23 August 2010


I guess from now on I'll start posting on at least a weekly basis, instead of on a daily basis.  Blogging about how your life has gone on a daily basis takes a little bit of time - precious time you could use to actually live more of that life.  Maybe someone else can just blog about me.  Or not.  Anyways, the past week was marked by post-Fuji tiredness.  "Tiredness is there."

As mentioned in past posts, TPU was closed until last Tuesday.  After coming home from Fuji on Saturday and taking a little visit to Tokyo on Sunday, Monday became nothing.  As in I woke up really, really late and slept relatively early; I only had one convenience-store meal at around 10pm.

Tuesday in Japanese is "kayobi;"  in my case it was "aikiyayobi" - IKEA day.  Left home a little past 11am, got to IKEA in time for queueing up at the IKEA restaurant for lunch.  I had a quite expensive lunch - nearly US$15 worth - but worth it, I guess.  I missed them swedish meatballs with the gravy and raspberry sauce.  I wanted IKEA's usual salmon but instead there was only marinated salmon (more like smoked salmon) which came with a few veggie leaves, and me being a Go-Grow-Glow guy, I had to get a couple of pieces of bread to go with it.  Whew, the bread was expensive.  US$ 1.20 for one, and US$ 0.60 for the other.  And there's a charge for the butter: 20 cents (20 yen).  Dang.  Well, it was all worth it, if only to experience a non-Japanese setting in Japan.  After that, I probably spent at least an hour or hour and a half at the showroom and marketplace.  I didn't really find much interesting.  Actually at the back of my mind, I was like, I'll buy only stuff that I could actually bring home to the Philippines that the Customs wouldn't charge me so much for!  After IKEA home stuff shopping, it was IKEA food shopping.  I bought IKEA-brand chocolate bars - one dark, one milk, and one hazelnut.  I've tried the dark one so far; I love dark chocolate the most and I liked IKEA's.  I do still like Meiji's dark chocolate, though.  Or Hershey's.  Anyways, I also brought home some ready-to-eat meatballs, and ready-to-eat potato gratin.  The potato gratin unfortunately got thawed on my way home!  IKEA itself is at least 80 minutes from my apartment.

Dinner for Tuesday evening was convenience store food, I think.  I also cooked Adobong Manok during the week, which I ate for dinner on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I ate the IKEA meatballs and potato gratin for lunch on the same day.  My 2nd try of Adobong Manok wasn't as great as the first, probably because I used different chicken parts this time, or maybe I just missed or over-seasoned with some ingredients.  But nonetheless, it was still yummy, as well as the IKEA food.  I didn't mind having the same lunch and dinner menu for three days.

On Friday we were supposed to play basketball but the basketball gym was closed, but we were able to play table tennis and so ping-ponging we did.  It was fun, we won a "betting" game (guess whose idea), and it wasn't as strenuous on my yet-to-fully-recover knees as basketball is.

For Saturday lunch, I forgot what I ate for lunch, but I think I still had some of the meatballs and potato gratin.  They are really yummy.  Did I mention they're a bit expensive though?  But I think it's not so bad.  I ate them with rice by the way and that's why they lasted 4 meals.  Oh yeah, I cheated by assuming potato as a Glow/veggie food. :D

Then there was our usual Saturday seminar.  I went to the seminar room at 2pm only to find out that it has been moved to 2:30pm!  And the presentations and discussions took quite a while this time.  We finished at 6:15pm!  For dinner, I had convenience store food again.  Torikatsu and a really huge burger patty.  A few days ago, I had a "yaki" trifecta from the convenience store: yakisoba (noodles, a Japanese-style pancit canton), okonomiyaki ("Japanese pancakes"), and takoyaki (octopus balls, a popular Japanese street/festival delicacy).  "Yaki" means grilled, but here, "grilled" means on a flat pan with a little bit of oil.  Think teppanyaki grill.  "Soba" means noodles, of course.  "Okono" means anything you want, but okonomiyaki that you did not cook by yourself usually just contains some vegetables, usually cabbage and onion.  "Tako" of course means octopus.

And then Sunday.  Woke up early enough and surprisingly a usual 1 hour 50 minute trip from my apartment to Meguro became a 1 hour 10 minute trip - I was too early for the 12 noon mass.  So I had brunch first at a place I am very familiar with - McDonald's.  Big Macs for only US$ 2.00 each!!!  The set though is still around US$ 5.50.  Have I told you I don't really like Big Macs?  I prefer Quarter Pounders to Big Macs.  Can't do without the tomato ketchup and onions.  I also like the pickle.  Then the mass.  My Filipino friends all had to go somewhere, and so I went back to Atsugi.  The first thing I did back at Atsugi was get a haircut. The lady barber cutting my hair asked me something in Japanese, pointing to my sideburns, and I replied yes. I thought she was asking if she can trim/cut it.  Apparently she was asking if she should leave it as is.  Oh well, this is the cheapest barbershop here.  US$ 10.00 for a haircut.  In 10 minutes.  After the haircut, I went to the secondhand store and got me a guitar!  It's a Yamaha CG-150, if I remember correctly.  It's a classical guitar.  This is the first time I will own a classical guitar.  And the first time I'll own a "real" guitar brand - a Yamaha.  But I still love my 14.5-year-old acoustic guitar.  Hmmm, I forgot now what my guitar brand is.  But it is made in Cebu, if I'm not mistaken.  Now I chose this Yamaha because it's the best among the cheapest priced ones.  It's another insurance investment for sanity while I wait for Mara to come here.

The guitar was too bulky, of course, and so I went back to the apartment first, cooled down (high was 34 degrees; cooler than Tuesday's and Wednesday's 37 and 36 degree highs - yes, and I was out during that day!), and then back to Hon-Atsugi with Ali-san to meet up with Okada-san to eat all we can shabu-shabu at Nabezo again.  $19 for a dinner buffet, drinks excluded.  Not a bad price for here in Japan.  And for the ambiance.  We again had beef, tofu, and lots of veggies and shrooms as main ingredients for our shabu-shabu.

