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Japan5
2 Nov - 26 Nov 2015


Korea2
3 Mar - 26 Mar 2015

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Japan November 2015 - Tokyo - Nagoya - Hiroshima - Shimonoseki - Fukuoka - Page 7

Day 19 - Friday, 20 November 2015

Giant phallus

Now I am in Shimonoseki, home of banished samurai and the deadly puffer fish fugu.
The local spelling of fugu is of course, fuku, so you can laugh at that now. Its one of those Chinese style pronounciations that is halfway between g and k.
This spelling confusion is a litte different from the band Glay I mentioned earlier on this trip, who really wanted to call themselves Gray, but stuffed up due to the way Japanese people say r as l and now have the most un western friendly name ever.

Anyway, its not far to Shimonoseki, but the Shinkansen that stops here, stops at all stations. Some of these made no sense, but google maps tells me the 'shin' stations are a long way from the cities the line is actually servicing, probably due to mountains.
I spent most of the journey in tunnels, coming out just for stations.

Arriving at Shin-Shimonoseki, and its quite a distance from the city, for which I had to transfer to the local line.
They time the arrival of the local line to meet the bullet train, but I was wandering around exploring the station and therefore missed it. As usual. Oh well, 40 minute wait to the next one, time to wander the deserted streets around the station.

Once I arrived at Shimonoseki proper, it is seemingly a bunch of megamalls joined by elevated walkways, which conveniently go between the station and my hotel.

Right now I am doing my washing, which has been an adventure. The machines are inside the change rooms for the hot spring, there are machines in the mens and womens change rooms. I didnt know which was which and they are currently empty as far as I can tell.
So I snuck into one of them, and have put my washing on, but now I have to keep sneaking into there to put my clothes in the dryer and get them out etc. right into the changerooms where nudity is mandatory, and I have no idea if I am in the right one.
Perhaps they will think I am just a big ugly girl. A common mistake that happens to me in Australia.

At the suggestion of my mother and because I had heaps of time before my train, I went up to the roof of Fukuya to enjoy the view.

Would have been better to do at night. I climbed up on things to hold my camera over the dirty glass.

Time to enjoy my sandwich and lemon water. I have developed a real taste for white bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Mainly because of how cheap they are.

Todays bullet train was a different kind. Seating is 2 x 2 not 2 x 3, and its also empty apart from me.

It was nearly all tunnels today, apart from the 5 stops we made. I believe this one was at Tokuyama, which out the other window was a huge oil refinery as far as the eye could see.

I am the only person who got off at Shin-Shimonoseki. No one is anywhere on the platform. So I wandered about and missed my connection to the local train.

Which means I had plenty of time to examine in detail the stations tributes to Fuku. I will only use the correct Japanese spelling from now on.

Outside the main station in the city proper was a nice building, obscured by construction of course.

And then the giant phallus monument and observation tower which overlooks everyone in Shimonoseki, and mocks the sister city across the ocean in KitaKyushu.
This photo does not convey its true massiveness.

My hotel is a dormy inn premium again, it is identical to the one in Nagoya.

Bathroom also the same. Now to go back to the washing machine and see whats going on in the ladies locker room.

Closed at seven

Everything in Shimonoseki closed at 7pm, on a Friday. I was shocked.
Maybe not everything, Sake bars, Hostess bars and a cool supermarket were open.

I had a good wander around, and didnt really see much.
Theres an area called the green mall, which is a street with shops selling Korean goods with green awnings. Most of these had closed down. There is a ferry to Busan from here, hence the large amount of Korean stuff.
There were signs pointing to a shopping street, and I think I was on it, but couldnt really tell.
So I retreated to the station area, which wikipedia tells me is where everything happens, and was very confused by the supposedly huge 'Sea Mall'.
The layout of this place was unlike anything I had ever seen, it was like a house with rooms, and hidden doorways to another room. Sometimes you had to walk through one shop to get to the next.
There was no actual mall area, where one would walk along outside the shops, apart from one very small atrium. One end is a Daimaru which was very sparsely stocked. I had no way of telling where it ended and the next store started.

Imagine my surprise when they promptly shut, everything, at 7pm. Including the restaurant floor, and fast food outlets at street level! Its Friday not Monday.
I saw a lot of people running around trying to get to places as they were shutting, in Japan wouldnt most people still be getting home from work at this time?

