This is what 203 paper cranes look like...
Target: 1000... it might take a while...
Sunday, 29 April 2007
This is what 203 paper cranes look like...
Outside my dormitary a little white van comes by to sell fruit and veg to the residents.
It comes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and parks itself in the main square when its nice and sunny. When it rains, it tends to shelter outside B block...
It's very convenient...not only do I not have to lugg shopping on the train but it has a general tendancy to be cheaper than the supermarkets...
Usually they sell eggs and tofu (several different kinds are available, and for only 20yen! How cheap is that?!) and sometimes they even have some fresh tuna sashmi...very very *nice*.
Unfortunately, things like potatoes and most fresh fruit and veg tend to be rather expensive. A bag of 5 small potatoes costs 150-200 yen...ahhhh how I miss making my way through a 5kg bag... Fruit and veg here, however, is monster. The apples are some kind of mutant strain where they've grown to at least double the size of those things you find in UK supermarkets...and they are always nice and sweet and crunchy. But if you try and buy one lone apple, which is always very carefully and individually wrapped, it costs you about 200 yen. Their chinese leaf is bigger than your head. Which makes it quite hard for one lone student get through before it begins the process of decomposition in your fridge. We've even tried sharing one of these monsters between two, and it's still too much.
Maybe if I'm feeling very enthusiastic next weekend, I'll get you some photographic evidence of the large-ness of said fruit and veg...
Thursday, 26 April 2007
I was just browsing the BBC news website, and came across this comparison between the questions set for a Chinese University and a English one.
So, not impossible if you did A-level Mathematics (at my age, I'm pretty sure that differentiation and 3D trig were one of the first few things on the syllabus...but, from what I could see things had been happily falling off the syllabus for many years before I got to A-levels...and I think they were about the level of O-levels when my parents did them).
Then, comes the question set for First Year Undergrads; for a science degree. A Degree, I remind...not an entrance exam for a university.
I saw this and laughed.
I must say it makes a mockery of the British educational system, mathematics wise...but then again i guess all these soft-fluffy happy subjects are all the rage now-a-days. So, it's not like there is a huge amount of prestige with being is geek.
However, I'm pretty sure that entrance exams can often be much tougher than the actual level you are taught to at entrance level. It's how they skim off the best candidates, you need something to challenge the grey matter to get an insight into how they think when they are pushed. Sooooo, maybe this is just a very biased example given by the RSC just to add fuel to a debate...
[rant: and which monkey was suggesting a couple of years ago to omit the requirement of Mathematics at A-level for entrance in Engineering degrees?! Cretins!]
The rest of the article is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6589301.stm
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Today Carl introduced me to the concept of a Japanese Tongue Twister (Hayakuchi kotoba), had me in absolute stitches.
Not like its not hard enough to pronounce some of the stuff as it is. You just try saying: it was not warm (atataka kunakatta) or I don't want to work (haierita kunakatta). Now try doing it quickly. yeah...fun isn’t it?
Anyway, the following are some of the least obscure;
The Director of Tokyo Patent Office:
Tokyo tokkyo kyoka kyoku kyoka kyokucho
Child turtle on top of parent turtle, grandchild turtle on top of child turtle, great grandchild turtle on top of grandchild:
Oyagame no ue ni kogame, kogame no ue ni magogame, magogame no ue ni himagogame
Two chickens in Mr. Niwa's garden suddenly ate an alligator
Niwa-san no niwa ni wa niwa niwatori wa niwakani wani o tabeta
...unfortunately, I've been told that grammatically this last one makes no sense...such a shame.
There is also this contribution from youtube. Then, ask why anyone would want to be a contestant on a Japanese TV show. Let alone one on tongue twisters...
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Is a bar in Ebisu, which is near the infamous Shibuya. Ebisu is full of restaurants and bars, many of which are hidden away in the upper floors of what look like office blocks of prefabricated buildings that infest Tokyo.
You walk down the main street of Ebisu, which in the evening bustles with people looking for a place to feed. Then you walk past a small Japanese bar, and turn into a dark corridor, which is an entrance to one of these featureless prefabs, at which point a lift door greets you stopping you from going any further. There are some stairs off to the left of the lift, but they look very dark and menacing, and there are a prohibitive number of steps between the ground floor and the intended target; my chicken lungs will never forgive me if I tried (thinking about it makes me wheeze).
