Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Viennale, the 50th

Yupp, it's that time of the year again: our annual Viennese filmfestival, the Viennale, is happening right now! Yippiiieeee!

Last night I managed to get to my first movie there: Ai to Makoto. And I have to say, this might stay my favourite movie of this year's festival ^^ It was funny, in a very weird way. And it made me want to study more Japanese again. Hehe. I selected it out of the festival catalogue, and only after buying the tickets I realized that it's from the same director as 13 Assassins. And the main actress is the one who plays Kaoro-san in the RuroKen movie (hope that'll be in some theater around here, soon!). Anyways. Very Japanese, and fun movie! When they first started singing I was afraid that this would be a musical. But quite soon you realize that it's a movie that doesn't take itself too serious. Good fun.

Anyways, if you're in Vienna, go to Viennale! Some movies are already sold out, but there are many where you still can buy tickets - and this year, buying them online actually works like a breeze :-) So far I have four more tickets already, but I'll definitely watch some more Fritz Lang ones at Filmmuseum - fortunately that's possible till the end of November.

Mmmh, movies!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Space Evaders

Just wanted to share this nice little picture I made today: the last space invaders ice cubes leaving my flat. Or something like that.

Good thing I still can do ice cubes in the shape of LEGO bricks and shot glasses. Oh, and simple cube-shapes ones like you'd expect them.


Monday, July 02, 2012

PhD accommodation

Last weekend I went hiking again on one of my favourite mountains. Stayed at the usual place overnight, the one already mentioned. One thing that had slipped my mind so far:

If you're a PhD student, you might be wondering what your future housing perspectives are. Well, up on that hut they have a separate building just for our kind:

Hadn't noticed that before. I mean, that the letters on the toilet building form PhD when read together. Hmmm. What a weird coincidence... not? No idea.
(in case you're wondering: the letters are short for "Pissoir", "Herren" and "Damen")

Anyways, this is silly. I'll leave you with some more gorgeous sunset pictures I took while sitting on top of that rock next to the hut.

Keep enjoying nature, everyone!
Yours truly,

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Anger Street

In May I visited some olde friends of mine in Haribo land. Good fun.

Also, interesting street names around here:

Ho-ho, anger street. One more pic to prove that I was in Germany:

That should do ;-) It was my lunch in the sun. Aptly sold as bratwurst in a bun. Creative German naming :-D

Keep travelling, everyone!



Hello there,

have you heard of Cubeecraft? I've discovered it through some Star Wars blog - you ought to know I like that franchise if you're following this blog. Anyways. I found this and thought Hey, cool! A cute little stormtrooper that you can build with an A4-b/w-page-printout, scissors and a Stanley knife ^^ I wanna try that! Stormtroopers have always been my favourite SW design.

And so I did. Here's the result:

The scissors are there as a size reference. Cool, huh? No glue needed. Thick paper is recommended. I just printed it on regular paper. And I can also recommend thicker paper ;-) Simply because you'll have an easier time after folding the little parts and trying to put them together. Anyways, hope you got inspired. And don't worry, you don't need to have an interest in Star Wars to enjoy Cubeecraft. They got lots and lots of different designs, take a look at this. And if you don't like the designs of all of those - unlikely as it might be - just take one of them where you like its form and make your own design. Shouldn't be too hard with tools like GIMP or Inkscape. I now have that little cubetrooper watching over my desk. Hehe.

Have fun!

ps: and if you're wondering why I have time for such things on an Thursday: well, today's a public holiday in Austria :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Earthquake after-pics

Hello there,

first of all: sorry for hardly updating my blog throughout the year. Well, well. I mostly blog about traveling and since I got back from Asia I hardly traveled at all, so there you have one reason. Anyways.

Now one more blog entry about the Tohoku earthquake before I get to blog about more pleasant things again. Once again, to recap: I was very lucky not to be anywhere near when it all happened (check my last couple of blog entries for details).
This time I won't bother you with overly long texts but I just wanted to blog some more pics.

