ben griffiths
an insight into the mind of a genius

Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Goodbye fair maiden!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

So today was my last “proper” full day in HK and I had decided to use it to try and find Tom’s camera as well as look for Aunties DVD player.

I’d been given a list of model numbers, so I spent a couple of hours wandering around the TST area popping in and out of the electronic shops with my shopping list. It wasn’t as simple as just window shopping you see, as the places in HK don’t have prices - you need to go in and ask about each individual item … pah!

After getting a few prices (the models were somewhat old) I made my way to the Macau restaurant from the other day to settle down for lunch. This time, I picked a rather tasty beef looking dish which seemed to have sausage too - it was a bit more expensive than I wanted to pay, but hey, what the hell! :)

When it arrived however, it was obvious why it had cost so much - it wasn’t your standard beef rice dish, rather a whole massive plate of just beef - combined with a whole massive plate of rice as a side dish. Absolutely delicious and far, far too big for just myself to eat. I only wish I could have taken a photo of it, but as I was sharing a table with a Hong Kong couple, I didn’t want to look like a complete tourist!

Dinner finished, it only made common sense to head back to the Game Center - I mean, if I’m going to be in Hong Kong, I should make the most of their culture, right?

After an enjoyable few hours in arcade heaven, it had come to get dark which meant I was now greeted with the most wonderful of sights - Hong Kong Harbour at night time, COMPLETE, with christmas decorations. Now you may be thinking, well so what, why are you so excited about some decorations?

Let me tell you - I have never seen decorations quite like these. As you may remember from previous posts, I put up some photos of the skyscrapers that could be seen across the bay, even then I commented on how great they looked. Well, come night time, they undergo an amazing transformation - they are covered from top to bottom in christmas lights! Yes - you read that correctly, whole skyscrapers are lit up, like, well excuse the pun, a christmas tree! I’ll try and attach a video for you to see (my rubbish camera couldn’t take any photos of them) - but be warned, it is 33 megabytes!

Hong Kong Harbour Christmas Lights at Night

There was also a nice little “Christmas Parade” type affair that led you into the shopping mall (cunning) - I know it’s only a little walkway, but believe me, with the decorations I’ve seen over the last few years - this was totally fantastic :)

Hong Kong Christmas

To round of my last proper night in Hong Kong, I then went for what any self respecting Englishman would - a curry , but with a twist - swapping out the plain old rice - I managed to get stuck into a rather nice Chicken Tikka Masala and Chips … I had a few looks I can tell you, but, to hell with them - it tasted fantastic :)

That all done, it was back to the hotel to get my packing all done (not difficult seeing as I only had 3 days worth of clothes!) and wait up until 12:50am when I could “check in” to my plane. I must admit, I was quite excited about this, as I’d never used an online checkin before - so made sure I had the internet loaded up and was ready on the dot of 12:50.

I guess it’s old news to a load of you now, but for me … wow! For people who haven’t had the experience of this before, let me explain and you shall be amazed (well, maybe not, but I certainly was). 24 hours before your flight is due to take off, the seat plane becomes available online, so you can actually choose your exact seat, just by pointing a clicking with your mouse! No more trying to get there hours early to claim a decent seat :)

I was lucky to be the first person to log in, thus I had run of the whole plane! Unfortunately the seating plan wasn’t really detailed, so it was hard to work out where the emergency exits were - but I’d reckoned I’d cracked it and thus my seat was booked and I could go to bed :)

The next morning, I amazed myself by actually waking up when I planed to - 10:15 to be precise (I know, how early is that?!?!) - quickly got ready - and was all packed up ready to check out by 10:40 … pants - meaning I could have had an extra hour in bed :)

Checking out was a simple affair, they gave me back my deposit with no fuss and allowed me to put my luggage in the back room, meaning I was “suitcase” free for the day and thus wasn’t going to be tied down to sitting in a coffee shop just waiting for a plane.

Indeed, this was a good thing - as now I was free to go and find dad’s friend Jamie, who ran a load of clubs in Lan Kwai Fong - and who I had missed meeting up with last time I was there. However, once again, it just wasn’t to be - on arriving at his restaurant, I was to find out that unfortunately he was on his winter holiday and wouldn’t be back until the day AFTER I left!! Doh!

