Pictures of Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand
Preparing the trip to Japan/Australia
Sunday, September 12, 2010, 08:16 PM
It feels weird to prepare a trip to two wealthy countries (Japan, Australia) after so many years of traveling to poor countries.
I feel that i don't know how to travel in rich countries anymore.
I have compiled a long list of things that i want to visit or revisit in Japan: http://www.scaruffi.com/travel/japan.html
Sunday, October 3, 2010, 05:45 AM
I survived the most dangerous part of the trip (dilapidated stone-age
airplane of a bankrupt US airline) and arrived Tokyo.
As expected, everything is more expensive than you expect.
The tourist office helped me figure out where the buildings are that i want to see. Tokyo is mostly for architecture.
On the plane i worked out a mini-plan of things to see: two days in Tokyo, one in Nikko, one in Kamakura and Yokohama, 3 in Kyoto, one in Nara, one in Himeji and one in Osaka. That should cover the main history and art of Japan.
Immigration: no visa necessary, 5 minutes, fingerprinted
TOurist info: superfriendly and competent
Narita- Tokyo Ueno by Keisei line: Y1000, 1.5h
New Koyo Hostel near Minami Senju station (3 stops from Ueno) in a quiet alley: Y2700 for the Western-style room (Y2500 for the Japanese-style room, which is just a mat on the floor)
Monday, October 4, 2010, 07:00 AM
Explored Central and northern Tokyo. MOstly modern architecture.
Tomorrow western and southern Tokyo, also mostly modern architecture.
I have to say that so far Tokyo does not compare with New York, Shanghai,
Dubai. It's probably because of the frequent earthquakes. The architecture is quite modest. I took 340 pictures in one day, but they are mostly about the culture than the art.
It's amazing how Japan is still Japan, while China (at least the big cities) is becoming westernized so rapidly. In so many ways the Japanese have remained faithful to their traditions, whereas China is rapidly becoming a copy of the USA. I guess the difference is that CHina is a dictatorship and people must do what their government tells them to do, whereas the Japanese government never ordered a total westernization of the country.
I am also intrigued by this nation that does not believe in street signs (nobody uses addresses here, and it's rare to see the name of the street at an intersection) but then it's very precise in what it does (there are extremely detailed instructions everywhere, and restaurants even display pictures of the dishes).
There is uncertainty in where you are but not in what you do.
There are recycling bins everywhere but no garbage cans (it is clear what to do with materials that can be recycled but not what to do with the rest).
There is a balance of ambiguity and precision. I had noticed this also when having business contacts with Japanese firms. The discussion would always be vague, as if they didn't understand or were not interested, but instead they perfectly understood and were interested. They rarely say yes or no, preferring to let some consensus arise spontaneously. However, the negotiate will eventually end with all details hammered out.
Re-reading the history of Japan, i am also intrigued by how this nation of warriors (samurais), farmers and fishermen that couldn't even build ships transformed almost overnight into a nation of engineers. Until the Meiji revolution of the 1860s Japan had virtually no experience in engineering. Once they decided to westernize the country they rapidly learned how to build things. After World War II that process accelerated.
Unlike China, though, that has thousands of years of tradition in manufacturing, Japan had to start from scratch. Where did the skills come from? Where did the motivation come from?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 06:33 AM
The two main areas for modern architecture (i.e. skyscrapers) are Shiodome and Shinjuku. Shinjuku was Japan's first experiment in the futuristic city. It is a forest of high-rise buildings, but there is no theme.
Shiodome is very recent and does have a "theme": the walkway that runs around the whole "city", a couple of floors above the street, competing for sky space with the trains. You can walk the whole city without ever setting foot on the asphalt down below.
Using Tokyo's public transportation one realizes how far behind the USA has fallen.
Japanese are more interested in boutiques than in skyscrapers. THere are two main areas for fashion shopping: Ginza (notably Harumi Dori) and Omotesando (near the Olympic stadium). They contain hundreds of super-expensive stores. Beverly Hills is a small version of them.
Japanese food is definitely not for me. Here i've had the worst (and smallest) sandwich of my life, the worst bagel and the worst croissant. So obviously this is not the right place for Western food. However, Japanese food feels tasteless and sometimes disgusting to me, so that's even worse. Luckily tonight i found a Chinese restaurant.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 07:06 AM
Day trip to Nikko, site of a Buddhist complex declared World Heritage Site.
