2008年06月10日(火) 19時50分
Went on a short trip to the Kii Peninsula last week with everyone in my program.
Was a tiring trip cos of the endless walking coupled with the heavy rains.
Anyway, just to share some pics.


Rainbow. (view from hotel window)

My dear friends.

Along a street in Kyoto.


2008年05月29日(木) 21時18分

Not again 

2008年05月18日(日) 1時05分
Slight drizzle now.
Okonomiyaki Party at the dorm earlier.
I always dread going to such parties planned by Japanese to meet up with foreign students as I know I will not like it, but I would still end up going. Probably just to give myself a chance to know more people, or to confirm the fact that I don't like such parties.
Anyway, it was alright at the party. After the party a small group of us decided to celebrate a Japanese guy's birthday. We went out to buy snacks, cake, etc and came back to find our German friend with 2 girls waiting for us. As usual, he has always attracted Japanese girls, so we were not that surprised. We were chatting etc until another Japanese girl came and these Japanese girls start to ogle at my German friend like how he looks like Orlando Bloom, etc. I am not in anyway jealous, but I don't like how people think someone is interesting from their skin colour. Like when this Japanese girl said how much she'd love to go to Switzerland, I asked her why. Because most of the time, they have no particular reason, they just want to go because the people they are speaking to is white. A person from Switzerland who is not white would get a different treatment. It's worse of course if you are from other parts of Asia.
I'm tired of speaking to these people. So I left early. This is not the first time. It just drives me to study why the Japanese are so fascinated with the whites and why they have the tendency to judge people by their race and skin colour.

What's happening? 

2008年05月13日(火) 0時11分
My Chinese friend just told me that a terrible earthquake had struck the Sichuan, China. I quickly checked out the news. More than 3000 are estimated to have been killed.
And the recent catastrophe in Vietnam.
What more can we ask at this time, but peace in this world.

Heard from a sensei that a typhoon will sweep Tokyo on Wed. Hope everything will be fine.


2008年04月20日(日) 20時29分

I just watched a Japanese TV program on the increasing number of Japanese who afre losing their sense of taste.
They did a taste test on children around 6 years old and found out that almost half of them were not able to tell the taste correctly.
Children are suppose to have a more sensitive sense of taste. That's why children tend to reject sour and bitter foods as their tastebuds are more sensitive.
Some reasons which cause one to lose the sense of taste are:
Consuming too much preserved/canned foods. The preservatives will carry the zinc present in our body together with them as waste. Lack of zinc in our body is the main cause in losing our sense of taste. Japanese apparently do not consume enough zinc in their diet.
One way to increase our intake of zinc is to take foods rich in zinc with foods rich in Vitamin C.

I am not too sure how accurate is the information given by the program. But I've noticed how some people tend to add a lot of soy sauce or mayonaise in their food when it's already salty. Anyway, it's better to play safe and not eat too much preserved food. I want to retain my sense of taste as long as I live!

Some thoughts 

2008年04月17日(木) 22時30分
So the new semester has started.
This semester seems much shorter, yet busier.
There are many things on my mind.
I want to do a lot of things, but there doesn't seem to be much time left.
Yet some of my friends can be so relaxed and watching anime and playing games at home.
Anyway, just some thoughts:
I was at a dinner earlier that was meant for exchange between the Japanese students and exchange students. There were more Japanese students as expected. Well, there was the usual self-introduction etc. I was sitting on a table with my Swiss & Australian friends when some Japanese approached us and asked where we are from.
When my friend said he's from Switzerland, the Japanese students gasped. They were like "WOW!!! Switzerland!!!" And when they heard his name, they gasped even louder. And this guy said: "Cool~~~"... I just couldn't stand that. Then when it was my Aussie friend's turn, they said the same..like "WOW, Sydney!!!"... Then when it finally came to me, as expected, they were not very excited to hear Singapore. What's so special that someone is White? And comes from Europe? The same thing happened to my friend who's from France.
What's with these Japanese?? Get a life!
So my friend from Sydney asked me: "What does it feel to be a foreigner, but not treated like one?" I guess I'm used to it.

Just some quotes from Murakami Haruki from a recent interview.
"People have their own stories, but when they fall to the depths of their soul, they are sometimes unable to get out of that darkness."
"Our generation tended to pick the best of everything by upholding idealism while engaged in a revolutionary struggle without believing in a revolution."
"People have their respective stories and live in such stories. That rescues people. What I want to write is such stories. Although the stories are not bright, people can be rescued by finding things that resonate in the darkness."


2008年04月08日(火) 12時05分
It has been raining since my family went back home.
We had so much fun that I know for sure it would be something we would remember for a long time.
We were in Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Tochigi & Yamanashi.
Incredible in 8 days.
Some pictures:
AsakusaHeavy snow at NikkoKegon WaterfallOiso Beach with Host FamilyKawaguchiko

The Spring holidays passed by so quickly, I couldn't stop and have time to myself to think about all those things that happened.
I was had a wonderful time in Fukuoka, then an interesting experience in China, then my family came.
I think I will miss Japan for it gave me a lot of memories worth keeping for a pretty long time.

