After leaving Japan I was lucky enough to have some time in Northern Thailand and Laos before starting my new job here in Tanzania. Part of the time in Northern Thailand was taking part in the Chiang Mai international cricket 6’s tournament.
About 26 teams competed this year, represented by over 120 players plus about another ~100 social participants. The competition was held at the Gymkhana ground in Chiang Mai, which was beautifully prepared, and an immense amount of fun was had by all, on and off the ground. Some pics from competition are included for your enjoyment – for t
he record the Tokyo Wombats did pretty well, especially since they were carrying yours truly who seems to have forgotten how to bowl!
In addition to playing cricket, drinking beer and vodka slammer ‘fines’ and gathering collective wisdom about Northern Thailand and Africa, I did manage to have a look around Chiang Mai and the nearby Doi Suthep national Park.
Bigger adventures were to follow and you can look forward to more on that in the future. Following that, yet bigger adventures in Tanzania and Africa! Enjoy for now.
The food in Japan is renowned for its quality. What people may not realise, is that it is not just the food in the restaurants that is good – it is the food in the markets and the supermarkets and the basement floors of the department stores.
For me the food in Japan represents two of the virtues most synonymous with the Japanese – value and quality. Lucky for me, I think that flowed through to my cooking!
These pictures are from two dinners I had at a fusion Japanese-Balinese bar and restaurant in Ginza called LIME. The restaurant is located upstairs (2F) in the Ginza Corridor arcade under the metropolitan expressway and Shinkansen. A map and review is available from Metro.
LIME has floor to ceiling fish-tanks running the length of the restaurant and provides most of the restaurants moody lighting. The tanks are chock full of tropical fish, including a beautiful zebra striped moray eel, which hides up near the cashiers.
The food was good. Not fantastic and not expensive, it was good value, interesting fusion food. If you want Japanese food, go somewhere else. If you want pure Indonesia food, go somewhere else. If you want something that sounds familiar but is a little different – same same but different – then give this place a try.
Chiba prefecture and Ibaraki prefecture have been two of my favourite spots for a quick weekend ride. They are easy to get too, offer quiet twisty roads, cute seaside towns, beachs and sunshine. Great relief from Tokyo. Stories and pictures from my three trips to this are are below.
One rainy day I did a day tour of the Boso peninsular by train, never bothering to leave the station. The whole round trip from Tokyo cost me and my friend only a local fare and provided great views of thundering surf, and wind swept waves – all from the comfort of a warmed train carriage. Thats how I like to ride in the wet! You can see some of the photos from that trip in Golden week on this post.
One quick weekend trip to Ibaraki did not go so well. It was October and damn cold despite being sunny. My gloves at the time did not cope well. I was heading to Oarai but before arriving stopped to warm my hands and belly at this family restaurant. Once I got talking to them and they found out I did not have a reservation for the night they promptly freaked out and started calling all the hotels in Oarai to see if there were free rooms. Little did I know or understand at the time that the Oarai marathon was on the next day! Every sold out hotel was met with shrieks and tut-tuts worthy of any mother. Eventually a room was found for me in hotel sawaya in Hokota and I was led their by some departing customers!
The next day I did get to sit on the beach in beautiful sunshine around Konaji. Eventually though I made it to Oarai and spend some time at the Oaraiisosaki Shrine (oarai-isosakijinja.or.jp) before going a little further up the coast to have lunch by the beach in Ajigaura (阿字ケ浦海水浴場 more info) and head back to Tokyo on the Higashi-Mito Express-way. All was fine and wonderful for the whole weekend until I stopped about at a road-side stop on the expressway and when returning to the bike, it would not start. The neutral light, oil light and temperature light did not even come on when the ignition was on. How could I have a flat battery after 2 days of riding? Eventually I found the answer was that my regulator had blown and was pumping 18v in the battery, which killed it too! That night I had to catch a train home and come back with a mini truck a few days later to pick-up the bike! Ah, adventures!
My most recent trip was in March and I shot down to the Boso peninsular using the Tokyo Aqua line and stopping off in the middle of the bay for some nice photos and a Mt Fuji bread roll.
That weekend we managed to get down to Tateyama and visit the Sunosaki lighthouse, the Boso flower line in Konuma and enjoy some local hospitality, especially on our way back at CLs Cafe in Katsuyama (スナックブルーマリン). We stopped in this little seaside cafe for an hour or two for breakfast on the Sunday. The collection of books and photagraphy magazines and the general homeliness of a place that seems in the middle of nowhere was brilliant. You can read the owners blog, mostly in Japanese, here. The place is well worth a visit as you can hopefully see from the pics.
On the ride home that Sunday morning we were joined by a Harley motorbike club for a few kilometers, along the cliffs of Route 127, the Uchibo-Nagisa Line prior to rejoing the Tateyama Expressway via route 237 in Kanaya. The ride back over the Tokyo Aqua line bridge in strong winds was one of the scariest I have done, with the gusts pushing the bike side-ways, making it hard to maintain balance and line.
For more information of the places recently visited please refer to the Nomad-odyssey map
I have been lucky enough to visit the Isu Peninsular to the south of Tokyo on two occassions now. Once when Richy was visiting during summer we went Hiking on the Izu peninsular with Tomomi and enjoyed driving around the coast, swimming, eating amazing and disgusting seafood, and watching dolphin shows. We were lucky enough whilst hiking to get close to some of the local deer.
I was also lucky to visit Izu with Alex, Meg and her friend Hiroko to do the waterfall tour, have real green tea in a traditional house, watch fireworks, take an ocean view onsen under the stars and generally enjoy good company.
The traditional house, set amongst a bamboo forest was particularly impressive – especially as the owner had re-built the whole thing from scratch and using traditional techniques. The wood was hard and polished and joined using traditional techniques and limited nails. The walls had been woven and then plastered with home made horse-hair mud and the whole reconstruction had been photo documented. Impressive.
Merry festive season everyone. I hope you are taking the time to enjoy the small things. Back in Australia I have been surrounded by love and the things I love. Including fruit pudding and brandy custard the traditional Dot Williams way. Friends have gotten married, family are getting married, there has been time in the pool and down the beach, games of cricket and tiggy, summer storms, wide open spaces, road trips, books, quiet time after lunch and a nana nap or two.
I was also enjoying going though some old photos of a fall trip to Fuji with a good friend. Its a beautiful place, especially with the golden leaves, ultra blue skies and blazing snowy white mountain Fuji towering over all. The beauty of Fuji distills a kind of peace over this place. Never mind the cold.
Please note that a lot of these photos were taken by the lovely Silje.
Angela came to visit me. First time we have been overseas together since Greece, 2000! Was a blast.
Had a ball. A high-ball that is.
Swan rides, DonQi aquarium, terrace beers with the mistress.
Whisky with no ice work house parties,
Living like common people, flea markets,
Nemo Demo and calls on the giant porcelain telephone.
Couch surfing micro brews and insider temple fests with –
Geeky Norwegians, Jerks and Yu.
TokyoDex, The Watanabes, Jimmy Blinks and the Shakehorns.
The golden poo, USDs, downpours, Delphine and Snow monkeys.
Ramen, Gyoza, Izikaya, satay, sushi breakfast, lunch and tea.