The lift is rather small, but someone has made the effort to try and make it at least seem less Closter phobic by cladding the walls with mirrors. When you get to the 5th floor, there is a dark and heavy wooden door about 1.5m ahead, and you can already feel the bass from the lift shaft. Opening the heavy door, the music gets louder and you are greeted with more darkness, and the general sounds of people having a good time. And you have arrived at ‘What the Dickens’.
Not only does this bar/pub have the feel of a nice old pub in the UK; with the strange and random wall decorations: but it sells Pints of beer, ale, and Guinness, not to mention pub food; they do a Sunday roast, how cool is that?! This is not, however, my only reasons for my liking of this place. There is GOOD live music; something which is desperately lacking in the majority of British pubs that I go to. Coupled with the great atmosphere, it’s a great place to just turn up to, even if you have no idea who will be playing.
It’s packed on Friday and Saturday nights, so it’s a good idea to get there at a sensible time to get some breathing space or better yet, my favourite spot at a table by the balcony which overlooks the stage.
I seriously recommend going. This place *rocks*.
Monday, 23 April 2007
Kim Hor what Cambodian elementary school aged children do in their spare time? And Kim Hor replied: ‘They usually play outside’
She then turned to Sagoru* and asked: ‘What Nepalese elementary school aged children do in their spare time?’
Sagoru* replied: ‘They usually play cricket outside’
Turning to Carl, she asked: ‘What Swedish elementary school aged children do in their spare time?’
Carl replied: ‘They usually play computer games’
Finally turning to me, she asked: ‘What English elementary school aged children do in their spare time?’
I replied: ‘They usually drink alcohol and smoke’
On the concept of sharing culture…Kigami-sensei told us a lovely little thing about Japanese culture. Kids can be ‘respected’ at school if they are good gamers. No need for cool clothes, fantastic hair or being good at sports…none of that nonsense! Just good old fashioned getting-boggly-eyed from staring at a little screen for hours on end, and you too can be revered at school. Such a shame I’m crap at computer games…although, on a completely different note apparently it might be cheaper to ‘invest’ in a Nintendo DS lite and a dictionary cartridge rather than one of those funky electronic dictionaries…I might have to explore…hmmm… this could be bad for my poor little bank balance…
*This might not be his real name. Not because he wants to be protected from any back lash, but because I have a crap memory. Sorry.
Wednesday, 18 April 2007
Carl-san [Exchange student from Sweden] was given a little book of manners at the Combini with his lunch today...
We couldn't really read the Japanese too well, but some of the pictures were quality.
There are two main options with this first 'manner':
Option A: The book is trying to tell you the best etiquette for going to the toilet, thus:
1. first, Bend down as far as you can so that the *tiny* shop assistant can hear you, then ask him/her discretely 'where is the toilet?'
2. once the toilet has been found, bend over 90 degrees, pull down pants (and knickers) and show your bum to the toilet.
3. still bent at 90 degrees, wave hands at sink.
Option B: Different ways to bow (in order of politeness)
1. show the top of your head to the person.
2. pull down pants and knickers and show bare buttocks.
3. bend forward 90 degrees, and extend both arms straight out at 20 degrees below horizontal.
I have NO idea... suggestions on a postcard please...
All combini's (especially Lawson's) are an oasis in the vast swathes of unknown that is the world that we live on. So sacred is the ground on which they are built, discarded cigarette butts sprout into grand coconut palms and birds flutter merrily in the sky's above...
Here endth the lesson.
Whilst Tom and I were exploring the joys of 'Tokyo Big Sight' we were on the roof of the 4th floor and we saw lots of lovely things...
Where did the vending machines go?!
Then, as we looked over the edge of the building, we saw this genius design for a road...
It seems to siphon traffic off the main road and lead them to a round-about, which only allows you to exit the same way you came in.
Great isn't it?
