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May, 2007

  1. happy times

    May 30, 2007 by admin

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    The kangaroo’s birthday in Favela, a Brazilian restaurant. in Aoyama. Boy, was that a drunken night.

  2. Sky diving pug

    May 25, 2007 by admin

    no kidding.

    Click here to go to video clip

    i miss my taffy. I wish i had a pug to be my new friend. i want sloppy kisses and cuddles. i hope i can have that when i have a bigger apartment.

  3. Diary junkie

    by admin

    I’ve to admit I’ve been feeling a little down lately. Adjustment issues, for sure. I have come to a stage where I have a nice routine but I’m beginning to isolate myself more and more. I don’t like the people I’ve been meeting. I feel jaded about friendships here, or rather, the ones you make later in life. I miss my friends. They give me so much when I see them online — their bubbliness, encouragement, companionship — but they are so far away. From a sociological point of view, I’m just rebelling against my new home.

    On the other hand, I enjoy being alone more these days. I love the freedom but that also means more time to contemplate and churn away internally.

    I read my old blog today and I remember why I am here. I’m glad I did that. I forget these days with blurry appointments back-to-back. I’m teaching English now — I chose not to mention this because it was a stop-start process and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make any headway being seen as a non-native speaker in Japan, looks-wise. Singapore is not very known to many here. People just hear about the usual stuff like the chewing gum ban and numerous fines….and the Merlion.

    Anyway, a dear friend today reminded me what I love to do and I’ve been ignoring this. I looked back on my posts about working in the publishing industry and I know I have great passion for it but I need to know how to navigate this in my new home, Japan.

    It’s one thing being busy but am I doing something I love? Teaching’s easy money for sure. Well, I’m thinking, why not invest in a great SLR digital camera so I can take pictures and write for a living. I’ve always found it a hindrance not being able to submit great photos along with a story.

    Cheers to evolving as a journalist.

  4. More weird jap tv

    by admin

    I’m drinking a glass of wine (okay likely a bottle) and I just saw the most surreal thing on TV.

    Two Japanese girls, for some reason, were pitted against each other in competition to blow up a heart-shaped balloon.

    Well, they weren’t using any lung power. They had to use an air pump, but get this, they don’t press it with their hands….but with their erm vaginas. I’m sorry I don’t know another word for that area. Cervix? Not really right?

    Man, no wonder men don’t respect women in this country.

    So, they er pump and pump then they burst the balloon and giggle like crazy while praising each other, “Haiyai, ne (very fast)!”

    I don’t understand this place.

  5. Karaoke: A walk down memory lane

    May 20, 2007 by admin

    Cheesy title, eh? But it was for me last night. It’s funny how a few umeshu sodas can make me feel a little sabishii (to miss someone and to feel lonely). Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the company last night. But put me in a karaoke room and all the oldies jump out with their emo lyrics and I get a little homesick.

    After a delicious yakitori dinner in Yokohama, we headed to a karaoke joint with fancy rooms and sexy, space age looking remote controls. What songs do you sing in a karaoke session?

    Well, I always have a few favourites but I stick to a predictable handful because I know the words and melodies well so I won’t embarrass myself. With a belly full of beer, I took on More Than Words by Extreme — a 1993 one hit wonder — which I played ad nauseum at home on my cassette player when I discovered it. The Carpenters are always a safe bet but one of the guys kept joking: “The Carpenters songs always make me feel like crying.”

    I also crooned The Beatles’ Hey Jude that reminded me of a fabulous night in a friend’s pub in MacPherson. Those carefree days were spent just having fun and I wasn’t thinking much about my career. Then I had to do Frank Sinatra’s My Way. I actually never sang it in Singapore if I ever had the mike in my hands, but it reminds me of my father and the lyrics sort of inspire me to “do things my way” now. It’s about being brave and not having any regrets at the end of the road. Plus, it always gets everyone singing.

