Tuesday, January 31, 2006

We love lizards!

Dad and I have a habit of catching lizards wherever we go. Any kind will do. I am careful in Japan though, cause I know they bite. This is a lizard Dad caught recently. It looks like a baby bearded dragon. I almost bought one of these for a pet. They are so cute... Oh and by the way, it really bite Dad.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Kit Kat follow up

It has recently been exam time in Japan so the Kit Kat manufacturers have gone a little crazy. Kit Kat sounds like Kito Katsu which basically means good luck with exams or I hope you pass. There are heaps of flavours out there right now. Every month or so they bring out a new flavour to try...
Strawberry is a winter fruit here...
It is almost cherry blossom time. Sakura in Japanese...
Who can resist bitter chocolate? ME! I don't like dark chocolate but it is very popular here.
The Kit Kat I blogged about earlier. Curisupi (crispy). See how the packet is missing the English words for Kit Kat. Quite unusual.

The latest season look for Kat's t-shirt

So last year, Kat and I found the funniest t-shirt. She bought it and often wears it with pride. Today I was shopping and I discovered this season's version. In case you can't read the above photo or you just don't believe it, the text is exactly as follows...

We are dropout at school, but we are greatunit.norelation Whatkind job!?


Take it easy. Go for it! Be laught&glow up Dear how nice Our GREAT family

Friday, January 27, 2006


Fugu = Poisonous
Blow Fish


Note : also meant to be expensive!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Can school lunch be scientific?

To taste or not?
Now the other day I was presented with the mandarine and potato salad. I could pretty much guess what I was trying when they placed it in front of me. I guess you could say that I felt quite safe.
Please note today's dish presented above...
When this was presented to me I hesitated. Firstly as it is black. Secondly, it is not appetising (what do you think?)
Anyway... I made a good choice. Finally an English teacher entered the room. I hadn't touched my food. I asked him what it was... I didn't notice the principal standing in front of me as I asked. The principal was the first to answer. He doesn't really speak ANY English...
"Whale! Sorry!"
He said to me. The English teacher also stated that it was whale. Hmmm, I thought.
"Want mine".
"Yes," he replied with delight in his eyes.

Now this is a school of about 300 people. Everyone got whale for lunch. It is supposed to be expensive but we only pay about $2.50 for lunch each day. How can the government convince people the whale they eat is killed for scientific purposes. Why does killing them for scientific purposes make it okay anyway?

Some things can't be captured with my camera!

Today was kind of overcast. Not as though it was going to rain but more like haze - everywhere. It seemed like fire smoke in the whole sky. AND it was cold!
As I was driving home and the night was closing in, I looked out the window across the hills and caught sight of the setting sun. I almost ran off the road and into a rice field. The sun was stunning and huge. I guess the sun is usually the size of my finger nail in the sky and lets face it you can't and shouldn't look at it. Tonight it was the size you can make if you join your thumb and pointer finger together. It was also a dark pinky red. Amazing. You could look right at it. It made me think of the Japanese flag. Now the fact that I didn't have my camera didn't annoy me (surprisingly). If I did have it, I know I could never pick up the effect. The sun ALWAYS looks small using a camera (well the kind I have anyway). I am just trying to remember the view in my mind. That is where that photo will stay.

Is it a Kit or a Kat?

So Japan brings out a new version of the standard Kit Kat every month. We have had green tea, melon, passionfruit, strawberry and cherry blossom flavour to name a few.
Last night I bought a new kind that didn't even really look like the standard Nestle Kit Kat. The Nestle logo as tiny and Kit Kat was written in Japanese - very unusual. Anyway it was called a Kit Kat Crispy (or something like that). I ate it this morning and discovered that it was a Kit Kat without the outside covering of chocolate. It was quite good and I can see it would be great if you were on a diet BUT... I couldn't help but feel a bit cheated. I wanted a chocolate fix and I missed out!

