A Travellerspoint blog

A look back on the past 6 weeks

Reflecting on my highlights from Japan and Australia

sunny 30 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

The past 6 weeks have flown by. It's been a jam packed time with one activity or adventure leading onto the next. I had a very busy 6 days in Tokyo followed by an action packed 9 days in the Cairns area. I then travelled down the east coast to Brisbane having an amazing time before flying to Melbourne for a chill out and catch up on my life.

Day2_-_Kawagoe_018.jpg
The Japanese are so friendly

E002.jpg
and hospitable

Having had such a great time and loving Tokyo; moving to Australia was tough. Australia on a whole is amazing, the weather is perfect and their natural resources are just mind blowing. I found it difficult to fault Japan, everything was just incredible and I'd say over the last 6 weeks it wins the prize for my favourite experience; visiting the AKB theatre to see AKB48 live (It's like turning up in London and getting a front row seat for a JLS concert with a days notice). The more time that passes, the more I want to go back to Japan.

056.jpg
Tokyo tower

066.jpg
So Japan

6024.jpg
Japan was so cool

Tokyo aside, I just can't put it into words how good the time was from arriving in Cairns, doing all the tours and travelling down to Noosa. The whole experience was amazing. There are so many highlights but if I have to single out the most memorable experience it would have to be Whitehaven beach on the Whitsunday Islands sailing trip.

6002.jpg
Queensland is amazing

9008.jpg
The sun is so high

9028.jpg
The German girls, some of the first people I met

141.jpg
Beaches are amazing

Fraser island was a very close call to the Whitsundays trip but it was just let down by the millions of marsh flies constantly trying to bite you.

157a.jpg
You can just do everything

large_5017.jpg
Cape Trip - Amazing

5046.jpg
Epic waterfalls in one of the wettest places on earth

I can't really comment on Brisbane because I didn't really see it but Surfers paradise on the gold coast and Melbourne didn't really compare to Queensland. I'm glad I visited these places though because I really needed the rest after the previous mental 4 weeks. I'm also completely happy with the order I did everything. If I could go back and do the Australia trip again I would have spent the 5 weeks I had in Australia just going from Cairns to Noosa then spending 1 or 2 nights in Brisbane before flying out. This would have been the perfect amount of time, wouldn't have been so mad or rushed and then I wouldn't have come to Melbourne.

7055.jpg
The Swiss girls

2070.jpg
Whitehaven beach - The highlight

I would have spent 14 days in the Cairns area including 3 days in Cape Tribulation (Staying in the Asylum hostel), 14 days travelling down to Noosa with a few stops including the must do Whitsunday islands and Fraser island. I would then stay in Noosa / gold coast or another good surf beach for 1 week.

DSCN1198.jpg
Sand dunes

DSCN1249.jpg
Beautiful lakes

DSCN1320.jpg
The whole gang on Fraser

Cairns to Brisbane cost a fortune but it was worth it. I wish I could relive it but I probably wouldn't go back and do it all again another time. If I came back to Aus in the future I'd definitely go back there specifically for the perfect scenery and weather.

DSCN1346.jpg
Surfing = immense

As for Australia itself, it seems very propped up by it's perfect weather and stunning nature, creating an amazing tourist trap without having to worry about anything else. Because of this and the sheer size of the country, everything seems a bit, old, run down and derelict, there're Aboriginals hanging around the streets, there's a lot of rough Australian men and the women are the most obnoxious people I've ever encountered. The Aus men are certainly suited to the women here. The Australians are much more active than English people and hence a lot fitter and more attractive however if you thought the English had bad and annoying personalities, the Aussies are far worse.

I think Australia as a whole is 10x better than the UK but I'm quite unlikely to come and live here especially when I compare it to Japan.

Posted by kendrick 04:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Melbourne part 2

All about the rest of my time in Melbourne

sunny 25 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 35 (Mon 28/12/2011)

Today I was moving from Gemma's house to stay with Steve and Rosie, the people who run AASCF who organised the Australian cheerleading nationals that I worked at.

I took a tram from outside Gemma's house to a central Melbourne train station and then got on a train that took me all the way to Upper Ferntree Gully, it’s a little town about an hour outside of Melbourne situated at the base of a small mountain range. The journey cost just $6 / £4. The transport system around Melbourne is amazing. You get a single ticket and you can use all the trams, buses and trains across the whole city in the zone you pay for (There's pretty much only 2 zones so it covers a really big area). There are stops all over the city and all the transport is pretty frequent; virtually the whole city is served with a stop minutes away from anywhere.

Steve picked me up from the train station and took me to their idyllically located mountain residence. Their house is so nice, inside and out. The decking at the back of their house overlooks the mountainside that slopes down below. Loads of amazing birds hang out on the deck and can be hand fed.

59052.jpg
The lovely deck with the mountain sloping away below

0011.jpg
A parrot on the deck

In the evening we had some food and chatted. That night I was staying in Jayden’s room, one of the guys I hung out with in Surfers Paradise. Earlier that day I had been googling a book I wanted to read and had read the online synopsis. I looked across the room towards the desk and noticed a book I thought I recognised from the picture earlier that day; I’d never seen the book before and it was just laying there. It was such a strange co-incidence!

The book was massive but I had to read it, I started reading it that night and continued over the next few days.

----------------------------------------------------------

Day 36 (Tue 29/12/2011)

First thing in the morning I went to the AASCF offices to help out with some work, tidying up their warehouse after the competition the previous weekend. That afternoon I did a workout and continued reading until Rosie took me on a mountain sightseeing tour with her next door neighbour.

53017.jpg
You can just about make out Melbourne in the far distance

That evening we all ate dinner together on the deck and loads of birds came down to have their photo taken.

3061.jpg
Kookaburra out of focus

4062.jpg
Kookaburra in focus

4075.jpg
The classic Kookaburra next to the Australian flag

The next door neighbour was a member of the Outlaws cheerleading team; the top team in Australia. She was heading to their first training since nationals so I tagged along to check it out. It was weird tumbling on sprung floor again after doing it on the beach. My standing fulls have got so bad now.

7118.jpg
The outlaws gym

----------------------------------------------------------

Day 37 (Wed 30/12/2011)

I pretty much stayed indoors and read all day.

5013.jpg
Their dog

----------------------------------------------------------

Day 38 (Thu 01/12/2011)

I had to finish the book today as I was leaving, so when I wasn’t doing something else I was pretty much reading. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read, loved it. In the morning I hung out with Jayden, feeding the birds was so funny.

25036.jpg
So funny hand feeding the birds

1041.jpg
Mr Cockatiel showing off

Late afternoon Rosie came back from work and took me to the station. I took a train and a tram back to Gemma’s house where I dropped off my stuff. The girls were leaving for work so I jumped in the car with them and got a lift into the CBD.

I met up with Lauren, Robert and **another girl**, 3 of the gang from the Fraser island trip. They were staying in a hostel in the city centre, I met them there and chilled until we went out to the bar next door. We played some pool then signed up for the Karaoke as a group to sing Hakuna Matata from the lion king. We had to wait ages for our turn and I’m not going to lie, it was beyond embarrassingly awful; but we each got as free drink for our efforts. There was no transport back to Gemma’s house so that night I crashed in their hostel room.

----------------------------------------------------------

Day 39 (Fri 02/12/2011)

To top off my free night in the hostel I also got the free breakfast that’s included so I definitely got my monies worth. The gang had hired a car for a few days to go on a road trip to see the great ocean road. I walked with them to pick up the car and then got a lift back to Gemma’s house via a supermarket to stock them up with supplies for their trip.

