Thursday, February 25, 2010
My Hakuba Home まあい はくば ほむ
I have definitely carved my own little niche in the mountain here though. When I go to the local pub or walk to the mountain or ride around on a bike, I bump into people I know. I feel right at home in this little alpine town, despite being a foreigner. I guess the main reason is because there are so many other foreigners here. The snow is amazingly beautiful, however, since that first week I came here, the snow has never been as good. Everything was covered in a two foot layer of snow, like piles of meringue or marshmallow and it was raining soft little snowflakes every day. There were icicles hanging from the hotel balcony like some kind of Ice Palace and this may sound stupid, but the snow is SO white. All the dirt and filth that humans create is just buried and hidden away under this pure, white, sparkling snow. I love it.
The last few days have been really clear and sunny, which means fantastic views from the summit, but icy runs down the mountain. And believe me, I have felt the full brunt of that ice on every part of my bottom. But I had a great run the other day where I made it down the mountain several times without falling over once and manipulating some nice turns. I don't know if you've heard, but people are saying I'm the next Torah Bright :P
The last few days I got to catch up with some friends from home, which was good to share some experiences and sample some Japanese food together each night. I was able to teach them some Japanese words too! I have been trying to learn Japanese while I'm here, thanks to the girls that work here, Mayumi and Tomoko. They have a lot of patience with my pronunciation and questions. I finally feel like I can almost hold a very basic conversation, although I know a whole lot of words and not necessarily how to string them together in a sentence. But when I listen to people talk in Japanese, I can pick up a few words and that's exciting. My favourite words so far are
1. Bakchikku - means fireworks, and I love it because it sounds like what it is
2. Sukebe Jiji - pronounced like "scabby jiji" and means dirty old man
3. Kombanwe - means good evening and I like it because it sounds african
4. Sugoye! - means awesome or great.
5. Gambatte - means go for it!
Yesterday I also learnt how to read Hirigana in one lesson, and found it is actually easier than I thought. But most things are written in Katakana, a more complex written form, so I can only read some things, and even then I need to know the English translation. But it is fun. I have been amusing the girls by trying to read anything and everything from labels on drink bottles to pamphlets.
Last night I also had my first onsen experience. An onsen is like a big communal hot tub where you have one for females and one for males and you go there to relax and bathe, sort of like a sauna and spa. The difference is you are naked. I went with two of the girls I work with and at first, it is a little daunting. But there is something liberating about not giving a damn and by the end you are so relaxed you don't care. It' all very hygeinic because you shower and scrub before you get in. And when you get out, your skin feels so soft and you are so relaxed and clean, it was sugoye. This one had an indoor and outdoor, but you don't stay in for more than half an hour because it gets pretty hot after a while.
They also bought a cheapo guitar for the hotel, so I have been able to get some singing and playing time in, which is so good, because I was missing my guitar immensely. Some guys down the road also have a jam session every Sunday night which I try to go to, becuase one of them has a guitar exactly like my Cole Clark at home - yes, I am blatantly using him for his guitar, haha.
So that's how things are going at the moment, I will try to do like ET and phone home eventually, I miss you all, all the time, but things get a little easier every day. I will be sort of sad leaving this little family here, but can't wait to get to Malaysia and see my real family too! I have a bit less than 4 weeks to go.
Lots of hugs and kisses,