I was "wa chuns lah" - very, very full.  But I still had to do grocery shopping.  I went to SATY then and bought 5kg rice, ~8 liters of fluids, around 1.5kg of meat, and some veggies and snacks.  That's around 14kg I carried from SATY, to the bus terminal, and finally to my apartment.  While I was carrying that heavy a bag, I thought, that must have helped me prepare for my Fuji trip - because I certainly did not feel the 12kg weight I carried then.  But, with that comes bad news as well.  My trusty TheNorthFace bag which I bought in Hanoi, Vietnam, has started to given in, probably because of that Fuji trip.  It is still useable though.  And oh I will still use it.  I don't think I'll be throwing this one away.  It was the only thing that was (physically) with me the whole 14 hours climb up and down Mt Fuji.

16 August 2010

Videos on YouTube

In case you cannot access the full videos on Multiply or Facebook, here they are, in 4 parts, on YouTube.


These are each under 10 minutes; if you want to download them to your computer, you can use the free YouTube Downloader. In case you wanna view them instantly, here they are, embedded in this webpage.

Anyways, here's a cool video of the Mt Fuji climb by a more professional climber and video blogger.  It was done during daytime and off-season (no people!) so you can see what the terrain and what the views are really like.  No sunrise or sunset here though, but probably even cooler - you get to see Mt Fuji cast a triangular shadow over one of the adjacent cities.  The website address is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5cReCc6lDU, but the video is embedded below for your convenience.  It's a little over 21 minutes but it is a good overview of the 8-14 hour trip people would take.

15 August 2010

International Sunday

Last night, I slept again from 5pm to around 10pm.  I had my brunch of katsu-kari (curry with deep-fried pork cutlet or "tonkatsu") and some Japanese bento meal at ~3:10pm already.  Then I slept from 5pm to around 10pm.  I had a 6" "instant" pizza, and ice cream for dinner.  I slept at around 4am already, I think.  I woke up at around 12noon, but as expected I was a little too tired.  But surprisingly, I didn't have any real muscle or heel pain, not like just right after the climb.

Anyways, I was too tired even to prepare or buy lunch.  I just edited my videos from the Fuji trip and then whoah, it was 4:30pm already.  I had to go to the 5pm mass at the Atsugi Catholic Church.

I just found out that the videos on Multiply, where I have my Mt Fuji videos hosted, play only up to the 10:00 minute mark.  Yikes!  If you can find a way, download the whole video to your computer and watch it offline.  Alternatively, if you have a Facebook account, and I'm your friend there, you can watch it from these links:

Part 1. http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=463002935927
Part 2. http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=463007370927

I took the 4:50pm bus and made it in time for I think the Glory song - I wasn't sure because it was in a foreign language.  This 5pm mass is actually a special International Mass, in celebration of the feast of the Assumption today, the 15th of August.  Very interesting mass.  The 1st reading was in Portuguese, the Responsorial Psalm in Japanese, the 2nd reading in Spanish, the Gospel in English, and the homily in both English and Japanese.  The prayers of the faithful were in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Japanese, in that order.  The Our Father was in English.  The recessional song ("Santa Maria del Camino") was in Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, and Japanese.

Then after the mass, there was a little party.  There was my lunch!  God making lambing.  I was looking forward to this as well as this was a chance to meet some fellow Pinoys.  I approached one guy who was apparently with a rather large group of 20-something fellow Pinoys.  My opener was "Pinoy kayo?"  He said yes but he and his friends were too shy, the only thing I got out of him was that they are not from Atsugi itself, that they were all here on training for 1 year, but they did not arrive here all at the same time.  And then just like that, he said he had to go.  Okay.  On to my next Pinoy.  I approached a more mature group and then proceeded with my opener question to the lone man amongst the otherwise group of women.  He was a little more accommodating and was encouraging me to dig into the food before it all runs out.  I guess the difference between this group and the first group I approached was that the former is composed of people who are here or have been here for a long time (say 2 years or more).  I guess I belonged more to this group than the first.  Apparently, not many Filipino going to church here in Atsugi are from Atsugi!  Yikes, I wanna meet Pinoy Atsugi-ites!  Anyways, it's all good.  Finally I met the choir lead singer/organist, Rinna, and then she introduced me to a slightly younger group of 2-year or longer residents.  I also met and interacted with Nina, Mickey, and another lady.  Mickey is a 20-something student who graduated from Don Bosco Manda and is here with a Monbusho (Japanese ministry of education, etc) scholarship but haven't found a school yet so he's currently an English teacher; he's been here for 2 years.  As usual, these guys aren't from Atsugi!

Anyways, it was fun meeting them and I hope to see them again next time.  I just confirmed that there is indeed an English mass here in Atsugi also on the 1st Sunday of each month!  That is great news.

At the party, in addition to the sushi, pasta, fruits, and sausages, I had lechon manok, kutsinta, biko, and sopas.  Yummy, Filipino food!  I don't really like sopas, but serve me sopas here (once in a while) in Japan, and I can finish thehole batch you cooked.  I most especially loved the lechon manok.   Yum-to-the-nth-power-mee.  It was a pretty good lunch. :-D

I took off at around 7pm and went to KFC to buy my dinner for the next two days (6-piece chicken and "emu-saizu koru-suro" or M-size cole slaw).  I also passed by the convenience store to buy milk and juice.  Then back home.  I ate my dinner at around 9pm already.

