Round-up!

I really am planning on finishing the description of the best mother-daughter trip ever. I also need to talk about Thailand (awesome!) and even my few days back in Japan. When I think about Yokohama, all I hear is, ” Whooooooo-oooohhhh-oooohhhhh, Yokohama Baystahs.” It’s a song, one of many, that is sung during baseball games. I LOVE Japanese baseball games. And this time, I even bought the noisemaker bats. I got to bang them together (in time!) and even do a dance that involved the bats. It was awesome! Ok, biggest synopsis ever but here we go…

After Mom and I did all things “local,” we headed down to Kyoto. We saw the Golden Pavilion, the Ryoangi temple, Sanjusangendo temple, and Nijo castle. I loved Nijo castle the most, mainly b/c that was the new sight for me. But also, the wood-working and panel work inside the main castle were incredible. Detail work always impresses me, just the cumulative effect of lots of meticulous planned out work and vision. It’s not a way of thinking that comes naturally to me, but I appreciate the results.

Also, the Ryoangi temple with its 15 rock garden fame now has one less rock thanks to us. That, or we threw a rock from our pocket in to make an even 16. I can’t remember! Mom and I are so naughty!

The next day, we went to Nara where we did a lot more walking. The Daibutsu (Big Buddha) in Nara was very impressive, as was the wooden building housing it. We also went to a few other temples in a rather large loop. Overall, we had a great time. I did not, however, love the famous deer. I thought they were rather mangy and we did not feed them stupid deer cookies that one could buy. We did see a Buddhist temple from the 700s though- the oldest in Japan. 700 A.D. is when Buddhism was introduced by a Chinese monk who really went through a lot to get Buddhism to Japan. From the sounds of it.

The next day, we saw Sanjusanjendo (see above) before heading to Osaka where we saw the castle and a pretty plum tree garden. We also went to one of the oldest Buddist temple SITES in Japan. Please note that the building were all much newer and it pays to read Frodors carefully, those over-enthusiastic nincompoops. Curses.

Then we headed to Hiroshima, where we saw the Peace Park and the museum, the Atomic Dome, Miyajima with the floating Tori, and we ate magnificent okonomiyaki, a local dish with a thin pancake/tortilla/crepeish base, cabbage, chicken, seafood, egg, and NOODLES. There is also a delicious sauce, which I bought so I can try my hand at making them at some point. Hiroshima was definitely a highlight as I really wanted to go, plus the city was way more vibrant and new than I was expecting. They did a good job of balancing legacy with living in the present.

After Hiroshima, we went to Nagoya for a fertility festival which was SO MUCH FUN. Not so much for the floats, which were very interesting, but more for the street fair atmosphere with lots of people, food stands and live musical performances by Taiko drummers.

Finally, Mom and I had a picnic in Yoyogi park on her last day. We also went to the Meiji temple. Here’s a hint- although nice to see (and I’m glad we went Mom!), dragging a suitcase through a half-mile of gravel does NOT make you the most inconspicuous pair of people around. Wheelie wheels don’t work so well off pavement or flooring. Boo!

Then, I got underway the next day. Meh. Fairly uneventful- no port calls to speak of. Right now, I’m hard at work on my SWMDO pin so that I can wear a shiny gold badge on my uni and show people that I made a modicum of effort to learn about the ship and other people’s job. It’s actually led me to some pretty cool places on the ship, although most of the aviation cool stuff I’m saving for afterwards since it’s not actually part of the SWMDO board.

Then we came back and Sue and I went to Thailand for 2.5 days/2 nights. Way short, although I still managed to burn despite 30 and 55 S.P.F. Reapply! That’s my takeaway point o’ the day! It was really beautiful. I really do love the beach!

Then we came home, work was insane (in a WAY unfun type of way) but the weekend was a lot of fun. Saturday, I crashed after Friday duty but on Sunday, I browsed in my favorite store that I finally figured out where it was after a months long hunt for it (BTW, Loft on level 7F in the Sogo Building near Yokohama Station). That’s definitely one thing about Japan- even though there aren’t a lot of very tall buildings due to earthquake fears (Landmark Tower in Yokohama is Japan’s tallest at 70 stories), there are a lot of medium sized buildings and businesses are stacked vertically for several floors. And it’s not like a mall with picture maps and central open areas so you can spy stores across the way. All the stores are in normal building buildings. So, when I can’t read the signs very well, I’m at a little bit of a loss. This verticalness also applies to restaurants and clubs, which is a little weird since I’m used to being able to look into ground level establishments and checking out the busy-ness of the scene prior to deciding to go in.

Rereading the above paragraph leads me to believe that I really need to get some sleep. Apparently when I’m sleepy, I think that as long as I use different inflection (which works oh so well in an electronic medium), I can use the same word as a noun, adjective, and verb. So succinct!

Oh, also on Sunday, “Whooooaaa-oooohh-ooooohhhhh- Yokohama Baystahs!” Baseball. I loved it. And now it’s Monday night (actually Tuesday morning just before 2) and the ship’s getting underway. So, the blog will be sadly quiet for little bit. Curse blogger and its hungriness for cookies that the ship’s firewall says “Dame” to. (Dame, pronounced DA-MAY, is always accompanied by an X gesture with fingers for small things, forearms for more emphatic gestures. It means no, no good, no more, etc. Very useful gesture- it’s helped me figure a bunch of stuff out where I would otherwise be completely lost.)

