Out of the country!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 09:42 am
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
I'm going to be in Africa with family :) I'm excited! Also overpacked (because oh god autumn how does one dress for weather that's hot and cold?), but mostly excited!

Africa's far enough that I don't think I could ever go again -- unlike, say most of Asia -- so we're staying a pretty long (but cool. or warm? damnit autumn) ten days. The plan is to be in Capetown for most of the trip, with a side trip to see Victoria Falls, which is apparently *gorgeous* (and is also the reason I had that fail vaccination /o\).



Monday, July 11th, 2011 05:55 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Need to grab my camera and upload pics later, but for now, what is important is:

* home safe, did not miss my flight from Thailand to Manila (by a narrow margin, because I was so sleepy from the first flight, I sat at the wrong gate)

* have caught up to my read page and have half a bajillion tabs open to comment to later; really should have a link to transition to per-day reading if your account type supports it. I had to look it up in the code which not everyone can do...

* will probably nap before any commenting though. The jetlag is bouncing me up and down really hard. (Luckily it didn't hit anywhere close to this hard on the way out to the UK!)

* I love my ipad, but it feels really good to be back at my laptop again *_*
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
There's certain questions I want to ask, but there's a huge thread going on in Ravelry right now that makes me feel a bit scared that if I do ask, people will look down on me for not being smart enough or else think I'm being too lazy to dig things up on my own /o\

The problem isn't that I can't figure out what to do, it's that I can see two different ways to do this thing, can think of a reason for having each be better than the other, and a third reason besides that basically means it doesn't matter which one I pick. And if I explain my thought process, maybe I'll come across as overthinking, or if I don't explain maybe I'll come across as under...thinking.

Guh social stuff /o\

So I'm promising myself that I'm going to stay away from the forums (except free pattern testers <3) and switch back to using Ravelry to keep track of my projects and stash. (<33 projects and stash pages)


I just finished a pair of fingerless gloves just in case I need them for the trip :D I am excited because it's cooooooold over there (though I get the impression that it's getting warm, or at least not chilly. But I'd prefer to overpack rather than underpack, assuming I don't break my suitcase trying to stuff everything in...)

I'm just, look okay , I'm completely ridiculous when it comes to cold weather. I LOVE IT and also I end up shivering uncontrollably because I overestimate my capacity to handle the cold. I feel that 25 degrees is nice: slightly chilly but nice, and anything below 23 degrees is for bundling up or hiding under a blanket. So, yeah scarves and vests and sweaters and... stuff. I will look ridiculous /o\ BUT AT LEAST I WILL BE WARM. (I hope)


I've been packed and ready to go for almost a week now. That's kinda amazing because I usually put off packing until the night before any trip :D

But then again I don't usually take trips that are over two weeks long on my own money and with everything planned by me....


SO NERVOUS IT ISN'T EVEN FUNNY. Except for how I'm spending a lot of time grinning in anticipation. Four days! Or three plus travel time plus change.


I have withdrawn dollars and have converted some to pounds and my credit card company rushed me a card in the nick of time (who was careless and accidentally lost her credit card the week before she was leaving the country? THAT'S RIGHT). I've done some research (not all, there's still time for that later), and have a tentative plan for what to do with whom where and when ...assuming I didn't forget to get back to some people O_O I wouldn't be surprised if I did. Didn't? Planning is not my strong suit /o\ Neither is not losing things /o\ /o\


I intend to relax and enjoy this trip, treat it like a low-key meet-friends kinda thing rather than a stressful must-see-all-the-sights whirlwind tour. So um. ummmm (if applicable): HI






Geeeeeeh ;_;




I'm promising myself to only buy a couple balls of yarn from each country I'm in rather than trying to single-handedly bring the entire yarn inventory of the UK back home. :-D Since I only have limited luggage space and I'm on a budget, this should be an easy promise to keep.

(until I actually walk into the store. Then all bets are off)


Geez, I'm all ready to go, why can't the weekend be over yet? But also I'm nervous, and I'm kinda glad that there's still three more days to get ready.


I'm slightly anxious about customs. A friend of mine was telling me about how she was pulled aside while entering another country ( not England ) for a very pointed interview, because she was travelling alone while single, female, and holding a Philippine passport. (oh hi there)

I mean I'm almost certain that I'll have no issues -- there are so many other people going through customs every day, there's very little chance they'll have time for me, you know? Plus totally different country altogether, and also going to a different country is a privilege not a right so if necessary they do have the authority to turn anyone away blah blah blah it's not like anyone is guaranteed to be able to enter any other country: I'm not unique in that. It's just. I'm anxious.

