Skiing Loveland, Colorado

After leaving Korea our first stop was Colorado for two weeks skiing. We flew into Denver, Colorado, hired a car and for some reason we ended up with a GMC Yokon. It was unnecessarily huge but more on that later. We stayed the first night in the Microtel Hotel and Suites, then it was on to Silverthorn where we rented an apartment through VBRO (Vacation Rental By Owner).  It was a well set up two bedroom apartment with two single beds in the second room and a queen in the master suite, this was one of the reasons that I had chosen that particular apartment as most 2 bed apartments has a queen bed in both rooms. The apartment was equipped with the basics such as salt, pepper, oil and toilet paper. Overall we were very satisfied with the apartment.

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On the way to Silverthorn we stopped at Loveland Ski area to pick up our passes, we ended up getting weekday season passes for the adults and season passes for the children, the four passes cost a bit less than $1300, which was more than $500 less than the passes that we could have got to ski any of the Vale Resorts ski areas, this felt good value to me. One of the good things was that I only had a weekday pass, this forced me to have a break from skiing on the weekends. On the weekends we explored the local area which we would not have done otherwise.

Loveland 1

Silverthorn is at over 9000 feet in altitude, for the first couple of days all of my family and I suffered a bit with altitude sickness, dehydration and sun/wind burn, nothing too  debilitating but not 100%. We tried to stay hydrated but it was such a massive change in circumstances it was very difficult.

I thought that Loveland was a great resort, it had a real local and family feel. Compared to Breckinridge it was a very basic resort, with most of the lifts being three seat lifts. None of the lifts had safety bars!! And there were only two places on the slopes that you can buy food and drink, the whole place was very under commercialised. All the staff were very friendly and helpful.

One thing that was a bit of a blip on our experience was that my wife’s helmet, gloves and goggles vanished form the ski hire shop while we were delivering the children to the ski lessons. We were most perplexed as the helmet is bright yellow and the gloves and goggles were not exactly new, and we could not work out why any one would steel them. We duly reported that they had gone missing to the resort, the staff were wonderful, the lifties kept an eye out for the helmet and the hire shop leant my wife replacements for the day for free, this made the bitter taste of loosing the gear far less. Three days later our faith in humanity was restored as when my wife received a phone call from a person who had been tiding up after a group of students that he had been looking after and had accidently put them in one of his gear bags.

Easter Fail

We were staying in Silverthorn over Easter, as is our family tradition we planned to have an Easter egg hunt for our children. What we do is buy small Easter eggs and hide them round the house and garden then, when the children get up (usually far too early) we send them off looking for the eggs, this usually keeps them occupied for a good half an hour.

Below the balcony on our apartment there was a lovely snow covered slope, we decided that it was a good opportunity for a snowy Easter egg hunt. So on Easter morning we got up early and threw the eggs off the balcony on to the slope below, and returned to bed, we hoped that we could have cup of coffee watching the children search for eggs later in the morning. An hour or so later the Children were up, we convinced them to get their snow gear on and go searching for the eggs.

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The Easter Egg Thief

 

We got up made coffee and looked over the balcony, there were no children in sight but there was a Fox!! It was quartering the slope looking for something, it stopped and picked it up, it was an Easter egg!  The fox trotted off  and returned a couple of minutes later and continued searching and picked up another Easter egg, we yelled at it to scare it away but it was unperturbed by our noise and trotted off ignoring us. At this stage I realised that I could not see any eggs in the snow. Alarmed I threw my snow gear on, found the children and we all searched for any remaining Easter eggs, there were none, the fox had collected the lot!!! The children were inconsolable (my wife was not much better) and being a Sunday the shops were not open so there were no Easter eggs for any one (except the fox) BAD DADDY!!!!!!!

An oversized car

I like a big car, with a big motor, I used to think that too big was impossible, then we were upgraded to a GMC Yukon XL it was huge! I knew we needed a large car as we had 3 months worth of gear that required 7 suitcases, but when I had loaded the back of the Yukon we had just covered the floor of the boot and had not even needed to stack anything two high. One of the issues, other than its ridiculously bad fuel consumption was that when any small item was put in the boot and it slid up to the backs of the rear seats it was impossible to get out without climbing fully into the back of the vehicle. Not that the size was all bad, the skis lay flat in the back!!!!

