วันเสาร์ที่ 1 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2556

Japan 3 most famous hot spring

Japan is well known for it high quality hot spring. However,Kusatsu Onsen, Gero Onsen, and Arima Onsen are the most famous one.

Kusatsu Onsen is located on a high plateau and close to skiing grounds, it is well known for the landscape of steam arising from the Onsens. There are old Onsen towns with a traditional Onsen town image. Gero Onsen is an Onsen town located along the river, which guests may enjoy the scenerey throughout the year along with many festivals as well. Arima Onsen is located at Mount Rokko full of leasure spots and beatiful Autumn tint and water falls.

  • Kusatsu Onsen
    The town of Kusatsu is located at the southeastern foot of Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane-san in the northwestern part of Gunma. The town became well known about 120 years ago after Dr. Balz, a medical doctor from Germany, found its hot spring to be very effective. Kusatsu-onsen Hot Spring consists of eighteen public baths, each with a different effect and separate fountainhead. Most of the hot springs operate twenty-four hours a day.

    In the center of the town, two spots are particularly popular all year round: 'Yubatake,' one of the fountainheads, and Netsu-no-yu, where 'yumomi' (stirring hot water with paddle-like wooden boards to cool it down) demonstrations are shown. Tourists have a choice of many places where they can learn about nature and the history of hot springs. The Kusatsu Alpine-Plant Museum and the Kusatsu Hot-Spring Museum are two of the most popular attractions.

  • Gero Onsen 
    The Gero-onsen Hot Spring in rich nature, located in the center part of Honshu, has been known as a healing hot spring since the 10th century and has welcomed a number of visitors. It is considered one of the three best hot springs in Japan, and is effective for treating rheumatism, impaired motor function, and nervous disease and relieving fatigue. The hot spring is also nicknamed the "Hot Spring for the Beauty," because of the smooth touch of water. Footbaths are spotted in the town, which you can enjoy while strolling, free of charge.

    In mid-summer, the Gero-onsen-matsuri Festival is held for three days, where you can enjoy watching the fire festival with five dragons vigorously strolling, a portable shrine carried by women 'geisha,' as well as a samba parade. The 
    festival ends with fireworks.

  • Arima Onsen 
    Arima is the oldest spa area in Japan and located in Koba city which is very close to OsakaArima is about one hour bus ride from Umeda station in Osaka. Arima hot springs are natural ones that have been used since ancient times when people had no skills of digging in the ground. Presently the digging skills are highly-developed, however, they are also providing us with hot water full of natural blessings or active ingredients from near the surface (within 300 meters in depth) in the earth.
    Arima hot springs are rare worldwide ones containing lots of minerals and natural ingredients.  There are 7 ingredients, except sulfur spring and acid spring, out of 9 main ingredients (simple hot spring water, carbon dioxide spring water, hydrogen carbonate spring water, chloride water, sulfate water, ferruginous water, sulfur water, acid water, and radioactive water) designated as ones to be included for medical treatment.

What is Seishun 18 Kippu

The Seishun Juhachi Kippu has a direct meaning of "Youthful 18 Ticket". The ticket is seasonally available in Japan during long holiday, which gives you 5 days unlimited train ride nationwide on local and rapid JR (Japan Railways) for only 11,500 yen or 2,300 Yen per day.

The available period is : (subject to change)


Ticket sales : 20 February - 31 March

Validity : 1 March - 10 April


Ticket sales : 1 July - 31 August

Validity : 20 July - 10 September


Ticket sales : 1 December - 31 December

    Validity : 10 December - 10 January

    Although it's named as "Youthful 18 Ticket" but anybody can purchase and use the ticket. The price is the same for both adult and child. The ticket is available at most of the JR station.

    The merits of the ticket are:

    1. It could be shared. Simply said 1 tickets give unlimited ride for 5 days or 5 people/day. If you share between 2, then 1 get 2 days and another get 3 days. Unfortunately, all must travel together because the ticket is only one.

    2. Very cheap. Consider the regular price of the rail ticket in Japan, unlimited ride for only 2,300 yen is very cheap.

    Sample of Seishun 18 kippu (1 stamp means 1 day used)

    ファイル:18 ticket.jpg
    Demerits are:

    1. It is not applicable to any kind of bullet train
    2. Because it's only applicable to local and rapid JR you have to change the train many times for long distance ride

    Example for usage of Seishun 18 kippu

    Travel from Tokyo to Osaka normally cost 8,510 yen but with Seishun 18 Kippu it will cost you only 2,300 yen.
    Anyway, it could take a whole day, comparing to Shinkansen which take only 3 hours

     / 20 stations
    10:35~11:50  / 17 stations
    12:03~13:15  / 16 stations
    13:21~13:55  / 8 stations
    14:03~16:10  / 20 stations
    16:18~17:43  / 14 station

    วันเสาร์ที่ 3 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2554

    Day 6 Mateora

    Mateora which means "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above" , is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on theUNESCO World Heritage List 

    We went there on May which seems to be the best month as the weather is clear and comfortable and not high season so it was not so crowded. Anyway, you can visited there year round but it would be wet and cold in winter, Dec-Mar, and very crowded during high season, Jul-Oct.

