November 19th, 2005

Last night was the SOS Charity auction- it was way too long but fun. We had salsa at 7pm down on Deck 2 because they were setting up the Union for the auction. We were rolling around like CRAZY trying to dance while the ship was rocking- it was hilarious! Yeah so the theme of the auction was Black and White with a Flair. I was going to dress up but salsa ended right at 8:30 when the auction started so I didn’t get a chance to change. Oh well it wasn’t that big a deal because we were just sitting the whole time. Here are some of the funnier things that were auctioned off: lesson in how to solve a rubics cube, breakfast in bed by Dean John, the Bering Sea’s polar bear head and paws ( I bid on this but then I realized that I wouldn’t be able to carry it home), high tea with Dean Bev, kick boxing lesson with David from Glomads, 4 laker’s tickets, raise the ship’s flag, sound the horn, get out of line free in Japan and Hawaii, second person off the ship, make-up for the ambassador’s ball, signed copies of Archbishop Tutu’s book, bath in Dean John’s office, a batch of brownies every month for a year, Skippy peanut butter, Easy Cheese, dinner at Dean John’s house in Pitt, lots of knitted things from Gladys, read the bridge report, Disneyland like a Native, crew overalls, ice cream party for 8 people, steering the ship, and LOTS of home stays. I bid on a bunch of things just to get people to go higher and I won a box of Ferro Rocher chocolates for $60. It was money well spent. If you think about it you give money to charity anyways and in this case you’re just getting something in return. We voted on the top charities and I think the money is going to Africa Jam, Habitat for Humanity, Missionaries of Charity, and Ons Plek Project. All of these were projects we participated in on this voyage. Guess how much money we raised? Over $25,000!!! It will be more after the Ambassador Ball sales are over. Isn’t that amazing? Our Students of Service Exec board is wonderful. After the auction ended I was going to go to sleep but ended up sitting in the piano bar until almost 4am! First I was just talking to Brandon, Eric, and Alejandro and then Brandon tried to teach me some cords on the piano and it took me so long to get them down. I think I forgot them already. It was a lot of fun though. I woke up today when the voice came on with the noon report (promptly at 12:30pm haha)! I had plans to wake up early but yeah…and I think we shorted out some circuit because our room was FREEZING cold last night. I could barely bring myself out of bed this morning…my shower was cold too. After lunch we went up to the Union to watch this documentary they were showing about the Iraqi war. There was a discussion following it but I couldn’t sit in the Union any longer so I left to go write my paper. I didn’t get much done but oh well. Oh yeah today we had our Bering Sea picture…I think we should have an on line Bering Sea newsletter after the voyage is over. or a mailing list? yahoo groups? something I don’t know. We also had an Ambassador’s meeting today so we could finally get a chance to talk to Mariko and Akina. Besides me, Chad, and AJ nobody had met them yet. Somehow one thing led to another and it was dinner time. I don’t know where the day went!

Right now I’m siting in our last pre-port. I can’t believe it. Our last pre-port. It’s the beginning of lasts- last preport, last laundry day, last taco day, aaah!

November 21st, 2005

Today was our second day in Japan and each day seems to go faster than the one before it. Yesterday we had such a hospitable welcome to Japan. There was a band playing when we pulled into port ( I missed it because I was in the shower) and after the welcome reception there was a taiko drumming performance which was amazing. Oh yeah, Aparna and I woke up at 6:30am to see the sunrise over our last port. I don’t really count Hawaii and San Diego but I’ll still wake up for sunrise in those ports lol. Anyways, it was FREEZING cold outside and incredibly windy so we were trying to shield ourselves by standing in the doorway and only jumping out to take pictures. I was surprised that there weren’t more people this time (definitely not like Hong Kong and Cape Town) but I guess it was kind of nice to have a quite sunrise with Aparna. It was gorgeous. Right before we were supposed to clear Dean Tymitz asked for any ambassadors to come up to Purser’s because there were guests that needed showing around. There was a fairly large group of them and luckily a good amount of ambassadors showed up too. We started on 7 and made our way down to the clinic on 2. I saw parts of the clinic that I had never seen before like the ward, operating room, and morgue. We also showed them Chad and AJ’s cabin which isn’t really representative of normal cabins but oh well, it was clean! Apparently, the ship cleared while we were giving them the tour and we hadn’t heard the announcement. All of a sudden we saw people coming down to 2 with backpacks and all ready to leave.