14 August 2010


It's difficult to tell the whole story in words. At some point, we thought we had left behind one of our trip buddies. At some stretches, I was all by myself. I fell once, it hurt, and I had to bring myself back up. On my trip to the top, it was all mental; you had to push and tell yourself you can, but at the same time you had to be smart and stop and rest if your body says so.

After this trip has exhausted my physical and mental faculties, it was my emotional side that had to show. I was only very thankful to God because he brought me, an inexperienced mountain climber, to the top of one of his glorious creations, and back down and home safely and practically without a scratch. I was also thinking all the while of Mara, and how I love her. I had to climb up and be back home safely and in one piece so that I will be there with her on December 27th this year.

Well, a picture says a thousands words, they say. So a video of ~38 minutes in length, and at 30 frames per second, would then be around 35 billion words.

Let this (two-part) video just speak for itself:
Part 1. http://wwwronjiecom.multiply.com/video/item/10/3776
Part 2. http://wwwronjiecom.multiply.com/video/item/11/3776_22

13 August 2010

Friday the 13th!

So what?  I don't believe in superstitions, because I believe only in God.  I hadn't actually realized it was Friday the 13th until I wrote this blog post (which is actually two days later).

Anyways, last night before going to sleep, I watched another movie online and...  5am came and I still can't sleep.  I fell asleep at 7am already!  Yikes!  And then I woke up (because I had to) by 11am to prepare.  But actually, I got up at 12pm already.  Oh by the way, yesterday, I packed everything already for today's trip.  So, a cold shower first.  Then, my supposedly spaghetti-and-gratin lunch turned into a salty chow mein dish and not as yummy doria.  It wasn't a very pleasant eating experience.  Nonetheless, it was still carbohydrates - my source of energy - and so I had to finish it all up.  Thankfully I had banana which was the best dish of my 3-dish lunch.  Then, final preps, and 2pm came and I was ready to go.  Save for the lack of sleep.

Gratin, by the way, is like baked ziti but it doesn't resemble the baked-mac-looking baked ziti I have tried at some "Italian" places in the Philippines.

2pm came and my two trip buddies slash next-door neighbours were not yet so ready-to-go just yet, and so I double checked the bus schedule at the bus stop.  Per my "research" online, we could take the 2:15pm bus, so that we could be at the train station by ~2:35pm to meet up with our two other trip buddies, and then we could take the 3:03pm train to get to Shinjuku by 4pm.  Guess what.  The next bus was not until 2:37pm.  Uh-oh, we're going to be late!  And we didn't have oxygen cans yet - we still had to buy them in Shinjuku!

Anyways, so we can't do anything about it except inform our two trip buddies who might be early to arrive at Hon-Atsugi.  It was so hot today by the way.  And I was already wearing one thermal.  My mountain climbing bag was already 12kg, with 4L of fluids (2L of water, 2L of sports drink) and 7 additional layers of clothes.  I haven't ever been in less than 10 degree weather for more than 30 minutes before - usually if I'm in 10 degree weather or worse, I would go indoors already after no more than 30 minutes.  So anyways, I took all necessary precautions.  Like the fluids.  The cost of these 4L of fluids is just under 200 yen.  If I buy them at Mt Fuji it might cost me 4000 yen!  I also brought knee and ankle braces.  A walking stick.  Some Biogesic (paracetamol) medicine.  A low stool (because it's difficult for me to stand up from a squat or sit-on-the-floor position).  An umbrella in case it rains on the way between home and the starting point of the Mt Fuji climb.  A scarf, a pair of gloves, two knit headgear (bonnets/beanies), and a cap.  Two hankies for covering my ears and sunglasses for my eyes in case it becomes sunny.  A face towel to wipe away sweat.  6 packs of granola bars.  12 chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.  9 macadamia nut choco cookies.  An extra pair of shoes - because my Nike running shoes was "smiling" already.  I glued it up but who knows, what if it gives in!  Better to carry an extra half kilo of insurance than walk up and/or down a 1.4km climb without any shoes at all!  I also brought my wallet, of course.  And my two cellphones (Japan and Philippine numbers).  And my Palm TX - which functions as my English-Japanese dictionary, and my movie player.  And maybe a couple other things.

Anyways, better to be safe than sorry.  Better to carry all that weight and make it to the top, than having to go down because I am not prepared to complete the whole trip.

So, we got to Hon-Atsugi at around 3:05pm already, two minutes too late for the 3:03pm train.  Surprisingly, the train was late and so we were still able to get on the train.  We got to Shinjuku just around 4pm.  We met up with Kim-san, the trip organizer, and we met his girlfriend and also his cousin, both for the first time.  Then a little later Dr. Kim arrived.  Then there we were, 9 of us, trip buddies for this Fuji climb.  We hurried first to find oxygen cans for bringing up to Fuji.  But we didn't have enough time anymore and we weren't able to buy our dinner!  So we had to buy dinner at the 5th station of Mt Fuji, where our climb starts.  Off to the bus station we went and then somebody shouted "Ronj!"

It was Coy, my friend from the Philippine, who is about to graduate from her masteral degree this August/September.  This is only the 2nd time I've seen her during my Japan trip, and whoah, this was a big coincidence.  I found out she was going to Mt Fuji as well.  I told her we were late for our bus already and that we should just catch each other at Mt Fuji.

On the bus, I planned to either sleep the whole time, or watch a movie.  I attempted both but didn't really get to finish either one of them.  Oh well, I hope my staggered sleep last night (6pm to 10pm and 7am to 11am) was enough.  On the bus we checked the hour-by-hour weather forecast, and it said sunny!  Great!

Our bus left at 4:50pm.  We arrived at the 5th station at around 7pm.  And so we split up to look for, buy, and eat dinner.  We ended up eating at the restaurant where they have hot meals.  Two guys got kare-raisu (curry rice) which was 950 yen but was probably just 1/3 of that, 2.3km below.  I had tempura-udon which was only around 650 yen.  It was yummy.  But actually, it wasn't enough.  But, ah, we were in a hurry.  We must be at the summit by 4 or 4:30am to catch the sunrise, and back here before 11am to catch our bus trip back to Shinjuku.

