Saturday, August 25, 2007

Azabu street fair

Another random night, another part of the city explored, another part of Japanese life experienced!

Well there has been one or two days where the temp has gone under 35 since my last post so the summer has become more bearable. Last Saturday Talal and I went to Yoyogi Park and then walked down Omotosando and then over to Shubuya. We had a wonderful day. Talal had never been to Omotosando and he was very impressed by all the designer stores and in particular the Ralph Lauren building which has become a regular stop for me when I am showing people around Tokyo. I was able to remember from my walks with the girls, suitable places for Talal to pray. I have since gone on line and located some mosques in Tokyo for him and his friends. I am actually surprised, since there are here on a scholarship from their King, and many don't speak English and are only learning Japanese, that the embassy has not taken better care of them and helped them out more.
Anyway, this last week ticked by quickly. I long for home, I am so excited to get back to Canada but the days slipping past so quickly brings me closer to losing Talal. My heart is being pulled in two directions.
Friday nights I normally work for Gaba but last night I had off. I am sooo glad I had the night off. I meet up with Talal and his friend Hatem in Hiroo. Hiroo is the ex-pat center of Tokyo. This is a wealthy area in Roppongi which is filled with Embassies, cafes, tree-lined streets, and foreigners who generally either work for their Embassy or a multinational and therefore get paid the big bucks. I had never been to this area before but I had always wanted to check it out. Hiroo also is home to the Islamic Institute of Japan and a mosque. This is another reason I choose this place to go to on a Friday night. I am so glad I did, for two reasons mainly. One- it turned out to be Hatem's birthday (not something that is celebrated in Saudi Arabia) and he got to go to a mosque which is really a rare gift for these guys. Two- there was a fabulous street-fair going on!!! I had no idea!!
After I left the guys at the mosque I decided to explore a little. I went down one street and then another, and then I heard music and voices. the street fair was huge!! it snaked down on average sized Japanese street so a couple kilometers and even spread out to include other streets. I was delighted! I sampled some Japanese white wine (although evening it was still very hot) and the wine tasted like white grape juice! YUMMY!! There were many men and women in Yukata (summer kimono) and surprisingly less foreigners then I would have expected. So hear I thought I was going to Hiroo to have a little escape from Tokyo and I ended up back solidly in Japan. It was so much fun. There were food stalls, and drink stalls, and toys, and crafts, and sooo many people. I walked to the closer end from where I had entered and then turned around and walked back as I still had more time. I sampled another glass of white whine which wasn't so delicious. I soon realized that I needed to get some food in me or this wine that had gone straight to my head was going to stay there. I bought some BBQ squid. It was a bit salty but otherwise okay. I also bought candy apples for the guys and myself. I took lots of pictures so I shall post them in the next post. The timing worked out perfectly. The guys were finished at about 9pm which was closing time for the street-fair. Well I guess that wasn't perfect timing for them but it was for me! They were able to find me and we walked to Roppongi and ended up at TGI Fridays which was not exactly where I had envisioned eating (small Italian or French cafe, down a quite side street), but after the squid and the candy apple I was really interested in food anyway. At least Hatem was able to get a bit of birthday cake (Friday's warm brownies with ice cream and fudge). All in all it was a great night. I was so tired from the work week that I completely passed out on the train ride home, and Talal had to wake me up when it was our stop. I slept in this morning as well. Sooo tired. I am looking forward to finishing at Gaba next Friday. Working two jobs and not coming home until 11pm every night is weighing on me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hot summer days in Tokyo

So the other day Talal and I went to Shimokitizawa. He had never been so of course I had to show him. Here are some pictures....ahh Tokyo in the summer. Just moving makes one yes I am aware I look exhausted.
Just a quick note: Tokyo has been steadily in the mid to high 30s for a few weeks now and the temp isn't expected to change. Yesterday was 37degrees....before the humidix!!! I swear if they factored that in the temperature would be listed in the 40s. Conclusion: VERY VERY HOT AND HUMID!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Arrival date

Hey all,
I just realized that I never mentioned when I am returning to Canada. I arrive back in Toronto on Sept 13th. I will head to London to be with my parents for a few weeks (they deserve it) and then I should be back in Toronto until Christmas.
Anyway thats it for me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ashley's Adventure

This is just a quick note about one of my crazy sisters. No this isn't about September.
Ashley is currently camping and trekking her way across Newfoundland with her boyfriend Geoff. She is currently somewhere on the Long Range Mountains. I believe she is experience the true meaning of the world "wilderness". Here is the link if your interested:

I hope we shall here from her soon to know that she hasn't been kidnapped by puffins!!!
It is actually serious stuff, and dangerous hiking. I trust and believe that she has taken all precautions...even though she was more than willing to leave my apt in Tokyo without a map or my phone number, or my address to help guide her back home. I guess if she survived Tokyo she can survive Gros Morne National Park.
Concrete jungle with no street names and not possible sense of direction or order vs. pure wilderness.... she has good training. lol

We who love her are awaiting to get word she and Geoff have had the most fabulous time. And both Ashley and the puffins are safe (I suspect she is as much of a danger to them as they are to her.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This is not my week.

