Sunday, April 29, 2007

Next was Hiroshama. If you are ever feeling to damn happy and want a really depressing holiday, go to Hiroshima. I cried of course but hey I cry watching the news so it's no big surprise.

On to Nagoya. Well actually Nisshin, about half an hour out of Nagoya by train. Shannon and Ryan are living there at the moment so we went and spent a week with them. Nisshin is a sleepy little town, nothing special, kinda like the outer suburbs of Melbourne. It was really good to see where they have been living and working for the last 9 months though and it was great to have a base again for a week. We experienced our first ever earth quakes. The whole place shook. It was kinda cool. We did go to a great little restaurant there. It is set up with 5 booths, each with it's own chef specialising in different foods. Went went to the one Shannon and Ryan call 'the iron chef'. He cooks everything in front of you, even tailors things for vego's.

Nagoya has a nice feel to it. More understated than Tokyo. Much more liveable. A lot like Melbourne actually! It also has Syms favourite place from the whold trip - the Robot museum. We got to ride segways. I was waaaayyyy better at it than Sym. They are really fun, if only they weren't so expensive...

Our last stop on our Japan trip was Hida Furukawa to visit Bec and Angus. It's a really pretty, traditional town in the (cold) mountains. Lucky for us, they had the week off work so were able to show us around and introduce us to lots of their friends.

The first night we had a sushi party at their calligraphy teachers house. The place was amazing. Exposed dark timber beams, thatched roof, and just really nice and open. She is also a potter and has some of the most beautiful pottery I have ever seen. We went to their zen archery class which was... strange. I can't say if I like or dislike it because I really didn't get it, but it certainly was relaxing and a really interesting thing to have been to. We also went to the wood museum. Dont think Sym was to into it because I kept breaking things....

Next, Osaka, quick overnight stop, to the airport, stop over in Bangkok, on to Dehli.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

So we have actually been in India for about 5 days now. It is already getting hard to remember details about Japan. Now where were we up to????

Kokura. Sym went to RMIT with this really cool girl, Tomoko, who is Japanese and lives in Fukoaka. Her parents live about an hour away in Kokura. T0moko's brother was having a cherry blossom party so we had a bit of a reunion. Bec and Angus who were teachng english further north had come down too. It was great. Her parents where lovely. Bec and I asked if we could do anything to help prepare the evening meal but as we don't speak Japanese and she doesnt speak English, we weren't actually sure what the reply was. We decided to wash the cars instead.

The party was fun. Its amazing how a little alcohol goes a long to breaking down language barriers!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Big shout out to the BEPPU CREW, you know who you are.

Beppu was nice and steamy, in the hills down Kyushu way, steam spews from the ground its pretty wild, awesome hot springs, but one downfall; It fucking stinks of rotten eggs from all the sulphur that comes out with the steam. It can be hard to relax when it smeels like somebodies bowels have exploded. Getting over this we decided to try out a communal mud bath. On paper this seemed ok, sure we had to be naked in front of a bunch of strangers but its all about the experience and it would be nice in the mud right? Wrong, the place was pretty dingy and Anna decided to walk through the male section where a couple of naked Yakuza guys (you cant miss them when theyre naked, crazy tattoos) who gave Anna the evil eye, i thought they were gonna cut me for being with her. the actual mud bath was kinda not what we expected, it stunk real bad and the mud was more just murky water (Read: Yarra).
As we were leaving the bathhouse the bus was just leaving so we decided to walk back to the hostel. We could see the beach because we were so high up ain the hills and we knew that our hostel was near the beach, i estimated half hour walk max, we would pprobably beat the next bus back i thought. Two hours later we finally reach our hostel really fucking exhausted, shit looked real close when we were up on that hill. The next night we were just chilling at the hostel when this viet australian dude stumbles in looking real tired, after talking to him we find that he did the exact same thing as us, beat the bus home.
So I don't know if anyone actually reads this thing but at least we cant get in trouble for not emailing anyone. It's no worse than group emails right??

After Kyoto we headed down to the south island to a little place called Beppu, having emailed a hostel at 11pm the night before about accomodation. With no phone number, and no email access to check for confirmation, we figured we'd just take a stab in the dark and rock up. When we got there, there were plenty of rooms available, we were possibly the only guests there. It was very eerie. A japanese hippy woman showed us in. The place was huge and really open. We filled out the forms and found the room was only half the price we had expected. Our rooms were massive, bigger than anywhere else we stayed in Japan. It all felt to good to be true. Sym was sure it was like one of those 'it happened to a friend of a friend' stories and that there was no way we getting out of there alive. Turns out it was a converted hospital so we were probably just picking up on all those ghost vibes.

Beppu is famous for its hot springs. Its really strange to be walking around and suddenly just see bursts of steam coming out of the ground. Our first hot spring was amazing. It was a private onsen in the mountains, with a waterfall just behind and greenery as far us the eye can see. Very relaxing after a chaotic few weeks.

