Location: Sydney, Australia
Ma, in case you check this before leaving for the airport, we have tried to call you from Qantas Club, but the phone is either engaged or something is up with the line. Craig was able to call his mother okay, so we have no idea, but it is giving an engaged signal from every phone in Qantas Club we use. Craig's mobile is inside the checked in luggage and we have no cash to use a phone to call you. So, just meet us at Canberra airport at whenever it is supposed to be.
Apparently Craig is talking to you now!
See you at the airport.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Last day in Tokyo. We have eaten our scrumptuous breakfast overlooking Tokyo, booked a car to take us to the airport at 2pm, and now Craig is in the room trying desperately to figure out how to fit everything in to 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks. I predict I will return to the room with everything still lying on the bed and him lying in the foetal position on the floor!!! ha ha
So, for Mum, here are our flight details:
Fri 23 Nov
QF22 Departs Tokyo at 8pm
Sat 24 Nov
Arrives Sydney at 07.55am
Sat 24 Nov
QF1415 Depart Sydney at 09.45am
Arrive Canberra at 10.35am
So, Ma, given how much luggage we have, I suggest you come in our car, and just park and meet us at the arrival gate downstairs, assuming we are on time...which with Qantas domestic is, frankly, anyones guess!
We will put another post on here tonight from Tokyo airport before we leave, but given we dont fly out until 10pm Canberra time, you probably wont see it until tomorrow. As I said yesterday, we will call you when we land in Sydney aiport and get through customs, etc. Which could take a while....on the ANYTHING TO DECLARE form, me might need a second form to fit it all!!!!!
Ok, were off for some last minute shopping...although a hotel girl just said it was freezing outside...just like yesterday...Max of 13 degrees. Ouch! We really couldnt stay here much longer, we would have to buy a whole new winter wardrobe!!!
So, our last itinerary item for tomorrow:
Sat 24 Nov
Vote out that bastard John Howard and his friends!
See you tomorrow!
Ma, leave us a message before we leave tonight so we know you have our flight details!
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Our last full day in Tokyo and last full day in Japan comes to a close. Tomorrow at 8pm we fly back to Australia.
Today was a shopping day. After a scrumptious and large breakfast we headed on the metro to Ginza, a famous shoppng disctrict in Tokyo, for some serious last minute shopping. We had a facial treatment booked for 4pm, so at the very last possible minute we abandoned shopping and returned to the Park Hyatt with our many bags in tow to prepare for our treatment. 70 minutes later we looked 20 years younger and very relaxed. But, with a 6pm dinner appointment on the 54th floor, there was no time to waste, so we had a quick spa and changed for dinner. Since it is our last night we started dinner with a glass of 1999 Dom Perignin champage. $50 a glass, thank you very much! Needless to say, 2 hours later the credit card was feeling considerably overweight, but we decided to head out to the area around Shinjuku station where there are lights and people to watch before coming back to the hotel. Craig is up having a spa as I type this and I am about to go lie in our very large bathtub at watch a movie.
A great day comes to a close. A great holiday comes to a close.
MUM: Tomorrow morning after breakfast (so around 11am, your time) I will put a new post up on here with all our flight details, etc). So, look out for that. We'll put another post up from the airport before we leave, and we'll call when we land in Sydney.
See everyone Saturday afternoon for KEVIN07!!!!!!
Don't forget to check out the new photos of Tokyo, including some great photos of Mt Fuji I took this morning from our bedroom window.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
After a 4 hour train ride from Hiroshima to Tokyo, we arrived. Changed to the subway for Shinjuku, the area of Tokyo where the Park Hyatt is, and after a short walk we found ourselves luxuriating in the most fabulous room!! We will put some photos up, but it has a plasma screen, a massive bed, a lounge room, a huge bath, an antiroom, oh, and a TV in the bathroom ha ha, and it is pure bliss after sleeping on tatami mats on the floor for 2 weeks.
As a surprise for Craig I have booked us into a 1 hour body treatment, which we did at 4pm. Bliss. Sooo relaxing. There was a body scrub, massage, and water treatment. Followed by lemon tea looking out from the 45th floor over Tokyo. Very nice. I never want to leae. Mum, send over the dogs. You can have the cats!! ha ha Soooo nice.
Our room is on the 41st floor, and we are about to head up to the 50-something floor to get a drink at the famous New York bar, before we head to dinner in one of the restaurants here. There is a massive overpriced steak with my name on it!!!!
MUM - we will oput up our return flight details on Friday morning before we leave. Our flight leaves Tokyo at 8pm-ish, so 10pm-ish your time, and we get into Sydney at something like 7.30am, and we are on a 9.30am flight to Canberra Saturday morning, getting in around 10.30am, but I will put up the correct details on Friday.
So, thats it for today. We are here for nothing more than pampering and relaxing for the last 2 days before we head back home to work to pay for the not insignificant credit card bill we are sure to have.
Tomorrow is shopping day. We have deliberately left the big ticket items until last. Bad news is, in Hiroshima we had to buy ANOTHER port to fit it all in. We are now up to 2 bags each with our clothes, that we came with, the large blue port we bought in Germany last trip to fit presents in, and now a new bright orange large port to fit even more in!!!!! Crazy. So Mum, you better pick us up in our car so there is room in the boot for all the luggage! Qantas are going to love us!!!
