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since 04/11/2007


Sensoji Temple, Tokyo 08/11/2007

Traditional Japan!

Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Senso-ji Temple (also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple) is found in the Asakusa quarter of Tokyo, which is renowned for being "Old Japan". It originated in the 7th century and although damaged by earthquakes and fires it has always been rebuilt look like the original. I stayed nearby in the Sakura Hostel, which incidentally was an excellent, economical, exceptionally clean place to stay with friendly English speaking staff and which was approximately two minutes walk from the Senso-ji Temple. The best way to approach the Senso-ji Temple is through the Kaminarimon Gate, a huge colourful entrance where you can pick up a rickshaw ride around the city - or pass through the gate onto the Nakamise-dori, a busy shopping street filled with stalls and small shops all toting their traditional foods and souvenirs. This is a pedestrian only street so you don't have to dodge traffic, only people! Souvenirs range from cheap baskets of trinkets which would probably end up in your "souvenir' drawer at home to colourful, wildly expensive but silky soft kimonos, delicately carved and painted Japanese fans, wood and leather goods and exquisite porcelain figurines. While browsing the stalls tantalising aromas tempt you to taste the traditional Japanese foods. Definitely no need to go hungry, and such a pleasure not to see the usual fast food outlets which seem to lurk around every corner in every city of the world. After browsing, or buying your souvenirs you pass the second gate ...

Japan Airlines - JAL 04/11/2007

One of the Best!

Japan Airlines - JAL Long haul flights are an exercise in patience - and pain. It certainly pays to have the ability to shut down all mental and physical movement for 24 hours. I've travelled from Brisbane to London with Malaysian Airlines, Emirates, Qantas, British Airways, and Singapore Airlines as well as taking shorter flights with a few small, regional companies. I've flown twice with JAL and the most important aspect to me at the time was the price. They were definitely the cheapest by several hundred dollars and the timing of the flights, including the stopover in Japan on the outward flight made my arrival in London almost bearable. Flying through the day, staying in a hotel at JAL's cost, then continuing the flight the next day was certainly a big plus. For that reason alone I would travel with JAL again. Unfortunately the same is not on offer on the return flight from London to Brisbane. I felt had nothing to complain about with regard to the food. It was much the same quality as any other economy class airline food and there was enough in quantity for me. But I doubt there would be enough for a hearty eater. However the staff were so attentive and caring that I have no doubt they would find more if it was required. I can't fault them on their attitude, friendliness and attention to detail. Leg room - there is never enough no matter who you fly with! but because you are flying through the day I found sleep was not so much of an issue. I spent quite a lot of time wandering ...

Virgin Mobile Pay As You Go 04/11/2007

Highly recommended

Virgin Mobile Pay As You Go I used Virgin Mobile Pay As You Go for 6 years while I was travelling in the UK and cannot recommend them highly enough. I had an account which was paid monthly (but was still regarded as Pay as You Go) so I was able to use it in almost every country I visited (Japan excluded). Customer service is excellent, nothing was too much trouble for the staff. They were always pleasant and extremely helpful, something which was brought home to me when I started receiving unsolicited, offensive phone calls from some sicko. Virgin staff advised me what to do, then changed my number at no cost to me. Phone calls (especially to overseas numbers) are cheaper than other networks, and a complete record of telephone calls and statements is available at any time on their website - which used to be slow but has improved lately. Don't go anywhere else! ...

Hertz 04/11/2007

Won't go back

Hertz I travelled the world for 6 years and rented many cars, but only one from Hertz. They overcharged me by 80 pounds (UK), saying I returned the car late. Even though the staff member in Bristol that I gave the keys to confirmed that it was returned early I was told in a very abrupt email that I would have to "prove" it by supplying a train ticket (or something similar) which had the time of my departure on it! It took many phone calls to "Customer Service" in Ireland, two emails and two months for them to admit I deserved a refund. Then they made a mistake and refunded me 8 pounds (UK). After another phone call I was eventually refunded my money and a "gift voucher to compensate me for my trouble". The only trouble was I had to rent another car through Hertz to redeem it! I have to admit it might have been an isolated incident but there are far cheaper car rental firms who have better customer service.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm F4-5.6 IS USM 04/11/2007

Canon EF-S f17-85mm 4-5.6 IS USM

Canon EF-S 17-85mm F4-5.6 IS USM I bought the 17-85mm EF-S IS lens because the standard kit lens, 18-55 mm left a gap of 15mm between it and the 70-300mm lens I already owned. I researched heaps of lenses thoroughly and decided the extra cost of the Canon should give me a better quality lens. It did! It is definitely heavier and more solidly constructed than the 18-55mm. It focuses accurately, is very fast, and has the advantage of an image stabilizer which allows you to hand hold the camera at slower shutter speeds (up to 3 steps). This allows you to retain sharper images in low light without them being affected by camera shake. Although the 17-85mm has a tripod sensor, the image stabilizer should be turned off if using on bulb setting. The lens can focus as close as 0.35m/1.2ft for macro photography and this is best achieved by setting to MF (manual focus), although for true macro photography a macro lens would be recommended. The only fault I found was a tendency for slight vignetting to occur on some images when set at 17mm but the quality of images it produces offset this. I take most of my photos in RAW mode so it is very simple to adjust this in Photoshop.

Canon EOS 400D 04/11/2007

Canon EOS400D

Canon EOS 400D I upgraded to the EOS 400D several months ago and have never regretted it. The EOS 400D is easy to use, the instructions in the manual easy to follow and with a resolution of 10.1 MP the image quality is superb. As I do lots of travelling I find its light weight an advantage and the grip fits comfortably into my hands, although some say it is difficult to hold if your hands are large. A definite advantage is the dust reduction system which shakes dust off the sensor each time it starts up and shuts down. It can be used fully automatic, manually or you can use the creative zones to change settings. If you want to go further the menu includes 11 custom functions such as mirror lockup, noise reduction and AF assist beam. Automatic focus is a nine point system. This makes is easy to lock on to your subject when focusing. It comes with excellent software so you can download, view and manipulate your images later if necessary. ...
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