I was by now starving, so it was time for a supermarket dinner, which was great!

Giant phallus changes colors at night. I couldnt find anything of interest around the bottom of it. By all accounts the restaurant at the top is terrible and expensive.

I marched up 155 steps on what appears to be a man made mini mountain to this temple. It was creepy up there all alone.

There are no people. I might have actually been too early for this area as theres big neon signs for hostess bars that are still turned off at 6:30pm.

There is also no English anywhere, apart from this sign, telling me in English how to speak Japanese.

My only friend was this cat, who is proudly guarding what remains of a once thriving Little Busan area.

This building is a civic centre, I cant tell if its fake or not. I am fairly certain what looks like a grand library on the roof is fake and made out of polystyrene.

I took a seat and waited for the xmas show, but it never started.

The layout of the mall was infuriating enough, before I realised theres no way to go from one half of it to the other, note the gap between buildings here.

Heres how you get to the other half after walking through the multi level car park.
And on the subject of car parks, they are absolutely everywhere. Most of the tall buildings are car parks. Pachinko is one level of machines, 10 levels of car park.
Theres also no real underground, Daimaru has no basement, probably because we are on the ocean.

SHUT! Those people down the bottom are running. Was I about to be locked in? The lights went out.

Mister Donut, shut, Lotteria, shut, KFC, shut. Starbucks stayed open, I almost had a cake dinner.

But instead, I found a fantastic supermarket that stays open until 10pm. Seems to be quite an upmarket supermarket based on their meat, bakery, food and veg sections.

I got some sushi including dessert sushi, pickled cucumber Sichuan style which was awesome, and then a fantastic green tea flavoured dessert. It was all discounted too I think it cost about $5. Maybe I will get food poisoning.

adriana on 2015-11-20 said:
Nice photos again, and yes things shut early in small places, just like Adelaide.

mother on 2015-11-20 said:
First photo - to the right of the building you are looking at was a back street leading to my apartment. Dormy Inns have washing machines and hot dryers. Not the luke warm ones that some other hotels have. Business hotels like Dormy Inn are always good as they have amenities like Pjs and microwaves and beer machines etc.

Day 20 - Saturday, 21 November 2015

Under the sea

Today I went under the sea to Kyushu. This is the first time I have ever been to one of the main Japanese islands other than Honshu.
I then wandered around in Kyushu, and saw an excellent town.
Then it was back under the sea, and up the mountain the bridge goes from and the tunnel goes under to appreciate the view, and what a view.
Its a view that would have to rival Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

Then I started a pilgrimage trek to the Samurai town along the coast.
All of this took 36,000 steps and 8 hours without stopping! I even ate a sandwich and a banana whilst walking and jogged some of the way to fit it all in.
There is a huge amount to see and do around this area, in the daytime at least. Although I think the other side via the tunnel is somewhat more tourist friendly.
I have only scratched the surface, this evening I will go across to the otherside again, this time by train, and explore the much bigger city of Kitakyushu until my legs decide its time for sleeping.

The photos below are culled from well over 100, there were at least 5 temples that got left out, gardens, view, giant ships etc. Whats left is just there for me to remember the places I went in general.
Before typing that up, I need to consult google maps to actually find out where I went!

All drain covers in Shimonoseki are of the beloved fuku, that can kill you dead if its prepared wrong.
Apparently the city is the only place in the world where you can study to be a licensed preparer of the fish.

My hotel is quite near the docks, this is the view between Honshu and Kyushu, from sea level.

Nearby along the coast away from the station is a fun park. It has a ferris wheel. Ordinarily I would go on it, but I had tunnels to go through.

The internet says they still drive this bus around town. I think the internet needs to be updated.

This is not Shimonoseki city area, its near the aquarium where you can see dolphin shows and the fun park pictured above.
I feel the restaurants here might be open past 7pm, but I could be wrong.

Next up is the wholesale fish market, where every kind of fuku is available.

I think its actually more for locals and tourists, since they sell a lot more than just fish, including plush toy versions of fuku.

My first view of the impressive bridge. More to come!

This is the big local temple with an impressive history I cant remember anything about now. Very nearby is a building where the treaty ending the Sino Japanese war was signed.

Behind the main temple, and the tourist buses, is another temple.

