Thursday 10th September
We both had great sleep and got up the same time, which was a bonus. Quick email home before leaving hostel and mum was teasing me about mash potatoe that she was having for dinner, cos I really fancy it NOT FUNNY MUM te he.
Lots of trains - first to Kokura, where we changed to get one to Shin-Osaka, to Osaka, then final train to Nara. Watched the rest of The Last Samuria, wrote in diaries and had some naps, wasn't too bad. Was quite hungary, so when passing a stand with little pieces of cheesecake on sticks to try, we couldn't help ourselves, they were sooooo good, its a shame the cake itself was quite pricy.
Arrived in Nara for about 3pm, we are making the most of our train pass, it cost enough, but well worth it as those people we have spoken to that have not bought them are either paying a small fortune to go from place to place or are limiting the amount of places they visit.
The ladies in the information booth were lovely, gave us a map and lots of details about the best places to see and tips on areas to go, were so sweet, they even booked the hostel for us as we didn't have time before we left Beppu. 5-10mins walk and we were at the hostel, was a nice place, a little cafe with rooms on the floor above, very simply but very sweet, all beds had curtains so very cosy. Settle for 5mins, left bags and went to explore.
Main hight street was about 5mins walk away, lots of little shopping arcades and game areas, where we came across a sweet traditional Japanese restaurant hidden away and went for an early dinner, was one of the best we've had yet. They brought out a tray of food each at cheap prices, lots of food very tasty, consisting of soup, veg, tea, noodles and something sweet, really good.
The pond at the end of the main street was pleasant, we took a stroll around that and found the 5 story pagoda that was mentioned in the lonely planet, dates back to 1426, very spectacular. Had a wonder into the park area, which was covered in deer, so calming watching them slowing wander around not bothered at all by us, they didn't seem as friendly as the ones in Miyajima, but certainly wasn't worried about us walking amongst them. Was quiet in the park and really enjoyable.
Grabbed some donuts whilst looking around the shopping arcades on way back to hostel YUM YUM. Got back, went on web for a bit, then bed for an early night YEHHHH.
Ok Ali has been hogging this blog for ages! Subsitute!
Friday 11th September
Did some boring bits in the morning like washing clothes and backing up photos, Ali came back with breakfast, cheese on toast very Japanese......?
Couldnt get the photos to work at the hostel so we went to the closest internet cafe, this started to work and after an hour and half, turned out nothing saved, good thing i didnt know any Japanese curses!
We went back to nara park past the 5 storey pagoda, and the 3 storey pagoda which was even older and stayed watching a group of elderly do watercolour paintings, very talented.
Decided to feed some deer crackers. Ali dived right in to the middle as i stood back cautiously and watched her get surrounded, and she was giggling til a stag bit her butt! I have a great photo of the exact moment! Then there was me going in feeding one by one until the same stag goy my attention from behind by stabbing me with his horns. Cheeky git! Didnt see him coming! Where was my wing woman! Oh yeah too busy laughing at him sneeking up! Thanks
Then we went to the two zen gardens most famous in Nara. The first one was free to us as we were tourists, just had to write some information about where we heard about it. This place was excellent. Had a good look around and sat drawing the temple inside, surrounded by trees, flowers and ponds, i sound so manly! Was good though!
The second one was bigger and better. Had to pay a small fee but it had lots of stepping stones and temples in the distance that had mountains just behind in the distance, perfect place. The trees had started to change now so many were a reddish colour. Was quite something! Didnt seem like we were in a city at all. Nara by the way used to be the old capital of Japan, so its temples were the oldest around, and probably why it has some of the best gardens in Japan.
Saw some smaller temples around before getting to Todaiji temple. It has the largest wooden building and largest Buddha statue 'The Daibutsu' in all of Japan.
There were lots of school kids about and they all wanted to talk to us. They were practicing their English but we made good oppourtunity to practice our Japanese. One kid asked me about football and what team i supported, when i said Arsenal he loved it and showed me his Arsenal bag. He kept naming different players! Good boy! I told me a few chants, he can take that back to his school.
The temple was amazing, we were amazed at how big it was. The buddah inside was great, its hand was out like a high five position so we had to get photos of us high fiving a buddah!
Next place was the GREATTT BIGGG BELLLL. Thats how we kept calling it anyway. It was just outside from the temple, stayed awhile admiring the two places and then went on to another temple. Yes many temples, doesnt get too boring as they are so good. This one had a huge balcony looking over Nara, the sun was setting and we enjoyed the view watching the deer call their babies over.
By this time the temples were starting to close. We wandered back through the park to see what else they had and walked through a huge gateway. Looked abit grand! Then we walked down towards a large lake that had a pier leading up to a pavilion. It looked like something out of the movies, couldnt take any pictures as out batteries ran out so drew it instead. Was getting dark now so we walked back towards the hostel direction and back into the internet cafe to give the photos a second go, thank god, still hadnt learnt any Japanese swear words! so they werent needed.
Saturday 12th September
He's got some cheek, I had no choice but to try and keep on top of this blog because SOMEONE decided to buy a bigger diary and needed to re-write everything and therefore had no time to write on this blog SOME PEOPLE te he Anyway - Took our time getting up and ready for a new day, more cheese on toast and we were ready for yet another adventure. After many people guiding us in all the wrong directions, we found the right trains (3 trains to be exact) and arrived at Asuka a town not too far away from Nara. Thought we would spend the day here, riding some bikes and checking out the local sights. Like a couple of kids we were enjoying going fast down hills and Ad was every now and then taking his legs off the pedals and gliding along, stretching his legs out enjoying every minute, it was nice to ride a bike for a change. Stopped at a little museum that showed the history of the town, was quite sweet and free so worth a stop. Then onto a famous area of a tomb that had been found under some large rocks, which they believed to be a stage for some time. Is now just the rocks with a whole underneath but hey ho, worth a visit I suppose. The town was quite traditional looking with old temples and buildings all around, was nice to ride around, although not a huge amount to see. One temple we visited was thought to be the oldest in Japan, so that was great to visit, it didn't look much different to others we had seen but if they say it's the oldest then I guess they know best. All was going well until all of a sudden DUN DUN DUN, they dreaded rain began to fall, NOT FAIR. On went the poncho's and boy did we look silly riding around with ponchos on, but we def found the funny side of it. When we dropped the bikes back the ladies couldn't help but look sorry for us as we were still drenched, but it wasn't too far back to the hostel, so we didn't mind too much. It was nice to have a nice warm shower when we got back to the hostel and relax for a little to warm up a bit. Headed to town for dinner, the rain had calmed down a bit now, still spitting but not too bad. Found another place that did tray meals and as we were so impressed with the last one, we chose to do it again, but with slightly different things and once again a great deal and delicious food, very pleased. Ad was keen to watch the Arsenal game which started at 11pm our time, the hostel did not have a TV, so told us of an English pub in town that shows a lot of sports. We found it no problem and Ad got very excited when the lady said that they will play the game he wanted for him. What a come down when her friend who could speak English added that the bar closed at 11pm though. I think Ad was crying inside, what a disapointment, he couldn't believe his luck and there was no negotiating on opening times. Checked another couple of pubs but no good. Back to hostel. I managed to get on web for a while and rearrange some pics to put them in order. Heather could hear me on skype but I couldn't here her. Luckily Ad managed to get on there after me and as everyone had gone to bed he was able to watch the game, a very happy man in the end, well that was until Arsenal were loosing, then he came to bed. I watched Marley and Me, so had very red eyes Such a good but very sad film.