    If you want to go to Mateora from Athens, you can also take a bus or a train. You could take a morning bus from Athens to Delphi and had overnight stop at Delphi and then from Delphi take a bus to Trikala and changed the bus there to Mateora. If you go in group, rental car is the most recommended because bus and train does not run so frequently that you can do flexible plan. Road in Greece is very good and safe, at least for me. Inter city road most are wide highway and quiet easy to follow the map and GPS. I got lose only once on the way to Olympia.

    We drove our own car up hill to Mateora as it located on the top of the cliff.

    We came down to have lunch at the restaurant in Kalambaka town and then left Kalambaka to return to Athens around 2PM

    GREECE Day 5

    Day 5 Olympia, Delphi

    In the morning, after we had a breakfast at cafe, we went to the archaeological site, Olympia. Olympia is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in DelphiBoth games were held every Olympiad (i.e. every four years), the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC. In 394 AD, (after exactly 1170 years) emperor Theodosius abolished them as they were then considered reminiscent of paganism. The first Olympic Games were in Olympia in honor of Zeus.


    Ruins of the Philippeion
    Entrance to the Olympia Stadium
    The Olympia stadium
    We spent half day at Olympia. There is a museum at Olympia too but because we did not have time enough so we did not get in to there. After we had lunch at the restaurant in Olympia, we then left for Delphi.
    Rion-Antirion bridge
    The weather is very nice as you would see the blue sky. Driving under weather like this made me feel very good. We must cross the Gulf of Corinth to Delphi. Here is the bridge, Rion-Antirion, which is the longest cable bridge. If you have time you can stop by Patras before you cross the bridge. Delphi is about 230 Km away from Olympia but because it is not highway so you we could not drive 100 Km/hr. It took about 4 hrs to Delphi. It just kept driving place to place and stoped at each place for 2 hrs only. As I told you that I have very limited time but I wanted to go everywhere because I might not have a chance to come back here again. Anyway, I do not recommend to follow my route in less than 10 days ha ha..

    Delphi Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew the Python, a deity who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth.   Delphi in ancient times was considered the center of the world, the place where heaven and earth met. This was the place on earth where man was closest to God. When Zeus sent two eagles to find the centre of the Earth, the birds met over Delphi, thus mark the site as the omphalos, or 'navel' of the world.

    Archaeological Site of Delphi is another UNESCO world heritage site

    Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia
    The Temple of Apollo
    The reconstructed Treasury of Athens,
    built to commemorate their victory at the
    Battle of Marathon
    The Theatre

    We made stop at Delphi only for 2 hrs and then we continue driving to Mateora, Kalambaka for another 230 Km or 4.30 hrs. Kalambaka is a municipality in the Trikala peripheral unit, part ofThessaly in Greece. You could stayed at the hotel in Trikala too but Kalambaka is closer to Mateora. At Kalambaka, we stayed at Hotel Kosta Famissi which is located in the center of Kalambaka and right below the monasteries "Mateora". Breakfast buffet is inclusive. Good money valued.

    The hotel is in town, surrounded by many shops and restaurants. I had dinner the the restaurant near hotel.

    วันจันทร์ที่ 29 สิงหาคม พ.ศ. 2554

    GREECE Road Trip Start

    Day 4

    We came back from Santorini to Athens by ANEK Lines. Again, the ferry was 5 hrs delayed. Hotel sent us to the port at 9 pm while the ferry was scheduled to leave at 10.30. Anyway, it was 5 hrs delayed!!Oh my god. This ruined our schedule because we plan to pick our rental car in early morning but because of this we arrived Athens almost noon.

    Because we did not pick up the car on time, our car were sent from Hertz at Piraeus port back to the office in town. We had to take taxi to Hertz office in town. It made me feel so annoying.

    After pick up the car, we head to Nafplion first. We use GPS and map altogether for this trip which is ok. We arrived all destinations well in planned time. Nafplion is about 140 Km away from Athens.  On the way, you can see the Corinth Canal from the car. 
    Corinth Canal
    Nafplion is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. The town was the first capital of modern Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. Nafplion is popular resort town as it enjoys a very sunny and mild climate and is a popular day- or weekend road trip destination for Athenians in wintertime.
    Square of the Philhellenes

    Constitution Square
    The castle of Palamidi
    The castle of Bourtzi 
    We stopped at Nafplion around 1.30 hrs and then continue Mycenae which is about 20 km away from Nafplion

    Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west ofAthens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Mycenae iUNESCO World Heritage Site and well known for its main entrance, Lion Gate, and Tomb of Agamemnon.

