Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I'm going to bed now

Well, I did just stay up an extra hour just to write a post about the stuff I did today, but when I went for the publish button this freaky 'session expired' page came up, and I lost everything. So, all you're left with is this really cool picture of my radical uncle Dave. Until the next time.

Good night

Into London

OK, right, err, well, anou, etou, etc. etc. I went into London today with my brother. It was good to be with him walking around central London because he's lived there for several years in the past and knows the streets far better than I do. I also lived in London for a short while, but I never really got to know the street layout very well for using the tube all the time. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't like big cities in general, and after today, I really don't think too much of London in particular. I found that the central districts were full of over-dressed nancey pansies and the service in all the shops was really, well, compared to Japan, rude. Anyway, this is a picture that I took of my brother in Central London:

He thinks that he looks like Bugs Bunny, but I don't see the match...

Well, this post was really just to see whether I could upload any images or not. Here it looks like I've found success!!


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Stopping for Fag Breaks

I've been in Britain now for a couple of weeks, or near that at least. I've done quite a bit as well: chilled with one of my cousins; boozed with some of the locals; went on a four day holiday with my mum and dad; spent a night with my radical uncle in Hastings, and now I'm staying with my brother and his Irish girlfriend in a place called Berkhamsted just north of London. Today was really cool because I got to ride with my uncle in his bright yellow road-legal racing car. He took us both down country lanes at close to 110 miles per hour on some of the longer stretches. It was a bit like the experience of being in an aeroplane as it takes off, having the power of the engine pin you back against your seat. I would give you a photo of the car but, for some reason, I can't upload the blessed things anymore. I don't know what's happened, but blogger must have changed my account without letting me know. Anyway, here's a link to the Radical Extreme Sports website.

I'll post again soon, hopefully with some piccies next time.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Leaving Tomorrow

Yes, it's about that time of year. Tomorrow I go back to blighty for two weeks of warm ale and soapy potatoes, which, just at the thought of it, gives me a dreamy feeling in my stomach. I went out drinking last night, and I got really drunk. It was Jamie's birthday and we met up at this fancy Italian chain restaurant in Hirosaki for some food before heading out to nearby Shirokiya. My head feels really worn out this morning, which must have something to do with the cheap sake I was drinking all night. Of course, I went out on to the mountain again yesterday as usual for my weekly climb. I had my camera with me this time, and I managed to get to the top. If you remember at all, last week I had an umming and arring session with some old boy as to whether the snow-pack was safe to walk on or not. Yesterday the snow had melted back far enough to expose it's underbelly, allowing me to analyse it thoroughly first. I used my crampons, for about thirty steps, then I realised that they were not aiding me at all so I took them off. By the way, this is me on the way back down.

Damn fine figure of a man. Anyway, it was quite nice at the top, and the clouds were just low enough to reveal the odd patch of blue sky. When the sky was open you could see some really cool cirrus clouds floating around, thousands of feet above. Like this:

And on the way back down I took some photos of this little flower that only grows on Mt. Iwaki. Honestly, according to locals this particular species is found nowhere else in the world apart from my local mountain. Pretty cool I think.

So, today I've got to pack up my things, get everything sorted, and ready myself for leaving the country. I still haven't got a hotel booked in Tokyo for tomorrow night so I'm a bit concerned about that. I don't know if the titanium in my arm is going to be a problem going through security. This is Japan after all, and security is a bit of a joke so I'm not too worried about it. I've got my Shinkansen tickets booked for the trip down tomorrow. I have four books to nail over the next three weeks, and one reference book on Japanese grammar. If, for some miraculous reason, I manage to get through those four books in under three weeks, I shall have to confiscate one from my old man's stash like I did last year. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway. I read nearly all of it sat upstairs in a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Shinjuku. It is now one of my favourites; a classic in my mind. Gagging for British turf, I'll update when I'm back home.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Finally Sorted

I've finally got my flight sorted after eons of hassle with some faceless prick at a JTB office in Tokyo (alias Muda-san). I'll quickly run through the catalogue of events that have made my body temperature even higher than it already is with all this god-forsaken humidity that we've been getting lately.

