Tower in Biel

Tower in Biel, originally uploaded by Helen K.

While driving round Hakkaido, we made a brief stop in a town called Biel.

While there isn’t a lot to see, there is a tower to go up and look at the view. The tower is attached to the local government office. There were no queues, signs, or tickets to purchase.

While the view was okay, I do not recommend local Council’s in SA use this method for attracting tourists.

Vegetarians stop reading now!

Sapporo Beer garden, originally uploaded by Helen K.

While in Sapporo, there are 4 top tourist places to visit. The Mt Moiwa ropeway, the Clock Tower, the TV Tower, and the Sapporo Beer museum.

Like any good museum it is well designed on the inside, and has good explanations about the origins of Sapporo beer. Then there is the tasting bar on the ground floor – which was full when we turned up (close to 4:45pm), yes we did try the beer. However, on the way out we began to smell lamb… and followed our noses and sampled the famous beer garden. Here you can have beer and cook your own lamb and vegetables in the jingus kan style. If you are really hungry you can go for the all you can eat and drink in one and a half hours option. Thankfully we went for the sensible option of a plate of lamb and vegetables, with a dish of potatoes on the side.

It was great fun… and the food in the picture was very tasty once cooked!

Challenge achieved!

Club / coffee, originally uploaded by Helen K.

Before we left on holiday a friend set us a challenge to locate and have a drink at a trendy bar, called Office, above the Gaienmae train station in Tokyo. What else would we do on our last night in Tokyo, but visit!

We got off the right station, located the building, and climbed the stairs to the 4th floor. However it was closed for the Obon festival. Thankfully, the owners also run the bar on the first and second floor called Sign. It is a very cool place, with lounge music, good food and drink. I enjoyed a fruit tart and two glasses of plum wine with a rock (ball of ice big enough for the glass) and a fruit tart, and Kym had a burger and a couple of beers. It was a great challenge, and we enjoyed the ambiance and view – Thanks!

Next time you’re in Tokyo, I suggest you try it… or the Office on the fourth floor, so you can let us know what it is like!

Nameless Knight on the Town.

IMG_6145, originally uploaded by kdt.

Glimpsed in Hakodate at the Mt Hakodate observatory. He took a ride up the ropeway and was mobbed by an adoring crowd. Don’t forget to register your vote for his name.

Apparently the night lights of Hakodate from Mt Hakodate are one of the worlds great night views, alongside Hong Kong. It certainly was impressive.

Red thumb incident – Part II

Back to Shanghai… we were in one of the police office rooms, with one of the arresting officers and another officer.  We were sitting there for about 10 minutes or so when a couple of younger officers came in (one male, one female), sat down, said hello (in Chinese)… and had a conversation with each other.  One left the room, apparently to speak with someone else, then came back.  The other two older officers left the room.  The two younger officers talked for a bit and asked us a series of question which for the most part we had answered previously (with the help of a guide book), then both left.  This seemed to go on for some time, probably was only 10 minutes or so.  All the time we are patiently sitting there, breathing in the cigarette smoke, and waiting.

Then the arresting officer, and younger officers came back in the room.  Another officer, can in, and the young female officer left, and we didn’t see her again.  She seemed happy to get called to another job.  Left in the room was us, the younger officer and older officer. This is when the actual interview began (finally). The older officer said something, then the younger officer, said “Are you American?”, and we promptly replied “no, we are Australian”. The older officer, was now writing in Chinese.  Next question was “Have you got ID, passports”.  Obviously, we’d been sitting in the station for nearly an hour and a half.. and were more than happy to comply!  “Yes”, and handed them over.

He asked what relation Kym as to myself, ended up being a “very good friend”, with a knowing nod.  Then he asked what the purpose of our trip to Shanghai was.  We said it was a holiday. He asked what we were doing at the train station, at this point given our bad pronunication of Shouzou we pulled out our train tickets  “AH… Shouzhou”.  At this point we stated again we were looking for subway entrance, and how the incident occured.

Next he asked about the value of the camera.  Which translated to 1250yuan.  It was at this point that the young officer said the camera would have to left at station for person to come and value in the morning.  I attempted the “but it is my camera, I need to use it  tomorrow line. You could look up the value of the camera”.  Which was at this point I was told by the older officer “your camera is not your camera”.  Strange I always thought once you part with money for a good it became yours.  The young officer then said he was just doing his job, and we could come back tomorrow.  Great yet another trip to the Shanghai Railway Station.  By this point Kym is going, we could leave it… and I’m saying, but it is my camera (even though I had been told it wasn’t).  In the end I took out the battery and image card, and left the camera.  After much discussion, we agreed to get the camera back the following day around 1pm, provided we went to the police box asked them to ring a phone number, and they would come and get us.

Once the statement had be written, in Chinese, they asked me to sign it.  I said I was happy to sign it, but only if they read what I am signing, and I have a copy.  That made sense as I don’t speak Chinese.  The young officer read it out, and I signed it.  He then got a copy for us, and we were asked to stand up and come with them.  which turned out to be a smaller room, with two older officers, who also were smoking.  One read the statement asked the arresting officer questions, attempted to take a photo of the camera.  However, their battery was flat.  They wrote down the model and make and I signed a piece of paper to indicate it was mine.  It was at this point we were thanked and the younger officer showed us out back to the front of the train station, two and a half hours later.  This time there were a lot less people around the station and we easily found the entrance to the subway, and managed to catch the last train home.