Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tokyo weekend and no kids

Well, I arrived back from Tokyo last night after attending a Reading and Writing Workshop. So, I am feeling rather shattered tonight, I think it's all caught up with me. For some reason, known only to the school, and if I do hazzard a guess, it could be because of money, we did not take the direct flight from Nanjing to Tokyo. That would have been far too logical and convenient and would have made us arrive in Tokyo at lunchtime and given us half a day to explore. However, those in control decided that it would be best to fly south to Hong Kong and let us vegetate in the airport for 5 and a half hours, before taking a connecting flight to Japan. This meant that we had to wake up at 4.45am to get to the airport in Nanjing, and then finally only arrive in Japan after 8pm and get to our hotel at about 10pm. What a waste of a day! And more importantly, what a waste of potentially valuable shopping time.Our hotel wasn't too bad, although the room was quite small, it wasn't one of those coffin-sized rooms you read about. And, I probably would have been able to hold a cat by its tail and swing it around without knocking it unconscious against a wall. The walls were also thick enough not to hear any noises of passion in the room next door. However, the bath/shower was a little unusual, a box - that you needed to be quite flexible to lift your knees up to your ears to be able to get in and out. The toilet did have an interesting control panel next to it, which reminded me of some of the toilets I encountered in Korea, complete with bidet and puff drier.But, enough about the hotel. Tokyo is very very clean, no litter at all, and omigod, the people are so civilized, it's frightening. Do you know, that when you want to take the metro in the subway, people actually queue and wait for the passengers to disembark first before climbing on? The only pushing and shoving done, is by little old men wearing white gloves who appear out of nowhere, and gently push people into the carriages when the train is too full and the doors don't close. Unlike China, where you are elbowed in crevices you didn't even know existed, and pushed and shoved until bruised and broken, you jump off at the wrong station just to escape futher torture. No amount of good shopping is worth that!Unfortunately, when we got out from our course each day at 4.30pm, it was already starting to get dark and there was a limit to what we could achieve before the shops closed. I was quite surprised that they closed so early. But, we did get to Harajuku Station. Now, that was an experience I'll never forget! Along one side road next to a park, a large group of Rockers dressed like Elvis gather and jitterbug to the music of that time. Respledent with the lamb chop sideburns and boufie hairdos, tight stove-pipe jeans and leather bomber jackets, I felt like I'd gone back in time, to a time before I was born. Hanghing around with them, were girls dressed in the jukebox dancing diner outfits, cardigans, and calf-length skirts with big frilly petticoats underneath.Then of course, there were other girls walking around dressed like little bo-peep and other fantasy characters. But, going doing into the walking street with all the bizarre clothing shops and goth stuff, my eyes were really opened as I say girls with giant spiky hairstyles dyed in different colours, bizarre thickly painted made-up faces, goth clothes, kimonos, but all with enormously high platform shoes, dog-collars and piercings. They're all into the Anime look and I suppose trying to dress like the characters in the comics. This is supposedly their way to be nonconformist. The tragedy is, is that they are all nonconforming identically, so basically, we are the ones that looked different and nonconformist. I had to get a photo of a shop sign that said, "We go" and underneath was the name of the area in Harajuku, "Takeshita". Okay, maybe it's only me that it appealed to, hahaha.I didn't actually go all out to eat japanese food, as frankly, it is too artistically arranged to be edible, but I did find a really good indian restaurant near our hotel.We were quite amused on the way to Narita Airport in Tokyo, to hear the announcement on the bus, "Don't use cellphone on bus, you will annoy your neighbour." And then, there were many other random signs around and about Tokyo, "Do not make commotion on train, make commotion in bar."The flight back from Tokyo to Hong Kong was good. Some old western man was hysterical for about half an hour, and we couldn't figure out if he was laughing, crying or having a heart attack. The wait in Hong Kong this time was only about 2 and a half hours. But, the flight back from