Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday: Bicycle III - I still know that you still know what I did last Saturday

Remember the nice Myanmar man that gave me a free bike, the same bike whose tire exploded last Saturday?
Well today he offered to fix it! Seriously, too nice.

So we (mostly he) took the wheel apart, and after finding out that the tire is way beyond repair (the air chamber had a 4-5 cm rip in it), we decided to just replace the wheel.
As you might already know, disposing of trash here is no easy matter, especially bulky trash, like a broken bicycle for example? So people just leave these bicycles near the garbage collection spots, and people who need spare parts (me) can scavenge them there lol.

Didn't take me long to find myself a spanking new wheel. And we were done with that issue along with the chain. I was good to go.
One problem. It's raining, and I'm in Sooen (or whatever the stupid dorms are called... can never remember that name), which is a half hour ride from where I live. And it snowed a little teeny tiny bit in the morning (while I was sprinting to uni with friend living in same building and as late as I was haha), so it's kinda cold lol.

Sapporo TV station on the way home:


25 minutes or so later, finally made it home. Must tell you, with no hat or gloves, not a very pleasant experience haha. Bright side is that, after you start thawing, and feeling returns to the fingers and face, it feels warm and fuzzy! Oh and it's great exercise! My thighs hardly fit in my toyght jeans for like 2 minutes after getting off lol.

As a side note to my friends in za mozerland, I'm uploading for 120kB/s here, that's like 10 times faster than my download back home lol (hi Joujou sup?). Not that I'm uploading or downloading any torrents or anything of the kind of course...

Oooh! Bird!

Guess what time it is! Time to pee!

OK NOW guess what time it is! Blog update time mmmhmm.
So never got to writing about last Sunday.

As many of youz know, and some do not, I am a firm believer that the biggest problem facing religions around the world, is the clergy. *TAM TAM TAAAAAAAM*!
However, every once in a while, someone comes along and proves me wrong (partly wrong at least). Someone like Father Manfred. Father Manfred came from Germany to Japan 43 years ago, that would be 16 years before I was born lol, and is still going at it with a lot of passion, compassion and love.


You see Father Manfred believes the world is just a bigger version of this bus:


We're all in this journey together. Might as well make it a pleasant one :D Reminds me a lot of my grandfather, but that would be a nice subject for another post (or 30 hehe).
Off to Bibai (north of Sapporo)!

First stop: Tsukigata Kabato Museum.


This museum was originally a prison for political prisoners during the Meiji Restoration period. This was around the time when the shogunate decided to extend the Japanese reach to the island now known as Hokkaido for several reasons. This is where the aforementioned prisoners come into the play. They were exiled up north because of the severe weather (yes...) and to build the infrastructure needed to cultivate the lands.


The prison cemetery, where people offer thanks to the prisoners who built what eventually became the roads we use today. Yes, learned a couple things today, very important stuff too, like the fact that I like ginger ale!
Couldn't take photos inside, and I didn't secretly take a couple photos, and their quality didn't turn out really crappy coz of the lighting, the reflection on the wooden floors (so pretty are the wooden floors and walls...).

This wasn't taken inside.


Nor was this (cedar tree found buried).


Second stop, beautiful lake with some pretty swans. Oh and FOODz!


Coolest stairs ever! Donno why. They just are! Mmkay?


Za lake.


Ate our sammiches in a nice and big shack thingie with no walls, so had to put up plastic curtains to stop the wind that really slices you to pieces... Prisoners could probably only escape 2-3 months a year and still have above 20% chance of survival... Sandwiches and hot rice (and curry and stuffs) were welcome, but no tea for me, apparently I have what Japanese call "cat's tongue", which means I f**kin hate hot drinks!

BIRDY NUM NUM!


Not the smartest of creatures, but perrrty! And they look amazing when they land (and fly it would seem), too bad didn't have camera out when it happened.

Strange pink building, this one's for you Dina :D (check out her blog it's also about life in Japan and really cool).


Final stop, and highlight of the day, Miyajima Luma lake. Seriously. Wow.
You see a lot of birds migrate north this time of the year, I don't blame them, who would ever be happy with warmth and sunshine?! Again, not the smartest of creatures hehe. So where we were is the final pit stop before they reach their destination. They stop here to eat the remaining grains in the rice fields. Apparently there were around 30,000 or so, and at night, most of them sleep in this lake, to avoid predators. Unfortunately, when around so many birds, this is bound to happen :)


Truly a marvelous sight.


Now some people say I have a very short attention span, and that I get easily distrac... ooh look a bird! Doh!


