Thursday, December 4, 2008

More blogging?

Happened to be looking over the history of our blog from about a year ago and came to realize that we were posting a lot more frequently back then, whereas now, I've sort of evolved to these drawn out and fairly infrequent posts covering a larger area with lots of pictures... The old way seemed more fun, so only seems right to attempt going back to more frequent posting, so we'll see how long it lasts before I get tired of this... or simply run out of things to put down on this electronic pseudo-paper.

So... do I have anything particularly new and interesting to report at this point? No, I'm afraid I do not. Got up this morning in my hostel in Nara, said my good-bye's to Heidi, the really cute German girl who had been finishing up her business school here in Japan and to Sara and Jazz, a British couple, who have quit their jobs and gone traveling around the world - seems like a familiar story to me, but actually the first such people I've met here in Japan. Most, who do something of this sort, seem to head from Europe (they're always European... predominantly British too) straight to SE Asia, then to Australia, South America, North America, and back to Europe... But these two did the trans-Siberian across Russia into China, then on to Japan, so definitely not the standard route. Plenty of tourists here in Japan, of course, (see my comments about Kyoto in the previous post), but most seem to come just specifically to Japan.

In Nara, I headed off to the station to catch a train to Osaka, then a bus to Nagoya. As I've complained about before, getting around Japan is astoundingly expensive, so the buses turn out to be the only semi-affordable way of getting around, even if they do take much longer than the trains. But, I did reach Nagoya three short hours later, finishing the book I had currently been reading (The history of Lonely Planet) along the way. Nagoya joined the highly exlusive list of cities I've visited more than once on the trip so far (currently limited to Bangkok, Paris, and Berlin. Tokyo soon to be added as well) - all this really meant was that I had no trouble negotiating the subway system and soon found myself back at the Rumblefish bar, which Joel and Marina have since turned into Cafe Cornelius during the day:

Cafe Cornelius. Now operating for almost a full two weeks! Come have a coffee and learn your English here!

Later that evening, we went out for a meal at a nearby restaurant. Some of the highlights of the exotic menu;
- chicken liver (raw)
- ostrich sashimi (sashimi = raw meat)
- chicken skin
- chicken hearts (two hearts to a little skewer)
- some part of a chicken that connects the heart and the liver? Not really sure about this one, but it does take 8 chickens to produce a single skewer of this stuff...
- squid lips... This resulted in some musing about the final expressions on squids' faces...
- other strange, yet tasty, stuff.

All in all, I've now arrived at the point of 'you should taste everything once, since you'll never get a chance to taste this again!' So bring on the chicken sperm ducts! Joel tells me that's available somewhere nearby as well. I'm still not sure if I could stomach a cricket, which you can apparently get here in Japan as well...

Well, that's about it for now, really. I guess enough things happened to merit a fair amount of text, so maybe I can convince myself to keep this frequent posting up for a bit longer. It does, of course, have an expiration date, as, presumably, I'm only in Japan for another 10 days or so, then back to the States for a while. But not permanantly just yet, as South America and Antarctica are still in the plans for the first half of 2009!

And, well, if you've read my ramblings this far, it's only fair you get a few pictures as a reward - no new ones since Nara, but here's a few from Hiroshima, where I was prior to Kyoto:

The O-torii Gate floating near Miyajima at high tide. One of the most photographed sights in Japan - I did my part in contributing to that reputation.

Met Signe at my hostel in Hiroshima and we went to Miyajima together. Signe's Norwegian and thus almost completes my tour of Scandinavia as I hiked all over Nepal and New Zealand with Buster of Sweden, covered Denmark with Louisa and Cecile in Luang Prabang, Laos (as well as diving with Anna in Borneo), and descended from Arthur's Pass in New Zealand with a guy from Finland, whose name I cannot remember... Iceland is still missing, even though I did meet a guy from there in Tokyo, but we only talked briefly.

We ran into a Japanese wedding while roaming around Miyajima

Back in Hiroshima, the Peace Memorial Park is a moving place. The Centaph, pictured here, commemorates the thousands of unidentified victims from the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Seen in the distance through the Centaph are the eternal flame (to burn as long as there are nuclear weapons on Earth) and the A-bomb dome - a structure preserved just as it was left by the bomb in August 1945.

The Children's Peace Memorial built to commemorate the girl who battled leukimia by attempting to fold a thousand paper cranes.

The girl lost her fight against leukimia before reaching her goal, but plenty of others have since helped get well past the mark. The picture you see here is composed entirely of little paper cranes and is just one of the many displays at the memorial.

Where do we go from here? Well, I'm going to hang out in Nagoya for another day tomorrow, getting all my things organized, then off to the very North of Japan, the island of Hokaido, for a little snowboarding getaway, before coming back down to Tokyo in order to head back to the States. The car is currently bouncing around the Pacific Ocean somewhere on the way to Vancouver, tentatively scheduled to arrive right around Christmas, so there's a trip to Canada in the works right around the New Year.

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