That put a bit of a spanner in the works as far as the afternoon went (as I hadn’t really planned much else) - but then I suddenly remembered about the mountain skyrail system and that it was one of THE things you should do when you go to Hong Kong.

It wasn’t tricky to get to (just a long long way) so soon I was sat on a train, heading right out of the city and into the countryside (litterally - the city itself is quite small). The weather was pretty good too, so it was great to see the scenary - starting with the outskirts of the town and the massive residential tower blocks, before they melted away and green pastures and mountains were all you could see :)

On arrival at the skyrail station, I was trying to find which exit to use when I noticed a big sign with a photo of the cablecar on it …. heading over for further information, I was then dismayed to find out that the whole system was closed for repairs … apparently one of the cars had fallen off over the mountain a few months before… :eek:

So, when one finds themself in any situation like this, with no plans about what to do - what should be done? Why - go back to the game center of course ;) Thus once again, I spent a happy afternoon playing videogames at hardly any cost .. hurrah!

I couldn’t stay all night though, as I had already planned to meet Moffy and her friends at 7:30 for dinner - meeting first at Exit A of TST station. In true form, I left it all to the last minute, to then find out exit A was miles down the other end of the station (in fact there were TWO exit As - A1 and A2) - ensuring that I arrived 10 minutes or so late…. doh!

Moffy then introduced me to her friends Rainbow and Yuki and we went off to dinner to a “mixed food” place just up the road. Rather amusingly, the menu was all in Chinese (well, maybe obviously) - but no one quite had enough vocabulary to be able to translate! Thus a range of random things were ordered (with everyone telling me “but they are very good!”) - luckily, all was well and it was a very nice meal .. well done girls!

So here you go, my Hong Kong pals :) Moffy is the girl next to me and Rainbow is on the left of Yuki … “hello!”

Me and MoffyRainbow and Yuki

The meal over, all that was left to do was go and collect my suitcase from the hotel then say a fond farewell to my new friends before hopping on the train to the airport, go to the online checkin counter, be given my boarding card … then hopping on the plane which would lead me back home ……

England awaits me!

It’s Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

Well, only a few days late anyway :) Yes family, you will be pleased to know your parcel finally got here, and was met with quite a great deal of excitement (probably more by the girls! they found is very imteresting!! :D)

w00t! So we now have some decorations up - I was also tempted to take the time to turn my table box into a christmas tree - but seeing the cost of paint, it was then time to change my mind… lol…

So here you go, Christmas in Japan :D

That was the front room - my camera doesn’t seem to do a very wide angle, so couldn’t get it all in, but my bedroom didn’t escape the chrimbo treatment either …


With even Usagi getting into the sprit with his own little red tree :D

So THANK YOU MUM AND DAD - I might even leave it up for the whole year - it looks kinda cool in here… hurrah!

So what else, well basically been doing loads of work over the last day or so, getting the new server secured and some crazyness with DNS and anonymous name servers sorted. Then the rest of the time programming Gowry’s school reunion site, which is FINALLY done… but I won’t post the URL until she has added her bits and things…

Yesterday Shimpei was around to do our talk about room changes - but it was a kinda pointless thing as no one really wanted to do it - so it went like this:

Shimpei (to Seiko) - Would you change room.
Seiko (to Shimpei) - Not if I still have to pay £500 a month

And that was it, we didn’t talk about the frontroom or anything. But to be honest, at the moment I’m happy as I like looking out the window when I work (which I couldn’t do in her room) and as the schools are on holiday there is no noise in the morning…

As for the privacy thing, well, maybe now things will change - the TV is now in Seikos room and I always have my music on, so maybe it’s just pretty obvious. I don’t want to rock the boat at the moment, as we are all getting on quite well - so I think for now, let’s just let it go…

Of course, if it all goes pear shaped a bit later down the line, we can have our talk then - at least we know there is an issue now - so maybe people will see the light :D
Well excuse me ladies and gents, but now I feel like some food (I was working so hard yesterday I missed all my meals :eek:) so I shall bid ye farewell….


