crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


My dear sister, Rebecca, had been planning for months to usurp any Christmas festivities previous to this; she handcrafted all her gifts (including burnt DVDs with hand-drawn labels, marshmallows, Christmas cards, gift bags, cajun spice, salsa, fudge, scarfs, etc. etc. etc.) as well as %*#&loads of food.

After my aforementioned night of debauchery, I was again whisked off to Victoria at 8:15am. At this point I was clocking approximately 4 hours of sleep over the previous 50. We arrived at my sister's at about 4:30pm on Saturday Dec. 24th and initiated alcohol consumption almost immediately. Mike, Rebecca's live-in boyfriend, and a family friend, Adam arrived shortly thereafter... bringing with them a plethora of cheeses and 6 bottles of wine.

Saturday night we enjoyed a fondue, consisting mainly of meat, meat and meat, that was quite fantastic. Of course this meal was not without its requisit inappropriateness; for example, my father telling lengthy jokes about vibrators-come-son-in-laws (uh Dad, what exactly are you implying?) Proving that he has a way to go before he can truly become a Hambrook, Mike barely finished his last bite of dinner before he staggered off to his room to pass out for the night (Haha!)

My Mom, Kelsey and I chanllenged the formidable "Team Win" to a game of '90's Trivial Pursuit where we proceeded to wipe the floor with them, thus bruising their over-inflated egos. And "Team Win" is no more.

Because this Christmas was the first outside my parents' house, all rules were subject to change; for the first time we declared Santy need not verify we kiddies were snug in our beds before extricating his ass from the fireplace, and put all the presents out ourselves on Christmas eve. As such, my mom was third to bite the dust (after Dad, who gave a valiant effort of staying up past his usual 8:30pm bedtime).

At some point, after consuming 8 bottles of wine between 3 or 4 of us, we realized it was 5:30am and were just about to head to bed when my Dad got up... of course this meant that it was time to OPEN PRESENTS!!! So, I was dragged from the sheets before I had time to even warm them, and the house was awoken (is that a word?)

We started with Mike's birthday presents, as the 25th is a 2-in-1 for him, poor fella; however, Christmas and birthday combined, this guy scored big-time. I cannot complain either, being the spoiled brat that I am; my loot included:

A web-cam, battery pack for camera, $150 GC for the cutting lounge, couple pairs of earrings, some clothes, about a million DVDs (burned copies from Mike and Rebecca), the SIMS 8-in-1 expansion pack, some music mixes, a whole bunch of homemade shit from Rebecca, just to name a few.

Adam and I went downstairs after present-opening to watch some of my new family-guy DVDs where I immediately conked out. Unfortunately I am sporting a wicked cold (as if that's an excuse!), and actually snored the poor guy out of his own bed!! Oops, sorry! Everyone spent nearly the whole of Christmas day sleeping, waking only for brunch: eggs benedict... MmmmMMmmm...

Christmas dinner was nothing short of fantastic, my sister truly is Martha Stewart... and you thought I was bad!! We watched no less than 4 movies throughout the day, including the mandatory Christmas flicks: Elf, 8 Crazy Nights, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, as well as Kicking and Screaming, a newish G-rated Will Ferrel classic. We enjoyed birthday ice-cream cake, and had an early night.

Monday we got up in time to drive my sister to work, and then headed for the ferries. In Vancouver I dropped almost exactly $300 on clothes, not even denting my list of things-to-buy while I'm in Canada. Then, because we hadn't stuffed ourselves silly enough, we tried what turned out to be a terrific Western/Asian/Indian buffet. I rode home with something of a stomach ache.

Thanks Rebecca and Mike, for hosting an absolutely fabulous Christmas!! See you next year!


Home Welcome

After 22 hours of travel, I arrived home in Kamloops at about 5:00pm, Pacific time, on Friday Dec. 23rd. Three short hours later I was whisked away to a hotel downtown to commence my welcome celebration.