Mariko and Akina( interport students) found me and we agreed to meet up by the computer lab. Jarret and I got ready really quick and we were on our way. Plan for the day: Kyoto. It was me, Jarret. Mariko, Akina, Lisa, Leslie, and Sarah. The last 3 girls I kind of know but hadn’t really had long conversations with them. Sometimes its kind of better that way? We had a lot to talk about! Jarret I know, but there’s always more to find out. Ok so we got off the ship and got in line to exchange money. I can’t even explain how happy I am to be back in Japan. It’s just something about this country that strikes the right cord with me (except maybe the cost of living). I really want to do JET or something and teach English here. I saw Dave in the morning ( he studied in Japan for a year) and we both just had the biggest smiles on our faces. It’s kind of another comfort zone for me, not as much as India but in a strange way it’s nice to be able to read some signs and stuff. Ok so after we exchanged money we took the portliner to Sanomiya station in downtown Kobe. It was kind of walking distance but we just wanted to get to Kyoto ASAP. We got off the subway and walked into this HUGE mall to get some lunch. We went to a small noodle place and I had just plain udon noodles with tofu that was really good. Before we left we went to the bathroom in the department store and saw one of those crazy toilets that you’ve heard they have in Japan. It had this panel of buttons on the side: seat warmer, deodorizer, bidet, spray, flushing sound, etc. The one I was most fascinated by was the flushing sound. Apparently Japanese people are shy about other people listening to them do their business so they want this “flushing sound” to cover it up! Stage fright maybe? Ingenious. Haha, so after that adventure we went to the train station and got tickets to Kyoto. It took a little over one hour to get there. We got there kind of late but it didn’t even matter because walking around Kyoto was such a great experience. It was honestly like being in a time warp. I felt like I was in a completely different Japan. We even saw apprentice geisha near Gion ( Meera- I thought of you!). There were no tall high rise buildings and everything was just so quaint. We walked to the Y.. Shinto shrine and hung around there for some time. Jarret gave me a simplified version of Shintosim while we were there so that was good. We also decided to have our fortunes read. We shook up these containers with fortune sticks inside of them ( you could pick life or love) and we made a wish while we were doing it. There was a small hole in the bottom of the container and whichever number stick fell out you took that to the lady and she gave you a fortune. My number was 6 and my fortune said something about it taking a long time for me to find love. It also said that I should take more pictures for good luck! Like I don’t take enough pictures already? If you get a bad fortune you’re supposed to tie it to this post inside the temple grounds and the spirits will carry it away. Quote of the Day: “Is Buddha a Kami?”- Jarret.

Ok so we left the temple around dusk and just walked up and down random side streets and made our way to Kyoumizu (clean water) temple. Apparently the time we went was a very auspicious time. The crowd was intense. I tried to take pictures/video but it won’t do it justice. We were on this one street that went uphill and was lined with all kinds of shops and the line went the whole length of the street and I don’t even know how far back. We finally got to the front and it felt like we were cattle being herded along but it was all done very efficiently. The temple was absolutely breathtaking- the way they lighted everything up, especially the fall foliage. It was one of those places where the best memory of it remains in your head and can’t be expressed in a picture. After we left this temple we walked back towards the train station and Jarret, Mariko, and I headed back to Kobe. Let me tell you what I ate today- glutinous roasted rice balls with sweet/sour sauce, tofu donuts, and green tea ice cream balls. All were delicious.