After some group photos, minus one (the person taking the photos), we started our climb at 7:45pm.  After about two hours we were already past the 7th station.  I thought that was fast. After the 7th station, there's the 8th and 9th station.  So supposedly we were 1/4 of our way up.  Then, the climb became harder and harder as we got closer and closer.  Ah, one of life's many lessons.

12 August 2010

The Calm Before The Storm

Last night, I stayed up really late - until around 5:30am - to prepare my body clock for the Fuji climb.  Woke up really late today.  2pm.  I have practically nothing to do today.  Of course I had my brunch first, which was the last of my frankfurters, together with the last of my leftover fried chicken from last week, and the last of my pechay (steamed) for the week.  Then, bam!  My knee and leg muscles hurt, after all that running (and running during basketball) last Tuesday and cycling to downtown Atsugi yesterday.  Uh-oh, I hope I'll be fine for our climb tomorrow!

Anyways, indeed it was quite a wet day today and it was well and good that we did not push through with the Fuji climb today.

And with bed weather comes...  More sleep.  Because I have nothing much to do, I watched something online and fell asleep for about four hours from 6pm to 10pm.  And then I was hungry and so I bought food from the convenience store.  I had that salad with a yummy sesame-tasting dressing and half an egg, and a pack of burgers, chicken nuggets, fried chicken bits, and potato poppers that I ate with ketchup.  I also bought my carbohydrate-laden lunch for tomorrow, just before our Mt Fuji trip starts.  Unfortunately, I was really hoping to buy red/meat sauce spaghetti and creamy gratin (pronounced gruh-tun) like I did a few weeks back, but they didn't have it.  So I settled for this chow mein looking dish and this doria, which is like rice/risotto with some creamy topping.  Not exactly my ideal meal before a climb up a 3776m high mountain.

Anyways, I intended to sleep really late again today, to prepare my body clock for the Fuji climb.

11 August 2010

One Day till Mt Fuji???

I woke up really late today because I stayed really late last night at the office, to finish as much as I can before TPU closes tomorrow!  And today, we'll be doing some shopping for gear and necessities for our Mt Fuji climb.  Supposedly I should be at the office already by 10:30am to help Kim-san move to his new desk - because he's graduating already!  He'll be Dr. Kim soon.  Anyways, Kim-san's current area is an ideal position and so one of the next senior students, Jiang-san, had already "reservate" the area so he was moving there.  Meanwhile, I "reserved" Jiang-san's seat.  So when I got to the office I moved my stuff first.  I knew I was going to be busy today and so I ate my 2nd batch of franksilog (frankfurters, sinaing/rice, and itlog/egg) at the office.  I also started copying files to my hard drive so that I have the option of doing some school work during the summer break while TPU is closed and the electricity is down (hence I cannot access my school PC even remotely).

But wait, when I arrived at the office, there was "bad" news.  The last couple of days we were weary of this typhoon that started from around north of the Philippines and which has made its way to Korea and forecasted to hit Japan from the west.  There was a chance it could make the weather really bad on Thursday and so Kim-san, our Mt Fuji trip organizer and 2-time Mt Fuji climber, postponed our bus reservations a day later.  Yay!  One more day of rest before Mt Fuji.

At around 3pm, it was time to go for our Mt Fuji shopping already.  5 of us went by bicycle.  We first went to the 100-yen store at AT.  My Fuji trip buddies bought flashlights, gloves, sunglasses, and hats/caps.  Next stop was downtown Atsugi where we wanted to buy Oxygen supply cans.  The store which sells them was closed!  So we went to SATY, a mall / department store, hoping to find those O2 cans there instead.  No luck.  Instead, there were some jackets selling for only 500 yen.  Wow, that is extremely cheap!  3 of us bought jackets.  I didn't bring the jacket up to Fuji though because it is not water-proof.  The other 2 did.  My trip buddies also bought sunscreen lotion.  So anyway, next stop was the shoe store.  As expected, I didn't have any shoe size so I had to make do with my Nike running shoes.  3 of my trip buddies were able to buy hiking shoes at relatively cheap, sale prices at around 4000 yen.  Wow.  I have this difficulty of finding shoe sizes in Singapore and in Japan.  I had this problem years ago in the Philippines but thankfully now, there are more people with big feet like me and so they do sell the larger sizes but mostly only for non-formal footwear like sports shoes and sandals.

Anyways, after that we went back to AT to buy food and drinks for our climb.  Actually earlier today I received my online order of Nature Valley granola bars from Amazon.co.jp.  Plus last Sunday when I did my grocery shopping, I already bought 4L of this Gatorade-like Aquarius sports drink by Coca-Cola, but more similar and more in competition to Pocari Sweat.  So, I only needed to buy another carton of juice and milk which I didn't buy last Sunday because I thought my week is only until Wednesday and that Thursday and Friday will be devoted to the Fuji climb.  Anyways, I saw one pack of Dried Green Mangoes for sale and I bought it. :-D

Actually, whenever I do get a chance, I buy these Philippine-made products (like these dried mangoes and Magic Flakes) so that hopefully they would think there is a market here and so they would continue to import from the Philippines.

And so, that was the shopping we did.  We all went back home of course, and then I had my last batch of BBQ ribs.  Ate it together with steamed pechay.  Then back to the office, to do my last minute work before TPU closes tomorrow.  I stayed quite late at TPU, along with probably 4 other guys.  Literally there was no tomorrow, not until 6 days from now.

10 August 2010


Woke up relatively early today, and went to school relatively early.  As usual I was busy, considering that I wanted to finish a lot of stuff before TPU closes on Thursday, the 12th of August.

