Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cause it was too beautiful to stay at home

Even though one big work still waited for me on Wednesday, I couldn’t resist going out as the weather was too beautiful.

I saw Yoko – san, my host family mother on Saturday and went to Sasuguri with her. At the beginning, she said we would go to Dazaifu but I have been there several times so I asked her to take me to Nanzoin temple in Sasaguri. We hit there up after strolling a bit in Forever 21 and having lunch at a sushi restaurant in Tenjin. 

Sasaguri is a small town not far away from Fukuoka, where a plenty of temples are located, one of which is Nanzoin with the sleeping Buddha. We walked around the temple, enjoyed the view and some praying spots. One of the most interesting things there is you can see dozens of Buddha statues with many sizes and expressions, some of which are even decorated nicely and cutely with visitors’ caps, wool hats and even scarves. Another one is the bamboo path which could lead you to somewhere. While we were wandering around the temple, we saw a small path leading to the bamboo grove with a sign saying if we walk to the forest for 20 minutes, we could see something. Then we did as I couldn’t resist my curiosity to discover what is hidden in the forest. The path was small and steepy which make visitors a bit difficult to walk. After a few steps, you can feel you are in the middle of nowhere, but if you keep going you can find yourself in a mysterious but beautiful bamboo forest. However, we couldn’t go to the end of the path as Yoko – san felt tired and even kept saying “kowai” (means dangerous in English) so we got back to the temple although we were half way through. I think the forest may lead to some temples and if we had kept walking, we could have seen some more breathtaking views. After the bamboo forest, we went to see the giant sleeping Buddha and one more small temple that I forget the name. 

Sasaguri is home to 88 temples and there are many pilgrims that make it to this place and walk the 88 temple route every year. I was thinking of getting back here someday and do my own pilgrimage to 88 temples. It would be a hard word, I know, as I have done some pilgrimages with my grandma who is a Buddhist to some pagodas in Vietnam, but still want to try as it’s worth trying.
I took a lot of photos of the bamboo grove as well as the Buddha thing but most of them are gone due to my carelessness (I probably pressed some button on my camera, which removed almost photos). 

The giant sleeping Buddha ( I took a paronama of him but sadly it's gone)
Me with the buddha

I do love this photo although it's not the one I tended to take

On the way back to the dorm, I got a message from Huong asking me to go see flowers with her and other people on Sunday. I replied with a nod immediately as the weather was just so beautiful. It’s not the cherry blossom season yet but there are bunches of plum flowers blooming already actually, and one of the places covered by plum flowers is Maizuru Park around Fukuoka Castle Ruins. We were speechless when we got there as the plum trees were super stunning. The lovely weather made them even more and more gorgeous. They were extremely awesome, even too awesome for words. Sang, a Vietnamese girl working in a language school in Fukuoka, and her husband came after us with some traditional clothes. She wanted to take photos wearing our costume with the flowers. I didn’t have any preparation for that but I also wore (with a bit hesitation though) since all the girls did. It’s kind of weird because the traditional clothes often go with very fancy makeup, high heels and other accessories, and I didn’t have anything. Moreover, if you ask me what is one of the most difficult things for me, the answer would probably be wearing dress and being something girly. I do love our costume but wearing it, taking photo with it and especially trying to be girly could break my heart. Anyway, I still wore it and took photos so accordingly I looked very awkward while other girls looked so pretty. I’m not low self-esteem, it’s just being girly is not what I choose to be. 

the plum flowers - no more upset of not being able to see plum flowers at home as we can enjoy them here

A big plum tree
selfie with Huong

 We got this stunning photo after lots of attempts and failures :D
Huong looked gorgeous in  ao dai.
The lovely couple - Sang and her husband
Three of us in ao dai. It's the one I looked least weird
The day of individual study project presentation came. Being the second last along with waiting for 7 hours almost killed me. After the presentation, I was exhausted, all of my energy ran out. I had thought of cooking something yum or dining out with other students but I couldn't do that. I ended up going back to my room and taking a rest! But the spring semester is officially over, which makes me feel better.

Had a skype talk with the girls home this evening as they dined out (so sad, i wasn't there!). It has been a long time I didn’t have a group talk with them. We talked lots of things, they kept me updated loads of news at home which shocked me (in both positive and negative way). The talk with the parents came after. I enjoyed both of them immensely. I realized how badly I miss them. Sometimes, you need only some people to talk with even though you have a bunch of people around you!

Now, all I need to do is taking a rest and getting ready for my coming trip.  My own vacation is not long away!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekend off to see doll festival and pick strawberries

My last class finished last monday. In the last japanese class, teachers brought some japanese traditional toys and we had chance to play japanese games. After that, one of our teachers taught us japanese tea ceremony so we got to know what japanese do in a tea ceremony. 

Last wednesday WJC students and i went to hakata doll shop to paint dolls, which was our last field trip in this semester. The dolls looked so pretty and the painting was very nice. I chose to paint a horse because 2014, for us, is year of the horse. Compared with the ones displayed in the shop, mine looked very ugly, but I did my best though. After the painting, Stephy and I went to Canal City as we wanted to buy some stuff. It was the first time in my life I'd bought myself a skirt, which sounds weird for a girl, I know. 

