Tag Archives: chinatown

USA 2019 – 02 Strolling around Downtown and Chinatown in Washington DC (2019-10-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 MAY 2020

To be clear, most people probably wouldn’t enjoy going on holiday with me. I don’t want to go somewhere to relax – my life is relaxed enough – so instead I go somewhere to see as many new things as what I possibly can. Case in point, after arriving at the Hampton Inn and stowing my bags, I immediately changed into my comfortable walking shoes and headed straight out the door onto the streets of Washington D.C. (Jet Lag? To be honest, to this day I still don’t actually know what that is.)

Now I don’t have any real experience with cities. I have never lived nor worked in a city, so a visit to a proper city is always a big visual treat for me. (For reference, my nearest city is Cape Town, which beauty aside, is not a particularly big one – i.e. it counts, but it also doesn’t really count). Of course, I also don’t plan anything ever anyway, so my first Washington D.C. mission was a simple one. Get a visual idea of where I am, take a photo of the street name so I should be able to make my way back to it, and then just head off in a general direction until I get tired.

The general style of downtown Washington D.C. is in a word stately – so many amazing, massive government linked buildings clad in this amazingly solemn stone, standing upright and staring down upon you. The city is seemingly lined with trees and littered with small parks, almost all of which feature at least one stone or bronze statue celebrating some historically once relevant citizen like Edmond Burke or Samuel Gompers for example.

My initial foray into Washington D.C. started in the Chinatown district with its decidedly Asian-influenced twist on primarily Western architecture, before opening up into the more classical buildings of the Mt. Vernon Square area, as I slowly picked my way down the big avenues towards Lafayette Square, The White House and the National Mall area in general.

Honestly, I was a little in heaven. The scale of the buildings, the historical nature of most of the things around me, and the fact that on weekends the city itself grows quiet – literally the perfect place for me to be meandering through on foot. So, so many interesting buildings and statues to stop and take photos of, so so many things to go back and look up on the Internet once I eventually made it back to my hotel room following the setting of the sun and thus end of my walking adventure.

These are the photos grabbed at the start and the end of this great big circular walk that took me all the way to the White House, Albert Einstein, the Washington Monument and back again! (The rest are still to follow in blog posts all of their own…)

USA 2019 – 01 Journey from Cape Town to the Hampton Inn in Washington DC (2019-10-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAR 2020

When I left for Washington DC the handy direct flight from Cape Town hadn’t yet launched, so as per usual, it was first the time wasting hop of having to head up to Johannesburg before I could finally leave South Africa’s sunny borders behind.

My Touchwork-organized SA336 South African Airways flight departed from Cape Town International just after two on a Thursday afternoon, meaning that logistically it was pretty easy given that the kids were at school, there was no traffic to battle, and thus no reason then why Chantelle couldn’t dutifully ferry her extremely overexcited and bubbly husband to the airport.

With our farewells said over a cup of Wimpy coffee, Chantelle gave a few forlorn waves as I disappeared through the security checkpoint. (After all, you must remember that I was now resigning her to two weeks of looking after the kids all by herself!)

The flight to OR Tambo International in Johannesburg aboard the Airbus A330-200 flitted by without incident (if I remember correctly, they were playing the inspiring Red White Black & Blue Odyssey documentary about the ICEF Rugby Program that helps struggling kids from disadvantaged neighbourhoods through rugby for entertainment purposes), but once there I still had to find a way to kill 2.5 hours before my journey to the United States would finally begin.

Luckily I travel light, so with my commandeered big sports bag (thanks Ryan!) already checked through back in Cape Town and only my small laptop backpack on my back, I set about following the small signs in the massive OR Tambo airport to try and find the tucked away aircraft viewing deck. As it turns out, this was an excellent idea because a) it is rather hidden away and thus not busy at all, b) it is spacious and gives an excellent view of the airport operations below, and c) it killed a whole lot of time for me.

Having watched all the planes, read all the info boards on SAA’s history and the legacy of OR Tambo the activist, and completed a phone call with the girls back home, I finally made it back down to ground level, headed through security and hunkered down next to a chatty young Ghanaian actress who was heading back home following an ad shoot that she had just completed here in Johannesburg.