What if I look suspicious? or say the wrong thing? or give the wrong impression? and get kicked out before I so much as even set foot outside the airport? What if I'm shifty-eyed or too I dunno. SUSPICIOUS. Whatever. eh. It's not going to happen (most likely!). I'm still anxious.

And there are the other things, but I like to pretend that they don't exist as considerations because if I think about them my head will explode I'll be so nervous I'll start looking more worthy of suspicion.


INSTEAD I will think about the other side! and getting past paperwork and bureaucracy! and being somewhere cold! and meeting friends! people! other friends! and concentrate on not losing my passport or my visa or my money or my credit cards or my clothes!

Just, stuff.


Suitcase is really heavy now, but a lot of that is stuff that I'll be giving folks when I get to the other side. I should be able to free up space and weight for the trip home :D


I love flying. I mean literally just everything about it, even the long lines at the airport and the ridiculously tight seats in the economy section. (It helps that I have really short legs). Just something about the whole process that I love *_* I go really hyper the day before a flight, and just before the flight too. Though thankfully not so much on the actual plane (other than grinning like an idiot and peering out the window even though I've seen similar things many other times before *G*). If I were as hyper on the plane as I am in the airport, they'd have probably kicked me out an emergency exit a long time ago >_>


I have one knitting project in my carry-on (an unstarted Noro scarf), half of another in my luggage (half-finished Clapotis), an iPad, a phone, Jim Hines' Goblin series (which I haven't started yet or even read any reviews about, but going off of his fairy tale princess series I think I'll like it).

I'm considering whether to bring along C. Valente's Palimpsest novel. On the one hand I do have plenty of ebooks so I shouldn't need to bring so many physical books. On the other, I have that ten-hour layover in Bangkok, and I don't remember if they have wall sockets for passengers to plug in there.

One weekend + one day + one travel day left...
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Heading out to Cambodia/Vietnam for five days *g* I meant to research language, but somehow ended up researching food instead.

I'm in the middle of packing up clothes, and wrapping up time critical items. I will regret the lack of language knowledge soon enough *rueful*.

(From my research, it sounds like it will be similar to the Philippines in some respects, and very different in others which I mean. I DUNNO. I feel like I may be able to luck out with Chinese in some areas, though)

I will be busy during the day, but will be coming online at night. (I suspect I'll be tired from all the walking, so not going to be around much, but)

I will have more luck with the language (and similar luck with food *_*) in Hong Kong, where I'm visiting briefly at the end of this month. Mom needs to do some errands for my grandpa, and needs someone to accompany her, so I volunteered / was volunteered.

Quite happily! There's a fantastic restaurant over there called Jade Garden, plus the other fantastic restaurant which I forgot the name of but which has yummy goose, and we're definitely dropping by both of those.

Bonus: the hotel is within walking distance of the yarn store I made my mom tell me about. It's the same yarn store where my mom bought the cashmere yarn that I used for my grandpa's scarf. Not that I intend on splurging on cashmere on my own, but they carry other, more interesting stuff, too, like a bamboo mix which is bright and glossy and really lovely.

I have never been there, but I have dispatched my mom and brother (who was the designated helper last time my mom ended up in Hong Kong) to that store. That time, I didn't have much money, and I could only get them to understand as far as "nothing acrylic!"

This time, I will be there personally. And I will have money to spare :-)

-- lots more stuff about Hong Kong than about Cambodia or Vietnam because I have been to HK, but never been to either Cambodia or Vietnam. I'm excited to go to all these places!
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Agh! I had a dream last night that I was so disoriented about dates, I thought that today was Monday so I packed up my bags and went straight to the airport, skipping out on the Philip Island penguins. And then I regretted it for the rest of my life D:

I am awake now, and it is still Saturday. There is still time!

Dear dream-self:

I win!

afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
I remember the days (back in the Philippines so long ago how has it been a week already?) when I craved the cold -- anything to escape from the summer heat. That was obviously before I stepped out of a shower (a hot shower even!) into a blast of unforgiving cold air. BRRRR! I... had not realized that when people talk about teeth chattering, it is not (always) an exaggeration. I am impressed by anyone who can take their daily showers in the mornings or the evenings. I've been waiting until just about noon to get properly scrubbed and dressed, when the cold is a bit less biting *g*

Anekin, [personal profile] rb's cat (and they are both gorgeous \o/) has been kind enough to let me pet him even when my hands are chillingly cold. I find myself wishing I had hand socks; just realized that that would um, probably be gloves. Yes.