I had to say goodbye to these guys, some of the best people I’d met so far. Everyone was soon to leave Australia but they had planned a big meet up in Europe in the summer so hopefully that will come off.

I packed up my stuff then took a tram and a shuttle bus to the airport. I checked in but couldn’t take my chocolate milk through to the gate. There was no way I was leaving any chocolate milk behind so I downed the remaining litre (I’d previously drunk the other litre in the hour before on the way to the airport), now I was feeling pretty sick.

I was casually making my way to the gate when I heard the dreaded “This is the final call for passenger Martin Kendrick for flight...”. By this point I wasn’t only feeling sick but also bursting for the toilet so I upped my speed to 2nd gear.

When I arrived at the gate I asked if I could go to the toilet before boarding but they said I was too late and had to go onboard. As soon as I got to the door I dropped my stuff there and went before taking the last seat on the completely full plane. I had to go again shortly after, 2L is a lot of liquid.

Posted by kendrick 03:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Melbourne part 1

My time staying with Gemma

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 31 (Thu 24/12/2011)

I was staying with Gemma, her boyfriend, Rob, one of her friends, Kat and another housemate. They lived in a magical house in an area called Richmond which is about 15 minutes from the centre of Melbourne. Gemma and Rob had a car so we could get around places; the public transport system in Melbourne is amazing so going anywhere you want is pretty easy.

The two girls, Gemma and Kat work as strippers in a large Melbourne strip club so they tend to work nights and get up pretty late. Once everyone was up and organised we took a drive to the other side of the city, St Kilda. We went to St Kilda salt baths, a hot swimming pool / spa venue which were OK even though the heater wasn’t working.

06014.jpg
The beach at St Kilda

After the spa we took a walk out onto the pier; the pier has good views back onto Melbourne. The pier turns into a huge rock wall which is home to loads of penguins; we managed to see a few sitting in between the rocks.

82003.jpg
Looking back at Melbourne from the pier

2007.jpg
A penguin on the pier

On the way back to the house I got dropped off to hang out with someone I’d met on the shuttle bus from the airport to Melbourne the previous night.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 32 (Fri 25/12/2011)

Today I had a walk around Melbourne to see a few sights. I had dinner at this amazing restaurant, a cheap, all-you-can-eat, Indian. Literally my perfect restaurant. Rob picked me up from the city after he dropped the girls off at work.

8142.jpg
The CBD in the background

201.jpg
Fountains outside the art gallery

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 33 (Sat 26/12/2011)

It rained all day today, I stayed in the house and did nothing. I realised I didn’t have any food so decided to walk to the local supermarket to get some supplies. It was dark, torrential rain and the ground was pretty much flooded; needless to say I got absolutely soaked through.

182.jpg
A random tower

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 34 (Sun 27/12/2011)

Once the girls got home from work we headed out to a local car boot sale. It was pretty massive but it was mainly books, clothes, old jewellery and old cameras. The girls bought a lot of random stuff to fill their magical house with.

When we got back to the house we sunbathed in the garden and chatted. Later that evening we went to get Vietnamese takeaway and chilled.

Posted by kendrick 03:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Surfers Paradise

My quick trip down to surfers paradise during schoolies

sunny 27 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 29

I had one spare night before my flight to Melbourne. I'd heard that Surfers Paradise was playing host to the annual 'Skoolies' event; skoolies is where all of this years school leavers all go to party for a week. I thought this would make for a good night out.

Surfers is only an hour train ride away from Brisbane. I didn't have accommodation so as soon as I arrived I went straight to a backpackers to try an get a room. Luckily they had a room but it was pretty full. I went straight off to the main strip to look around and check out the beach; here I did a workout and some tumbling on the sand before walking back to the hostel.

DSCN1374.jpg
A random big wheel

In the evening the hostel did an all you can eat pizza night for $6 and put on a film at the swimming pool. The film was bridesmaids and it was pretty rubbish. A load of the people from the hostel have drinks together and then head out into town for free entry to one of the big clubs. The night was pretty average; the highlight was meeting up with a group of people I'd met at the competition at the weekend.

DSCN1373.jpg
I was amazed that this little town had a huge metropolis skyline

--------------------------------------------------------

Day 30

The room was so hot overnight I had to just sleep on the bed with no covers. After another night with minimal sleep I had to get up early and checkout from the hostel. My flight wasn't until about 20:00 so I had all day to hang out and travel to the airport.

DSCN1372.jpg
More towers

I decided I had to surf at Surfers so I went down the beach and hired a board. The waves were bigger here but the conditions weren't very good; I found it much more difficult surfing here but I think it helped me improve by surfing in harder conditions. I wasn't wearing a rash vest and I paid the price for it; my chest was irritated by the board and came up in a bad red rash that ended up staying for days.

After getting lunch I had time to quickly get on the internet before getting a lift to the bus stop in the hostel limo. It was pretty surreal sitting in the back of a stretch limo on my own from a backpackers hostel. At the bus stop the limo parked next to a stretched hummer.

DSCN1371.jpg
The stretched Hummer we parked next to

I waited at the bus stop and got talking to a girl who was also going to the airport; I travelled with her the whole way, it was good meeting my first nice Aussie girl.

I checked in, went straight to the gate and boarded the flight; I'm getting pretty good at timing it just right and walking straight onto the plane without waiting at the gate. The flight was pretty full; I chatted to another random girl most of the way. We arrived on time at Avalon airport, I didn't realise the airport was in the middle of nowhere; I had to take a 45 minute shuttle into Melbourne.

I was staying with Gemma Valentine, a girl I know from home who has now moved out to live in Melbourne. She lives with her new boyfriend who picked me up from the bus stop.

Posted by kendrick 00:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cheer nationals in Brisbane

All about the 4 days at the competition and Gemma's party

sunny 26 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 25

I arrived in Brisbane in the afternoon and was met by Steve, the guy who runs AASCF with his wife Rosie. He took me to the venue where I helped set up for the competition the following day.

DSCN1359.jpg
The arena on set-up day

DSCN1360.jpg
The judges table

DSCN1358.jpg
The aascf logo on the back drop

AASCF are the main cheerleading organisation in Australia and this was their major nationals competition and the end of their season. I'd met Steve and Rosie the previous year in Orlando whilst at worlds, they were there with Team Australia training in one of the gyms I was hanging out in.

Late that evening a load of the staff went back to the hotel we were staying in for the next 3 nights via a Mexican restaurant. This pleased me a lot as Mexican is one of my favourite foods. I had a delicious meal and then went straight to bed for a few hours sleep before the manic weekend that awaited.

DSCN1363.jpg
At the Mexican restaurant

----------------------------------------------------

Day 26 and 27

These two days followed exactly the same pattern. We woke up at ridiculous o'clock to be at the venue by 6am, prepared the final bits for that days comp. I managed the warm up area for both days, seeing all the teams that came through. We then headed straight back to the hotel some time in the early hours of the following morning for a few hours sleep.

DSCN1368.jpg
Part of the warm-up area

On the first night, the floor had to be laid which meant 2 hours of manual labour following a 17 hour shift in the warm-up area. It's all good fun though and we did get to tumble on the floor when it was finished.

