Round-up!

I really am planning on finishing the description of the best mother-daughter trip ever. I also need to talk about Thailand (awesome!) and even my few days back in Japan. When I think about Yokohama, all I hear is, ” Whooooooo-oooohhhh-oooohhhhh, Yokohama Baystahs.” It’s a song, one of many, that is sung during baseball games. I LOVE Japanese baseball games. And this time, I even bought the noisemaker bats. I got to bang them together (in time!) and even do a dance that involved the bats. It was awesome! Ok, biggest synopsis ever but here we go…

After Mom and I did all things “local,” we headed down to Kyoto. We saw the Golden Pavilion, the Ryoangi temple, Sanjusangendo temple, and Nijo castle. I loved Nijo castle the most, mainly b/c that was the new sight for me. But also, the wood-working and panel work inside the main castle were incredible. Detail work always impresses me, just the cumulative effect of lots of meticulous planned out work and vision. It’s not a way of thinking that comes naturally to me, but I appreciate the results.

Also, the Ryoangi temple with its 15 rock garden fame now has one less rock thanks to us. That, or we threw a rock from our pocket in to make an even 16. I can’t remember! Mom and I are so naughty!

The next day, we went to Nara where we did a lot more walking. The Daibutsu (Big Buddha) in Nara was very impressive, as was the wooden building housing it. We also went to a few other temples in a rather large loop. Overall, we had a great time. I did not, however, love the famous deer. I thought they were rather mangy and we did not feed them stupid deer cookies that one could buy. We did see a Buddhist temple from the 700s though- the oldest in Japan. 700 A.D. is when Buddhism was introduced by a Chinese monk who really went through a lot to get Buddhism to Japan. From the sounds of it.

The next day, we saw Sanjusanjendo (see above) before heading to Osaka where we saw the castle and a pretty plum tree garden. We also went to one of the oldest Buddist temple SITES in Japan. Please note that the building were all much newer and it pays to read Frodors carefully, those over-enthusiastic nincompoops. Curses.

Then we headed to Hiroshima, where we saw the Peace Park and the museum, the Atomic Dome, Miyajima with the floating Tori, and we ate magnificent okonomiyaki, a local dish with a thin pancake/tortilla/crepeish base, cabbage, chicken, seafood, egg, and NOODLES. There is also a delicious sauce, which I bought so I can try my hand at making them at some point. Hiroshima was definitely a highlight as I really wanted to go, plus the city was way more vibrant and new than I was expecting. They did a good job of balancing legacy with living in the present.

After Hiroshima, we went to Nagoya for a fertility festival which was SO MUCH FUN. Not so much for the floats, which were very interesting, but more for the street fair atmosphere with lots of people, food stands and live musical performances by Taiko drummers.

Finally, Mom and I had a picnic in Yoyogi park on her last day. We also went to the Meiji temple. Here’s a hint- although nice to see (and I’m glad we went Mom!), dragging a suitcase through a half-mile of gravel does NOT make you the most inconspicuous pair of people around. Wheelie wheels don’t work so well off pavement or flooring. Boo!

Then, I got underway the next day. Meh. Fairly uneventful- no port calls to speak of. Right now, I’m hard at work on my SWMDO pin so that I can wear a shiny gold badge on my uni and show people that I made a modicum of effort to learn about the ship and other people’s job. It’s actually led me to some pretty cool places on the ship, although most of the aviation cool stuff I’m saving for afterwards since it’s not actually part of the SWMDO board.

Then we came back and Sue and I went to Thailand for 2.5 days/2 nights. Way short, although I still managed to burn despite 30 and 55 S.P.F. Reapply! That’s my takeaway point o’ the day! It was really beautiful. I really do love the beach!