At this point our SA209 flight had however been announced as delayed, primarily because there weren’t enough people flying to warrant using the big Airbus A340-300 that we were meant to be making the long haul aboard, so she and I dutifully watched a love triangle play out between the pigeons outside while I was taught all about Ghana and Geisha soap.

So not a bad but not an entirely smooth beginning to the epic 18 hour journey from Johannesburg to Washington D.C. then.

Of course we did eventually board a plane, and because it was half empty the flight was particularly comfortable (just very very long). The in-flight entertainment was great, the food perfectly fine, the halfway stop in Accra (in the middle of the night) uneventful, and I comfortably passed the time flitting between sleeping, eating, listening to music and discovering new movies.

We touched down at Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C. (it is technically in Virginia) around 06:30 in the morning, just in time to watch a beautiful sunrise break over the airport. After catching one of their strange little 80’s sci-fi inspired shuttles to get from plane to terminal, I successfully navigated my way through customs (no issues whatsoever), collected my bags and strolled through the doors into the land of the free – only to immediately turn around and head back inside because I urgently needed their Wi-Fi in order to sort out my SuperShuttle shared ride to the hotel. (The delay had meant that I had missed my pre-booked pickup).

Anyway, the friendly onsite SuperShuttle staff sorted me out, I jumped into the shared van when it eventually rocked up, and then drove in awe all the way to Washington D.C. making sure to take in the sights, sounds, and gorgeous flame coloured trees around us.

Of course, this is Washington D.C. so I was a little kid with excitement when the first views of all the famous monuments started shifting into sight and by the time we pulled up at the front door of the hotel, I was probably a bit of a bubbling idiot. What can I say, cityscapes excite me!

Talking about the hotel, Rory had picked up a pretty good one location-wise for my first ever trip to Washington D.C., placing me right in the middle of Downtown/Chinatown area, with easy access to all the main tourist hotspots.

Despite its clunky moniker, the Hampton Inn Washington-Downtown-Convention Center, a member of the Hilton hotel group, was comfortable enough, had good amenities, and served a nice breakfast. If anything, it does suffer a bit from a lot of siren noise (especially at night), but seeing as I sleep like a log, this wasn’t something that bothered me in the slightest. All in all a good stay and also a perfect base from which to explore the city of Washington D.C. on foot!

Japan 2014 – 20 From Yokohama to Kyoto via the Shinkansen (Bullet Train!) (2014-10-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 08 DEC 2015

A massive storm was moving in towards Japan, and so it was no surprise to wake up to a rather wet Yokohama on our day of departure to Kyoto.

IMG_20141005_074035 yellow taxis in a wet yokohama street

After yet another nice hotel breakfast room breakfast, we purchased umbrellas from the FamilyMart convenience store downstairs (seriously, these are everywhere!), and Ryan and I braved the wet weather to take a quick stroll through Yokohama Chinatown, which is incidentally the largest Chinatown in Japan (and in fact, Asia as well)!

(Mind you, we only did this because the impressive gate was literally next door to our hotel!)

IMG_20141005_085303 china town gate in yokohama

After our brief, wet walk, we returned to the hotel, grabbed our luggage and checked out, making our way on foot to the train station in order to eventually end up at the impressive Shin-Yokohama Station, where the mission was to find the Shinkansen (bullet train) counter, organise tickets and enjoy a high speed rail ride to Kyoto!

IMG_20141005_095634 ryan lotter waiting for the shinkansen bullet train at yokohama train station

Once again Ryan navigated all of this pretty much effortlessly, and before long we were on the platform, waiting for the bullet train which was guaranteed to be exactly on time – as pretty much all Japanese trains are famed to be.

(As it turned out, we were exceptionally lucky. Not long after we left, the storm became much, much worse, leading to the closing of all public transport routes!)

IMG_20141005_120017 shinkansen bullet train at the train station japan

The bullet train ride was an absolute thrill let me tell you. Comfortable seating, reminiscent of a plane’s seating arrangement (complete with snack trolley!), the journey was an incredible pleasure – everything rushes by at incredible speeds, meaning that if you blink you miss it!

Oh, and at this speed the train banks for turns, which itself is a pretty weird sensation.

I can’t remember how long the journey itself from Yokohama to Kyoto took, but I do know that my eyes were glued to the window pretty much from start to finish!

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An awesome travel treat indeed! :)

Related Link: Shinkansen | Shinkansen Travel