Monday, December 20, 2010


I think I can safely say that we’ve all been in a situation where there’s nothing left for you to do at work and all of a sudden you’re looking around for things to keep you occupied. You can’t just sit around picking at your bellybutton because it isn’t professional, and you think “I should really update my blog” until you’re filled with an overwhelming sense of dread, and for procrastination’s sake you root around in your purse in search of candy you HOPE you forgot you left in there, but there isn’t any candy, and there’s nothing left except to quit munting around and write some internet baloney.

I have no excuse for neglecting this blog. I’d like to say that I’ve been too busy doing awesome things like riding ostriches or winning at poker, but the truth is I spent most of my time indoors forming an unhealthy emotional attachment to my couch and wondering what Jeff Goldblum is up to these days. And so I intend to mislead you with this cleverly assembled photo montage of my doings since September, adding inventive elements here and there so you will be reassured that I am less of a social cocknuckle than my blog implies. Quite frankly, reconciling my dorky secret internet life with my real life is not something I feel is in my best interest, as I am unequipped with the mental capacities to judge what is appropriate in a given situation and would likely discuss Hampster Dance while making your wedding toast.

Anyway, get your scrolly finger at the ready…. GO.


Lovely fall romp in Nikko. More pictures can be found here.



My award-winning Halloween costume which landed me some approving thumbs-ups/back-pats. I know what you’re thinking. How can a costume be this sexy AND win the award for Best Makeshift Gunt? The world may never know.

Beer fest

Annual event in Yokohama where a huge selection of exotic brews were on sample.
Number of independent brewers attending: 300
Number of types of beers Chelsey ingested over a three hour period: 13
Number of disapproving looks amassed: Unknown.

Orange Cheese Drink

I feel creepily manipulated into ingesting whatever mingy seasonal delicacy my local convenience store has on offer.

Fujido Caves

Largest caves in the Kanto region. Took roughly an hour to walk though.

In other news, the following is what happens when Adam gets a new videogame and I am left to my own devices. With little else to occupy my twee brain, decorating his head seemed diversive enough.

I think it looks like he just climbed out of Roger Rabbit's laundry hamper. I can't be held accountable for this, as it's clear that I should not be the one making desicions about what constitues an appropriate use of my time.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! YEY

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Bunking off to Cambodia and Laos this summer was the best idea that I’ve ever come up with. We stayed in Siem Reap for 4 days, and I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. The main draw of Siem Reap is, of course, Angkor Wat. It’s the biggest, grandest, best preserved temple of them all and it certainly commands some respect. It used to be a state temple built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Now it’s a collection of ruins slowly being swallowed bit by bit into the jungle. The funny thing is that it probably looks a lot better ruined than it did when it was new. It is an intricately carved stone relic entangled with massive trees whose roots bind and strengthen the entire structure, and the effect is rather beguiling.

The ancientness of the temples is hard to wrap your head around. It feels like you’re on some sort of elaborate movie set and nothing is real. It was hard to take it all in. Oddly enough, the best thing I can compare it to is the Vatican museum, where everything is so intricate and detailed and expansive that your eyes are over-saturated with awesomeness and you don’t know quite where to look, so you just stand there with your mouth open while street-kids root around unnoticed for valuables in your fanny-pack.

Each temple had its own draw, but I’ll spare you my take on each of them and instead offer you a couple pictures of each.

The above shot was taken while walking around on a ledge along the outer wall of the Angkor building. One of the best things about these temples is that they are 100% permissive to wandering. You can climb all over everything and poke around in tiny passageways and no one really cares. A stark contrast to other, decidedly less easy-going relic sites; try Googling “I got yelled at at the Parthenon” and see what comes up. (Consequently, “why are Greeks so angry” is a popular Google search as well.)

