Sunday, August 05, 2012

First time driving on the left and other such adventures...

Saturday was full of fun for the Guthrie family. First we got a car to use until we get our own car Friday. It's a Toyota Surf, which is basically a 4Runner. Rodney drove first... off to the 24-hour launderette on base to do a week's worth of laundry. Good thing they have commercial-sized washers and driers - they clean 8 loads of laundry at once. Since my Mom fired me from doing laundry at her house a couple of weeks ago for "putting too much laundry in the washer," I guess this might be a worthwhile purchase when we return to the States. ;) Even more good news about this laundry session: the whole thing took less than an hour! Rodney is the expert with commercial washers ans dryers... he did our laundry last weekend, too.

Add the week's worth of laundry to the 8-load washer

Add two Tide Pods to the top

Enjoy the signage displayed, such as this one - I wonder how many people actually follow that rule.

I will do my best not to be an evil overlord.

Xan is not sure which is more entertaining - the washer or the DS. Just FYI, the DS won.
While we were waiting between the washing and the drying, I had my first turn driving on the left side of the road. Here is the 2-minute video of the trip:

First time driving in Japan

Once we safely returned from the post office, we picked up Rodney and the laundry. We then grabbed Will from the youth center and, after busting through Rodney's safety-minded apprehension with me steel-willed tenacity, we headed out for our first excursion off base!

First stop: A daiso. Which is what the Americans call a "100-yen store." It''s basically the Japanese equivalent to an American dollar store, like Dollar Tree. But everything in it actually costs 105 Yen. That's about $1.34. I will have a whole blog post on diasos soon, so stay tuned. I did want to point out, though, that they have in expensive food, cages and accessories for one of the most popular Japanese pets: Rhinoceros Beetles. The beetles are about 2 to 3 inches long and Japanese buy them, trade them, fight them, collect them... kind of like what my kids do with Bakugan toys, only these need to be fed and cared for.

This is a photo I pilfered from the blog of a family I do not know, but they had great beetle photos.
I have been trying to convince the spouse that we need a pet - I don't like being pet-less. I am pushing for either a sugar glider or one or two of these beetles, and I can get their stuff cheap at a daiso:

Beetle Jelly (food) wood  chips,  small logs, etc. - everything  to keep a beetle happy and battle-ready.
Beetle habitat - Only 105 yen!
Here is they boys' favorite video of a different species of beetle fighting. It sounds a lot like WrestleMania - they even introduce the beetles before the fight. The spouse is adamantly against any pets while we are in Japan, so it may take me some time to wear him down...

As we left the daiso and started to climb back in to the car, something quite delicious could be smelled in the air. There was a restaurant behind the daiso we followed our noses to - a moment of rare spontaneity for the spouse. It turned out to be a Korean barbecue place. So, we ate Korean in Japan.

The waiter was kind enough to bring us English menus even though Japanese ones were on the table. What gave us away?
All you can eat for 90 minutes for $45. There were some Marines in there while we were. I think the place lost money on them! We stuck to a beef ensemble that did not include any organs or bowels.
The kids enjoying their meal

Of course, being in Japan, the spouse and I forgot all Korean barbecue knowledge we've learned over the years from my sister-in-law, Gina, a native Korean. So, we tried to cook our cabbage (see the burned edges), instead of using it like a tortilla to wrap our cooked beef in. We both came to this conclusion overnight and did a mental smack of the forehead. I also attempted to talk with our waiter, who did not speak English, through a translator app on my iPhone. When I typed in "Are we cooking this right?" in to the translator and showed it to him, he was more confused than ever, made it clear he had no idea what I was asking, and never came back to our table. To me, this meant I needed a new translator app. To the spouse, this was a source of irritation because I had embarrassed our server. Apparently Japanese people feel terribly when they can't fulfill their job duties and this was a situation where his job duties were not fulfilled because he could not answer my question. Well, make that two people who were embarrassed - I was embarrassed that I made him embarrassed. Can't we just laugh it off as a failure to communicate? I'll even let you laugh at my burnt cabbage because I am laughing at it, too. Now I have to avoid that place for the next three years... and it was tasty, albeit a little pricey: $80 for the four of us to eat a meal made for 2-3 people.

We made it safely back on base after our first adventure outside the base's gate.Will wanted to go back to the daiso today to spend some of his own yen on some "really cool toy guns." Leave it to the American kid to find the guns at the daiso.

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