> site feed
<-- my life, by webgoddesscathy -->
:: Thursday, April 03, 2003 ::
Good: got my working holiday visa designation in my passport.
Problem: didn't get a bank account, but can look up rates online tonight I hope.
Problem: didn't find a place to stay. All the hostels were kind of... too busy/messy/expensive/noisy... whatever.
Good: I met a wonderful girl named Susan from Scotland who's in Sydney for about the same amount of time and she had some ideas about alternative accommodation, so we're meeting tomorrow to go look into them. See SleepingWithTheEnemy.com for what I mean.
Problem: didn't get a mobile phone (they don't call them "cell" phones here)
Good: found the place where I can look into that tomorrow. If I have time. Also found some people who are selling their phones. I'll ask what that means for a mobile plan...
Problem: didn't find a job.
Good: did get some leads on recruiting/temp agencies. And some job postings on some of the hostel's posting boards.
I feel better today. Aside from this damn migraine.
I love being busy, clearly. And I love meeting people. Clearly.
:: Cathy 2:11 AM [+] :: 0 comments
:: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 ::
I have a migraine. Crap.
It's probably a combination of the weather changes and sleep disturbances and stress.
I've got a tax number, so that's one thing off my list. I know where I'm going for my visa tomorrow morning. Yay. I've updated my site. Another good thing. And I've had a lot of email, which I'm very happy about. I was going to email Jane, but I think I'll post it here: Jane, I'm wearing the underwear that you bought me and, yes, I'm thinking of you!
Email is great, but it's a great way NOT to do what I'm supposed to do. I'm a horrible procrastinator. Especially when I don't want to or am afraid of doing something, or don't know how to start.
I'm feeling very lazy, though, so I'll have to get out of this house soon.
Last night, I went with Tanya Plain (who's a dance/drama teacher) to her creative arts high school's talent night. It was very cute. Some of the acts were outstanding. I'm sure I'll write a journal about it. I find I'm ALWAYS writing these days.
Met a teacher who was telling me about the best ways to get wine tasting. And about the Auzzie books that I should read. And about Australia in general. I drank some Hunter Valley Semillon with him in the teacher's lounge. I liked the wine a lot, even though it was quite cheap. But it was all the better because it felt just a little bad to be drinking in the teacher's lounge.
Still fighting with Blogger. They messed up my template so it suddenly doesn't want to work. So I had to choose one of theirs for the time being. I can't for the life of me figure out why mine doesn't work! I'll keep plugging away at it, but until then you get to look at this one.
:: Cathy 11:19 PM [+] :: 0 comments
:: Monday, March 31, 2003 ::
11:35am Sydney time.
Wow. Well, here I am. I'm actually in a place called TurraMurra, just north of downtown Sydney. "TurraMurra" is an aboriginal word for "high hill". It's quite hilly here. And lush. Looking out the window, I feel like I'm in the middle of the jungle. Actually, I almost feel it more here than I did when I was actually IN the jungle (Peru, fall 2001). I can hear exotic birds outside the window, even.
Check out the weather. It's quite humid and cloudy today. Tomorrow and the rest of the week promises to be much better. Yay! But it's so humid, my fingers feel like they are sticking to the keyboard.
It took about nine hours to get to Sydney from Narita Airport. It was an overnight flight and of course I slept like a baby (read: I don't think I slept at all) so I'm feeling fantastic (if by that I mean ridiculously tired). However, coming in for the landing, I was treated to one of the most amazing displays of Earth's beauty. As the sun rose (out my window - which was a REAL window seat this time) I could see it peek through the cloud covering. It was like we were under the water instead of flying above it. The sun's rays filtering through the waves of clouds, dappling and reflecting the watery floor below. My heart hurt looking at it, knowing I would never have enough words or talent to describe it, nor ever see anything like it again. And then it was gone and there was Australia.
Jan Plain picked me up from the airport at 8:30am and drove me out here to the Plain's beautiful home. I have my own room and have been left with the computer and various instructions/directions so that I can organize myself today while they're at work.
I've also been in touch with Sonal, a friend of Tony's, who also lives in Sydney (in Gosford). I'll be getting together with her later this week, I think.
Thank god for wonderful people!
Things to do today/tomorrow:
- search for work (online, temp agencies)
- get a bank account
- get my working holiday visa (I've been approved, I just have to go get the stamp or whatever)
- look into cell phones ("mobiles" they call them)
- thank my dad for getting me a tax return (I'm clearly an idiot; I thought I would have to pay)
- find some longer-term accommodations (no wants to hang out with ME for more than a week!)
- update my site
So, basically, get new life in two days. Right then.
:: Cathy 5:46 PM [+] :: 0 comments
:: Sunday, March 30, 2003 ::
11:45am Monday, Tokyo time.
I'm messaging Chris (Tempermental) right now. Isn't that weird? It's Sunday night for him. I feel so close to home.
It's brought to mind a couple of interesting facts about Japan.
They have a lot of useless jobs here.
