Tuesday, December 30, 2008

just when i was getting comfy

Do I reaaally have to go? Can't I stay back a li'l bit longer?

Monday, December 22, 2008

peekabo, christmas' just a few days away!

The air is polluted. Stuffy to say the least. I think I'm gonna sneeze.

Traffic jam at shopping malls. Guess recession has not hit this part of the world yet.

Food's spicy, oily and not the healthiest in the world.

Grrlfriends say I speak with an accent. What accent?? It's English.

The ceiling seems very high for some reason. Not used to so much space.

Parking attendants baffle me with their manners and attitude. I think the Japanese will faint if they try parking downtown.

Some people say I look the same, and I don't wonder if they're trying to flatter me.

The fridge's full of delicious yummy food. Whatever my craving calls for, it's just a flight of stairs away.

And I know I'm H.O.M.E.

And home is where I am this Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

yoyogi enchants again

When I was in Sydney, Esther & Jo brought me to Bondi Beach. I'll never forget the sweeping view of the turquoise waters as we descended from the main road which was just a stone's throw from the beach.

When the email came from Esther about them coming to Tokyo, I was elated. Not only would I be able to return the favour to bring them to my territory and show them what a different world Tokyo is to Sydney, but having Malaysian guests is like having a piece of home just for awhile.

They started the 1st leg of their 2nd honeymoon in Kyoto and proceeded up to Hakone for an evening of hot springs and fresh mountain air before ending up in Tokyo. One of the best places to visit on a Sunday morning is the Yoyogi Park. With such beautiful weather, it was almost a sin not to enjoy the beauty of the fall foliage.

I have Shok to thank for introducing me to this little respite nestled in the middle of urban Tokyo. Indeed, it's an excellent place to rewind no matter the season of the year. Esther & Jo loved it too, as is evident in the park visitors who've all come to bask in the autumn sun's rays.

Many avid photographers came fully equipped to take opportunity of the crisp weather. There was even a fashion photoshoot taking place as we walked towards the gingko trees. We were not allowed to take any pictures of that, so we decided to have our own photoshoot instead.

Just as we were goofing around with poses and whatnots, an elder Japanese man came towards us and asked if we could pose for him! There was a certain arrangement that he particularly wanted and I was not sure if I heard him correct the first time.

But as I talked to him, I found out it was exactly as what I heard earlier. Esther & Jo had to stare into each other's eyes as lovingly as they could for at least 10 minutes while I pretended to be the photographer. Behind me was the Japanese man, snapping away from a lower angle. We couldn't help laughing while we posed for him, because at one point Esther commented that her eyes were getting tired!

After thanking us, he went on his way, taking more pictures of the park and its visitors. We took our time walking beneath the gingko trees, as smelly as it was, and that reminded me of my first picnic in Tokyo not too long ago. The sun was just as bright, children and their parents were out playing, and the leaves in their golden hues had come out in full force again.

As I brought them towards the lake, we spotted a rainbow at the fountain. We had to quickly take advantage of it as the rotating sprout made it difficult to get the widest rainbow from where we stood. But still, it made for a pretty sight on an already splendid day out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

sick != fun p2

The Japanese are known to be courteous and extremely polite. They say sumimasen when they cut in front of you. They say sumimasen when they accidentally brush against you. They say sumimasen even when they thank you because you took the trouble.

But when they're sick, the Japanese express their sumimasen by covering their mouth.

I'm one step to becoming more Japanised now that I also do what the Japanese do when they fall ill. They're so considerate of others that they wear a face mask so that their germs will not spread and infect those around them.

I was asked to put on this mask when I visited the doctor yesterday. Felt so strange breathing my own hot air and not being able to take a gulp of fresher air. But all the nurses had this on, and sick people wear this when they're outside too.

I could've just stayed at home and rested more but I wanted to make sure it wasn't influenza or anything serious. Test results came back negative, thank God. So the doctor prescribed some medicine for the "viral upper respiratory infection".

I hate taking medicine especially pills. But I don't mind, in fact I welcome traditional Chinese herbal concoction. I think they work better and do less harm to the body. I try as much as possible to rely on my body's immune system, but after looking at the bill, I think I have to take at least one of this white capsule to justify the cost.

Doctor Consultation : JPY 10,000
Lab Test : JPY 4,000
Prescription : JPY 3,200 (30caps)
Total (+5% tax) : JPY 18,060

I know, not cheap. But I'm not tied to the National Health Insurance system and this is after all an English-speaking private hospital catered to the expats. Ya, I thought I was considered expat even though my salary doesn't reflect that.

The cost of 1 capsule could have allowed me to have a very decent meal in Malaysia. But then again, if I take just 1 capsule, I will be able to get well faster and enjoy all the food I've missed throughout this 1 year when I'm better.

Excuse me while I take my JPY112 white pill and go to sleep...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

autumn in our heart(s)

So I survived the test. I know I'll have to retake it next year, but at least I was feeling a lot better than before. Even though I feel so horrible again now! It's as if all the bacteria and virus just came out in full force after being suppressed for the sake of this exam the past few days.

But 2 things to thank God for.

I bumped into Pamela on the way to the test centre. Almost everyone else went with their school mates or someone they knew. Friends I know who were taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test were scattered in various locations in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Don't be fooled by how cheerful I looked. My fever had just subsided but my nose was literally dripping towards the end of the last section. I had to reuse and re-reuse the only tissues I had with me (ok la, this sounds quite gross!).

BUT it was such a beautiful day. A sunny winter afternoon hovering around 9 degrees max.

AND the Taisho University at Nishi Sugamo had this walkway just at the entrance lined with gingko trees. I know, they smell. The fruits. But, the leaves and colours are one of the reasons why autumn is so beautiful here. Esther & Jo told me the colours of fall are usually brown in Australia. (Will put up a related post soon!)

Some of the Chinese students decided to throw up the gingko leaves and pose ala "Autumn In My Heart". Many others were as enthusiastic taking pictures, relief on their faces, clearly lingering in the remnants of autumn.

It was like a well-deserved treat enjoying such beauty in God's creations after a taxing day at the exam hall. And I thought I would never get to see the hues of autumn now that it's officially winter...

Friday, December 05, 2008

sick != fun

It ain't fun being sick
1) during winter
   1a) especially when it's raining outside
2) living alone (I only see Watanabe-san only 10% of the time)
   2a) and having to find something healthy to eat in the house
3) when there's a test coming up in less than 2 days' time
   3a) and I'm not even halfway prepared for it

So ya. Like that lor. Hopefully this fever and flu goes away la.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

merry lily

Christmas is here in Japan. It feels so beautiful at night when buildings and walkways are illuminated with all kinds of lights and glitters. As ironic as it is with more than 99% of the population not even Christians themselves, Christmas is a HUGE thing here.

One thing I gotta 'tabik' the Japanese is their creativity in decorating and making things look pretty. Like the previous weekend when I was hosting Esther & Jo, we went up the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor of Roppongi Hills. We had a clear view of Tokyo city at night. The way they lit up Tokyo Tower made it look like the Eiffel Tower from a distant.

But what drew my attention was the "Christmas tree" they created in the middle of the Deck. It was not so much how it looked, but how it smelled!

This "tree" was made completely out of lilies. Fresh white lilies all the way from the bottom to the top, almost reaching the ceiling.

Almost everyone was waiting for their chance to have a picture taken with the tree.

The fragrance of the cut lilies wafted through the Deck and made the whole ambience just so pleasant. I wonder how often they have to change the lilies to keep it looking so fresh. But oh my, what effort! I can almost remember the scent of the evening even as I write this.

* tabik - salute, respect