ben griffiths
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Posts Tagged ‘zoo’

Travelling across Japan on the train known only as “Bullet”!

Thursday, April 8th, 2004

Ok, we have done a lot since the last entry, travelled miles across Japan :) Am now sitting in an internet cafe in Osaka, but more about that later,

Despite getting up late on Wednesday, we were determined to get to Kyoto, so went off to Tokyo Central to get the Shinkansen (sp?) which is the Bullet Train to your normal people. Shock horror, it cost us 70quid each, one way, but we wanted to try it so coughed up :)

The train was so clean and smooth, i don’t know what a Eurostar is like, so can’t compare, but to normal British trains it woops their asses! Whole journey took just over 2 hours with no problems, we even managed to get off at the right stop.

When we got there though, we wondered why we had bothered, it was exactly the same as Tokyo, just a lot more cheap looking… to say we were upset is a bit of an understatement, we were distraught that it had cost so much, but were determined to make the most of it. To save ourselves some extra money, we decided not to bother with a hotel but to rough it instead, meaning we could go straight out.

Walked around for quite a bit until we decided we would catch a train to a station which looked like it was near some shops. Now, something you should be aware of here… there is JR Rail which is the overground and Subway (which is obviously underground) however the ticket machines look (sorta) similair so of course we bought the wrong one. We only realised this after we had then gone onto the JR platform, so headed back to the ticket office where we were actually given a refund!! (lets see that in england!) and told which ticket to buy.

Dont ask why, but we again bought (the same!!) JR ticket but this time went down to the subway. It of course didn’t work, and we were sent back up to get another refund (boy did we feel stupid!) before we could finally get our tickets! lol…

Sanjo was a lot different from the city part of Kyoto, with more bars and nice scenery (though still pretty city based) however it did make us feel a lot better. Went to an all you can drink for 1500yen and tried to make the most of it, but got turfed at 12 as everything shut!!?!?!

This of course left us with nothing to do but wander the streets and try to find somewhere to sleep. No mean feat when its freezing cold and pouring with rain! doh! After trying to sleep on a step to the metro, justin got fed up and insisted we had to move on….

Only place left open was a Karaoke bar, so we proceeded to sing the rest of the night away (and cheekily sit in the foyer for the final hour when we ran out of money :)) - Left there at about 5:30 to walk down the canal for about 6 miles and watched the sunrise :)

Wasn’t sure what else to do, so went back to the main Kyoto station to look around. Its a massive building, but we weren’t actually sure why… We saw an escalator, so got on it… then at the top was another one… and another… and another… it just kept goind up and up until we were on the roof. We don’t have a clue what the designer was on when he thought up this place, but boy did he have a good idea… The place is amazing, the most amazing piece of architechture you will ever see! I hope the photos will come out as it really is awesome to look at… if ever you go to japan, you MUST go to Kyoto just for the station if nothing else!!

We were absolutely knackered by now, but stil thought we must find the cultural but of Kyoto, as there must be more than just city… We jumped on a train to Higashiyama.. and there we found it… The most beautiful part of Japan we have seen yet. Amazing, and hopefully captured in all the photos. There were shrines and temples and everything just looked… WOW!

There was even a Zoo, which we went into to have a look at the animals. I think it was good, but can’t really remember as when i sat down to have a rest… i just fell asleep. Justin can to find me, sat down, and fell asleep too!! lol… we realised now it was time to head to Osaka (if anyone tells you they are far apart, they’re lying… they’re only a 2.50 train ride from each other) - justin caught up with some sleep on the train whilst i had to stay on guard to make sure we didn’t miss our stop.

You think the buildings in Tokyo are impressive, head to Osaka. They are even more so (well the few we have seen so far) massive clean structures, that really give the place a futuristic feel. Even a huge ferris wheel that goes around one of them! - mission one was to find somewhere to sleep (boy did we need it) so headed to tourist information where they directed us to a local capsule hotel (Capsule Inn).

Findind the stupid place though was more than easy, even with the help of 2 maps and countless locals (one who even very kindly walked us around the whole area to find it!) it still took a good 30 minutes to get to it!!

If you don’t know what a capsule hotel is, imagine basically a load of pods, the length of a person, and high enough to sit up in stacked one on top of the other. You are allocated one of these, we you basically just go to sleep. Single sex only so no bring backs,. though the leeds people who rudely woke me up by shouting outside (they have no doors, just a blind) claimed he would be able to get someone back. I hope not as the sound proofing is pretty bad…

Slept there for a few hours, then headed out after a shower and teeth brush to find some nightlife. After walking about 5 minutes from our hotel, we hit THE shopping centre. This is pretty much underscribable to put the whole picture.. but basically it spans over 3 and a half miles!!!!!!!! There are arcades EVERYWHERE and anything you could ever want clothing related. Its called the Ebisubashi Shopping Street (which becomes Shinsaibashi Shopping Street further down) - but if you just head to that you will find the rest… believe me!