We got back to the ship to put our stuff away and get ready to go out for dinner. When I got back to my room I was pleasantly surprised to see 2 letters on my bed- one from mom and one from Rita Auntie. Thanks SO much!!! We walked for awhile downtown looking for a place to eat and finally ended up at an izakaya- Japanese bar/grill type of place. I had avocado and tomato pizza and some tofu thing. Both were pretty good but not worth the price. Food in Japan is ridiculously expensive. Ugh oh well. After dinner we went to that stupid ” Second Chance” place where they were throwing that SAS party. It turned out to be a really small, crowded, smoky bar with no dancing room and the only Japanese people were the DJ and bartenders. We hung out there for about 15 minutes and then bounced. We headed over to this karaoke place that Mariko knew about and found Fern there so the four of us got a room for ourselves. It was SO MUCH FUN! We sang Ace of Base, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey, 80’s songs, Jpop, and just really random stuff. We were there for a good 2 and a half hours- it was much more fun than I thought it would be though. It’s so funny- people are surprised that I can have sober fun. Glenn told me the other day that he was surprised I wasn’t a big drinker because I seemed like the type of girl who “goes out and has a good time.”

Ok anyways- we walked back to the ship ( don’t worry it’s SAFE) and got back around 4am. I slept for an hour and woke up at 5am for my Hiroshima trip. I didn’t mind too much because I slept most of the 5 hour bus ride from Kobe to Hiroshima. It certainly made it go by much faster! We left at 6am and reached around 11:30. First we saw the A Dome, the only remaining structure from the atomic bomb blasts. It used to be the Hiroshima prefecture community center kind of and how all that’s left of it is the metal frame. We saw the Aioi Bridge that was the target of the bomb and we also saw Ground Zero where the bomb actually hit. We walked around Peace Memorial Park for some time and then headed over to the Children’s Memorial statue. Our guide told us the story of Sadako- a young girl who was exposed to radiation from the bomb when she was 2 years old but it did not manifest into leukemia until she was about 11. While she was in the hospital she folded 1000 paper cranes and wished for the well being of the other A-bomb patients. Sadly, she died soon afterwards and her classmates raised money for this memorial in her memory. So now, people from all over the world send paper cranes to commemorate this girl and all that she symbolizes. It’s a sombering but hopeful story.

We ate a quick boxed lunch ( mayonnaise instead of ketchup this time!) and then headed to the museum. Thank goodness they gave us 2.5 hours here- ample time. We also got audio guides to use at the different stations. The museum was very well-done, in my opinion, and also very hard-hitting. As you’re looking at the pictures of Hiroshima right after the bombing you can look out the window and see how the city has been rebuilt and is now flourishing. It’s a strange sight. The city is gorgeous now- lush and well-planned. I guess maybe they wanted to show resilience by not just abandoning the city and writing it off as a lost cause. Brian and I walked around for a little bit before we had to leave and we were both so surprised at how quiet it was. It didn’t have the hustle and bustle of Kobe at all. I realized that as I was walking through the museum I felt a little bit of what I felt at the War Remnants Museum in Saigon: guilt. Although this museum was more unbiased, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it was Americans who detonated the bomb over what was obviously a thriving city full of innocent civilians. One of the reasons they chose Hiroshima was because they thought there were no American POW’s there. Turns out they were wrong, but what kind of criteria is that? I guess you could argue that if the US hadn’t shown their nuclear capabilities, somebody else would have. But what if nobody did? Over 200,000 people have died as a result of the A’bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 6000 children died in Hiroshima that day. I wish I knew what was going through the heads of the people who made these decisions. How can you make the conscious decision to do something that will inevitably KILL innocent people and have the GALL to hide under the guise of scientific observation. There were 3 planes flying over Hiroshima that day- Enola Gay which held the bomb and two others to conduct scientific experiments. Not only did we kill innocent people but we hurt the unborn as well. Babies who were subject to radiation while in their mother’s womb were born with a multitude of birth defects. Oh man, I could go on and on abut the things I saw in the museum but I’ll spare you my ranting.

We left the museum and went to Shukkein Garden which was peaceful and immaculate as most Japanese gardens tend to be. We were all so excited to see the leaves changing color because we kind of missed autumn completely at home. This is the first country that has been COLD. South Africa was colder than the others but definitely not this cold. Here the temperature is in the mid to upper 50’s during the day. When the sun is out it is actually quite pleasant. I love just being in my hoodie all day. Also, it smells like snow. I know it doesn’t snow in this region of Japan but a girl can wish can’t she? I love snow. The only bad thing is that it gets dark so early here- around 5pm every day. I’m on the bus right now on our way back to Kobe and it’s going to get dark pretty soon. I think I’m going to stay in tonight- type up my journal, clean my room perhaps? Haha that’s a lie. I’m wondering how these 7 days at sea are going to be. There is SO much to do and so little time. Most importantly, SALSA and the Ambassadors ball. I want to take a nap right now but I also want to keep writing while I’m on a roll. Oh yeah, Fern and I made up a dance to this song that some of our friends made up. It’s about what we saw in Burma- set to the tune of the Animaniac’s country song. I’ll have to show you the dance when I get back but here are the words:

” Oh…pagoda, museum, library. Temple, Happy Land, monastery. Oh…pagoda, pagoda, pagoda. pagoda, pagoda, pagoda.”

I think after this trip we are all kind of temple and pagoda’d out! You know what I was thinking about the other day? Where do I want to be in 10 years? What do i want to accomplish? I’ll graduate in 2007, do Peace Corps for 2 years or maybe JET, get my master’s in international studies at NYU or go to law school in Cali, take and hopefully pass the foreign service exam, be a diplomat, maybe be appointed ambassador one day! And my ultimate goal? To be one of the embassy officials on a future SAS voyage! haha I was telling Jarret this yesterday and I know it sounds crazy and illogical but whatver. I want my kids to go to school abroad- e.g. American school i Japan, Egypt, etc. I want them to be part of the expatriate community, go to an American school in another country, grow up bilingual, and then go to college wherever they choose. I just think it adds such a different dimension to your life and gives you a new perspective. Now all I have to do is find a guy who is as crazy as me!

November 22nd, 2005


I am so exhausted right now but I know if I don’t journal tonight all I would write tomorrow would be a chronicle of events. Ok so last night after I stopped writing we stopped at a rest area for dinner and Fern and I got a bunch of random stuff. She lived in Japan when she was younger so we both had cravings that hadn’t been satiated in years. We got onigiri (rice wrapped in seaweed- mine had umeboshi in the middle which is a pickled sour plum), melon bread, a roll stuffed with sweet bean paste. chocolate cookies, and I got a Calpis drink which is like a flavored milky water type drink. I can’t explain it but it had sentimental value to me because I distinctly remember thinking people were saying “cow piss”. The onigiri, besides being my FAVORITE Japanese food, also carried sentimental value because my host mother taught me how to make it an always put some in my bento box. We bought some more onigiri on our way out. 🙂

We got back to the ship around 9pm and a lot of people were going to go out but I was exhausted and I had the room all to myself because Jess was away so I decide to take the night to myself. I watched “how to lose a guy in 10 days” while I cleaned my room and organized my pictures. I fell asleep around 12 pm and woke up at 10:15am thanks to Pete’s phone call! I got ready super quick and ran outside to exchange some money because I only had about 1000 yen left. When I was coming back inside I saw Stef, Mischa, and Adam standing there greeting all the host families who were coming in so I decided to greet with them. It was funny because most of the people coming in were women, I guess because the men were at work! They all had small children who were SO adorable- Mischa and I were talking about stealing one. I wonder what an Indian-Japanese baby would look like? hmm… I really do like Japanese guys though. There’s something about their facial features that makes them attractive. ok anyways, let me tell you bout the Hippo Family Club, the organization that arranged our home stays. ” Just as a baby begins to understant and speak its mother tongue before ever seeing a textbook or vocabulary list, members of the Hippo Family Club enjoy learning languages naturally through immersion. No special skills are required to speak many languages: only a good environment where the sound of languages can be absorbed naturally. The Hippo Fmily Club creates such an environment. For 25 years Hippo Family Club members have enjoyed sharing languages from all around the world including English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, German, Chinese, French, Russian, Italian, Thai, Malaysian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Arabic, Hindi, Taiwanese, Turkish, and Swedish.” Isn’t that a great idea? I always thought it was amazing how kids pick up languages just by hearing it as they grow up. Granted my Gujerati is terrible because I never speak it at home but I can still understand a good amount (with the exception of garba songs and Patel Gujerati haha)! That kind of goes along with my expat idea.

