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James's Travel log

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This is an ongoing, rambling project that should be finished the day after I die. Until then, feel free to read about some of my zany adventures, both in Canada and in other places.

Log entries 81 - 90 of 117 Page: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Mar 29, 2001 02:00 PM A weekend in China

A weekend in China We flew to Beijing from Tokyo today. Silly Northwest overbooked the flight, so my traveling companions and I were all forced to sit apart. I sat beside two elderly American gents who were quite friendly.

We changed a bunch of money at the airport and took a taxi to our hotel. Although Jason knew how much the taxi should have cost, he got in the back seat with his girlfriend and Brendan got in front. Unfortunately, Brendan forgot to tell the driver to turn on his meter, so when we got to our hotel, he demanded 3 times what it should have cost. Brendan paid it without flinching while we got our stuff from the trunk. When we all realized Brendan got ripped off, the cab driver muttered something in Chinese and then took off.

We evened up with Brendan, but made it a point to let Jason ride in the front in the future, or demand that the driver turn on his meter.

We went checked in to our hotel and went to bed, as it was already past midnight.

Oct 01, 2000 02:00 PM Breaking into our hotel room

Breaking into our hotel room Well, we were still locked out of our room and all our stuff, but we found a solution. One of us left the window open a crack, and our room is beside the emergency exit, so we are going to walk along the edge of the building, crawl in the window and open our room that way.

It was a little scary, seeing that our room was on the 3rd floor, but we did it! Finally, a change of clothes! The picture here is of the view out of our window.

After cleaning up, we made sure not to close the inner door and left to meet another Korean friend we met while in Edmonton, Alex. The three of us went to Insa-Dong and wandered through the shops. I wound up buying some cool prints and other Korean artwork on the cheap.

Alex took us to another Korean restaurant in Shinchon, nearby one of Seoul’s many universities. The food was spicy, delicious, and cheap! Then we headed back to our hotel, as we have an early flight back to Tokyo.

Sep 30, 2000 02:00 PM Wandering around Seoul

Wandering around Seoul Mi-young called our hotel and we met in Tapkol Park. This is where Koreans first demanded independence from the Japanese just after World War 1. Alas, they wouldn’t be free until after World War 2, and then would have to fight a massive conflict with their cousins to the north shortly thereafter.

Some older gentleman came up to us and kept saying, “Banco! Banco!”. Then he gave us some Brazilian money. Our Korean friends think he might be homeless or senile, or both. I gave him a few bucks in return for the Brazilian money. He smiled and then wandered off.

All of us went to Itaewon to do some shopping. I got a hockey jersey for $12 US! Bought some other souvenirs and knick-knacks for people back home. Rina called us at about dinner time and her and her boyfriend met us and we then went Seoul Tower in Namsan Park.

Well, we still can’t get into our hotel room, and the hotel wasn’t been able to find a locksmith on Saturday, so had to sleeping in another room again tonight.

Sep 29, 2000 02:00 PM The War Memorial

The War Memorial Today we got up and went to the National War Memorial. It was incredible. 5 floors of Korea’s martial history! Shaped like a giant letter U, the two halls facing south list Korea’s war dead, each and everyone of them. The connecting halls also have lists of all the UN war dead, including over 500 Canadians. Very moving. The yard out front is filled with war machines of all types from fighter planes to tanks to a ½ scale submarine.

We met a couple of former exchange students, Rina and Mi-Young, and they took us to a Korean restaurant, where we ate Calbee and Be-bin-bap. Holy crap, was that spicy! Still, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while.

We found out when we got back to our hotel that our key doesn’t open the inner door. And the spare key that the hotel has doesn’t open it either. The hotel gave us another room, but we are going to have to sleep in our clothes. Hopefully they can get a locksmith tomorrow.

Sep 28, 2000 02:00 PM Welcome to Seoul

Welcome to Seoul Well, we got up early and were ready to go bright and early.