I went home for lunch and stove-grilled/fried the frankfurters and made a couple of perfect-looking sunny-side-up eggs.  I really wanted to eat frankfurters because I regretted not having to eat some during the Hanabi festival last Saturday.  I have forgotten what frankfurters taste exactly but these to me tasted like Japanese-style frankfurters.  Nonetheless, they are just what I needed.  Or rather, wanted. :-D

And last night I heard that Mara enjoyed Rodic's tapsilog, and wow, I want some too!  I had to have some silog of my own.

Anyways, the secret to my perfect-looking sunny-side-up eggs was an egg shaper.  But, actually I wasn't able to find one for use when frying eggs.  Instead I got me a microwave egg shaper.  Pretty convenient.  Two minutes in the microwave and voila, I have me two perfect sunny-side-ups.  Wasn't uniformly cooked though.  The outer part resembled more like soft-boiled egg while the inside was cooked egg just right.  Anyways, the one thing I like about this is - no cooking oil! :-)

And then a busy afternoon yet again.  Tuesday is usually basketball day but I thought, no more basketball - I have to be well rested for our Mt Fuji trip on Thursday.  But, the boys wanted to play.  So, I thought, what the heck.  I <3 basketball.

When we got to the gym, Kim-san, the Korean basketball superstar, wasn't there yet.  And when he arrived he said that he can't play anymore because his girlfriend was at his apartment and he had to attend to her.  So, Okada-san joined us instead.  A little bit thankfully though that because there was no Kim-san, there was no "betting," and so it was a relatively light and easy casual game of basketball.  It was China vs the World (i.e. Japan and the Philippines).  And then suddenly, the women's basketball club using the gym approached us and said "We are closing the gym now."  Yikes!  So off we went to the 4th floor to do some running instead.  The whole time running, we were all thinking of how we can go down by rope from the 4th floor to the gym floor (2nd floor) just to be able to play basketball.  I probably ran already about 500+ meters when one of the guys checked the gym door if it was "accidentally" left open by the women's basketball club members.  It was.  So back to basketball it was.  Yahoo!  It was a really fun, relaxing game of basketball.  For some reason, I just did so much running though even during the basketball game supposedly to "confuse" the opponents.  But, that was too much running for a day.  But actually it was good endurance training for our Mt Fuji climb.

For dinner I ate the BBQ ribs again.  I also prepared a Ceasar salad again, with lettuce, tomatoes, and bacon bits as usual.  The ribs tasted a little better than yesterday.  I think some were just better marinated than others.  Or maybe better cooked than others.  Maybe the basting had something to do with the taste.  I don't know if I just over- or under-basted some which didn't taste as good as the others.  Anyways, it was my first time to "baste."  It was probably also my first time to marinate and "grill" BBQ ribs.  Nonetheless, I loved it.  Like yesterday, I went back to do some more work at the office right after dinner.

09 August 2010

Busy Monday

Slept and woke up a little late yet again.  I went to school just a little past lunch time already, but there was lunch already waiting for me there.  Last Saturday, one of the professors bought lunch from the convenience store and he was not able to eat it so he gave it away to the students.  It was pork, I think, and so the non-pork-eating guys can't eat it, meanwhile the pork-eating guys were full and so they passed it on to me.  The dish was a spicy kind of pork steak of very thinly sliced pork with some onions and chili and cabbage, on top of rice.  The kind professor also gave away chicken Ceasar salad to go with the rice and pork dish.  I ate my lunch past 2pm already.  Generally it was a busy day for me as I had only today and the next two days before the school closes down for the 6-day long summer break.

For dinner I went straight home and cooked all 1kg of my marinated BBQ ribs.  It was looking and smelling really good.  When I ate the ribs, oops.  They didn't taste as good as they looked or smelled.  But it was still good, nonetheless.  I ate them with my leftover nilagang veggies from last week's nilagang baboy.

08 August 2010

Grocery+Mass+That's it

Too tired from the last two days.  But, I had to do grocery shopping.  And go to mass.  I went to AT by bicycle, and bought freshly made tempura with rice from the grocery for lunch supposedly.  But I didn't have time for lunch.  I then had to prepare and go to the 5pm mass at the Piarist Catholic Chapel near Komabatodaimae (Front of the Komaba Campus of the University of Tokyo) station in Tokyo.  As usual, it was a short mass and I was a little late because I took the 3:50pm bus from the apartment.  I arrived during the 1st reading.  When I got home, I had the tempura for dinner.  And, because of the 3 straight days of exercise, I just had to sleep.  But wait, there's more!  Actually before sleeping, I marinated the ribs I bought in home-style BBQ sauce with ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, sugar, and garlic.  I can tell it was yummy.  Can't wait to cook it.  I also bought furankufuruto (frankfurters) from the grocery.  Can't wait to eat this.

07 August 2010


Fireworks!  It is a Japanese tradition to hold fireworks shows usually at their major rivers during summer.  Tonight was Atsugi's turn, at the intersection of Sagami River with two other smaller rivers.  As I mentioned, there was one in Tokyo's Sumida River last week, and tonight also at Edo River, I think.

Before that...  My day started a bit early today, at a little past 8am.  I did my laundry and finished before 11am.  Then I packed lunch and went to the office.  I ate ginisang giniling with pechay and with semi-hard-boiled egg for lunch at 12:30, and then attended a seminar at 1pm, where a presentation was given by the most senior PhD student who is to graduate by end of September.  He presented his research thesis/dissertation, of course, and the intention was to get public opinion, thus this "open" seminar.  At a little past 2pm, the graduating student finished his presentation, and shared some snacks with all of us, while the professors continued to deliberate his thesis.

