Interesting Notes from the Flight Back

On this flight they actually had the in-flight data display working (we were on another Boeing 747-400). That is where the main movie screens periodically display the airplane’s position, altitude, airspeed, etc. I took some notes when the numbers interested me:

  • The total flight distance from Kansai Airport (KIX) to Detroit (DTW) was about 6,842 miles, and the trip took about 11 hours and 26 minutes.
  • Soon after take-off we had reached 2,800 ft above sea level and were going 288 mph.
  • Once we were above 10,000 ft we were travelling at 370 mph. Over the Pacific the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,980 ft, going 646 mph., and the temperature outside the plane was -12 degrees Fahrenheit.

We hit some rough turbulence about 30 miles out from the airport. It made all the other turbulence we hit on the flight over to Japan look like a calm day by comparison. We bounced up and down, side to side for about 5 minutes. Fortunately CDF and MDF were already asleep and didn’t feel the effects as much. I managed to avoid getting sick, but I was happy when it was over. Fortunately we didn’t hit anything like that again.
MDF made two more friends on this flight. First we met a flight attendant at the back of the plane as we walked around and around the two aisles. We met the lady again at the middle of the plane a little later and MDF sat beside her on the seats reserved for attendants and talked for a while. Then the lady got MDF her own helping of apple juice that she could drink with a coffee stirrer straw.
The other friend was a little girl, maybe about 9 or 10 years old, who thought MDF was very cute. After we had gone back to our seats, the girl and her father came down the aisle to bring MDF a paper flower the girl had made. She said that she loved babies and wanted to give MDF a gift. MDF accepted it and promptly pulled the “flower” off the stem (but thankfully after the girl had walked back up the aisle).

Thoughts From Home

We’re home now (and have been for almost a week). It’s taken a few days to get adjusted, and we’re still feeling the effects of jet lag (I’ve heard it takes a day for every time zone you cross… so we’ve have two weeks to suffer!). MDF has probably had the worst of it, especially since she picked up a cold along the way and now just doesn’t feel well anyhow.
Anyway, enough complaining.
Our trip back seemed to go better than the one going. At least as far as rushing around in train stations and airports. This time we knew where we were going, and were more familiar with the process. We had less trouble with the trains too. Now that we realized that the escalators were easier to navigate with lots of luggage than the stairs were, we knew how to go.

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MDF waiting for the train at the Iwakuni Station.

We (actually I) got mixed up abou the train we were supposed to catch in Hiroshima, so we rushed down to the tracks without needing to. The train we were going to ride actually would be arriving 15 minutes later than I thought. We were riding the Shinkansen (bullet train) again. On the way to Shin-Osaka station, a message flashed up on the destination marquee saying we were traveling at 300 kph.

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Bullet Train at Iwakuni Station

One thing I noticed on the final leg to the airport was that it is on an island by itself, and the only access is by the train bridge going out to it and one (I think) highway. The train bridge took a while to cross too.
We ate lunch in a McDonalds on the second floor of the airport. They only difference between there and the ones in the States is that the bergers seem a little smaller (drinks too), and the mayonaise tastes like it has soy sauce mixed in!

Last Words

MDF is sitting in front of a samurai statue that is supposedly “lord” of Kintai or the Kintai Samurai & it is also in front of a cherry blossom tree in full bloom!

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The next picture is of a group of ladies that were providing a dance show. These are not the same ladies in the kimonos–but we did enjoy their performance.

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And I got to take a picture with one of them. She really liked MDF & Abigail. MDF was too shy to have her picture taken with the lady & Abigail was asleep & didn’t notice the touching the lady did on her face.

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And finally we are back to me & JF & MDF on the Kintai Bridge. The were a number of photographers taking pictures on the bridge & as MDF & I were watching the kimono ladies leave JF told me to hold still my picture was being taken—by 3-4 Japanese men! One of them took this photo.

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Now, once we got off the bridge, there were little shops down by the water’s edge. I have drooled over some shoes they have here that are made of wood & are sandals. Every shop had them but they were $14.00 (1400 yen) and I only had about $5 worth. Well, there was this one shop that didn’t have a price and as I was holding a pair the lady came up to me. I asked how much & she held up 2 fingers and said 2 yen. I thought I had 2 yen! I had 2 100 pieces so I got excited. Held out to make sure & she shook her head no. We tried to get it right. She called a lady over & she brought with her a 1000 bill. I said no–and showed them all the money I had. Explained that I couldn’t purchase & I’d put them back. The shop lady held the shoes–finger over mouth (shhh) & motioned for the other lady to wrap them…hands motioning to go & be quiet. I thanked her in Japanese & walked off. I got my shoes for $5.00!!! Talk about being happy–my second purchase alone.
The afternoon has been subdued. MDF, Abigail & I took a nap and then JF & I finished up on some packing. Stephanie & I watched the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and we’ve had dinner. The vacation is coming to a close. I’m dreading the flight back because it is so long but also ready to be home in one way. Then again, by us having to leave; we also have to leave Stephanie, Vasco & baby Abigail. I’ve had a bit of homesickness (for the first time in my travels that I can remember) but I’ve enjoyed our visit. I hate to leave them but it is something we must do. Hopefully they will be able to come to the States before Abigail gets to be too big for a visit on their own. But then again, now that I know the flight–I also understand why they don’t come more often. Aside from how much it costs! We won’t go into that one.
It has truly been an experience & I can now put faces with names, places they frequent & food they talk about. I’m glad we made the trip & I grew wings & flew!
The next time you hear from me I’ll be home in Wilmington & getting back to my routine of life. Actually, I’ll be packing up our home & getting ready for a move. Don’t fear we are not moving here–they don’t have big enough yards. We are moving to Burgaw. We have put our house under contract while we have been here & move April 16th.
Hope you have enjoyed our visit right along with us. It’s been nice to hear from those that have responded back.

