Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ho Chi Minh City or Formally known as Saigon!!

1922 (localtime)

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Written in: Some town near Vinh Thanh, Vietnam. Listening to Black Sabbath.

Wow, another huge day of riding, unfortunately we didn’t get to where we needed to be because it got to dark, but we made it to a hotel and we are all trying to dry our clothes for a big day of riding tomorrow.
I arrived into Ho Chi Minh on the 27th of September at about 12pm local time, which is the best time to arrive, the city is in full swing!

I had organised my visa before hand, but I still had to pay my $US25, I collected my bag and then headed outside to catch the local bus.

I woke the driver up and hassled for a price 8,000dong which is just under 50cents. I was going to love this country. I met this Spanish guy called Agustin on the bus who had the same plan as I did! We were going to buy a motorbike and drive through Vietnam.

That day we just cruised around the lovely city and had some AMAZING FOOD! And the great thing was, that it only cost about $2AUD! PERFECT!

That night we settled at a local bar type place, and enjoyed several beers at the price of 50cents… pretty dangerous I reckon… but tomorrow we were planning on checking out the Remnants of War Museum!!
Cant wait.

Till next time

28th of September -  
We left our lovely hotel to go and check out the Vietnam War Museum but on the way we watched an indoor soccer match sponsored by Tiger beer which was great fun to watch.

After the indoor soccer we visited the Cho Ben Thanh Market where I bumped into to Peter ‘Spider’ Everett, professional AFL Ruckman who played for Hawks! I was star struck!

We finally arrived to the War Remnants Museum and as you can imagine it is all about the Vietnam War. Like always I had a small understanding of what happened in the Vietnam war against the Communists and the Democrats or South Vietnam Vs North Vietnam or more realistic, America vs Vietnam, but I didn’t realise how gruesome it was.

The museum was fantastic, lots of different relics and what now, but some of the rooms and exhibits I had to walk out because it was way to gory for my liking.

It was a horror show, but a real eye opener, now I’m watching an American 6 Part Documentary on the Vietnam to get a different perspective on what happened… Obviously I have to filter out the American bullshit, but it’s still very interesting.

We left the museum and grabbed some more AMAZING food and headed back to the hotel but on the way we were looking for some bikes to buy.

We looked a few, and it seemed like the average price was $300AUD.

Not much else happened that day, more great food and a few cheeky beers and we took ourselves off to bed.


Ahh i miss some good ol Saigon Beer! Really tasty banter legend juice!

One of the many small ally ways in Saigon!

the crazy indoor soccer game!

a government building in Saigon!

Outside the War museum!

Not the best photo, but we have Tyler on the Left and Argu my Spanish Com-padre! on the right!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Stopover in Kuala Lumpur...


2239 (local time)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Written in: a very comfy hotel room in My Tho, Vietnam, listening to Golden Touch by Razorlight (mix by Lisa)

Phew what a big day of riding the War Child, or even the Usain Bolt is a pretty fitting name for my beautiful motorbike, but this entry isn’t about that. It’s all about my time in Kuala Lumpur.

So I arrived into Kuala Lumpur from Osaka, Japan and to be honest I didn’t get the best vibes for the place. Sometimes you just walk into a city and I dunno what it is, but you just don’t feel the love.

The flight brought me into KL at about 11:30pm, and I was a fair way out of the city, so I caught a bus to KL Sentral which is a main train and bus station, from there I had to catch a taxi to my hostel.
By the time I got to my hostel it was 1am and I was wrecked!

I woke up at 9am on the 25th of September, with an alright sleep in to realise that there were bed bugs crawling over my stuff! I was furious, I’ve already had to deal with these parasites before. I went down to the reception instantly and told them what I thought.

I got my money back and left the hostel. But it looks like all the hostels in KL have bed bugs, as now I have bites all down my left arm. But, they are clearing up now.

So I spent my first day with this English guy who has lived in Melbourne for 9 months. He was a pretty ‘wet’ fellow. He was mid 30’s but had no idea what was going on, which was disturbing thinking that he was going to be travelling through Central Asia… Who Knows!

So we visited Petronas Twin Towers, we asked about going up to the observatory deck but it was going to cost $20AUD, so I refused. As I knew of a ‘Sky Bar’ that you could go up for free. Perfect!

I used the following analogy to convince the English dude:

“Dude, would you rather see the Palace from the Cave, or see the Cave from the Palace?”
We went up to the Sky Bar and took some nice photos.