First of all: after getting back to Europe, I was closely following the news. Almost no information from Japanese media, and overly panicking stuff in Western media. Some of those really made me angry with its stupidity. An example of nuclear idiocy:
Austrian boulevard news 
What I hate about this headline: it's trying to create panic here in the middle of Europe for no reason. While there were thousands of people in Japan with real problems in the aftermath of the earthquake.
(short explanation of the headline: it translates to "nuclear cloud above Austria today". The background was that we had measurable outcomes from the Fukushima power plant in Austria. But measurable doesn't mean of any significance. With today's methods we can detect quicksilver in our drinking water, as my chemistry high-school teacher used to say. Because it's in there, but below any significant level)

Now for some personal pics that had quite an impact when I first saw them. They were sent to me by the nice Japanese friend of mine who cleared out my dorm room in Tokyo for me.

This is what my room looked like after the earthquake. All the mess and stuff out of the shelves, well, that was the earthquake (spare me the jokes about my room being messy because of my own doing). What impressed/shocked me the most besides all the stuff on the floor: the room between the shelf and the desk/shelf-combination on the second pic. Up until I saw this I wasn't even aware that my desk and that shelf left of it were two separate pieces of furniture - same material and they stood there attached to each other. That ~30cm gap between them was done by the Tohoku earthquake. Meaning that the earthquake moved around the furniture. Possibly also the many after-quakes, but those were rather small (for Japan) and I've had quite some earthquakes while living there, and none of them had moved my furniture.

So much for that. I'll leave you for now the same as last year:
(yoio toshi o! which would be "Guten Rutsch!" in German)

Earthquake afterthoughts

First of all: if you are reading this and you are concerned about my status, thank you. Let me reassure you that i am fine. I am in Vienna now and i have decided to stay here, meaning that i have canceled my second semester in Japan.
I had the luxury to be able to choose to go back now or not. So i chose not to go back - Japan is struggling enough at the moment, so one less mouth to feed/one less person to use up electricity and other resources was the better decision for me. Mostly i miss all the nice people i have met in this one very short semester in Japan. I will blog more about all the things i miss, another time.

A friend here in Vienna suggested i should write down how i experienced the earthquake and what it has caused, even if i was so lucky not to feel it at all because i was not in Japan at that time. Write it down to record it, and if i felt like it, share it in my blog. So this is what this blog entry is about. Short warning: this might be one rather long text.

So, to recap the facts: the big one hit Japan at 14:46 on Friday, March 11th, 2011. It was an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 and caused a massive tsunami and many other horrible things. Read details here.

So, about my experiences. At that time there was the spring break, meaning no lectures at my university in Tokyo. I wanted to travel to another Asian country, you know, with the flights from Tokyo being much cheaper than from Europe. A friend of mine was going to South Korea in that week and asked me if i wanted to join them (one European, two Japanese). Great, i had never been to Korea yet. They wanted to go to Seoul from March 10th to 15th. Since i had the time i checked the options available and decided to go already two days earlier, on March 8th. Korean Air, Tokyo-Seoul-Tokyo, March 8th to 15th. One week in another megapolis, yippiiieee, and then back to my second semester and more months of Japan. That was the plan. First two days of couchsurfing and then the last five with my friends from Tokyo in a youth hostel.

