Fuji & Kyoto

After Tokyo I went to Fuji via bullet train. As my luggage is tiny, I straight away bought a bus ticket up the mountain to go around the lakes. Well, it well and truly pissed it down for at least twelve hours; with a laptop and kindle in my bag there was no way I was going to risk getting them wet. And once at the last bus stop, I found out that there was no bus downhill for four hours. Marvellous.

The next day I went to Kyoto. One thing that I have to say about the transport system, in particular the Metro, it is so confusing with private railways. I was confused enough on my first day in Tokyo but Kyoto has been on a whole new level and is actually better to get around via bus.

 

I ended up going to a temple that I can’t remember the name of then went off to the Fushimi-Inari shrine. Since arriving in Australia, I have picked up a fair bit of the Australian-English: I find it difficult to say ‘yoghurt’ like you would in England even after having a good think about how to say it; I swear a fair bit more if anyone thought that’d be possible and I say ‘heaps’ despite spending my whole first year taking the piss out of it. The only way to describe the amount of people there would to say there were heaps, and I think the amount of people ruins it a bit.

Yesterday, I went to Nijo Castle – not too sure about the history of it but it was pretty cool. I spent an hour or so there and in the gardens before going to the Kinkakuji Temple, or if like me you can’t remember the name – the Gold Leaf Temple. It is one of the things that you have to see for yourself – definitely one of my favourite travel pictures, but like Fushimi-Inari, there are too many bloody people. I then intended to get the bus back to the station, but it stopped at a train station that connected with the JR Line to the Bamboo Grove, which was nice to talk through.

For dinner I went to Gion as it’s meant to have some bloody good food. I was knackered and just wanted a bowl of ramen for £2, but the restaurants were charging around £20 for a meal. Instead, I stopped at this restaurant that had a big line outside and an open kitchen with one thing on the menu. It was a tempura pancake filled with food that I either don’t like (egg, shrimp) and food that I have no idea what it was. It was actually pretty tasty.

This morning I went to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. It was alright but I’m pretty over temples, having to take my shoes off and dealing with big crowds, but this one provided a nice view over Kyoto, despite being way too crowded. It was quite a trek to get there – a 30 minute walk, a fair bit of it being uphill, in 30 degrees.

Expectations vs reality

After getting to Kyoto station, I somehow navigated the trains to get to Nara – famous for having a deer park and a few more temples, and it’s quite a nice place to walk around.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Tokyo for one night and then I’m back to Melbourne. It’s been quite a nice trip, I think it’s what I needed after the shit time I’ve had over the past couple of months, and I’m going back home where it can only go uphill from where I left off.

A lot of people speak of Tokyo as though it’s the place you go to, then you compare it to everywhere else you go. For me, that doesn’t work out as I feel as though Tokyo is just a crazy version of London which is more or less what I’m used to. From now, every place I go I’m sure that I will compare it to Budapest. Kyoto has been nice, there’s a lot to see and do, but I feel as though a lot of it has had a negative impact due to tourism. A lot of places here are UNESCO World Heritage sites, yet it seems as though a lot of people go to these sites without having the respect for what they are seeing. For sure, I’m glad that I came here but feel as though it’s somewhere to go with someone else.

Advertisements

Tokyo: Days Five and Six

Had a pretty chilled couple of days. Yesterday, I went to Mirakan and got inside this time – I saw the famous little robot in action which is pretty cool to see, another which is borderline creepy and got to step onto a spacecraft. As a whole, the museum is pretty interesting but gets a bit boring when it comes to the physics exhibit.

IMG_2952.JPG

After, I popped to Akihabara again and looked around the shops – floors and floors of anime and various character toys. Also went to a massive electrics shop, straight to the toy section – most of my time was spent in the Marvel and Pokemon sections. After, I went to one of the arcades with six or so floors and played heaps of games – probably threw £10 at least away, but it was fun.

IMG_2958.JPG

There’s a few travel blogs that I follow, and every time I visit somewhere new I always check them out before as someone has already been there. One of the recommendations was to go to the basement in Asakusa main station and try some sushi – it’s such a popular station, but I did not see another white person eating. I ended up in a small restaurant, being served sushi by someone who spoke no English which was pretty neat. In the past, I’ve never really had fish sushi unless it’s salmon as I’m pretty sure that I can’t stomach it too well and I was right – I can handle glass after glass of wine (or I like to think so) but I can’t handle mouthful after mouthful of fish. Truth be told, that’s the way I’d prefer to keep it.

IMG_2967.JPG

Afterwards, I headed to Shinjuku and went to the park there, via a 7-11. There’s this thing, and I’m not too sure if it’s just a backpacker thing or just everyone in general, but in Asia you should go and pick up something strange from there and try it out. You can get whipped cream and berry sandwiches here, but I opted for this green tea dessert and it was so gross it was fascinating. It was a green tea jelly stuffed with whipped cream and dusted with green tea powder, and had the consistency where you had to slurp it to eat it.

