Thursday, May 30, 2019

Religious Freedom

Even the guy who the Liberal Govt gave the investigation to, Phillip Ruddock, says there is very little evidence of religious discrimination in Australia, and yet the government, with the happy clapper Prime Minister, is going to introduce religious freedom laws, answering a problem, by their own investigation, doesn't exist.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I Had To Go To The Doctor In The CBD

I had to go to the doctor in the CBD.

I had broken out in a rash all over my torso. The only thing I could think of was that I lay on the grass of the dog park with Buddy and Bruno on Saturday in the sun for quite some time.

When I went to the toilet first thing I could see that it had spread to my arms and was starting up my neck and onto my face. First thoughts were meningococcal, was my leg going to fall off? Then it was measles, thank you antivaxxers, those people really are the idiots of the planet now a days.

I called for an appointment for my doctor, I could get into see him Thursday week.

Then any doctor in his practice, Wednesday 8.45am was the first. “Thanks, but I could be dead by then.” And if it is measles I could have taken out half the working population of Collins Street, well, the Rialto, with me, of course that made me giggle, as I bet I’d get an appointment then.

So, I asked the long termers in the office – of course I mean long termers, hard time with leg chains and some of them have done 20 years, you get less for murder now a days. [oh settle down conservative voters, you won the election what more do you want?] – and I got an appointment later in the day in Collins Street.

Nice doctor, yes, I’m betting doctor Brad would be good with his bedside manner, if you get my drifteroo [thank you Bette Midler] Most likely it was something from the grass in the dog park. [Yes, but I told you that]

It is a private clinic so you’ll have to pay, please bring your Medicare card and a debit card for a refund, said the nice receptionist on the phone. “Thank you, Christian, that will be $95.”

$95? I just wanted the one appointment.

Universal health care really is dead in this country, now isn’t it. $95 to see the doctor. Thank you Liberal Party for making that reality come true. Now who doubts the Medi-scare campaign from a couple of elections back?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

It Rained

It rained today. It has been such a long time since it has rained, the gardens were all dry, the  grass is brown. I hear that our dams are about to hit 50% empty. Or do you call them catchments? And today it rained. How amazing, things have been so dry. How wonderful that it rained.

I wonder what would have caused it not to rain for so long, and for us to think it was amazing when it did rain?

I wonder what that might be called?

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Life

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bored are you today?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

I'd rather be a loser than a quitter," says Tony Abbott

Sunday, May 19, 2019

I thought I had no words...

So, the Australian people voted the worst government in Australian history back in. Queensland is like Mars, the rest of Australia is like Venus. Okay then, we no longer want to hear from entitled millennials, the product of disastrous parenting anyway, bleating on about not being able to afford to buy their first house, Australia has said it doesn’t care if you rent for the rest of your lives, so shut the fuck up. Stop your whining.

We no longer want to hear about climate change, Australia has collectively said it doesn’t care that your children’s lives are going to be short and miserable as they are poisoned by the atmosphere somewhere around middle age, certainly before they die of natural causes.

And please stop complaining about your low wages, as Australia has just re-elected the government that created your low wages, you fools.

Australia has just re-elected a government that has no policies beyond ruining the economy for its own ideology so that future governments will have no choice but to cut universal medical, increase the cost of education, cut funding for public schools, and cut services all the while continuing to give rich people all of the advantages while screwing over the less advantaged. (Or is that a government that has policies given to it by Rupert Murdoch?)

And no more complaints about your power bills, because if you can’t afford to pay them, this government doesn’t give a shit about you, be under no illusion.

Please, no complaining in the future Australia when you get what you deserve. Roads, not public transport, coal mines, not renewable energy, no energy policy, and electricity prices which will not reduce, probably religious freedom laws, discrimination against anyone who is not white and Christian, you won’t want to be transsexual that is for sure, the poor screwed over, no rise to the dole, which is simply cruel, the rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, and society will become even less equal than it has ever been, what that will do to so-called “terrorism” who can say? You will hear more about trickle down economics, which doesn’t work, and border control, which will, no doubt, be used to take away even more of your privacy, while your data is sold to the highest bidder. You can kiss the Murry/Darling good bye as water rights are sold to more mates. Take a holiday to the Great Barrier Reef, before it is wiped off the face of the earth. (You’d be advised to do that sooner than later)

And please keep silent as the planet falls apart. No one gives a shit!

It’s a good thing Australia ratified its abortion laws in recent years, as the miracle loving no-lie-is-beyond-him prime minister would probably have us go down the Alabama road otherwise.

