Friday, December 31, 2010


Today we started a bit later as we planned a trip to the Catacombs under Paris. They opened at 10 but the queues were long the other day, so we turned up early, as we do. This was a good thing. The line grew quickly and only 200 people are allowed in at a time. They are very ghoulish, but interesting. The bones are stacked so neatly and all labelled from the church graveyards they are from. There are also some very clever rock carvings done by some of the workers.
After the catacombs, we went to meet Jean-Louis and Marie-France for lunch opposite the Institute of the Arab World. This building is fascinating, modern and has a beautiful view of the back of Notre Dame. We had a lovely lunch then came back to do the washing before we leave for Italy tomorrow and then spent the evening at home with J-L and M-F. It was very pleasant and much calmer than the days we have had recently. We all toasted new year at 2pm, which was when it was new year in Sydney! We are too tired to stay up here and apparently there are no fire-works planned, they are saved for July 14th. So Happy New Year, everyone. I look forward to catching up with you all soon in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Paris for some more...

We had another busy day in Paris today. We were out the door by 8 again which is still very dark, on the metro and of to l'orangerie which houses the huge Monet canvases. As it happens the queue was not as bad as other museums have been but it was still nice to get an early start. The building has completely changed since we were here in 1989 and it has made the whole experience much better. There is much more natural light coming in to see these amazing paintings.
After Monet we had some spare time before our booked trip up the Eiffel tower so we went to a shopping area but were not really inspired so we went and had lunch before heading to the tower.
Pre-buying tickets was such a good idea. The line went for miles to buy tickets but we only had to wait a little bit in our line, mostly because something seemed to be slowing the lift down. So we headed up to the top which unfortunately was in the clouds, so the view was not as good as it could have been. We went back down to the second platform level. Here we could see much further and had fun finding all the places we had been to visit. It is pretty exciting to be up the eiffel tower!
After this we went to visit some friends who have been in France as missionaries for quite some time. Their boys start off a bit older than Marc and there are 4 of them. It was really nice to step out of tourist mode for a couple of hours and be in a family home where the boys could play with someone else their own age. It was a lovely visit.
From there we went back to see Jean-louis and Marie-France for a nice dinner. It was nice to spend a dinner at home around the table rather than at a restaurant.
Tomorrow it is off to the catacombs. Enjoy the last day of 2010.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Paris, France

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Busy Day in Paris

Well we had a very busy day today, but it was fun. We started with our beautiful hotel breakfast of baguette, croissant, hot choc and juice and we were out of the hotel before light (ie 8am). we were in the queue for the Louvre by 8:15 for a 9am opening. We were not the first there but we were not far down the line. We had bought tickets at FNAC so we went straight in. We enjoyed the sculptures, Egypt, Greece, of course the Mona Lisa and a general wander around. When we came out at about 11:30 the queue to get in was very long so the early start was good. We moved on to Notre Dame and enjoyed a boulangerie lunch while standing in the queue which was long but due to the free entry, moved very fast. Then we went to the Musee d'armee which is at the same site as Napoleons tomb. The boys really enjoyed this and it was fun to watch them, which was good because I can take or leave ancient arms and armor! We also went to see napoleons tomb. Tonight we are going next door to a restaurant that serves crab with hammers, gives you an apron and covers the tables in paper. That should round off a full but interesting day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Paris, France

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another day in Paris

It sounds so blasé! This morning we left early for the musee d'orssay which has a lot of sculptures and 19th century art. Leaving early was good. We had bought tickets already at FNAC and we were first in line, which we realized was a good thing when we emerged a couple of hours later to see the queues going around the corner. I have a new favourite artist, since most of the Monet was somewhere else for an exhibition, i discovered Pissaro. Some amazing impressionist paintings, better than his poitism work. We then walked to Saint Chapelle where we did have to line up for quite some time, but it was worth it. The windows are spectacular. Then we thought about Notre Dame but the queues were too long, another day, and we went to the catacombs but the queues were so long we were told that no-one else was allowed to join the queue for the day so we came home and spent the evening with Jean-Louis and Marie-France and the went out with them to a very nice Italian restaurant for dinner. It was a nice end to a fairly grey, but not freezing day. Tomorrow we are heading off early for the Louvre. Need to plan what we are prepared to line up for and what we need to turn up early for. There are more queues than we expected.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, December 27, 2010