The downside was that for every temple you visited, there was a garrison of souvenir merchants and their children all waiting to harangue you into buying something. It was like Adam and I were walking piñatas full of money and if they shouted at us long enough we would explode and they could gather up all our precious money-guts. “Hey Lady, you want buy something? Look, you buy? Best price for you!” Sometimes the handicraft women would shove something into your hands and then refuse to take it back, hoping you’d feel obliged to pay for it. Lucky for me, having relented possession of all our collective monies to The Boyfriend, I escaped scot free by callously pointing at his pockets and deflecting their attentions onto him, while triumphantly scuttling away. I believe it was afterward that I paused to consider my lowly moral state.

Anyway, as for non-temple related activity, we chartered a boat to the floating village of Kompong Luong, which is a whole community of people who have built their homes and businesses on a massive lake. They have everything they could want: floating restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, hospitals, karaoke bars, you name it. At one point we saw a man in a motorboat casually towing his entire house behind him.

We went to the floating school and donated some floating food to the floating children:

We also went for some exotic Cambodian BBQ where we tried some snake, crocodile, and ostrich. They tasted like pork, chicken, and beef respectively. Afterwards we retired to our hotel and watched HBO, as we are deprived of American television as of late and were suffering from a raging case of meat sweats.

And then it was off to Laos…

I’ve set up a Flickr account so click here if you’re interested in more photo-ey goodness of the trip.


People were generally quite interested when I mentioned that we were going to Cambodia. “Angkor Wat,” they would say, and nod at each other and murmur generally agreeable things about vacationing there. Laos was met with only feigned interest. “Laos, huh? So… what’s in Laos? Frankly, I didn’t even really know the answer myself, but Laos turned out to be quite a boon.
It has a very different vibe than Cambodia, a lot more laid back. We stayed in Luang Prabang, a leftover French colonial town, and a World Heritage site. It’s absolutely picturesque and mixes French architecture and influence with East Asian culture seamlessly. It’s also lot cleaner than Siem Reap in general. And it has a particularly nice sky.

One of the best things about Luang Prabang is that there’s no shortage of Buddhist monks in saffron robes walking around the town, tending to their busy monk agendas and shaving each others’ heads or whatever it is Buddhist monks are into nowadays. Apparently most young Lao men voluntarily choose to join a monastery where they spend a few years as a monk, after which time they can choose to leave or continue living the ascetic life. They walk around the town stoically, but behind closed doors you see them drinking milkshakes and chasing each other around trees and dancing the Charleston, and other such frivolity.

One thing we did really want to see was Tat Kuang Si falls, which were supposed to be these gorgeous turquoise layered waterfalls about an hour north of Luang Prabang. They are so gentle that you can swim around in each pool, all the way down the falls. Adam and I wanted to have them to ourselves, so we opted to wake up before dawn to catch our tuk-tuk for the hour long, bumpy ride out. Because August had so much rain, Tat Kuang Si falls had churned itself into a muddy brown froth, so there was no chance at frolicking in turquoise crystal pools. Disappointed, (doubly-so because I had to put on the patently unfashionable Tony-the Tiger swimsuit I found in a Japanese department store*) I dragged by stripy Kellogg’s butt back to town. The falls were still nice to look at, even if they were brown:

Anyway, Tat Kuang Si aside, we had an excellent time. We enjoyed the scenery, poked around the town, got some massages, and ate some delicious food. Lao cuisine is an incredible amalgamation of Thai, French, Indian and Chinese... Like eating a hollowed out a baguette filled with beef vinadloo and dipped in coconut curry and oyster sauce. Definitely going back someday.

*the other option being something like this

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bento / Coming to a Theatre Near You

Frankly, this doesn’t really qualify as a post because I can’t be bothered to write anything interesting since it’s too bloody hot and I’m extremely lazy. Be warned that it’s entirely likely there may be more posts like this one in the future due to the adverse neurological effects the summer heat is having on my brain. It seems my logical, rational thought centres are being fried, and blogging without those always turns into megalomanic fits and nonsensical babble A LOT GIVE VERY JANKY COOKIES SINCE BECAUSE ENJOY OF IT, YOU TANGO YANKEE.