See pictures (link in the right column of this page)
When it comes to security, the contrast with the USA couldn't be stronger: the USA feels like a police state compared with Japan. You can leave luggage unattended and go buy something (it also helps that thieves don't exist). There is no metal detector when you enter a skyscraper and nobody asks you why you are there. There are still lockers in all train and bus stations where you can store your luggage, and nobody checks their content. Police officers are never suspicious of you: they mostly want to help you find your way around. You can take pictures of any government building. All of this is rapidly disappearing in the USA, that will soon be just a memory of the free country that it used to be. The reason why Japanese feel so secure is that there is no terrorist group targeting Japan. The reason why no terrorist hates Japan is that Japan is not involved in any conflict in the world. The reason why Japan is at peace with everybody is that someone else is doing the dirty job for it: the USA. Japan does not need to protect itself against North Korea and China: the USA does it. Japan does not need to protect the mercantile routes to the Middle East, Latin America and Europe: the USA does it. There are no domestic or foreign threats to Japan because the USA absorbs all the risks and all the blame. The spectacular cities of the future that Japan has built since the 1980s would immediately become targets for terrorists if they were located in the USA. Ditto for the monumental railways and government buildings. From the viewpoint of foreign affairs, Japan is largely a worry-free society. someone else is doing all the worrying.
To make things even better, the USA is the very country that buys most of what Japan produces. Simplifying a bit, the USA has been patrolling the world so that Japan can make competitive products that it then sells to the USA. The USA pays the bill twice: first with its defense budget (which is essential to protecting Japan's mercantile routes and to maintain peace in the region) and then with all the money that consumers spend to buy Japanese goods.
Tobu line from Akasusa station to Nikko: Y1320 each way
Ticket for all temples in Nikko: Y1000
Note that shinto shrines are free, just like Christian churches and Muslim mosques, but Buddhist temples almost always charge an entrance ticket (in every country).
Thursday, October 7, 2010, 05:57 AM
I am staying in a Japanese-style hotel. The number of shoes they give you and that you are supposed to use in different rooms vastly exceeds my memory:s capacity.
Friday, October 8, 2010, 06:56 AM
Nara is the ancient capital and is full of Buddhist temples. As always with
Buddhists, they charge an entry ticket, and here it is truly outrageous. Besides, photography is not allowed pretty much inside any building.
The buildings themselves are modern reconstructions of the original temples. On the other hand, the "forbidden" pictures are on sale in the souvenir shop, so it is obviously not "sacrilege" to take those pictures: they don't want tourists to take them otherwise the tourists will not buy the postcards and books.
Basically, the artistic masterpieces are simply used as a display window to lure customers to real center of the Buddhist temple: the souvenir shop.
The whole thing put me in a bad mood.
I was done in 7 hours (most people take two days to visit the five major temples, three of which are outside the city). Then i spent one hour
touring downtown Osaka (Umeda) which has the usual dose of futuristic skyscrapers.
I'm actually staying in Osaka, which is a lot cheaper than nearby ancient capitals Nara and Kyoto. I move to the Toyo Hotel (Y1500), also in Shin-Imamiya, the neighborhood of Osaka that seems to have the cheapest hotels in the whole country. Free wireless internet included.
Train Osaka-Nara: Y540, 30 minutes
Saturday, October 9, 2010, 07:13 AM
Grandiose castle, the most impressive left in Japan.
Still staying in Osaka. Frantically looking for a new hotel because all hotels are full due to a coming national holiday. TIme to move on to another country?
Monday, October 11, 2010, 06:05 AM
The Isejingu is the most important shinto complex in Japan. It contains several shrines. Naiku is the biggest and most important, because it is dedicated to the sun goddess Amateratsu, the grand-grand-grand...-mother of all emperors. All the buildings are only 20 years old but they date from the 3rd century. The reason why this is possible is that every 20 years the government builds an exact replica of each and every building and destroys the old building. The rebuilding is faithful: original techniques of 2,000 years ago are employed (for example, no nails can be used). The last wave of rebuilding took place in 1993 and cost a fortune. This also means that an army of carpenters are paid by the government to train for twenty years and be ready for the next wave of rebuilding. The Naiku contains a sacred mirror that only the emperor is allowed to see (but apparently no emperor has ever wanted to).
Monday, October 11, 2010, 07:56 AM
I finally found the time to write down all my notes on Japan. See the right column (Japan 2010).
