Category Archives: Preparation

Let the Countdown Begin!

I mentioned some time ago that we would be heading off to Japan again, for a trip with a ‘twist’.
Well since then, things have changed around a little.
A trip is still coming up.
But the difference now, is different from the original difference.

The big difference now is that Peter,
my travelling companion, husband and interpreter will not be accompanying me – not at all.
Not even later, as I had hoped would be the case.
Peter, who introduced me to Japan and who loves Japan almost as much as he loves me is going to miss out!

I don’t even know whether it is worth going into what our original plans were, because they are not going to come to fruition.
Suffice it to say, I was upset and more than a little furious that his work wouldn’t allow him nine days of annual leave, so that he could meet me over there and we could do a couple of important things before coming home.

So, what was to be a month long trip for me and a two week long trip for Peter, which included volunteer work and visiting friends is now a two week trip for me and Peter stays home.
Enough said!

So, onto the itinerary (the new itinerary).

Why am I going to Japan alone for two weeks?
Good question.
I ask myself the very same thing several times a day!

Well, at my husband’s suggestion, I applied through the Australia Japan Society to attend a two week language and culture course, being held at the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange.

My application was accepted and in just over two weeks I will be off, alone, without my interpreter/travel guide/friend/advisor to a Japanese language school, where an attempt will be made to learn how to speak for myself in Japanese.

OK, OK, I know that two weeks will not see me fluently chatting away with girls in shops/people on trains/at the bank/in the post office/on the streets/in cafes or restaurants/hairdressers,
as I regularly do here, in English.

I may, after two weeks, be able to have a gramatically correct conversation with a two or three year old (and create Kanji-like scribble like a three year old).
I’ll give it my best shot, that’s all I can do.

It’s been a long time since I have been formally taught anything, but Peter says I have a ‘gift’ for languages.
(My mum says that too, because I can imitate accents pretty impressively)
So we’ll see how far this ‘gift’ can get me.
I might be updating the blog in Kanji next time you see me!

I will be staying with a Japanese family.
My ‘family’ actually consists of a mother aged 38 and
her daughter, aged 11.
I guess she is more of my host ‘sister’, rather than my host ‘mother’, since she is younger than me (just ever so slightly).
I can’t wait to meet them.
This is going to be so interesting!

For the time being, I picture myself walking down the street to catch the bus to school.

That’s about as far as my imagination is allowed to stretch at this point.
Because if I let it run loose I picture myself all alone, scared and confused, missing planes and buses (and I’m such a wimp, I’m not even going to attempt train travel without my interpreter) and meetings and being late for school and getting lost on the way to the bus stop and and and………..

So I picture myself walking down the street (we’ve checked it out on Google Earth) to catch the bus to school.

And just occassionally I picture myself in a depāto, on my favourite floor, the basement, buying groceries and delightful tidbits to take home to my host ‘sister’ and her daughter.
Peter says I should offer to cook them a meal.
I can do that..

I need to stop for now.
My imagination runs riot and I begin to get excited and we can’t have that, can we?
Not yet, anyway.
Departure date is two weeks from Friday.
There’s plenty of time for all the excitement and the accompanying emotion about returning to our beloved Japan.

If only my beloved was coming with me…

What now?

The more I see of what happened in Japan and what is still happening, the more concerned I become.

It is true.
It’s easy for everyone who was not directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami to think and hear and believe that everything has improved and things are looking up.

But, do we really know what the situation is for all those people who lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods?

The more I read, the more I realise I know little and
the truth is not readily available.

For instance, I didn’t know that once people move from a shelter into the ‘temporary’ housing that is being provided, all aid is cut off – so no more food, clothing or other aid they had been receiving whilst in the evacuation centres.

Effectively, once they move to temporary housing they must
fend for themselves.

That would be fine, if they had a workplace to go to;
if their workplace was still in existence.
It would be fine, if the infrastructure still existed.