Before leaving Tokyo i had some work for university that i had to finish. Resulted in another long night in my little dormitory room, working. In the end i managed to get one hour of sleep before getting up again to go to the airport. When checking in my luggage, the nice lady there told me "Sir, you are the first economy class passenger checking in for this flight today. I'll upgrade you to business, for free" and smiled. Very nice, thank you, Korean Air! That was my first business class flight ever. It's only a two and a half hours flight, but with my lack of sleep i really enjoyed the extra luxury. You can sleep really well in these stretched-out business class seats. Being able to select from two different meals and choose a wine, well, nice, too, but not sooo essential.
One more thing before the flight: since i had quite some time before boarding i went through all the souvenir shops at Narita airport. Just to check what stuff's available. I thought if they'd have good and still affordable stuff, I might get some there once I'd leave Japan. They actually have a nice assortment. Little could i know that i was actually leaving Japan already, for good. Well, to see it like this: i must've gotten the best/worst excuse for not bringing anyone in Europe any Japanese souvenirs since i didn't even know i was leaving... remember, my plan was to stay in Korea for one week of vacations and then come back to Japan for another semester, and only leave in the beginning of August.
So, anyways, after a nice and short flight and waiting a little at customs, i went to the city to meet my host for the next two nights. I'll write more about my Korean experiences another time, for now I'm trying to keep it related to Japan.
On Wednesday i was sightseeing during the day. In the evening i heard that there had been a big quake in Japan - 7.2 magnitude. Of course i was very concerned. I went online in the evening and checked with my friends in Japan if they're ok. Most of them live in Tokyo. An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 might cause a lot of damage in other places, but in Japan and especially in Tokyo there were no real problems. Just shaking a little. One more day of sightseeing on my own on Thursday, then in the evening i said good-bye (actually, "see you again") to my host and met my friends in the hostel that we had booked together. They told me their stories about the Wednesday quake - mainly where they had been at the time and how it was shaking. But no real damages.

Now, Friday. We were exploring Seoul together. Wonderful sunny weather, first feeling of spring approaching (my first two days had felt freezing cold and windy). In the afternoon, around the time when the big one hit Japan, we were walking up the hill in the middle of Seoul. It's a big park, and on top of it is Seoul Tower. There is a cable car to go up to the tower, but with the nice sunny weather and all we decided to walk up. And stop every here and there when we found a nice spot, to sit down and enjoy the sun. I imagine we were sitting in the sun, talking and generally enjoying life, just around the time of the quake. But since we were in Korea we noticed nothing of it, but instead kept walking up to Seoul Tower. Our plan was to go up the tower when we still had sunlight, then stay up there till it's dark, to have both views of Seoul. And so we did. Seoul is one giant city, and if you like such vistas like i do, you would have also enjoyed it up there.
I didn't have a working mobile phone with me - i had my Japanese smartphone in my pocket but it was on airplane mode. To safe roaming costs - i actually think roaming wouldn't have worked because i had not unlocked that - and to use it as a WLAN device if i find a free network on the way. My European friend had his regular Japanese phone with him. Classic one, clamshell design, i think that's the most common type of mobile phone in Japan. I wouldn't call them 'dumbphones' because all of them can do email and internet, albeit in a bit crappy way. So anyway, the weird thing that surprised us was that my friend received two emails from his brother within an hour while we were up Seoul Tower. Both asking if he's ok because of the earthquake. We hadn't heard about the big one yet and assumed that his asking was about the 7.2 quake on Wednesday. Asking about this seemed weird to us because my friend had told everyone that he's ok and nothing had happened even before he went to Korea on Thursday.

So, anyway, we were up on Seoul Tower for quite a while. When we decided to take the elevator down again there was a queue of people. We got in line. Next to the elevator's entrance there were a couple of large TV screens. There we saw some news in Korean. It was obviously about Japan. They showed pictures of the burning chemical plant in Chiba. Quite a big fire, but it didn't seem strange to us two days after 'such a big quake'. We went down from Seoul Tower and started looking for some place to have dinner. After dinner and some more walking around we went back to the district where our hostel was. Incidentally also a great area for going out, lots of bars etc, we'd been told. We decided to go for a beer.
When we sat down in some bar there, we realized that finally we had found a place with working free WLAN. Checking our emails we started to get the news of the big one. Plus, they had some large TVs in the bar as well. And they were no longer showing the burning chemical plant. Now they already had videos of the devastating tsunami. We realized that something really big had happened. We finished our drinks and went back to the hostel - they had PCs with free internet for guests there.
Only one of the two PCs in the hostel was free, so we let one of our Japanese friends take that. I sat down in the TV room with the other Japanese. We were watching CNN. The commentary was quite useless, but at least they were showing NHK images, and the Japanese next to me could translate what was written. We were all in shock. They kept showing tsunami images, just sometimes in between live reports via Skype from some CNN people who tried to get somewhere in Japan but were simply stuck in traffic. For me, the commentary got ridiculous when the CNN people in the studio didn't even know which time zone Japan is in. And i stopped watching when they started reporting from the beaches of California. One man reporting something like "yes, i am here at the beach of blablabla in California. People are scared, the beach is empty, and we are waiting for the tsunami". All that after they had reported that the wave had already passed Hawaii and had already been only half a meter or something like that there, causing no trouble at all.
So i left the TV rooms and joined the others in the room next to it, the PC room. We shared news from our friends and family in Japan, and eventually i also got to use one PC.