Besides the cold, I seem to have picked up a cold. I was okay in Sydney, but started noticing some slight sniffles once I was in Melbourne (I suspect a combination of the dry colder air and walking past a lot of theaters with smokers hanging out outside irritated my throat). I sound sick -- I sniffle pathetically, and I keep descending into sudden fits of coughing -- but I don't feel sick at all, which is good. I do feel horrible though because [personal profile] rb has been sniffly /o\ Though like me, she appears to not be feeling sick, and I hope that lasts /o\ (Strepsils work, by the way! Until I start laughing, then I start coughing again. Trying not to laugh means I don't laugh -- but I still cough, oops!)

We have had ice cream with sprinkles \o/ It is great \o/ I will forever have space and time for ice cream. The best flavor was definitely the cookies and cream, which [personal profile] rb bought because she couldn't find any cookie dough ice cream. Oddly enough, it tastes like a combination of cookies and cream and cookie dough flavor from back home. I LOVE IT. She's taught me a neat trick: put the bowl into the freezer for at least half an hour before having ice cream; that prevents the ice cream from melting too fast. Will try that at home if I can remember.

I've started working again (hello [site community profile] changelog and bugzilla, missed me? *G*), and have settled into a routine of settling someplace in [personal profile] rb's room, where there is neither Ricky nor cat nor PCA, and typing away on my laptop. Occasionally we talk. It's all very relaxed and homey, and so far [personal profile] rb hasn't kicked me out of her house yet, ahaha. (We have decided it's a silly fear that we both share, that one of us may not like the other, but that doesn't make it any less real!)

Spent some time setting up my environment; found out (via "man ssh" and "man ssh_config") that you can select a different identity file (ssh -i, or IdentityFile), for a specific connection, which is useful for letting me continue to do commits, without having to actually give my netbook all of my laptop's privileges permanently. And [personal profile] rb's 'net connection is even a bit faster than mine is back home, so now I've managed to set up my dev environment properly, and can SSH into my server and tweak files over SSH painlessly. It is awesome.

Other things that are awesome and I'm still getting used to: being able to drink straight from the tap (!!!), and integration with technology (well, with Google anyway). So I asked [personal profile] rb whether there were any yarn stores nearby. She laughed -- not unkindly -- and pointed me to my good friend Google. "yarn store melbourne" gave me a link to maps containing about a dozen, and I'm currently whoa really seriously? yes seriously! I'm excited by both the number of yarn stores, and by how convenient it was to actually get a list of them all, on a map even!

Occasionally, when realizing that things like these are possible -- no, that things like these are easy, I feel incredibly provincial. Ehehehe.

Tomorrow I go meet [personal profile] juin :D I hope I don't forget to bring the stuff that I brought over. I should go dig around in my suitcase just in case there's something there I need. Hmmm.

(no subject)

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 09:50 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Sydney is gorgeous, vacation has been pretty low-key and meandering / relaxing. I have free internet from the lobby at the hotel, but I am only skimming my email, not responding to anything until I am officially back online (unless it is really important. So far, because of how awesome everyone is -- ♥ and everyone is so awesome -- I have not needed to)

I have been walking a lot. I have also been eating a lot. Tired in a good way, full from dinner, in a good way, and too sleepy to stay online much longer. ♥ all.

PS. I am reading Gordon Korman's I Want to Go Home ^_^

ETA: My attempt to stay off the internet is failing, even though it's beginning to look like my definition of "stay off the internet" is "to be online less than an hour a day"...


Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 12:27 am
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
So I'll be in Australia for the first two weeks of May. I'll be with family from April 30 to May 6, they'll be heading home first, leaving me in Melbourne.

I'll be staying with [personal profile] rb for about a week following that :D Anyone in the Melbourne area want to meet up? I'll be working during that week, but I'll have the weekend/evenings/etc -- I'll have just come off a week being a tourist with my family, so I'll be all touristed out and don't need to be introduced to any of the local tourist spots. I'm hoping for something kinda low-key, just hanging out or going out or whatever.