Good luck everyone, because you are going to need it. Miracles? That is the kind of bullshit this talking in tongues leader believes. Blahblahblahblahblah. Head spins 360 degrees. The dead get up and walk. I think I just saw fucken Jesus.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Buddy and Bruno

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Things I Missed

Our memory foam mattress and our bulldogs is what I’ve missed the most. I get to see two of the cutest bulldogs around. Very happy.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The earth's curve

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Leaving Japan

We’re up and ready to go at before 7am.

Sam wants to get breakfast I want to go straight to the airport.

“Let’s just get to the airport and eat there.”

“I’m worried we’ll only eat McDonalds if we do that.”

“So what at least we’ll be there.”

“Don’t panic we have plenty of time.”

We get to the station at 7am, there is a 7.22 train.

We go to the bakery which we saw last night opened at 7am.

We get breakfast and walk back to the hotel, we are back there just before 7.15am.

We could get our bags and catch the 7.22am train. “Eat,” says Sam.

“Let’s go to the station and eat on the train.”

“Eat, we need to eat.

“No, let's go, for goodness sake.”

You’d think we’d get going after that, but you’d be wrong.

Sam needs to piss and then he says he needs to do the other.

“How about a facial?” I ask.

“Sit, eat, stop worrying, trains go every 20 minutes.

We get to the station just after 7.25am, next train 8.13am.

I look at Sam.

It’s one stop, but it takes 20 minutes.

“10am flight,” I say.

“10.30am flight,” says Sam. “Relax.”


So, you’d think a nice quiet sit on the station platform would calm our nerves, relax, stretch your legs, find the zen... oh but no, again you’d be wrong.

There is a chime that continuously goes bimp bonk, bimp bonk, bimp bonk, bimp bonk, bimp bonk, bimp bonk, bimp bonk, like an Avon lady having a breakdown, and there are two different continuous female voiceovers talking non-stop at the same time. Non stop, they never stop. They never stop! Then there are individual voiceovers for the trains arriving on the other platforms... all going at once.

It is nervous breakdown territory.

“This is what they do to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay,” I say.

OMG! It never stops, it never FUCKEN stops!


And when there are any other announcements they just layer in over the top and you get the last stages of a dire nervous breakdown.

And then there are chimes of varying tones and tunes that layer in over the whole lot.


8.30am. We’re at the airport. Sam gives me “that” look. “Perfect timing,” he says. He smiles broadly.

I give him a withering look. Nervous before a flight? No, I wouldn't say that.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Temple

Gardens


Leaving Kyoto

10am. We are drinking coffee in Kyoto Station. Our last coffee in Kyoto, it's a shame it is underground at the railway station like some sort of travelling moles, but there you go. There are a European couple who are drinking coffee next to us, I wonder where they are headed. Grandma comes in and orders coffee and a huge piece of cream sponge, she looks very pleased with herself when the cake arrives.

10.30am. We’re in Kyoto Station buying some snacks for the train, in a shop with silver metal racks up to the ceiling. Of course, Sam picked his rice triangles and some sad veggies trapped under plastic. I wanted some chocolate chip cookies and Sam picked up everything else and asked me if I wanted that, anything but the chocolate chip cookies.

“All I wanted was some chocolate chip cookies,” I said.

Of course, as soon as we took two steps away from the shop there was a scrumptious bakery next door. Of course, full of lovely things. My eyes boggled. (not really, but it sounds good)

11.35am. We’re on the Bullet heading to Narita. We accelerate out of Kyoto with force. A distinct push in the back, it is the first time I have felt that on a bullet tram. This driver is not pissing around, foot hard on the accelerator and we are off. We are flying through the countryside.

1pm. I listen to Guy Sebastian sing Climb Every Mountain and When Doves Cry, then I had to bring out the voice supreme, John Farnham singing When The War Is Over live.

I cry very easily, and great singing makes me cry. I try to wipe the tears away unnoticed.

We have to change at… I'm sure it began with S, essentially a suburb of Tokyo. We have to get on a local train. The voiceover says something about the Green Cars and well into the journey we wonder if we were supposed to be in the Green Cars? They were much more like the country trains, than the local number into which we were squeezed. We probably should have been, was our conclusion.

3.45pm. We arrive in Narita. Bette Davis, 1949, Beyond the Forrest, you know the line…

3.50pm. We’re at the Narita Sando Guesthouse. The weather is quite nice, we are sitting out the front waiting for them to open for the 4pm checkin. They open right on time. Our room is small, upstairs, just enough room for two beds on the floor. It is all a bit guesthouse by Ikea, but it is nice enough for one night.

