Official ALIEN

Trip Start Nov 02, 2006
Trip End Aug 23, 2007

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yep - I've been here 7 weeks and they have already registered me as an alien! Well, at least it means I can join the library and it is also the first step to getting a work visa. I don't really want to work, but it seems the easiest way to stay here for longer than 3 months. So I've accepted a 1 day a fortnight job teaching 10 year-olds English. Trying not to overdo it...

Talking of the library, today I had the pleasure of using the toilets there. They DO love their gadgets here, so after standing at the sink for a few seconds wondering why the soap and tap didn't seem to be working I realised that I actually had to PUSH the soap dispenser and TURN the tap - how quaint! Usually it is an all in one process - you just put your hands there and they get squirted with soap, washed and then dried - all automatically.

But it is those electric toilets that really freak me out. We unplugged ours... and ours just had a simple heated toilet seat. In lots of places they have this whole spaceship like consol on the right side of the toilet - so you can get your botty flushed and dried, amongst other options.

Yes, so things can be a bit different... Like the babydoll girls - ie the women who dress up like dolls/little girls. Apparently Barbie didn't sell here until they made her shorter, with smaller child-like breasts. Even Art was finding some things a bit much when he visited us - but that didn't stop him hunting down the manga-porn and eating grasshoppers and bee lavae (OK, I'll admit I ate a grasshopper too - surprisingly edible).

So Rebecca is still working hard to bring home the tofu. Last month we got surprised by a $150 gas bill and so were down to $70 to last the week til pay day. I ended up cashing in my €20 left over from Spain 05 and $15 from Oz. We make mint tea from leaves I regularly 'pick' from a house a few blocks away... Yesterday Rebecca got all excited about her idea to save some money by taking it a step further and stealing vegetable from the many fields near our house! We do have SOME standards though - so we will only steal from the fields of capitalists and leave the grannies alone.

Considering she is doing all the work, Rebecca has just been a legend - especially last week when she took over cooking duties to give me 'a break'. That girl knows how to cook too - but last night she came up with a concontion that would even put Myree to shame! The 'tofu-burgers' were just NOT going to be patties, so she reckoned that she'd just scramble them like eggs - well it just ended up as this kind of white sludge that I'm sure Carina would describe as baby vomit. Still - it did taste good though!

But despite the austerity measures we are still getting out and about. Two weeks ago we hit the hills with our hiking gear, no map, no plans - found some nice little trails and a great spot to camp. Last weekend we headed out of town on our bike to go to a wasabi farm - had some wasabi beer (I'm sure it was just Asahi with green food colouring though!). Once we amused ourselves by using the drainage channels to cross the city instead of the roads we were getting bored with - maybe we have been here too long already? Well they are probably actually streams, but the Japanese are famous for concreting everything - streams, rivers, even holes in trees get filled with concrete! Talking of such matters - urban planning is crazy here - the centre is quaint with it's 400 year old castle and weaving streets, and near us it just changes nicely from city to country in about 10 minutes of walking, but to the west the city just sprawls on the outskirts: rice paddies are next to massive 'Pachinko' arcades and shrines are dwarfed by the 10-storey high (no joke) netting of the golf driving ranges.

But the people are just SO lovely, even if they really don't want to make eye contact (what a change from Buenos Aires where you are kissing everyone you meet!) and even if we can't understand each other...and even if the childish advertising jingles in the supermarket drive me mad (hey, I can now read 90% of one of the three alphabets, and 75% of the other, so I now have SOME idea of what I'm buying)... and even if the cylists send me loopy by being COMPLETELY unaware/unpredicatable and mostly on the wrong side of the road! So as long as I get some kind of visa, I'm staying put for a while...

OK... until next month!
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