Saturday, 21 March 2009

Guest Blog from Miss Kelly Whiddett........

Hi everyone, rather than let Alan have all of the fun, I thought I would step in for today. Here are the bits that Alan has left out……..

First up, Pigeon fights back!!!

As many of you will know I am petrified of pigeons. When sitting in a park near the Imperial palace gardens resting my feet, a pigeon joined me. Snap happy Alan, decided to take a photo of the pigeon, (as if he had never seen one before!!) rather than get rid of it, and did this whilst resting on a nearby seat. The resulting wet patch on his jeans from the wet seat, served as a reminder of why I don’t like pigeons… (I’m not sure why this didn’t get into Alan’s blog??)

In other news……

It’s official. Smoking is KOOL!!!
Although it is only KOOL to smoke in enclosed spaces such as restaurants and bars, and not whilst walking or waiting for a bus. Bizarre.

80”000 restaurants and not a Japanese thing to eat.
So, for those of you in York, have you ever walked down Gillygate past the Japanese restaurant and wondered why they have plastic food in the window??? I have laughed at the plastic spag bol many times whilst walking home. Now I wish that I had paid more attention to the array of food formed from plastic, as this is the way many restaurants in Japan display what they have to offer. I have to say that plastic food doesn’t look very appetising, particularly when you have no idea what it is! The other option, which is even more mind-boggling for the non-Japanese speaker, is the vending machine style restaurant. You select your dish from a picture and then order and pay for this OUTSIDE the door through a vending machine. You may only enter the restaurant once you have selected and paid for your dish, where it is then freshly prepared for you.
So far, the food we have managed to order and eat: McDonalds, Mos Burger, Pizza from an Italian restaurant (the menu was in Italian, but we could read that!!) We remain hopefully of finder something Japanese which looks edible and we at least have a clue what it is, so that we can intake some much needed fibre and veg.

UPDATE: Japanese food eaten on way to Kyoto TODAY!!! We bought a Bento box, which is the Japanese version of a Boots meal deal. It has a variety of cold dishes inside, and we tried most of them. The rice was nice, until we realised that it was full of tiny shrimp heads… yuk!

MIA – we remain on def com 4, in the vain hope of finding the missing train pass. Kelly commented “I reakon that it will be found in a few months time when it is completely useless” Looking forward to that!!!!

Fresh off the press today….. We have arrived in Kyoto, which seems really nice. Travelling on the bullet train at c200mph made us both feel a bit queasy for a while, (or was it that bento box???). We have a small room at a hostel near the train station, which is very nice and we even have our own balcony. We are planning to wander around a bit more tonight and possibly have a few drinks…

We hope that you are all ok, back at home. Alan checked the weather for Kyoto tomorrow at it is going to be sunny and 18 degrees, he also checked the weather for York which was -1, which made us both chuckle, just a little.

Hope you enjoyed my blog,
Kelly xx

Friday, 20 March 2009

Last Day in Tokyo.....

Well it's our last day in Tokyo and I have to say I'm quite disapointed. It's such a great city, it's busy, there's loads to do, and you feel safe wherever you go. We went for a stroll last night and ended up in an incredibly busy little part of town with loads of side streets literally full of people eating, drinking, buying things from markets and it felt totally comfortable to just walk through and look at everything even though we didn't see anyone else that wasn't Japanese the whole time.

Today we've had a lie in (it was raining outside anyway!) and then this afternoon we went to the Tokyo stop and had a look around Ginza which is a really posh area. It was one of my favourite parts of the city, very laid back and we just strolled around all afternoon. Spent quite a lot of time in the Sony Building, much to Kelly's disgust/bewilderment. I think she was fine to start with, but I became a little too boyish with all the gadgets.

Later on we ended up in Imperial Palace Gardens, which Kelly has described as 'noice' and well maintained. :-) Certainly have your work cut out if you tried to break into them that's for sure!