My ladies: Jessica, Parker, Kim and Ashley, and myself had rented a room because none of us live close to the downtown core (insert: bars) anymore. We pre-drank in the room, then met up with everyone else at Rivers. I was very lucky to have nearly everyone in town for this event; Jessica came from Saskatoon, Parker from Vancouver, Kim from Calgary, Conor from Bordon ON, Paol from Regina, Cameron from Barriere (haha); Ashley, Dan and Caitie all live in Kamloops.

My night started out very slowly... I was crashing from my 36 hours without sleep. Solution? Tequila shots immediately upon entering the bar, followed by several Jagerbombs of the cocktail variety (which I later got in shit for from my parents... because I'm twelve). Turned out to be a crazy free-for-all type night.

Danced with many a face I cannot now remember, spent lengthy periods in the ladies room catching up with my ladies, unabashedly flirted with all my friends, male and female, enjoyed seasoned fries and buffalo fingers at good ole Denny's after 9 long months... what more does a girl need? Thanks everyone, for a supergreat night!!


Monday, December 26, 2005


... to my good friends, Nori and Dan, who, during this Christmas season, finally got ENGAGED!! YAY!!


Flying Low

This is long, so I'll use point form.

  • Found out the day before leaving for Canada that my Seattle to Vancouver flight had be cancelled and I was rescheduled; resecheduled to arrive two hours after my next connection.
  • Spent at least 3 hours on the phone with various airlines trying to get a better flight, at international phone rates. Thoroughly given the run-around by various telephone agents who had no idea what they were talking about, and/or their own opinion about how the situation should be handled; received far too many, "Good luck"s than should have been the case.
  • Was booked on flight that, if on time, would leave me 45 minutes to connect; going through customs and re-checking luggage myself included; later, was re-booked on a minimum of four other flights, all equally inconvenient/impossible.
  • Check-in at Narita. Nice check-in-girl spends 40 minutes trying to coordinate my flights to give more connection time. Finds nothing, sends me into the air in total uncertainty about whether I was going to be calling SEA-TAC 'home' for Christmas.
  • Am seated beside this strange girl who says not one word to me the entire 8-hour flight, even when I attempt cordiality. In fact, this girl will not even speak to the flight attendants: "chicken or beef entree?" **grunt** "chicken or beef entree?" **grunt** um, okay... Not sure if she was slow, or what, but definitely bitchy.
  • Turbulence is so extreme that breakfast and all drinking service is cancelled.
  • Do not sleep a wink on the plane.
  • Flight attendants move me to first class for last half-hour of flight so that I can be first off the plane to try to make a 40-minute connecting flight; girl beside me actually rolls her eyes when asked to get out of her seat (first time in whole flight) to allow me to pass. Flight attendants assure me that I will have enough time to connect, we are running slightly early.
  • Chat up a business man in first class. Bust-ass through customs only to arrive at baggage claim and have to wait for luggage with everyone else. Miss my connection even before I've picked up my bags.
  • Finally get to an airline employee to whom I can explain my situation only to find that their computer system is down... after some time they are up-and-running again, and we proceed to take an HOUR to figure out the situation and find a solution; apparently airlines are not all too happy about vouchering their passengers to other airlines. End up with a rather perfect connection from Seattle to Vancouver on Horizon Air.
  • Find the lone Horizon flight attendant to be quite entertaining; she sang no less than 5 songs (many incorporating the flight safety instructions, etc.) to us during our 55 minute affair.
  • Connect to my hometown, Kamloops, BC, without difficulty, totalling my use of different airlines in one day to three: United, Horizon/Alaska Air, and Air Canada (who caused all this difficulty in the first place). Miraculously arrive in Kamloops, on schedule, after 22 hours of travel time, no sleep.
  • Declared that I HATE FLYING and that I'm NEVER doing it again immediately upon being reunited with my family only to be reminded that I get to do it all again in two weeks: what was I thinking!?!?!


    • At 12:10 PM, Blogger Jody D. White said…

      I miss you!!! Come back soon! I am soooooo friggin' lonely. No seriously, It has only been a few days, but I am totally in Shimodate withdraw. LOVE YA!XXOOXX

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

T-minus 45 Hours!

