Mullick Ghat (steps down to the river) is in the center of Kolkata’s Flower Market. Along the banks of the Hooghly River ( tributary of the Ganges River),
hundreds of merchants, in their stalls, fashion floral arrangements for resale or they sell loose flowers. Many of the workers live in makeshift shacks with their family, bathing in the river. The market is a riot of sound and color. This was the highlight of our trip to Kolkata. Enjoy the following still shots.
Crazy how the Indians love Christmas. All about Santa Claus and presents. Our hotel is in the Central Dist. which is ground zero for the millions (literally) of residents who crowd this area for the Christmas Festival celebration. With so many streets closed for crowd control, we had to walk for 3 block, pulling our suitcases, to get to our hotel, since the roads were closed. Chaotic scene
The morning after at 7 AM. The clean up has begun. The quiet calm is refreshing compared to last night!!!
Arriving back to San Francisco from Japan, we rested a half day and night. The following day we flew to Portland. Spent two nights with Marc. During our second day Celeste and I drove to Mt. Hood. Lunched at the rustic Timberline Lodge. Amazingly, hundreds of people were still skiing on the glacial parts.
The next day we drove down to “The Farm”, Ben & Meg’s self sustaining farm in Falls City, a 1800’s logging town. It’s 3 block long downtown has two restaurants (weekends only for one and 5 days for the other), a general store and no gas station & 4 churches. Falls City is approximately 25 miles SW of Salem, near McMinville and Independence.
The next day Marc, Dawn, Heron & Aria, day tripped down to the farm for a Brodehl family gathering.
Celeste and I spent 4 days on their self sustaining farm. Celeste spent time helping Megan with a very extensive garden growing everything from lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, to kale. A lot of watering was done. The following photo is 1/3 of the total garden.
On the farm you get up at 5:30, one half hour after light. For three days Ben and I arrived at their newly purchased 5 acre parcel at 6:30. Ben had the acreage professionally logged of pine and fir trees to turn the acreage into pasture land. The remaining maples, oaks and alders were all cut down. These trunks are piled up, cut into 16″ sections and then split. Ben cut and split, and I stacked the split wood. I stacked roughly 2.5 cords over 3 mornings. Had to stop at 10:30 when sun breached the trees along the creek. Was 100 degrees each day. Hardest I worked in some time. Estimated that there are 125 cords of wood on the 5 acre parcel. Lot of wood to be split yet. The visual beauty of the terrain made it worth it. Had a great time working with Ben. Felt like I was 42 again!
We had a great time on the farm.
Finally dried out. This is the last post from Japan. Saved the best temple/shrines for last knowing rain would be lessening.
We fly tomorrow from Osaka to Qingdao, China. Then nonstop Qingdao to SFO. Had no idea where Qingdao was. North of Shanghai and south of Beijing. Luckily Typhoon Maria is going to hit China the next day and South of Shanghai. We are good to go!
Enjoy the photos of Kyoto.
We first visited this shrine 25 or so years ago with Marc and Megan. Located about 2 blocks from our ryokan then, it had the most expansive and beautiful garden. Today we returned for the second time. This is our 4th straight day of rain. Soaked through and through with our collapsible umbrellas that leak. My Nike shoes are soaked through and need to dry out each night but not completely. We bus everywhere in the city. They have an amazing inter connected system. Every trip is $2 USD. All day pass is $5.50.
This typhoon spinoff we have experienced has been a wallapolluza. We are now watching Typhoon Maria. A category 5 with 150 mph winds. Will hit southern Japan, (Okinawa area) tomorrow. Then will move into China, Shanghai area. We fly Tuesday from Osaka to Shanghai to catch our flight to SFO. Who knows?
Anyway, back to Heian-jingu Shrine. These photos are of their stunning gardens, even good in the rain. Would love to see them in spring with azaleas in bloom. We were the only ones there. Costs $6.00 to enter the gardens. Tourists are cheap. The gardens deserve their own post.
Your fearless tourists braved the elements and continued their touring through 8″+ of rain in the last 2 days. We caught the southern edge of a typhoon travelling between South Korea and Japan. Visited a few temples, did a museum and shopped at our favorite store, Psycho Bunny. The Japanese love English titles and store names even though few speak English. The main temples we are saving for the next few days when the weather will improve.
The Kamo-gawa river runs through the center of Kyoto. Usually a mild stream with promenades on either side. The young hang out on the promenades at night and play music, sing, dance etc. Totally out of bounds now.
Old houses from all over the Hida region (Gifu Prefecture) were disassembled and reconstructed in this small village. One house goes back to the 1600’s. Well curated, each house’s interior explains with pictures and artifacts the day to day lifestyle of the people.
There are no nails in these structures. All beams are secured with hand made ropes.
A really lovely town of 80,000 population, in the mountains at about 2,000 ft. elevation. A quiet town with a wealth of ancient preserved architecture.
We explored the inside of one of these ancient houses which were surprisingly large.
We did a lot of trekking along the temple/shrine route which borders the town’s residential areas where the mountains rise above the valley floor. Amazingly peaceful and quiet with the wind through the trees and birds chirping. Each temple had its own graveyard.
Last night we had a lovely bento box dinner at a small mom and pop restaurant then went to the famous Yu Bar for an after dinner fiddly and watched the owner/bartender, Yuichi Sano, perform his magic putting Tom Cruise to shame as a bartender. Tomorrow we visit the Hida Folk Village. This is Takayama’s answer to Williamsburg.
We took a bus round trip from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go. This little valley hamlet sits high in the mountains and is a Unesco World Heritage site. The uniqueness of this place is the construction of the buildings. Post and beam construction all held together with rope, no nails or metal fasteners. The roofing is 18″ thick straw. The steep angle is for the heavy winter snows. The town turns out for reroofing parties. We toured the inside of one of these houses which was 5 stories high.
The following two pictures are of reroofing. The first photo is a photo of a photo showing a reroofing in progress. The second photo is a current project underway.
After returning to Kanazawa that afternoon, we had dinner at our favorite little restaurant called “Cottage”. Owned by an Irish expat Tony and his Japanese wife Momo. The bar seats 6 and there are two tables. The menu offers only 4 items. Tony does all the cooking and everything is from scratch. My favorite was the Irish beef stew cooked in Guinness beer. Celeste opted for his hand made pastas. We had three dinners here and closed the place down each night. They were both very entertaining and we learned a great deal about them and Japanese culture. No bowing for Momo, she is a hugger.
On the last night, we were joined by a couple from Quebec City, Canada. The six of us finally called it quits at 11:30. Blurry eyed after all the free Bushmills and Jamesons Irish whiskeys, we sauntered back to our hotel.
Celeste and me with the reverse side of the Jameson coasters.
This garden is the third largest in Japan. This is our second visit to Kenroku-en. Our first was over 15 years ago. We started in a drizzling rain and ended in torrential downpours. There were a few sun rays in between.
June-July really are the worst months to visit Japan but given my vacation schedule, June-July is preferable over December-January. Imagine this park in fall with the maples changing colors or spring with a riot of azalea color. Maybe some day. We enjoyed the beauty of the structure of the park without the theatrical color aspect. We still love it.
We escaped the rain at the garden’s teahouse. We drank green tea and nibbled on the most beautiful tea cookies while sitting on tatami mats and admiring the garden view.
The rains became intense. So, we decided to end our visit to the garden and walked over a mile back to our hotel. Our little collapsible travel umbrellas kept our heads dry but we arrived back soaked through and through. Fortunately, it was over 80 degrees and it was like being kids again.