Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Roof is Taking Shape

Last week there was a lot of work done on the roof of the apartment. I think once the roof gets completed it will look more like a building ;) I'm guessing that a lot of the plumbing and electric stuff might be done soon, or walls. Walls here aren't framed with two by fours. They are bricks and mortar covered by a layer of cement. You can see it daily as you walk around the city, new buildings being built. Same every time...bricks, cement, wall.
Here is the metal that is used for the frame of the roof. I wonder what will be used for the roof itself. Aluminum sheets? We'll find out soon ;)
First they sprayed (painted) the metal framing material with anti-rust paint.
One thing I never thought of when we were finalizing the plans for the apartment, was how close it would be to the apartment on the property next door. The only reason I worry about it now (too late) is because we don't use clothes dryers here, we wash in a washer and line dry. Great because it is sunny ALWAYS here. But with the two apartments only two-ish meters apart, the sun will never get into the balconies to dry people's clothes.
Eventually they got it all up to the top of the apartment and put it all together (the frame). Somewhere in the middle there will be where we put the water tanks. Not sure where the water pump(s) will go. You can see the neighbor's blue water tanks on the right.
You'll notice (can't miss) all of the wires in front of the apartment. This is something that you can't escape here in Thailand. There are so many cables running the sides of the streets that it's crazy. Electric, phone, cable, internet, etc.  I'll have to post a picture of some of the ugly looking masses of tangled and twisted wires some day.
Above is the view from the street. I like the slant of the roof and how it looks from street level. Right now we are still thinking of the color scheme. Looking more at darker colors, browns at the moment. My school is colored a brownish color and it looks nice.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Foto - January 15, 2016

The first Friday Foto of the year?

This picture came from my after lunch class with a fifth grade class. We really dreaded these students when we saw them coming up from fourth grade. Naughty and disrespectful. We'd see them and hear them and hear about them from their teachers and we seriously were not looking forward to teaching them.

It didn't help that they had so many teachers that year because of turnover here at the school, but finally they have steady teachers and they are, admittedly, getting better behaviorally.

Well, I walked into the classroom and this list was written on the board. Usually this space of the whiteboard is reserved for the names of students who are missing assignments, etc. Today there was a list of rules.
We always have rules, but the Thai teacher must have gotten fed up with the kids or there was an incident (there are often incidents, crying kids, angry kids, hitting, etc.). The picture translated:

    Primary Class 5/4 Rules
1. No fighting (quarreling, bullying, brawling)
2. No teasing (mocking) classmates
3. Keep the room clean (organized, not messy with all of your crap laying EVERYWHERE)
4. Don't speak rudely (vulgarly, impolitely)
5. If you break these rules, you can go down to the principal's office all day!
    Don't Erase!

**Note that I've bolded the slight translation variation that I think was probably intended. # 3 obviously was my rant/translation ;)

Yeah, this doesn't surprise me at all. The class is a mix of polar opposites in every regard. It is probably perfectly split between boys and girls. There are some very smart kids and an equal number of those who struggle mightily. There are very aggressive, in your face kids and some relaxed, easy going ones. Humble kids and ones who gloat over their scores or other things.

Again, we have these rules from day one, but as each week passes (after the teachers decompress and recharge on the weekends) we make it to about Thursday on a good week before we really need to really lay into the students for acting up. Usually it's an actual "the last straw" moment.

Let's call it "Threat Thursdays" hahaha!! Nah, I don't threaten the kids, ACTION beats THREATS in my book ;) You will occasionally catch me doing my best Clint Eastwood squint and waving my fist in the air at someone who "has gotten my attention"...but that's not a THREAT...that's a PROMISE!!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Stairwell