I a proud that in just one week i found out how to survive in super-expensive
Japan. I never paid more than 1800 yen ($20) for the hotel room (not dormitory
but private rooms), with a low of Y1500 in Osaka. I look for the Y100 stores
and buy snacks, fruit and vegetables there (even bread and juice,
but not cheese). The Shin-Imamiya neighborhood in Osaka has been a godsend.
I was based here while touring Osaka, Kyoto, Hmeji, Ise and Nara. Definitely worth the extra costs for transportation. It is near both subway and railway.
There are dozens of cheap restaurants around.
My life has been fairly miserable: wake up at 6am, start traveling/touring, walk like a maniac the whole day, return to the hotel around 7pm, write down notes and upload/classify pictures, plan the following day, eat a snack, go to sleep around midnight. One of the few trips of my life in which i have met no local people.
So far the weather has been between warm and hot, with just one day of rain (this is technically the rain season).
Tomorrow i want to see a few more rarities in Osaka and Kyoto. In the
afternoon i leave for Taiwan with Jetstar (discount airline).
Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 11:22 AM
Arrived Taipei late evening. Found a cheap hotel Backpackers near station
but it's almost twice what i was paying in Osaka, which sounds strange (Taiwan has the reputation of being cheap, Japan has the reputatio of being expensive).
Moved to a cheaper hotel (Happy Family, Y550), also near the station but much better than the one recommended by the Lonely Planet.
Taipei is very hot and humid.
I bought the ticket to Australia for October 15. I think it arrives the morning of October 16.
Thursday, October 14, 2010, 01:20 AM
There is one country that is democratic and peaceful. Its people are among
the most honest, friendly and polite in the world. Maybe that is the reason
why this country is not allowed to join the United Nations.
Taiwan is not recognized by the world because an evil empire, mainland China,
has de facto declared war on it. Led by the USA, most countries decided to
behave basically like prostitutes, accepting the will of the big economic power
(that is neither democratic nor peaceful) and they gladly sacrificed the
dignity of Taiwan.
The United Nations should therefore change name to "The Organization of the
Nations Recognized by the Dictatorship of Mainland China".
And presidents of the USA should stop lecturing the world about freedom,
democracy and human rights: the only thing that really matters is money.
Friday, October 15, 2010, 12:22 AM
Long story why i got stuck at the Saigon airport. It was the cheapest way to reach Melbourne (Australia) from Taipei and i figured they would give me a one-day visa to spend in the city. Unfortunately they didn't, so i'll have to spend the day at the airport (but they gave me free lunch and free internet).
Sunday, October 17, 2010, 05:35 AM
My first impression of Melbourne was very negative: ugly, unfriendly,
primitive and expensive.
I have never been crazy about visiting Australia, and my first
impression confirms why. There is very little for me here: it's basically
a less exciting version of California.
The good news is that crime is very low, although not as law as in Taiwan
and Japan. The bad news is that prices are incredible.
Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world.
I was sleeping for $18-25 in Japan (private room). Here it's impossible to
find a single under $50. A bed in a dormitory for eight is the same price
($25-30) as a private room in Tokyo (same kind of hostel).
(It is terribly difficult to find a decent single room because Australia is
obsessed with couples: most hotels have only double rooms and dormitories.
Dormitories seem to be far more popular than in the rest of the world).
Most Australian cities don't have a subway so you have to take an
old-fashioned bus from the airport to downtown, and it's $15 each way:
the same service as in the average African country but at the cost of
the most expensive Western city (more expensive than New York).
The Australian dollar just reached parity with the USA dollar (it rose 40% in
a few years), which might explain.
Still: a small bag of chips ($1 in the USA) is $3-4 here (regular convenience
store), a soda can ($1 or less in the USA) is $2.50.
You have to pay for wireless internet at the hostel and it's $10 a day.
You have to pay to leave luggage at the hostel and it's $3 a day.
And so forth.
For these prices one would expect good services. Compared with East Asia,
instead, the services are average at best. In my hostel one elevator doesn't
work and the other one is in awful conditions. The "traveler's help" desk
at the train station had a sign "will be back soon" at peak hours.
The infrastructure is far from spectacular. As i am writing, there are no train
and no bus links between Melbourne and Sydney (Australia's biggest cities)
because of floods caused by rains. This would be an easy 3-hour train
ride in Japan or Germany.
Long-distance transportation is not much better than in Africa or Indochina,
certainly a far cry from what you get in Japan and China these days.