Then, it was back to the office for most of us.  For me, though, I didn't do any school work - just work.  At around 5pm, me and my "kuya" (Filipino for "big brother," but in this context a more senior student assigned to take care of you) went to see one of the professors who was apparently still busy with his earlier meeting.  We waited until a little past 6pm and scheduled meetings with the professor for Monday instead.  During that wait, my "kuya" and I exchanged stories about our home countries - the Philippines and China.

We actually had to be at Sagami River by ~6:30pm.  But we left our apartment probably around 6:30pm already!

On our bike ride to the hanabi venue, we tried a new route this time.  It was a slightly shorter route, but with a steeper downhill part that ends abruptly in an intersection -- dangerous!  Anyway, we were all safe.  I don't usually ride my bike on very steep downhill slopes (and uphill of course) and so as usual, I walked my bicycle downhill.

Then straight along relatively flat terrain we went, but then at one point we were not sure which direction to go.  We noticed that an unusual number of people were walking in the same direction, and so we thought where everyone was going is were we should be going as well.  We were right.

Then we noticed that people were all WALKING.  So we decided to park our bicycles somewhere and started walking ourselves.  There were so many people already, and some streets were closed to traffic.

Along the streets, we noticed that some people were already camping out on the sidewalk, seated on mattresses or beach chairs, and taking some food and drink, some even selling food and drink along the sidewalks.  There were a lot of police, traffic guides, and crossing guards that helped ensure the hundreds of pedestrians are all safe, and cars are properly diverted.

Then there was a little bit of a choke point where some stalls started to appear, lined up, selling the usual Japanese street food fare at these summer fireworks events like cotton candy, takoyaki (literally "grilled octopus," but it actually one small cube of grilled octopus meat wrapped inside an egg-based ball together with some veggies and mayo - yummy!), yakisoba (literally "grilled noodles;" they look like pancit canton with less sahog and with a sweetier taste - yummy!), yakitori (grilled chicken - yummy of course), furankufuruto (a Japanese-style frankfurter), some shabu-shabu-like street food fare, okonomiyaki (literally means "anything you want, grilled" but in this non-restaurant setting, they look like a sandwich of different veggies between two pancakes - very different from the one you would get at a restaurant), drinks of course (beer, water, sports drinks similar to Gatorade, soda, juice, shaved ice drinks), ice cream on a stick (which obviously you have to finish quickly - not a problem during summer), suteiki (Japanese-style "steak," this time served in square-shaped pieces on a stick), ikayaki (grilled squid), sakanayaki (grilled fish), and I think that's it.  We would find there are many stalls selling the same thing, but I think each stall is owned by one family, and so their fare would have slightly different taste from the other.  So, some would look and taste yummier than others'.

And then those hundreds of people were apparently just the newly arrived.  There were thousands of people, and I would guess there were at least 10,000 people there.  And that's just on our side of the river.  Apparently on the other side of the river, there are even more people, and even more food stalls.  On our way, we heard "booms" already - hints that the fireworks had already started.  Indeed even from far away, we can already see the action starting.

We walked, and walked, and walked, until we decided we were close enough to the action.  Along the supposedly walkway, some people have sat in a row and so we thought joining the bandwagon and sit there.  And sit we did.  Thankfully, one of my fellow students brought some junk mail that we can sit on.

There were plenty of people in yukata, a traditional Japanese clothing usually worn indoors (nowadays, you can find some in hotels), or during summer.  On women, you would think it is like a kimono but it is as you can see less formal.  There is also a version for men.

And then the fireworks.  There were different colors, of course.  And smiley face shapes, heart shapes, maybe some hiragana (Japanese) characters, Saturn (planet) shapes, mushroom shapes, zigzagging fireworks, flower and butterfly looking shapes, the usual en grande finale in some presentations, and I forgot what else.  Having watched two International Pyro Olympics in Manila, these were normal to me already and in fact, lacking coordination with a certain song as background music, to me, was something missing here.  There was some loud speaker on but usually there was just some announcement by some lady after each 1-minute or so fireworks showcase.

By around 8:15 I think we started moving again, with the intention to get out of there before everyone does or else it's going to be a stampede!  Well, no, that won't happen here but well, we just wanted to avoid the sardine-can-like crowd.

On the way out, we tried takoyaki balls (500 yen for 6 pieces), yakitori (100 yen per stick), and yakisoba (500 yen per pack).  Expensive!  Takoyaki is just 400 yen for 10 pieces at the convenience store.  And instant yakisoba is just 100 yen and probably tastes better than the ones we got.  But of course, these are all cooked fresh, and it didn't really matter during this festive event.  Overall, this was part of this hanabi experience.

And then so we found our way out of the crowd and got back to our bikes.  It was probably 9pm already.  And then here they go again.

"Let's pass by the (out-of-the-way, back-deep-in-to-the-multitude-of-people) supermarket first before we head home."  What?  Why not just go tomorrow to the supermarket that is just 10 minutes away by bike from our apartment?  "It's boring to go there."  What is so boring about that?  And so he wanted to drag all three of us companions of his along, out of the way from our route home, and back towards the crowd that we just ran away from.  I think he was just tamad to go again to the supermarket tomorrow, and for his tamadness he wanted to drag us along with him.  "My fellow Indian friend said I have to buy chicken now, for tomorrow, and that the supermarket here in downtown closes at 9:30pm.  So I have to buy now."  Hmmm, I think I see what's going on here now.  Someone is being a puppetmaster, another a puppet.  One is more senior than the other.  Match A & B with 1 &2.

Well, no, not me, man.  I told them I'll go ahead and head straight home.  Hitori de (by myself).  It was the first time I rode by bicycle by myself between downtown Atsugi and my apartment.  It was fun.  It was also the first time I tried the route we usually take going downtown, the opposite way around.  Fun!

