A Travellerspoint blog

Kobe, Japan

sunny
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Headed straight for the youth hostel in Kobe which is about 30mins by train from the port, at certain times of the day they have women only carriages....how cool!!

The hostel in Kobe was all a bit faulty towers....seemed quite deserted, i had a room to myself which was nice though. Signs everywhere telling you what time you could do this and that...quite glad i was only there one night!!! they had a towelling toilet seat cover which was the strangest feeling....im guessing not too hygienic either...??

The next day i got my japan rail pass and left my big rucksack at Shin Kobe and got the shinkansen to Himeji. The shinkansen is the bullet train and they look so futuristic!!! Very prompt, lots of japanese businessmen on board whizzing around the country to meetings.

In the station they play birdsong and when the gates retract for you to board the train they play incy wincy spider.......so random!

Himeji was beautiful, it was raining so it was quite misty but that was ok. Its one of the only japanese castles to still be in its original form (they did a big refurb in the 50s though but used traditional building techniques) Its up quite a steep hill and i was following an american tour group up. Inside the main tower there are 6 floors with really steep stairways and it was pretty tough going! managed to hear a bit of what their english tour guide was saying but he was basically reading the exhibits!!! At the top there is a really good view over Himeji...japan is a refreshing change to china where everything is grey and brown, here all the hillsides are full of greenery which is really pretty, lots of vibrant colours.

Theres not much else to do in Himeji so went to pick up my rucksack...after a bit of a search for the lockers i found it eventually!!! experienced my first japanese toilet seat with all the gismos, its was nice and warm but i passed on all the other features!! then hopped on the shinkansen to kyoto. it really is amazing how efficient it is!

went to the tourist information centre as i didnt have a hostel booked and they gave me lots of maps and even booked a hostel for me! came straight to the hostel to drop off my things, its really nice, modern clean, lots of people here.

I headed out on one of the walking tours i had gotten from the TIC but as it was about 6ish everything had closed so i abandoned that plan! Came back to the hostel and met my room-mates, they were heading out to Gion the old pleasure district so i went out with them.

we went for something to eat and tried to peek into the exclusive looking teahouses! every now and then geisha and maiko would hop in a taxi and travel to another teahouse.

sorry its all a bit random, just typing things as i remember...seems like so much has happened in such a short time!

typing really quickly so no time for capitals...the internet is fairly expensive here. compared with china japan is a lot more expensive but on a par with london really. its also a lot easier to travel around which is handy rather than having to check things all the time..theres a lot more english signage

it looks like the weather has cleared today thankfully and im off to visit some of the many shrines and temples around Kyoto!

Posted by VanessaT 16:25 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

The Boat!

rain
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On the Saturday in Beijing i didn't really do much, i went to the Lama Temple which is apparently the most important Buddist temple outside of Tibet. Everything was quite peaceful there, lots of Chinese offering incense to the various shrines. I thought it would be more peaceful but there were quite a few people there. The most impressive thing was a giant Buddha carved from one piece of Sandal wood.

On the Sunday i made me way to Tianjin near to the port of Tanggu where i was catching the ferry to Japan. Had to catch the train from Beijing Train Station which was an experience!!!! Hardly any english signs and the Chinese are definitely not a nation that like to queue! Eventually managed to get a ticket (from one of the 90ish ticket windows!!) to Tianjin. One in Tianjin i got the bus to the hostel- it was tipping it down with rain all day and asked a man on the bus for help with the stop i needed, unfortunately he told me one to early so i had to walk for a while in the rain, i looked like a proper drowned rat by the time i reached the hostel!

Tianjin Youth Hostel is the only one in Tianjin but it was quite quiet. Turned out three other people were going to the port on the Monday morning so we all shared the ride down.
We were driven by the hostel owner and with five of us in the car it was quite steamy, not sure he could actually see out the window but we made it to the port in one piece!

The cabin on the boat was quite basic but nice 4 berth but only myself and a chinese lady in there...(Tomoko who was at the youth hostel the night before was in a 16 person tatami room so i was grateful i wasnt down there!)

There wasnt much to do on the boat so we just watched dvds mostly. Tomoko had a whole leonardo decaprio dvd collection so we watched most of his films....barring titanic....didnt think that would be a good idea being on a boat!

The two days went quite quickly, there wasnt much to see from the boat....lots of mist!

Went through quarantine in the port in Kobe where they took our temperatures with what must have been an infra red gun! Then through to immigration to get fingerprinted and a phototaken!

Posted by VanessaT 08:49 Archived in China Tagged boating Comments (0)

Beijing Ramblings


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My first full day in Beijing has been great.

Had a bit of a lie in...till 10.45, slept well though.

Left the hostel about 11.30 and walked up to Tiananmen Square...the only place in China where people don't spit!