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A very large car

 

Catching up

One of the highlights of my stay was catching up with my translator (from the time I was in Korea) and her husband. We went for lunch, then a walk in the reserve overlooking the Dillon reservoir. It was great to see them, the last time I had seen them was in Seoul at their wedding six months before.

Jinny

 

After two great weeks and my first Oxford exam looming it was time to keep moving and we were on to Florida.

 

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Time to move on

After almost 4 years it is time to leave Seoul and Korea, I have had a fantastic time living here and shall be sad to leave. Living in Korea is a life of extremes, the good is very good and the bad is downright awful, and the rest is just weird. Why would you make a toasted ham and cheese sandwich do you then go and smear honey on one side???

There were three events that had a major impact on Korea that occurred while I was living there. It is possible that one of more of them will change the very fabric of the country. These events were, the sinking of the Sewol ferry where 295 passengers and 2 rescue divers died, the murder of a young woman by a deranged cook in downtown Gangnam and the Impeachment of President Park.  Two of them were very close to me, I walked passed the nightclub that the woman was murdered at every day and the instant shrine was at Gangnam Station Exit 10 which I also walked passed every day, it was impossible not to be affected by the outpouring of emption over this tragic murder.

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The Instant Shrine at Gangnam Station exit 10 a day after the murder. All notes of condolence.

 

The Impeachment of President Park was not nearly as personal for me, however twice I ended up caught up by the protests and the company I worked for was also intimately involved in the scandal. I  have no crystal ball and can’t possibly predict the changes to Korean Society that will occur because of it. However the behaviours that caused all the rage are at the heart of Korean Society.

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Protests demanding the imprisonment of President Park.

 

My plan is to take a break and spend some time in the USA with my family, skiing, fishing and generally exploring the country. Because I am a mean and evil person and my children are going to be out of school for 3 months I will be forcing them both to write a travel blog. The plan is that they experience the real world application of maths and understand some of the history and geography of the country that they are traveling through. The two blogs are called Evie the Explorer and Toad on the Road. They are children’s blogs for children.

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My baristas hat…… She made me coffee every day, what do you say???

 

I am hoping that every evening I will spend an hour studying and then some time every week on this blog.   I have added a compilation of photos (mainly mis translations that were funny and lack of awareness of inappropriateness), bits and pieces from my time here (some are not mine but they are too good not to include) just enjoy the moment.

KIds Tshirt
The perfect gift for a 5 year old!!!!!

 

 

A series of products that need no explanation, or I have no explanation.

Beware the African Animals

 

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The name says it all..

Oxford – The First Steps

This Post (and all the Oxford posts that will follow) essentially mirror the posts that I am writing for the Said Business School in Oxford University  where I am doing a Graduate Diploma in Organisational Leadership.

After I volunteered to write a blog about my experiences I thought “what the hell have you done”, which was exactly the same thought that I had when I completed the enrolment process.  So in need to relax take a breath deep and get on with it.  So I intend to write a series of blog posts tracking me through my journey at Oxford and the Said business school. I emphasise intend because sometimes life gets in the way of plans and if it becomes the choice of a blog post or studying for an exam it is really an easy decision.

The first step to Oxford was the conclusion I was at a point that now was the time that I needed to do something to give me a step forward in my career and fill in some gaps in my knowledge.  I also had to find a course that could be fitted in with my life, my family’s life and work.  These constraints meant that I could not commit to do a full time EMBA program.  The other thing that I was acutely aware of is that branding is very important and everyone consciously or subconsciously tends toward the better and more recognisable brands.  If I was going to commit to the effort that I perceive that it will require to do well in later life study I wanted the pay back, this meant that I only considered the top ranked schools.  I was in the process of reviewing the offerings from the top schools we a friend of mine said “Mate what you need to do is a Grad Dip form the Said Business School” so I looked at them in detail.  They are a great fit for me, 4 modules with a short residential session for each, 3 exams, an assignment and a project all with constrained time lines so I don’t get complacent or lazy. Of the Graduate Diplomas offered two stood out, Organisational Leadership and Global Business.