To get down I went through this. I kind of felt I was wandering around someones backyard though, so I used my ninja sneaking skills.

There were lots of cannons and gun fortifications on my journey today.
At some point, Japan signed a treaty to open up the place for trade. The local samurai decided they didnt like this version of the trans pacific partnership.
So they installed guns and sunk the ships of foreign traders.
France the UK and the USA all sent ships to bomb the place for a year or so. I think this was whenever the American civil war was.

The entrance to the tunnel was a rather bland building.

Now I go under the ocean, for about 750 metres.

Im straddling the border between 2 cities, 50 metres under the sea, BELOW the car tunnel and train tunnel.
It was quite windy at times, which I am guessing is the ventilation system.
Also it was much warmer the deeper I went.

I felt as though I walked downhill the whole way, but when I got to the otherside and turned back, I realised that was not the case.

To get to and from the tunnel on each side is actually a long lift ride down.
It is free to walk, theres s fee to wheel your bike or scooter.
One guy was riding his scooter, and a very very VERY angry voice came on over the loudspeaker system, absolutely screaming at him repeatedly. The guy just rode on with no care.

Now I am on Kyushu, lets get walking some more.

I came to a large food fair at a tourist port called Mojiko. Seemed like an excellent place to spend the whole day. But I had plans, stick to the plan.

More of the food fair in Mojiko.

This is a Russian designed building, identical to one in Harbin China. It symbolises the new peace between China and Japan, or did whenever it was built.
The big thing behind it has an observation deck on the top designed by a very famous architect whos name I now forget. Its not as new as it looks.

I believe this is a building that was constructed in 1920 to attract foreign thinkers to spend time in the city. Germans primarily.
I think Japan has had some selective history re writing done about it, because they mention Einstein came to stay along with other important figures of the era. Which means nazis.
This building is probably where they formed their alliance.

The paddle steamer is a HUMBURGUR shop.

How the hell do you eat this? Its Okonomyaki on a stick. Look at the fried egg wrapped around it. Theres no way that would have the structural integrity to be eaten.

Todays cat stalked me all the way back to the tunnel.

Cat did a good job protecting me from the gnomes.

Now for todays hilarity. This woman ignored the flashing lights for the rail crossing, and got stuck between the gates. You can see the train in the background.
The driver got down and absolutely yelled at her, taking photos, noting license etc.
The woman, middle aged, got out of the car and yelled at everyone, including me and others taking photos.
She then left managing to spin the wheels in anger in whatever tiny engined car that is.

Its only a small tourist train, but it would still cause serious damage to your car!

Back over the Honshu side, and no epic day is complete without climbing something. It was a short climb and the only option (apart from driving), because the cable car seems to no longer operate.

Dead cable car at the top, now for the view.

The view...

..was amazing...

...in every direction.
I took the best panorama ever, I really should upload it full resolution

Lots of foxholes etc. up here.

The view in the other direction, also awesome.

There is a revolving restaurant to appreciate the great view.
There is food on every table but no people? Maybe they have a booking and the bus is on its way.

Link to Hi Resolution 3000x2000 version
And the enclosed viewing deck is free, probably a great place to hang out in winter.

There is also a shop to buy frozen fuku at the top. Not sure why you would suddenly decide here is the best spot to buy some fish.

I thought I could walk over this mountain and down the other side, but I could not, so had to re trace my steps. This butterfly kept me company. There were no people, cause you can drive up.

Once I was back down, and another huge ship timed going under the bridge perfectly.

I walked / jogged along the coast for at least an hour between cities, I had drank a lot of water....I was very 'relieved' to get to this gian Aeon supermarket with hardware store attached.

This thing is the Toyota mascot. We dont get along.

Now I am in the historic Samurai town of Chofu, which has something to do with the Kamakura clan from up north. It was a beautiful town, all huge houses with gardens such as this.

There are castle ruins, they havent rebuilt it, shrines and famous Samurai houses everywhere.
Tonight and tomorrow is their xmas light festival, boy scouts were busy putting candles and things up every street.

This place seemed legit. Somewhere here is one of Japans national treasures, another one of their lists of things.

There was no English, but I think this is the tomb of the head of a shogunate or similar.

The streets of this place are all like this.