Who is more excited, ME or ME (yes, there are several of us)?!?!?! Canada in just three days... seems like a blink since it's been nearly 9 months in coming.

In other news, my newest juku student, Abe Nanami-chan, 5-age, gave me an uber-cute Christmas card today. She even wrote inside... in ENGLISH (no doubt with parental assistance)!!! It said:

Ku-li-su-ta-lu Sensei (in katakana & hiragana),
Meery Christmas and Happy New Year
English is fun! I love English!
From Nanami

Uh, my work here is done. Until next year kiddies...


Monday, December 19, 2005


Friday night I hosted a surprise birthday party for my good friend Jody. Turned out that she surprised us, walking into the apartment unannounced and shouting: "There's a freakin' party in here!!" Actually, she was surprised too, and only started suspecting that we weren't off for a night of kareoke when she pulled up to find my street lined with cars (despite my courteous reminders that guests park AWAY from the house). Since there were so many other vehicles Jody had to park a bit far and as such no one saw her walking up to the house. Oops.

About 20 people were in attendance for our Semi-Formal Potluck Appetizer Surprise Birthday/Christmas Party. Several great dishes were brought, and many people resorted to offerings of the alcoholic variety; Jody ended up with about 4 bottles of birthday champagne, 2 bottles of birthday wine and 1 bottle of birthday rum... not to mention the 4 litre bottle of Sho Chu I provided for us to drink!

Turns out that it was Yuka's birthday on the 11th... so we celebrated her birthday as well. She was in fightin' form since Hideki, her husband, forgot her special day (he couldn't attend the party because of work, or so I was told). With Mie's help, Yuka got into the birthday spirit, and the two were the life of the party, as usual. The girls and Hideki actually had to leave early because Yuka was chuckin' cookies.

We had a small gift exchange: Mie gave Tress, Jody and I sandals, inscense and ceramic elephants from her and Hidenori's Thailand honeymoon, and Tressa and I gave them their over-due wedding gift (12 CDs of Western music and an album with pics of all our mutual outings). Notice Mie's new and gorgeous haircut!!

Five or six people crashed at my house; most of whom spent a large part of Saturday hanging out here. My tiny apartment was the worst disaster I have EVER seen the next day... so bad that I actually had to take pictures. Took me over 2 hours to clean up!

As well as being mildly hungover, I was feeling rather rundown Saturday and decided to take it easy. Tressa left early to pick her mom up from the airport: yeah! After Jody and I went to dinner her pals from Ami (who bailed on Friday's party at the last minute) came down and wisked her away to kareoke. I went to sleep early.

Sunday I felt like death warmed over. I had been battling a cold all week last week, and I suppose it finally caught up with me. I postponed my afternoon lesson with Yoshiko to Tuesday and stayed in bed almost all day. Sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. I need to get well before I leave for Canada; 4 days to go!!


    • At 10:10 AM, Anonymous NORI said…

      hey cristal!!!
      LOOKs really FUN(as usual(^0^)
      wish I could join u guys...too bad:(
      Fishing trip was fun(I will show u some photo later ne!)

      Hope to see you before you go to Canada!!!
      if not... HAVE A GREAT TIME BACK HOME!!!!!
      ***Merry christmas & A Happy New Year***

      Love, NORI

    • At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Crystal-It was a super party as always! I had a great time and just wanted to say I miss you. We'll do it again when Mama about it....

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas in Japan

My mother, aka The Carepackage Queen, sent Christmas goodies from Canada intended for me to cook a Christmas feast for my friends here. She sent cheesecake mix, turkey gravy mix, cheese sauce mix, stuffing-in-a-box, and mashed potatoes-in-a-bag (because she either thought Japan is potatoless, or that I am unable to peel a potato???).

