Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My photo

We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Day 4 FF Western Tokyo Homestay, WTRD 49 of 49, October 22, 2017

Prelude to Typhoon Lan - a True Water Color

Sayonara Japan - Hello California

It rained steadily all night.  We arose early to take care of last minute packing,  blogging, and printing of boarding passes. Yukiko served us coffee, sausages, green beans, and fruit for breakfast.  Takashi ate a single piece of toast with melted cheese for his breakfast.  Yukiko commented that in their household, they usually at  bread for  breakfast, noodles for lunch, and rice for dinner.  

Even though our plane flight was at 4:55 pm, we were walking out the front door with umbrellas and bags at 10:25 am.  It would take an hour to drive to the bus station, and two hours by bus to the airport.  We bade our heartfelt goodbyes with promises to keep in touch and to visit one another.  Yukiko suggested we come back during cherry blossom time, and we could rent the wonderful traditional Japanese house together that Russ and I stayed in while we were in Hakone.  We waved good bye through rain soaked windows of the bus as we drove away.

A Japanese Watercolor

We arrived at the airport about 1:15, and had a couple of hours to spare.  When we arrived the terminal was nearly empty.  Was it the typhoon?  Would our plane be on time?  Turned out we were just early for and international flight, and any worries we had about getting to the airport melted.

We breezed through baggage drop, security clearance, immigration and were eating lunch next to our gate by 2:00 pm. and saw our inbound Tokyo flight from SFO arrive at 2:25.  

An army of people were on hand to meet the Dreamliner, carry out garbage, linens, and empty food containers. Cart trains came out to unload luggage and once that was done the same amount of effort, if not more went into reloading all of the supplies, servicing, and cleaning, while two fuel trucks loaded the tanks.

Our plane left the gates exactly on time.  By 5:00 pm the wind was picking up and the nose of the typhoon was edging its way up the coast.  I was a little anxious because of thunder and lightning forecast. We waited on the tarmac for clearance for an hour. 

As it turned out, there was a little, but not a lot of turbulence upon take off.  We headed north than arced to the east.
A little over nine hours later, we arrived safely the morning of the same day we had left Tokyo in the afternoon.
Our plane heads east Sunday evening and catches the dawn of the same day

The Golden Gate - Always a Welcome Sight

South Bay Salt Flats

So ends, our wonderful two month adventure to. South Korea and Japan.  

We had a great time, and we are  grateful that we maintained excellent health and energy throughout the journey.  Never once did we fear for our safety. Everyone we met reinforced our faith humanity and the power of friendship.

Heh! Heh!  We are also glad that this is our last blog, perhaps you are too, until our next trip.

All is Well with With the Worrall Travel R’s sleeping in our own bed tonight.

Day 3, FF Western Tokyo Homestay, WTRD 48 of 49, October 21, 2017

Last Full Day in Japan

Our last full day in Japan dawned under clouds.   Typhoon Lan was moving north to Tokyo with landfall expected late in the evening of the following day.  We had received the day before, a notice from United Airlines that the typhoon could cause flight disruptions, and that we could exchange our tickets with no fee for a flight out before or after the typhoon.  Our hosts indicated that if our flight was canceled due to weather, we would be welcome in their home until the storm passed.

We checked the weather conditions, tracked the typhoon, made inquiries about earlier flights, and then decided that we would keep our original flight at 4:55 pm, hours before the winds would begin to strengthen.  Periodically, we checked the tracking and speed of the typhoon.  Narita airport is two hours drive by airport bus.  Faster by train, if the heavy rain didn’t disrupt train travel.  We decided to book tickets on the bus.  

Our hosts would drive us to the bus station about an hour from their home by car (30 minutes by train which would include 5 or 6 train changes).

We heard that most of our FFSAC group had rearranged their flights to leave today.  I was a bit envious as I too was anxious to get home, but was also not as concerned as some of them may have been as I think we could have been quite safe in our host’s home which was positioned on the lee side of a tall hill away from the sea.  They had storm shutters to close over the windows.  Their sturdy home had protected them before in typhoons.  We knew it certainly wouldn’t flood, but there were tall trees around their home that could be worrisome in high winds.

Asakusa Shrine

With all of this in mind, we had a leisurely breakfast and left home with Takashi to see Asakusa Shrine and shopping street in Tokoyo.  All of us carried large umbrellas, and we would need them all day as the rain came down.  The trains in the morning were not too busy this Saturday, but by noon, the crowds with their umbrellas were quite large and jammed the walk ways around the shrine.  

No one here seemed too concerned about the impending typhoon.

After we entered through the large gates protected by sculptured dieties, we found ourselves at the foot of a long shopping walking path.  

