-> Himeji -> Hiroshima
Toyoko Inn, Hiroshima, www.toyoko-inn.com. 6300 yen
for a room with essentially everything: TV, safe, fridge, A/C, water
boiler, hair dryer, attached toilet with shower, mirrors, books (a
bible and something else), telephone, DSL Internet line (no NNTP and
FTP access though). A bit bigger than the places I stayed previously.
Breakfast included. Excellent value, good location (500m
from the railway station). Check in time 4pm (late!) and check out 10am
(early) however. By the way, 6300 yen is the walk-in rate.
-> Miyajima -> Osaka
spotless blue sky the whole day. It gets warm enough at noon to walk
around in a T-shirt.
I get up at 8:30am, get ready, check out and take the next Shinkansen
for Himeji at 9:55am. At 10:40am the train stops in Himeji. I
get out, leave the suitcase in a luggage locker (600 yen), then walk to
the castle. The castle is a 10 minutes walk away from the station.
Very nice castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I spend 1 1/2 hours
there. For the first time a Japanese is inpolite and rude. Before
entering the tower you must take off your shoes. There is a wooden
platform for that, where you get some slippers. While I'm taking off my
shoes, this guy arrives and says: take off your shoes. So I reply:
guess what I am doing right now. The guy replies: step off the wooden
At 12:35pm I leave the castle and walk back to the train station. Along
the way I buy some food, which essentially is my lunch. No time today
to stop in a restaurant for lunch. I manage to catch the next
Shinkansen at 1:29pm, arriving in Hiroshima at 2:33pm.
In Hiroshima station I head to the tourist information counter where I
book a hotel and ask how to get to Miyajima island. Then I go to the
hotel, check-in, leave the luggage in the lobby because it's just 3pm
and too early to get into the room, and head back to the train station.
I manage to catch the 3:15pm train to Miyajima station. The trip (570
yen one way) takes 26 minutes, then you have to take a ferry (10
minutes). I catch the 3:55pm ferry and at 4:05 I'm finally on Miyajima
island. Great late afternoon light, great views.
Miyajima island alone was worth the detour to Hiroshima. What a
wonderful place. What a pity that I arrive so late, because at 4:30pm
the Itsukushima shrine already gets no sunlight anymore (it's in a bay
I'm on Miyajima island until after sunset, leaving at 5:45pm. Back on
the mainland, I have some dinner in a Japanese restaurant (excellent
grilled fish and rice). Then I head back to the hotel.
Hotel Rinkai, Osaka,
www.rinkaihotel.co.jp. 5800 yen for a single room, with A/C, TV,
telephone, fridge, attached toilet with shower, hairdryer. No DSL
Internet line in the room (only in the lobby), no breakfast (available
for 500 yen extra,
but only from 6:30-8:30am).
in Hiroshima sunny
with a very thin clouds layer. At 11am briefly overcast, then sunny
again. Warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt. In the evening a bit
fresh in Osaka.
I get up at 9am, check my
emails and rush to get ready. At 10:15am I
check out, leaving my bags in the hotel. I go to the tourist office in
the Hiroshima train station, where with some effort I book a hotel in
Osaka for two nights. It takes some effort because they do not have a
hotel list for Osaka and calling a tourist office in the Osaka train
station produces no results, as the line is always busy.
On the other
hand the tourist office in the Osaka train station closes at 8pm and
I'll arrive in Osaka very likely after that. Without local help I would
not know how to find an affordable hotel in Osaka.
Let me mention here
that the Internet booking systems most of the time give you expensive
hotels and cannot be used if you decide very short term where you will
be. During this Japan trip I have been setting up my schedule very much
on a day-by-day basis, with no fixed advanced plan.
In any case I lose quite a lot of time (almost one hour) in this
tourist office and it's already 11:30am when I get out of it. To save
time I take the tramway to the Peace park (about 2km from the train
Until 1:45pm I'm in the Peace park area, visiting the memorials and
monuments dedicated to the Atomic bomb explosion and the Peace Museum.
It's an area with a lot of symbolism attached to it.
In front of the
Children Peace Monument dedicated to Sadako Sasaki, the small girl who
died of leukemia while making 1000
paper cranes, classes of schoolchildren stop, say something
and deposit chains of paper cranes. The museum shows in
gruesome detail the effects of the atomic bomb explosion on the city
and the people.