Hong Kong to Nanjing was nightmare stuff. It wasn't that it was a bumpy flight with lots of turbulence, rather it was a flight with lots of flatulence. Different aromas seeping from the bottoms of many different passengers. A very very unpleasant experience, as I'm not good with bad smells at the best of times. It was almost as if was on the plane with the seven dwarfs, Farty, Smelly, Stinky, Pongy and of course, there was also Sniffy who seemed to sniff up endless amounts of mucous the whole flight, Hoiky - who kept hoiking the whole flight and I really don't want to know where he was spitting that sputem. That was interesting, in Japan nobody spits in the streets! And finally and not to be forgotten, Slurpy, who sat next to me. Slurpy was an interesting member of the seven dwarfs. In the time it took Bill, another teacher sitting on the other side of me to decide which part of his airplane meal he was going to eat first, and me to open my shrimp salad and eat two shrimps and some lettuce leaves, Slurpy had physically and noisily slurped all his shrimp salad, main meal of noodles and fruit cocktail! Unbelievable, I have not even seen a dog consume a bowl of food that fast. Of course, having an aversion to people slurping noisily when they eat, I had to turn my head and look out the window next to Bill. Then, the smells started. All different varieties, so it couldn't have all been from the same person, and by this stage fighting back nausea, I had to stop reading my magazine and rather roll it up to put it under my nose to sniff the pleasant smell of printer's ink.Oh well, I'm back now, safe and sound. Tony and Siobhan are away for the whole week, so I am alone at home with the gifts I brought back from Japan. One of my favourite purchases, which I think I'll give to Kerri, was a USB with a dog attached. The packaging said, "USB meets love". When you plug in the USB, the dog starts to move frenetically, fornicating desperately with the USB.My book is now available for purchase online. Please get your friends to buy it and spread the word! Here are the links. From Booksurge
The week of bliss with children away on school trip week has come to an end. I always wonder if I'll be unbelievable lonely and depressed when all my children have finally flown the nest. However, this past week with no children was extremely enjoyable. I could walk around the house naked and not cook dinner. The TV never got switched on all week, so I didn't have to contend with blaring noise as the child watching TV competes with the child on the computer downstairs listening to music. Absolute bliss.My eldest daughter came to visit one night so I could give her the presents I brought back from Japan. She was extremely amused to see the Japanese comic book I had bought for my stepdaughter in South Africa. Apparently, instead of an Anime book, I bought her a Japanese lesbian porn comic book. Oh well, it still has cartoons. Is there a difference?My youngest daughter arrived back on Saturday with a squashed clay head in a pretty box. She'd gone to Xian for her school trip to see the terracotta warriors. One day they got to make their own warrior, but her body kept falling off the head, so she decided to focus on the head only and forget about the body, which was in pieces on the floor. But, the features are a bit squashed and to me it looks like a lump of clay. As mothers do, I told it was beautiful and looked just like a terracotta warrior.My son arrived back a few hours ago, wearing a new beanie he had bought himself, to cover his shaved head. Apparently on his trip to the Vietnam border to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, the boys indulged in a gambling game that involved rock, paper, scissors. The first boy lost and had to have his head shaved. Then they upped the stakes to double or nothing, and my son always keen for a bet or a dare, lost. Not only did he have to have his head shaved, but he also had to have his initials shaved onto his head. His head looks a bit like a penis now. No wonder he covered it up with a beanie!Oh well, work tomorrow. I feel like I have accomplished a lot this weekend. I've soaked dried fruit in rum for 48 hours and made my steamed christmas puddings and also baked my christmas cakes. I've also made 12kg of sausage, and done some research on the internet. What I didn't do, was go to school to work in my classroom which I really needed to do.Last night I went to the new Irish Pub in town, Finnegan's Wake. They had apple cider on tap which made my day! For a short while, I could almost forget I was in China. They have a great Irish singer there. He's quite good to look at as well! Have a great week!

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