Beppu, Oita 

2008年02月17日(日) 2時06分
Today I followed Suzuki to Beppu which is found in Oita Prefecture. After arriving at the Beppu University station, we headed straight for the sand bath which is often featured in travelogues. It felt so strange to be soaking in black sand. After 5 minutes, I started to perspire. From where we were buried, we could see the vast, blue sea and seagulls hovering in the sky.
At the bath, we got to know this guy who was kind enough to give us a ride on his car to the mountain area where we could find the famous pudding of Beppu. He then drove us to the main tourist center where we satisfied ourselves with the local delicacy - Chicken Tenpura setmeal. It is only in Oita that you can find chicken fried in the tenpura style.
After that we headed to the dormitory where Suzuki will be staying in when he starts working at Oita. There we were served takoyaki and fresh strawberries by the owner. I was amazed to see the beautiful mountain view from the window of Suzuki's room. Wish I can stay at a place like that.
After drinking One Cup Sake on the train, we got back to Fukuoka and rushed to meet his friend. The 3 of us ended up at a ramen shop. After the ramen, we ate the pudding at the dorm and then he sent us home.
The day seemed very long indeed.

I never felt more relaxed 

2008年02月16日(土) 1時08分
It has been a relaxing week for me. Away from urban Tokyo.
Really appreciate and treasure the time here.

Just to recall:
Day 2 was spent at Yanagawa(柳川). The hour-long ride on boat was tremendously relaxing although my butt started to ache in the last ten minutes. The old man manoevred the boat effortlessly with just a bamboo pole. The place was famous for its unagi, but we had did not taste it for we had planned to have tenpura for dinner.

Day 3 was pretty interesting. I rode on the bicycle and took the same route I did 3 years ago to the station from the house. I was on the way to Kyushu University where I spent a fine summer 3 years back. Nothing much changed. I finally got to meet Suzuki who still look pretty much the way he was back then. Suzuki was the tutor attached to me and we remained in contact all this while. Quite coincidentally, met Joy & Marcus on the way to the International Student Center. Met the ATW staff.
After having ramen together, I followed Suzuki back to his dorm. Was surprised when he told me to help him with cleaning the dorm's bathroom. I happily agreed. Then, he picked up his baseball bat & gloves and suggested we play a little game of catch-and-throw at the park nearby. At the park, we made friends with 7 kids who are barely 7 years old. We played hide & seek in the cold which I really enjoyed a lot. I realised how much I love being with children. The day wasn't over. Somehow I ended up helping out at a party held in the school cafeteria. And somehow I ended up joining in the birthday party which was meant for a certain sensei. He shared a lot with us. It ranged from his relationship with someone 40 years younger than him to beauty secrets that kept him looking young.

Day 4 saw me drinking 3 glasses of beer in 20 minutes. Host mum brought me to the Asahi's brewery branch in Hakata. After a free tour around the complex, we were treated to 3 drinks per person. With a choice of Asahi super dry or premium.

Day 5 was a leisure one. Host mum brought me to a restaurant near a beach where we had Sazae-don for lunch. A kind of shellfish, like clams. Then we went up a mountain where I had a really good 360 deg view of the sea and the scenery around the area. When we got home, she introduced me to her neighbours which included little children. They took a liking to me pretty fast after I shared the strawberries I bought with them and we played catching around the neigbourhood.

Day 6 was also a leisure one. Had lunch with host mum at a South American restaurant in Tenjin. The waiter's from Panama & the featured guitarist's Brazilian. It didn't feel like Japan. Thereafter, I walked around Tenjin alone & ended up at the apartment I stayed at 3 years back. The bayview was indeed beautiful, so was the sunset. Met up with host brother and got his tix to China. Dinner was hainanese-styled chicken with Yeo's chicken rice chili specially prepared by host mum.
Pity won't be meeting Furusato & Hidaka Sensei.

Back in Fukuoka 

2008年02月11日(月) 1時25分
I am now feeling very nostalgic in a room which I spent a wonderful summer 2 years ago. Nothing much has changed in the room. The familiar smell of teak, the cupboard which I helped to repair, the sofa and tv in the exact same position.
It brought back so many wonderful memories.

Last night was spent at Karaoke Hiroba at Shibuya. We sang till 4:30am and then I left for Haneda Airport. After I touched down at Fukuoka Airport, I was so excited when I saw my host mum that I walked right out of the gate without collecting my luggage from the belt. So I had to request to re-enter the gate and collect my luggage. We then headed straight to Nagasaki where a lantern festival was held. Before that, we visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum which got me thinking about the war. Got to meet Mervin and his Taiwanese girlfriend. They are both studying at Nagasaki University. We had a late lunch together. Nagasaki noodles. We then walked to a famous church and looked at some artefacts which were found in the period when Christianity was suppressed in Japan.
On the way back, we stopped by a parking lot where I saw a beautiful sunset.
Managed to get in touch with Ryo who happened to be going back to Fukuoka from Nagasaki. Had dinner with him and his gf, and got Miru along. Felt great talking to them although I did not know them very well. Both of them were reminiscing the times they spent at NUS. About the yong tau foo stall in the Arts canteen, the cheap and good soursop juice, chicken rice...
I felt so glad to know that they had enjoyed their exchange in Singapore.
Many more adventures ahead in this coming week.
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