They CAAAME... from... BEHIIIIND!!

video

I blame my couz Imad for this... must... resist... urge... to link... video...

video

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yum yum: part III

As usual, scents and aromas are bountiful in Sapporo eki (station), and today, the ice cream shop got the better of me, and this happened:


Yum yum.
But of course that is no dinner and so at 9 (ahh so nice to be cheap haha), I got myself some great half priced makis, so a bit more than 2$ for all this:


And found myself getting (and eating of course!) the following:


I still have no idea what it is. The guy there saw me looking at them and said some stuff in Japanese, including "oishi", which is the only thing I understood, and means tasty haha. My kind of word! I'm guessing it's something pickled with chilly or some other spice (it's kind of hot). All in all I'm happy with dinner :)
Hopefully someone reading this might be able to enlighten me on what it is I eateded!

Random cool stuff: part III

So been meaning to write about this for a while now, but keep procrastinating (familiar with that term Mules?).

So I find this really interesting, but then again I am rather easy to amuse.
I noticed this with a couple of our Japanese teacher: they write Latin characters differently than we do.
One example of this is writing the "o" clockwise. This is especially weird for French-writing people, since to link the "o" with the next character it is more natural to write it counterclockwise.
Another example is dotting the "i"s and crossing the "t"s before actually writing the letters. This explains why I tend to write the う and the え in a weird way, by starting with the bottom part.
Et voila. I just find it intriguing.

Edit: nearly forgot! Below is a photograph of the enemy! Please be advised that the following photos contain heated and very hard subjects... View with discretion...


F**kin hate these radiators... I'm stacking laundry faster than in Lebanon coz of the heat inside each and every building. Made the mistake of waiting a week to do the laundry, and now I've been drying all the laundry for 2 days. Dryer's useless, or I donno how to use it. In my defense my friend who has been living here for a while, and can actually read what's written on the buttons, as opposed to me who just chooses according to the color of the day, also says the dryer's useless. Kk thx.

Saturday: Bicycle II - The Revenge

Saturday! Woke up and went shopping for repair materials! Oil for wheels and pump for wheels (the pumps here are small compressed gas tubes! You just put it in the small "bazbouz" (ya sorry donno any other word for it...) and it just blows the tires in a second). Took my bike, put the beer in the front basket (there are some advantages to these girly bikes after all), and got on my way to Victoria's birthday! Now Victoria's a girl, so we can't ask her which birthday it is hehe.

Anyhoo, half way there, I was crossing an intersection, with another dozen or so people, when suddenly there was this loud pop, and everyone nearly shit their pants haha. Priceless to see their faces, until I realized that all these faces were looking at me... good thing I had just shaved :P turns out my wheel just decided to explode... you see two blocks before that, a policeman stopped me and started blabbering something in Japanese, to which I just smiled. Turns out he was telling me to turn on the lamp that I have but don't know how to use hehe. Noticing I had no idea what he was talking about, he was nice enough to click it on for me (albeit after a bit of struggling with it). It basically rubs on the wheel, and just converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy, which lights the bulb. Seeing that the bike wasn't in the greatest shape, this mechanism was making a loud rasping noise, which was really annoying and quite scary. I don't know if it had anything to do with it, but 20 meters or so after I turned it back off, the wheel exploded.

20 minutes of pushing the bike after, I met my friends waiting for me so we can go together. Late again hehe.


So the people you see now are the non Russian speaking section (well except for the lovely ladies on the sides... and the birthday girl who's standing in the middle).


And the rest (plus 2 more that came afterwards), the Russian speaking section, where I found myself sitting. Depleted my Russian repertoire in less than 5 seconds and just waited for translation from Alex whenever someone made a funny joke hehe. Masha помощь needed!
After some cake and beer and laughter with my new Tovarish, it was time for Karaoke!

Very very strange these people they are...
So this place is 7 or 8 floors, consisting solely of Karaoke rooms...


This is the 5th floor, each door leads to a different soundproof room. Each room has its own size. You rent out the room by half hour, hour or for the whole evening. The evening costs something like 15-20$ for open drinks and singing.
As for the selection, they have EVERYTHING! I should've checked for Haifa or Amro Diab, coz they had Korean songs, Chinese songs, most of Iron Maiden songs, even Judas Priest (the fact that you haven't heard of them is proof of the wide array of songs they have haha).
There are 2 touch screens you use to search by title or artist name, choose a song and queue it. Very awesome. But a couple hours in a closed karaoke booth... not my cup of tea. Although I must say it is very good Hiragana practice!

Image quality is crappy. But colors are funky heh.


Met Shoma-san who was also celebrating his bday (also lives in our building along with most of the people that were with him).


Also took a video but miserably failed at attempt to play commentator, so not posting it :P
After that made a big ass group and walked back home. Fun stuff!

Friday: Bicycle I - The Beginning

Where to start!?

The bad thing about being as lazy as me, is that when I DO come to update, so much has happened that I have no idea where to start, and I end up forgetting so much hehe. Ah well not to fret. Not to fret.