And do I know anyone in Sydney? *g* I can't remember! Though I can't guarantee I'll be able to meet up with anyone in Sydney, since my family will expect me to hang out with them.

(Man, we need to figure out the itinerary before we go, don't we? I have no idea what we're going to do; I suspect it's four days Sydney, three days Melbourne, and my sister wants to do something from http://www.australia.com/

This is going to be our least planned holiday ever. It's either going to be awesome, or awful *G*)


Saturday, January 9th, 2010 06:08 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
I will likely be in Australia with my family end of March/beginning of April. Must figure out when / if I can split off. (Mom's made a fuss about my wandering off on international trips before; grumbles that I don't want to spendtime with family.

Not true!

I wonder if I could extend a day or two and come home later than everyone else? Would that solve it?)
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Whoo! I took five of my nine remaining leaves, and so this is my last day of work for this year.


Half the office is already gone, left for their respective provinces and hometowns. I am one of a very few left, ahahhahahahaha.

(Christmas is a huge thing here, pretty much, so most everyone is gone for at least a week -- maybe two :-))


Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 10:23 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
So, I'm going out of town the next four days, to spend half a week at Fort Ilocandia, which apparently is very pretty and luxurious and has stuff like jet-skiing and parasailing and archery and other stuff you can't get here (wind and sand and sea and nature and stuff).

I am terrible at taking vacations, by the way. I just spent today stressing over finishing code for work, because I hadn't finished enough to justify to myself skipping Monday through Wednesday of next week relaxing ("relaxing"). Though it's better to stress before the vacation, than during or after? I'm about to resume coding for work after this, but took a quick break to pack my bag.

Packing two books: Dragonfire by Charles Ashton, and Snare by Katherine Kerr. Should I swap one of them out for Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer, or Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, or DWJ's Unexpected Magic? Or maybe I should bring Wicked instead, since it's already tattered, from the time I lent it to my brother's friend. I'm gone four days; two books had better be enough! (Maybe I should bring three?)

I'm actually in the middle of the first book of Abarat, but I don't want to bring it because first book is glossy (and therefore heavy). Second book is hardbound (and therefore heavier).

Oh hmm what else do I need? Clothes, probably. Must not forget that. Ummm, money, too. Not bringing the laptop, but am bringing the iPhone. Also going to try to bring a bit of self-discipline so I don't end up spending the next four days hunched over my phone, trying to connect to the internet.

Place looks good enough to have assorted toiletries in the room? I'm bringing a towel anyway, for the beach.

Hm. Hm. Hm.

I hope I didn't forget anything.

ETA Oh yes, need to turn off changenotify, otherwise I'll be spammed with emails for things I can't help out with anyway.

To Hong Kong

Thursday, April 24th, 2008 01:28 am
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Shall be in Hong Kong from April 24 morning to April 26 evening: just a few days. Have money in my pocket, hotel and tickets taken care of, shall enjoy my long weekend. Take care, guys! Here's to hoping I manage to spend my money recklessly!
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Stayed up until 4am last night, writing postcards so i could send them before leaving the hotel. I had a great time matching up postcard designs to names, and adding in some Japanese, which I tried my best to make not-too-grammatically-incorrect. Mwah, all of you, and love.

Japanese children are some of the cutest things ever. Can I smuggle one of them home with me?

I think I traumatized one of them at breakfast though. I smiled at this kid while waiting for her dad to get rice. Next thing I knew, she had run from me and was ftugging at her father's sleeve, going 'tousan, tousan' piteously. I feel so guilty!

Lately I have been eating my rice rolled into my seaweed.

I wonder if it is possible to learn to switch hands. Am trying to do stuff with my left that I usually do with my right.

Spent the day in Disney Sea. Rides were too kiddy. Discussed with my parents my desire to emigrate. More on that in another entry.

Have split off from everyone. Now off on my grand adventure to go meet Ju! One train, one hour (well two trains, if you count the ticket for the disney monorail so i can make my way from disney sea to maihama station). It should be easy, right?

I hate train platforms. Always afraid I shall fall in.

i am in maihama station about 30 min early because i was afraid i would not be able to figure it out. I eventually did (got confused because the line i was on only moved one way, while the other line moved in both directions, so i spent some time trying to find the other platform for my line so i would be sure i wasn't inadvertently going in the wrong direction. Couldn't find it anywhere, which was strange.

We stayed at the first stop for a really long time. Almost as long as it had taken for us to travel from the first station to the second...

Aha! Have finally figured out where to look to find the current station name: it is on the pillar!

I jump whenever we pass by a train going in the other direction. It makes a weird sound.

7 stops away! I was sleepy a few moments ago, but not any more :)

Um, is the train seat actually heated? My butt is warm ;_;

Hm, is "silent mode" called "manners mode (manaa moodo) in Japan?

Three stops away!!! All this excitement is making me hungry.

Is no one afraid of robbers or anything like that? People are taking out their laptops and such on the train. I am getting nervous even just whipping out my cellphone o.O

Ohmygod next stop is Kita-Asaka! *bounce*

It took just a bit more than an hour, like an hour and seven minutes. Night air, brr.

I am currently lurking near the ticket machines like a suspicious lurking thing.

Had teeth-blackening pasta and truffle ice cream and very good fake tiramisu! Enjoyed the drinks bar (soda, mostly, and coffee and tea). Also discussed the merits of eating ostrich meat (they deserve to die because the stupid birds have wings but do not fly.) We then stopped by Mister Donuts for something to take home for breakfast. The green tea azuki p(something) ring was interesting. They also have the most adorable things you can get if you have enough points, so I did my share by helping Ju earn points.

Then we went to another train station, on a different line, to head home ("samui, samui"). Got a speed tour of the area/route to her place; took off my shoes before heading inside. It was compact and so nice and cozy <3 space heater! Poster! Groovy (grooved?) rug!

I stole the second futon from underneath the first one, as well as the bottom blanket, and sprawled on the futon while watching oofuri. Which, by the way, oofuri is good! A bit fanservicey, ahaha. Went through the first 10 episodes and then had to give up because i was getting sleepy and loopy and i think i may have started babbling and my eyes were closing on their own even if i was having fun and laughing at the good parts, but still my eyes closed.

And then it was somehow morning, and we ate the donuts and i had instant royal milk tea and it was good.

Took my gym bag with my clothes and stuff and we headed to Ikebukuro, where Juju brought me to HMV, and then we went to Animate (six floors of anime and manga merchandise, each floor having a different kind!) I actually spent a bit of money at the 200yen random-figurine-in-egg machine, trying my luck for various Oofuri characters. I got a lot of Ta...Ta.. whatsisname, batting genius guy, and also Abe. The duplicates I traded with Ju :D (I COULD NOT STOP. IT WAS LIKE GAMBLING. But with less money and more adorable prizes).

Then up a floor to buy manga (where I bought one of a slightly, uh, more sensitive nature). Oofuri has a lot of doujins. It seems second only to Hitman Reborn? Then up another floor for merchandise (bought a bag, ahahhah. I love it *hugs to self*). Then Ju dragged me away, and we ate lunch at a Mexican place, where I was introduced to fajitas!

Then she took me to Mandarake (doujin shop) for a quick peek, though we had no time for more than that. I saw LOTR doujins *snerk* I forgot there were those; I thought it was limited only to fanart, but I guess it follows naturally?

Then it was time to go home. Ju escorted me to the station in Nippori and there we parted ways. <333 Juju *smoooch*

Had a bit of a scare. Heard the train announcer say that we were approaching Osaka. Thought I had gotten on the wrong train, though Osaka didn't make any sense at all, so I got up to look at the train lines diagram, and realized that we were at (and had just left) Osakura.

And after all that, I got to the airport almost an hour earlier than everyone else, ahahaha.


Friday, March 21st, 2008 10:35 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Akihabara! Stayed in the big building with electronics, but didn't buy anything. My sister bought a new camera (canon g9); that was one of the main things she was looking to do in Japan. I was surprised when my dad bought a camera as well, though (sony t300). His old camera (t100?), he's passing on to me. Or maybe he'll give it to my mom, and my mom will give me her old camera. My ahia doesn't need one as he is the photographer of the family and owns an SLR.

But either way, I'm getting a newer hand-me-down from one of my parents to replace the older camera that my sister handed down to me (sony p8?) a couple of years back. I now have two cameras, neither of which I asked for or bought myself. It's all good. I kind of get all my stuff thay way, hehe. Clothes, gadgets, even my laptop was offered to me (or at least suggested by my ahia) rather than being something I requested myself. I just don't feel the urge to buy stuff, for the most part.