DSCN1370.jpg
The on stage floor and back drop

DSCN1367.jpg
A look back at the seating area during the competition

----------------------------------------------------

Day 27

Today we had a little instructional camp, I joined in a bit and did some partner stunt. Once this had finished, Gemma Carroll picked myself and another guy up from the venue. Gemma is someone I met in Orlando the previous year and had been promising to visit ever since. We were going for a little house party with a few of her old team mates that we up for the comp. That night we played a load of silly drinking games and all stayed at her house.

The following morning the other guys dropped me off at a local station and I was on my way to Surfers Paradise.

----------------------------------------------------

Having been in Brisbane for 4 days I didn't actually see any of Brisbane so I can't tell you what it was like. All I know was the weather was good, just a bit colder than up north.

Posted by kendrick 01:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Unplanned trip to Noosa

All about the night spent in Noosa - Quality time

sunny 30 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Note: I didn’t get many pictures from Noosa so the blog is randomly interspersed with photos of me surfing ;-)

Day 24

So having met loads of awesome people on the Fraser island trip I got purswaded into changing my almost non-existent plans of going straight to Brisane, to instead stopping on the way for 1 night in Noosa. I didn’t have any plans for Brisbane or somewhere to stay so changing my plans was a pretty easy decision.

A load of us were catching the 09:40 greyhound bus so we had to get up fairly early anyway. I woke up at 8 to call up greyhound when they opened and change my bookings to split my journey to Brisbane. This was all fine and I was soon on my way to Noosa with the gang. Others like Lauren followed on the midday bus but on the morning bus with me were the Scottish couple, Harry and Emma, the two Dutch guys, Robert and Sanders and the two German girls, Theresa and Jasmin. The Brazilian girl, Leticia was also on the bus with us but she seemed to disappear and I didn't see her again.

I arrived at Noosa having planned no accommodation. The group was split between 2 hostels, I chose to try and get a room at a place called flashpackers; a really nice hostel. They had 2 beds left so it was all cool.

DSCN1347.jpg
The flashpackers pool area, me and Emma

We all jumped into the hostels courtesy bus and got shown around town before heading to the hostel. We checked in, dumped our stuff and immediately took a surf board each and headed to the beach. None of us had surfed before but it was generally pretty successful; after a few tries I could pretty much get up each time and surf in (minus a couple of major wipeouts). Surfing was incredible, I didn’t think I’d like it but having got up and being able to surf, it felt like the best thing ever.

RSCN1350.jpg

RSCN1351.jpg

The 5 of us staying at flashpackers headed back via the supermarket to cook up a major feast together. We then got on the goon before walking down to Nomads, the hostel the other guys were staying at. In total there were about 12 of us as a group, we all ended up at one of the clubs after the hostel bar closed. It turned out to be a really good night (probably because there were so many of us together) but at one point the music system in the club broke down; taking them 30mins to fix it.

DSCN1341.jpg

DSCN1339.jpg

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 25

Breakfast at the hostel was included but very early! I wasn’t missing a free meal so got up and it was worth it. They had such a good choice of toast spreads and cereals; I got my fill and got ready to make the most of the morning before I had to leave.

DSCN1340.jpg

DSCN1342.jpg

I wasn’t going to miss another opportunity for a free surf session so I quickly got my stuff together and headed to a different beach with bigger waves. This time I was joined by the 2 german girls that were with us. The amazing Theresa took some quality pictures of me surfing, the waves were harder to surf than the previous day but I still enjoyed it and caught some awesome waves. I then taught her a little bit of partner stunt on the beach and she did a walkin on the 2nd attempt; I didn’t think she could impress me anymore than she already had up until now but she did :-)

DSCN1343.jpg

DSCN1345.jpg

I could only stay at the beach for an hour before I had to head back to the hostel, get some food, collect my bags and get down to the greyhound bus bound for Brisbane. When the bus arrived a number of people from the Fraser trip got off. We had a quick catch up before I had to jump on and leave Noosa behind. Noosa was brilliant.

DSCN1346.jpg
NO WORRIES

RSCN1352.jpg
TOO EASY

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thoughts on Noosa

Amazing place, the best hostel I stayed in, being with a massive group of cool people, cooking a communal feast, the spontanuity of the stop, the night out, the FREE SURFING, the amzing beaches and sea – What else can I say...

DSCN1344a.jpg
NO DRAMAS

Posted by kendrick 18:03 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fraser Island and Rainbow Beach

2 nights in Rainbow Beach and 2 nights on Fraser Island

sunny 30 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 20

I arrived about 9:30 in Rainbow beach. The greyhound bus dropped us just outside the hostel. I was on the bus with loads of people who were on my last overnight bus so it was pretty good. A few of us from the bus checked in to the same hostel and I was put in a room with a couple, Emma and Harry and 5 other Brits.

During the day I played some pool, went to the supermarket, got some food and then had the group meeting regarding the Fraser Island trip. We had to watch a safety video and were then put into 4 groups. Emma and Harry were in my group of 8 along with 5 others (2 Dutch guys, Robert and Sanders, a flamboyant Irish guy, A northern guy from England and an American guy). They later turned out to be the coolest group of people. After the meeting, as a group we all went to get some food and drink for the trip, an excessive amount of goon (enough to get the 8 of us paralytic for 2 nights)!

That night the hostel organised a walk up to this massive sand dune to play about for a bit and watch the sun set then walk back along the beach at dusk.

DSCN1185.jpg
This sand dune was so massive, maybe 300m across and 1km long

Whilst we were on the dune we got to play about with Frisbees and do some sand boarding; it's a lot of effort getting up but coming down is a lot of fun.

large_DSCN1203.jpg
Me sandboarding

large_DSCN1207.jpg
Me crash landing, this was set up for the photo but it was a bit stupid because I had sand coming out of me for days after

DSCN1196.jpg
Playing about for the photo lol

DSCN1198.jpg
Doing a front somersault down the dune

After we watched the sun set the group walked off down the dune towards the beach. I seemed to be in a day dream and completely missed all this and found out 10mins later that they'd already gone. I didn't catch them up so I don't know what the guide and the group got up to after this but I went on my own adventure.

I started walking down the dune and eventually got to the edge that drops down steeply to the sea.

DSCN1220.jpg
The top of the cliff as it starts to drop away

Not knowing where to go I just keep walking over the edge of this cliff. The cliff is made of this really loose multi coloured sandstone that just crumbles as you touch it. The cliff gone steeper and steeper to the point where I couldn't grip on any more and can't climb back up so I started just sliding all the way down to the bottom in a cloud of sand. I don't think you are really allowed to do this because I seemed to cause a fair amount of erosion.

DSCN1226.jpg
I know this looks like a really shit picture but this was actually a sand cliff and was massive, I slid all the way down it

Now I'm on this endless beach with a steep sand cliff on one side and the ocean on the other. It's getting dark, there's no one around and I have no light. I start walking back because I know that I'll eventually get back to the town if I follow the beach. It took quite a long time but it was so amazing as it got darker and darker. By the time I got back it was pitch black and I had to guess where the path off the beach was; luckily I was guided by some lights at the edge of the town.

I walked back through the town to the hostel. Rainbow Beach is tiny, just three hostels next door to each other and a few shops on the main street but the backpacking community here is really cool. Every night the hostel has its own party but most people went to bed early ready for the early start the next morning.

---------------------------------------------------

Day 21

We had a 06:15 start, had to checkout and then pack up all the vehicles with all the gear we needed for 3 days, tents, sleeping stuff, camp equipment, food, drink, cooking gear. It was pretty hectic but we eventually got away. Our group was first ready and then waited for the others; a trend that seemed to continue throughout the trip.

