Monday, October 26, 2009

VISITING A FOREIGN COUNTRY IS NO PIECE OF CAKE ''' STILL IT'S WORTHWHILE



A 'ryokan' named " KIKOKUSO" at Kyoto was our home for a night. Here we experienced Japanese traditional home stay on its tatami mat floor with sliding doors etc. Not to mention dressed in 'Yukata' before going to the family hot bath




At Nara forty minutes by train from Osaka, we caught this scene of family resting by the scenic landscaped pool with early autumn cool pleasant weather in the air.Thousand of visitors were here on Saturday as Nara is one historic city with legends of its own



Inside our room at Ryokan Kikokuso with the 'futon' laid out for the guests comfort. The beds are folded away and stored during day time. I guess we were used to this in James Bond film before and it becomes a reality now.




It was an appreciation indeed. I have longed instructed my children and grand children to arrange their shoes in order before entering the home. Here the emphasis is more. For shoes meant for use inside the home they are placed pointed in. For those used outside they are placed facing out. We should adopt this. Take a warning!


A toilet in a public garden designed alongside the landscaped compound



They care. Even the tree trunk deserved such treatment allowing it to grow on.

The train station at Kyoto. For JY 540 it takes you from here to Osaka within 50 minutes. It is a hive of activity and you have to learn how to buy tickets from the vending machine besides looking for the platform etc. All notices in Japanese though you hear announcement in English



Another great care for vegetation as well as the hard rock too


The picture taken in early morning. Ryokan charges per person for accommodation and not room and includes breakfast. Generally it's a little higher than hotel rate. This is truly home- stay, cared and entertained by the family. According to the owner there is heavy demand by foreigners making 70% of clients. A reverse of what it was before, This ryokan has been functioning as far back as 180 years ago. It is run by the son and his family members who took over from his father almost forty years ago.


At Nara the extensive park sees hundreds of deer roaming freely.


Need to explain? We are at fish- market of course.


'Jeruk berbagai jenis'. Pickled vegetables of all types for your choice.



Fresh vegetables for sale.


Crabs, giant size too plus all manner of fish you want to pick for the kitchen.


I thought of bringing a bicycle home especially to use as shown here


At the Osaka Castle, you will notice elderly ladies enjoying the pleasures of sketching and painting scenes of the castle, a much enjoyable past time. They have taken a shaded corner to labour their hobby.


Believe me this is the apartment that sheltered us for the days we were at Osaka. It had almost everything for comfort


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Visiting another country outside yours is looked forward to by many. H1N1 situation and the current economic world standing are two valid reasons that may put off excursions of such nature for the present. Putting those aside we somehow managed to do so, specifically since we secured two free return seating from Malaysian Airline System sufficient to take us to India, China, Japan etc. We chose to head for the 'Land of the Rising Sun'. This of course came through the 'Enrich Program' by virtue of points accumulated. Not using them would mean they would be forfeited. Then again, we never like to travel on a conducted tour always preferable to be on our own with our programs and schedules. That mean as a start to make sure you have a valid passport and to obtain a visa from the Japanese Embassy or its Consulate at Penang. The Embassy secures your visa within two working days if you satisfy all requests including an indicator that you have sufficient fund. No doubt, Japan is also unduly worried over visitors who entered but remained in the country; failing to make their exits for reasons of their own. Other planning has to be executed before you depart. Only you have to become your own tourism planner.



Japan is the choice but then where to stay, what to see and visit? JAPAN, a publication by Lonely Planet became an introductory choice while information from the world-wide net added a wealth of information before we departed. Choice of accommodation is freely available from hotels, 'ryokan' of varied categories what more with advices or comments from guests who had stayed there before. Pictures and maps helped to make your choice easier and of course the price offered with the various services available. Of course a free Internet service would be a great factor. Availability and reservation is immediate too. Even directions and choice of transportation's are available. Indeed when you arrived, you are already prepared to expect convenience, hopefully.

Osaka and specifically Kansai Airport is six hours away eastward from KLIA. Departing at 11.45 pm meant that we arrived at 7.00 am Japan time: a pleasant and untiring journey that put you at ease to face a new experience.


We made a satisfactory choice by registering at Weekly Mansion Osaka at Otemae for the duration of our six day/5 night stay. It's a new concept stay in an apartment type home with all the facilities of your home: spacious living room, bedroom and all conveniences. Kitchen facilities, free internet, TV and video on hire plus bicycles for rent are all available. Above all at JY52, 600 for the stay, an average of RM 390.00 per night for two persons is a hard price to beat. English speaking desk personnel were of great help when you could only come forth with " ohayo gozaimas", "damo arigato gazaimas" and "konnichiwa" amongst the phrases. Still we found everyone we met helpful.


Our Mr. Ohta the volunteer guide whom we met gave us an excellent introduction to Osaka and especially its train networks. Paying for only JY 200 by train you would be paying JY750 instead by taxi. Still as an old departed friend once said "Your arithmetic is wrong, when you grapple over price etc when you choose to have the best". Indeed he said if you want to have a car then don't ruffle about the mileage and the liter price of petrol'.