Anyways, I went upstairs and met my host mother and her adorable son- Ryochan. I can’t remember his real name but when you add “chan” to anything it’s a term of endearment for a young child so that’s what they called him. He is 6 years old and a bundle of pure energy and fun. My host mother is also super nice. She barely knows any English and my Japanese is far from functional. It’s funny how language barriers can be both debilitating and facilitating. You create an instant bond of not being able to communicate and you have to rely on gestures, expressions, pictures, and their Japanese English phrasebook that isn’t very helpful but fun to look at! So after I met them, 2 women gave us a quick introduction to the Hippo Club and then we played some games. The first was rock, paper, scissors (Jan Ken Po) to the tune of Farmer in the Dell and somehow you make a snake of people. You go around rock, paper, scissoring people and if you lose you join the end of their snake but if you win you keep going around playing people until everyone is behind you. The second game was one where you stand in a big circle and when the music stops someone yells out a number in ANY of the 17 some languages they are learning and then you have to form a group with that number of people and sit down. Whoever can’t find a group loses and they have to say the next number. The last game we played was to a Korean song and we spelled out LOVE with our hands with increasing speed. The games were actually a lot of fun- but you know me, a true child at heart!

After the games I gave them a quick tour of the ship. It’s always good to see other people admiring the ship because it reminds us how lucky and privileged we are because by now we are definitely taking it for granted. Oh, so I was SO tempted to eat lunch on the ship today because the vegetarian entree was PIZZA and it actually looked decent. haha oh well! We left the ship and got on the Portliner. My host mother wouldn’t let me pay for ANYTHING all day! And we took a lot of trains. So at first we were going to Kyoto and I didn’t want to seem rude so I nicely mentioned that I had been to Kyoto the day before yesterday. She understood and said that of course we would go somewhere else so we went to Osaka. She took me to Osaka Jou (castle) which was gorgeous and housed a museum about Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The museum was actually pretty interesting and it was so cool how they had screens for each description with multimedia descriptions of th event. I saw some SAS’ers there who were on the Osaka Univ. trip and I’ll admit that I was a bit jealous of them because the got to hang out with younger people and that jealously kind of stuck with me throughout the day. That is definitely one of my worst vices (I’ll have to tell Jarret)- jealously. I get jealous so easily and sometimes it inhibits me from appreciating what I have. Yeah so after the castle we walked around outside and ate some matsugi? no i can’t remember what it was called but it was the same sticky rice balls I had in Kyoto the first day. We walked to the Osaka Historical Museum after that but it was closed so my host mother said we would just go home.

One of the most interesting things about Japanese people and culture is the apologetic undertones that are prevalent in everything from conversation to mannerisms. You always say “sumimasen” before asking anyone anything. My host mother apologized for not speaking English, the museum being closed, and her small house. The house was definitely not small by my standards. It was actually an apartment with 2 bedrooms, a toilet, room with shower and bathtub, guest room, kitchen, living room, and some extra space here and there. It feels bigger than the Okita’s house even though theirs was 2 floors. I’ve been feeling such weird deja vu ever since I met my host family. I keep getting flashbacks of 4 years ago. Also I’m surprised at how much Japanese I remember. I can understand more than I can speak and my reading speed is slowly picking up. Oh yeah, we went to the supermarket before we got home and I loved it more than any other country because I distinctly remember eating some of the stuff. I really want to stock up on onigiri before I get back on the ship. Onigiri, Calpis, Pocari Sweat, Koala, Pocky, ume boshi, and those tetra pack of nuts. Maybe some noodle bowls that I can cook with boiling water? Hmm…haha ok so Ryochan and I sat around while my host mother was making dinner. Let me tell you what was for dinner:of rice with red beans which she said was for “celebration”, lotus root and sweet potato tempura served with a thick soy sauce, sautéed tofu and scallions, boiled bean sprouts and scallions served with a sour lemon soy sauce, and an egg soufflé type thing. To drink we had barely water which I really missed- we need to start drinking it again at home! I also ate probably the sweetest tangerines I’ve ever tasted. Oh yeah so during dinner we were trying to talk about my family and what we eat at home. I said sometimes my dad cooks and you should have seen the look on my host mother’s face! She asked if he was a chef by profession. Hahah I don’t remember what else we talked about but during dinner Ryochan kept getting up to find more things to give me! Not food, I mean omiyage (souvenirs). He filled an Anpanman bag with random coins, note paper, and the orange door hook that came with the yogurt drink that he served me in a wine glass. I felt so bad- my host mother popped open a beer to serve me but I had to decline. I guess I should have written that on my information sheet. Anyways, oh yeah I forgot to mention the amazing toilet. It’s like the one I wrote about before but the seat is always warm and there’s a butt dryer button!