Monday, 16 April 2007
Before I left for Japan, my brother very thoughtfully (he's sensible like that...unlike silly me) bought me a guide book for Tokyo and a Japanese phrase book. After a couple of weeks whilst I was flicking through the thing, to see what useful stuff it had for me, my eyes caught a section entirely dedicated to ROMANCE... yes, romance. I assume this is some of the *core* stuff you need when getting around a foreign country. Like: 'I take mushrooms occasionally'...yes, I can really imagine slipping that into a sentence at uni...
I* have found the worlds coolest bar. You may think that you have found the coolest bar, but you’re wrong. It’s in Shibuya, Tokyo (just so you know). It all started when I had been stupid and missed my last train home when we had been out in ‘What the Dickens’^. This resulted in a rather spontaneous all-nighter, the best place for which was Shibuya, so after leaping off the train in the direction of home, just as the doors were closing, we got on one in the other direction heading back to Shibuya. It was the last train of the night, so it was already past the point of no return. We headed up the main street and found a little standing-room-only bar, which was packed with bodies. It had a cunning sign stuck on to the glass of the window which as fast steaming up, stating that all beers were 200yen each. So, we ventured into the throng and ordered our beers. We ended up chatting to a really nice pair of blokes, one was Japanese and the other was Australian. The Japanese guy seemed to pick up straight away that I was British. Apparently I dress just like one. Nice.
Anyway, we asked them if they new any good places that were open all night, and the Japanese guy was really helpful and after a couple of beers he took us around Shibuya pointing out clubs and bars that he recommended, whilst the Aussie headed home. The rock bar that he suggested was unfortunately shut, but the route we took to the club took us past a 24hour jeans shop. Should you need to buy a new pair of jeans at 3am it is possible in Tokyo….all seems a bit weird if you ask me. So, he carried on with his tour of Shibuya and the conversation went towards the direction of:
‘do you know ‘drunken street’?’
So, we were taken back away from the main street and headed back towards the train lines. We turned down a little side street and then went through arches under the railway, the sides of which were lined with bicycles and motorbikes chained to the installed parking spaces. The path then turned sharply right into a well lit alley. The alley was lined with the railway bridge to the right and small two storey buildings on the left. The buildings were tiny, with blazing signs to advertise their presence, a lot of the places had the little Japanese curtains hanging over their door to advertise the fact they were in fact restaurants.
Our guide pointed to a narrow and tall glass door. But the bar upstairs was unfortunately shut. We continued to walk down the alley and peered into tiny box restaurants packed with people. These restaurants were amazing. They could barely fit the 5 customers squeezed around the counter. Let alone the cook and kitchen equipment which must have existed behind the counter. We vowed to return and so we did…
When we did make it back, the narrow glass door was open. It opened outwards on to the street and framed the white tiled staircase behind. The staircase can’t be more than half a meter wide, and the steps are quite steep. I pushed myself up the stairs to be met with the smallest bar that possibly ever exists. The stairs ended about half a meter away from the back wall of the room which contained the bar and I was met with a glass-clad wall. To I looked to the right and there were four people in front of the bar. There was *just* about enough space between the bar and the banister stopping people at the bar backing into the void of the stairs that I had just climbed up for a bar stool and a human to squeeze themselves on to the stool. Turning my back to the mirror I looked straight ahead to see the whole side of the room to be a window, which nicely framed the railway which ran a couple of meters away, almost level with the bar. I looked upwards to see a very cute little chandelier. The bar had two beer taps and a line of bottled spirits on the shelf near the ceiling. We seemed to have timed it just right, because, two guys were just about to leave. I had to go back out on to the street to let the people out. There was no way that you could pass someone comfortably. We managed to be seated by the window. There were two flat screens behind the bar playing a very strange DVD. It truly is an amazing bar, and it has a really cool owner and bartender who doesn’t speak much English, but seemed to understand some of my broken Japanese, we had a little chat, but we were mainly busy being in awe of the utter coolness of the place. We did wonder if the place can actually make enough money to keep itself going, it would be such a shame if it didn’t exist.
I’ll try and take my camera there sometime and try and take photos of it, but I have a feeling that it would be pretty hard to capture it well, something to do with the name. The best solution is to go there and experience it. TiGhT is definitely my favourite bar, and the owner/bartender is lovely and friendly. I going to go there to practice my Japanese with him as much as possible!