Even before getting to use the PC I used the WLAN capabilities of my mobile phone to post this blog entry to let people know that I am ok and not in Japan at the moment. Once again I was happy that the internet is such a useful thing. And I have to admit: this is the first time that I found Facebook really useful instead of just being just the huge waste of time that it usually is. Because of almost all of my friends in Japan having an account and posting updates and pics there. So I could easily check that they're alright and see personal views of what was going on. I have an account on Facebook since 2007 but honestly, this was the first time it was good to have it. So much for that.

The next days in Seoul felt quite surreal: get up in the morning after some few hours of sleep. Check the web for news while eating breakfast. Then spend the whole day sightseeing in and around Seoul. And worrying what to do, and about all people in Japan. Getting back to the hostel in the evening. Getting back online there. Reading more and more news that didn't seem to get better. And wondering what to do - go back to Japan, as planned, or not. Amidst all this receiving a lot of messages from family and friends back in Europe and elsewhere. Very concerned messages, but also very comforting to read from all of you. Truly thank you for that, it really helped a lot to read from you all. I did my best to answer all of them, even though many wrote things like "I am sure you are receiving tons of other messages right now, so I'd understand if you can't answer me personally". Thanks for thinking of me.

So, back to Seoul: when there were more and more news about the unclear situation of the reactor blocks of Fukushima, my family got really concerned and recommended me to not return to Japan. They also sent me the contact info of the Austrian ministry of foreign affairs. They had set up a hotline for everyone related to the earthquake and its aftereffects. I talked to my family through Skype and also called that hotline. They strongly advised me not to return to Japan for the moment, unless I really, really have to. And with those reactors blowing up (that's what the media said, each day another one, more or less) less than 250km from Tokyo, I made my decision: get a flight from Seoul back to Vienna, and wait for a while to see how the situation develops. Good thing was that it was only mid-March and our university's spring break would last until the beginning of April. So I wouldn't miss lectures while waiting in Vienna - well, technically I missed one lab seminar, because my over-eager professor in Tokyo simply set up working meetings all during spring break. But that meeting was more philosophical discussions about the nature of travel, so I didn't miss too much, content-wise, considering my research. I checked for flights: my original flight back from Seoul to Tokyo would've been on Tuesday, March 15th. Checking on Sunday, 13th, two days after the big quake, I found a flight from Seoul to Vienna for less than 400 Euros. Aeroflot through Moscow. Really cheap, especially considering that I booked it only three days in advance. I have to say I am not fan of Aeroflot after flying with them in 2010 - I'll spare you the details - but they are ok, well, safety-wise, and for that price they were really a good option.
The two Japanese that were with us in Korea completely did not understand why I was not going back to Tokyo. They read the same news as I did, more or less, but kept saying something like "I don't think it is bad, and it is getting better now". I also saw their belief that if something really bad would happen, their government would save them for sure. Well, of course it's easier for me to not go back to Japan. I don't have family there and only had few belongings left in my dorm room in Tokyo, nothing worth risking my health. I have to say that Western media panicked a lot. It added to the situation being so surreal: reading the nuclear panic in Western media, and almost nothing in Japanese media, the truth and myself at that moment being somewhere in the middle of that. I am sure we (Western, especially Central European world) are more sensitive to nuclear issues because we've lived through the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago, being so close to it. And because of those experiences we don't really trust government information politics about nuclear disasters anymore. Reading the news of Fukushima, it was quite clear that not all information was released immediately, just by following the day-to-day news of the first three days. So this "nuclear unclarity" was the main reason for me. My family was also concerned about the aftershocks of the quake. But frankly, those were smaller than the big one, and even if they were numerous: Earthquakes is something that the Japanese can handle well. I mean, biggest quake in recorded history, and half a day later the metro in Tokyo is up and running, and no real damage to buildings in Tokyo (I still find that fact truly impressive!). My friends still in Tokyo told me things like "it feels like little shakes about every 15min" so, quite extreme as such, but well, just little shakes. And it'd be interesting to perceive all that first hand, how disciplined the Japanese are even in extreme situations etc.
But to sum up my reasons for not going back:

  • unclear how the situation in Fukushima would develop
  • if I'd go back, it'd be much, much harder to leave than it was from Seoul
  • advise from the Austrian ministry of foreign affairs
  • advise from my doctor: I have to be very careful about the amount of radiation I take in. Having lived through Chernobyl as a child when you take in more than adults was already a bad start for me, and the shitty handling-radioactive-sources in my oil job also contributed to the fact that I rather over-react a little when it's about radiation
  • even if all develops in the best imaginable way: then I'd simply spend two weeks of spring break back in Europe with my family and friends, and could still go back to Japan in time to start the new semester

And, well, in case something in Fukushima would've gone really wrong: you simply can't evacuate 35 million people or more(!). Logistically impossible. So, given the choice and the reasons above, I chose to take a flight back to Vienna.

That also meant that I'd be staying one more day than originally planned in Seoul. I could have asked at the hostel, but being a couchsurfer and having had such an amicable host for the first two nights, I simply asked him again. And he was happy to help me out there and host me for another night on his couch. A really friendly Korean. That evening he had his mother and brother as guests as well, and they cooked a family dinner and insisted I joined them. So nice, they made me feel at home in their home. Big thank you to them.

I am writing a bit non-chronological here, sorry for that. Before I went back to my couchsurfing host, there was the good-bye situation with my two friends. The one European and the two Japanese. My European friend was quite unsure himself, but somehow really wanted to return to Tokyo at that moment. I told him "you know my decision. You are my friend, and I really would prefer it if you would also go back to Europe for the moment". He took the flight back to Tokyo as planned. And then only went back to his dormitory, picked up a few things and went back to the airport only four hours later. To spend the night there and catch a flight back to Europe in the morning. Luckily for him, his government was paying the flights back to Europe for all students from his country currently staying in Japan. Well, that's Sweden for you.
When we left the hostel, them going to the airport to fly back to Tokyo and me going back to my host's flat in Seoul to stay one more day, I also gave my Japanese keys to my friend. Because I was quite sure that he'd be in Tokyo before me even if I would come back. Which, in the end, was a good decision, since he was one of the nice people clearing out my dorm room for me. Plus, he can use my bicycle now, after having it registered to the right person :D

Back to Seoul again. I used my last day on my own there to visit some more parts I hadn't seen yet. And to drop by that huge electronics market one more time (apparently the biggest electronics market in the world). It's quite a sight for a geek like me. Even though I did not buy any more things - I considered getting another external hard-drive, but in the end did not buy it because of lack of WLAN and hence not being able to compare prices. Was good, because in the end it wouldn't have been cheaper than buying it back home. Anyways. As I wrote earlier, in the evening I had this wonderful dinner with the Korean family of my host and his Catalan flatmate. It was great to be in such nice company on the evening of that day. Would have felt quite lonely otherwise, after that strange day of unexpectedly wandering around Seoul one more day alone. And the whole unsure situation, not knowing if I would go back to Tokyo for my second semester or not.