There is a handsome Asian boy with a hot arse checking in the same time as us.

We walk the streets of Narita. Out in each direction. Most amount to nothing, the streets just peter out into nothingness, more ugliness. A few fast food restaurants, a really badly designed shopping centre with no shops fronting onto the street and a couple of streets that are just suburban, run of the mill. Then we discover the one street that is full of life, heading down the hill curving and interesting. The street is lined with concrete statues of the Chinese zodiac. The most interesting souvenir shop is Balinese influenced. We watch the guys in the front of a restaurant cutting the heads of live eels. We decide not to eat eel for dinner. We piss in what looks like a communist era block toilet building (I think I took a photo), white walls with blue trim. 


Then we discover the large temple in Narita at the bottom of this street. We wander around it for quite some time. It is gorgeous and quite deserted. One can actually get some sort of feeling of peace and meditative harmony that perhaps these temples are supposed to represent. I never really understand why tourist want to pour through temples crowded with other tourists. What is the point? Just to tick it off their tourist bucket list? There are gorgeous gardens and even what you'd call a forest. I'm not sure if it was deserted just because it was late in the day, or if it was always like that. We both said to each other that this was a much nicer experience than the most well know temples that are full of tourists.

The sun is setting, the sky is turning that dusky romantic hue. We leave the solitude of the large temple and head back to our guesthouse.

Sam googles ramen shops and we are soon heading out to eat. We walk up the narrow winding roadway just across the way from our guesthouse, which winds its way up to the main square. Google maps takes us forward, up one of the nothing side streets from earlier in the afternoon when we were looking around, which has now been transformed by the lights of the now open restaurants. I follow Sam until he stops. "It is here," he says. "Somewhere here." We look around. One restaurant, the next restaurants, then the third. "This is it." It is busy inside. A cute boy waiter greets us and points us towards a seat. We order a bowl of ramen each and some gyoza.

There is a group of Chinese who are spread across two tables who are quite loud.

Two European girls come and sit next to us and order their food. The Chinese group goes and the European girls change tables The one I can see asks for fresh chopsticks, she doesn't seem to want to use the chop sticks from the container of chops sticks provided. I initially think it is a hygiene issue, and conclude she is an idiot. But it is soon apparent that she can't use chop sticks. She asks for another set of fresh chop sticks saying that she was looking for a set that grips better, but it is clear she is just trying to make up for her own incompetence.

We leave soon after we have finished our soup.

Once back at the guest house, we decide to go out for one last look around before we are done with Japan. We walk up the narrow winding roadway just across the way from our guesthouse, which winds its way up to the main square. We head through the train station and out the back, where the roads head off in more directions. There is a huge overhead pedestrian bridge which we walk across. Sam says something about a BookOff, but there is none to be found. It is getting late by this stage, so we start heading home. We find a bakery just by the train station and decide to come and buy breakfast here, noting it opened at 7am.

Back at the guest house, we get ready for bed. We can hear everything the just arrived New Zealander is saying, the walls appear to be paper thin. He sounds like an old queen, but I never see him so I really couldn't be sure. There is a sliding door between both our rooms, which clearly gives them the ability to open the two rooms up into one big room should they need a big room. However, this allows for full participation in our neighbour’s conversations, one conversation he has with a male person in the room with him, several conversations he has on the phone, which he has on loud speaker so we still get two sides of the conversation. He is tired and says to the other male he is going to sleep early, which he does and pretty soon we don’t hear anything further from him.

The bathrooms and toilets are shared. I see the cute boy with the hot arse when I am brushing my teeth. I see a couple of girls too, as they complete their ablutions and then head back to their rooms.

The beds are flat on the floor and hard. There is only just enough room for our beds and our suitcases.


-->

Thursday, May 09, 2019

On the Duck River



Last Day in Kyoto

I was up at 7.30am.

Sam was up at 8.30am.

The owner wanted to know if we wanted to be dressed up in kimonos, and while I didn’t want to, Sam did. And he said yes. So, the owner is now coming over at 10am, with the kimonos, for us to dress up in and take photos. Seriously? Roll of the eye.

Sam was in the lounge room and I was in the kitchen when the old girl let herself in. I heard Sam trying to explain. I decided just to front up and present myself, so I stepped out of the kitchen and into the lounge room.

Ha ha, the old girl took one look at us two boys, clutched her pearls, and the kimono thing was off.

“Oh, oh, oh,” I think she said.

It seemed the old girl was expecting a hetro couple, of course. Surprise, surprise. So, that was the end of theat. Not that I was upset by that.

