Monday, 21 July 2014

Travelogue : Neon Goes Japan (Hokkaido Day 4)

And after only an hour and a half of sleep, I couldn't wake up and had to rush like a mad bitch, because I was laaaatteeeeee. Like late, everyone was about to leave the cottage already, and I was still rushing preparing myself. But being the crafty bitch that I am, I managed to put myself together and looking fabulous as fuck. #CheckThat. Since we were told to wear proper 'business' wear that day, I packed like business shoes and dress pants and blah blah, which in the end, I just wore jeans since if I were to wear dress pants, I would have another pair of shit to stuff in my tiny travel bag. If you didn't read the previous post, this was the day we go to our homestay families, and we just packed an overnight bag, so our luggages were stored in the storage room in the cottage office! 

Headed for breakfast, and I didn't have much, because I WAS RUNNING BACK AND FORTH THE COTTAGE AND THE MAIN DINING AREA. 


 It was raining that day also, so I was covered in rain by the time I sat down to eat. I ran back for the first time, and I looked around the table and bed area. NOTHING. SO I had to run back to the main area and rummage through my bags, and pray that it would be there. IT WASN'T. You don't understand the fear when you lose your phone overseas, like your means of living is almost dependant on that little device. So I ran back to the cottage again for the second time, and thought of the areas I went to before leaving. And sure enough, I found it in the toilet. THAT SENSE OF RELIEF IS ONE THAT I'LL NEVER FORGET. When I found it, I took a moment to thank god. Haha! 

Anyway, once breakfast was over, we took a bus trip, which was just 5 minutes, because we were planned to walk there, but the rain came and we figured a bus would be much faster and convenient. And there we are, the sturgeon farm! 

In case you don't know what sturgeons are, they are like fishes from the prehistoric ages, who managed to survive through the times, which explains why they look so dinosaur-ish! And did you know that the expensive carviar comes from the sturgeon also! Apparently, there is no way to tell the gender of the sturgeon unless you cut open or use ultrasound to see if they have eggs inside? In the past, to get the caviar, they had to kill the sturgeon? But thanks to technology, they can get the eggs while keeping the fish alive! The front had this GINORMOUS tank with GIGANTIC sturgeons (pictures at the top), and honestly, I was super scared. Ok I have this thing where I imagine myself dunked into the tank and have no way out. It's just scary ok. 

Anyway, if you were wondering why we visited the sturgeon farm, like how we have a national flower, this is sort of like their state representative fish, if it makes sense, good. It was a pretty quick one, and we were there for maybe an hour? And after that, it was off to the university we went! 

The university we went to was the Nayoro City University. It is one of the smallest university in the world, with less than 1000 intake per year! That's like the size of a small secondary school! The school mainly focuses on 4 areas, Nutrition, Nursing, Social Welfare and Liberal Arts. When we entered the conference room, the students welcomed us and we were separated into smaller groups to have more interaction.

It was difficult for us to talk too much since they can't speak English and we can't speak Japanese, so the things we talked about was quite superficial. Also, the people we interacted with were quite shy, so our table was like the 'silent one'.

Our facilitators and Amanda! 

The bento-ish lunch we had, we all sat in bigger groups, and they had bottled green tea, and it's like ayataka, and honestly, the Japanese bottled green tea is super nice. 

 The lunch box that we had, a bit of chicken and a mix of beans, salted jelly, and eggplant. Honestly, I only ate the chicken. Or was it fish? Cause the rest was simply so different from what I'm used to.
The facilitator's made her own bento, and it's super pretty please.

With my new babies, Amanda, Gwen, Vishnu(Bichnu), and the Japanese students! 

The lunch was probably my favourite time at that point because I was so tired and all I wanted to do was to just sleep and do nothing. And the weather made everything so much more better! So nice and cooling, and it's so different because in Singapore, every classroom has to be air-conditioned so that we won't start melting, but over there, all they have to do is open the windows and the cold wind just comes in. 

Walked and toured around the school for a few hours after that, and we were separated into 2 groups. While walking to the other school block, we got to see the cutest houses, and it looked like we were at a movie set, because it's just too hard to believe it is actually real. 

Ughhh, I just want to move there please. The weather and scenery and the less-uptight lifestyle.

The school tour was cool, because we got to see the students in action, and some of the works that they have done. The first few classes we entered was an art classrooms for the students in the Liberal Arts major, and some of the artworks they have done previously were pinned on the boards around, and it was so cool, cause even though it was simple images, it was drawn with such details.

For their exams, they have to create shadow puppets and conceptualise a story and present it, and that is one of the projects they have to do.

Next, we managed to visit a ongoing year 3 nutrition class, and they were having practical classes! OMG, instantly reminds me of the practical sessions we would have in secondary school, and I totally miss it! Used to love chemistry lessons when we had lab sessions.

Collecting all the beakers and test-tubes, measuring acids and pouring it so that we can see the reaction. Mixing all the different acids and bases, and the most famous and commonly used one was HYDROCHLORIC ACID, (HCL), I remember ok! And the best is when we got to use the bunsen burner! Ahhhhh, all those memories.

Anyway, the practical they had on was to test oils. So it was pretty cool to see the oil react to different solvents.

 The pipette! The only time I used this was like once. But isn't it cool the oil turned purple, but it turned back to the original colour again. Science.

Finally, we got to the Nursing block, where that classroom is modelled after a real hospital ward. They were doing lifts. And guess who I volunteered to be carried?



After the tour, we got back to the conference room, did the performance, and they did a thank you speech, and then we were ushered to leave. I was like, ok wtf, what? It was really quick, and when they thing ended, it ended quick! Like we were just ushered off to the bus. But, luckily for me, I managed to gift them some stuff. And took some photos before we left. But they were super nice and accommodating! Somemore, some of them were super enthusiastic and welcoming!