We're going to head out for some noodles (Udon) tonight and have a stroll around Ueno again I think. Tomorrow we head off for Kyoto for more of the traditional side of Japan, and we get to ride the bullet train there! Wooo! They offered us smoking seats on it too, it's really weird how you can smoke in restaurants and trains etc over here. One of the weirdest things thought, was when I saw a guy the other day who had taken his smog mask down to have a cigarette.....bit of a conflict of interests if you ask me.

So, enjoy the photos of Ginza, and have a good Friday all, and enjoy your weekend. We'll update you more from Kyoto.

P.S. Good on you Luan, get that Kelly told!!

P.P.S. Guest blog from Whiddett coming up in the next few days........

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Akihabara, Shibuya & Harajuku

Good day all,

Today we've been busy! We started off the day in Akihabara which is the electrical city, full of computer shops and LOTS of Manga shops. The Japanese are pretty obsessed by Manga, and there were even loads of girls dressed as the characters trying to get people into the shops. Managed to find a converter for the plug straight away, however the charger for the laptop is now the approximate temperature of the sun, so there may be some voltage issues!

We then went to Shibuya, for the sole reason of seeing the four way crossing. It's pretty amazing how many people cross the road at this one junction. There are four places to cross, and people just build up on the pavement, and then every 2 minutes or so the are unleashed across the road. I've got a video of it which I will try to attach to the blog. May not look that exciting, but you have to remember that this goes on every 2 minutes all day, every day!

Lastly we went to Harajuku which is full of trendy young people, who made us feel old. We went to visit a huge temple there which was really impressive, clearly a lot of time and effort was put into building it.

So we've walked around Tokyo for the last couple of days and our legs and feet are killing us! We want to go out tonight for a few drinks and maybe a dance, although summoning the energy is going to be a challenge. I've just got some beer from the 7/11 which is covered in Japanese writing, however it does say on the front of it 100%, which scares me a little! Kelly has a drink called 'Two Dogs', which is a cocktail in a can. Luckily she's fallen asleep before drinking it.

For those of you that know Kelly, I would imagine this will strike a chord. We have Japanese Railways passes which she spent ages sorting out for us before we got here. The were about £250 each and they give us our train travel all week around Tokyo and on the bullet trains to Kyoto and back. Well, it's day two and Kelly has lost hers! Familiar story anyone??

Right, I'm going to go and give her a shake and see if we can't go out and find some food/beer/dancefloors to keep us on our feet a bit longer.

Hope everyone is well back in the sunny UK.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


We spent a full day yesterday in Shinjuku, which was great. It's meant to be one of the busiest places in Japan with 3m people traveling through the train station every day! I have to say, I didn't think it was that busy when we were there. We walked around for hours and tried to get round all the different types of places. We spent some time walking around Kabukicho, the red light and gaming district, which was funny. The games area is pretty full on, and the noise is amazing when you walk into them. Here's one for the boys: they have a football game where you sit in front of a big screen, but between you and the screen is a pitch, and you lay out your players (imagine the sort of playing cards with players on them that you would collect when you were young) on the pitch in the formation you want them to play! I thought that was pretty cool.

We then went to Shinjuku-Gyoen, which is a 144 acre park, one of Tokyo's biggest. It was lovely, very quiet, loads of nice views, little lakes, and the cherry blossom trees which weren't quite in full bloom yet, but still looked pretty nice.

We had lunch after this in 'Times Square', which is a huge building of shops. This is definitely one for the girls, they had FOUR floors of girls fashion! We had lunch in here before heading to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices, which have an observatory on the 45th floor. For those of you sitting in the Norwich Union York offices, thats much higher than the sixth floor!! :-) The views were amazing, right across the city. Unfortunately despite being a nice sunny day, it wasn't clear enough for us to see Mt. Fuji.

We then went to another few places before getting the train home. We're still being affected by jetlag though, and went for a lie down at 4pm when we got home, and that's me just up at 7am the next morning. Today we're going to Harajuku for Kelly, as this is the fashion district. We're also going to Akihabara which is the electrical district so I can see all the latest gadgets! And I've just been informed that tonight (assuming we are awake) we are going to Roppongi, which has all the bars and restaurants.

