30 December 2007

Dream School

I wish I'd gone to this school!


Snow, pack, blog, pack, hot drink, pack, hot food, pack...

Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.

Pretend it's Fiji, baby!


Traveler's Notebook
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
I've been weighing up whether or not to buy one of these for about a year. I've always wanted a leather journal for travelling that would get all worn in and filled with character as it aged and got thrown into and out of my pack, carried on dusty trains, and dropped in the sand at the beach. A Japanese company, Midori, came up with this idea of selling the cover with refillable parts inside. I've chosen to have a blank book for journalling, a week-view diary, and a business card holder so far.

Knowing that this is only available in Japan and Hong Kong at the moment (so I almost went for Moleskine instead...also an awesome product), I was worried about buying replacements, but I've decided that if worse comes to worse, I can always make my own inserts.

If you want to see inside, I made a short video while having a coffee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgBwCbywHZo .

Thank you to Mr. P for a brilliant Christmas pressie!

Big Day Out

We spent the 28th with Shino in Niigata City having a look round all the little shops in the older part of town. Furumachi still has mostly old narrow shophouse style buildings which don't always look much from the outside, but they are really cool inside and full of character.

First, we had lunch at Marilou Cafe. It's a macrobiotic cafe run by only one woman. Shino had rung the day before and reserved. There was only us three, a pair of women at another table, and couple more women each at their own table. Everything was ready together and nothing is microwaved. Of course, Japanese food is not all served hot, so everything was prepared in just the right way for serving. There is only one choice and it is a set. It was really good food with lots of different flavours even though there was no oil, dairy, and I can't remember what else. Of course when we walked in Mr. P goes, "This looks like a New Zealand Cafe!". He loves that style of cafe with a hodgepodge of old furniture and tables and mostly associates it with NZ beach cafes. 07-12-28_12-332

There was a really cool wallhanging behind one of the tables and I was just about to take a photo when two women walked in a sat there. This is when I realised that I'd carefully charged my camera and emptied the memory card to be ready for the day, only to leave the memory card in my computer. So, I had to use my keitai which has crap quality. Anyway, I did take a pic of Shino who decided to lean way over so I could get the wallhanging in sneakily. (Later they left, so I got my pic in the end).

After lunch, we wandered in and out of secondhand kimono shops, postcard shops (where, I bought up, of course!), a chopstick shop and a couple of antique shops. Lots of fun.

Finally, we ended up in a teashop with only one table...very cozy! Later we found out that there were two more tables upstairs so we climbed up the tiny starcase to have a look. It really reminded us of Vietnam and how the houses and shops are all so narrow. Mr. P was telling Shino about how they are taxed by what's in front and so that's why Vietnamese houses are stacked up rather than sprawling. She said it was the same here and that they sometimes refer to them as "eel houses". I love it!

I'm going to miss Shino so much. We worked in Thailand doing Habitat for Humanity together and had such a laugh in the evenings. We both have a passion for Thai food and, in particular, Khao niao ma muang, sticky rice with mango which we ate PLENTY of! Unfortunately, we hardly ever see each other at work since we have different class times and Shino is involved in all sorts of committees, etc.

Shino, don't forget to come to New Zealand and visit!!

Marilou Macrobiotic Cafe Niigata

28 December 2007

Irony not lost

What's with all the shaking? Last week Gisborne had a pretty good sized earthquake that did more damage than had been previously thought, and then a few days later there were a couple in the Aluetian Islands off the coast of Alaska. Thinking how ironic it is that I can't wait to get back to slightly more solid ground after living in Japan for three years, and then finding that my "solid ground" isn't so solid, I started looking into this. Yes, it is the same plate. I looked it up. I know it's the ring of fire and all, but I didn't realise that it was the same monstorous plate. So, just for good measure and not to be left out, it starts shaking round here. Just a quick jolt...after lunch, but before afternoon tea...you know. Apparently it was in Yamagata which is next door to Niigata Prefecture. As always, you just hope it stops, and it did (touch wood). So now today I fire up the internet and there is a report of an earthquake in Taupo. Let's just all calm down and talk it through, OK?!

23 December 2007

Waiting for waiting to begin

Lotus bud
Originally uploaded by Shanti, shanti.
I've been waiting for my classes to finish for the holidays so that I could finally get started on packing everything up. I've now got two weeks off until I go back for my final week of classes and then we leave on the 17th of January. The problem is that now I'm waiting for ME to get into it.
I seem to be like a deer caught in the headlights. I can see all the stuff that needs to be done, but I just can't do anything yet. So far, I've managed to update my Flickr page and my blog, e-mail some people who can't even remember who I am since it's been so long, watched a couple of DVDs with Mr. P, and moved some stuff from one room to the other and back again. I think I'm overwhelmed!
My production level was actually higher while I was teaching because I kept fitting in little jobs in between classes. But now that I don't have to fit things in, I appear to be burnt out.
This can't happen. I've got to get moving. So far, it's only halfway through the second day of holiday but I know how these things progress. Progress isn't the right word...maybe grind to a halt. OK, one room at a time, keep calm...here it goes...

18 December 2007

Geography test

I tried to put it on here but it just doesn't work, so follow this link to test your traveller's IQ.

07 December 2007

Tea and Literature Swap

Just finished Although my high school French fails me in undeniably monstrous proportions, I sometimes peruse a few French blogs. I find the presentation tools they can get on their Blogger- type sites really nice.
I recently came across this person's blog and her post about doing a tea and literature swap. How cool I thought!
Of course there is no way this is going to come to fruition in the near future as I am knee-deep in boxes, but when I get settled back in NZ I definitely want to organise one of these. Anyone up for it?