Saturday, January 31, 2009

Japanese Marketing - a taste

A casual browse in a Japanese convenient/souvenir/corner/random store always brings about golden photographic opportunities for interesting and/or quirky items - see above example (it is a loafer).

We paid a 500 yen voyeur fee yesterday to watch snow monkeys bath in sulphur stinking onsens. Animal attractions I think are a good reminder of the similarities between humans and animals, and the fact that we are actually not that far up the food chain.

And I don't know why these places always have squat only toilets - eek! From techy bidets to squat and possibly pee-your-pants/shoes toilets - this is a massive from grace.

Snow was about 90% epic today. Was bucketing down the entire day. The landscape of Shiga Kogen was completely different to what it was yesterday and the day before.

We soaked our weary limbs (and my bunged shoulder) in the in-house jacuzzi and onsen - so relaxing. Now we are chilling out in our room, with Asashis in hands and about to head out to dinner. As noted in Shar's guest blog, food places aren't easy to find around here. The customary practice is to hang out at your hotel, hence the abundance of hotels at Shiga Kogen.

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Buckets at Shiga Kogen

I suspect today will be an awesome day on the snow. It is snowing buckets outside which is a welcomed change from the clear blue sky and rain (eek) we got yesterday.

The trees are all covered with white stuff and there are sporadic mini avalanches from the accumulation of snow on roof tops.

Let's hope the shoulder holds up today.

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arriving in Shiga Kogen

Hi everyone, this is Sharlene, guest-blogging on Marissa's blog from her blackberry! Very techy of me!

We spent today travelling from Hakuba to Shiga Kogen via 2 bus routes. There are a lot of aussies around which can be a bad thing, especially when they're being rude to the locals. We had an incident on the bus (which was packed) from Hakuba where an aussie mom was telling off a japanese local for minding a seat for her partner who was loading the luggage outside. Granted she had kids, but there are kinder ways to go about it than being high and mighty, also in the end there were enough seats for everyone.

After all that drama, we arrived at Shiga Kogen (after thrashing Marissa in Tetris DS, but have to admit she was kicking my ass on the first bus leg) and staying at the Sunroute Hotel. After dumping our stuff, we took a walk around town, and it is very traditional i.e dead quiet! A lot of school kids skiing, but all the shops were closed! No fresh snow, very sunny and nothing much else to do but eat. Depending on the conditions tomorrow, we will visit the snow monkeys (who have their own onsen) instead of snowboarding, so that should be interesting and fun!

One last thing about this place, apparently, there are two snow areas where it's skiers ONLY (YDG will love that). It's not an area that is extremely open to snowboarders, apparently the mountains are suited to skiers, so we shall see when we get on the slopes! Big dump happening in the next couple days, can't wait!

Okay enough story telling, it wasn't a very interesting day so had to blab about nothing! Oh yeah, no internet in the room, have to go to the lobby to connect! So, Gregan, please be patient with the games :)

Signing off!

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Total Axe on Fun Box

We had a 30% epic day today.

50% epic according to Shar
40% epic according to Dougie
70% according to Vicky
NFI according to Glenn

Today, we ventured to the 3 in 1 mountain, consisting of Goryu, Happo One, Imori.

On the very last fun park run on Imori, Vicky axed herself on the funbox (unfortunately no live footage). The injury/gash was so impressive, we had to visit the patrol and the medical clinic.

The other highlight of the day is Sharlene's an*us split on the C-Box, also on the very last run of the day. Click play below.

Last day of riding in Hakuba tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Do The Taco

I did a taco on a sea rail at Iwakake.

The definition of a taco according to Dougie:
"A taco shell hanging on a clothes line".

Since Dougie's helmet cam died after 15 minutes, here are some first hand written eye witness reports:

Her taco was so great, I fell off the box in a state of hysteria.

I thought you fell in love with the snow because you were kissing it.

I was concerned for a fleeting moment, but that passed.

in absentia

Some pictures - I wasn't getting much air today.