Apparently, most major areas in Tokyo have their own ‘drunken streets’, so maybe there are other cool bars around. But something tells me this particular one will be impossible to beat.
* I lie. I’m good at that.
^ It’s a very cool English pub in Ebisu. Great live music, lovely atmosphere and PINTS of Beer!!! Hurrah! You’ll have to look up a different post for this, because I still haven’t gotten around to writing about this either…
Saturday, 14 April 2007
What follows is an extract of an email sent by Shane, in summary of our Krabi trip. He'd sat there, at dinner with Tony and Isobel, on the night of April the 1st 2007 kindly transcribing the evenings revelries. The concept of sitting there writing down, on his scroll, during a causal dinner meet was quite amusing for me...maybe this kind of thing is normal in america.
In the true form of any good quote, it's all completely out of context.
and so way way left and the rest of us were sad
rei left and the rest of us were sad
annalisa left and the rest of us were sad
and so, the only thing left for tony isobel and i to do, was drink.
that is, the only thing for tony and i to do, was watch isobel drink.
and so, over seven big changs(and saved for posterities sake) i give you the following -running- monologue courtesy of isobel at ya-yas on the evening of sunday 01 apr 2007 and so
"I hate it when anyone orders better than me." [upon Isobel being jealous of Tony's food]"
Any strained button means either the shirts too small or you're too fat." [random fashion comment]
"Your [Shane's fried rice served in a pineapple] pineapple thing didn't look like anything I'd be happy with."
"I'm on my sixth long bottle and I've got sober people to play with." [Isobel's lament that Tony and Shane weren't drinking]
"If it's distilled liquor it's got to be good for you."
"If the water's not pure before it's turned into alcohol it's certainly pure afterwards."
"All New Zealander's get a two year visa to England. And they go there and do good stuff." "After two years in England you just go home and die."
"I love the altitude. I've climbed Mt. Fuji sixteen times and I love it because it's like being pissed!"
"Jesus! You're [Shane] left handed too?!?" Referring to the fact there are also 'other' things 'wrong' with him...
"I need water in my glass... the beers coming -shit! How and I gonna walk over there?!? [to the bathroom]"
"I'll have one potato fried and salted -know what I mean? French fries! Yeah, that's it."
"God but that looks unhealthy!" [looking at a plate the waiter had in his hand]"I did so well getting back here [from the toilet].
"[Shane: "So they're married?"] "No, no, no... they're married."
"I went to boarding school -we were short of matches in the rain." [I think this was about looking for a lighter]"
"That's what I have for your hole." [anti-septic ointment for Shane's foot]
and here's an honorable mention from Tony:
"I only smoke in Bangkok when I'm pissed."
Friday, 13 April 2007
After a hard day of climbing at pump2 sustenance is a must. So, off we toodle to Shimbashi (a common point in between where we who climb live) and having no idea of what’s good, we wonder around trying to find a nice restaurant. My climbing buddy is attempting to take me down bigger streets, where he thinks there will be more restaurants, while I’m trying to go down smaller roads…yes, possibly dark Japanese alleys. Not dodgy at all until I get there. Anyway the idea is: small alleyways = small cool restaurant…
So, we’re wondering around the back streets of Shimbashi, and there are indeed lots of little restaurants around. More importantly I see one, which has a bit of a shabby exterior and a big glass front window. Through the big window, the first thing I noticed was the fact that it was very smoky. It was also crowded and alive with business men in suits some sitting at small cramped tables around the edge of the room, and further in the background the restaurant looked as though it disappeared off to the right, possibly to more Japanese-style dining. The centre piece however, was a single cook wearing a yukata, looking very sweaty, sitting in front of a large open barbeque, on to which he was throwing a selection of the prepared items that were laid out on display in front of the barbeque, much like a butchers shop. There was a low counter surrounding the display of uncooked food and people sitting at the counter on small chairs. I looked on in sheer glee as the sweaty cook reached out for a large utensil which looked much like an oar, put a plate of cooked food on it, then extended out the oar parading it in front of the people seated at the counter starting from the far right of him, swinging it around until it probably would have completed a full 180 degree turn, if it had not been intercepted by on of the customers who had presumably ordered it.
