Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Getting ready

Okay peoples, it’s blog time again. This is actually the second update I’ve written for today! Since I’ve only written about 2 blog posts in my entire life, there’s still motivation left in me which you should all enjoy while it lasts. One thing I forgot to say in my previous post is that the weather here in Tokyo is not quite what I expected. It’s been humid since I stepped off the plane – yesterday it was about 25 degrees Celsius when we landed, and today it was 29. Not quite the freezing winter I was expecting. The humidity isn’t high as say, Malaysia, but it’s high enough to make you uncomfortable when you walk around outside in the sun. It’s a bit like Hong Kong during the warmer months.

Today started off with a traditional Japanese breakfast at one of the resident food outlets in the hotel (which accept the food coupons – shyoku ken – that our hotel room comes with). For those of you who’ve never seen a traditional Japanese breakfast, it consists of some sort of fish (which varies day to day), miso soup, various pickles, some fish ball things in some sort of savoury sauce, some kind of vegetable thing (today we had this fish salad which was really nice), and either rice (gohan) or porridge (okayu). So yeah, it’s a pretty big breakfast. That kept us all going until about 5pm.

After breakfast we embarked on an extremely long train journey to Tamachi Eki which is the closest JR station to the Keio Mita Campus (where I’ll be studying Japanese apparently). It’s a whole one stop away from Shinagawa Eki, which itself is probably in danger of being hit by badminton shuttles if I wacked them out of my hotel room. So yeah that took a whole um … 15 minutes or so including walking. What made it more interesting was my grandma being wheeled around in a wheel chair. It really makes you realize how hard it is for people who aren’t able to walk to get around anywhere. The Japanese railway staff were as always extremely helpful, and organized somebody with a ramp to escort us to the platform so that we could wheel the chair onto the train. They even organized somebody to be waiting at the other end with another ramp so we could wheel the chair out. It’s quite amazing that they manage to stop the things within a few metres every time. Anyway, the whole point of this kind of needs its own explanation. So I’ll start a new paragraph haha.

When I came to Japan in April for a short holiday, we changed a whole heap of money into yen because the exchange rate was really good at the time. My mum and my sister were with me that time and the traveler’s cheques were all in my mum’s name. In order to cash the traveler’s cheques my mum needs to be here to sign for them – so as a work around American Express suggested we endorse all the cheques to me. That’s all fine and dandy if you have a bank account to deposit them into. Now to make things more fun, Japan is quite strict when it comes to foreigners doing anything – so I need to get a ‘certificate of alien registration’ before I can open a bank account. That normally takes a couple of weeks to process – which is a bit of a problem since almost all my money is in traveler’s cheques. We thought that maybe we’d just try to see if there was some way that Keio Uni could act as a guarantor for me (hence the reason for the trip to Tamachi Eki). After walking to the Uni the answer was unfortunately no, but we did find out that the local (to where I’m going to be living) municipal office can issue temporary certificates immediately while the real one is being processed.

The main aim of the day was to check into my accommodation which is called Plume IS – which meant I sort of had to go to that area of Tokyo anyway (two birds with one stone anybody?). As a little aside, I’m still confused about the pronunciation of the silly place. In Japanese it’s written as Puramu Izu (which is sorta pronounced Plum Iz). So I don’t really know why they’ve put an ‘e’ on the end of Plum(e) – I guess it’s not really meant to be Plume Eye-Ess :P. Anyway, I’d notified Keio University that I’d make my way to the place at about 2pm today so I thought I’d better keep the appointment just in case they decided that they didn’t really want another Australian exchange student. When I turned up there, I think I was the first person to check in for this semester. The place is really nice – and it’s actually reasonably spacious for a one-person apartment. As a few of you know, the internet connection was up and running the moment I walked in the door, but apparently the level I’m on is brand new and the hot water wasn’t actually working just yet. Luckily I’m not moving in there for a few days. In the room, there’s a bed; desk; toilet; shower; sink; washing machine; and stove. A reverse cycle air-conditioner keeps the place at a nice temperature too. You really need to see the pictures, but the way they’ve organized the bathroom is really smart. They use the space so well (so next time you need to design a cramped bathroom take a look at this place). Getting to the place is quite easy – but it is a fairly substantial walk from the train station. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain too often. There are lots of convenience stores, and other miscellaneous places very close by. There’s even a place that sells rice cookers, but I’m still not sure if I’ll get myself one or not hehe.

We ended up having to rush a little bit to try to get to that municipal office to get the registration done because we didn’t really want to get caught in the Tokyo rush hour. In the end we made it just in time, arriving back at Shinagawa for a quick bite at about 5pm (which is when the rush hour apparently starts). For my snack I finally tried McDonalds in Japan. I had a ‘Chicken Fillet Set’ which is basically a McChicken meal. But the chicken tastes different here, and so does the beef (according to my dad who had a cheeseburger or something). It seems to taste a lot more like REAL meat which is a good thing. Speaking of food, we went out to dinner tonight to a really nice teppanyaki place. It was in the hotel on the 38th floor – so the view was pretty awesome. The city is really pretty at night since nobody seems to care about saving electricity (all the buildings still had lights on). Or maybe they all just work real late. And no, they don’t throw any food at you here, so I honestly have no idea where the Australian version came from. The teppanyaki meal was also quite different – you get plain white rice with a choice of steaks. No fried prawns, or prawn heads or legs… Or even fried rice. We did have some assorted sashimi on the side, but that was not part of the standard set. Nonetheless the meal was delicious – I don’t think I’ll get to have a meal like that very often in the next 6 months.

Anyway any and all comments are appreciated. And for the guys: yeah the Q level here is generally quite high – but STOP ASKING FOR PHOTOS!


Clare said...

Hey ya! took me awhile to figure out what you changed your blog addy to! which btw....FINE dun reply emails but have time to write such an extensive entry!! ~_~

Well, just wanna say hi, before going back to my assignment....being extremely stressed out and well completely lack of sleep.

Oh...wats Q level?! is it wat i'm thinking of...or should I just not ask?! ~_^ hm....anyway

have fun!!!

hwangus said...

Wow I think this is the longest blog post I've ever seen. Interesting read too! Gosh I miss Korea + Japan now. I want to go there too. Oh for the person who posted before moi, Q level means... it's some sort of an economics term... Yes... economics...

quebeck said...

Picture's adrian, we won't be satisfied until we got some visual evidence!

This room of yours sounds interesting, sounds like a perfect habitat for me, can't wait to see the pics!

Did someone say pics??? Yeah, where are the Q pics adrian???

Damn I'm soo going over there for a year when I finish, it sounds awesome!

PS: Seriously, just pretend your taking pictures of the buildings and happen to catch the scenery as well. ;D