    The Bangles’ Eternal Flame was a must, too. My elder sister’s first boyfriend broke up with her in the early ‘90s and she played this song on the piano over and over again so I actually know the lyrics very well. But it’s also a famous break up song and you gotta do a few sabishii ones haha. They are easy to sing, too. But on a more serious note, I have been thinking of my sister a little more these days as she’s going through a tough time and I hope that she will be alright soon.

    I tried a few new ones that I never dared to sing like Banarama’s Love In The First Degree and Jewel’s Foolish Games. They kind of bombed as they had high notes. It was fun anyway with my friend Corrine who also couldn’t hit them. It was a night of one-hit-wonders: Stone Temple Pilots Plush, Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train, Expose’s I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me. In between these rusty classics, the guys sang J-pop songs, rock and up beat numbers so it was truly a jumpin’ night, despite the sad play list.

    The drive back from Yokohama was long and by the time I turned the key in the shoebox’s door the sun was coming up. No hangover, though. Thank goodness. I was absolutely slaughtered on the kangaroo’s mid-week birthday bash, which also explains why I’ve been silent all week. It’s been busy, especially with my Japanese test.

    Alrighty, back to banging on the keyboard as there’s work to do.

  6. Back home

    May 13, 2007 by admin

    I’m back in the shoebox. Shanghai was just fantastic. I love the energy this city exudes. I got absolutely trashed on both nights. I didn’t have time to shop but I preferred soaking in the sights than roaming the malls. I feel like I need to tell someone about my fabulous getaway but it’s too late to call anyone.

    I was also glad the kangaroo and I spent some quality time together. When I see him again after being two or three weeks apart, I have to take a second look to make sure that he’s really there in the flesh (chuckle). He’ll return on Tuesday night as he has a business meeting tomorrow and be in town for his Tokyo birthday dinner. I need to think of a great restaurant to go to.

    This trip was a bit of a turning point, too. For those of you who followed the Caroline drama in my old blog, you’ll be so disappointed to know there was absolutely no cat fight whatsoever when I met her again.

    In fact, she was nice — and made small talk with no barbs. I think Mr. D had something to do with it because he was keen to meet her and dragged me along. By then I was so happily tanked on martinis and numerous mysterious test tube cocktails, I didn’t really care to be sulky. I was a little worried but i was more curious to see how our next meeting would be like.

    Anyway, I doubt Mr. D would’ve asked me to go meet her if the situation was going to end up in disaster. It was in a thumping club so that helped, too. I don’t know if it’s too soon to say this, but I’m glad this Caroline thing is behind us as it did cause a lot of tension between us. I wouldn’t mind seeing her again. Honestly.

  7. Quick weekend getaway

    May 11, 2007 by admin

    Zipping off to Shanghai for the weekend — it’s partly to celebrate the kangaroo’s 18th birthday and to meet a few old friends. This is right before the mid-term exam, and so, I’m feelin’ bad ass haha.

    Test fever is always infectious when everyone around you is sweating it but I’m maintaining the fact that if I get something out of the lesson to use in daily life — it’s mission accomplished.

    More importantly, it’s my first ever visit to the motherland. Many people are amazed I’ve never been to China. Even Mr. D knows where the good bars are in this uber-modern city. He has a soft spot for China and has been to several provinces already.

    My classmate Chris shared this anecdote about how the Chinese have absolutely no qualms about piracy. His friend went to Beijing to set up a TGIFridays branch. In a couple of months, a spanking new Saturday restaurant with red and white stripes and all sprouted up right next door. It’s obviously a crazy place and I want to see more of this stuff but I wonder if I can go beyond delicious dumplings and spiffy cocktails for this trip.

    Ciao. See you soon.

  8. Seaside sojourn

    May 7, 2007 by admin

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    While I didn’t manage to dig out pretty sea shells in Atami’s pretty, idyllic beaches, I still had a fab time with Adrian and Kazuko. Atami is south of Tokyo which is a popular onsen destination for old folks who want to ease the pain in their joints. But our purpose that Monday was to visit the Museum of Art and a very local chow. By the way, I’m no longer a Shinkansen (bullet train) virgin.