In contrast, we went to a communal unisex mud bath. Even though it is unisex, there are seperate pathways for the guys and the girls and the bath is divided by a bamboo pole. I didnt realise this however and walked done the guys path, getting an eyeful of naked yakusa and quite a few dirty looks. We didn't stay there long.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Buddy Holly hanging out with the Sex Pistols in Harajuku

Symon hanging out with The Arctic Monkeys
Salarymen on their lunchbreak

Japanese bike courier

Japanese people taking photos of a westerner in Tokyo

Fun with guns in Japan
So a quick recap on Japan. Overall we have had a very Jaanese experience. I know, I know, we have been in Japan der. What I mean is that if its Japanese, we tried it (alomost). We stayed in a capsule hotel, a Love hotel, in a raikan sytle rooms, highrise apartments, traditional housing. We stayed with a Japanese family and ate traditional meals, went to a blossom party and spoke engrish all night. Went to onsen, private and communal. Seen Geisah, riden bikes, visited temples. We've sang Kareoke, seen the big lights, riden the fast trains (even the Nozomi - opps). Gone to a zen archery class, had a sushi party with a calligraphy teacher, and of course, in true Japanese style, drank way to much shoju and beer.

Ok, so for those of you who cant be arsed reading on, you can probably wait and skip straight to India now. Otherwise, I am fairly sure Sym filled you in on Tokyo (hi to Joe and Gary if you're reading), so I'll pick it up from there. I had the great idea of getting an overnight sleeper bus to Kyoto so we could have a few more days before activating out JR passes. We had to get sleeper trains in China and surely it couldn't be worse than that.... What I didnt realise is that 'sleeper' doesn't always equal 'bed'. Poor Sym was so cramped, he couldn't even fit his legs in. In the end i sat near the isle and he sat near the window with his legs on my lap. Needless to say, neither of us really sleep more than an hour or two max. So we arrived in Kyoto grumpy and tired at 6am in the morning. Nothing was open and we had nowhere to go. My folks were there at the time but were leaving that day so we were meant to meet them for breakfast at the Starbucks opposite the station. We figured we'd just head there and hang out until 7 when it opened. That day was pretty much a write off as we just couldnt be arsed doing much. The most exciting thing we did was ride 10 stories of elscalators in a shopping centre near the station. This was actually cooler than it sounds.

We had a bit of a boat theme running with our Japanese trip so far so when we stumbled across a beautiful river on the outskirts of a bamboo forest, we figured we should hire a little row boat and head up stream. .We could see quite a few other boats around but figured if you just headed straight upstream and didn't get ditracted then we would get way further than them and be in a nice secluded part of the river. The river was flowing pretty fast. No more need be said.

Kyoto was nice but after the buzz of Tokyo we either needed something equally as exciting or really chilled, and Kyoto feel somewhere in the middle, so even though its a must see, we didn't think it really meet expectations. It was really fucking busy being cherry blossom season and all. There were heaps of tourists, including half of Japan who flock to Kyoto on the weekends during cherry blossom season, but there was just not that much going on.

Being the disorganised travelers that we are though, we did find ourself without accomodation for the last night in Kyoto. Having tried a capsule hotel, we figured it was time to check out a love hotel. Now I know some of you will be disappionted to hear as we were, but no guyjin are allowed to even walk through the doors of a themed love hotel. So we found another one and after a few beers from the vending machine out the front to work at the courage, we went in. There is a massive digital display screen with lit up pictures of all the available rooms. You select which one you want on a touch screen and then the elevator opens up and automatically takes you to the right floor. There are then lit up arrows that guide you to your room. Once inside, you pay a machine in the wall and the the doors shut. Really shut. You can't leave the room until you are ready to leave for good. Inside there are two bar fridges, one for cold beverages, and the other for sex toys. Anything you take gets automatically calculated and the doors wont open again until you pay, again at the hole in the wall. The TV has maybe 5 or 6 free porn channels, a playstation, but best of all the biggest kareoke song list you have ever seen! So with a nice bouncy bed as our stage, we sang our little lungs out until we could sing no longer.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Well I guess I owe two appologies. One for China and one for Japan. So heres a really quite summary for ya`ll cause if I try and play catch up for the whole trip Ill be back in Australia and still writing about India!

China was the most bizarre place I have ever been. There was a lot of good stuff but also a lot of not so good stuff. I met my parents and sister Shan at the Shanghai airport around 11.30 thenight we all flew in. It didnt take us long to work out that not many people spoke english and we were in way over our heads. We arrived at the hotel only to discover that they had over booked. The staff started trying to shove Shan and I into a taxi but we had no idea what was going on at this stage, we were tired and quite apprehensive. They ended up ringing our tour guide to interpret, this stage closer to 1 in the morning. We ended up staying at another hotel for the night, leaving mum and dad behind, not sure if we would ever find them again! The place was real dingy. We got in the elevator and it reeked so bad of smoke that I was sure Id have cancer by the time we reached our floor. The walls were paper thin. Shan could hear the couple next door having sex all night (I fortunately slept through the whole thing). When we woke up in the morning and looked out the window we saw we were right in the heart of the slums. Houses that are just not fit for people to live in. I had never seen anything like it and by this stage was starting to wonder what the fuck I had got myself in for.