Flights needs to be reconfirmed (something i have not seen even in Africa
in the last decade).
Credit cards are accepted but a 3% fee is added (as it used to be in the USA
about 30 years ago).
Since i have left Vietnam i have not been able to use the Internet for long
because it's either unbelievably expensive (it was free in all the other places)
or it is unbelievably slow (like now) or it just doesn't work.
I am planning on leaving as soon as possible to New Zealand.
It is worth the $300 of the roundtrip ticket.
The tourist visa is easy and free for European citizens (a bit more difficult
and expensive for USA citizens). You apply online at http://www.immi.gov.au
(eVisitor if you are from Europe). You then receive an email with a reference
number and your passport number is stored in their database. When they arrive,
they scan your passport and read the visa information. Basically, all you have
to do is hand them your passport. The eVisitor for Europeans is good for one
year and allows you multiple entries (each one up to three months).
Melbourne confusingly has two airports.
Bus from Melbourne international airport to downtown: $15 each way.
Bus to the other airport (Avalon): $20.
Cheap hostels are spread all over town, but mainly Southern Cross Station and
Windsor seem to have the highest concentrations, the latter having the cheapest.
A few blocks from Southern Cross Station there are Discovery, Elizabeth and
Backpackers, each one block away from the other.
It is terribly difficult to find a decent single room because Australia is
obsessed with couples: most hotels have only double rooms.
Sunday, October 17, 2010, 09:58 PM
Sydney is much more interesting than Melbourne and, of course, it has one of the wonders of the world, the Opera House.
The first night i stayed at Maze Hostel on Pitts St for $45 single room
(dorm beds are $26, overpriced for what you get).
Tonight i'll stay at Sydney's Backpackers (one block away) for $22 in a six-bed dorm with free internet.
The Pacific boom.
It is a different world. From China to Australia (with the single exception of Japan) economies are booming, people are getting richer by the day, currencies are going up, housing is not enough to keep up with demand, employment is going through the roof. While the USA is experiencing the worst economy in almost a century, with a rapidly declining dollar, record unemployment, housing-market bust and falling household incomes, the Asian-Pacific region is living in a parallel universe of 5-10% yearly GDP increase. Fifty years ago a USA citizen could travel virtually anywhere in the world and spend pocket change for hotels and restaurants. Now USA citizens are the ones staying at hostel dormitories and eating sandwiches on the sidewalk. That the transition happened while the USA was the world's superpower makes it even more mistifying. Historians will look back at this age and wonder "what were they thinking". The USA won World War II against Germany and Japan: the net result was that Germany and Japan became the USA's main economic competitors on the world scene. Half a century later the USA also won the Cold War against communism: the net result is that Russia, India and China have become fast-rising economic juggernauts that created a huge trade deficit in the USA. The USA is also largely responsible for the demise of the European empires, i.e. for the world-wide process decolonization that created dozens of new countries in Asia and Africa: the net result is that many of those countries are getting richer by selling expensive minerals and cheap labor to the USA at the expense of the USA's standard of living. In other words, the USA is a failed empire not because it lost the wars (it won most of them, all the important ones) but because it has failed in administering its victory in an unprecedented manner. It used its enormous influence to establish and maintain a geopolitical order that made the USA more (not less) dependent from the rest of the world at a time when it should have been the opposite. The USA imports oil from the Middle East, imports goods from China, exports capital to the third world and exports jobs to India not because evil foreign powers force it to do so but because this is the world that the USA itself created and maintains (through an expensive military investment). This world is causing a rapid decline in the purchasing power of the average USA family through dollar depreciation and economic crisis. The rest of the world enjoys the nice life.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 11:19 PM
Immigration officials screwed up my New Zealand trip.
When i arrived at midnight at the Christchurch airport, they detained me
for more than one hour, searching everything i
have in my luggage and asking me all sorts of questions about my private life.
These stone-age assholes haven't yet realized that you can just google
somebody's name and get a lot of information. The zealous scrutinizer was
scribbling my replies on a notebook (no, not the computer but an old-fashioned
paper one with an old-fashioned pen). She wanted to see my return ticket,
blissfully unaware that today air tickets are electronic. She wanted to see
my hotel reservation, blissfully unaware that today you book them on the
Internet. She searched everything but never thought
of checking my laptop (that contains information about everything i do and
this entire trip) and not even my camera (that has more than 1,000 pictures
of where i have been this month). It wasn't just the waste of time (at midnight)
that pissed me off but the fact that the whole process is obviously obsolete.