So this is christmas, and what have you done….

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

What have we done indeed - well had a very nice meal out… though, not traditional in any sense of the word…


Hehe - yup, our christmas dinner was @ TGI Fridays, though very nice it was too :) We got a mish mash of things and quite a few cocktails, though the bill only came to a rather reasonable (well i thought, compared to UK prices) £100 - so that would be £20 each then…

Even better, I was looking at the rest of the menu, and a burger and chips is only £5! :eek: I think I will be visiting a bit more often!

Then what, well, in traditional japan style, we then of course went to another restaurant (don’t ask) - where more food was ordered! (though i couldn’t eat another thing) - including this fish thing, where they burnt off the skin using a blow torch…. crazy…


I actually quite liked it, it wasn’t so strong, but after all the food before, it just became a bit too much.

Also, I think a night out wouldn’t be complete without one casualty, and fair play to Seiko for it not being her. Once again, Yumi showed her grasp of the whole alcohol situation by falling asleep on the table! :D

However, it then got better. Deciding that the table wasn’t so comfy (obviously) - then slid off it and onto my lap - where she went into a deep sleep!!! (The second photo is taken under the table - but Seiko had the camera upside down, hence the weird angle….)


But a great time had :) Just wish it could have been a bit more festive… ah well, next year… (maybe, if I’ve cracked Japanese by then…!)

As for today, well it was the last day of work - and not so busy. Voice was interesting - it started off well, then we started talking about customer service - soon the Chinese were brought up, before a full on China Bashing session began :eek: - but erm, it kinda calmed by the end (lucky, as the next teacher was Chinese… lol)

So now I’m on holiday until the 4th of Jan. Loads of time to Jvise, finish Gowry’s website and, most importantly, sleep :)
Oh, I’ve also restyled my hair - which I’m quite happy about - though I fear another cut is soon needed, just to trim it a bit… nothing heavy….


Ahah! AND THANK YOU DAD :) For the hair gel, definately a life saver….

And finally, I’ve now had so many people who see current photos of me go “WOW you’ve lost weight” - it’s just not funny. Indeed, sitting here now typing in just a tshirt, if I squint it looks like a Tyrannosaurus is at my computer :eek: - I think my trip home in Jan will definately be an eat athon! :)
Ahhhh! No wait - there is a bit more - that talk of food just reminded me.

So you know Gusto is my fav place, well the same company just opened a Chinese style restaurant neat work. So think Gusto prices, but Chinese food :) I just went tonite with Yumi, ahhh… it was so nice, so I can also add this to my list of soon to be most visited restaurants… just think, a TGI’s a day, followed by chinese for dinner - that should help put the weight back on.

Tomorrow I think I will continue my quest to find a new language exchange parter, I’m going to amend my advert to say i want someone who wants to go to Atom each week - at least this way the person I learn with I can also hang out with :)
So, Happy Christmas y’all…. I best it just wasn’t the same without me :p

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

Well, it would be - except of course here we have no christmas, however, wanting to get into the christmas spirit and all - here are the first photos of my christmas …


I would say those antlers are quite fetching, no?

So how was my christmas night then? Well, a mixed bag really - i shall explain, however, first my dear friends I will give you one very important piece of advice ….. NEVER STUFF YOURSELF COMPLETELY FULL AND THEN GO DRINKING….

So, here’s how it happened…. ;)
Saturday day time was the usual no food affair (and indeed staying in bed until about 7pm!!! :eek: ) - however this time Seiko wasn’t going to come home first (we were going to meet in Shibuya). To get myself into the christmas, it seemed like some red wine + vodka was in order, along with a bit of a mix session.

In fact, I’m quite pleased with myself, even totally wasted, I was still mixing quite well (and I know this as I recorded it ;)) until about 10:30 when it was time to meet up with Seiko to get some food, so off to the station I went.