From here, on my to-do list was to go to check out the Thean Hou Buddhist Temple. After about an hour of walking, we eventually found it. It was beautiful, lots of Dragon statues and lots of colour! What cool as well, was that it was perched at the top of a small hill where you can over look the city. I sat and watched the city for about 30 minutes just enjoying the view. From here I did a bit of exploring of the temple.

It was on the way of getting dark and we were getting hungry. So we headed back to china town! No trains for us, just walking!

By the time, we got back to our hostel, we were both hungry and parched, fortunately we met up with another English dude, and we all headed off to get some food together.

After we got food we checked out the Petronas Twin Towers at night time! It was a great view! Really nice!
On the way back to the hostel we grabbed a couple of beers and headed up to the roof of the hostel and watched the thunderstorms all around us, it was a great way to end a day.

We had a late start on the 26th, the plan was to catch a bus out to the Batu caves! By 1pm we were there. The Batu caves are just a series of caves, its free to enter and nice to walk through… but not much else!
We took our photos and then headed back to China Town, where the hostel was. It was a quiet night that night, which for me was fine, as I was getting up pretty early so I could catch my flight to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Thanks Malaysia, it was nice!


The city of KL

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Towers


A temple in Kuala Lumpur!

The markets in China Town

Water features just outside the Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers at night

The steps up to the Batu Caves!

Big Budda

Chicken at the top of the Batu caves

Inside the Batu Caves

Monkeys... everywhere!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hiking Miyajima & Karaoke!

22nd September Miyajima, Japan

It was a slow start to our Saturday, but don’t judge me – it’s a Saturday! Today myself and Erin (my couchsurfing host) are catching a train and a ferry to Miyajima. Miyajima is an island just off the coast of Hiroshima. It is mostly known to tourists by the giant Torii Gate that stands in the water just off the coast of Miyajima, it looks as if it is floating. Its very beautiful, but unfortunately very touristy.

The main reason for visiting Miyajima was to climb the small mountain compared to Mt. Fuji that is. Mount Misen sits 500mtrs above sea levels and even though it was a pretty hazy day, you still got pretty nice views of the surrounding areas.

Erin was my ‘tour leader’ and she sent us up the most back country single trail route, it was great to get off the tourist track, it was a pretty small hike but very enjoyable but also very very sweaty, I was lucky that I had so much water!

On the hike up to the very top, we met a Czech dude, who we had some great laughs with. Once we got to the top we took some photos, and then took the steps down.

If you don’t know already I hate down hills, unless they are on a bike. But when it regards to hiking, I friggin hate them… and like always this was no exception, and I made sure that Erin knew how much I hated them. I’m pretty sure she got sick of my constant complaining.

But we eventually got to the bottom and took some photos of the beautiful Torri Gate. We then dodge tourists and Erin bought me a interesting but very tasty Japanese treat. It was a bizarre arrangement, I will try to explain it, but its going to be hard… So it was a type of batter that is deep fried, but inside the batter you could chose 3 different flavours. The flavours were: Cheese, Black Bean Sauce (I think) and chocolate.

I opted for Cheese and Black Bean Sauce, and they were nice… but not as good as Japanese Ice Cream.
After all of this excitement, we jumped back on the ferry and headed back to Erin’s flat in Hiroshima. I was so tired, so I pretty much passed out on the train home. Erin had to wake me up!

We grab some ingredients as we were going to attempt to cook (I forgot the name…). Neither of us have cooked it before but we were going to freestyle it and see what happens. Well, it didn’t turn out exactly as planned but it was still ok… it was food at least. I promise I will try and be able to cook it like a pro… one day. Still don’t know what the food was called, but there was egg in it! YOU JUST WAIT!

We wolfed down the food, and had to head out… as tonight was the night to PAR-TAY. We went to a local bar, that was charging stupid prices, so I went to the local 7/11 bought a beer and drank outside with a few guys, from here we were going to do some Karaoke! I COULD NOT WAIT!

I had met an Australian guy who was a part of the group of friends we were hanging with, and we were equally as excited about throwing down some ABSOLUTE CLASSICS!

So we organised a deal, that was 2 hours of ‘All-You-Can-Drink’ which is very dangerous… Karaoke and Drinking!

It’s such a surreal arrangement. You have this big black table in the middle of the room, with sofa’s running up the two side and back walls. There are 2 small touch screen tablet computers in the room where you can choose your songs.

On one of the side walls, there are a couple of tambourines that you can bang along to the tunes with. I got involved.

What was my first choice… have a guess?
Yep… Queen… spot on!

Song… well obviously BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY!

And I sang it with my heart and my soul! I’m pretty sure people cried!
My memories are a bit hazy about the night, but plenty of songs came on, lots of classics, lots of new stuff! All in all it was an amazing night!