But, wait.  I haven't drank anything yet!  On the trip, "thirst came," as these Indian fellow students of mine would say, meaning "I felt thirsty."  And it was a little bit warm.  It's summer, you know.  And so when I got home, my clothes were drenched yet again.  And I drank sports drink and nearly a liter of water.

Overall, this is a very nice day, and very nice new experience.

06 August 2010


I went home early last night but unfortunately I wasn't able to sleep early...  And I woke up too late again to attend class.  My alarm clock didn't work yet again.  Actually my alarm clock this time was this computer program that runs the official online stream of the Manila-based radio station Magic 89.9 (magic899.fm/ListenLive.aspx).  But argh, that guy who has the router (and with whom we'll share the internet expenses with) has probably moved it around again and so there's no signal in my room.  Last Saturday night, I had this same problem.  I called him up and asked him about it, and he said, "Oh there is something covering the router."  What???  And he expects me to pay the same amount as himself for the internet connection???  Sigh.  There are 3 of us sharing the connection, but I am not willing to pay 1/3 or not even 1/4 of the internet fee.

Now don't worry, the class I missed is not a very important class for me.  It is about something that is totally different from the field I'm studying.  And to tell you the truth, I find it so difficult and so distracting from the real work that I need to do here, so if I can I would really like to not attend that class anymore.  After today, there's two more classes and well, I hope to attend those if only to keep a good relationship with the class professor.

Lunch was nilagang baboy again.  Yummy, but it could've used a little more salt and spice.

We wanted to play basketball today, but the gym was closed.  So we just did some running.  I exercised for maybe 35 minutes straight.  Then shower.  Then home - because I had a delivery coming.

For dinner, I was thinking of having nilagang manok.  Oh, I forgot to mention, the nilagang manok was too salty and too spicy.  Hmmm.  Anyways, I am so not into having this nilagang manok again.  This wasn't appetizing.  This would make me feel less energized.  And so I decided to fry the chicken instead.  Wow, it tasted great!  Ate them with tomatoes.  Yummy dinner.

I realized I have to eat good food as much as possible.  When I was eating cafeteria food almost everyday, I felt the difference when I started to eat my own cooked Pinoy food.  This time around, I'm on an almost all-Pinoy food diet (or at least maybe 60% of the time), but of course not all Pinoy dishes are yummy.  Or some are yummy, but when you cook it differently, it could taste different and not so appetizing.  And so unenergizing, if there is such a word.  Actually what happened for this week was, I got tired of thinking of and deciding on what food I really wanted to eat and therefore needed to cook.  I just selected the dishes which I did not have the week before.  And so I ended up with this line up.

But actually one other motivation I have when choosing dishes I am going to prepare for the week is: avoid using cooking oil (even if it was canola or other vegetable)!  And so that's why I like cooking nilaga, and even the giniling.  And so this is what I ended up doing.  Fried (previously boiled) chicken.  But it was really yummy.

By the way, I forgot to mention that yesterday I received the results of my health check-up.  It is all in Japanese though, except the numbers of course.  So my BP is 130/80 (or "132/78" to be "exact").  My height is 183.5 cm and my weight is 85 kg.  And they calculated my BMI: 25.2.  I'm (still) overweight!!?!?!??  I told my colleagues here and they were all like, "No, you're still fine.  I'm shorter than you but I'm not that much lighter."  Another noticed that I have a "B" mark, exactly on that box/area where my height, weight, and BMI is listed.  He said that he got all "A" marks.  Actually, I really think I'm 185 cm, and if so my BMI is 24.8, still within normal.  I might just be slouching a bit when my height was taken.  It was, after all, mid-day already.  Anyways, this is all good news as it is only more reason to do more exercise!  :-)

I don't like to share this with you just yet, but what the heck.  I like to do more exercise so that I can eat more!  Ehehehe :-D

05 August 2010


Today and yesterday are almost identical, except I didn't play basketball today and I had nilagang chicken this time (a 5 day wait for it) and ginisang giniling with pechay (can I just call this GGP for short?) with some leftover steak.  Without basketball, today was even busier than yesterday.  But I went home early, considering I have class tomorrow.

04 August 2010

Busy + Bball

Busy day today, though I got to the office a little late.  I woke up late and so I had lunch first at home before going to the office.  For lunch and dinner, I ate my 2nd and last batch of steak and eggs (or "steakalog" - steak, kanin, and itlog - as Mara would call it), and finally gave a chance to my nilagang baboy.  Not bad.  After four days of waiting, my nilagang baboy was happy that it finally realized its purpose: to meet my stomach.  :-D  We also played basketball today, where we won only 1 of 3 games.  It was so hot (and the gym is enclosed), the air-con can't function that well, it was more difficult than usual to play.  Anyways, I was gaining some momentum in the work I'm doing and so I stayed in school until 1am or 2am already.

03 August 2010


Today I had to wake up really early because we had to be at the meeting point near Hon-Atsugi by 8:45am, for our TPU-organized field trip to the Fuji-Hakone area.  So that meant we (PhD students) had to leave from our apartment at 8:00am.

But alas, I had a hard time sleeping yet again (maybe 4am?) and so I woke up only around 7:50am - if not for a phone call from one of my fellow PhD students.  My alarm clock which I set for 7am did not work for me at all. :(

Anyways, so obviously no more shower or breakfast or the "2nd thing" you should do after waking up, and then off by bicycle we went to Hon-Atsugi.  We probably left around 8:10am already, and we arrived at the meeting point at just before 8:45am.  Right on time.

