saying sayonara to Japan and g’day to Van

Hi! You’ll have to bear with me on this post as I am still recovering and a little fragile. It has been another crazy day and by my new timezone it’s only around 2.30pm and I have been up for 27 hours. I tried to have a little nap but even though I am exhausted and my hands are sore from wheeling around my luggage I just couldnt. I think this is what they call …ya know what I even forget what its called! Hahahahaha. Brain frazzle.
Anyway, you know what I mean.

So this morning I checked out of my hotel early and headed to the local subway.
I passed this shop on the way.

And thats the subway train. I had trouble getting a ticket because the machines were all in japanese. After much looking and thinking I just pressed a button, got a ticket to who knows where, and took it to the counter. The man then said something to me in japanese and I said Kyoto station. He said a few other things in Japanese and then gave me some money back and sent me to the platform.
I got to the main station and then got another ticket for Kyoto back to Tokyo and was sent to another platform.

And more waiting with my luggage!

I look a little tired there already! Imagine how I look now! Hahaha.
And on the train again. Here are some more passing shots – I got a window seat this time!
They seem to have these huge nets in the middle of residential areas.. I have no idea what they are.

If you get the chance to go to Japan in the cherry blossom season you must go! I cant explain to you how beautiful it is to see the pinks against the city and country backdrops. Infact, I’d like to go again and explore some other islands and less populated areas – get to the real centre of the country.

There are a heap more photos in my flickr set.

Once I got to Tokyo station it was time to get on another train to the airport.

Once I was there I got my big suitcase from storage, checked in at the boarding gate and did a little bit more shopping. I was starving and I knew that I wouldnt want to eat much on the plane, so I decided to make my last meal in Japan a special one. I was game again and I tried this dish – ramen noodles with spicy bean sprouts.

And yes, I even used chopsticks (kinda badly haha).

It was actually really nice, and I ate a whole lot of it! Yay for my last meal in Japan being traditional and a hit!

Then after another wander I went to the gate to wait to get on the plane. I took the opportunity to listen to all of the voices around me, picking up bits of stories here and there but mainly focusing on the accents. When you’re in a foreign country you seem to be drawn to familiar faces – and I found myself searching for an Aussie accent or passport. I didnt have much luck! I sat there and thought about how surreal this whole thing still is. There I was, in Japan, about to get on a plane to Vancouver. Wow!!

And before I knew it I was on the plane! I watched a couple of movies (It’s complicated and Mister Magoriums Wonder Imporium), listened to music and tried to rest. Hours later we landed and I walked off the plane and into Vancouver Airport. It’s a really nice airport! They have a fountain and some jellyfish and totem poles and everything! I went through customs and immigration and was granted a 2 year working holiday visa – officially! YAY!
So then I had to find my way to another train and got off at the nearest stop to my hotel. I looked out the window and smiled at the view. I was planning to get a taxi to my hotel from the station but ended up walking about 8 blocks with my 2 big suitcases and 2 bags. No wonder my arms were sore!!! But it was worth it for the views.
Welcome to Vancouver!!

And this is my view from the hotel.

Pretty cool eh?!! Eh! Hehehe.
Now to look through all the brochures I’ve got and my new map and work out my plans for tomorrow!


Konnichiwa from Kyoto

I thought I’d continue with the Japanese influenced titles as – well – I am IN Japan after all! Yes, I made it to Kyoto! Hahaha. And you doubted me? Yeah, I knew you didnt.

Ok so let me continue where I left off this morning, it’s been another eventful day! Hard to believe I have technically only been in Japan for 24 hours!! I have a gazillion photos, but I will post the best on here.
So I went down to breakfast and dived into the buffet. Check out how white the egg shells are! I think they paint them – the Japanese are quite keen on perfection.

Now, perhaps I am not as adventurous as some in trying new foods – but the sausage tasted like bacon and the bacon tasted like… I dont know. The bread was a little sugarey too but hey, the croissants were awesome! Cant complain when its free! This is the view from my seat.

I was just dying to get out an explore, so when my stomach was full out I went into the street.

I wandered up and down, taking photos and taking in the sights. It was around 9am, so not many shops were open and there werent that many people around. I stumbled across this beautiful hanami sight.

I asked a nice man to take this photo for me.

I stayed there, watching the blossoms for a little while and then I headed back to the street. Here came my first connection of the day. A very handsome and well dressed young european looking man walked up to me and complimented me on my outfit. Turns out his name was Janis and he was from Amsterdam. He asked me several questions about my life. He told me he was just headed home from a night out and couldnt believe I had just woken up! Then after a bit of a chat he kissed me on both cheeks and we said goodbye. I had to stop and sit down a bit further to write in my journal about that encounter – thats the type of thing that usually happens to Kristy! Hahaha.

So after I recovered I kept walking and took a few more photos.

I wanted to go to roppongi hills and see the viewing tower but upon getting there I noticed it didnt open until 10am. Bugger! I did see the tokyo tower from the foyer though..

So I headed back to my hotel to check out and organise the train to Kyoto.. and on the way I was approached by another man. This one was a lot older, and he was Japanese. He basically invited me to a cherry blossom appreciation party he said he and his friends were having in the park. It was to be at 1pm though, and I had to get the train so I missed it. I dont know that I would have gone along if I’d been there anyway as you know I am travelling by myself (he didnt know that). So dont worry Mum I was safe!

I saw this cake on the way back to the hotel. Read the sign if you can – it was pretty cute. I think if you click on the photo you can view a bigger version.

