Summer Palace in Beijing

Last weekend I had a really brief visit to China (only for 3 days), luckily of those 3 days one was Sunday so I did not need to do any work and had time to wander around instead.

When coming to China this time everybody warned me that Beijing is not pretty at this time of a year, humid with a lot of smoke in the sky, but surprisingly when I arrived the sky was blue on Sunday and also to some degree on Monday before becoming totally covered in smoke on Tuesday.

We have already been to the Summer Palace on our first trip to Beijing (here are some pictures, though quality is not great), but the visit ended abruptly as the rain started. Also the palace itself is huge so you really need entire day to see all of it.

This time I decided to visit south-eastern part of the palace that we have not been to and the plan was to wait for a sunset there.

п▒п╦п╩п╣я┌ п╫п╟ п╫п╬п╡я▀я┘ п╢п╡п╬я─я├п╬п╡я▀я┘ п╡п╬я─п╬я┌ я┐ п╪п╬я│я┌п╟ 17я┌п╦ п╟я─п╬п╨

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Day 9. Kyoto. Miyako Odori

On our day 9 it came time to leave Tokyo and move to Kyoto. Unfortunately we were moving in a great hurry, so no pictures from the travel on Shinkansen. This mistake was somewhat fixed on the way back, though.

High speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto takes ~2.5 hours (515 km/320 miles) and while the speed is pretty high, it does not feel like a fast moving train while you are inside.

We arrived to Kyoto in the mid-day and took a taxi to our hotel.

Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo
Our hotel from outside.

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Out of turn trip to The Crimea

We were long planning a trip to The Crimea for the coming August, but at the beginning of July it became obvious that the tickets are going to remain way too expensive until the very last few days of August and out trip would be much more realistinc in September-October timeframe.

That is all fine except some of our friends are only present in The Crime at summer and would need to go to Moscow at the end of August.

So looking at my huge SkyMiles balance I wondered if I can get some "free" air tickets and surprisingly there were a few days in July that had air travel possible for pretty small amount of miles and the return trip would be in business class too. After some thinking we decided that we should go and got tickets for July 9th to go to The Crimea and back on July 24. The roundtrip tickets to Kiev only cost ~$240 for two (and only this much because Ksusha did not have enough miles balance I transferred some to her which is not free).

A nice surprise also awaited us in New York, while boarding the airplane I was flagged by the gate agent and informed that I was upgraded to business class for that part of the trip. I indicated that I was traveling not alone (we bought separate tickets) and we both got upgraded as a result.

п≈п╟ п╬п╨п╫п╬п╪ я│п╟п╪п╬п╩п╣я┌п╟

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Japanese Crispy Pork Cutlets

Ah, Japan, this word means so much to an otaku! So what I'm talking about... Oh yes, it was about amazingly delicious and very popular Japanese dish! Today we have Tonkatsu (豚カツ), Ton means pork, and Katsu means steak, and all together it means juicy pork in a crispy coating!!!  Served with a savory Tonkatsu sauce and a pile of finely shredded fresh cabbage. And it is so-o-o delicious! And very easy to prepare!
So, today in the menu we have:

Tonkatsu
п╒п╬п╫п╨п╟я├я┐

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Day 8. Ginza, Suntory Hall

For our last full day in Tokyo the plan was to visit Ginza in the morning and we already had purchased tickets for an evening performance in the Suntory Hall.

Ginza station
Ginza subway station. Unlike other stations we have see, there are automatic fences that block the way if there is no train.

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July 4th Fireworks

For a few years already I was planning to do some fireworks photography and today we finally managed to go to the Independence Day festival in Knoxville with a camera and tripod.

Seems some amount of practice is needed for best results, but even for my first try I have some interesting shots.

IMG_7606

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Day 7. Evening at the Chidori ga Fuchi moat

In the evening of day 7 we decided to go to the Chidori ga Fuchi part of the moat around the emperor palace. We have  seen some spectacular pictures of beautifully lit sakura trees at night and wanted to capture something like that.

We arrived during a day time, though the sky was overcast and not pretty. Yet right after exiting the subway station the atmosphere looked quite different from the rest of Tokyo. We immediately saw a lot of sakura trees and people with cameras taking pictures.

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Moat during the day.

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Day 7. Harajuku

On Sunday our plan was to go to Harajuku, this is a famous place in Tokyo. People of strange fashion meet there and there are a lot of fashion shops too.
Another of the VOLKS shops is located there so we wanted to visit it too.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower
This building is near Shinjuku station and it is the second biggest educational building in the world. It's named Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower.

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Dolls Party in New York 4, day 2

And now a report from the second day of NY Dolpa 4.

The second day opening was scheduled at 10:30, so we arrived at 9:44 to be sure to get some chance of buying limited things on sale that we were not able to preorder.

Of course even at 9:44 there was a huge line standing outside of FIT this time :O

IMG_7305

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Visit to New York

Aside from the trip to NY dolpa we also have been to New York itself of course. Actually we spent most of the time in New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan, since hotels and food are much cheaper this way.

The dolpa was held at Fashion Institute of Technology, and there was this high-tech parking nearby that reminded me of Japanese parking.

п÷п╟я─п╨п╬п╡п╨п╟ п╡ NY

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