Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 3 Kyoto to Hiroshima and back again

Today was an early start for we were heading out to Hiroshima to see the Atomic Bomb sight from 1945.
We planned last night to get up early (6.45am to walk out the door at 7.45 so we could walk to the station). Cara has got a cold and Kate doesn't take too kindly to mornings so that didn't really happen, however we did make it.

We decided that instead of walking we would instead catch a taxi. We had been told taxi's were expensive but between 3 of us it was working out to about $3 each which is not very much for door to door service.

So we found a taxi as we were heading to the taxi rank and hailed it. I then got to use my suskoshi Nihongo to ask the driver to take us to the train station. He understood which was good and we were on our way.

We arrived at the station, found our way to the ticket office to get a reserved seat and then found some food before heading to the platform for our train. the train journey was supposed to be 1.5 hours, but that didn't include a bonus 1.5 hour stop in a tunnel due to a power failure. for a long time there was only japanese coming through the speaker but then eventually an english voice said the train was stopped due to a power failure. we decided we were better off not knowing. so there we sat. eventually we started moving again and then arrived at Hiroshima station. We headed to Tourist information where i asked if they spoke english and was overjoyed when they said yes. then we asked about our rail passes to see if they were valid on more than just long train journeys. well they aren't really but thats ok. we are getting good use out of them. well worth it.

so at the desk we also asked for the tram location so we could get on a tram and get to where we going as we had decided that was the best course of action. we found it quite easily and got on. everything here is backwards as we should know from studying it, you get on the back of the tram and then off at the front and pay as you get off. weird but good for crowds.

so we found the tram, figured out our destination, hopped on the right tram and then set off. 6 stops later we hopped off right outside our location. we walked around the A-bomb historic site which was the city hall before it was destroyed. we then headed across the road to have some lunch. Italian of all things would you believe.

after lunch we headed off towards the peace memorial park and then to the peace memorial museum where we spent much of the afternoon. i had a japanese train timetable and have figured out the kanji for Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and a couple of other places, 9 years actually paid off. yay!

we figured out that our train back would leave at 4.14pm so we decided to head back towards the station. we also went via a chemist for Cara where we had an interesting time because after i asked if they spoke english and the answer was no, i was lost. fortunately they had a chart in english of things that were wrong so we used pictures.

then we walked through an undercover mall where Kate was in heaven but Cara and I both reminded her she had very little space. im sure it won't be long before she succumbs.

we found the tram and the way back to hiroshima station but unfortunately missed our train meaning we had to wait for an hour. that was ok. we wandered around. i bought a sudoku book from the home of sudoku and then we headed back to the station. we discovered we had to change at Osaka which proved to be interesting seeing it was peak hour and we had 6 min to get to the next platform but had no idea where we were going. eventually we found a guard and they said we could just change the tickets, which we did and then waited a little for the next Kyoto train. all in all its proving very interesting. im glad i have a little japanese because it would be almost impossible without it.

til next time,
jya matta ne.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 2 Sightseeing around Kyoto

Day 2 started very early as the sun rose very early. i looked at the clock and it was 5.45 Australian time which means it was 4.45 Japan time. too early to be awake. tried to go back to sleep but wasn't very successful so in the end gave up and got up to read about what the day would bring. I read about the temples and other sightseeing possibilities. Cara and Kate were still sleeping and i was still reading. at about 10am i decided that enoguh was enough adn that they should raelly get up. so eventually we got moving and left the hostel at about 11.30am. very late start for the first day and late than i liked but this is what happens when your travelling buddies have had little to no sleep for 2 days.

so we started wandering aimlessly at first and decided on a destination: the Imperial Palace gardens. we walked a fair way before we had decided on this destination so we probably took the long way around. we had a map so it was ok. along the way we saw many interesting places. one man stopped in the street to practise his english with us which was nice.

we made it to the gardens and walked through up towards the palace. it was a beautiful area with lots of people out for sunday strolls, picnics and just general lazing in the early summer sun.

we found the palace and took some photos and then decided we need a break so we found some shade to sit under and had a rest. a rest turned into probably about an hour. after awhile we decided we didn't really have time to just laze about as we were already short for time so we got moving again. we decided on a route that would take us to a few more temples and came across many more interesting things along the way. we found the temples and then decided to return back to the hostel for a little rest before the night's festivities started.

Day 1 Birkdale to Osaka

Today was the day that we would finally leave for Japan after months of planning. Cara and Kate were extremely apprehensive as they are leaving home for 2 years for the first time.
We had a late night on friday night as both Kate and Cara were both still packing and finalising some stuff. We finally made it to bed about Midnight although weren't sure why we were bothering when we would be up in 4 hours anyway.
So 4 hours came and went very quickly. we rose at 4am and got ready and then eventually left birkdale at 6.10a.m, a little later than we had wanted.
Cara's parents drove us to Coolloongatta airport where we were greeted by Cara's eldest sister and new brother-in-law. We found our way to the desk and checked in with no dramas. then we went to get some breakfast and conversed for a bit. suddenly it was time for us to leave.

this was pretty emotional seeing as though Kate and Cara both weren't returning to Australia.

we went through x-ray and then through customs without any trouble at all. we also got money back for Cara's eepc which was good. then finally the boarding call went out and we got on the plane and there we sat for 9.5hours. we thought we would never get there.

coming into land in Osaka was a beautiful sight as the sun reflected off the water as it was close to sunset. unfortunately i didn't have the camera at the ready but it was stunning. so we finally landed and with the crowd walked through immigration and were fingerprinted, then we went through quarantine where they didn't even check our bags, stamped our passport and irasshaimase, welcome to Japan.

We walked through the terminal to the train station and then tried to figure out where to validate our train tickets, we were in the right place as it turned out but not really being sure and being tired and not game enough to try japanese we walked out again. eventually someone asked if we were lost and pointed us back in the direction we had come from.
we validated our pass and then found the entrance to the platform. while we were waiting we met this crazy dude who was telling us a crazy story. we walked throuhg and then down onto the platform to wait. there was already a train there but it was not our train. so we waited about 25min.

the train finally came and so the journey began. 75minutes to kyoto. we arrived in kyoto and decided that it was easiest to get a taxi to the hostel as it was about 9pm and we were all tired and not used to heavy bags. we found a taxi and then came the fun part trying to communicate. we had the address written down and the driver thought he knew where to go. he took us to the wrong place, but then i wrote the address in half hiragana/half katakana (as i discovered this morning) and we were on our way again. fortunately it didn't turn out to be in the wrong area. we were in the right place.

so we finally checked in and paid the difference and then set off to dump our bags and then set out for food. we started walking and ended up taking a detour down a side alley. We were not having much luck when we saw the universal sign for a 7/11 which was good. we found something in there to eat and headed back to the hostel to eat it. back at the hostel we met a few english people who decided to rub in the fact that they won the 20/20 world cup. Cara and Kate didn't care, but i couldn't let that slide so i threw in a dig about them not being able to win the ashes in australia. we had a bit of a jibe and a bit of a conversation. eventually we threw in the towel and went to bed.

there ended our first day of this Japanese adventure. the language barrier is interesting but i think between cara and i we have enough to survive plus most people in a lot of places do speak some english.