Sunday, April 30, 2006

More Nice Cars....

The New Lexus IS 250..I really love this car!

The 2006 Toyota Rav 4

The New Nissan Sylphy.....another Lexus IS 250 look-alike...but still not up to marks as compared to the IS 250.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hive of Activities

University clubs and societies here are still in the midst of a recruitment drive. Few days ago there was this ballroom dance performance by the members. The cold weather does not stop people from dressing down here.

Today I have Syakir (the Malaysian student who have been helping us around) to thank for making sure our needs are taken care of. As you can see, my room is more furnished than before. Syakir gave me his sofa and a heated carpet. The sofa also doubles up as a bed (as shown). Now I can have visitors. I think my room is more vibrant and colorful now. Neat isn't it?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Snapshots of life here

I was excited to find out about the GPS function on my phone. It was so cool!

The dinner I had for tonight. One is never enough. I am getting fatter I am sure.

The new Toyota Camry...who wants to place an order??

Ever seen a swirling escalator? There's one here though.

The Catholic Church I would be going.

This Japanese lady is 96 years old! And she was helping with the cleaning....shame on you young people who don't even know how to wash your own clothes.

Lunch at Salvation Army church.

The tulips

The Malaysian seniors from IUJ doing MBA.

The tulip spread at Terao Park

Friday, April 21, 2006

Funny snapshots

Have you ever seen telephone and power sockets at the ceiling? I found this really amusing and was wondering how could they handle the sockets when they have problems later.

And this other pic is the PC room reserved only for intensive language course students, ie the Monbukagakusho scholars in Niigata.

Food and me...

I have been trying different places for food. I was very fortunate to meet two more Malaysians who just came back from holidays. That night we went for sushi. The place was neat and different from that of Sushi King or Genki Sushi. Some of the pictures showed obvious presence of mobile phones all over the table because that was also the night we got our new mobile toys.

Then, every Tuesday is the great bargain day at the Uoroku, the "Tesco" of Niigata, where selected grocery go as low as 90 yen.

I bought a packet of koshihikari at 1800yen for 5kg. This is the most expensive rice I have ever bought in my life and I am sure it wouldn't be the last time since I would be here for at least 2.5 years (barring a "foreseen" circumstance). The koshihikari is really different because it is not like any other type of rice. The texture is sticky, shiny, smooth and grainy.

Yesterday I whipped out my most confident garlic salmon fried rice for Kee and Sarah. We did a small potluck ourselves after volunteer class. I am not sure how was it because they didn't come back to me with comments. Everyone was tired actually after a long day. O yes, what other place to cook this dish if not Japan and its fresh salmon and the best Japanese rice as the winning combination.

Getting Along Well...

The intensive language training now has taken to a new level where Japanese student volunteers are assigned to help us on our Japanese conversational skills. Last Tuesday we did the "real" o-hanami under the sakura trees. Picnic style.

Monday, April 17, 2006

O-HANAMI (16-Apr)

This the day I have been waiting for…O-hanami, in English it means activity of watching flowers (sakura blossom). “Hana” is flower while “mi” coming from the word miru/mimasu is “to watch”. O is referring to something that is respectable, or revered upon, so “o-hanami” simply means flower watching.

O-hanami is more than flower watching. It is also a time for family members to get together and spend time with each other and enjoy the start of the Spring season. We get to see picnic mats strewn all over the park and kids running around, while the elder children play Frisbees or badminton in the open. It is really interesting.

For me, o-hanami fell on Easter Sunday and I could not find a church to go to. I am still new here. It was really unfortunate that I had to miss this year’s Easter Sunday. Easter is the culmination of the Christian belief and is the most important day for Christians (just as it is for Christmas). But Easter is also a time where we celebrate new life. Even though I could not make it to church this year for Easter, I thank God for making it possible for me to see this new life in a different angle where flowers start blossoming, trees begin to turn green, and gardens becoming more colourful every day. Little chics just hatched and running everywhere. This is new life…in a different dimension.

I went with the group of Malaysian students to the Stadium Park. It is the same stadium that one of the matches for the World Cup 2002 was held. We had pot luck style gathering and it was one of those few times I could taste Malaysian delicacy like cucuk badak, ayam percik, mi goreng and karipap.

I took lots of pictures in this park where the whole park was pinkish white on the top and green at the bottom. That was cherry blossom in Stadium Park.

Then we went to this hydroponic strawberry farm about 15 minutes drive from the park and harvested strawberries on our own for only 660yen. Again, you must not convert to RM, but the amount of strawberries we had would probably cost 800yen in supermarkets here.