Monday, January 30, 2012

Return to Oz...

Well, after returning from a month of travelling, I'm feeling the itch to get out there again. I've bought tickets to Korea (by ferry) and back (by plane), which should be a fun adventure in itself. And, in other news, I've also bought tickets to come back to Australia in May. It feels weird, because I hardly feel like I've settled here in Japan, and yet I'm already planning to leave. I guess that's how it works when it comes to 1-year contracts. Still, an end-date gives me something to work towards, both in preparing to return to the "real" (i.e. professional employment) world, as well as making interim travel plans for Japan. There's still much that I want to see...

Speaking of sights - on the weekend, we went to Kushimoto, which is the southernmost point on the island of Honshu, for the Fire Festival.

Basically, they set an entire field on fire, with other traditional festivities, including some dance and mochi-throwing (which is a bit of a chaotic free-for-all) and fireworks. Fortunately, there was a good breeze, blowing away from crowd, which got the fire burning nicely.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back to Kyoto...

So, this week I visited Kyoto for the third time. I was there for two days, which finally gave me a chance to check out some of the more popular sights...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A week back in Japan...

We ate burgers. Then it snowed on my house and on the train.

Now I'm in Kyoto, and it's snowing here as well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Returning to Japan!

So, as you may have surmised from my previous post, I am back in Japan. The cold has taken a little getting used to again, and today we reached a week-long high of 10 degree celcius. I hear that it snows once or twice a year in Kishigawa. I suspect that day might not be far away.

Meanwhile, here are the final days of our December-January trip. We arrived in Hong Kong a couple of days before the HK Swing Festival began, and so we first sought out Yum Cha, then spent the rest of the day at Ocean Park, and watched the light symphony on Victoria Harbour in the evening.

Then, the next day, we sought out more Yum Cha, and took the Peak Tram up into the hills overlooking Hong Kong. On the weekend, between workshops and social dances, we went on a double-decker tram tour, and went shopping in Mong Kok.

But before we knew it, it was time to catch our plane back to Japan. I wasn't very talkative that morning.

So, time to plan new adventures! I'm off to Kyoto for a couple of days tomorrow, then to the Kushimoto Fire festival this weekend. Soon, we'll be heading to Koya-san - yes, we've been there twice, but this time there'll be snow. Speaking of snow, we'll head to Nagano for skiing and snow monkeys. And finally, in April, I'll be heading to Korea, via Hiroshima, Miyajima and Fukuoka.

So... stay tuned!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I realise this is a little late off the mark, but I was at a dinner gathering last night, and each of us took turns going around the table, responding to what our New Year's Resolution was.

I cheated a little, and said something about taking the opportunity travel more around Asia.

But really, that was only part of it. Something's been bugging me lately, and it's the realisation that I've been pouring a lot of my energy into doing things that I feel like I'm *meant* to be doing, in spite of the fact that some of these things are far from my strong point and make me downright anxious. They are things that I promised myself a while ago that I would let go of, and yet I still feel like letting go equates to giving up.

On the flip-side, there are things that I know that I'm really good at, and make me happy, and I know that I would excel if I only devoted my time and energy to them. What's more, it's these things that I want to be doing with my life, and I've already paved enough of my way on that path to make them a reality.

So. Here is my New Year's Resolution. Which is really more of a plan for the next six months of my life.

1. I will read as much as I can, review everything I read, and rebuild my skills as a reviewer.
2. I will write. Songs. Stories. Poems. A show. Whatever it takes to find my voice again.
3. I will dance. A lot.
4. I will travel and see as much as I can within my available means, and share my experiences of the world.
5. I will connect with people in meaningful ways, build friendships, and generate creative partnerships.

I won't distract myself with other ventures - I've had time to faff around and see what else I could be good at. Now's the time to focus and be awesome at the things I know that I can be awesome at.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goodbye Malaysia

Well, we're in Hong Kong now... so far, it's been the land of high-rise buildings and efficient pedestrian traffic. We'll be hunting for some dim sum tomorrow morning, though...

Meanwhile, here's some highlights of our last few days in Malaysia.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Travelling through Malaysia

So, after we left Singapore, we travelled North through the Malaysian Peninsula by bus. Our first stop, Melaka, for a couple of nights, was followed by KL, where we spent New Year's Eve with a spectacular fireworks shows under the Petronas Towers.

Then, on the 2nd of January, we got onto another bus, bound for the Cameron Highlands. My slight cough manifested itself into a full-blown headachey-fever  monstrosity, which unfortunately coincided with the windy bus trip into the highlands. However, once we were there, the cool weather was a nice relief from the heat and humidity in KL and Singapore.

After a few days in Tanah Rata, we travelled east to the seaside town of Lumut, where we caught a ferry across to the little-known island of Pulau Pangkor, where we've been enjoying the last few days by the beach / pool, and doing a little exploring around the island.

Now, it's time to pack, and get a bus to Penang!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Travelling to Singapore...

So... we've been making the most of the holiday season, and escaped the Japanese winter to travel closer to the equator.

On the afternoon of Friday 23rd of December, we flew out of Kansai Airport, arrived at the LCCT terminal at KL, and caught a bus into town, arriving at about 1am. At 9am, we boarded a train for Singapore.

Singapore was definitely a popular location for Christmas. We were particularly lucky with the weather, although it was still hotter and more humid than I would have liked at times. Along with the highlights in the video, we also took the opportunity to see The Muppets on the big screen. I want to see it again, but last time I checked, there wasn't a release date in Japan...

Next time: we travel to Melaka and KL!