And Hakuba, famous for the biggest crap(e)

Zenkō-ji Temple

Lost property status:
  • one right glove (Marissa) - left behind on bus
  • one pair of spectacles (Glenn)- left behind at relaxation oasis. Looks like somebody was so relaxed that he left his eyes behind.

Our gear was still in transit from Osaka airport so we spent the day sight-seeing in the city of Nagano. The itinerary was limited to one today - Zenkō-ji Temple.

The bus ride from our Chalet (view from our Chalet below) to Nagano is about an hour long.

According to the information pamphlet, the Japanese people have been told to visit the Zenjoki Temple at least once in their lifetime.

The temple is overseen by the Rokujizō. According to wiki, the Rokujizō are statues of the six Bodhisattvas, who gave up Buddhist enlightenment, in order to provide salvation to others. The Bodhisattvas are said to be able to commune with the six realms of hell, starvation, beasts, carnage, human beings and divine beings.

Pilgrims and visitors should also purify his/her body with the smoke from the incense burner in front of the Zenkō-ji. Rubbing the incense smoke on your body will bring you good health and fortune. We were originally under the mistaken belief that the head was supposed to be bathed in the incense smoke ... to bring heightened intelligence, hence the photos.

Joke is on us really, because at the end of the day, what are we but monkeys.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sushi Train for Chinese New Year Dinner

Dinner tonight will be sushi train.

Bummer about the crappy exchange rate; Dougie can't go hardcore with his sushi gorging this year.

shiawasena chuogokuno atarashi nen

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Interesting Experiences ... Day 1

More about the interesting start.

Certainly has not been the usual Japanese experiences with the exception of:

  • rail system confusion, resulting in yet another wasted ticket. Our 'track' record on dud train tickets over the period of 4 years remains unblemished.
  • rail etiquette community education posters - cityrail should take note.

  • Lost in translation product descriptions - this is mean to say secret "pouch".

  • anpanman mania - anpanman playground was spotted on top of a random building Izumisano. Bad anpanman impersonations were also spotted in a random restaurant in Hakuaba.

First time experiences include:
  • 15 mins for 5000 yen (correction: 500 yen) shower at airport lounge. Just think portable loos but way cleaner and far more techy. And unlike your normal portable loo strategy, the aim was to maximise time and welfare. Somehow we all could only manage to consume 5 out of the allocated 15 minutes despite our very best efforts to prolong the experience.

  • 9 hours for 1900 yen relaxation oasis. Just think 24 hour internet cafe, but with extra comfort facilities, including massage chairs, your own little oasis to sleep in, shelves full of risque comic books and unlimited drinks machine.

6 trains, and 8 hours later, we have arrived at white horse, aka as Hakuba.

Hopefully the snow will come out to play over the next few days.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

En Route to Nagano

On our way to Nagano via shinkanzen. It has been an interesting start. More about that later (if I get online).

A few more train rides ahead. Haven't slept in a bona fide bed for nearly 48 hours. I suspect the lack of mattress has been the driver behind my bizarre e.g. Joaquin Phoenix.

No dreams about toilets however, which incidentally is the subject matter of my recurring dreams. Could be because toilets are so user friendly in Japan. The only really hard decision is to choose between Big Flush, or Little Flush, or traditional (non-button activated) flush.

I chose traditional flush because I don't like to judge the size and character of my excrements.

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day of Departure - Japan Bound

Too early to construct proper, grammatically correct sentences.

Woke up at ungodly hour to arrive at airport @ 6am.

Scored the boobie prize jackpot when we were greeted by a trainee Jet-frills 'service consultant' - yes who was gay, and who was sitting next to another gay guy. Hmmm perhaps I was more insightful than originally intended with the term Jet-"frills".

Trainee-frills took FOREVER to check us in. Had to see manager-frills to fix up his mistakes.

We then played TRS hide-and-seek. There is a TRS before customs peoples!

Finally, we are at Gate 34 waiting for flight that is stopping over @ the Gold Coast.

Am fading fast ...

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Hacked Helmet

In the midst of my last minute packing frenzy, I noticed the hacked-up state of my helmet.