Think about all that it takes to ‘live’ in a house – food, electricity, water, transport, furniture, grocery items, heating, cooling, internet and lots of other things that we all ‘can’t live without’.

You need money to obtain these necessities.
You need a job to obtain money.
You need workplaces to obtain a job.

All of these things are gone.
Completely!
Washed away,
Flattened and destroyed.

From Socks for Japan Jason Kelly com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Rough-terrain-in-Ofunato-two.jpeg

They are still trying to clear up the rubble.
Thousands and thousands of missing people are still unaccounted for;
of every age.
Progress is tediously slow.

It is still NOT OK and it won’t be for years.

What would you do?

I try to imagine being faced with the choice.

It reminds me of a game we used to play.

‘Would you rather kiss a (germ ridden) boy or drink a cup of seawater?’
You know.
That game, where you had a choice of one completely revolting thing or
some other equally disgusting thing.
And you had to choose one.
And you just couldn’t make a choice because each option was so unappealing.

Anyway, I don’t know what I would do, if I was faced with the choice of continuing to live on the floor of a gymnasium, surrounded by boxes for my belongings; boxes representing the walls my ‘home’, separating me from my nearest neighbour, no more than a metre away from me.

The benefit of this ‘existence’ being that I had a food supply, that I had access to the bare necessities of life and that I didn’t need to earn money to live (because I couldn’t, because there was nothing left standing within cooee, because I had lost ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, because it was physically, emotionally and practically impossible).

Would I choose that over moving to a ‘temporary’ house where I had no means to earn a living, to put food on the table, pay the bills, wood in the fire?

I am not faced with that choice, but many of the people still living in shelters in the tsunami zone are.
I believe many are choosing to stay.
Do they really have any choice?
Is one option really more appealing than the other?

In my humble opinion, there’s something wrong here.;
very wrong….

In case you can’t tell,
my heart is breaking for these people.


Japan…. with a twist

Our next Japan trip is coming up!

But this is a trip with a bit of a twist.
I will tell you more in the coming months.

In the meantime, I would like to share links to updates on the situation in Japan.

I feel like it is important not to forget.
The links I post will be more for my own records than anything else, as we continue to watch and now, consider where we might be of help.

It is my hope that visitors to our blog might find the websites I mention worthy of attention, if nothing more.
We’re about to embark on a new chapter in our lives, which are inexplicably and inextricably linked to Japan.
And if you get sick of me going on and on about it, I’m sorry.
Feel free to tune out.
I’ll understand.

What is the internet, if it is not a tool?
How can I look and refuse to see?
How can I see and refuse to ‘do’?

Please don’t ever let me be a hypocrite..

Today’s link is to not just a website.
It is a link to courage, faith, inspiration and action. 
Kozmoz International

WE’RE ON HOLIDAYS!!

……… unfortunately we just need to pop into work for about eight hours on Monday!

I don’t think like everyone else nor like anyone else.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday – three sleeps to go…

Then we’re off to Bali!

B.A.L.I.

Today’s little foray to the shoppes. Our last little shopping foray until we hit the streets of Seminyak! When I placed our purchases on the counter I said to Peter ‘well, I think you can tell we’re going on a holiday!’

This is exciting!!

And when we’re on our holiday I have planned just one or two things, but not too much and nothing taxing.

Here is a ‘before’ photo.

Precious metals and a gemstone or two. I’m going to have these babies melted down and made into my birthday present – 45 next month. I’ll post the ‘after’ photos sometime ‘after.’ Did I just say ‘45‘?

Yeah, I know.. People go to Bali to see the sights, experience the local culture, sample some fine local cuisine, shop, sun bake, relax and watch beautiful sunsets. Not me! I go to Bali to have jewellery remodeled, right? Not really, but it’s cheaper there and hey, my birthday is coming up and well, I can. We will also attempt to achieve all of the above!

Three more sleeps!!! Eeeeeee, exciting!