The shrine was at the end of the path.  

We meandered up the path, our umbrellas bobbing up and down over and under other umbrellas while browsing the store fronts of souvenirs, kimonos, and sweets.  We watched cookie makers filling molds with dough and sweet bean fillings (doll cookies) to bake on a griddle.  

Takashi bought a few for us to try. The cookies were still hot from the griddle molds and they were a delicious snack.

As we approached the shrine, smoke filled the air rising from a fire pit in the middle of the walkway.  The smoke was not from  incense, but from burning paper.  On the side of the fire pit, throngs of people were shaking cans and pulling out a sticks with numbers on them.  

Each picked stick had a number on it that corresponded with  a long wall of drawers.  Each drawer contained a fortune.  If you paid a hundred yen, equivalent to $1.00, you got to pick a stick, and recieved the corresponding fortune.

If the person received a bad fortune, (i.e. be cautious today as you are prone to be in a car accident), they could tie the bad fortune on a tree, and try for a better fortune by contributing more yen, picking more sticks until they got a fortune they liked. 

Once they had the fortune they liked, they took that fortune to the fire pit, and set it on fire, inhaling the smoke to infuse themselves with the good fortune.  

The Buddhists here really know how to capitalize on superstition, and the fear of bad luck.

The ceiling of the shrine has some fine artwork that looks Hindu and the shrine itself glitters in gold as faithful, toss coins into the  slotted coin boxes in front of the shrine alter.
After our visit to the shrine, we walked to a restaurant for a noodle and tempura lunch, where we were able to get out of the rain and warm up.  We didn’t linger too long as we were heading to the National Museum, and then home by 4:00 pm.  We saw artifacts considered national treasures back to 2,000 BC.  and as far forward  as the early Edo period.  Here is a glimpse of the insie of the museum.

We  met a young giraffe on the way to the museum

We only had one hour to walk around the museum before starting our multiple-train one hour trip back Takashi’s home.  We are sure glad that he knows where he is going.  We could have eventually figured it out, but we followed him blindly as we were only going to be here a couple of days.

When we returned home at 4:00, Russ and I immediately set about organizing our packing and enjoying some time with Takashi and Yukiko's grandsons.

 Judy M. and Lyn & George with their respective hosts were coming over for a pre-typhoon dinner party between 5 and 6.  Yukiko must have been preparing our meal all day.  Yukiko teaches home economics.  After living in Silicon Valley for several years, both she and Takashi embraced  eating and preparing “American” food. Rarely are chop sticks used in their household.

For appetizers there was a nice selection of cheese, olives, pickles, and sausage, with chips and homemade quacamole, red and white California wines.  The main course was lasagna and tossed green salad and French bread.  Yukiko baked two pumpkin pies with whipped bream and a jello salad with fresh fruit.

We couldn’t have asked for a better farewell dinner with excellent hosts, terrific food, and delightful friends and conversation!

Us with our hosts Takashi san and Yukiko san

We are fascinated by the single cup, coffee drip bag.

Russ shares some travel tips with Takashi and Missouri
It is amazing how quickly we were able to bond with this group of people over a couple glasses of wine, their gracious hospitality,  and an impending typhoon.

All too soon, it was time for everyone to to return to their homes and pack up for the following day.

All is Well with the Worrall Travell R’s in Machida City

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Day 2, FF Western Tokyo Homestay, WTRD 47 of 49, October 20, 2017

School Day and Enoshima Island
Today was an especially fun day for us, as we spent it in a public middle school.  Getting to school with millions of students cramming the subways, and adults going to work was an experience in itself.

When we entered the school, there were places for all teachers, visitors, and students to store their shoes. Teachers and students have a set of indoor school only slippers to wear.  

Visitors are given a one size fits all Japanese foot slipper.  Unfortunately, we do not have Japanese size feet.  Neither of our feet fit the shoes well,  Russ's feet in these slippers were pretty hilarious as he schlepped down the hallway with a funny little shuffle.

This morning we were working with a first year, but very capable English teacher, coaching here on how to play a game with her 7th year students.  In Japan, these are grade 1 middle school students, who have just begun their English lessons.  Our host Takashi-san told us that learning English was usually boring for students, and he was interested in how we could make the lesson fun for them.

The game we intended to play was spelling baseball.  I had asked the teacher several weeks ago for a vocabulary list of what words the students had already learned. From that list I organized the words by spelling difficulty, 1st base words -easiest to 
homer words - most difficult.

We met with the teacher during her prep period, and after our discussion, revised the game plan from a spelling game to a translation game, Japanese words to English words, and suggested the teacher take some latitude with students regarding the translation difficulty of the words and capability of the students.  We made base signs for the room with home plate at the front of the room.

