Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Counting Down (Again)

The semester is almost over. Half of my classes have already ended. I have a 10-page report, and about 4 finals. I am not bitching. In fact, the workload is rather light when compared to that of an average student in New York.

Rob and I are always counting down. It isn't until recently that I find it a quality. We are always counting down to the remaining days. Yet, we are also counting down to many events ahead of us. At last, Rob will make multiple trips to Japan, and I'll be in Taiwan with Rob.

After the rougher course of the relationship, we will be counting down to the everyday life together on campus, graduation, and even, the time I'll finally tell my parents about him (*shiver* scary thought).

I have always believed in goals and ambitions. Without them, I lose sense of why I am living my everyday life.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Other Days

For the past week, I have been extremely up to date with current events: People are dying from the cold in Georgia (incompetent government), Survivor winner found guilty for not paying taxes, Osama Bin Laden is believed to be alive (He also warns US for future terrorism), Livedoor crisis, Disney bought Pixar, neon-colored fish, Korean lied about cloning research, parents pleading for US hostage, Google censoring itself from China, 7 kids in a family died of a car accident (the grandfather died the next day, after hearing the news, from a heart attack), global warming, scare of bird flu to transmit from human to human, etc.

Oh, in recent news, Al-Zawahiri (Bin Laden's right hand man) is also alive. (He was thought to be killed in a missle strike.) In a video, he said:

"To the American mother I say, if the defense ministry called you to tell you your son is coming back home in a coffin, remember Bush."

"To the British wife I say, if you got a call telling you your husband is coming back home with his body charred, remember Blair."

They are more interesting than I thought of them to be~ Oh, not only did he call Bush the "Butcher of Washington," and a "loser," he said that Bush will be forgiven if he converts to Muslim. Heh.

So... I was wondering... What happened to the other days when I didn't read the news.

War's On!

This sounds silly, but I'm awaiting for my enemy at the meeting room maliciously.

I don't mind when a hallmate enters the meeting room to join me. After all, it is not my room. Since the beginning of this week, I have been accustomed to use the meeting room at my floor to do work. It is the one place where I can get things done.

At the beginning, the biatch across the hallway dismissed all greetings. This week, she even dared to hog the room with personal belongings. She would leave her bookbag to scare the others away. So, when she returns 2+ hours later, she'll have the room to herself. Of course, I couldn't care less. The night I had discovered her evildoing, I entered and utilized the room. She came in, startled, and probably angry.

What I hate even more are people who build forts at the door. What happened to "Love thy neighbor as thyself"?

So, here I am. Declaring war. The room is mine tonight!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Last Architectural Design Class

After presenting our each of us presented our "dream house," Laila suggested that we take a picture because it is the last class. The "goodbye" to our professor who brought us to various class trips seems short and unmeaningful.

I have learned to take a second look at every house I pass by in Japan. Also, I learned a lot about my fellow classmates. Perhaps, more than I want to. For example:

1. Laila will have a "lovely" husband and a daughter (who will more likely be her clone). If she has a son, he'll live in her big garden or the gazebo.
2. Desy can't live without her food.
3. Hatim wants to live with his entire family in his mountain
4. Cori needs a HEATED garage
5. Ruth's claustrophobic
6. Kai wants a room for his dogs
7. Anthony wants his grass to live in his White House
8. Richie wants his shower outside, by the bedroom's window
9. Evan wants to be Brain in "Pinky and the Brain" (even though he denies it)
10. Suvi... *shrug*
11. The 2 Japanese girls would rather design a library and an office than a house
12. The professor's house (in which he designed) is beautiful on the inside but *ahem* ugly *ahem* on the outside

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

72 More Hours

(A picture that even I am unfamiliar with. Stupid haircuts!)

After Rob has left Japan, he went to Taiwan to visit his father for a week. On his return to flight to New York, he has to stop at Narita for a few hours. Meanwhile, it was snowing heavily. Consequently, airplanes have ceased to depart, leading all the passengers to be stuck in the airport.

Rob's 4 hour flight from Taiwan to Narita has prolonged due to the weather. He was not only stuck in the airplane, he had to spend the rest of the night at airport with no cash on hand. Meanwhile, I was with the homestay family when I found out about the news at 11 pm. Throughout the night, we emailed each other back and forth until 4 am.