We got home at… I dunno what time, but when we got home I fell asleep pretty quickly.
The next day was a nightmare, as I had to sit on several trains for 6+ hours until I made it back to Osaka, so I could catch my flight for the next day.
I got back to Osaka for dinner, and Jack and my self went out for some Beef Bowl, this was my last dinner in Japan.
The next day, we got up early for a run, and the main aim of the day was for me to get to the airport.
It was a sad day, because I knew I would miss Japan so much, but it had to be. I had my last meal, which was 6 plates of some of the most delicious Sushi I’ve ever had, and took my very full self off to the airport to catch my flight to Kuala Lumpur.

So, to everyone that helped me out in Japan I would like to thank you. I had an amazing experience and I will never forget it!
Thanks again guys!
Next up S.E Asia! BRING IT ON!

The amazing view from the hike up!

Beautiful but bloody hot!

Erin in the foreground! This was the station the people can get a lift to!

At the summit! 529mtrs high! - its no Fuji!

Deer are everywhere!

The Torii Gate!

Just stunning!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hiking around Hiroshima! Mitaki Dera!

1839 (localtime)
Hiroshima, Japan
Written in: I very hot, Humid and sticky Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the 20th of September I started my journey to Hiroshima! There was no way on earth that I was going to be paying the extortionate prices that Japan Rail ask for… so instead I travel for practically free.

How the Japan train system works, is that you buy your ticket to pass the gates and this ticket should be a ticket that will cover your entire journey, and if I was going to do the right way to get to Hiroshima by normal train it was going to cost me around 5000YEN which is around about $60AUD! There was no way this was happening, so at Osaka main train station I bought a ticket that cost the cheapest and is only meant if you are travelling 1 station on the train, and this ticket is 120YEN or $2AUD.

So with my 120YEN ticket I travelled for about 6 hours on the train until I eventually arrived at Hiroshima central station. I jumped off the train here and looked at all the different exits, because my ticket wont allow me through the ticket gates I have to sneak through the gates behind someone, WHILST there are a lot of people travelling through the different gates at the same time.

At Hiroshima there were just too many security guards everywhere, so I got back on the train and took it to the next station down the track, here I got off and saw that it was a lot easier to sneak through the gates.
I made it through! I made it to Hiroshima (not the central station) for only 120YEN. Now, I had to get back to the central station! So at the random station I was at, I bought the ticket that got me to Hiroshima central station and I was set!

I found Erin, my couch surfer in Hiroshima and I was set!

Erin showed me around the bit of the city at night, and it was just great to be in another Japanese city. I was feeling kind of hungry so was taken to a proper Hiroshima style Okanamiyaki restaurant! They do it a little bit different down here! They cook it all in front of your eyes, on this massive hotplate that run down the restaurant, and this hotplate is your plate as well, once they have cooked your food, that literally slide it to you where you enjoy a VERY HOT but really nice Okanamiyaki!

After this delicious plate of food, Erin took me to the A-Bomb dome at night where I took some photos, check them out!

After this we headed on back to Erin’s place where I passed out at a pretty reasonable time, as tomorrow I was up pretty early to check out the beautiful city of Hiroshima!

The first thing on my list to do was to take Erin’s bike and ride it around about 4km North East to do some hiking in Mitaki Dera. It was absolutely beautiful. This unexplored shrine and temple was suggested to my by Erin my couchsufer, and I honestly didn’t know all that much about it. When I got there, I saw a temple (standard) but also a path that just led UP. So being a curious young adult I took it… and it just kept going higher and higher! As I took the path up, dodging the spiders and spider webs everwhere!

So the trail just kept going, so I followed it up, eventually it lead to a big tall… electric tower! I was kinda bummed out as I thought that, this is where the trail ended.

So I climbed up as high as I could of this electric tower to find where this route would take me, I could make out a nice rock to sit on, and there was a type of trail leaded to it, so I continued on the same was as I was going before, and sure enough it lead me this rock.

By this time I was sweating, tired, so I chilled out for a moment or two and had a cheeky banana and continued going up. So by this stage I still had no idea where I was going, but there was still a trail leading UP so I followed it.

After about another 10 minutes if hiking, I finally reached the top. I was a sweaty mess, but it was nice to finally realise where the track was leading to. Once I admired the view and took a few photos I headed back down the trail, dodging big spiders and spider webs as I went. When I made it to the bottom, I went hiking up towards the other temples. It was so beautiful, the temples were all place in the most beautiful locations, as you would walk up the steps, a temple would appear and there would be a running waterfall and everything, and because not many people were walking around, it made the place so peaceful. I walked and walked, until it lead to what I thought was the end. I headed back down to the bottom again, only to realise that there was more to the trail I just hadn’t seen it yet.