The next morning I went to Incheon airport to catch my flight to Moscow. While waiting to board I looked through the souvenir shops there. Not that much stuff like in Narita, but they also had some local Hello Kitty. And dried seaweed. I decided to spend most of my last won for a huge pack of dried seaweed. In three flavours: classic, with olive oil and Kimchi-flavoured, the last one being quite a Korean taste ;-) the nice lady in the shop even gave me a special pack of extra-spicy Kimchi-flavoured seaweed for free to convince me to buy it. She didn't know I was about to buy it anyway, or well, was just being nice according to company policies. Anyways, that big pack enabled me to have little gifts from Asia for my family and friends back home. That was quite nice for me as well, not having brought any presents from Japan simply because I hadn't know that I was leaving Japan for more than a week...

So, the flight to Moscow was rather uneventful. You know, flying Aeroflot feels a bit like using a time-machine: I remember long-distance flights in the 80ies were that uncomfortable, and the interior of their machines looks a bit like it might not have changed since that time. Plus, for some reason unknown to me, the flight attendants just seem quite unfriendly. Must be a combination of their not-so-great English skills with them  being simply totally stressed out. It's a nine-and-a-half-hours flight. And after last year's terrible experiences with Aeroflot food I was positively surprised that the meals were quite edible. I sat next to a Korean woman who was on her way to do a Eurotrip. She was also going to Vienna, so giving her some advise was fun. Other than that I read a book I had acquired in Seoul: Memoirs of a Geisha. It's written by an American, but dealing with so many Japanese traditions it felt like a nice closure to my time in Japan, reading this on my way back to Europe.

Arriving at Sheremetyovo airport: i was happy that I had enough time to transfer this time because it simply takes forever to get anywhere on that airport. When exiting the plane there was a big printed sign saying "transfers" and a huge arrow pointing left. And in front of it there was a bored Russian lady saying something like "transfers, to the right". After walking down some corridors I ended up in a big line. Waiting for my passport to get checked. There also was a huge group of Korean tourists on their way to Europe. They were quite confused, as there was basically no real information what was going on or why we had to queue. And the Russian personnel spoke mainly Russian and hardly any English. After about half an hour of waiting I got to a lady who asked me in broken English about my connecting flight. And then, looking it up in a printed list, was happy to stamp the terminal of that flight to my ticket. I didn't have the heart to tell her that this information was already printed onto my ticket by the Koreans at Incheon airport and so her job was completely useless. After another security check i was allowed to enter the shopping area. And there simply were no signs at all which would point in the direction of my terminal. So i found another information counter, queued up again, only to end up in front of another Russian lady with very little English knowledge. She pointed me into some direction and "up stairs" or something like that. Going that way was interesting: up those stairs there was a hallway with first nothing, then in the middle people sleeping on mattresses(!) looking like a bunch of homeless people inside the airport's check-in area, then more empty hallway and stairs down again to the area where i had started. Well, after some running around that whole terminal i found a little exit in the end that lead to my terminal.
During my first queue i had started talking to a German guy. He was also "fleeing" from Japan. By plane even though he didn't like flying. Was interesting to talk to him, not only because we were kind of in the same situation. He had gone from Germany to Japan by train and boat, doing the whole Trans-Siberian with some nice adventures on the way. To stay in Japan for about five months again as a street musician with an accordion, same as he had done the year before. We had some nice talks about life in Japan. I let him use my smartphone for checking his emails/updating himself about the situation in Japan. And also lent the phone to some Japanese teenagers who were about to board a flight back to Japan and looked quite lost, not knowing what to expect. We wished them all the best.
In the end i bought one more bottle of Russian Standard - you can pay with Euros :-) - and boarded my flight.
I would've finished my "Memoirs of a Geisha" on the flight from Moscow to Vienna. Plane was relatively empty, but in my row there was a guy from Salzburg who apparently needed to talk so badly, especially after he discovered that i speak German as well. Something about he also wanted to live in Japan for half a year. Somewhere in the South, basically unaffected by the quake, tsunami, Fukushima etc.  but now going back because his family was worried blablabla... I just wanted my peace, having traveled already i don't know how many hours and just wanting to quietly finish my book. When landing he finally shut up, and i fell asleep for those ten or fifteen minutes. Hadn't finished the book because i had to listen to that guy. And when i woke up after our plane was in parking position, well, with me being so tired and all i managed to forget the book on the plane in the bag in the seat in front of me :-P thanks to my study colleague who's borrowed me the book to finish it (it's the German translation, but well, i think I'll get the other book by the real Geisha that this American author has not only pissed of but actually put in danger by mentioning her real name).

