Monday, January 15, 2007

I guess it was too good to be true...

Sunday, we did some running around in preparation for Monday's ski trip, Yoshiko's second in her life, and her first in a long time. We checked out a couple of sports shops looking for cheap gear, picked up a couple of things at Xebio and Fukudaya. After having lunch in a cafe where the smoking section was twice as big as the non-smoking section, reflecting a very obvious lack of health knowledge in this place, we returned home. It was at about this time that the planned ski trip which I was so looking forward to came crashing down. You see, the plan was to take advantage of the deal on this flier which was given to me by a student of mine.

The flier basically says that they offer a bus service to 2 resorts departing every day from 2 stops in Utsunomiya, at 7AM and 7:30AM respectively from the East-side of JR Utsunomiya station and Daiko where free parking is available. The 4800Yen cost includes the bus there and back, lift ticket and 1000Yen off rental of equipment, all in all, a pretty good deal. So we call yesterday afternoon to book our place on what we assumed to be a relatively empty bus since it was leaving on a Monday, and this is when we learned that the bus does not exist. Not this Monday it doesn't... nor any other day on which less than 10 people have signed up. D'oh!

Unlike the flier says, the bus does not run every day. You have to book a week or more in advance, and then if they have 10 or more people by their cutoff date, they send you a form which you fill out, take to a bank and send money to them in order to reserve your seat. Had this information been on the flyer, we would have gladly done so, but not knowing, our trip disappeared into thin air, to my great disappointment.

Not only that, but none of the other resorts have any way to get out to them unless you have a car outfitted with winter tires and\or chains, except for those on Bandai mountain, which is about a 100$ train trip out. Hunter mountain, the nearest resort to us, has a bus running from the nearest station, but only on weekends. Unless you've got a car, you're pretty much left high and dry. Too bad really, as I'm sure they could get some people out to the hills with the minimal expense of 1 or 2 return buses. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper for a while yesterday afternoon, but I did manage to get out of my funk thanks to my wonderful wife. We have now booked our seats on the bus for next Sunday, when we should at least be guaranteed a run out due to weekend skiers. Anywho, instead of skiing today, we headed down to the theater and took in "Lucky Number Slevin" a pretty good movie, thanks to a rather twisting plot.

As of today, I have 24 days of work remaining. The end is near and I'm sure things will go by very quickly. Things have gotten a bit rocky at the office... lack of communication, planning and decision making have left a few holes in the normally tight ship we run. One such failure resulted in me finding out on Sunday (via email from one of our students to Yoshiko, if you can believe it) that I had to work.... wait for it... on Sunday. Needless to say, I didn't put off my plans for the day with my wife to rush to my apartment, throw on a suit and go in to the office. 24 days, that's all I have to keep reminding myself of... 24 days. It's been a good run, but it is certainly time to go after almost 2 years.

In other news, the package I sent home should have made it by now and there are probably a couple of people wondering just what the hell this thing is:

The answer: A Vietnamese-style coffee press, with which you can make individual cups using the amazing coffee I also sent along. The instructions are simple. Allow me to label the parts pictured above A, B, C and D from left to right. The process is simple. Take part A and place it on top of a cup holding about 1/3 of an inch of condensed milk. Put part B onto part A and scoop in 2 or so tablespoons of ground coffee. The amount of coffee will vary depending on your taste and the type of coffee used. You then put part C into part B on top of the coffee and press down gently so that it sits level. You then pour boiling water into part B and put part D on top to keep things warm while it drips. After about 5 minutes, you should have yourself a lovely cup of coffee, Vietnamese style, meaning strong and sweet. Enjoy! It has been very nice to finally get a way to make coffee at home. Until coming back from Vietnam, I had to drink the sludge they serve up at work, or fork out the cash for Starbucks or Tullys... now I can make my own high-octane blend right at home!

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Blogger Jean said...

That's too bad there bud. In any case, we are looking forward to having you back home. I keep forgetting to get the place ready for when you folks come down to Sarnia this spring or summer or whatever. Enjoy your final days my friend. Say hello to the wife.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

RE: The Vietnamese coffee maker: use French coffee, espresso ground.

If you ever want more makers, you can buy them in Vancouver for about $5 each.


6:08 PM  
Blogger tornados28 said...

That's too bad about the snowboarding. What a let down.

I love your picture of the lanterns from the shrines at Nikko.

11:37 AM  

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