I chatted to Jill, about Bruno. We had unlimited wifi after all, so I could chat for however long. Facetime. Jill probably needed some support, or interested from us. Support, I guess. She was fine, quite confident, enthusiastic about her puppy minding skills. So, all was still good.

10.45am. We’re on our bikes and off to breakfast. Something new was in order. Funny, Japanese food being a favourite before we left and a reason for visiting Japan, the magic of which was wearing just a little thin.

11.11am. We are in Excelsior Caffe drinking coffee, on the main street at the end of our street. Lovely. Medium espresso and a medium latte and I’d spoon some of the milk from Sam’s latte to make my own macchiato.

We haven’t eaten yet, I’m getting very hungry, in fact, I’m getting the shakes. Hypoglycaemia is a bitch, although only a nuisance rather than anything more serious.

11.30am. We’re eating ramen not far from the entrance to the market, in the hubhub of all of it. In our street, actually. We must have walked passed this place lots of times without seeing it. The workers all looked a bit like they were related to each other. Father son, etc.

Midday we’re done eating.

We ride out of the city along the Duck River the botanical gardens is our destination. The river ride is gorgeous, the track easy. It took us an hour, I guess.

1.45pm.we’re at the botanical gardens, there’s a Rolls Royce Phantom parked out the front. But you have to buy an admission ticket, what? Pay to get into the gardens? Really? Nyr, why pay when we have great gardens back home, so we decide to keep riding.

We turn around and ride back along the river but on the other side. There are lots of people out on their bikes, being a bike city, I guess, that is hardly surprising. We meet up with some grandmas on their bikes who are having difficulty lifting them over a metal barrier. We help them out, they laugh and giggle, not being able to speak the same languages what else can they do.

2.50pm. We’re lying on the banks of the Duck River. It is overcast, it’s not sunny, but it is quite warm. We’ve just eaten Dorayaki (beans, sweetie) bananas and pikelets with red bean. We’re lying on a deck under a tree.

The aunties and uncles play bacci, or something like it, just along from the deck we’re lying on.

The kids come and practice their runway. Don’t know what they are practising but they are moving in a synchronised group of six.

We watch both groups lazily.

People stop on their bikes and leave their bikes unlocked as they go off and do stuff. The bikes are safe, the crime rate is low.

We laze away. We are so comfortable. We could have had a snooze there in the warm day, but we don’t actually fall asleep.

4.20pm. We left the river and headed home. We stop at Fresco buying Jill red bean pikelets, which we’ll give to her with green tea KitKats when she got home. We buy tomatoes and cucumbers, bananas and oranges.

6.30pm. We head out for dinner. We walk across the flats of Kyoto. The narrow streets, the wooden houses straight onto the street. Sliding doors. The developments, the multi-storeys, two up, three up. The cars parked, the footpathless streets where pedestrians and cars and bikes cohabitate in harmony.

We take a different route, we see shops we haven’t seen before, buildings that were new. We could have kept exploring Kyoto that is clear, but we are not unhappy to be leaving. We’d be seeing more of the same but different.

We head to the shopping centre to a recommended teppanyaki restaurant online. We have to book in, were 111, and are told there would be a 75 minute wait. We don’t wait. We walk a long a bit and pick a restaurant because it serves Okonomiyaki. What the hell, why not, we were hungry by that stage.

7.20pm. We’re in a pancake restaurant in town. Aunty is running the show with her two sons, both pretty cute by the way. One is helping her cook, the other is waiting and appears to be just learning.

Two guys are sitting at the bar. A Japanese girl is also sitting up at the bar, she is chatting to Aunty.

The Bee Gees are playing.

We sit down and order ours. We order large okonomiyaki.

Five French ladies come in after us. Aunty looks pleased with all the customers. She has pancakes cooking for everyone in no time at all. They order smaller okonomiyaki and beers all around.

Our last night in Kyoto. Good food and a cute guy to look at who is serving us.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019




You can see why he is struggling

Duck River

Bamboo Grove

I was up at 7am. I put the heater on this morning, I didn’t want to shiver this morning.

8am. Sam was up.



9.30am. We leave the house. It is a lovely sunny blue sky kind of day.

We find the bus stop near the park on Marutanachi-dori Street, then walk down the road looking for breakfast.

At the next big intersection, the one after our big intersection with the good coffee, we find our Tokyo breakfast place, or a franchise of. I eat a big hamburger patty with rice and an egg, a salad, and some miso soup. Sam eats a curry with rice a salad and miso soup.

The bus stop is just across the big intersection. We could have ridden our bikes to the Bamboo Grove, it was a nice enough day for it.