Looks like the framing and leveling is all finished...
Most of the cement is poured and the contractors have also gotten the stairwell cemented. I have been wondering when the stairs would be worked on. When we went to the construction site, the stairwell was just a giant hole in the building.
A team effort to bring the cement in bucket by bucket
I'm not sure if it will be tiled or what, but here are some photos of the work they did on the stairwell. Most of the cement was poured using big cement trucks to pour directly on the first floor, and a big boom was used to pour cement on the upper floors. For the stairwell, it appears (just from looking at these photos) that the workers are bringing the cement in bucket by bucket...very common here in Thailand especially in smaller projects in rural areas.
The base of the stairwell prior to doing the cement. You can see the metal frame at the top of the photo.
To be honest, I'm not really sure of how stairs are built. More reading the internet later this weekend I guess ;) That has been some of the fun about this project, I'm learning little tidbits about engineering, cement, rebar, construction, and hopefully this weekend about how stairwells are made ;)

Here is the current state of Aloha Home. You can see the stairwell has been cemented already. Not sure what happens next with the stairs. They will start working on the roof now.
Coming along nicely. We've run into some financial problems thanks to some unmentioned, unexpected bank fees...but we'll work our way through it and figure it out when the money runs out :| Nobody ever said it would be easy!!

What Color for the Trim???

We got a diagram of what the apartment will eventually look like today. The colors have not been decided and obviously we're not gonna make the trimmings red, blue, green, etc. Haha!!

So, this is basically what Aloha Home is gonna look like in six or seven months ;) The only difference, other than the color scheme, will be that the bottom left room as it is illustrated, will stick out from the end of the building a bit and be a mini mart rather than a room.
Click for the full-size image ;)
We still have no idea of the colors of the building, trim, roof, rooms, etc. We also need to choose tile for the floors and the bathrooms. Still a lot of work for us to do in shopping and choosing. We have limited free time together to do these types of things, but will find the time and try to enjoy it ;)

(Smiley faces and wink emoticons don't look as good when followed by I've dispensed with the periods and exclamation points ;)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I ran, yay!

For the first time in a month, I got off of my lazy butt and ran. It was but 5 kilometers, but that's better than the zero kilometers I've done so far in 2016.

How did I feel? I felt slow. I felt hot. I felt like stopping at 2.87 kilometers. I felt good that I kept running after wanting to stop. I felt like I was starting to work on burning away the last month+ of laziness. I felt great.

I'll have to do it again sometime next week ;)

360 degrees of one of our local somtam stands

Sunday here and I went past the school to where I can buy street food to pick up breakfast for myself and Pae. The line for somtam (spicy papaya salad) was quite long, so while I waited for my order, I flipped my phone camera on and shot a few photos.

The camera on my phone used to be very usable and took decent pictures. Nowadays, the hoto quality is very poor, but it still works.
Above is the place we have been getting our somtam lately. It is only a ten minute walk from home and usually has plenty of meat as well as good somtam. It's basically a cart on wheels that the owners place outside of the apartment and sell their food out of it. When they are closed, they cover it with tarp and put all of the tables and chairs away somewhere.
Most places like this, which there are many, just pack up everything every evening and push their cart down the narrow streets and even on the major thoroughfares back to their homes, to prepare for the next day. Above is one such somtam cart five meters down from the one that we like to eat at.
These dinosaurs are used more as an outdoor toilet and billboards than for their intended use.
As I was standing there, I looked across the road at the photo above and asked myself just how obsolete or rarely used these prehistoric machines are? Haha, the payphone...I remember when I always knew where the nearest payphone was; Marine Corps days, one on every floor of our barracks. Hawaii days, which for me were the days when beepers (pagers) were the technological IN thing, I knew where they were everywhere in Waikiki and the Kahala area, not to mention downtown Honolulu and Kaka'ako Park where I would play roller hockey with friends from the Disney Store after our shifts.
And, if you're ever in need of a truck to haul your personal things when you move apartments or pretty much haul anything for any reason, all you have to do is call one of these numbers wired to the electric pole. So many of the small sois (roads) are littered with these signs. I find it both ugly and cool looking at the same time.
I've been noticing a lot lately as I sit in traffic (translated- everytime and anytime I drive) that people stick small mirrors on their homes or walls. I'm pretty sure it is out of superstition, to scare away spirits or something. Some of them have Chinese characters on them, some of them look like disco balls. This mirror was directly below some guy's apartment, above our somtam cart. I saw three or four yesterday on the way home from the vet.
We usually eat one of each of these, grilled chicken and grilled catfish, when we pick up food from this somtam cart. Today I went with steamed chicken instead. That's special for Sundays only.
Sometimes you're lucky enough, or unlucky in my case, to see the catfish marinating under the rusty greasy back side of the know, where you have to watch out for foot long rats. No joke.
And for blessings, they cart comes fully equipped with it's own "offering to the spirits" space right above the tomatoes, limes, papaya and beans.
Still not sure why Red Fanta has become the most popular offering to the spirits. We have a spirit house at our rented home and we put red soda out there for the spirits once or twice a year along with candles, incense and flowers. Guess they don't do caffeine ;)
So, these are the things that I saw, while standing in the same spot, waiting for lunch ;) Pretty cool when I think of how it felt when I first came here and saw the same things. Totally different atmosphere than being back home.

