Australia

We have now been in Australia for 5 days and are happily settling in to the relaxed Aussie way of life. We are very lucky in that we are staying with Chris’ parents in their house swap in the Brisbane suburbs. It is winter here so the weather is cool by local standards (20-25C by day and down to around 12C at night). It suits us better than the intense heat and humidity in Hong Kong.

On Saturday we went on a trip to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast with Vicki and Eddy our Brisbane friends. It was a lovely day – sunny and warm enough for the sea. We had great fish and chips, a walk along the headland and topped things off with icecream. The girls were in heaven!

We’ve also been twice to the artificial beach at South Bank. Its perfect for children – safe and clean – and with great amenities close at hand.

Tonight has been busy and fun. Chris’ cousin Will came over for dinner which was lovely.

The girls had a very exciting time skyping their classes at school. They had been really looking forward to it and were thrilled to see all their friends.

On the food front, we’ve tried some new things – Papaya – which everyone liked and custard apple – which got more of a mixed response. I thought it was delicious.

Tomorrow we are off on a little side trip to Straddie ( North Stradbroke Island ) for some more beaches and possibly some wildlife watching.

Australia in the winter

We are now in Australia after an overnight flight from Hong Kong. It’s winter here, although since we are in Brisbane it is quite pleasant. Chilly in the morning and evenings but usually sunny and in the twenties during the day. Makes a nice change from the stickiness of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong



Nathan Road Lights, originally uploaded by Chrstopher.

Hong Kong came as a bit of shock after Japan. For a start it’s quite a bit hotter down here (every day it’s around 30C) and humid too. The girls have found this difficult. It’s also noisier and busier than Kyoto or Hiroshima – in many ways it is more like London than Japan. It’s noisy and commercial and the people are less likely to be polite. Mind you, the Japanese are probably the most polite on the planet, so it was always going to be a bit of a culture shock when we left.

This photo is on Nathan Road in Kowloon, which is something like a cross between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. It’s also a bit of a tourist hotspot, which means that you get Indians on every street corner offering you a cheap suit or fake rolex. On the plus side, all the lights and movement make it a good place for a long exposure photo or two!

Hiroshima

We spent an afternoon at the Peace Park and Memorial Museum in Hiroshima. It evokes very vividly the destruction wrought on the city when the atomic bomb was dropped on the morning of 6th August 1945.

Perhaps the most emotive place of all is the Childrens Peace Monument, which was erected in memory of a little girl – Sadako Sasaki who died from leukaemia following radiation exposure. When first ill she believed that if she could fold 1000 origami cranes she would cure herself. She never managed it. Near the monument are multiple glass cases containing cranes that people have sent from around the world as a gesture in support of peace. While we were there several parties of Japanese schoolchildren came and seemed to perform a simple ceremony before laying some paper cranes at the foot of the monument.

Come on you Carps!

Tomorrow is our last day in japan. I am looking forward to a baseball match we are going to see. It is the Tokyo Yakult Swallows vs the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Carp play in red and swallows play in blue. I can not wait for the match. There are plenty of shops to buy gear to go to the match in. They seem to support there team alot. Today we went to the Atomic bomb dome and learned alot about the history of Hiroshima. It must have been terrible. One girl who did not get killed in the bombing and beleived that if she made a thousand oragarmi cranes she would live. Unfortunatley, she did not live to make that many but she made a fair amount. In her coffin were all of the cranes she had made. i also found out that the atomic bomb’s centre was around 1000000 degrees! That must have been painful!

New Experiences – update

After visiting Sanjusangen Temple yesterday I’m able to update you on further technological developments in the Japanese sanitary-ware department. The highlight of the visit in the girls’ eyes was not the vast hall housing 1001 images of Kannon the god of Mercy but the toilets.

They discovered that some toilets have a button to press that plays music to disguise the sound of urination plus another which will spray your bottom with warm water to aid in the cleansing process. They were squealing with excitement about it all!

East meets West

Obviously Japan is a country where the native language is very much different to anything we are used to, with alphabet(s) totally different from European ones. But it isn’t hard to travel about, buy meals and so on. For starters, there is English writing everywhere. Plus the Japanese are just so polite and eager to help. Then they do actually speak some English too.

But as you might expect the mix of East and West throws up some incongruous combinations. This was highlighted today when we went into a kimono shop in Nara. Beautiful fabrics and attentive staff in a spotless store. The music playing in the background? “Always look on the bright side of life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian…