Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bicycle lessons 102

Improvements had been made today as Mrs Tan Tan gradually learned how to control her excitement and keeping her pose straight while cycling instead of wriggling like a worm - trying to prevent a fall.

Well, what are the improvements you might ask. Basically, she had for twice, managed to cycle 7 full oscillations before stopping. (this might not be a feat for those who knows how to cycle, but for someone who is doing it for the third time, I strongly feels that it is great!)

So, hopefully by lessons 103, Mrs Tan Tan will be able to do alot better as well as control the bike and her turns better.

Friday, August 29, 2008

From Spin Doctor to Newsmaker - Media Clippings

And these are the media clippings so far.

Nankai Hibi, 27 Aug 2008, Page 1, "Female Singaporean ALT pays official visit to Mayor"

Kisei Shimbun, 26 Aug 2008, Page 2, "New ALT is a Japan connoisseur"

Chunichi Shinbun, 26 Aug 2008, Page 18, "Imparting interest in English - new ALT Ms Serina pays Mayor official visit"

Btw, you may have noticed that the first two articles made it to the prime pages (pg 1 and 2) of the respective papers...
But before you jump to any conclusions... that's because the newspapers have only 2 pages!
Never been that easy to make it to the front page. keke.

From Spin Doctor to Newsmaker

An interesting twist took place on 25 Aug as I was interviewed by a bunch of reporters in Owase. As a PR consultant, I've had my fair share of dealings with the press, but only as a mediator, on behalf of my clients, the newsmakers. So, the opportunity to play the newsmaker's role today was really refreshing. I kind of enjoyed the process while sticking to all the golden rules of media training. The news peg - me, the new ALT in Owase. Probably the easiest interview a newsmaker can ever get.

A key misconception about Singapore that I noticed during the interview, as well as through my numerous interactions with the JET community and the Japanese here, is that many people are unaware that English is Singapore's primary language.

Of course, I've been doing my best to clear up the misconception - what do you think? - I'm all armed with my key messages as an ambassador for Singapore. Never been so patriotic before.

After the interview, I was brought to meet the mayor of Owase-shi. And guess what the photo op was? The classic handshake shot! At that point in time, I wished I had a small Singaporean souvenir with me, just to complete the shot. Oh well.

Being an Asian ALT comes with a few disadvantages, especially since I look Japanese (according to the people here). Neither the reporters nor the mayor realised I was the person they were supposed to meet, until I was formally introduced to them by my supervisor. They were probably expecting a blonde. Keke.

To answer my friend, Jong's request, media clippings shall follow when the articles are published. :)

Daily Sights... hmmm...

You know. Over here we're really at peace with nature and these are some of the sights that I get to see every morning.

The birds chirpping on the cables ... hmm . . maybe not so full of nature as it is quite wired up here.

Just a short 2 mins walk away from our place and you can see this nice padi field as well as other plots of greens which are just so beautiful.
And of cos, views like this too !

However, there is just one unsightly part which the Tan Tans see everyday.. and that is our backyard full of weeds.

So, Mr Tan Tan got his hands dirty with the complimentary tool he got from the very nice Board of Education and this is the end result after half an hour's work.
You see that little botak plot on the top right corner? (by all means, I am not suaning anyone that I know of)

But you might ask ... why only after half an hour of work??

well.... find the answer below. . .
Due to the very very stony and hard surface of this plot of land... the tool had failed on me.. .so sad. .

Well but the Tan Tans will fight on... so.. pls wait for the next episode.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Singapore Cultural Ambassador

Finally, our shipment of 4 oversized boxes from Singapore arrived yesterday! What's inside other than our piles of clothings and shoes are... foodstuffs and things about Singapore!

And that is because one of our duties here is to spread the Singapore culture to them. Well, minus the la, leh and the lor.. hee

Thus, yesterday, Mrs Tan Tan took 2 hrs to set up a Singapore's corner to showcase the Singapore culture. (you might have spotted our Mr Lee below but no prizes for spotting that. Oh, I have yet to put up the flag yet. Not now.)

Of cos, what is Singapore without our typical type of language and style, hence, we also have with us 881 for cinematic viewing on our 20" TV in our room (hahaha)

And finally, Singapore is a place about food and more food and thus, will be making some bak kut teh and other stuff for our guests once we planned it all out.

However, the Tan Tans were surprised to find out that the Japanese actually read about Singapore in their textbook during schooling. One of the thing that they remembered is Singapore being such a "FINE" city. Wahahahahaha. . . .

Well, we will try to make it better than that of cos. GAMBATE!!

Great Dishes of Owase!!

Ha ha. .. if you are thinking that I am going to show you all the good restaurant and/or local food... too bad, I'm not!
Instead, I am going to share with all of you some of the wonderful dishes that the Tan Tans whipped up at home.
Because it kept raining for the past 4 days i.e. from Sunday till this afternoon that the Tan Tans just didn't want to step out.
And well, also because the Tan Tans had bought so much groceries during the Sunday and Tuesday grocery sales that we might as well cooked for ourselves.

Finally, its because both the Tan Tans love cooking for each other. You know. Something like an "expression of love". hee hee
So, do keep your drooling tap closed to prevent any damages to your comp while viewing.

