Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Seven

For those following on from yesterday’s entry, the TV is still on mute. I don’t understand why hubby is so invested in unmuting it. It’s not like we can understand Japanese.I feel like this is a decidedly male thing.

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I felt pretty Japanese today in my floral jumpsuit and cute little socks.
I couldn’t imagine wearing these back home but I love that I can wear them here.

We are still finding things to do that we haven’t done on previous trips here and one of them is visiting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto.

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We walked to the train station.

Look at all the bikes parked at the train station! Everyone rides here.
From 3 to 103! All on bikes!

When we got inside, I wanted to check the price of the ticket and the train lines we were going to catch. I went up to one of the service guys and said very politely “sumimasen” and asked my question. He confirmed “Train to Kyoto?” and instead of saying “yes” in Japanese or even English, I said “si”. Full credit to the Japanese who are always polite, he either didn’t notice or pretended he didn’t notice.

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Hubby and I got to talking about the language and how much we were learning and he wanted to write down the words he knew.

He said he was going to do it phonetically to help with pronunciation.

Fair enough.
Makes sense.

I still giggled when I saw his list though.

We managed to almost catch the right trains. I feel like it’s a stress every time. The only mistake we made going out was we went on a local train instead of the rapid express. That meant that it stopped at every station and took well over an hour, rather than 30 minutes or so.

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When we got to Arashiyama, we didn’t quite know what direction to walk in but we soon saw a big hint!

This is a pretty  place. There’s lots to see here and tons more than what we saw today but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see the monkeys and hubby definitely was not in the mood to walk up hill with today’s temperature so we figured we’d leave that for our next trip to Japan.

I had read so much about this bamboo forest and the pictures I’d seen online had been so beautiful that I think  I’d really built it up in my head.

What we saw was spectacular, and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if there weren’t three million other people trying to enjoy it with me. Never mind, I’m still glad we went.


I don’t know if you noticed the sign there that asks people not to touch the bamboo shoots as this will cause them to stop growing. It seemed like everyone was touching everything!

We had a look at the old trains that were right by the station. They were so big. It was pretty impressive.


After a while we headed back into Kyoto to get some lunch.  We went into the basement of the Kyoto Tower as we remembered there was a food court down there.
The food I got was amazing! It tasted so good!! Rice with some kind of meat on there. We asked for an English menu but I still didn’t really know what it was. Hubby got some kind of ramen and he was happy with his too. These dishes together cost about $15 AUD. That was pretty good value I thought!!


And from where we were sitting we could watch and listen to the cooks.

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Next stop was going to be on the other side of the canal. We wanted to find the pathway that led up to the Kiyomizu temple.

I really wanted to go there because I love the walk up. Again though, there were three million other people who had the same idea as us and although I loved being there, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. I couldn’t even look in any of the shops because it was just too hard to get from one side to the other with all the people.
But here are some pics I took along the way from Kyoto to the temple.


We were thirsty and bone tired by the time we got back to Kyoto. We wanted to stop and get a drink in the British Pub there. We’ve seen them about the place but have never been in one. When we got in, the server told us the only room they had was standing and all we wanted to do was sit so, again we missed out on that.

I love the Kyoto station. The design and architecture are just out of this world. If I hadn’t been so tired I might have enjoyed it a little more.


We’ve been stopping in at Lawsons/Family Mart far too often for snacks. Today we really felt like we needed a treat though so we loaded up and took it back to our apartment to enjoy in comfort.

I may have complained a bit in this entry but honestly it was a great day. I loved seeing everything we did and being in Kyoto. I even didn’t mind the couple of wrong turns we made. It always makes the day more interesting.

I will definitely sleep well tonight!

Oyasuminasai!

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Girls Gone Mild – Day One

There’s nothing like getting a text at 4AM saying “Your 6.10AM flight has been cancelled” to bring a bit of stress to your morning!!

I had been up since 2.30AM because I was just too excited to sleep and I wasn’t about to let an early morning wake up go to waste so… after frantic texts and phone calls, and hubby entering the picture to lend a steadying hand, my daughter and I were on a 6AM flight with Qantas (life savers) and my mum, sister and sister in law were now transferred to a 6.40AM Qantas flight.

Because we were now on different flights we missed out on taking a pre boarding flight photos but there were enough separate ones to make up for it.

On the left, my daughter and I, and on the right, the birthday girl!! My mum.

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My mother, sister and sister-in-law were on the same plane but spread out a little.

 

But what’s a seat or two to get in the way of a selfie?

 

Finally we were reunited in Melbourne and annoying delighting the other passengers on the SkyBus to Melbourne with our giggling and occasional outburst into song.


I was in the back row and my sister in law was quite a few seats ahead but it didn’t dissuade us from enthusiastic conversation.