So. Where to begin? OK bicycle! So no photos of aforementioned bicycle, reason for that is... OK just chill I'll get to that in due time... sheesh...
So my very very nice classmate from Myanmar asked her equally nice teacher (also from Myanmar) to give me a bicycle someone left behind. She heard me saying I was gonna buy a used one and just went without telling me and asked for one. Really nice.
So got my new (again, new might not be the best choice of words) bicycle Friday evening, and rode it to Aiman's place for horror night (by horror I mean supreme silliness and laughing).

At 5 AM, got on my bike, that squeaks, has a somewhat loose chain that slips occasionally on the gear cogs, took out my map and rode back home.
On the way home, golf course:

Toyohira river (me thinks hehe) after which the region I live in is called:


Other side of bridge, nice view:


Can't say it wasn't a great way to end/start the day, especially since it's just so easy to follow the map and get where you want in this city!
Just like in Beirut: the first turn after the second bank on the main road? Ya NOT that one! The one after it... then you keep going till you see a big pothole in the middle of the road...
Honya honya.

Friday, April 23, 2010

So have been quite busy leading to lack of updates.
This past week I've studied more than ever! (I know that's not really saying much but still haha).
Basically Japanese from 8:45 (if I'm not late that is) to 14:30, then studying for the Master's entrance exams until around 22:00. It's all Mathematics, and it's just been so long since I've done any Differencial Equations or Linear Algebra... and worse is the Machine Learning and stuff I've never taken before hehe. So learning from the exam and the internet. And the LIBRARY!

The reason that last word was all in upper case, is that there really is something strange about libraries in universities in Japan. I say universities not Hokkudai (my uni) because Dina has also experienced this. The library has an aura, so strong and demanding that it just makes you WANT to study! ME! Seriously!
I'll try to take a photo (without flash of course because I really really don't wanna bother anyone hehe). But I'm sure the photo won't really convey the feeling very well.

Other than that, last night there was a birthday (tea) party in the kitchen on my floor. WILD! Woohoo! So I just got home, dropped my 40$ worth of liquids (gotta have the liquids, that includes milk, juice and last but not least, beer! Oh and softener for the laundry hehe), and went the kitchen and chatted away until 1 in the morning...

Today invited to a Horror night at a friend's hehe. Telling horror stories in the candlelight, watching a horror movie, you know, the usual... Just in case I can't tomorrow, or am too lazy ;) I'll just put plans here for tomorrow night. Going out to birthday party, then the EVER FAMOUS KARAOKE haha. Let's see what's the big deal about it here.
And Sunday going on a trip with local version of "shabibet el ma7abba" or something hehe. Don't laugh... Seems there's this really cool priest that organizes these trips so that people meet each other and have a good time, which is really cool. So going to some museum and then bird watching I think? You know, birds? They don't shoot them on sight here... strange...

In other unrelated news, since I got an iPhone (YA!), my number by the way is: 0081 80 4046 9719 , spent a good couple hours trying to install iTunes on the damn laptop, only to get error messages in Japanese. Finally managed to understand that it has something to do with my machine being 64-bit (although I was downloading the 64-bit installer... but forums said there was some issue with iTunesa and 64-bit Windows 7, but it eventually worked donno why, I was probably just clicking on the wrong link or something).
So anyway the point is that I got so pissed off and finally decided to finally install the English language pack for Windows... I must say... it feels frikkin GREAT to be able to understand my menus/buttons/messages without having to [painfully] slowly read it in Japanese and sometimes extrapolate to understand what the hell this and that means...

Other than that, it's still really cold outside, but Spring is finally here, and so I'm putting up some photos of a little tiny section of the campus I was walking through today, and a little video of the stream of water that goes through it (there were ducks there two days ago but I guess the rain scared em off for now hehe... wusses).

The last remnants of snow.


Nothing beats the cool breeze with the sound of running water from the nearby stream.


The source of water on the right side.


Small video of area in previous 2 photos. Very cool. I think I'm in the right place, cold and peaceful? YA! (snowboarding this weekend isn't gonna happen though, since it's just too expensive to go for less than at least a couple days to the only mountain still open for snowboarding).

video

Some random (and quite strange) people giving out some packages to older ladies in the building that has the subway/train/department stores/movies.

Again we see the Japanese efficiency. The guys giving out packages take turns coming back to this table and restocking lol.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

iPhone

Vaio meet iPhone:


iPhone meet Vaio.
Dina meet Hello Kitty (I'm sure you already saw them but still lol).

(This has been in drafts for a week or so hehe).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yum yum: part II - The Beginning and The End

For those who remember, I had mentioned in a previous post that my teacher -Nakamura-sensei - invited me to dinner, and there was a 15 minute+ wait in line, so we went somewhere else.

