In 2011 we planed to go to Japan in march. Our departure was scheduled 12 days after the Tsunami. ...!
During a week we had to take the decision to cancel our travel.
The days just after the earthquake, it was difficult to understand the level of disaster. The news became clear too slowly, especially about the nuclear disaster. It took many weeks to understand the gravity of the situation. Finally without strong information we preferred to cancel.
We lost a few money in the flight but a was a good decision... We went to Japan the following year.
On our first travel in Tokyo in 2012 we saw in a classic big shopping center a shop that looked like a jewelery. But instead of jewelry there was fruits in the display. And the price was more closer to jewelry than to fruits. So we discovered the japanese passion for luxury fruits. I saw this year (2018) in the newspapers, a couple of melon sold 25000 € (30k$). This price was reached in Sapporo auction. Japanese offer fruits as gift like bottle of good wine.
Andalusia is a great location to have a nice time in the warm pubs. It isn't only a legend. You can start the day with a drink in a pub and after a few tapas and more drinks for a reasonable price, you find out it's almost the evening...
A good exemple was in Ronda, we started at breakfast with chocolate con churros after we stopped to take a coffe in a bar. The atmosphere was so nice that we take a beer with 2 little tapas . And just before going, the cook circulated among the tables with a nice plate of delicious tapas. So we ordered a new beer...
I remember a rainy day at the end of October in 2012 in Granada. We couldn't visite the Alhambra because it's necessary to reserve in advance and the weather was so bad that we look for a bar to spend some time during a big rain. Some various kinds of people ate and drunk. We ordered a bier and a small squid plate. And a medium paella plate arrived. With the 2 biers, some olives and bread and then our squid. We ordered 2 other biers and they came with 2 plates of tapas. When it was time to pay, I was a little bit suspicious and feared a big bill for the tourists. I prepared 2 banknotes of 10€ and said "if it's more I protest". But I came back to Christina to ask for some coins because the price was under 10€ !
The 27th of May 2013, the day began with a sunny and hot weather. The temperature was around 30°C (86°F) in the morning. We waited for the bus to Terelj. The bus came only to say he came (?) back on the afternoon... In Mongolia, people haven't the same track of time than westerners. Just after midday, it strarted raining. Then the rain has become snow. And finally arround 4pm the bus arrived. We started our journey under a summer snow. We dried our shoes and chated with young locals with a mix of langages. The snowfall became heavier and heavier, with the sunset it became a snowstorm. Every traveller in the bus started worrying about that. After a few hours in the steppe, the bus sliped into the ditch. Then the bus driver got out and disappeared... He located the best way to come back on the track. Then we pushed the bus and the journey could continue. We arrived in the night in a village and found a room in a post-sovietic hotel, warm but frosty... But were happy to arrive and it's a very good souvenir, with dramatic snowy landscape.
We took the train from Irtkoustk to Zabaïkalsk in siberia. At the beginning of the travel, the (~)"проводник", train conductor, make a speech to explain the travel instructions. Everybody have to hear her carrefully... My wife was called to order : nobody can speek during the instructions, even to translate this instructions.
A few minutes later we saw the train conductor, a tiny woman, crossed strongly the car with 2 big beer boxes and a chinese man behinf her. She confiscated the beers and the man tried to keep them but without success. He had to wait the end of the journey to recover his beers (36 hours).
Chinese men are known to drink a lot in trains but the train conductor took the authority to avoid it.
After the journey Ulanbator Irkoutsk, we had plan a night in a hostel in Irkoutsk. But they forgot the booking and there were no more room available... Often in Russia, we understand that there is last-minute organisation. But there is always a solution. The guy calls a neighbour to find a room, and it works. We were wellreceived by the woman and we had to taste the national beverage : samogon. Alcohol with mysterious ingredients. Everybody has his secret recipe or provider. When the man came after work, he says thats not the right samogon for guests and he took another one under the seat... the best one. And then began a long evening amonf "like family friends" watered with too much samogon (a real health problem in Siberia).
One of our favourites memories with a night train was in a chinese train. It was after a trip in Trans-mongolian and in Trans-Siberian on way back to Beijing by the East of China. We wanted to take a night train from Manzhouli near the russian border to Haerbin. Firstly it was difficult at the desk. After a few drawing we understood that there is no sleepers in that train. Ok go for a 13h night trip on seating position. On the evening, when we came in the car, we discovered there was only sleepers. Cool, but...
After having helped some locals to find their cabine because they can't read pinyin (latin alphabet), we take one bed. Only one at the beginning to keep the time to understand how it work's for the second one. Then arrives some passenger in our cabine, 1,2,...5... ! Gradualy we understand : for a cabine of 6 bunks, 14 tickets are sold. 2 bunks up, 2 bunks in the middle and... 2 times 4 on lower beds plus 2 on small seats in the corridor.
Then began our worst trip in train. 13 hours in seating position to 4 by bed, with 14 peoples in the same box. Some passengers came directly from their construction site, some with their bird in gail. Some people came with big plastic bag of chicken fingers and they spited the bones all the night. Some other people drank chinese bier and smoked all the night. The toilet was the worst we had ever seen. Each time a passenger left his upper bed, the guy close to me climbed in his bed. So he was got out.
monnaie, CUC, niveau de vie, hospitalité, boulangerie 1er jour et pain rationnement
source chaude marée basse, blessure sérieuse, trouver aide, voiture, K7 anglais, clinique, chaussures, petits soins, gratuit, yc médicaments, lettre en anglais
We have to be carreful with pickpockets in most towns in the world but it's not a concern for japanese people. We were in castel's parc in Kochi on the Shikoku island when we saw a women droping her handbag on the floor in front of the bathroom, then outside...
A few days before in Iroshima, a man left his camera on its tripod in the middle of the station's esplanade...
We were on the austral road from south to north before arriving Puyuhapi when it began raining. During 2 whole days we drove under a continuous downpour. The noise on the car's roof and the lack of visibility were a little bit stressful.
During our trip in Vietnam we decided to go from Da Nang to Hue by train. We were in a hurry to catch our train and we bought something to eat near the station. The train arrive at 12:46 and we get into. It should be just a trip of 3 hours. In our car were a lot of tourists because this part of the Vietnamese train line is very famous for its view. There was a German group with their Vietnamese guide and in front of us, there were two other German guys travelling by them selves. We had our lunch and then I say some cockroach near me on the wall. I felt very inconfortable. I'm not afraid of cockroaches but I had the feeling of disgust and the real problem was that they were just to close too me. My attention and observation of the cockroaches was then disturb by the long stop and wait in a very small station. We stop there for an hour and there was no informations neither in Vietnamese than in English. After an other half an hour, the German group guide began to be nervous and making calls. So I decided to try to understand what is happening. The train manager don't speak English and he explained to the German group guide that there was a landslide because of the rain and we have to wait. The waiting time wasn't very clear... between 3 and 5 hours...
A foreign girl ask me what is happening and she propose to share a taxi. An other couple ask me for news, they were French. We decided to share a taxi between 5 persons. I was worried about the taxi how much it will cost and were we will find it. We went out of the train. We cross the railways. It's really a strange feeling because in France it's forbidden. We do not use the right road. We just cross the rails.
And we reached the small station. We went out of the station. We were with the German group, with the French couple, the foreign girl, the two German guys and two other guys that reach our group. We found the big road near the station and a little cafe. We were wandering if the lady in the cafe could call for two taxis for us, or one taxi for seven passenger. The communication was difficult and we ask the German guide to call for a taxi. The taxi arrive quickly, but with our luggages (some passengers had a lot of stuff) it was impossible to be seven in the taxi. So an other taxi came.
The price announced by the taxi was 1200000 dong (52$) to share between all the passengers. An old Vietnamese guy want also a taxi. So the French couple proposed him to joint us. So we left the little station in a taxi, with two other passenger inside and started our journey to Hue.
Some minutes after the beginning of our journey the taxi stoped to take two passenger more. The taxi driver seems to be inconfortable. But after, we understand that the old Vietnamese man want just to reduce the price for each passenger, so he was looking for other passengers and he announced the price to them. Finally we were five in the taxi and the journey began. The road was good but not the weather. It was raining and when we cross the mountains the rain was stronger. During the trip we saw a lot of flooded houses but the people haven't left their house. The journey takes around two hours and the taxi bring us to our hostel. We just missed the view from "Hai Van Pass", because cars takes the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia (6.28 km).
It was very comfortable because it was raining a lot. Our hostel was in a very small and quiet street and we had some difficulties to find it but when we arrived, soaked, it was really a very good, clean et comfortable hostel. The foreign girl was an American girl who travel some weeks in Vietnam. And the funniest think is that on the next day, we meet everyone in the Citadel because it's the most famous attraction in the city.
The two German guys take the bus. We were ready to take the bus with them but we were engaged with the other passengers to share the taxi. We met them also the next day. And we even met the German group too
During our tip in Vietnam we would like to see the mountains in the North of Vietnam.
We had the choice : to got to SAPA, a very touristic place, and BAC HAC, Lonely Planet advise that was a very good alternative. So we decided to trek in BAC HA. We took the night train from Hanoi to Locai and then the public bus to Bac Ha. The driver meet us at the train station and bring us to the local bus under the freezing morning rain (our train arrives very early in the morning around 6 am).
