Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I managed to get my bus ticket today.  I asked for the ticket, told her the day, she entered the info in the computer, everything seemed fine, and then she looked up at the calendar on the wall.  "One moment please."  No problem, I know what's going on but I keep my mouth shut.  She makes a phone call, calls over another travel agent, makes another phone call, and then tries to explain to me (in Japanese) what the problem is.  Sooooo she tells me that it is all reserved but I will have to come back tomorrow to get the actual ticket.  Then I put on my "confused gaijin" face and told her that I was going to Canada and would not be able to pick up the ticket.  Another phone call, she talks with a different travel agent, then pulls out a different phone book and makes another call.  Then she hands the phone to me:

Random women-hello?
RW-you are going to Osaka tonight so you cannot pick up your ticket tomorrow?

So I hand the phone back.  I have no idea who I talked to, but I don't care because I got my ticket.  They printed me a ticket that says Aug 29 and then crossed out the 29 and wrote 30.  Then the travel agent starts saying all sorts of things so I ask her to write them down instead.  I thank her profusely and I leave, it only took 45 minutes!  Usually it takes about 5 minutes, but I am a happy traveler!  I took the note back to school and asked one of the teachers to translate it.  It was an apology note!!!  Here I thought it was info about my ticket, but no, it was an apology for taking so long.  You just have to love the customer service in this country!!

I start my journey tonight at 11:35 from Hamada.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Only One More Day!!! YeeeeHawwwww

Tomorrow is my last day of school.  I was just talking with Kirstin on messenger and she is going to make me the 7 Layer Dip when I come to Victoria.  So now all I can think about is that dip....drooooooool! I haven't had any dip in Japan, in University we used to have parties entirely devoted to different dips.  Does that sound sad?  Well then you haven't tasted my sourdough bread bowl spinach dip, or Christine's hot artichoke dip!  Mom and I are going for Mexican food when I arrive in PR on Sat.  Ahhhhh, I can see a theme beginning to grow.  My trip home: "the summer of food".  And of course shopping.  I purposely packed very little clothes so I will have to buy new clothes!  My suitcase was whisked off to Kansai airport yesterday.  Worth every yen not to have to drag it down my stairs, on the bus, and to the airport.  It will be waiting for me at the airport when I arrive on Friday.  The Takahashi's gave me a big, heavy gift to give to Mom.  It takes up about 1/4 of my suitcase but I don't mind.  I won't say what it is because Mom may be reading this journal now.

Tomorrow after work I have to go to a travel agency in Hamada and beg for a bus ticket.  It's shit like this that really makes me hate Japan sometimes.  You can only buy bus tickets one month in advance.  So when I come back to Japan I need a bus ticket on Aug 30 that will get me from Osaka to Shimane.  So technically, the first day I can buy such a ticket is this Friday, July 30.  Welllll, I will be a little bit busy flying to China and Canada so I won't be able to buy the ticket.  If I just wait and try to get on the bus on Aug. 30 I will be shit outta luck.  These buses sell out fast!  So the big plan is to go to Hamada tomorrow and ask the travel agent (who doesn't speak English) to sell me a ticket one day early.  Wish me luck!

Monday, July 26, 2004

My Kickass Minica and Mom Posted by Hello

Mitsubishi Rocks My World

I love Hamada Heartbeat Motors.  This is where I bought my kickass Mitsubishi Minica nearly a year ago.  These guys are the definition of excellent customer service.  Let's start at the beginning....

When I bought the car they gave both my supervisor and I a box of laundry soap, a tube of toothpaste, a bottle of soy sauce, and a bunch of coupons.

When it was ready (shakken finished) they delivered it to me here at the school on a flatbed truck.  They didn't just drive it over, they put it on the big truck and pulled in front of the school and made this big deal out of it.

In the following three months they visited the school no less than 4 times to "check that everything was OK".

They stored my winter tires for me because my supervisor asked them to.

They sent me a Christmas present.  One of those fleece blankets that folds up into a pillow.  It's bright red with "Heartbeat Motors" on it!

They changed my tires from regular to winter and then back again for free, and they called to tell me when it was "time for the tire change".  Again, they came to the school, picked up my car, and had it back again within 2 hours.

They gave me a birthday present!  Some members of my immediate family didn't even send a card, but My Mitsubishi remembered.  They delivered to the school a potted flower in a nice basket in a box.  The box had a big Heartbeat Motors on the side!  It was great!

They let me in on a little secret about the insurance company.  When you turn 26 you move into a different pay category for insurance (about 20% cheaper).  Now this sounds great doesn't it?  Well the bastards at the insurance company don't tell you this!  You have to be the one to call and say, "I'm 26, give me the new rate."  Anyway, Mitsubishi told me all about this way back when I bought the car.  So when my birthday rolled around in April I knew to call the insurance company and get the new rate.