OK, time to go get ready to go out, and this could be the last blog for a while unless in the electrical district I manage to find a plug converter as this laptop is about to run out of juice!

P.S. I'm struggling to upload all my photos onto facebook, so I will let you know when any go on. In the meantime, the few on the blog will have to do you.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Well we have finally made it to our first port of call, Tokyo!! The flight was as you would expect all 12 hour flights to be, long and boring, although they did have all the latest films which kind of kept us occupied. I watched Slum Dog Millionaire which was pretty good. The time difference is a bit of a killer though. We set off at 10am from London and flew at 1pm, and arrived the next day at 1am, however with the 9 hours time difference that was 10am Japan time, so we hadn't slept at all and we were back at first thing in the morning.

So we're staying in a little district a few train stops from the centre of Tokyo, called Ueno (pronounced 'oo-en-o'). It's a nice little area, but still pretty busy. Getting used to the fact that people can ride their bikes on the pavement is the biggest worry, you have people whizzing past you all the time which mean you can't just wander along in a daze. Oh, and everyone wears those dust mask things when walking around, I thought that was just a stereotype of the country, but nope, it's true!

So after all that processed areoplane food we thought we're go out for some lunch. I tell you, finding somewhere to eat is difficult when no one speaks any English and none of the menu's or signs are in English either. We must have walked around for an hour, and there were so many noodle bars etc. that looked and smelled nice, but Kelly was a bit too afraid to go in and order something as she wasn't sure what she would get. I wasn't going to argue too much and so after an hour of wandering around we ended up in McDonalds. Even that was a challenge as we just had to point at things. So I've made a rule for tomorrow, we're not allowed to go anywhere near any familiar fast food places.

We came home at 2pm Japan time (which is about 5am British time) and decided to go for a 'quick nap', and that's us just woken up at 10pm! So we've blundered a bit there. Think I'm going to send this blog and then try and get some more sleep. We're heading to the centre of Tokyo tomorrow to look around and try and get our bearings. So hopefully we'll manage to get some nice pictures to put on here. In the meantime, here is one of Kelly lying on our bed in our tiny little room, and one of me in a traditional Japanese robe which came with the room. Please forgive the state of me, I've been up for 24 hours!

Have fun and tomorrow will be more about the centre of Tokyo!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Boris Becker & Little Donkey's

Well, that's us in London now. It's been a long day! Kelly shouted at me for my lack of urgency all morning, but come 12:58 when the taxi was outside, only one of us was ready.....any guesses who was ready and who wasn't?? Oh, and I brought everything with me while she left her coat in the house. Men 1, Woman 0.

The train journey wasn't so bad in the end, although we did have to spend an hour on the coach with a group of lads from London that didn't do anything to banish the myth that everyone from London is a tool. They spent most of the time doing Geordie accents and talking about how loads of people from Newcastle (where they had been for a night out) said to them "why don't you f*ck off back to London". I'm with the Geordies on that one, it's just a shame we were stuck off to London at the same time as them!!

So we got to London and Kelly realised that her backpack was heavier than she thought when it was lying on the bedroom floor. I carried both backpacks while she carried all the smaller bags, she looked like a little Donkey weighed down with them all. As I type she's on the hotel room floor 'repacking' her stuff in the ludicrously vain hope that it makes it lighter!

So when we were waiting for our taxi to take us to the hotel, I saw Boris Becker. His wife (or girlfriend, who knows) was walking in front of him looking very pretty, while he struggled with a wonky trolley stacked with bags that was falling all over the place. Looks like it doesn't matter how rich or famous you get, you still have to carry the girlfriends bags. :-)

So tomorrow morning we fly to Tokyo which will be really exciting. I can not stand flying so I'll be stressed and worried at take off, but it'll be worth it when we land in Tokyo and for the first time in my life I will be average height!!

OK, so the next time I put something on here we'll probably be in Tokyo and hopefully I'll manage to put some pictures on, because I know that will make this a bit more lively!!

P.S. Kelly has finished taking out the stuff from her backpack that she doesn't need. I'm not expert, but I would guess that the weight of the stuff removed is approximately 7 grams.