After one hour of interrogation she learned a lot less about me than she would
have learned from an Internet search. For example, she never asked me if i am
a writer and i never told her. Therefore she never found out that i published
17 books, that i have a website and that this whole story will be published on
the Internet for eternity.
Because of this incident i got to the hostel very late and this morning i woke
up too late to catch the last bus to Queenstown. My original plan was to do
Milford Sound tomorrow and then Abel Tasman in the remaining days.
Now i have to cancel Abel Tasman because i don't have enough days.
Later i was told that New Zealand is paranoid about the food and medicines
you bring in. But she could have told after ten minutes that i didn't have
any food or medicines.
Christchurch had a strong earthquake a while ago and they still have
aftershocks. People got used to it. There was one this morning while i was
in the lobby of the hotel and nobody even moved from their seats.
I am back to horribly slow and expensive Internet.
The cost of living is a bit higher than in California: same prices as Australia
but the NZ dollar is 25% lower.
Wi-fi: free at the public library otherwise NZ$10=$7.5 at hostels
Frienz hostel NZ$22=$18 for dorm bed
Tour bus (that stops along the way) from Christchurch to Queenstown: NZ$89
Bus and cruise from Queenstown to Milford Sound: NZ$159
Hostel in Queenstown: NZ$26 in dorm
Thursday, October 21, 2010, 03:03 AM
It took one day for the bus ride from Christchurch to Queenstown (New Zealand's
main tourist town). The bus passed and stopped by a number of popular natural
attractions, including New Zealand's highest mountain. Nothing spectacular,
if you have seen the Alps and the Sierra Nevada,
It takes one day for the bus ride to Milford Sound and the cruise around it.
Many consider this the most beautiful part of New Zealand.
New Zealand is obviously geared for tourism. I don't know what else they do,
but they have a color brochure for every little attraction and town (some of
which wouldn't even be on the map in other countries).
The infrastructure is as primitive as in Australia. Do not count on
fast, frequent and modern transportation like in Asia.
Do not count on Japanese-style buses or superfast trains.
There is no overnight transportation.
The vast majority of buses
only leave in the morning. If you need a connection, you have to spend
the night there, no matter how early you arrive: the next bus invariably
leaves only in the morning, usually between 7am and 8am.
Hence it takes a long time (or renting a car, which is expensive) to visit
even a small region. In general, you'll have to join (expensive)
tours to see what you want to see or rent a (expensive) car.
New Zealand is also the land of one-lane bridges.
All of this may add to the magic of the country but makes it harder to visit it.
The people are invariably friendly and honest: it's like going back a century
or journeying into fairy tale.
Australia and New Zealand are very similar to the USA, except for a few things:
1. they use the metric system (the USA is the only country in the world that
doesn't), 2. the price is the price (in the USA the price is never the price),
3. they are not fat, 4. they don't indulge in the ghetto-style slang (the
f word, "dude", "hey man", the "like" used every three words)
Southern island, New Zealand
Saturday, October 23, 2010, 02:51 AM
The people of New Zealand seem to love their country very much (and take immaculate care of it) but it leaves you the feeling of an aging nation. I saw very few young people (particularly male ones), and many of them turned out to be foreigners who are employed for a few months in the various local industries (mostly farming and tourism). It feels like New Zealand is the equivalent of the rural Midwest in the USA, where so many young people leave for the big cities of the East and West Coast, whose equivalent here are the big cities of Australia, Asia and the USA. (This makes it feel even weirder that they would be so suspicious of visitors instead of welcoming them enthusiastically and luring them to settle forever).
Leaving New Zealand
Sunday, October 24, 2010, 08:11 PM
Going back to Sydney. Current plan
Oct 26 Blue Mountains
Oct 27-30 Tasmania (flying from Sydney into Hobart and flying from Launceston
Oct 31- Nov 1 Brisbane and Gold Coast
Nov 2 flight back to the USA
Blue Mountains, Australia
Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 04:45 AM
Spent the day touring and hiking in the Blue Mountains. Pretty waterfall,
pretty forest, pretty canyon, but we have millions of these in California
(most of them are unnamed and not even on the map, whereas here there's
a color brochure for everything).
Tomorrow early morning i fly to Tasmania from Sydney.