After checking out I got another taxi to the station. This one charged me an extra 1000 yen to the one last night, so I didnt give him a tip. They have these shopping buses over here – very kawaii!

The subways and rail systems in Japan are very confusing. I got there and felt lost in the swarm of humanity again. I took this photo to show you what it’s like.

After asking a few people for help I found where I needed to be and got a ticket on the shinkansen bullet train headed to Kyoto. Then I waited on the platform and wrote in my journal!

Phew! I’ll post about the rest of my day tomorrow! Time to go get some dinner.

ohayo gozaimasu from tokyo

Hello! I am safe and yes, I’ve arrived in Tokyo. Ohayo Gozaimasu (that means good morning!). What an adventure it has been so far! Just getting to my hotel was pretty crazy. My first flight in the morning was to Brisbane, where I caught a connecting flight to Tokyo. When I was walking down the aisle to get on the plane I thought to myself ‘I am going to Japan!’ and I was happy. This was the view of the sunrise from the windows of the plane – so pretty!

So, we landed and what I hadnt remembered was that Brisbane airport has two terminals – one for domestic and one for international – so I had to rush around to try and find out how to get there to make my connecting flight. I eventually found a bus and by the time I got through immigration and looked at the flight board it said my plane was boarding in 20 minutes. Yeah, we cut that one a bit fine! While I was waiting I went and got some money changed over into smaller amounts (they were more helpful than melbourne airport) and then took this photo before I boarded.

This was my view for the next 8 hours.

And this was the tiny, tiny screen where I watched three movies – Whip it, The Blind Side and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The Blind Side was the best of the three, I almost cried several times.
Whilst flying I decided that I’m not a fan of long haul flights – I dont know how anyone can sit on a plane for longer than I did, I couldnt sleep and after a sleepless night before I was worn out.

When we finally arrived at Narita Airport we were ushered into a small train, which then took us to the main airport. We waited at immigration for around an hour, before collecting my bags and going out through customs! Next I had to find the luggage storage to keep my huge suitcase at the airport for the 4 days I’d be travelling. I asked three people for help and even though they didnt speak much english they all did their best to send me in the right direction. The Japanese are so polite and helpful! After more confusion and asking one more person I found myself on the right level and checking my bag in. Hopefully I can find it when I want my bag back! hahaha.

Ok so then I had to find the japanese JTB rail window, where I had been told I could convert the rail pass I had bought before I left. After asking someone I found the window, and the queue that was waiting just like me. Half an hour or so later I was served and promptly handed my new japan rail pass (something I’ll need today for my trip to Kyoto!).

I followed where I had been told to go and ended up on one of many, many platforms. Everything was written in japanese, so I wasnt too sure if I was in the right spot but I thought I was. You may have heard Japan is big on these things.

I just wanted some water and it took me a while to find it – right next to this interestingly named drink.

Pocari Sweat? Who is he and why do people drink that? Hehehe.
I took some headache tablets and tried to will myself to feel better. At this stage I just wanted to curl up in a ball – I needed sleep, I had a headache, I was hungry, my bags were annoying me and I felt a little overwhelmed to say the least.

Then a train pulled up and I checked with the man beside me if this was mine, he said it was – so I hopped on and found my seat. A lovely japanese lady hopped out of the row so I could put my bags in first (I had the window seat) and then in the process of trying not to hit her with my bags getting them infront of my seat I smashed my head on the bar above the window that I hadnt noticed. I couldnt help but laugh.

It was dark outside, so I couldnt see too much of Japan passing by – my eyes were closed half the time so that was ok by me. I kept thinking about how when the train stopped at Tokyo main station I had to find my way onto three more trains and three other lines before I’d get to my hotel. The time was quarter past 8pm and I was thinking of other options. I made a choice to try to get a taxi from the station, as I thought it might be easier and quicker. I didnt care if it’d be expensive I just wanted to get to my hotel. I looked at the huge signs detailing every different line in the station, desperately trying to find an exit. Swarms of people walked around me and I felt lost in an endless sea. Still, I pushed myself and followed the way I thought I was meant to be going. The tunnels went left and right and winded around for ages. After help from another lady I found my way out into the open. I could breathe.

This was my first real look at Tokyo and I liked what I saw. I crossed the road and headed in the direction of a line of what I thought were taxis. I stepped onto the road and the man in the first car opened his window. “I want to go here” I said, and handed him the paper I had so thoughtfully written down with the address of my hotel. He entered a few numbers in his JPS and got out to put my bags in the boot. Then I hopped in and he drove off. He said nothing, as we drove around the streets and I stared in awe at the lights and trees and skyscrapers.

Then he asked me “where you from?” I told him Australia.
“How many time?”
“How many times have I been here? This is my first time.”
“First time? Ok. I tell you places.”

As we drove along he pointed out The Imperial Palace, Ginza provence, Tokyo Tower, The Parliament Building (which looks a little like our shrine of rememberence), The Canadian Embassy (funny that!) and then we arrived at my hoteI. I tell you what – when I saw the sign it was like a beacon of hope to me. I was so happy! I thanked the taxi man, gave him a tip and then checked myself in. I went to bed right away and slept well.
My room is tiny! But it has all that I need! I will be checking out the breakfast buffet soon – on the menu is dried seaweed, fermented soybeans, japanese pickles and grilled fish. I think I’ll stick to eggs, bacon and bread. Then I might go for a wander along the streets before checking out and heading to the train.

I am feeling better after my sleep, and looking forward to some more exploring!