Friday, March 30, 2007
Eating hurts sooooo much. Especially things like oranges or kimchi. OUCH!!! But I have been eating them anyway. Really, anything I eat or drink hurts, as it hurts to swallow. It hurts to breath.
WHEN will it go away?????
On the way back there were a couple of guys on the train that were also heading to the consulate. Every day, there are many people going to Japan to get VISAs for Korea. As it was almost 11 by the time we got to Toujinmachi, we shared a cab to the consulate. Not a cheap method of transportation there, but it was fast enough to get us there before they shut the gates for the 1.5/2 hour lunch break. There weren't many people actually at the consulate so it was fairly quick once we were there. The guys had only arrived that morning and had not even stopped to check into the hotel yet, and were a bit tired. I think neither of them had slept the night before.We went for lunch at a little Italian restaurant near the Dome and then they headed back to Hakata Station to check into the hotel and get some rest (it seems that most people that go to Fukuoka for their VISA run end up staying in that hotel). I decided to do some more walking and sightseeing. My first stop was Ohori Park, one station from Toujinmachi. I walked, of course, as to go one stop on the train would have cost me 200Yen!!!Ohori park is quite large and is basically a huge man made lake with a park through the middle and around the edges.At one end, there are HUGE koi and other such fish. There were so many of them it would be nearly impossible to count them all. People were feeding them, so there was also a huge flock of seagulls and pigeons. They kept trying to scare the birds away, though, as the food was meant for the fish.[The birds started flying as just as I took the picture. They had been all on the water.][This might give you an idea of the size of the fish. That wasn't even one of the biggest ones!]I watched them for a while before heading along through the park that split the lake in two (the first part is a huge bridge, though, not actually park). Along the way, I was a bit confused by the signs. Fishing is allowed only in certain areas of the lake.Along the park, there are signs saying fishing/no fishing, no fishing/fishing, fishing/no fishing, etc. What difference does it make, really?
There were huge ravens all over as well as the pigeons and gulls.On a small island in the lake (not accessable), there were also some massive birds. I'm not sure what all of them were, but I know some were herons (on the ground and in the water on the left).
Once across, I tried to go to a Japanese garden that was shown on my map, but the gates were closed. The Fukuoka Art Museum was also closed, due to the fact that it was Monday (I was later told). So I headed on to the Gokoku Shrine.The Gokoku Shrine covers a very large area. Most of it is just open space. The meaning of Gokoku is something along the lines of guardian of the State. Where I was standing to take this picture is on a big tarmac. Beyond the gate is a huge grassy area with a wide gravel path leading all the way to the building. There is also a gravel path intersecting that one.ALL of the gravel is kept raked (there is a lot of it). The lines in the gravel basically followed the edges; running the entire length of the paths, for example. In this pic, I am standing on the steps of the building. There is a set of lines going around the building and then the other ones follow the edge of grassy area.
From there I went to the Fukuoka Castle Ruins and Maizuru Park.At the ruins there isn't much to see other than very high fortress like sides with gardens of different types of flowers and trees on the different levels - plum tree garden, cherry tree garden, azalea garden, iris garden, etc.Some of the trees around the place are MASSIVE!!! There is a woman standing beside the tree in the picture (front right), to give you an idea of its size.
At one of the higher levels of the Castle, (the sign for the area said the Tamon Tower courtyard), there is a very long building along the edge but I'm not sure if it is part of the original Castle or not, as it looks fairly new. Maybe it was re-built?There is only one very old looking building on the other side (the Kinen Tower).When I finally tired of walking around the ruins, I went to Tenjin Station (2 stops away) which is supposed to be a very good shopping area with underground malls and such. I wandered about for a while and then went for a walk. I decided to try to find the Yanagibashi Market. I didn't find it, but did see quite a bit of the city. By the time I got back to the hotel, I had walked for over 9 hours since the guys had left for the hotel. I was exhausted.
I took advantage of the little bathtub. Even though it was small, it was quite deep - about knee deep on me (I have long legs).
For more info on where to stay in Fukuoka, check out
Thursday, March 29, 2007
"Hymen Fatwa" Causes Waves in Egypt
See? Fatwas Can Be Feminist...
The Egyptian newspaper the Daily Star reports that the Grand Mufti of Egypt has issued a fatwa stating that women who lose their virginity before marriage undergoing reconstructive hymen surgery is "halal" (permissible).
"Islam never differentiates between men and women, so it is not rational for us to think that God has placed a sign to indicate the virginity of women without having a similar sign to indicate the virginity of men," El Gindy said.
"Any man who is concerned about his prospective wife’s hymen should first provide a proof that he himself is virgin," he added.
Some have argued that hymenoplasty can help protect the reputations, and in some cases the lives, of women who have been raped or have had sex outside of marriage, but repented.
