Saturday, September 10, 2011

I have a following?!!?!?

I was about to shut down my blog until I received a report from our friends at Google, apparently my little blog has had over 3000 hits.  I immediately thought that it was my Mom, but even those numbers are high for her.  And then it dawned on me, I have a stalker!  How exciting…I don’t know your name but you have shown true dedication, welcome to the blog.  

This summer I was introduced to Hanabi aka Fireworks.  Like everything in Japan, if you’re going to do something, do it right.

Step #1  Put on yourYukata (I am now a proud owner)
Step #2  Pack a picnic...which I’m starting to realize is code for cooler
Step #3  Sit back and enjoy the show 
Step #4  Hope the next day is a Saturday

Here are a few pictures...oddly enough I don't have any pictures of the fireworks.  You'll have to come see them for yourself, they are truly spectacular. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Bali report card is in!

Warning:  Not everyone is going to agree with me.  For those of you that have never been to Bali, I hope that my review will help prioritize future travel.


Food: C
Beaches: C
Fun: A++
Nature:  B
Resort:  A+
Other:  C
Travel buddy:  jury is still out 

My views unfiltered: 
The lack infrastructure is destroying everything beautiful in Bali.  New hotels are popping up all over the island, waste is being dumped into the ocean and back alleys are filled with garbage.  While everything looks good on the outside, behind the fancy hotels, restaurants and clubs it's a different story.  Bali is often referred to North America’s Mexico…

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great things about Bali but I’m just not sure that its worth the trip from North America. 

One thing that I love about Asia is that everything fits on a scooter…pigs, donut shop, family of 4 (its hard to see the little baby), etc.  


A few highlights from Bali...


Private plunge pools are made for cannonballs!! 

You know when you have too much time on your hands...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I’m learning more than just Japanese…

My Japanese instructor is elderly lady who gets embarrassed when I ask her how to say things like “I have a hangover” in Japanese.   So the last thing that I expected to learn from her is that the secret to a successful marriage is “secret trips”.  When she saw the look of disbelief on my face she started to giggle.  I had so many questions and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the mentor that I have been waiting for.

Secret trips…I’m sold but I need more details!  My newly appointed mentor informs me that she has been taking secret trips for years, and we are not just talking little weekend getaways, she has been to London, Australia, Korea, Indonesia, etc.   Here’s how it works, the wives tell their husbands that they are travelling in Japan (they even give them a fake itinerary), and because they manage the finances they don’t need to worry about credit cards statements, etc.  Guilt doesn’t seem to be a concern, she laughs as she tells me that she told her husband that she wanted to go to Sir Lanka, so there’s no need to tell him that she’s actually going.  At this point I want to start taking notes, where did this lady come from?   Dad, it might be worthwhile doing a quick scan through Mom’s passport, I’m not so sure about her “nursing reunions”.

While I’m not on a secret trip, I am currently enroute from Singapore to Bali.

Good-bye reality, hello Bali! 

(I wrote this blog a couple weeks ago, Bali blog coming soon)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I’m alive!!!

I know that it has been a while since my last update, so let’s get started.  One thing that I have come to love about living in Japan is the attention to detail in food, transportation and my favourite dry cleaning.   This week I had an experience that could have used a little less detail, I had my first Doctors appointment.  Let’s just say that I have been closer to my Doctor than some boyfriends.  To my ex’s reading…please don’t take it personally, the Doctor just said all the right things.   Speaking of details, I think that’s enough for now. 

Right now the hot topic in Japan is how to reduce power consumption by 20%.  We have received “guidance” from the Japanese government to set our thermostat at 28 (for my US readers that’s 82F) aka hot!  The only time I feel comfortable in that kind of heat is when I’m sitting by a pool, being served drinks by someone named Yuan.   I am all for cutting back but this week they crossed a line!  I came home to find out that my heated toilet seat had been turned off, no notice, nothing!

This picture is for Penny, this is my stove that took me three days to figure out.  Take a good look and call me if you have any suggestions....don't worry it speaks Japanese.

Thank you all for your messages, without giving too much away on a public blog, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. 

Lots of love from Tokyo…

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dear Mother Nature…

Didn’t you get the memo?  Nap time is Saturday afternoon from 1- 2ish.  If you could take a quake break during that time, it would be greatly appreciated.  Yours truly, Ginger

I know that my blog has been a little slow, don’t worry, it’s for a good reason.  This week I welcomed my first Tokyo visitors, Chiyo Itoh and Steve Penner aka The Itoh’s.  Not only is it great to see old friends, it’s really great to see old friends that speak Japanese.  I should clarify, Chiyo speaks Japanese, while Steve has adopted a very special dialect that only he can understand.  It has been a week filled amazing food, loads of sake and creepy smoky bars that oddly enough seem way less creepy when you’re walking out at 4am.

While we are on the topic of creepy, there’s something that I need to ask.  I realize that this is probably not the best forum but I can’t stay quiet any longer.  What is it with creepy Western men in Asia??  These men look like they haven’t been to a gym since 1965, forgot to shower in 2010 and are with girls young enough to be their daughter.  Every time I see this, I want to be sick.  Then I want to go over to the girl and ask, where do you think this will lead?  How did you get into this mess?  What’s your back up plan?  I don’t care how strong the sake is here, trust me, it’s not that strong.  Thankfully my life experiences are finally starting to pay off.  When I was in Toronto, I tried to break up a prosatution ring and set a girl free.  I think Adrienne and Shar will both agree that it wasn’t that successful and I’m pretty sure that my methods would not be welcome in Asia.  Lesson learned…never mess with a Madam and her girls.  

