Saturday, 23 December 2006

Safe in Virginia

Oh my goodness, my feet are cold! I've forgotten to put on ug boots and now and paying for it. I'm currently sitting in the basement of Ryan's dad's house and the concrete floor is not particularly pleasant in the midwinter!!


Well, we made it! We had a great final day in Japan with Miyao and Andrea. They were such wonderful hosts and we had an amazing insight to what life is really like in Japan through staying with them. On Tuesday, we got up to another wonderful Japanese breakfast made my Miyao's mother. It was Japanese rice, salmon and chives, with miso yummy! Ryan has a new obsession with nori (seaweed) and so added that liberally. Miyao told his mother about my wasabi obsession so she got out the hottest wasabi I've ever tasted! Bit of a new experience at breakfast but that didn't stop me!!

We caught the train (after dropping in on Andrea and my forum!) to Osaka city, dropping off our bags at the station and then hitting the shopping district. Ryan and I definitely didn't have much space left to pack things so we were mostly window shopping but it was amazing! I know now why my international students at USC say Adelaide's shopping is so terrible. We only went to one district and it was HUGE! Lots of bright lights and neon too - very impressive.

Andrea and Miyao took us to a Japanese omellete house for lunch. There is a hotplate built into the table and the waitresses come and pile up all sorts of things to cook in front of you. We had an egg dish, fried noodles and also the traditional omelettes, stuffed with fresh cabbage and pork and topped with BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. Sounds scary but yummmmmmmm!!

After lunch, we sadly made our way to the train station to catch the Shinkansen to Tokyo. It was really sad to say goodbye to Andrea and Miyao - I got a bit teary - as they looked after us so well. The train journey itself was quite fun. We had bought donuts and coffee in a can from vending machines to keep us occupied and so whiled away the two and a half hour trip watching the country fly past. Unfortunately, it got dark about an hour or so out of Osaka so we missed Mt Fuji but there's always next time. Once in Tokyo, we went straight to the hotel which was just lovely and since we were still full from lunch, had a vending machine drink (I think mine was peach vodka but who knows since the writing was kanji only) and watched the news on CNN. (Do you know that there's snow in Denver?? I think this was the main news story repeated every ten minutes...cause nothing else is going on in the world, right??)

The flight to New York was fine and we arrived around 12 noon on Wednesday at our hotel in New York. I had a raging headache and Ryan wanted to nap so we stopped at the drugstore and then went to our room to rest. (I indulged my Diet Dr Pepper obsession too - priorities!) Well, that was a bit of a mistake as we slept til 9pm and missed the entire day but at least we're not jetlagged anymore! The next day, we pretty much had to head straight to the airport to catch our flight to Virginia so we didn't see much of New York at all this time. However, since we're heading back up in a week or so for New Years' I wasn't too gutted!

We arrived last night in Virginia after a ton of delays at JFK. The gate was absolutely packed with all the holiday travel and Delta was doing a pretty average job of managing the crowd. Still, once on the plane, the flight was fine and we were met at the gate in Richmond by Ryan's dad, his wife Lucy, Ryan's sister and our neice and nephew. Jared was especially excited to see us and we even got hugs without prompting this time! He's gorgeous and so big! Cate is a bit unsure of us for now as she was so little when we were last here. That will soon fade, I think. She's so beautiful and we can't believe how big she's gotten too!

So yes, now we're at the house and doing all the little errands that need to be done before Christmas. Don't know if I'll be able to get online much with all that has to be done, but if not, happy Christmas all!

Tuesday, 19 December 2006


Only have a minute of email time in one of those hotel lobby booths but wanted to let you all know, especially my mother :) (don't call the embassy) that we made it to Tokyo with minimum fuss, the hotel is lovely and all is well.

Our flight is at 12 tomorrow so looking forward to touching down in New York soon enough.
More to say about today but running out of time!

A quick pic from Kyoto!

Taken with Andrea's phone!


Having a great time here. We arrived late last night and were met at the airport by Miyao and Andrea. It was gusty and cold - quite a change from the warm day we left in Sydney! The flight itself was pretty uneventful. We did meet up with our Adelaide friends who are also heading to the US for Christmas in Sydney which was fun but otherwise, nothing much to report! Ryan will tell you there was lots of wind and turbulence but I didn't notice a thing so it can't have been that bad!!

After arriving in Japan and getting through customs/quarantine with our boatload of chocolate :) we went with Miyao and Andrea to what I guess is the Japanese equivalent of a tapas bar. Very yummy though we had no idea what we were looking at until Miyao would explain what it was. Lots of seaweed!! Which was just wonderful for us. We came back to their home late and found Miyao's parents had waited up to meet up so we shared tea and remarkably understood details about our trip. We have decided that Miyao's father is very much like my Dutch father and Ryan's American father - interested in everything and loving to get the atlas out!! They are spoiling us rotten. For example, we had an absolute smorgasbord of a Japanese breakfast this morning (complete with scary little bug~eyed fish!!)

Today, we have been sightseeing in Kyoto. We started off at the Bamboo Gardens in Kyoto and then found a Japanese garden and temple. Most of the autumn colours are gone but there were still a few trees with beautitful red foilage. We then walked down past a few shops to the riverside where we found a restaurant and had more delectable Japanese food. I will have to add pictures to this post when I can because once again, I couldn't tell you what we ate was called!

After our lunch, we drove to one of the large temples in Kyoto and walked around there. This temple is one of the choices for the New 7 Wonders project (which is worth googling if you haven't voted!) It was truly inspiring. As we walked around, the sun set and we soon were walking in half-darkness which made for an amazing atmosphere and we took some incredible photos. Which I will post later too ;)

The way to the temple was a small cobbled street with lots of shops selling traditional Japanese items and gifts. Everything is so beautiful - we could spend hundreds of dollars! On the walk up, we tried the green tea soft serve icecream. Very `interesting` but it grows on you!! Ryan also managed to find a Japanese donut stall...

After the sightseeing, we went into Kyoto city to the arcades. I know now why the international students I teach are so disappointed with Adelaide shopping! Wow, the choices!! Very bustling and also plenty of amusing Engrish examples. We did a little gift buying and then it was time to drive back towards Osaka.

We had dinner at a sushi restaurant in Osaka which is similar in concept to the Sushi train restaurants in Australia. The sushi options come around on little plates on a conveyer belt and you take the options you like and let the others pass you by. Because Andrea has tried most of the options and has similar taste to mine (ie she doesn't like `fishy fish` either), I tried a whole set of new favourites including raw tuna!

We're now back at the Miyao home and since Ryan is probably anxious to check his email, I will sign off now. I really wish I could add some pictures to show you how gorgeous everything is here but that will have to wait until next time! We're off to Tokyo tomorrow - on our own this time - and will probably next check in from New York.

Love to all who bother to read this,

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Made it to the flight - :)

Sydney airport is very exciting. My father is going to be very impressed at my stock of duty-free.

Finished packing at 2am, up at 4.30am. Yay. I think I will sleep pretty soundly on this flight.

Not much else to say - very excited about seeing Andrea tonight and meeting her husband!!