Arc de Triumph and Eifel Tower

This morning we woke to a classic French breakfast, which had Ryan very happy. Baguette and Croissant with hot chocolate and orange juice all found downstairs in our hotel breakfast room. We then investigated laundry options and put on a load at the local laundromat and while we were waiting for it to dry decided to climb the Arc de Triumph. The view from the top is worth the 250+ stairs. It was amazing. We then met Jean-Louis (Luc's father) who took us back to their flat for a lovely lunch and time together. The boys got given their first french knife. Not sure what I think of that, but I know it is a really important part of Luc's life. The afternoon looked like nice weather so we headed over to the Eifel Tower, but so did the rest of France so we didn't feel like waiting for 90mins in a queue. We will buy reserved climb tickets and go back another day. We enjoyed the views, the snow and the Maritime Museum instead. Now we are home, still struggling a bit with jet-lag, but having to wait until after 7 to find places to eat dinner. It is very cold, but it is great fun being in Paris.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Made it to Paris

Well after a long but uneventful flight we landed in a white Paris. We flew over northern Siberia to get here. It was cold and very frozen down there. We crossed the eurals and then all of Europe was covered in cloud so couldn't see any more.

We landed in Paris about 3:30 local time but by the time we got to our hotel it was 5:30 and we had been up for over 20 hours. We had just enough energy to find a Local pub to but steak and French fries (very French and in need of a meat hit) and fall into bed. The boys are still asleep after 10 hours so hopefully jet-lag won't be too bad. We are looking forward to a roman alphabet, famous sights, family and six nights in the same hotel. It certainly beats watching the Australians play cricket at the moment!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Paris France

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Last day in Tokyo

Well this is the end of our Japanese leg of our holiday. Today we had a look around Ueno park just near where we were staying (not a suburb I would recommend - adult content neighbourhood). It had some interesting sites and old shrines. It was here that the Edo empire fell in the mid 1800s to be joined to the rest of japan and become Tokyo.
From there we went to the Imperial Palace gardens. They were beautiful, well kept, but not amazing.
Then we went to find the Pokemon shop which was very kitchy, but not very interesting. The best part was the free stickers given to the boys at the train station exit. As we were about to leave for another train we spotted a garden. It was beautiful. Well laid out, nice lakes, coi, large egret/heron type birds, rocks and hills placed in significant locations and lots of flowering cherry blossoms. In some ways much nicer than the imperial gardens.
Then we went to Asukasa where we had a lovely lunch. The boys pointed out that this was their first christmas lunch out, and I am pretty sure it is mine, too. We looked around, did a bit of shopping and then headed for akihabura. I am currently sitting in a cafe while the boys are all playing arcade games in the sega tower. I am sure they will come and find me again sometime.
Things I noticed about japan - there are bikes everywhere and no- one wears a helmet. Some bikes have baby seats on the front and on the back.
The whole country is accessible to vision impaired people especially if they use a cane. The footpaths have a textured yellow strip down them which change texture as you come to lights or a crossing. The pedestrian lights make different noises and there is Braille everywhere.
There are a lot of vending machines especially for drinks - the stat I heard was 1 machine for every 5 people!
Everyone is very polite. The train ticket inspector bows at the door before he leaves the carriage, and this is normal. Shop staff all call out hello, goodbye and thank you whenever anyone comes or goes and everyone waits in tidy lines at the train platforms where the trains pull up exactly where the platform markings are.
It has been a completely different culture in japan, but definitely one I could get used to - except the rice for breakfast! Talk to you again from Paris.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Tokyo, Japan