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Last day in Hiroshima. We decided to travel out to Miyajima island, where the famous Itsukushima Shrine and Floating Torii is [see the updated Hirsohima photos]. Although it costs more we decided to get out there via a river cruise rather than the more usual tram then ferry trip. It was around $70 return for the two of us this way, as opposed to the approx. $9 it would have cost on the tram, but it was definately a fun way to do it. At the island we headed straight to the floating Torii and the tide was right out. In fact, so far out that we were able to walk right up to the Torii. However, later in the day the tide has risen enough that we couldnt walk to it, as you can see in the photo, but the tide hadnt come all the way in by the time we left the island. There are a lot of shrines on the island, nice leafy walkways, and a lot of the rich red maples were out in force, too. We spent most of the day just wandering around aimlessly, looking at the various trees, and people watching, but it was also VERY freezing, so we left at around 3pm to head back to Hiroshima and lie in the bath. Very nice. We also managed to get 2 Japanese board games from reception of our hotel - Go and Shogi - the latter being the Japanese version of western chess. We also needed them to print the rules from Wikipedia for us to play, but we muddled through, with a bottle of wine and many Japanese snacks, treats, pastries and chocolates. I think we will come back even fatter!!!!
So, tomorrow morning at 9am we leave for our last 2 days in Tokyo before flying home Friday night. But, since we are staying at the Park Hyatt, I dont think it will be too arduous a time!!!
Today we visted Hiroshima Castle. It originally had a lot more buildings than currently - due to the castle being downsized during the Meiji Restoration and the complete destruction caused by the bombing. The main castle keep has been rebuilt and has a museum of sorts telling the story of Hiroshima and the castle. You can also dress up in the costume of a samuri and a Shogun or warlord - which Josh was happy to do.
Following this we made our way back to the Hiroshima Peace Park. This is where the memorials to the bombing are located. We both rang the peace bell - if only it would help to create peace in the world! Further down is the Hiroshima Childrens Peace Memorial - dedicated to all the children who died as a result of the bombing. This was created following the death of Sadako - a girl who developed leukimia and started to create 1000 paper cranes to wish for a cure. Although she didnt make the 1000 cranes and died from the leukimia her life has become a powerful symbol of the tradegy that is Hiroshima.
We then visted the Hiroshima Peace Museum - which is dedicated to the bombing and to peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons. It was a fairly emotional place to go through - what ever one believes of the justifications for dropping the bomb - it is never so simple when you see what resulted.
Hiroshima is a thought provoking place.
On a lighter note we have managed to be questioned by many Japanese school kids learning english - and we even managed to get paper cranes made for us...
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
We got to Hiroshima quite early this morning...around 10am, because when we got to Kyoto station we discovered an earlier train than the one we intended to catch so we decided to catch the earlier, which got us in to Hiroshima at 10.30am. Our hotel was easy to find but needless to say at that hour our room wasnt ready. So, we went for a bit of a walk around Hiroshima, took in some gardens, went to the Peacve Memorial Cathedral, which is really just a Catholic Church, then wandered through street markets and past the A-Dome Building, or what is left of it, then we stumbed across a baseball game at Hiroshima Stadium, so we watched that until the cold got the better of us and we went to our hotel and had a nice relaxing bath. For the first time on our trip we are staying in a western style hotel rather than a Japanese style sleeping on the floor.It is a welcome change!
The downside is the hotel we are staying at only has internet access in the rooms for people who have their own laptop. Well, we clearly werent travelling with laptops, so I am using the 100 Yen per 15 min machine in the lobby, which means I cant download any photos from today. Too bad, too, because I have some great photos of the A-Dome, both at day and night, and of the baseball game we saw, that I would like to put up. I will see if I can find another way tomorrow.
Otherwise, we are glad to finally be in Hiroshima. Everything here, at least as far as the tourist goes, is directed towards the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima 62 years ago and its abiding aftermath. Seeing the A=Dome Building today, a picture I have seen a hundred times before, was quite moving. It is smaller than I thought it was, but there was no removing oneself intellectually or emotionally from what the building actually is and stands for. It was quite emotional just looking at it today, but tomorrow we will delve deeper and go to the memorial and the cenotaph, etc. SHould be very moving.
So, our room is on the 29th floor, much to Mr Vertigo Craigs enjoyment, so we might wander up to the 33rd floor bad for a drink before bed, since it is nearly 9pm already.
Hopefully I will find a way to upload photos tomorrow. If not, I will still upload this page with more info.
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Our last day in Kyoto has come to an end. And what an end it is. We are dog tired. Exhausted. Craig is upstairs in the bath while I write this and upload some photos from today. We had a big day of walking today, trying to fit in as much as we can before we leave at 8.20 tomorrow morning for Hiroshima.
As you can see in the photos, we went to one castle...Nijo Castle...and three temples today, as well as walked the 2km Path of Philosophy, which was along a tree lined canal. It was very beautiful, but would be best to see when the cherry blossoms are out. A spring visit to Japan might be in order.