Then we came home, work was insane (in a WAY unfun type of way) but the weekend was a lot of fun. Saturday, I crashed after Friday duty but on Sunday, I browsed in my favorite store that I finally figured out where it was after a months long hunt for it (BTW, Loft on level 7F in the Sogo Building near Yokohama Station). That’s definitely one thing about Japan- even though there aren’t a lot of very tall buildings due to earthquake fears (Landmark Tower in Yokohama is Japan’s tallest at 70 stories), there are a lot of medium sized buildings and businesses are stacked vertically for several floors. And it’s not like a mall with picture maps and central open areas so you can spy stores across the way. All the stores are in normal building buildings. So, when I can’t read the signs very well, I’m at a little bit of a loss. This verticalness also applies to restaurants and clubs, which is a little weird since I’m used to being able to look into ground level establishments and checking out the busy-ness of the scene prior to deciding to go in.

Rereading the above paragraph leads me to believe that I really need to get some sleep. Apparently when I’m sleepy, I think that as long as I use different inflection (which works oh so well in an electronic medium), I can use the same word as a noun, adjective, and verb. So succinct!

Oh, also on Sunday, “Whooooaaa-oooohh-ooooohhhhh- Yokohama Baystahs!” Baseball. I loved it. And now it’s Monday night (actually Tuesday morning just before 2) and the ship’s getting underway. So, the blog will be sadly quiet for little bit. Curse blogger and its hungriness for cookies that the ship’s firewall says “Dame” to. (Dame, pronounced DA-MAY, is always accompanied by an X gesture with fingers for small things, forearms for more emphatic gestures. It means no, no good, no more, etc. Very useful gesture- it’s helped me figure a bunch of stuff out where I would otherwise be completely lost.)

Hello! I’m here!

I dropped off the face of bloggy-hood! I’m sorry! Can we still be friends? What?!?! Biggest fight ever? Let me see if I can explain…

So, Mom and I had an awesome trip! My lil’ Mac, not so much. I did something quite unfortunate during a software update and thought I had torched my computer (and worse, my pictures) in the process. I had to wait until I got back to the ship to reinstall Leopard and then we were underway. (BTW, pictures were saved!) The ship’s firewall does NOT like the cookie hungriness of blogger.com so I was blog update-less for weeks. Although now I’ve taken care of enough IT folks onboard that maybe I can get around that during our upcoming cruises. I will ask.

So, right now I REALLY need to be packing for Thailand since all I’ve done so far is make sure I know where my passport is. I’m meeting Sue in an hour and a half before we take the YCAT bus to Narita airport. I can’t wait. We’re going to Phuket for a couple of days. I can only go for a short while, since I need to be back for work. I have taken an insane amount of leave this year, so I have to play nicely with the other kids and come back so my boss can take a few days off.

But I will update! I have to write about the rest of my trip with Mom (awesome!) and being underway which, as all you Imogen fans out there know, included MY BIRTHDAY!!!! Kind of low-key but I got a few presents and Pepe and Sue had a huge pink and purple cake made for me. It was great. But more later! Must pack!

Pardon the interruption…

Mom would like our daily mileage documented. Because I am mean and we are walking quite a bit with little sneaky hikes here and there.
Day 1 (Met at Yokosuka): 1/2 mile
Day 2 (Hakone): 3 miles
Day 3 (Tokyo): 5 miles…easily
Day 4 (Nikko): 3 miles, with lots of steps and hills!
Day 5 (Kyoto): 4 miles

But please!  Our days are ending with wine.  How hard a life can this be?

More description, fewer tangents!

Nikko is awesome! Although kind of a pain to get to, I had read so much about it and I really wanted to go. It was a rainy, misty day but all the mausoleums and shrines were beautiful and mystical. It seemed like a shogun might pop out from behind the trees because, as everyone knows, mist is totally associated with time travel and a quick flash to the 13th century? Totally plausible!