It is only fairly recently that I have begun actively shopping for stuff of my own, and... I don't know, I don't really start the shopping trips, only go along when someone suggests it. But I'm still doing way better with shopping now than I used to :)

Anyway! Ramen! For lunch! I ended up having to translate the menu, mostly unsuccessfully. Umm it was so bad that my mom ended up finding one waitress who spoke Chinese and ordered that way. It would have been all right if I were on my own, since anything would have been good, but my parents have a tendency to want things perfect. (I tend to want to *do* things perfect, but not care so much when it comes to things that I ge, heh. Well, for the most part. When it's a collaborative thing, the distinction blurs)

In general, the noodles in Japan are thicker and doughier (?) in texture than the ones back home.

Then we dropped by Ueno Park where the sakura blossoms had negun to bloom. So pretty. They only barely started, too.

In Takashimaya now. Melon pan! (from Kimuraya, I think) It is so good. As far as I can tell, it is made of two kinds of bread, the top one is like a crust, very sweet. The inner one is soft and filled with cream.

Pocari Sweat, like saltier and sourer gatorade.

I almost bought a Ruby book in Japanese. I figured that if it were just for the code examples, the language of the text wouldn't really matter. In the end, I decided not to buy it because I wanted something a bit more advanced, but if I do find one that looks good, I shall probably try it. (I wonder how I'll know what looks good?).

We went to a couple of shopping places, was okay, was okay. Didn't buy much except for food and some tiny things. Was trying to keep an eye out for certain objects that my friends had requested, but no luck.

I am beginning to feel mildly stressed. There are so many people around me all the time, and some of them talk to me and actually expect me to respond. I like conversation but not when it breaks the silence of my thoughts D:

The night view from the Rainbow Bridge is very beautiful.
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
Stayed in a hotel in Nagoya briefly, on our way to Hakone where we hope to see Mount Fuji. Crossing fingers; rainy weather may work against us.

They went out drinking last night,I may join them later. I am not much of a drinker, but I am interested in sake.

Watching Bruce Campbell vs the Army of Darkness on the bus. THIS IS MY BOOM STICK hahaha.
Metal hands with about 2 minutes of transition scenes. Awesome.

"Welcome back to the land of the living. Now pick up a shovel and get digging."

At a random rest stop, and this place has absolutely everything to say about restrooms in Japan. First, the standard: toilet seat warmer, butt washer, bidet, oscillator, derriére(accent?) dryer, "power" odor remover, button that generates a "flush sound" for 25 seconds, flush button on the wall, just about at elbow-level (which i appreciate because it is more hygienic but i don't think it is deliberately designed that way). You also have the antimicrobial fluid you can use to wipe the toilet seat, as well as the more normal disposable toilet seat cover. Then you have the mommy's helper, a chair you can stick your toddler in while you go, and the... I forgot its name, but it's basically a second, smaller toilet seat which goes on top of the adult toilet seat to better fit kids when *they* have to go.

And all that is still pretty normal, including the metal rail you can grip along the side, until you realize that there is also a *holder for a cane*. Oh, and tissue paper. There is always tissue paper. Told you the toilets in Japan are good.

On the way out we saw a map of the restroom, which pointed out which restrooms are Western-style and which ones are Japanese-style, as well as the special amenities available in each. What it does not show you is the vanity area: mirrors with ledges on the wall across from the sinks. Also the cute little half-height sink, again for the kids.

Rode the Hakone Ropeway (cable cars). It was pretty foggy so i did not get to see much, but on the upside, i got to walk through fog. *Fog*!

It is pretty cold up on Owakudani (volcano) and Hakone Lake (lake). Guide said it was near zero. I think he is exaggerating a bit, but still, my nose and fingers went numb. Heehee.

I suspect i am not supposed to get my gloves wet. On the other hand, they'd be pretty useless if they were destroyed by the first sign of bad weather... wouldn't they?

Passed by Mt. Fuji briefly, but weather was pretty bad so they did not let us up past the gate at the base. Aw.

So the day pretty much didn't go as planned, but we ended up staying at a(n almost) ryoukan, or Japanese-style inn. It was modernized, but there were tatamis, and the beds were pretty much mattresses on the floor, and the food was more in the traditional manner. My family did not appreciate it as much, because there were so many pickles *g*. However, the ebi tempura was pretty good, despite their objections. The batter was light and flaky, not the floury thick mess that you usually find in cheaper restaurants.