I asked my mum if she’d liked the birthday meme I posted to her Facebook page. It was of one of her favourite Turkish actors. She started giggling and said “You know, I heard he was married but I also heard he’s gay” and when she got to the word “gay” she didn’t say it, she mouthed it. As if it was a dirty word that the rest of the passengers weren’t allowed to hear.

We had to wait a couple of hours before we could leave our bags and wander around unencumbered so we went into Melbourne Central Station and I got a little bit too excited to see a Bread Top Store there (guilty pleasure – and yes, we have them in my city too so my over excitement was not warranted)


We found a few Asian supermarkets and stocked up on a couple of essentials.


My favourite, Milk Tea and who wouldn’t want a creamy colon collon. Oh and check out those Pokemon Noodles!! How cute are they!


Bag drop complete it was time to get to Lygon Street and have our traditional “we’re in Melbourne” meal. I just love Brunetti’s. I think just about every server was born in Italy. Those accents!!


And the food was soooooo good, I didn’t even think to take a picture of it!! We were hungry and over excited.

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So with full bellies we hopped on a tram and got to Harbour Town for some not so serious shopping. Last year when we came here, there was a lot of construction going on and only a handful of shops were open.
This year, many more shops were open but it still looked very sparse.
Still we did manage a bit of shopping! The serious stuff starts tomorrow!!

 


We didn’t have to worry about getting lost. These two with their red hair were like a beacon keeping us together.

Later on in day it was time to celebrate the birthday girl with a cake and a shot of Bailey’s. We had to improvise!

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With such an early start we were pretty wrecked early and seeing as this is #girlsgonemild felt ok about sitting back on the couch and watching some Netflix.

Tomorrow is going to be a fruitful shopping day, I can feel it!!!

Ladies, let’s get our card tapping hands ready!!

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Stuck in the Middle – Day Two

I was still very apprehensive as I woke up this morning. Hubby still wasn’t feeling that well. I was ravenously hungry but didn’t want to go out on my own.

After a little while hubby had a shower and felt well enough to explore the hotel with me, to see if there was somewhere we could get breakfast.

We ended up at the hotel restaurant where they were serving a buffet breakfast for 49 Qatari Riyal which is about $18.34 AUD.
We hadn’t eaten since about late morning the day before so we were very hungry!

They had such a great selection of food! I don’t know why but I felt uncomfortable taking photos in there so I didn’t. Everyone there was so helpful. They just couldn’t do enough for us, asking us if we wanted coffees and bringing it to us even though we were in a buffet restaurant.


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After breakfast we went to the top floor to check out the pool and the views.

Pretty nice views!
We were told there was an indoor pool here but there are no walls around/no roof above the pool and I’m pretty sure that’s what indoor means.

This is the sign outside the spa room. Separate times for men and women! Although, outside of those times, both men and women can be in there together.

Hubby and I walked outside despite the fact that it was almost 40 degrees Celsius at 9am. We went down to the water and snapped some pictures. NOBODY else was about. They’re smart here these people.


We started walking in the direction of the Souq Waqif markets when a cab driver stopped and asked if we wanted a driver. We said no. He then said the markets were closed and not due to open again until 4pm, and he offered to drive us around. He was very very persistent and it was HOT, so when he said “just hop in the cab and I’ll show you where I can take you and for what price”.
So we went in and he convinced us to be our driver for the next three hours. He already had a “tour” planned so off we went.
He wanted 350 Riyal for his time. We talked him down to 280 but I still think that was too much. In any case we were in and he seemed like a really nice guy.

I took a couple of pics as we drove.

That’s his cab there bottom right. It was comfortable.
He stopped here and there for me to take some pictures. He was very informative about DoHa but most of the information he said I haven’t retained.


This is a VERY impressive place!! Very new. Everything is new and more and more is being built.  You can see that there is no one around. It’s just too hot.

I thought it was funny how he and hubby both talked with their hands. I was sitting at the back and watched as they mirrored each other.


At one place there was a board up with references to the signs of the zodiac. I was surprised to see that in such a religious place.

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There is a lot of references to Italy here and I also noticed a lot of programs on tv in Italian. The driver said there is a “little Venice” section of DoHa and it is so pretty!! So colourful and has little canals through it.
Not a soul to be seen on the streets though!

I can’t remember the name of this next place that the taxi driver took us too. Honestly, he had told us about a mall – Villaggio Mall – that I really wanted to go to. I could have easily missed this next stop and had him take us to the mall but I think he really didn’t want to go there. If you hover over “Villaggio Mall” it will take you to the website and you can see the cool pictures of it.

In any case he didn’t take us there, he took us to some cultural place. I think that’s what he said. I honestly can’t remember. There’s a mosque there which is quite distinctive and I took a picture of the front of it. There’s also a pretty cool looking auditorium. Everything looks like it’s come out of The Flintstones.