So cook a feast I did. Jody, Tressa, Trav and Daichi came for baked chicken (they actually don't have turkey here; it's considered a "dirty" animal), carrots and broccoli, warm buttered rolls, and the aforementioned dishes. Let me tell you, with one tiny toaster oven (I borrowed Tressa's too, for the occassion) and only two burners on my stove it was quite the fiasco trying to get everything done at the same time. Miraculously, everything was plated while it was still steamy. More miraculously, even this instant Christmas dinner tasted like heaven; we all unbuttoned our pants to pack in every bit of the #&$%load of food that I made.

After dinner we trimmed the tree. You'd think they'd be able to make a plastic tree look a little less Charlie Brown, but it definitely put us in the spirit. As we downed three bottles of red wine and various other beverages we had a gift exchange. I was SOOO excited for Jody to see her gifts; as today is her birthday, hers were extra-special: TV and DVD player (from both Tressa and me)... she's gone 9 months without either, and lives in the toolies... no wonder she's a little kurakurapa (crazy). Tressa loved her new DVD player also, but was exstatic about the electric heater (both gifts from Jod and me together); it's like living in a refrigerator here at night.

Aaaaaand... guess what the ladies got me?!?!? A freakin' microwave!!!! OMG! I seriously cannot understand how I lived without one for 9 months! Thank you so much girls!!! We are all very spoiled.

To top off the night, the ladies and I resorted to good ole Family Guy, the Christmas episode; the only TV series I've seen in 9 months.

Christmas in Japan was so memorable, and I feel so lucky to have the people here with me that enabled it to be what it was. Double thanks and hugs to my Mom for sending me tons of shit all the time and for making me feel loved. Can't wait to have Christmas #2 with you!!


for TONS more pics of this event, visit Jody's blog:


    • At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Christmas in Japan was amazing! Thank you Crystal for cooking-you know how excited I was by how much I ate..haha. Thank you Kim for sending all the ingredients-WOW you are great! Also girls I love you both and thanks for the gifts and for making a Christmas away from home not feel like that at all. I couldnt have shared it with better people here-I love all 4 of you. Love Tressa

    • At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Rebecca said…

      Sounds like a very nice Christmas celebration, although, anyone who knows anyone in the Hambrook family knows that just three bottles of wine and one button down is DEFINATLEY not going to cut it! Merry Christmas to everyone in Japan! Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005


This morning was my first-ever Christmas Concert as a teacher!!! My Friday school, Shiraume Kindergarten, asked me to MC the 5-age performances as they chose to do English productions this year. The performances went something like this:

Crystal Sensei (into MICROPHONE, woot!): Goodmorning children, how are you today?
J-kids: I'm fine, thank you. And you?
CS: I'm fine, thank you. Let's begin with introductions! What's your name? (to 1st JK)
JK: My name is Yuki, what's your name? My name is Kiseki, what's your name? (and so on...)
CS: Very Good. Please get your cards ready. (I move onto stage to stand behind children so as to hold mic for them).
JK: This is a duck. This is a tiger. This is a monkey...
CS: Good! Cards down please. Now let's sing Hickory Dickory Dock. (I move off stage to face JK and mouth song while doing actions to prompt them).
CS: Very Good! Now let's sing Eentsy Weensty Spider!
***more singing***
CS: Thank you children! Great Job! (I move back on stage to stand beside my kids for photo ops).
JK: Thank you for coming! Bye bye! (to 450 on-looking parents, most of whom were weilding video cameras).
X4, there were 4 groups of kids and two separate audatoriums full of parents.

Keep in mind, I had no say in what was included in these performances... it was pre-planned and I was given my lines; I take no responsibility for the inherent cheesiness. Actually, I was only involved in 40% of the whole she-bang; there were 10 performances in all. The 3-age kids jingled along with a couple songs, and had dance numbers to a couple more; they were adorable in their Anpan-man costumes. The 4-age kids also did dance numbers, dressed up as fairy princesses and super heroes; they played wind-keyboards to another set of songs. Apart from our English debut, the 5-age kids put on a 15-minute musical review of Alice in Wonderland. Basically they just danced around and sung to the tape, but it was soooo cute!! They even had two Queens of Hearts and many boys dressed up as various cards!!

Alas, because I was participating in the performance, and because I stupidly forgot my camera, I couldn't take any pictures... hopefully I'll get some next time. :(


Monday, December 12, 2005

One Big-ass Buddha

On Sunday the ladies and I pulled ourselves together (this involved getting out of bed by 1:30pm, eating some McDonald's, and taking some Tylenol) and drove a short way to visit the world's largest Buddha, in Ushiku. Actually, the Buddha is now recorded as being the largest statue in the world; three times larger than the Statue of Liberty! Quite Impressive.

The grounds would have been picturesque had we not visited in December, as such we have pledged to return next spring. The four floors inside the Buddha were filled with gift shops, and a museum which discussed the building of the Buddha (about 15 years ago), the heritage of Buddha and the religion of Buddhism. Very cool.

If we were so inclined, we could have purchased a shrine inside the Buddha on which our name would be placed... or, better yet, we could have purchased a burial plot within the grounds!! I'm guessing both of these expenditures would have been quite expensive.

Although I would like to take credit for this shot, my skills of flight are currently disabled; I stole this picture of a picture of an aerial view.

Newly awarded certification from Guinness that the Buddha is, in fact, the world's largest statue.

Here is a smaller replica of the Buddha's head. They had one of his toe too, which was actual size and about 20X the size of me!!

Proof that this is one big-ass Buddha!

Here Jody and Tressa are partaking in the pre-prayer cleansing ritual. More of this ritual involves dousing oneself in the smoke from insense and ringing the gong.

We all wished it was just a little warmer and a little sunnier, but overall our Buddha experience was a good one. A must-see!



...of the non-Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sort. The Butters' hosted a BLT party (Black Tie, Lingerie, Toga) this last weekend, so Tress, Jody and I drove to Ami (which is smack-dab in between Tsukuba and Tsuchuira) for the festivities. Note to my Canada poker-pals: we played, I WON!!! Got to keep all my clothes on! Yippee! Party was followed by kareoke (I changed out of my toga for this public appearance) and crashing at Chris' apartment.

Tressa & I shot a few standard pre-party self-portraits.
Several of the 20-or-so guests in attendance. I found that the Japanese folk didn't take to the idea of costumes as well as the Westerners.
Our dear Mona is definitely not shy!

Our hosts, the Butters, started out Black Tie but ended up dishevled and lingerie-clad.

Me, the result of a lengthy keitai photo-shoot.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Thank You!

I passed 1000 hits on my counter, in less than a month, and I'm pretty freakin' stoked!!! Thanks to everyone for checking out my site and keeping up to date on my life; I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. As always, comments and critiques are welcome.
Much love, Cry


Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Development: Fear of Elevators

I am hesitant to disclose the following event...

Following our viewing of Mr & Mrs Smith last eve, the ladies and I headed to the parkade at Oyama Roble. This usually involves crossing a causeway, but at 11:30pm said causeway was closed leaving us to venture down seven floors, cross the street and enter the parkade from ground level. As I said, there were six of us.

We reach the parkade and proceed to pack the elevator, that is to say, we were not uncomfortable in the small elevator, and possibly could have squeezed 1-2 additional Japanese-type folk inside, but there was not room to have tea and crumpets.

Nori pushes the "door close" button. Nothing happens. Nori pushes the "door close" button. Nothing happens. Nori, again, pushes the "door close" button. Nothing happens. Disputes about the maintenance and working order of the elevator commence. It is decided that the elevator is in order, or there would be a sign. Someone utters, "What if we're over capacity?" Hysterical, nervous, laughter erupts. Someone jokes that Jody, who is closest to the door, should exit the elevator (sarcastically suggesting that we will minus one person at a time until we are within capacity). Jody exits the elevator. Nori pushes the "door close" button. Nothing happens. Comments about us dropping to our deaths in this obviously defective shaft are initiated. Treva exits the elevator, leaving four people within. Nori pushes the "door close" button. Door closes.

