Spring Forward

Konnichiwa friends!
Well, there isn’t actually daylight savings in Japan, but the title felt good. Springing forward into good things! February and March have been really busy. This post will be about a trip to Kyoto, Malaysia and a few things in between. I will do a separate post on the Philippines 🙂

In February I took three trips (wow!). Our long weekend included a lovely ride to Kyoto. We’ve actually been a few times to Kyoto, but always driving through rather than staying over. So we thought this time we would hang out a bit. Get to know the city a bit more. It’s a great train ride because its, 1) fast and 2) cheap. The bullet train only takes about 35 minutes or so from Nagoya so it makes good time. Our day started out with me getting my screen fixed on my phone at a little place downtown…luckily it worked…and was waaaay cheaper than Apple or Docomo (cell phone store). Actually, they wanted me to get a new phone which was about $600…and sign a new contract, blah blah blah. You know the story. It’s the same story over here! We had a great breakfast and leisurely made our way to Kyoto. It was a busy trip though because we were only staying 1 night. We got to our hotel, in the heart of the geisha district (fingers crossed we would see one later that night) and started out to the bamboo forest. That was a long train ride/walk but worth it. It was beautiful seeing the sun streaming through the leaves and just starting to warm up enough to enjoy the cool walk outside in the sun.

 

As we headed out to find food for the evening meal, I had this urge to walk through the old geisha district behind our hotel. We knew if we wanted to see a real geisha we had to go just before sundown as she prepares to go our for the evening’s entertainment. We start walking, even though I am famished, and I see a crowd up ahead. And wouldn’t you know…a geisha was getting into a fancy car! Well, lucky for us she had trouble getting into the fancy car due to her large headpiece because we were able to catch up and watch. Paul scooted around to the front to take a picture and I just stood by the trunk, just observing. Hopefully not in a creepy way…I did feel bad for the girl. At least I wasn’t one screaming at her like I was paparazzi–I have more class than that. Just more of a quiet observer. Just in awe of being to see the elusive geisha on the prowl. I know it sounds cliche, or like an animal planet documentary, but apparently sightings of these ghostly women are rare-ish. It’s all about timing and luck. She finally got in the car and they drove off. I skipped off to find food very happy indeed.

For dinner we found a small pub that had excellent beer and food. I had a proper meat pie and it was perfect! We headed out the next day after finding a yummy coffee shop who roasts their own beans. It’s fascinating talking coffee with people who know their craft. Beans were pretty good-I’ve had better. It’s probably the most delicious cup of coffee in Kyoto though…

Fast forward to….Saturday. Kyoto was Thursday/Friday. Saturday Sheila and I tried our hands at crafting bowls and the like from local clay in the traditional Japanese way. After the demo we basically had 2 hours to create as many pieces as possible. That was so cool! We chose our clay (the base colour depended on where it came from). I chose a reddish clay from Set0-mostly because the other pottery pieces I own were made in, and bought from, Seto, so I thought I’d make some complementary pieces to the ones I have already. Same with the glaze I chose…a nice bluish colour to go with the reddish clay. You can see in the pictures my bowls-they don’t look very red do they? I am pretty sure I chose the red clay from Seto…maybe not? Maybe it turns reddish when fired? Anyway, she said give her 2 months and she would deliver them to me. I can’t wait to see them! I loved working with the clay and using traditional methods (rolling logs, using special thumb/finger push/pull techniques to blend, etc). I would love to use the pottery wheel, but you have to sign up for the class which meets weekly for that one. Not sure if I have the time for that.

A couple weeks later Luci and I are boarding a plane heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We were attending a special needs conference at a school just outside of KL. I really liked KL-the weather was warm and breezy, just shy of too hot. The food was amazing, like Thai food amazing. Most people spoke English, which is a nice break from hand gesturing and broken Japanese. I’ll admit that I was really keen to just sit by the pool at the hotel…you see, it’s still really cold in Japan and I suddenly was thrust into the hot sunshine. The pool and cocktails were right there…so that’s what I did. We arrived a day early to explore. We went to get yummy street food at a place where it’s all indoors-which makes me happy. It’s the same “Street food feel” in a cleaner environment. Works for me! So many things to try-noodles and rice-coconut and beans-strange combos that worked together well! I also managed time for a massage and pedicure. All needed, all relaxing, and all the perfect way to start a weekend of conferencing things. I ended up having an interview for a school in Brazil while there, and was contacted by the school in Curacao to set up an interview. Another school contacted me from Brazil to interview…so I guess Malaysia was a good luck charm because I was very popular suddenly.

I took Luci out to Chili’s for some good ‘ol Americana food. Chili’s isn’t usually my first choice back home, but when craving the taste of home, it was perfect! I had a sangrita (yummmmy), southwestern eggrolls, and a quesadilla. She had a country fried steak, gravy and mashed potatoes and corn on the cobb…a true introduction to Southern American cuisine 🙂 I was supposed to meet a friend at the aquarium and/or meet another friend for a movie, but none of those plans worked out. I missed the last admission for the fish and my friend got caught in the rain and didn’t want to go to the movie. I ended up back at the hotel in the lobby bar sharing wine with new friends-2 bottles later…I’m not in so much of a good place when I finally go to bed. LOL-luckily the conference was over and we were heading out later the next evening. I felt find by the time we left, but it was a rough morning. There are other places in Malaysia I would have loved to visit but most were just too far for this short trip dominated by a schedule. One of my favourite parts of the conference? The cultural area where I had henna done, learned local way of painting, called batik-using this cool tool to dribble melted wax onto cloth into a pattern. You use water and oils to paint on top, and after it dries you wash the wax off and it leaves a white design in it’s place. It’s beautiful!….and tried a variety of foods. All free…as it was included in the conference.

Finally, the rest of the month has been dominated with Saturday cooking classes with Chef Steve…our school chef. We’ve made homemade pasta (charcoal or squid, pumpkin, and spinach flavoured), bread, and pastry dough. It’s been fun baking and working on methods of cooking I have never used.

A group of friends and I have started a tabletop RPG (role playing game). It’s just like a video game accept we sit around a table and tell the story on our own. I am Irisanna, the elven princess and my gaggle of friends include a halfling, a pirate and wizened elf mage. We have great fun telling stories and plotting our way around this fictional city and trying to not get into too much trouble with local authorities 🙂

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And while all this is going on, school is going well. The kids are working hard and ready for spring break…just like their teachers.
Mom and dad have announced they are moving to West Palm Beach because mom got a job (go momma!) and I accepted the job in Curacao!

Life continues to deliver surprises and I continue to relish all the new experiences and people I meet along the way. I will be sad to leave Japan, but at this point it does feel right. I wasn’t so sure when I made the choice to leave…I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. But as other pieces of this life puzzle fall into place, it does feel right. I am trying to figure out what else I want to see and do before we leave this island-I wish I could have shared her beauty with more friends in person, rather than through my eyes. Hopefully, I will have more visitors in Curacao…wait. I am sure I will. You have been warned…a calendar will be sent to you all to sign up on 🙂
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Sayonara for now!
K + P

Stay tuned for Spring Break in the Philippines!!!

 

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