We also managed to fit in a lot of shopping today. I think weve spent near $500 in 2 days just on shopping and food!! Fun was had by both of us.
We also threw the Japanese food only out the window this morning when we came across a place that had waffles with chocolate sauce and bananas for breakfast!!! YUMM!!!!
It was a great last day in Kyoto, despite the aching feet, legs, back, etc etc. So, this is a short message today!
We will hopefully update again tomorrow night from Hiroshima, on the last leg of our Japan holiday.
Check out the Kyoto 2 photos we just uploaded.
Location: Nara, Japan
Saturday morning - It took me so long to upload the photos on this circa 1920 model laptop at the hotel that I didnt have any stamina left to update the blog. This laptop is no Deep Blue. Even I could beat it at chess, let alone Garry Kasparov!
Yesterday was another huge day of walking. We caught a regional train to Nara in the morning. Strangely, the regional train took an hour to travel the 40 km to Nara, yet the Bullet Train we caught to Himeji, nearly 200 km away, also only took an hour. After the speed of Bullet Trains you really notice it when you get on a rattling old regional train....much like any in Sydney, except here they ALL run on time, regardless of the type of train.
Nonetheless, the hour trip was spent reading our books. I finished my Garry Kasparov book through the week and I have moved on to my biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Im 100 pages in and it is quite gripping. Eleanor has just got a divorce from her first husband, King Louis XII of France and secretly married the man who will become King John II. She is 11 years older than him and with her land in France and his...well...everywhere else, he is about to become very powerful indeed. There...never let it be said you dont get a history lesson of European royalty while we travel Japan!!!! Craig is plowing through his massive book, the name of which alludes me at this moment.
So, first things first, we went to the famous Todaiji Temple, via the Three Storied Pergoda, the Five Storied Pergoda and a small temple - the Kokukuji Temple. Most of the temples and shrines in Nara are inside a very large park, called in English the Deer Park, for obvious reasons. Deer Park has hundreds, if not thousands, of deer roaming free. To the Japanese they are sacred deers. Although, not so sacred that a park official cant throw rocks at them to get them to herd in a certain direction or not to sacred that the owner of the shop in the photo I have put up where the deer is standing on the street in front of a shop cant be sent packing by the little old lady wielding a metal stick! But, they are tame and we have other photos of us patting them and sitting with them.
We were really looking forward to the Todaiji Temple. It is famous for 2 things. The HUGE Buddha that sits in the entrance to the temple - see photos - and the two large wooden warrior guardians of the temple. Massively huge. And looking like they could step down from their platforms and wreak havoc at any moment. We spent quite a bit of time in the temple, just soaking up the atmosphere, and of course perusing the obligatory shrine gift shop...sorry, gift shops, plural! But, it was worth the trudge from the train station, up a hill, to get there. The temple building itself, whilst typical of the era, was beautiful, the massive Buddha was amazing and we loved the warriors. THe temple grounds were also beautiful and immaculately kept.
After Todaiji Temple we walked aimlessly through the Deer Park, just stopping to see anything interesting, people watch, get told HI and BYE by Japanese school kids again, before we left the Deer Park and headed for the famous Isuien Gardens and the adjoining Yoshikien Gardens. These gardens are VERY Japanese but very beautifully maintained. I think Craig wants to move to Japan and become a gardener now!! I have put a photo of the gardens up but you really need to see them all to appreciate its beauty. Craig probably has many ideas for our own garden. If only it was 10x bigger!
A leisurely stroll down the main street back to the station got us there in time to catch a rattler back to Kyoto. We did a bit of window shopping, sent some postcards which we will probably beat back and had some yummy dinner at a Japanese restaurant. This dinner will be long remembered by us both. We both had a curry pork dinner that had lots of curry sauce over it. Was yumm! We also had these things called Gyoza. I cant really explain them. They are something like a very mini pastie. A small pastry layer filled with vegies. Something like that. Hey taste great dipped in soy sauce, So, I was eating mine with chopsticks and one fell off, right into my bowl of curry sauce, making a huge splat noise and sending curry sauce flying all over the table, all over Craig and all over me. My jeans now have curry stains and try as I did I couldnt wash it out. But since we only washed clothes 2 days ago were not doing it again!! The stain remains - a reminder of Kyoto!
So, today - Saturday - is our last day in Kyoto. We have another big day planned, lots to fit in before we leave for Hiroshima tomorrow. But thankfully Kyoto is very easy to get around by bus, and they have an all-you-can-travel pass for 500 Yen. Not bad for $5. Interestingly, this being the home of the Kyoto Protocal that Johnny the Liar Howard refuses to sign up to, when you travel on buses here in Kyoto they actually turn the bus off when sitting in traffic or when stopped at lights. Its a small gesture, but something we havent seen in any other Japanese city. And God knows you sit going nowhere a lot on Tokyo!!!
So hopefully there will be one last Kyoto update tonight. Tomorrow we leave at 8.20am for Hiroshima...a 2 hour trip on the Bullet Train.