14. desember 2017

Japan and Thailand

Here are some shots from a recent trip I had to Japan and Thailand.

I spent two weeks in Japan and visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Hiroshima amd Kobe.
I also spent two weeks in Thailand and visited Bangkok, Krabi and the Phi Phi Islands.

I actually took less photographs n this trip than I would normally do, because I also brought a GoPro Hero5 with me, so it was more filming than photographing.

I only brought with me the Canon 5D mark III and my trusty 24-105 F4L lens and it was more than sufficient for the whole trip.


Anyone going to Japan for more than a week and/or plan to travel a bit, should buy the Japan rail-pass. If you take the Shinkasen (Bullet-train) a few times, you have already saved a good deal of money. Also, it is really hassle-free to use to book tickets, re-book etc and if you miss a train, you can use the pass to get another one without charge.

Street view from The Royal Park Hotel, The shidome.
Tokyo, Japan.
Cann 5d mk III
Canon 24-105 F4L
1/5s @ ISO 3200

City view from The Royal Park Hotel, The shidome.
Tokyo, Japan.
Cann 5d mk III
Canon 24-105 F4L
1/5s @ ISO 3200
The Shidome was in general a quite reasonable hotel (for Tokyo) and both the standard and the location was excellent. The view was amazing too, since the hotel itself starts on the 24th floor in a skyscraper, I think the room I was in, was at the 32'nd floor.^^

After a few days in Tokyo, Kyoto was the next stop.
The plan here, was to explore more of Kyoto itself, than I did the last time I was there.

So I basically planned a few routes using google-maps, so it was possible to walk to several temples and areas, without criss-crossing too much in a taxi.

Kyoto skyline from the north-west, looking south-east.
Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto
Strolling around the smaller parts in the old town.
The couple wearing traditional, -and probably expensive, Kimonos in the foreground made the photo complete.

Kinkaku-ji or, as we westerners say: "The golden pagoda"
This is actually a temple-park with several other buildings.
Massive crowds of tourist though, so it was hard to get a clean photo here.
Day-trips to other places are easy from Kyoto, even more easy from Osaka, but Kyoto seems like a nicer place to use as the hub, seeing that city has 1400 or so temples and shrines.

Anyway, the city of Nara is mandatory ^^

Here, the Nara-park, with it's sika deer and the massive Toda-ji temple, makes for a really enjoyable tour.
Getting here is easy, you take the local JR line to Nara and walk straight up towards the park from there, they have maps on this outside the station, it's a 500-800 meter walk to the start of the park.
There are also buses going there if walking is not an option.

I seem to travel to this country during the hottest periods, so I struggled with the heat a lot.
My shirt actually got so wet from sweating, it was no longer apparent that I was sweating at all =D

Bring good shoes, lots of water and an umbrella to provide some shade while walking.

Sika-deer at Tamukeyama Hachiman-gū Shrine

A lovely walk in the old forest between the various shrines and temples.

Sika-deer posing for photos on the way to Tōdai-ji temple

The massive Tōdai-ji temple

I wanted to visit Himeji-jo as well, this castle was refurbished in 2013 I think and they changed the roofing to a more white appearance, when I visited the last time, the roof was all black.

I suppose the white is the original idea, hence the name "The white egret".
The castle is a huge complex and also involves a pretty hefty labyrinth, to get to the top.

Going here is easy, you take the Shinkasen train and jump off in Himeji, when you exit the north entrance, you can see the castle straight up there.

Entrance-gate Himeji-jo

The Himeji-castle with the extremely well-kept gardens in the foreground.


After two weeks, the trip went to Thailand.
I wanted to visit the Phi Phi islands, to get a real tropical holiday.

In the planning-process, I thought it would be smart to have a lay-over after a 6 hour flight from Tokyo and another hour flight south from Bangkok. So the layover-town was chosen to be Krabi, since I wanted to avoid the crowds, backpackers and prices in Phuket.

Stayed only 2 nights here, to relax a little and book some ferry-tickets.

But even Krabi has something to look at :)

Wat Kaew, Krabi, Thailand

View over the Krabi mangroves from Chao Fah Park Pier
After a hefty 1h 45m ferry-trip, which started in grey and rainy conditions in Krabi, the ferry eventually somehow popped out of the bad weather and revealed the Phi Phi Islands.

Phi Phi island, with Ko Phi Phi Lee to the far left of the frame.
The city of Tonsai lies on a small strip of land, almost separating the  main island in two.

I can recommend Phi-Phi indeed, maybe not Tonsai-city, but one of the isolated resorts....those are indeed super awesome. The resort of choice was Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort and it was wonderful. (although, not cheap, when you add everything together after the stay :P )

Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort, the view that was seem from the long-boat, after Tonsai was left behind, to transport visitors to the resort.

There are many trips to the small, idyllic island of Ko Phi Phi Lee, the smaller sibling of Ko Phi Phi, but be prepared to wade trough masses of like-minded tourists.
It seems that the Chinese has also discovered this gem, be aware, when they arrive, they are usually not just a few.....they are plenty and often loud. :)

Normally, such trips involves a bit of hiking on the small Ko Phi Phi Lee island, snorkeling, swimming and some monkey-spotting.

One of a few "rocks" in the waters around Ko Phi Phi Lee
Amazing shape...and that warm, clear water! ^^

One of the monkeys on what they call "monkey island".
Monkey island is just the rocky part of the main Phi Phi island.
Funny buggers indeed, they almost jumped onto the boats.
Impressive climbing-skills on these, no fear of the water below.

Phi-Phi islands was a hoot and a really relaxing part of this trip, I can really recommend it.
Traveling back to Norway was done by taking a ferry to Phuket, jump on a plane to Bangkok and stay there at a hotel, close to the airport, for a couple of days, while sight-seeing a tiny bit, easy-peasy. ^^

Final sunset, Phi Phi islands with Thai long-boats in the foreground.

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