IMG_7675We were supposed to meet the driver back in 30 minutes but we kind of lost our way.

There were golf carts that were driving people around and the driver said these were free so we approached one and I showed him a picture of the mosque and said
“Can you take us back there?”

Thank you Mr Nice Man.

Next stop was a famous mosque. Our driver wanted us to go and take pictures inside. He said I needed to go around the back to the women’s entrance and I would have to change my clothes into what they wear (forgot the name sorry) but then it would be ok to go in and take pictures.

It was really too hot to think about getting changed into anything and I don’t know how I feel about the whole male/female thing so we just went up and took some pictures of the mosque and the city from the mosque, then came down again.


IMG_7677If you can see it, that last picture is the one showing the way to the women’s entrance.

Oh look (pic right), these signs are all over the place showing you where it’s safer to cross the road.

After all this, our driver said for another 70 Riyal, he would take us to the Villagio Mall and leave us there. We’d have to make our own way back and a taxi back from there he estimated would be about 40 Riyal.  So he wanted about $26 AUD on top of the $105 AUD we’ve already given him, to be left at a mall far from our place.

We decided then we’d get him to take us to City Centre Mall which is closer to where we’re staying. He kept telling us it wasn’t worth going there but that’s where we insisted we wanted to be left so we went. He dropped us there, took our money, and went.

Later on, when we got a taxi back from there to our place, the driver said that most drivers can be hired for about 65 Riyal an hour. That’s about $25 AUD an hour. We had our guy for 2 1/2 hours at $110AUD. We got ripped! Ah well..

And turns out City Centre Mall was quite ok! With an ice skating rink in it too.


They even had a Tim Hortons there.
We cooled off, had something to eat, and had a look around.

Once we were back in the room, we decided to use the pool facilities. YES both of us went in the pool!! Because we left our phones behind there is no photographic evidence.

We were hoping it had cooled down a bit (insert laughter here) and walked down to the Souq Waqif markets at about 7pm. It was still stifling hot. Even though it was “only” 32 degrees, it was really humid. The air was thick and heavy and there was a strong smell of spice in the air.

The stuff there was so interesting! But the second you look at something, the owner of the stall comes out super excited that he’s going to make a sale. And sometimes you just want to look! And they just seem so desperate to want to make a sale. I feel bad! I can’t buy from every one so I bought from none.

I loved those dresses in the bottom pic!!
Some of these style dresses were expensive but others were really cheap. I was tempted to buy one but where would I wear it?

Hubby and I had some food at a local place – that is – a place full of locals. The food was so cheap we were worried there was something wrong with it but it was so tasty!! And as always, I ordered better than hubby!! Look how big my noodle plate is compared to his little kebab wrap thingie.

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It was just so tasty!

I’m glad we spent today here in Doha. We’ve seen a lot of new things and seen an incredibly different culture.

Tonight will be our last night in a strange bed. I’m looking forward to being home.
Love seeing new things but there’s no place like home.

Searching for Cherry Blossom – Part Eight

It’s our last day in Osaka and I’m feeling quite sad. Although we really only saw Cherry Blossom on the first few days, we did have a great time here. I just love Japan. I still can’t put my finger on why but I love being here. I love the people, the culture, the convenience stores (haha)

Here’s a couple of pictures from my morning walk down to Dotonbori again. I’m going to miss this walk.

One thing I haven’t written about is the fashion here. In Australia, I can walk past a store and tell if it’s for younger or older women. I can’t do that here. And the fashion seems to be really really drab (in my opinion) boring suit style, or exquisite feminine prettiness. It’s all extremes! I can’t find an in between! I really really wanted to buy clothes here but even today, spent mostly at Rinku Town, didn’t yield any great finds for me.

IMG_5836For those that don’t know, Rinku Town is a discount shopping district.
We went straight to the area where all the high end brands are… Gucci, Armani, Billabong, Nike and believe it or not, Crocs, amongst many more names.

I’m not a name brand shopper so most of that part didn’t thrill me and I got a bit
disheartened.

IMG_5837Hubby had to get his Starbucks fix and while we were there, they gave us a sample of this new frappuccino that was going to start from tomorrow.

It was delicious!!!

It’s happened a couple of times since we’ve been here, that they will bring around a “sample” of something while we’re in Starbucks.

I love it.

Can’t say no to a freebie!

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After some lunch (above) hubby and I headed over to the “cheaper” part of Rinku Town and I found a few things there. I was really looking for a Winter jacket which I thought I’d find on special seeing as they’re heading into Summer and a handbag but sadly, found neither.

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Still I did find a few things so after that we headed on over to the airport and waited in line with the million other people bound for Australia.