Sometimes I really hate Japan; this would be one of those days. Well I guess to be more accurate, sometimes I really hate Japanese men. Today I was walking to my school and as I was walking down a rather steep hill, I lost my balance and fell on my face, my bag launching out in front of me. It was really quite spectacular. Well the two Japanese men who were walking directly behind me stepped over and around me when I fell. They didn't even turn to look at me. As I struggled to get up and brush the embedded gravel off my hands and knees I was staring at them to see if they would at some point turn around to check on me, they didn't, they just continued on smoking their cigarettes and facing forward. I was so angry, so incredibly angry I had to take a few moments before going into my school in order to calm myself down. I know if a woman had been behind me she would mostly like have checked on me, asked if I was okay. I am still angry, and my hands still burn in pain. I wish I had jerked up my leg to trip the guy as he stepped over me. grrrrrrrrrr (my replacement for the obscenities I would like to express) grrrrrrrrrrrr Japanese men!!!!

Another Asian country, another hospital visit.

Well I have been sick for the last month but I think that will now come to an end. Yesterday I ended up at a Tokyo hospital after collapsing in a bookstore onto a pile of books from a dizzy spell (that took for too long to recover from) and bursting into tears when approached by the bookstore staff who were frighten by me but very kind. Turns out I have three separate infections (nothing serious) and now have three doses of antibiotics. The hospital visit was interesting, I was lead around by the hand and told I was getting special treatment....just for me -the helpless foreigner!! Interesting to note, that in a country that makes everything disposable, all the equipment that they used on me was not - stainless steal everything- from tongue depressors to those funnel things they use to look into your ears. They also used a scope to look up my nose and down my throat - cool video...painful process. I was pretty miserable but when I opened the door to the waiting area from the scoping process, I saw Talal, how he manage to find me when I'll I said was JR hospital in Shinjuku I don't know, but it was nice not to be alone. I am on the mend now...I hope anyway. No worries, but felt like sharing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Vacation to Hachijo

Well I am back from Hachijo and my fabulous vacation with Talal. We took a ferry from the Takashima Peir in Tokyo a week ago Monday, and 11 hours later we arrived at the fabulous island of Hachijo. Hachijo is the last of about 7 of Tokyo's islands which are actually the remains of a submerged volcanic mountain chain. Hachijo, and most of the other islands are active volcanoes. Because of its distance Hachijo is not highly populated and not that many tourists make it out that far, which suited me perfectly. Many times it felt like Talal and I were on a deserted island, and it was wonderful!!! What did we do is our little deserted paradise? Well we walked a lot and is was HOT and HUMID, actually more so than Tokyo is that could be considered possible. We walked across the island from our beach to the lava fields which were amazing. We were planing on snorkeling but over the time we were there, a typhoon was hitting Japan from the south, and while it didn't hit our area directly we did receive waves a could meters high and waves that crashed and spilled over concrete barriers 5 meters high. We were disappointed that swimming was banned all over the island but we loved the views this mighty waves gave us. We had only a little rain, but it was so hot I ofter wished for rain to cool us off. One day we walked to a part of the island that had hidden waterfalls and a co-ed onsen (hot spring). The water fall and jungle around it was amazingly beautiful and the onsen had a fabulous view also out onto a ravine and another waterfall. We also went on a glowing mushroom tour. Hachijo is home to 9 different varieties of mushrooms that glow in the dark. These mushrooms are super small so we weren't able to get a very good picture but we tried...and yes you can eat them but all they will do is leave a bad taste in your mouth. It was rather spooky to see so many tiny glowing things on the trees and on bark on the forest/jungle floor. We stayed in a family run Japanese inn, I forget the official name for these establishments but it was really wonderful and the owners could not have been kinder or more helpful to us. Talal got lots of time to practice his Japanese!!! Everyone on the island was just as kind and friendly. We were even offered a ride back to our place when we stopped to inquire about the nearest bus stop, and then we not only got a ride but a private tour of the island!!! Oh and I must quickly mention the Anchor Pub which is run by the nicest Aussie. Talal and I ate here everyday since it was the only place on the island that had food Talal could eat. Scott, the Aussie, was also so helpful and booked us on the mushroom tour.
I know I am not giving too many details, I would be more than happy to answer any questions should you have them.
It was an amazing three days, and the two days on the ferry weren't so bad, actually quite romantic (well we spent most of the time sleeping).

All in all I can't sing the praises of Hachijo enough. I loved my holiday, lots of physical exercise, sleeping, beautiful scenery and my Talal. I felt like I was really traveling and Tokyo felt worlds away which is exactly what I needed.
Pictures to follow. I wont put up too many, I will put more up on facebook for those who have it.


Photos of my vacation to Hachijo

Bye bye Tokyo!!!! ( if you would like to see the pictures larger, just click on the pictures)