The next morning, I broke the news to the homestay family, ending the visit short. They sympathized and escorted me to the train station soon after our breakfast.

Rob booked the flight on Tuesday, giving us 3 extra days to spend with each other. For 3 days, we cuddled in joy, watched DVDs, and pigged out. Before he left, he even bought me groceries. My fridge is now packed. (Unlike before, I was too poor to eat anything else but instant ramen.)

A Drop of Snow

Because there is internet lately, I have been up to date with current events and weather forecasts. Earlier, the weather forecast predicts that the following day will have "light snow."

It was the morning of our homestay. When I woke up, I heard dripping sounds. I pulled opened the curtains, expecting to see rain, the entire neighborhood was covered in white.

On Sunday morning's walk back to the dorm room, I chuckled, and it broke the snowy silence. Looking into the gate of the international dormitory, I see 7 or more snowmans, varied in sizes and styles. Who would've thought... college and graduate students...

*By the end of the day, it accumulated a little less than a foot of snow

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Homestay visit

Profile: Father (65), mother (59), daughter (29), and their son (33) who lives in Tokyo. They are the 林 family, living in 袖ヶ浦市 (千葉県).

We were splitted into 2 groups. I met the 29 year old daughter, 涼子, who picked me up at the train station. She was far different from the picture. One of the most deceiving factor about Japanese girls is their physical appearance. No matter how active they look on a ski trip or volleyball class, they will always be at their most feminine side (physically) on the streets.

We were escorted to a restaurant by the leaders of this homestay event. Alongside, there were about 30 other students and homestay families. Sitting Japanese-style (正座)is my worst nightmare. I managed to stretch my legs under the table to only find that I cannot sit at a 90 degree angle. Lunch was delicious. There were tempura, sushi, and a few other fancy dishes. Like a typical gathering in Japan, we gave brief self-introductions.

Arriving at the house, after the normal respective greetings to the mother, we joined her at the kotatsu (a Japanese style table with a comforter on top, heated underneath). Because it is not common to have central heating in Japan, there are various heaters and furnitures for heating purposes. By the end of "tea time," my legs were numb because we had to sit on the floor cushions.

They live in a big, Japanese-style house. On the first floor, there is a kitchen, a 和室, a living room, a "bathroom," and a "washroom." I stayed at the 和室 with tatami. The family owns 2 cars, along with a parking space nearby the house. At last, there is a 2nd floor that I did not visit.

Because I don't have a television, I couldn't help but glance over at it whenever I can. We ate the donuts along with hot coffee. The father returned from work before sunset on a Saturday. The family is easygoing.

I spent the day shopping at supermarkets, and preparing dinner with the mother and daughter. By merely 5 pm, we gathered around with red wine and beer. We had sushi, onigiri, kimchi (because I told them I like spicy food), and a fish and vegetable 鍋.

At first, the father spoke as if I knew fluent Japanese. The pace of our conversations picked up by dinner time. It is either because I just agree with them, our conversational topics were getting in depth, or they were buzzed. Our conversations included why I had chosen the Japanese language, problems that I have encountered as a foreigner, places I have visited in Tokyo, my family lifestyle, etc. In addition, the family like to "show off" any English or Chinese words they know.

There is always one thing that I thought I could avoid for my whole life. Of all the things I would do to assimilate into the culture, I did not want to try 納豆. I have heard and read stories of various experiences with these fermented soybeans. In the end, I tried it, in a sushi roll with mint leaf. (I could have been really pathetic, like the textbooks, and say, "Although it is my first time, I'll take out my courage to try it." I decided otherwise.) My first bite, everyone was observing my facial expressions fixedly. It must've changed every millisecond. I couldn't tell if it was the unfamiliar taste of the mint leaf or the 納豆 that I did not like. They discouraged me to continue, and I placed it down.

By the end of dinner, the father had passed out because of the oh-so-(not)-big bottle of beer. I was then given the privilege to take the first dip of the bathtub. (It is common to share one tub of bath water per night throughout the family.) It felt great considerating I was shivering from cold throughout dinner.

My room was well heated by the end of my bath. For the rest of the night, I watched television and emailed Rob (story later.)

The next morning, I had a feast with the family. Humorously, the mother gave me milk (and I was the only one to receive it). I guess, that's the stereotype. By 9:35, I was on the train to go back home.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My $10 Haircut

Back home, I have never paid more than $30 for a haircut. Japanese likes to keep their hair in shape. In the neighborhood, one block may consist of 4 hair salons. There are always a handful of customers in each of them. They aren't cheap either; they each charge $50 on average.

I haven't gotten a haircut since the summer, if not spring. It is suggested for girls to cut their hair once every 3 months. Thereafter, my bangs have grown out and my hair was shredding because of splitends.

Because I am poor and cheap, I decided to go with Lukas to the 1000 yen salon. Cori came for moral support. The procedures are quite interesting. First, you pay at the machine. One would not have to worry about tipping. A paper with a number is then dispensed. Then, when my number was called, the emotionless lady asked me how I wanted my hair. There were 6 pictures at the waiting area; 3 of them were of men. Thereafter, I chose #2 who had a more feminine haircut. Most importantly, they don't wash your hair.

In the end, I hated my haircut. The $10 was worth the tragedy; she spent a considerable amount of time combing and cutting my damaged hair. My split ends are gone, and it'd grow~

Lesson of the day? If you're poor, nothing means jack.

P.S. Thanks Lukas, for the picture~

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


During our 3 visits to Odaiba, we did a little walk-by research on the various artists who do animated portraits throughout the area. Feeling good about a chain of artists who are under a guy who is renowned internationally, we went right ahead to 2 girls. We were hoping to get the girl on the right, because we have seen her previous work on another couple. However, the girl on the right volunteered, because they alternate on customers. These "brand name" artists were the best amongst all of them. They were about $35 for a color, 2 people, head only portrait. After this incident, I favor New York who is known for their "5 minute, 5 dolla!" a portrait.

Anyway, the picture above is one of the many pictures we took that day.

And, THIS is what was drawn of us (or should I say, ME!):

Monday, January 16, 2006

School, School, School!

Although school has started more than a week ago, my vacation has finally ended. My Japanese skill has deteriorated to the lowest. I'm at an unknown time zone now. I woke up at 5 am. It's 7:30, and I am still awake.

From now on, I shall suffer from the discontinuity of fine dining. This is exactly what happens when I'm spoiled. Symptoms began on the day of Rob's departure. My coughs are getting worse at night. I am suffering in my room with instant ramen. (Okay, not really. I actually like and miss instant ramen.)

Yesterday, I dyed my hair out of boredom. The sun's up. It's 7:27 am, and I intend to continue my procrastination by typing this entry...

Thankfully, I have things to look forward to. My trip to New York, Taiwan, and maybe, Hong Kong. Rob's return in May. Mom's visit in August. I can't wait to do everything, Summer-style.

Ironically, New Yorkers often bitch about the hikes in subway rides, movie tickets, etc. We don't know how good we have it! In fact, I miss New York for those factors. I refuse to pay $18 to watch a movie here. In addition, I would like to go back to the $2 subway ride to anywhere 24 hours a day, WITH BUS TRANSFERS (despite the graffiti and garbage)! Tokyo needs to realize that youngsters stay out after midnight, and $7 to Tokyo is way too expensive!

Sidenote: For the commercial, "For everything else, there is MasterCard," they should put it a fine print that it does not apply worldwide (especially Japan). In addition, Visa won't take you everywhere, as they advertise at the Narita Airport.

お台場 - Take 3

Throughout Rob's 3-week stay, we paid our visits to Chiba, Harajuku, and Shibuya a good number of times. We each had our own individual favorities throughout Tokyo and Chiba. Rob and I would wait on line to get into Mr. Donut to grab our favoritie Honey Glazed and Angel Cream. Yumm! Being the regular at Starbucks in NY, we found our favorite coffee in Japan - Tully's limited edition Tiramisu Latte. Others include a restaurant in Shibuya specialized in gyoza, fresh onigiri, etc.

