Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 130

Sitting here at the Tokyo Airport waiting for my flight back to the US, I was hoping a nice wrap-up summary of the trip would come to me... It didn't. And I guess that's good because before I could even do that I should first talk about Japan.

After China, I felt pretty burnt out and tired. So in all honesty I feel like I didn't give Japan nearly as much effort as I had in other countries. Either way, Will and I still saw some cool stuff albeit at a much slower and relaxed pace.

Before we arrived we picked up a Japan Rail Pass in Hong Kong (they're for tourists and only available outside Japan). The JR pass allowed us to travel around the country on the world famous bullet trains. The trains were so efficient, clean, and comfortable... (India, please take note). And it was just as much fun traveling in them as was each destination.

After arriving in Tokyo we headed south to Hiroshima. We got to stay at our first Capsule Hotel... in the city's red light district... of course. Each capsule was large enough to sleep in, had a radio, TV, and alarm clock. I can't lie, it was kind of cosy. Hiroshima, undoubtedly, will forever be known as the site of the first atom bomb used in combat. Here we spent the day walking around the museum and memorial grounds. The museum was fascinating, but at times it did get kind of intense. And you can't help feeling a little awkward being the only Americans walking amidst all the Japanese museum go-ers.

From Hiroshima we took a day trip south to Miya-Jima. The island of Miya Jima is known for its Torri Gate seemingly floating in the water. We explored the island and got to hike to the top of Mt. Misen, to get some good views of Hiroshima across the water way. A little side note about Miya-Jima... the deer on the island have become totally accustomed to human presence and will try to steal food from you... weird...especially seeing people start out feeding one deer then being bombarded by numerous others looking for a handout.

We then made our way up north making a stop in Kyoto. Kyoto is the "must see destination in any Japan itinerary" according to some guide books. Kyoto is the old capital, and is filled with numerous temples, gardens, and other relics of "old Japan". After seeing very similar temples throughout south east Asia and China, I had seen more than my fair share of temples... templed out! So merely walking by them was good enough for me. It was also in Kyoto where Will and I decided to take in a little bit of current American cinema culture. There's nothing like attending the new Rambo Movie with a bunch of elderly Japanese couples at an afternoon matinee.

After Kyoto we spent 2 days in Kawaguchiko, a small tourist town at the base of Mt. Fuji. However, its not so touristy now because of the rainy season. And for good reason too, it was cold and rainy and Fuji-San only made an appearance on the day we left. But the stop was worth it, if anything the free coffee at the hostel made it worth our while. We got to climb halfway up the mountain in a seemingly endless day of fog, cold, and rain. Upon our return we got lucky and hitch hiked our way back to the hostel instead of walking the many miles in the dark. And Will proved once again that knowing some key phrases (in this case "hello", "thank you", and "a little bit") could tear down that language barrier.

And finally we spent a couple days in Tokyo, ending our time in Japan and the trip all together. Tokyo was fun. We walked around this huge massive city of almost 13 million people, got lost on its myriad of subways, and had some great sushi. We opted not to do most of the "touristy" stuff, but instead spent the days walking around taking it easy.

And now here I am at the airport listening to the loudspeaker so as I don't miss my flight. Just like every other destination we've been to, Japan quickly came and went. And with the end of Japan comes the end of the trip. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy about coming home, but there's still a part of me that secretly wants me to miss my flight and continue to travel.

But for now I'm done...
... for now....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One more thing...

Here we are having a wholesome snack of SCORPIONS in Beijing...

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Ok, this one's going to be quick. I'm in Kyoto Japan right now, and its, well, expensive... just like all of Japan. I'm also running out of money and instead of spending my money on things I need, like food, I put you the reader first by writing a post... this is costing me 1 meal right now... not to make you feel guilty or anything.

China was awesome!

China Highlights:

Hong Kong was great, totally not what I expected. It's a beautiful mega-metropolis with plenty to do. But at the same time you can travel 1 hour on its superb public transportation and arrive at a beautiful, practically deserted beach.

Traveling 30 hours on a train in China was interesting... especially sharing a hard sleeper with a Chinese chain-smoking elder who has no idea what second-hand smoke is.

Xi'an- 2000 year old terracotta soldiers... thousands of them being unearthed one by one- simply amazing!

Floating down the Yangtze River on a goofy river cruise... fun, but like I said, goofy. The best part was traveling through the locks of the Three Gorges Dam Project, the largest engineering project in China since the Great Wall.

Climbing an ancient holy Buddhist mountain, was physically demanding but an extremely fun day, especially when the locals want your picture taken with them. (apparently, they don't see many white folks)

Beijing- Unbelievable food, Olympic stadium was crazy, the Great Wall was even crazier! And just trying to get around dealing with the language barrier made it all that much better!

And now for some photos...