Kitty Hawk to Hello Kitty!

I’m back after a 5 day “Sea Trials” cruise, which did not affect the medical department all that much except that we lived at work. Oh YEAH! Waiting for the next meal, working out, seeing sick call, realizing I haven’t seen sunlight in three days…all in day’s work. Except what I was NOT expecting was 2 inpatients, a MEDEVAC, and an urgent hospital consultation the day we pulled in. For 5 days, it was completely unexpected to have that much work. And they were all my patients- black cloud, black cloud!

When we arrived in Yokosuka on Friday, who was on her way to see me? Mumsie! And not only that, but she’s super cool. Was she in my apartment, moping around and napping until I got back? No! As if! She was touring Kita-Kamakura where there are a lot of neat Shinto shrines. I’ve never actually been in that part of Kamakura, so now I have new TTDs, courtesy of my Mom!

Yesterday, we went to Hakone. I’ve written about it before, but new things I got to do included taking a boat ride in a pirate ship knock-off across a humungous volcanic crater lake and a short hike at the top of the sulfurous fields where I bought eggs cooked in the local water. It was a black hard-boiled egg. That’s all. But now I’ll live an extra 7 years- yay!

Today, Mom and I had a whirlwind Tokyo day. We went to Asakusa, the Sumida River cruise from Asakusa to Hanode, the Imperial Palace, Harajuku and Omotesando. All very cool and very satisfying to see so much in one day. At the imperial palace, we had a tour by members of the “English Speakers Club,” consisting of students from several local universities. It was AWESOME! They were so funny and Mom and I learned what “Sagoy” meant (amazing…no, I mean, that’s the definition. amazing).

What was also neat about the Imperial Palace is that security involves lots of people counting with clickers. People sit at various places looking all the world like a loiterer but as you walk by, “*Click*.”

Tomorrow, Mom and I are heading to Nikko. UNESCO World Heritage Sites- 3 of them! Then we’re doing a whirlwind tour of Southern Japan, which will be new for both of us and totally cool. Kowabunga!

These are a few of my favorite things!

Have you ever owned something that is super meaningless, objectively speaking, but you find so awesome that it brings insta-happiness and cheer? I have that feeling now! About my coffee cup. Yes, ridiculous I know but ~1 week after I bought my Yokohama Starbucks tumbler (get it, b/c I live in Yokohama?), a new one came out! And it’s pretty and blue and has the Red Brick Warehouses on it, among other sites. I love my coffee breaks and sipping my coffee throughout my clinic morning.

So, I’m back at work on a duty weekend. I had to stay on the ship Friday since I was also the departmental duty officer, but the last two days I’ve been able to come and go since I’m “just” the on-call provider. I’m busy stocking up and organizing stuff as the Kitty Hawk is set to sail fairly soon. It’s nice to make the ship a little more comfortable- and healthier, in the sense of bringing on whole grain snack bars, cereal, etc.

So, the rest of the trip with Laddie, Karen, Brady and Ed was pretty awesome. They had a great time in Kyoto and Nara. Brady and Ed even made it to Osaka and Kanazawa. Laddie and Karen came back Friday and we went to California Wine Bar, which is a very cool place in Motomachi. We drank a lot of different wines from Napa. It was pretty awesome, although Laddie observed that while stumbling out of, say, Irish pubs is ok, something seems slightly-less-than-classy about stumbling from a wine bar.

The next day, we headed out to Tokyo, where we stayed in a really nice hotel in Asakasa, near Roppongi. This was after Karen and I went to Kamakura for shopping and Laddie went to Asakusa for the same. Brady and Ed met up with us and we all went out to Shibuya and Roppongi. Shibuya is definitely the Tokyo I imagined in terms of lights, noise, and number of people. It was awesome!

The next day, everyone left after a slight debacle with the Narita Express, since the original train was cancelled due to winds. It seems like everyone made it home, although I was told the airport wasn’t all smoothness either.

It was such an awesome time to have everyone here. I can’t wait for more visitors. Like my Mom! In less than a week!

I can’t read Kanji!

All the buttons on my blog page are in Kanji and Hiragana. Awesome! I’m trying to figure out which one I’ll need to press to post this at all. Fingers crossed!

So, yay! I’m back in Japan! The Kitty Hawk came back a few days early after the Chinese government said, “X-nay on the isit-vay” over Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s right. It was pig latin. The last few days people were almost climbing walls we wanted to get off the ship so badly.

The first night, we went out to celebrate Ken the Dentist’s (aka Herbie the Elf) birthday. We went to Korean BBQ, which was delicious. This gave J another chance to make fun of me since he asks if I’ve done anything truly Japanese since I’ve been here. The reason being that I’ve been to Yokohama Octoberfest (5 times! Pictures and story to follow!), a Spanish restaurant, an Indian restaurant where I was told what I wanted (I didn’t want the chicken platter. I wanted lamb rogan gosh dammit), an Indian Dewali festival, and Chinatown. But they were all really fun. And I have had a few bowls of Udon noodles (so tasty!).