Total Pageviews

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The End... Thanks For Following!

So here we are, the final blog entry. I've got about another 45 minutes sitting in Hong Kong airport until my final flight begins to board. I really don't want to fly... I've felt a bit sick in the stomach all day today and flying doesn't seem to help this feeling much. I've already flown 4 hours from Tokyo, and now I've got another 9 hours back to Melbourne. I'll try and sleep (I'm desperately tired, didn't sleep more than about 4 hours the last couple of nights, probably why I'm not feeling well) but with my track record of being able to sleep on planes, I won't hold my breath. Man, that would be amazing though, just to go to sleep and wake up in Australia! Fingers crossed...

So last time I blogged I was in Cambridge. The trip from Cambridge to Tokyo went by pretty much flawlessly. It's funny, I'd got myself a bit worked up the night before leaving, wondering how I was going to cope in Japan on my own. Strangely though though, once I was on the plane that anxiety left me for good, only to be replaced with excitement!

Tokyo is amazing! It's certainly not a "pretty" city, but wow, it's unique! I've never been anywhere like it and I'm so glad I was able to visit, albeit briefly, on this trip.

The Japanese people really do seen to live on another planet... An awesome planet that is so strange, quirky and fascinating! So many quirks to their culture, so many strange traditions.

I was a bit surprised at how few Japanese people actually felt comfortable enough to try and speak some English to me. I'd do my best "konnichiwa," "sumimasen" and, of course, "arigatou," but I didn't often get any English replied back to me, apart from the fact that English words are all over the city! I think they probably understand a fair amount but don't feel confident enough to speak it, for fear they might get it wrong, I dunno. The Japanese are almost frustratingly polite in everything they do. But yeah, Tokyo's a crazy, crazy place and I loved it!

Thanks for following along on my wacky adventures round the world! I'll wrap it all up now. As wonderful as overseas travel is, all travellers would know that feeling when your nose is just headed for home. To be able to sleep in your own bed, not to live out of a suitcase anymore, to have friends and family - you know, people to actually TALK to... I can't wait to be back in Melbourne tomorrow morning! It's been a brilliant holiday, I've had lots of new and exciting experiences, but it's definitely time to return to normal. Sayonara everyone!!

(I'll commentate on the following photos, as usual completely out of order. Silly Blogspot!)

1. This shop is called Super Potato, in the area of Tokyo known as Akihabara, or "Electric Town." Super Potato sells retro video games, so I was in a weird kind of heaven! Five storeys of bliss!!

2. Yesterday I decided to give myself a treat for the final day of the holiday and went to Disneyland... Well, DisneySEA, actually. This is the newer park next door to Disneyland, it's been open about 10 years. It's got a kind of nautical theme.

3. If you've ever seen footage of Tokyo before, you've probably seen this intersection. This is Shibuya.

4. Akihabara.

5. The Meiji Temple, where the spirit of the Emperor Meiji (reigned around the Victorian era, renowned for bringing Japan into the modern age) resides.

6. Sephiroth, resting underfoot at the Square-Enix store.

7. It's Totoro!! On Monday morning I visited the Studio Ghibli museum and had a wonderful time!

8. Outside the Meiji Shrine. These are giant decorated tubs of sake that are given as an offering every year.

9. Shibuya by night.

10. Inside the Meiji Shrine. Sacred trees.

11. Ghibli dead ahead! The problem with the gift shop in that place is I wanted to buy EVERYTHING!!

12. The giant robot-statue from Castle In The Sky, on the roof of the Ghibli museum.

13. Some sacred garden. Not sure of its significance.

14. Tokyo Tower. Ugly thing. Who's idea was it to paint it rusty-red??

15. Courtyard at Disneysea.

16. Oh, did I mention it was pouring rain while I was at Disney...? It was pouring rain.

17. View from the top of Tokyo Tower. You can just make out Mt. Fuji in the distance.

Friday, June 8, 2012

On To The Next Chapter!

Well, my U.K. tour has pretty much come to an end now. I've returned the car, posted off the sat-nav, replaced my suitcase. All that's left to do now is catch a few trains tomorrow morning, an hour to King's Cross, then on to the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow. (I swear Joanna Lumley does all the pre-recorded announcements on the Piccadilly Line...! If you're ever in London, see if you agree with me!)

Then it's a 12-hour flight (grooooaannn) to Tokyo. I will make sure to scoff down some of my knock-out drugs to ensure I get SOME sleep! I'm not staying in Japan long enough to be effected by jetlag!

The last couple of days I've been in Cambridge. Lovely place! I did a 2-hour walking tour today and feel like I understand the place a lot better. How amazing would it be to actually go to university here?? To be surrounded by only the smartest students in the country? Living and breathing the vibrant university city atmosphere? (And riding everywhere on a bike?!)

There's almost a Somers Camp level of crazy traditions and customs in the day-to-day life of the students. I just want to go back in time, make myself about 70% more intelligent and apply to come to university here. Perhaps I could join the King's College Choir! I went to the evensong tonight and listened to them sing. Incredible!!!

That's, strangely enough, the second evensong I've been to this week! (I'll be Anglican before you know it!) I also attended the one at York Minster. Man, that cathedral is just magnificent.