STILL HERE! BEEN A BIT QUIET LATELY…

It sure has been a while since I last posted. Again, I wonder where the time went and did I actually do anything worth telling about? I guess I will just start with today and work backwards, or not. We’ll see how we go. Stream of consciousness stuff, I think they call it.

Today the sun is shining outside, weakly, but shining it is, as it has been all winter. But this winter has been so, so cold. I can’t remember that we have ever had our Arctic-strength doona on our bed for more than a week in past years. But this year – icy, for at least the last month! I think that having the ceiling fan on and the balcony door open until the last minute probably ensures sub-zero temperatures for most of the night.

Anyway, maybe I can use this miserable chill as an excuse for my lack of enthusiasm for just about anything really. I’m over it! I want sunshine and I want warmth.

Actually, I haven’t mentioned that we will be in Bali in just over two weeks. As in, this time in two weeks, I will be packin’ our bags, gettin’ ready for our nine nights of tropical bliss. This will be my sixth trip to Bali, the first being in 1982 with my Mum. 1982?!!!! That’s like 28 years ago!! There’s one word I want to say here but it’s not nice and it starts with an ‘S’. I can’t believe I was even walking 28 years ago, let alone, trekking off to Bali and when I say I went with my Mum, I wasn’t a babe in arms or anything. I was 17 and very independent and all growed up like. I went again a year later on my own! Well, kind of on my own. It was with a whole bunch of people I had met the year before!!

So this time? It will be my sixth time and Peter’s second. His first time was for a honeymoon, but that is a whole ‘nother story and not a happy one to share with the whole world.

So this time? It’s gonna be different. We are going to have THE most lovely, relaxing, warm time. This will be our first holiday together, where we DO NOTHING!  N.O.T.H.I.N.G! Which means when we arrive at our villa, we stop, we don’t move, we don’t have to worry about catching trains…

or what we will have for lunch…

or lugging suitcases through town or getting up ‘on time’ or repacking our suitcase, trying to fit yet more purchases (hmmm, actually that might happen). However, in saying that, I am looking forward to some wicked shopping and some fabulous dining and some more wicked shopping and more fabulous dining and maybe a bit of sight seeing.

I do want to, and I want Peter to, experience some of the beautiful ‘real’ Bali, which will mean heading out of town for a bit. I think I will be a bit sad if we don’t do that. Like the time when I was 13 years old and was allowed to attend the Perth Royal Show without my parents. I thought, ‘how very cool’ to just hang out in sideshow alley and not have to do all that boring, kids’ stuff like looking at the cat and dog shows, the CWA cake and quilting displays, the baby animals, Scottish dancing and log cutting competitions. But, when I went home, I felt like I had only ‘half’ experienced the show and I was sorry not to have done anything ‘real’ – just spent the day riding the Chipmunk, eating fairy floss, buying show bags and looking ‘too cool for school’, as only a thirteen year old girl can.

So, yes, Bali, here we come! I must brush up on my Indonesian – bagus, terimah kasih, tidak mau!! Haha, that should get us through. I won’t be anywhere near the interpreter Peter was in Japan!

So, how do I transition from these tales of Bali and the Royal Show, back in 1978 to today? With difficulty. Does anyone else spend their time thinking about things of the past, whilst waiting for things of the future? Or is it just me? Present life is really just work and weekends. There is no time for much else. The present always seems so trying.

Today is Saturday. We have a ‘Saturday Routine’ as my sister calls it. We go to bed late Friday, we sleep in Saturday, we get up between 10 and 11am, eat poached eggs on toast (two each) with fried ham (for some reason I believe this is healthier than bacon), I make a coffee for us both with the ‘machine‘ (latte), we sit at the dining table on our computers if we’re in Perth and online, or if we’re in Dawesville, I read the piles of local papers our neighbours have kindly tossed over the gate during the weeks we have been away and Peter does things on his computer that don’t require internet connection, then around 2 or 3pm I decide what’s for dinner, we go off to the shops to buy ingredients and return home just in time for ‘champagne cocktail hour’, I cook dinner and we watch something; TV or a DVD…… phew!!! Saturdays can be exhausting!

