Friday, December 30, 2005

Heaps Of Traffic Coming My Way

Some guy who goes by the name of Buzzchap has linked one of my photos onto a billboard about haircuts - - go figure. My traffic has jumped five-fold though and that is what brought it to my attention. Who would have thought that a haircut billboard would be so popular. I guess he did link to my site so he is informing people where he got the photo from.

Can't say that the missus is happy about it. Me, I haven't made up my mind yet.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Test Of Driving Ability

Some of us have it and some of us don't. I took the young fella to Timezone the other day. We had been to see the movie Corpse Bride, which wasn't bad (buggered if I was going to pay over $40 to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe [which we will see - It is one of the few books I have read]), and had some time left for our parking. I also had a coupon whereby I could get $10 credit for only $5.

Yu-Jin played a shoot 'em up firstly and then we had a go at a racing car game where the seat moves from side to side. I finished my three laps in 2nd position and with 20 lap points. Yu-Jin came in 6th with 5 lap points. By all accounts he drove quite well. Miky had a go after us and didn't even complete a third of a lap. All she could do was crash into the wall. And she has a driver's licence!! It's not altogether different from driving a car. I'm glad to see that the boy has some talent. Now he'll want to go more often. Still, he's a kid and he needs to have some fun as a kid.
New Book For Christmas

I reckon the bestseller for next year is going to be entitled "How To Lose 12 kgs In 11 Days Without Trying". It will be co-written by Mark Smith and Steve Freeman who survived a shipwreck off the coast of Vietnam recently. The yacht they were sailing sank and they were left to survive in an inflatable raft for 11 days without food or water. Mr Freeman lost 12kgs in the 11 days and when he was being interviewed he mentioned "Eat your heart out, Jenny Craig", a reference to one of the world's best known weight loss centres.

A lucky couple of buggers. Even though their Christmas lunch will be a bit late I don't think they will mind what is put in front of them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Out For A Boat Ride In Mandurah

Nice day for a boat ride yesterday with my workmate Gary Cutler, wife Angela and son Lee. Gary's got a lovely boat and took us down to the canals in Mandurah for a cruise. Miky isn't too good when it comes to seasickness and so didn't want to go out on the open sea. The actual drive to Mandurah, only 25 kms away, took close to an hour as there was an inordinate amount of traffic on the road.

Gary's boat - Angelina.

Let's get this show on the road, er, water.

Captain Cutler at the helm.

Captain Cutler off duty.

They're a strange mob down in Mandurah, based on their toilet signs.

Apparently only one-legged women can use these toilets.

Apparently only intoxicated men can use these toilets.

Stopped off at Cicerello's for lunch. Pity they didn't have a boat-through as it would have made the process a lot quicker. We had been talking about a gentleman that we do business for, and who I used to work for, as he has a holiday place nearby, and we bumped into him in Cicerello's. It's a small world.

Lunch - fish 'n chips of course. Also had squid 'n chips.

There were some awfully nice, and totally unaffordable, places around the canal in Mandurah.


Also noice.

Now that's what I call a waterfront home.

Even Mr Percival paid us a visit.

The owner of this boat either loves giving rides to friends or runs a ferry company.

We got to see some dolphins and Gary, in an act of bravery, asked me if I wanted to take control. Brave man indeed considering that his boat is quite new.

Captain Ham at your service.

First mate Yu-Jin

The ladies.

After our little jaunt it was back to Gary and Angela's place for a BBQ tea. Poor Gary - he worked so hard. It took an hour to clean the boat when he got home, he cooked the barbie and then had to clean the pool after Yu-Jin had spent nearly two hours playing with the dogs and kicking/throwing dirty balls into the pool. Yu-Jin had a great time and was dead tired once we got home last night.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Spirit Of Christmas Is Still Alive

Yu-Jin is still captivated with Christmas. He was more than happy to visit Santa, tell him what he would like for Christmas and to have his photo taken. I was pleased when he only asked for one toy from Santa. Not that Santa knew what a Rahkshi, like a Bionicle, was. We wandered over to Toys 'R Us afterwards and found something that he liked and he desperately wanted to see Santa again to tell him what it was.

The week leading up to Christmas is not so bad for his behaviour as I tell him that I have Santa's mobile phone number and can call him to say not to bother to come to our house if he has been bad. I know, I'm terrible.