10.35am. We catch the 93 bus to the Bamboo Grove. 193 yen, flat rate. The seats are electric blue velour. The air is warm, I open a window. I’m always opening windows on public transport, if the windows are openable. The rest of us are to cossetted in heat atmospheres to contemplate such radical action. The movement and stuffiness of the bus makes me sleepy.

The bus stops on a narrow road, and we get off. There are people everywhere. Oh, all the people. What was I expecting, I think as I push passed some of the slow, crippled ones? (Ha ha, only kidding)

11am. We walk the Bamboo Walk. There is a grove of bamboo which must have been planted relatively recently nearer to the main street.

“This can’t be it?” I question.

Sam looks quizzical.

We head off down one of the paths, not really sure where we are going. The hot rickshaw boys, with their black tights, thoroughbred legs and winning smiles, pull their rickshaws passed us.

The path leads us over a train line. We stop on the long straight train track and take a photo.

“See that man,” says Sam. “He’s really ugly.” He was taking a shot of the train tracks in front of us. And he was ugly, tall like lurch and wearing active wear, with absolutely no right to be doing so. Some people are completely unaware.

It is a lovely day, it is just like walking in the country, and it must still be the outskirts of Kyoto. We walk passed a drained lake, not sure why it is drained. There are men doing some sort of excavation work nearby, I wonder if that has something to do with the depleted water?

We find the big bamboo walk, the one you see in all the brochures, and take photos, with the other 1000 people taking photos. The path descends down through the bamboo. It is cooler in the shadow of the tall bamboo.

There are quite a few temples to visit, but we don’t, we’ve seen enough temples.

We wander back down to the main street, heading to the river and the bridge, because we hear people talking about the river and the bridge.

I feel lost in a tourist theme park, sometimes, with the huge number of tourists at these must see attractions. The numbers kind of ruin them. It is so busy with people. The bridge is choked with people, the river is lovely, when viewed through a zoom lens.

12.30pm. We catch the 93 bus out.

12.45pm. On the bus on the way home. There was day of the living dead on the bus, the collective age was 1000. I’m sure it must have been pension day. Every person getting on the bus seemed to be over 80 years old. It was like god’s waiting room on wheels.

1.25pm. We’re home again.

We lay down and had a nap.

3.30pm. Off to the coffee shop to drink coffee.

We are riding our bikes in the warm afternoon, lovely it is too.

It almost feels like peak hour there are more cars than I am used to seeing.

We park our bikes in the multi-level bike car park near the entrance to the market.

4pm. We’re at the Excelsior Caffe drinking coffee. It is always coffee time, my friends, you must have worked that out by now. Oh, come one, I have got my 6, or 7, cups a day down to 2, on some days 1.

The sun is shining.

6pm. We’re eating in town, next to Gion, down an alley, where they cheer in the patrons, where they don’t have an English menu and where they announce the order to the kitchen by microphone.

But they do have smiley, handsome waiters. Big, strapping boys with black bandanas, sparkly eyes and toothy grins.

One patron is carried in appearing to be drunk, or disabled, it is hard to tell. No, he is drunk, very drunk. They prop him up at the bar.

“Where are we?” asks Sam.

“You chose,” I say.

I think the Yakusa are sitting at the next table. My meal turns out to be fried rice and ramen. Sam’s is omelette gyoza soup. I



We ride to Gion and walk amongst all the tiny streets lined with restaurants. So, this is the Gion they all talk about. We wish we hadn’t eaten before, otherwise we would have eaten here. The restaurants look expensive, it would have been nice to have an expensive dinner.

The tourists are packing the alleyways, so we get out, leave them to it. It is pretty though.

We take photos on the bridge. We ride along the river. We take the scenic route home.

6.50pm. The river at dusk is quite picturesque, romantic even. The Duck River.

We spot another BookOff and take a look inside. The nerds are lining the isles inside, but the selection isn’t the same as Tokyo, the population isn’t there. There are no CDs that I want, unlike Tokyo where I could choose between many.

We ride home. Our bikes have lights, so we switch them on, but it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference to the bike riders of Kyoto, light, no lights, and nobody wears a helmet.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Kyoto, on the river

Duck River

Gion

Good legs

Shopping and Eating

I was awake at 5.30am. I got up to have a piss, thinking that the sensor light was on, but it was just the day light, in our little enclosed court yard, with our toilet outside.

It gets light, I think. I scratch my arse and wriggle my toes in the slippers I have on, as I stop momentarily and feel the aloneness and enjoy the quiet.