Day trip Hakone

Today we had planned to have a day around Tokyo based on the fact that the Imperial Palace should be open and that would be the morning and there were a few small places we wanted to go. However, when we got to the palace it was closed, so we had nothing to do for the morning.
A quick decision to swap our days around, we went back to Tokyo station and hopped on a Shinkasen for a trip to the mountains to hopefully see Fujian. we had great views of Fuji on the train on the way back from Kyoto so we were hoping for a repeat. See my entry on transport to see how we got there. The mountains were pretty, some autumn colours left and even a few cherry blossoms. On the sky rope we went over sulphur hot springs, experience with nose and eyes! The mountain lake was beautiful. There were little orange Japanese gates around the shore showing entry points to different places. When we got off the fancy three masted boat, we walked along a cedar path for a couple of kilometers. They were planted a few centuries ago to protect the traveler from sun and snow. We felt like we needed the snow protection today. It was freezing up in the mountains. However, we got our view of Fuji. If you want to sit through 1000000 photos some day, they are there! It is a spectacular mountain and we were looking at the snow covered face. Very nice. On our way back we stopped at another amazing japanese castle at Otawara. The kids had fun feeding coi and the white caste stood proudly against the setting sun. When we got back to Tokyo we went and found yakatori alley and had some yummy skewers. Then we found ice creams and came home. It was a long full day, but really pleasant and interesting. Merry Christmas everyone. It feels strange here. There are lots of lights and santas, but it certainly doesn't feel like christmas.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Out of Tokyo

Friday, December 24, 2010

Transport Day

This entry is for you, Thomas. Today we went on lots of different types of transport. We caught a local subway train to Tokyo station then we got on a bullet train. Not the fastest but it took us 90km in 36 mins. Then we changed to a local train or 2, then on to a cable car up the very steep mountain. We then swapped to what they call a sky-rope which we would call a gondola. We had to change half way over the mountain. Then we were at a lake so we caught a boat, but not any old boat, it looked like a pirate ship, only it was motorized, sails furled. After that we walked for 2 km then hopped on a bus back to the local train station, and as I am writing this we are on the bullet train again taking us back to Tokyo. You would have loved it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Tokyo day trip

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kyoto back to Tokyo

Today we decided to go and view some gardens in temples, especially looking for raked rock gardens. They are very beautiful and peaceful. I admire the stones, but more impressive from my point of view, are the moss covered grounds. The ground is free of undergrowth and looks from a distance like a manicured lawn, but when you arrive, it is bright green lush moss. The rocks are a stark contrast. This is all set around traditional buildings, which in this case, were working temples. They are old, full of interesting painted screen walls and tatami floors.
After this we made our way to the Shinkansen - the bullet train, to come back to Tokyo. This time we are staying in Ueno - the north-east Tokyo. It is very different from Shibuya and Marc is not impressed with the neighbourhood. It is certainly interesting nightlife. However, the futons are comfortable and there is plenty to see. Ueno park is just around the corner, so we are looking forward to seeing that in daylight tomorrow. We went out to a Shabu Shabu restaurant tonight. Another very Japanese experience. You are served a plate of raw meat and greens and there is a boiling broth in front of you. You then cook what you want to eat in the broth and add sauces and eat, then cook some more etc. Everyone had fun.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kyoto / Osaka

