I recently spent some time in Chester. I took a few photos while I was there.
It’s Chinese New Year (Year of the Rooster). I went into Manchester and took a few photos.
There was a few things happening but most of the activities are happening tomorrow so I’m planning to go out again and hopefully get some more photos.
Earlier today a friend sent me a video featuring a popular children’s song celebrating the new year (see link below). There are numerous versions of this on the Internet.
*** Spoiler Alert *** Nothing much to write about here as I was returning home and travelling all day but here’s what happened.
I got up early, grabbed all my stuff and set off for the train station. I got a train just before 07:00 to Shinagawa where I bought a ticket for the Narita Express. I didn’t understand the different types of tickets available so I got the most basic one. I went to the platform. There were signs on the platform saying that all the seats were reserved. I just got on the front carriage which happened to be a Green Car which is First Class. I was the only one in the car for most of the journey and only a couple of people got on this car at another station. A couple of stations before the airport a conductor entered the car and asked me to pay for an upgrade on my Ticket.
When I got to the airport I headed for the check-in desk and checked in my luggage. I went through security and headed for the departure gate. Before the flight I had a large beer while I was waiting.
The first flight for Zurich left at 11:05 and took over 12 hours.
In Zurich there was not enough security desks open although they opened some more desk after customers complained. The staff were quite rude and complained a lot about customers not following the rules (even though these rules were not explained to anybody). The staff man-handled my external hard disk and cameras. I chose not to argue as I had already heard them threaten another customer with not being able to fly that day.
I had a coffee while I waited at the departure gate for the next flight at 17:10 (local time). I took 2 hours to get to Manchester.
I arrived in Manchester just after 18:00 and collected my luggage then went through the automated security checks and went home by tram. I was a bit tired and chose the wrong ticket from the ticket machine but I spoke to a staff member who changed the ticket for me.
The plane arrived at Kansai International Airport at 07:20. I collected my luggage and joined the queue for immigration. While in the queue, a man checked the immigration forms that we were given and asked basic questions to ensure the forms were correctly filled out. Some people had to make corrections or complete new forms. When I got to the front of the queue I was asked about my stay, my passport was stamped and my fingerprints were scanned.
Everyone was polite and very helpful. The staff I spoke to gave me 100% of their attention and went out of their way to help me.
I was impressed by the amount of facilities in the airport which included several food options and numerous shops.
I spent some time looking around the airport and then looked for the Bay Shuttle ticket counter. Before I arrived I had decided to get to Kobe by Ferry because I thought it would be more interesting. Unfortunately though when speaking to the staff at the ticket counter my Japanese language skills were limited. The staff didn’t seem to understand what I said and just kept giving me information about how to get there by bus. I was pretty tired and chose to follow their instructions. One of the staff members helped me buy a ticket from the ticket machine and I boarded the limousine bus. The journey took just over an hour and there were announcements in English which was useful.
The bus arrived in Kobe-Sannomiya about 10:00. The Air BnB apartment that I booked was in Kobe-Motomachi and the check-in time was 16:00. I decided have a look around while I waited.
There were a lot of people on bikes which they mostly rode safely on the pavement. Unlike the UK, almost everyone waited until the lights were green before crossing the road and pedestrian crossings.
In a lot of places, smoking was banned in the street which I found interesting as you can smoke inside in many places.
I noticed that lots of older men dressed in uniforms with bright batons helping people at crossings, warning people of roadworks and supervising deliveries to businesses. Apart from a few crossing guards when children go to and return from school, this doesn’t happen in the UK.
I came across a coffee shop and decided to spend some time there.
The coffee shop had WIFI so I used that to contact the Air BnB host about checking in early. He said I could check-in any time after 12:00.
I checked my messages and social media while watching people go about their day.
By this time it was about 11:30. I checked Google Maps to get a rough idea of where to go. I left the coffee shop and I asked someone for directions and she told me how to get to Sannomiya Station.
When I got to there, I loaded some credit onto a Suica Card which I had already borrowed from friend before I left the UK. Luckily the ticket machines have English menus. I asked someone in the station which train to catch to get to Motomachi.
The train arrived at Motomachi a few minutes later and I followed the directions, I had, to the Air BnB apartment. I got to the apartment just after 12:00. I had a quick look around then had a shower and got changed. After watching TV for a bit and having a rest, I went for a look around the neighbourhood.
The apartment was location roughly half way along a covered shopping street which is just over 1km long. There are many covered shopping streets in Japan. I walked to the shopping street. As I was in the middle of the street, I picked a random direction to walk in. The shops appeared to have been there for a number of years and there was a fusty smell in some of them.
There were several signs telling people not to ride bikes but nobody took any notice.
At the end of the street, I noticed a sign for Kobe Harborland. This was one of the places I planned to visit so I headed that way. On the way I picked up some sandwiches and snacks.
Just before I arrived at Harborland, I bought some more snacks and I got some Omiyage for a friend.
I had a look around the Kobe Harborland umie shopping centre. I stopped at a cafe for coffee and cake. I thought that the cake was quite expensive at 497 Yen but the coffee was only 43 yen. I used my basic Japanese to order which people a couple of people in the queue seemed to find amusing. I noticed a few people in the cafe watching me. I guess they don’t normally see many foreigners there or maybe I was the first person they’d seen buy overpriced cake. Both the coffee and the cake were delicious.
I left the cafe about 16:00 and then I took a few photos. At about 17:00 it started to get dark so I headed back to the apartment where I watched some TV before going to bed.