...Or Just Plain Medieval
Just a few days before the "Hymen Fatwa" was released in Egypt, Abu Hassan Din Al-Hafiz, a Malaysian Islamic cleric, offered a somewhat different solution. He suggested women wear chastity belts to prevent rape. "We have even come across a number of unusual sex cases, where even senior citizens and children were not spared," said Al-Hafiz. "The best way to avert sex offenders is to wear protection." Needless to say, many Malays were shocked by Al-Hafiz's public statements. Malaysian women stopped wearing chastity belts in the 1960s.
* * *I hope this at least serves as a reminder of the incredible diversity of belief and values within "the Muslim world."
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Kushida shrine lies at the heart of old Hakata, the centre of the old city and is from here that the competitors in Fukuoka's most famous festival, the Yamagasa depart on their long early morning run.
Founded in 757, Kushida shrine is not only spectacular but contains a variety of items of interest. Note in particular the Eto Arrow plate with its carvings of the Chinese zodiac and the brace of anchor stones recovered from the harbour that belonged to the Mongolian invasion fleets. Note also the Yamakasa portable shrine.
There is a ginko tree in the forecourt that a 1918 monument claims is 1000 years old. The grand deity, Ohata Nushina-mikoto, is enshrined here.
But it is in mid-July that the shrine is best enjoyed - it hosts the "Oiyama" event of the Yamakasa-gion festival. Hundreds of near naked men clad only in tight loincloths and tighter buttocks vie to carry heavy wooden shrines through the streets over a set route in the fastest times. The main event commences at 4:59am.
[All photos taken March 11, 2007]
[If you're traveling to Fukuoka and need to find a good hotel, check out Fukuoka Hotels for a large variety of options.]
Not only has the infection in my throat gotten worse, but it has also spread to my left ear. So now I have a severe case of tonsillitis, but also an inner ear infection. The gland on the left side of my neck is VERY swollen, and kind of reminds me of the little quail eggs that they eat here. This morning when I woke up, it was even difficult to breathe. It got only slightly better than that during the day, but I've felt dizzy and nauseaus almost all day.
I went back to the doctor and he did the same things as yesterday, and then I got an injection in my 'hip'. He says if it were a recurring problem, it would require surgery, but since it isn't, it is best to just wait for it to heal (unless it continues to worsen).
This is not fun.
One good thing that happened today: I FINALLY got my water cooler. Tomorrow I will find out the number to call to order my water, and then I'll be set with instant hot and cold water. Yay!!!!!
Monday, March 26, 2007
If it is not getting better by Wednesday, he says I should get injections. Ugh.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
THE CURTAIN RODS
She spent the first day packing her belongings into boxes, crates, and suitcases. On the second day, she had the movers come and collect her things. On the third day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table by candlelight, put on some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar, and a bottle of Chardonnay.
When she had finished, she went into each and every room and stuffed half-eaten shrimp shells dipped in caviar into the hollow of all of the curtain rods. She then cleaned up the kitchen and left.
When the husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days.
Then, slowly, the house began to smell. They tried everything; cleaning, mopping, and airing the place out. Vents were checked for dead rodents, carpets were steam cleaned, and air fresheners were hung everywhere!
Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which they had to move out for a few days, and in the end they even paid to replace the expensive wool carpeting. Nothing worked. People stopped coming over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid quit.
Finally, they could not take the stench any longer and decided to move.
A month later, even though they had cut their price in half, they could not find a buyer for their stinky house. Word got out, and, eventually, even the local realtors refused to return their calls. Finally, they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a newplace.
The ex-wife called the man and asked how things were going. He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely and said that she missed her old home terribly and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back. Knowing his ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, he
agreed on a price that was about 1/10th of what the house had been worth, but only if she were to sign the papers that very day. She agreed, and, within the hour, his lawyers delivered the paperwork.
A week later, the man and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home, including the curtain rods.
I just love a happy ending, don't you?
Tequila and Salt
This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it everyday.
You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.
1. There are at least two people in this world that you would die for.
2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.
5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
6. You mean the world to someone.
7. You are special and unique.
8. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.
9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
10. When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.
11. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
And always remember....when life hands you Lemons, ask for tequila and salt, and call me over!
Good friends are like stars........You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.
"Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway"
I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I'm here than a whole truck load when I'm gone.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I am still shrinking a bit. I am not altogether sure why. I am almost never hungry and sometimes forget to eat dinner, but I do still eat, and it is not that different from before I started having problems. I am not eating properly, I know. The only really healthy meal I have is lunch, as the school provides it. I have a tiny breakfast, usually yogurt or something like that that is quick and easy. For dinner, often I just have a sandwich (most often peanutbutter related) when I remember that I have to eat. I have had 2 hamburgers so far this week, though, as I have been out and busy. I also eat way too much chocolate and junk foods.
I started taking some multivitamins so I am hoping they will help me feel a bit more energetic. I know that I need to eat a bit better, but at the moment it is difficult. I STILL haven't even gotten my home fully organized.
