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The Great Smoky Mountains Trip (2011)

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S: Great Smoky Mountains Trip 2011

BC: Resources Eyewitness Travel Guides - Japan, DK 2005 Culture Shock! A Guide to Customs and Etiquette - Japan, Bramble 2004 Clueless and Still Clueless in Tokyo - A Sketchbook, Reynolds 2003 and 2007 I Live in Tokyo, Takabayashi 2001 283 Useful Ideas from Japan, Koren 1988

1: Great Smoky Mountains Trip 2011

2: Things Needed for a Successful Trip 0. careful planning 1. be relieved in mood 2. a working GPS 3. good rest 4. sufficient food 5. lots lots of water 6. sun cream 7. a good camera capturing the moments | 24

3: A Road Trip A nine-hour drive along I64, I24, and I40 through MO, IL, KY, and TN leads us to the small town Gatlinburg, which is right at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. The town is characterized by its unique buildings such as an up-side-down restaurant, a lot of motels along the streets, many many tourists, and fresh air.

4: Rainbow Falls A rainbow produced by mist from this 80-foot high waterfall is visible on sunny afternoons. Between trailhead and falls, Rainbow Falls Trail gains about 1,500' in elevation. The 5.4 mile roundtrip hike is considered moderate in difficulty. The Rainbow Falls Trail continues for approximately 4 miles beyond the falls to the summit of Mt. Le Conte. | The first day started with a 5.4-mile roundtrip hike to the Rainbow falls, which turned out to be a too long and strenuous one for us, especially for Baobao. Without having breakfast, she was exhausted at the first half of the hike and kept sweating along the way. This trip highlighted the importance of having a nice sleep, a good breakfast, and bringing sufficient water.

5: We discovered a nice stream with a small waterfall when having an auto tour along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The rocks are full of lichen and very slippery. Caution!

11: Great Smoky Mountains - A Wondrous Diversity of Life Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park. Over 800 miles of maintained trails; some 1,500 bears live in the park; elevations in the park range from just over 875 feet to 6,643 feet; temperatures can vary 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit from mountain base to top. We stayed in a cabin with a scenic mountain view. The cabin is spacious, comfortable, and has nice interior trims. We had BBQ on the sun porch, played billiards, and also had hot tube. They are all so wonderful! We enjoyed it!

18: A Confusing Place to be a Woman

19: If you see something you want, just buy it. Chances are, you'll never see it again.

20: With our new found Japanese friends Mai and Tomoko, we were able to get their perspectives on women's roles, relationships, body image, and other juicy topics.

21: - compliant school girls by day, trend-setters by night - - scantilly clad Anime girls decorate arcades and Pachinko machines - - tradition and technology side by side - - numerous ads, drugstores, and cosmetics are reminders you're always being watched - - Ai San talked about how her child was shunned when the simple bento lunch boxes she had prepared were "untradeable" by his classmates' standards -

28: Lake Ashi in Fuji-Hakone National Park Lake Ashi is a large crater lake at the base of Mt. Fuji. We took a cruise aboard a "pirate ship" to cross over to the ropeway to the top. When we arrived, we ate a meal where you fry tempura and tonkatsu at your table. After reading about the Japanese and their disdain for any show of germs and nose-blowing in public, it was here - in the midst of our tour group and the whole restaurant - that out of nowhere, blood came gushing out of my nose.

32: Getting Around

37: Sakura Although we were in Japan one month before most cherry blossoms would be in bloom, we were able to observe bits of pink here and there. As prevalent as natural blooms were artificial ones. Pretend blooms decorated malls, small businesses, and even the lobby of our hotel. In Japan, the blossoms are highly anticipated, signifying beauty and coinciding with major life events.

39: Nara Park and Todai-ji Temple World's largest bronze Buddha at 49 feet Deer are considered "messengers of the gods"

40: Temples of Stone and Gold

41: Large stone steps often must be conquered before reaching the temple - A Shiba Inu stands guard - Nijo Castle's squeaky nightingale floors warn of intruders - Kinkakuji Temple's landmark is the Golden Pavilion, inspiring thoughts of heaven and earth - Shoes must be left outside of the temple, where bags or cubbies are provided - Inside, monks chant while visitors bow in reverence and prayer - Wood or clay dolls eternally bow at the base of a Buddha

42: Rare but enchanting were the quintessential Japanese rock and water gardens

43: Architectural features of bridges and lanterns were always accompanied by religious symbols

44: Kiyomizu Temple

45: As an UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Kyoto temple surrounds you with amazing | views, artifacts, and souvenirs. After touring the grounds, spot geisha among the old shops.

