Finally….SUMO!!!!

Today was all about the Sumo. We left Tokyo this morning on one of Japan's super fast trains and headed to Nagoya to see the Sumo Wrestling…..literally this is the only thing we have come to Nagoya for. Credit to the photographer (aka me) on the shot below as this train was flying out of the station as I took this.

 

Ok, got to Nagoya….blah blah blah, got to the Sumo stadium….wooo hooo, we were both a little excited, ok maybe very excited.

The actual bouts go for literally 5-10 seconds, but the ceremony around it all is interesting to watch. All the wrestlers come out at the start for their Entrance Parade, they are all wearing these special embroidered aprons called keshō-mawashi, they had no backs so you can still see their arses from behind…..we saw a lot of arses today!

Before each fight, some guy (with a fan) sings out the introductions of the wrestlers, well we think that's what they singing as we still not fluent in Japanese.

 

Also, before each fight the wrestlers do a whole lot of leg raises, squatting, arm raises and a lot of leg, arse, thigh and stomach slapping. As we progressed through the ranks of wrestlers, the ceremony got more elaborate befor each fight. The higher ranked wrestlers also throw salt into the dohyo (the ring), along with wiping their faces and bodies with a wet towel before fighting.


These guys are treated like super stars, people actually line up in the stairs and entrance ways just to see them…..naturally I joined them to get some photos, felt like a groupie.

They all loved this guy, I think his name was Endo, the crowd went crazy for him.

Endo and some other guys did an extra little bit of leg lifting and slapping in their keshō-mawashi before leaving again and coming back later to flight. The two guys squatting are just his entourage, think one was carrying a samurai sword.
 
They very often end up out of the ring and land on the people in the crowd…..that would be a scary sight, one of these huge guys falling towards you.
 
 

Occasionally they are not sure who touched the ground first so all the judges get up and stand in the centre of the ring and discuss it…..no instant replay or video ref here.

 

Before some of the wrestlers fought, an additional ceremony was conducted as these guys walked around the ring displaying what we figured to be flags representing previous competitions they had one. One guy had like 16, his opponent only 2….needless to say which guy one.

I said it before, I will say it again…….we saw a lot a big arses today!

 

Lost in translation!!

Headed to an area of Tokyo called Asakusa this morning, so thought we might get a map, but our hotel was unable to give us a map of Tokyo in English, so we got one in Italian……mmmmm surprisingly we could make this work, helps that Claudia knows a little Italian.

The metro…..this morning it got the better of us, we'll the lack of consistency in the metro maps did. One map said we could go via the green line, another didn't even have a green line! We had left the English metro map in the hotel (ok, I left it behind) and so struggled to translate especially when none of the maps matched the signs at the station…..anyway, the seasoned travelers we are we managed to sort it out, discovering that the seemingly one metro system are run by 2 different companies, so you need separate tickets and not all lines are on the one map!

We eventually made it to Asakusa and to the Sensoji Temple, as you arrive you pass under the Kaminarimon Gate which is then followed by a strip of tourists shops leading up to the temple, selling all manner of useless souvenirs.

 

 

 

Unless of course you wanted to buy a cheap kimono or ninja outfit……they only had kids sizes!

 

 

As well as a washing your hands before entering the temple, the Japanese would stand next to the burning incense and wave the smoke over them as if they washing away any evil.

Next to the temples was a tiny little garden

Mmmm was time for lunch…….we sat at a place and had a drinks and food menu provided to us in English. So far so good, waitress asks what we want to drink, Claudia gets an iced tea, I say I am ok……the waitress insists i must order a drink or leave, i say but we are ordering food….this exchange in poor english repeats a few times, before we are asked to leave. Turns out its a bar….it was plastic chairs under an awning….and you have to order a drink before they will allow you to order food! Lesson learned always order beer!

We eventually found some food and had our first ramen of the trip….was ok, but by now I was pretty hungry, so anything would do!

 

Ueno park was next on the list…..but really I would call it a garden, as no grass to be seen, hardly anywhere to sit, it's more a walk through garden than a park. But had a pond, which was covered in giant lilli pads, literally covering the whole pond. I can imagine this would be really beautiful when they all flowering.

Also had an area of the pond that you could rent a swan shaped paddle boat…..ah so romantic….Claudia you want to paddle me around the lake…..”mmmm NO!”, where's the love!

Next stop was the very famous Shibuya crossing, where 6 streets intersect with each other and when the lights change people walk in all directions across the intersection.

Naturally, we had to cross it and get stupid tourist shots as we did so….

 

Having flash backs to Abbey Road in London…..

Mmm was getting thirsty, it was about 34 degrees today, so stopped at 7-11 to buy some water…..purchased this bottle of sweat…..turns out to be like a Gatorade but with the label sweat on it…..mmm so appealing, yet it was actually pretty nice.