There was no way I was going to try and find a different restaurant. THIS is the one for me! So we went in and were offered a place at the counter, which I was ecstatic about because this was where all the fun was, and there was also the potential for pointing at things if we didn’t order from the menu. It was very smoky, and reeked of charcoal, but the atmosphere was great: the sizzling of the fire and the energy of the discussions going on around us added to all the other waiters wearing yukata I actually felt like I was in a Japanese restaurant rather than a pseudo-Japanese restaurant with western décor.
I was able to order stuff that I could see in front of me an was written entirely in either hiragana or katakana, the other stuff just read ‘kanji-kanji’ or better yet ‘kanji kanji-for-chicken-kanji kanji’ which meant that I couldn’t shout at mr. cook what it was I wanted, and as the food display was 2-3 rows deep pointing wouldn’t have been soo much of a help unless I too were armed with a large stick like the cook was. So, we ordered a few things and sipped the beer while we watched the components of our soon-to-be-meal being cooked. What we had ordered was not going to be enough for a whole meal, and faced with the whole kanji issue, I ended up asking the Japanese guy sitting next to me. Who appeared to be on a date with the lady he was sitting with, but who had just gone to the loo, so:
Gentleman looks at me as if to say: ‘you want me?!? Why?!’
Me: kono kanji, yomi-katta wa dou desu ka?
[pointing at something on the menu which had the character for chicken on it. Also, I think the question actually makes little sense in Japanese but it gets the idea across.]
Gentleman: ‘nani nani nani’
[sorry, I have the memory of a goldfish with short-term memory loss and thus have no recollection of what he said to me…]
This goes on for a few more things…and I apologise to him lots while thanking him for his help as his lady friend returns. He’s very nice though and asks if we need any other help…But in my usual arrogantly dismissive manner I politely decline, saying that we’ll be fine, knowing full-well that in 3minutes we won’t be.
We watch the cook like hawks, waiting for our dish to be ready. mr. cook carefully arranged our little fish on a plate, garnished it then placed it on the food paddle. Then, did his graceful swinging manoeuvre, at which point my eyes lit up and I sat up straight ready to receive our dishes on the proffered paddle. This whole cycle continued through the night, interrupted by either me trying to get a waiter to tell me how to pronounce some of the other kanji on the menu or the odd bit of food envy, where other peoples food looked really good so we tried to order what they had.
We even tried some little parcels of natto (fermented soya beans) which was very nice, despite most peoples claims it’s an acquired taste.
At the end of the meal our bill was some how calculated. I guess some of the other yukata wearing guys were noting down what we ate. So, then we left the coolest restaurant that I have found so far in Japan…My clothes were impregnated with the smell of barbeque for weeks.
Thursday, 12 April 2007
So I open up a web page to look some thing up and what do I see?! Google weather heralding the apocalypse... I've not even seen the lightning symbol before, let alone three in a row. It looks like one of those fruit machines...maybe I've won a prize.
Even stranger, is that it's really nice and sunny this morning...lovely weather.
My mother was right... I would regret not continuing to learn Chinese. Yeah…I don’t think I’ll ever live this down. I’m damn-well not going to be allowed to forget it. But in the wisdom gained from my increasly rapidly passing years, combined with the grim realisation of what a ungrateful, unappreciative and difficult teenager I was. For some time now, I have been having to come to terms with the idea that my mother hadn’t spend her entire mothering-life trying to spite me by sending me to chinese school every Sunday.
Chinese school was the first educational establishment I was introduced to. At the age of 2, I was driven for an eternity* every Sunday morning to Harrow…the other side of London to go learn how to write pretty stuff and play and read nice picture books. Aside from the issue it created for me at Infants and Junior school, when I finally got there, with the side books opened on. Then, later, at secondary school, where being occupied on a Sunday meant a reduction in available socialising time when people inconveniently organised everything on Sundays…curses…
It’s not that I hated everyone at chinese school…it’s just that they were all rather obsessed with looking cool. Which was something that, despite my valient efforts, was just not going to happen. So, I never hit it off with any of the guys there. Nothing personal. Just the lack of common interest. And personality.