I met my host father when he came home from work and he seems nice but doesn’t speak any English. While he ate, Ryochan and I played with his Dominoes and building blocks. My host mother made some really good sweet milky tea and after I drank that I felt even more sleepy! I was about to say good night when she told me that my bath was ready! She had filled the tub with some hot water scented with oils and lit a candle too! Oh man it was so incredibly relaxing- something I definitely needed. I could feel my body thanking me! lol I came out of the shower refreshed and in a much better mod than before. My host mother had cut up some persimmons which were delicious and she gave me a huge glass of iced barely tea. We ended up sitting at the table for a long time just “talking” and she pulled out some pictures for me to look at. She also showed me her wedding album which was great because I’d never seen how a traditional Japanese wedding was carried out. I showed her that birthday album that mom sent me because it was the only tangible thing I had with pictures. She was so excited to see it and she said it made her feel like crying! (taisetsumono?). She said I was very loved. I guess that’s something else we take for granted, isn’t it? We finally decided it was time to sleep, s here I am now. I am so upset with myself for being jealous and ungrateful earlier. I always occupy my mind with the thought that other people are having a better time than me but that’s exactly what prevents me from enjoying myself. It’s pathetic. I remember getting angry when people get competitive with what they did it port and how it’s so much more amazing than whatever you did. But amn’t ( oh yeah- it’s a real word- contraction of “am I not”, right Kavit and Jilz?) I doing the same thing in my head? I really have to make a conscious effort to stop this and just enjoy everything as it is. There are so many other thoughts I had today- it’s funny how contemplative and reflective you can be when you’re not talking. You actually learn a lot about yourself. What happened to me being tired? In conclusion, I really want to come back to Japan for school, work, teaching English, ANYTHING. This country is so beautiful an I’ve really fallen in love with it over the years. The people, food, simplicity, scenery, history, language, customs, and just its odd quirks are fascinating to me. Not to mention the guys. haha just kidding, but not really. By the way, this is probably the most comfortable sleeping arrangement I’ve ever had. I’m sleeping on this fleece covered thin mattress in a tatami covered room with 3 blankets on me, one of them being a down comforter. The walls of this room are exquisite- sage green with painted white and beige flowers and random gold sparkles all around. I wish a picture could capture it. Ok it’s bedtime.

November 23rd, 2005

Great day today. Woke up around 9 am and had a huge breakfast of coffee, green tea, orange juice, hard boiled eggs, lettuce, sliced cheese, fermented soybeans (nattou), black soybeans, toast, butter, jam, walnuts, tangerines, bananas, and onigiri. Onigiri is basically a mound of sticky white rice rolled in a piece of nori (seaweed). It can be filled with salmon, tuna, konbu (sea kelp), and pickled vegetables among many other things. My personal favorite is umeboshi a pickled sour plum. I had pointed this out in the phrasebook yesterday and indicated that it was my favorite food simply as a means of conversation. My host mother, however, took it to heart and specially made some for breakfast for me. Besides being my favorite Japanese food, onigiri carries a great deal of sentimental value for me because when I was in Japan four years ago my host mother in Miyazaki Prefecture on Kyushu taught me how to make it and always put some in my obento box for school. I attended school for two weeks of my six week stay and the one constant in my obento was two pieces of onigiri.During my home stay this time my host mother also packed us obento boxes for our trip to Nara. There were two onigiri for each person, a boiled egg, sweet egg omelet (tamagoyaki), pickled cucumbers, sweet beans, persimmons, and iced green tea. (sorry that was copy and pasted form an essay i did for my anthro of food class…that’s why it sounds kind of strange and a bit repititive).