Back on the bus with my favourite homie! 

Anyway, we went back to the main office to get briefed about the family that we are going to get assigned to, and our housemate. I was super nervous ok, but guess who I got?! VISHNU! Yayyy, so happy when I knew that because he's super funny and nonsense! After that, we went to some conference with the mayor of the city, which for the whole time I was sleepy as hell because I didn't understand anything, they speak Japanese, remember?


Once that conference was over, we went over to the 'waiting hall', basically this big room to wait for our families to bring us home. And according to the profile, the family we're living with are middle aged and their parents as well, and they have a dog and parakeet. Vishnu was saying if they mistreat him, he'll let the parakeet go. And he was scared that because he was dark, they'll force him to be like a cow and sleep in the paddy field! HAHAHAHAH.

While sitting we were super nervous, because looking at some other people's family profiles, they either had experience hosting, or can speak a little bit of English, or both! While ours is like first timers, like us! When we met, we were separated to a table to try to converse, clearly, that didn't go very well, because once again, communication barrier, and having no wifi there just meant that my iPad and google translate is totally useless!

The drive to their house, luckily for us, is just a 15 minute car ride away, but the thing is, unlike Singapore, the houses and civilisation are at 2 DIFFERENT PLACES. Like the nearest 7-11 from their place was a good 10 minute drive, DRIVE.


And as you can clearly see, they have 2 cars, and double doors, so by this you can tell that they be cashing in trump checks for a living. When we went in, we realised this house was just both of them, and their parents have another house, NEAR THEIR OWN FARM, and the wife stayed at home to prepare dinner for us. 

They were super polite and hospitable like it wasn't real, like Japanese people are so crazy nice, like hardly you get that in Singapore. Dinner was served, and I dk what is the exact name of it, but it was pretty good.

So it was some kind of patty. So here's the entire process!


On a sidenote, when I saw the meat, I was drooling like a bitch, was if you have read my previous posts, you would understand how our meals severely lack meat, and I felt faint on day 2, I was even happier cause I THOUGHT IT WAS BEEF. But no, it was pork. *Sigh* BUT STILL, GOT GOOD FOOD TO EAT FOR FREE, MAI HIAM LAH. (Mai Hiam = Don't complain)


Now please don't ask me what they batter has, cause I'm writing this more than one month after we came back. But who really cares, the sizzle and the smell of the pork is enough to make me zip my mouth and wait.

And there you see, our 'parents' for the next few days.

Final touch, add the cheese, wait for it to melt, then. BOOM, DONE.

Look at that glorious piece of whatever that is. 

So initially they were done cooking for us, then they were cooking the next batch for themselves, so they were asking us to eat first, but I don't know about you, but when I'm with my friends, usually I'll wait for everyone's food to arrive before starting. So that's what we did. So when we started the food was cooled down. BUT AFTER I RETURNED TO SINGAPORE, I read that in Japan, it is perfectly fine to start first, because they believe that you should eat your food when it is still nice and hot, so it is very common to see a group of friends eating, one finished already, and the other just starting(or still waiting for their order)

Taste wise, I think it is super nice, it's like salty, from the pork, then there's the crunch from I think the cabbage and carrot, and a chewy texture from the batter, almost tasted like rice cake because of the chewiness of it. Maybe the used rice flour? BUT THE DEAL BREAKER was the cheese ok, like when I tasted the middle part, you know, where the bite consists of everything. Ok, hello, it was mmmmm hunnny, this is good. 

Not only the patties, we had ramen too, the taste was super similar to maggi in Singapore, and the texture as well, actually I think it could be instant noodles, but they garnished it till it looked good lah, so, no complains there. 

After the noodles and the patty, I was super full, and I was like, that's all for dinner, yayyy, super nice and super full. And also, I wanted to shit also, so I really couldn't eat no more. Until.......


Basically, this is the iconic Japanese food that everyone remembers, sushi. Initially I thought it was going to be sour like the sushi we eat all the time, but NO, it was salty. Not exactly my cup of tea, but out of not being a rude ass bitch who is picky about food, I stomached everything. 

Once dinner was over, and we had Wi-Fi, communication was so much easier. Not that we spoke alot of things obviously, but at least we got the message across. Drove to the 7-11 to get some stuff, but in the end, only got Ice-Cream, and the Haagen Daaz there is SUPER CHEAP, I forgot how much, but it was cheap. 

After we went back to the house, basically I showered and went into our rooms and chilled, watched indian dramas, and Vishnu explained to me how Bollywood/Indian films are dramatic. Which was super funny! And got my daily dose of Wendy Williams and fell into a deep snooze. 

Alright, I hope this post isn't too awfully boring for you, I had so much fun, and I hope I can tell you guys the remaining trip soon! So happy when I was writing all the posts, cause I get to relive the times, just super fun! Ending off with a super awkward #ootd in 7-11

1 comment:

  1. Holy smokes reading each one of your posts is like being taken on an adventure, I kid you not.

    You look hella fab all the time la pls, DUDE MAINTAIN A BIT CAN??! Japanese people are such cuties, they're always so warm and friendly like omg in the photos you took with them it looks like you guys have been besties for a long time. Lastly, your food pics and descriptions made my mouth water sooo hard.

    You totally deserve to be like a big time famous blogger la I swear. You seriously put in so much time and effort into each one of your posts, I mean come on, how freaking long and amazing are they all?! And all the beautifully shot and edited photos, plus you write so well too. Damn, I seriously hope you get waaaay more readers and be skyrocketed in star blogger status soon!