Saturday, April 11, 2009

Visit From Malaysian Rotarians

Over the last weekends, there was a visit from the Rotary club members from Malaysia (Ampang branch) and Taiwan. We only got to know about this event at the eleventh hour and Mr Sato Akemi, the President of Arai Rotary Club in Niigata Prefecture, who has a close relationship with the international students in our college extended his invitation for us to join this event. However, most of the international students were still in Malaysia and there were roughly half of us who went there, including the five newly arrived juniors.
It was held at Takada city, roughly two-hour drive down south from Nagaoka. As this trip were joined by only seven Malaysians, the college lecturers who took us there came to pick us up at the college's hostel with two cars but before that, we stopped at the nearby 7 Eleven outlet to grab some stuff for brunch.
One thing that distinguishes the convenience store in Japan and Korea is the variety of bento sets that can be found in Japan; in Korea, it's either a few Korean onigiri and not more than five bento sets.
I somehow feel that the highway in Japan is better-maintained than in Malaysia. By the way, the mountain are still covered with snow caps in the background.
One spot at the service area with sakura trees in the foreground which are yet to bloom.
We stopped at Yoneyama service area halfway through the journey to have our brunch.
It was sunny earlier that morning but by the time we stopped there, the sky began to darken and I realised I had made a wrong choice of attire for the day. Anyway, only if the weather is clear, we would be able to see Sado Island, the biggest island besides the four main island in Japan at the far background.
Here is where we had our brunch.
Our brunch - onigiri, potato chips, potato wedges, Kit Kat chocolate bars, sandwiches and two bottles of juice.
Since there were only seven of us, the lecturer used the school's budget to buy those food stuff.
One lesson learned - never pose with mouth still full with food
when taking pictures.
Sato sensei promoting his onigiri, Joann with her potato chips and Carine with her last bite of sandwich.

We continued our journey and within one hour later, we reached Takada city.
The road in the middle of the city.
Takada train station, which has a rare architecture; something like Disney's castle maybe?

The city was relatively much smaller than Nagaoka. Even though it was a Saturday, not many cars were spotted on the roads. Since the Rotarian from Malaysia and Taiwan have yet to arrived, we were taken to a wood factory, owned by one of Mr Sato Akemi's old friend, which was located just next to the train station.
We were like, "Is this a hanami trip or a field trip?"
This is one of the main machine used to cut the tree trunk.
Listening to the explanation by Mr Matsuoka but to be honest, I was just trying to stand as long as possible because I was in real need for toilet break at that time and I kept on shaking my body lol.
Those wood there came not only from Japan, but other countries like the Scandinavians, Americe, Canada, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia as well.
One group photo before we headed to the hotel to greet the Rotarians.
Apparently, they Rotary club members who came down didn't know that we were gonna meet them there and it was planned to be a surprise. The Taiwan bus arrived first, followed by the Malaysian one behind. Most of them looked quite surprised to see us there standing like the hotel's mascot and greet them.
Malaysian team from Ampang branch. At first, they kept saying "anpan, anpan" and I thought how is it related to anpanman lol.
Had picture taken with some of the members from Taiwan too.

While we waited for them to settle the check-in and keep their stuff in their respective rooms, Mr Sato invited us to have a tea break at the hotel's cafe. All six of us had cheese cake.
Cheese cake, which tasted like heaven.
From left: Sato sensei, Mr Sato Akemi, Carine, Joann and me. Two sato (sugar, in Japanese) in one table; our table must be very sweet (I know it's a lame joke).

Those Rotarians from Malaysia as we expected, practised our infamous SMT (Standard Malaysian Time). Everyone were supposed to gather at the lobby at 3.30pm but we only saw them starting to come down fifteen minutes later. That's considered quite fast, eh?
The town folks surely quite surprised to see such a big group of aliens walking along the streets of the town.
Over 4,000 illuminated sakura trees surround Takada Castle, making this place one of Japan's top three locations for night-time sakura viewing. They came a tad too early because it will take around two more weeks before the sakura in Takada Park blooms. Besides, it was raining the whole afternoon and it continued through the evening as well, which I'm sure it won't be the best hanami experience for them.
When the sakura are at full-bloom, I bet this place is gonna take any body's breathe away for its beauty.
A red bridge across a lotus pond.
If this is sighted in Malaysia, maybe they will have Hang Tuah and Hang Li Po pictures' drawn.
Four of the five new juniors in Nagaoka Kosen this year.
There are lots of naked statue along the path in the park. Another prove that Japanese are perverts lol.

