USA USA USA

I took over 1700 photos while I was there. Seventeen hundred and something. This is not a typo.

I honestly don’t know where to begin, there was such a lot of good (and some bad) that we experienced that just sorting photos alone, let alone cropping, editing and deciding which ones to include is going to take months.

I have discovered that I like road signs and topiary.

I have discovered that I like space and solitude.

I have discovered that although long haul flights truly suck, long haul flights with children suck harder.

I also discovered that Disneyland is truly the happiest place on earth, I have never had so much fun ever. We crammed 35 hours of hard-core Disney action into 3 days. That’s 35 hours out of a possible 72 hours. With 11 people including 4 kids under 10. Not only did we have the most fun any family has EVER had but we are also the most hardcore with the best stamina and more-fun-per-molecule.

So be patient, this is more for me than for anyone else, and maybe the kids, a lot of people might find my happy snaps boring, and that’s OK. I am good with being boring.

love youse
xx

Twice in one year? No WAY!

After 10 long years of not really travelling (NZ doesn’t count because we have both lived there) we are setting out AGAIN less than 3 months after getting home from WORLD OF COOL : Japan.

My inlaws are taking us (11 of us in total) to Disneyland to make good on a promise made to my husband and his sister roughly 32 years ago.

To say this made for a hysterical and shrieky Christmas morning is an understatement. WOW huh?

Tomorrow we fly to San Fran. We spend 4 nights in Haight Ashbury before driving down the coast to LA.

Unbeknownst to us when booking dates the gay pride march is on Saturday. It starts at 10am! Ermagherd! The kids will enjoy it too but sadly no bands playing that weekend. Because the bars are all booked out for after parties.

I am going to endeavour to take photos of all the weird, disturbing and freaky stuff yet again because you can see all the touristy photos on the Internet and they are executed way better than I am capable of.

I fear embarrassing my family but I can feel in my waters that big B is into it too, and we have vowed to go to Walmart together.

I want to thank everyone for their suggestions on less painful travel with kids and great places to go, and particularly our buddy who currently lives in New York for lots of cool info (also about Japan).

I think I might blog as I go while I am there, lets see how that pans out.

Watch this space

Home Time – Day 9

What was not included in this post was a photo of Adam asleep on the plane with my pink eyemask on. You are welcome honey. xx

Charlies socks. Nosebleed cute.

Charlies socks. Nosebleed cute.

Never ever ever again. I will sit on your bag so you cant.

Never ever ever again. I will sit on your bag so you cant.

Bean sweets, like wontons with sweet bean paste inside. OM NOM NOM.

Bean sweets, like wontons with sweet bean paste inside. OM NOM NOM.

Sunrise, somewhere near Straya

Sunrise, somewhere near Straya

More fab billboards

More fab billboards

In foyer of hotel. Made me cry from holding it in. Might have been luggage boy or concierge.

In foyer of hotel. Made me cry from holding it in. Might have been luggage boy or concierge.

Green tea Kit Kat. No I couldnt but Adam did

Green tea Kit Kat. No I couldnt but Adam did

The amazing structure above the hotel and main train station in Kyoto. It was dizzying to look at. It was also earthquake proof.

The amazing structure above the hotel and main train station in Kyoto. It was dizzying to look at. It was also earthquake proof.

Day 8 – Lets Start with an Earthquake

When I was 25 I lived in Wellington but not once did I experience an earthquake. I was an earthquake virgin, which in my opinion is a wonderful thing to be.

At 5.30am I was stirring from my sleep because EARTHQUAKE! Before I was fully awake Adam was up out of bed and pulling me towards the bathroom door frame where I clung onto him waking up and quite petrified. 6.3. It was pretty big. The building was modern and big and long and squat (only 14 stories high) and wobbled like a tower of jelly. When it was over I was already figuring out how to escape this country of potential nuclear strikes and natural disasters and wondering what would happen if the aftershocks hit while we were on a train? No deaths, no aftershocks, no tsunamis. Apparently they happen all the time but this was bigger than usual with an epicentre of about 5km below the surface which is not very deep.