And so the 2 hour bus trip, first to this place called "Fuji Harness," which is a guide dog training facility.  http://www.fuji-harness.net/  The dogs of course are very cute and very adorable.  Unfortunately no baby dogs, which are even cuter.  The purpose of this trip is actually to admire the beautiful architecture, which has no less than Mt Fuji in the backdrop.  The complex is a very nice piece of architecture indeed.  There was a demo show to show us what the guide dogs are trained for.  It is funny that the show's host was speaking to all of us in Japanese but he spoke in English to the dog!  But other than that, it wasn't really an entertaining show.  No acrobatic acts like running through rings of fire or somersaults.  The host was just showing that the dogs would guide blind people:
1. given a choice between two doors/paths, the dog will choose the wider one so that he (or she) can guide the blind person continuously through the door/path;
2. away from obstacles that the blind person could bump his/her head into;
3. away from obstacles that the blind person might trip on; and
4. safely up and down stairs, protecting the blind person from falling over from the stairs if there are no rails.

We had lunch at the cafeteria, a pre-packed bento and a small aluminum bottle of green tea.  There were so many stuff in the lunch: two kinds of fried chicken (one is a katsu or cutlet), fish, fish balls, rice of course, a tofu roll with veggies inside, other veggies and mushrooms, a pork cutlet ("tonkatsu"), siomai (dimsum with pork), and I forgot what else.  Our non-pork and non-beef eating fellow students of course didn't have the pork stuff.

After lunch and some "snaps," as one Indian PhD student would call "taking photos," we went again on the bus for maybe a 30 minute or so ride to the Hakone area to go to the POLA Museum of Art.  http://www.polamuseum.or.jp/english/  It was very interesting architecture, yet again, and this time this one has a special engineering feature: base isolation.  Base isolation protects the building from earthquake forces by "isolating" it from the ground which shakes violently during an earthquake.  By the way, architects here are engineers as well - but only of buildings.  Civil engineers are engineers of bridges, usually, and other "civil" structures.  In the Philippines, architects are building designers, and civil engineers perform the engineering design for buildings, bridges, and other civil structures.

Anyways, first stop was a short lecture given by one of the museum staff to give a brief introduction to the feature exhibits currently on display, which is collectively called "Nihon-ga" which means Japanese paintings, as well as to other exhibits around the whole facility.  Very interesting.  There were also Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso paintings there.  I wonder if they were the real thing!  There were also boring displays of old perfume bottles and something else that was too boring to remember.  We also spent a little bit of time at the museum shop where there were more interesting items than in those two boring exhibits.

And then another 2 hour bus trip back to Hon-Atsugi.  We estimated that we probably spent half this trip (5 hours) on the bus!

When we got to Hon-Atsugi, I wasn't feeling like coming home to Nilagang Baboy and Nilagang Chicken just yet, and so I joined two of my colleagues for a gyudon dinner at Matsuya, a competitor of Yoshinoya and Sukiya.  Filipinos in the Philippines might be more familiar with Yoshinoya.  Anyways, gyudon as you know is just (apparently boiled) beef rice topping with egg.  Apparently, the egg is raw and you put it directly in the rice and beef.  Maybe it is supposed to cook in there but apparently not really.  I guess this is the Japanese version of Tapsilog.  The set meal was not bad; 490 yen for that big gyudon bowl, with miso soup and a side salad.  And, all-you-can-drink iced water.  :-)

And then after that, a 30-minute bike ride back home in this still very hot summer early evening.  I got home with all my clothes drenched in sweat.  I changed first and then went back to the office to do some work and upload photos as well.

02 August 2010

Need for Medicine

Laughter is indeed the best medicine.  When I watch anything offline or online, I always choose comedy.  Or funny old action films (i.e. they're action supposedly but you laugh at how they make movies back in the day).  I can feel how other kinds of movie genres have an effect on my overall well-being the next day.

Anyways, today I woke up relatively early, after that long rest (a.k.a. Sunday, the 1st of August).  So I went to the office early.  Last Saturday when I did my grocery shopping, I didn't buy yet all the milk and juices I need for the week because I bought so much already, my bicycle can't carry all that weight anymore.  And so I left relatively early for lunch but also to continue my grocery shopping.

So, me not feeling well, I had to go for "medicine," things that would make me feel good and comfortable at least for a little while.  This in my dictionary is also known as "McDonald's."  :-D  I had me a quarter pounder with cheese meal.  Just once a week (or every two weeks) is fine, right?  I exercise twice a week anyways, not counting my walking to and from school, and bicycle rides to and from the grocery or Hon-Atsugi. :-)

Then off to the grocery I went, and got what I came for.  And then I felt it again - not having enough energy.  And so I bought even more "medicine."  Nilagang Baboy and Nilagang Manok was waiting for me at home, and I thought those won't help me feel a little more energetic.  And so I bought me 1 pack (4 slabs) of some kind of steak (tenderloin?  I wasn't sure).  Actually since this morning, I was craving for Tapsilog.  Now, the Tapa requires marinating overnight and so on, and so that's why I bought steaks instead.  So of course I also bought eggs.  And then back home I went.  Have I mentioned it is summer?  And it is so much hotter here now than in Manila.

Back home, so I "grilled" up the steaks for dinner and fried a couple of eggs as well.  I really have a hard time making perfectly good-looking sunny-side up eggs (hmmm, maybe the sunny side up look helps make you feel better and more energized - and that's why it's good for breakfast).  And so, while it didn't look great, it was enough to meet my "medicinal" requirements.  After frying grilling the steaks, I cut them up so they feel like Tapa.  And Voila, Tapsilog.  Made me feel really good.  :-)  I didn't finish all the steak and eggs, of course, so I have some left for another meal.

Other than all that and the usual summer weather, it is a normal busy day today.

01 August 2010

No sun

This day did not happen.  Serious!  I woke up very late, maybe around 2pm.  The sleeping problems are still there.  I only had one meal - my ginisang giniling with pechay.  Maybe I was up for just 10 hours today.  And didn't do anything at all.  Did not feel well at all.  Yikes, it's the first day of August.  Is it the heat?