I really did love Japan, I'd love to go back. Saying that I think I would take Japanese lessons before going, as that would make communication with the locals so much easier.
Tokyo was, as I wrote in my earlier posts a bit overwhelming at first. I soon got into swing of it though. I don't think I would want to live there, but it was nice to see how all those people live. I was amazed that amongst all those grey buildings there were large green spaces. In fact at one place, the Meiji temple at Harajuku it was hard to believe that you were in the middle of one of the largest population centres of the world.
I loved the electronics stores that were around Ikebukuro, never seen stores with a staff to customers ratio that was probably close to 1:1, and it was packed with customers! A department store I found called Tokyu Hands was great. It's slogan was "The Creative Lifestyle Store". You name it, if you make it or do it with your hands you can find it there. I found Tokyu Hands in the other cities I visited as well, but the one at Shibuya in Tokyo was the best.
Osaka was an interesting place, with some great food and shopping streets. I also visited Kyoto and Nara for day trips. Kyoto I found draining as I tried to fit so much into one day. I was really over temples by the end. Nara was quite the opposite, it was very relaxing walking around the beautiful park. I saw the big Bhudda too. The only downside to Nara was that I was bitten by a deer while feeding them.
Hiroshima was a surprise. The A-Bomb dome, and memorials and Museums, were as I'd expected. The Museum in parts was definitely confronting. As for the city itself, you'd never know that the place was wiped off the planet nearly 70 years ago, it is every bit as vibrant as Tokyo or Osaka. It even had trams, which in a way made me feel at home.
The nearby island of Miyajima was a great day trip as well.
I plan on doing a few features on a selection of the places I visited, rather then a blow by blow account of my days. I think it's less boring that way, and easier to do now I'm at home.
I arrived home over a week ago now, last Wednesday at 10pm, almost two days later than I'd intended. The extra stop over in Hong Kong was great, albeit rushed. I think I managed to do everything I wanted to do. I was a bit shocked when I walked into my hotel room and thinking there must be a mistake, I can't possibly have all this space to myself.
Even though it's only been 5 months since I was in Hong Kong, I still did the touristy things I did last time. Those being, the Star Ferry (2x's!), Peak Tram, and Nathan Road. I also visited the the ICC building in West Kowloon, which is something like the 4th or 5th tallest building in the world. I decided not to go to the top as it was way too hazy, but spent some time walking around the shopping centre at the base (as you do in Hong Kong). Even though it's crowded, hot, dirty, and sometimes smelly, I really like Hong Kong for some reason. I mean, it is really just another city, but it has something else about it.
I can't really fault Qantas on how they have handled the refund process. For an action that was so blatantly pre meditated, I wouldn't expect any less. As I had made payment by BPay I to make special arrangements, but it all went smoothly. I can definitely use the free return flight to anywhere in Aus/NZ.