Grumpily I went back to sleep, woke up a couple of hours later straight back into the tourist trail!

Sweet Jesus this is cute.

Sweet Jesus this is cute.

Hello Kitty and I think Miffy at the big golden temple.

Hello Kitty and I think Miffy at the big golden temple.

You could buy these cute little wooden boards and write messages on the back and hang them like this at the temples. Teh Cutes.

You could buy these cute little wooden boards and write messages on the back and hang them like this at the temples. Teh Cutes.

Another AMAZING food, wasabi and seaweed coated peanuts. Utterly addictive.

Another AMAZING food, wasabi and seaweed coated peanuts. Utterly addictive.

I was all "Hey look at this crowded cemetary and the lovely little headstones" Adam was all "You are really thick, this is the Japanese equivalent of the outdoor section of Bunnings" Garden ornaments. Not sacred memories of the dead.

I was all “Hey look at this crowded cemetary and the lovely little headstones” Adam was all “You are really thick, this is the Japanese equivalent of the outdoor section of Bunnings” Garden ornaments. Not sacred memories of the dead.

Catfish. I hate them and their sucky little mouths, I can imagine how that would feel on me, much like octopus suction cups. EWWW. Still these guys were monsters and I was fascinated and took about 100 photos of catfish all over the place. Gross.

Catfish. I hate them and their sucky little mouths, I can imagine how that would feel on me, much like octopus suction cups. EWWW. Still these guys were monsters and I was fascinated and took about 100 photos of catfish all over the place. Gross.

Aprons on what look like tombstones. Outdoor little temple area. Me neither.

Aprons on what look like tombstones. Outdoor little temple area. Me neither.

This was quite cool, such big heavy cherry blossom branches and flowers they built bamboo scaffolding to hold it up.

This was quite cool, such big heavy cherry blossom branches and flowers they built bamboo scaffolding to hold it up.

Zen garden with 15 rocks placed in formation and surrounded by striated gravel. We paid $10 for the privilege.

Zen garden with 15 rocks placed in formation and surrounded by striated gravel. We paid $10 for the privilege.

Nanna Beck, loving the flowers.

Nanna Beck, loving the flowers.

This is a fabulous idea. Densely packed urban areas with no place for parking, communal neighbourhood car parks. Excellent.

This is a fabulous idea. Densely packed urban areas with no place for parking, communal neighbourhood car parks. Excellent.

Yeah, I dont know, I just like it.

Yeah, I dont know, I just like it.

Cartoon on particleboard of unhappy person possibly running across the road. No explanation.

Cartoon on particleboard of unhappy person possibly running across the road. No explanation.

Flower bed just next to a suburban railway station. Sorry about all the flowers. I couldn't help myself.

Flower bed just next to a suburban railway station. Sorry about all the flowers. I couldn’t help myself.

Chiyama not popular at this train station.

Chiyama not popular at this train station.

Shop name. Unrelish. Unreal.

Shop name. Unrelish. Unreal.

Night markets in Kyoto. Both tshirts appropriate for people I know. A few individuals fall into both categories.

Night markets in Kyoto. Both tshirts appropriate for people I know. A few individuals fall into both categories.

Pink or Yellow? I cant decide. Cant I have both?

Pink or Yellow? I cant decide. Cant I have both?

Small alleys in Kyoto that were similar to Piss Alley in Tokyo except the restaurants werent the bottom room of peoples homes and were a bit more legitimate. I loved it. So So much.

Small alleys in Kyoto that were similar to Piss Alley in Tokyo except the restaurants werent the bottom room of peoples homes and were a bit more legitimate. I loved it. So So much.

One side of one of the alleys had buildings that were looking over the river. 5 floors of restaurants in this one building. So much to love about this.

One side of one of the alleys had buildings that were looking over the river. 5 floors of restaurants in this one building. So much to love about this.

We had heard that geniune Geisha were actually very rare and we saw a lot of imitations but these ladies we believed to be the real deal. They were with older men that were behaving quite deferentially to them, their garments were incredible, their makeup was flawless and Japanese people were taking photos of them too. I think we had some photos on the good camera from the front. Gorgeousness.

We had heard that geniune Geisha were actually very rare and we saw a lot of imitations but these ladies we believed to be the real deal. They were with older men that were behaving quite deferentially to them, their garments were incredible, their makeup was flawless and Japanese people were taking photos of them too. I think we had some photos on the good camera from the front. Gorgeousness.

Cinema seats or bus seats? YOU decide.

Cinema seats or bus seats? YOU decide.

Underground department store under our hotel. This one big sign was a goldmine of slightly off translation.

Underground department store under our hotel. This one big sign was a goldmine of slightly off translation.

This photo does no good at capturing the sheer size of the building we were in. No wonder it did not come down in the earthquake. There were (I think) 3 or 4 stories underground, then 11 stories of department store, then we were several stories above that on a rooftop garden and from where I was standing you could tumble down about 7 stories worth of stairs before hitting the escalators going down another 7 stories. Fear of heights? I was shaking. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. A truly amazing building. Daytime photos in next post.

This photo does no good at capturing the sheer size of the building we were in. No wonder it did not come down in the earthquake. There were (I think) 3 or 4 stories underground, then 11 stories of department store, then we were several stories above that on a rooftop garden and from where I was standing you could tumble down about 7 stories worth of stairs before hitting the escalators going down another 7 stories. Fear of heights? I was shaking. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. A truly amazing building. Daytime photos in next post.

How they got the Pocaris to sit still for long enough to harvest this much sweat I really dont know. A wonder of creature husbandry. Isotonic drink, wasnt my favourite but was pretty good.

How they got the Pocaris to sit still for long enough to harvest this much sweat I really dont know. A wonder of creature husbandry. Isotonic drink, wasnt my favourite but was pretty good.

 

Day 7 – the full Kyoto experience – bottom up

Totally had the tiddly poops by this stage, we had to walk down probably 1km of this to get to another place with cars that was JUST as busy looking for a bus back to city. What was sort of charming on the way up was just irrit making on the way down. Adam lightened the mood slightly by photobombing some tourists that I insisted on saving from the group selfie. I didn't know this until we walked off and they were laughing at us and it looked like I set them up. Bad Adam.

Totally had the tiddly poops by this stage, we had to walk down probably 1km of this to get to another place with cars that was JUST as busy looking for a bus back to city. What was sort of charming on the way up was just irrit making on the way down. Adam lightened the mood slightly by photobombing some tourists that I insisted on saving from the group selfie. I didn’t know this until we walked off and they were laughing at us and it looked like I set them up. Bad Adam.

 

 

 

At the big temple. Me neither.

At the big temple. Me neither.

Walking up the windy pedestrian roads to the BIG TEMPLE at the top of the hill. Many many tourists from this point on. Getting a bit cranky after many hours walking, yes. Just wanted some hot sweet tea from a vending machine. As always Adam walking faster than me so its hard to eliminate the back of his head from all the photos.

Walking up the windy pedestrian roads to the BIG TEMPLE at the top of the hill. Many many tourists from this point on. Getting a bit cranky after many hours walking, yes. Just wanted some hot sweet tea from a vending machine. As always Adam walking faster than me so its hard to eliminate the back of his head from all the photos.

This is the dog club, do you see that? No cats allowed. Also very cute signs baffling to the non Chinese Character reader.

This is the dog club, do you see that? No cats allowed. Also very cute signs baffling to the non Chinese Character reader.

Pink wishes (or thoughts) tied to tree branches. Gorgeous. There were variations on this theme all over the place.

Pink wishes (or thoughts) tied to tree branches. Gorgeous. There were variations on this theme all over the place.

Wishes in a temple. Written on bits of paper and tied to these wires. Sweet, superstitious stuff.

Wishes in a temple. Written on bits of paper and tied to these wires. Sweet, superstitious stuff.

Bridal photos. It was so cold I couldnt feel my butt because I suffer from Cold Butt Syndrome that I just made up then. Sensible girl donned a leopard print hoodie between shots. My kind of chick.

Bridal photos. It was so cold I couldnt feel my butt because I suffer from Cold Butt Syndrome that I just made up then. Sensible girl donned a leopard print hoodie between shots. My kind of chick.

Whilst Kyoto aged me 35 years mentally, it subtracted 35 years from my husband. Here he is 4 years old, with a big heart symbol made from arms, in front of the cherry blossoms.

Whilst Kyoto aged me 35 years mentally, it subtracted 35 years from my husband. Here he is 4 years old, with a big heart symbol made from arms, in front of the cherry blossoms.

A wee private temple/ cemetery /place of worship. So lovely. A bit cold.

A wee private temple/ cemetery /place of worship. So lovely. A bit cold.

Allow me to introduce Feral Cheryl.

Allow me to introduce Feral Cheryl.

Feral Cheryls mates. Even Japanese feral animals are polite and tidy. Look at them posing prettily in the cherry blossom petals.

Feral Cheryls mates. Even Japanese feral animals are polite and tidy. Look at them posing prettily in the cherry blossom petals.

Chilly Billy and Shivering Olivia. It was freezing. The cats were just being smart. Ferals again.

Chilly Billy and Shivering Olivia. It was freezing. The cats were just being smart. Ferals again.

I estimated this goldfish to be somewhere between 40 and 50cm long. It was a cracking MONSTER. I loved their big goldfish, so amazing. So many of them too.

I estimated this goldfish to be somewhere between 40 and 50cm long. It was a cracking MONSTER. I loved their big goldfish, so amazing. So many of them too.

Kyoto viaduct what we walked along, allegedly quite old although to be honest I was too lazy to find out how old. Also some bits dangerously narrow. Given my poise, grace, balance and general physical aptitude obviously this was incredibly safe for me to be walking along. Also I was hungry. This is never good because I get cross and clumsier.

Kyoto viaduct what we walked along, allegedly quite old although to be honest I was too lazy to find out how old. Also some bits dangerously narrow. Given my poise, grace, balance and general physical aptitude obviously this was incredibly safe for me to be walking along. Also I was hungry. This is never good because I get cross and clumsier.

Kyoto turned me into a total Grandma, it was so beautiful. This was a home, right up against the canal and the Philosophers Walk, MAJOR tourist walk. Compact houses, tidy, peaceful. How's the serenity? Pretty serene dude.

Kyoto turned me into a total Grandma, it was so beautiful. This was a home, right up against the canal and the Philosophers Walk, MAJOR tourist walk. Compact houses, tidy, peaceful. How’s the serenity? Pretty serene dude.

Australia we are doing all the things wrong. This is how to do the things. See? Ice cream. Of course.

Australia we are doing all the things wrong. This is how to do the things. See? Ice cream. Of course.

Its a shame this wasnt a video because he was saying "HIIIII YA!" exactly like Miss PIggy.

Its a shame this wasnt a video because he was saying “HIIIII YA!” exactly like Miss PIggy.

I saw this and fell into a deep swoon because of, you know, Monkey Magic. I can imagine Tripitaka in there bowing to buddha or some warlord while in another room Pigsy getting jiggy with it.

I saw this and fell into a deep swoon because of, you know, Monkey Magic. I can imagine Tripitaka in there bowing to buddha or some warlord while in another room Pigsy getting jiggy with it.

Those that know me would be surprised that such a dim witted purveyor of white noise would understand the principles behind Zen Buddhism, but you learn something every day. Zen Gravel garden. Mind blowingly beautiful and serene despite the thronging masses of Chinese Tour groups.

Those that know me would be surprised that such a dim witted purveyor of white noise would understand the principles behind Zen Buddhism, but you learn something every day. Zen Gravel garden. Mind blowingly beautiful and serene despite the thronging masses of Chinese Tour groups.

The Philosophers Walk from an old temply part of Kyoto along a canal was just so beautiful, cherry blossoms agogo. Leading from ancient - Dan Brown makes me hate that word- temple to ancient temple. Cherry blossom petals in the flowing canal. I love flowers so I was in Nanna heaven.