The trip consisted of 1 guide driving the front car followed by 3 self drive cars. We were joined by another guide and his 4 cars from the hostel next door. The 8 cars stayed together for the 3 days, with 68 people it was awesome fun but a little slow trying to get the girls ready and waiting for their toilet stops.

Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world (about 300km around) and you guessed it, everything is sand, all the roads, paths, forest, lakes and beaches, sand everywhere. Because of this we were driving big 4x4s and we all took it in turns to drive which was amazing fun.

The first part was the drive to the ferry which was just this barge that rammed up against the sand, dropped the door down to let the cars on then did the same the other end, it was no P&O.

DSCN1235.jpg
The ferry across to Fraser island

We drove a long way up the island, heading to where we were setting up camp for 3 days. We got there put up all the tents and had lunch. The camp site was just a bit of open sand behind the beach. I'd just like to stress that this was not a 'camp site', it was a secluded sand area that we set up camp on. There are no toilets anywhere.

Annoyingly for everyone involved the island is invested with the most annoying and relentless marsh flies. The are absolutely massive, they bite, they don't leave you alone and there are millions of them. Luckily they are slow and very easy to kill, unfortunately killing 500 of them over the weekend didn't make the slightest bit of difference. My skill in killing them meant that's pretty much all I did whilst I was there but fortunately didn't get bitten. The saving grace was that they went to bed when it got dark so we could stay up and party in peace.

After lunch we drove to this incredible lake, the water was so nice (the marsh flies can't swim) and it had those fish that eat the dead skin off your body. They feel like a little electric shock but it was pretty good in a weird way. The lake had this reasonably steep sand dune running into it that you could run down, this was awesome and I did it a lot.

388569_101..92170_n.jpg
Taking a massive run down the sand dune

393509_101..66754_n.jpg
Taking a sik jump into the lake

The new camera I got for my trip is really good so I was trying to capture a detailed high speed shot of a guy throwing a ball and this is what I got:

RSCN1262.jpg
Just showing off how good my camera is

We stayed at the lake for a few hours and then headed back to camp for dinner and partying. We cooked up a quality meal and all started drinking. In true Kendrick fashion I got stupidly drunk and ended up throwing up on the beach. That aside it was such a good night having a beach party under an incredible array of stars and watching the moon rise over the sea.

The island is home to loads of wild dogs that are pretty dangerous if your not careful. There were loads hanging around our camp trying to steal anything they can get their teeth into.

388963_101..17759_n.jpg
The dingos can be pretty dangerous at night and we saw loads of them

---------------------------------------------------

Day 22

This was our full day on the island. I'd gone to bed pretty late, pretty drunk and had left the front cover to the tent open. As the sun rose, shining straight into the tent, I stupidly decided to get up because I thought it was breakfast time. No one was about; it was just me and a guzillion marsh flies. I just sat on an eskie wrapped in my towel, still drunk and partially hung over. I found a bottle of water in the sand which I drunk pretty quickly then just sat with a flip flop in my hand killing marsh flies roughly every 3 seconds. This grew tiresome pretty quick. Still no one else was up to I decided to tidy up the camp which looked like a bomb had gone off after last nights partying. Once this was done I decided to sit on the beach and wait in the hope that there would be less flies, no luck so I went back and locked myself in the tent not wanting to vacate until we come jump straight in the cars and get out of there.

The first thing on the agenda was a drive to what they call 'hangover' creek; essentially a creek that originates from a spring of very cold water and hence good for curing hangovers. TBF it was cold but nothing like swimming in an English lake in April. The water was crystal clear and the surroundings were so beautiful. I went down a couple of times then did some tumbling on the beach.

390074_101..06010_n.jpg
Swimming down the crystal clear stream

As we were leaving the guide in the lead vehicle got stuck in the sand. It took ages and they couldn't get him out so an Italian guy decided to show him how it's done by driving his car out, round in a circle and back again. Unfortunately for him he managed to get stuck as well right in front of the guide just as he got started; the guide had to stop behind the now stuck Italian getting stuck again. It was priceless and the guide was soooo pissed!

Eventually once I jumped out and helped push, the car got going with no worries :-)

308875_258..57959_n.jpg
When the jeep gets stuck in the sand we have to resort to the 20 humanpower engine instead

We then went for a long drive up the island which took ages because all the other cars kept getting stuck in the deep dry sand. We had lunch and eventually made it to a place called champagne pools; a rock formation on the beach that the waves smash against. We chilled here for a bit, below are a few pictures from there.

DSCN1289.jpg
One of our guides; he never actually surfs but just has it for show to fit the image of a surf dude

DSCN1280.jpg
Emma and Harry

385201_101..65984_n.jpg
Me and Lauren at the champagne pools

374628_101..86529_n.jpg
Doing an ish planche on the rocks

From here we headed back the way we came, stopping off at a place at the top of the island called Indian head. Indian head is a huge landmark that sticks out into the sea; you can walk right out to the end and get some amazing views of the island:

DSCN1320.jpg
An aerial view of all the 4x4s from Indian head

large_DSCN1318.jpg
A panoramic of Indian head sticking out into the water

387250_101..73594_n.jpg
Me overlooking the bay at Indian head

DSCN1294.jpg
An example of how good the beaches are

On the way back we quickly stopped to look at an old ship wreck on the beach and found a lone dingo. Everyone got out of the cars to photograph the dingo just as the rangers turned up. It's an understatement to say that the rangers were not happy with what we were doing; they don't want the dingos to become comfortable around humans and ordered us all back into the cars.

383173_101..79443_n.jpg
The old rusting shipwreck on the beach is now a tourist attraction

RSCN1333.jpg
A dingo caught in action

That night I decided not to get quite so drunk. At one point I walked down to the sea for the toilet and bumped into a random bunch of Aussie guys who had parked up their 4x4 just on the beach outside our camp. These guys were really cool and pretty funny. Lauren and I climbed up onto the roof and chilled with them drinking for ages.

312543_101..05573_n.jpg
Me and Lauren on the roof of a huge 4x4 with our new Aussie friends

That night I went to bed even later, around 04:30, just before the sun rose. I learned my lesson this time and stayed in the tent until it was necessary to get out and pack up.

---------------------------------------------------

Day 23

Today was the drive back via a 20km drive inland to visit this incredible lake.

384574_101..63436_n.jpg
The most amazing lake in the world

315069_101..69547_n.jpg
The water at the lake was fantastic

The water was amazing, it was so clear you could see the bottom even when it was really deep. With everyone in the lake I decided to teach everyone how to basket toss. I got the big lads together and taught them how to base and then let everyone have a go who wanted to be thrown high into the water. It was pretty impressive how many back somersaults we got out of it.

DSCN1326.jpg
What it's like driving in convoy down the beach

We took the ferry back and headed to the depot to clean up the vehicles. That night we all partied to live music at the hostel and made plans as a group to travel onward together.

---------------------------------------------------

Thoughts on the trip

As an overall experience I would say the Whitsunday islands trip clinched it for me; Fraser island was very close behind though. I met some amazing people on both trips but the shear number of people on Fraser and the fact we could party anywhere on the beach made the social side amazing. The main downside is that wild camping amongst guzillions of annoying marsh flies is pretty hard work.

I have such great memories of the trip, I loved driving the 4x4 on the sand, the people were amazing and I made some really good friends that set up the rest of my AUS trip.

