Friday, August 14, 2009

Firing up the old travel blog again.

Hello Everyone!

Thought it was about time I sent a proper email update (or blog update, if you are reading from there), rather than just tidbits via facebook.

So, most of you know we went off again, and to anyone out of the loop: D and I have moved to Osaka for a little while. Just until just before Christmas, and then we'll be home, back to normal life until we get sick of it again and repeat.

The story so far:
In around about April or May, when I was supposed to be concentrating on my thesis, we applied for jobs with an English Instructing company here in Japan just to test the waters... and each landed a job first go! Slight hitch... we're 'employed' (actually, apparently contracted as independant instructors) in different cities, I'm supposed to go to Kobe, Dylan to Kyoto. The upside? There's another humungous city right in the middle of them and given the fabulous transport system here (Transadelaide, take note) they're only about half an hour, give or take, from Osaka to the CBDs of the other cities. Slightly bizarre to have three cities that close together when you come from Adelaide where the next sizable city is an 8 hour drive east.

Anyway, before we'd even organised the jobs, we'd booked flights to Tokyo (yes, we know we could have gone straight to Osaka, yes, we know that would have been a whole lot easier, but we weren't sure at the time where we were going to end up). So, to Tokyo we came about a week ago.
We spent a grand total of one day in the neon lights, wandered around the oldest temple in the city which was nice, worked out where to catch the Shinkansen (bullet train) from, ate Indian curry for lunch (when in Rome...), got lost trying to find the station home, and found out what the 'semi-double' bed we'd booked really was (a very small double bed, wouldn't recommend it for the taller or bigger of us).

Next day... off to Osaka, new home city! We caught the Shinkansen, which was surprisingly boring and uneventful. Biggest drama was trying to figure out which carriage we were supposed to be in and hoping like hell it was a non-smoking one (it was). We found our way to the hotel... well, actually, a gentleman on a bicycle spotted us looking bemusedly at the map and led us the way there, and then peddled away without a backward glance.

Day after (saturday by now) we met with a real estate agent called Madoka, who had impeccable UK-learnt english, who drove us around the city and we looked at a number of apartments and chose one on the spot. It was a bit of a blur, all I can remember is that it had a tatami room with a head-height ceiling lamp, another room, and a bathroom and midget kitchen (ie a single burner and a bar fridge). I know this new place is in the Namba area, and if I look at the map I can work out which stations are nearby but one of our jobs in the next few days is to see if we can find it ourselves because neither of us have a clue where it really is. It was all far too easy really, we gave Madoka a full quarter of our holiday savings, she gave us a reciept, and that was it! We can't move in until late next week however because it's getting new wallpaper and the tatami is being repaired... personally I could have coped with the couple of holes in the paper but it's nice to have it done even if it means sharehousing until then.

Ah, yes, sharehousing. We did have the option of living in a sharehouse the whole time but quite frankly, the couple of days here have made me glad we opted for the extra expense and chose to go to our own place. We're not in our own room for a start... and D and I have a bunkbed to sleep in. We're both sleeping on the bottom level, we'd rather still share the bed, but even if we had chosen to go one above and one below we couldn't have done so as there is only one mattress. The other 'person' in the room is a Japanese girl whom I am just going to assume is very shy, as she hasn't said a word to us at all and I don't even know her name (she does smile at us now, however). I say 'person' as there is actually 2 other people in here, the girl, and her boyfriend whose name nobody knows as he just seems to be bunking here and isn't supposed to be around, apparently. Oh well. They have their stuff scattered over 3/4 of the room and like to burn incense. So our room smells of bad Indian incense, as does the entire house as multiple people seem to burn it. Tonight I detected through the window an undertone of 'other' smoke, don't know why you'd bother with that really, I'm told it's ridiculously expensive and hard to get (for example, I'd have to work about 30 hours here or at home [same same] to cover the cost of a baggie, should I want to), but whatever floats your boat. More expensive than cocaine apparently.

Anyway, everyone is very nice and friendly so no issues there at all, just that the actual house is dark and dusty, and there is one toilet and one bathroom for 9 people, so will be glad to move into our own, brightly lit, place in the not too distant future.

Won't bore you with details of getting phones, bank accounts, and alien registration slips. All I will say is that if you are ever here and need to do any of these things firstly, take along a Japanese speaking friend to help you fill out the forms otherwise you will have to do it at least 3 times over before you get the details in the right spot, and secondly, give yourself lots and lots of time, plus extra. Even with the phone salesman being American so we had a clue what was happening, getting a pair of phones took almost 2 hours of sitting and waiting for things to be scanned and so on.

So, now D and I have four whole days off in which there are no appointments, and no official visits to anywhere to be made! And we can sleep in without fear of missing the bank being open, or being too late to do anything. We thought we might go to Kyoto, and Kobe, maybe Nara. Or maybe we'll just catch the free shuttle bus to Ikea out in the port :P

Before I go, some things I like:
Giant cicadas, which look painted with blacks, whites, and greys, in all the trees shrilling all the time.
That there are more trees than I expected.
The public transport system... great connections, have not yet waited more than about 5 minutes for a train.
Girls' glittery nail polish, and the way showing your bra is in vogue, and hair bleached out the other side of blonde and teased up so high it looks like a wig.
Babies in slings, lots of them, and babies in teeny weeny prams, they make Aussie ones look like trucks!
Prayer slips of paper tied on trees.
Giant naan breads, udon noodles in curry sauce, free glasses of water in every restaurant, the huge variety of creme caramels available.
Little temples squeezed in between house or highrises.
Incredibly patient people.
The toilets (can't help it, fascinated by the buttons, although I'm not into the heated seats in 30c+ degree heat)
The car 'lifts', and the way that if there is a space for 2 cars someone will call it a car park and charge people to park in it.
That everyone rides bicycles everywhere with their children on the front or back in a basket, did not expect that at all, especially such old-school bikes!
The rain.

Not so keen on:
Curry flavoured gravy on rice, mashed daikon, or Lipton Yellow Label tea (I brought my own tea bags because I am a tea-snob - or nerd - and know how much I hate LYLT and refuse to subject myself to 5 months of it).
Almost fainting in the subway, complete with close up examination of the ugly brown tiles and rolling nausea. Not embarassing. Not at all.
The tamarins for sale in the petshop :( Totally unaffordable, I hope, for most people at 3 million yen (each or a pair? not sure?), but totally inappropriate pet in my opinion.
Not yet knowing how to say 'no plastic bag/disposable spoon thanks'.

Anyway, that's it for now, thanks for making it to the end, maybe the next installment will be shorter?


1 comment:

Anita said...

Oh those poor little creatures - definitely not pet shop material! :(

You know you have to update regularly right? Because I've no other way to get to Japan than living vicariously through you! :P