I was up at 6.30am. I rugged up in all the clothes I could find. It is chilly here in the morning, and while I don’t mind the cold, in fact it can be quite invigorating, it is also nice to keep putting layer upon layer on until you beat the cold. I sat in the dark and did online stuff.

8am. Sam was up. A voice from the other room. “What time is it?”

“8am,” I say.

I got in the plastic shower module and stood under the water for the longest time. I don’t usually have long shower but here I kind of like it. Maybe it is the feeling of being enclosed, maybe because there are no windows so the world can’t come nudging my conscious, maybe it is the cold, who knows. I’m going with the cold.



We walk down our street straight into town. It is an easy walk, through the narrow streets of Kyoto. Long and straight. There are many people walking and lots of people on bikes. I think it is why the traffic isn’t impossible, certainly nothing like back home.

10am. We are drinking coffee in Excelsior Caffe, yum, yum, yum. It is on the corner of our street and the main city road and easy to find. It is an easy walk for a good cup of coffee and in Japan good coffee is hard to find.

Two Americans are planning their day next to us, drinking coffee from disposable cups. He’s short and woggy, she is really plain. He doesn’t fancy her, he is with her like he might have been put with a tute partner in uni.

A hoard of Eastern Europeans descends like locusts. They are a tour group for sure.

“Ve can’t keep eating rice for breakfast,” Sam says.

“Give me some potatoes, Boris,” I say.

They buy up the bread products for breakfast, with their straw coloured hair, their bad dress sense and their throaty accents.

Mercifully, they go upstairs with their trays, not that there was any room for them downstairs.



The wear and tear of travelling. Sam’s suitcase wheel has decided to pack it in. The structure on the corner of the case that holds the wheel on has started its final stages of collapse. Our host originally said it would cost 1000 yen to dispose of the old suitcase should we buy a new one, so we decided to struggle home with it. But then she messaged us to say the cleaners would get rid of it for free, so the search for a new suitcase begins.

We look for suitcases in what I assume is the main CBD Street. Maybe, the main shopping street, we find out later when we ride our bikes to Kyoto train station, discovering there is a lot of Kyoto between here and there.

We look in a couple of shops, we see a few suitcases, the first one we saw in the main street was the cheapest, on sale 50% off.

“It’s probably a made up 50%,” says Sam.

Of course, you never believe the first item is the best buy, do we, we just have to keep looking for a better deal. There must be a better deal out there, if this is the first deal I find. It’s just greed, really. Or is it stupidity? It is certainly ignorance, as in lack of research.

The Japanese shops are crazy, they sell such an assortment of stuff all in one shop. It is hard to know, upon initial viewing, what some shops actually sell. Is it alcohol? Is it electrical products? Is it those twee cute things the Japanese seem to love so much? There was one travel shop that started on the first floor as a bottle shop, changed to an electrical shop on the second floor, before morphing into a travel shop on the third floor. It’s suit cases were expensive.

We browse the craziness. It’s eclectic, it’s happening, it’s exciting, if a little confusing, somewhat overwhelming, and just a touch exhausting.

I see bone conduction headphones that sit on the outside of the ear. I wonder if they would help with my tinnitus? I research them later, and the information seems to be inconclusive, still I kind of like them.

12.15pm. We walk to Gion. We stumble into Gion, straight down the main road. Kyoto isn’t a huge city, as you can actually see the edge of it on the far side of Gion.

1pm. We walk to the market it is much nicer during the week than the weekend, so many fewer people. We eat pancake, okonomiyaki, and teppanyaki seafood.

We eat the balls further down, the ones with mayonnaise and shredded fish. They are not as nice as the other day.

We walk to the end of the market, where there is a long shopping mall stretching in both directions for as far as the eye can see.

We walk the shopping centre looking for suitcases, but still the first one we saw comes out the cheapest.

We window shop on the shopping strip. Really, it is just a slow meander.

1.42pm. We go back to Gion. We wander around and take photos. We may, or may not, have seen a geisha. Maybe? The allusive geisha.

2.43pm. We head back down the Main Street and buy Sam a new suitcase, the first one we saw.

3.15pm. We are drinking coffee in Excelsior Caffe again. You know me, as far as I am concerned it is always coffee time.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue.

3.30pm. We’re in Tokyu Hands Creative Lifestyle Store. I’m listening to those bone conductive headphones again. So many department stores.

I see a grim woman leading her blind daughter to the escalator. She was closely followed by a serene woman following her handsome son to the escalator. How people’s lives turn out differently.

We stop in 711 and buy sushi and pork buns, for a snack when we get home.

4.25pm. Home again. My back is sore.

