Saturday, June 25, 2011

chopsticks: a futile exercise in dexterity

Yes, I still suck at using chopsticks.

We are now in the city of Kochi - google it - where we are visiting my cousin, Jarra, who is living and working in a town called Nahari, which is an hour or so south of the city.  Today we went rafting in the mountains which was amazing.  The company, Happy Raft, is owned by an Australian expat, and is run by a crew of Aussies, New Zealanders and hippy Japanese blokes.  It was bloody good fun and now I'm pretty sure I just want to go rafting everyday for the rest of the trip and give up on sights and touristy stuff. But anyway, it was fun and we also saw the oldest cedar tree in Japan - and probably the world - which is doing a fine job at 3,000 years old - take that, Christ.  Tomorrow we are going to see Kochi Castle in the morning and then we are going to the markets in the afternoon.

To back track a little...

On Tuesday we went to Nara Park, which is about an hour by train from Kyoto, for a day trip.  The park is an important spiritual place for the Japanese, and is filled with temples and - wait for it - sacred deer, live ones, as in actual little bambis running around the place. I freaking loved it.  And made inappropriate comments about venison stew.

So we spent the day walking around in the blistering heat, looking at the temples and cooing at the deer.  In the evening we went to the district of Gion in Kyoto.  This is where the Geisha's are - or were? - and is a very historic place and very beautiful. So, and all in all, it was a great day.  Until it was upstaged by Wednesday...

Wednesday we caught an early train out of Kyoto to the suburb/town of Inari, where we went to the Fushimi-Inari Shrine.  Anyone who had seen the film 'Memoirs of a Geisha' will know this shrine, the rest of you should jump on google quick smart.  But basically it's a collection of these orange arches - I don't know the proper name of them, sorry Shinto - and they line a path that leads up the mountain and the path is dotted with countless shrines, they are acutally everywhere and almost stacked on top of each other.  All in all I think the walk was about 5km and it was totally amazing. My absolute highlight of Japan, hands down, I don't care what we do for the rest of the trip. 

Actually, I'll probably change that statement after we go to the Gibhli Museum in Tokyo which I am looking forward to as only a nerd can.

So that's the bare essentials of what we've been up to for the last couple of days, though needless to say, its been filled with a thousand other thoughts, sights, impressions and experiences - I'm just to lazy to write them.

So, goodnight unto you all.
Miss you and love you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

kyoto: where the traffic lights sing like birds.

I'd just like to begin by saying that the title of this is not a joke, the traffic lights in Kyoto actually do make birds noises, instead of the beeps, bleeps or alarms or whatever the noise is that they make in Australia. It gives you the impression of being in some sort of jungle metropolis, surrounded by invisible wildlife. It's weird and unsettling; unless you want to be all poetic about it, which I may be at a later stage.

We stayed Sunday night at a YHA on the Gold Coast, just near Coolangatta airport, where it was so cold I had to sleep with two blankets, two jumpers, four towels and thermals on (too stupid for belief, I was under the naive impression it was suppposed to be warm in the QLD).

Flew out Monday morning, direct to Tokyo, then a connecting flight to Osaka. As predicted I was totally stoned off my nut on my flying drugs (my nurse aunt has informed, in a rather panicked manner, that I'm taking twice the recommend dose. No wonder I walk into walls and see double when I take them). But anyways, we had an impromptu concert from some bearded hippy with a banjo (read: gorgeous man/future husband) at the airport before takeoff, and the flight was full of cute Asian kids who didn't scream, talk or try to make me play with them, so all in all the flight was pretty good.

When we got to Osaka we stayed in a hotel in the airport (I think it's name was the Nico Hotel??? - who even cares anyway) which had illusions of grandeur it's cheap carpet and refusal to leave complimentary biscuits in the rooms couldn't quite cover.

This morning we caught the train to Kyoto, which took about 90 mins. Breakfast consisted of some kind of hamburger wrapped in a bun that tasted of sugar (do not try that at home kids, it was horrendous). When we got to Kyoto we wandered around lost for a little while before we found our hostel. We left our bags there and set off with a vague idea that we'd like to try the Philosophers Walk. Never made it that far, instead we walked in the sweltering heat to the Imperial Palace, which is surrounded by public gardens, and took a tour of the palace. It's all been rebuilt, most of it after the 'big fire' (I kid you not, that's what they call it) 160 years ago. But it's all an exact replica and very beautiful, so definitely worth a visit.

After the tour, Summa and I once again made a valiant effort to find the Philsophers Walk (read: half-hearted effort, mostly in search of ice cream), but again never got there. Turns out the beginning of the walk was about 5km away, so not sorry that we abandoned our attempt.

We caught the subway back to Kyoto station. Here they have this massive underground food and shopping mall which links the subway, trains and buses. We had vego raman for dinner, which was deelish. We were also enticed into buying these creme caramel sort of things, mostly because the company that makes them has the symbol of the samurai and I'm a sucker for all things novel and remotely dorky.

And thats about it for now. Was given an 'economy straw' at dinner, which as far as I can tell is an ordinary straw with the word economy written on it. Also, the hostel manager has just put a jug of sake down in front of me and fortunately no one has as yet warned him what a bad idea that wash. Also, I saw bottles of sweat today. Not really but that's what the label says, I took a photo to prove it's weirdness and bad-englishness.

Off to Nara tomorrow for a day trip. Not really sure why, apparently there is some deer park or something there that mother wants to see.

Missing you all
Love Love

Sunday, June 19, 2011


So. Regular blog has transformed into a wanky travel blog for a short period (even more wanky then a regular blog I hear you ask? Grow up, moron)

Currently still in Australia, the Gold Coast to be more precise. To be even more precise, we're staying in a YHA and I can see the runway of the airport from my window. Spent last night in Brisbane with rellies, then caught the train down today. Flying out tomorrow. First flying to Cairns, then Tokyo and then Osaka so it's going to be a long day, mind you, I'll be so stoned on my flying drugs that I'm not going to remember it anyway.

Staying at the airport at Osaka tomorrow night, then onward unto the brink.

Not many adventures to report thus far other then British ping pong master who can earn $2500 a week selling superannuation and Israelites who think my iPad is the coolest thing in history (they get points for being clever and noticing the freaking obvious)

Send me stories and keep me updated while I'm away, I'll be missing you all more then I could ever say

Also, tweeting, emailing and face booking like a twit, so keep in touch

Love Love