Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review 2

Before going to bed, I ensured to set the alarm clock. Or so I believed. I was woken up by a phone call from a member of the team. When I managed to answer the call, I can say that I was not sure where I was, Singapore or Japan. And realizing I was in Japan, why? Almost one hour late for work, which was definitely embarrassing.

Otherwise, my second day of work went as smoothly as my first. After work, people took Instructor A and me to Tokyo Tower, which I described to Instructor A as a “cheap version of Eiffel Tower in Paris.” It was at dusk. Far away, we could see the top of the Mount Fuji. Surely a nice view. For dinner, I requested sushi-on-conveyor. Almost having got used to the taste of Singapore’s so-called sushi, it reminded me of how sushi, even the kind that moves on a conveyor, should taste like. Variety of fish and texture of rice. It was so yummy!!

On the third day, they started hands-on training that was comprised of examinations of the parts they had already learned on paper, and disassembling and reassembling the system. Then I could give some rest to my throat. “Yakiniku” dinner, which was also very nice!

On Thursday, they completed their reassembling and calibration work. In many senses, at this point, they had only a few things to do. The end of their training was near.

I was very glad and appreciative to see many people gathered for the “shabu-shabu” dinner of the night. One of them was a guy I had met and worked with in Singapore. A reunion.

昨日の夜、「National Geographic」チャンネルを見てた。オスヘビがメスヘビを飲み込もうとしてできず、あきらめる場面だった。日本語ではオスがあきらめて「立ち去った」と言っていた。ヘビがどうやって「立ち」去れるのだろう

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review 1

On 16th, when I almost completed packing, I closed the bag and started playing with the lock without clear knowledge of how it worked. By accident, It got locked, but I knew no way to reopen it. I started to rotate the three numbered dials hoping to find the correct combination, which was of course nearly impossible. As I had to arrive at the airport in a few hours, what I eventually did was merely give up trying and buy a new bag. I cut open the original and disemboweled it to transfer what was inside to the new bag. 1000% unnecessary expense.

For punishing myself for this stupid mistake, I refrained from taking a taxi to the airport and buying a wristwatch, which would have been handy as my mobile phone could not work as a watch in Japan.

While I did not have much time to wander around the duty free shops, the flight itself went smoothly. Onboard, I proceeded with “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” and also watched an old Japanese movie, “Doro no Kawa (Muddy River).” The Airbus landed at Narita and this was my first time in six years and eight months to breathe the air of the country. When the passengers were disembarking at the Narita airport in the early morning, I found among them one of the people I worked with on the previous Friday. At the luggage claim, I met another man from the same company. Three of us talked for a while.

Not sure if the Narita Express is of JR or Keisei, I almost went to the wrong direction. On the JR train platform I met one of the man again and we talked some more.

It was still morning at the Tokyo station. I tried not to go far from there as I was very unfamiliar with the area. Waiting until afternoon spending some time at a coffee shop and walking a lot around the underground area immediately around the station, I took a taxi to the hotel that was also the venue of the training of this time. For dinner, I had a “konbini-bento” that I got at a convenience store I found across the street from the hotel.

Monday morning. In the room, there were eight people, and I saw two familiar faces. Starting with the customary self-introduction, the first day was the toughest because the first day is explanation-heavy, but that was just as usual. After work, we together walked to a “food court.” As I believe, it was not yet midnight when we staying at the hotel came back. A surprising thing is that I was offered another interpretation job from this same company, for four days again in Tokyo starting on June 1!

Back in Singapore

Carrying me who went through eventful 10 days, the SIA plane landed at Changi a few minutes after 16:00 yesterday. I will fly out again this coming Friday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Apology to the pharmacist to whom I complained about one of his colleagues who I believed had lost the last prescription. Yesterday morning, I opened a bag I rarely carry and found it inside it. So sorry.

Today, following a preparatory meeting of yesterday morning, I went to Park Royal for an interpretation work. I was not as good as I had wished I would be, but then I should say that it was above my own acceptable level of performance. Satisfied. But, I prepared my own materials working until the wee hours, and when I started printing the papers this morning, the ink ran out. Well, that’s me. Perfect to almost the last moment and something unexpected happens then.

