Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Family trip!

Just got back from Cambodia, where we saw lots of really cool, really old temples. Here we are on the tarmac at the Siem Reap airport. That's Terry's mom in the visor. And yes, I brought my own pillow.

Here's Marietta standing at one of the gates at Angkor Thom, an ancient fortress city surrounded by a moat.
Here's Terry walking through Bayon, a complex of 54 towers built by King Jayavarman VII in late 12th/early 13th century, as a monument to himself. That could be his face carved into the four sides of every tower, but officially it's Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion.

Nose to nose (our guide used to work as a temple photographer and this is one of his favorite tourist snaps. At his insistence, we all posed for one!)

3-headed elephant

7-headed serpent
Monk on a bike


You're allowed to climb up around and over almost everything here. This temple in another part of Angkor Thom was easier to scale up than down... A friendly Khmer helped Dylan over the last bit.

Sandstone bas-relief at Banteay Srei ('Citadel of the Women'). An hour's drive from Siem Reap, but worth the trip.At the floating village of Chong Kneas


taking the long view of Tonle Sap
Our guide, Mr. Chum Thany (pronounced "tawny"), was fantastic. I have his email address if anybody wants it. He arranged for this tour boat, brought us to great restaurants, and didn't seem bothered when we would change our plans at the last minute.
One afternoon we did a quick tour of the workshops at the Artisans Angkor school. This guy's carving a Buddha out of wood.
In the sandstone carving shop, both boys got a turn with a mallet and chisel.

We also hit the 'jungle temple' of Ta Prohm

Thany told us that the humongous trees, which are literally rooted in the place, have to be kept alive and intact or the whole thing would come down.Parts of the movie Tomb Raider were filmed here
Coincidence or respect for the gods? Check out the face of Apsara (a dancing goddess type) poking out between the roots of this particularly deferential tree. Freaky!


The giant root you see, the one that looks like it's about to crush everything, is known as "the snake"

Thany was sure to point out all the best photo-ops...
Angkor Wat, the main attraction (but far from the only reason to come here) is just massive.
The main tower has scaffolding up one side, as there's some restoration work going on.

The grassy bit used to be the moat. Behind Terry there's a passageway with a huge mural of battle scenes carved into the stone
Apsara is everywhere in this town. That last one on the right has more of a Princess Leia 'do...

As we left the temple grounds and headed for the van, we ran into the hard sell ("Madame!"). I wanted to buy something from each girl but quickly ran out of dollar bills...This is me motioning to Terry for more money.
Who wants a bracelet? I think I can spare a few...10 for $1!

When we weren't sightseeing, we were drinking and lounging and shopping. Or at least Marietta and I were (coconut daiquiri anyone?).
Terry and the boys spent many many hours in the hotel pool.

We stayed at the Victoria Angkor, which is across the street from a park and walking distance from the Old Market and Pub Street, a stretch of bars and restaurants and sidewalk vendors. It was a great hotel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tsukiji Fish Market



Marietta and I caught the tuna auctions early Thursday. We also walked through the labyrinth of seafood stalls, where we watched an octopus breathe from inside a mesh bag, and a fishmonger hack the tail off a flounder that was still flapping.

And now, 2 clips:

video video

at the races


Terry took his mom to the Tokyo Race Course in Fuchu on Sunday. The place is just huge, Marietta tells me, and "gorgeous." We would've gone too but figured the boys would get bored too quickly...so they had the day to themselves. I have already figured out how Terry can pay me back later this week, while we're in Cambodia -- by taking the boys swimming at the hotel pool while his mom and I go shopping!

Here you can see the paddock and the indecipherable tote board:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hakone

On Saturday we took Marietta to Hakone. Here's Terry and his mom on the upper deck of the cruise ship that took us across Lake Ashi...

Terry and the boys

After the boat ride we walked through an old cedar forest
At dusk we were lucky to get this nice glimpse of Mt. Fuji (Fujisan), a dormant volcano (last eruption 1708) and Japan's tallest mountain.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our lunches with T

On Wednesday we had katsu in Shibuya. On Thursday, it was soba in Maronouchi, and today, we went for ramen in Kayabacho, close to Terry's office. We chose a miso version that was loaded with vegetables (the broth was thinner and less fatty though no less flavorful than that tonkotsu ramen stuff that will be the end of me...)

Marietta had sake, I had a beer. Terry had to go back to work.
The nice lady from the ramen shop didn't want us to leave before pointing out her other restaurant down the block.

lunch one

Marietta and I met Terry for lunch three times this week! First, katsu in Shibuya, breaded pork cutlets served with cabbage salad, a side of rice and miso soup with tiny little clams...

these were hard to, um, swallow


These nasty morsels are a pair of eel stomachs. (At least that's what our server called them. Maybe something was lost in translation?) Marietta and I found them floating in our soups at the little unagi bar in Ebisu where we had lunch earlier this week. I consider myself an adventurous eater, but I'm sorry, these look like used prophylactics. With dead rodents attached. We drank the broth though.

just for us ladies

Terry's mom and I had to go to the Cambodian embassy today to get our visas (we're all going to Siem Reap next week) so we took a ride on the Hanzomon line, and were happy to find ourselves on the "Women Only" car. I had heard about these but this was the first time I'd seen one, probably because I'm rarely going anywhere by train at that hour, and like the HOV lanes at home, the no-men-allowed rule is only enforced during rush hour. Apparently there had been a bit of a groping problem on crowded trains, prompting transit authorities to create this safe haven. The official reason, according to the Tokyo Metro website, is that these cars were adopted "so that women and elementary and younger children can ride with a sense of security."

Here's a shot of the station platform sign that tells passengers where to queue up for that special car -- specifically where the doors will open -- and let me tell you, I rarely see a train here miss its mark.
Looks like an ad for sanitary napkins, no?

Nonna's here!

I'll have to ask her but I think Marietta would say that the best thing she's seen here so far is the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. It's my favorite green place here too.

Here she is waving from the balcony of the Taiwan Pavilion, a.k.a. Kyu Goryo Tei