More of Kintai Area

The first picture is of us under the Kintai Bridge at the river’s edge. Behind us is where rocks have collected & has a white water rapid effect.

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The next picture JF took of me & MDF on the Kintai Bridge. We had to pay to cross it but it was a nice little walk & we were able to see things we would not have seen otherwise. You can also see what I am talking about with the white water rapid effect.

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The third picture is us still on the Kintai Bridge–but each hump has steps that you climb rather than smooth wood. The bridge is famous for the arches so we wanted that as a nice backdrop.

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And finally, there was a group of ladies dressed in kimonos that passed us. We tried to find them later in the park but never did.

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Kintai Area

Hello! This is our last outing here in Japan. We leave for the shin train in the early tomorrow morning to start the long journey home. Thankfully it will not be another 14 hour flight–just 13 this time. Daylight savings time is wonderful!
We went back to the Kintai Bridge area today to look through the shops & catch sight of the cherry blossom trees that are in bloom. They will be beautiful on Tuesday or so of next week, so we are missing them in full bloom but we were able to see some. The morning was a bit overcast but dry with a hint of a chill. Plus, we were right on the Nishi River.
We found a great spot to view the Kintai Bridge & the river & took the first two pictures. MDF has really taken to her Uncle Vasco (Unce Basco as she calls him) and I’m afraid will be lost when we get on the shin in the morning. This morning before we ever got dressed to go to breakfast, she had him reading “Mouse on the Moon” to her. They play together & do really fun things together. She’s sure gonna miss him & I think he’ll miss her a little too. It will be awful quiet around the house when he comes home & in the middle of the night–(she has woken the house up a few times between 11-1 screaming for no reason!–bad dream). So the third picture is of the two of them playing run down the hill. She liked to run down to the bushes & beyond that is the river…so he positioned himself to “catch” her & let me feel safe about her running down. She would run into his arms & he’d “throw” her in the air. Tons of giggles & laughter.

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Just two

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Posing at the bridge

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MDF and Vasco playing

Day in the Mountains

Hello all, well we had an experience yesterday. It was another gorgeous day & we took advantage of it. We planned on driving up the mountain & then hiking view 3 Falls. Well, first off the road going up the mountain was a two lane road that should have been one way! It was narrow…that is the first picture. The higher we went up the narrower it seemed to get. Thankfully we did not meet but 2 trucks in the road & that was at times we could pull off. Though, one was on the side of the mountain, but the road had been widened in turns & sharp curves. We were suppose to “turn right by the cabin”–we never found “the cabin”. So, we kept going up the mountain until we started heading down the other side. Stephanie turned the van around in the widest section of the road we could find. We laughingly joked that we would get cross ways the road & get stuck..but she made it. Hit the back end of the van against the side of the mountain–but we got turned around. No damage to the van & the kids were fine. So we make our way back down the mountain we had just climbed & I took pictures.
Once down the mountain, we decided to go to Kintai & eat our picnic lunch there. But first we would hike up to Iwakuni Castle. It is not a good sign when the first slope you come too is the steepest part of the hike. Because that one slope is a good bit of the first few minutes. We reached the top with no problem though. The picture of Stephanie, MDF & myself is at the cable car hut (yes you can opt to take a cable car up & down to the Castle…we thought the hike would be nice.) Around that clock is diamonds built in the walkway with various places & the distance in kilometers.

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Clock, halfway up the mountain

The next picture is of Iwakuni Castle. I was sitting on a bench looking up at it. It provided a great view of the city, as you can tell in the following picture. Stephanie was able to get us in front of the Castle.

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Iwakuni Castle

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View from the mountains.

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Iwakuni Castle again

By the time we hiked down, we were all ready for our picnic lunch. We were able to find a cute little hut to eat at.

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Picnic at the bottom of the mountain.