Thursday, October 28, 2010, 02:20 AM
Tasmania is a whole different world from the big cities of Australia.
Here people are a lot friendlier. It's a bit like New Zealand, with more of a personal touch. The information office at the Hobart airport was possibly the most helpful ever. When i was walking around town, several people asked me if i needed directions. So far the landscape is the main disappointment. I was told this was the most beautiful part of eastern Australia. I just don't see it. The main attraction near Launceston is the Cataract Gorge: there are thousands of such sights in California, and most of them are not even on the map nor do they have names nor is there a town with brochures and tour buses to serve them.
I have also visited the four historic towns: it takes about 20 minutes for each, and there is nothing to see unless you are into churches built in the 1860s. The power of marketing is such, though, that i find tourists everywhere taking pictures of churches that in their country would have been demolished long ago.
Besides being friendly, they also have decent public transportation: i can finally resume the pace i was keeping in Japan and Taiwan. After Hobart i have visited the "ancient" town of Outlands (where buildings date from the 1830s) and i am staying in the "ancient" town of Launceston. Just like in Sydney, all the original buildings were built by convicts. Many buildings were originally prisons.
Australia may not be New Zealand but it is still a very safe country.
They say that Sydney is "dangerous", but you can walk at 4am downtown Sydney carrying all your luggage (including a camera, a laptop, two passports and all my money) and nobody will bother you. (Try that in San Francisco). New Zealand was founded by farmers and, generally speaking, humble law-abiding people; but Australia was founded and built by convicts. The funniest thing of all the descriptions of "ancient" buildings is that they were built by convicts. So was the most famous bridge (in the town of Ross in Tasmania) and so was the first road out of Sydney. Australia was basically colonized by criminals. It is therefore surprising that a community of criminals managed to create (over just two centuries) a crime-less society.
Unfortunately i am having trouble finding the slightest intellectual in Australia to discuss these topics. I always find plenty of intellectuals in the Middle East and even Africa who are more than willing to discuss the history and societies of their countries, but here i haven't found anyone. People are friendly and all, but only for very practical and ordinary things, not for big ideas. I discuss with other backpackers, but even those are disappointing: here i have not found the kind of adventurous and curious traveler that i usually find in "dangerous" places. Here it's more the casual superficial tourist (almost all from Europe and Japan).
This is my first trip to developed countries in many years, and i accidentally picked four countries (Japan, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand) that have virtually no crime and virtually no Islamic-related trouble. For the first time in many years i don't have to worry about thieves, diseases, civil wars, anti-Western sentiment, corrupt officials, power outages, etc.
This might explain why some days i get a bit bored: usually i don't have time to get bored because i am too busy trying to survive :-) This time the surviving is easy.
However, it's interesting that i feel i have less freedom than in Africa or in the Middle East. I miss the power of bargaining (some hostels were empty but the owner/manager still refused to reduce the price of the room, and same for half-empty restaurants). I also miss the flexibility of stores and markets that are open whenever there is a customer, not according to some published hours. I miss transportation that leaves whenever there are enough passengers, instead of transportation that leaves only at 8am daily no matter how many people would like to travel at 3pm. Hours are probably the most annoying constraint: i am not used to hours anymore. I am used that you show up, find out where the guards are eating or watching tv, give them a little tip, and they open the gates for you. Here not even a presidential order would open a museum or a library after hours. The affluent world is better organized, but i am not sure that this translates into more freedom for the individual. It certainly translates in less work for the establishment. A tour to a park was canceled because they didn't have enough people: in a developing country, they would have either slashed prices to lure more people or asked the ones already committed to pay a bit more, but they would not have canceled a trip. The net result of Western-style organization is that i couldn't see what i wanted to see: that's less freedom, not more freedom.
Friday, October 29, 2010, 07:59 PM
Cradle National Park is considered the best of Tasmania's parks: in California
this would be such a minor attraction that i doubt they would even name it.
The ratio of things to see divided by how much it costs to see them is probably
the lowest of all the countries (more than 130) that i have visited so far
Australia and New Zealand are famous for nature, but nature is often
substandard compared with other countries in the world, rarely truly amazing,
while the costs are indeed amazing.
Sunday, October 31, 2010, 06:38 PM
I uploaded more pictures: http://www.scaruffi.com/monument and click on Japan/Australia
Flying back to the USA tomorrow November 2.
Notes on Japan, Taiwan and Australia
Pictures of Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand
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