Friday, September 25, 2009

Silver Week

It has always been an interesting fact that a four day work week often feels just as long or longer than a five day work week. I am pleased to report that this situation does not apply to a two day work week. Having completed my two day work week, I feel like I've been working for...two days. I was pretty tired yesterday, but this was probably due to the fact that I spent my holidays walking and biking.

When I last left you, I had ridden my bike to Noshappu and hadn't quite decided what I was going to do next. Well, I found a few things to do. Monday afternoon, I hopped back on my bike and drove off in the other direction, ostensibly to study Japanese. I pedaled out a couple miles (I think), heading toward Furani Park. I had visited it once before - it had some nice trails and places to sit (plus, someday I am totally going down the giant slide). As I got close to the park, I remembered seeing a sign for a bird house. I decided that this lead was something I wanted to pursue, so when I saw the sign again, I turned left and drove off into unchartered territory. Never fear, I chartered it just for you!

If I hadn't seen the mountains in the distance and known there was the sea just beyond the growing things, I'd have thought I was somewhere completely different.

Pretty soon, I was at the bird house, which is really a lake and a visitors' center. It was very peaceful. I remember seeing it when I first arrived in Wakkanai and wondering if I could visit it. Well, I did! Here is a picture of my lovely new bike visiting the lake:

I like it! It really is fun to almost be driving again. The nice thing about bikes is how quiet the ride is when you are away from traffic. I wish I could listen to my iPod on my bike, but I am pretty sure that is not legal!

Speaking of legalness, it's always interesting to find those things that appear to be universal. I think that one is people being pulled over by the police on long weekends. I have to say I got a small jolt when I heard a police car behind me, but they were not pulling me over, thankfully!

Monday evening I met up with another ALT in town and we grabbed some dinner and ice cream and did some shopping. Then, we decided that we needed to get out of town, so we went to the train station and bought tickets for Asahikawa, the nearest significant city. It's about a 3.5 hour train ride from Wakkanai.

So, early the next morning, I got on my little bike and pedaled across the city. It was too early for the buses or I totally would have caught one. We made it to the train station on time (there is no room for error with trains), and pretty soon, we were off. I love the train ride out of Wakkanai because the scenery is just beautiful.

I'm going to end this post here, because I want to post some pictures from our trip, but they will make this post too long.  So please stay tuned... ;-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Biker Chick

Happy Silver week!  This week, we have three days off from work.  Japan celebrates Autumnal Equinox, Respect for the Aged Day, and National Holiday. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, I am staying in The Wakk. I've a pretty good break so far - I was really worried that it was going to be tsumaran.  But, yesterday I bought a bicycle! I've ridden all over town (by the way, this is a very long town).  It's been surprisingly fun!  Yesterday, I rode to the fish market and there was some sort of traditional dancing competition/festival going on. It was very neat! There was also delicious bubble tea there. I also bought some fish, as that was the main reason for going (well, the bubble tea did play into it a bit...). I don't know what I bought, but it was really good! On the way home, I totally felt like the quintessential foreign English teacher riding through town with fish in the basket of her bicycle. The I bought some totally mod bathroom accessories, and the illusion was messed up a little. I would post a picture of my new bike, but my computer is being a little...cranky. The picture above is where I was riding this morning.

Today, I rode my bike from my house to Cape Noshappu.  This was a pretty fur piece, and would have been excellent exercise had I not been derailed by cafe au lait and baked goods. About halfway between my house and Noshappu is a great little coffee shop that serves the best cafe au lait known to mankind. It is amazingly delicious! So I simply had to stop, since I was riding by anyway. Then, as I passed Saijo, I wanted to stop for some healthy crackers that I like there. But, I was derailed by the bakery inside. Everything looked and smelled so delicious! As I was about to check out, one of the bakers brought out a fresh basket of hot, crusty French bread.  Well, I had to try some, didn't I? Then I again felt like the foreign English teacher with my bread in the basket of my bike.

The bikes here are definitely built for being a viable mode of transportation.  I have a big basket on the front of my bike, and a place where I can strap a parcel on the back.

Well, I haven't decided what I'm going to do this afternoon yet, but I think that tomorrow I will go to one of the islands. I also need to clean my house, but I don't want to waste any valuable light and nice weather! according to MSN, it's 60 degrees right now. So, it's a little chilly, but biking or walking tends to warm you up pretty well. I think I will go somewhere and study Japanese.  Now, to bike or take the bus...