Both of the Diplomas suited my experience and ambition,  according the Said business schools website the Global Business one focuses on  “global strategy, risk and reputation, corporate diplomacy and international business challenges” and the Organisational Leadership one focused on  “building a deeper understanding of how to manage people and organisations for competitive advantage“. After reading all the online information and considering what my ambitions were I felt that the Organisational leadership better filled me. Subsequently I approached the Said Business School and spoke to both Tom Brownrigg and Andy Pool, both were very helpful. We went through my history and experience and concluded that I should be a good candidate and encouraged me to apply.

The application process was simple enough, fill out a questionnaire, write some short statements as to why I wanted to do the course and submit my CV.  The most difficult part of the process was getting copies of my Academic record, no simple on line application and credit card charge. It was a bit like the modern version of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, Internet, phone and post, slow frustration but we got there in the end. I started the application process in the Second week of October 16 and received my offer of a place on the course on the last week of November 16 (subject to me submitting the originals of my academic record).  So I duly paid for the course and received the reading for the First module in January. 17

During the discussions with the business school I had been told that for the duration of the course I would need to commit about an hour a day to doing the pre-reading, study and assignments. So like a good studious little student I sat down and started reading and doing the case studies. Holy cow some of the papers were particularly boring, 50 pages could have been summarised to two or three with a couple of nice graphics, those ones took a lot of reading.  That aside the Harvard business review articles were easy to read and to the point and the case studies were fascinating.

So having done the requisite pre-reading I set off to Oxford for the first on campus session, I was more than a little nervous, I hadn’t done any real University level studies for over 25 years and I had never — ever done studies any of the Soft subjects university.  However I did console myself that it could not be too difficult to pass at Oxford, my Uncle and Grandfather had managed it, in fact my grandfather had managed a double first while playing up like a second hand lawnmower,  by amongst other things, fighting a duel at dawn, I added an newspaper extract below and here is a link to another article.

Maurice Fighting

Next my first on campus session “Oxford the land of Pixies, Elves, Harry Potter and a Korean Restaurant”

Girls Weekend to Beijing

 

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Old style Rickshaws

It was meant to be a girl’s weekend!! But when, Miss G my 8 yo daughter, discovered we were planning a trip to China that would be her and her mum there was an instant and catastrophic melt down.  There was no protest from my wife, about me going not her, so it was me who was off on the girls weekend to Beijing.

Since it was China, and time was short and I had not done the requisite research I organized a fully inclusive tour that included transfers from and to the airport and everything in between, call me lazy.

 

Overview of Pre booked services with china highlights (flights organised by Tubbytraveller tours 🙂

Place & Transport Activities & Meals Accommodation
Day 1 Fly Seoul – Beijing CZ316, One-way Private Transfer Between Beijing Airport and Your Hotel (Driver only) Sunword Hotel
Day 2 Pick up and drop off at Hotel Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and Mutianyu Great Wall, Lunch Sunword Hotel
Day 3 Pick up and drop off at Hotel Summer Palace, Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, Jingshan Park, Temple of Heaven, Lunch at Dawanju Restaurant Sunword Hotel
Day 4 One-way Private Transfer Between Beijing Airport and Your Hotel (Driver only)  Fly Beijing – Seoul CZ315 Lama Temple, the Confucius Temple, Take a Rickshaw and Walking Trip with a Home-Visit in the Hutongs, Lunch Home

Cost for tour (excluding flights) US$890 (for 2 people)

We were in Beijing from the 1st to 4th of October which coincided with the “Golden week”, this meant that, even for Beijing’s standards, it was busy, or for a normal human – Chaos. There were people jams at all the major tourist attractions, a ¾ hour bus ride took 2 hours and so on, luckily we live in Seoul and can handle this sort of chaos with ease, I felt sorry for the Dutch couple that were with us, they found the push and jostle very distressing.

