Saturday, 31 December 2011


Saw this in the toilet at the hostel. I wonder how well it would do on dragon's den? I'm sure there is a market for it. Everyone has been there (yes you have), trying to wrestle one away..

This prototype is obviously just a repurposed shoe horn but I'm sure they're working on a great design for the real thing.


A day in Yokohama

4th December 2011

Met Ben and his wife Junko and went to Yokohama for the day. Explored some more huge electronics stores, saw the new Sony Vita which looks pretty nice, hard to get a go on it though due to the hoards of people stood around waiting.

There are capsule toy machines everywhere in Japan. Japanese people seem to be crazy for them. You see them outside stores, in the streets, and some department stores have dedicated areas for them..


So far I've seen a lot of large models or statues of famous characters from games, anime, etc.. Some of the ones I saw today include a gundam and Snake, from the metal gear solid games in the entrance to a huge store. Ace.


After lunch we went to the Nissan gallery where they have a load of Nissan concept cars and the new GTR, which I sat in but was sad to find there was no key in the ignition. :(

We went to the Yokohama landmark tower to see a great view of Yokohama and Tokyo, its one of the tallest buildings in Japan - you can also see mount Fuji from there. You can go up to the observatory on the 69th floor in a lift that does 45km per hour! It costs 1000 yen but you get up there in about 20 seconds. It was great timing for us to get there as we saw the view in good light and hung about for the sunset which was amazing.



PhotobucketWhen we came down we picked up some takoyaki and walked around Yokohama and saw the ferris wheel and xmas market and then went to Junko's place to have dinner before I went back to the hostel in Nishikawaguchi.

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Friday, 30 December 2011

Indonesia GPS track

Forgot to put this up earlier. My route around Indonesia.

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I'll meet you at the Hachiko statue..

3rd December 2011

At lunch time I went to meet my friend Ben who moved to Japan about 8 months ago to work. We had arranged to meet at Shibuya by the Hachiko statue (Hachiko is a famous dog in Japan) near the train station. When I got to Shibuya station I went to the Hachiko exit and tried to find the statue. I had no idea what the statue was like but I was looking for something big and I had conjured this image of a crazy looking cartoon dog statue in my mind.. I walked around the area, asked a few people, found it on a map at the station and still could not see it. I was 40 minutes late to meet Ben when I asked one of the train station staff who pointed out the tiny life size dog statue immediately opposite the train station exit which I had walked around in circles! A mobile phone would have been handy.

PhotobucketShibuya is super busy so we went through Yoyogi park and made our way to Akihabara, the electric town.. or geek central if you prefer. In Akihabara we went into a few huge electronics department stores like yodobashi camera and some gaming stores before we stopped for a Japanese curry.

PhotobucketLater we went to a couple of huge arcades, Taito Station and Club Sega. Both have 5 floors of arcade games which kept us busy for a while. The first floor tends to be full of UFO catchers (which are ridiculously popular here), then you go up the escalators to find all the games. Its mad how busy they are, in England you're lucky to find an arcade at all, let alone a good one!


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Instant illiteracy! Welcome to Japan.

2nd December 2011

Arrived in Tokyo still wearing shorts, t-shirt and sandals.. 7 degrees centigrade.. the decision to put on all the clothes I own came quickly. I don't have a real coat,so I layered up and put on my trendy waterproof jacket.

I began trying to navigate my way around a series of monorails and trains to get to my hostel in Nishikawaguchi. I made it there without too much trouble but finding my hostel was quite difficult (I'd chosen it while waiting at Singapore airport and didn't note the directions down very well). I gave up and decided to go into an internet cafe to seek more directions to the hostel but I was turned away because I am not Japanese! Everyone I asked in the area did not speak English, but then I found a policeman who told me to go to the police box near the train station. I walked in and they said "JGH Hostel?", so I said "yes!" and they handed me a perfect little map.. ace.

JGH hostel is the cheapest in Tokyo. I had a capsule style bed in a tiny room with 9 other people. Not even enough space to unpack some stuff from my bag! After I grabbed a bento box for lunch I actually just slept for the rest of the day because I had no sleep on the flight and was exhausted.


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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Last day in Indonesia :(

1st December 2011

So yesterday I arrived in Jakarta and today I fly to Japan.

Indonesia has been so much fun for the last 3 months, I know I've probably diluted the power of the word 'awesome' by now.. but Indonesia really is an awesome place!

I've seen some crazy places, enjoyed learning a new language, meeting some great people, eating so much good food and trying so many different fruits I never knew existed!

