Winter holiday is here, and I’m in Japan!

Japan greeted me with category 3 tremblor. Arigato! (Image via Japan Meteorological Agency)

TOKYO, JAPAN — This year’s winter escapade is not to a warm, sunny location like Malaysia, but to the more wintry Japan — a joint effort by my son and me.

He had some comp time available, and wanted to visit me in Jishou, but as I had planned to travel outside China during the Spring Festival, we settled on two weeks in Japan.

Fun fact: this year, the Chinese New Year falls on my birthday. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which day that is.

I gave my exams on Dec. 30, and spent the rest of the week reading them and calculating grades for my 150 students. I discovered two disturbing things: at least two of my sophomores had cheated on their exam and hardly any of the sophs had improved their listening comprehension marks over the last three terms.

The cheaters flunked their exams, and the term. They will need to take a new test next term. I also get to read their classmates the riot act, as I suspect those two were just the unlucky ones who got caught.

The sophomores’ failure to improve their skills much since they were freshmen is a bigger challenge, and not just for them. Clearly, I have to revise my teaching strategy, and assessments, to encourage their improvement.

But for the time being, I am in relaxation mode.

The day after I handed in my grades, I was on the bus to Changsha, and the next morning, the bullet train to Shenzhen, where I crossed by foot into Hong Kong.

[The bullet train now stops at Futian station, just one subway stop away from the border crossing at Futian Checkpoint. That saves some time schlepping cross-town on the Shenzhen Metro line 4.]

After I read a BBC article about an eatery called Little Bao, I decided it would be one of my must-do items, so I had dinner there Wednesday evening.

It is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place, like a New York City diner. It opens at 6 pm, and there were already a half-dozen people waiting when I showed up at 5:55 pm.

Little Bao serves a East-West fusion hamburger. Do not expect something the size of a Whopper, but expect some very tasty food. I had the tempura fish bao and the green tea ice cream bao. (A photo of the ice cream is here. My phone’s battery died, so no pix from me yet.) And I shared the truffle sauce fries with a new friend, James Li of Hong Kong, and his buddy, Daniel from New Zealand. We quaffed Japanese micro-brews.

Anywho, I arrived in Tokyo the next evening. This afternoon, while I was trying to plan out my day, I felt the house where I am staying go wiggle-wiggle. It felt like I was sitting in a house of rubber.

And sure enough, it was a tremblor. No biggie. Just one of those things local people are very used to, and visitors are like “Whoa! Was that an earthquake?”

By the way, in case you’re worried, little ones release pressure — much better than waiting until there’s a major whoop-ass quake, which I’d rather skip, tyvm. No harm done.

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 As an aside, I forgot to bring my transfer cable for my camera, and my little Windows 10 tablet does not have an SD card slot, so I can’t supply any photos this time. Sorry.

Originally published at Wheat-dogg’s World.