    I’ll let this be more a pictorial ramble…


    This is a famous mansion owned by a Japanese railway tycoon. We didn’t expect much by the modest front door. But look what we found.

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    Gorgeous manicured lawns.

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    I love red leaves…it’s spring but it looks like fall.

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    A roman bath — a twist to the onsen?

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    I love the doors with mountain ranges painted on them. Reminds me of our tatami style house in Yokohama with mum and dad when I was a wee one.

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    What do you do when you poke a hole in a paper window? Turn it into a flower. Kazuko said she had her fair share of deliberate hold pranks as a kid.

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    This house was a mix of ryokan and Western interiors. The railway boss apparently loved having a sun room.

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    Lunch was a tasty tempura soba set. The noodles were al dente, the sauce full of chives and wasabi to give that extra kick and the tempura veggies and shrimp were so delicately prepared with light flavours that it wasn’t cloyingly oily.

    Back on the road

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    The bus window to my left had a retro soft focus effect on the streets of Atami. I felt all soft and fuzzy inside.

    Bubble museum

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    The Museum of Art in Atami was built during the glorious bubble economy days when big was better. I was impressed by the sheer size of the place.

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    Very retro space age architecture.

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    The Noh theatre within the museum. It’s not kabuki — think they use these masks and different acting techniques.

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    Red and gold don’t just feature in Chinese culture. This is a rich man’s tea house re-assembled in the museum. Gaudy.

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    Henry Moore’s King and Queen. I thought this was done with a dash of comical farce as the figures looked bored and restless on their stone bench.

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    Beautiful gardens with picture perfect flowers. It felt like someone took a big paint brush and coloured our day beautiful.

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    One of the public holidays during Golden Week is Boy’s Day and it’s typically sympbolised by fish flags. So cute.

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    Vanilla ice-cream in red bean sauce was delish and was washed down with matcha. What a great snack.

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    An actual babbling brook.

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    A hidden bamboo forest near the tea house where we had our short break.

  9. Day out in Daikanyama

    May 5, 2007 by admin

    An ex-Tokyoite Kiwi friend who lives in Singapore recommended me to visit Daikanyama. So i grabbed the opportunity when a potential language exchange partner suggested this neighbourhood for our first meeting. Ambien: I wish I took you to this place — you would’ve loved the shopping and the chic cafes here! Much better than the bohemian hangout, Shimokitazawa, I took her to. While Shimokitazawa is geared to university students, Daikayama is for well-heeled, funky folks.

    I finally met my ideal Language Exchange partner. She’s serious about learning English and equally ernest in helping me with my poorly spoken Japanese. I was a little afraid I couldn’t speak full sentences today during lunch as I haven’t touched my textbooks in two weeks. Surprisingly, she led the Japanese convos and I was soon enjoying yammering nihongo. I even tried a few of the latest grammar structures I learned in class, like node (because). Yippee.

    Anyway she’s in her early 30s and is an aspiring fashion designer. Her ambition is to study a masters in fashion design in London. She seems more open and laid back than the other women I’ve met. Perhaps it has something to do with having lived in the UK for two years? We truly had a good chinwag.

    We’re meeting again next Wednesday for a study session at a Starbucks in Ebisu. Cool. Sugoyi.

  10. Cooking shows on TV

    by admin

    I am watching a cooking show about deep-fried ebi (prawn). I love the food shows here because, being the greedy pig that I am, it’s a delight to learn more about washoku (Japanese cuisine) and the stuff displayed always looks lip-smackingly deliciouso.

    This one has a Kenny G lookalike gaijin chef who spews perfect nihongo. He seems to love jamming speedy chords on his electric guitar while beating the batter for the ebi. Weird ass. The old dude who’s the show host keeps going, “Sugoyi! (amazing)” I don’t know if they are hoping the ebi will turn out more beautiful because of the frantic riffs. If it was a soufflé, it’ll fall into a shivering heap of fear.