I really want to return to Indonesia again and cover some more ground.

Until next time.. :)

Flores road trip complete!

29th November 2011

Had a great week cruising the winding roads on a moped with the other guys.

Flores is a really beautiful place and doing this allowed us to see some amazing countryside along the way to Kelimutu.

Somehow I made it all the way to Kelimutu and back without any problems with my bike and I didn't fall off at all. I think there were at least 10 punctures during the trip and everyone except me fell off at least once. :D

This is the GPS track for the 8 day cruise.

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Flores moped tour, day 8.

29th November 2011

Last day of the road trip. We headed back to Labuan Bajo where we started. There was just one last place to stop called Counca Wulang, its a waterfall.

PhotobucketOn the journey today we saw some guys wrestling a pig up on to the top of a bus. They had tied the pigs feet together and were trying to tie it on top of the roof, the pig was not enjoying it much. It took 5 people to get the job done. I wonder how long a journey the pig had to endure. :/

When we got to the turn for the waterfall I waited for everyone to catch up, and got chatting to a guy selling durian and pineapples at the side of the road. Impressed with my Indonesian language efforts he promised me a free pineapple when I returned from the waterfall.. bonus!

PhotobucketThere's a little village where you have to stop and get a guide to take you to the waterfall, they said it was a 2km trek. It seemed further than that! The path went first through the village and some fields, then into the fairly dense forest.. it probably took an hour and a half to reach the waterfall in the middle of nowhere, but it was worth the effort.

PhotobucketIt was a bit of a game of death when we got there as we had to cross the river which had very fast currents, and this involved jumping quite far across some huge rocks! Before we left the village our guide threw his mobile phone in his house, like it might not be handy to have when we are taking ridiculous risks in the middle of a forest, hours from help. Anyway we made it, unscathed, to the waterfall.

PhotobucketAfter the guide proved that we would not crack our skulls open jumping in we all took it in turns to jump in, I think it was maybe 10 metres high where we jumped. It was great fun. We stayed a while jumping in and tried to swim to the bottom of the waterfall which was insanely hard! The current was so strong - Brian and I made it but it was so hard to stay there as the water kept knocking me over and taking me under, it was exhausting so I gave up the fight and let the current take me back to the jumping area again.

On the way out our guide took our bags back over the death jumps for us and we all swam to meet him instead of taking more risks!

After the return trek it was about 17:30 and we had completely missed lunch as we weren't aware how long this would take. We made a Hasty exit and went to Labuan Bajo, only stopping to claim my free pineapple!

After returning our bikes and checking in to our rooms we all went for a meal, drank Arak and exchanged email addresses. Everyone goes separate ways tomorrow but I will travel with Brian to Jakarta where I fly to Japan in 2 days!

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Friday, 23 December 2011

Bena, arak and "the wall" (Moped convoy, Day 7)

28th November 2011

PhotobucketFirst thing in the morning we went to Bena, a traditional village near Bajawa. Similar to Wogo but seems like they're set up for tourists, lots of the houses have sarongs and things for sale outside and there's a little shop selling tea and coffee. We stayed a while chatting to the locals. The view from the top of the village was amazing. Met this guy called Paulus :P




In the afternoon we made our way back to Ruteng. On the way we stopped in Aimere and bought a bottle of Arak which is a locally distilled spirit. We found a distillery on the way out of the village. Alex has a degree in brewing and beverage technology (or something similar) and wanted to know a few things about the process they used but they didn't speak English and we didn't know enough Indonesian to facilitate the conversation. Alex just wanted to make sure we wouldn't go blind or die after drinking it.. lol. They let us try it before we bought it and it was damn strong stuff!


Next we made a stop to look behind this wall which the government built to prevent people seeing an awesome view of this lake, so they would have to go in and pay further down the mountain! The wall conceals an amazing lake.


When we got to Ruteng we found a place to stay for 30,000 rupiah each with free breakfast! Bargain.

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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Statistically I'm doomed! (Road trip, day 6)

27th November 2011

We left Ende and went back to Bajawa, stopping at a traditional village called Wogo along the way.

Alex, Brian and I were ahead and waited at the turning for Wogo so Mario and Greg could catch up, it took a while because Mario had picked up another puncture and Greg, despite being the most experience motorbike rider, had fallen off quite spectacularly and really hurt his chest - Mario said he almost went straight off a shear drop too! :O

So everyone except me has fallen off.. Brian has even come off twice and even the most experienced rider has fallen off quite badly. Statistically I'm doomed! Three days (including today) left for "death" to catch up with me!