Between York & Cambridge I had 2 stopovers. Norwich was fine, but almost entirely unremarkable. Southend-on-Sea was more fun, there's a pier (world's longest, apparently) and a fun park. It's a great summer-vacationy kind spot, but nicer and not as busy as Brighton.

I do love England, and sometimes surprise myself at how strong a connection I feel towards the place. Visiting England feels like visiting an old grandmother that you don't see very often. Sure, she might seem a little old-fashioned and keep harping on about the past, but she's your heritage, she's your link to history. And even though you've moved away from her, she still loves you.

I'll just do a little commentary on the following photos:

1. Stain glass windows in the King's College Chapel.

2. The inside of the chapel. It almost seems insulting to call this a chapel, but the word simply means a "private church," as opposed to a public parish. The ceilings in particular are gasp-inducing. The building was started by Henry VI in the mid 1400s, but wasn't completed until during Henry VIII's reign almost 100 years later!

3. Speaking of whom... This statue of His Majesty at the entrance to Trinity College is supposed to be holding a scepter... He's currently holding a chair leg. This was apparently am ongoing prank by cheeky vandals unknown. Every time the College Master would have it removed, another would mysteriously pop up in its place. In the end it was decided just to leave it there.

4. Punting on the Cam! Although the weather here has been... well, horrible... (the wind destroyed my little umbrella today) the rain thankfully held off while I went on my punting tour this afternoon.

5. The outside of the King's College Chapel, queuing up to go into the evensong service.

A Farewell...

It's time to say goodbye to my poor old blue case. We've been on many, many adventures together, but unfortunately it's got some holes and tears that I just don't want to risk on the flights.

I'm pretty sure the hole in the bum (pictured below) was from wheeling the poor thing over the uneven cobbled roads of London. There's other breaks as well, so I thought it was time to bite the bullet and get a new case. And it's RED!! (Hopefully that means I'll be able to wheel it faster!)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I went a little out of my way today to visit somewhere a bit special... ;-)

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Everyone watching the big event here in England this weekend? I watched a bit of the procession down the Thames on T.V. this afternoon, but eventually had to settle for a radio broadcast, since I had a lot of driving to do!

Since I last blogged I spent a couple of days in Bath, a lovely but rather small city. It was really nice just to stop for a day and not have to drive anywhere or do anything in particular. And just before I departed Bath, my rental sat-nav arrived! Hooray!! I can't tell you how much better I feel now that I've got a voice telling me exactly where to go and which lane I need to be in. The last couple of days would have been much more stressful if I didn't have little Tomtom.

Unfortunately because I had to wait around for a while for the sat-nav to arrive, I didn't leave Bath until midday, which meant I had to drastically cut short the list I'd made of sights I wanted to visit around the Cotswolds. I did visit Avebury, a quaint little village that just happens to have giant stones sticking up out of the ground from the Stone Age. I figured that as awesome as Stonehenge is, I've seen it twice already, so this time I'd visit a different stone location instead. Avebury is a great little place, but I wouldn't recommend visiting it INSTEAD of Stonehenge. The 'Henge is just heaps cooler.

After Avebury I raced towards Warwick Castle, not quite realising that it would be a 2-hour drive. By the time I finally got there, it was only an hour and a half before closing time, and all of the day's big events like jousting had finished. I did manage to see the trebuchet launch though, which was pretty spectacular.

What really surprised (shocked!) me about Warwick Castle is that this ancient fortress has been converted into... a family theme park! I didn't quite know what to make of it to start with. There's people dressed up in costume acting in character, there's "rides" and events, merchandise... On the one hand it all seemed a bit perverse and insensitive to the history of the castle. But on the other hand... I mean, why not? I can tell you now, all of the kids that I saw there were absolutely LOVING being in "medieval land," some of them dressing up, trying their hand at archery or meeting a dragon in one of the towers. If I was 8 or 9 I would have thought it was the best place ever. I could still walk around the castle grounds and soak it all in, climbing the ramparts and towers, etc... It's just not the kind of castle you go to if you're looking for a historical visit.

Today I called in to see Elsie, who I hadn't seen since I visited her here with my family FIFTEEN years ago!! That spins my head! It was great to catch up with her, and we both had lots and lots of stories to tell each other. She's got her aerial picture of Sandy Point up on her living room wall, and I was pointing out to her where the shops and house are. She still holds extremely fond and vivid memories of her visit to Australia back in 1994.

So now I'm in York, one of my favourite British cities. I'm so happy I've got back here. When Andrew & I breezed through York on the Stray bus tour 11 years ago I knew it was a place I wanted to return to. Only damper on the current situation is that the weather's turned lousy. Bleugh. I was driving through the rain all day today. I suppose it could have been worse... I could have been going down the Thames in a boat...

I've already been for a brief walk around the city and it's as beautiful as I remember it. Check out the photo below of The Shambles. (Third picture) Just amazing! And Yorkminster Cathedral is a sight to behold as well! I'm going to have a tour tomorrow. Apart from that, the city is my oyster. I'm going to just wander and see what I can see.

Happy Jubilee! :-)