There was also an onsen, both public and private baths. Decided to take the public one because a. the experience; and b. private baths are ¥3150 for 50 minutes.

I went with my sister and it was...interesting. Not too awkward. I would have stayed longer but hot water is *hot* and I am not used to feeling so cooked. My favorite pool was the open-air one, because it is so cold above then you get into the water and ohshit your legs are suddenly superwarmed.

After that, we went on a hunt for sake. The vending machines only served overpriced beer, so a few of us walked twenty minutes through cold winds and light rain to the nearest convenience store. We got several oversized cans of not-overpriced beer (Asahi and Kirin), a bottle of normal sake, and a carton of plum-flavored sake.

The best beer I have ever had is still that in China, and I don't even know the brand. Kirin was very strong and sour, almost made me gag. Asahi was more to my taste. The sake is the best alcohol I have ever had, though (except maybe for vodka ice, which is sweet). Normal unflavored sake was slightly bitter, but pretty smoorh not too bad. The plum-flavored sake was sweet and slightly plum-tart. Pretty good! I hear that there are other flavors; that is probably worth pursuing.

Think I've mentioned that I am not much of a drinker? I had one papercup total of all the alcohol on the table, and i was already feeling tipsy so i excused myself and went up for a bit. When I came down there was an old samurai with the group, telling stories (it is possible that he was lying, but he was very strong for a 79-year old man) (He said that he had kissed a thousand American girls and five hundred French girls. Now that, I don't believe. (Maybe if it was the other way around.)). I am slightly envious because I only caught the tail-end of the encounter.

And then in the morning, it began to snow! I have only been where there was snow a few times, and only actually stood in falling snow twice, if today counts. Snow on the ground: Lake Tahoe 2x, Whistler (Canada) once, and some other mountain in Canada where we used snowshoes. Falling snow: Whistler (skiied once!) and then today at the base of Mount Fuji. But like I said, I am not sure whether today counts, because the snow melted as it hit the ground -- or my hair, cheeks, shoulders, skin. So it was more like standing in fat, icy rain *grin*

Also four and a half degrees. Μmm.


Suntory White Water tastes like de-pinked Pepto Bismol. Suntory Pop Melon > Fanta Melon Soda. Suntory Ginger Ale is just ginger ale.

Went to the Tokyo Tower and stood on a thick plexiglass hatch and stared down 150 meters. *shudder* i hate heights.

Dropped by the Imperial Palace. The wind flayed the canvas off the metal skeleton of four umbrellas. Our fault, we were trying to go against the wind.(someone just defined "windchill factor" for me ahaha).

Am a bit cranky. Spent three hours at toyota car dealership and the mall beside it. That's three hours of cars, people, clothes, and aching knees, none of which fit into my definition of a good time.

Dinner was good! Beef sukiyaki, hotpot style. On the floor below the restaurant was what seemed to be a Japanese festival permanently transported there (Odaiba), complete with horror house and the fish/paper ring thing. There were some cute little things, but the cheap stuff looked cheap and the expensive stuff was expensive. Maybe we'll have better luck at Akihabara tomorrow.

Postcards from Japan

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 11:08 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
This is belated, and I should have done this before I set out, but there are still some five days left, so, who wants postcards from Japan?

Leave a comment here with your address (all comments screened), or PM me ;-)

Nara and Kyoto

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 10:18 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
At a temple in Nara. The expressions and details on the bronze demons guarding the gate are absolutely amazing.

Mmm, temple springs. Cold and sweet.

Hm. Stayed in deer park a while (though I can't quite call it deer park in my mind. Already means something else)
There is too much time while sitting on a bus to think.

Ahahaha I just bought the slamdunk boxset. I actually just meant to buy a couple of the volumes at the end to fill out my deluxe version collection, but then I unwittingly stumbled upon the boxset corner, saw a plastic-wrapped collection of all 31 regular volumes, and my control deserted me. SD is my One True Manga. There has never been one like that for me before, and there may never yet again, but see that is perfectly all right.


Need to convert money the next time we have the chance, though, and need to stop buying things for myself.

I honestly had no intention to buy any manga before we left the Philippines. And now I have, ummm, 37 (i was filling out holes in my eyeshield collection as well; I think that I have conpleted that up to the latest, unless 28 is not the latest tankoubon).

Hm. Gold-plated temples are not my thing, but the garden is really pretty.

There are many places where you can make wishes. I am not entirely certain what I want to wish for.

