Monday, September 18, 2006

From Hong Kong

After a very uncomfortable early-morning standing room-only train ride to Narita and an incredibly delayed flight, most of which was spent playing so much Super Mario Brothers on my personal video screen that my thumbs hurt, I arrived yesterday in Hong Kong sticky, tired, and with a horrible headache. I was also battling a cold, and the dry air on the plane had done nothing to help that. And to top it off, I had trouble with the computer (office computer) I brought and couldn't get any homepages to display correctly...

But what a difference 24 hours can make!! While the computer still isn't working correctly, my mood has improved considerably. Hong Kong is noisy, gritty, polluted, unsanitary, and full of life - I love it!! I've only seen a very small portion of the city, but it's so diverse, energetic, and vibrant!

If I only didn't have any meetings so I could take more time to explore...*sigh* I definitely haven't really seen many sights yet, but I have been doing my fair share of eating! Last night after we arrived my colleagues and I walked around the neighborhood surrounding the hotel in search of food. After walking through an extremely seedy area populated by women in short skirts and garters grabbing the arms of men walking by, we finally found a restaurant that looked fairly standard. The menu, though, was all in Chinese, which even my Japanese colleagues had trouble deciphering. But with the help of an extremely friendly waitress (whose English was limited to say the least) we wound up having a feast of vegetables, seafood, and Peking duck.

Today was mainly meetings, and for lunch my colleague said he would take us to one of his favorite restaurants in Hong Kong. Unfortunately the restaurant was no longer in business, so in the interest of time (we had only about 30 minutes until our next meeting) we went into the next restaurant we could find and ordered some noodles and vegetables. It was good, but we had to eat so quickly I didn't really have time to enjoy the food.

Then tonight I met up with a friend I used to work with who recently moved to Shenzhen, China (very close to Hong Kong). She said she wanted to take me to a famous restaurant that she saw in a magazine, and I gladly followed. As we approached the restaurant, I suddenly recognized my surroundings and thought, "This is close to where we had lunch..." We then turned a corner and my friend said, "Oh, there it is, over there!" pointing to the VERY SAME restaurant where I had eaten lunch!!! What a small world! Of all the restaurants in Hong Kong, it was the same one!

The second time around was soooooo much better! I had time to enjoy the food, which was all fabulous. We had roasted goose, sauteed vegetables, seafood soup, and black sesame soup and egg tarts for dessert. Of course, the conversation, laughter, and the feeling of excitement at meeting up with a familiar friend in a foreign place made for a great evening.

I'm afraid, however, all of my photos from Hong Kong will be of food. :-)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Any suggestions?

I'll be heading here next week:

And here, too!

Yes, I'm heading to Singapore and Hong Kong! I'm very excited because I've never been to either, but unfortunately it's a business trip (darn!). I have very little free time on the trip (the tortuous part of business trips - being in new places but not being able to see or do anything!), but I would love to hear any suggestions of things to do, places to go, foods to eat, etc.! The best travel tips are from people who have actually been there!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Revenge of the Ganglion

It's baaaaaaaaaaack!!

And this time the doctor says it's too small to drain successfully. My options are either surgery or waiting to see if it goes away on its own (which is "not impossible," my doctor says).

Although it's definitely smaller than last time, it's also much much more painful than last time. Ouch!!

For now I'll just milk it for all it's worth while I think about what to do and say that it's the reason I haven't cleaned my apartment in so long - ha.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years today

Five years ago today I was in a car with R driving through eastern Hokkaido. We had just taken a trip to Shiretoko, but had decided to cut the trip short by a day to avoid the typhoon that was approaching Hokkaido. We left Shiretoko in the early evening of the 11th, and we made a stop in Kitami at SATY, a large supermarket, to stretch our legs and buy some snacks. On the second floor of SATY I was browsing the stationery section when R said he was going to the restroom. When he came back, though, he surprised me with a present: an adorable small soft doll of a chick wearing a rooster costume. I was touched at the gift.

After our brief stop at SATY we got back in the car and continued on our way through rural eastern Hokkaido heading for Sapporo. By now the sun had set and the sky was pitch black, but the shrill ringing of my cell phone pierced the darkness. It was friend from college who was living in Kobe at the time. "Are you watching TV?" she frantically asked. I said no and asked if something had happened. Her answer stunned me.

R and I rushed back to Sapporo as fast as possible, listening to the radio the whole way and sending panicky emails to friends in New York from my cell phone hoping to find out if they were alright (they all were, thank goodness). As soon as we stepped through the door of my apartment at 3am, I turned on the TV and was immediately shocked by the enormity of what had happened. I felt numb and nauseous at once... I had just graduated from college in New York the year before, and it was hard to believe that such an awful thing had happened to a city I loved on such a beautiful September day.

The world had changed much since then, and when I look back it feels surreal all that has happened in only five years. At the same time, it feels surreal to think that five years have already passed since that dark night. The only thing that has stayed the same is that little doll that R bought for me at SATY. I keep it out as a reminder of those lilting minutes spent in a supermarket in Kitami that became the last moments we would experience before the world seemingly turned upside down.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's a boy :-(

Princess Kiko reportedly gave birth to a son this morning.

While I am of course happy that she and the baby are healthy, I am disappointed (but not surprised) that it's a boy. Not only was the timing of her pregnancy way too convenient to have been accidental (her pregnancy was announced at the height of the debate about whether to allow a female to take the throne), but it is just too, too coincidental that she had a boy. So now Japan can sweep the whole debate under the rug and take three steps back into the Dark Ages, from which it was just beginning to emerge, when it comes to gender equality.

My response to people who claim that it's "tradition" and "culture" to have a male take the throne? That's a load of crap. There have been female emperors in the past, and "culture" is an ever-evolving concept, not something set in stone.

For the sake of females everywhere, I hope this country's (primarily old and male) lawmakers get their heads out of their a**es and make a change, though I'm not holding my breath. What on earth is the harm in letting a female succeed to the powerless figurehead position of Emperor?? I'm sick of my taxes being wasted on the ridiculous debate about it. ARGH.

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

I just read that "crocodile hunter" Steven Irwin is dead after a stingray barb to the heart while filming an underwater documentary.

While I wouldn't exactly consider myself a fan, I greatly admire him for taking something considered "uncool" or "boring" (i.e. nature shows and shows about animals) and making it hugely popular and successful. He always seemed to really enjoy what he was doing, too, which is an admirable quality in anyone.

It just so happens that his wife is from my hometown. I can't imagine how she must be feeling right now.

Guilty as charged

So I've gotten a complaint from a fellow blogger whose name starts with A that I haven't been keeping up with my blog enough. Guilty as charged! I must admit, though, it's good to know that there are people out there who check in for updates. :-)

Part of the reason that I haven't updated is that I have so much to tell! I have lots of pictures from the US to sort through and lots has been happening here in Tokyo, too.

So, until I have more time to write, here's a brief preview of events:

  • Deenster's ganglion comes back, and this with a vengance! It hurts even if she doesn't move her wrist! Anticipating going back to the doctor for another MRI and possible more drainage with needles makes her queasy!
  • Deenster finally gets the hang of crocheting! New hobbies are always fun!
  • September hits and Deenster realizes she really needs to get in gear and start studying for the test she is scheduled to take *again* in December! Deenster questions the necessity of taking the CFA exam, but realizes that since she's spent this much money on it so far she might as well bite the bullet and try again!
  • Deenster goes to Ibaraki for the weekend! The weather is perfect and she has a lot of fun on the beach, going for a drive, and sleeping 12 hours a night!

Stay tuned for more details...

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