IMG_2972

This evening, I had a ticket for the Robot Restaurant – pretty pricey, but well worth it. Just sat there wondering what on Earth was going on for an hour or so; it just gets to the point where you wonder if it can get any weirder and then it well and truly does. For dinner, I didn’t actually eat at the restaurant because I’ve heard that it’s not worth it so instead I opted to go to Golden Gai, had some Karaage chicken which was pretty good as well as a few other snacks, before heading back to the hostel.

Tomorrow, I should be off to Fuji for a day before heading to Kyoto for the rest of the trip, before nipping back to Tokyo to get the flight back. I’ve heard a lot about Tokyo being out there and just crazy which is the opinion of people who haven’t lived in a big city. For me, it has been a lot like London – nothing that I can’t handle, just a bit more crazy, though with that said I have enjoyed it.

In hindsight, I probably should have rested a few days from work before coming here, or just not have had such a crazy night when I left work as I have found myself very tired over the past few days. This trip so far has been the reminder that there is more to life than work and my priority should be just having a good time and not worrying about text messages or phonecalls about bloody microherbs on my days off.

Tokyo: Days Three and Four

Over the past couple of months when I’ve had two days off work in a row, I’ve slept for at least 30 hours over two days and can really feel my body just wanting to do that. I’ve tried to power through, but the past couple of days I have really felt it so haven’t really done a lot.

Yesterday, I started the day at Tsukiji Fish Market. I really had my hopes up for it being great, but had seen better markets whilst travelling through Europe – La Boqueria in Barcelona, for example. It was alright, but nothing spectacular, so I moved onto try and find some sushi in Ginza but couldn’t find anything that I was up for. Instead, I found a conveyor belt restaurant but have had better in Sushi Hub on Swanston Street in Melbourne CBD.

I then went to Akihabara, walked past the worlds biggest sex shop and popped in for fifteen minutes or so – couldn’t really help myself, then went through the electric city. When you’ve seen one shop, it’s kind of all the same, so feeling underwhelmed, I went back to the hostel for a nap.

During the evening I went to Tokyo Tower. I was under the impression that it would be surrounded by places to eat, like you would find in Europe, but apparently not. I found a place round the corner that did food in a Japanese tapas kind of style which was great. I also wanted to have a look around Shibuya during the night but as it was raining I just picked up a bowl of ramen.

Today,  I went to Miraikan, supposedly an insane science museum. I say supposedly because it was shut, so I’m going back there tomorrow. I went to the Imperial Palace after which was nice to look at but didn’t really fancy going on a guided tour of the grounds as I was wearing all black and it was bloody hot.

IMG_2943.JPG

When I returned back to my bed/drawer and had a google as to what I could do this evening, though I had already decided that I would mainly chill out. On google, I found a restaurant that specialises in Onigiri (rice balls, or rather, triangles) which is Tokyo’s oldest Onigiri restaurant. To be honest, as someone who has been known to be late to work because I can’t find a matching pair of shoes, and someone who struggles to find the combination of phone/purse/keys, it is one of the great mysteries of the world as to how I found it. It seemed as though they don’t regularly have people from western culture in, and the sushi I had there was bloody good.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to go to Miraikan and actually get inside this time, then not too sure what I’m doing afterwards. On Thursday, I’m going to end my trip with a visit to the Robot Restaurant and have my mind blown in a ‘did I really just witness that’ way.

Tokyo: Days One and Two

A few things that I’ve missed about England: proper bacon, not having to work on a farm to be there and of course, Nando’s. I found out that the international terminal at the airport has a Nando’s; I’ve walked past a few in Melbourne CBD but not really bothered as I’ve heard that it’s not the same. If I flew into Australia and that was the first thing I’d eat, I’d consider not leaving the airport and getting a flight out of the country, it was that bad.

The flight to Tokyo was just under ten hours long. I was pretty knackered as I hadn’t really slept well for two weeks prior to coming here; some of it self-inflicted, some of it from working two six-day weeks back to back. Despite having a baby sat in front of me, I managed to watch a movie and slept for the rest of the flight.

First impression of the country was spectacular. As my back is buggered I only brought my work bag and am just going to do my laundry two or three times whilst I’m here, all I really need is clothes and toiletries which fit pretty easy into the bag. The customers officer let the five or so people in front of me go pretty easily, but when it was my turn started asking about my luggage and how long I’m here for, then took out a folder with pictures of drugs and bars of gold, asking if I was carrying any of that on me. Of course, I wasn’t, but I wasn’t too sure whether or not to be offended or amused.