I explained that this game could get quite noisy with excitement, and the she would have to control student enthusiasm if we were to give everyone of her students (37 in a class), and opportunity at the "bat" during a 45 minute period.  We talked about a quiet sign of raising our hand for silence and that the sooner the class quieted down the sooner the next person could be given a word to translate.

Russ took the first 5 minutes of the class with a quick geography lesson and explained to the students that we live in a small town of 1,000 people in Colfax, the same number of people that can fit on one commuter train in Tokyo. (Tokyo runs 20,000,000 a day on their trains).  He also showed them the route we took to sail across the ocean from San Francisco to Australia.  Kids were wide-eyed.

Next, I introduced and explained the game in English, and the teacher translated.  We gave the students the quiet sign and explained how important it was to move the game along to calm down so that the batter could hear the word, and even more importantly they could hear if the student translated correctly.  The Japanese students have very little voices and are shy when they are not sure of themselves or in the presence of strangers.

We divided the class into two teams, the Giants and the Tigers, and the game began, a little slowly at first until the kids really understood what it was all about and how to physically move around the classroom from base to base and to home plate.  

Then the fun really began with a lot of intensity while students listened carefully to the words and cheered happily and enthusiastically both when their team was up and the opposing team.
The first student at bat, score zero/zero.

It didn't take students long to figure out that when bases were loaded to ask for a home run word.  So they learned new English words as those sitting in their seats yelled.  "Home run, home run, home run!"

As predicted the excitement grew and the quiet sign came in very handy, and the teacher waited patiently until there was absolute silence.  Many of the students started raising their hands spontaneously to signal to other classmates, to be silent.

We repeated the game for three periods, and by third period, the teacher was confident and quick.  Everyone had a great time.  Before and after each class, students stand at attention, are given a student signal, all give a respectful bow to the teacher.

After third period it was lunch time.  The school does not have a kitchen or multi-purpose room, and contracts for lunch to be brought in for every student, every day, served in every classroom.  Students bring the food on serving trays to classrooms.  We were on the third floor, and students carry up the food when it is delivered, serve the food, and clean up the room afterwards.  

We ate with the students after the quick gratitude blessing given by the teacher.  Lunch consisted of mixed rice and vegetable, chicken noodle soup, and a piece of fried fish. For drink, there was whole milk.  Filling and basic.

On the outside of each room there are cleaning rags.  At the end of the school day, students mop the floors, empty the trash, and clean the blackboards.  We did not stay all day to see this cleaning in action, but we had noticed how clean the floors were and did stay long enough to observe singing practice for the school festival.

Every class was learning the same song and their beautiful voices could be heard coming from  all around the school. The first class we worked in the morning, was the class we observed singing.  

We got a kick out of the quiet little voiced students, belting out the song with strong voices.  A student conductor brought students to attention and took them through their paces.  At the end of the first practice song, the conductor asked the students to critique their performance and what they could do better, pace, harmony, etc. 

I had noticed that some of the boys were goofing off in the alto section, and there were a few not in key.  When asked for a critique, the shy, quiet girls, became assertive, vocal young women.  We didn't have to guess at what their critique was, as the troublesome boys looked quite subdued.

They practiced several more times, before the end of the period, and each time the students, student conductor and teacher critiqued the performance, and the singing improved.

We finally said our goodbyes after a wonderful day.  When we left, we boarded the trains again and headed to Enoshima Island, Observation Lighthouse and Samuel Cocking Garden. The sky was overcast, but we enjoyed crossing the walking bridge to the Island,

See that little speck at the top of the hill?  Yep we climbed to the top!

Friendship Force Members, Sumiko and our host Takashi

around the island and climbing up the hundreds of steps to the top of the mountain where the Sky Candle Tower rises high.

Russ has a purchase ticket for an octopus rice cake

On our way back, along the Enoshima Island shopping street, we tried a new food.  Squashed octupus rice cakes. A small Octupus is place in steaming hot press and squished flat in a light rice batter, repressed, and pressed again, until a huge flakey wafer is produced.  We weren't sure what it would taste like, but it was surprisingly good, like a calamari wafer.

When we returned home, our hostess Yokiko had prepared yet another wonderful dinner for us.

We have one more full day, tomorrow, in Tokyo when we will do a little more site seeing and museum going.  It is a constant rain now, before the Typhoon Lan hits Tokyo on Sunday night, Monday morning.  We will leave early Sunday evening just before the Typhoon. We are keeping our fingers crossed that all goes well not only for us, but for our new friends in Tokyo.

The next blog I post will be from California, once we return home.

All is Well With the Worrall Travel R's In Machida City