Day 1

 

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Miss G in her new Chinese style outfit

We took the 5:00am bus to Incheon Airport checked in and flew to Beijing with the minimal of fuss.  We were collected from the Beijing Airport and driven to our hotel, the transfer cost $50us and I felt was money very well spent, it relieves all the stress in navigating in an unfamiliar country.  We checked in at about 11:00 am, which was nice of the hotel. Our hotel was a block from Wangfujing Avenue, the famous tourist shopping street. So once were checked in we walked down to Wangfujing Avenue for a bite of lunch and a mosey round the shops. After some nice dumplings for lunch we found some presents for my family and Miss G found herself a nice dress, shoes and a necklace, I am a sucker, my no buying presents lasted less than five minutes under pressure from my daughter.  After shopping we went back to the hotel and organised ourselves a massage, then dinner and bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2

The Forbidden City

The next day we went to Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, for me the highlight of the day was the great wall, for Miss G it was the ride down from the Great wall.

Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City were interesting for historical reasons, (there was no trace of tanks or protesters) and also for the sheer number of tourists. We were just a small group in a sea of people, except Miss G is blond and blue-eyed girl in a sea of Chinese people, every couple of steps we (she) was stopped for photos, living in Korea we are used to this, but it was extreme and got wearing. After a while our guide got annoyed with the constant interruptions, so said we should ask them to pay for the photos with Miss G, of course I can’t speak Chinese, which I politely pointed out, so he started saying to the pushy mothers “you must pay for photos” or something like that. It seemed to work….. but rather embarrassingly a couple of the mothers actually offered money.

Crowds lining up outside the Forbidden City, Photo Op with Miss G, and Tian’anmen Square

The part of the great all we visited was the Mutianyu section, it is in a very mountainous region, we were driven to a parking lot that was a short but steep walk to some shops and a ticket office. From there it was a fiveish minute ride in a somewhat ancient cable car to the great wall itself.

Going up and Coming down

The great wall is fascinating, like Stonehenge at the first viewing it is somewhat underwhelming, it is just an old brick wall about 7m wide and maybe 10m high, with lots of steps, lots and lots of steps.  We walked up then down some 950 steps in the small section that we walked, we covered a section of the that may have been 1.5 km and it was hard going, (for me, Miss G thought it was a race and complained that we were all too slow), it is only when I had been on the wall for a while, that the enormity of the wall and what a feet it must have been to build it became apparent. We walked 1.5 km out of 12,000km!!!!!!

The trip down was on a thing somewhat like a bobsled/skeleton, great fun but Miss G was not happy that we didn’t go faster, but without smashing into the people in front if us, faster was impossible.

Day 3

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The temple of heaven, like most things we visited was impressive due to its sheer size and grandure. Roof tiles and dragons are very important in china, apparently…. Gold roof tiles represent royalty and are for the emperor, blue tiles represent heaven/sky and are for the gods (temples) and Green tiles represent the earth and are for the people.

The visit to the summer palace was interesting, for me it was more about how the massive crowd moved and interacted, the place was interesting enough but the kilometer long lines of tourists were incredible, after the initial push and shove they all moved in a fast and orderly manner.

The summer palace, murals and a stone boat

 

Day 4

Final day there was just Miss G and myself on the tour, this was great as we could spend as long as we wanted on the interesting parts and skip what we found boring, The first stop of the day was the Temple of the Dali Lama and the neighbouring Confucius Temple and school. The Temple of the Dali Lama was very interesting and Miss G stopped at each shrine; burnt three incense sticks, said a prayer and made a wish.

This was followed by a visit to Confucius’s temple and school, it was at this school that all the Emperors children, close relatives and outstanding scholars were educated, in some ways the classrooms have not changed much, just the discipline was a bit more extreme back then.

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Statue of Confucius

No Blog Post would be complete without some reference to and photos of food. I have saved my food comments for the last day. When I was browsing in the 7 / 11 across from our hotel  I saw that a bottle of Yellow tail wine was 98 CNY the same place a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila was 95CNY, WTF how can a cheep bottel of Aussie plonk be the same price as a bottel Mexican tequila!!!

During the trip Miss G had been a bit reserved in what she ate but at lunch all of a sudden she wanted to get adventurous.

