I kept this diary of things we have done in Singapore for 2 years. I have now moved some of it to other travel pages but you can still find links to many of our activities here. I have also created a reading list of books we have read about the region.

Western Japan

Birds in Singapore

Kuala Lumpur stopover

Thai Diving

Singapore Liveaboard

Local Residents

Beijing Summer

Diving with Sharks

Shanghai Heatwave

Taiwan Tourists

An Indian week

Where U bin?

Island hideaway

Steamy running

A Trip to the Zoo

Gardens by the Bay


Singapore walks

Mind the bus

Flower power


Early weeks


Vicky's Blog


Bullet trainIt's 5:50 on the first Friday in April and we are waiting on the platform in Tokyo station for the shinkansen or 'bullet train' to Kyoto. This is the most popular time for Japanese to visit their old capital as I found out when I tried to book a hotel. For a fleeting week or so the thousands of cherry trees are in bloom transforming the temples, parks and canals of Japan's most historic city. The train is on time and a very orderly queue is allowed to board exactly 5 minutes before departure.

Japanese styleWe are staying in the Nean No Mori hotel, in a Japanese style room. First thought is where is all the furniture? Bed mats are rolled out at night but otherwise it is pretty sparse. We failed to find out how you relax in the middle of the day. Get your bed out yourself I guess.

The hotel is full of Japanese farmers and their wives on a tour. Hysterical scenes of rather drunken guys in bedgowns and waistcoats staggering upstairs with cans of beer while their wives giggle on the way back from the communal baths.

Cherry blossomOur lovely guide Shimode-san starts us off in Western Kyoto. The Kinkaku-Ji 'Golden Pavilion' is stunning and the blossom in the gardens at Ryoan-ji does not disappoint nor does its amazing rock garden. The sites are packed but the ever polite crowds do not push or shove so it is easy to enjoy the surroundings.

Vicky's leg is holding up brilliantly as we walk through a pretty suburb to catch a local train to Arashiyama. Here we stroll along the river stopping at a local yodofu spot for lunch (tofu in an iron pot). After lunch we hike quite a way uphill before coming down the famous bamboo walk to the beautiful gardens of the Tenryu-ji temple.

Vicky and ShimodeWe finish the tour by a visit to the shogun's castle - Nijo-jo. On Sunday we explore the sites closer to our hotel. Starting at the Nanzen temple you can walk along the hillside visiting temples and enjoying the cherry blossom along the canals. Us and the rest of Kyoto! Still veryspectacular and the rain held off for the most part.

Then back on the bullet train for the ride back to Tokyo with stunning views of snow capped mountains and a perfect, snow covered mount Fuji. Vicky is off there tomorrow for more exploring while I am back at work.

View the slideshow below for more on the sites of Kyoto.