If this continues, the bright side is that I’ve worked out how to play it to my advantage, as displayed by this scientifically infallible sequence I just made up: 37°C weather → really fucking hot → heat stroke → irreversible neurological damage → behavioural abnormalities conveniently blamed on said neurological damage → convince overly sympathetic boyfriend that if I behave I get cake → free cake


Anyway, here are some more pictures of another bento I made:

I’m especially proud of the wiener sushi.

So in a recent movie-themed lesson I taught, I gave the students a copy of this screenshot from the movie Brazil:

If you’re unfamiliar with this film, it’s kind of like 1984, but on crystal meth and with more hallucinogenic dream sequences. Without telling the students the name of the film and with only the screenshot to go on, they were supposed to come up with a title they thought would fit best. Afterwards the class voted for their favourites.

Here are some of the epic movie titles they came up with:

Cannibal Soldier
Silent Muscle Dynasty
Mr. Nii of a Big Adventure!
Peach Boy
Middle-aged fairly white man
Angel FACE Demon’s BODY
Assassin Cook ~Milky is Mommy’s Taste~
Neo Armstrong Cyclone Jet Armstrong
Iron Beetle Man
Prince with Natural Curly Hair

I really hope someone makes Assassin Cook one day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

6 Ways to Know the Internet is a Slum and Other Signs of the Coming Apocalypse

It’s exam week at school, which means that all the students are taking tests and there’s nothing for me to do. Of course I still have to come to work, but I just sit at my desk and occupy my time with other pursuits varying in productive merit and/or staring vacantly into space. Most times I end up studying Japanese or offering strangers questionable medical advice on Yahoo forums. Other times I sit back and let the internet entertain me; like a red ball to a developmentally stunted seal.

Now some of you may know that I bought a unicycle recently. Frankly, it’s important that I learn how to ride the damn thing before I make myself a public liability and set off down the street like a rock star with a monkey in a Napoleon costume on my shoulder. It was while googling How to ride a unicycle that I realized that the internet (and by this I mean the faceless masses that make up much of what is on the internet) (myself included) is definitely fucked beyond repair.

I’m basing this on the Google auto suggest function that pops up when you type something in the search box. The suggested lists are calculated by popular searches; the most popular of which will be nearer to the top. So, as you type something into the search bar, Google offers you its ideas on what it thinks you might be searching for, based on related searches conducted by other mammals such as yourself, who all want to know how to do one thing or another.

So while searching for something completely innocuous, I was being given a number of less-than-upstanding options.
"How to ride a unicycle"

Well, it stands to reason that this tops the list. It is Google Canada, after all. Unfortunately for me, smoking pot has nothing to do with riding unicycles... Or does it?

Actually, when I think about it, I don’t really have much of a problem with ripping DVD’s. Or the other thing.


Later on in the day I was thinking about what to cook for dinner and about how quickly the rice turns bad in the summer. So I googled “How to keep rice fresh.” This is the aftermath.

For fuck’s sake, people. Really? I’m no criminal mastermind, but if I were to go out and do a job on somebody, I wouldn’t want this showing up in my search history.

As a member of the fucking human race I’m not proud of the fact that enough people need Google to help them out with this that it’s number two on the auto suggest. Yes, I’m aware that, as a blogger, I’m a member of the mouth-breathing internet community and therefore am among those with under-developed social skills. Having said that, there’s just no excusing this.
I just like the mental image this gives me.

There you are. Proof that your half-baked, DVD pirating, racoon infested, unicorn enthusiast, mouth-breather of a neighbour IS OUT TO KILL YOU.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Takahigashi School Festival

Well… Summer is in full swing whether I like it or not, unapologetically melting my ice cream and giving me sweaty underboob. Also, the 35 degree weather is making my apartment smell like eggs and I simply don’t know what to make of it.