Bullfrog Szechuan Style and Pork

So we ordered a Pork dish and Bullfrog Szechuan style, the pork was great but the bullfrog was probably a step too far, the Szechuan seasoning was super hot and made my lips tingle and the bullfrog could be best described as a bit like chicken crossed with slithereen. I did wonder if a bottle of tequila may have helped the situation. I should have remembered more details of the pork dish but the Bullfrog Szechuan style completely blew it out of my brains. Miss G was not impresses with Frog.

After lunch we visited a traditional house, took a short rickshaw ride, bought some trinkets and returned to the airport.  Security, Check-in, Security, Immigration, Security, Customs and Security were easy and no hassle, just there lots of stops, many inspections and much stamping of forms. The Airport is showing its age but the lounge was comfortable and the helpful woman at the front desk posted Miss G’s postcards. We flew on China eastern, it was more than adequate for a 2 hour flight, the plane was a long way from new but it was clean and everything functioned.

The China highlights tour was well organised, there were three things that I was happy with that made the trip more enjoyable, 1.) there were no stops at special shops, 2.) we had the same guide each day and 3.) there was good guidance given as to the tips that should be given.

The third point may not sound important but being mainly Australian I neither believe in tips nor have any inbuilt radar as to how much is an appropriate tip.  Over all the tour was good, not brilliant but in no way bad, the guide could have been a little more enthusiastic.

Next WHAT CAR IS THAT

 

Boys weekend in Japan

Tokyo

My 10-year-old son and I  recently spent a four-day weekend in Japan, Neither of us had been there before, and we don’t often get to do a father son weekend away. Tokyo is a 2 hour flight from Seoul, we flew out on the Friday evening from the old Seoul airport Gimpo,  It has several advantages over Inchon (the new airport) it is only 30 min from our house by subway and it is small so check in and security reliably take far less time.  Once through security I was disappointed to discover that there were no Airline lounges :-(, we had been relying on them for dinner (and in my case a nice cold beer). So we made do and ate in a nondescript airport restaurant, it seemed that in the Gimpo Airport nondescript is all they do, it can be said that they have a great variety of instant raimian noodles (pot noodles, instant noodles for the rest of the world) available, to me this doesn’t constitute h’aute cuisine or for that matter passable food.

No matter, we boarded the plane with a mere 45 min delay, we were flying on ANA, to me it was just another unremarkable plane and unremarkable flight. We arrived at Haneda airport and proceeded through immigration and customs and caught a taxi to our hotel the “Shinagawa Prince”, the taxi trip was one of the most expensive of my life, the trip was less than ½ an hour but cost about $75 US. We could have caught the subway for $2.50 each!! But it was late at night and we were both tired, so in the same circumstances I would probably do the same again.

The Shinagawa Prince is just beside the Shinagawa train station and is a typical 4* hotel, I would not describe it as characterless, but I struggle to remember anything interesting about it.   We made it into bed by 11pm and fell straight asleep.

Timgp7722he next morning we were up early for a buffet breakfast, my son was in heaven all these new foods to try, me, I just over eat bacon, and cheese omelets, buffets are just bad for me. After Breakfast we went on a full day tour of Tokyo. The tour was the Dynamic Tokyo tour run by www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp and it started from the Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal. It was the first time that I had done a tour like this, overall it felt it was worth doing, parts of it seemed stage-managed and some parts were boring (to me, perhaps some people find driving slowly past a flashy shopping strip riveting but I think I fell asleep) and the interesting bits we seemed to be rushed.  We had a lovely Japanese guide who was very knowledgeable and patiently answered all our questions.imgp7732

Our first stop was Tokyo Tower, Tour Quote “Tokyo Tower, the symbol of Tokyo, offers a great 360 degree panoramic view from its main observatory.”

 

We traveled up the lift to the observatory deck, and true to  its word we had marvelous views of Tokyo, the highlight (for my son) were the glass observation tiles in the floor,

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Green Tea

where you could stand and look straight down 150m, E thought it was the coolest thing on the planet.

