Martin In Japan

Our Man In Japan

Monday, January 30, 2006

Quick January Overview

I haven;t exactly been keeping up to date recently. Here's a brief summary of what Ive been up to this month:

9th Jan : Returned to Japan from a two week holiday in Thailand and Cambodia.
Spent the rest of the week training and preparing for...

13th Jan - 15th Jan : All-Japan Champion of Champions Tournament 2006, Saitama Stadium.
Although we played really well, and again had fantastic support, we lost the final. To Saitama. We plan to have our revenge in Tochigi in April. Top weekend, photos on their way!

20th Jan : Joint Birthday Celebration with Erik.
He has his birthday on teh 20th, mine is on the 21st, so we throw a big party together. lots of friends, beer and pressies. Top Night, photos on their way!

23rd Jan - 24th Jan : ALT Mid-year Seminar
Not strictly recreation, but an important event on teh JET calender. Of course, with such a high concentration of ALTs in one place, one wisper of 'party' leads to a massive gathering at Shame (all monies to the PNG play charity). Watch out for Lopaka's pants in the coming photos.

So those are the major events over teh last month. The other things taking up my time this month have been work and snowboarding. I'm trying to go as many times as I can before I head back to England next month. So far I've been five times this month and loved every minute (even the time I hit a tree). I want to go night boarding this week, but since no snow has fallen since Saturday, the slopes are likely to be covered in nasty ice.

Come on Micheal Fish, gimme some snow!!!

Photo's from August

I've added a bunch of new photos from August. Check the photos page and look out for the red square

Some higlights include

Obon (Japanese Festival for Dead Ancestors)
Nagaoka Fireworks
Kashiwasaki Fireworks

More new Blogs

Just in case you were getting bored, I've added links to blogs from Deccy and Johanna:


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New blogs

First off, I've added a link to a blog from Grace, an ALT in Sanjo. Go have a read and find out about her trip to Thailand.

Also, I've added a link to my Tokamachi Snowfall blog. See how it piles up over the winter!!

Snow in Tsunan

If you've been following the TV and newspaper articles about teh recent heavy snow, then you might now be familiar with the name 'Tsunan'; the town that has had the heaviest snowfall. Tsunan High School is my visit school and I have to drive there every Tuesday and Wednesday. I was a little worried from all the reports that the school would be inaccessable, but as I found out yesterday and this morning, the roads are pretty much clear and driving wasnt too bad (but checkout the height of teh snow either side of the road!!)

There are things around here that help the people cope with the snow (see this article about living in with snow in Tsunan), but the main problem at the moment is that so much snow has fallen that it's taking much longer to clear. The only solution at the moment seems to be "get more people shovelling". At least one elementry school (in Toyama, Nagno) has had the students dig snow at their school. In the worst affected areas, the GSDF (Ground Self Defence Force, i.e. Japans Army) has been sent in to help clear the snow. Initially they worked at the weekend to help clear Route 117, the main road that runs from Kawaguchi, through Tokamachi and Tsunan, to Nagano. The road is now clear so now the troops are working on freeing the 500 people are cut off by the snow in Tsunan valley (the valley runs off behind the pylon and trees in this photo).

According to one of my teachers, 9 of these are pupils at Tsunan HS. I've had a couple of absences in my classes today so I wonder if it is because they are stranded. I hope they're safe.

It's not just GSDF troops that have been sent to the area. Yesterday my schools opening ceremony was filmed by TV crews and broadcasted on the news. At lunch the high street was crawling with camera crews interviewing residents.

I don't know if there are any reporters around today; the bread people made it so I could buy lunch without leaving school. But it's been snowing since 7am this morning so that might have put then off a little.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back in Japan

So I'm back in Snow Country. I've been reading lots of online articles about the snow in Tokamachi but I really didn't expect what I found when I got home (see also 9th Jan on the snow blog). Inside, my apartment seemed smaller than I remember, I guess because most of the hotels rooms were the same size the my entire flat. I also found a pile of Christmas cards and New Year's Cards. Thanks to everyone who sent one! I promise ot send personal replies soon.
I also found, while trying to make a pot of tea, that my water pipes had frozen so I had no running water. Idiot! I should have left the water trickling while I was away (flowing water doesn't freeze)!! Keiko was very kind and she rang the landlord. He suggested that I open the taps, warm up my flat and wait; hopefully the ice in the pipes will eventually melt and the pressure will push it through.

After a few hours, still no water, so I headed out for lunch (warm soba) and to buy some snow wellies (clearing before in just my walking boots was okay but not perfect) .

When I came back, I could hear the tap running; success!! This is good news because it means a) I can have a cup of tea, b) I can wash my clothes from the holiday, and more importantly c) I can have a shave. Take a closer look at the picture of me and teh snow and you'll see that I grew a beard on holiday. Isn't it a beauty? Anyways, I'm back now and the beast is itchy so it's time to shave it off.

Of course, I might stop halfway to see what I look like with a goatee.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Watching City in Bangkok

I found out that Hul City were tolay Aston Villa in teh FA Cup. The best bit for me was that the match would eb shown live on Bangkok TV!!!

With everyone else already flying to Japan, it was just me an Kat left in Koh San Road (backpacker mecca of Bangkok) to find a pub to watch teh match. And find one we did. i drank Tiger beer all match and the Tigers did well against Aston Villa. But teh Villans lived up to their name when Gareth Barry scored a deflected goal. The match ended 1-0 and villa are through to the next round. grrrr!!

To be fair, City played well and didn't look like the frightened side they were at the start of the eason; they passed the ball well, didn't rush when Villa pressured and even had a few chances to score.

Maybe in a couple of seasons, when City are in the Premiership, we'll get our chance to beat Villa.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Back in Bangkok

On the last leg of the holiday before returning to Japan. For the next two night's I'll be staying at:

Sawasdee House
147 Soi Rambutree,
Chakrapong Rd,

tel: 662-281-8138

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Latest Hotel: Golden Angkor Hotel, Siam Reap

I took the boat from Phnom Phen to Siam Reap this morning and I've now checked into this hotel.

Golden Angkor Hotel
#63, National route No 6,
Svay Dangkum Commune,
Siem Reap,

tel: (855-63) 964-039

I'm planing on being here for the next two days, then I'll travel to Bangkok to get the plane back to Narita

Monday, January 02, 2006

Cambodia Hotel

I'm currently staying at:

Paragon Hotel
No 219B, Sisowath Quay

Tel (855) 23 222 607

Cloudy's Asian Tour: Phnom Phen, Cambodia

After celebrating New Year's Eve in Bangkok, we took a flight to Phnom Phen in Cambodia. As soon we left the airport you could see the difference between the two countries. Thailand might be a poor country, but it's nothing compared to Cambodia. Cambodia reminds me a lot of Kenya; lots of people on streets trying to make a living among reminants of a colonial past.

The taxi driver recommended that we stay in a hotel near the river would be better than near the lake because "the water is cleaner so you have less mosquitos". I woke this morning with no new bites, so I think it was good advice.

We've done quite a bit of sightseeing. Yesterday we saw the National Museum. This morning we did The Tuol Sleng (S-21) museum and The Killing Fields both of which have been makig me think all day. To lighten the mood, we went to the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda in the afternoon.

Tonight is our last night in Phnom Phen so we're going to hunt out some bars and enjoy life. We can;t party too hard cos we're boarding a boat at 7am that will take us to Siam Reap and Angkor Wat (so I'm pretty excited about tomorrow).

**Snow Blog**

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