The first pix below was taken on 24th, the first day after we got all our groceries.
Invented and pending patent by Mrs Tan Tan - Tomato Rice and corn soup! Fresh ingredients for both dishes and trust us, so far in japan, we have yet to come across any sour tomatoes and the corns are so sweet and nice that you can simply junk those you have in Singapore. hahaha. . go on, be envious of us.

The following is the second dish:
Matsusaka Beef Ramen (well, just the soup stock is matsusaka but not the rest) - Anyway, Mr Tan Tan has mastered the art of cooking japanese hard-boiled eggs (you know, the type you get in ramen shop where it is still soft inside) through this trial!
Sometimes I wonder if it's the eggs or my skills.
anyway, if you are wondering, there are stewed daikon and carrots with grilled beef, mushrooms and mini-spring onions topped with fried garlic in the ramen . - I think I can open a ramen stall back in Singapore . .. hee hee

This is yet another creation by Mrs Tan Tan. Wonderful spaghetti and prawn chowder. Well, I can only say that the soup is so wonderful that The Vines' lobster bisque in Singapore pales in comparision. I'm sorry but The Vines is now officially dropped from my list of favorite soup places.
This tastes so good that I will not order any spaghetti outside anymore. What's the point right?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grocery Shopping in Owase

From the past 3 weeks here, the Tan Tans have discovered how the locals actually save on grocery shopping.

Ok, for introduction. There are a few places that one can get groceries from.

1. Old neighbourhood shop - similar to those mama shop
2. Supermarkets - like NTUC, Coldstorage. (those that can be found here - Shufu no mise x 3, Pricecut and Jusco)

3. Pluck from your own backyard. (Something that I am going to try soon, after I get rid of all the weeds)

How the system works here.

1. Weekly Sales
a) Every Sunday - Shufu will have a vegetables sale starting from 0900hrs. Items are cheaper by as much as 40% over retail. (Interesting discovery is that the sales of these items are conducted outside the shop and after you step in, you can see the same item selling at non-sale price)

b) Every Tue - Jusco will have a sale. Details can be found on . To counter this, usually on this day, Pricecut and Shunfu will also have some ongoing sales.

2. Other than that, there are special sales day like the 10th, 20th, 30th of a month and any other special occasion (e.g. the winning of certain olympics matches recently)

But the best option is definitely to plant your own vegetables. This is a little trial of what the Tan Tans is trying. (spot the little greens??) For the big one, need some time to clear the backyard as it is full of weeds!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tokyu Hands

The trip to Nagoya was definitely more liberating and we also found one that Tokyu Hands is now listed as one of our favourite stores.

And as the name "creative life store" suggests, other than the nice photo frame we got for our caricature, we also bought some stuff to make a nice little "door hanger. We now hang this on our main door to tell others that this is the official residence of the Tan Tans. (I will definitely bring this back to Singapore and hang it at the door! So nice right!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to the city

Okay, I have to admit (and I am sure Mr Tan Tan will too) that there are certain perks about living in a city that we miss. The convenience, ease of transportation, and amazing array of food and entertainment choices - to say the least.

Although we enjoy living in Owase, its close proximity to mother nature and walking through the quaint little streets everyday for the past 2 and a half weeks, our weekend in Nagoya (just a little 2 hours away from Owase) proved to be liberating.
My first thoughts when we arrived in downtown Nagoya:
- We're back to civilisation!
- I love Takashimaya and Tokyu Hands (and never as much before)
- I'm underdressed and should have put on some make-up (you see, unless your fashion sense really stands out for all the right and wrong reasons, hardly anyone cares how good you look in an inaka)

Needless to say, we made the most out of our short two-day stay there, soaking in the buzz of the city, shopping, window shopping and more shopping. The best buy? A caricature of ourselves.
(Left) Waiting for Takashimaya to open.
(Right) The famous clock tower.

Some night shots.
Sakanaya-san slicing tuna with a sword-like knife at Yanagibashi Chuo Ichiba (Central morning market).
Of course, no Tan Tans' trip would be complete without the food factor! Some of the famous Nagoya delicacies we indulged in:

Kishimen (Nagoya flat noodles) at Yoshida Kishimen

Left to right: (1)Tenmusu (2) Tofu siew mai (3) Curry Udon (4) Eggplant in aka miso

Left to right: (1) Yummy wings! (2) Miso kashige katsu! (3) Aka miso minced meat on toufu

We had dinner at Wakashachiya. Sounds familiar? That's because they have a branch (their only overseas branch) in Central Mall Singapore! We concluded that the Japanese branch serves a better variety and a meaner version of the wings and curry udon, though.

Toufu ryori! (On far right) Skewered toufu that's grilled and dipped in aka miso dashi.

Aka miso kara nabe (Red miso spicy hotpot).

Left: Matcha Kakigori and red bean mochi
Right: Strawberry shortcake and triple chocolate cake.

Freshly baked bagels - in double pumpkin (left) and sweet potato and black sesame (right)flavours.
And finally, our verdict of the trip: we'll definitely be back to Nagoya again.