Saw the Great Hall of the People and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, they are both massive, massive buildings....all very russian! I took some photos but it's so bright over here with the sunshine reflecting off all the smog that you can't see what you are taking pictures of!!! Hopefully i've pointed my camera in the right direction! I'm in an internet cafe at the moment so can't upload any pics but will try once i'm back at the hostel. The internet cafe is upstairs above a random shop and is baking hot!!! There are loads of chinese people here madly playing games on the pcs!

It's hot in here but outside in the evenings it's really nice, there is a good breeze which cools you down.

Anyway back to today...after wandering round Tiananmen Square i went to the Forbidden City which was amazing.
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It's so easy to imagine what it would have been like to live there under the rule of one of the emperors! Lots of little alleyways and intricate traditional chinese architecture, if they re-vamped it i would definitely move in!!! I'd probably need a golf buggy though because it's so vast! I was there about 2 1/2 hrs but could easily have spent more time in there.

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There was one mother of an emperor (well she actually ruled for a while because they kept dying!) who wore a new pair of hand sewn silk socks everyday (which took days to make) and then threw them away once she had worn them once! The opulence they must have lived in! Again i took lots of pictures but i don't know if they will have picked up the amazing colours in the buildings. I got an english audio guide which was very good. it was funny because the place was filled with chinese tour groups so i didnt feel like a complete tourist because they were too! each tour group had a leader with a little flag...so funny.

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After i left the Forbidden City i went to get something to eat...my first chinese meal! i went to a roadside cafe type place...had lots of chinese people eating there. no menu and only one dish it seemed so i got that! it was really nice something that tasted and looked like chicken so hopefully thats what it was, carrots, another sauce with egg in, some shredded cabbage and sticky rice (yes i ate some rice!!) It was really nice, not too spicy or anything.

Oh i forgot to mention, on the way a chinese lady stopped me to ask if she could take a picture of me and her daughter, she must have been about Callums age....how random. by the time they had finished there was quite a crowd!

I am amazed at how few westerners are over here, it's made me realise really how multi-cultural britain is. here if i'm on the tube i'll literally be the only person who isnt chinese in the carriage!

so after lunch i went to a lovely park to the south west of the forbidden city which was lovely to just chill for a couple of hours.

i found the new national theatre, it looks like an alien spaceship, all shiny, sleek and modern (possibly not the best idea in smog, dust filled Beijing?? wouldnt like to be the window cleaner!) anyway walked all the way round it (its got a moat!) but have decided they forgot to put a door on it because i couldnt for the life of me find a way in!!! unless i swam through the moat! i'm going to ask at the hostel tonight.

then i went to donghuamen night market that has stalls selling weird and wonderful food...i got a corn on the cob, haha!!! very exotic!

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for my evening meal i copped out and got a mcdonalds, terrible i know!! BUT over here they dont have many cold drinks fridges so whenever you get a drink its warm.....going to mcdonalds meant i could have a nice cold coke!!!!

well that about wraps up today, i'm back off to the hostel now.

lots of love to everyone xxx

Posted by VanessaT 06:57 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

I'm in China!!!

sunny 20 °C
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Just a quick hello as i'm about to go to bed as i'm so tired after being up for two days!!!

I arrived in Beijing this morning, the flight was good, lots of films to keep me entertained!

Not done much today, went to change some flight dates which took me around the city and the first thing you notice is the dust and haze! A permanent smog! And the bicycles!

The weather is nice, bright and warm but not too hot.

My hostel is nice, clean rooms, hot showers, internet access...what more could a girl want?!

Tommorrow i'm planning to go start the sightseeing properly so will hopefully have something more interesting to say and some photos to upload soon.

Talk to you all soon xx

Posted by VanessaT 08:30 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Approximate itinerary

A few people have asked when i'll be in certain places so here are the dates....

17/04/08 - 21/04/08 - China

21/04/08 - 23/04/08 - Somewhere in the sea

23/04/08 - 02/05/08 - Japan

02/05/08 - 04/05/08 - In the sea again

04/05/08 - 18/06/08 - China

18/06/08 - 26/06/08 - Thailand

26/06/08 - 24/07/08 - Vietnam

24/07/08 - 15/08/08 - Cambodia

15/08/08 - 12/09/08 - Laos

12/09/08 - 12/10/08 - Thailand

12/10/08 - 02/11/08 - Malaysia

02/11/08 - 06/11/08 - Singapore

06/11/08 - 20/11/08 - Bali

20/11/08 - 04/01/09 - Australia

04/01/09 - 08/02/09 - New Zealand

08/02/09 - 22/02/09 - Chile

22/02/09 - 18/03/09 - Argentina

18/03/09 - 15/04/09 - Brazil

Obviously this is just a guess, but it gives a general idea of at least which continent i'll be on!

Posted by VanessaT 17:14 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation Comments (2)

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