So I headed back up through the temples again, and found the little path that heads UP, again. This trail lead me through a beautiful green bamboo forest. I had explored a Bamboo forest in Kyoto, but it was very touristy and although it was nice, the bamboo forest in Hiroshima was absolutely stunning. Apart from the mosquitoes buzzing around my head I would have stayed there for hours!

Anyway, so the path lead UP, and although I had a rough idea that this path would take me to the same place as the other trail, it didn’t bother me. The hike itself was so much fun that I headed all the way back up to the top, to see the average view again. But for me it wasn’t so much about the view, it was more about the walk up, and more-so for the walk back down through that beautiful bamboo forest.

By the time I had left Mitaki Dera it was lunch time, and I was hungry after all this hiking, so even though, I had some of Erin’s delicious curry in my bag, I still headed to the local ‘Family Mart’ and bought a cup of 2 minute noodles, and demolished them.

After my satisfying lunch, I took Erin’s bike and boosted off down to the Peace Park and the A-Bomb Dome.

It took me a while to find it, but once I got my bearings I was sorted, I firstly road around the A-Bomb dome just admiring it and reading the local information that they placed around the Dome. It was astonishing that this building still remained. I read that a great majority of the city was completely wiped out due to the A-Bomb that hit Hiroshima.

After I admired the A-Bomb dome, I went across to the Peace Park, where there is a museum, park and several memorials dedicated to all the people that lost their lives during the bombing.

As I road my bike through, I rang the (huge)Bell of Peace as loud as I could that signifies World Peace, as I continued through I saw a memorial that I had read about previously. This memorial was dedicated to the young Sadako Saski, who is a young girl that died from the radiation of the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured. To this day, people (mostly children) from around the world fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue. The statue has a continuously replenished collection of folded cranes nearby (wiki). From here I walked opposite the memorial and watched a flame that will stay ignited until the last Atomic Bomb has been defused… Pretty touching stuff.
I took a few more photos and then went inside the museum.

I have said this before, and I’ll say it again… I had a rough understanding about what happened during WW2. It left me shocked, it was absolutely brutal what happened to all the 80,000 that lived in Hiroshima during that time and eventually another 100,000 due to the radiation, even know there are traces of the Atom Bomb in the water!

 The museum did a great job in explaining the whole situation. What shocked me the most was the reason ‘why’ Hiroshima was bombed... it was due to it being a sunny day. There were 4 choices of cities that America wanted to drop the first nuclear bomb with Kyoto being one of the others, and the reason why Hiroshima was targeted was because of the good visibility…! So brutal.

There were so many gruesome imagines that made me physical sick, I’m not going to go into any details, but it’s quite shocking what war actually is.

By the time I had finished in the museum it was getting late, I think I may have spent around 2 hours in the museum reading all the different pieces of information and what not. From here I jumped back on Erin’s bike and boosted off around to the Hiroshima castle.

I found my way into the inner walls of the castle, paid my entrance fee and headed straight to the top floor so I could catch the sunset of Hiroshima.

In the Hiroshima castle there were a dozen Australian High School kids running around, I finally bumped into their teachers and they told me that the kids were spending 10 days in Japan.

The sunset wasn’t great, but I was asking the 2 teachers about why they were still teaching Indonesian as a language in our school curriculum, one of the only answers they gave me was that “it’s and easy language to learn”… such a very very poor answer!

The sun had set, and it was time to head down and check out all the different exhibits of Samurai swords and armour. It was pretty cool.

By the time I had left the Castle it was dark, and I was planning on meeting Erin at the A-Bomb dome for some food!

And great food it was, I was pretty wiped after all my hiking and biking, so when we got home I just passed out.

I needed my sleep as tomorrow (Saturday) Erin and I were heading to the island of Miyajima to do some hiking! My legs are going to be sore!

A-Bomb Dome!

The lake running through Hiroshima!

The Electricity tower i climbed up!

This is the view when i climbed up!

A great rock!

The sketchy trail!

The steps leading up to the temples!

The bamboo forest!

Very True!

Near the a-bomb dome!

The A-Bomb dome!

The A-Bomb dome another angle!

The bridge im standing on, survived the blast... but now is replaced.

The A-Bomb dome from the bridge!

The Bell of Peace! I RANG THIS GUY!

This monument is dedicated to the girl that died because of the after effects of the bomb.

Kids make these to show!

The A-Bomb museum 

The time since the last bomb was dropped 24518 days!

The view of the city from the castle!

The castle!

The castle at dusk!