26 July 2010

A Typical Morning

6:00 the alarm goes off, dark outside, press snooze again, and again, and again.

Lift my heavy head off my pillow, drag the covers back, feel the cool winter morning seep in, and eventually place my feet on the carpet.

Freshen up, grab some cereal from the kitchen and get dressed for the day in front of the electric heater.

Clean teeth and collect the necesssary keys, phone, wallet and one or two other things I need for the day.

Slip my shoes on and head out of my Southbank apartment at 7:07 am. I know I have no time to spare, but will also be on time.

Walk down St Kilda Rd towards the city past National Gallery, water fountains outside, tree-lined avenue, trams rumbling by.

Sky is getting lighter, clouds have orange tinge, air is very crisp at 6 degrees. People attired for work walk on the footpath, some holding a warming drink, others with scarf and gloves.

See the illuminated city buildings, soon to be over-brightened by the lightening sky. Walk across the Yarra river past Federation Square, and pas the clock at Flinders St station which says 7:20.

Down Swanston St and then into Collins, past the banks, hotels and stores. Across the crossing, look up at the Commonwealth Bank building. Press the button and up the lift.

Out the window, see the sun beginning to shine on the NAB building. Hot air ballons rising above.

Log in, check emails. It's 7:30 am. Time to start the day... at work... in Melbourne.

05 July 2010

How many places?

Since last writing, have probably met a hundred or more people who I hadn`t seen in a year or so.

Tue: Was nice catching up with family friends in Maebashi, Gunma-ken. Stopped overnight at capsule hotel in Kanda (next to Tokyo station), scrubbed up in the bath they had there, before watching Japan lose the game to drop out of the World Cup, but Japan played really well.

Wed: Up to catch the 4:52am train to Yokohama, then bullet train to Nagoya to see a good long-term Japanese friend for few minutes before work. On the train again to Hiroshima, home city, left 1 year ago. So strange seeing all the familiar places again! Lunch with friends from a Bible study group, then hung out at the school I used to teach English at. Really, really nice to see all the kids and parents from the school, as well as teachers and other friends. Dinner with more friends, then to a friends cousins` place in Hiroshima where I stayed 4 nights. Really nice Japanese apartment (size of a house) in a quiet area. Very thankful to be able to stay there.

Thu: More time with friends, at school, and aquaintances. Enjoyed a very nice home-cooked meal by one of the parents of the children from school.

Fri: Visited Peace Park with a friend. Lunch with kids at primary school. Quick haircut and shop at Uniqlo (best clothes store in the world, my favourite), bought a few Japanese Bibles, went home to prepare for nice Sabbath evening meal and worship time with many who I hadn`t seen in a long time.

Sabbath was beautiful time of reunion with brothers and sisters from the church. I felt like I was welcomed back so warmly, felt at home, and didn`t want to leave. Evening at the onsen after having a real good tempura udon dinner.

Sunday: Up early again, on the trains for Kawagoe where I met one of my Japanese friends from Melbourne who`s moved back to Saitama (near Tokyo). Nice little touristy town, also known as Little Edo (old Tokyo). Back to Tokyo station to meet Henry, Kiri and their Mum! Met with no problems and found with motel in Ginza without a hitch. Enjoyed very nice traditional Japanese dinner.

Monday: Hamarikyu Gardens, boat cruize up Sumidagawa River, meal in Asakusa, Sensouji Temple and Shrine, Ameyoko road-side stalls, Ochanomizu Bible shopping, Akihabara electric city shops, Ginza high-class shopping.

So, that brings us to now. Tomorrow we`ll go to: Imperial Palace, Shinjuku shops & city view, Yoyogi Park, Meiji Jingu shrine, Harajuku fashion and shops, Shibuya scramble crossing, Roppongi mid-town lifestyle complex, Hello Kitty store in Ginza, Odaiba for dinner with bayside city views.

Wednesday: to Hokkaido where we`ll spend 5 days or so going to Sapporo, Toyako & Furano where there are some real nice natural scenes including flower fields, lakes, mountains, volcanoes and views. Fly back to Kanto area and go to Hakone for 2 nights, then Kyoto and back to Australia.