Anyway, what was I going on about? Oh yeah, Chinese. SO. I should have paid more attention at Chinese school, and maybe have been less eager to disassociate myself from it as soon as humanly possible. Why? Because, I’ve actually been using more chinese in Japan than Japanese... people in halls, people at Uni, shop assisstants, waitresses etc…
In fact, one night, Greg and I were having dinner in Shimbashi (I think) at a nice little Japanese isakaiya (equivalent to a pub…you’re mainly there for the Sake and beer but the food is a hell of a lot better and cheaper…only downside is the smoking, and nearly everyone smokes in Japan…particularly anyone I have to sit next to in a restaurant. It’s a conspiracy I swear.). It was typically Japanese…with the little wooden plaques with the food names and prices all in Japanese hung outside the restaurant, on the inside you sit at about floor level on cushions (you have to take off your shoes) with the table not too much higher than where you sit and you put your legs into the void under the table…sometimes they release poisonous scorpions into this ‘pit’…so it’s best not to move, just in case…
Anyway, the restaurant. Yes. Well, as I said, the menu all in Japanese…so, I could work out what meats they had…if things were grilled (yaki), japanesified foods…like ‘sa-la-do’ [which! If you order in Japan, I cannot stress enough how it redefines how you view salad…try ordering a potato salad and you’ll see what I mean…but they are nice. Well, I like them.] and I guessed a lot. The first bit was easy…just order drinks…the food was a little more complex.
First I started off with ‘what do you recommend’…at least this is what I thought I said. I think the waiter heard ‘what monkey like typewriter’. He looked puzzled. The rest of the altercation was a series of pointing, me speaking Japanese using a series of verbs with no joining particles and then every so often saying…ok we’ll have that one (having very little idea what I was actually ordering. It’s like lucky dip everytime!) and the waiter looking hardpressed to find simpler words to describe already very fundemental things…oh yeah, and sashimi (very easy to order…unless they ask you which platter you want…then it’s back to lucky dip again).
After ordering a couple million ducky lip [reference: Mr. Harrington, Technology teacher, Tiffin Girls’ School] items we await our food…mainly because it would be nice to know what we ordered.
The food arrives, adorned with a lady, who, as she puts down the food, asks me in Japanese: ‘are you chinese?’
Me: ‘….errr, yes [Japanese]’ thinking to myself….well yes, I know it looks that way… followed swiftly by ‘Do you speak chinese? [Chinese]’.
[rest of the conversation is in chinese]
Waitress: ‘Yes, I’m Chinese’
Me: ‘Oh! How did you know I was chinese?’
Waitress: ‘The other waiter sent me over, he said that he thought you were chinese and that I might be able to help’
Me: ‘wow, that’s very nice of him’
Anyway, revelling in the joy that for once someone actually thinks I look chinese, and the fact that the whole communication situation is looking up, I’m now grinning my head off as she leaves. Not only does she make a special effort to check that we are alright through our meal in chinese, but we also have a chat just as we leave. It was all very nice. So yeah, chinese is useful. Even in Japan.
*when you’re 2 years old 2 hours of your life is a VERY long time…Probably because it’s a larger proportion of your memorable life than when you are 24, combined with the added hyperactivity and short attention span of a child, you’ve then got a starting point as to what an eternity feels like. In child time when someone says to you ‘we’ll be there soon’, ‘soon’ is expected to occur in the next 10 seconds. For the responosible adult ‘soon’ can mean anything from 10 minutes to a month^ .
^This is linked to relativivity theory…(wayway’s version…not the overly complex…and probably a-hell-of-a-lot-more-useful one by Einstein) where a measure of time is all relative to, well…what you’re referring it to…
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Mwhahahaha!!! Look i've got my own Thai/Japanese Magazine! how exciting is that?!?!
Saturday, 7 April 2007
Courtesy of Rei. Thank you Rei!