A lot of private houses are also open, some you have to pay to go in, others are really fancy cafes or antique shops / galleries.

Which contrasts with the actual main street of Chofu, which is a place 1965 forgot.

The busy side

This evening I went to Kitakyushu, where I walked to earlier, only this time I went via train.
The train still goes under the ocean, but its a different tunnel. It seems to go about 500kmph in a rattly old ww2 era single carriage, the noise it made in the tunnel was concerning.
You then have to change to a different train on the other side, which then takes you to the main station of Kitakyushu called Kokura, so I have a theory. JR west and JR Kyushu are two different companies these days, when the tunnel was built there was just JR. So now no one maintains that one train which for its whole life just goes continuously between the two islands.
The driver of this train, now 108 years old, continues as he feels it is his duty, but no one pays him because he technically works for neither company.

Whilst on the subject of trains, I decided once I got to the Kokura station, that it is a much nicer place to be early for your bullet train tomorrow than Shin-Shimonoseki, its also easier to get to because the train to it runs every 10 minutes.
So, whilst in Kokura station this evening, I waltzed into the ticket office with my ticket I had already purchased that goes from Shin-Shimonoseki, to Hakura (main station in Fukuoka) and said 'exchange please, Kokura to Hakata'. The girl snatched the ticket, and 8 seconds later handed me a replacement and change. I actually got refunded for the journey being slightly shorter, No change fee, no 'no refund', just service.

Thats a lot of place names in one story, we have Shimonoseki which is on the southern tip of Honshu, Shin-Shimonoseki which is about 10km north in the middle of nowhere, Kokura which is on Kyushu and the biggest commercial district of the Kitakyushu metropolitan area, and Hakata which is the bullet train station in Fukuoka on Kyushu, got it?

Kokura station is not only huge, its also where the famous monorail track ends. Normally more is better, except for tracks, when one is better.

Kokura has numerous covered shopping streets to wander around.

Now I stared at this for a while and I am convinced its an excavator on the bottom of the river that should not be there.
There were floating spill pontoon things surrounding the area, but they might put those up when they are digging anyway, however if it is a machine designed to work under water, how does it get power?
It would have to be diesel powered, and theres nothing there that looks like it might power it, so I think it was on a barge and slid off or sank.

Kokura is also encouraging buying day December 25.

Night castle. I climbed over a garden with keep off signs to take this photo.

There are at least 3 impressively sized department stores in the station area.

So, I wandered into one of the stores, and it had 50 places to eat, its 7:30pm, the signs said restaurants open until 22:30, but no, closed signs started appearing. Time to decide where to eat, fast!

What I ended up with was like a pot pie you would get form a pub in Australia, only with rice on the bottom and an egg on the top. Very delicious.

David on 2015-11-21 said:
Wikipedia tells me its an 8.8km 13 station monorail line that terminates in Kokura.

mother on 2015-11-21 said:
tell me more about the monorail. Something I was unaware of as was the walking tunnel under the sea.

mother on 2015-11-21 said:
Well what an exciting day you have had. I think you are where Commodore Perry with his black ships from the Us bombarded Japan till they agreed to open up and let the yanks in to trade. This was basically the end of the Samurai. 1859?

Day 21 - Sunday, 22 November 2015

Final destination

Now I am in Fukuoka, it will be my last stop on this holiday.
Getting here took about, 18 minutes, on the bullet train in a tunnel for probably 17 of those minutes.
I took a train as late as I could based on check out time, so before leaving Shimonoseki I went and had a look at the ferry terminal.
From there, you can take a ferry to Korea every day or 3 locations in China once a week. It is only $60 to go to Korea on a huge ship that takes 12 hours.
The ferry terminal was like a tier 3 Chinese city, I suspect everyone that works there wonders why it still exists. I saw the huge ferry from Korea arrive, and only 12 people got off, it looks like it could carry 1200.

Once I got to Fukuoka, I walked to my hotel, which took a while, but I was still too early for the strictly enforced 3pm check in, so I wandered around the place and looked in shops.
Fukuoka seems large, and modern, the downtown area is full of people currently, I hear Sunday is the most popular day for kids to hang ou in town, cause they go to school on Saturdays in Japan.
Being a student in an Asian country is just terrible.
The most exciting thing is that my hotel is nearby 2 supermarkets, I like supermarkets.

The Shimonoseki ferry terminal and immigration detention centre.

Like everywhere in Shimonoseki, you can get to the ferry terminal without ever descending to street level, thus ensuring there is no commercial business of any kind in the city.

The Hakata station in Fukuoka is quite a distance from the main downtown area called Tenoji, but its still a huge commercial area itself. this is Yodabashi.
Inside the train station gates there was a mini ramen festival going on, more on that later...

You can smoke inside burger king still.

The lobby of my hotel is impressive. It is an APA Excellent hotel, Im not sure what separates APA hotels from APA Excellent.
You will see soon how this hotel chain is a religious cult.

I headed into the excellent Loft store, and bought a scandanavian toilet seat cushion.

Mitsukoshi is huge but dated looking. Its also the Fukuoka station area, which is not where bullet trains go from.

This bullshit is the scourge of Japan. More idiots on a truck screaming all day with the huge air cannon speakers. Their voices echo across the entire city at all times.
It looks like a nazi rally. There are literally, 2 people watching them.

Now thats a department store. This is all Daimaru. The huge red building on the left and right, the central atrium and the glass tower in the middle.
I counted 17 levels plus 2 underground. I only ever go into the stores for the restaurants, but I have no idea how they can all be sustained financially.

This is the down town Ramen festival and competition of sorts, there seems to be judging. Tonight is the final night, so I guess thats dinner if I can get near the head of a queue and find a seat.
I cant eat ramen whilst standing, and I saw a lot of people wandering around looking uncomfortably for a seat at 3 in the afternoon.

The local big boss guitar store is fantastic.

More Bodens. These things are supposed to be rare. Every guitar store in Japan has at least 2.

I refuelled on some seaweed and dried fish flavoured star wars star shapes. They were terrible.

This is my room, probably the nicest room I have had so far. Its a bit dated but has been done up. Paper cranes on the bed.

You can tell that under the facade of new, is a lot of layers of old.

My late afternoon snack, pickled cucumber again, and fruit salad. Delicious, so healthy, need to go on diet or do more exercise, 40,000 steps a day isnt cutting it.

And now I will settle down to the free book provided in my room - Japan Pride - a proposal for revival.

Chapters include -

We must take back Japans glorious history.
The asahi shimbuns reporting on the comfort women issue is the medias worst crime in the postwar era.
Other media outlets are greatly responsible for permitting the asahi shimbuns reckless actions.

Out of 12 chapters, 3 are on 'the comfort women issue'. I mention it often here and when in China and in Korea, it really is a big deal.
The hotel group owner is a huge supporter of Shinzo Abe, and wants to invade China. Seriously.

More than Shinjuku

I think Fukuoka has a larger commercial district than even Shinjuku. Theres 10 big department stores. I dont know how the population can support this, but it was busy enough tonight.
On my way to the shopping area, a few hundred metres from my hotel, many black cats crossed my path in the back streets, and then a kitten attacked me! Tried to bite my heels. I had to flee.
Around the next corner, some tough guys were busy comparing perms and man bags out the front of the skateboard shop, so I stood there to take their photo and they all became shy.
Later, I saw a bunch of zombie girls, all dressed up, arms swaying, walking like the undead, until I tried to take their photo, when they also fled.
This got me thinking, is there a huge market in Japan for fake tattoos? These fake tough kids have tattoos, but in Japan more so than in Australia, theres a social stigma attached to that. You cannot get a job, you cannot go into a spa or pool etc.
So I am now presuming these tough kids secretly get dressed up each Sunday night, apply their temporary tattoos, and wash it all off somewhere before they go home in their plain school uniform.

Mitsukoshi is doing their part to sustain the power industry of Japan by putting millions of lights around the perimeter of their massive store.
Lots of people were enjoying them, including small children running and rolling down the grass hill. It was dangerous standing here, a mini Pikachu almost got me.

I dont even know what these places are, big stores in every direction.

Iwataya on both sides of the road, joined by the bridges above the road and the huge food area underground.

I wandered away a bit, and came across this store covered in tentacles and or tree branches. They continue throughout the interior of the store also.

Quite tasteful.

This is a working cuckoo clock. Its on the outside of a whole complex of covered shopping streets.