Well today I thought hmm let me go check it out.
This time however, didn't take the escalators for 8 floors... took the elevator, which luckily for my lazy ass, turned out to be right at the restaurant [The Buffet] entrance yay! So far so good :)
More good news: no line.
Was greeted and shown in, and my first impression was... wow. (I thought I had taken more photos of the decor but it seems I didn't... hunger does that to me) So the place is at the same time very classy and very casual, so you feel you're in a nice restaurant, but are still really comfortable.

It wasn't until I reached the section furthest in, where I sat, that I was really amazed by the beauty of The Buffet. The ceiling is at least 4 stories high, and what makes that even better, is that most of the space is taken by huge windows, with a gorgeous view of a big section of downtown Sapporo from the 8th floor. Now 8th floor isn't much in itself, but there aren't many tall buildings here anyway so the view is mostly unobstructed.




















Now to the important part, the food. So basically it's an open buffet, so yes, it's "all you can eat"! And naturally, I took advantage of that very fact lol. You can have open alcohol for around 12$, but I just went for open juice (2$) which, I know now, was a mistake hehe; I barely even finished one glass since I don't really drink with my food. You could easily not order juice and just get some if you want, which really shows how honest Japanese people are. I love that.

First stop, the sushi (and other stuff) stand. Not a very wide array of items, but what's there tastes great, and is very fresh. Also to note is the size of the sushi was just right. Not too big, but big enough :)


There's a big bar. I was sitting right on the other side.


There are a lot of wine bottles (probably "meh" wine but still).


The salad bar.


The pasta\pizza\bread section. This is one big continuous counter, and has lots of other sections, which I didn't photograph because I wanted to.. well.. eat!


Oh and let us not forget, the dessert section!


So round 1: salmon, tuna and scallops sushi! Pizza (unexpectantly really good), potato salas (?), some Japanese salad, green salad with amazing dressing (don't know what exactly allz I know is that there's sesame seeds in it which rocks) and pomegranate juice.


Round 2: more pizza (1 slice pepperoni and 1 slice hot dog), some Chinese dish that has meat balls and omelet in it with sweet and sour sauce (or something like that haha, important thing is that very tasty) and last but definitely not least, spaghetti with clams in it!


The above-mentioned spaghetti.


A couple extra plates of sushi between rounds :P
Round 3: Chinese foodz: noodles with vegetables, chicken dish and another "I have no idea" dish that tasted great. Good enough by my book lol.


Round 4: time for dessert haha. First proper dessert I have here! (not counting chocolate chip cookies and "tamer" of course hehe) so going clockwise from the top right corner, FRESH lichees stuffed with sweet bean paste (ouch good stuff), none of that canned crap, more lichee with more beans (I think lol), mango dessert, creme caramel, fresh lichee (you crack it open and eat it mmm...) and pineapple, and finally something white and tasty is all I can say lol. As you can see, am not a dessert person.


Round 5: lol yes there's more! Haha kinda ate a lot... so ICE CREAM! I have some iiiice creeaam... and you didn't geeet noooone... coz you're on the weellfaaaare. So ya vanilla, orange, berries and chocolate mint! And baby banana!

So full...
Should've taken a photo of all the empty plates haha.
Well anyway, the meal coz quite a lot, but was well worth it, especially if you take into account the actual cost of all the food I ate lol. Paid something like 24$ though, but I'm happy :D

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yum yum: part I

Since food is such an important issue, decided to start posts just for... you guessed it: FOOD!
And today's dish: Uni Tekka Don (place is called The Don)


So basically I pass by this place everyday on my way to the subway. As I had explained before, the subway is under the biggest building in Sapporo. This building has 4 huge ass mofo department stores (each one 10 stories high I think), the movie theaters and of course the train station! So the basement (just above the subway) is the food floor muahahaha.


But I digress... as you can see, as soon as you order, they bring you tea in an amazingly cute (no I'm not gay it's just really cool) tea cup. I ordered a main dish of raw tuna and urchins, with rice, sea weed and something green that looks like "ba2leh", but with smaller leaves. This comes with a side order of cabbage salad, and miso soup.
The cute matching little plate has wasabe! You put soy sauce on top and pour the mix onto the main dish, ITTADAKKIMASU!


video

Random cool stuff: part II


So as the title suggests, I'll be posting random cool stuff in these posts.
Two subjects today, both of which are very relevant to us Lebanese!

Today's first subject: ROAD WORKS! OMFG!


Please notice the section on the right, this took around 10-15 minutes.
The image below better illustrates how it all happens.


Basically, they put the asphalt, the guy in the back with the blowtorch thingy heats it up, and the guy with the brush thingy flattens it, eh voila! A little traffic is in order, but it's not rush hour, and anyway, cars are rather scarce relatively to the population. Exactly like in Lebanon!

Today's second subject:


Awesome. Good to see this stuff happens here quite often too haha.