Well today was very full, but as Ryan said, we managed it on our own without getting lost! We were at the gates of Kyoto Castle at 8:45 where we walked around some beautiful gardens that belonged to the Sho-gun. We also went inside (no shoes) and saw the painted walls and the most interesting part, the floors that squeaked like nightingales, to warn of intruders, which happened by the way the joists and bearers are set up.
Then we caught a taxi to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto (it was the capital of Japan before Tokyo and after Nara). We arrived at about 9:58 and had to sign in and show passports etc. It didn't cost anything, but it is by guided tour only and the tour started at 10am or 2pm. We were allowed to join the 10am tour, but the security guard made us run to join the group. He was also at every intersection, counting to make sure no one strayed from the allowed path. However, it was beautiful and the private gardens are impressive. The emperor still uses this palace when he comes to Kyoto and although he was not enthroned here, the special coronation thrones were flown to Tokyo by helicopter for his ceremony.
After this we caught trains to Osaka. This is the only place i remember from our trip in 1976. We went to the aquarium. I think the boys blogs will tell you what they thought of that. It was amazing. The biggest tank had 2 whale sharks in it and sometimes you had to look for them!! It was set up as a tour around the pacific ring of fire so as you walked around the huge Pacific Ocean tank which stayed on your right, on your left were smaller tanks showing the sea life from that part of the Pacific.
After that we made a stop just for me. We went to Osaka castle. This is what I remember of Japan. It is magnificent. We got there just as the sun was going down, so Luc's photos are great, with the gold at the top glistening in the sun light. We also found a coin-stamping machine, so now I have a coin with my name on it 34 1/2 years after I got my first one from the same castle.
It was a weary 4 Betbeders that made our way via several trains back to Kyoto and found ourselves in the same vending machine ticketed restaurant that we enjoyed last night. Then up to blog, have baths for weary feet and put out the futons to go to bed...Good night!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kyoto / Nara

Well I didn't get allowed on the computer yesterday so I am blogging at 7 in the morning while everyone else is waking up. We have free fast Japanese internet in this hotel, so the boys spent the evening adding photos to their blogs because it didn't take very long to upload each photo.
Yesterday was our 2nd of 2 guided days. Luc found a company called Japan by locals or something like that. We pay one person to take us around for a day. It was great in Tokyo and so today was Kyoto/Nara. She was late which is very unusual for Japan and the day didn't start well. She seemed to dither a lot and it took us 30mins to get to the train we needed. By the way, Thomas (my nephew) would be in heaven here. We catch at least 10 trains a day and the system is organised, but complex so you have to work out which train line you need to be on when.
The day got better once we were headed for Nara, which was about 45mins on the semi-rapid train. We then had to catch a bus to the temple. The deer here are sacred and overfed. They are everywhere waiting in lines at the deer-food vendors and ready to pounce on anyone who buys them biscuits. The temple holds the 20m high Buddah. It is cast in iron and very impressive. The grounds were well laid out and everything was big. It was interesting having our own guide there as she told us everything we needed to know about everything, from the deer antler cutting ceremony to the construction and reconstructions of the temple.
We also walked to see a shrine where the lanes were lined with 2000 stone lanterns.
Then we caught a train to see another shrine. But the highlight of the day was the last stop. We got off the train and walked up a hill for about 20mins through a buddist cemetery. 200000 families have their burial sites. (Everyone gets cremated). You are supposed to visit your site 4 times a year and if you don't visit for a certain amount of time, the site gets reclaimed. This is shown by tags hanging around the little obelisk that is on the site.
There was a shrine at the top, the most active shrine in Japan. Then we wandered down the hill via another route. This was great. apart from soft serve black sesame ice-cream, we went through little alleys and saw really interesting, traditional buildings and gardens. This made the day. This landed us back in a part of Kyoto we knew and we caught the bus home, just as the rain started.
A bit later on we went for a dinner forage and found another vending machine restaurant where everyone found something they liked so we came home full and tired.
Now our traditional rice/fish breakfast has just arrived. Not sure how that will go, we have bread and ham in the fridge for Ryan to survive on.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kobe to Kyoto