 

Gosh, I am realizing how much we did today as I type up this blog. To compete our day of moments lost in translation we went to the Park Hyatt up to the 41st floor for a cocktail and a view. A scene from the movie Lost In Translation was filed here….I haven't seen it, so no significance for me, but was an awesome view.

 

Tokyo has a number of themed bars and restaurants, one we particularly wanted to check out was a ninja restaurant. So we headed there tonight. You are greeted at the door by your ninja guide who leads you down into a dungeon, along a dark twisting corridor, up and down stairs….over a secret bridge and eventually you end up in ninja village, with lots of separate dining areas and lots of ninjas running around serving food. We had a 11 course meal…..was actually really good, given its a themed restaurant, so maybe more paying for the gimmick than the food. Sadly I don't have any photos of the ninjas….it was pretty dark so wouldn't have worked very well, but do have some of the food.

Below is crackers and pate, the black star in the twigs is the crackers

Nothing like some flames to liven up a dish

Our ninja waitress made this soup right in front of us, was really yummy.

10 courses down, was getting pretty full, but managed to eat dessert…..always room for dessert.

 

Finally in Tokyo…..wooo hoooo!

After a very unimpressive 9 hour delay to our departure from Melbourne we finally took off for Tokyo. On the plus side of our flight…..I managed to have a row of 4 seats all to myself, great to stretch out and have some shut eye (i had to get up at 5am). On the negative side…a wanna be sumo wrestler managed to have the 4 seats behind me and snored very LOUDLY for most the flight!

Train from airport to the city took just over an hour……not a problem when they have a trolley cart on board selling beer!

 

After a a good nights sleep we headed out today to start exploring Tokyo. We headed off to an area of Tokyo called Harajuku which is known as the place where fashion forward teenagers hang out, they literally set trends that major designers come from around the world to see. We walked down Takeshita street which is filled with all things kitsch, shops with hello kitty and clothes that Japanese school girls like to wear and some funky outfits for the adventurous…..

 

It's not the best photo, but you can see some Japanese girls in this photo with some creative outfits….saw a few people with colorful band aids on their faces…..maybe the next big trend!

After a quick stroll up Meiji Dori Avenue, many high end brands and expensive boutiques in this area, we went to Yoyogi Park, a beautiful oasis amongst the city streets, which houses in it the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

As you entered the shrine you had to wash your hands.

 
Rice wrapped sake barrels are offered each year by the local sake brewers in honor of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken whose souls are enshrined here.

 

We timed it perfectly to see a wedding procession with the priests followed by the bride and groom and then their family and friends. No idea if just anyone can get married at this shrine, but they did have security guards clearing the way of us annoying tourists taking photos!

 

Figured I had better get myself in at least one photo.

All this walking and sightseeing made us hungry so we headed to the Takashimaya Department store where they have a food hall, very similar to that of the one at Harrods in London, or think David Jones food hall but bigger and better.

 

Tonight we headed to our hotel bar to enjoy happy hour, then afterwards headed out to find a place for dinner in Shinjuku. Managed to find a really cool tempura restaurant, the chef cooks it right in front of you.

 

Oh, and after just over 24 hours in Tokyo I have managed to purchase 2 skirts and two pairs of shorts…..and we haven't even officially gone shopping yet…….mmmmmm think its safe to say I will HAVE to go back to work!

 

Counting down …….Japan in 3 days

Yep, it's that time again, another overseas trip. This year, Claudia and I are off to Japan for two weeks. Itinerary is set, sumo tickets received, train tickets collected, bags not as yet packed, but excitement levels are high!

 

More temples, more shopping, more cocktails…..but no more time!

Well if we didn't see enough temples yesterday, we still had more to come today. We started with a 37km tuk tuk ride out to one of the temples and then saw a few more closer to town, again will just pop in a random collection of some of the temples below.

Our tuk tuk driver gave us some umbrellas to use, mine was a tourist umbrella from Rio de Janeiro, brought back memories of that trip a few years ago.

Back to the hotel by lunch time and we both feeling very templed out, got a few shots of the countryside as we bounced along in our tuk tuk, not an easy task I might add.

Next was a swim, unfortunately the weather hasn't been on our side last few days and after 30 mins by the pool it started to rain…..oh well time for some pampering instead, Claudia got another massage, I went for a manicure and pedicure. As a side note, longest and worst I ever had!

Out into town for dinner on our last night, oh and of course a few cocktails and of course some shopping.

Wake on our final morning to blue sky….typical, but it did mean a few good hours by the pool this morning before heading home later this afternoon.

Went back into town for lunch and a teeny tiny bit more shopping, I promise not more scarfs, the sun was out so got a few shot of the town.

