18 October 2007

Mountains, cooler, nicer

Another work-week is almost done. The work week ends for me at 8:30 pm Thursday night after teaching a Bible class and 7 other classes that day. It's the longest day. Fridays and Saturdays there are no classes. One class Sunday morning. All other classes are Monday to Thursday, usually between about 10 or 11 am and 6 or 7 pm. The weekend is just around the corner! [anticipation]

Last weekend was great. Went to the Hiroshima San-iku High School (SDA School), which is connected to the elementary school here (where I teach). The High School is in the mountains about 45 minutes drive out of Hiroshima city. It's in a beautiful setting... quite, clean, fresh and peaceful. Caught up with the other gaijin English teachers there. Made good friends with them. Look forward to more good times. The High School has an awesome 80-voice choir. Heard them practice... made me wish I could join them.

We left Hiroshima Friday afternoon, caught the train to get to the High School. I was too busy on my phone, trying to work out how to use the GPS functionality. After guessing what the Japanese writing meant, I finally worked out how to have a map showing the path we were travelling on the train... zoom in and out, and position updated every 1 or 2 seconds (accuracy to about 50 m). It was great!... until I saw on the GPS map that we had passed the train station we were meant to get off!

So, GPS came in handy after all! (although if I didn't have it, I would not have been distracted, and I would not have missed the stop!) Anyway, we got off at the next station and then wondered how long till the next train... (here's were I use another function on my phone). On the phone, I searched for the nearest train station (GPS determines the nearest stations showing distances from each). Selected the train station we were at, select the train line and direction, then the phone lists the departure times of trains for the rest of the day, showing a countdown timer for the next train.

The countdown timer showed only 50 seconds till the next train! Just as I realised, the music at the station came on (which happens before a train comes), and I saw the trian coming around the corner! We were lucky to have the train come so soon (next one was 30 min later and someone was waiting to pick us up). So, we were driven to San-iku after arriving back at the missed train stop. I checked the countdown timer another time and the train arrived within 5 seconds of the scheduled time. That is soooo Japan! That's the style of schedules here. I like it! And all of this was "out in the country". Time is still kept on time "in the bush".

We spent Friday and Saturday night at San-iku High School, which has about 300 students (east north east of Hiroshima). Sunday morning, caught the train back to Hiroshima. Raced home, freshened up, did a class at the English School, caught another train to Iwakuni (45 min train ride south-west) and met some friends there. Had a great time, they shared a meal with us, and we encouraged each other in our Christian faith. Came home tired late Sunday night after an enjoyable weekend.

Well, the cooler weather has finally come. Minimums of about 12 and max of about 25. Really nice Autumn weather. The skies seem clearer (bluer) and mornings are fresher (and nicer). Got the quilt on my bed now (instead of surviving with just a sheet).

Went to Hiroshima International Centre [actually "Center"] for the first time yesterday. They have many good activites for foreigners. They have free Japanese classes and free one on one Japanese lessons. I signed up for one and waiting for response. It's also a good place to hang out and meet other gaijins (foreigners) and practice English or Japanese or anything else, make friends, learn new cultures etc. I met another Aussie there who went to school in the same town I used to live (Warwick, QLD)! And another Japanese who lived in Melbourne (where I also used to live). So, it's a place I think I'll hang out a bit. Make friends and learn Japanese.

Class begins in 5 minutes... ja mata!

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