OH guess what my host mother made me drink in the morning? NONI JUICE. EWWWW It was the most foul thing I’ve ever tasted. ugggh she said it was very healthy. It tasted so bad so it must have been healthy. haha After breakfast I gave them my gifts which they liked but I think they loved my card the most because I wrote it all in (bad) Japanese. “Osewa ni narimasu. Tanoshikatta. Domo arigatou gozaimasue.- Thank you for taking care of me. It was fun. Thank you very much.” There was more but I don’t remember.

We left for Nara after that and let me tell you that their car is amazing. It’s a Honda I think but it has this crazy GPS that talks to you and broadcasts pictures of where you are going and it also has a TV! There was crazy traffic today because it was a national holiday but just sitting in the car was fun because the drive was nice. We got to the Todaiji temple to see the daibatsu- a huge seated Buddha statute. Nara is also famous for its Deer Park which we walked through. The deer were just standing around waiting to be fed these senbetsu crackers- it was kind of sad actually because all of their antlers had been cut off. After feeding the deer we walked around the temple and as we were about to leave my host mother donated money to the temple and we got to paint a commemorative tile in return that would be put on the roof. I wrote my name and that my wish was to come back to Japan. My host mother wrote that she wished I return to the US safely and that I come back to Japan later (as they were leaving the Port Terminal she said next time I come back I should have a husband and child in tow!). As we were making our way out of the temple we lost Ryochan somehow! He wandered off and was nowhere to be found. We serisouly couldn’t find him for more than an hour and finally they called the police and they found him somewhere. My goodness it was scary. While we were waiting I ran into Aparna and they bought these antlers that were so cute! My host mother bought me some on the way out as a gift and said that one pair was “for my boyfriend” so I gave them to Jess when I saw her. haha Anyways, the drive back to Kobe was beautiful because 1) I saw a rainbow which basically made my day and 2) the sunset was phenomenal. We got a little lost on the way back but whatever. At the last minute my host mother ran into Lawson’s (a convenience store) and grabbed all these random snacks and thrust them in my hand as I was getting on the ship! We got back to the terminal and said our goodbyes. I went and put my stuff in my room and then came back out to the terminal to use up my change and they were still there! Ryochan bought me a fox key chain that looked like a cat because he knew I didn’t like cats. lol it was so cute. They hung around for awhile and after they left I bought some RANDOM drinks and got back on the ship. I was in another “we’re leaving a country and I’m so tired that I’m delirious and hyper” kind of moods. Seriously. I was out of control. Happy, sad, quirky, you name it. Jess, Aparna, and I were down here having girl talk for a looong time until the ship was abut to leave. Aparna and I went upstairs as the ship pulled out. I felt like crying but no tears came out. We just left our last port. I really don’t know what to do with myself. I’m so glad Aparna and I were out there because we had the best heart to heart and I think it was good for both of us. We talked about everything from going home to our families to our plans for the future. I love that girl so much and I think we really complement each other’s personalities. She gave me a really good analogy for this trip: it’s like a concert. Everyone is seeing the same thing but it has different high and low points for each person. Everyone is seeing the same concert but from different seats and through different eyes. And after you applaud and walk out you smile at the person behind you because even though you don’t know them you know you both saw the same concert. You all go your separate ways and this concert is the one thing you have in common with these people but it’s such a strong bond. Profound, isn’t it?

November 24th, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Today has been a good day so far. Travel Lit has turned out to be quite an entertaining class- good for an 8am because it wakes me up. Global studies was kind of boring but I think I just have a short attention span. I actually got a LOT of work done in between global studies and film. And by a lot of work I mean I wrote one paper…haha. We watched Ju Dou today, it was pretty good but we all wanted to get out of there and get some Thanksgiving Dinner! Hmmm what did I have? Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. I ate dinner with Lyn and Kyle as usual, we didn’t want to break our post-film class tradition. Shane and Daniel ate with us today too so that was nice. It was a lot of fun actually. I’m really going to miss all these people. Ooh, I got some gobble grams this morning (kind of like candy grams in high school?) from Aparna, Jess, Pete, and Melissa. I didn’t send any 😦 Oops.

You want to hear the poem I wrote today for Alex’s address book?

Now that we are homeward bound,
I thank the Lord we did not drown.
After traveling the whole world round,
I am so glad a friend in you I found.

🙂 It’s better than my other poem lol.


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