Life In Bangers vs. Tokyo
I finally made the shift to Tokyo after three and a half years in Thailand and I must say that a change has done me good. I told myself repeatedly that Thailand was so full of illusions that a snap back to reality was what I needed, but there has been
many a longing for the easy days of Thailand.
That's not to say that life in Tokyo isn't easy. I got a direct transfer from my school in Bangkok to Tokyo and my new job is actually the same as the last, only it really is a breeze in comparison. I need to be in the school 25 hours a week but rarely have more than 13 contact hours per week and all of my classes are one on ones. It really is like a part time job and I'm getting paid the standard full time salary. I eat what I want, basically do what I want, which I must admit is rather on the low key side as I don't have many friends yet and I am still in saving mode after the 8 months of penny pinching it took in Bangkok to get me over here.
One thing that I have really appreciated has been the worldliness of the Japanese students. I often get into discussions about Thailand, Thai culture and Thai food as a way of reminiscing more than anything. They all have their options about the world and they tend to differ form person to person, unlike Thailand where the students seemed to be all be pre-programmed with the same set of knowledge. In Bangkok, I was also teaching mainly one on ones and a one size fits all approach seemed to work. I knew exactly how to make them laugh (som tum boo balah) and what buttons to push when I wanted to get them serious. I could draw certain parallels with the Japanese students but as cheesy as it sounds, I feel that I am able to take it much deeper. They've got me doing a seminar on N.Z. next month and I did a little N.Z. show and tell last week at the local fair where I was volunteering in a cultural exchange booth and everyone was all ears.
Sometimes I think that I should have taken the job that I was offered by Nova. They arranged the work visa and everything but I took the job in Tokyo because I was familiar with the workings of the school's system and too many people turned me off Nova. I was assigned to an 'upcountry' town and was happy with the thought of moving there because my first year in Thailand was spent upcountry in Ubon Rachathani and was the best possible way to learn Thai and get amongst it. In Tokyo, I'm staying in a guesthouse dorm staying with up to 7 other farting, snoring bodies. Here I'm doing battle with the Tokyo subway system, riding the same lines that got the gas attack back in 95. As polite as Japanese people are perceived, it's every man for himself down there. I really miss the painless transit from Sukhumvit to Suttisarn.
The transition from meeting Thai ladies to that of the J variety has been trial and error. I have only been living here for a month and a half, so it's early days but my old tactics haven't proven to bare any fruits yet. I have used the strategies that I had refined in Bangkok to pick up a few phone numbers though, which include initiating small talk Bangkok style and then outright asking for the number. She ended up calling me first then I tried her a couple of times and she didn't answer? Must have sounded more charming the night that I asked for her phone number aye. Obviously J-girls are a bit more sophisticated than your average Thai girl so I might need to work on my western style charm. If I work my arse off, I could make an average to above average Japanese salary so I don't hold the salary card like I did back in Thailand. I got Shun's number on the 7 a.m. train back to my place after a night out on it by befriending an arrogant salary man, but I'm sitting on that one.
The language is slowly seeping into my brain, but the Thai words that used to make life easier back in Thailand are still at the fore. I learned gor gai to haw nok huk relatively painlessly, but hiragana and katakana has taken a bit longer to stick and I only know about three kanji which include yen, day and meat because my name is Nick and meat is Nicku in Japanese so it's my little way of breaking the ice and making a connection with the Japanese much along the same lines as busting out the passa Essarn to the Essarnites. Language wise, most things here are hard work. Forms rarely have any English on them and finding English speaking service is more or less by chance. So that's it so far. If you are thinking of making the move, there is serious saving potential here if you are prepared to break your balls or scrimp and save and there is also a good lifestyle to be had.
It will be interesting to hear more from your Japanese adventure. Do keep us updated.