Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Tribute to bromances.

April leads to many things in Japan, cherry blossoms, new school year, companies (not just teaching ones) hiring new staff etc, but the biggest sadness is the ALT turnover.

Well, not all ALTs make it into my best bud list, but two in particular, my dearest Tim and Ben had their time cut short. They had a Bromance so intense they were practically gay for each other and I mean that in the most non gay way possible. So this be a photo tribute to you my friends. Canada and England just (well a month ago) had to awesome guys returned.

Ben, Japan wont be the same without your constant ranting and ravings. Or your hair of which its texture I am still unsure. But I'm pretty sure you have an afro.

Tim, still stalking me on DrawSomething. Who will I complain too when these guys diss England? I will keep you updated with any anti Canada info and defend your honour in your absence.

You guys were always up for a night out. Alaways willing to eat enough yakiniku to cause meat sweats and the "itis" Since you've been gone, I've only had 3 nights outs, other weekends have been spent Joshua Tuckering. (Not really, but just wanted to put that reference in there.) 

Hats off to you good Sirs, HATS OFF!


Hmm... I don't actually have any photos of you guys... WHAT'S UP WITH THAT!?

I'll see if I can dig something out... in the mean time make do with this.

Saving money obsession. Xmas 2011

Yes, very much overdue but that can't be helped.

So last Christmas I went back to the UK, now as sad as my saying this may seem, this was against my will. However I was really glad to see family and friends. (Will go into detail on that in another post)

The Issue

As I came to Japan on a working holiday visa, for a number of months I insisted that Interac change it to an instructors. To do this I had to go to the UK to do this process (Apparently this was the only way possible, which I found out recently that it isnt...)


Let me start by saying I was raised a flight-snob. I grew up going on at least 1 overseas holiday a year and only ever flying with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. (I think I took a Delta flight once from Boston to NY or something) Then I had to venture to budget airlines when I realised I had to pay an adult fair by myself if my parents werent going with me. So the girly holiday to Aiya-napa and the holiday with the Ex bf to Florida were both super-low budget flights. After which I swore to never do that budget crap again.

The solution to the visa thingy

My flight to the UK was already paid for by my company, a lovely Virgin flight, however I had to arrange the flight back and my first 6 months or so in Japan and made me poor. "No problemo!" I thought to myself while scaling the budget airline websites.
I thought I lucked out and picked up a flight from London to Tokyo via Italy with Alitalia... (Some folks probably already know full well how this turns out before they even finish reading about it.)

This journey was a total nightmare!
So it started out in my home while attempting to do the on-line check-in. Impossible. I began to freak out that my 367GBP flight ticket to Japan was a fraud and that I would be stuck. My flight was due in on the 9th, and I was due to teach from the 10th. (Yeah, no rest for the wicked) So after having a minor break down, I figured, as I have all the proof of purchases and what not all would be good in the end. Eventually the family wake up due to my rustling around and we all headed off to the airport.

The worry begins

After arriving at check-in, I tred to check-in via the little electronic pod things, again, no luck; I am being told I have invalid flight details... Attempting to appear cool, calm and collected in from of my mother and the rest of the bunch, I stagger over to an assistant and ask for some help and advice. She then explains that the reason I cannot check-in in the usual ways, is because my connecting flights are in different places. I had no idea what she was on about; I stopped listening once signed and checked off all my info and luggage.

Plain sailing untill...

 The flight was fair, the food was pretty good and entertainment better than expected. This lead me into a false sense of "I am awesome"ness that was about 3 hours premature.
I arrive in Rome and am giddy with the whole "Im in Rome!" feeling, check my tickets and notice I have just under 2 hours before my next flight, just enough time to chillax and stretch. I head over to the information box and ask the guy (In my broken Italian) where the next departure gate is and he tells me (In English)
                  "Not here lady, it is in Madrid".
I was never good at geography, so I say
                  "huh? is that far?"
 to which he laughed... He suggested I take a taxi.
                  "How much for a Taxi to Madrid my good fellow?"
                  "150 Euros"
                  "...oh... I have 3000yen"
                  "We take credit card *creepy grin*"
                  "Ummm... let me go to the currency exchange counter...."
At the counter I ask the lovely lady how to get to this other airport a couple hundred miles away (or so it seemed) and she said I could get the shuttle bus for 6.00 euros. However the next bus would arrive after my flight.
So she suggested I take a local bus and get off some place and change to another bus that will take me to the other airport.
So off I skip to the bus stop with my hand luggage and two suit cases, and hop on to a number 73 style bendy bus (Yay free bus ride heh heh!!) however I arrive at the terminus after about 30 mins. A lovely lady in the bus asks me where I am going, then laughs at my reply. She then tells me I need to take a subway train to X another train the Y then the express train to the airport. So I manned up and did just that, I arrived at the express trains station with an hour to spare, the train would take 15 minutes. It was on the platform ready and waiting for me, so I hiked up my bags and ran for it. Then my bag strap broke spilling my belongings out onto the platform - missing the train.