 

This was followed by a traditional Japanese tea Ceremony,

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500 yo Bonsai

the ceremony was interesting but to mimgp7745y and E’s pallets the tea was increadably bitter. The most interesting thing was the Bonsai trees in the garden some of which were over 500 years old.

 

Lunch  was a Japanese-style BBQ which it must be said was much like a Korean BBQ, and I should have not been surprised as the countries have many other things in common.

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Lunch was followed by a visit to Nijubashi Bridge in the Imperial Palace Plaza, and then on to Hinode Pier for a Board the Sumida River Cruise. we must have been doing quite a bit as once on the boat I was enjoying the cruise so much I just had to  have a power nap. The Cruise ended at the  Nakamise Shopping Street  which is a bustling nick-nak marker, as usual I struggled to by good nick-naks but I did get a nice tee-shirt and some eyeless dolls for the girls. The eyeless dolls are paper mache and you are meant to paint one eye when you make a wish and the second eye when the wish comes true.

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Nakamise Shopping Street

At the end of the street there is the  Sensoji Temple, which is reputed to be Tokyo’s oldest temple,  there was much incense burning and for a small donation you could get your fortune told. My son insisted in doing the ritual and ended up with a good luck fortune. I suspect that most of the fortunes are some sort of good luck and if you get a bad one you can tie it up in a special way and try again, and repeat until you get good luck.

From there it was back to the hotel, for dinner we had Tepinyaki that was really well cooked and very much enjoyed.

Mt Fuji and Hakone

 

The next day we departed the hotel for Mt Fuji and Hakone, the bus and tour guide was much like the one form the previous day, we were treated to some useful and some interesting titbits of information which helped pass the time on the 2 hr bus trip. The day was generally overcast and showery but when we reached the 5th station on Mt Fuji, for a glorious few minutes the weather cleared and we got a spectacular view of the top.

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Summit of Mt Fuji

The little shop at the 5th station is really cool, you can buy postcards and stamps and post them from the shop. Instead of a normal post mark your post card gets a big stamp in the shape of Mt. Fuji that said posted from Mt Fuji. E thought that it was so good that he wrote post cards to all his grand parents.

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Lunch

From Mt Fuji it was lunch which was once again very similar to a Korean lunch with lots of sides, soup and rice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Panoramic Views of Cloud

After lunch we continued to Lake Ashi for a short cruise  to the base of the Mt. Komagatake ropeway. The ropeway turned out to be a cable car, the day was overcast, we caught the cable car to the top and walked out to have a look around, apparently there was a stunning view, however we could see no more than 20m as we were in the cloud. Ah well a fun cable car trip.

 

That night we stayed at a traditional hotel in Hakone, our beds were on the floor and we had a traditional Spa followed by a traditional Japanese meal.   The meal was a multiple course affaire with many Japanese delicacies, the salad was great, as was the sushi and miso soup however the fish balls were not so tasty. Having the meal was interesting, we were wearing traditional Japanese cloths and there were a great variety of people in the dining hall, families, lovers and groups of friends.

Generally I have never particularly enjoyed Saki, so I took the opportunity to  taste the recommended Sakis from the restaurant, They were all tasty, but not a tasty that I particularly liked, the one that I prefered was the Tachibana. Chatting with the waiter is was told that the Tachibana was twice the price of the other two, I am glad that my palate is still good enough to tell the better drink, however I will not become a Saki conissioure.

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Saki

 

 

Back to Tokyo

The Fastest and cheapest way back to Tokyo was a bus but E had always wanted to  go on the Bullet train (Shinkansen) so we took a local train to the station that the bullet train went from and caught it. It was a great, comfortable and fast ride (it took longer to catch the local train and do the connections than it took to get to get to Tokyo). The train ride is so smooth and tracks well designed that you get very little feeling of speed definitely it does not feel the 300 km/h that you are traveling.