Posted by kendrick 03:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Whitsunday Islands and Airlie Beach

All about my 4 day stay in Airlie Beach including the 2 nights on the Broomstick sail boat around the Whitsunday Islands

sunny 31 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 16

I spent the early part of the morning finishing off my bus journey to Airlie Beach. I had my Whitsundays 3 day sailing trip booked for today. The boat departed at 2pm so when I arrived at the bus stop I had to go straight to check in, get some alcohol for the trip and board the boat.

85006.jpg
Arrive in Airlie Beach - Excited much! :-)

I had to drop off my luggage before going to the boat so I went to a local travel shop that has luggage storage. I walked up the stairs and hear ‘MARTIN’ exclaimed. It was Jemma Blott, I couldn’t believe I’d randomly bumped into her over the other side of the world; she’d moved out a couple of years ago and was now working here and living the life! Jemma was a good friend from Loughborough who I travelled to Tenerife with a few years ago.

At check in I met up with Leticia who had booked on the same boat, we walked to the Marina and met up with the other 19 passengers and 4 crew members. We got to meet everyone and have a briefing about the trip as we set off. After about 30 minutes we got ready to start sailing; this involved a small amount of passenger interaction to raise the sails.

That afternoon we stopped to snorkel around an island. It was pretty good, not quite as good as the snorkel trip in Cairns but there was still a lot of fish and coral to see. Every time we went in the water we had to wear full body stinger suits. For some reason I was allocated a medium size which I couldn’t fit into as some sort of joke. After wearing it on 2 occasions I finally got hold of an XL which was much better.

7128.jpg
The sun setting over the distant mountains

386234_101..11109_n.jpg
Me chilling on the boat

That evening we had a nice meal on the boat, watched the sun set and had a few drinks. The best part of the trip was the social side of it. I’d chosen this boat as it seemed to be a better option for people travelling alone, this was a good choice as it did turn out most people were on their own. There was 1 couple, 3 other guys and the rest were girls; virtually everyone on board was under 30. It turned out to be a great mix of people.

7018.jpg
Sleeping on the boat under the full moon

-------------------------------------------------------------

Day 17

The next day we had our full day on the boat, breakfast was at about 6am to try and be the first people on Whitehaven beach that morning. We went straight up to the lookout point to take some photos and then down to the beach, by this time unfortunately we weren’t quite the first people but we did get to spend a few hours on this amazing beach.

2035.jpg
On the lookout point over Whitehaven beach

It’s one of the best beaches in the world consisting of the finest and purest sand; the sand that was used to make the Hubble telescope.

2070.jpg
The most amazing sea and beach I've ever seen!

Randomly I met the French couple that I met first in Cape Trib and again in Cairns, I wonder if I’ll meet them on Fraser Island as well. On the beach we took loads of photos, swam in the sea, joined in with a football game and played a few games. I would have liked to stay there longer; it was the best beach I’ve ever seen.

large_46090.jpg
Our Whitehaven beach drop off point

We got back to the sail boat with lunch waiting for us and then sailed to our next snorkelling spot; there were so many fish here. I dived down to pick up a bit of broken coral from the sea bed; it was fine to hold in my hand so I decided to keep it and put it inside my stinger suit. Within a few minutes it felt like it was burning through my skin; I had a coral shaped red patch for a while after, needless to say I abandoned the piece of coral.

388933_101..01877_n.jpg
Me doing a back dive off the side of the boat

At about 16:30 we made another stop on an island with a massive sand ridge, here we ate some amazing nachos (which there clearly weren’t enough of) so I made a huge SOS sign to signal this to the crew on the sail boat.

107.jpg
Brandon stealing some nachos, little did he know he was being caught on camera!

9112.jpg
SOS - bring more nachos

0100.jpg
The gang walking along the beach

0108.jpg
Another paradise island

That evening we had dinner on the boat, watched an amazing sunset and full moon rise over the mountains then played some group games including ‘eat my box’.

142.jpg
Me playing 'eat my box'

A group of us stayed up until 02:30 playing drinking games and got pretty drunk. This ended with a Danish lad going skinny dipping off the back of the boat (he got a lot of stick for this the next day).

0146.jpg
The 2nd nights survivor photo

-------------------------------------------------------------

Day 18

We started very early again, about 06:30. A number of us were pretty tired after our 4 hours sleep but we had to fit in breakfast, some more snorkelling and a sail back to the marina. Snorkelling wasn’t so good this time. The only bad point I felt about the trip was the quality of the snorkelling equipment, comparing it to what I used in Cairns.

Just before we got back to land I swapped contact details with some of the people I’d met. I then went to collect my belongings from the luggage store where I spent the next few hours on the internet. I went to check into my hostel for the night before heading down to the lagoon to meet up with the two amazing Swiss girls I’d met on the boat.

7055.jpg
The stunning Swiss girls, Carmen and Marina

I soaked up a bit more sun there with the girls for a few hours then headed back to the dorm to get ready for the night out. The girls met me at my room and we headed out to the restaurant to meet the other people from the boat. I was so hungry I ended up having two meals of fish and chips. I didn’t stay out that late but it was a good night with everyone.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Day 19

In the morning I slept in until I had to check out. I went for a walk along the esplanade then met up with a German girl from the boat at the lagoon. I gave myself a few hours to chill out on the internet before catching a bus to my next stop, Rainbow Beach. This was a 15 hour journey on a relatively packed and substantially hot overnight bus.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Thoughts on the trip

It was just quality, everything we did was brilliant, the experience was amazing, the food was great and I met so many cool people. All I can hope is that the Fraser Island trip is as good as this one!

388851_101..39873_n.jpg
The whole gang

Posted by kendrick 03:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cairns for 9 days

All about my stay in Cairns between the 31st Oct - 8th Nov 2011

sunny 31 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 7

The flight was so empty I had a row of 4 seats all to myself; I think this was better than a business class seat; I could actually go to sleep fully stretched out. We landed at 04:45 but I couldn't call my pick up until 7am. Immigration took ages because of a mix up with my visa so by the time I got to baggage reclaim, my bag was just lying on the floor on its own.

I was out by 6 which gave me an hour to work on my laptop before I could arrange being picked up. I was told to go and wait at bus stop 6. As I arrived I met 3 German girls going to the same hostel as me; I got chatting to them about the whole travelling adventure. As we checked in we got placed in a 4 bed dorm together.

In the afternoon we all went for a walk into town to get some food and visit the lagoon on the sea front. This is an awesome public swimming pool built as a great alternative to swimming in the shark, crocodile and jelly fish infested sea.

9004.jpg
The beautiful lagoon in Cairns

9028.jpg
The German girls

Before the shops shut at 5pm I went to get an Aussie mobile. I then put in a quick session in the hostel gym which consisted of 1 chest press machine on which I could do 20 reps on the heaviest weight.

That evening the hostel was hosting their weekly mad Monday party. $10 ticket for a t-shirt, a meal, 6 drinks and a slice of pizza at the end of the night; a pretty good deal and a great way to get to know loads of people staying in the hostel (I’ll go again the following week before I leave Cairns).

The weather is just perfect, it’s hot, around 30*C in the day and cools down just enough at night for a good night sleep. Not too hot, but always warm enough. The backpacker’s hostel I’m staying in, Asylum, is good. It’s my first experience of a hostel but I find it quite old and basic. Our dorm is just 4 bunk beds, a fan and a few windows that don’t shut. The plus side is that there is a great community feel to it and the staff are so friendly and helpful.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 8

I had a chill day, hung out at the lagoon with the German girls, had some food and booked a couple of trips for the coming days. In the evening I went for my free meal and got a reasonably early night ready for my rafting trip early the next morning.