Originally, we wanted to visit Odaiba 2 more times before Rob's departure. We planned our day extremely well. We arrived to Odaiba at 2 pm. We have had our magical days, but this day was "eventful." By the end of the day, we visited every where that is worth going in Odaiba. At last, we declared it to be our last trip to Odaiba this winter.

At Pallette Town, there was a ferris wheel that proclaims to be the most romantic. It was a 15 minute long, 115m high, neon lit ride. The view is not as beautiful as imagined, because it was located further away from the main attractions, such as the Rainbow Bridge. The wait and cost were well worth as we went up and around inside an all-glass car. It was around 11 pm, and the surroundings were packed with couples.

Being sport lovers, we visited the arcade to play table hockey, soccer, and table tennis. We visited Mega Web, the Toyota Showroom. Although Rob has proven to be a better zombie killer at the Jersey Shore, I have proven myself to be a better, faster driver in a real simiulator race car. We spent a considerable amount of time in a Coca Cola Gallery, Universial Design, etc.

The most time was spent in Venus Fort, a vanilla/blue sky themed shopping center. Most of our day was ruined when we got a portrait drawn of us. The artist must have hated me. However, the food there made me happy. With Rob here, it was endless fine dining. One of the many reasons why we are so poor (or at least, temporarily for Rob). We have made an observation that... they are mad cheap on drinks!


海 浜公園 is the place where it was previously mistakened to be the center of Odaiba. We rode on the ferris wheel. It wasn't a holiday or a weekend; therefore, the number of people on the park was countable with one hand.

Unfortunately, we missed the last water bus to Odaiba. Even still, nothing had stopped us. We continued our trip to Odaiba. It was a turning point to our day when we discovered Pallette Town and Venus Fort.

Because we arrived after sunset, we didn't spend much time at Odaiba, our second time around. The transportation system in Tokyo has definitely proven to be a burden to the way we plan our everyday.

Tokyo Tower

We visited Tokyo Tower at night. It was beautiful and romantic. Unfortunately, I was still recovering from my stomach virus. For 3-4 days, I had a fever, I was fatigue, and I puked nonstop. Thankfully, Rob went to the supermarket, and cooked お粥 for me. Apparently, it was quite obvious to Rob, because I showed every symptom. Thankfully, I didn't have to go to the hospital. That is the last thing on my agenda. (Btw, DO NOT go to the sushi restaurant across from the bike shop in Inage! They were expensive and bad, even to the never-a-complaint-about-food Rob.)

Besides the typical Tokyo Tower, we visited a few places inside. Do not go to the Wax Museum. The quality was bad. Julia Roberts did NOT look like her in any way. New York's wax museum is much more realistic.

Anyhow, we also visited the Trick Art Gallery... I think the pictures explain themselves.

I also sent these pictures to my parents. Oh, I can't wait for their reaction. The gallery was worth every penny. I can't wait until they have a new one. I'd visit it over and over again... just to take pictures like the ones below.

Disney Sea

First thing we did was, of course, buy Mickey hands and Minnie ears. Over all, it was definitely a "couple's place." Most rides were for relaxation, not thrill. The place was beautiful.

Considering it is my first time going anywhere Disney, I wasn't as excited as I thought I would be. I mean, I was excited to go to Disney Sea, but not the "Discover the magic" Disney as they advertise back home with a boy who wakes his parents up at 5 am.

The day was rather cold, but we survived by wearing thick Mickey gloves and drinking corn chowder. We managed to take lots of pictures by asking the workers in uniforms there.

One unfortunate event is that we didn't get to ride on the gondola. We took a picture in it though~

Not to be girly, but I feel like I'm in Aladdin and Jasmine's world at one part of Disney Sea. Every direction I look at, I would recall a scene from the animation.

Surprisingly, Cinderella was not involved in any way. That upsets me. Heh.

New Year's Day

浅草 Asakusa

We arrived to Asakusa at around 4 pm. It was extremely crowded. We immediately entered the end of the line. While we were moving with the crowd, Rob found warm 甘酒. Other than that, we didn't have any festive, New Year food.

When we had finally arrived to the temple, coins were being thrown. We managed to get in front of the crowd, make our wishes, and throw our coins. I hope it's good luck, but I got hit with a coin.