It's almost as if someone visited Kew in NSW, bought themselves an axe from the "Big Axe" (see post below) and re-enacted the Mac slaying wild pig. scene in Predator ... on my helmet.

Talk about poor aim.

Need to get some winks. Need to get up in a few hours, at which point I will be Japan bound.

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Food for Champions

Just got demoralised in basketball, so to celebrate we are scoffing down some nutritious McDonald's.

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Under 20kgs Challenge

Jet-frills and its 20kgs weight imprimatur is creating packing angst.

Also testing out mail to blogger function.

Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tina Fey (30) Rocks It Again!

Tina Fey and her gem of a show 30 Rock, repeated her Emmy winning ways at the 2009 Golden Globes.

Admittedly I haven't enjoyed Season 3 as much I have the previous 2 seasons. Nevertheless, some of the material that comes out of that half hour show is serious laugh-out-loud material. Some notable quotes so far:

Gavin Volure: And the arts. I’m glad Jack was able to bring you, Liz. I asked him about you after I saw your photo in the style section of the New York Times.
Liz: Funny story. I only wore that because the fire alarm went off when I was getting a hair cut.

Kenneth: I don’t believe in hypothetical situations, Mr. Donaghy. That’s like lying to your brain.

Liz (to Oprah): I saw the show about following fear and it inspired me to wear shorts to work. It didn’t go great.

Jack: This is GE!
Devon: It’s just G now, Jack. I sold the E. To Samsung. They’re Samesung now. I was supposed to be at a board meeting 5 hours ago. Which ways Connecticut?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stock take

Did you know that the brain is about 70% fat? My fat-ass head is literally fat!

All that fat will come in handy next week when we begin our annual Japan pilgrimage. On the to do list so far are:
  • Hunt down and purchase Anpanman paraphernalia
  • Go to the largest aquarium tank in the world and take photo of the gigantic whale shark
  • See snow monkeys and giggle while they scrub themselves down. Wonder if they pee in the shower?
  • Get Dougie to strategically position himself to make more photo magic

Time for a quick stock take of the last half of 2008, using the letters of the only acronym that matters at the moment - G, F and C. Sorry Colonel Sanders. Close but no chicken.

G for Golf
Golf at Barnbougle Dunes. Beautiful and memorable course, made even more memorable by chance meeting with Ian Healy and his mates who happened to be also playing on the same day. They invited us as guests to their dinner party and the night panned out to be most enjoyable. Nice way to forget about my front 9 performance: measly 4 points and 10 errant balls no thanks to the dreaded BUTTON grass. You will see YDG surveying a par 3 in the photo below - hmmm where to place the ball when there are bunkers all around, an undulating green, and a death trap in the middle. More golf played during xmas/new year break at Gold Coast. An unsurprising correlation between no. of games played and increasing crappiness of golf game. I guess we can't all have a natural swing arc like S (ux) - and I am not referring to Serena Van Der Woodsen.

F for Football
State Cup 2008 came and went. Best result yet for the team. We actually played on Sunday, and Sunday is traditionally a rest/go home day for us. Although we didn't find out that we were playing on Sunday until after we ordered the 2 buckets of KFC and Dominos Pizza. Wasn't a smart move.

C for Christmas and the Coast
Christmas came and went, then straight to the Gold Coast on Boxing Day. Came to the obvious realisation that I'm too old for theme parks. We went to Dreamworld, aptly named for the state that you are lulled into when queuing up in those never-ending lines. My farewell to 2008 and welcome to 2009 consisted of:
  • tripping over stairs and grazing my knee of really dirty/manky carpet
  • losing my beloved blackberry on new year's eve/new year's day on Broadbeach.
Off to a good start ...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Big Things of Australia

Do you know that there is more than one Big Banana in Australia?!
Seems like the norm to have 3 or each BIG THINGS, in which case we should have 3 of my fat ass head - scary thought.

(Still trying to find pair of sunglasses and hat/beanie to fit my head. I should really turn this into a challenge.)