Mom and I took the Shinkasen from Shin-Yokohama to Utsunomiya with a transfer at Tokyo station. While the 1 minute miracle didn’t happen with the Shinkasen, we only had to wait ~10 minutes, which considering the trains ran fairly infrequently still makes me think the Mom’s lucky streak is alive. Once we got to Utsunomiya, we switched to the Nikko line for the 43 minute train ride out to Nikko. Once there, we started walking towards the sites, which turned out to be 180° in the wrong direction. I should have known since that always happens to me when I first look at a map. But we figured it out after a few minutes. We went to the bus stop to get a ride to the sights since we realized we really had no clue how to find the place. The bus came within 1 minute. And it’s great that we took the bus because to walk to the famous temples, which are really all on one big complex, would have taken about half an hour, mostly uphill. How unpleasant! I mean, I like walking but all it would have been was walking along roads, slightly confused where to go. There was plenty of walking at the sight itself.

My favorite temple was the Tosho-gu, with all its intricately decorated gates. I also like the Yasha-mon (She-demon gate) at Taiyu-in. The statues were quite manly, to the point where I’m not quite sure how they are female gods but whatever. Maybe I’m missing the point. The three buddhas in the Rinno-ji were also really cool. They were huge! It was the closest I’ve gotten to Buddha statues so I got to see all the surrounding accoutrements like the egret lamps, Buddhist prayer banners made of chain-linked gold, and lots of lanterns. It was beautiful!

After a lot of touristing, Mom and I headed back to the train station. We bought bento boxes for the Shinkasen home, which was key since I was starving! We drank some wine when we got home and then called it a night.

Next stop: Kyoto!

Tokyo Tourists!

On Sunday, Mom and I had a crazy packed Tokyo day. First, we went to Asakusa, which was packed! The day was gorgeous and people were everywhere. We went to a Fodor’s recommended tempura place, which was not that good. The tempura was super-heavy, rather than the way I prefer which is light and delicate to the point where I can fool myself that it might actually be a healthy dish. Not that I need to think food is healthy to enjoy it, I just don’t like heavy fried foods and it is amazing how tasty and light really good tempura can be.

We took a Sumida boat tour from Asakusa to Hinode pier, which was the reverse direction from the other times I’ve taken it. Then we went to the Imperial Palace, which was huge and really seemed like an urban oasis. We could only see the outer gardens and remnants of the old castle wall, although the moat surrounding it was intact! There were a ton of joggers and cyclists exercising around the perimeter of the palace to the point that there were traffic cops directing pedestrians and cyclists at the stoplights. Bikers are so empowered here and I’m not quite sure why. I’m all for sharing the road among cars and bikes, but I am not a fan of sidewalk sharing especially when cyclists go full-speed in all sorts of crowds. But maybe I am crabby since I was almost hit this morning and it would have definitely smarted at the rate she was going. [tangent ending…now]

As Mom and I were approaching the main gate of the Imperial Palace grounds, a group of 5 Japanese university students ran up to us, asked if we spoke English, and then offered to give us a tour so they could practice their English. Although Mom and I had a initial suspicious moment of hesitation, we decided to go for it and it was great. The students were so nice and so funny. At one point, Mom was explaining that she didn’t like sushi that “jiggled.” They thought that word was so funny, mostly because when they looked it up in the electronic translator a lot of “other meanings” popped up, probably along the lines of “milkshakes bringing boys to the yard” type of jiggle.

We also learned what “Sagoy!” meant. It’s a slang word, mostly used by young people, with a lot of different meanings. In our case, it meant “Amazing!” When we were in Hakone, “Sagoy!” was said a LOT by a group of 5 young Japanese women when we were in the cable car and the sulfur spring valley came into view, which was over a hillcrest with a dramatic drop-away.

After the Imperial Palace, we went to Harajuku where there were more cute outfits than goth, which was a first for me. We saw the dancers and walked around for a second in Yoyogi Park. We walked up Takashimita-dori, then crossed over to Omote-sando dori. We went to the Oriental Bazarr, Bitsy’s, and the Omotesando station food court. Then we headed home and ate some udon noodles.