Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mito Have Swans

AUGUST 22, 2007
Well, this is the continuation from the previous entry, where I reached Nagaoka Eki just in time to catch the bullet train to Mito. The reason I went there because there was this programme called 国立高等専門学校外国人留学生交流会 (Cultural Exchange Programme for Foreign Students of Japan National Technical Colleges). In case you are wondering what this programme got to do with swans, I will be explaining on that later on.
After reaching Nagaoka Eki, I realized that I have more than an hour before the departure time of the bullet train we were supposed to take. So I take another short rest inside the eki, while checking out the 3 sets of tickets I was holding.
Three sets, because there were three people from Nagaoka Kosen who attended this programme - Yan Kuang, Ridzuan and me with one sensei, Kondo Sensei accompanying us. As you can see, one set of ticket cost nearly 20,000yen (RM666), which mean I was holding around 60,000yen (RM2,000) of tickets.
It cost so much because we took this.
Shinkansen is the bullet train. That picture was taken at Nagaoka Eki. So, you can say that Nagaoka is not a kampung afterall, as bullet train do not have stations in kampung.
The journey to Mito took nearly 2 hours. We were the two lucky kosens, together with Nagano Kosen, as both of the kosens are the furthest from Mito, and we got to go there by skinkansen, instead of the normal train which will require longer hours of train rides plus the troublesome train exchanges.
We reached there by noon and our sensei took us for lunch. He was thinking to have curry rice. So, three of us had the same meal. Ridzuan just settled with salad as the chicken was non-halal.
Curry Rice
After checking in at Holiday Inn, which was just within walking distance from Mito Eki, we had our first session - the ice breaking ceremony with some short speech along the way. Later was the introduction about the country by each student from every kosen. I was wondering, what is the rational for doing that, when all but only 3 out of 24 students there were from Malaysia. The three students were each from Mongolia, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Then it continued with a talk by Hitachi Cable. They gave us printouts - 34 pages (I counted that) in total, printed both sides plus some pamphlets as well. I was wondering, what this cultural exchange programme thing got to do with cables and wires.
Using cables and wires to strengthen the bond between the Japanese and foreign students, perhaps. In the end, it turned out to be another of my class lesson in school. I dozed of once in a while during the talk as well. Besides that, the only thing I did was this.
Name Tag
Taking a picture of my name tag. MyKosen (Nagaoka Kosen), MyCountry (Mare-shia) and MyName (Karuvin) was written on it. Those in the brackets are direct pronunciation from the Japanese words
After the rather boring talk, we were given some time to get ready before we have a walk at 後楽公園 (Koraku Koen). They claim that it is among the top 3 park in Japan. So, naturally I was expecting for something extraordinary.
But it was just too ordinary. Too ordinary that the first thing that greeted me was a couple of black swan.
I tried calling them over, using some of my half-passed Japanese.
Then another couple. This time, it was a pair of little egret (bangau).
There was not just birds in this park. I spotted a huge black locomotive as well.
After that, it was only swan.
Twin swan.
Black and white swan.
See Kok Hong, my Cantonese is slowly improving already.
Even a sick swan too.
Suddenly, while I was so syiok with my swans, came a pigeon out of no where, posing in front of me.
Not just one. The whole bunch even did a formation to greet our visit there.
I did not have any dried corns or anything with me at that time. So I tried feeding them with something else.
A pink handphone toy I got from my sister picked up from somewhere.
But in the end, I was rejected - by a swan!
Feeling so down and hurt being rejected by a swam, I turned my attention to something else. I was thinking of taking a picture of a statue. But Randy just could not move away from there and kept posing there walked pass it. That is why I got this shot.
By the way, Randy (of so many people, was my roommate during this 3-day trip). Randy is one of my 5th year senpai from Ibaraki Kosen. Check out his blog here - tons of craps you can get from his blog.
Back to this statue, I did not miss a chance to pose with someone who is much taller than me.
And not like this nose-high swan.
Nose-high, but could not even reach my knees. We continued walking and saw a few of this duck look-alike boat.
It reminds me of those ducks back in my hometown. I mean duck boat, not another meaning of ducks. Anyway, there was a duck swimming across the duck boat in the picture.
But unfortunately, not every boat was ducks. Remember the story The Ugly Duckling? This time, I did not see any ugly duckling, but I saw an ugly dino. Worse still, it was pink in colour.
Only on our walk back, one of the sensei there told us that we did not go to the 偕楽園 (Kairakuen) in the first place due to time constrain. What we went was just 快楽公園 (Kairakouen).
No wonder I saw weird only swans and duckling all the way. We later went back and have our dinner. A buffet dinner.
And part of the PPKTJ All-Stars.
The Gang
From left: Yan Kuang (the DoTA King), Elvin (the Nagano Kid), Bao Cong (the Fashion King), Mingrong (the Water Fish), Jonathan (the Bear Bear) and me.
Later that night, we had soba making session called そば打ち (soba uchi). Not much picture as my camera had run out of battery by that time. All the picture was from Elvin's camera.
We were given a few packets of flour, water and some tools to work with. First, let the master show us the way for the hard part - sprinkle flour.
Then after making the flour into a dough, it was the rolling time.
Rolling the dough was quite tiring not bad. But I still some time to rest while camwhoring with the dough.
Take 5
When it came to the cutting part, again, the master showed us the way to cut it, fine and same thickness.
And I had a try cutting those soba.
Finally, after the five of us - 3 from Nagaoka and 2 from Nagano finished cutting, the soba looked something like this.
Job Done
And they took it to the kitchen and boiled it for us, until we got a plate of soba.
The soba by the 5 N's is ready.
Here is the team who was behind the making of a plate of soba. I have no idea what the two kids from Nagano (Elvin and Hadi) were trying to do.
The Team
From left: Nagano sensei, Kondo Sensei (Nagaoka Kosen), me, Yan Kuang, Elvin, Ridzuan and Hadi.
After enjoying our hand-made soba, we relaxed and shared some jokes.
Light Moments
But I spotted something unusual. There was this guy, Tsendsuren Dulguun from Mongolia, who was the same height as me. And when both of us stand next to each other, what do you think you will get?
Twin Tower
Very simple. A Twin Tower, Made in Japan.


mg said...

making soba oso can camwhore.. -__- really camwhore freak now. hahahah...

buffet how many rounds? 10? lolz =P

Anonymous said...

yala yala... my hokkien also beh tahan ...

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
learn from you ma =P

think i elephant meh? not many; 3 rounds only ^.-

calvin said...

@ kok hong:
where got beh tahan! you hokkien cin cia lat la. haha =P