Last week flew by, I barely had a chance to realize what day of the week it was when, suddenly, it was Saturday! Monday I was resting up from the weekend before (Himeji Trip and Osaka Visit with Meru-san et al.) I was so tired in lab that at some point I had to run a gel to check my DNA product, and I completely forgot about it until it was too late, which means that my DNA product was there for too long and as a result it left the Gel and was swimming around somewhere in the vast pool of solution. This, if you don’t know, it’s not a good thing because I pretty much wasted my DNA product.
Anyway, I had enough DNA product to run another gel and save it, so it wasn’t too bad. After that I came home and took a long nap. 🙂
Tuesday and Wednesday flew by, particularly Wednesday since I had nothing to do and left lab promptly at 5pm. The reason I didn’t have anything to do is because all the things I have to do require me to come in to lab the following day, and Thursday and Friday was the lab trip!
Our lab has an annual trip in which people take a day-ish off work and just relax together, play sports, stay at some hotel/villages and simply enjoy each others company. Here is how things happened this year.
Thursday morning we met at 10:30am at the bus station in Kobe, which is 30 minutes away from where I live by train. From there we took a bus for ~1:30 hours to Awaji Island (淡路島) which means that we crossed over the longest suspension bridge in the world (The one I saw with Meru-san last weekend)! We arrived at this nice resort complex in which we all had lunch, and after that changed into our ‘sportswear’ and went down to play tennis, volleyball and badminton. This was a lot of fun, and for some reason I had this surge of energy that allowed me to play non-stop for hours. One advantage of being a foreigner in Japan is that chances are there aren’t many people taller than you when playing volleyball. ^_^
After playing for hours, we went up and moved our luggage (which was being stored in a room) to the villages we would spend the night at. The villages were really nice, and I regret not having taken pictures of them. You can, however, enjoy the professionally taken and quite representative pictures of the resort at their slideshow here.
Each village had a common room with a TV, two tatami rooms, and a nice bathroom. They were quite spacious, and since we were assigned to be around 5 people per village, it was great. The tatami rooms were equipped with a couple of futon mattresses stored in the closet, pillows, nice comforters, etc. I looked around the village, and after that got ready to go bath. And yes, we did bath in an onzen again.
I don’t know if you remember when I mentioned the onzen experience, but an onzen is pretty much a public bathing place. Since I bathed in one of those during the Kyoto trip, this time it felt a lot more normal/natural. The onzen at this resort was much nicer, and when I went in I actually enjoyed the experience a lot. There was the ‘showering’ places where you go sit on a plastic sit about one foot tall and use all the shampoo you want and soap to get extra clean. After that there were several places to go. Once we were clean and showered, we went into a minty bath room. The water was blue, and when you opened the door to that room it felt like you were trying to get high on listerine. The water also looked like listerine, THAT shade of blue.
I got in there, and it was actually quite pleasant. It was very refreshing, and I felt very clean. After getting out of there I went to the sauna and sat there for a few minutes. Then I got into a cold bath, which was ~15 degrees celcius, and after that a warm bath which was 30-something degrees celcius. After this I went back to dry myself with a towel, and then there was an area to style your hair. They had hair dryers and hair product, and there were big mirrors so you could be narcissistic and make yourself look beautiful. It was quite an experience.
After the onzen’s bonding experience, we all headed to dinner which was BBQ! It was delicious, delicious, delicious, and there was so much food that my table had to make a sacrifice and eat massive amounts of food so there were no leftovers. I’m not even kidding you, each table had two trays, one with meat and the other with vegetables, and my table inherited the leftovers of 3 other tables, which was half of each of their trays! I was there thinking about what my grandma would say if this food was wasted, and since I knew that would not be nice I convinced everyone in my table to keep eating. We successfully ate 2.5 trays of meat, and then could barely walk to the fireworks.
Did I say fireworks? Yes, it’s summer, which means that everyone in Japan likes to play with fireworks. And it’s not illegal here to just buy fireworks and go to an open space and light them up! Well, to be honest I’m not sure what the regulations are, but I’m sure they are not very strict. Our lab got a bunch of fireworks, and they were so many that by the end everyone was lighting up a whole bunch of them at the same time so we could actually use them up ~ 😀
After the fireworks was the “after party” in one of the villages, in this case the one I was staying at, and this means that everyone in the trip got together to drink and socialize all night. How long this lasted, I’m not sure, because at around 12:45am my energy source for the day shut down, and I was starting to fall asleep while talking to people. A few people noticed, and one of them, who was also really tired (his eyes were red) told me that it was fine to go upstairs and sleep. I looked around, and the stairs were right in front of me, so I crawled upstairs, yes, I did crawl, and the tired guy (whom I call “King-Kun”) followed me, and right after him “Masaya-san” followed. Withing 10 minutes I was sound asleep on a great futon mattress, quite comfortable. What happened from there, I don’t know, until the morning when Boot-san woke us up to go to breakfast.
During breakfast I found out that apparently our room the night before was really cold. “Did you sleep well?”, Boot-san asked, and I quickly said: “of course!”. Masaya-san then pointed out that I “could go to sleep really fast, huh? EVEN WHEN IT IS COLD!” I found this quite amusing, and so did the people around me, and I proceeded to explain that I did not think it was all that cold. We at home did like to set the A/C at night at 18 degrees Celsius and turn on the fan at the same time, cause we were wasteful kids like that! So don’t come tell me that an A/C set to 19 degrees Celsius stopped your from sleeping well, cause if that’s the case you obviously need to learn some lessons by living with my siblings. ~
Breakfast was delicious, there was rice, a few vegetables that I don’t even know what they were, two pieces of what seemed to be an egg-thing, a clam soup, and I don’t know what else. Also really good tea.
After breakfast we went back to the village and took naps, and right after that went to make Udon from scratch! That was fun, especially the part in which I was jumping on a bag with our floury-thing to make it all stick together and get this pizza like shape. The whole thing was quite awesome, and after finishing that we got to actually eat the Udon we made for lunch, and it was really good! I must say, eating noodles/Udon/etc. in Japan is so much more fun than in America, cause here it’s expected that you will make slurpy noises while eating them, while in America (and many other places) that is considered to be rude. I was so happy slurping down my noodles, and in the back of my head I was replaying with satisfaction all those times my mom told me to “stop making those noises while you eat!” and these beautiful memories allowed me to fully enjoy the moment. I love Japan.
After the Udon lunch we all headed back to the bus to Sannomiya and then took the train back home. I was home by 4pm Friday, and guess what, America, Monday is a holiday! That means that I don’t go back to work until Tuesday, after having been in a lab trip Thursday and Friday. This is good.
Oh, when I got back home Friday I couldn’t help but take a nap cause I was really tired. Also, all that energy I had the day before while playing sports, my body started complaining about all that physical activity and even now, two days later, every time I move in one way or the other I can feel my muscles screaming “let me rest, go to sleep!” So I’ve been pretty much a vegetable today, stayed at home all day, but soon I’ll be heading out to dinner with friends.
Oh, for lunch today I had eel over rice. Did I mention that I love eel? It’s so good that I’m willing to pay 3 times as much for two pieces of eel sushi than I would have to pay for most other ‘2-pieces’ of sushi when I go to that rotating sushi place. Well today I went to the conbini to see what they were offering for lunch, and there they were, sets of eel over white rice! I got a lunch set and it was quite delicious. I do think that next time I might instead go to the sushi place, cause price/quality seems to be better there.
This entry has gotten quite long, pictures to come up soon through facebook.