I am from Bradford in England and have just started on the JET programme as an ALT. I am living in Nichihara town in Shimane prefecture and am surrounded by mountains. I quite like the countryside and the people are very friendly. Japan is a quirky place as i am finding out fast, will regularly update with stories! Until next time, Tino

土曜日, 4月 01, 2006

Hong Kong

We spent 6 days in Hong Kong over New Year's and if China was the rough-and-tumble travelling kind of trip then this was the relaxed fun chilling out part of the holiday. We waved goodbye to the foul toilets, poor hygiene and dusty roads and said hello to a developed and intriguing city.

Having said that, on the first day i stayed in the hotel room and threw up the whole day. Think it was something i ate in China, no surprise! But after that i was fine and we stayed in the YMCA hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, very near the harbour. we saw the famous laser show which lasts about 10 minutes but not only are there lasers but some of the buildings across the river have a co-ordinated light show!

On New Year's Eve, the streets around the harbour were packed so we went to somebody's apartment, who was a friend of some of the people we went with. We had a pretty cool view of the river and had a good time socialising. After midnight we went out onto the streets and went to get something to eat then went to an internet cafe and played computer games, it was about 4/5 in the morning and there were still plenty of people on the streets!!!

Whilst there we got to walk around a huge mall called Harbour City, it was part of 3 malls which attached to each other and were 8km long! Managed to get a work suit made by a tailor whilst i was there too.

Also went to see the world's biggest outdoor Bronze Buddha on Lantau Island, which is a part of Hong Kong and also had the airport and Disneyland! Still had lots of untouched scenery too mind.

All in all the trip was a great experience and whilst i am not in a massive rush to return to China (it was beautiful but not too clean), i would love to return to Hong Kong!

China trip continued....

two Korean girls from train

A pagoda in Dali


Tiger Leaping Gorge

After the day trip to the rice fields we were due to take a 19hour overnight train trip from Guilin to the historic city of Dali further north, towards Tibet. We arrived at the train station in pitch black and it was a huge communist stlye concrete building with a massive forecourt, very eerie! When we got inside we found out that the train would not be arriving at 7pm and had been delayed...for about 6 hours! Thankfully there were 1 or 2 English speakers who could explain it to us and we managed to talk and hang out with some Koreans who were getting the same train. By 1 o'clock we then found out that it would be delayed until 2.40am! And people complain about British trains being late!

We spent Christmas in Dali, a quaint old city with plenty of western tourists but also many Chinese tourists. We same some beautiful pagodas and buildings and sampled some cheap Chinese beer, about 70p for a big bottle. On Christmas Eve there were many people who proceeded to spray foam over anybody walking past, it is meant to be a tradition but just seemed very irritating!

Our last stop in China was Lijiang, a pleasant city with two halves, the old city and the recently developed new part. As tourists wanting to see some authentic parts of China we stayed in the old area. It was pretty, with a canal running through it and lots of side streets, shops and cafes.
From here, we went on a tour to the Tiger Leaping Gorge and a beautiful water plain. After 3 days here we took a plane back down towards Hong Kong......

Rest of the China trip

Terrace rice fields, Longsheng

Famous hills near Guilin

We left Guangzhou and went to head up to Yuangshou which was an old, picturesque town near the city of Guilin. This is one of the most popular beauty spots in China and allowed us to see some amazing views. We took the overnight 7 hour bus upto Lijiang and it has to be the most memorable bus ride of my life! The roads were so bumpy and the driver was going pretty fast and every time he overtook a vehicle he honked the horn so it was very difficult to sleep!

In Yuangshou there were several foreign tourists and so plenty of places to eat with Western food which resulted in us not eating as much Chinese food which was a bit of a shame. Whilst there we went on a boat ride on the river with famous rocks surrounding it. One day we hired bikes and went to try and find a certain beauty spot but we took a big detour and ended up by this road that was being built. It was interesting and fun though and at one point came across this tight road with a car in the middle. This guy turns up with a bike and decides to knock down part of the stone wall at the side so he could get past! Charming! We also went to walk up these huge terraced rice fields in Longsheng and were accompanied by local ethnic minorities, which was a bit different.

火曜日, 2月 14, 2006

South China

(a beautiful piece of scenery in Guangzhou park)

(above) a typical market street, and (below) modern shops

First stop was Guangzhou, a city of about 11 million people and said to be the 3rd city of China (behind Beijing and Shanghai). It was the first major international trading city in China as it is close to the coast and no doubt for other boring reasons!

The city was nice enough but hardly any foreign tourism which wasn't neccesarily a bad thing. On one occasion we saw 3 police officers surrounding this guy who looked like he was begging for his life, i don't what he had done but 2 officers were looking out and the other looked seriously annoyed. Maybe it was just for show but i fear for what happened to that guy.