9008.jpg
The sun is pretty much directly overhead and it burns

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 9

Today I had a 6:30am pickup for an extreme white water rafting trip down the Tully River. I’d paid extra to upgrade to the extreme trip, this meant being in a smaller group of 3 rafts instead of 15, heading down the river first, going down bigger rapids, flipping the raft, cliff jumping, going down the rapids in the water and doing some drowning exercises. The whole experience was amazing and it was so worth being on the extreme trip, made the day so much better.

The first drowning exercise was a straight series of rapids that repeatedly pull you under. The white water is so hard to swim / float in even with a life jacket because it’s a mixture of air and water. I did actually find this one a challenge not to drown in so it was pretty extreme. The next one was going over a 3m waterfall and plunging to a depth of 8m in white water then hoping your life jacket will eventually pull you to the surface before you run out of air. Just as you go over the top you have to pressurise your ears ready for the deep plunge. I felt like I was underwater forever, I actually only just came to the surface before I run out of air. It was a scary but kind of a good experience. During a different time in the rapids I managed to smash my knee and ankle on a rock, not fun.

Despite doing a whole day rafting, I came back to the hostel and went for an epic run. My plan was to run the full length of the Cairns esplanade and back a couple of times. I started running down it but it just went on and on and on, I did complete it once but it was much further than I expected. At the end I made use of the fitness areas provided for public use. These include, dip bars, chin up bars, leg raise bars and declined situp platforms, this is one reason why I love Australia!

When I returned, a group of us went out for our nightly free meal. It’s backpacker central, better than I could ever have imagined.

I couldn't really take my camera rafting so unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the day.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 10

Today I was being picked up at 7:15am for a 3 day trip to Cape Tribulation, the most northerly place on the east coast you can reach on a proper road. This is where the rain forest meets the ocean and the barrier reef. On the trip up I have an aboriginal guide called George who knew everything, he pretty much talked about the area the whole way and showed us loads of interesting stuff.

0120.jpg
Me and George, the Cape Trib guide

We stopped at Mossman gorge for a walk and a swim in some crystal clear water.

2059.jpg
Swimming in Mossman gorge

Just before Cape Tribulation we stopped for a walk through the rainforest.

073.jpg
Wild Lychees growing, very tasty

088.jpg
Viewpoint on the way to Cape Tribulation

7097.jpg
Map of the area

I was staying for 2 nights at the beach house hostel. It’s so cool; it’s situated in the rainforest just on the beach. The beach is nice, empty and goes on forever. The sea is so hot, about 30*C, but sadly I was too scared to go in it along with most other people, through risk of being eaten by a crocodile or stung by a jelly fish.

116.jpg
And this is why I didn't want to go in the sea; not to mention the stingers

7120.jpg
Cape Tribulation beach

When I arrived, I met two girls who were staying in my dorm. I then went to the toilet where I got chatting to another guy, Giovanni from Italy. Randomly he was the other person staying in my dorm, even more random, I’d actually met him on mad Monday in Cairns when we were both staying in the Asylum hostel. We chilled on the beach and pool that afternoon and met a few other people throughout the day.

126.jpg
A giant green ant on the beach (if you lick them they taste of lemon)

For dinner, Giovanni had a small amount of food that we shared; we cooked up a meal of noodles, peas, extra virgin olive oil and salt, it was actually pretty good!

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 11

The next morning we got up early and went for 9km hike to find a swimming spot in the rainforest. We walked down the deserted beach for ages before turning into the rainforest. We found the swimming point in a creek, crystal clear for swimming and the fish came up so close to you. It also had a rope swing into the river, so much fun!

155.jpg
The rope swing in the rain forest, swimming in the creek

166.jpg
This is the 'track' after the proper road ends at Cape Tribulation

We had to get back by lunchtime because Giovanni was leaving to head back to Cairns on his tour.

That afternoon I chilled on the beach and then got an evening meal at the hostel restaurant. I met my new dorm mates, 2 French couples along with a couple of Irish girls who were staying next door; we played a few games in the evening before going to bed.

167.jpg
The swimming pool amongst the rainforest in the beach house

94001.jpg
The type of lodge I was staying in at the beach house

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 12

By the time I had got up, had breakfast, packed my stuff and checked out it was past 11am which only gave me 2.5 hours before I was being picked up meaning I couldn’t stray too far away. I decided to go searching for a coconut along the beach. I walked the opposite way from the previous day to explore this area. The tide was at its lowest during these hours which is perfect because it exposes the beach along with a huge area of very shallow crystal clear water. Everyone had said that it wasn’t stinger season yet and no crocodiles had been seen in the area. I certainly didn’t want to be the person to prove otherwise but I did brave a dip in the shallows. The normal water temperature is about 29*C but in some still areas it was 40*C; so hot it burnt as you walked through it. The water was amazing.

I had a stroke of luck and found an unspoiled coconut at the edge of the beach. I used the method of brute force to open it by repeatedly smashing it against a rock. After weakening it with a few blows I managed to get a good hit and smashed both the outer and inner shell revealing the flesh; unfortunately this meant I lost about 90% of the milk but the coconut was so good.

1004.jpg
The coconut I smashed open

The beach I’d got to was completely deserted and I didn’t see another person until I returned to the beach house. As I arrived back, the tide was now so low there was an incredible lagoon protected by some corals. This was probably the nicest sea I’d seen so far in my life.

large_5017.jpg
The amazing completely deserted beach I was on

72031.jpg
Huge area of really hot and really shallow crystal clear water

I got picked up to return to Cairns and complete the 2nd half of my tour. George was guiding again which made the day very interesting. There were only 2 people on the bus back; an older Spanish woman and a nice Brazilian girl about my age called Leticia.

2118.jpg
Leticia

On the way back we saw an adult cassowary at the side of the road but I didn’t manage to get a picture in time. We went on a boat trip searching for crocodiles down the Daintree River and luckily managed to find one (even if it did just look like a rock).

4060.jpg
Mr crocodile in the Daintree river

We also stopped to see some wild wallabies at the side of the road.

8096.jpg
Wild wallabys at the side of the road

That evening it started to rain very heavily so I ran into town to get my free meal and very wet. I got back and had an early night ready for the next morning.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 13

Today was a waterfall tour of the surrounding tablelands area. The weather hadn’t improved and it was still raining and continued to rain for most of the day (which you can expect from the wettest place in the world, receiving 12m of rain annually). When you’re going to visit waterfalls and rapids this is probably a good thing as they become much more impressive; unfortunately it made them too dangerous to play in (which was a planned activity).

2016.jpg
One of the many gorges I visited on the table lands

5046.jpg
A raging Josephine falls

We got to see many waterfalls, rapids, lakes, wildlife and impressive scenery in the area. The highlight of the day was swimming in Milla Milla falls at an altitude of about 800m. We also got to swim in an old volcano crater which was now a lake.

1059.jpg
The massive Milla Milla falls

1078.jpg
Swimming under the waterfall

9080.jpg
Some perspective how big it is

We had another stroke of luck as a big cassowary just walked out across the road in front of the bus giving us a really close up view. At another point a huge lizard creature did exactly the same thing.

2113.jpg
Some turtles we saw

7137.jpg
Random girl jumping off another waterfall. I wanted to do this but the guide said it was too dangerous for their trip

4148.jpg
A giant curtain fig tree

On the way back I got dropped off in town to arrange the following day’s activities and get my free evening meal.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 14

It was my 6th day in a row of doing trips, this time I was heading out to the barrier reef. We had the best weather throughout the day, the lunch on the boat was really good and the boat was really nice. It was a 3 hour round trip to get out to the outer reef but the rest of the day I spent snorkelling.