I was locking the door just before bedtime and Yu-Jin wanted to know how was Santa going to get in? We don't have a chimney you see. So I had to explain that Santa has a set of keys as he is a good guy and we can trust him.

Yu-Jin left chocolate biscuits and milk for Santa (why did I just type milf?) and he was very happy to get a thank you note from Santa about how chocolate biscuits were his favourite, etc). Santa did enjoy the snack, take it from me.

He was quite surprised that although Santa hadn't known what he wanted for Christmas he managed to deliver exactly what was asked for.

On Christmas morning Yu-Jin was up early to open his presents. The second time he got up and asked to open them, at 20 to 6, I said that he could open one and he opened the smallest one - strange kid!

We had a very mild day with the unusual temperature of 26.7 degrees C. It's normally around 35 degrees C. BBQ lunch with prawns, squid, chevups, sausages, onion, carrot, chicken kebabs and garlic along with smoked salmon, olives, lettuce and sundried tomatoes and a cheese platter and potato salad. I'm telling you, it went down a treat. I didn't even have breakfast and, not that I ate a lot, there wasn't much need for tea later on.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ultimate Slackness For Christmas

Hi all. I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Be good. If you can't be good, be good at it.

This has been my slackest Christmas time ever in terms of preparation. Ok, I've managed to replace the vanity cupboard in the bathroom with a D-I-Y model from Ikea. Don't you just love spending hours putting together your own furniture? Having said that, it looks great and offers so much space to allow us to remove the clutter from the bathroom basin area.

It was only this week that I started writing Christmas cards and I've only written to people who have sent me a Christmas card this year. Saved quite a bit of money on postage. Thanks goes out to those who went to the trouble and had us in their thoughts.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Dec 1st

Young-in made a nice breakfast. She paid for tea last night when we tried really hard to not let her. Honestly. About 10am we caught the subway to Cheonan. Only 2200 Won each and it is way out in the country - well, it's the terminus. Didn't arrive until after 12pm.

A union protesting for casual workers' rights in Cheonan.

Had lunch and then caught a bus to the Korea Independence Hall. What a place. Admission was only 2000 Won and it was almost deserted. Everything was done on a huge scale. The Entrance Gate is absolutely massive.

The huge gate at the Independence Hall of Korea, Cheonan.

Puts the size of the gate into perspective.

Big statue inside the gate.

At the entrance I asked for an English guide map. As I was photographing the statue at the front I heard some clip-clop, clip-clopping. It was the info girl running towards me. She must have some important info for me I thought. She had some writings that she was translating into English and needed some help with the English bit. So, I've done my bit for Korean independence.

Hall No. 1 - The Hall of the National Hermitage. Heaps of info concerning 5000 years of invasions, civil wars, pottery, repelling of Japanese by Admiral Yi Sun-Shin. I asked a guard if I could take photos and he said ok.

Model of 80m high wooden pagoda that was built in the 6th to 7th century. Can't imagine how magnificent an achievement that was.

Yi-Sun-shin's invention, the Keobuksan - 거북산 - Turtle boat. You can see cannons, holes for archers to shoot through, and the plated roof with spikes to prevent boarding. There was also a dragon's head that breathed fire and plenty of oars for quick manoeuvreing.

Yi Sun-shin's 197.5cm sword. The pen is not mightier than this sword.

Hall No. 2 - The Hall of the Nationalist Movement. It details the forfeiture of national sovereignty to the Japanese and how they went about it from the unfair treaty that was signed in 1876 up to the annexation in 1910. I had no idea that Korea was occupied for such a long time.

Hall No. 3 - The Hall of the Japanese Aggression. Skip to Hall No. 4 if you are squeamish. This included torture conducted upon Koreans including; being walled up in a police station until they informed on others, leg-screwing, being placed inside a box of nails, being suspended with arms tied behind back with a rifle in between to suspend you from the ceiling and getting beaten, some water torture whereby they had to drink and drink, etc. Quite horrible really. Miky didn't want to see and Yu-Jin wasn't allowed to. Can't argue with fact - shame on the Japanese.

Hall No. 4 - The Hall of the March First Independence Movement. Even though the Korean identity was suppressed with the people changing their names to Japanese, the Korean language was outlawed, and the land was taken away from the Koreans who became virtual slaves, they were/are a resilient people. I'm amazed that the Korean resistance was strong enough to organise a nationwide march for independence which went from 1/3-30/4/1919 and went worldwide. It came about because the Japanese secreted away much rice due to crop failure in Japan which made the price skyrocket in Korea so that people couldn't afford it.

