Little Greg arrived at Krabi Airport full of anticipation of the week ahead.
After getting the Taxi to Ao Nanman Pier he patiently waited for a long tail boat out to Railay Bay. Once he got to the Bay, he set about to look for some accomodation...asking around for the best prices...after much searching and haggling he ended up on the east side with the Mangroves and cats...not to mention cool little bars.
He then walked back over to the West side, Sunset beach and sat on the sand staring out to sea, contemplating the climbing to come.
That night he watched a beautiful sunset...
The next day, he was eager to climb and so went straight to the wall at Diamond cave, which was very close to where he was staying. The rock was heaving with other climbers with their thai climbing guides, but they were all very friendly and they all chatted and had much fun. Little Greg, went on to show them all how it's done properly, and led a 6a+ for a little warm up. Here we see Little Greg making a clip on a lead rope. No top roping for Little Greg. Top roping is for wusses. He showed them that he might be small, but he could climb better than most of them!
After a good day's climbing, Little Greg went back over to Sunset beach, for a little swim to relax.
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Little Greg arrived at Krabi Airport full of anticipation of the week ahead.
I went, rather late, to the JR ticket office to try and buy my ticket for the Narita Express. Only to discover there were no seats left on the first train. Which, was a little bit of an issue…as this was the train we needed to get to the airport in time…but I managed, with some very broken Japanese, to find out they still had standing tickets…so it wasn’t so bad.
So, and early start to get to the airport and we get to the check in desk at which point the lady behind the desk asks if I have a re-entry permit [in Japanese]. ?????? errrr no! ‘do I need one?... I thought I had a multiple entry visa…’ anyway, it turns out that I was meant to apply for a re-entry permit. So, there is a bit of flustering behind the desk and now another lady is helping our check-in lady and are muttering away in Japanese. They try to explain to me in Japanese what I can do. I look back blankly. And Rei argues for me and after lots of Japanese exchange the lady goes away to call someone about what to do. In the mean time Rei explains to me in English, that apparently I can get a re-entry permit in the airport at immigration, but it will take about an hour, so I have to go immediately.
I toodle off to departures then immigration, where there is *the* largest intertwining queue I have seen in my LIFE! It actually just looked like a mass of bodies. There was no discernable start, and it wasn’t obvious where anyone was going. So, I just walked in to the middle of the throng to try and find an ‘end’ to a queue. It seemed like there were only 3 immigration officers for a good 500 people. I’d been queuing for a good 20 mins, getting increasingly paranoid about not being able to make it for my flight if they were then going to hold me up for another hour to get the permit. Then I suddenly noticed people making a mad dash to the left…New Queue! There were people practically diving to the newly opened desk. I couldn’t help giggling out loud, mainly because I was making an effort to get there myself. Then, just as I’d settled in my new found so-closer-to-the-counter position, yet another two counters opened up, spurring another melee, which just made me smirk more. I couldn’t be bothered to push the little old grannies out of my way to get a few seconds closer to the counter so I just stayed put and watched. Anyway, after all that I finally get to the counter and try and explain to the immigration officer, what I was told at the check-in desk. Apparently it was all fine, well fine-ish…she just confiscated my alien registration card and said I had to reapply when I got back…so, it all turned out ok. Hazzah!
We get to Bangkok and proceed to find some lunch…some nice Thai food was what we were really looking for, which was just what we found, in the form of the airport cafeteria. Mmmmmm sweet chilli sauce! Yum. After being distracted by our stomachs we went to try and find a way into town, which was pretty easy…we just took a bus in, which dropped us near a market which Rei’s guide book said there were some guest houses near by, so we walked around to book in. After dumping our bags we went for a quick little stroll around town. There was a lot of practice and fire poi on sale and a stall selling fried insects: frogs legs, locusts, beetles and other goodies.
I wasn't brave enough to try any...sorry. but they looked very crunchy, if that helps.
The next day we got up fairly early, to go look at the Grand Palace. Where there was already a queue forming, on a very narrow pavement, to get in. We had to borrow shirts from the office, for being inappropriately dressed…
Anyway the temple in the palace grounds (Wat Phra Kaeo) was beautiful and gold….there was lots of gold. We even got to see the jade Buddha…the building housing it was actually a building site. They seemed to be undergoing some renovation.
After frolicking in the palace grounds we tried to walk over to a different temple...just behind the palace called Wat Pho, but as we were making our way a guy stopped us in the street and went on to tell us that today (sunday) was a national holiday and Wat Pho was shut until 12noon, unfortunately we had to get the 11am bus to the airport to get our internal flight, so we gave up and thought we'd just try and get a tuktuk to the sleeping buddha, fly past, take photos then get back to our guest house and get the bus.
This was a lot harder than we thought it would be. Firstly, because the guy who had stopped us was being overly helpful and trying to point out all the sights in Bangkok that we should see and wasn't about to let us on our way anytime soon. Secondly, when we tried getting a tuktuk to the sleeping buddha the drivers were all trying to take us to some 'Fashion House' so that they could cash in on some government fuel coupon. At least two drivers just point blank refused to take us just to the places we wanted to go. In the end we just ran out of time and managed to convince a driver to take us back to our guest house for more than it should have been. So, that was fun.
We got our bus in the end, and happened to run into a young Canadian man who happened to be taking the same flight to Krabi that we were. Not only that, he had come from Tokyo himself, but not on our flight. Think he was coming from Osaka where he was teaching English at a small high school in a little town about an hour from the city. So, we had a nice chat to him.
I managed to loose my shoes on the air asia flight to Krabi. It seems they absconded from one of the outside pockets in my bag…so only flip flops for me! Unfortunately, I only noticed that they were gone when we’d found a room in Railay beach.
Getting to Railay beach was quite a little adventure for me. First, we had to get a taxi to Ao Namam (can’t quite remember the name, but think that was it) then wait for enough people to turn up to justify moving a long-tail boat. The ride in was beautiful, the photos really don’t do it justice.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
The train took us to Hakone-Yumoto, where we changed on to and older style train (Hakone-Tozan line), which had an average speed of a granny on a zimmer frame and due to the fact that there was only one track (expect at stations) there was a complex system of backing in and out of stations to let other trains pass...
we get off at a tiny station of Miyanoshita and walk to Fujiya Hotel (apparently the oldest in Japan) it's very posh...we even stretched to a very nice Lunch there...i had some very tasty fish (rainbow trout...if you're interested...if not. tough.) Anyway, it was all rather western...the decor on the inside, as well as the menu in the very wood-clad dining room with the nice view...
After lunch, we get back on a train (after *just* missing one) so we have to wait for an entire 15mins for another..in japan this is a very long time to have to wait for a train...they usually come every 3mins...) anyway, we head to Gora, to get the Hakone-Tozan Cable Car...which heads up a nice little hill towards Sounzan...the cable car itself is on an incline so the whole thing looks like a parallelogram from the side.
Then we transfer again to the Hakone ropeway to get which takes us up even higher over the hills and back down again to the spectacular view of the Owakudani sulphur springs...
View of the Sulphur Springs
This area is famous for it's 'kurumatamago' (black eggs) which Hello Kitty is advertising below
We had a smelly little walk around the Sulphur springs before taking a replacement bus (the ropeway between Owakudani and Togendai (the north end of Lake Ashi) was under repair. We then waited to take the Hakone Sightseeing ship (which was a bit of a sight all on it's own) across to the other side, so that we could get to our bed for the night.
We board, a monster of a 'ship', which included fake sails, rigging (made of steel cable), cannons and complete with a chest of tresure. Anyway, it got us to the other side. From where we had a short walk to the Ryokan (a traditional Japanese guest house). we sign in, and settle into our room (which doesn't have a room number, but has the kanjii for autumn and moon). i'm then shown by a hostess, how to wear my Yukata (a japanese version of a dressing gown which is just one step of complexity down from a kimono...) then we sit down to a very nice and large dinner, there's everything from, sashimi to nabe and tenpura...anyway by the end of it i'm stuffed. the hostess comes back with green tea ice cream to round it all off and then provides us with tea while she clears away the dinner we have just devoured. Then, time for Onsen! which was very relaxing...and most appreciated after a day of walking. by the time i have finished my soaking, someone has already come into the room (tatami flooring) and has set up the futons for us! so that all that's left for me to do is go to bed...in my highly relaxed state.
The next morning we get up for the 8am breakfast. Japanese, of course. rice and some pickled stuff, miso soup, some egg...was a bit strange for me, but good none the less.
we then pack our stuff up and head towards the old Hakone Checkpoint...well it's a nice reconstruction with a museum. mainly lost on me because everything was in japanese.
On the other side of the checkpoint, we walked up to a mount Fuji view point...where i saw this very strangly trimmed tree.
anyway, there's mount Fuji hidden by a bit of tree...at least i think it's mount Fuji.
We then take a walk through Ancient Cedar Avenue, to get back to the other side of lake Ashi on the monsterous ship that we used to get over here.
Ancient Cedar Avenue
one of the other monstrous sightseeing ships
The Temple gate in the water.
We then tried to get a bus to the Lalique museum, we did get off a stop early, but then finally managed to get there...it was a really impressive collection of his work, from perfume bottles to furniture...and some really intricate jewellery too...to be honest, some of his sketches looked far better than the finished product. Anyway, as it was a museam, no photos were allowed.
The next three photos are from a temple near where we took the train back into Tokyo (and i can't remember the name of the station or the temple...but we did climb a rather steep path with takoyaki (light snack) to get to it...anyway it was very nice and peaceful and a lovely end to the trip.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Today is 'White Day' the Japanese equivalent to Valentines day... so I'm sitting at my desk waiting for an onslaught of chocolates from admirers...
...i think i'll have to wait a bit longer...
Anyway, as I may have already mentioned to some of you...Valentines day is done a little differently around this side of the 'ring of fire' and girls are expected to give boys (any boy will do... you don't even have to like them) chocolates... If, however, your chocolate-giving has more of a romantic inclination, the chocolate is somehow meant to be hand made and then hand wrapped in some ornate or cute and fluffy fashion and then handed over to the object of this romantic endevour...probably accompanied by some very cute giggling and eyelid battering...
Funnily enough I didn't make any chocolates. Not least because I have no idea how to...I have a feeling that making your own chocolates actually means buying some chocolate then melting it back down so you can shape into a heart-shape...Personally I consider this cheating.
Anyway, I shall continue to wait in vain...then I'll be off for some climbing this evening....how romantic! :D
Monday, 5 March 2007
Sunday was a day of looking at the plum blossoms in Yugawara whilst climbing...
It was a lovely sunny day, which made for excellent weather. We were practicing our skills for our upcoming trip to Krabi, Thailand! Muchos Thanks to Bill and his teaching skills and amazing patience.
All the photos below are courtsy of Greg...who isn't in any of the photos, on the account that he was on the operating end of the camera...
From left to right: Annalisa, Bill, Gero and Rei