Arriving at Sangenjaya however, the train wasn’t for 10 minutes or so - and not wanting to sit around doing nothing (I was feeling quite impatient) - I decided to make the almost ritual trip to McDonalds to purchase a Big Mac and Chips.

Of course, this was very nice - but I was now kinda full - though I had promised I would eat with Seiko, so eat again I must (I threw away the bag when she wasn’t looking) - we therefore headed off to the curry shop. Again, another fatal mistake was made - due to my drunkeness, I was almost sure that one curry wouldn’t be enough, so ordered some chicken tikka to go with it….

20 minutes later and we were both so full (me even more so, for obvious reasons) and Christmas was fast approaching (it was now 11:45) so we had to scurry off to find somewhere. This is easier said than done, because as you know, I don’t particuarly like Shibuya for nights out, so there was quite a bit of bumbling around until we chose a direction.

Now though, it was 11:55 and we really weren’t going to make it into anywhere in time - so drastic action had to be taken……. can you guess…… ?

Yup, the nearest department store ;) (well we figured it would be playing christmas music and would have some trees on display!!) - hence the photos of us both wearing christmas hats (we didn’t buy them, just took the photos :D)

So that done, and our “Happy Christmas’” said, it was time to actually find something to do. Now last time we were here, we tried to go to @tom (read: Atom) however it closed at 2 - though I really wanted some good music, so we decided we would give it a go….

And am I glad we did….

FINALLY - a club in Tokyo that plays my music (well as near to it as I am going to get), all drinks are 500yen (£2.50), holds 1500 people (and fills it) AND…. AND…. AND… THERE ARE NO FOREIGNERS!!!! - yes people, there is a heaven and it’s name is Atom :D
Ok as far as clubs go, UK ones kick it’s ass - though (and I really don’t want to annoy anyone here ;)) - @tom does have one regaining feature - a special “gallery” thats basically a raised platform along the side of the club - women only …. UK clubs might kick JClubs for music + fun, but the women…. :eek:
And no, before anyone asks - I didn’t take any photos :p
So all is well and good for the first hour or so, but this full feeling really isn’t shifting so we decide to go and explore the rest of the club. It’s 3 floors in total, with a “Trance Cave” at the bottom and an R’n'B/Hip Hop room up top with a huge TV showing endless “Viva La Bam” — SUGOI-YO! There were also a load of tables up here, so we decided to sit for a bit….

Unfortunately though, all was still not good - and realised I was going to throw up at any moment (and not wanting to do it in a club … i can imagine the looks i would have got - “drunk gaijin throwing up”) we had to make a quick exit (about 3am)…

I would also like to point out for the record I was not drunk, mearly very full…. so jumping around hadn’t been a good idea :o

So that was the end of the night - we got home by Taxi, which suprisingly was only 2000yen (£10) - this is great, as Seiko loved the club too, it’s cheaper than Roppongi AND we can get a Taxi back after….. HAPPY CHRISTMAS INDEED ;) :D
So, what else has been going on then…. hmmm….

Wednesday was my last day of Japanese School (which was sad, I’m really liking going there now) and doesn’t start back until the 10th of Jan. I also got my test result back - 82.4% (or was it 84.2% - not sure) - which means I passed :) I’ve now got a great opportunity to fully catch up until the restart, not too much to do now - and stuff is certainly coming a lot more naturally.

Thursday I started work at 6:40 - so was able to spend the rest of the day working on a new project. Without getting too nerdy, I’ve now just started renting a new webserver in Germany. It’s purpose to provide backup DNS and also keep a copy of all databases held on the main server. After the unfortunate incident with the FCCUK forum (ie, they lost it) - we don’t want to take any chances.

This new server (AO - it means Blue) runs Linux (Debian) - but I have never used Linux before, so it’s also going to be a great learning tool for me. Funny story, it was setup for me on Thursday morning and I managed to lock myself out of it by Thursday afternoon :eek: :) Luckily the guy I’m renting it off seems to be a great bloke, and reinstalled it for me for no charge.

So I’m not going to make that mistake again - infact - now it is happily up and running and doing it’s job :) Never will there be a mail outage again, hurrah!

Thursday night after work, some of the chaps were going out for a quick drink, so I joined them. Due to the time I started work, I hadn’t eaten (planned to after) - so decided alcohol wouldn’t be a good idea so had coffee instead. Or at least I did for the first two, then thinking “what the hell” - had a glass of white wine (just to fit in and all ;) lol) This didn’t seem to be a problem until i got home (maybe an hour later) - when suddenly - WHAM!! Yup, ONE glass of wine and suddenly i was battered… not even slightly either, this was full on wasted…. it was pretty obvious why, i hadn’t eaten all day so it had just gone straight to my head. To rectify this situation therefore, I cooked some yaki soba (and returned to slight sanity!) - not before having some fun with the new knife…

You won’t believe how sharp this thing is, you just push it on chicken and it cuts straight through it !!! Seiko had cut her finger on it earlier in the day, so was warning me to be very careful with it…. of course, after hearing such a thing, what is the first thing you do …. hehe… yes, the exact opposite - walking into their room and holding it against my neck had them screaming and hiding under the bed covers…. lol…. what fun… :D
So onto Friday, which has to be one of the best days at work I have ever had:

First lesson - No show, giving me a load of time to plan for lesson 2

Second lesson - Probably the most fun lesson I have ever given, we were doing restaurant complaints - and by the end of it, everyone was just laughing so much :D
Lesson Three - Voice: And just a single woman (as in, just her…) who had been to England so was very happy to talk about it. As with all these lessons, it soon gets around to me complaining about Japanese food and how much better it is in the UK. We therefore had a 30 minute or so conversation on food you can get in England and what I will be eating in a month :D - I was so hungry by the end of it !

Lesson Four - After the success of Lesson 2, it seemed a good idea to do it again. And again, it worked out brilliantly - especially as one of the guys seemed to have so many complaints :) Great Fun!

Lesson Five - Last lesson of the day and another voice. This time, just one (high level) guy in there. My first question - “So what is your job?”; Answer “Web Designer” :D w00t! And there began an hour conversation on programming and the internet - it was just like talking with a friend :) We got into the idea about design and hosting combined, so possibly we might be able to sort something out (he designs and I host) - either way, I think he’s going to be an interesting person to get to know :)
Finally (and now in a really good mood) - it was time to leave and as we had some money (as i hadnt eaten the day before :eek: ) - Yumi and I had planned to go to an okonomiyaki restaurant (these places are getting popular!) - as the stupid ATM wouldn’t give me any money (on a public holiday they don’t unless it’s your own bank) - we had to go back to mine to get some cash, before onto the restaurant.

This is the same place I always go, so I won’t bother to explain it all again, however there was a slight difference… this time we were joined by Santa and a seemingly pissed off rudolf ;)

After a few hours in here (and a few drinks) it was time to go - after paying a modest 4000yen (£20) bill - we both got up and went down the stairs to the exit… well, at least, that’s how it should have happened. It seemed however that suddenly the alcohol just decided to hit Yumi, who had gone from 0 to wasted in like 3 seconds. I’m not talking Seiko drunk either, this was full on out of it :D hahahaha… It therefore wasn’t practical to walk back, so a train ride was in order. I can’t even begin to count how many bad looks I got on that train (with Yumi seemingly passed out) - I’m sure everyone was thinking - “look at the gaijin, just taking advantage of that poor girl”…. but oh well, i get that every weekend with Seiko anyway :D
I did get her home (eventually) - and it must have been the funniest journey ever - she was basically sleeping as we walked (well, she was being half carried) - but kept making random noises in a really cute voice. Sooooo sweet :) haha….

I still can’t believe how drunk she got though, I don’t think we had loads (maybe 3 drinks tops) - though still better than my effort the other night … lol…

So here we go, back to today - so whats happening. Well, in an hour or so Seiko will come back and we are going to meet some of my work friends for drinks. Then Seiko, Shiho, Toshi, Yumi and I are all going for dinner somewhere - not sure where exactly yet - though KFC is traditional christmas food…. (really!)


Tuesday, December 25th, 2001


Best wishes to all of you!