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March 31, 2007

Samui - Day 3

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I had lots to do yesterday. Really, I do not know where the time goes.

Here is a picture from the afternoon beach chair. Those of you who are paying attention may realise that I had to sit approximately three meters to the right of where I was the day before. To be honest, it did not seem so different to me.

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I did take more than one picture...here are the non-beach shots from yesterday. The picture on the left is a boat in the surf. On the right is the main road as it is going into Chaweng Beach...that is about a mile from my hotel and I walked the whole way and back.

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One thing that really surprises me is how easy it is to forget that Chaweng Beach alone is three and a half miles long. This is a problem because I will think to myself "hey, I'll head over to that dodgy mightclub around the corner" and its a 2 mile walk (remember its over 30 degrees and I am lazy). So, I end up having a coffee instead. Oh, maybe that is a good thing.

Later today, I am going to a bar in the next village to watch the sun set. Appropriately, it is called The Sunset Bar. I was feeling pretty stupid when I forgot the name and had to look it up. There is also a place called the BBC restaurant, in case the first one is crap. And of course this all assumes I won't forget, or fall asleep.

Anyway, looking ahead even farther: I am going to take a tour around the island tomorrow (by car). I think I need to give the beach a rest. Or myway, looking ahead even farther: I am going to take a tour around the island tomorrow (by car). I think I need to give the beach a rest. Or my skin.

Posted by Kirk at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007

From strength to strength

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It's really not fair. To you I mean. After all, you are probably reading this while at the office, while I am here at the beach having a laugh. That picture above is the view from my beach chair this afternoon.

I did not do much today...a bit of sunbathing and walking around. I took a few photos of course, so you would have a better idea of what its like.

I had been thinking this morning how life here has everything I need. Well, almost everything...there is no comfortable couch in my room - and that is really hard to replace. But less than 10 hours later, I find out the bar next door to my hotel has these amazing chairs on the beach.

And when I say amazing, I mean I could lay on them like the couch at home. I could have sat (lain) there all night, but I wanted to have dinner and go the Tropical Murphy's 6-yr anniversary party. I skipped the last part as I was feeling bloated from the beers on the beach and the untasty dinner I had. Oh well - there is always tomorrow. and the day after. and the day after...I am sure you get the idea.

Here is a look at the Three Monkey's Pub...and also another view of the beach:

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Posted by Kirk at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2007

Koh Samui!

Well, I made it to the beach. Actually, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, thanks to my own poor planning (?). On Tuesday night, I met Glenn for a few drinks at Mermaid Pub. Unfortunately, it was more than a few. I blame Delon, who showed up soon after and insisted on ordering round after round. Ha ha, I might be a bit fuzzy on the details (on who was ordering).

Anyway, it was past midnight and I had to be at Tokyo Station at 7:15am for my flight. I was absolutely not worried about this because all of my bags were packed and I knew I could make up any lost sleep on the plane.

Well, I woke up at 6:55am. Somehow, I managed to get out of bed, changed, and down to Tokyo Station in 21 minutes. Unfortunately, that was one minute late. No worries - I took the next train.

Flights were nice - I had a whole row to myself on the Thai Airways flight, so I could stretch out a little. There was an absolutely awful Ben Affleck movie on, however, which made the flight time seem twice as long.

And I saw the new airport in Bangkok. Woo.

I made it to Koh Samui in time for a drink at sunset, although I was on the wrong side of the island to actually see it. This is the view I had from the hotel bar...

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After my welcome drink, I ran my errands for the week, namely buying sunscreen and finding the bookstore and Irish pub. I ate dinner at the Three Monkeys Bar and Restaurant. I mean, really, I almost HAD TO, considering the whole theme of this website. Thankfully, it was good.

And now I am off to breakfast! Here is the sunrise over Chaweng Beach...

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Posted by Kirk at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2007

I got my driver's license! 免許証を受けました!

I should have posted this sooner, but I haven't spent anytime at home this week. Anyway, I went to the driving license center in Samezu on Tuesday to take my final exam and I passed!

I was so pleased...I really did not know how many times I would have to go to this place and take the test before I was lucky enough to get a passing score...turned it I only needed to go once. I did not have a good feeling after the test was finished, but an hour later when they sent me to get my picture taken I realised for sure I had done it. Woo hoo!

In a way, it was anti-climatic...after two months of classes and driving practice, I got a small piece of paper and put it in my wallet. And that was it. It is nice to have, however.

Posted by Kirk at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

Hiroshima/Miyajima again (も一度広島と宮島へ行きました)

I took a few days to head off to Hiroshima and Miyajima - a repeat of a trip I took last year at the same time. I really like it down there - it is super relaxing compared to Tokyo and Miyajima is one of the three best sights in Japan, so how can you go wrong.

