Wednesday, October 28, 2009
And I wasn't disappointed with her show - right from the beginning it was high energy, she was belting out the songs while dancing up a storm on stage. She performed all my favourite songs, did a high medley of Destiny's Child songs, sang Alanis Morrisette, Sarah MacLaughlan and dedicated her finale, Halo, to Michael Jackson.
There were amazing backup dancers, these staunch big black women backup singers, the entire band was female (and seriously talented) and little home videos of her as a child, very cute. Overall I was totally blown away. Next time I would pay more to be closer to the stage as we were quite far away, but there the sound was great and there were huge screens so you could see pretty well anyway.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So long jandals, my wee tootsies are feeling too frostbiten for you now.
And in the last few days even the daytime temperatures are creaping downwards, requiring scarves, and jackets - so I'm sure it won't be long before hats and gloves are needed too.
It's pretty bizarre for me to think it's October as this is all happening, feels much more like April (which I guess is the Southern Hemi equivalent).
On Sunday I got an amazingly warm boiled wool coat, which after wearing in the bitter wind is definitely going to see me through the winter.
We've also had three amazing thunder and lightning storms in the last week, which I love, one last night woke me up and kept illuminating my entire apartment. Another I got to watch from a bus coming home from Seoul last Tuesday night, it was pretty spectacular, unlike at home where we have maybe two or three lightning strikes and then it's over, here it just went on and on. I saw for the first time with my own eyes actual lightning bolts over Seoul, and because of the light pollution the entire sky was flashing purple.
But the country is looking so beautiful, the leaves are changing so fast and with the clear days, I am really loving exploring!
I'm fast approaching the six-month mark here and starting to feel a little guilty at how few places in Suwon and Seoul I have actually checked out - many weekends away, but not so many looking around my own doorstep. So before I start hibernating in the winter, I have resolved to see as much as I can.
On Saturday I went to Gyeongbokgung, a royal palace in Seoul, with my Kiwi friends Skye and Jed. It was a bit of a mission to get to with a very slow bus and a few subway stops, but eventually we emerged at the gates of Seoul's largest palace. It was nice to stroll around, although very hard to get an impression of how life would have been, with so many groups of Koreans, including a lot of school groups, touring the grounds and high rises sprouted up around the periphery.
The further back we went (this palace just went on for miles!), the more beautiful, with lots of autumnal trees, ponds full of very fat scary looking fish, pagodas and pavillions. All the palaces seem to have very interesting histories and this one was no different. It was initially completed in 1395 before being destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion in 1592. After lying derelict for 273 years, it was rebuilt before parts of it again being destroyed by fire. In 1915 the Japanese used an exhibition as an excuse to raze the buildings again, however from 1968 onward reconstruction began again.
Amazing sky and an intricate eave
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Our trip was a little different in that we stayed at the NZ Embassy with a friend from Wellington, who has been doing Japanese language training for over a year so can speak fluent Japanese and knows all the hot spots to go. So it was lovely exploring the city with her although it left a lot of things I still really want to do - all good reasons to go back.
We stayed in Shibuya, which is in central Tokyo and a fabulous area, very easy to get around from there too. I kept a diary so the rest of this is pretty much from that, just so I don't forget anything!
DAY 1 - THURSDAY
The trip over went very smoothly, Sara and I were very excited the whole way, and it was a super short trip (only 2 hrs, and they served us food which we didn't expect so the flight went by in the blink of an eye). In duty free we picked up some wine for Nicci (Cloudy Bay sav, oh, how I have missed you) and I was very naughty and got myself Chloe perfume which I am completely in love with right now!
When we arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo we had about 35 mins to get through customs, immigration and get our bags before we needed to be on an airport limo to go meet Nicci in Shibuya. Thankfully we made it through with 10 mins to spare so there were no dramas of trying to navigate the subway system just yet. I loved that Japanese drive on the left side of the road! I didn't even notice for a little while but it did feel all very natural!
The drive was amazing, past the port, past two massive coloured ferris wheels, over the biggest bridge I think I've ever seen and Tokyo Tower (which really just looks like a mini Eiffel Tower to me - but apparently it was designed similarly). The cityscape stretched off forever and the lights in the buildings were quite dazzling.
Tokyo Tower -this photo meant to go in later in the story but I forgot it!
We walked past a whalemeat restaurant which was quite shocking, as I always expected those places to be down back alleys and with no signage, but this one had a cartoon whale out the front.Back to Niccis and some chilled NZ sav and a lot of catching up.
Woke up early and spent the morning reading Listener, eating Vogels and drinking Milo - just a typical morning in NZ but felt very special in Japan! Weather was pretty bad, raining very heavily with no signs of letting up but Sara and I headed to Ueno Park, which many of my friends had recommended as a place to go. The park (at least, what we saw of it) was quite lovely, even in the rain, although this park is home to most of Tokyo's homeless population, and we saw them all lined up huddled under big trees surrounded with all their belongings waiting for food from a temporary soup kitchen, which was quite sobering to see.
In full flight!
DAY 4 - SUNDAY