Sam Evans

Joined February 2017
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  • Day15

    Last Day

    March 3, 2017 in Japan

    Last day today, and we have been greeted with a beautiful clear day, finally we are able to see Mt Fuji (just to the right of Tokyo Tower). With a few hours to spare we decided to have a walk around the local area and head to the nearby Hamarikyu Gardens. Once we eventually got there we realised there was a (small) admission fee and more walking around once we got inside, so decided not to go in. We headed back and enjoyed our final lunch in Japan (we had Maccas) before heading to Tokyo Station to get on the Narita Express.

    At Tokyo Station I took the opportunity to limp outside and take a look at the building which I think is one of the nicest in Tokyo. We then caught the Narita Express back to the airport where we picked up our bag (couriered from Nozawa Onsen) and checked in. The travel insurance has granted me upgrade to business class (but not Sally) so we are in the business lounge waiting for our flight.

    Despite the knee, this has been an fantastic holiday, I can't wait to come back to this gorgeous country and explore more of it's nature, cities, food and culture.
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  • Day14

    Tokyo

    March 2, 2017 in Japan

    Today is our last full day in Japan before heading back home tomorrow. It is an overcast and rainy day, so no view of Mt Fuji for us yet. Shiodome is located close to Ginza, which is the high end fashion part of town. It is also home to a number of street food vendors and also the odd $1 shop. Being located only 1 stop away, we decided to go and have a look. It was raining all day so we weren't able to see all of it, however it does seem like a very nice part of town. Sally was very excited to find a store that sold Macaroon's and a chocolate hedgehog. Despite encountering some difficulties in getting service, we made a few purchases.

    Tonight was our last night, so decided to go out for dinner. On the top level of one of the nearby buildings is a lovely restaurant where we had Sukiyaki. This is a hot pot style of meal which was delicious.
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  • Day13

    Nozawa Onsen - Tokyo

    March 1, 2017 in Japan

    Today we made the trip back to Tokyo. Conscious of my leg, our hosts were generous enough to provide a lift to the bus stop where we caught the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus back to Iiyama Station. Here we took the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, this trip took approximately 2 hours.

    We were staying at the Park Hotel Tokyo within the relatively new business district, Shiodome. Although located relatively close to the train station, we experienced a gruelling walk to the hotel. Sally with a large and heavy pack on her back, and me with a solid limp by this stage.

    Our hotel however was lovely, we have an excellent view over Tokyo city including Tokyo Tower. On a clear day you are able to see Mt Fuji as well, today unfortunately is a bit hazy. Due to my lack of ability to walk far distances, we just took a short walk around the local area to explore. Despite the abundance of options for food, we landed on Maccas for lunch. We just had to see if it was the same as at home. It is close but with a Japanese twist.

    Not up to much tonight, just enjoying the view from our room I think, could do a lot worse.
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  • Day12

    Nozawa Onsen - Day 6

    February 28, 2017 in Japan

    A bit of a quiet one for me today. Spent the day in bed resting my knee and doing not too much.

    We did venture out for dinner tonight though to the awesome Okonomiyaki place we went to the other night. Can confirm it was just as good as last time.

    It was actually really nice to walk thorough the village and remember how great a place this actually is. We will definitely be back.

    Near to our hotel a local group were playing their instruments outside one of the cafes and had attracted a bit of a crowd who were dancing in the street. People seemed to enjoy the song 'would you like some Oyaki'. Oyaki is a Japanese style steamed bun which is sold next top where the band was playing.

    Tomorrow we are heading back to Tokyo for the last few days of our trip.
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  • Day11

    Nozawa Onsen Day 5 - Uh Oh!

    February 27, 2017 in Japan

    Today started off pretty well. Despite our best endeavors we slept in and had a bit of a late start. Still feeling pretty sore, we decided top take it pretty easy to start off doing some shorter runs and heading up to the top of the mountain and exploring some more runs up there.

    We headed down to 'Paradise' Slope and had lunch at Buna which is an Indian style restaurant on the slope. After lunch we decided we would give Skyline a go, considering our success the day before and the smaller crowds hopefully making it a bit more enjoyable. This would prove a mistake.

    After making the first turn I lost control on the icy, bumpy and narrow run and took a tumble. Going down I managed to twist my knee and felt considerable pain. Luckily enough some nice local skiers stopped by and called the Ski Patrol for us who came within 10 minutes.

    My first fears were that I had broken something, however it became clear there were no breaks. The Ski Patrol helped me on to the ski-doo. This would actually be the most frightening part of the whole ordeal as both Sally and I were casted up and down a steep slope to the top of the Nagasaka Gondala.

    From here we eventually made our way down the gondola. I somehow ended up in a wheelchair and given crutches also. Another Ski Patrol medic was waiting for new at the bottom of the gondola who then transported both Sally and I to the local clinic where I had x-rays, saw a doctor and found out I had injured my ACL. I am now in a knew brace for the next few weeks (so no more skiing).

    After getting back to the hotel, our hosts were absolutely amazing. Helping us change rooms to the ground floor, giving me crutches and a proper seat for the bath. Nothing seemed too much for them. They were so kind and we really appreciated their help.

    Feeling a bit sorry for myself I decided to spend the night in and Sally headed next door and got some take away burgers for dinner.

    A shame the skiing is now over for the trip. However will still try and make the most of the time we have over here.
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  • Day10

    Nozawa Onsen Day 4

    February 26, 2017 in Japan

    We (especially me) woke up this morning feeling pretty tired and sore so took it pretty easy. We headed up the mountain around 10am and skied a few runs before lunch. After lunch we ventured up to the top of Mt Kenashi (1,650m) which is the highest part of the resort.

    We skied back down to the resort via Skyline which is a red run running along one of the ridge lines. It was enjoyable however challenging due to an icy run and large crowds. The ice did however make it quite quick.

    Another highlight was when we were doing down the Karasawa slope we noticed a partly submerged shrine of to the side. We ditched our skies and trudged (in knee deep snow, which bought back some memories) closer to it and found a lovely spot.

    For dinner we headed to a place called Sukai which offers a sort of Japanese tapas. It was a delicious meal. To finish we enjoyed (especially Sally - we'll see if she still enjoyed it in the morning) a Sake served in a wooden cup.

    One of the things we have noticed here is Sake is generally poured to overflow the glass and is caught in a saucer. After asking the owner of the restaurant and doing some research it appears as though there is no entrenched tradition in this apart from a fad which developed in the post war period and had since caught on. The purpose was to make the patron feel special by giving them more then what they purchased. This however is a bit of a con as the a single serve of Sake should be 180ml.

    The Sake was served with salt which we put on the lip of the cup. This contrasted with the sweetness of the Sake. This 'Yin and Yang' approach to food is something I've found often in Asian cuisine and is something I would like to play with more at home. I feel as though it is underutilized in Western cooking.

    Much of the same tomorrow. Only two days of skiing left so we will try to make the most of it.
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  • Day9

    Day 3 - Nozawa Delivering the Goods

    February 25, 2017 in Japan

    3 days of skiing down, 3 to go. Big improvements today for both Sally and I. We got away pretty early this morning catching the Nagasaka Gondala up to Yamabiko Station (1,407m) and skied down to Hikage.

    The weather in the morning was snowy however minimal wind. In the afternoon however the weather cleared and we were greeted with clear skies and sun.

    We had a lesson in the afternoon which allowed us both to work on our technique. At the end of our lesson our instructor took us down a black (advanced) run. This was my first black run and I made a positive start, navigating my way down the first 30-50m of moguls which was quite encouraging. This proved to be a bit of a false dawn however as I spent the next 100-150m falling over and sliding down the slope on my arse (the photo of me skiing below was one of the few times I was actually upright). It was at this stage I gave up and decided to walk the rest of the way, which proved to be just as difficult, if not more than skiing.

    All was not lost however as we made great progress throughout the lesson and will tackle more of the red runs and explore more of the mountain tomorrow.

    In the afternoon we were greeted with an amazing sunset over the mountains to the west. We went with a very traditional Japanese dinner of burgers (at least my beer was Japanese) and got some washing done at the coin laundry down the road.
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  • Day8

    Okonomiyaki

    February 24, 2017 in Japan

    Tonight we ventured to Akibitei Okonomiyaki for dinner. This is a local restaurant which serves Okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) and Yakisoba (stir fried noodles).

    What a treat. Saito-san, the owner and chef is a lovely man who cooks the dinner in front of you. It was absolutely delicious, quick and cheap!

    This place was off the beaten track a bit (we found it using a restaurant guide produced by one of the local tour providers) but well worth the walk. A quaint, non-assuming building with simple interiors. Thoroughly enjoyable and we think we'll be back before we leave.

    Also, it was a clear night tonight and we could actually see the stars!
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  • Day8

    Second Day Skiing

    February 24, 2017 in Japan

    It snowed all of last night resulting in around an extra 15cm of snow on the mountain. Despite snow continuing throughout most of the day it was a great day on the slopes. Visibility was essentially unimpeded for the most part and very little wind.

    No lesson again today (weather permitting we will have one tomorrow) however feeling a lot more confident. We have essentially skied every green run (easy) and have started on some red runs (intermediate/blue). Sally thinks I'm getting better also.

    No stacks from either of us today. Though I awkwardly fell over when not moving at the top of a slope much to Sally's delight.
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