Last week I realized it was time for an oil change.  Not two days later I get this letter and coupon in the mail from Mitsubishi.  It was like they were reading my mind.  The coupon was for a FREE oil change and the letter was another apology letter for all the "troubles" the company has been going through.  These "troubles" don't affect me at all.  They have been having some problems with tires and recalls and people dieing or something like that, I don't really care, they give me presents!

So I called (when I say "I" I really mean a Japanese friend) to book an appointment for my oil change.  They came the same day!  Yes they came to the school to pick up my car for the free oil change.  Can you imagine the guys at "Mr.Lube" coming to your place of employment to pick up your car for a free oil change!!!  It was back within 2 hours even though I told them I wouldn't be needing it until the end of the day.

When he arrived to pick up the car I asked if he would also look at the tape player (it hasn't worked for a few months).  Talk about pushing your luck!!  Anyway, of course it was no problem.  Then I told him that if it needed work I didn't want to pay anything, so they should just leave it alone.  Yes, I am the cheapest Gaijin on the block!  So when he returned the car there was no English teacher around to translate for me.  I love conversations when you cannot understand  each other!  Basically, I think, he said that my tape players "engine is broken" and they will look for a used one for me and install it and then I won't have to buy a new one.  And then he spent like 5 minutes telling me about the lube and oil and engine check and all that.  Of course I didn't understand any of it.  I just stood there and smiled.  At the end I said "OK?" and he said yes, so I figure everything is OK!

Now with all this royal treatment you would probably think that I bought a nice shiny brand new car.  I remember when my Mom spent 30 grand on a new Toyota van.  She was given a basket of fruit in her hotel room and a survey to fill out, that's it.  But that was Canada!  I bought a 1993 Minica!  It's a little smaller than a Mini with the power of a hairdryer.  I really don't think they made any money off the sale.  The car was cheap.  Also,  Heartbeat Motors is in Hamada, not Gotsu.  About a 25 minute drive from my school! 

So I love Mitsubishi.



Entertaining Site

I just spent the last hour looking through Awful Plastic Surgery
One of the Japanese teachers who has very limited English came up to me to ask what I was looking at.  This man hasn't spoken to me in approximately 5 months when he asked me to explain the difference between a hawk and a falcon (WTF?).  I showed him some of the highlights, like that women who looks like a lion and of course Michael Jackson before and after pictures.  He laughed his ass off!  Totally unheard of in the teachers room!

Now I know that I AM BEING WATCHED!!!  Must censor what I do on the computer from now on!  I've come in the room before and seen people checking out my desktop background and even my messenger conversations.  I don't mind, as long as they don't mind that I am sitting here doing nothing...

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Craig and Erin in Hagi Posted by Hello

Hagi Daytrip

Yesterday Craig and his sister, Erin, and I went for a short trip to Hagi.  Hagi is an ancient samurai town in Yamaguchi prefecture.  It was HOT but we rented bikes and went exploring anyway.  It was a fun trip and it was nice to get the hell out of Shimane.  On the way back we stopped in Tsuwano but the thunder and lightening scared us off after about 45 minutes.  All day we had talked about dinner at Sushi-Zou in Hamada.  When we arrived there were about 30 people waiting!  7pm is NOT the right time to go to Sushi-Zou.  We had to wait a hour so we wasted some money at the dollar store and did PrintClub.

So now I am back at school, sitting on my ass doing nothing.  Only three more days of this and then I am off to China!!  I have a 9 hour lay-over in China before finally getting to Vancouver.  I am thinking of getting a hair cut while I am there.  It really needs to be cut and I'll have the time to kill.

The "new girl" arrives on Weds.  Her name is Eleanor and she is from London.  I have my fingers crossed that she won't mind taking care of my fish for a few weeks.  Absolutely everyone I know is traveling in Aug. so it has been a chore to find someone to look after little Genki.  I will have to suck up to her.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Grrrrrrr Posted by Hello

My ass hurts

I shouldn't really complain,  I'm in an air conditioned room.  But still, arggghhhhh there is only so much websurfing one person can do in a day!  I already took off for an hour and a half today, would they notice if I took half a day?  I tend to leave early too.  Don't want to push my luck and have someone mention something.  I just looked at my friend Amy's pictures from her weekend trip to Okinawa.  It looks really nice but Japan is just so dam expensive, I think I would rather go a little further, stay longer, and spend less money.  Ah hell, what am I talking about?  I'm just jealous, I spent the weekend hanging out around here.  It was fun though.   Last night Rebecca left for good.  I'm going to miss her but I'm interested to see what her replacement is like.  He's from Ireland (yum!).  I'm outta here in less than a week!  Wahooooo