Woke up to a miserable rainy day today and was a little bummed out as I had planned to spend the day in the ancient temple town of Nikko which is about 2 hours north-east of Tokyo. I'm glad I went ahead with the plan, coz once out of the city, the weather cleared up and I had nothing but clear blue skies all day long!
I had heard so much about Nikko and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. Its kinda like the Hampi of Japan I suppose - little town snuggled in the Japanese mountains with ancient temples and shrines scattered all over the place.
Experienced my very first Shinkansen (bullet train) ride today as well. Not as cool as I'd imagined it, but then again it was such a short distance that maybe they don't go all out. I'm hoping the Tokyo - Osaka leg will be better.
Met two amazing girls today. Hanna from Munich, Germany who was here with a German tour group; and Sandrine who's French but coincidently also lives in Munich. Since both Sandrine and I were on our own she suggested we join forces and I'm glad we did as it was a lot of fun exploring amazing Nikko with her.
Like Hampi, the temples were just overwhelmingly beautiful and no amount of pics and discriptions can fully capture their true beauty. I took heaps of pics and will be posting the best few soon.
After we were done with the main attractions, Sandrine and I found ourselves in what was probably "main street" Nikko where we stumbled upon this cute litte restaurant. The hostess didn't speak a word of English... or German... or French... so with much gesturing and some handy dandy drawings we ordered what we THOUGHT was tempura veggies, noodles and soup.
We were almost right! The tempura part was right (there was shrimp too) and the noodles part was right - only they were cold noodles and the "soup" was a cold sause.
After some false starts, and a joke about "putting it in the microwave" the couple at the next table took pity on us and explained that we were supposed to dip the noodles in the sause to get the maximum flavour. Turns out it really does wonders for the overall taste and we quite enjoyed our meal after all. As we stumbled out of the restaurant on very cramped legs (we'd opted for the Japanese style tables) we did note that both the other couples in the restaurant were grinning at us and ironically they'd chosed to sit at the regular tables!
Back in Tokyo the boys at 606 Sakura House had decided to put together an impromptu dinner party as some of them were leaving the next day. We went down to the grocery store to get some ingedients and we came back with:
2 cases of beer (the very first thing we picked up)
1 carton of eggs
1 pkt of bacon like looking pork (but not bacon)
1 LARGE cabbage
2 pkts of snowpeas
3 pkts of Tofu
1 large bag of kinda shake n bake chicken
1pkt spicy saussages
A bottle of Coke
3 chefs (1 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese 1 Korean) and 4 sub chefs (1 Canadian, 1 Malaysian, 2 Chinese) worked hard for a half hour and the result was a culinary feast consisting of
Tofu with meat (of somesort)
Egg and onion stirfry
Kimchee with cabbage and pork sauteed in some funky Korean chillie paste
Good times at Sakura House!