Is a comic genius…although I’m not quite sure to what extent he realises this ‘special’ quality…
Since I had gotten my sensei to sign my release papers [yes I need to inform the university when I leave the country. There’s a permission form which has to be signed by your professor one for when you leave and another for when you come back…glorious isn’t it?! But this has stemmed from previous students having disappeared back to their home country, without so much as a word to anyone, and never returning. So now the university likes to keep all it’s people on a tight little leash.] he had been telling me useful titbits of information about Thailand every time he passed me in the corridor or saw me in the lab. His first question was if I spoke Thai…obviously my answer was no. Their language is tonal and not just that they have more dammed tones than the Chinese do. Which makes things a little difficult, so I have no chance. Not with my complete lack of knack with languages. I was planning to just get by on doing the traditional British thing of going around speaking English to people LOUDER AND SSSLLLOOOOOooooOOOooWWWWwwweer. Because that *really* helps with the situation, making all words unrecognisable to any sentient being. Anyway, he was giving me advice on haggling and tried to teach me how to say ‘expensive’ in Thai…unfortunately, like most things, it went in one ear and straight out the other.
When I got back from Thailand last week my sensei was doing his usual little rounds of our little lab, checking that there were in fact students doing things that they were meant to be…like studying, he popped over to my desk to throw some ideas about my experiments about and generally check that I was ok…He even remembered I went to Thailand and was asking how it was and then went on a little random ramble by suddenly stating:
‘Ah! Japan dangerous to British girls…ne?!’
and I was like, ‘yeah, I guess’
Sensei: ‘British girl killed 4 years ago by crazy Japanese man also’
Me: ‘yes, I remember that…it was in the news a lot....
Sensei: [makes some sucking-in air sounds of general disapproval] ‘now another crazy Japanese man kill British girl…parents rich…they look after too much’ [more sucking-in air sounds]
Me: ‘…the parents spoilt him?’
Sensei: ‘yes, yes, yes…he had no job...’ [mutters in the general direction of more disapproval]….suggesting that this was one of the deciding factors in the murder…but obviously, the root cause was the rich, overly-nice upbringing.
Overlord of scripture: wayway at 15:01
Tremble in your little pixie boots....for wayway is now in possession of a weapon of mass destruction....yes, that's right she now has a harmonica. I would advise you buy some ear plugs... So, yeah...after a night in Roppongi watching some dude from the deep south of America strum country blues on his guitar (I was sitting about 1m from him) and tunefully whistling into his mouth organ, I decided what any sane person would decide and proclaimed that I would get* a harmonica! and after hearing a long rant about how much I wanted one, my prayers were answered in the form of a leaving present to Thailand. How cool is that?!?! I'd never realised that harmonicas were so complicated...it involves breathing in and out in the right holes...a form of coordination that my poor little chicken lungs, asthmatic windpipe and weedy little diaphragm are most definitely not accustomed to. In fact, I was so excited when I opened it, I immediately set about trying to make it make some lovely tunes...unfortunately all I found was 'Mary had a little lamb' which on my first try I nearly passed out from the whole controlling my breathing effort...although it could have been coupled with the joy of discovering that it makes sounds half a pitch up when you draw your breath through the harmonica than when blowing through it...ahhhh the joy. For me. not for anyone with in ear shot... my neighbours may hate me... i hope these walls are well sounds proofed...
Actually, the harmonica managed to get me stopped at nearly every airport scan on the way to and from Railay bay…they were a tad suspicious about a metal block in my bag…
*please note i say 'get' not 'learn to play to any level of skill'...
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Hopefully, today was the last day that i'll be taking the Ginza line for a while. as i'm re-routing back via the much nicer and more tranquil, Toyosu. Which means that no longer do i have to pack myself into a very interesting position between various japanese salary men and spending a good ten minutes of my life having a deeper understanding of what it is like to be a sardine...
Don't get me wrong... i think the Ginza line is hilarious...it actually has those guards with the white gloves who push you into the carriage in the morning (lovely)...and that's fine. as long as you're not the one being compressed into the large moving underground monster...
I think the general perception is is that if you can still breathe then there's still space in the carriage for another body. I've seen some amazing feats of people weaseling their way into the last remaining iota of space bracing themselves against the door frames of roof of the train to help them to get them that bit of leverage they need to get reaaaally close to everyone else who's in such a hurry to get to work...