I look at the "total capacity" sign above me. It reads: "9 people / 600 kgs." We collectively drop to our psycological deaths.


My Old Boyfriend

I've apparently given him up to Jody, my dear Brad... but what can I say?? It must be quarter-life crisis, this trading in for a younger model business (ah Harry, where would I be without you?!)

The ladies and I treated ourselves to a $10 movie last night (Wednesday is Ladies Night at the Oyama theatre) and definitely got our money's worth. Nori, Tressa, Jody, Jaime, Treva and I gaped and drooled the whole way through.

Mr & Mrs Smith was predictable, and, some spectators thought, a little too action-packed, but who can resist that eye-candy?? Throw in Vince Vaughn and all his dreamboatiness and I'm sold; that guy cracks me up, he's a kick in the pants, yo.

Obviously I am a little late to the parade, I know. Being out of North America is being out of the
loop, and I am fully aware that this picture is already for retail over yonder... but we gotta take what we can get here, a'ight?

In any case, without rambling like I tend to, the screenplay was humourous & captivating, the acting believable, the hot-quotient substantial: definitely recommended. I give it four out of five stars and suggest paying full price at the theatre or rental shop; consider buying at discount.


    • At 5:30 AM, Blogger Danica said…

      I thought the movie was pretty funny when I saw it, then Matt watched it last night and he thought it was funny too. He kept saying...'that is exactly what you would do....'
      I guess it is old married people humor

    • At 7:02 AM, Blogger Jody D. White said…

      I told you. Brad isn't my boyfriend... Vince is! But if you feel like swinging ... I'm cool with that.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

My New Boyfriend


Harry Potter

You crave your own knight in shining armour: the
guy who will swoop in and save you, and manage
to be a sweet lover and good dad all at the
same time. You are the girl he's fighting for!

Who is your Harry Potter love match? (for girls)
brought to you by


    • At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I have a new boyfriend too.....Victor Freakin Krum...ITS HOT!!!! haha
      Love Tress

    • Post a Comment


...was the word of the day for the rocky start to our Tokyo weekend. Why? Well, we (Tressa, Jody and I) departed from the station closest to my house (about 5 minute walk; unfortunately it's on NO major train lines) called Otago Station. Apparently no skills are necessary if one is looking to acquire a position at Otago station, as the "Station Master" (must be said in a rough, low voice with one fist punching upward into the air) was completely inept. I felt like we had time-warped when she pulled out her ABACUS to calculate our change! Proving that abacuses are OBSOLETE, she short changed us by over $50!! Ahhhhh!

The girls popped open their Chu-hi's (like a cooler, in a can) as soon as we stepped onto our little one-car train; I waited a while... still in recovery from the night previous. The weather was wonderful: crisp and clear. We got close to Tokyo around 4pm, just as the sun was setting. It was the perfect vantage point to see Fuji-San (Mr. Fuji; Mount Fuji) in the pink horizon; beautiful!

We first went to our hotel which was in Shingawa, a smaller ward in Tokyo. It was relatively easy to find and only a five-minute walk from Kamata Station. The hotel was quite impressive for 3-star, business class. Our room featured three super-single sized beds... uh, BEDS! Hello!?!?! First bed experience in 9 months, I was pretty freakin' excited about that! The hotel was the closest one I could find online to Shibuya for less than $400, and was still $210.

After wandering Shingawa a while, eating some SUBWAY, and prettying ourselves up, the ladies and I proceeded on to Shibuya for a night of dancing. Dancing, yeah! Shibuya was quite impressive: highrises, millions of people... Good shopping there. Shibuya train station is the largest in the world; over 2 million people pass through it daily.

Understand that I painstakingly planned this trip down to the transfer times for trains and everything... well, the one thing I forgot was the address/phone number to the club we wanted to go to. I assumed that this club was going to be like the one we visited in Roppongi; basically we stepped off the train there and were handed a brochure for that club (having decided beforehand it was where we were going) by a tout; the club itself was 1 minute walk from the station... not the case this time.