Back at home, it is usually done in a comfortable relaxing room and they give you time to prepare. Here, you go into the small room with the two girls (the first time I went there were three of them) that do the waxing, and they stand there waiting for you to take it all off and hop onto the bed/table. They both work at the same time, one on each side. I got my legs and underarms done, as well. Both put on wax and pul off the strips in their own time, so there is no chance to prepare for the expected pain of each strip. A lot of the time, they were talking to each other. I'm not sure what they were saying most of the time, but at one point they said something to do with my skin being like paper (maybe because I am pasty white). For the most part, I just kept my eyes closed and tried to think about other things. The light above was so bright, and paying attention to what was being done didn't help much.
It isn't cheap, either. I'm not sure what it costs back home in Canada, as I usually did it myself and then had my sister do it when she became an esthetician.
Scandal brews over tea-for-urine switch
BEIJING (Reuters) - A group of Chinese reporters came up with a novel idea to test how greedy local hospitals were -- pass off tea as urine samples and submit the drink for tests.
The results: six out of 10 hospitals in Hangzhou, the capital of the rich coastal province of Zhejiang, visited by the reporters over a two-day period this month concluded that the patients' urinal tracts were infected.
Five of the hospitals prescribed medication costing up to 400 yuan ($50), the online edition of the semi-official China News Service (www.chinanews.com) said in a report seen on Wednesday. Of the hospitals, four were state-owned.
"It makes one shiver all over even though it's not cold," the China News Service said after its reporters and colleagues from Zhejiang Television tested the hospitals.
The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper said in a commentary on Wednesday: "Healthy people are diagnosed with diseases. Small ailments are said to be serious problems. Patients have become automatic teller machines for the hospitals."
The failure of health reforms and rising costs of medical care have sparked social discontent and become flashpoints for unrest in the world's most populous nation, where millions cannot afford to consult doctors or buy medicine.
Health Minister Gao Qiang has accused greedy hospitals of charging excessive fees and prescribing unnecessary and expensive medication.
Market reforms in the past two decades have cut off state subsidies to many hospitals and left the health care system in need of life support.
State media have reported patients committing suicide because they cannot afford exorbitant medical costs.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
You are The Moon
Hope, expectation, Bright promises.
The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.
The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
After I ate I headed back to my room to get ready to go out for a day of wandering about.
My plan was to go to Gion Station to wander about the area, as the map shows several temples and what not there. I wasn't sure what the distance was between stations, but since it was only one station away, decided to just walk and find out. They aren't too far apart, so it only took about 10 minutes to get there. I'm not even sure how many temples and shrines I went to, as I know I saw more than what is shown on my little map. I love Buddhist temples and shrines. The structures are always so beautiful, and I love the little gardens and such as well.
I also did a little bit of shopping (or looking) every time I found any sort of shopping street.I think the covered shopping streets are a great idea. They are easier to keep clean and don't have to worry about covering things when it rains. Behind one of the covered shopping streets was a small river/canal, of which there are several in the city.
I was looking for a folk museum that is mentioned on the map, and wasn't sure where to look, so I kept walking and ended up at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.
Tserennadmidin Tsegtmed, 1958-
oil on canvas
The Orkhon River is 1123 km in length and flows through the eastern Khangai ranges of Mongolia. The scene depicted here shows an actual site, the Red Falls on the upper reaches of the river. These falls are highly revered by Mongolians, whose grassy plains do not contain many waterfalls. Tsegmed is known for his depiction of the lively exchange between nature and people in Mongolia. The primary theme of this work lies on the sublime power of nature long revered by Mongolians. Similarities can be found between the artist's expression in this painting and the feminine lines of the traditional Buddhist figures unique to Mongolia.
I did manage to find the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum. There do several demonstrations there at different times. The ones I saw were Hakata-ori textile weaving (which I got to try) and Hakata doll making. Hakata is a district of Fukuoka, and at one time, I think, was a merchant town.
I was amused by the instructions for the toilet, especially #1: "Sit down on the seat."
Leaving on the 10th was quite stressful, as I didn't know that I was leaving then, until the afternoon of the 9th. My VISA expired on the 9th. Everyone (my boss, my friends, my recruiter, etc) had heard/said that I had a 2 weeks grace period after my VISA expiry date in which to leave the country. I had no choice in the matter, as my school didn't get my VISA confirmation letter until, I thiink, the 8th or 9th, and I wasn't the one that was booking tickets and such. The original plan, thinking about the 2 weeks grace, had me leaving on the 23rd to spend an entire weekend in Japan and then doing the run. Then on the 9th, they were informed that my last school handed in my release forms to immigration on February 28th, which would mean that my VISA probably ended on that day (so they were thinking), and so the 2 weeks grace would end on the 14th. The other teacher was going then, so I had to go ASAP.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
The guys are (left to right): Devin, Stan, Gil (my brother), Joel, Jago
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
my bathroom:YES!!!! I have a sink and a mirror!!! (There was no mirror, and no sink in the bathroom of my last home, only a faucet coming out of the wall near the floor.)
the enclosed balcony:my washing machine that I am slowly figuring out (It is VERY different from all of the others that I have had here).I do like the balcony part.I do find it a bit strange, though, in that I have to climb through a window to get to it.Some of the windows slide open to a little gardenish ledge,and a great view of Namsan Tower (Seoul Tower).