At 1:45pm I start walking back to the train station. I could have taken
a bus, but I want to get an idea of the city. It's a modern city with
many skyscrapers, wide streets, shopping complexes - just like any
other large Japanese city. I briefly stop in a noodle restaurant for a
bowl of noodle soup.
Turns out that time passes fast, because I'm at the train station only
at 2:45pm, but I manage to catch the 2:50pm train to Miyajimaguchi, the
train station opposite Miyajima island. I was planning to spend some
more time on Miyajima island, but it looks like my visit will be a
short one again.
The train arrives in Miyajimaguchi at 3:15pm. I take the 3:25pm ferry,
arriving on Miyajima island at 3:40pm. The sun will be shining over the
Itsukushima shrine only until 4:30pm, so I have to rush a bit. Again
great views and colours of the shrines and the torii at sunset.
I return with the 5:10pm ferry, stop in the same restaurant of
yesterday in Miyajimaguchi for some grilled fish with rice, then get
back to Hiroshima station by train. From there I walk to the hotel,
retrieve the luggage, get back to the train station and take the next
Shinkansen at 7:10pm.
A 8:43pm, just one hour and a half later, I'm in Shin-Osaka, the
central train station of Osaka. From there I get to the hotel by
subway. It's not just 3 minutes from Honmachi station - you have to
walk 10 minutes and ask for directions.
Osaka appears to be a huge city with a well developed subway system
consisting of several lines.
Hotel Rinkai. The hotel has
washing machines (200 yen) and dryers (100 yen for 30 minutes on the
12th floor). The washing quality is poor, but better than nothing. The
Internet connection in the lobby through a cable is fast.
sunny, blue sky
with thin clouds layer in the morning. After noon progressively
overcast, after 1pm the sky is overcast. No rain. Not too cold - I
alternate walking around with a T-shirt and with T-shirt + light jacket.
I get up at 9:30am, get
ready and check my emails in the lobby. Still
no answer to my question from agoda.com regarding the hotel I booked
yesterday in Macao. I sent a notice to customer service yesterday, got
an automated reply telling me to wait and nothing else. I try the
online chat link they sent, in order to have a chat with a customer
but get no reply to my questions. Not much of a hotel booking company.
After I enquire about the laundry in the lobby. There are washing
machines on the 12th floor, but I will have to buy the washing powder
somewhere as they don't have it in the hotel.
It's shortly after 11am when I finally leave the hotel. It's indeed a
three minutes walk to the next subway station, but to the exit 26,
not 5. I get a day pass for the subway for 600 yen.
My first stop is at
Namba station at 11:40am. This is the station from which the trains and
buses to Kansai international airport leave. I have a quick look
In this part of the city there is nothing worthwile visiting. Nothing.
Just a jungle of cement, streets and buildings. Surprise, surprise
there are a few elder Japanese ladies doing watercolour paintings of
the cement jungle.
After 10 minutes there I get back to the subway station. There I walk
through the corridors to the next line and take the subway to the
station near the Tennoji temple, arriving there at 12:28pm. The Tennoji
temple is not visible, so I walk westwards and reach a garden (entry:
This garden is kind of cute, has a lake with a bridge in it, but
otherwise it's unremarkable. Inside there is the Osaka municipal
museum. Shortly before 1pm I leave this park and walk northwards to the
Tennoji temple, arriving there at 1:20pm.
The Tennoji temple is, well,
unremarkable as well. It is relatively modern, having been rebuilt in
the 1960s. The entry ticket is 300 yen, but since there is nothing to
see I skip this temple and walk to the next place, the Osaka castle.
I wasn't sure initially whether to visit the Osaka castle or not,
because it looked on paper like a modern, rebuilt me-too version of the
Himeji castle. But when I get there (have to take the subway because it
is too far away), I realise that it
is actually quite different and interesting.
There is a large moat
surrounding the castle. Inside the walls there is a large garden and
the castle itself is quite photogenic, with a green copper/bronze roof
and golden decorations. The castle is full of people. In front of the
castle there is Japanese wedding couple in traditional dress posing for
a photo shoot.
I'm at the castle until 2:45pm, then start walking to the north exit.
