Introducing the Asian typhoon

Australasia ~ Australia ~ Victoria ~ Home and Asia ~ The Philippines ~ Manila and Asia ~ Japan ~ Fukuoka & Hiroshima

So much has happened, and yet nothing has happened since my last post – nearly 2 months ago! What can I say? Once again I’ve slipped into holiday mode, and have slacked off a bit on my blogging. Almost immediately after writing my last post, it was decided that I was needed back in Australia to help out the family business with our annual promotion. So we madly scrambled around to find a decent flight back to Australia at extremely short notice, and came up with a Philippine Air flight. “Hmmm, they seem to have a bad reputation”, mentioned mum. “FANTASTIC, I’ve never been to the Philippines”, I thought…

My two weeks back in Australia were full on, 12 hour days really take it out of you, but I did get to spend some time with my nephew, so it wasn’t all bad. And I managed to convince one of my friends to come back to Japan with me for a holiday. And so it was that Leah spent her very first typhoon locked up in a 4 star hotel in Manila with me, and her second ever typhoon madly riding through the wind to get to our favourite okonomiyaki restaurant…

People waiting to catch a train in amongst the typhoon

People waiting to catch a train in amongst the typhoon

We had a whirlwind 3 days in Manila on the way over to Japan from Melbourne… Day 1 we arrived at 6.30am, had a snooze then wandered around the streets – it was hot and humid, but bearable with a slight breeze… We talked about doing a tour the next day. Day 2 we decided to go shopping at the mall next to the hotel, as it was raining “a bit”. On the way out the door, we noticed the concierge had umbrellas – so we asked when they expected the rain to stop, to try and decide if we needed to get an umbrella. He said that the storm would start at 2pm (this was at about 10am). We assumed he made a mistake, he meant the storm would finish at 2pm, and headed through the torrential rain (a bit of a summer storm we assumed) to the nearby shopping centre. Wandered around the shopping centres for most of the day. At about 2pm the weather did indeed turn worse, terrible winds and rain. At this stage we still thought it was just a summer storm, we hadn’t heard the news. It wasn’t until we passed the Apple Store that we found out – it was closed, with a big sign up saying “Closed for the typhoon”. We started heading back to our hotel, it was bucketing down with rain everywhere, lines to get taxis and trains where huge (I’m not sure the trains were running). Luckily our hotel was right in the centre of town, so we just walked through the malls to get back. Not until we got to Japan did we realise just how bad it really was over there (we weren’t watching the news in Manila – we had plenty of DVD’s from the markets to get through!).

Leah surrounded by shopping in Manila

Leah surrounded by shopping in Manila

Leah and I spent a fantastic couple of weeks in Japan, running around visiting my favourite places. Amongst a bunch of things, we rode the shinkansen to Hiroshima, visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, the deers in Miyajima, Leah stayed in her first hostel in Hiroshima and we were interviewed by a Japanese TV station at Dazaifu, questioned about our ‘fashionable’ clothing (we were wearing jeans and thongs…). Leah was all set to come to our Wednesday English class, when our student SMS’d us to suggest we cancel the lesson, because of the approaching typhoon. Leah still wanted okonomiyaki for dinner, so we battled the winds to ride to our favourite restaurant despite the warnings… We were fine, and the typhoon ended up passing by us through the night, hopefully the typhoon’s are over for the year.

This red torii (gate) at the Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) welcomes visitors to the island - famous throughout Japan and the rest of the world. Deer all over the place...

This red torii (gate) at the Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) welcomes visitors to the island - famous throughout Japan and the rest of the world. Deer all over the place...

Leah’s now headed back home, and I’m left to, once again, find a job. Hmmm, better get on top of that ūüėČ

Pippi Långstrump is coming into your world..

Europe ~ Sweden ~ Stockholm & Uppsala

No-one warned us that Sweden would be COLD. To be honest, we sort of knew it anyway, but choose to ignore it and worry about it when we got here. Our first warning was when we stumbled out of the train station on our way to the hostel, and noticed everyone wearing snow jackets. Our second warning came when we realised that our hostel offered a free sauna. Hmm (fact: in Sweden there is a sauna for every 3 people). Despite the weather (which really isn’t all that cold – after all, it could be snowing), we have been enjoying ourselves in this Scandinavian country. Did you know Pippi Longstockings (in Swedish: Pippi L√•ngstrump) is Swedish? That’s why she has long stockings – to keep warm!

Playing in the rain in Stockholm

Playing in the rain in Stockholm

We became braver on the second day and decided nothing would stop us. And then it started pouring down with rain. We ended up wandering around town in our ridiculous looking $2-shop plastic bag ponchos. Eventually we found a museum which listed ‘fri’ entry (our language skills are getting much better, I bet you didn’t know I could read Swedish!!!). The museum turned out to be the Royal Armory, which had, amongst other things, the clothing worn by one of the Swedish kings when he was assassinated – blood stains and all. The best bit was when we stumbled across a kids section all about princesses. They had swords to fight with, a frog to kiss and even a colouring-in area. To the amusement of one of the tour groups we sat down and did some great artwork! We also visited Skansen (large open air museum, they have brown bears and elk) and the Vasa Museum (huge ship), which were interesting, although they didn’t provide crayons and play swords.

Tash concentrating hard on her picture

Tash concentrating hard on her picture

Spent a couple of days visiting Sophia, a friend of Tash’s. Sofia is studying in the town of Uppsala, 45 minutes north of Stockholm. She took us to a couple of parties – one in her ‘nation’ and a corridor party. All students of her uni join a ‘nation’ when they start studying at university – the Swedish students join different nations based on what area in Sweden they are from, whilst the international students get to choose which one they’ll join. The nation organises parties, dinners, extra curricular activities, that kind of thing. The corridor party was weird, a bit like what the U.S. TV shows portray college life to be. Everyone goes to a particular hall in one of the student flats (in our case building 9, floor 7), and party in the corridor. Loud music, BYO beers, its like a paddock party back home, just cos we’re in cold Sweden they have to do it inside! Sophia showed us around Uppsala a bit as well, we got to see the ancient burial mounds of the Vikings in Gamla Uppsala. Although I envy the fact that she gets to live here for 6 months, I’m glad its Sophia and not me that’s going to be braving the Scandinavian winter.

Bring on the warm weather – next stop Spain!!!
xoxo ME