Well, Vienna. Of course it was really nice to get back and meet all my family and friends here half a year earlier than expected. I made up my mind to wait for a maximum of two weeks and then make a decision about going back to Japan. Those two weeks i felt like hanging in the air, on some thin rope. Closely following the news, even if they didn't say much. My university in Japan even postponed the start of the semester from beginning of April to beginning of May, meaning i could've prolonged this situation of waiting for a month more. But after two weeks i made a decision, to move on with my life. And cancel my second semester in Japan. I would've gone back only for about two and a half months. Interesting months, for sure, but research-wise i wouldn't be able to do much in such a short time. So I've decided to stay in Vienna and get on with my life, also as the situation hadn't gotten much clearer after waiting for two weeks (meaning the situation in Fukushima).

There sure is a ton of things that I haven't seen in Japan. Actually, at the end of my first semester - which somehow went really fast - i started making a list of things that i still need to do before leaving Japan. Dammit, i haven't even been to Kyoto. And now it's July and I would've climbed up Fuji-san. And...

Actually i wrote most of this text in the end of March/beginning of April. Sorry for taking so long to update my blog.

Thanks for reading through this very long entry. As said in the beginning: I wrote this down to record it, mainly for myself. And who knows, someone else might find this interesting as well.

I wish all the best for Japan and all the people living there - and other people affected by this terrible natural catastrophe and its aftereffects.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update: not going back to Tokyo now

Hello there,

just to give an update about my situation, for those of you who haven't heard from me through email or facebook: i am not going back to Japan from Seoul, but home to Europe.
I am very worried about the situation in Japan right now and my friends there. I hope for the best and closely follow the news.

So, in short, instead of going back to Japan on Tuesday i will go back to Europe on Wednesday. With Aeroflot through Moscow (i am no fan of Aeroflot after my flights with them in 2010, but well, they are reliable enough, nevermind the bad food and i hope even the long flight will be bearable in their seats).

Keep safe,

Cheers (?)

ps: Oh, and a side note: Seoul is a very interesting city and i enjoy my sightseeing here. More about it later.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm OK, not in Japan at the moment.

today the biggest earthquake in more than 100 years hit Japan. 8.9 magnitude. More than the 1995 one and the one in the 1920ies.
Usually i don't post my current position here in the blog, but this is a good reason: i am in Seoul, South Korea, since Tuesday and will stay here till next Tuesday.
Thank you for all the concerned emails, facebook posts etc. I will answer them, right now i am trying to find out how my friends in Japan are doing and what's happening there.
The ones i reached so far are ok, all trains in Tokyo are not operating, mobile network is down (antenna masts broken etc.). A friend walked home from university, a way that usually takes one hour by train... and the Japanese were as scared as the foreigners when the earthquake hit.

Still many that i need to reach.

When the quake happened, i was sightseeing in Seoul. The whole day i couldn't find free WLAN, hadn't heard anything unusual. We only were a bit confused because a friend received two mails on his mobile from family in Europe asking if he was ok after the quake. We assumed this was about the 7.2 quake that happened the day before where we had already informed them that we're ok. Only in the evening we saw this shocking tsunami images on a tv and realised that something bigger is happening. And now i am finally online with my phone.
And watching CNN in the hostel. With some quite moronic commentators who didn't even know what timezone Japan is in. But at least they've shown the NHK videos several times, so i saw that.

I wish all the best for my friends and everyone in Japan right now.

So much so far, i will go write some emails now.

Seoul, out.