Stephy with her kawaii doll

Giang, Stephy and other students at the doll shop

Me and my horse doll. sorry for the stubborn hair :D
It is very boring if you just spend your time staying in your room and looking at the stupid laptop screen. I felt the same until Giang asked me to go out with her on Sunday. I didn't have any plan for the weekend and really wanted to go somewhere so I said yes right away. We headed to the doll festival Sagemon Meguri in Yanagawa with another vietnamese student and a japanese man, whom we call Saido - san. I was blown away by the dolls' beauty. They are all handmade stuff, looking so adorable, sophisticated and very japanese. Giang and I bought some of them as souvenirs at a shop nearby the exhibition house before we were off to have lunch. (I would love to buy all of them as they are so cute, extremely amazing but didn't have enough money :D)

At the doll festival

At the house built in Meiji period

A part of the house taken in paronama

Me with a shrimp doll

doll background

dolls - lots of dolls
Yanagawa Mari, bringers of good luck, indispensable to Doll Festival

Tachibana Garden, national site of science beauty
the garden taken in paronama
oh oh selfieeeeee
Me again, but not selfie, Giang took it :P

The kawaii doll couple I bought myself and my bestie.

Then we went to pick strawberries at a strawberry garden. With 1300 yen you can eat unlimited strawberries in 40 mins, which is a kind of buffet. It's the first time I've seen such big strawberries. So impressed and stoked. Eating there is not enough for me, so I bought some home which cost me 1000 yen. It's worth it as I could make some meals with those strawberries actually.

Lovely strawberries
strawberry garden

it's picking time, but more importantly selfie time with what i picked :D
Selfie again with Giang and the strawberries
Selfie No.3
The trip didn't end here. We went to onsen place after the strawberry thing. I'm not really keen on onsen or hot spring actually as my skin got itchy after I did onsen last year. I had a bit hesitation at the beginning but after Saido - san said that was a natural onsen, I felt a bit better. And the onsen turned out to be extremely great and relaxing, and especially my skin didn't get itchy after that, which might be the best :D. There are no photos for the onsen of course as we bathed naked :P! A wicked weekend!

I really want to go to some places near Fukuoka or in Fukuoka but whenever I say that to my host family, she always asks me whether or not the school takes us there. I don't want to appear over demanding but it is weird for me because she is the one asking me where I wanna go and she is my host family, but she refused to take me to every place I told her. In Vietnam, the host families willingly take you to the places you want to see, I'm sure. I felt disappointed. My host family is good actually, and she has reasons to do that but still very weird for me. I was asking myself if I should hope my next semester's host family can spend more time going out and taking me to places I wanna see. I don't know because I have hoped a lot, then disappointed a lot. However, fortunately, there are some people like Saido - san who is interested in helping international students. Thanks to him, I had chance to go to the place I want to go, to see things I want to see, do the stuff I want to do and get to understand more about japanese. Thanks Giang for inviting me to go out as well. If she hadn't invited me, I would have felt boring to death!

Enjoying strawberry, even had them as my dinner yesterday
My ISP paper was handed in this morning, so I feel very relieved now. Cooked this meal as a reward for me after getting all the hard works done as well as having lived on only fruits and vegetable (no meats at all) for several days (still don't know why I can survive).

Poached salmon with pepper, spring onions, soy sauce and a bit white wine
Lunch meal with salmon and veg and rice

Friday, February 7, 2014

New Year, Final papers, Food

It has been one month since the year 2014 came but I still wanna say Happy new year to you all. Chúc mừng năm mới!

I was very busy in the last month as I had to stay up with tons of final papers and ISP (individual study project). However, fortunately, I'm done with all of them so now, can have some free time to relax till the 26th, which is the day for ISP presentation.

OnJanuary 3rd, some WJC students and I went to Hakozaki shrine to see a festival called Tamaseseri, which is one of three main festivals in Kyushu. In that festival, men wearing only loincloths competed for an 8-kg treasure ball (takara-no-tama) 30-cm in diameter which is believed to bring good fortune upon the person who can lift it over his head. It was so funny to see almost naked men playing that ritual. Here is the photo of them.

Tamaseseri festival at Hakozaki Shrine

People in Vietnam celebrated Lunar New Year (Tet holiday) last week. It was a bit sad when I couldn't join every family reunion or help my mom prepare for Tet or at least have a cup of egg coffee with some friends I get along on New Year's Eve. But Vietnamese people in Fukuoka held a new year party near Kyushu University on the 1st Feb, so my friends and I also came. It was good to see Vietnamese people and enjoy Vietnamese New Year foods like bánh chưng (Chung cake), nem rán (spring rolls), giò lụa (Vietnamese sausage), etc. Especially I won the lottery with 5000 yen and a set of shampoo. So stoked and lucky! Hope the luck will go with me in this year of the horse! Happy Lunar New Year!

Bought a new camera on amazon a couple of days after the party (not by the money won in the lottery of course). It's fujifilm XF1 and pretty cheap, only a half price of the one in Vietnam. Got luck again! Haha

My new fancy camera

During January, I spent most of my time at dorm, writing my papers and cooking. Now I understand why my favorite Australian chef says it never gets boring in the kitchen! I don't dream of becoming a chef, just do what my heart wants! 

Gà xé phay - Shredded chiken salad
Chicken with beans and lotus roots

Pumpkin porridge with chicken
Mixed vermicelli with chicken, eggs and vegetable. How I miss my mom's food!

Next week will make something with beef and shrimp hahaha!