Well…I said it, I’m pretty sure that my Mom will be calling any minute to tell me to get on the next plane home or to clean up my blog.  

For those of you that don't know it's Golden Week in Japan!!  Which means that I'm celebrating a two day work week.  I'm going to be exploring parts of Japan, you wouldn't believe the deal I found on a little B&B in the Fukushima prefecture. 

Good-bye to The Itoh’s.  GT’s..come back soon!  xo

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This blog is about to get real, real boring…

I know that you have come to expect the constant excitement from the quakes but it looks like those days are coming to an end.  We had one very small quake this weekend and I only knew that it was happening because they stopped the trains.  I know some of you are in total shock right now and it’s not from the quake.  Yes it’s true, I found public transit!  I acutally bought a pass, which means there are more trips in my future.  I often worry about Toronto’s cab industry and how it is surviving without me.  I picture empty cabs waiting outside my condo at 311 hoping I’ll return.          

So back to this public transit business, why, why, why?  This weekend I met up with some friends to experience my first Cherry Blossoms celebration.  I must say that they do a lot of things well in Japan and celebrating Cherry Blossoms is certainly one of them.  Everyone brings food and excessive amounts of booze.  One guy arrived carrying more than his weight in wine, as you can imagine we hit it off.  What was supposed to be lunch quickly turned into dinner, we spent hours underneath cherry blossom trees eating, drinking and depending on your intoxication level playing games.  

It looks like this could be a year of celebrations.  Japan has more national holidays than any other country.  A few of my favourites are Marine Day on July 18th, Respect for the Aged Day on Sept 19th and how could we not celebrate Greenery Day on May 4th.  

As the weekend comes to and end, it’s hard to believe that I arrived in Japan 6 weeks ago, time flies…


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

3 quakes in 3 days…

It’s actually closer to 4 or 5 quakes...we just had another and I slept through one Sunday night.
The good news is that every quake in Tokyo has been less than a 4.  As my sister said, anything less than a 6 isn’t worth mentioning.  And since she wasn’t just referring to quakes, mentioning my date is completely off the table.
I was picking up some groceries last night when we were interrupted by an announcement.  I could tell from everyone’s reaction that it wasn’t good news.  Finally an English message “an earth quake will be arriving shortly”, they made it sound so pleasant I was almost looking forward to it.  Realizing that I was in the wrong section for a quake, I quickly headed over to produce, flying broccoli doesn’t scare me.
Since March 11th, my office seems to have found its quake humour.   This afternoon a guy said that he was “heading out for a fresh dose of radiation and if I miss our 3:00pm I’m probably stuck in the elevator from a quake.”  Oh quake humour…gets ya every time.  
For now, I’ll keep shaking things up in Tokyo, while actively looking at flights to Bali.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On the road again…

On Wednesday, March 31st I arrived in TO and things picked up right where we left off.   Since I had only been in Tokyo for a month, nobody could figure out if we were back on the farewell tour or kicking off the welcome back fiesta.  Whatever it was…it was 4 amazing days and nights.  Great seeing everyone!!  

After a whirlwind trip through TO, I kicked off a 5 city/5 days US tour.  Although this may sound glamorous, I can tell you that you didn’t miss much in Oklahoma City and don’t get me started on Kansas City…just kidding to my one and only reader in Kansas.  Quick plug for Kansas, I couldn’t get over how friendly EVERYONE was, strangers saying hello, people wishing you a good day and meaning it, the only thing Kansas is missing is a quality baseball team.  :)

While I was home, everyone wanted to know if I was going back to Tokyo.  The short answer is yes.  I have been thinking about my options, I have been debating between beach bum or teenage pregnancy (CNN reported that the number of teenage pregnancies are dropping, I am hoping to do my part).  Since neither one of these options really jump out at me, it’s back to Tokyo for this Ginger.  

This week I received some good news from Papa Haines, the University of Pittsburgh issued a special report, scientists have concluded that that red wine can help protect against radiation.  Save the iodine pills, I’ve been preparing for this for years.

Next stop NYC… 


Friday, March 25, 2011

Should I stay or should I go…

After much consideration, I decided to pack my bags one more time and come back to Tokyo.   Even though I have only been in Tokyo a short period of time there are already things that I miss, such as, my remote control toilet and my stove that speaks perfect Japanese, so I think.    

First things first, I need to figure out if I will stay in the same apartment or look for a newer building.  I will probably end up staying here and the cute Irish boy on the 4th floor has nothing at all to do with my decision. What?!?

When I was fleeing Tokyo, I have no idea what I was thinking when I was packing.  I think we can all agree that the following items do not make the essential items list:   

1.  Tokyo city guide - the last thing that I needed to know was Tokyo’s must see attraction and top 10 restaurants.   Oddly enough I couldn’t find the section on “How to flee Tokyo in a Hurry”.  I may send Lonely Planet a chapter free of charge.   
2.  9.5 pairs of shoes - you never know when you will need that one extra shoe
3.  And how could I leave Tokyo without my unopened mail from Toronto???  I’m not sure that Rogers cable has better odds of getting paid in Hong Kong.  (Don’t worry Dad, I’m making this one up, I pay all my bills on time)

I’ve been back for about 24 hours, so far no aftershocks to report.  For the most part everything seems pretty normal here.  People are very conscience about hydro, in our office we only have 50% of the lights on and escalators are off throughout the city.  Anyhooo...back to life.

We have another birthday today…Happy Birthday Ingrid! Love and hugs xo

Let the weekend begin…