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May 10th 2007
Published: May 10th 2007
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I was previously using travelpod but have now changed to travelblog.org (as I'm sure you know) for my entries. I transferred the text from those previous posts here but I lack the patience and the intestinal fortitude to wade through and post the photo's again. For the original Japan and Vietnam postings with photos cut and paste this url in the address bar:


The journey begins before we arrive at LAX, this trip has been years and years in the making, ever since I was a lil kid watching National Geographic and reading Ranger Rick magazine (what you know about some Ranger Rick). I remember (and my mother loves to remind me) being in grade school and being livid that she would not let me go to Africa on safari......... I knew I could do it, all I needed was a ticket and a guide and I was set..... funny thing is the next day I went to school and forgot my lunch at home..... she loves that story, but that just shows how long this has been in the que. Twenty some odd years later..... the journey begins.

Japan Japan Japan.................... where to begin, surely it will be a breath of fresh air after the hec-tick-enticities (it's a word look it up) of unplugging from from the "Matrix" in the states and starting our precious few months of roaming nomad status. The flight, while previously torturously long wasnt that bad because we only slept about an hour the night before so it was zzz's and more zzz's for the Redmonds at 10,000+ feet.

We arrive in the rain, how else to start your RTW trip? At least I have the train from the airport down, Fred, Dwayne and I stood there like deer in headlights for a good 20-30 minutes before we figured it out. The Narita express to central Tokyo came like clockwork and we transferred trains to our final destination without incident, we did have to let one train pass as it was full to the brim with people because it was commute hour..... I thought the next train would be just as packed but luckily it came soon after and had plenty of space, we power lifted our bags on and proceeded........ now the fun part. We get to the station and exit and now we're trying to find the Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) in the rain without an umbrella. It took a good half hour in the rain but after not seeing the "Wendy's" restaurant mentioned, a conversation with two drunk Europeans and a brief exchange of a clerks pigeon english and my broken, beaten, stabbed, recessitated, and restabbed Japanese, we finally found the Ryokan... mission one complete.

We spent the 24th - 28th in Tokyo and had a chance to see a bit of the city. It is amazingly crowded and I enjoyed taking Venny on the subway, a train will come and literally thousands and thousands of people will get off before your eyes, people will file onto the train and within 5-6 minutes when the next train comes, it will be full all over again. I believe the population of L.A. is 3 million, metro L.A. is 13 million. Tokyo proper is 11 million and the greater metro is I believe around 30 million........ its bonkers (or bananas as the boss lady T. Franklin would say). In Tokyo we visited shrines, pagodas, toured Uyeno Park and visited some museums on a rainy day. It was alot of fun, Tokyo is a cool city and the Japanese are friendly, knowing a touch of Japanese helps if you want to eat, or you gotta look for picture menu's or joints that cater somewhat to westerners............ there are a good amount of non-Japanese sprinkled in here, and it has a somewhat cosmopolitan feel (although I still get stares).... you'd be surprised what you can communicate non verbally (I think some stat. said 60%!o(MISSING)f communication is non verbal), we're making out just fine..... although buying train tickets can be nerve wracking.

Our next destination was Kyoto, Kyoto is Japan without all the hustle and bustle of the city. It is very relaxed and has alot of history to it, alot of temples and shrines and ancient buildings to peruse... we actually could have done more time here, we spent too much time visiting Fushimi Inari *sp* and had to cut some other places short. It is a very nice city though and train station serves as a hub in the south, we caught the bullet train from Tokyo there which was a nice journey, the countryside is very scenic. If for some unknown reason I'm ever back here again............... I'm gonna be sure to book longer.

Nara is a lil more laid back than Kyoto, we arrived and lucked up an got a very nice Ryokan with a little garden built into the middle of it. We could sit in our room and open the sliding paper doors and the garden was our view (apparently the french guy to the side forgot he didnt have the couryard to himself when he got out of the shower....... but that's another matter), we spent two days here viewing the largest Buddah in Japan and touring other monuments, shrines. We visited Nara Park with its all but tame deer and had an all around relaxing good time, our trip however coincided with "Golded Week" in Japan and there were alot of people on vacation and visiting the city at the time............. a bit crowded but nice none the less.

From Nara we hot footed it to Nagoya for our flight out to Vietnam............. lololol our first time dipping our feet into non-familiar waters, Japan is Asian yet familiar... Vietnam shall surely be a leap into the unknown.... as a matter of fact I am writing this from Hanoi right now, I've gotta run out to buy a little bag before the shops close... all I gotta do is make it through traffic here which is no small feat... I will explain more in the Vietnam recap.... Outro!

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