Bus rides were really cheap, about 20p to go as far as you could within the city, which was huge in itself! The bus got really packed after a few stops and the roads were jammed. Driving in China involves lots of beeping the born and generally aggressive fast driving!!!

日曜日, 1月 15, 2006

Christmas and New Year Holidays!!!

(left) Outside of a love hotel in Osaka

Hey there! This blog is a long time coming, sorry. I spent my holidays in China and Hong Kong and will do a few blogs refelecting on my experiences and show plenty of photos!

I flew out from Osaka airport and had to get the overnight bus from my town to get there. It tool about 8 hours and the coach has toilet, drinks and a reclining chair to help you fall asleep! It was pleasant enough and there is music to listen to if you have headphones.

Osaka is not a bad city but spent little time there as i was flying out later that day. Went to a human rights museum with my friend Sara who was also going on holiday with me. Don't know why we went but it killed a bit of time!

From there we were flying to Hong Kong airport.......tbc.......
(left) Huge skyscraper in Osaka. The structure going across the two towers is a viewing gallery. Would have cost about £10 so didn't bother!

木曜日, 11月 17, 2005

Sorry for long silence

Beautiful series of waterfalls in Yamaguchi prefecture

Awesome rainbow near my home

The autumn colours of the trees

It is such a long time since i last wrote a post that i felt i ought to put something before the internet became extinct. I have been super busy here in Japan that i try and remember all the stuff that i have done.

I have been here about 4 months now and finally feel like i have settled in well. The Japanese studying is going slowly but surely and i feel i am making progress. The weather here is now as cold as England, at about 7 degrees celcius (maybe colder?) and 2 months ago it would have been inconceivable that my apartment would be anything but a sweat pit!!!! Japan has no central heating so i am using the air con and electric carpet. It works well for the one room until you go into another without the heating!

I am going to China and Hong Kong over Christmas and New Year which will be great fun and it will be nice to get away for a little bit and see some other countries. Plus i can add some interesting photos to the blog!!!



日曜日, 10月 09, 2005

Random Facts About Japan!!!

Soooooo what are the things i have found out that may be of interest to people? Well....

- It is illegal to ride a bicycle whilst under the influence of alcohol. I have done it once or twice, what a bad rebel (pffft!)

- It is LEGAL to drink alcohol on the streets here in Japan, which is fun

- You have to take your shoes off before entering schools or houses, but not in the hospital (which makes perfect sense!)

- the speed limits and 'main' roads are ridiculous here, especially in the rural parts. 30mph on Route 9, the main road up the coast....not that i or anybody else does that speed of course!

- the Japanese tend to have fairly bad teeth, which should be surprising considering that they brush their teeth (albeit without toothpaste) after meal times. The elementary school kids even have egg timers!

- there is very little crime in my area which makes for a refreshing change, of course less fun if you are a policeman, so they probably love it when they can charge anybody for anything no matter how small.

- very few Japanese are overweight, partly to do with the history of the race and culture sure, but the kids do a serious amount of sports. My Junior High students train for about 3 hours at the end of the school day, every day except Wed. Also, they don't have big crisps and chocolate machines on top of greasy pizza and chips dinners to entice the kids!

火曜日, 9月 27, 2005

More Hiroshima photos!

The bell of peace in Peace Park

The memorial, A Dome and fountains at night

Hiroshima photos

The Peace Park Memorial in Hiroshima
The famous A Bomb Dome, near the epicentre of the atomic bomb in 1945.
Modern Hiroshima, lots of shops!
Typical city site in Japan........tall buildings!


Matsue Japanese language course and orientation

(left) Tower in the city
(below) An exhibit in Matsue Castle

blurry lights of Matsue

(above) the kenshukan class

The Monkey Show! View of Lake Shinji from Shimane Art Museum

水曜日, 9月 21, 2005

Sorry guys!

So, i have been in Japan for 2 months now and the last few weeks i have been very busy so have not had chance to blog unfortunately.

I have started teaching at my schools and it has gone well though it is difficult to do lots of games with classes of 3 so for some classes i have to alter the lesson plan somewhat!!!

Hopefully, i will have a plug soon which will work for my laptop but knowing my luck something will go wrong! Japanese tv is pretty terrible, whether you know the language or not! The only good thing is the odd Bundesliga/Serie A/Premier league game live.

Having a 3 day week this week as Mon and Fri are public holidays. Have a party tonight as my town Nichihara celebrates/mourns its last days before becoming Tsuwano on Monday so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow!

Hope everyone is cool,