During the trip I almost got the worst father of the year award, we stopped at a 7/11 to get some food and a drink for the trip back to Tokyo, I grabbed a couple of sandwiches, some fish jerky and a bottle of water, E wanted a sweet drink so I let him choose, he returned with a brightly coloured can called “Strong Juice” and a picture of an orange on it.  When we sat down on the station bench and started lunch E took a large swig of it then another before saying “Daddy I don’t like this”, he almost got the “you chose it you drink it response” but I thought “we are in Japan I best taste it in case it is some weird Japanese concoction”. When I tasted it I immediately got the impression of strong fruit juice and cheap Vodka, I inspected the can closely and the figure “9%” jumped out a me. I realized that it was a 9% alcopops that I had almost made my son drink OOPS, don’t tell my wife I will never be let out again :-).

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Lock up my umbrella

On the final evening suddenly E said he had enough of adventurous food and could we have some western food, so we settled for pub grub, and went into the nearest bar. The Bar man spoke almost no English, but there was no problem, the entire place was covered in rugby posters and he understood “Beer”, “Rugby” and “Australia” the rest we could get by with pointing.  We had a great dinner of dumplings accompanied by beer and lemonade and the bar man was my buddy by the end of the evening.

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Pub Grub Tokyo Style

The trip home was  Haneda airport Tokyo to Gimpo Airport Seoul then Subway home, both air ports are very similar, they are both slightly tired and are the second airports for their respective cities, and once again much to my annoyance Haneda like Gimpo it did not have a lounge….

I have re-read my post and I sound like a grumpy old man, I suppose I just found Japan interesting but there was nothing startling and new. I enjoyed the trip and would think that almost every one would enjoy seeing Tokyo and Mt Fuji, I suppose that it was more like being in a photo of the place and not really getting to know anything local.

Next a Girly weekend in Bejing

Lies, Damm Lies and Statistics, Thoughts and Beards

This will be my last post on my trip to Kamchatka,  it was an epic trip and it feels like an epic amount of work to chronicle it. When reading the stats please keep in mind that they may be wildly inaccurate, I only recorded the catched in the evenings when I got back to camp, so there may be some inaccuracies as I tried to keep count of up to 5 different species of fish in one day, the memory may or may not have been helped by the occasional shot of Vodka and definitely by the occasional lunch time beer.

Distances were measured by dropping pins on the Google “my map” app on my Samsung S6, no exploding screen issues there. The accuracy of the pins seems to be exceptional, the phone was only using the GPS system as it had no phone signal to correct off. The main issue is that when we were traveling I was generally interested in what was going on and forgot to record where we were, so some of the bus distances are rather rubbery.

Basic Stats

Distances Traveled  Comment
Jet 6000 km 4 legs
Helicopter 1000 km 3 trips, 8 legs
Boat & Bus 306 km 5 times
Raft 80 km
Walked 81,000+ Steps
Time
Days away from home 19 days  18 nights
Travle days 6.5  days  0.5 day for transfer
Fishing Days 11.5  days
Tourist days 1  days  boat trip
Fishing
Species Caught 7
Total Fish Caught 300+
Best Day 50+
Worst Day 10  Av size 20+ inch
Biggist Fish 26 Inch
Smallest Fish 6-8 inch
Average Fish 18 – 20 inch
Accommodation
Hotel 2 Nights
Guest house 3 Nights
Cabin 7 Nights
Tent 6 Nights

The number of steps were measured by the pedometer in my phone, I suspect that they are rather under recorded, mainly because I didn’t carry my phone all the time and for the fishing days I only averaged 3,000 steps, this seems odd as I normally walk 10,000 steps a day and I do an office job, it could have been something to do with wading and the step pattern being all wrong for the phone to measure.

The hotel and guest house averaged about $60/night.

Cured Salmon and Salmon Caviar in Vladivostok Airport

Thoughts and Questions answered

Would I do it again? Yes!!! an easy one to start with, I would not do the same trip alone again, but one of the other trips or with a group of friends I would be straight back there.

Are the Russians Cool?  Hell yes, the outfitting group were super cool and nice.

Was it luxurious? No, We were very well looked after but if it is a 5 star resort, h’aute cuisine and foot massage you are after don’t go ou will hate it. Some times it got uncomfortable, cold, wet and I was attacked by insects, but it was never even close to unbearable.