We headed out, got on the subway and headed a few stops towards the Dongdaemun Gate and the market nearby. Somehow, we got all turned around and wound up heading south instead of north from the Ulchiro 4-ga station. Next thing we know we are in the Chungbu market. The market sells mostly home improvement items and we are getting some weird looks. A lady walks up to us and asks if we are lost. We tell her we are looking for the Dongdaemun Market. She points us in the right direction and we are off!

Dongdaemun Market is huge, and filled with stalls selling just about anything a person could want. One of the biggest surprises was finding a Mr. Big chocolate bar! After doing some shopping, we walked to Chongmyo Shrine and wandered around this amazing temple.

We then headed into Changdokkung Palace, where a tour guide lead our group around these huge grounds. The buldings here, unlike most of Asia are brightly coloured and have been restored. The picture is of the guards at the entrance to the palace.

Sep 27, 2000 02:00 PM Korea Bound

Korea Bound My buddy Jason and I headed off to Seoul, Korea for 4 days.

The flight was short, only about 3 hours from Narita Airport.

We landed at Kimpo International , which will soon be replaced by the newer, larger Incheon International Airport. Our first stop is our hotel in the Shinchon area of Seoul. So we hopped on the subway and headed to downtown Seoul. It only cost 700 won (about 75 CDN)!

Armed with the name of the hotel, we wandered around for 30 minutes or so. We stumbled into one place and got the strangest of looks. Apparently, it was a love hotel and they were surprised to see 2 white guys walk in! I guess I would be too. One of the clerks looked at the slip of paper we had and was kind enough to guide over to our hotel.

The hotel is a dive. Thank god I don't remember the name, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Now that we've found a hotel, Jason decides to run out for food. By this time it is almost midnight and everything except 7-11 was closed. Oh well, I guess it's a light snack and the noff to bed so we can get up early.

Jun 03, 2000 02:00 PM Exploring Osaka

Exploring Osaka Today we went out into Osaka and happened to come across a funky looking building, so we headed off to see what it was. It turned out to be the Shin-Umeda building, where we wound up taking some incredible pictures.

After that, we wandered off and found Hep-Five, a strange mall that, like much in Japan, is built vertically instead of horizontally. It was 5 or 6 stories tall and had a small amusement park, on the roof of the mall. We then walked around a market, before heading back to the shinkansen station and then home.

Jun 02, 2000 02:00 PM Having fun in Osaka

Having fun in Osaka Yasuko arrived in the morning and we spent the day exploring Osaka. We went to Amerika-mura, a collection of strange shops and bars, then to Osaka Castle, which was very cool.

While the original was destroyed in battle several times, it has since been rebuilt and now the donjon serves as a museum, while the castle grounds serve as a massive park in the heart of Osaka. That evening we went to Dotonburi and had a great time.

May 31, 2000 02:00 PM Exporing Kobe

Exporing Kobe Well, we had a full day of meetings and everyone had been told that they would take attendance. Most of us thought it was to make sure us foreign slackers went to seminars and didn’t spend the day sightseeing. I went to 2 out of 3 seminars but couldn’t get into the last one after lunch, so I headed out and did some sightseeing anyways. I got back to the conference centre just as the 3rd seminar got out and hooked up with my buddies.

Then we all headed for Kobe’s Chinatown, which is Japan’s second largest after Yokohama. We literally stumbled into the Kobe Hard Rock Café, where we had dinner and some drinks. Then we went with some other JETs to Dubliner’s Irish pub, where we had a few more.

May 30, 2000 02:00 PM The conference

The conference We got into Kobe just after lunch and checked into our very fancy four star hotel, the Kobe Prince.

After getting changed, we headed down and had a quick orientation and dinner with the head honchos from the JET programme. Then it was off to explore Kobe by night. We wandered around and found a small ‘nightclub’ (Club Diamond Love), which was in reality a small basement with a dance floor the size of a kitchen table. After a while in here, me and my roommate and a couple of other JETs headed back to the hotel, stopping at a 7/11 and picking up some beer and then spent the rest of the night drinking and chatting.

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