First I went into the office in Hirosaki to book a flight way back in April. The woman at the office said that there was a flight available and she would sort it all out for me. She told me to wait for her to ring me. So I waited - for another three weeks actually. And when she did give me a ring back she said that there was actually no availability. So she asked me to go into the office for a chat about what was available. I went into the office for a chat and she stared at the paperwork for a while and at the computer screen for a while and at me for a while, and then she said that she would give me another call when she had found a suitable flight.

In the meantime I decided to take the initiative and look elsewhere. Namely the other JTB office in Hirosaki. At this office I wasted a lot of time talking to a woman who never looked like she intended to help me with anything anyway, and she just kept staring at the computer and at the other people in the office while I was trying to work out what she was saying to me.( My Japanese has been a big problem in this series of nightmares.) So I let this woman trick me into thinking that she was going to look for a flight after I'd left the office. Maybe she did, I wouldn't know.

Then, as if by magic, Aki says to me "My uncle is a travel agent in Sendai", so I decided to let Aki take the reigns of my search and she called her uncle. Her uncle said he'd look at the same flight that the other women promised they would look at. He actually brought to my knowledge what the other women hadn't: that the flight was already booked and they were simply waiting for cancellations. So I was a bit miffed and I asked Aki to ask her uncle whether I should hang around waiting for a cancellation, or whether I should just go ahead with another flight. She said that her uncle seemed confident so I should invest my trust in him. I did, and three weeks later it turns out that there weren't any cancellations. As a matter of fact, it also turned out at that Aki's uncle was working for JTB in Sendai city. (WTF!!).

So I was really pissed off at this point. Then he said "Oh, oh, oh, look on the internet at such and such a page! There's this really naughty flight to London via China that I recommend your boyfriend take. It will allow him to stay in Beijing for a night and explore the city. Yeah, yeah", so that was great news, and I got all excited about seeing Beijing. Aki phoned up the company and Muda san was more than happy to book it, take my money and send me the receipt. Then he ('Muda' literally means 'waste' in Japanese) phoned up just a couple of days ago to inform me that he'd made a mistake with the visa requirements and that I would need a visa for China that would take at least two weeks to process. At this point I was ready to drive down to Tokyo with a cricket bat and seriously abuse the guy. He said that I would have to take a flight with either Aeroflot or another more expensive company. Of course, I couldn't express to him in Japanese what I really wanted to say, but eventually, today, he found a cancellation that will allow me to fly via Beijing without the stopover for a day.

Of course I did try other places, but nowhere really had anything under ten man, which is all I'm prepared to pay for a ticket to London. I will not be ripped off by the travel industry. I repeat, I will not be ripped off by the travel industry. Also, I just noticed that people in my office have been looking at this blog. If you're reading this and you're a member of staff at Hirosaki high school then come clean dammit!!


Saturday, July 03, 2004

Anshin Shimashita!!

I went on the mountain again today, but didn't go all the way to the top because it looked too dodgey at about quarter way up the snow pack. I considered being a hero for five minutes, just until an old Ojisan came up the mountain behind me and shook his head at me after a quick scan of the area. He wasn't going to risk the crumbling snowpack so neither was I. He was dressed in semi-ninja gear and split toe boots. He looked the biz. I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to try out my new crampons. I actually used them for about 20 yards and they seemed fairly ineffective. I only payed 1500 for them anyway. I also noticed that today I didn't really get too exhausted until I got close to the top of the treeline. This must be because my body is slowly getting used to the regular weekend hikes.

Last night I went to the guvner's farewell party in Aomori. It was fairly good to tell you the truth, although I ended up losing my camera at the end of the night. All's good, however, as I got a lead on it's whereabouts this afternoon from Alec who told me to give a guy called Marvin in Nanbu a call. It turns out he picked it up at the end of the night and he's going to stick it in the post, good fella! The funny thing is that when I got to the dinner I checked my camera to find that I'd left the battery at home anyway!! BAKA!! We went to a little Izikaya after the guvner's do, where I sat drinking whiskies with Alec and Anne. I can't remember what we talked about because I ended up getting quite ratted. I got a lift back with Rod and Steve.

Tonight me and Aki are going to an all Asian restaurant in Hirosaki. After that we'll probably come back and watch a vid or something like that.