It was a little comforting to hear the Aussie accent and to

see the flying Kangaroo (Qantas)
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Before we got on the plane we finally tried a noodle roll.

I’ve seen this around all over the place but hadn’t tried it up till now.

I mean carbs in carbs? It didn’t make sense to me however it was actually ok.

 

I don’t know that I’d have it again but I didn’t hate it.

We had a really good flight back. We made some beautiful memories and had a few new experiences.

We had a few hours wait in Sydney where I saw for the first time that there is a Qantas Heritage Museum in the Qantas domestic terminal. It was pretty interesting and if you ever find yourself in there, I’d recommend you going in! I loved seeing how the uniforms had changed over the years

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of that area.

In a couple of months hubby and I will be bound for Europe so I’m sure I will be updating then!

Thanks for following this blog and as always, I’d love to hear about your own experiences travelling.

Until next we fly….

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Three

I know I’m always going on about the Supermarkets here but honestly, it’s just so different to what we’re used to.
We made another midnight supermarket run last night and I took a few snaps of the food just sitting out on the benches unrefrigerated.

 


As you can see, some of the items have egg in it. Just sitting there on the bench waiting to be bought by someone. I must admit, I’ve been tempted to buy some of it. I mean they wouldn’t sell it if people got sick right?

In any case, today was Kyoto day! I tend to get up quite early so I thought I’d go for a walk and let hubby sleep a little longer. Streets in Japan can be quite confusing as they don’t follow the nice parallel lines that I’m used to however I had internet with me and google maps is always available.
I took a few snaps along the way.


One thing I didn’t know about Osaka until I visited for the first time is that it’s full of canals. It’s the Venice of Japan.

It wasn’t long before we were off to Kyoto. We’ve been there twice before and had very different experiences. Today, again, it was like we were visiting for the first time, seeing things we hadn’t seen before. This city just amazes me.

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Straight off the train we cross the river into the main part of the city. This place was so full of tourists today! All colours, all sorts of different accents.

After a little snack we headed on over to the Gion district. We had stumbled onto this section by accident last time and just fell in love with it. It’s just olden day Japan. People can hire traditional clothing and walk these streets. So many people do it! It really adds to the atmosphere.


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The Japanese are so helpful.

See that yellow sign in the picture above on the left?

Here is a close up of what it said.

And I’m glad they clarified by adding the picture of the camera.

We walked by instinct. We were searching for the  steps that had rows of shops alongside. Before reaching that area though, we came to some beautiful tranquil gardens.

At least it would have been tranquil if we weren’t sharing the space with 50 million other people. IMG_5506

And then, the steps!


Sorry those photos aren’t in order and I didn’t take as many as I thought I had. The last two are just random pictures along the way. The left one is of a sacred cemetary and on the bottom right is bamboo. We wanted to go to a bamboo forest but we didn’t plan well so when we saw this, I just took the picture to make myself feel better.

After browsing the shops full of wonders, we came to the top. I should probably know what this is but I don’t have the info with me right now. I’m so full of information right.

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It’s a bit of a climb but well worth it!

Here are a couple of funny signs we passed along the way


We decided to go back to the main centre to get some lunch. It was udon noodles today and I’m pleased to say we didn’t gorge ourselves!!

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When you go into a restaurant here, they give you a little basket to put your bag in so you don’t have to leave it on the floor.

I love that!

And although hubby told me “NO CAKES” this holiday, he didn’t fight me when I suggested to go and get some pastries. OH MY GOD they were so delicious!!!!


It was so hard not to grab one of everything!

We walked around the amazing Kyoto Station for a while. It has a department store, hotel and lots of shops and restaurants in there. Such an interesting building. It’s a worth a visit even if you’re not catching the train.
It’s such an amazing design with new things to see at every turn.


I didn’t take many photos this time as I took so many last time.

It has been raining most of today so we didn’t really want to go out walking in it again. We decided to get the train back to Osaka and continue our adventure there.
Poor hubby was wiped out and joined the majority of Japanese people who sleep on the train.

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And please let me indulge in some more supermarket talk.
I was feeling brave tonight and bought a whole of things even if I didn’t know what they were.
Amongst my purchases were the following.


The burgers on the left were 98 yen… so about $1.20AUD. We shared the brown wrapped one and it was actually ok.
Better than I expected.
Not anything that would fill you up but ok for a quick snack. The bread is really so light that you hardly feel like you’re eating anything.
We haven’t tried the yellow wrapped burger yet and I haven’t put my translate ap on it so I don’t know what it is. Somtimes it’s better not to know.

The pic on the right were pieces of pizza sold individually. They were ok too. Better than expected. Even the one with egg on it.
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I sent that picture to my mum and she said she’d rather have egg than pineapple and I’m not going to give you her contact information as hate mail is just not nice.