I think I'll do this every now and then ;) Maybe I'll call it something like "Sunday 360" as Sundays are generally free days for me...Whaddya think?

Japan Trip 2015 - Kameido Tenjin Shrine

After we spent a few days in Osaka, we took a domestic flight to Tokyo for the remainder of our trip.
The obligatory pre-flight selfie

We had wanted, bucket list type thing, to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka to Tokyo, but lots of purchasing restrictions and poor planning made it cheaper for us to skip the Shinkansen and take a domestic flight to Tokyo. We would eventually get to ride the Shinkansen several times, but not the long ride through the countryside.

We got to Tokyo safely and had reserved an airport limousine bus from Haneda airport to our hotel, The Shinjuku Washington Hotel. The bus was so convenient for us as we had four people traveling with large suitcases. We would have loved to explore the subway and train system at a cheaper price, but it just didn't make sense getting off of an airplane and dragging luggage through Tokyo public transportation rush hour. Taxi cost way too much (x2) so we researched airport buses while in Osaka and found this bus company. Very convenient, especially since one of its three or four stops was OUR HOTEL! Sweet!

We were delivered to the front door of the hotel from Haneda (There are two airports in Tokyo, Haneda is more domestic and Narita is more international), checked in and then went out to see what was nearby.
One of the many entertainment and food alleys in Shinjuku
Our hotel was in the Shinjuku district, so close to lots of "Times Square" type touristy shopping and just lots of people deep into the night. We basically walked around Shinjuku the first night, looked at the lights, walked some of the alleys, found food and found dessert (of course).
After getting back to the hotel for the evening, Pae and I would do our preparations for the next day. We researched places of interest, subway and train passes, side trips to other cities, etc. We wanted to be prepared for the next day and three days ahead of time as well. We normally would have done all of this before leaving Thailand, but BunBun's passing put a dark cloud on our weeks before traveling, so we did it once we hit Japan.
That's right, several of our meals in Tokyo were ordered through a vending machine. Once I just chose one of the buttons as I couldn't read the Japanese...just see what came to my table ;)
We planned lots of destinations for our first day and got to most of them. We wanted to go find some flower gardens that I had found online, see the city from above, go see a famous temple and just basically walk around and experience the atmosphere of Tokyo.
Got this cool picture of a fishing restaurant from the train ride to Asakusa area. They are either fishing for fun or fishing for food. We used to eat at one such restaurant here in Thailand although we never went fishing there and I think the fishing here is for sport rather than food. It's fun taking in the sights and "culture" from the train ;)
One of the things I was most impressed with, yet often confused by as a newbie to Tokyo, was it's expansive subway and train system (we're not even including the bus system). Name a place you want to go, you are there via train or subway or a combination of the two.
Click on this map that combines the subway and train routes in and around Tokyo. Sprawling is a good word to define it. It can be very confusing, but eventually you'll get anywhere you wanna go!! It even connects to the Shinkansen trains (bullet trains) to take you to other prefectures.

