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.

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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.

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seventeen

Our time, sadly, has come to an end.

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I was excited this morning because today we were going to Rinku Town! And the thought of all the bargains that awaited me had me full of hope that I’d be filling my suitcase with all sorts of things

It didn’t quite happen that way.

Check out from our Air Bnb place was was not till 11am so as hubby wanted to stay there till 10.59am, I decided to go for one last walk.

Again I marvel at all the things I’m not going to see when I’m back in Australia.
Every restaurant (and there are many, no matter if you’re on a “main” street or a back street alley) has “food art” outside it’s doors. They’re sculptures of the menu so you can see what you’re going to be getting. I have never been tempted by any of these and usually find them quite repulsive but I guess that’s just me because they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t inspire the locals.

I see it every day, I’ve written about it but it still amazes me, the amount of people that ride bikes and the way they whizz around on the footpaths. I’ve been tending to walk close to the shops as there doesn’t seem to be a “keep the left” rule. Bikes tend to have the right of way. At least, that’s the way it seems.

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And finally we were on the train to Rinku Town!!

Look at the happiness on my face!

Of course, once we got there, we had to walk around and look for a Starbucks before we could do anything else.

I was so excited to start shopping but I had to wait!

It took a little while but we did finally find one and hubby was drinking his Venti, Cafe Latte with Skim Milk – Making sure to keep his receipt so that he could get another one later that day for 216 yen instead of 486 yen.
This has been a daily ritual that I was very happy to have ending. Life will no longer revolved around Starbucks.

Rinku Town is an interesting place. Full of outlet malls but otherwise appears as a ghost town.


We started off (at the shops near the Starbucks) and walked.
I need to explain that I’m normally not a person who likes to shop for clothes, but I had it in my head that I wanted to buy something from Japan… So I was really in the mood to find something. I had worn my clothes and shoes that were easy to get in and out of on purpose!

You need to take of your shoes when you enter a dressing room in Japan. If you’re trying anything from the waist up, they’ll give you a “breast cover”. I should have taken a photo of it as I couldn’t quite work out how it was supposed to go.
I must admit, when the first guy handed me this folded up piece of something and said “please cover your breasts” I didn’t quite know what he was on about…

We had a late lunch in the foodcourt. We were enticed by this picture

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Looks pretty good!! Yakisoba AND Okonomiyaki…

This is what it looked like when it came.

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Still looked pretty delicious.

I keep forgetting how much the sauces don’t agree with me though. Luckily we had said “no mayonnaise” but there were other sauces on here.
It was really really yummy, don’t get me wrong, but afterwards my stomach didn’t feel right and I kept seeing other foods I wished we’d eaten instead….

Oh, and a little giggle at another translation fail spotted in the food court…

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After shopping at the Premium Outlets for a few hours, I still hadn’t really bought anything.
We walked over to the “beach” outlet part. I forgot what it was actually called, and went into this cheap looking store. Finally I was picking out things I liked!! I ended up with four items and hubby, whose patience was being tested said “Can we please get out of K-Mart now”
He was offering to pay for today’s purchases so I don’t know why he was not happy!!!

It was almost time to leave Rinku Town, when I spotted the exact outfit I’d been looking for!! One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the sizing is much smaller here. If you’re an M (medium) in Australia, you’re at least a L (large) here.
It’s not good for the ego… And “Free” size means “one size fits all” but their “fits all” would not work in Australia.

So I found the outfit. It was a medium so it was tight but I really really wanted it. I went to the counter only to be told “cash only”. What? It’s amazing how many places in Japan are cash only.
So hubby and I hurried to find an ATM to get some cash out and in doing so, came into contact with an American living in Japan. He was the friendliest guy!!
He just had story after story to tell of his experience of living in Japan (for the last two and a half years) the Japanese culture (he’s married to a Japanese woman) and much more.
He came with us as we got money from the ATM, came with us as we went back to that store (so I could buy my treasured items) and walked with us to the train station, saw us right up to the platform gate! I’m kind of sorry we didn’t exchange information after all that time together. It was only as we were parting that we gave our names.
So Jacques, if by the remotest chance you’re reading this, please get in touch!

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Our flight left Osaka at 10.30 pm. We had a bit of time to kill but we were too tired to walk around and look at the shops.

This instruction made me smile.

Just the fact that there’s a need to put that kind of instruction there is what I find amusing.