Not only was the club a great deal smaller, but it was neither touted nor immediately visible when walking up the correct street... no cabbies knew where it was, and people giving directions tended to point us opposite ways!! After Tressa flirted with/asked for directions from a hot street Koban (cop; apparently giving directions is the main responsibility in this position) and I raced into an internet cafe to find a better online map to the club, we ended our 2-hour wander through Shibuya. Actually, it was a good opportunity to see some of this ward, and as it turned out, the club was just starting to get busy when we arrived, so it worked out well.

The club was a lot smaller than we assumed it would be, but we were determined to make the most of it. Cover charge was 2500 yen, or $25 CN, but included all-you-can-drink, which is ever-interpreted to drink-all-you-can, in my case. We could drink anything we wanted; I drank Moscow mules all night, which are basically the Japanese version of Vodka-Sevens. Many of the bartenders (all HOT) were from Canada.

Pretty much immediately after entering the bar we were approached by a group of ENORMOUS men. Turned out they are all on a professional Rugby team here in Japan; from Fiji and New Zealand mostly; built like trucks. The music played was great (all hip-hop) and the ballers could dance, so we spent the entire night shakin' our booties. Actually, we didn't close the bar down (miraculously) but left around 3am. Sadly, I didn't bring my camera to the bar.

Cab back to our hotel cost around $60 (trains stop running just after midnight in Tokyo). Got
a couple hours sleep before having to get up in time for check out (10am; we asked about late-check out and were told 1.5 hours more would cost over $60. Uh, no thanks!). Predictably, that extra half hour of sleep was more precious than the free breakfast buffet included with our reservation.

We dragged our still-drunk asses back to the station and climbed aboard a Gap-sponsored train (CRAZY!) to Harajuku. Harajuku station was much smaller than I thought it would be, but the area lived up to it's promise of flocks of strangely-attired Harajuku people. I saw more goth types (think Marilyn Manson x100) than Alice-in-wonderland types, but they were all very cool, and many were extremely creepy. We visited a street famous for selling the outfits that these people don, as well as other crazy knick-knacks and doo-dads.

At a great four-floor shop called the Oriental Bazaar I dropped nearly $200 on Christmas presents! Miraculously I spent only $15 on purchases for myself this time (bought 2 scarfs). We visited a perfumery where we found a hilarious line of perfumes/room fresheners with scents such as "Lettuce," "Dirt," "Laundry Room," and "Funeral Home."

After nearly falling asleep on the trains home, we walked in our doors sore and sleepy around 5:30 last night. I managed to stay awake until 7pm, then slept straight through until 8:15 this morning! Spent Monday feeling rather like I'd been hit by a bus. Talk about it.

Props to Jody-chan for finally having posted her account of our exploits before me! Check it out at:


Squeezin' my Grapefruits

...getcha minds outta da gutta peeps. It's not dirrty.

Friday I met nine friends (including Tress, Daichi, Sagi-San, Nori, Yoko, Peter, Mike and Koji) for dinner in Yuki. An Indian restaurant opened there about a month ago and I was DYING to try it. Turned out to be fantastic and I'm likely to take up residence INSIDE the restaurant. Love Indian food!

Daichi raved about Koji's minivan; apparently it's supernice. I've learned that swank minivans are not only a socially acceptable vehicle for single young men, but actually a status symbol as well!! Perhaps the equivalent of an Escalade or Porche in North America?? Weird.

Mike took his leave and the rest of us met up with Trav at SHIDAX for kareoke. Good times. In his first outing with my friends, Koji faired very well. They all had good comments about him (made to me the SECOND Koji left for the bathroom!) and he felt at ease, singing and dancing with everyone... even though he wasn't drinking. I think Koji won the respect of certain friends when he sang Basket Case by Green Day. I was drinking (surprise, surprise) and was overjoyed that Koji gallantly sqeezed my grapefruits for my sho-chus all night. Awwww!

Overall, a hellagood Shimodate evening. Thanks all, for coming!


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