We both got fortune telling papers; unfortunately, they were both merely "regular luck."

There were so much more to the night. Rob found the yummiest marinated fish.
It was like 大学祭, but grown up style.

Later that evening, we went to a random Japanese restaurant where we found the most reasonably priced sashimi. There were some that were gooey, but they were all fresh and satisfying. =)

New Year's Eve

We were informed that Tokyo station has illumination, and off we went~ Apparently, "Tokyo Millenario" is an annual event. We saw signs, and BOOM, it was flooded with people and cops. Despite the length of the line, the anticipation was over within an hour. From afar, it looked like the Taj Mahal, or a casino.

Throughout the night, we stumbled upon volunteers to take pictures for us, sample alcohol from Bailey's, live orchestras, an outdoor festival, and an indoor event at the Tokyo International Forum.

On the way to nowhere-land, Rob found "supernatural power."

Rob ate the biggest chili dog I have ever seen, and I found my new, favorite strawberry wine from Austria. Unfortunately, we downed a bottle later that night. It was the worst experience I have had with wine. We ate our way through the night; we even bought Sri Lanka food, but it wasn't very impressive.

Inside the International Forum, there were vendors from hotels, the new FIFA ball, etc.

Oh boy. There were so much more to that day than I can explain in this entry.

お台場 (Odaiba)

We travelled to Odaiba by Yurikamome Line. It is by far the most beautiful train ride I have ridden on. We visited the typical tourist attractions there. Although it is simply a suspension bridge, they take a lot of pride for their "Rainbow Bridge." I strongly recommend everyone to pay a visit in the summer when you want to get away from the city. It has plenty to do. There is a beach, entertainments, shopping, cruises, etc.

We started our journey at Fuji TV. We visited a "museum," where I did not recognize most of their stars and shows. However, I took a picture of what-I-would-like-to-call a head-butt cockroach thingy.

Next up, "New York." I sent this picture to my parents. I wonder if they would freak out, wondering where I was.

At Sony's Mediage, we found the Aibo dog. It was love at first sight. Later that night, we were even more entertained by a shopping center's cleaning robot where a 6 or 7 year old boy vowed to fight it. I CHOOSE YOU, PIKACHU!

We walked through the boardwalk, aka "Decks." Inside, there was Little Hong Kong where we found our favorite arcade game: 3 puck-play table hockey, and familiar street signs. On the same building, there was another place with a theme of Japan in Showa-3os. It had old-school things where we don't relate to.

The Next Few Days

On Boxing Day, Rob and I went to Harajuku, because it is one of the few places where I am more familiar with. We found one of our favorite restaurant in Tokyo, La Pausa. They have yummy thin crisp pizza.

On the 27th, I brought Rob to Makuhari Messe Outlet where we did not do much shopping.

For the week, we were bumming in the room. We were catching up with the TV shows back home. i.e. "Everybody Hates Chris," "Joey," etc. We cooked only once or twice out of spontaneousness.

Rob's Arrival

Blessed with the random wireless internet connection, I'm typing in my blog again. More updated and longer entries! Woohoo!


Rob arrived at around the sunset of X'mas Eve. I was quite nervous waiting at the arrival gate at Narita Airport. My eyes were bouncing left and right at the 2 exits as if I were watching an intense tennis match. After an hour, Rob arrived, looking more energetic than anyone would have expected after a 14 hr flight.

The first few days were a blur. We were on the same time schedule, but we were definitely not in Tokyo time, New York time, or London time. Up until a point, I don't know if it was dinner I was eating. I was affected by my imaginary jetlag more than Rob was.

On Christmas Eve, we exchanged presents. I got 2 presents (One for my Birthday). Ironically, I guessed both presents playfully, despite the amount of times he denied it. I got 2 blue boxes, one with a white ribbon, and the other with red. Later, I introduced Rob to Saizeriya where he fell in love with the Doria dish.

Despite our unwillingness to get out of the comfortable bed, we dragged ourselves out for a more proper dinner at Chiba. We had a feast at a random Japanese restaurant. I managed to embarrass myself with my poor language skill in front of Rob.