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16 July 2007 @ 10:32 pm
We went away for a week, to Japan and the Philippines, and had a fantastic time. Brief summary of the trip is that we went to Tokyo for a few days, meeting A & K (who used to live here) on the first day. Then Cebu, in the Philippines for B&T's wedding. Back to Japan, where we travelled outside Tokyo for two days with A, to Odawara, Yugawara (an onsen village), Kamakura (where the big Buddha is) and Yokohama. A few more days based in Shinjuku, in Tokyo, then a last evening with A & K, and home again.

I'm back a week now, and I only have the first days photos up on flickr (first day are tagged jcday1). I've put more description on some of them than usual, as a photo blog sorta thing. But of course, it's not all photographed.

No photos of the airport in Amsterdam, where upon taking our boarding pass (which we'd got in Dublin), the woman said "Oh dear", and directed us over to two men at a counter, speaking to them in Dutch. We were a bit worried, but it turned out that the flight was overbooked, and while we could choose to go on it, they were offering us €600 each, plus all our expenses, to wait for another flight, either later that day, or the next day at the latest. It was tempting, but we were meeting A soon after we arrived in Tokyo, and K later that evening, plus we didn't know if that was our only opportunity to meet K in the trip (she's very busy), so we turned them down. We decided that if we got the same offer on the way back we'd take them up on it, but unfortunately we didn't.

So, arrive in the airport, down to the train station, grab a packet of grape flavour chewy sweets (quite nice) for the change and phone A. It was great to hear her voice again - that hasn't happened since our wedding. Off the phone just in time for the train to come in. Lovely smooth ride into Tokyo. Japanese trains are great. No shinkansen this trip though. But we did pass one out later on :-)

I didn't think the taxi driver was going to be able to find our hotel, as he seemed confused even after we showed him a map, but he did. And said the name of it when we arrived - it was at that point we realised it was the Toyoko Inn, not Tokyo Inn, as we'd been misreading it, and asked him for. And we later discovered it is a hard hotel to find unless you already know where it is. Apparently Japanese addresses are difficult. The hotel name almost seemed like an address itself - it's Toyoko Inn Nihon-bashi Bakuro-yokoyama A1! The room was small, but had everything you could need. Recommended. map

Met up with A, and off to have some lunch and do some sightseeing.
IMG_3864 IMG_3871 IMG_3886 IMG_3900

It was time for coffee (this was now Sunday afternoon in Japan and we had got up on Saturday morning in Ireland) and A had arranged to meet another A (oh no! I need another naming convention, especially as I've already used A & K for other people in the past), who lived in Dublin, in Dun Laoghaire, for a few months. I never met her there, but A (my A) had. So off to an chain called Bic Camera. It's a discount electronics chain, but there's a cafe there. One of the things I had wanted to do in Tokyo was go to Akihabara, using buying a spare SD card for my camera as an excuse. But they said that Bic Camera has everything Akihabara has, so I bought it there and we never did make it to Akihabara. Oh well.

Off to Ginza then, where we did a spot of window shopping and met up with K, who we hadn't seen for about three years. She hasn't changed a bit. Then there was a bit of a hunt to find a bank machine that would take our cards. After a couple of failures, we found a Citibank, which worked. And seemed to be the only bank that accepts foreign cards (we've since heard post offices work too). We had a very tasty dinner (nearly everything we had in Japan was very tasty) of a variety of things. I can't remember what. Edamame is the only thing I remember for sure, but I know there was a lot more than that! And then more coffee, and bed.

Geek summary of the trip, mostly for my own reference. Brought a few gadgets, but only a phone charger. Of course, it turned out we can't use our phones in Japan, but they were useful for meeting up with davidg666 in Cebu. Camera went through I think four sets of batteries. I brought three sets of rechargeables with me, and bought one set of disposables there. That's definitely better to bring than the charger. Used up my 512MB card, and about half the 2GB I bought there. My shiny new GPS lasted until the last day, but only by turning it off a lot. Next time I'll bring a charger for that. It filled up 77% with no memory card. A lot of my photos can be geotagged. Yay! See http://www.flickr.com/photos/mollydot/map/ and zoom into Japan. It didn't work well in Ginza though - too many tall buildings.
lizmopuddylizmopuddy on July 16th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
Sounds fabulous so far. We didn't find electronics very cheap in either Japan or China. Especially if you are looking for brand names like Sony. As they said to us in China, "they have to import them!!!!!!!!"

Is that David from the "ie" group?
davidg666 on July 17th, 2007 06:05 am (UTC)
it is indeed! wow, the Philippines are a long way away, but the trip was well worth it. Still slightly sunburned. "Rainy season" appears to mean it rains three times in one week (one week, not one day or one hour!)
a very caring potatomollydot on July 17th, 2007 02:05 pm (UTC)
It was. Can I go back yet?

I thought it was cheap when I bought it, but maybe just SD cards cost less than I think. Money well spent though, as I would have used my existing card three times if I had had somewhere to move the photos too.

Other than that, we weren't really planning on buying electronics, just looking at them. Especially if they had more advanced stuff than here. I was tempted by an electronic dictionary in the airport, but unless I get serious about learning Japanese, I couldn't really justify it.

Yep, that David. He was best man at the wedding.