Eating wasn’t a problem, but finding a club proved hard. So hard in fact that we had to log in here to look them up :) That done, and this entry filled in, means we can finally leave and go get wasted in Osaka :)

Can’t do too much though as have to be out hotel by 10am tomorrow, and then sightseeing, before heading back to Tokyo to go a HardHouse/Trance night at Club Code in Shinjuku - HURRAH!

We’ve arrived in Japan … woooo!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

well we made it!! its been an eventful two days to say the least, but we are very happy and have certainly been made to feel very welcome :)

we stayed up the night before we left, figuring we would try and beat the jetlag syndrome, so by the time the first flight came we were sooo tired!! it was uneventful enough, and we landed in malapansa airport in milan on time.

it was only after we had got off plane, we realised our first mistake. as we were now in milan,we needed euros to spend! eek!! we of course didn’;t haveany, only yen and pounds so we had tofind a cash machine….. except milan airport doesn’t have any!!!! how crazy is that??? so we were stuck in the airport for two hours and sooooo thirsty and not happy to say the least..we were saved about an hour later however when we found out one place in the whole airport that would accept visa… phew!

Onto the next plane, the 12 hour big one. well firstly we were incredibly lucky.. we got the door seats! ie, we had the door in front of us, so infinite leg room! hurrah! also, we had funky tv’s in the arms of our seats that were rotatable so you could lie down and still watch them!! this kept us occupied for the rest of the flight! :)

After touching down and getting baggage,we then had to find Chiakiy. Although I had seen a few photos before, they weren’t very clear,so i was a bit worried i would not recognise her!! so when we got out and saw her, wetried to casually see if she had recognised us… she did though so it was all ok :)

She took us to her car (with her friend) where we met her mother (a very nice, friendly person :)) and we were whisked away into japan… woo hoo!

Chiakiy is really good fun and really nice. i am glad i met her, she is going to help us out and about and seems to have loads of friends which will be veryuseful!! :) She lives in Ibaraki which is just north of tokyo, and seems to be quite a quiet place. little roads and things, until you drive out a bit to the shops.

First we were taken to a japanese buddha shrine garden thing. We’re not quite sure what you would call this place, but it was very beautiful all the same! It has a massive (read MASSIVE!) Buddha statue, which is in the Guiness Book of records as the largest statue in the world (about 1400 metres i think, though it may have been feet! lol) (Edit: It was actually Ushiku Amida)

There were many bells hanging, which it seems to be good luck to hit. As well as what looked like a huge bbq, which produced smoke you had to wave on your body where pain was, it would then make you feel better. I put it on all of me just to make sure :)

Behind the statue was a petting zoo, with a monkey show (see pix) which was quite entertaining. Also a cage with Prairie Dogs, which i had never seen before so a nice change :) Just in front of it was a pond filled with Coi Carp which all swam to the surface and were trying to grab food, we were touching them and then they would swim away when Chiakiy would scream :) lol

After this, her mother wanted to take us out to a traditional japanese lunch, so we were driven to a noodle bar. we had to sit on the floor on tatami(sp) mats and cusions, which was ok at first but did hurt a bit after a while! :) i’m not quite sure what i had, but in envolved prawns and noodles :)

We were originally going to spend the first night at chiakiys friend house, but unforutaly this was not possible, so instead we went to check into the Hotel Plaza Arakawa-Oki. But Chiakiys mother insisted on paying and would not hear otherwise. We will get her a big present to say thank you at some point!!!! it was about £70!!!

After putting our bags in the room, we went back to Chiakiys to get her friends car and then to go the shops fora bit! I wanted to see how much my digital camera would cost, but unfortunately they did not have it :( The supermarket type place was crazy though, it sold everything and allso bright colours!!! amazing and so cool…. i want to live here :) lol.. after this we went to a Vodafone store and Justin bought mobile… lol

OK, so we done a lot now… so we went back to Chiakiys house where her mnother made us some food. We were still eating this when her friend rang for us togoout. So we went to a cheap type restaurant down the road (but still very nice!!) there we met another 2 of her friends so we sat and (tried!) to talk for a bit before going to a games arcade…

WWWWOOOOOWWW!! japanese arcades are so much better than uk. for a start, they havea lot more bemani games, so i was able to playddr :) and a bongo simulator!!!! thatwas great fun, i wish they had it over in uk :( :( we also played bingo and on the slots for a bit, before going to a photome sticker booth thing to get a picture taken of all of us (will photo it and put in gallery :))- we stayed until about 12 or so, when we got tired (plus chiakiy has work early) so left to go back.

We got a lift back to Chiakiys, then she walked us to the hotel (She went back on her moped….) it was business style one and very nice. it even had a traditional japanese bath (ie loads of people in it), but i didn’t like the idea of a bath with a load of naked blokes so wasn’t going to try it!!!

This morning we were up by 8:40 to go for breakfast, which unfortunately i did not like, but justin did so that was ok before finished packing and going to station to get train to tokyo…

Heck I’m so tired!! Will finish this tomorrow, lol yes i know, always one day out :)