Star Wars Crocs.
How did Disney convince every single brand for every single product to pay them money?
I think they went to all of them and talked up how they were targetting them specifically for a Star Wars exclusive partnership, must maintain media blackout until whatever date.
Then on that date, every company in Japan revealed their Star Wars merchandise, and the cheese factory was annoyed that the shoe factory was annoyed that the toilet paper company was annoyed that the fridge company all had Star Wars everything.

I did indeed return for my Ramen. It was not as popular at night, didnt have to line up long and easily found a table.
All serves were the same price, you had to buy a meal ticket from a different stand, and then the stall you buy from puts their stamp on it and it gets counted to the total for best Ramen in all of Japan!

My ramen was pretty good, not sure it was the best I have had though!
It was whilst here I remembered tomorrow is a national holiday again, for 'Labour Thanksgiving Day' whatever that is.
I thought it was weird the ramen festival finishes tomorrow on a Monday. This may alter my plans.

Heres a streetside food stall my mother mentioned in the above comments. They are everywhere. Very much like the ones in Korea.
The difference is theres no smoke pouring out of these ones because they arent charcoal fired barbecue.

The shopping and dining streets around the Tenjin area seem to go on forever, I am yet to find where the neon ends.

Mother on 2015-11-22 said:
Nothing like a good conspiracy theory. Nice shops I remember them from many years ago. Wonder if they have any traditional shopping arcades.

David on 2015-11-22 said:
the book is in every apa hotel room in Japan, theres lots of info about the chairmen of the company on the internet

The content was from a rigged essay competition, most of the winners are friends of the chairmen, many of them were ghost written by high ranking armed forces officials

theres also the more recent scandal where they believe fukushima meltdown is an American conspiracy to shutdown Japans nuclear industry and prevent Japan from developing their own bomb to exact revenge! Im not kidding.

mother on 2015-11-22 said:
Fukuoka is famous for it Baiten - street side stalls selling food like ramen etc. the book in your hotel is bizarre.

Page 8 is all based in Fukuoka.

Contents

Hi Resolution Panoramas

Latest Update

Day 1 - Monday, 2 November 2015
  Mile high typing club
  Mobile mucus dispersion unit
Day 2 - Tuesday, 3 November 2015
  Still alive
  Quietly confident
Day 3 - Wednesday, 4 November 2015
  Electric cubes and gap toothed models
  Need to step up my game
Day 4 - Thursday, 5 November 2015
  Sleepy train ride
  The dark temple
Day 5 - Friday, 6 November 2015
  Suburban Tokyo
  Not much has changed
Day 6 - Saturday, 7 November 2015
  Mosquito mountain camera failure
  Beneath the tracks
Day 7 - Sunday, 8 November 2015
  Much rain
  Soup in a can
Day 8 - Monday, 9 November 2015
  Not been here before
  And still it rains
Day 9 - Tuesday, 10 November 2015
  Long day at altitude
  Bare minimum
Day 10 - Wednesday, 11 November 2015
  Osaka castle - Nagoya branch
  Also theres Oso
Day 11 - Thursday, 12 November 2015
  Monkeys castles and fighter jets
  For one no sorry
Day 12 - Friday, 13 November 2015
  Grey day on a bald mountain
  Aeon ozone dome walk
Day 13 - Saturday, 14 November 2015
  Looming rain
  Throw everything on a plate
Day 14 - Sunday, 15 November 2015
  My room is old
  Too many places to eat
Day 15 - Monday, 16 November 2015
  Not a bad view
  I found them
Day 16 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015
  Rainy bomb day
  Get wet to go somewhere dry
Day 17 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015
  Flood
  Mystery fair and bad pho
Day 18 - Thursday, 19 November 2015
  Raining tourists
  I got to wander
Day 19 - Friday, 20 November 2015
  Giant phallus
  Closed at seven
Day 20 - Saturday, 21 November 2015
  Under the sea
  The busy side
Day 21 - Sunday, 22 November 2015
  Final destination
  More than Shinjuku
Day 22 - Monday, 23 November 2015
  Other people
  Sudden downpour
Day 23 - Tuesday, 24 November 2015
  Sand castle
  Red lights dimmed
Day 24 - Wednesday, 25 November 2015
  No mountain
  It got cold
Day 25 - Thursday, 26 November 2015
  The shed
  Bored



Hi Resolution Panoramas