There are people who direct traffic into and within parking lots, even though there are traffic lights, and everything is completely automated such that those jobs are redundant. They have greeters in every store who's job it is to say "Welcome!" and possibly chase you to wrap your umbrella in plastic on rainy days. They always have way too many people working in every store. There are people in the transit system who just squish people into the trains at rush hour. I have not experienced this myself, as I don't travel at rush hour. However, these white-gloved people remain even after rush hour to stand around and motion people into the train doors when they open. Ya, well, I can SEE that they're open. I don't need someone telling me to enter. They say the Japanese economy is going down the toilet; I guess these inefficiencies are part of the reason why.
For example, at Dave's English school (a small school with only 1 or 2 teachers there at any time), they always have 3 people hanging around who are "administrative" who stand around and then rush every customer when they enter to take their coat, say "WELCOME!" and a string of 20 other pleasantries and get them coffee. Dave and the other English teacher just look up and say "hi".
That's another thing. The pleasantries. When Hiroshi (our free English student guide) took us to the Samurai house in Kyoto with all the hidden staircases and trick doors and sneaky secrets, the Japanese tour guide would talk for 10 minutes and then we would get a 10-second English explanation from Hiroshi. It takes so much longer to say everything in Japanese as they pepper everything with "excuse me" and "please" and "thank you for listening" and "I beg of you to notice"... it's ridiculous. All with fake plastic smiles. Very sweet and polite and formal. "Arigato" (meaning "thank you") is said so much it means nothing.
There are also manners to be observed on the trains. You are not supposed to talk on your cell phone, for example. I've only seen one Geijin (foreigner) talking on the train. Everyone else, however, has their cell phones out to check their email. They ALL have phones with email access/video screens. They have quite advanced cell phone technology. And EVERYONE has the most current model. I see 10-year-olds with their cell phones and wheels on their shoes, talking and wheeling around. I've seen them checking their mail on the trains. Not kidding. Everyone checks their mail on the train.
But not all their technology is advanced. For example, their bank tellers don't even have computers. Most banks don't offer online banking. So strange. Apparently, Dave's set up here is not normal for Japan. He doesn't even have the high-speed access that we have through Rogers at home. It just wasn't available here. So, their advanced technology is very focussed in certain areas. And very poor in all other areas. It's a very cash-based society, I have learned. I absolutely HAVE to carry cash, although I hardly ever do in Cda. Bank cards here don't have a magnetic strip. So you can't pay direct. It's rare that people pay with credit cards; apparently they won't even accept foreign Visa cards sometimes. Only Japanese Visas. And yet children walk around with cell phones in their back pocket.
Dave tells me that their parents pay for the phones. Parents also pay for their education and even their first houses! There are many 30-year-olds, however, that continue to live at home rent-free with their parents. Their mom cooks and cleans for them. The "children" have full time jobs and earn a good salary and yet pay and do nothing. (I hope my dad is reading this. I'm kidding, I wouldn't WANT to live that way.)
Aside from lots of weird "Engrish" (poorly translated English that makes no sense and is probably just decorative) I have found that while they like to think they are very westernized, they have a long way to go. I wish that they would not try so hard to be westernized. It would make Japan much more interesting and culturally rich if they would focus on being themselves.
After visiting many tourist areas, I've noticed that they seem to focus on the surface of things. They don't explain the history much. When asked "why" something was done or "why" it was/is important, they are confounded. They don't seem to understand my question. It seems truly foreign to question this way. They seem content to know facts without going beyond the surface and understanding underlying concepts. They know what the tea ceremony IS and they know where it was performed and when. They are unable to tell me why it was important or how it became such a traditional ceremony or what it means. It's disappointing as I really want to understand. But they seem obsessed with the outward appearance of things; the status symbols, the price of things. That is not my kind of society. I suppose the same could be said of western society. Maybe it's just me that doesn't fit in with that.
And that's Japan according to me.
:: Cathy 7:02 PM [+] :: 0 comments
1:10am Tokyo time.
Trying to update my site with all my Kyoto photos. I'm having a fight with Photoshop. Guh.
Apparently, I also had a fight with Blogger, as I lost one of my posts 2 days ago. I'll paraphrase:
Dave looked Hot-City because he was wearing the jeans I helped him pick out. I love boys clothes shopping. Too bad some boys don't let me take them; they don't know what they're missing; I'm a genius. I talked about Dave's unfortunate DB problem when we were on the train the other night. He had burps that smelled so badly, I thought I was going to be sick. He started blowing them at the guy who was asleep in the seat beside him. Actually, come to think of it, he was probably dead from the horrible stench. (That last bit was for my brothers and Jen.)
I thanked all the wonderful friends who have emailed me. The Internet makes me feel so much closer to everyone. Getting email makes it feel like they're right around the corner from me. It warms my heart. Getting all mushy and misty eyed like to cool person I am.
Then I had to get going; there's a whole city of bad footwear out there to enjoy!
Tomorrow night, 9pm Tokyo time, I'm off to Ozzie Land!
:: Cathy 8:23 AM [+] :: 0 comments