Unexpected holidays? Go to Hong Kong!

So the story goes like this: Since the factory is going to be producing lots of trains starting in Fall, and they will be needing all the workforce they can, they decided to cancel 10 national holidays (starting in July) for the whole production department, and give them back to us in April in the form of two full weeks off work! Also, since the first week of May is a national holiday anyways (more on this in the next post), this meant I had lots of time for traveling, so a few bigger, better, further trips were in order!

Me and James started off going to Hiroshima to meet up with Taka-san, an ex Vulcanus-in-EU guy. Since it was full Sakura (cherry blossom) season, we had a nice picnic in front of the castle enjoying the spring air, like many Japanese like doing in this season, and went out partying i the evening. Feeling horrible and exhausted, I took a bus to Osaka (sadly by myself, James didn’t get the two extra weeks off). I had another dose of Sakura at the castle, enjoyed walking along the river near the Dotonbori area with its gigantic neon signs and flashing screens and stopped for some good old takoyaki.

The main destination for this trip though, was Hong Kong. My first impression was really positive, since when getting on the bus from the airport without having the exact change at hand, i was helped out by Joe, who was coming home from a trip to the Netherlands and was happy to give me tons of information and hints for my trip, so before I knew it, I had more tips that I could possibly use in that one week!
The view of the skyline is spectacular, both from below when taking a ferry between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon on the mainland, and when looking down on it from Victoria Peak. Being in the city, it felt a lot more stressful and noisy than Tokyo, and even the glowing advertisements seemed a lot more aggressive than their Japanese versions. But seeing the awesome mix of people on the streets, from Chinese origin to Southeast-Asian, from turbans to bald monks, it did have the feeling of every culture being represented, an international feel you could never have in Japan.
What helped a lot was meeting up again with Joe and his fiancée Eve; there is nothing like being showed around town by the local people! Also nice was the day trip to Cheung-chau, a small island apparently with very narrow roads, no cars and lots of homes that seem to be holiday apartments, within easy reach of nice beaches and pretty hiking trails, on which you could circle the island in a few hours. Since it was the birthday of the “Goddess of the Sea” in that week, we were lucky to see some of the classic dragon boats in the harbor, too.

Back in Japan I took a day trip to Koyasan, a mountain to the south of Osaka, which boasts an impressive and historically important Temple and beautiful buddhist cemeteries to walk through, which convey a very mystical feeling of ancient Japan. While hiking up a hill I had a chance encounter with a monk meditating at the view of the surrounding valleys, which made the atmosphere even more magical.

The two weeks of travel ended with a quick visit to the temple city of Nara and its free-roaming deer, and a weekend back in Tokyo to catch up on the lives of the other Vulcanus guys. Upon returning to Kudamatsu, though, it was only one week of work before the next big voyage….

More pictures here.

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