With just over an hour before my flight was due to take of I was in a panic. My mind began to wonder... "Hmmm maybe this is my fate. Maybe I shouldn't return to Japan. Maybe I am supposed to stay here and live in Italy"

Eventually another train came. it took 30 minutes to get to the airport, meaning I had 40mins before my plane took off and I hadn't even checked in. A friendly guy on the train helped me with my mad dash to the correct flight desk. After arriving the woman said the plane was preparing for take-off so I couldn't board, and that she would have to call. As my thoughts of  giving up on getting back to Japan and living in Italy instead returned, she made her stupid call whist staring at me in disgust the whole time. The I noticed other  people joining the queue behind me. That gave me a slight relief, to know that I wasn't the only headless chicken trying to get that darn plane.

The woman gives me the OK then I sprint (or near enough) to the terminal. Now my ticket says 29, but there is 27,28,32,33... my 3 years of learning Italian was beginning to fail me drastically and I'm pretty sure they use the same numbers as us. At a junction somewhere it seems as though I took the turning for national instead of international flights. I do the mad dash again, get through the bag check the dash again to gate 29.

I finally make it with 20 mins to spare, only to discover that some where along the way I lost my boarding pass... 5 minutes and some serious hyperventilation later the lady on the doors makes some calls then gives me the OK. I get through then realise I have to get a bus to my plane... luckily there were a ton of people on the bus who were also clearly on the same flight as me so I didn't tear my hair out, just sweated a ton.

10minutes before take off and I make it onto my plane, finishing up nicely by sitting in the wrong seat as I couldn't find my boarding pass. Only to take off my jacket and have my original boarding pass fall out of my sleeve...wtf.

Obsession with being outside.

Simply another installation of going somewhere awesome.

During golden week a friend invited me to Yamanashi. There was 5 of us all together, Aya, Tomoko, her husband Keiichi and their daughter Riko (I was number 5)

Aya is a language exchange partner  i met while i was living in Kamisu, we soon became good friends (Thanks to her i get out of the house a lot more) They left their home around 7.30 and picked me up by Yoyogi park around 10. I was actually late because i though they said Harajuku and iI went out of the Omotesando exit...

The journey took about 2 hours. Much quicker than we expected as it was the weekend of golden week. our first stop was a winery where we were able to taste wine by the famous Yamanashi gapes! I'm usually a red wine (well rose) kind of girl but i certainly preferred their whites. They also showed us how to determine whether a wine is of high quality or not. I bought a bottle of white then we headed off to our next destination.

Our next stop was to a park (I forget the name of it) where we could see cherry blossoms. As Yamanashi is cooler than Tokyo so the cherry blossoms bloom much later. So we were able to see some really beautiful scenes.

The next stop was for dinner! We went to a traditional Japanese restaurant that served some really fat udon. Im not sure why but I ordered the mushroom version. It was waaaaaay too much for me and I couldn't finish it all :(

  The beast in the flesh. Pretty sure it was more mushrooms that anything else!

After dinner we took a drive to a toy museum but it was closed, so we hung around by the near by docks. It started to get chilly so we headed back shortly after. We had tickets to fujiyama onsen as it was more or les connected to our hotel. It was a lot larger than any I've been to, but it was soooo crowded that it felt small. however it is a really lovely onsen.
 We then headed back to our hotel. If I'm honest, it was pretty basic for what we paid. I'm guessing the fact that it is connected to fujiq means they can charge premium prices for a standard style room.
However I cant dispute the awesome views I had from my window!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Obsession with being a Nomad

Yes, I am finally admitting that I am a nomad.

I have been absent on this blog thing of late due to me busying myself with various things. I'll try to post about them individually later.
The most major thing however is that I have moved from Kamisu to Yashio. (From one factory town to another)
Yashio is in Saitama, on the Tsukuba express, so at least my town has a train station this time, a station thats only 15 mins walk from my house at that!

It's a little more lively than Kamisu however my old apartment was surrounded by izakayas and snack bars for my entertainment. Yashio however is lacking heavily, you'll be lucky to find anything further than 10mins from the station, unless my fellow ALTs are holding out on me... Sucks to be me. But I've only been here for a month, so I have plenty of time ahead of me to sink my nails into this town.

Why Saitama?

Well its the right mix of being near the city centre without living in Tokyo; I am only 18mins by train from Akihabara after all.

Why Yashio?

There is a distinct difference and feel to my town from the city. Its surprisingly rural compared to its sisters Soka and Misato but both towns are only a 20min bike ride away (Closer than one of my schools) so its quite nice to be in just after the rain, you get that nice muddy grass smell instead of the groggy lung feeling. Oh and my super cheap rent. If I am honest I was very very nearly going to live in Omiya, in fact I pulled out a week before I was due to move in. (Mostly as my new company failed to tell me until after my lease was up what the deal was gonna be.
The teaching contract I have here comes with housing, a 2k apartment for only¥10,500 per month. (About 90GBP) so I am one happy bunny.

Now I am trying to furnish and make it homely. It is VERY VERY old but for the money I am paying I really cant complain.

Once I have finished beautifying my home, I'll get some pics up for you all. Might even revisit the you tube jazz I was doing before...  hmmm.,.