They even had several companies that ran a subway system (and the two companies allowed transfers between competition trains) as well as train systems. The trains and the subway were nearly all connected as well. This made for ultra convenience but again, super complexity in planning. Planning wise, there were also so many different ways to get where you are going.

In this day and age, of course, there is an iPhone application and website to make this travel easier for the commuter, or in our case the tourist. This site is called HyperDia and I can say without hesitation that this is one of the most helpful, useful, awesome websites I've used.

The app took your departure station and destination station and gave you every combination of ways to get there including trains, subways, buses, walking, taxi, etc. It was a savior so many times during our trip. We would be finishing up at one site and be walking to the subway station or eating, all the time figuring out exactly how the best and fastest way to get to the next destination was.
Here is an example of the output of the hyperdia website. Train from Shinjuku (Train station, not subway) to Asakusa (subway station) for the first part of our day in Tokyo. It gives approximate time, fare and even seat reservation fees for some of the trains.
Having this app and renting pocket wi-fi for the whole trip absolutely made our trip and planning a whole lot more seamless and easy (it was never easy, but it got easier as we grew accustomed to the layout of the city and the different trains and subways available).

One other thing that we did (purchased) that made things easier was a commuter pass. There were so many different passes for the normal Tokyoite and even for tourists, but we found the perfect one for us that fit our needs called the JR Kanto Area Pass. The name has since changed to the JR Tokyo Wide Pass. It was 8,300 yen per person and lasted for three days. That seemed like a very poor choice as the expiration was the day before we left Japan, but when we worked it all out, including the trains we wanted to go on farther from Tokyo, it was the perfect pass for us. It got us on most trains and most subways.
There is a lot of pressure when you're at the front of line at a ticketing machine, looking up, confused at the subway map (and can't find your destination cuz it doesn't show train stations, lol) and there are people behind you, switching lines. Sorry yall!! That's why it's much better to get a pass ;)
It required us to walk through the ticket gate and show our passes to the guard rather than go through the turnstiles (bonus). Walking through the gate was so much easier than having to go to the ticket machines, find our station, insert the proper amount of Japanese money, get four tickets, round everybody up and go through the turnstiles in the rush Japanese crowd. All we had to do is make sure we had our pass on us at all times and flash it to the station attendant and he'd allow us to pass right through the gate. A side benefit was that when we passed through the gate I would always confirm the platform number that our train would be leaving from. It went something like this. Me to attendant: " Asakusa  number 8?" and in true, professional, Japanese fashion, the response was a smile and a "Yes" or a smile and a white-glove-covered hand pointing towards the correct gate. They didn't particularly speak great English, but they were effective, highly visible and eager to assist.
This picture of dessert the night we arrived in Tokyo may be misplaced within this post, but I'm sure you can forgive ;) The one with strawberries was mine!!! Nom Nom Nom!!!
The pass also allowed us, when we purchased them at a tourist information center at the Shinjuku JR (train) station to reserve both our tickets AND seats on our trains for our trip down to Mt. Fuji as well as the Shinkansen bullet train up north ot Tokyo to a big garden that Pae had researched and really wanted to go see. We got all of these reservations done days in advance, round trips also. It saved us so much hassle and so much time not to mention stress. Pae was a pro and we made a really good team when it came to finding our way around. Whenever I would be looking around only 70% sure of where we needed to go while down in the guts of subway stations people and crowds screaming by in every direction, she would pick up the slack and either confirm that my direction was correct or make sure that we double thunk (nice word) which way we were going. Our travel was pretty much seamless. I think Mom and Dad must have been impressed that Pae and I got them through so many days of a foreign country with very little standing around looking at maps looking helpless and clueless. It happened once or twice, but for the amount that we traveled, I think we did an awesome job ;)
Pae and Guy, figuring out our next move while Mom and Dad wait patiently
Mom and Dad also did great. You have to realize that they are both 60+ years old (Mom?) and just walking from the entrance of a subway station to the train platform, standing on a subway, reaching a transfer station and having to walk 800 meters underground through throngs of humans to get to the train, then standing on the train for twenty minutes to a station where we had to blah blah blah...ya know!!?? They didn't complain, but I could see their faces now and then and even my legs and feet would start to get fatigued. That's when I knew (probably too late, but they never complained) that it was time to just take a taxi ;) Sometimes I forget that I'm an endurance athlete ;) Pae is also quick to remind me of things like that as well, things that I may overlook. Again, we're a great team ;)