Was it Good Value for money? Who knows…. I have never been on a comparable trip, I doubt that there is comparable fishing anywhere else but in Kamchatka, and if there is it costs just as much. The wilderness and fishing values are unmatched, and in a strange sort of way the cultural experience was great too.

Was it awkward spending 2 weeks in a tent with a stranger? No, we weren’t strangers for long, we all had a good attitude and just got on with it. As per my answer to the would I do it again, I would love the opportunity to fish with the guys I traveled with.

Did I take the right Gear? Generally yes, it felt like I had too many warm cloths, but we mainly had sunny warm weather, if we had two weeks that were like the coldest day I am sure that I would have appreciated the warm cloths.  I would make some small adjustments to the equipment I brought, the 6# Guideline bullet was not up to the job of turning over the large mouse flies and streamers, but it was perfect for the dry flies, next time a Rio outbound short will replace it. The 8# outfit was spot on, I would suggest that any one going for 2 weeks make their primary outfit a 8#. Other than that the information provided by the Fly shop was good.

Beards at work in Korea

One of the final cultural thing that I had not been expecting was when I got back to work in Korea. As is normal for me (and most people) I didn’t shave while I was on holiday, I actually didn’t take any shaving gear, it seemed unnecessary, so when I got back to work I had three weeks growth. To my astonishment I had lots of very weird reactions to me having a beard, the most common (from younger men who make up the majority of the people I work with) was a hello when I got back to the office, then giggle and say something like “you grew a beard” giggle and not be able to look me in the eye and then run away. This happened time and again. The female reaction was far more variable, from “a beard, that is very manly” to the giggle and run.

Eventually at a team dinner, after several beers and shots of soju one of the juniors summoned up the courage to tell me I must shave my beard off. The reasoning was not all that coherent but there were things such as the Bosses would think I was not ready to work unless I was clean-shaven, beard were dirty, they caused embarrassment to people who could not grow one and several other things that I didn’t fully understand. After about three weeks I relented and shaved it off, the next day at work all was back to normal????? All just a unique cultural situation in Korea.

Next a weekend in Tokyo, Mt Fuji and Hakone.

Day 18 & 19, Petropavlovsk to Vladivostok to Home

Tuesday, August 9

13:55 Petropavlovsk Kam (PKC) 15:20 VVO Vladivostok, Flight SU-5615, ‪SAT Airlines

Today 2211 km, Total 6514 km

Wednesday, August 10

11:00 VVO  Vladivostok, 12:10 Incheon  (ICN) Seoul, Flight SU-5436, ‪SAT Airlines

Today 880 km, Total 7394 km

I have combined these days together as there was nothing particularly eventful about the trip. In the morning I was picked up by Anatole and I said my final good bys to the guys and I was on my way.  It was a bit sad to say good by as it was the last of the fishing party that I had spent two weeks in close proximity and we all of had become good friends.  As described in an earlier post the Petropavlovsk Kamcatksi (PKC) airport is small and with the help of Anatole it was easy to navigate.  I stayed at the same hotel in Vladivostok, it was a sunny day when I arrived and I knew where I was going so getting there and checking in held no worry or surprises.

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The entrance to the hotel

After a stroll round Atrem I returned to the hotel for dinner, which was the usual hearty Russian fare, I started with Beer, Bread and a salted salmon salad in a cheese basket, and finished with meat dumplings. The salted salmon salad was especially good.

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Beer, Bread and a salted salmon salad in a cheese basket

 

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Dumplings, always a winner

The final leg of the trip was the short flight from Vladivostok to Seoul. I stocked up on Vodka, Smoked Salmon and Salmon Caviar at Vladivostok airport, this was for consumption with some friends once my Family had returned form Australia. It went down a treat. The Salmon Caviar was about $25 for a 500g tub, I bought both Sockeye and Humpback salmon Caviar. To my taste the Sockeye Caviar was the better of the two but they were both very good and exceptional value for money.

After landing in Seoul Incheon airport I took the express bus from Incheon to Ganagnam and then dragged my luggage the last 250 to my apartment, I was bone tired but I was HOME!!!!! 🙂 but work the next day 😦

Next Stats and thoughts and impressions of the trip.