Monday, June 29, 2009
- party at Jason's friend's place; consume much alcohol
- by 1:30 am, pretty much only gay men left (plus Rich, the Yale Medical Fellow and requisite straight dude)
- went to Destination, the gay club of Beijing; paid ridiculous cover; drank more; danced
- arrived back at Jason's friend's place at 4:30 am; sun rising; pass out
Did I mention that I'm a teacher?
Friday, June 26, 2009
Anyway, I have every intention of riding one of those rent-a-boat's that they promised us and singing "I'm on a Boat" at the top of my lungs tomorrow. And now, bed, because I'm tired and judo kind of kicked my butt today. Literally.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I can't wait.
Love from Beijing, the future capital of the world,
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
So, I have much practice being a creeper. My friend Claire from high school knows this, because we usually creep together.
But in trying to commemorate the interesting qualities of Chinese wangba, or internet bars, I sort of didn't turn off the front display of my phone whilst taking a picture of the shirtless smoking dude across from me.
I wondered why he was staring at me, so I actually started typing as if I was texting instead of just holding the phone in a texting position. Oops.
Anyway, that picture was for you, and when I get internet set up in my room (hopefully tomorrow!) I'll pass it along
We got to Harbin on Saturday morning, started our language pledge on Sunday, and started class yesterday. Only speaking Chinese makes me a much less interesting person, and my classes so far are enough to keep me very busy. But! I really, really like Harbin. The weather is wonderful, the skies much clearer than Beijing, and people here are nice in general. The area around the Harbin Institute of Technology, or Hagongda, where we're staying and studying, is full of interesting things to explore. And food here is so, so cheap. I love food. I am happy.
For China people: gfxtalk.net is the proxy I've been using to access Blogger, and even from wangba, it works great.
Also for China people: what vocab do you use to explain the YPMB?
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Last summer in Japan I got used to unfamiliar bathing styles, but this is really something else. It's as if someone built a bathroom then added a shower head as an afterthought. The whole room gets all wet and slippery. I've taken to throwing my hand towel onto the ground in front of the sink as a little island of dryness after I shower, but this other student tells me he's rigged up a two-towel dam system around the drains that I might try tomorrow.
The only plus side to this set up is that if you forget something by the sink, you can totally just walk and get it.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Anyway, Chris Brown (I can never resist using his full name), Ashok, and I tried SQUID INK ICE CREAM the other day, aka Ikazumi. It's actually REALLY REALLY GOOD, OMD. Seriously. I had the vanilla-ikazumi, and mooched licks of Ashok's melon-ikazumi (om nom nom!), and I swear, we're going back there again sometime soon to try other flavors.
Sadly, I didn't have my camera that day and couldn't get a close up picture, so I'm stealing this picture from Chris' Light Fellowship Blog:
And...I'm not actually that short. I'm just standing on the lower part of the sloped street o_O
Also, my address if anybody wants to write Elliot or me and send us stuff, because you're missing us so terribly much:
Thanh Tran (or Elliot Eaton, clearly)
c/o Hokkaido International Foundation
14-1 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Thursday, June 18, 2009
If you notice Tasia and I are facing opposite directions, meaning that we begin the series on opposing sides of the conflict. However, it is likely that Tasia (the good one, as indicated by her outstretched hand) will convert me (the evil calculating one) to her side of justice.
The Golden Rule: If you yell "IT'S A GUNDAM!!!" in the presence of a Gundam, you will be annihilated shortly thereafter.
I also got an invitation to go back to the school and practice trumpet sometime- I'll have to show the children how to play and sing our Bulldog fight song sometime.
Can you find me?
Once you do, notice the mild look of fear in my eyes.
This photo better captures the scale of the wave of babies.
ワンワンワン Wan wan wan
イライ・イエル Eri Yare
ワンワンワン Wan wan wan
チームは失敗するまい teemu ha shippai suru mai
イライの男児受けを割ると Irai no danji uke o waru to
あの全長留意ぞ！ano zenchou ryuui zo!
ワンワンワン Wan wan wan!