The the journey ton Bac Ha takes 2 hours trough the little mountain road, but there was no view because of the mist and the rain. We arrive in BAC HA and we get off the bus near the restaurant owned by the companies with witch we trekked : our meeting point. We were offered a cup of tea and a bowl of hot soup. It was grateful. Then we prepare our bags and left 2 kg of stuff in the restaurant. The journey began. Our guide was a young man from Bac Ha.
We started on a small road and we went up. Then the road becomes a path and then a little track and then there was no track, we were in the muddy rice fields. We were walking on the slippery muddy rice fields edge. The landscape was beautiful but the way was difficult and we slipped many times. We were going up and up. Then the rain began again. We make a stop for a picnic lunch in a local family house.
They had a fireplace but they don't use it. They had a little fire on the ground and we tried to dry and to warm up a little. But the meeting with the family was very interesting. Then we return to the trek again, up again, and under the rain again. This was the highest point of our trek around 1400m but in the mist, so the view was very limited. We arrive around 3pm at the home stay for the night.
A wooden house with no heaters and opened to the wind and the rain. We were amazed. There was hot water but no way to dry our clothes and especially the shoes. As during our first stop there was a fireplace but not in use. A little fire was on the floor to try to warm up the little kitchen and the people inside. The diner was very good. Prepared by the owner's wife and her friend.
On the 3rd day of our trekking we went to the west. The sun was there, but the track wasn't dried (I think he is never dry :-)). We walk in the rice fields and the little mountain forest. The weather was really better and the view magnificent. We walk on the irrigation canal. Some times made of clay and some time of concrete.
Some time the track was very high and tinny. I was scared and cause dizziness. But we follow our guide. We went up, near a waterfall. And suddenly a felt. A part of the little track collapse and I felt 4m down. I was stopped by the bushes and I looked up. Boris and the guide were up. The guide was afraid, he said "oh my god !". At this moment I didn't realized. I just find a way to go up. I find it quickly. I checked if I was hurt. That's was OK and we went up to a more safe place. Five minutes later, we make a stop and I checked more carefully. No injuries, but the bags protection was tear. I think my bag protected my back. But then I began to realize the fall and the danger. But we have to go further.
Then, we have to stop more often because I was tired of the slippery track and afraid after the felt. We arrived at 3pm at the home stay. We had a beer and we met other foreign people and have interesting diner and talk. So only then a said : "afterward no injuries, just a big fear".
Most of the roads in the northem hightlands of Scottland are single-lane traffic. Surprising after a few kilometers it creates a quiet and comfortable driving. We have to pull over so that we can cross. Everybody has to drive slowly and so we can safely admire landscape.
We were drinking a wisky in this nice pub when the came to speak with the barman. The barman is accountable and has to explain why a young girl (maybe 14 years old) is in his pub, even discreetly with her parents on the terrace. The policemen remind the barman he has to prevent the presence of young people in his pub.
Daimon brewery :
We spend an evening in Nara with a tasting at Naraizumi Yusai (なら泉勇斎). A very simple place, with a good choice of Saké and a warm atmosphere among young Japanese connoisseurs. A little hard but fun to exchange without a shared langage. Everybody want to advice his "coup de coeur".
We retain 3 Sakes from the Nara area :
1. Inada Junmai : Dry and umami
2. this Junmai Ginjo : Delicate with fruity flavor. We can't remenber or read the name (maybe Yutyo, Chiyo or Imanishi).3. A "coup de coeur" of our neighbours : We don't really like sparkling Saké, but this one, after aeration, reveals a round and interesting taste.
After Nara and a few days walking in the beautiful mountains of Iya valley, we taste some more Sakés in TosaShu bar (土佐酒バル) in Kochi.
Here too, the beginning was hard with langage. The barman speaks as well English than we speak Japanese. 😊. But after our first choices, he really want to try to advice us, and was glad when we appreciate his preferred one.
Our choice among about ten :1. Bijofu Junmai Dai Ginjo Nama2. Minami Junmai Nama3. Kikusui Junmai
At the end of the trip, in Osaka,
The last evening, we enter a small Isakaya in a old-fashionned galery in Shinsekai. Here the barman speak English enough to notice our interest for saké. After our 2 first choices we discuss a little bit with him and explain that we want to finish our few Yens left to discover saké. So he proposes to make a selection for us. Clearly his desire to share good sakés is more important than the money we have :Our favorite is the last one (no way for us to remember the name). Harmonious and warm flavor.We found the last 4 very interesting. The n°6 is curious in the first taste but become better and better after a few moments.It was our first try of dasai 50, nice, clear but a little too light in front of "Daimon taste". Now back in Brussels... The experience in the brewery fill our memory...
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