Hall No. 5 - The Hall of the Independence War. It outlines the formation of the Independence Army which mainly fought the Japanese in Siberia and Manchuria and the heroes who took part in guerilla warfare with the most famous being Ahn Jeung-gwon who cut off a knuckle from two fingers to write a declaration in his own blood and leave an imprint of his hand as well. Stirring stuff. Ahn assassinated the Japanese General in charge of Korea at the time.

Hall No. 6 - The Hall of the Social and Cultural Movement. We skipped through this and had lemon tea to drink.

Hall No. 7 - The Hall of the Korean Provisional Government. We missed this completely.

The Circle Vision Theater - 360 degrees theatre which played a movie about Korea. Not truly inspiring.

The trees get looked after here. Somebody needs to explain to me why this is necessary.

One of the best places that we have visited, without doubt. Caught a bus back to Cheonan and then another to Asan. I was surprised that the cost for the bus was only 950 Won as it didn't appear to be a local bus. And there appeared to be no break between the towns of Cheonan, Onyang and Asan although the map clearly shows them to be seperate towns. Miky wanted to go to a hot spring (oncheon) hotel and a lady on the bus asked the bus driver where a good place to go was.

Got a bus to Asan Spa. We chose the White House for 45000 Won, dropped our bags off and then looked for another place as Miky wasn't happy with the room. Found another place for 30000 Won, with Internet for free and not another 5000 Won in another room, and decided to change hotels. The ajumma at the White House wasn't happy and wanted to charge us 15000 Won for doing so. We thought that 5000 Won was enough. A big argument ensued and the price negotiated was 8000 Won. What a bitch. Never go there. Whilst Miky was arguing a couple came in for "a rest" and paid 20000 Won for the privelege. Obviously married but not to each other.

Our new hotel had a spa, Internet in the room, and a round bed. So much better. We were given a special room with a love machine but changed rooms [Editor's note - I didn't manage to get a photo of that very interesting machinery, dammit]. The vending machine at the end of the hall was interesting. The entrance to the car park is covered so that you can't see the number plates of vehicles inside.

Had beef for tea and went back for a very relaxing spa. Spotted an unusual shop name on the way - "US Junk".

On the bus to the spa area something strange happened - a short, chubby, talkative man was sitting behind Yu-Jin and he just slapped Yu-Jin before getting off. I saw him move his arm but couldn't be sure that he had struck him. Yu-Jin was quite shocked and wanted to know "Why did that man hit me?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 30th

Early start to the day as we had an 8 o'clock bus to catch. Wendy got up before we left but Alice was still asleep. I had bought breakfast just after 7am and we managed to get to the bus station with minutes to spare. Then I couldn't find any tickets! The ones that I bought yesterday upon arrival so that there would be no trouble getting back to Busan and everything would be organised nicely for smooth sailing. You know, those tickets. Panic set in and I got to the stage where I decided to buy the tickets again and as I made my way to the ticket office I saw the ticket lady waving a ticket to somebody else and I remembered that I had left the tickets in my diary. Crisis averted.

Just over the 50 minute mark for the trip to Busan. The bus driver wanted to shake Yu-Jin's hand as he got off. I couldn't believe that there were only three adults and one child on the bus - total fares of 14000 Won - that's as much as the bus pays to use the Expressway alone. Yu-Jin counted 67 trucks that we passed, on our side of the Expressway, but there were quite a few that he missed. He's suddenly picked up this thing about counting. The other day he asked me how many people in the world and when I replied, "six billion" he wanted to count up to six billion.

That's what I call a bus terminal.

It was relaxing to catch the subway at Nopodong as it is the terminus and no-one was on the train. No need to try to find a seat or have to stand. Nobody trying to sell us anything either, at the moment. Saw an add for a bank inside the train and it was in Korean, Chinese, English and Russian.

Out of the subway station in Busan we took the wrong exit, had walked down to one end of the station, and I was beginning to think that maybe we had alighted at the wrong station. Kept walking until I noticed Eun-jeong's apartment. Eun-jeong bought tickets online, to get herself some reward points, for the slow train to Seoul which was to take a tick under five and a half hours. She then gave us a ride to the station to see us off and help us with our mountain of luggage.

Busan station was very busy. So busy in fact that you could only enter the platform within 15 minutes of your train departing. That's fairly well organised but I guess these Koreans know how to deal with large numbers of people. The station wasn't too friendly for foreigners-with-too-much-baggage, I must say.

Nearly five and a half hours of nothing to do. Played knuckles with Yu-Jin after his two and a half hours sleep. He loves the game, a little bit too much. Saw a few burial mounds near the railway line and a few KTX trains fly past. We stopped at Seoul Station to change trains and for a toilet break. Yu-Jin went to the toilet first so that I could hold his jacket and then I went but while he was waiting for me some guy wanted to put his jumper on and gave his jacket to Yu-Jin to hold. When we walked out of the toilet the man gave Yu-Jin 1000 Won and I didn't have a clue what was going on as I hadn't seen any of it. Just a tad worrying at the time until Yu-Jin explained the situation.

With great difficulty, and the kind help of a fellow commuter, we managed to get our luggage down the stairs at Doksan Station. Then the first taxi driver refused to take us but the next guy did. Finding Miky's friend's apartment wasn't easy as it was dark and all the apartments look the same. Got the driver to drop us off. Wandered around and asked a few people without much success. Apartment no. 1017 was not near 1015 or 1016 but near 1103. Don't ask me why.

Nice to see Young-in, Jeong-yoon and Seong-hoon again. Went out for tea and the restaurant was so beautifully decorated with artwork it was amazing. The owner was an artist and he had many collected works - masks, figurines, clocks (Victoria Station), paintings, statues, etc. Ventured to Outlet2001 to get some snacks for the kids and then bakery products. Young-in is looking much healthier than last time we saw her (had a newborn back then) and she doesn't have a Seoul accent but her son, Seong-hoon, sure does. Not sure about Jeong-yoon's accent. We plan to take the kids to Seoul Land on Saturday. Bit of a late night with much talking after Young-in's husband, Gi-young, came home.

Young-in, Gi-young (back row), Yu-Jin, Seong-hoon, Jeong-yoon, Miky (front row)

The Men.

Real kim chee.

View from apartment, sans snow.

View from apartment, sans snow.

View from apartment, sans snow.
Funny Sign Spotted In South Perth

This morning on my drive in to work I spotted a sign that made me chuckle. It was a real estate agent's "FOR LEASE" sign out the front of a block of flats. Obviously they had been successful in getting somebody to lease the joint but perhaps they were asking for too much money. The "LEASED" sticker was placed in such a way to indicate that the place was:


Surely they know that if you rip someone off that person has been "fleeced".

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Race Riots In Cronulla Explained

Genius. I've worked out why the race riots in Cronulla, Sydney, took place a while back. Most people think that it was Lebanese, ethnically at least, trying to lay claim to part or all of the beach.

Not so. Sydney is famous for its homosexual population and many years ago a great deal of poofter-bashing took place. It wasn't safe to be gay and live in Sydney.

Now the race riots were organised by SMS. I reckon that there was a spelling mistake in the SMS that set this all off. It meant to say "kill Lesbos" but came out as "kill Lebs", i.e. those of Lebanese origin.

There you have it folks. Just a simple spelling error. No need for all that violence and mayhem.
Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 28th

I got up before 7am to say goodbye to Keiko. I missed out on Robby's morning walk. When Yu-Jin woke up and found out that he had missed the walk he was very disappointed. Once Miky got up we, Kiyoko, Yu-Jin, Miky and I, went for another walk. This time we went around Saosaka. On the way home we wanted to say goodbye to Guchan, the pet pig, and the owner was there. We had said "Good evening," in passing last night. The pig's owner grabbed some sweet potatoes for us to feed her with. Guchan can sit and shake hands upon command.

Obviously a Japanese sign for Give Way or Yield.

Sasaoka Park sign. I wonder why it is so important to mention the area of the park? Is it for bragging rights? "My park is bigger than your park. We can afford it." Must be worth a heck a lot in rates.

Another well-tended garden. Must be too many pensioners with time on their hands in Japan.

Guchan the pet pig. Very friendly and obedient.

Some Japanese picked up during our stay:

Oidet - come here
Osuwari - sit
Ote - shake
Dame - bad
Opuro - bathroom
Owasuke - drop it

Mariko drove us to Daiei department store and even paid for Yu-Jin to play some games in the arcade section. You get a card either to play the game or afterwards. What a great way to get kids hooked on games. The Japanese are pretty smart when it comes to installing addictions in people.

Mariko then drove us to the mall next to Canal City so that Miky could collect her china and buy some more. She then dropped us off near BIC Central/Mitsukoshi (another large department store) where we headed off to Daimaru for lunch. Miky got instructions to the restaurant area and we had spaghetti dishes. Most excellent. Unfortunately we had very limited time and just caught the bus that we needed to get to Hakata Port International Terminal. We were even more lucky to have enough change to pay for the departure tax of 400 Yen/adult. Pretty much perfect timing actually.

Can't believe the onigiri (sticky rice, filling and seaweed) costs more in the supermarket than in the railway station - but they do. Delicious by the way.

Our movie on the ferry back to Korea was called "Arahan" and was a Korean fighting movie in the same vein as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Not too bad. Dialogue in Korean and subtitles in Korean. Going to Japan previously and the movie was in Japanese. I declared my seashells at customs and there weren't any problems.

We caught a ride with a crazy taxi driver [Editor's note - aren't they all?]. I don't believe that he signalled once and didn't mind pushing in or cutting corners. If somebody else tried to push in, even whilst signalling, he tailgated and tooted his horn. Arrived in one piece, dropped our bags off as Jon was home, and went out for tea. I had bibimbap. Looked through a souvenir shop and bought an award-winning doll for Sachie and Ryuji. After tea we had donuts and coffee/hot chocolate at Holly's Coffee. One of the coffees alone sells for 12000 Won (A$16!!!!!!!)

James the baby was there when we arrived. Bed at about 11pm. Miky and I made plans for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow Yu-Jin and I will go to Gyeonju and Miky wants to go to a hot bath.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 27th

Gosh, we were up talking until a quarter past one this morning. Miky woke me up at 8am. Ryuji and I were due to go for a walk in the morning but it had been raining severely overnight and looked like it may continue to rain. Ryuji drove us to the top of Inasayama and then into the city to Nagaskai Museum of History and Culture. We paid for the entrance fee. Unfortunately only the titles of the exhibits were in English and there wasn't much to digest. It's the only museum that I've had to take my shoes off and carry around with me along with having to stand up to watch a movie in 3D. There was a short play and we were able to have our photo taken with the actors afterwards. The lady at the entrance said that she would give Miky a poster when she had asked where she could get one from.

We paid a quick visit to the art display to see Sachie's painting and Ryuji parked in a no parking zone for the duration. Next stop was Glover Garden where the first European house was built in Japan by Thomas Glover, a Scottish merchant. The buildings were well preserved, including Walter House, and the views were fantastic. Pity that the Diamond Princess was in the harbour, on route from Beijing to Singapore as that meant heaps of overweight and nasally-sounding Americans in the vicinity [Editor's note - you're gonna have to go easy on the Yankee-bashing or you'll upset some people].

Ryuji felt compelled to buy lunch at the ANA Hotel as he had used their carpark. Talk about a problem getting parking in the area. I ordered Jou Jou Steak. Unknowingly, I ordered a medium rare steak. Still tasted alright. Service was excellent too. After lunch we were dropped off at Nagasaki Station and window shopped for 45 minutes. Pity we didn't get to say goodbye to Sachie. Caught our train to Fukuoka.

Yu-Jin kept calling Peace Park as "Quiet Park". Sachie gave Yu-Jin a video and lots of little toys. She gave Miky a lovely necklace. Me, I think I just got fed very well. They are wonderful people.

Yu-Jin slept all the way back to Hakata Station. I got an hours sleep. We had to move him a couple of time as people came to claim their seats.

Hakata Station, at 6pm on a Sunday, was very busy. Quite understandable really. Everybody is heading home after a weekend away. No bank was open to exchange money though. Miky rang Keiko to ask about taking them out to tea. Her mum was walking the dog so we had to call later.

Went out to look for a bus but exited the wrong side of the station. Asked a parking guy for instructions and we found the bus stop ok. Alighted at Tenjin Station and rang Keiko. Too late, they had had tea. We searched for a real Japanese restaurant but I suggested going downstairs at the train station as there is usually a food hall. Miky was having none of that and walked the streets searching, getting frustrated, getting angry with me for staying so long in Nagasaki, etc. You know, women stuff. If she had called from Nagasaki all of the trouble would've been averted. Finally found a restaurant where someone spoke English - guess where - in the food hall below the train station. Genius.

I told Miky where to get off from the bus stop on the way home but she insisted on going to the next stop. I was right about the bus stop too. Keiko's grandma, aged 92, was at home. We had cake and chocolates with green tea. Keiko and Miky talked until after 12am even though Keiko had to leave by 7am for an extra class. Robby was quite pleased to play with Yu-Jin and try to dry hump him. Formatted my memory stick to regain memory space as it had been reduced to 33MB from 512MB.
Nice Long(ish) Weekend

Our office had its Christmas party last Friday. So we all knocked off at lunch time, me being the earliest to finish because I remember last year when I finished work at the time we were supposed to be starting lunch, and it took me 15 minutes to find a parking spot just to pick the missus up from the train station.

Almost an hour and a half into the lunch I decided to move my car as I only had two hours of parking. That's when the entrees made their appearance. It was a lovely lunch, maybe a bit loud, but we had a great bunch of people and spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends to talk with. I didn't win any of the prizes on offer but took home the first prize anyway. Well, I was just minding it for a workmate who had to catch the train home and it was a rather large hamper.

Saturday morning I nicked off early to play golf. I'm considering joining Collier Park Golf Club as their membership fees are only $65/yr plus green and competition fees. Have to put in three cards to receive an official handicap and shot a 97 - only 30 putts. Two ugly sevens and an eight but because it is for handicap they won't count. Gee it was hot on the course but the temp only climbed to 30 degrees C.

Saturday night was a workmate's 40th birthday cocktail party which was held at Connections Nightclub. Miky stayed home to look after Yu-Jin. Had an enjoyable time and left bit after 10:30 - didn't want to stay there by myself as it is a gay nightclub.

Sunday morning we cleaned the house. The first time I've done it thoroughly for a while. Around lunchtime we headed into the city so that Yu-Jin could visit Santa and grabbed some lunch a present for him (Yu-Jin, not Santa) before going to Subicao for fruit and veg shopping.

After that Yu-Jin and I went to the pool, had a shower and then a swim. Nice way to finish the weekend off. Last night there was a movie on SBS - Asterix and Obelix - and it brought back a lot of childhood memories. Good, fun movie from France (or possibly Belgium).

Better do some Christmas cards soon. Haven't done a single one. The only present bought was the one for Yu-Jin. Due to the holiday we had late in the year Christmas shopping will be done post-Christmas this year. I don't have time nor the inclination. I must say that the shops were not crowded yesterday which surprised me as it is only a week 'til Christmas. Took the tree out of the shed this morning.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Nov 26th

Busy day. Sachie cooked rissoles amongst other things for breakfast. Minimalist but very tasty - diet material. Sachie booked and paid for a taxi to take us to Dejima - the former Dutch factory. The driver wouldn't accept any payment and intimated that it had been paid for. We were forced to take the taxi and the bus came quite irregularly and I think they felt bad about that. No end to the feeling of shame or saving face. Amazing actually.

First Ship Captain's Room at Dejima village reconstruction.

Old Dutch cannon. I think it was a present from the Dutch Government celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Dutch in Japan.

Dejima in miniature.

Can't remember what the bridge is about. Nice spot for a pic though.

The Dutch were made to live on an island so that Christianity wouldn't be spread in Japan. Didn't work. Lovely miniature village. Miky bought some lovely glasses - one for herself, one for Kiyoko and one for Sachie. I'm afraid that Sachie has started something by showing all of her fine china.

Caught a tram to Glover Garden, but it was heading to Spectacles Bridge, but it really headed to Sofukuji. That was on our list of places to visit and it didn't really matter which ordered we visited them in. Miky was unhappy about the 300 Yen entrance fee as it was a Chinese temple in Japan and not high on her list of sights. We like Nagasaki better than Fukuoka as a foreigner-friendly city as there are many signs in English and it isn't too difficult to get around. Just need to pay more attention to the destination of the tram that you are catching.

Sofukuji entrance - Chinese temple in Nagasaki.

The backside of the entrance.

Sofukuji Inner Gate - at national treasure. Built in 1696 it is the only example in Japan of southern Chinese architectural style of complex jointing under the eaves. Pretty good reason to be a national treasure, don't you think?

The temple at Sofukuji.

The shrine - at least part of it in one of the buildings.