For tonight’s dinner, I had a takeout “hui guo rou.” Ordering it, I tried to get my request not to make it so spicy, but they really didn’t understand me though I know they on their part were trying to understand me. Ohhhhh… so hot!!

Wanting to reserve a room at a cheap Osaka hotel for Friday to Monday, I proceeded inside a Japanese website to make a reservation, I found it accepts only Japanese residential addresses. How unfair! With international websites, those listed are hotels of higher calibers, which I don’t prefer. Do I have to stay outside in Osaka then?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Girl in the Photo

I’ve finished “The Girl in the Picture.” Kim Phuc decided to defect to Canada wanting freedom from the meddling by the Vietnamese government that was exploiting her publicity as “the girl in the photo.” However, if the Vietnamese government is guilty, the media in the West are also guilty to the same degree if not more. They were more than happy to invite, receive and interview her, and ask her to make speeches as a big symbol of the war, all while interrupting her everyday life. The emphasis on Christian belief is also cloying even if that is true. And Pham Van Dong (prime minister of Vietnam from 1955 to 1976), whom LKY described as “arrogant and objectionable” with a “belligerent attitude,” was depicted as a grandfatherly figure in the book, which I think is a nice touch.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Japanese "Jackson"

Late afternoon, I went to the clinic by taxi to get yet another prescription. As always, it was nice to talk to the doctor. She has been playing many roles for me. On my way home, I dropped by Isetan in Orchard and then the pharmacy at T.B. Plaza. I visited the same pharmacy to get more Cymbalta last week as last time I left the last prescription there. They didn’t have it! I was asked to get another from the doctor because “you lost it.” No, they lost it. That’s why I went to Bukit Timah today. Something is wrong with the place. One of the pharmacist forgot to order Cymbalta for me. And this time, they misplaced the prescription asking me to go to the doctor again.

Yesterday (or was that the day before?), I found this passage in “The Girl in the Picture.” “An older Japanese man, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, stood under a street lamp in Saigon. It was the AP’s darkroom technician, known as Jackson. He saw the AP van pulling up to the curb and threw his butt to the ground.
“Nicky, what do you have today?”
“My film is very important today.”

The person who developed the film of “The Girl in the Picture” was a Japanese man!! Who is this Japanese “Jackson”?

Ozawa Ichiro, as most people had expected, resigned from the leadership of the opposition Democratic Party. It seems that once again, he demonstrated his brilliant capability as a destroyer not as a builder.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dehydrated Cooked Rice

「The Girl in the Picture」に「dehydrated cooked rice」とある。どんなものだろう?軍からの配給保存食のようだが、砂糖なしの「ポン」みたいなものか。

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Letter

Unable to sleep even after dawn, it was definitely frustrating. I guess that the letter that arrived from Japan was affecting my brain. It didn’t contain any news particularly surprising, but then it seems to me to confirm what I had feared from my mother’s stories of two years ago, that is, what I had been constructing slowly and positively in family matters were no more. I don’t understand why things “are made (by whom, I wouldn’t say)” so damagingly complicated. After my next week’s trip, I may not feel any desire or even obligation to go back again, which could effectively close my family relationship.

For the past few weeks at the least, I’ve seen flying ants in the unit. I had thought they were coming from outside. No, they are living inside. Yesterday, I saw one of them go into a hole of the windowpane. They should be termites.

What’s this metallic aftertaste of “Anchor” beer?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Saigon Now and Then


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Japanse as Vietminh Soldiers





Wednesday, May 06, 2009

3 Books on Vietnam & Me as an Old Man

「ベトナム戦記」「サイゴンの十字架」(ともに開高健)「The Girl in the Picture」(Denise Chong)と、ベトナム物を3冊買ってきた。


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Kondo Family






Sunday, May 03, 2009

Unreported Side of Yasukuni Pilgrimage


Saturday, May 02, 2009



Friday, May 01, 2009

"Kogitte" Bigger Than "Kitte"