Everyone was in jovial mood even though it was raining.
The rain made the day really cold and I misjudged the weather by wearing only one layer of shirt. There were times when I started to shiver when the wind blows. But when I returned to the hotel to guide the awaiting three lecturers to a cafe for our dinner together, one of them handed me a paper bag and said, "Here, I got some souvenir for you."
I was already excited, thinking that "Wow, I only came and show them the way to the cafe and they're giving me something." I looked inside and it turned out to be a raincoat. But still, I appreciated their concern on me.
We stopped at a house on our walk back to the hotel for a tea ceremony demonstration. This house is owned by one of the local Rotary Club member, Mr Arizawa who has an own company. It was indeed a huge house which has a Japanese garden and a special guest room which can be used for tea ceremony.
The Japanese garden outside the house.
One section of the guest house.
The lady who was preparing the tea using the traditional method.
I had experience such ceremony two years ago but I took this opportunity to join in as well.
The correct method involves some bowing and turning the bowl around a few times but I didn't really follow it this time because I have forgotten it already.
The Malaysian team; saw any familiar faces here?
The next event was a dinner at a local cafe nearby the hotel. We went to the cafe first before the rest arrived. There was one time we were invited to the stage to perform. Everybody were hinting at us to do the tiger dance and we looked at each other. This must be the biggest joke of the century.
Our instant reaction was something like, "What??!! This can't be true!"
The MC conducting the night.
Haha, no-lah, I was just kidding. We were just asked to introduced ourselves briefly but you know what, nobody bothered to listen to us and we were talking in front like clowns; all because they saw something else already.
Guess what did they see?
Nobody will beat Malaysians when it comes to food.
The crowd were later entertained by some performances by a band and after a while, people began to step up and dance. Since we were provided with free-flow of liquor, I had myself drunk that night. My first experience getting myself drunk.
Oh, again, I was just making that out. Of course I wasn't drunk, but I managed to try some Japanese sake on the night. And I can now conclude that I prefer Koreans soju as it's more mild compared to sake.
Elvis songs from the seventies were played on the night.
Me with the new juniors; somehow, I feel so old now already.

Mr Haga Ryusuke with the juniors.

One last group shot with the Malaysian representatives from Rotary Club.
Mr Sato Akemi decided to treat us to a sushi dinner-cum-supper after that before we headed back to Nagaoka. It was something unexpected, nevertheless, how could we reject it, right?
Everything in Japan has to look cute, even the paper for the chopsticks.
Sushi-making is like an art.
We ordered three servings similar servings of sushi and the sushi were super fresh and nice.
From left: Sato sensei, Mr Noguchi (lab technician), Mr Haga Ryusuke (Chikyu Lab's coordinator) and Mr Sato Akemi.

From left: Hong Yao, Yan Kuang, Hafiz and Faiz.
But during the sushi meal, something unexpected happened.
Every one's attention was turned to the same spot under the table.
Guess what was under the table.


Anonymous said...

they all looked under the table bcoz they saw the guy with the brown jacket pleasuring himself XD

baici said...

yum , yum ,

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
wow, you're fast. i hope you're not stalking me =P

haha, cheeky answer but that's not exactly the real reason, although that guy in brown jacket is kinda weird type one xD

calvin said...

@ baici:
yeah, too bad you didn't want to join us =P

mg said...

OMG BENTOS!!! so niceeeee!!! T__T

u were too underdressed, always bring extra jacket, better than shivering rite? :)

nice food!

and even the japanese restaurants here serve their food in a cute way. kenot tahan!! haha SO CUTE!!!

=chuan guan= said...

nice outing again wit heavenly food..omg...

a cat perhaps?

Kae Vin said...

lol cool.

and....I think it's a hamster since guan said it's a cat XD

but I don think Japanese will ever allow a stray animal to go into the restaurant?

chung min said...

"Takada train station...."
when i came across this at first, i tot it was tak ada train station, i like wth...tak ada.
i dont noe it is a place name also.haha


calvin said...

@ michelleg:
i don't have a bag for me to dump it inside. only if you are around and i can always tumpang my stuff, like my jacket in your handbag xD

never mind, i'd rather suffer to look nice wtf =P

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
yea, when we reached home, everyone was super full. not surprising when we got unlimited flow of food for the whole day lol.

just in case you don't know, it is super rare to see cats running around in japan. a dog will be more likely, but it wasn't a dog either =)

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
haha, hamster??! how is it possible for you to spot a hamster in a sushi restaurant-lah; unless they serve hamster sashimi lol xD

calvin said...

@ chung min:
haha, you're a real joker-lah. the place's name is takada (高田)、not "tak ada" lol xD

nope, it wasn't money =P

ns29 said...

maybe u can suggest bout the HangTuah HangLiPoh to msia government..
not bad idea though

calvin said...

@ ns29:
yup, and i might be conferred a datukship for promoting the nation's history to the tourists.

Anonymous said...

haha nice one.. =)

calvin said...

yup =)