The night was, as predicted, fairly sleepless, but only from my point of view. All the boys said they slept fine!! Anyway, it was only one night.
We met Kellie at 10am after doing some washing in the "coin laundry" in the hotel. The dryer was almost useless, so I packed bags of wet washing to dry in Kyoto. We walked around Kobe for a while. We went to a 100yen shop where everything in the world was there and all for 100Yen each. It was an experience. (100 Yen is about $1.20) Then we went to see a shrine and up a government building which had an observatory level to look over Kobe. Then we found a nice place to have lunch. You have to order it using a vending machine, get the ticket and then take it to the counter where they cook it for you. That seemed to work.
After lunch we said goodbye to Kellie and made our way back to the hotel, picked up our bags and headed for Kyoto. We are getting good at Japanese trains so we were not phased by the line changes we had to make (3 or 4 in all to get from one hotel to the next). We checked into our Kyoto Hotel where we are staying for 3 nights.
There I found another coin laundry and this time the dryers worked, so we have clean and dry washing. The room is set up with sofa beds which you unfold and then put futons down and doonas and pillows on top. Very multi functional.
Later on in the evening we went for a quick train trip and walk in Kyoto. We saw an amazing temple / shrine which was very dramatic at night time. Lanterns everywhere and bright red and orange gates and eves etc. It looked fantastic. These are not just tourist attractions. There are always Japanese at these shrines praying and following different rituals.
We then found a tiny tepanyaki place that cooked us dinner infront of us and served it in alfoil trays (hand folded) that were kept hot on the bbq plate. It was great. We also stopped for some yakatori sticks. Food here is fantastic.
Tired, but full of experiences, we came back to the hotel to make up our beds and have baths and go to bed. Heading to Nara tomorrow with a guide and with Kellie. Should be good.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Church in Kobe

We spent the afternoon and evening with Kellie, our friend who is a CMS missionary in Kobe. She is still in the language learning stage of her assignment, which is a long stage when learning Japanese. After she comes home for 6 months next September, she will be a full fledged out-of-language-school member of the KGK which is a student group in Kobe. Her church had a bi-lingual christmas service in the afternoon, then a pot luck dinner, kris-kringle and movie in the evening. The pot luck dinner was interesting. For a lot of the Japanese it was the first baked turkey they had ever seen or tasted (cooked by another CMS family from Melbourne). For us there were also many different "normal" japanese dishes. I have never had turkey and gravy with chopsticks before! Then there was a movie, for the kids in Japanese. So we all went to a little room and sat on the floor and talked. We were joined by a few of Kellie's English students who wanted some practice. The problem was, they were 14 year old girls who do not talk to boys at all. However, the boys don't have the same issues and the i-pads were a sure way to start a friendship so by the end of the half-hour, both boys had a couple of good conversations with people they had never met before and they thought it was a good night. The Kris-Kringle was funny. We all got a present, then someone played jingle bells on the piano and we passed the presents around until the music stopped, sometime changing direction when we worked out what the Japanese was for that, and then we got the present we were left with. All edible, so we don't have to carry them home! Looking forward to spending the day with Kellie tomorrow. Bed relatively early in a room with only 3 beds all pushed together. Going to be an interesting night...

Luc's trip Journal

Most of my mini notes on where we are and what we are doing as we do them are put into trip journal on the iphone.

The photos go straight to FB also and these are just iphone photos.

An upload of flickr photos will happen when I have energy and a faster cable connection.

The tech of carrying stuff with the tribe - part 1

- luc's post

This is an ongoing conversation with myself and with the tribe...

How do we best carry all our stuff?

The main decision is ... do you take backpacks or rolling luggage (is there a technical term for that?).

As a hiker I am accustomed to carrying all my stuff on my back for a whole day but travelling as a family in essentially urban settings is the name of the current game.

We decided to take backpacks on this trip because of the number of transfers we are doing. Our shortest stay .. tonight in Kobe .. is only one night and our longest .. in Paris .. is 7 nights. Mostly it is 3 nights. All up we are doing about 14 bits of city walking getting to hotels and handling bags in subways and inter-city trains. So we thought that backpacks would make a lot of sense.. That was my thinking back in Sydney without having actually done a day with a pack on our backs navigating CityRail or Tokyo Metro or Paris Metro.

So what is it like in Tokyo with a backback?

And I mean a proper backpack.. at least 70L or 55L for the kids.. not a little daypack ...

Well, to start, the shinkasen while fast does not give you lots of room for your bags (unlike the N'Ex - Narita Express which is pretty well set up for big bags). So storing the backpacks as you move is a lot more complicated .. and they are messy things with straps sometimes going everywhere (even on mine sometimes.. those of you who have hiked with me can stop sniggering.)