Wow, the bullet train is pretty amazing. We were still walking down the length of the train when it started moving, and it was smooth. Not one jostle or bump; did not feel myself lose balance at all. It's like a roomier, slightly noisier, version of an airplane. It is going to take us less than half the time to from kyoto to nagoya than it would have taken us if we'd gone on the luggage-laden bus.

The problem with 100 yen is that it is a coin, so it does not seem worth much. Even 500 yen feels disposable, and it really is not ahaha.
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
It is kind of silly to be eating salad with chopsticks, especially cherry tomatoes. I gave up and grabbed a fork.

Ate breakfast all together as a family. Would never have fit into one table before.

It is like 18 degrees here or something. The cold is making me giggly!

At Osaka Castle. There are crows cawing everywhere, but they sound more like 'uwa uwa uwa'.

There was a grove, the trees all branches bare. And for a moment the only human sound i could here was my own footsteps crunching on the soil.

I have found a new role! Old pigeon-feeding woman in the park. Mwaha. Except am not yet old, and i did not have food so i didnt exactly feed them, just sort of wandered through.

Umm love.

Going to universal studios japan. Last time i was to a universal studios, i was a kid, maybe 8 or 10.

Mei hua (of the song) is plum blossoms. I did not know that.

Found a charger for electric cars in the parking lot ahaha.

I have no idea what anyone is saying, but i know they sure are being polite about it.

Watched wicked, a hybrid of english and japanese. I definitely want to watch the original at some point.

There is an interesting thing here called the singles line, where you can cut ahead in line if you're willing to break up your party.

I loved the ultimate spiderman ride. It's a cross between a roller coaster and one of those 4D shows, and the thing is, it really works. Drives me crazy that i cannot figure out the trick, and how far we moved or how much we tilted. However, the best part is that Spiderman talks to you in japanese "yokatta ne" and gives you a thumbs-up. How is that not one of the most awesome things ever?

From the buffet table: tomato pudding (it looks kinda like red-tinged cheesecake).

First day in Japan

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 11:23 pm
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
The internet in this hotel is free! :DDD I've been typing in my phone all day, so I just transferred everything from my phone to my laptop:

It is evening and i am now in japan! The flight took a bit more than three hours, but we sacrificed an hour getting here so it is now just about seven.

Am pretty stoked. Signs are in japanese, english and korean which i am finding funny for some reason.

Took some time out in the plane to get up and look out the emergency hatch window, like i always do, to look at the clouds .from the top. Ostensibly my reason is that i needed to go to the bathroom but i had gone just before we boarded.


Anyway here now done with immigration waiting for customs. Traveling with family so we need to pass through it as a group together. Immigration was pretty nifty: stick both forefingers into a little machine, press down, stare into a camera. Whywhywhy? But i am happy to do it anyway as long as i dont have to see what the photograph looks like afterwards.

Finished princess bride on the airplane. Now i dont have anything to read on the way home. Hopefully i would have gotten something in japan to make up for that oversight ü

Am still waiting. Wonder what is taking them so long? I kinda want to head back up the stairs to the immigration area but from experience, that is pretty strongly frowned upon.

Oh dear my hands are getting cramped from all this typing while clutching at the phone. Maybe I should start reading Buttercup's Baby now? The ending of Princess Bride was somewhat painful; am not sure whether william goldman's comments helped or hurt on that account.

Tours are all right but someday i plan to come back here on my own -- or better yet, with friends.

Oh man i forgot my old enemy in other asian countries: the squat toilet. Heavens. I mean they're not as bad as some people make them out to be, but they're bad enough.

Oh and i just managed to contact Ju! Omg omg omg omg.

Okay so absolutely full from dinner. First dinner here was buffet grill. Awesomeness. Loaded up our plates with lots and lots of meat. I took shots of two platefuls ahaha. So full right now.

Osaka, as seen at night from the highway, is very similar to south korea, hongkong, and certain parts of thailand. Just something about the way roads and buildings are laid out, as well as the cars and character sets.

Am at the hotel now. It is very cozy, sort of moody. Ceiling is so low that i can actually reach it (with uh a bit of jumping but still).

Also there are like cheapo pajamas (3 pairs) in a drawer. Put on a pair now so i can save up clean pajamas for later in case other hotels dont provide.

I wonder what bexhill-on-sea means? It comes up in autocomplete. I dont really see how it would be in common enough use to warrant an entry n the default