Last weekend was my school’s triennial school festival. These things happen in junior high and high schools here, and it’s basically a showcase of class projects, music, art and food all put together and run by students. Really, it’s just an excuse for them to come up with something creative as a class project that they can show off to their parents or whomever it is they’re trying to get approval from. It’s completely up to the students to decide what they want to do. This year all of the classrooms were gutted of desks and chairs and were transformed into student-run cafés, art displays, reading rooms, and haunted houses. There were also some more civilized/educational ventures set up, such as a land mine information and contribution station, tea ceremony rooms, and various social awareness exhibits. The sophisticated minds in class 1-4 pooled all their collective wisdom and decided that the best thing to do would be to fill their classroom with an ungodly number of balloons for no reason:

There’s no question as to their genius.

The festival lasts for two days, and the second day is open to the public, so I invited Adam along to check it out. We spent some time checking out the classes and eating at the cafes, though Adam spent the majority of the day among a constant mob of giggly high school girls. They descended on him like spider monkeys.

I, in turn, was bombarded with demands to define my relationship to him. In case you’re unaware of the kind of relentless inquisition Japanese high school girls are capable of, it went something like this:

Student: Chelseeeey!

Chelsey: Hi!

Student: *pointing to Adam* Your boyfriend?

Chelsey: Maybe…

Student: *incredulous finger stabby action* Chelsey!

Chelsey: Yes?

Student: *making a heart shape with her hands* LOVE LOVE?

Chelsey: ….


It was at this point that we devised a sort of vaudeville “Who’s on first” routine to confuse them while we made our escape.

I drew these handsome caricatures of us. The hearts and whatnot were added later by someone else.

Witness the evolution of origami cranes!

Some random pictures from the festival:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yes, it's a post about my dinner.

This is my car. It’s a used Mitsubishi minica. It has a dent in it. It turns out that fixing the dent would cost more than the car is worth, so the people who had it before me just bought another one. And now it’s mine. I think it kind of looks like the car Postman Pat used to drive before his mid-life crisis compelled him buy a motorbike. Anyway I’m calling it Kowalski.

And in answer to your question: Yes, it does have retractable wheel saw attachments.

I drove off in search of One-Eyed Willie’s treasure new eateries and found a neat kaiten zushi (conveyor-belt sushi) place. Most places like these are usually self serve to some degree, but this one was almost completely automated. So much so that the only real human contact I had was paying for my meal. The place very well could have been operated
lights out, except that people generally don’t like eating in the dark... or if everyone who ate there was blind I suppose that’d be less of a problem. Anyway, you get my point.

Right. So. The first thing you do is sign in your party at a computer which spits out a paper with a number on it. Your number is called and you are assigned a different number which corresponds to your table, which is easy enough to find as both the bar seats and booths are conveniently arranged with Sesame Street-like simplicity. Then you’re free to pick your sushi off the belt as it comes. Making your tea is pretty intuitive. You’re provided with cups and matcha powder, and the hot water dispenser juts out of the wall. How very civilized. If you want to order something, there’s a touch screen display at your table where you can specify what and how much of it you want. All special orders are placed on the belt to eventually make their way to their respective customers. (I suppose it’s an unspoken courtesy not to take someone else’s delicious looking order as it creeps by you.) Your touch display will start flashing when your order is inching towards you because there are microchips in the plates. TECHNOLOGY FTW.

Automated awesomeness aside, kaiten zushi places are fun because some other inventive items totter their way around the belt:

orange juice


chocolate cake

My Japanese friends claim that the sushi in those places is made by robots. I’m inclined to believe them, but only because the idea of sushi robots makes me happy. Based on my scientistical evaluations, I can only assume there’s something like this going on in the kitchen, despite all impracticalities.

…10 years from now I’ll be getting my sushi from a replicator.