When we came back to the apartment all of us girls took naps. We have some soreness in our hips & JF’s knees are a little sore but other than that we are doing fine & thinking of walking along the sea wall later today.
We are going to a Spring Bazaar this afternoon (Friday) and for dinner we are going to Stephanie’s favorite restaurant-Gnesh. It’s an Indian restaurant, so it will be interesting. I’ll let you know how we liked it

Mountain Climbing

Today we tried to go to a place called “Three Falls.” The instructions said to go to the top of the mountain, turn right at a cabin, and we’d be there. So off we drove.
Now I ought to mention that most roads have a speed limit of 40 or 50 kph — which is only about 25-30 mph. It sounds slow, but most roads here would be narrow one-lane roads back in the States. 30 miles-per-hour is fast enough around here.
Anyway, so we headed up the mountain, and the road kept getting narrower and narrower, and it curved. And eventually it became a curvy, one-lane road with a mountain on on side, and a big drop on the other. Actually it was a two-way, one-lane road… more on that later. So we kept getting higher, but we never found a cabin and a right turn. Eventually we got as high as the road went and started down the other side of the mountain.

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Going up the mountain.

At each curve in the road there was a mirror so one could see if anyone was coming from the other direction before going around the curve. We were alone on the narrow road until we started down the other side. Then we almost ran head on into a little Japanese truck. Fortunately our “lane” was on the inside, beside the mountain… so we moved over to let him pass… which he did. I’m sure at least one wheel was dangling over the side of the mountain as he went by.
After that excitement we decided we need to turn around. So we drove a little more until we found a section of road with a guard rail and that was a little wider than before. We made the turn, barely, and started back. We never did find the “Three Falls,” but didn’t mind settling for the “Three Rapids in a Stream” that we passed on the way back.

A Walk and Dinner

Yesterday (Wednesday) was a down day. We spent the morning watching Abigail and MDF. We did walk over to Vasco’s office to take care of some paperwork for the house. After lunch we went for a walk on the sea wall.
For supper we went to the NCO club for “Mongolian Night.” We got to make our own stir fry dish, picking from a selection of meats, vegetables, and toppings. I chose some turkey meat, Chinese cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms. We payed by the ounce for the meat and vegetables (I got over a pound!), and then added as much rice as we wanted and seasoned to taste. Then we took the bowl outside for the chef to cook on the grill.
We got a lot of food, making it ourselves that way, and I was the only one who finished his plate. Actually the others only ate about half theirs! It was a lot of food. CDF thought her’s needed more seasoning and Vasco said that the only person who ever got the seasoning right was Stephanie.

Miyajima Continued…

Here is the rest of the pictures from Miyajima.
The first is of a shrine to some god. There is a link I will also include at the bottom if anyone is interested in learning more about Miyajima. We did not go through the shrine for a couple of reasons–first it cost $3 & second we don’t believe in other gods, hence, there is no point in dabbling in it.

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The next picture is of what we think is a newlywed couple having their traditional wedding pictures done. At first people were taking pictures of the woman alone–and I thought (the 3 of us thought) she was a professional model on a shoot. Then we saw the man–assumed they were professional models. Until this picture–and we realized that would be like a wedding kimono. She had just taken off her head dress or round hat & I got this picture with no one else in the picture–very hard. I found this very interesting.

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The third picture is of a working shrine. We saw people actually burning incense & praying to gods & using the shrine. The large bowl type front & center is the incense. Then you had various “stations” to pray & burn more incense at.

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This concludes the pictures of Miyajima. Here is the link to learn more.

Miyajima

Today, Wednesday, we took a trip to the Island of Miyajima. We drove up & rode the ferry over. It was a ton of walking –but I think it has been my favorite so far. There were little shops (it is more of a tourist place) and I was able to talk to the shop owners & buy a “handkerchief” (which I plan on using as the center of a quilt for our bed) and a small saki porcelain cup–which will be added to our shot glass collection. The shop owners were most helpful with my purchase of the handkerchief. And I paid for it!! I am so proud of myself because up until now JF or Stephanie had been doing the buying. They were both busy with the girls & I was free to look & browse & for once on this trip had money in my pocket! I was careful of how I spent the money–we used the last $6.50 on ice cream cones! J
About Miyajima. It is an island a little north of Iwakuni & is between here & Hiroshima. There are wild deer that eat out of your hand & are completely friendly–a tad aggressive though. They flock to whoever has food or may have food. MDF liked them from a distance–until one started being rather pushy for the food in her hand & followed her around. Then she got scared. However, she did enjoy running around with them (no food in her hands).

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The first picture is of our boat loading dock & another boat that looks like the one we took over. The large blue & white boat with a M in red is the ferry boat.

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The next picture is: JF showing MDF how to feed the deer. Very tame…later I discovered I could be a deer hunter. We were trying to eat a picnic lunch & the pesky animals kept trying to eat lunch with us…only we had to provide their food too! I soon got tired of them & no longer found it cute. In the next picture you can see how MDF reacted to the deer when it got too close.

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JF was able to take some really nice shots of her playing around. As you can see with her taking a short breather.

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The following picture is of the Tori gate. When the tide is low you can walk out & stand under the gate.

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