イライ・イエル Eri Yare!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
You know that I like you. You know that I'm a big fan of recycling and sustainable foods and not eating endangered animals. But it's not my fault that whales are so frickin' delicious. Maybe if you didn't make the things that I moralistically should not eat in good conscious so tasty, we could avoid this whole dilemma. It's not you, it's whales. Maybe we need to see other people for just a little bit until you can forgive me for ordering the fried kujira burger at Lucky Pierrot, the local hamburger chain that is ironically the most popular restaurant in all of Hakodate. But hey, I hope we can still be friends.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Were I still in the United States, I would be 19. I have not yet lived for 20 years. But according to my passport and my position relative to the international date line, I'm 20 a day early. It was a little anti-climactic because Japan basically never cards, but I obtained two bottles of personally, legally purchased sake that later partied with me in the hot springs. Aw yeah.
Note the recently purchased Sake bottles and mochi cakes.
I spent my birthday afternoon and night hanging out with a bunch of naked guys in hot water, one of whom is apparently my Sigma Chi bro fromt the Harvard chapter. We were later joined by an older native guy, and we actually made some pretty good conversation with him. His lack of teeth was a major block to our understanding, but he gave us directions to a good ramen spot for dinner.
Did I mention that Japan sells sake in juice boxes?
After a long ordeal of asking directions, we finally plotted out the right bus route to get to the いさりび間 Isaribikan Hot Springs. But the only way to make it there was to sprint from the hotel to the station. We received claps and cheers from a fishmonger on the streets as we raced to our destination.
List of fun things I've eaten:
~Salted squid guts. I could feel them for hours afterwards.
~Squid Somen (noodles). I thought this meant I'd have squid served with noodles, but then it was actually squid sliced into noodles.
When I received my dish, I kept on insisting that this was noodles and there would be squid beneath, but then it turned out the entire thing was just squid.
But before that, I first celebrated my coming of age by running up a mountain at 5 am. I know, right? But my sleep schedule is still an epic fail from jet lag, and it was far too bright and pretty out in the morning. Over two hours, I conquered 函館山, which is more steep, tall, and confusing than I had expected. I spent a long time even trying to find a road that would get me there (apparently running straight towards the big rock doesn't work) because Japan's streets are whack. The signs along the way explain the history of the place in English, and the signs along the mountain trails explained about the local birds in the area (I was very excited to see this after complaining about there being nothing but the scariest crows I've ever encountered). I sadly didn't bring my camera for the incredible view.
Early in the afternoon, as we tried out some authentic Japanese gelato at a place called Saltimbocca (fun fact: most popular restaurant in Hakodate is a hamburger joint), we were asked by a Kyoto native to write our dreams on a large card and pose with him for a project. Through some horribly awkward questioning, we finally figured out he has a friend doing the same in Kyuushuu, to see how people's dreams vary between the north and south of Japan. Our dream, that fits into this weekend's goal setting homework for the weekend: 私達は日本語で上手になりたい！(We want to become good at Japanese. And pose in the most Asian fashion possible.)
I seduced two cats and a kitten with my sultry cat yodeling. My gathered audience didn't believe in my skills but I knew I would conquer.
Also, this hotel has MORE FREE JAMMIES. I love Japan.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
So this morning I wake up at 5:30 all packed and excited to go to China. I eat some toast and check the Northwest website for my itinerary and oh noes! my flight from Salt Lake to Tokyo is canceled! "Screw that!" I say, and check the Delta website for my itinerary. Alas! all flights are on time and most certainly not canceled. Phew.
La di da, epically long check in line, epically long security line (<3 style="font-style: italic;">ask the man at the counter about my maybe-cancelled flight, get an okay, board the plane, glare daggers at the baby in front of me (keep your food in your carry-on, people.) land in Salt Lake, and whoops, my flight actually is cancelled. Good job, Delta.
There's only one flight a day to Tokyo from Salt Lake. So I'm stuck here. It was either that or fly back home, which was really just too ridiculous to handle.
Actually it's pretty sweet now that I'm out of that god forsaken airport. I have a nice hotel room, free internets, and $21 in vouchers to spend on food. There's nothing to do, as Salt Lake's biggest attraction is the Mormon temple, and I've been there before. I'd rather be in China, but oh well.
More pictures: http://www.dannychoo.com/detail/mac/eng/image/20078/Assembled+Odaiba+Gundam.html
The kids of those construction workers must think they have the coolest parents in the world (it might be true).
Anyway, here's closer look at the epic toilet's various functions complete with illustrations follows--excuse the blurriness of the picture because my camera kind of fails: (Stop, Spray, Bidet, Water Pressure)
Lastly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELLIOT!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
What’s going through my brain right now as I’m sitting in Japan a bajllion miles away from home? Well you see, my suitemates and I share the exceedingly useful ability to recite practically the entire dialogue of Disney’s Mulan among the four of us (complete with epic renditions of “Be a man, you must be swift as a raging fiiiire!”). What does Mulan have to do with Japan? Absolutely nothing. I’ve merely bestowed the (completely original) title of “Day One” on this gripping description of my first day in Japan, and I just have this reoccurring image of the scene in Mulan whereChi-Fu (sp?) grins at Chang right after threatening to send reports to the general about how the training of the new troops progresses, and Chi-Fu holds up his stylus/papyrus/whatever and says “Day One” in this really snide voice. Yes. Blame my rambling and Mulan stories on the jetlag exhaustion if you will. Also, now I have Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It” stuck in my head. Thanks a lot.
In more relevant news, Japan!!!1!!1one!! It’s growing one me, at least a little. In all honesty, I spent most of today being terrified out of my mind about everything, because the one thing I hate more than spiders is traveling. Do not want. Trying to work the public telephones in Chicago was bad enough (fail), and I hadn’t even left the States yet. Once in Japan, getting through quarantine, immigration, and customs wasn’t actually all that bad, and only took as long as it did due to my inability to decipher the Japanese instructions for everything. It really hit me how limited my ability to communicate is when despite the numerous applicable dialogues which we memorized and recited in class, the only Japanese I’ve managed to nervously squeeze out has been “Excuse me” and “Thank you very much.” Oh, and of course, “Do you have orange juice?”
Anyway, all the other inane details of today will go in my Light blog once I have time to actually think back on the past 24 hours (although since I’m in Japan, i.e. in the future, you could argue that it’s been more than 24 hours). I’m sure Elliot’s pictures speak volumes about Japan anyway, haha. The pajamas are indeed pretty cool, although mine goes completely down to my toes and I’m not sure I would want to be seen in public wearing it. Sadly, I think my camera may be dead (or just failing fantastically at the moment) so it may very well be that I’ll be mooching pictures from other people to post in the future.
Also, I SAW JOHN GREENAWALT TODAY. Granted, it was only for about 5 minutes when I got off the elevator on the 17th floor of our hotel to find him standing outside my room after I facebooked him our hotel and my room number. This whole not having a cell phone/reliable means of communication thing is also a real pain, although I’ll be renting one which should arrive next Wednesday. Anyway, I’m hoping that when HIF has our mid-semester break John can come up to Sapporo and party with Elliot and me! Anyway, that’s it for now. I should study for the 5+ hour long placement test of doom that we’ll be taking shortly after we get off our plane from Tokyo to Hakodate...for which we have to get up at 4:45 am. Gah. おやすみなさい！
So anyway, what am I doing here? you might ask. Well, I am an intern with Asia Pacific Investment Partners, a Mongolian-based non-banking financial institution. Ask all you want, I have no idea what that means. Nor do I have any idea how I got myself into this. Nor do I have any idea what I'm going to be doing for the next two months.
I am learning so much already. Like if you step on someone's foot, you must immediately shake their hand, otherwise they'll beat the crap out of you. Also, it's easy for foreign investors to buy property in Mongolia. Fancy that! Also, the Soviets were terrible architects and my apartment smells like cigarettes and cheap hookers. Woot!
NOT ACCEPTABLE. So I hightailed it out of the country, to a place that would be more zombie free. Fortunately, after hitch-hiking my way down to San Francisco I managed to flag down a plane on the runway, conveniently enough heading for Narita, the Tokyo International Airport.
They had me write some things. I did a fair amount of it in Kanji, including the address of my stay, which after writing four different times on separate forms still makes no sense to me. Please don't notice the fact that I forgot how to write 勉強 or probably misspelled my middle name in the katakana alphabet.