Here is O-torii gate in front of Itsukushima Shrine at sunset...

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This time I stayed at Ryoso Kawaguchi, which is just off the Omotesando Shotengai and close to the Five-Story pagoda. It is a small place, but the people are very nice and the food was absolutely incredible. Really! They also have the bath with the HOTTEST water, which means Japanese people should especially love it. I felt like a lobster, but I could ease myself in without embarassment, because the baths are all private.

As one does, I spent a lot of time walking around the main part of town taking pictures...here are a few more of the torii and also a wedding party that was at the shrine when I entered. There was also a documentary crew doing some filming...that was strange - even more strange was to see them two hours later in front of my hotel in Hiroshima. They may have been doing a documentary about me?

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The highest point on Miyajima is Mt. Misen at 550m...more importantly, there is a monkey park at the top. I really need to catalogue all these monkey places someday. In any case, they have some new warning signs that are worthy of being shown - so cool! - and I saw a prayer/plaque that was so sad, I have to post it. The last picture is a monkey trying to escape from me - he does not know there is no where to go.

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From Miyajima, I took a high-speed boat directly to the A-bomb dome (原爆ドーム), that is a picture I took as we were arriving. I did not really spend much time sightseeing in Hiroshima - I walked over to the castle, but it was late in the afternoon and I decided I would save going in for some other time. One place I do have to mention is the Choco-cro/St. Mark's Cafe at the end of Hondori...because really this is the coolest branch they have. I went there last year also, but did not realise that there is a second floor that you reach by escalator or that there is a woman playing a grand piano when you get up there. I love that place.

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Again, I stayed at the Hiroshima Aioi Ryokan. It is super convenient to everything and very quiet. Well, except for the company puting on the floor below mine and the whole "saying good night after drinking loads of sake" seemed to go on forever.

Posted by Kirk at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2007

Still looking for a place to buy

I went down to Zushi again this morning to look at apartments. I saw two, both of which were on the beach, well, as close as you could get in an apartment in Zushi. I would rather get something in Hayama, but either of these would do if I decided on Zushi.

The first one I saw was the most expensive, but it was a little dark and there was a wall and trees between the beach view and the living room. On the plus side, there is room to build a deck and it is a stone's throw from a barbecue area on the beach. Great location, OK apartment.

The second was in a super old building, and when we walked up I was tempted to tell the agent this one would not fly. BUT...the interior was amazing and there was an excellent panorama of Zushi Beach. The view was lovely. But no balcony or nearby barbecue spot. What a dilemma, right?

Anyway, I have to add something about the first apartment because the bathroom was incredible. First of all, there was a small television built into the wall in front of the bath tub. REALLY! If that is not enough, there was also a panel with a call button that rang a bell inside the living room/kitchen area. The agent said it was for older people, but my first thought was more along the lines of not having to get out of the bath for another beer while watching TV. I may not buy that apaprtment, but it gave me some great ideas for when I do own a place.

Posted by Kirk at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2007

I can drive (almost)!!!

One of the things I have been meaning to write about is driving school. At the end of January I signed up to take driving lessons at Koyama Driving School in Futako-Tamagawa. Like most things, I put off writing something, but I can't anymore.

Because...today, I graduated!

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I still have to go to the driving license center and take the written test, which is more than a formality, so I am not a legal driver in Japan yet. But, I did finish almost 60 hours of classes/lessons AND passed the driving test today. I am very pleased.

On one hand, it was a breeze: I have been driving for over 20 years, but the US is one of the countries that does not have a reciprocal driving license program with Japan. So I can't just pop in with a translation of my license and a pair of photographs. On the other hand, the Japanese drive on the left-hand side of the road. It is probably a good idea that I get as used to that as possible!

Anyway, Koyama is notable for being the only driving school in Japan that offers classes in English. If you are thinking of getting a license, definitely give them a shout. They are super friendly and helpful - I miss going there already and I only left eight hours ago.

Posted by Kirk at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2007

My sister comes to Japan and we visit Kyoto

My sister Terri came to Japan for a week of holiday. Naturally, one of the things we did was visit Kyoto. Actually, we had a pretty full schedule while she was here and I wanted to write a lot about it and post some of the pictures, but I was off doing other things as soon as she left so I am late getting an entry up on the blog. And the more time goes by, the more I forgot what I wanted to write.

So, this will be quick, even though it was also my first visit to Kyoto despite being in Japan for over six years. All you need to know is that I really liked it and I hope to go back soon.

Pictures of kinkakuji and kiyomizu temple...

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Posted by Kirk at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)