.

I had a wonderful day out yesterday in Yokohama - fantastic gyouza in China Town with the most delicious peanut sauce, wilted green things with garlic, some parts of a chicken with cashews and baby corn and oo SO nice!

My friend had never been up in a ferris wheel before, and Yokohama has a MASSIVE one. From my dwindleing memory of London, I can't actually remember if it's bigger or smaller than the London eye, but is very very big all the same, and we had a pod to ourselves which was lovely.

There was a Hawaiian festival on, but it was a bit of a letdown. More of a 'couple of guys on stage with a dancer' and a food van, than what I'd actually call a festival.

Then there was the foreigner's cemetary which seemed vaguely interesting, but which we couldn't actually get into. The area around it was very pretty though with lots of lovely big old houses and other buildings.

Nice day, topped off with seeing the movie 'Dear Frankie'.

And don't forget to leave more Hong Kong suggestions below please.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Tokyo in summer

Please don't forget my Hong Kong post below, if you have more suggestions to offer up.

Do you like my weather geisha girl? I think she's cute (of course) but, her weather reports do seem to differ from those on other sites, that always say it's hotter and more humid than she does. (It's generally around the mid 30's here at the moment, with humidity around the high 80 to mid 90% range. Not very pleasant, in other words. But, I DO like my little geisha and cuteness is more important than accuracy. Right?

The heat means that by the time I get on my bike every day, the plastic seat has reached an oven-like temperature and is bloody painful to sit on. Burnt bum, anyone? Of course the actual cycle to the station is pretty pleasant and generally quite cool. Until the second I stop, and then I just drip and have to start mopping (with me face cloth) and fanning (with a fan, naturally).

I finally gave in and turned the aircon on yesterday as the fan alone was no longer doing the job. Apart from freezing myself out (which usually happens in the schools anyway as I sit in it all day long), I left it on for most of the night and felt like a prune this morning - my skin had been dried THAT much by the aircon. Ick!

Talking of ick... It finally happened. I spotted cousin of godzilla-the-cicada-golfball. Well, it was more like king kong this time I guess. It was a HUGE cockroach AND it was in my apartment. 2 o'clock in the morning, sitting on my futon, reading and generally winding down to sleep, this HUGE beast scuttled across the floor towards me. Naturally, I screamed and swore my head off, and jumped and wondered what the fuck to do.

I'm a nice person. I don't DO harm to other creatures. I rescue spiders and release them into safety. Of course, if it's small and looks like it might bite me given half a chance, I squish the bastard. But it's a dog eat dog world, no?

Anyway, King Kong the HUGE cockroach, settled on my wall and there was no way I was prepared to ignore it. Thinking through the possible options, I decided if I squished it there'd be a horrible mess to clean up. So, I decided to capture it and get it the hell out of my flat. I grabbed a glass in one hand. I grabbed a piece of paper in the other. Summoning up my courage I crept towards King Kong, lifted the glass, slammed it down on the cockroach - well, it must have seen the glass coming and started moving, which meant I cracked the glass down half way down it's back - heavily - and maybe smashed half it's shell. Whatever, the thing scuttled away anyhow.

I felt I had no choice but to go to bed with it still possibly in my room. I don't think they can hurt you, but shit are they horrible!


Despite the heat, one of my students has joined a HEAT YOGA class, where the temperature and humidity is turned right up to aim for maximum sweat. I said she should just stand in the street. She said that wasn't sweaty enough. I suggested moving....

Nutter! Everyone else is trying to ESCAPE the sweatiness!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hong Kong

End of next week I'm off to Hong Kong.

Have you been?

What are the five most unmissable things, in your opinion? I am, of course, reading and planning but tell me.

I'll be there four whole days, and am flying in on the 12th and out on the 17th, if anyone is going to be around and would like to meet up for a beer or some dim sum?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Divebombed by Godzilla

Now, in my ignorance at such matters, I'd always thought a cicada was a cute little green thing that happily hid in the grass and chirruped away all day and night.

That was until I came (practically) nose to nose with Godzilla this morning. The Japanese cicada, or semi, is terrifying. Especially when you have the impression that a big black golf ball which is loudly whistling and clacking and moving at about 50 mph is heading straight for you like a thunderbolt and misses you by about half a metre.

I resisted screaming but couldn't hold in the most dignified, and extremely loud 'FUCKING HELL'.

I've googled but cannot actually find a picture to do Godzilla-the-semi-Golfball justice.

Horrid scary thing.

Japan is fun. Sometimes.

Of course, I'm now paranoid that every time I hear a clip or clapper that one is going to appear. I have an insect door (whatever they're called) across my balcony, so there is NO way they could get into my apartment. But still...... EEK!