One of the main places that we had to make sure we went was a garden north of Tokyo that had Wisteria flowers blooming in late April and Early May.
As I researched, I had a backup plan for seeing wisteria at another site just in case we weren't able to see the bigger garden. This backup, smaller wisteria garden was at a place called Kameido Tenjin Shrine near the Asakusa Station.
Small road leading to the Torii at the entrance of Kameido Tenjin Shrine
The wisteria wasn't in full bloom yet, but it was lovely. The temple ground was actually small and super crowded.
People would stop on top of the drum bridge and take pictures of the Tokyo Skytree in the background
If memory serves, it was a weekend, so EVERYBODY and their mothers were there in the park taking in the warm weather and beautiful flowers.The wisteria hangs down from the branches of its tree.
As such, it can get quite heavy so the gardens that make it a tourist attraction have to basically build supports around all of the trees and extensive branch systems.
I really didn't notice the scaffolding too much because the flowers were just something I don't see very often here in Thailand.
Tokyo Skytree in the background
The temple itself was pretty normal, the little bridges were cute and they had a bunch of food stalls.
It paled in comparison to the place we would go in a few days to see wisteria (the place that Pae wanted to go to) but it was still a nice experience.
With limited days, being novices at the public transportation (complex but convenient) we just wanted to have backup plans for everything, just in case we got lost and wasted three hours of our day and had to cut part of our itinerary.
We enjoyed a quick walk around the shrine and then headed back to the subway to do some more sightseeing. Up next was Senso-ji Shrine, one of the more popular Buddhist temples in Tokyo.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Diagrams

I was looking at photos of the apartment progress and decided to compare what I actually see in real life to the plans (diagrams, schematics, etc.) that we have in paper form.

The diagrams we have of the apartment is are from an early version and may have changed slightly, but this is kinda what the apartment is designed to look like upon completion...well, in black and white ;)

First diagram shows the basic structure of the front side of the apartment but as if you're looking at it with no front walls. It's basically like you're looking through the front and seeing the back walls with the sliding door to the balcony.
The second diagram is what the apartment will actually look like if you were standing outside. They are black and white so you have to kind of use your imagination a little.
I hadn't noticed previously that the doors are on the left for the rooms to the left side of the stairwell but on the right for those to the right of the stairwell. I wonder if that's standard just to give the rooms by the stairs a little space between the stairs and the door?

In the first diagram you can see the stairwell. In the second diagram you can see a grey block on top of the roof above the stairwell. That's where the water thingies will be kept. **Forgot what the water thingies are called ;)
*Here's a quick video that Dad shot yesterday when he made a site visit. Not great quality, but I'm not gonna put it on youtube, so this is the best quality that we'll get right now.*

Still not sure where we will put the three or four washing machines and water machine. Probably put it close to the apartment? Build some cover at one end of the parking lot? Still some things to hammer out, but I'm sure we'll get it sorted by the time it's all built, yay!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bangkok Pollution - Another reason I've not been running lately

From my third floor "perch" at school, I can usually look towards downtown Bangkok and see the tallest building in Thailand; The Baiyoke Tower. I'm guessing it's between 6-8km away and normally it is clear as day.
Since December, most days have looked like this. I can sometimes make out a hazed out shadow of the Baiyoke Tower, but today I can't even see it through the pollution, smog and haze. Heck, I even forget where it SHOULD be in the photo!!

Not good for running. Not good for the lungs. Not good for my allergies.

Yes, this is one of several excuses that I've been using lately to sit at home and do nothing. the other main thing is that I have pain in one of my foot joints, almost feels as if my arch is falling or gonna fall soon.