I can’t even describe how good it was; the ocean was amazing, the coral reef was just below the surface made up of countless different colours and types. There were so many fish, again of countless different colours, types, shapes and sizes.

At first I didn’t like snorkelling and couldn’t breathe through the snorkel underwater but I got used to it and quickly became good at diving down with the snorkel; I could go for over an hour without bringing my head out of the water. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life and if I’d had more time in Cairns I definitely would have done it again.

6022.jpg
The great barrier reef

The only downside to the day was diving down to deep and damaging my ear drum. I’m hoping this isn’t going to affect the water activities too much over the next week.

That evening was ‘Mad Monday’ at the Asylum hostel, I already had a t-shirt from last week so it was $5 for a meal, drinks all night and a slice of pizza. Some guys from the hostel went home early and gave me their tickets which meant I had loads of free drinks and extra pizza... mmmm.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Day 15

Today I was leaving Cairns late that evening so had the whole day to chill out. I spent most of it hanging around the hostel; I even went in the swimming pool which was actually pretty good (even if it didn’t look it).

In the evening I met a girl from the hostel who was also catching the overnight greyhound bus. She had booked a taxi to the bus stop so I took the easy option and shared that with her. Taking the bus was extremely easy and in my old age I’ve become very good at falling asleep when I sit down, especially in vehicles. This meant I actually got a really good sleep.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

My thoughts on Cairns

It's an amazing backpackers town and so well organised for it, weather is great and the tourist parts are nice. I'd say it's let down by seeming a bit old and basic (looks like the town could have a lot of general repairs and improvements down). It's my first experience of Australia and I think it feels a bit primitive compared with the UK. The main downside is the large amount of aborigines just hanging around the streets drunk day and night; it makes the town feel slightly uncomfortable and unsafe.

Posted by kendrick 21:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

6 days in Tokyo

An account of what I got up to during my time in Tokyo

sunny 24 °C
View Kendrick in Asia and Australasia - The world is my back garden on kendrick's travel map.

Day 1

The flight to Tokyo arrived on time at around 9:30am, I passed quickly through immigration, dispite not knowing the address of where I'm staying; I gave them a name and they seemed happy with that. I walked to the baggage reclaim and saw my bag straight away, grabbed it and then passed straight through customs.

Once in the arrivals building I went straight to the bus limosine desk. They do a ticket for 6000Y (£51) This includes travel from Narita airport to the other side of Tokyo (Where I wanted to go), a return ticket back to the airport from any of the stops in the city and 2 days metro pass. I could have got the express train with the same deal instead of the bus for about £10 less but decided the bus had the advantage of storing your luggage in the hold and the added benefit of being able to see a lot of the city as we drive through.

Tourist information gave me some a guide book, a large detailed map of the city and a metro map. Whilst at the airport I also bought 2 x 2 day metro passes. This is the cheapest place to get them, they cost 980Y, quite a bit cheaper than buying daily passes in the city. With these travel passes it meant I only really have to pay extra for journeys further out of the city. The train prices are fairly reasonable to buy individual trips at the stations.

I got changed at the airport into the standard board shorts and a vest. Having carryed my backpack around for about 15 minutes, my t-shirt was already soaked in sweat, I quickly realised that my limited amount of clothes probably aren't going to stay clean for very long.

I headed outside to the bus stop. The bus arrived perfectly on time and provided an extremely easy journey into the city. Everyone I encounted at the airport were very friendly and helpful.

I got to Ikebukuro station and easily found some lockers, a very large locker was 200Y for 3 hours. There were English instructions which is lucky because I've found out now that barely anyone here speaks enough English to communicate. I dumpped my stuff here and headed out on the metro to see a bit of the city.

I mainly visited the Tokyo palace

030.jpg
Tokyo palace

046.jpg
Tokyo over the moat

I found food to be the hardest thing, I'm quite fussy in the first place and like to stick to what I know and like. It was obvious this was going to be a problem here as I'm struggling to bring myself to try the local food. This isn't helped by not having a clue what any of it is because everything here is in Japanese. Lucky I sourced a McDs to fill myself up. This may become a regular visit whilst I'm here. Whilst in McDs I used the toilet, afterwards I pressed what I thought was the flush and went out to wash my hands. As I'm washing my hands I notice a jet squirting out of the toilet and hitting the ceiling soaking everything, absolute lol. I run back in, ducking under the jet and managed to press the stop button. I'd unknowingly pressed the arse-cleaning button, this was a quick learning experience.

After eating I collected my bags and got on a train heading to the station I needed to get to to meet the guy I was staying with for the next two nights. I got to the station early and waited there for him. He turned up exactly on time and showed me to his house. His house is really nice. I found the most amazing thing was the quality of everything; the toilet and shower are all electronic and automated, it makes the UK seem like living in the dark ages. The toilet flush bowl refills from a tap over a sink bowl at the back of the toilet, that is such a clever idea.

Having not slept for the last two nights I was falling asleep in the evening and had to go to bed pretty early.

--------------------------------------------------

Day 2

It was my first full day in Tokyo, whilst I was staying in the North East area I made the most of the short train ride out of the city towards a town called Kawagoe. Kawagoe is a historic town with many temples and shrines. I went on a walk around the town without a map attempting to find some interesting areas. It's supposed to be a tourist area but I didn't see another tourist all day.

I managed to find a temple, completely deserted of course. Whilst I was looking around, two Japanese teenagers turned up and started talking to me with very limited English. As with all other Japanese people I'd met, they were very nice and helpful. They started walking with me, showing me the area. They ended up staying with me until we returned to the station.

Day2_-_Kawagoe_018.jpg
The friends I made

Day2_-_Kawagoe_027.jpg
One of the temples

I returned back to the area I was staying in to meet my host, Sho, for some food. He introduced me to some Japanese food and taught me how to use chopsticks. We then went back to his house and chatted. He showed me some Japanese idols, mainly the most famous girl group in Japan, called AKB48. He informed me that they did a show in Tokyo and I could get tickets to watch. I scheduled this in for the following day. When his girlfriend came back from work we took some photos and chilled for a bit.

Day2_-_Kawagoe_042.jpg
Sho's dog, Choco was so cute

E001.jpg
Sho, his girlfriend and Choco

--------------------------------------------------

Day 3

Today I had to make a transfer between my 1st and 2nd couchsurfing hosts. I decided to spend the day in Tokyo, leaving my stuff in a locker at Ikebukuro station. I had planned to meet my new host at their station for 3pm. I knew I couldn't make it so I contacted them to say 4:30pm. Unfortunately I got stuck over the other side of Tokyo; after talking to them on the phone we re-arranged for 23:30.

During the day I walked for many hundreds of miles (well it felt like it). If you want to see a lot of Tokyo, the best way to do it is on foot. I went on a tour to see the Sony building in brand street, the world trade centre, a large temple and the Tokyo tower.

011.jpg
Typical Tokyo

056.jpg
Tokyo tower

Following this, I went on a mission to try and find the AKB48 theatre. After a long search of the area I thought it was, I'd found nothing. I gave up and headed to the nearest station. On my way I stumbled upon electric avenue, an area of Tokyo full of electrical and computer shops, arcades, cafes and anime shops. This turned out to be my favorite area of Tokyo; where it all happens - massively busy.

