Kyoto & Tokyo, Japan
Ohayo gozaimass noobs,
Greetings from the land of the rising sun, where we are wrapping up our adventures and preparing to head home.
The 2 sites we saw in Japan (Kyoto and Japan) are so different, that Ill just treat them seperately below:
Ok, so Rome -> Hong Kong -> Osaka -> Kyoto, was never going to be a short trip, but after a 9hr technical delay at Rome Airport, it all went downhill from there... Cathay Pacific were pretty good at fixing the missed plane connection, and got us onto the last flight into Osaka, then with complete luck, we managed to find and jump onto the last train of the night into Kyoto (with 7 minutes to spare), I dont know what we would have done if we had missed it, even more fun with the incredibly painful stomach cramps that begun in rome and continued for all 32 hours of the voyage!
Ok enough whinging, the hotel was fantastic, just meeting my standards with a 42inch plasma TV showing discovery (in english), only problem is the japanese appear obsessed with viral terrorism, germs, biological attacks etc, so every show is on the same subject.... anyway, the only concern is the bathroom, im not 100% sure, but there seemed to be some sort of AI lurking in the bathroom, almost a matrix style machine.... "the japenese toilet". It may well be smarter than either cheryl or I..... I mean, it keeps the seat warm, it knows when someone is sitting on it.. it deoderises.. and it errr.. keeps its host clean with some precision jets of warn water.. its all very clever, and cheryl insists we get one of these installed at home, who am I to argue?
The Hotel Grandia is just superb, it is situated right above Kyoto Station, with access to bullet trains and other lines, it hosts all the bus terminals with which you explore the city, and it is incredibly modern, well-priced, perfect-location and the station itself is such a wonderul piece of architecture, I will actually be putting up a photo gallery for the train station alone.
I love this place, the people are so polite, unlike Europe and USA, where its all about numero-uno at anyones expense, here people are polite and gracious, good manners abound even in crowded train stations, getting onto a lift or elevator.... my favourite example is the train ticket collector on our way to Kyoto, he would come in to each carriage, bow, smile and greet the carriage, then he would check each ticket, smiling, bowing and apologising continuosly, then once done he goes back to the front of the carriage to address us again, another pleasent speech (well I assume his smile means its pleasant, since he is speaking in japanese), then another bow and smile, and then hes off, to the next carriage, the sheer warmth and genuiness is so refreshing and I am very much at one with the attitudes over here. Maybe the staff on the Wyong Express, back home in Sydney, could learn a thing or 2 from these guys!
The city is bordered by lush forest mountains on 3 sides, and at the base of these mountains and upon their slopes are some of the most amazing treasures I have ever seen. It is much like Rome in that it is an Open Museum, as you walk you uncover more amazing things, but its different, they are much more spread out which makes the process more time-consuming, but its much more rewarding, there are no throngs of crowds and tour groups here, there is forest growth to offer shade, and each site is incredibly quiet, peaceful and incredibly relaxing to explore.
This is the first leg of the entire trip where we genuinely were sad to move on, everywhere else we achieved nearly everything we wanted and were ready to move on. We saw some wonderful sites, but it was perhaps 5% of the city if that, each site deserved many hours of gentle strolling and photography, and I think a minimum of 1 week would be right for this particular destination.
This is a place I could come back too, and after visiting some Zen Buddhist Temples, it occured to me that if I ever come back, there may be an opportunity for me to bring back some of the many teachings of Adamology, to help educate some of the many monks in this region.
Attached is Adam+Cheryl in front of Ginkaku-ji Temple, the "Silver Pavilion" as it is known, though it never received the final silver coating that was intended, but apparently the garden surrounds are "perfectly balanced".
The food situation here is a little tough, as people at work know, I struggle a bit with the japanese foods (despite my best intention I promise!), but there is enough variety out there in these big cities to get by. The best news was the Japanese Bake-House at the base of the hotel, which is a real life-saver, as at this stage, I felt the creamed-rice (with seafood) served on the plane for breakfast, may have been a little sophisticated for my delicate pallette.
In Tokyo, we stayed in an area called Shinjuku, but we were able to branch out and visit many of the major city hubs.
Tokyo is very different to the life in Kyoto, I mean.. its a major city, and there are a lot more crowds, hustle and bustle etc, people are still polite, and there is never any sense of danger to your personal safety.... which is so refreshing, but it definately lacks the charm of the more relaxed and naturally beatiful Kyoto, where life moves a little slower.
The girls here are hilarious, even well into their 20's or 30's, they dress up with knee-high boots and incredibly short skirts, it seems to be the fashion over here, it makes me laugh with how tacky it would be if worn in Australia, a bit like the look of a rebellius schoolgirl back home, but hey this isnt Australia right, and I guess it is the culture here.
There is stuff everywhere, shops are small, but consume every available space, there are probably as many lights as Vegas, but its different here, with the verbal themes of anime tracks and trashy japanese pop music in your ears, the train station may ring out with the theme to astroboy at any time, and even the pedestrian crossings sing a little catchy tune when it is time to cross!
We have probably been lucky enough to see 'The Fast & The Furios: Tokyo Drift', before we came, so we have a really clear understanding of every-day life in the capital city, I was actually tempted to perhaps try and pick up a race or 2 while we were here. I dont know if everybody knows, but I actually have a lot of experience with Burnout 1, 2, 3 & Revenge from back home... but alas, Cheryl felt maybe it would be better to wait until we were back home safely in the Smart-Car, I dunno, but once again who am I to argue, now that I am a married man.
We had been hoping to meet up with one of Cheryls school friends who now lives here in tokyo teaching english, but we never got a chance to make any plans... however last night by some sort of one in 12 million people coincidence, we ran into him in a nearby Shinjuku donut-shop, and so we found out some info about the city. It turns out our hotel was in what japanese refer too as the sleaziest part of tokyo, but I find that pretty funny by australian (or anywhere elses) standards, I have not seen 1 person in 7 days/nights who you would consider as threatening or even rowdy.
Shopping here is.. well.. pretty crazy, I mean in terms of clothes, there are lots of big department stores with heaps of designer labels, but the prices are through the roof for nearly everything, even more-so than europe. The electronics was a little better though, and yesterday we hit up the Electronics District in Akihabara for 2 hours (.. ok well it turned into 6 hours..) of tech shopping. Prices are much higher than in the USA, but there is a lot of variety, and its a lot of fun! Oh.. and I got a few toys =).
Well we come home on tuesday, and I have to say that the whole 6 weeks was a bit of a blur, but it certainly did not go quickly, it was a reeeeally long trip... and I cant wait to get back to my hikomori lifestyle again, so much fun to look forward too, like working, starting up at the gym, bills, cleaning etc... actually...
No really, we are both so ready to get back to the comforts of home and australia, and there must be a few Hot O'Mona's with my name on them :-/
Although it was amazing to see the world, I have to say it has shown me that we really are incredibly lucky back in Australia, and although there are aspects of every city we visited that would be great if introduced down under, over-all aussies have it incredibly good across the board.
Something like 12,000 photos were taken during the visit, luckily most of those were deleted as we went, so the finished albums will be much much much more reasonable, I should thank G-Bo for his help with my lack of photography skills, some of that advise made sense as we went along (often a few weeks too late), though I packed light with equipment/lenses, so couldnt be quite as artistic as I would have liked. I also want to thank Cheryl for putting up with such a photo fanatic, 24/7, for the full 6 weeks, thanks bubba!
Ok there is 1 more final email to be sent in the next few days, with the links to the photo galleries, thanks for your time everyone, I hope I didnt cause too much inbox grief with the size of the photo attachments, and I will speak with you all soon!