Why Osaka? Why not Tokyo? Osaka in the Kansai Prefecture gives you two other cities worthy of visiting: Kyoto and Nara. In fact you have Kobe, Hiroshima and Nagasaki all nearby if your itinerary favors: all familiar names dating back to the Second World War period. Then again autumn would be finer here. Should you wish to see bustling Tokyo, it is only a sixty minutes trip by plane from Osaka Itami at JY22,600 or by the 'Shinkansen' the bullet train from Kyoto at JY13,200 and taking 2 hours 42 minutes. Rail passes available are helpful in many ways.



At the point of writing we have just returned from visiting Nara and Kyoto; two ancient cities with treasures of Japan and more interestingly with a new experience. We chose to spend a night at Kyoto after visiting Nara earlier and significantly stayed in an old Japanese Inn or 'Ryokan'. It's an experience not to be forgotten and more so unbelievably make you wonder or regret to say the least why we do not promote a proper stay in a Malay kampong house? Visiting foreign places are great assets as it opened a new avenue, clicking the mind of new ideas and helping to widen our world view.



View some of the photos taken at Nara, Kyoto and Osaka. You will agree with me the three cities on our eastward fringe are worthy of visiting. We have always looked at cities in the western region, a fallacy built over many decades. Good that convenience traveling allows us to see others, all helping to make our very own a better one if we so desire to do so and innovate for change where possible.

One exceptional mention would be a big 'take off my hat' to the taxi drivers of Osaka, Nara and Kyoto with whom we had the chance to meet and become passengers in their vehicles. They were polished, dedicated and helpful without any qualm of complaining or sounding disappointing. The taxi would halt, the side door opened by itself and we jumped in on white cloth covered seats into a spacious cabin space. The driver mostly senior person in his smart dress and white gloves greets you. You indicate where you would like to go and almost always not understood. You showed a paper or a map with the address. He would consult his map book or even switched on his GPS to find the where about of your intended address. No he would not stop at that, if unable to find the address. He would get on his hand phone with the number given by you to enquire. All inclusive of the service you would get with humility and kindness. Yes I have yet to experience such service even in a country where you could speak and explain quite clearly where you intended to go. Alas never the same. It was exceptional where we are today. "Sayonara" is another word that saying so also put you wanting to discover the beauty of this great island again while suggesting that many of our youth should face eastward and grasped the 'eastward policy' as practiced by the Malaysian Government.

I would like my children to do so. Fortunately one is coming this way next month as he is in the motor industry and hopefully gained from his visit as we did even for a very brief one.



26 October 2009

5 comments:

Ocean Girl said...

Perfect country. One of a kind.

Thank you for the pictures and sharing your trip. They are great pictures, show an adventure and a good time.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi KotaStar, Harigato gosaimas...waa, I have always loved Japan.
Very interesting your trip.
And everything, everywhere looks so neat and tidy.
You know, when I was there, what amazes me was their homes or hotels with their sliding doors...perfect fit! Ta'gonchang pun.
And thats the same quality standards of their Toyotas and Hondas, perfect fit.

Love the way you talk your trip....macham I was behind you, you tourist guide, ha ha.

You're a good photographer too, macham tengok National geographic....love their bicycles, and that rusa at the park.

Ahhhh, but the buah2 and kopi....alamak, in heart attack territory. Ha ha.

KotaStar, if you got nothing better to do, check out on your Youtube our Canadian made TV sitcom called, 'Little Mosque on the Prairie'.

It is produced and directed by a Canadian Muslim lady and it is a pechah perut hilarious TV show. Its more popular than other shows here, as well being watched by US too. They crazy about it.

Its basically about Muslims being sterotyped as wife beaters (I guess middle East) and whatever and the misunderstandings between Muslims and non-Muslims.
It is really funny too.
Take a look, best regards, Lee.

kotastar said...

Ocean Girl,
If I am not mistaken you too have visited the 'land of the rising sun'True everything is in order and none to distract you. Only you wish there are more time to shoot greater collection of photos. Somehow the digital saved time and allow for speed. Imagine using the former roll films. Thanks again for yr view.

kotastar said...

Sdr Lee,

My first visit was on transit at Tokyo decades ago. This time it was fruitful and we enjoyed ourselves including staying in the sliding door house (ryokan) you talked of.You said the truth. Everything look and are neat. Surprisingly we never come across cleaners in the streets. One thing the Japanese don't eat kacang or kochee etc as we do when walking or on the move. So no litter.People don't smoke too except in cubicles meant for smokers. Therefore no butts.Thanks for the compliment re the photos and the guided tour style. That was maybe I did give lectures to tourist guides before. Ha,Ha, Will get to see the sit com. I remember you telling me about it before.

Keep healthy and take care.

Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

Pak Non

Interesting story and pics. Really brings back the good memories of my stay in Japan.