Today, however, Peter broke from tradition and mowed the lawn (the good old communal lawn, that only he cares about). He did such a good job, but that is usually part of the ‘Sunday routine’ when we’re in Perth. So tomorrow?? Who knows. Last Sunday we worked around the place. I, selfishly, attended to our own garden (as opposed to the communal area). I wanted to ‘Japanise’ (is that a word?) our little (tiny) garden, meaning I wanted to make it sweet, cute and a little bit colourful. I did my best and Peter said it looked soooo Japanese. Not the traditional ‘pagodas-and-sculpted-azeleas’ Japenese, but the sweet, cute, colourful Japanese. It looks better than it did, anyway and a nice change to come home to. Coming home now there is a little light left to enjoy what beauty we have around us.

So there we go! I feel as though I’m writing a thousand word essay here, but please, it has been a while. I guess I just have to accept I’m never (well, not for the time being anyway) going to blog every day. I’m not going to take photos every day of every little thing. I have a life (sort of). Maybe not a blog-everyday-worthy life, but somewhere along the line, it gets lived and occasionally I am willing and able to share a bit of it here.

I have dreams too, and I’m prepared to live them. Just when, is the question. We press on though and try to remember and acknowledge that there is so much beauty that surrounds us every day. The blog world has taught me a bit about looking out for it and appreciating it in a more poetic way. It’s a world I would like to be more a part of and will be. In the meantime, laundry needs to be hung out, beds need to be made and there is no cold wine in the fridge. So here we are; 10pm on a Saturday night, remembering beauty, remembering dreams that can come true and just holding on to that…….

TUESDAY – 3 DAYS TO DEPARTURE!

Now we’re at the point where we really should be saying “three more sleeps”! Actually, I wish I could sleep from now until when we go, I’m so tired. I know how very excited I should be, but at this point I am just feeling kind of relieved that we are actually going to have all this time off work. I think the excitement will really kick in when we get to the airport, through online check in and up to the duty free shop! Yep, I can feel the excitement building as I type!

Today’s Japan preparation was performed by Peter. We have decided that it would be really handy and smart to have a mobile phone each, so that when I want to go my own way (take that as meaning shopping, shopping and more shopping) we will be able to maintain contact and not get horribly lost (that would be me).

So Peter has hired us a phone each from Rentafone Japan. Does everyone know that it is a pain in the neck, expensive and sometimes impossible to use your Australian mobile phone in Japan? Well it is. That’s why we’re doing it this way. It is much easier and cheaper.

So there’s our little bit of a tip for travelling to Japan.

P1000144

On the weekend, our last weekend in Australia for over a month, we stayed at Dawesville and did the family thing with Peter’s girls. We had a little, early birthday party for the soon-to-be ‘teenager’, cleaned up in preparation for visitors while we’re away and practised some more on the new camera. I will leave you with photos of our very own ‘Japanese’ garden. It really needs some TLC but that is going to have to wait.

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WEDNESDAY – 9 DAYS TO GO!

Woohoo! We’re down to single figures now.

We are mostly prepared.

Today my pants arrived from Herban Devi in America. They are exactly like everyone says in her feedback – so comfortable you could live in them. They were custom made so they fit perfectly.

My parcel has arrived!

My parcel has arrived!

Peter took some photos of me wearing them, but I dare not post them. Sorry.

Our rail pass vouchers arrived today too! We’re set!

So, what else has been happening? Very little really. We are just trying to plough on at work and make it through just one more week before our long-awaited break arrives. Wow, this time next week, we’re going to be just a little bit excited, I imagine.

I’ve been practicing on my new camera and I’ll leave you with a photo of my pandora. Just thought you might like it.

P1000081