10 December: Departing Singapore

The flight took off only at around 1.20 am on 11 December.
Caught a couple of hours of sleep... not enough to make-up for the 3-hour sleep in the past few nights.

11 December: Huis Ten Bosch

Well known as the only Dutch Theme Park outside Holland! It was modelled after a mediaeval 17th century Dutch town, Palace Huis Ten Bosch. There were several landmarks - Windmills! Cloaks! and Tulips (unfortunately, there wasn't any during in winter).

The theme park was not crowded...

A very huge pair of cloaks! Cloaks for Toa-Cah-Soh!

A ranger and the bear cycling around the theme park!

Visitors could rent a bicycle to cycle around the park.

At the entrance to the palace (park) stands the monument that commemorates the atomic bombing of Nagaskaki on 9 August 1945, 11.02 am:

This is the backyard of the palace, a very beautifully 'manicured' one... It also looked extremely familiar! oh! Isn't that a replica of Versaille Palace in France?

Click HERE to read more about the Theme Park

11 December: ChinaTown @ Nagasaki 长崎

It's a very small scale Chinatown, lined up with (mostly) restaurants... well, accordingly to the guide, the prices here were marked up... We also saw shops that sell authentic Japanese cuisine here, at a very reasonable price.

12 December: Oura Cathedral 大浦天主堂

The Cathedral faces the Nagasaki port. It's one of the oldest cathedrals left in Nagasaki that witnessed war and the bombing of the city. It was built in the Gothic style and was designated as a National Treasure in 1933.

Beside it was a 'museum' that houses a number of items that reminded visitors of the old days when the dutch arrived and how Christianity came in to Japan.

The 'fusion' of religion and culture was evidently illustrated in some of the religious artefacts. For instance, Guanyin carrying baby Jesus in her arms; at the back of another Buddha statue was a cross. This is amazing.

This is very unlike what we saw in Istanbul where the same building was converted several times, from mosque to church, from church to mosque again - illustrated through the art on the walls and ceilings of the building.

Click HERE for more information.

12 December: Glover Mansion

Beside the Oura Cathedral was a pathway that leads to the home of "Madam Butterfly", which overlooks the port of Nagasaki.

12 December: Atomic Bomb Museum & Peace Park

Images and items from the ruins filled the exhibition area to illustrate the impact and damages of the atomic bomb. The impact was beyond words that we could describe. It's not merely taking away human lives, but from the impact saw in the pictures, it's almost total destruction of the entire piece of land! I guess, the most horrible part was the 'aftermath' killing without bloodshed through chemical radiation!

After seeing the exhibits, now I undestand what were all these gamma, beta rays all about... what were they used for (when not put into good use!) and the impact it could create instead of trying to imagine what was described in textbooks.

The guide explained that the people of Nagasaki were angry and sad, being the accidental victims as the city was not one of those shortlisted, but because due to poor visibility and the bomb hit the place. On the other hand, I think, no matter which city the bomb was dropped, it would still create the kind of huge impact we saw. That's absolute cr

This memorial park site is about 250m away from the 'epicenter' of the bombing.

A giant statue with the left arm positioned horizontally, hand pointing outwards to symbolise peace while the finger of the right arm pointing upwards to warn for the destructive impact of the atomic bombing.

  • Click HERE for more Information about the Atomic Bomb Museums, delicated to the Bombing of Hiroshima (广岛) and Nagasaki (长崎) in 1945.
  • Nagasaki Bomb Museum

12 December: Saikai National Park - Kujuku-shima islands 九十九岛

We took a 50-minute boat ride to tour around the islands, situated at the westernmost tip of mainland Japan. Though named 99 islands (literally translated), there are more than 200 islands of various sizes. Indeed, it all depends on how the 'islands' are defined... and of course, at different times of the day when at times, some islands were submerged under the way during high tide!

We could see fishermen breed different kinds of sea products - shellfish to oyster! It's also a place that produce black pearls (uniquely Japan)!

The boat passed by a number of islands... however, I think, none were as spectacular as the ones I saw at Tanesashi Coast and Kihamabanya Fishing Village (Tohoku)

13 December: Mount Aso 阿苏久住国立公园

This is an active volcano which constantly emits volcanic gas (sulphur dioxide) and ashes.
We took the 10-minute cable car ride to the mouth of the volcano.

At the mouth of the volcano... unfortunately, the morning was cold, windy and rainy and the mouth was covered by cloud and mist... we were unable to catch its majestic view!

Video A: Driving up to Mt Aso

Video B: Leaving Mt Aso

13 December: Suizenji Joyyuen Park 水前寺成趣园

It is a typical Japanese garden with beautiful landscaping that even resembles a 'mini' Mt Fuji! It also housed a theatre for traditional performance art.

13 December: Kumamoto Castle 熊本城

There's striking resemblance between the Kumamoto Castle and the Oaska Castle... from far, except the fact that the latter has golden linings around its edge as well as the symbolic 'goldfish' at the highest level. Though not as huge, it looked cool :)

Similar to the Osaka castle, it was converted into a museum where the guide brought us through the changes over time (from the shogun to the royal ruling, etc). On the other hand, Kumamoto Castle also came with another building where we visited the 'rooms' where the shogun met his subjects, the various 'layers'. Amaizing! It's represented by the number of rooms that one could go through (to get close to the leader), as well as the number of 'steps' he could move up (from the entrance). That's similar to what we saw in Nijo Castle in Kyoto.

Click HERE for more information

14 December: Sakura-jima 樱岛 (Ibusuki 指宿, Kagoshima 鹿儿岛)

Heading to board the ferry to go Sakura-jima:

This is an active volcano that 'erupts' many times within a day. We could see the emission of the fumes (ashes?) from that tiny little mouth (from far). It's not that easy to differentiate what's cloud, and what's the volcano fumes.

Amazing, it was an island that joined with the mainland after the eruption in 1914.

At the foot of the volcano is where people took advantage of the heated spring water for the foot bath.

One of the viewing gallery of the mountain.

14 December: Shopping @ Tenmon-kan district 天文馆地区

Tenmon-kan district is the largest shopping district in Kagoshima. Like Beijing's Huafujing, it's rows of shopping streets filled with shops offering a variety of goods, which includes pharmacies (like Watson, Guardian equivalent), convenient stores (e.g. Daiso) and eateries and restaurants (e.g. MacDonald)

15 December: Shopping Day

It was a long journey, to return to Fukuoka.

The first stop was a Factory outlet (near Kumamoto), which was after a 4-hour drive. Tosu Premium Outlet. It's not a large shopping mall, but rows of shops, each carry its own label. Basically it's the world of winter wear. And yes, it's not difficult to find goodies that are made in China here.

By late afternoon, we arrived at the Tenjin (天神) underground shopping which is closed to our Citylink and Orchard Road area. There we found Daimaru.

The last place was Canal City Hakata which is a large shopping and entertainment complex in Fukuoka, Japan. It's also called the "city within the city".

16 December: Home Sweet Home

It was rare, but I guess we count ourselves lucky that it started to snow in the morning... very light snow (blizzards) which caused a fair bit of excitement :)

Some goodies in my luggage:

This very authentic Japansese stuff are nice! Some were freshing made from the shop and packed and some were rare stuff that we won't find in Singapore (at this moment).
See the "马刺"? We didn't have the chance to try the uniquely horse sashimi there... so, got some crackers that it said came with 5% of horse meat! Haha...