071.jpg
So Japan

By shear chance I noticed a massive building with an AKB48 sign. Got pretty excited about that. Being English and not speaking any Japanese the guy at the ticket office for the AKB48 show took pity on me and reserved me a ticket for the following night. Result! I hung around this entertainment complex, playing some guitar hero and watching crazy Japanese guys on the dance machines! I then headed back to collect my stuff and make the trip on the metro subway with all my stuff to the next location.

I arrived at my arranged destination about 22:40 and Tomo turned up about 23:10. Straight away we went to get some food close by to the station. The food was good, kinda an American diner feel to it. Just randomly a big group of girl cheerleaders walked in while we were eating. They were the cheerleading squad of the local university. So with my translator at hand I went over to chat to them. It turned out one of them spoke very good English which was quite handy. Luckily they had a practice scheduled for Saturday evening, whilst I'm still here so I arranged to go along and meet them for their session.

------------------------------------------------------

Day 4

After a late meet up last night, I chilled out in the morning before my host Tomo, returned from his rugby training. He took me to a cheap indian restaurant. The food was amazing, as good as the best I had in the UK. They served a curry dish with all you can eat naan and rice for less than £5 which is very good for Tokyo.

We then visited an Onsen, a traditional Japanese spa. Again, as with everything in Japan; it was amazing compared to anything I've experienced back at home. The water is pumped up from about 1500m depth and then cooled to 40*C. It's completely natural and very very high in salts; the water was actually black! It was a bit weird at first, going into a spa completely nude, but I guess everyone in Japan is used to it so after a while it just seemed normal.

We then went into Tokyo centre at Shinjuku station to visit a viewing tower. By chance we arrived at the top just as the sun was setting over mt Fuji, incredible view with this in the distance and the mega crowded Tokyo in front of it.

077.jpg
Sunset over Fugi mountain

100.jpg
A view of Tokyo from the the viewing tower

Tomo then 'forced' me to eat sushi which I've never done before and didn't like the idea of. I'm quite a fan of having my food cooked... and hot. Never-the-less, I did try 4 different types and they were all ok, much better than I'd expected. I'm glad I did it, ticked it off my list of things to do in Tokyo.

From here we split as Tomo had to go to work. I had reserved a ticket to see a show over the other side of Tokyo so headed off to see that. The show was AKB48, a massively popular singing / dancing girl pop group in Japan. The show was excellent, the girls are all very talented. What entertained me more was how excited and into it the Japanese men were. They were screaming at the top of their voices, singing and dancing along to it. Very Surreal.

I headed home and found a random Tesco as I was walking back though the suburbs. I went in to get some bits and used my Tesco credit card; the woman on the counter loved it. I wonder if I got any points on my clubcard for it???

When Tomo returned we had some drinks and chatted about the great day we had.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 5

When I woke up Tomo cooked a massive traditional breakfast of stirfry noodles, rice, fried eggs, mashed sweet potatoe and green tea with some Japanese sweets made from Azuke bean paste. The noodles were so good and I loves the little sweets. He then had to rush off to training; I wanted to have a bit of a chill day so I stayed in and caught up with a few things on the computer.

In the afternoon I managed to fit in time for a run and some exercises; I found a good route to run laps and a small park with a chinup bar. When I was in the park I managed to make some friends with some little Japanese kids. Embarrasingly their English was better than my Japanese however I couldn't really communicate with them. I showed them some gymnastics on the bar and some handstands which they loved. They were so cute screaming 'bye' down the street.

I packed up all my stuff and headed out to meet the cheerleaders. With a bit of help from some random guy and then the university campus security I managed to find the sports hall. Unsurprisingly the university had some amazing facilities.

Before I arrived the girls on the team had already seen some videos of me on youtube and when I turned up I got an amazing reception, the whole team gathered round and chanted something in Japanese. They had a 4 hour training session and I was able to stay for about 2 hours before I had to head off to meet my next host over the other side of Tokyo. I've never experienced such intensive and precise training. I was shocked at how good they were; in terms of the stunting I saw, they were in a different league from anything I've seen in the UK. If you saw how hard they trained then you can understand how they become so good.

Before I left I got to do some partner stunt with one of their flyers. She'd never done it before but after 3 go's we did toss platform lib. Apparently they don't really have male cheerleaders in Japan so they absolutely loved it. We took some group photos and as I left they all formed a tunnel with their arms for me to leave by. Such a good evening.

3023.jpg
A lib with one of their flyers

6024.jpg
Meiji University Jaguars cheerleading team

I'd arranged to meet my next host, Inoue, at 21:30. I had less than an hour to get to the other side of Tokyo from the university campus. I think I made a world record for the quickest time for this journey and somehow arrived dead on time. I was met by Inoue and his friend. They both spoke very good English; I later found out they had studied for a year in the USA, this was a common theme amongst the people I met that evening.

We popped out to the supermarket to get some drinks and snacks, then chilled in his common room. His accommodation is right in Tokyo, Its almost exactly like student halls back home except with better shared facilities. This was actually really good, they each had a small room but the massive shared living room and kitchen gave it a really great social atmosphere. We were quickly joined by quite a few other residents, many of whom spoke decent English. We stayed up chatting until 3am with Inoue getting pretty drunk (he suffered for this the next day lol).

I met a Korean girl who had previously been studying chemistry before switching to languages. She'd moved to Japan to study Japanese a year ago and now I believe she's pretty fluent. This year she was on a course studying English AND Chinese in Japanese even though she is a native Korean speaker; pretty impressive. She was really nice, I showed her some English stuff which she loved.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Day 6

After a late night I got up to make the most of my last day. I had a few more places to see over this side of Tokyo. Nothing that exciting, just a few tourist areas.

9040.jpg
The temple in Asakusa

I came back to collect my bags before making the long trip to the airport. I got to the bus stop on time, but when the bus didn't come I found out that at this stop you have to make a reservation even if you have a ticket. With time ticking down before my flight I had to make an emergency plan to get to the airport. I had to get back on the metro, make 1 change (400m between platforms carrying everything) and arrive at the city airport bus terminal. I managed to get on a bus in good time. At the airport, checkin wouldn't let me take the flight because my visa hadn't been arranged. This was a massive cock up by my flight organisers. I knew something was up so a few days previous I had chased it up by email but they didn't managed to get it sorted. To get on the flight I had to pay a ridiculous visa fee at the airport which I'm now going to have to claim back from them.

After a lot of messing about dealing with this, checkin had closed and I was escorted to the gate by the Narita airport Jetstar manager, he was very friendly but a bit stressed out because Quantas had just grounded all their flights due to strike action. I got on the plane which was pretty much empty and caught up with some blogging on my laptop.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thoughts about Japan

From the moment I stepped of the plane at Narita airport, my whole experience has been very positive, I don't normally like being in cities but it's amazing here, love just being around the people and culture.

As for the transport system, cleanliness of everything, morals manners and attitude of all the people, how safe it is here, how well everything is done; all I can say is the UK is an embarrasment. Things aren't just better here, they make the UK look awful.

Japan is so much more advanced than the UK of the USA. Everything is so effiencient, just small stuff like how fast the supermarket checkout is, how fast the fast food service is (your meal is ready and waiting before you get your change) and how well laid out and well sign posted the transport system is enabling extremely quick travel times.

In conclusion I was just shocked at how much better things can be!

Posted by kendrick 19:04 Archived in Japan Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises bridges buildings people Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 20 of 27) « Page 1 [2] 3 »