But fancy that, I didn't make it very far.
At least my smooth-talking Japanese convinced them that Nyquil is a 医者が必要じゃなくてどこでも買える薬。Maybe my hot bod helped when they stuck the thermometer in my arm-pit.
Once I had gained my freedom, I encountered many strange and wonderful things, and failed at flushing this particular toilet.
And it's not even Day 1 of the program. Tomorrow is the placement exam which requires waking up at 5 for travel.
EDIT: An update of the utmost importance. Holy crap guys. The hotel in Tokyo where I'm staying before heading to Hakodate tomorrow HAS FREE JAMMIES.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Second thing: If you are reading this and are not my facebook friend, fix that. I have Harajuku pictures!!!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
She died yesterday afternoon.
If you think that's bizarre, I went further down the list and under "baby" I came across this entry:
I've got a knife here, baby!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I love Atlanta.
Main detail: The fact that the shopping district is also the red light district of Tokyo and I was given several offers for peep shows and the like.
Also I just remembered: The crows in Tokyo are HUGE and there have been reports of them attacking people.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
So, I'm going to be going to Harbin, China this summer with funding from a Light Fellowship. Harbin is the capital of the northwestern most province of China - sandwiched between Russia and North Korea. I picked this program mostly for its location, to be quite honest. Because it's so far north, the summer temperatures aren't crazy hot & humid like most of the rest of China, and I figured being in a smaller city would force me to use my Chinese more than in a more cosmopolitan place like Beijing (I also wanted to escape the notoriously difficult-to-understand Beijing accent). However, I'm also really excited about the fact that with this program I'll have a Chinese roommate to get to know and to help me with my studies. Aaand on top of that, we got to pick a subject to study in addition to our basic Chinese classes - I chose comedic dialogue, because I thought that the tongue twisters and cultural references involved would bring my Chinese to another level.
Harbin, being so close to the northern border, has had a lot of Russian influence. On the other border, with all the junk North Korea's been up to recently I've been a little worried that a travel advisory might go up and my funding might get rescinded (like all those poor souls who were planning on traveling to Mexico this summer...travel advisory = Yale can't legally fund their trips). So far it seems like everything's going smoothly, though, so hopefully I'll be there in a few short weeks.
I leave on the 14th, even though my program doesn't start until June 17th. I'm going to visit John in Tokyo for about 48 hours before I head to Beijing for orientation (thank you for agreeing to take me in, John)! I love Japan, and I love Japanese food. Harajuku is the only place I absolutely need to go: Jangarra Ramen + the most delicious crepes. Other than that, it'll be an adventure!
I really ought to crack my Chinese books again sometime before I leave. It's amazing how quickly it all slips away. Anyway, bedtime for me. I hope everyone's summer is going beautifully so far :)
For the record, I'm keeping a fellowship blog here.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Next Tuesday I'm off to study Japanese for 2 months w/ the Hokkaido International Foundation (HIF), funded entirely by the Light Fellowship. We're supposed to keep blogs which they post up on a forum for future applicants to learn about the different programs, etc. Most of the stuff in my Light blog will go into great detail about program specific things. To quote my dear friend Kevin (no, Marcus, he's not my boyfriend), "You have these interesting/deep posts about mundane things." I'm pretty sure that he intended that to sound more flattering than it sounds right now.
Anyway, the less mundane, more interesting (and probably more politically incorrect) stuff will go here w/o all the extra eloquent descriptions relevant for Light fellows but not so much for anybody else (unless you have an unhealthy obsession with the minute details of my life). I'll be sure to keep the posting content of each blog unique so as not to bore you to tears and I promise to be equally exciting in both, so go ahead and check it out if you'd like. In the meantime, I'm going to try and get a tan in the Texas sun, eat lots of fried chicken (getting in touch with my dad's roots and all that) and drink lots of sweet tea, and play with the greatest dog in the whole world before I take off for good. Peace.
This is the blog I just made today: http://greenoinjapan.blogspot.com/
I will probably put all my hardcore "research findings" up on that one, and just post all the awesome/hilarious things that will surely happen to me in Tokyo on YPMBasia.
I am so psyched. My plane is in 30 hours or so. I need to start packing right now!