Monday, January 23, 2006


I am sitting here at my base school being as strong as possible. I am chanting in my head "don't get sick, don't get sick". So far it is working. Lucky for me. Touch wood.
There are 215 students in this school and 25 are away sick right now. Mostly with flu. Influenza is infuruenza in Japanese. Shortened to infuru. So 25 are sick. 19 of these students are from the 2nd grade. It is a serious problem here. The 2nd grade students went home at 10am on Friday to rest and take care of their health.
Quite amazing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thailand, a fond memory

(Written for a second time as I lost the first copy - sorry if the flair is gone)

A funny memory just came to me. Lauren, Rutt (my thai friend) and I went out one night to visit one of the massively large, impressive shopping centres. This place was huge and we went there with one thing on our minds - English books!

We drove up to the carpark enterance and were meet by three stern looking men dressed in military uniforms. They were to begin a security check. Every car was checked over for bombs. At first, Lauren and I were surprised at this necessary security measure. One fellow spoke to Rutt through the open window, the second stood guard and the third proceeded to check under the car with an oversized dentist type mirror. It was then that Rutt boldly asked about her bomb in the boot. She wanted to know why they were only checking the underneath of the car when she could easily conceal a bomb in the boot of her car. The fellow chatting through the window almost smirked but refused to make further comment. He just waved us through and we went shopping. Lauren and I couldn't believe Rutt's boldness. It still makes me giggle.

As a side note, our boot did get checked another time but they failed to check under the car. Strange!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The guessing game...

School lunch = kyushoku.
Now as a whole I am so grateful for kyushoku. Most days I am starving and I am happy for the food that magically appears infront of me at exactly 12.40.
Mmmm, today however was another story. Lunch arrived and the dish that caught my eye is pictured to the left. There happened to be, not a single English teacher in the room with whom I could have a private and quiet chat about the food. Rather than make a fuss and ask in Japanese I just scrutinised it and as a last resort, took a bite. I could see that it contained small pieces of mandarine but the rest was a mystery to my eyes. After tasting I can tell you it was pineapple and chunks of sweet potato. Held together with a puree of mash potato. Sounds nice? I was starving so I ate it but I wouldn't say it was nice!

As a side note - Lunch was carb overload today. Bread, potato and udon noodles. I hope the kids are going out for a run afterwards. Me? I didn't eat the bread.


Oh dear, I think I really am turning Japanese. I fell fully asleep at school yesterday. I often feel sleepy at this particular school. The only thing I can put it down to is the heater in the teachers' room. It isn't a kero heater either. Anyway, after my eyes getting unbearably heavy, I put my head down and fell asleep. I woke up 15 minutes later when a teacher entered the room rather noisily. Great power nap. I was however, surprised at myself!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Missing the kids!

I suddenly realised that enough time has been devoted to gross pigs heads on my blog. Well enough time where they are the first thing you see. Time for a change. This is the divine Milla (or Princess George or Mill Bill). She is my god daughter. Her brother AJ is my god son (try explaining that concept to anyone Japanese). Milla is now two years old. The above picture is her trying to cool off in the unseasonably scorching Melbourne summer. See you in July Mill Bill.

Here is another sneaky shot...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Food you could try if you want to!

Pork anyone?
Can you guess what this is? Here is a hint... cluck, cluck, cluck
From the garden!
From the kitchen. These cockroaches were easily as long as my palm. More than a mouthful. Tried to convince Lauren to try them. She wouldn't have a bar of it.
The weird looking jack fruit tree. Fruit is about as big as a soccer ball.
A segment from inside a jack fruit. Slght taste of banana. I liked it. Lauren said it was so so (she doesn't eat bananas)
Some kind of fresh tamarind. Beware of the tamarind. It is an essential ingredient to some thai food and you just can't leave it out. Adds to the delicious flavour. We tried dried, sugared tamarind that was okay but be careful of tamarind sorbet. The servers in the shop went into fits of laughter as we tried taste samples. YUCK!
It was the right season for green mango. You can see the mangos stacked up on the right. The bags on the left, contain green mango slices and lots of chilli. I wanted to try it but my thai friend said not to bother.

Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking

In Chiang Mai we decide to do a whole day cooking school. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. We searched and searched the internet for a school that sounded good. We ended up going to Thai Farm Cooking School. They picked us up from our hotel, took us to a local market and then drove us out of town to their organic farm. What a day. I recommend it to everyone. The link for the school is at the end of this post.
Raw red curry. The ingredients that is. Thai Ginseng, two big dried chilli's (the red chilli's make it a red curry), three shallots, two cloves of garlic, lemon grass and a kaffier lime leaf. All finely chopped and placed into a mortar ready for pounding.
The paste after arm breaking pounding. I had to pound for about 10 minutes. The most physical activity for the whole day.
Green pawpaw salad. Divinely spicy and fresh. Again, everything into the mortar.
The finished three course meal with red jasmine rice. Thai red curry with chicken, chicken with cashews and green pawpaw salad. Yum. Too much food though.
After the meal, we made dessert. Oh my goodness. YUM. Mango with sweet sticky rice. I will make this at home for sure!

Interesting Characters

The lovely gardening ladies at the Teak Mansion. Stopping for well earned rest. They are giggling because they can't believe that someone wanted to take their photo.
"You buy!" Selling small sweet bananas at the floating market. The Thais sure know how to smile.
A bowl full of eggs. Sorting the yolks from the whites by hand. Again a giggle due to the photo being taken. This is one of my favouites. The yolks are then mixed with other sweet ingredients and made into sweets resembling gnocci pasta. Throughout the entire process, bees were attracted to the sweetness. They would fly around and drown in the mixture. Needless to say, I wouldn't eat anything here!
Our New Years Tuk Tuk driver. What a character. I loved being on the zippy fast tuk tuks. Lots of fun. Living life on the edge.
This little boy belongs to the Badong Tribe, better knows as the Long Necked Karen Tribe. Only the ladies wear the rings. We are playing peek-a-boo through the scarves made by his mother. He is very cute but very grubby!

Local transport. Most workers travel to and from work in the back of a ute or truck. As many people as possible are usually jammed into the space. These guys are probably returning from a holiday. They were so 'genki'. I rolled down my window to take this shot and they got even more excited. One of them decied to try out his English. "Hello, hello. My name is Johnny. I love you." Of course I told him that I loved him too. What else could I say?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Wat Pho

The Imperial Palace

The finer detail.
The even finer detail.

The Floating Markets


The BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI. Wow. You actually get to walk across this bridge at your leisure. Problem is, it is a train bridge. Just step to the sides and balance precariously over the river when a train comes chugging through.
The train ride on the Death Railway. Very moving and relaxing at the same time. Nice way to travel. Amazing structures. Quite frightening when you think of the blood, sweat, tears and death that went into the construction of the whole thing.

Koh Chang anyone? WONDERFUL!

Some images of Buddha

The day I almost died on an elephant

This photo portrays a calm me riding an elephant. I am sitting across its neck. Do you notice how relaxed I seem according to my hand? Mere seconds later, our hungry beast, spotted a delicious looking banana tree. Problem being that said banana tree was down a steep sided valley. Ask Lauren what I sound like terrified. I usually control my emotions pretty well but if you are passing by that way, you may still hear shrill calls of "no, no, no" still audible in the air.
Fantastic day and what a way to get the adrenaline going!

Wat Phra Borommathat Doi Suthep

Better know simply as DOI SUTHEP

A blessing bracelet from a Monk and yellow offering candles

The Fire Worshipper's Dance

Saturday, January 07, 2006


So today is the last day of our trip and we are both supposed to be on a tour to Ayuthaya. I have been looking forward to the trip. Lots of photo opportunities. Oh well, I will have to live through Lauren. She is there now and I am chilling out at my friends. This morning when I was getting ready, my tummy took over. That is all that needs to be said, except I have now slept roughly 6 more hours. Feeling much better.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

More important news than THAILAND

I want to blog about Thailand but really what is the point without photos. I will save that job until I return to Japan so please wait.

BIGGER NEWS ANYWAY... A huge, happy, wonderful CONGRATULATIONS to my younger sister and her boyfriend (I guess he is now fiance) for getting engaged. I was so happy at the news that a tear fell from my eye. People who know me, know it takes big emotion to get tears. More news and a photo soon.

Lots of love Anna and Tino. As you said Anna, FINALLY!