At the turning for Wogo there happened to be a little garage where Mario could get his tyre sorted out and also a Padang restaurant. What was a very quiet area had suddenly become very busy, a lot of locals had appeared and were sitting around observing the westerners! lol.
The owner of the Padang restaurant took photographs of us eating there. :P

After lunch Mario's tyre was fixed and Greg had taken some pain killers so we were ready to rock and roll.

Wogo was really cool, lots of Bamboo houses in a big circle. When we arrived a lady called Maria came to chat to us and then showed us around and explained how the village works. Its like a big family really, they all help each other out. When they need a new house, they all help build it in super quick time. We met some of the other people that live there and when we reached Maria's house she invited us inside and made us a cup of their own blend of coffee. Seems crazy to have a kitchen with an open fire in a bamboo house!



PhotobucketMaria told us there was a bamboo forest just up the road so we went to see that before continuing to Bajawa.

The hunt for the hot springs!

We arrived in Bajawa at 15:00 and went straight out again to find one of the natural hot springs in the area. We got a bit split up as Greg and Alex went quite far ahead and I somehow managed to pass them while they asked for directions, I called them to find out where they were and went back and we realised we had gone way too far passed the turn for the hot springs. Mario was a way behind us so we called him and he was already there!

PhotobucketWe got to the hot springs just before dark and Mario had been there for ages. The water was a great temperature and it was a really nice place.

More punctures..

Unfortunately we had to drive home in the dark about 28km which wasn't much fun, and Greg picked up another puncture! We stopped at the side of the road to ask some locals where there is a mechanic and Mario almost got run over by a crazy truck driver but he got out of the way in time, then the truck almost hit his bike which would have fallen into my bike which I was still sitting on - I made an effort to move but couldn't much and just ended up burning my leg on someones hot exhaust pipe! I thought it was just "death" coming for me!

The mechanic was just round the corner and he found a piece of wire in Greg's rear tyre which was the obvious reason why he had so many punctures (I think at least 5 so far). They cleaned it out and put a new inner tube in there. We then had a really difficult exchange with the guy that did the work because they charged Greg too much. He had paid for the inner tube when we arrived and then at the end they tried to charge him again for the inner tube plus the labour..

Despite being in Indonesia for the same amount of time as me Greg speaks no Indonesian, and he wasn't doing a good job getting his point across - mainly shouting English and throwing money at the guy and then trying to ride away. But the mechanic took the keys out of Greg's bike and the whole thing started to get a little out of hand. There were a lot of people there, it was late and dark and getting into a fight was not on my list of things to do in Indonesia. I interjected and tried my best with my limited Indonesian to resolve the situation, the guy took the money and passed Greg's bike keys to Alex. It wasn't much fun!

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Kelimutu at last! (Road trip, day 5)

26th November 2011

Got up at 6 to start the journey up to the top of the Kelimutu volcano. You have to ride a few kilometres up, then you reach a car park from which you have to walk up to the summit.

PhotobucketIt seemed like the beginning of an episode of casualty (or holby city, whatever its called now) when Greg saw the danger sign at the bottom of a rocky/ clay slope and decided to climb. But he reached the top and had an amazing view of one of the crater lakes so we all followed. No one fell to their death so it was all good. Mario and I went back down and took the path to the other crater lakes like good little boys, but Greg, Alex and Brian decided to go the slightly crazy way which was much quicker but also pretty sketchy! As depicted in the picture below. That small person in the red top is Alex standing at the edge of the crater wall!
We got up there and managed to see the coloured crater lakes just before some really bad weather came in which ruined the visibility and then rained ridiculously hard on us - we dashed down to the first available shelter and shared biscuits with some Malaysian people who were passing themselves off as Indonesians to avoid the extra costs which foreigners have to pay to get in.




On the way down from Kelimutu we stopped in a small village.


On the drive back down we had another moped incident. Brian's rear break locked up when going round a corner, he lost control and crashed into the side of a bemo (a little van used for public transport) which was coming the other way! Somehow he came away with just some missing skin on his leg and the bemo didn't have any damage. The rear break was jammed on and we had to beat it with a rock to free it up so we could continue back down to Moni and get someone to repair it.

The owner of our home stay ended up repairing Brian's moped (everyone seems to be able to repair mopeds here) and we had lunch while he worked on it. After lunch we headed for Ende and spent the night there.

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