    House of the warrior vase
    Panoramic view of the site
    Grave circle
    Lion Gate
    Sunset restaurant
    We left Mycenae around 5pm and continue to Olympia to stay overnight there. On the way, we stopped by Sunset Restaurant to have a dinner. Very nice restaurant but I don't know exactly where it is. Just passed by. Olympia (Ancient Olympia) is about 70 Km away from Mycenae. 

    We arrive Olympia very late at night, almost 11PM because we got lost. We could not find Olympia on GPS so I must search from zip code of hotel address. There are 2 Olympia and where I have to go is called Ancient Olympia (Ολυμπία Olympía) which did not show on GPS. We kept asking Greece people along the way. They could not speak English well but they are very helpful.

    We finally arrived Hotel. We stayed at Ilis Hotel It's small hotel but very clean and convenient. It is very close to Olympia site, walking distance. We stayed in tripple room. Very tired ZZZ


    Hotel: http://www.agoda.com/
    Airline: Qatar Airways
    Budget: US$2,500

    Average air temperatures in °C
    Source: http://www.travelinfo.gr

    This is another hard trip for me due to very time limit. I just started working last year so I could take very short vecation. Anyway, I would like to cover all places. If anybody follow my route, I would like to recommend to spare at least 10 days ++

    Length of stay : 7 days 
    Day 1-3SantoriniBy Ferry: ANEK Lines (http://www.anek.gr/)
    Day 4  Nafplion, Mycenae, Olympia By rental car (270 Km, 4 hrs)
    Day 5  Olympia, DelphiBy rental car (230 Km, 4.30 hrs) 
    Day 6Kalambaka, Kastraki, Meteora, AthensBy rental car (350 Km, 4.30hrs)
    Day 7Athens         Returned a car to Hertz, Athens
    Day 8AthensTrain
    Day 9AthensFly to Spain
    *Driving time and distance is base on google map because I could not remembered exactly how far and long it take. I also planned base on google map and remembered that the actual time used is not that different.

    Day1-3 Bangkok-Doha-Athens-Santorini

    Qatar is one of the best airlines I ever used. The price is very reasonable (Actually it's the cheapest I could find) but the quality, service and in-flight entertainment is so great. I think it's cheap because I need to transit at Doha for 3 hrs. Anyway, it's cheap ^^
    In the air

    After arrived Athens around 6pm, we took a bus to the port to get on the ferry, Anek Lines, to Santorini. The port is called "Piraeus". We booked the ticket online here http://www.anek.gr/ There are many kinds of seats for your choice but we picked aircraft type seat which is unfixed seats in the big room you can sit or sleep wherever you want. I recommend you to bring some blanket to put it on the floor so you can lie down on the floor. 
    Inside the ferry for air seat type passengers

    If the ferry depart as scheduled, using the aircraft type seat should be no problem. The schedule is the ferry depart at 22.30 and arrive Santorini 3.30 in the next morning. But here, the ferry was 5 hrs delayed. Imagin you took 10 hrs flight to Athens and arrive the port around 20.00 and expected to be on the ferry at 22.30. We have to wait for the ferry until 2.30 AM!!!! My god!!! We just found the cafe to sit and wait because it's quite cold outside. So it was my long last journey.
    ( On the way back, the ferry was 5 hrs delayed too....)
    Anek Lines
    View of sun rise from the ferry
    Panoramic view of Fira
    My Hotel: Stelios Place
    We stayed at Stelios Place Hotel which is very clean and nice. We stayed at tripple room which cost about EUR30 so it was only EUR10 each. There is very nice swimming pool and very close to the beach which has lots of bar and restaurant along. 
    Black Beach near hotel
    We rented the car to drive around in the first day and bought 1 day trip to Volcanic island in the second day. 

    Santorini is a volcanic island in the Cyclades group of the Greek islands. It is located between Ios and Anafi islands. Santorini is famous for its volcanic landscape, gray and red beaches, dazzling white houses, terraces with panoramic sea views and stunning sunsets in Oia town.There are naturally fantastic beaches such as the beach of Perissa, maybe the best beach in Santorini, the black pebble beach ofKamari, white beach and red beach.

    First day

    In town
    Panoramic view from Oia
    We started the day driving to Fira to have lunch and then continue driving to Oia. Because in the second day after the trip to Volcanic Island we will be dropped at Oia to see sunset so today we drive to the edge of the island at which lighthouse located to watch sunset. You can find the lighthouse on the map you get from hotel. There are many sunset spot noted in the map just pick one ^^ I believe it's beautiful from any spot.
    Here!! Lighthouse
    Beautiful Sunset
    It was amazing. It's very romantic place. Unfortunately, I went there with my friends. We drove back to the hotel to return the car and had dinner at restaurant around the hotel. Hotel is very close to the beach you can find many nice restaurants there.

    Second day

    Second day, we bought 1 day trip to volcanic island. You can jump to swim out of the boat.The boat will stop and let you swim in the hot spring so please bring your swimming suit. On the island you can take a donkey ride to the top of mountain which will offer you a panoramic view of volcano's caldera

    Our boat
    Volcanic Island
    Sunset in Oia