I’m staying in a capsule at the moment which is pretty cool, although technically is a dorm bed/glorified drawer. It took ages to get to as the metro here is hard to get to grips with, but after arriving and freshening up I headed towards the Sensoji Temple, first getting some food and having a look at some of the shops. The temple itself is alright, it just seems that the meaning of it has been lost and caters mainly for tourists. I did, however, take a fortune telling where you pay 100 yen to shake a box of sticks and one comes out a small hole, assigning you a drawer to pull a fortune out of. Naturally, a combination of figures assigned me to the drawer that I was supposed to open so I’m hoping that I’m not dyslexic in Japanese.

After, I looked through the market then headed to Shibuya, around half hour away on the metro. By this point I was absolutely knackered, so had a quick look around and decided that it was time for a nap. After, I headed for some food – a ramen shop next door which was bloody good. I don’t know who made the rules here – it’s illegal to smoke walking down the street, but the woman in the restaurant can have a crafty smoke whilst doing her job. After I walked back to the temple then returned to bed.

Today, I went to find some food, and ended up having a taiyaki – a stuffed pastry. I had the choice to have one shaped like a fish, or shaped like a pokemon – I ended up with the fish as it made me feel more like a grown up. On the way to the station to head to Harajuku someone came up to me and started speaking to me in German. Which isn’t the first, second, or even third time that it has happened since I arrived in Australia.

On the way to Harajuku, I stopped at the Meiji Shrine, it’s nice but just like the Sensoji temple, just seems to have lost its meaning a bit.

After, I went to Harajuku which is like Camden Market on steroids. I didn’t take pictures whilst I was there as it’s pretty much a lot of shops. However, there is this one thing called purikura, where you go into a themed photobooth of your choice with your mates (or not in my case) and you just pose for a picture as some models do on the screen. The Japanese girls were looking at me like wtf – it probably is something that I wouldn’t have done a year ago but I just thought it’d be funny so I did it.

IMG_2930

I went back to Shibuya after to experience it, this time not trying to stay awake. First, I had some ramen at a restaurant where you place your order on a machine, then gave the ticket to a staff member who brought the meal to me. Pretty tasty.

There seems to be this thing with arcade games and there’s heaps of arcades here; it is a bit uncomfortable being in the room with so many people being so into losing their money but I guess whatever makes them happy. I went into one with claw machines and so narrowly didn’t win a prize – it was hanging onto another toy by just its tag.

I went to Ueono, then off to Shinjuku afterwards to see what the fuss is about, and it’s just like any other place in a big city with heaps of lights. I ate in a few restaurants, had some gyoza, fried chicken, and the name of the meat on sticks I can’t remember. I managed to end up in a restaurant in an alleyway that had room for just the bar and some seats with a tiny BBQ.  Here’s some obligatory food pics:

Tomorrow, I’m off early to the fish market and will probably end up having a sushi breakfast, then off to Akihabara, and from there will decide what to do for the rest of the day.

Quitting Work to Travel…. Again

Yesterday I finished my last day of work – it really has been nice today not worrying or getting messages whilst I’m not there. I wasn’t going to go out after work, then I thought sod it and go for a couple. I ended up going to bed at 8am, woke up at a friends house wondering why there was a dog on me, then had the realisation that I had told the property manager of the flat that I live in that I’d show potential roommates around. To be honest, I don’t know what would have given the better impression – giving a tour of the place whilst absolutely trollied or turning up late.

Over the week I moved into a new flat; I’ve had it to myself for now but I will have to share the room. As far as sharehouses go, this one is probably the nicest one in the area as it is brand new so I’ll hopefully be happy here for the next couple of months at least.

Tomorrow I’m travelling to Japan and have very little prepared for it. Normally I leave everything until the last minute, but I’ve been non-stop at work so it’s hard to fit in buying and remembering stuff. I’ll post a couple of updates in Tokyo.

Last Friday I handed in my notice, and was asked if I could possibly work an extra few days. Haha no. Last Saturday was a bit of a drunken mess to celebrate, and Sunday I missed the last tram home from work so I ended up at the pub and Maccas on the way home and in bed an hour and a half before I had to be up for work. Definitely not my finest idea.

My last day is the Wednesday after next, chilling out on Thursday and then I’m at the airport on Friday night to land in Japan on Saturday morning. Can’t bloody wait. There’s also a Nando’s in the international terminal at the airport – it has definitely been too long since my last one

Over the last week or so, I moved out of the house share to a hostel as I was supposed to move in with someone who I did my farm work with. Over the first three days she decided that she hates it here and the weathers shit, despite spending three days in bed and she’s moving to Sydney. It’s pretty easy to guess how less than impressed I am – luckily the property manager of the house share said I can come back, and I’m viewing a flat with my own room tomorrow so I have somewhere to move to.

This coming week I have to work, but it’s going to be nice to count the days down.