Anyway, what I really wanted to say was that I witnessed, with my own eyeballs (apart from the millions of Louis Vitton handbags which adorn a good 20% of the Tokyodite populus) was a young lady with an ingenous method of getting off the train in a crowded situation...this can be a real issue if you are stuck in the middle of the carriage and an inclination towards being polite and a slight allergy to pushing people out of the way... She, used her bag as some form of shunting device...pressed up to someone elses bum, and pushed with (i assume all of her weight and) her hand placed on the side of the bag not directly in contact with, the person standing in front of her, arse.
Sunday, 1 April 2007
[i've been instructed to replace a certain word... i assume it deeply offended the person who asked me to do this... so just for you...]
On friday the 30th (my last day of actual climbing) i did some multi-pitching with some random guy called shane, who isobel met two nights before. we climbed something called 'humanality'.
Originally the climb is meant to be started by climbing 'tarzan' which is not even rock, but a large and very cool tree which seems to be growing tendrils. however, as we were making our way to start the climb we were stopped (very politely) by a guy called Bob, who tolds us how the tree was actually worshiped by the buddists and requested that we use the ladder instead. And, yes, there was a ladder. Apparently from the weddings which take place hanging from the rocks over Tonsai beach.
I led every pitch, and i led the hardest pitch thinking it was a 6a (it was actually a 6b+) i had to sit rest a lot on the crux but i eventually made it, which was cool. My efforts were even met by some cheering and applause by some people spectating from the comfort of the ground right by the bar. which was nice.
We took a rest after this pitch to take some photos, eat some rasins and drink some much needed water.
The Melting wall and Fire wall that we climbed the previous day. yes, it's called the fire wall for a reason. It was very hot. i had to lie down for an hour to recover from each climb.
So on the second to last pitch i was physically and mentally exhausted from that, and so was soo tired that i sat on every bolt on the last part of the climb. but i had to keep going, because we had happened to borrow a 60m rope from the pair of climbers who had gone up before us (we were sharing the ropes...me and shane took up a 60m, and the other couple took a 60m too so that we could share the abseil). so they were waiting for me to finish, and the sun was creeping up on them (they had little shade to stand in, and i was still stuck half way up the last pitch...absolutely exhausted) eventually i finished...and i abseiled down to where the other couple were waiting. then, shane, abseiled to us from the belay point he was at (so that he wouldn't waste time climbing the last pitch). the other couple then abseiled down to the ground, and i made shane go first. while he was abseiling, i was having a chat to the next pair of climbers who had been following us. the guy who had led the pitch was belaying very close to where we were doing our abseil from. and his seconder didn't seem to be climbing...complaining that there was too much slack (shane told me later he was actually having a spliff)...but i could see the belayer, and his rope was tight...so i figured their rope was stuck mid way. anyway, the seconder couldnt be arsed to climb (they looked as though they had 2 half ropes) and despite the guy who was belaying from the top point, not being too confident with abseiling, the seconder insisted in crossing over to our abseil rope to get down. completely abandoning his buddy to sort out the mess. (what a dick head) anyway once the evil lazy seconder was off the abseil rope (which he didn't even bother telling me he was off) i offered to abseil down to have a look, which involved a sideways abseil (i was still knackered from the climb and had been roasting in the full glare of the sun due to waiting for ppl to get off the abseil. i managed to get to near their rope by clipping a safely into a nearby sling and then forcing my way across to another bolt further off to the left by kinda traversing then clipping another cow tail into the wall to keep myself on the right side. I could see that one of the ropes had been back clipped (but the other was fine) but i couldnt' reach the clip to sort it out, so i had to haul myself up (which was very hard because i was soo tired) using quick draws to get myself closer to the higher bolt. then i kept shaking the rope until i freed both ropes for the offending quickdraw...so the guy could haul the rope up to abseil.
anyway i finally got down, ran into the shade and lay down on the floor to recover from the heat. not before ordering a coconut shake, then promptly collapsing on the floor in a heap, after removing my shoes and harness. which caused a bit of confusion when they couldn't find me to give me the shake. Anyway, it made the Thai guides laugh.