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Day 14-16 Thailand - Bangkok (+7 GMT)

sunny 35 °C

The first thing I have to say about Bangkok is that it is very hot and humid even at night the temperature only drops to 25.

We are staying in the Phachara Suites, 3 minutes walk off the main Sukhumvit Road in the city centre, this area is always busy with people and traffic, there are many bars, and markets stalls along the streets and young Thai ladies line all the streets being friendly to any European men they see.

The night life seems to be much more active here, and our first evening we went out about 10.30 to wander along and soak up the atmosphere, the bars were busy, with many temporary roadside bars serving drinks from the back of vans. There was a huge busy market and an endless line of traffic, and it was still hot and humid.

On Tuesday we got the Skytrain from Nana to Saphan Taksin and then got on the Chao Phraya river boat. We got off at the Maharaj Pier and wandered through the markets around the Grand Palace. Unfortunately the palace is closed to visitors at the moment but we were able to visit Wat Pho. This is the oldest and largest wat in Bangkok, originally built in the 16th century and then almost rebuilt in 1785 by King Rama I. As well as the largest reclining Buddha, it has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand.


On Wednesday we walked along Sukhumvit Road, cooling down every so often by popping into an air-conditioned shopping centre. By late afternoon we headed back to the hotel and sat around the pool for an hour or so. We had booked a hotel nearer the airport for tonight but are so impressed with the Phachara Suites that we decided to stay an extra night. The evening was spent at the Suan Lum Night Market via a walk through Lumpini Park (a real get away from all the traffic area). We got a Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel ready for our 3am trip to the airport.

Posted by RobBuckley 08:06 Archived in Thailand Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Day 17-19 Japan - Tokyo (+9 GMT)

overcast 21 °C

We landed at about 14:00 and caught the Narita Express to Tokyo Sation (about an hour from the airport) and then caught a taxi to the Mecure Hotel in the Ginza area. We'd been warned to expect a very small hotel room, but it seems fairly standard to us. the bathroom contains a 'shower toilet' with heated seat!

For our first evening we ventured onto the Tokyo subway and headed for Ueno. We looked around the market area and then picked a place at random to eat. The picture shows us in the restaurant eating our 'Chicken dinner'. The food came in a compartmented tray and was very tasty....rice, chicken balls, chicken coleslaw and a soup with potatoes in.


We slept very late the following morning. I blame the early start yesterday and gaining two hours. Our first stop was Otemachi to see the Imperial Palace gardens, but unfortunately they are closed on a Friday! Our next stop was Asakusa to visit the Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple. Sensoji is the oldest and most popular temple in Tokyo (we saw 3 or 4 people who were very emotional to be here). Nakamise-dori, the promenade that leads to the temple is lined with many small souvenir shops and fake blossom.


From Asakusa we got the JR Yamanote Line (above ground) to Shinjuku, to visit the Observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. The deck is 45 floors up - luckily they have a dedicated lift. It gets dark at about 17:30 so we got a good view of Tokyo at night.


One thing we found very noticeable on the subway, was the lack of colour - everyone is dressed in black or very dark grey and usually very smart. Tokyo may be a capital city but it has quite a calm feel to it and everywhere is very clean.

For our last morning in Tokyo before heading to the cruise ship, we decided to visit the fish market......... as you can imagine it was full of fish, squid, and lots of buckets of fish heads.

The trip to the port was exciting, it's was only a 20 min tube ride away then onto the monorail over Tokyo Port, we saw the ship straight away but on the other side of the water.... proceed with 2 hours of being lost in the pouring rain!

Posted by RobBuckley 00:27 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Day 21 Japan - Osaka (+9 GMT)

semi-overcast 9 °C

Yesterday was a sea day, so plenty of eating and relaxation. Today was our first port stop, we visited Osaka, Japan's second largest city. The subway station was near the port so we got a day pass (850Yen) and made our way to the Castle. Osaka Castle is a monument from the late 16th century, when the great feudal lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi made Osaka his capital. Between the outer and inner moats, the Plum Grove was just beginning to come into flower with Apricot and Plum trees.


The castle's main tower has been turned into a museum. Most of the exhibits are based around a large folding screen depicting the rise and fall of Hideyoshi. There is a viewing platform at the top of the tower with views over Osaka.


From the castle we went to the Tennoji area to visit the Shitennoji Temple

Posted by RobBuckley 06:33 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Day 22 Japan - Hiroshima (+9 GMT)

rain 2 °C

Hiroshima has been a major port since early times and was a major military base during World War I and II. Most people know it as the target of the world's first atomic bomb on 6 August 1945. Half of Hiroshima was destroyed and 200,000 died.

We docked at 9am to a wet, cold and sleety day. We walked to the nearest tram stop and got a street-car (150Yen flat fare) to Genbaku Dome-mae to visit the A-bomb Dome. This building was one of the few buildings near Ground Zero that survived the blast, it stayed mostly upright because the blast was directly above it. All the people inside were killed.


Then we walked through the Peace Memorial Park to see the Children's Peace memorial. The monument depicts a young girl who died from leukemia caused by radiation. The girl believed if she folded 1,000 origami cranes (a symbol of long life) she would be cured. She finished 1,300 before she died.


The museum itself is full of bits of clothing, melted money etc that people were wearing/carrying when the blast hit them. A very sobering place.

Next we wandered through the outdoor but covered Hondori Shopping District. The weather picked up in the afternoon but it was still cold and drizzly. I suspect Russia will be even colder.

Posted by RobBuckley 06:34 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Day 23 Japan - Hakata (+9 GMT)

overcast 4 °C

After a rough, windy night we finally docked about 2 hours late to horizontal snow, even the water in the harbour is very choppy. Apparently the Captain announced at 7am that we would have gone over if he hadn't taken evasive action. Personally, I'd have preferred it if he'd kept that gem of information to himself.

Hakata is a ward of Fukuoka City and the traditional centre for the manufacture of traditional Japanese dolls (Hakata Ningyo)famous throughout Japan.

The shuttle bus took us to the Tenjin area of town where many of the shops are underground or at least undercover. We wandered around for a bit and then decided to sample some more Japanese cuisine. I selected a Ramen dish that looked like it had strips of chicken or pork on top but when it arrived we guessed it was some sort of vegetable.

You don't seem to be able to go very far in Japan without coming across a shrine. This is the Kago Shrine just behind all the shopping plazas.


The rope allows you to ring the bell to let the gods know you are there. You can also draw there attention to your presence by clapping loudly twice.

This evening we set sail for Siberia. The sea was very rough and most people retired to bed very early.

Posted by RobBuckley 06:36 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

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