People hey….
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And finally we were on the plane bound for home. We flew to Cairns then had to wait a few hours before our trip back to Adelaide.

Just thought I’d share the meal we got on our flight back.

I think it was chicken.
Funny how things always taste different when you’re on a plane.
I didn’t take an “after” shot in Adelaide but I’ll leave you with a pic from Cairns airport.
It’s been a long journey!!!
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Regular restaurant reviews will be following.
Thanks for sharing this trip with us!

 

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Sixteen

Our time is coming to an end and we’re kind of running out of new things to do but I also feel like I want to spend more time around this Dotonbori area.

There is just so much to see and do!

So many different foods! So many people. It both terrifies and excites me.

This is not the place to be if you don’t like crowds!

Hubby was having a bit of a lie in this morning so I took myself for a walk and really enjoyed watching people going about their business.

Most of the shops aren’t open until 10am. That may sound late but they also stay open very late. I really wanted to get some junk cute things from Daiso. I know we have this store in Australia but I’ve never been in one in Australia.

IMG_4213.JPGI know there’s just cheap, nothing goods in there but it’s exciting!!

So are the 100 yen stores! I just love them!!
“This is really only 100 yen??” I find myself exclaiming.

It’s much easier to shop in these stores when hubby isn’t around.
Look at the cute little Hello Kitty bag I got for 100 yen. I think it might actually be a bag to carry cold/fridge foods but I’m going to use it as a make up bag for as long as I can. It’s just too cute!

When I got back to the room, hubby and I had a breakfast of coffee and naughty bakery goods (Oh god I love them so much) then set off to walk through the streets and I snapped a couple of pictures along the way.

 


I took that pic on the left to show how every apartment has an area for bike parking. There aren’t that many places for cars and usually they’re off site (not in the same area as the apartment block) but bike parking you’ll see EVERYWHERE!!!
It’s pretty stressful walking down the street. We’ve seen lots of near misses between people on bikes and cars/buses/pedestrians but never actually seen a collision. I don’t even know how we haven’t because they’re crazy on their bikes!!!

As we walked we talked about places we’ve been and foods we’ve eaten and we started reminiscing about the huge bowls of ramen we got at this particular food court. Unbeknownst to me, hubby started to walk towards it (we were about four kilometres away) I had no idea. He didn’t tell me, he just kept walking.
It was about 2pm at this stage and I was starting to get pretty hungry. I kept pointing out restaurants saying “Mmmm that looks delicious, should we go there?” but he would barely grunt out an answer.
I guess it was his little way of annoying surprising me.

We got to our favourite food court eventually but when we went to the place we ordered the ramen from, the menu looked different. We couldn’t tell what it had been that we used to order!!
The girl at the counter didn’t speak English (we were trying to ask if a particular dish had meat in it. Pork? Chicken?) So she told us to wait and got someone else who also didn’t understand us.
IMG_4206In the end, hubby pointed to some things on the menu and said we’ll just take that.
(above)
I’m not sure that there was any meat in it. There could have been very very very pink bacon in it. Perhaps some tofu like thing… Not sure, but it was pretty delicious!
In the middle there were like fried noodles. I’m not sure exactly. They were crispy. I don’t know the name for them.

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We also chose to drink Calpis which is everywhere here and a delight to say out loud.

“Oh I just loving drinking Calpis.
Would you like to drink Calpis?
thought you’d never ask!”

It was like a more delicious version of lemonade. I really liked it. No diet version though so it’s unlikely I’ll be having it again. Diet drinks aren’t easy to come by here by the way. You will find them, but not as easy as you find them in Australia and many restaurants don’t offer any sort of diet drinks.

So although we enjoyed what we ate, it wasn’t what we were expecting.

We consoled ourselves by visiting the 100 yen bakery downstairs.
OH.MY.GOD this place!
I could have eaten the whole store but we only picked two varieties.

 

I liked the one on the right a lot more. It had a chocolate filling too! The berries were soooo sweet. I just loved it. The other was either a baked cheesecake or had a custard filling. I wasn’t quite sure.
It too was delicious but not as good as the first.

Tomorrow is our last day in Osaka and we’re capping it off with a visit to Rinku Town!! I’m so excited!! The train has taken us past this place every time we’ve arrived or left but we’ve never stopped. It’s full of outlet malls apparently!

I’m not even a shopper but I’m excited!!! Hubby, where’s your wallet??