And then there is the fact that you are twice as wide with a backpack. On the Yamanote Line at 7am on the way to Tokyo station this is a real issue. You need to watch out you don't turn round too fast and knock over half a carriage of very puzzled commuters. Placing a wheelie bag at your feet is much easier than taking off a pack in a crowded train... this is something we have faced a couple of times already.

And lastly there is the carrying.

Arriving in a new place ... like Kobe today ... you can easily make a wrong turn (yes even with a GPS Ryan) as you look for a hotel or as you come out of a subway or railway at the wrong exit (especially in Japan). Every wrong turn is extra minutes with a heavy pack on your back and potentially tired kids who want to enjoy the destination more than the journey.

Looking about, we are the only crazies with backpacks of any size. The wheelie bags rule in Japan and I can see why. Easy access, good pavements and who wants to carry a 16 kg pack containing about 6 kgs of items you might only need once on a 5 week trip.

So the conversation keeps going in my head... and amongst us as we go.

Were the packs a good idea?

Are we just experiencing the shock to the system that often happens when you go hiking? ... But then, as has often happened for me when hiking, you get used to the load and how you pack your gear and it gets easier as you keep walking. Your body adjusts. So perhaps that will happen...

And did we pack too much? ... Yes ... But it is winter, and we are going for a long time and so some things which look stupid as I pull them out now may yet come into their own in a couple of days or weeks.

So for right now I think I am ok with my backpack ... but everytime I see someone just rolling their little suitecase behind them my back twinges a little bit to suggest that I may not be completely sane and so my logic should not be trusted.

The thinking will go on.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ninja restaurant

So last night we booked in to a gimmicky ninja restaurant. It will be interesting to read the kids' perspective. It was very theatrical. We were led through a secret ninja door through a long ninja training tunnel, past a waterfall over a broken bridge to our ninja seats. We then had a ten course set menu and were entertained by ninja service and magic. Luc took lots of photos and detailed the courses in his post in his trip journal which is available on his facebook page. It was lots of fun, certainly an experience and I think the boys thought it was fun. The food was excellent, for the most part and the presentation was amazing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Heading for Kobe

We are on the bullet train to Kobe. We are speeding through well populated but not Tokyo populated japan. Small plots of farm, the size of our backyard. Houses as well as units. Meeting another bullet train shows how fast we must be going. Views of mountains out the window, might be too cloudy to see fujiama.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bullet train

Day 3 in Tokyo

Today we woke up a bit later and after our French breakfast we set off for a shrine not far away set in beautiful gardens again. This one was built by the people of Tokyo to honour an emperor and empress who died in 1912 and 1914. They donated and planted 100000 trees. Very nice. We went here today because the date yesterday was not a lucky date for weddings, but today was so chie, our guide yesterday, told us to come today so we could see some Japanese weddings. Which we did. We saw 2 processions while we were there.
After that we caught the train to Akihabera, the electric city, where all sorts of electronics are sold in all sorts of shops. Lots of people, lots of noise. An experience.
We then went to look for a blogged about food alley, but after some frustrating walking around, we gave up, went to a sushi train type of place, then came back to the hotel, tired and ready for some down time. Luc went to find our restaurant for tonight. It is a Ninja theatre restaurant. We will see what that is like. Will blog about it later.
Off to Kobe tomorrow to see our friend kellie. Looking forward to seeing her and spending some time in her church.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Friday, December 17, 2010

The tech supporting the tribe

Luc's post.

Very happy so far with our tech setup and I should share some aspects now and detail them elsewhere in case others want to follow this approach.

Before leaving I organized to get a micro sim for my iPhone from a company called

They offer a sim with unlimited data for $12 per day which is very reasonable for unlimited international roaming.