No more excuses, must get out and have a short little 5km run in the next few days, just to get back in it physically and mentally. I've been off for a month and done zero kilometers.

As it is, I'm pulling out of my two races, TNF and UTKC but picking up the 10hr race in May. The 10hr Ultra Marathon is a taxi ride away and I can just sleep at home and go and return on the same day. The other two races require me to call in sick on the Friday, to travel, hotel, etc. so this year it is gonna be a little harder to make those little sacrifices. Plus, I'm not training at it's the smart thing to do.

Apartment Update - Back to Work after the Holiday

The apartment, "Aloha Home" is the name we're going with right now, is getting worked on again after the New Year break. I lived and worked in Hawaii and Pae flew there with her old airline all the time and loves it there. One thing that I love, other than the weather and such, is the Aloha Spirit that you can feel from the people who "are Hawaii". This "Aloha" is the kind of feeling we want to have at our apartment :)

We got some photos today of the what has been going on in the past few days. They are putting the last "layer" of forms for the beams that will form the the ceiling of the third floor.
This probably looks like most of the other photos so far, but you can see they are working on the framing for the rebar on what will end up being the beams that support the top of the third floor (ceiling/roof). It should be ready to pour cement in about four days.
The interesting part of the photo update was that P'Pong had the cement that has been curing (?) for 14 days tested for how much it could support. It tested out at 239 kilograms per square centimeter. I think the cement is rated at 240 so it should be to that level by two more weeks. I really don't know anything about that, but P'Neung and P'Pong seemed to be quite happy about it's current measurement ;)
This is a cement compression testing machine used to test the strength of the cement as it dries and cures. P'Pong went to Nakhon Ratchasima (if I read the Thai abbreviation correctly in his message) to have our concrete tested. He seemed quite pleased.
P'Pong told us that we need to choose tile soon. We had gone earlier this year (like a week ago, haha) to the home supply store and looked at bathroom wall, bathroom floor, regular floor and outdoor tiles for our flooring and it's just really hard to get a good idea what the tile will look like over a large floor area when you are looking at samples. We were given a certain price per square meter that we have to keep close to to avoid going over budget.
Apparently these numbers are good ;) I think how the machine works is it slowly applies pressure to a cube of cement and divides the total kg of pressure until total failure of the cement by the total surface area touching the machine (?) giving you the strength of your cement. I could be totally wrong on the math though ;)

It's funny also that I've been in so many apartments, homes or public restrooms and wondered, "Somebody actually liked and chose this tile???" Haha, and now Pae and I are the ones doing the choosing. Not sure if we'll choose color schemes and patterns to match the Hawaii theme or Aloha theme, but we'll see ;)

Anyway, the construction is back underway and we'll keep the blog updated with any progress or photos that we get. It's fun, so I enjoy posting about it ;)

Thursday, January 7, 2016


My school is right in the middle of midterm exams right now, so this week is both busier than usual and less busy than usual at the same time.

Midterms means that I am proctoring exams for English, Math and Science but not teaching any of my normal classes over the two days of exams.

My science exams for my classes are tomorrow, so I'll be grading well into the weekend then preparing for next week and next month right away on Monday.

I generally like the small break from the loud classrooms. I have the added stress this year of a decision that I have to make.

My boss basically came to me a few days ago and told me that our "International Principal" was transferring to a different branch or being given a different job within the hierarchy here. Anyway, the job position is open and my name was one of the ones dropped to fill it. It was offered previously to our senior teacher, but he left back to Scotland to continue his education and now the offer has fallen to me.

Now, the term "principal" sounds like such a big promotion, but that's only when I have my "western" brain in my head. When I look at the job of principal here, I don't see it as a promotion. It's ten times the work I do as a science teacher and likely the same salary or less considering I probably won't be able to teach special "tutor" classes for extra money any more. We'll see about that though, I have more meetings with the boss and other office folk soon to go over the job description and other special projects that they would have me leading if I decide to take the job.

