The Gold Coast
By Kazuya Muto
"Hey, Kazu, long time no see. How's your vacation, mate?" I had met up with my Chinese friends — Shirley, Wen and Helen. "We're planning to go to the Gold Coast. Want to come?" asked Wen. "Sure," I said, and it was settled: I was going to the Gold Coast.
Making travel plans is always exciting — especially when someone else does all the organizing. Shirley was great. She did everything, from booking flights to making hotel reservations. Wen, Helen and I just read the guide books.
It took about an hour to get there by plane. We arrived around 10 p.m. and went straight to the hotel. We were tired, but curiosity got the better of us and we went for a couple of hours' walk through the streets, where you could smell the wonderful salty smell of the sea.
There are four huge amusement parks at the Gold Coast — Movie World, Sea World, Water World and Dream World — and we planned to visit all of them.
Our first stop was Movie World, where there were a heap of enjoyable attractions, including interesting shows and great rides. We thought we would give one of the rollercoasters a go, but Helen hesitated. "It's too fast," she wailed. "Don't worry, Helen. It won't go as fast with your weight on it," joked Wen.
That evening, we wandered around the city. I was very aware of the number of Japanese people there. You can see Japanese letters everywhere, and you often come across people speaking Japanese.
So I suggested: "How about we try some Japanese food tonight?" The others agreed, so we called a taxi and asked the driver to take us to a good, cheap Japanese restaurant. I made a point that it had to be good. Wen, Helen and Shirley had never tried Japanese before, and I wanted their first time to be a good one. Otherwise, they might never try Japanese food again.
So we tried sushi, tempura, and ikagyoza (my friends were used to steamed gyoza but not the Japanese style of fried gyoza) and luckily for me they like everything they ate. They were also very curious about everything they were served, and they asked me so many questions, including how to make pickled ginger, which left me flummoxed.
Afterwards, we bought some beer and some snacks and headed back to the hotel, chatting about what we had done that day. Gradually the topic moved to relationships, and it was decided that we would each in turn tell the others about our previous relationships. Unfortunately I was chosen to go first.
The three of them grilled me with questions: Do you have a girlfriend? How many girlfriends have you had? How do you usually go about approaching women? They asked me everything, particularly about my views on love. We moved around the circle, and Shirley and Helen were asked the same questions. It was interesting. They were from China so their answers and their attitudes to love were quite different (I won't go into it here).
They also had a strange idea of what Japanese women were like. They thought Japanese women had to devote themselves to their husband or boyfriend, and would never say a bad word to them. They thought Japanese women spent all their time admiring their partners! I quickly corrected them on that point.
Shukan ST: Aug. 11, 2006
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