Returned to the hotel to TRY back our bags, mmmmm just a little bit extra to try fit in. After a few attempts I managed to fit it all in and so sadly we called for our tuk tuk driver to take us to the airport.

Goes without saying that I am sad that the holiday is over and from all reports have to return to Melbourne which is freezing cold at the moment, going to be a big shock to the system.

Hope you have enjoyed the blog, see you all very soon

 

 

Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor

Stuffed our b'fast down in 5 mins and rushed to the bus station, got their 7 mins before bus departure time, but the bus was running late, so after an hour baking in the heat we finally on our way, a much less dramatic bus trip this time. However, our tuk tuk ride from bus station to hotel was just as a storm rolled into town, meaning the wind picked up all the dirt on the roads and blew it into our faces, next the rain, while this stopped the dirt, we had to pull over and put down the walls of the tuk tuk, they didn't actually meet up or tie down properly, so the dirt in our faces and hair was now in risk of turning to mud….I guess some people go to an expensive spa for this sort of treatment.

Went to the night markets in town and may have purchased some more scarfs……I think I am addicted.

Early start today to head off to see some of the Temples of Angkor, the area covers some 400km2, and has numerous temples all in different states of ruins or repair. The most famous is Angkor Wat where we started our day, which also appears on the Cambodian flag.

We then went on to see a number of other temples, such as Bayon and Baphuon, but might just pop in a random selection of photos.

By far the best temple we saw today was Ta Prohm, this temple has trees and tree roots growing on top, inside and all over it, was awesome looking through this temple. This temple was used in the Tomb Raider movies, I haven't seen them, but I might have to now. The tree below is actually on top of the ruins, it's roots are on the other side.

Amazingly enough you are able to climb up a number of the temples and all over the ruins, made for some interesting and step stairs and great fun exploring the ruins.

All this climbing and walking meant a much needed swing in a hammock was needed…..ahhhhhh this is life.

We got back to the hotel and went for a swim in the pool, while it was overcast today, it was still hot and very humid, so a dip was very welcomed. As too was the 60 minute Traditional Khmer massage we both had at our hotel, which can best be described as a physio and yoga class with the lady pulling, pushing and stretching your entire body, felt great afterwards, and all for $10……me be back for another type of massage tomorrow.

 

Bumpy trip to Battambang

The bus ride to Battambang was very bumpy, we in a mini bus, which instead of taking 6 hours like the big bus, we told this one only 5….. Well our speedy/crazy driver did it in 4 1/2 hours, his speed topped over 140km…..on roads filled with pot holes, buses, cars, trucks, tuk tuks, bikes, scooters, cows and people! Lucky for me I had my iPad and caught up on Revenge….not looking at the road was best.

Battambang is Cambodia's second biggest city, it didn't feel like a big city, could get across town in 5 mins. After arriving in the evening the night before, we started our next day in Battambang by the pool, we deserved it after our bus ride.

As its the start of the rainy season here, our time by the pool was short lived so we headed into town to check out some temples and walk around the streets. Hard to see in this photo, but the hotel gave me a VB umbrella.

Mmmmm 5 star tuk tuk……unless its got a mini bar in there my thinks, same same

All the bikes lined up upside the local school, we could hear them reciting someone as we walked past

This statue welcomes you as you arrive into town

This man was doing some fishing with a net in the river next to the town

Next we got our tuk tuk driver to drive us out to the bamboo train, basically it's a very gimmicky tourist attraction where you sit on a bamboo platform and fly along some very bumpy train tracks.

 

As it was only a single track if another train came the other way, one had to get off and give way, this meant dismantling the train, which wasn't hard at all.

At the end of the tracks is……of course locals trying to sell you stuff, local kids all hang around trying to take you on a tour of the brick factory….mmmm pass.

Starting the engine required a ratty piece of string being wound around the motor and pulled really quickly, think lawn mower.

We then got our tuk tuk driver to drive us out to Phnom Sempeau which is a temple upon a mountain. Also in this area are killing caves from when the Khmer Rouge killed the Cambodian people, you could go into them and see all the skeletons of those people killed. Along the way, we could see houses of some of the locals, often up on stilts.

We had to walk up the mountain……but was worth it for the view

A number of monkeys where dotted along the path…..really wish dumb tourists wouldn't feed them human food!

At the bottom of the mountain is a cave that according to locals has approximately 5 million bats in it, and at the exact same time in the evening they all fly out together to search for food. So we sat and waited, and waited, and waited, but eventually they did……literally they flood out continuously for up to 40 mins, we didn't stay that long but it was staggering how many we saw, in just the 5 mins we watched. Not a great photo, but you can get an idea at least.

On the bus again tomorrow morning to Siem reap, the finally spot on our trip…sniff sniff.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers