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landscape

We settled in at the Uguruu Ger Camp then took a walk around the property. Small pleasures like power points in the ger and showers ticked some boxes. The summer season is about to open and a few of the residences are being readied for the crowds.

 

After a chicken dinner, our guide took us up to a hill overlooking this first capital city of Mongolia to get some 360 degree views and appreciate the King’s Monument representing the scopes of the Hunnu, Turkic and Mongol empires.

The sunset light at around 8.30 pm was magical.

 

 

Today was a long travel day filled with mundane things like meals and traffic, and some big landscapes on the road.

So here are the pick of a very few photos taken since last night’s full moon over Terelj.

Our Terelj host lit a fire for us. It was a lesson in how to get the job done quickly.

A little about the meals. If you are a vegetarian, this could be a difficult place to travel. Meat is it in Mongolia, except for small amounts of potato, cabbage or carrots. Mutton and beef are served with all of the fat intact. I understand the local vodka is a good way to cut through it.

Breakfast was pretty good this morning, accompanied by coffee, tea and these sweet buns.

We backtracked to Ulan Bataar after leaving the mountains. That meant getting stuck in traffic before hitting the open road.

Here’s a small taste of the scenery today. It’s hot, dry and dusty, a bit like we feel as we sit in the ger camp kitchen at Kharkhorin with a cold beer to remedy the situation.

Lots of grasslands, mostly yellow than green for want of rain, host horses and herds of goats, sheep and cattle.

Gers are sprinkled across the land, mostly singly but occasionally in small groups. It’s so vast, a lone horse rider could be forgiven for thinking that all the sky and land belonged to him

It’s our last full day in Tokyo. The pace is definitely slowing and the focus shifting to thoughts of our next destination. This morning, we rode the subway to Shinjuku, a major commercial and government centre of Tokyo, and also home to the 2020 Summer Olympics stadium (under construction).

Just over a week since the artist died, we visited Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture, one of several located in both Asia and the USA.

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Then for a wider view of Tokyo, it was up the 45 floors to the South Observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices.

 

Tokyo will be one amazing Olympic venue to showcase the new and old Japan.

By any measure, Tokyo is up there as one of the most populated cities in the world. There is no better proof of that than Shibuya Crossing in the early evening.

 

 

 

A few vantage points from above are available to capture the spectacle, one of which for us required the purchase of an Uzu Iced Green Tea from a particularly ubiquitous American coffee company.

Other evidence of this big city’s population is travelling on the subway at around 8.30 pm when commuters are heading home from work and after-work activities. As a train arrived at our transfer station, the faces of commuters were all but pressed against the door windows. The etiquette of boarding a train is well executed as potential passengers stand to each side of the door to release and ultimately replace those who have been nestled together in each carriage.

The Izu Peninsula came about by the collision of two tectonic plates. It is an area of great beauty with volcanic activity, both old and relatively recent, evident on the coastline. The peninsula is prone to earthquake swarms and tsunami activity, neither of which we wish to experience.

It’s raining today and we’re having a low key afternoon after visiting the Jogasaki coastline. We watched the sea swell from the Kadowaki Suspension Bridge.

This is what last night’s dinner looked like. The luxury hotel we stayed in was booked months ago at a very economical price. The cost for two to dine in their restaurant was more than we paid for the room. The Gyoza Center is well patronised in the area by travellers keen to get some good gyoza from a family-run take-away business. A drop-in to a convenience store on the way home and we were set to smuggle dessert and a bottle of wine to our room.

 

The same went for breakfast this morning. We started the day in the cafe of the Hakone Open Air Museum, thus rendering us fit to walk around the extensive and impressive gardens and halls of this sculpture park.

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The Picasso Pavilion contains some of the artist’s less familiar works. It is the first time I have ever seen any of his gemmail pieces where layers of coloured glass are overlaid with a clear glue to produce a mottled stained glass effect.

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One of the most impressive works in the Museum is Symphonic Structure. A  staircase allows you to climb up the inside to get a closer view of the sculptured glass work.

 

img_4220There are many notable names represented in the collection, including Alexander Calder and Henry Moore. Here’s a small selection not by Calder or Moore.

 

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A journey down the east coast of the Izu Peninsula afforded big sea views and a change from the winding roads around Mt Hakone. We stopped off in Ito, right near the railway station in search of lunch.

Some of our best meal experiences have been random. If the price is right and the plastic models or menus look promising, we’re in.

In the company of two others seated with us at the counter, we watched while the chef prepared and assembled nine sushi plates from scratch for the customers who had already ordered. His parents were preparing other dishes, serving up miso and waiting on customers.

After our meals arrived, another customer entered and sat beside us. Once her glass was filled with sake, she started to chat, our broken Japanese and English helping to make a connection. The next thing we knew, the man at the counter was offering us one of his raw fish dishes to eat. It felt like a Netflix episode of Midnight Diner (Tokyo stories) except for the fact it was lunch time.

By the time we left, it was bows and handshakes all around. The elderly woman escorted us out of her very small restaurant and called out as we stepped up the road. “Nice day have!” We did have, and she helped to make it so.

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We are in Izukogen for the next two nights overlooking the ocean and pulling back a tad on the pace of travel. On Thursday, it’s back to Tokyo until we leave for the Mongolia leg of this amazing trip.