The Philosophers Walk from an old temply part of Kyoto along a canal was just so beautiful, cherry blossoms agogo. Leading from ancient – Dan Brown makes me hate that word- temple to ancient temple. Cherry blossom petals in the flowing canal. I love flowers so I was in Nanna heaven.

All day bus pass. Kawaii!

All day bus pass. Kawaii!

Day 6 – leaving Heaven/Hakone and on to Kyoto

Black and white breakfast tofu, gelatinous and delicious!

Black and white breakfast tofu, gelatinous and delicious!

How was our stay at Hakone - Ginyu? Bloody unreal thank you. We were pretty excited that it was going to get up to 13 degrees. Photo not great.

How was our stay at Hakone – Ginyu? Bloody unreal thank you. We were pretty excited that it was going to get up to 13 degrees. Photo not great.

I totally love this, just signs at a tiny tiny tiny train station up the hill from the ryokan. The English translations are gorgeous.

I totally love this, just signs at a tiny tiny tiny train station up the hill from the ryokan. The English translations are gorgeous.

More cute signs at train station.

More cute signs at train station.

We estimated about 1 in 10 to be wearing a mask, initially we thought it was to protect against the flu but it was full pollen season.

We estimated about 1 in 10 to be wearing a mask, initially we thought it was to protect against the flu but it was full pollen season.

Signs pointing out how offensive smoking is, I love it.

Signs pointing out how offensive smoking is, I love it.

Check out the ant!

Check out the ant!

 

We spent a couple of hours walking around Kyoto near the station with a VERY OFF SCALE map. Kyoto was a lot bigger than the map had us believe, we were very disappointed but discovered later that we hadnt gone far enough and were walking around the boring business area. A grumpy afternoon.

We spent a couple of hours walking around Kyoto near the station with a VERY OFF SCALE map. Kyoto was a lot bigger than the map had us believe, we were very disappointed but discovered later that we hadnt gone far enough and were walking around the boring business area. A grumpy afternoon.

Courtyard about 5 stories up inside Hotel Granvia Kyoto, just near our room. Where one could, if they wished, have their dream wedding. And feel a bit like the closing scene of Twilight.

Courtyard about 5 stories up inside Hotel Granvia Kyoto, just near our room. Where one could, if they wished, have their dream wedding. And feel a bit like the closing scene of Twilight.

 

 

Day 5 – Pirate ships, scary air and crazy eggs

We went from Tokyo to Hakone by many trains, buses, cable cars and a PIRATE SHIP. A real pirate ship.

And stayed in the most amazing hotel we had ever been to because it was a traditional Japanese Ryokan where you are supposed to get about in your PJs jump in the spa and be served drinks just like at the Playboy Mansion. The next room had an old bloke and 2 old women bunking in together and sharing the spa. Roooood.

I am too lazy to investigate why but soaking in that hot mineral water was the most incredible thing. It sucked out all the pain from walking many many kms per day and made me sleep like a dead person.

Highly highly recommended.

A cake shop in a train station. I could not make this up if I tried.

A cake shop in a train station. I could not make this up if I tried.

Its a cat screaming at a banana shaped cake  with a bow and a bell on it. Tokyo Banana Roar. SO YUMMY and I dont even like bananas much. We ate a 6 pack in 15 seconds. For breakfast. Tokyo's parting gift.

Its a cat screaming at a banana shaped cake with a bow and a bell on it. Tokyo Banana Roar. SO YUMMY and I dont even like bananas much. We ate a 6 pack in 15 seconds. For breakfast. Tokyo’s parting gift.

Hot can of coffee  and banana cakes We just don't do food very well in Australia do we? Lets admit it.

Hot can of coffee and banana cakes We just don’t do food very well in Australia do we? Lets admit it.

I think these were gravestones. Hakone area. So COLD I wanted to stab people. Vastly underprepared in the coat department.

I think these were gravestones. Hakone area. So COLD I wanted to stab people. Vastly underprepared in the coat department.

First class on the pirate ship in an elevated volcanic lake. Only the best will do. I think it was $9 per person and cattle class was 7 where all the tourist groups were. Very Italian. BIZARRE!

