We left for Tokyo on Wednesday night. We went to my mom's place straight after work, with the intention of putting S to bed and then rushing home to change and pick up our stuff before heading to the airport. And for some reason, maybe sensing the activity around her, Squiggles refused to go to sleep at her regular bed time. I kept trying to put her to bed but it wasn't working. She must have been uncomfortable with what she had eaten because she let out the contents of her tummy all over me! An impromptu shower later, we left even though she was awake. Her cries followed us all the way home. DD kept saying that it was a bad idea for us to leave her when she was so little and how we should have thought more about it. He is the over-protective one of the two of us. I kept remembering how The Mad Momma had left the Brat and the Bean with her parents a couple of times and that gave me comfort. If the Bean could survive, then Squiggles would be fine too. In fact I remember MM writing that the kids didn't want to come back home! With that reassuring thought in my mind, we left.
We were excited about the flight because we were flying in the A380 for the first time. Rather, DD was really excited. And I'm glad for his sake that it did live up to his expectations. Otherwise, I would have never heard the end of it.
The first thing that we did when we landed in Tokyo was to call home to check on S. Since we were an hour ahead of Singapore, she was still asleep. Mom told me that she had gone to bed shortly after we'd left and had slept soundly through the night. Nothing to worry about yet.
Narita airport is miles from Tokyo and the best option is to take the bus which drops you at your hotel. There is no direct train to the city and the cabs are ridiculously expensive ($150+). So, we bought our bus ticket but had to wait an hour for the next bus service. By the time we got to the hotel it was nearly 11am. We checked in only to find we had been given twin beds! Sometimes you have to fight for romance :).
Since we only had one day in Tokyo, we quickly headed out to explore. DD has been several times but this was my first visit to Japan. We spent the morning exploring Ginza which is the main shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo. It was burning hot though and it just seemed a good idea to get lunch. DD picked up a sandwich in a local shop while I had lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant where I had a bento set lunch. Then we went to the food section of a local department store and ended up buying loads of cookie boxes. The Japanese really know how to bake and their packaging is amazing. Every little cookie or biscuit is individually wrapped to maintain freshness. The cookie tins are so pretty too. After spending a ridiculous amount of money on what are only cookies after all, we headed to Tokyo central station to exchange our rail pass voucher for the pass and to make reservations for our onward journeys.
The Japanese are really friendly. Somehow, I had expected them to be rude and impolite (i.e. racist) but they were not. In fact, wherever we went, they were warm and friendly even though language was a barrier. After sorting out our tickets, we headed to Ueno which is in the north of Tokyo. Saw a temple and explored the local food market. And headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. Set out again in the evening for dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant called Gonpachi, which is actually quite famous because Kill Bill 2 was shot there. Followed that with a short visit to a bar and then walked back through Roppongi to our hotel even though the heels were killing me because DD kept saying that the hotel was 'just after the building'. Right.
The next morning we left early to go to Kiso Fukushima where my aunt and uncle have a lovely holiday home. They happened to be on holiday and we'd arranged to spend a day with them. Kiso is in the Japanese Alps and it's simply beautiful. While Tokyo is an urban nightmare, Kiso is all that you imagine traditional Japan to be.
Traditional Sake Shop
We spent the afternoon exploring a local post town, bought local lacquerware, had lunch in a local noodle place which was absolutely yum.
Cold Soba (Noodles)
After exhausting ourselves, we reached their house in the evening. Spent a lovely evening, chit chatting, drinking draught sake and having a great teppanyaki meal. Woke up late the next day and lazed around.
View from the house
Took a spin in my Uncle's Ferrari (yes, it was red!) and then got dropped off at the station for our train to Kyoto.
Kyoto is simply beautiful. Somebody described it as an elegant city and it truly is. It used to be the Japanese capital before Tokyo for over a 1000 years. All the history centres around this beautiful town. After checking in, we decided to explore Kyoto on foot.
A couple of local women in Kimonos
We walked from our hotel all the way to Gion (the Geisha district).
It has this old wordly charm, old wooden structures. You could sense and breathe the history there. We even spotted a Geisha / Maiko but DD was slow to take a pic, so unfortunately we don't have any pictures. The next day we took a day sightseeing trip around Kyoto. Here are some of the pictures of the day.
The Golden Pavilion
Entrance to a castle
Shinto Shrine in Kyoto
No trip can be complete without shopping. Despite promising myself not to go crazy, I did buy loads. Bought a cute little kimono for S (Dottie - See, I listened to you) and myself (even though no one asked me to). Bought loads of Japanese pottery, a couple of vases, beautiful lacquer jewellery box and a lovely tray. Basically, have given a good fillip to the Japanese economy!
In case you were wondering, S was perfectly fine without us. No crying, nothing. Maybe she missed me a little but it was definitely not evident in her behaviour in my absence, according to Mom. When she saw me after a gap of 5 days, she was happy but no super excitement. Though she didn't leave me that evening. Always returning to make sure I was around.
Now you will ask, how did I fare. Actually I surprised myself. Except for the first day when I kept worrying, I was absolutely fine. When I saw other kids, I would wish she was there and my heart would squeeze that much. But I didn't spend the whole weekend wishing I was back home :). If we'd taken her, we would have seen more of the toilets and restaurants and less of the places. Plus, it was good to spend some time alone with DD after such a long time, if only to remember that we are better off as a family. LOL.
Thanks Sue, for nudging me out of my lazy state to post about the trip.