Here at my school, as there are Thai teachers and foreign teachers, there are two Principal positions. One is the "Thai Principal" who takes care of Thai concerns to include Thai teachers, all students and parents and the "International Principal" who is in charge of Foreign concerns which would include foreign teachers, all students and parents.

I looked on our company website and found the job description and duties and responsibilities for several jobs. Let me just put it this way, the document for "Subject Teacher" was less than two pages long. "Head of Department" was 2 pages, "Academic  Coordinator" was two pages. My boss's job was two or three pages. "International Principal" FIVE STINKIN' PAGES!!

Anyway, perhaps I sound negative, but If I was negative I wouldn't even be considering the new position. I'm more overwhelmed. I'm just kinda stuck between thinking and acting like a "teacher" with daily interaction with school kids and thinking like an adult (haha) dealing more with school budgets, teachers and parents on a daily basis. I would certainly miss the classroom interaction and close relationships that you build between teacher and students. But this is my ninth year of doing that. Is it time for a new challenge? Will this position offer me more or less job security? Will I be good at dealing with adults after years and years of being down at a child's level.

It is a difficult decision for sure. I could easily just sit back and live the easy life of teaching my subject in a position and school where I have carved myself out a nice little place where nobody bothers me much or I could jump at the job that "sounds" like a step up, struggle through some growing pains and steep learning curve and see where that takes me.

Well, we'll see what comes about in the next weeks. Even if I accept the position as the campus International Principal, I will finish my current school year as the science teacher, see my 6th graders off to high school and start the principal role when the next school year begins.

It's a nerve wracking decision to make, but it's a good decision to be faced with. Pae and I are talking about it, thinking about it, considering the positives and known and unknown negatives. We'll make the right decision whatever the decision is ;)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Japan Trip 2015 - Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine

Front gate of Fushimi Inari Taisho
The Fushimi Inari Taisho or Fushimi Inari Shrine was one of the most visually "wow" parts of our trip to Kyoto. It is a Shinto shrine situated at Mt. Inari in Kyoto.
Inari happens to be the Shinto Goddess of Rice. All around the shrine grounds are statues of foxes, messengers to Inari.
Komainu are the foxes (look like dogs) that are on either side of any Inari shrine entrance. There are thousands of Inari shrines in Japan

There is a train leading to the top of the mountain. Along the trails were torii gates, orange and black, donated by businesses or individuals.
Reading up on the torii gates, the cost to "donate" one to the shrine is about 400,000 yen for a smaller gate and up to 1,000,000 yen for a larger one.
As we walked through the tunnels made from torii, we saw newer ones and older ones. The older ones farther from the entrance started getting a little beat up.
This map doesn't show all the way up to the top of the mountain
The name of the company or person who donated the torii gate, for good luck, was inscribed on one side of the gate. It made for great pictures.
Mom and Dad did fine with the hills and all of the walking. Kyoto involved a lot of walking around, lots of stairs and hills.
We made sure to get pictures of everybody in the toriis. It's not everyday that you get to visit this shrine. Perhaps once in a lifetime actually for us ;)

We went a little further up and then turned around
 One thing about this trip is that we brought a lot of warmer clothes; sweatshirts, hoodies, jeans, long pants. I wished that I had brought shorts and t-shirts, haha. I ended up carrying my coat in my hands on many occasions as the morning started out cooler but once the sun came up it was way too hot to wear a coat or even a sweater.
This photo is not ours, but comes from Japan Travel dot com, it shows the entrance of two rows of torii gates. Nice huh?
Problem was that if you didn't bring the warmer clothes in the morning, by the time you were traveling home in the evening you would be cold again ;)
The time of day that we went, the sun wasn't so bright and it was great for photo taking. We walked quite far up the trail but not quite half way to the peak of the mountain. It was enough for us to experience the beautiful torii gates.

I'd say that Fushimi Inari Taisha is a can't miss spot in Kyoto. It was beautiful, especially at the time of day (afternoon, close to evening) that we went. The shadows and lighting was very soft and perfect for taking pictures and just made the orange torii seem to glow.
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