First class on the pirate ship in an elevated volcanic lake. Only the best will do. I think it was $9 per person and cattle class was 7 where all the tourist groups were. Very Italian. BIZARRE!

There was never any doubt that he was going to do this. I laughed. Then I said its cold, I need to go back to First Class.

There was never any doubt that he was going to do this. I laughed. Then I said its cold, I need to go back to First Class.

Cable car air thing thingy. machine cogs rolly wheels. SICK with fear. I found out a couple of years ago I don't like heights. I wonder what I was doing before that?

Cable car air thing thingy. machine cogs rolly wheels. SICK with fear. I found out a couple of years ago I don’t like heights. I wonder what I was doing before that?

Very pretty. Bleagh. Close eyes, breathe deeply.

Very pretty. Bleagh. Close eyes, breathe deeply.

Mercy. It was all I could do not to scream. A small part of my mind knew to take a photo  because it was pretty.

Mercy. It was all I could do not to scream. A small part of my mind knew to take a photo because it was pretty.

The Rotorua of Japan, stinky mountain bits with what smelled like poo water springs.  Someone thought "I know, lets put the eggs into water that smells like poo to cook them and then eat the eggs". Who would think this? Now its a famous touristy thing. Still cold, and also hungry, by this stage I was sharpening my shiv. Then Adam gave me deep fried potato and bacon on a stick and I calmed down.

The Rotorua of Japan, stinky mountain bits with what smelled like poo water springs. Someone thought “I know, lets put the eggs into water that smells like poo to cook them and then eat the eggs”. Who would think this? Now its a famous touristy thing. Still cold, and also hungry, by this stage I was sharpening my shiv. Then Adam gave me deep fried potato and bacon on a stick and I calmed down.

"It just tastes like a bloody normal boiled egg" Verbatim..

“It just tastes like a bloody normal boiled egg” Verbatim..

Painted on the pavement. Cute as.

Painted on the pavement. Cute as.

The balcony of our suite.  This was our proper 10th Wedding Anniversary gift to ourselves in super posh hotel. This tub was enormous. I had 5 baths in 24 hours. You could possibly fit 4 adults in there if you are into that sort of thing. #wearen't

The balcony of our suite. This was our proper 10th Wedding Anniversary gift to ourselves in super posh hotel. This tub was enormous. I had 5 baths in 24 hours. You could possibly fit 4 adults in there if you are into that sort of thing. #wearen’t

Super dooper bathroom. On the other side of that door is a funny little shower room where you sit on a stool and scrub your skin raw before rinsing off. Then go out of the next door to the balcony in the nudie rudie. You must be clean to get into the bath. There was nobody outside to see but there COULD HAVE BEEN.

Super dooper bathroom. On the other side of that door is a funny little shower room where you sit on a stool and scrub your skin raw before rinsing off. Then go out of the next door to the balcony in the nudie rudie. You must be clean to get into the bath. There was nobody outside to see but there COULD HAVE BEEN.

One of the rooms in our suite, this is where we danced and slept when our princess came to put our beds out and tuck us in. Best sleep I had had in maybe a year. I attribute this to having 4 hot mineral baths that afternoon / evening  and the biggest scariest most interesting dinner ever. No we did not watch TV.

One of the rooms in our suite, this is where we danced and slept when our princess came to put our beds out and tuck us in. Best sleep I had had in maybe a year. I attribute this to having 4 hot mineral baths that afternoon / evening and the biggest scariest most interesting dinner ever. No we did not watch TV.

Dinner menu. You did not choose from the menu. You ate ALL OF THE THINGS.

Dinner menu. You did not choose from the menu. You ate ALL OF THE THINGS.

Angry fish is angry. We waited until our princess had left the room and Adam rushed to the bathroom and flushed these guys. They had glaring eyes and chompy teeth. We could not do it.

Angry fish is angry. We waited until our princess had left the room and Adam rushed to the bathroom and flushed these guys. They had glaring eyes and chompy teeth. We could not do it.

One of the meals. Isnt it amazing? I also found it a bit challenging. I am not the most adventurous eater.

One of the meals. Isnt it amazing? I also found it a bit challenging. I am not the most adventurous eater.