Tag Archives: Eagles

Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016

From the Omi-cho Market, we walked to the Higashi-chaya geisha district. On the way we passed many interesting buildings and more temples. Why are there so many shrines and temples in one place? Perhaps so there is always somewhere to pay respects.

As we crossed the river, we were mesmerised by the sight of lots of eagles hovering, swirling and occasionally diving into the clear water for fish.

The geisha district had lots of pretty alleyways with wooden slat houses and a view to the mountains behind. My favourite were the red coloured structures and one famous street in particular which had the perfect angle for a classic photo. The only question was, where were all the geisha girls?

Inside the Higashi Chaya Krukeikan Rest house, we saw vast living areas, a strange contraption for making tea that was hung from the ceiling and a cute little Japanese garden. My daughter had fun trying on a pair of geisha style wooden block shoes and getting a big stamp of the rest house from the staff there.

Next we picked up some lunch as a local bakery and went to the vast Kanazawa Castle Park for lunch. Many school children were there, also eating. Here we saw our first beautiful orange autumn leaves on trees.

Inside the castle gates, we went into one of the guardhouses that had views over the park and to other parts of the castle. It was a room of golden floorboards and we got our second stamp of the day.

In the grounds of the castle we found two very friendly ladies dressed in kimonos who were more than happy to have their photo taken with our daughter at the castle and wanted a picture for themselves as well. We learnt the word for cute in Japanese- Kawai. It was one we were to hear more as we journeyed around Japan with our daughter.

The highlight of the day was the most beautiful gardens that we went to in Japan- the Kenrouk-en Gardens. It was easy to see why they were heritage listed. The gardens were spectacular with bridges, ponds and views over the town.

We saw the well-known Rainbow Bridge that is depicted on manholes around the town with the Kotojitoro Lantern. The Horaijima Island was in the middle of a pond surrounded by pine trees hanging over the water and the Flying Wild Geese Bridge, made of stones in a point, was aptly named.

Our favourite part of the gardens was when we slowed down and took a seat in a traditional teahouse over the water of Hisagoike Pond. We had green tea that was actually green and muddy and a sculpted Japanese sweet.

As the sunlight bounced off the roof making pretty patterns on the ceiling and we could hear a waterfall trickling in the background, I got a glimpse of the peace that a Japanese garden can bring and didn’t want to leave.

Related posts: Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

Chichen Itza, 2011

I didn’t really know what a cenote was when we arrived in Chichen Itza in the middle of the Yucatan. I had skimmed over a mention of them in the Mexico guide book and dismissed it as something we wouldn’t have time for. My husband and I were here to explore the ruins after all.

We visited Chichen Itza early in the morning which was perfect as there was no one else around and we also avoided the midday heat this way.

The Group of the Thousand Columns was very impressive as well as the iconic El Castillo with serpants at its feet.

This wasn’t the first time I had visited the ruins. I have a photo of me as a toddler at the top of the Templo de Chac Mool, sitting on his statue. This time, the temple was roped off so I was unable to climb to the top to replicate the picture.

I liked the platform of the Jaguars and Eagles and the stone ring in the ball court was huge. We found noughts and crosses made out of stones, the Market and the High Priest’s grave.

The crumbling roof of the Observatory was a sight to see and the Church was very interesting as it had the most detailed stone carvings.

After half a day in the heat walking the ruins, the tour buses arrived and we decided it was time to vacate.

Back at the hotel swimming pool, we met an American couple travelling with their grandson. Starved for younger conversation, the boy started telling us about this fantastic cenote over the road that was featured on the Red Bull high diving competitions- and you could even swim in it.

You can swim in cenotes?! This idea was getting more appealing, especially now that we had half a day to spare. So we thanked him for his advice and gathered our bathing attire.

Paying our entry fee at the Cenote Ik Kil main gates, we realised that there were lots of locals around too- always a good sign that it must be good!

We walked down to the top of the cenote and peeked down into the largest gaping hole in the ground I have ever seen. Vines were growing around the circumference of the hole, reaching down towards the dark waters below.

Excited, we started climbing down the long windy staircase into the cenote.

Reaching the bottom, we disrobed and got in line to go in. American boys were ogling Brazilian girls in their g-strings and trying to pretend they weren’t looking, not very successfully.

To get into the cenote, you could take a ladder or climb up a shorter staircase to jump in. Remembering that I had read that cenote’s are very deep, I opted for the ladder.

The water was beautifully cold and clear and there were many black fishes swimming around exploring.

It was a great way to cool off after our day of sight-seeing and I am so glad that we found time to go in depth for this amazing experience.

Related posts: Campeche and Merida, 2011, Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011