I am pleased to say that after that things improved considerably. We spent a lot of time in Shanghai just wondering the streets and taking everything in. Its so different to back home that I cant even begin to describ it. The food is varied, from things I would never go near with a ten foot pole, eg eggs boiled just before the chick is about to hatch so when you crack it open there is a boiled baby chook inside, to some of the most delicious things I have ever tried, much better than China town in Melbourne! The eggplant and tofu where out of this world.

We did all the major tourist attractions. The Great Wall was incredible. You see all the pictures but its just not the same until you are actually there yourself. Standing up at the peak of snow capped mountains, with s stone wall stretching as far as the eye can see, winding precariously along the jaggered mountains edges, well you can really understand why there is so much hype.

The Terracotta warriors were equally impressive. The undertakings of an absolute lunatic, but none the less, beautiful. And again impressive just for the sheer volume.

Other than those two, my favourite thing was hiring bikes and just zigzagging through the streets. Only the side streets though, I am sure I would be dead if I had ventured near the main roads. The first hire place the guy came with us so he could repair the bikes along the way. Don`t laugh. We needed him more than once or twice.

I have skipped so much here but as I said, gotta play catch up so thats all on China for now. Japan coming soon....
Holy shit, trying to use blogger on a Japanese PC has nearly given me a stroke.
Yeah yeah yeah we havent posted anything and weve been gone a whole month, i know, pretty slack, but anyway we are leaving for India on saturday which will be strange, well be going from heated toilets (even in public facilities) to shitting in the street which i may try (when in Rome..., that kind of thing.)
Japan has to be the best country in the world. There is very little crime, but when there is, its some kind of bizarre fucked shit like killing an english girl, cutting her up and then putting the pieces in to a bathtub full of sand. that particular incident happend when we arrived,and i ask you, what the fuck is that about?
Anyway, on our first night we were walking about the streets checking out all theweird shit and there are unlocked bikes everywhere, you want a bike, you pluck it from the tree sort of thing. Everyone seems to trust each other in some weird quasi socialist sort of way and as a visitor you dont want to rock the boat. so unlike Italy, we havent stolen anything, shit we havent even really JWalked. The people are really friendly, too friendly in fact by the end of Japan we are kind of over it, if some dude asks us f we need help i just kind of walk away and leave Anna to deal with them.

By the way hipsters, Bape is totally played out here its sort of like wearing WuWear and thinking your hot shit, and all those crazy Dunks and AirForce1s that people pay morgages on in AUS are dirt cheap here, half price in fact. saying that, the whole Tokyo fashion is kind of bullsht, Most of the girls dress like cheap StKilda Whores, or fucked up Ravers,(same with the Guys) we were pretty dissapointed about that but its still a laugh.
We stayed in a capsule hotel in TOkyo, it was a funny sort of place, you walk in and go to a vending machine and and putyour money in , then you take the ticket that spits out of the machine and hand to the midget smoking behind the desk, he then gives you a key that opens a locker that contains pyjamas a towel and a really shit toohbrush. all the people walking around are about 50 or 60 and are wearing the PJs so the place kind of psychiatric home feel to it. then you go up to your floor, and enter a long room with beige plastic holes in the wall. The capsules them selves are quite roomy, about a metre high and 198cm long (i know this particular detail because i just fit lengthways lying down. you get a little TV and if you put 500 Yen in the slot you get porno, unfortunatly i was 10 yen short so i just kind of sat there staring at people on the free to air channel spit gibberish at me.
The bars here are awesome, we were hanging out a lot in Asakusa nort east of Tokyo
and there are all these bars that only sit around six or seven people, the One we went to quite a bit was called JDs, it was tiny the first nightwe where there we rolled down with a couple of english kids and an Italian guy that worked for google, anyway the bartender loved our asses and started shouting us Jack Daniels shotsand every beer we bought there was a shot on the house, at around 1am he locked the front door and got completly smashed, he could barely walk by the time we left at bout 5am. and to top the night off, the Italian Google guy paid for all of our beers for the night so Anna and i had a free night out.
Japan is NOT as expensive as everyone says it is, it is on par with Australia or cheaper. food is cheaper, beer is the same as Aus (and you can get it from vending machines on every corner.) even clothing is around the same price as australia, Those toys thats nerds wet themselves in Aus for are dirt cheap, all that shit Nicky sells at Hudson you can pretty much get at the airport giftshop or 100 Yen stores (japanese 2dollar shops). i Fucking love it here i could live here in a second if i knew the language.
Thats enough from me for now
more on saturday (i got a lot of catching up to do)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jees i gotta go pee but ive found that i type faster if i hold it in.
Ok first post, An introduction i guess. This is Symon, and Anna's travel blog we are far too lazy to send group emails so we figured this would be easier. At the moment we cant post photos which is really fucking annoying, the reason for this predicament is that we have a Mac formatted iPod which containhas PCs which wont let us take our photos off without out formatting our iPod first, so Jonas help us out man, what do we do?
crap first post huh?