We have an afternoon snack.

Sam’s favourite thing is Japanese 711.



We walk through the night, through the dark streets.

7.43pm. We’re eating pancakes, again. Okonomiyaki.

I ordered a beer. “What is wrong with you,” exclaims Sam. “Do you want to be an alcoholic now?”

“Two beers,” I say. “Twenty four hours apart.”

We’re in bed by 10.30pm.


Monday, May 06, 2019

Golden Palace

Satan's House

Zen Garden

Turtles

100 million selling Honda motor bike

Tourists and Food, Tourists and Food

I’m up at 6.30am. It’s a curse. I want to sleep until midday.

So, I guess it is time to check Facebook and post photos. Australia is an hour ahead, I think.

Then it is hours later and it has got light outside without me noticing and Sam is up and telling me it is time to do, do, do. Off to see Japan. Don’t waste the time, I think, because I will never be coming back here.

8.30am. I’m in the shower, as the hunt for breakfast begins. I’m for eating straight up, but Sam can put it off and eat later. It is a source of conflict, as you may well understand.

We’re going to ride our bikes to the Golden Shrine again today and try to catch it when it is open. It is hot as we step out our front door, and we both take it in turns to head back inside and change into shorts before we leave.

9.15am. We headed off up the main road towards the Golden Shrine. Passed all the usual takeaway food shops offering breakfast. Then I spotted something on the other side of the road.

"Sweetie, sweetie, is that a p, p, pannery? Sweetie. Sweetie, stop stop."

A french’ish bakery right there, not far from home. How could I have not sniffed this out before now?

We got a fish roll and a chicken sandwich, and a burger, and an egg pie and a second egg pie, not quite the same as the first, all half the price of what we have been paying for breakfast in a restaurant/café. We found a small park not far away in which to eat them. Lovely.

A man came into the park with his young daughter, about 5, or 6 years old, and they appeared to be having a very intelligent conversation between the two of them as they entered the playground. That’s the type of kid you want, I think.

After we were done, I headed over to the pissoir, a small nondescript cream coloured building in one corner to have a leak, which was, practically open to the street on one side. As I urinated, I watched grandma come out of her house, lock the door and head off up one of the streets, all the time I was sure I was visible to her.

We looked at some of the signs on the wall. Sam has an app on his phone that he points at Japanese writing, through the camera function, and it changes the language to English.

As we were looking at the signs, a sixty something, possibly older, I don’t know exactly, man rode up to the bog and he made it quite clear he was looking for some men to play with in the bog. We rode off, and I thanked the universe I wasn’t him. Then I wondered what grandma may have got to see?

10am. We’re at the Golden Temple. We followed the heard. 400 yen thanks. A short walk and then there is was glinting in all its gold beauty in the sunshine. The gardens were quite lovely, dare I say spectacular, somehow appearing in a state of peace and tranquillity all of their own.

There were a million tourist taking photos of it, as you would understand.

We headed out to get our bikes, and I stomped off across a crossing where the red man was showing, not a car in sight though. The old bloke directing the proceedings – they seem to give old retired pensioners menial things to do to keep them busy – shit his pants at my wickedness, but I was taking no notice of such nonsense. I’m sorry old man that you have retired without an interest in the world and now the state has patronisingly given you a job of no basic worth, but please don’t waste my time, I am an adult and I can manage to get myself across a street without dying thanks very much.

He stopped Sam though.

We ride from the Golden Temple to the Ryoanji Temple, apparently, not all that far away. I discover Satan’s house on the way. A house with a white Mercedes out the front with 666 number plates.

The bike riding through the streets of Kyoto, seeing the Kyoto world up close and personal and even getting lost, is quite possibly more fun than the temples/tourist attractions themselves. Is more fun. People wreck the tourist attractions, in plague proportions the people are.

11.15am. We get to the Ryoanji Temple. 500 yen thanks.

We arrive with a tour group, and while I’m Silently incanting and wishing to them all dead, okay not so silently, Sam declares that he has to send me to Zen School. “It is an emergency situation,” says Sam. “All this negativity…”

“Ha ha,” I scoff.

“It is my ears that bleed, not theirs.”

The Ryoanji Temple, it is not easy to achieve a state of zen with a bus load of Russian tourists yapping on in your ear.

The Svetlanas never shut the fuck up, oblivious to anyone else present. Loud and talking over everyone else so it was only them who could be heard as we all sat and contemplated the 500 year old zen garden. Get back on your bus and bugger off back to the transcaucasian states, is all I could think. Intolerant? Well, of boorish behaviour, maybe I'm guilty. It was a zen garden for the universe’s sake, we didn't need to hear them laughing at some mother state humour, or whatever the fuck they were blithering on about.