Great Cauldron at Sofukuji. It was used to feed 3000-5000 people per day in 1681 after the rice crops failed in 1680. Only reached the status of Municipal Treasure.

Couple of tourists in the background.

An older and anrefurbished part of Sofukuji.

Cemetary. Just a small part of it.

The main shrine. Gorgeous.

There was another shrine, free entry this time, before we went to the Spectacles Bridge. Unfortunately the water was too low for a decent reflection.

Another picturesque gate but I don't recall seeing a sign in English telling me what it was for. There was nothing much behind it.

Free temple entrance.

Somebody important, at least in their own mind, is buried here.

Beaut temple.

Statues out the front looking a little bit weathered. Perhaps the a-bomb 60 years ago has something to do with that.

More statues guarding the entrance to the temple.

These statues are not as colourful as the Korean ones.

Buddha all dressed up for a party. Maybe not.

Huge cemetary. It's so popular that people are just dying to get it.

Huge Buddha and lotus flower inside the shrine.

Spectacles Bridge. Not looking too spectacular.

Sachie had told Miky about a shop that sold Koga dolls and she found it. Everything else in the shop had a price tag but the doll, they are quite famous, only had something written which we expected translated to "You can't afford this so don't pretend you can and don't ask how much!". We stopped for lunch and inside the shopping centre there was a cultural experience with carving, pottery, wall making etc, and Yu-Jin made a dinosaur and used a robot to shoot shuttlecocks.

Yu-Jin's dinosaur.

Ice sculpture - someone has some talent.

Kimono on display.

Pottery at the craft display.


Woodcarving at the craft display.

The finished product. Pretty naff.

Nagasaki tram.

Jumped on the tram to Hotarujaya to visit Ryuji's clinic. He's a neurologist. His plan for the afternoon was to drive us around the sights in the northern part of Nagasaki as they were numerous and not necessarily easy to get to via public transport. Private transport was the go. We picked up Sachie from home and ventured to Urukami Cathedral, the Second Torii Arch at Sanno Shinto Shrine, Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. Yu-Jin was suitably impressed but felt a little pained by the photos of people with injuries. Worthwhile taking him there. He couldn't understand that the devastation that he could see had taken place in Nagasaki and wanted to see it. How could they have cleaned it up? Well, it took place 60 years ago.

Houses going all the way up the hillside.

View from near Ryuji and Sachie's house.

Remains of statues at Urakami Cathedral.

Not much detail left on the statues.

The one-legged torii plaque.

One-legged torii - Second Torii Arch at Sanno Shinto Shrine. This is 800m from the hypocentre.

The Peace Statue in Peace Park. This was erected in 1955 and is made from bronze. The elevated right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons, while the outstretched left hand symbolises tranquility and world peace. Divine omnipotence and love are embodied in the sturdy physique and gentle countenance of the statue, and a prayer and repose of the souls of all war victims is expressed in the closed eyes. Also, the folded leg symbolises quiet meditation, while the left leg is poised for action in assisting humanity. Right, so that's what the artist was thinking.

Paper cranes for peace.

Ryuji, Yu-Jin, Miky and me.

Ashes of unknown persons numbering about 7000 from the day of the blast. In 1975 the number of persons had reached 8927.

Peace Statue from a different angle.

Maiden Statue.

The remains of Nagasaki Prison Urakami Branch Prison. Needless to say, there were no survivors from the 134 staff and prisoners.

I think this statue is from Nagasaki City itself.

Ryuji and Peace Statue - Bros.

Then it was off to Natsume Restaurant for a true Japanese meal experience which took place in a tea drinking room. A small door slides open so that the waitpersons can enter and as they have to duck to enter they are in fact bowing to you. The meal consisted of tea, karasumi (Mullet eggs and radish), kai (shellfish), sazae (a shell - nice), ginko nuts, deep fried shrimp paste with bread crumbs, tamagoyaki egg roll, sashimi and squid, miso soup, sharkfin and Japanese zucchini, steamed rice and mushrooms. What an excellent meal. I dare not ask how much it cost. There was a storm and lightning during the meal.

Natsume Restaurant - notice the small door for entry. Ryuji, me and Sachie.

Ginko nuts, shell (nice), something, the radish and salmon.

Deep fried shrimp paste with bread crumbs.

Sashimi - little bit hard to get down without the sauce.

Shark fin soup.