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Today we spent a very enjoyable time in the Venice of Shanghai; Zhu Jia Jiao. We had a great time in the pituresque and charming town full of ridiculous souvenirs, casual locals playing cards on the riverside and bridges over asian style Gondolas.
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I think about sitting in the rickety boat, in the most charming Chinese water town. Its like the Venice of Shanghai, red lanterns swing over my head as we float. The cafe we had green tea in was casual and relaxed on the water edge with bridges dotted around us. The air smells of rice and oil cooking. Old shuttered windows open to little cafes. The morning was -other than walking around and soaking up the atmosphere- spent at the lovely old post office which was simple and traditional. Very old and interesting. I got Manet a shawl with peacocks on it. This place is very peacful. The old town is beautiful and full of antiques and old riverside shuttered shops houses, and  tea houses. We had a really great time walking around town and soaking up the most amazing atmosphere.

 
 
It's been a long long while...

I want to start by apologizing about my lack of posts but internet in Japan is expensive and hard to find. (The land of technology, I know)

Today we arrived in Shanghai, and no I haven't been to the great wall of China or anything but I liked the pun; a long long wall- a long long while!!!

hehe...Anyway, Kyoto was great and I learnt alot about traditional Japan I also saw A LOT of temples and I've come to a couple of conclusions about them:

1. There is this temple of kannon which houses 1001 statues of kannon I can't remember what its called but in anycase it involves A LOT of temples.

2. Temples involve A LOT of incense.

3. Kyoto involves A LOT of temples (more than 4000!)

4. Involved people from all over the world  (A LOT of people) come to see Kyoto's Temples.

5. I'm all templed out....

We also got to see one of the most beautiful castles ever. It was absolutely stunning and is called Himeji Castle. It took awhile to get there but it was worth it for the view, the beautiful gardens and the smoothly waxeed yet honestly old floorboards. From its tall tall figure and multi-shaped window it ozed oriental-ancient style.

Walking around west Kyoto is like entering a completeley new little rural tourist town with no urban-ness? in site. We started with a walk through a zen style temples garden (No we didn't go inside the temple) Nanny with a cofee in hand. We took a break with some roasted hazelnuts and sent Nanny off on a rickshaw to meet us at another temple (I KNOW!). We didn't go inside but just walked around and admired the beautiful tree line path famous for the colours of its autumn maples before going to an old style tea room for delicious hot chocolate, And I bought a beautiful Japanese artwork...

A couple more adventures and an upside down golden bridge later we were in my 2nd favourite place of Japan (my first being Tokyo); Kinosaki.
The Onsen Town... What a perfect place where it is  totally expected that you walk around the freezing cold town anytime in nothing but a Yukata (light cotton bathrobe) and I mean nothing. You are expected to put on your pretty yukata and wooden thongs and clip clop from spa bath (onsen) to onsen. An onsen thougfh is much more than a spa its a beautiful art that cannot be explained in thjis attempt at a brief post. So while taking time to check out thecoastline of Japan we spent most of our time in Kinosaki naked in the public hot baths (women and men seperated) relaxing. All the water is natural spring water here but they give it extra heat so onsen's are HOT. aNYWAY i LOVED IT SO LOVELEY AND RELAXoops...ing.

The next stop was Osaka as in Gwen Stefani "Osaka, Tokyo...you harajuku giorl, damn you've got some wicked style..." where we stayed in a very fabcy hotel because a friend of ours works there and gets HUGE discounts. It was really fab, great views beautiful room, a chocolate christmas tree, designer shops to ooo and aaaaa at and dead center. The highlights of our short stay in Osaka for me was the shopping especially on the 2 mile undercover walkway shopping area which was filled with young crazy clothes and american village (the harajuku of osaka...YAY!!!!) and a night spent with Raymond (our friend) and his beautiful family. He took us to his home city Kobi where we got to experience a locals view of the place eating at an obscure yakatori bar we never would have visited and had REALLY delicious food. All chicken from heart to liver to neck to breast and  cabbage it was really delicious. Except the liver...yuck. (I didn't try heart) Then we tried our luck at the local public foot onsen. Where you sit on the street barefoot with your feet in the hot troughlike water spot (pretty spiffy) checking out the amazing mountainside view all before dessert at his loveley house with his really nice family. We had yummy cake and japanese sweets. It was a late night or should I say morning but it was well worth it for the super time we had.

I'll really miss Japan, I absoluteley loved it from the crazy young ladies with blonde hair and puffy harajuku skirts to the traditional ryokan hotels. I absoluteley love it. We're staying in Shanghai; a small backpackers with really good taste. The buildings a converted french cobncession building with modernised interior (my favourite thing) brick warehouse modernised) and the area is cool a beautiful temple. I'm slightly worried about nanny getting run over in the crazy free for all traffic but I'm really excited to get to know China. Internet is dirt cheap here; basically free so hopefully I'll be posting lots.....

LOve 
Niamh