So. During the day this sim lives in my iPhone and I can use email, gps, Internet, connected apps etc. Basically I feel at home :) and I know how much my data will cost me... All good. I got the sim in Sydney thanks to Alan who collected a parcel and saved the $55 mail out. And it worked in Sydney. And worked in Tokyo. International roaming is no longer arcane magic but knowing how much it will cost you is a nice change.

So one iPhone connected is nice and roaming is nice and a flat fee is nice but I wanted more. I wanted to make a hot spot so I could share my nice unlimited Internet with my other devices.

Devices. I think we have brought with us 5 devices with wireless capability :) ... Yes I know I have a problem but I like living in the future and in the cloud so bite me.

So anyway here we are at 6:54 in a hotel in Shibuya and we have 3 devices blogging at the same time. My MacBook Air and an iPad and I'm typing this on my iPhone.

No tethering and no jailbreak needed.

The magic is in my Huawei 524e PocketWifi. I put my Unlimited data sim into it and abracadabra I can share that unlimitedness.

Knowing the incantation to make the PocketWifi work is advanced level thaumaturgy but the principle is simple and pretty awesome in practice.

I will post more details on what you need to do that device to make it work soon. Basically you unlock it and give it the right apn settings.

Today in Tokyo

This morning we went down to breakfast after having a shower. We found a French patisserie just below our hotel which is at a major train station. We then set off for the day tom discover tokyo with the aid of a guide. Se spent the day with us which was fantastic. She took us to the Tokyo fish markets, both the retail and the wholesale sections. They are the biggest fish markets in the world. They were incredible. So many different types of fish all presented beautifully.
Just a short walk from the markets is the Hama-rikyu gardens. We walked around here for a while. The trees were very old including the 300 year old pine. It was beautifully presented and maintained. It belonged to the sho-gun as his private gardens. It even had a place for him to do his duck hunting.
From here we boarded a boat and went up river to the shrine area. It was a lovely day, not too cold, and being on the water was fantastic. We went under lots of different types of bridges and then got out at the shrines. We walked to a noodle shop for lunch. There was a guy in the window making the soba noodles fresh for all to see and then we went and ate them with tempura shrimp and beans. There was also a radish dish from a radish that is only harvested every 3 years.
Then we went on to the shrine and temples. They were traditional bhuddist Japanese temples and right next to it was a shinto temple, too. There is a festival over the next 3 days so there were market stalls everywhere selling the paddles and shuttle cocks for the festival. It was all very bright and lively.
From the temples we got on the subway again and went to some very beautiful Japanese gardens. The trees still had some autumn colour, the bridges were old and interesting, there was even an old cherry blossom in flower. There were beautiful lakes, fish and ducks. It was very peaceful right next to tokyo's main baseball stadium and amusement park. Quite a contrast.
The last stop for the day was to a local government building that had an observatory deck so we watched sunset from the 45th floor. It was great.
Now we are resting before we go and find something for dinner and experience the local night atmosphere.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Tokyo, japan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Safe landing and on the train

Typical airport waits but really well organised.
Getting the JR passes sorted and tickets into Tokyo/Shibuya was superbly well set up for dumb foreigners.
The ladies at the JR office helped us book seats to Kobe on 19th also.
We are the proud owners of Suica cards which will let us ride the subways. The card is pre-loaded with credit and comes as a combo with a return ticket to the airport for 55,000 yen.
Very happy Betbeders landed in Tokyo.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hats for the bois

Christmas pressies. Warm merino hats for the bois.

Location:Departure Plaza,Mascot,Australia

About to board

Kids excited. Adults a little tired. Woke round 5am and some minor hassles at check-in but being early meant no Luc stress.

Chrissy purchases done.

About to board with the Japanese schoolies.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Departure Plaza,Mascot,Australia

The night before

Hi, welcome to my blog about our trip. We are all packed, have had a christmas party, said goodbye to Primary School, had 4 extra for dinner, washed up, mopped floors, put away the washing and now we are ready to go. I hope you enjoy our musings. Don't forget to look at what the boys have to say, it is always interesting from a different point of view.