Sunday 13th September
Was not up and out as early as we'd hoped, but we are getting pretty used to that now, who needs to get up early te he (I know you probably all hate me right now right?) Cheese on toast again, just using up our food, but damm good start to the day. Off we went for our first train journey from Nara to Osaka, then moved from platform to platform trying to find the right train for Takayama, got there in the end, would help if the train staff actually knew as well, but either they had no idea what we were asking or they just simply didn't know - I'm not sure, they do like to try and help either way though, so thats kinda nice, however it might mean that you are on a train to somewhere completely different, up to you if you ever want to take the chance. Ended up going to Shin-Osaka, to Nagaya, then finally to Takayama. Another long travelling day, arrived about 4ish. Managed to get a room at a hostel chain called J-Hoopers, even though their website said they were full - I think somebodies fibbing. We had booked another room somewhere else, but they were more expensive. All the beds so far were free in our room and they let us choose what we wanted, as they all had curtains we chose two bottom bunks and as they were on a corner it was like having a small flat te he, we hung our washing line between the beds and had loads of space for our bags, it was great, we spread out well. Dumped our bags and went to investigate. The old town area near the river was gorgeous, very Japan. We tried some traditional dumpling things on a stick, quite tasty actually mmmmmmmm, very doughey though, depends if your a big Dough fan. Spotted a Sake shop and they let us try three types for free, oh my, having not eaten properly for a few hours, lets just say any more testers and I think I may of wobbled all the way back te he. Great tasting Sake though, I didn't even realise there were different types, I thought Sake was just one drink. Had a good stroll around, had trouble finding one of the parks shown on the map, but did come across many more temples and shrines etc, was all closed as it was going into evening now, but still really nice to see. Found a busy little restaurant, the smells caught our noses, so we just couldn't resist, had a massive bowl for noodle soup and plate of chow main to share, WOW was really tasty and loads of it, we were def feeling sleepy after this one. Back to hostel - both managed to get on skype, Ad was talking to Matt and his mum and dad and I managed to chat to Mark, Heather and the Kids, was so nice to hear all their voices, WE LOVE SKYPE and for those of you who are not on it, get yourselves on it, it only costs to buy the headset and mic, it'll be great to chat to you all.
Monday 14th September
Took our time getting up, chatted to a fellow travellor in our dorm Rachel from Potters Bar (small world), she will be doing the trip with us this afternoon, nice girl.
Headed out to see the market by the river, we heard there was lots of food stalls there, so we saved this for breakfast. What a strange breakfast at that, we tried just about everything, from egg surrounding marshmellow (sounds horrid I know, but actually tasted quite nice), to pickled veg, nuts and even managed to find some of the Hida Beef which is very famous here and everybody raves about it, we can see why its absolutely delicious, so tender. The market was great, not as packed as I would have expected which was nice.
Took a stroll along by the river, watching the coy carp swimming around, there were loads of them. A really nice couple were feeding them fish food and kindly passed the bag to us to finish feeding them, was nice of them. A few pigeons managed to grab some food as well, although Ad was throwing the fish food just at the edge of the river to see how far the pigeons would stretch to reach it, meany.
Went to find the other park shown on the map, but couldn't find that one either, I think the map was lying te he, we didn't have much time to look for too long, had to be back for trip, so gave up and headed back.
7 of us got into the mini bus to Shirakawago, a gorgeous little village about an hour drive away from the hostel. Great bunch of people, we all chatted on the way. I have to admit I was a little unsure if this tour was a bit of a tourist trap and waste of money, but it soooooooo was not. Well worth the visit if anyone gets the chance.
Had a brief stop at a museum to show how the village buildings are built and what process they go through every year to maintain their thatched roofs, its actually very interesting, so much work is involved though, I think I would prefer just to stick to my style of home. After we were dropped at one side of the village and left to explore, they told us where they would pick us up and off we went. This is the best way to do a tour, cos at least you feel as though you can do things in your own time and go where you wish, some tours are so rushed and when you have to follow a tour guide it can get quite annoying.
Were with the group at the beginning then ventured of a bit, Rachel joined us and we had a good chat about all of her visits as she has already been across South East Asia, it all sounds amazing.
I was a wee bit happy snappy around this village, it looked so beautiful, like it had not been touched for years, so neat and perfect, amazing colours and flowers everywhere, was such a pleasurable place to stroll around. Had some pics taken next to some rather amusing looking scare crows and must have found the bounciest bridge around, it actually turned your stomach when walking across it, of course Ad found it funny to rock and bounce whilst we were on it - did you know I'm not great with heights OH YES - NOT SO FUNNY FOR ME.
Was a really nice few hours, when we got near to the other side, we were picked up and taken to a view point, looking over the whole of the village, got some great pics from here, what a view.
Quick stop at major supermarket on way back where we all managed to pick up our bits for dinner and snacks etc, seemed like a scene from supermarket sweep, we all wizzed around getting the bits we needed and then we were off back to the hostel. Too Funny.
Helped Ad cook up a delicious noodle meal and we sat down with others from the trip and chatted, was really nice evening. Bang one of the guys from the trip was teaching Ad how to make a basket of roses from paper, looked really neat when they had finished.
Overall a fab day. Poor Ad then spent hours burning our photos onto discs as the last discs, for some reason did not seem to work at home, fingers crossed these ones work.