Near the castle there is the Osaka business park with a convention
centre (the Osaka-jo hall) and several skyscrapers.
Overall Osaka appears to be a pretty unremarkable place. It may be a
city, but lacks almost completely interesting architecture, trendy
neighbourhoods and elegant places. Tokyo is in this respect light years
ahead of Osaka.
At 3:15pm I take the subway to Umeda station, arriving there at 3:50pm.
Umeda is a downtown area of Osaka, with a train and subway station,
shops, a big electronics store and department stores (for instance the
Hanshin department store). Nearby there is a twin tower skyscraper,
with the towers connected at the top in a greek pi shape. On top is the
floating garden observatory, where you have a nice view of the city.
I go to this floating garden observatory (ticket: 700 yen) and stay
there until after sunset. On the top there is a cafe and a great view
of the sunset and the city. Cool view of the sun setting over the river
with the bridges.
At 5:30pm I leave the observatory, get down again and start looking for
a place where to have dinner. Lots of small restaurants, cafes, pubs
and eateries in the area. It's apparent that competition brings prices
down, as the food here is relatively inexpensive. I end up having a
larger dinner in a cafe for 1700 yen (one of my more expensive dinners
so far in Japan).
After dinner I look for a place where to buy green tea, thread and
needle (to fix my bag) and washing powder to wash the clothes. After a
few minutes I run into the Hanshin department store. It takes some
effort and asking for directions to find everything, because things
here are not arranged the way they are in Germany department stores,
but finally I get everything. After this I get back to the hotel. In
the evening I wash my clothes.
Melia, Kuala Lumpur. 247 RM for a
room with essentially everything except a DSL line. Breakfast not
included (costs 25RM extra). My room is facing a noisy street. The A/C
is freezing, I have to turn it off. WLAN prepaid cards (10RM, one hour,
access in the lobby only) sold in the lobby. This hotel is a bit old
and overpriced if compared to the Boulevard hotel although the location
is not bad if you want to be in downtown KL.
The next morning I find out that the
toilet bowl is defective - when I
flush the water spills over and gets on the ground. The shower itself
does not have enough water pressure.
sunny, blue sky with thin clouds layer in the morning in Osaka. Not
cold, warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt. Tropically hot in KL,
partly overcast sky, no rain.
The alarm clock wakes me
up at 7:30am. I get ready and at 8:30am leave
the hotel after having downloaded my emails in the lobby. Still no
reply from the Macau hotels I have emailed yesterday. Hopefully Macau
is not full.
I walk to the subway station, fetch the train to Namba station and from
there I catch the 9:11am JR train to Kansai airport. I have to change
in Tenno-ji, because I missed the 9:03am direct train. Cost the the
train ticket is 1760 yen (the subway was 200 yen).
At 10am I'm at the airport - later than I had expected. I rush to the
check-in counter (MAS is the north section). Luckily there is no queue,
perhaps I'm one of the last passengers to check-in.
The lady is a bit
puzzled because I have an EU passport and am flying with a one-way
ticket (return section of my ticket) to Malaysia. She asks for a
connecting flight, which I do not have. I explain that tomorrow I'm
flying to Macao and in a week to Germany. The ticket to Macao is an
electronic one and I have no printout.
Some discussion follows, the lady consults another lady. They explain
that they only allow non-Malaysians to Malaysia who have an ongoing
flight. Bla bla bla, in the end I pull out the flight number of the
Airasia flight to Macao and get the boarding pass. After I proceed
through security and immigration.
The flight starts with a small 10 minutes delay from Kansai airport.
meal served on-board is so-so. The plane is half-empty.
The plane lands at 4:40pm in KLIA. After things go quite speedily - I
go through immigration, retrieve my luggage and at 5:20pm I'm already
in the KLIA express. This leaves at 5:30pm and arrives at 6pm in KL
Sentral station. Surprise, there are no taxis. Because of the traffic
jam the taxi drivers are not working or request 30-40RM for the trip
(about 5 times the metered rate). So I walk to the Monorail station
opposite KL Sentral and take the next monorail to Jalan Imbi, where the
Hotel Melia is located. By 6:30pm I have checked in.
In the evening I check the suit and the shirts. The trousers are too
tight and have a too
straight cut in front (not enough space in the frontal pockets). Also
the shirts need some reworking.