It’s been a while…

It’s been almost a month. The finger has healed fine and I don’t really have much to show for it besides a dent in my thumb if you look closely.  Its taking some getting used to as I can feel what is now missing whilst putting pressure on it.

Japan has now been booked up; I’ve said heaps of times that I want to go. Over the last month I’ve been consistently pissed off with my job as it isn’t letting me enjoy Melbourne and my job role is actually something that I hadn’t fully agreed to. It’s not a story to put on the internet as I’m pretty sure that I am no longer in the good books, but it feels really satisfying to have said that I simply cannot be fucked anymore. Tomorrow I’m handing my notice in, my last day is on the 27th, then I have a late flight to Japan that week.

I’m staying in Japan for ten or so days, planning to hit up Tokyo for the best part of a week, then I think I’m going to Fuji early in the morning and leaving the next day to Kyoto, then back up to Tokyo to catch the flight back here.

You Live and You Learn – Or In My Case, You Don’t

Once again, I have sick note for work. And yes, it’s because I cut myself.

I was promoted at work a couple of weeks ago to run the kitchen at work; I kind of see it as the same job I had in London – just on a bigger scale, people to manage, and more shit to deal with. The next couple of weeks are going to be challenging, but if I can get my shit together and turn things around with a team behind me it’ll be great.

Last Thursday I managed to sprain some of the joints in my neck (I don’t know how) which I worked with for five days (again, I don’t know how). On Tuesday morning I was tired to the point of not being able to hold a conversation for more than two minutes and was pumped for a day off, which I was told I looked like I needed one – there hasn’t been a day where I’ve not been at work for three weeks. I was at work, cutting a block of palm sugar which is pretty tough and cut the sugar as well as part of my thumb off. To be honest, it didn’t look or hurt that bad so I just had it bandaged up pretty well and worked on it for five hours before getting sent to the doctor. I even managed to make a plate of gnocchi which ended up on the instagram page during the time I was bandaged up. The thumb was pretty well bandaged up to stop the bleeding which took around a day, but have a sick note to reduce the amount of work I do which hasn’t exactly been abided to.

The next few weeks are going to be work heavy – it’s a good career opportunity that is in front of me, and in a while I’m going to see if I can get sponsorship. I’m working upwards of 50-hour weeks at the moment; it’s tough but if I work towards the goals that I’ve been set then I’m pretty sure that I can do a good job of it.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve not done a lot so it’s a short update.

Last week over my days off, one which I spent in bed, I went to the Aardmans Exhibition at the ACMI which was pretty good. There’s a few things that Aardmans have done that I’ve not really heard of, and have only really watched Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run –  it’s quite interesting to see how they develop the characters. Since I started travelling, I’ve met some people from up north and I wonder what their accent reminds me of. It took me watching Chicken Run to realise that the accents remind me of the movie, so now every time I meet someone with that accent I struggle to keep a straight face because all I can think is “I don’t want to be put into a pie… I don’t like gravy…..”

 

I also really could not be bothered to cook one night last week so I went about 40 minutes out of my way to Queen Vic Night Market – there’s a lot of food there, and mulled wine, but for me it’s more of a place to stop by for some food on the way home from work.

Over this weeks days off I was intending to do something productive and touristy. One day I shit you not, I slept for 18 hours, and Thursday I managed to sprain some of the joints in my neck whilst doing nothing which I’m still recovering from. It’s not ideal to be recovering from that with work, especially with being advised to not move my neck. I also got a promotion this week at work after being there for three weeks which is great, just heaps more responsibility.

Not Missing the Days of Melon Farming

I’m pretty much going back to working a lot. I’m now on my third week, love the job but I seriously struggle to get out of bed before midday now. As I have been working since February with no holiday, I feel as though I need to go to Bali or somewhere, lounge around and get sunburnt.

Other than work, on Wednesday I went shopping – I got paid so it’s nice to be able to buy some winter clothes. I’m definitely missing the weather, the people and just the shit that we got up to in Ayr but a lot better off down here, even if it feels like the joints in my knees are going to freeze over. Thursday, there were a couple of friends from Ayr who were visiting Melbourne, so it was nice to catch up with them over a $5 pizza, just like the Sundays up north.

Over my days off this coming week I’d quite like to do something productive, although it’s a bit hard to get up in the morning after five days straight of 7 to 12+ hours on my feet. I’m going to try and get into the habit of sleeping in when I start work late – midday/3pm and doing something on the days off, rather than having a repeat of this weeks. I’ll make it to the Aardmans/Wallace and Gromit expo over the next week, the Queen Vic Night Market and one or two other things. In a week or two I may go to Wilsons Prom – the most southern point in mainland Australia (I think) with the tour operators who I did the Great Ocean Road and Grampians with last year, just hoping the weather is good for it. I also want to make it to the Mornington Peninsular, meant to be one of the best hot springs in the world.