Then there is an earnest American talking constantly to his interpreter about varying states of the Buddhist religion.

We get it, we get it, you have read up on eastern religions.

And, of course, there are always the rude Chinese. Terrible thing to say, but they just don’t have any courtesy for anyone else. I’m guessing it is because there are so many of them back home and they have to speak up to be heard over the masses. Different lives. It is all very interesting. And I am allowed to whinge if I like.

“Complainer,” says Sam.

The day is gorgeous, a lovely day to ride our bikes.

We come to the old train depot we saw last night, we see the old purple train go into the depot. We want to check it out some more, but we are hungry and it is time for lunch.

12.20pm. We’re eating Kazaguruma ramen for lunch. Sam ordered a mountain of food. Sam ordered 2 large bowls of ramen and dried chicken with rise. We were both really full by the time we’d finished it.

The guy running it was adorable, dimples and all. Sam calls me an old perve, even if I catch him gazing at the cute guy.

Randen is what the old train is called. It seems to be a historical train with its own short train route, it takes in historical sights. We want to go on it, enjoy the antiquity of it, but we can’t find anywhere to park our bikes. There are plenty of bike parks nearby, but they are all connected to the large shopping centre next door. We can’t find any other parking, so reluctantly we leave for home, waving the old train line behind.

There are more back streets we wend our way through. There is a quaint old bridge which seems to be made out of stone and a river which seems to have many people using it for recreation.

We head to the Kyoto Gyoen, the big park that houses the Emperor's Palace. (Do parks house?) The palace is open so we park our bikes in the nearest bike park and go in for a look. It is huge, (I know we have all heard that before, but in this case, it is true) and the grounds are lovely. We walk the sign posted route through the grounds with everybody else. It hasn’t, actually, been the emperor’s palace since 1870, or thereabouts, when the capital was moved to Tokyo

After we have finished viewing the palace, we ride our bikes through the park, there are no uptight whingey mother’s, with snatches like a tight fists here, hysterical about a bike coming within 100 metres of their precious Tarquins or Maddisons, here, so sensibly one can ride through a park. My usual spot on sense of direction deserts me and we ended up riding to the exact diagonal corner to which we were headed. Rats. Google maps to the rescue.

3.12pm. We’re drinking coffee at the kiosk style coffee shop on the corner of the big intersection next to McDonalds, across the road from the Kyoto Gyoen and on the other corner to the place where we’ve eaten breakfast a few times. They have an espresso machine, which is what you have to look out for, otherwise it is going to be pour over coffee, America’s crime against humanity.

A double shot macchiato, double shot latte. Then home.

5pm. The rain started. Then we’re home and the rain is falling nonstop. What are travelling boys to do? Hop into bed with a good book and read until we fall asleep. Sounds good to me. An afternoon snooze is always a good idea.

The tourisms’ been done, what is there left to do? The trip to Gion tonight is now definitely out of the question with Sam's pathological fear of his hair frizzing in inclement weather.

7.22pm. We head to the market to eat pancakes. Straight down our street to the city. We were going to walk, then decided to ride our bikes as it would be quicker, so we got our bikes out, but then it began to rain again, so we put the bikes back, got the clear umbrellas and walked, as the rain spat lightly, into the night. Kyoto, warm night, rain sprinkling down gently, the long streets, the golden glow of house lights dotted along the way, lovely.

8pm. In town at the pancake place, just near the market. There are cabbage savoury pancakes, Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き o-konomi-yaki) ( listen (help. · info)) is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "how you like" or "what you like", and yaki meaning "cooked" (usually fried).

We order two, one with meat and one with seafood. There are hotplates in the middle of all the tables which the pretty waitress switches on as soon as she has taken the order. The meat pancake will be ready sooner than the seafood pancake. “Did we want them both bought out together?”

“No, just as they come,” we say.

We didn’t catch any trains again today, only the 2nd time we’ve had a day of no trains since we’ve been here. Japanese cities are so train intensive, with their efficient metros systems, it is interesting to not when we don’t use them.

The Okonomiyaki are great. There is nothing quite like them, and I would suggest you must try them when in Japan.

We walk home with full tummies.


Sunday, May 05, 2019

Big Orange Sticks

Big orange sticks lake

--> Shimagoryo Shrine 
Doors, sweetie, lovely doors.

Kyoto House

Kyoto House

Kyoto House

Antique Toyota, circe 1971, the oldest car I saw in japan

Take me home