Summer holidays in France: Royal Château of Blois

So what do you do when you rent a house in the middle of the French countryside, and have an entire week to kill? Explore the surrounding area of course. My previous post mentioned a few of the walks in the local area we did. This post will deal mostly with the day trips slightly further afield by car.

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The royal palace in Blois.

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Summer holidays in France: Travelling

This year’s summer holiday was spent with my family in France. Partially in Paris, and partially in Sarge-sur-Braye, a small village between Le Mans, and Orleans and Blois (and if you still don’t know where this is, I’d encourage you to just research it yourself. Bonus points if you can find the demographic evolution of the village. Hint: French Wikipedia…).

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Sarge-sur-Braye

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Japan part 4, many months delayed!

This post details my time in Tokyo and returning to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur in January 2013. It has taken a long time to find the time to finish off the writing, but it is finally ready. So without further ado, the post begins in earnest:

The trip from Kanazawa to Tokyo was nice, if a bit long. At the station where we changed to the Shinkansen, we had an hour wait, because the first train to pass was very full for rush hour. Commuting inter-city must be a pretty arduous routine, but people in Japan seemed to do it.

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Japan part 3: Whistlestop tour of the Land of the Rising Sun

(Note: This blog post will be a bit more terse, since there is so much to cover)

January the first dawned cold and clear. We were in Hiroshima, and decided to visit the Atomic Bomb Museum, as it is unofficially known. The museum is very tasteful and respectful, while also being informative, and promoting the worthy idea of global nuclear disarmament. Outside the museum is the Peace Memorial Park, which also incorporates the iconic A-bomb dome, the building closest to the blast that remained standing (barely), largely due to the bomb actually exploding above it. A very sobering way to start 2013.

An exhibit in the Atomic Bomb museum showing the position of the blast itself, and the buildings left standing after the blast.
An exhibit in the Atomic Bomb museum showing the position of the blast itself, and the buildings left standing after the blast.

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Japan part 2: Osaka-jo, Himeji, Hiroshima

After staying in Osaka for a few days the original plan for our Japan trip was always to go travelling. Our Japan Rail Passes were burning in our pockets, ready to take us from city to city in Japan, unlimited train travel for seven days in Japan, no reservations necessary. Thus we had only a slight idea about the next days. We did though have a hotel in Hiroshima for New Year’s Eve, so on the 31st of December, we checked out of our capsule hotel and donned backpacks, ready for a day of travel.

Osaka-jo seen from across the moat.
Osaka-jo seen from across the moat.

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Japan part 1: Osaka, Kyoto & Nara

From the Philippines, we flew to Osaka, arriving around midday at Kansai International Airport, built on an artificial island in the bay. Getting off the plane, it was immediately noticeable that the temperature was lower than in the Philippines. Despite wanting to escape winter by going to Singapore for a year, I had managed to find it anyway, by travelling north. Luckily I had a windbreaker and jumper ready, and later got myself a hat and scarf from a “Tiger of Copenhagen” we happened to pass by. Tiger in Japan seems to be slightly upmarket. Ironic twist on the original concept. (Tiger in Danish is a play on the pronunciation of tenner, i.e. 10 kroner, around two Singapore dollars.)

The escapee from Denmark.
The escapee from Denmark in Osaka.

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Philippines part 1: Manila

Since the Christmas break at NUS is around 1 month, I decided to do some travelling. Amos and I linked up and planned a two-stage trip, first to the Philippines, and then to Japan after Christmas. I’m currently sitting in the hotel Janelle’s parents found for us in Quezon City, part of Metro(politan) Manila, and I’ve decided to take the day off from venturing outside, being that we got back on the overnight bus this morning from Banaue (more about that in the next update).

The Rizal monument in Manila. Jose Rizal is the national hero of the Philippines.
The Rizal monument in Manila. Jose Rizal is the national hero of the Philippines.

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A long weekend in Taiwan

Wednesdays are usually quite unremarkable, but the Wednesday on the 24th of October was different. Patrick, Daniel and I had a few days previous decided to go to Taiwan, so we had booked a very early plane there, and a return flight Saturday. We had prepared as much as to find a hotel in Taipei, and plan a rough itinerary of things to do with help from friends and acquaintances who had already been there, but it all turned out ok anyway.

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