48: vendor making waffle-like, cream-filled buns - mini-marts like a.m./p.m., Lawson's, and Family Mart carry delicious bento boxes and "French" pastries - many have a working kitchen for fresh treats, such as fried chicken and a delicious seared rice patty with "shrimp" - even the rice crakers are artfully lined up and displayed

49: Snacks | Red umbrellas may signal the location of a teahouse or green tea ice cream shop. Numerous lines of vending machines can be found throughout Japan. Serving both hot and cold drinks, you can get iced coffees, hot chocolate, teas, and the ever popular "Pocari Sweat."

51: Winding Cobblestone Streets of Old Kyoto: Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka

52: Among the Bamboo Forest | We followed the river on the Sagano scenic train to the bamboo forest. At the station, a collection of the Tanuki, or baffoonish good-times badgers, greeted us. During the ride, we spotted three monkeys playing along the river bank! Upon arrival at the forest, tall bells played "Sakura." I couldn't help galloping down each pathway, my eyes bugging out in this lush, swaying Totoro wonderland. Magical!

56: Alluring Entryways

58: The Cleanest Chinatown You've Ever Seen In Kobe, we visited a wonderful Chinatown which - by contrast - felt clean, safe, and had a festival-like atmosphere. Street vendors sold delicious dim sum and fried products quite unlike what we have in California. Our hardest decisions were how much we could eat before dinner and which karage, or fried chicken, to sample.

60: Nishijin Textile Center Kyoto showcases kimono fashion shows and silk-making processes

62: Hatkutsuru Sake Brewery Museum Realistic models depict the stages of the rice wine brewing process. After the tour, we tried a tasty sample. Goes down smooth!

63: Ginza Department Stores In Central Tokyo, Ginza is known for extravagant shopping. Its symbol is the clocktower of the Wako Dept. Store. At their 10:00 a.m. opening, dept. store workers will line up and bow to customers. Mikimoto is the original producer of cultured pearls. There were several 5 to 7-digit pieces worth a good chunk of my house.

64: We Found Them! Totoro store at the Mosaic Mall in Kobe 70's squishy superhero Barba Papa still retails in the Love Plaza of a Kyoto department store

67: Cartoon Imagery and Bad Engrish If you think the Japanese are uptight, serious, and all work, you're wrong. This is a culture that loves cuteness, and cartoons adorn every enterprise: retail merchants, office buildings, vehicles, ads, and temples. They also love integrating English, even if the translation is strange.

68: Magnificent Markets | Fresh meat and fish artfully displayed 5 cherries for 3150 yen, 4 doz for 21000 yen

69: Find all that your heart desires in the department store markets! | Uniformed workers serve up fancy pastries, fried foods, crackers, cookies, and teas

70: The Streets by Day

71: great cities are built around ancient kabuki theaters, temples, and rivers - street vendors pass out ads on pocket tissues and drink mixes or solicit help for animals - the roads to remote towns bear crumbling buildings and suspended auto parts - "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" really are popular street foods - sea of safely parked bikes

72: The Streets by Night The Japanese love to come out at night for all kinds of entertainment. It was amazing for us to see the changing lights and so much activity, so late into the night. It was neat to look at floors stacked upon floors of diners. There are plenty of venues for adventurous eaters, such as the Fugu restaurants that serve parts of the poisonous pufferfish, despite it claiming 100 lives each year. We wandered into a pet shop where purse-sized dogs sold for $10-30,000.

75: Staying in the Penthouse From the airplane leaving Osaka, you can see how the Ana Gate hotel looms high above all other buildings. From the 41st floor suite, we were astounded by our corner room with three panoramic window views of the city. Room rate: 37000 yen per night!

77: Sayounara Japan! A country of: diversity variety versatility connectedness resourcefulness creativity ingenuity history mystery hospitality food, fun, fabulous finds photo opps We are fans and can't wait to come back!

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  • Title: The Great Smoky Mountains Trip (2011)
  • A nine-day tour exploring the culture and sights of Japan - Tokyo to Osaka
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  • Started: almost 7 years ago
  • Updated: almost 7 years ago