Sunday, October 30, 2011

Renting in Japan

Moving, moving, moving. It’s all I’ve been doing for over a month now. Renting a place in Japan while working for my company a rather long process. Once I reached a certain position and had been in a certain amount of time, I’m allowed to move out of the housing provided for me and into my own place. The usual process for a Japanese person getting a place is that they go to a few housing agents to look at places, since most agencies rent different places and very few listings are held by more than one agency. Once they found a place they like, they negotiate on price and appliances, such as if the tenant wants an oven or larger refrigerator or a washer, and sign a tentative contract to sign at a later day. They need to sign at a later date because the tenant has to pay what equates to five month’s rent in cash when they sign the lease. The tenant pays the first month’s rent, a security deposit, the agent’s fee, and renter’s insurance. Together with taxes, that comes to about five month’s rent in cash. Youch, that can take a few days to gather. My company adds some paperwork that took nearly a week to get back to me and a few meetings with American housing specialists. All in all my moving process took about a month and then another week to finally move all my things into my new place. These are pictures of my new place. The first one is my small hallway between the guest room and my bedroom, the next is the guestroom before I put all my craft things in it, and the third picture is of the loft above the guest bedroom. My kitchen/livingroom area is also a rather large room but already a mess from moving in when I took these pictures. Now I just have to slowly furnish and organize all my things. Umm, yeah… that could take a while. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Wildlife Dome in Cairns, Australia

How many of you know what a bandicoot, frogmouth, or wallaby is? They’re all animals native to Australia and I got to see some when I went to the Cairns Wildlife Dome on top of a hotel and casino in Cairns, Australia last time I was there. The Dome is a mini-zoo with galahs and other birds flying around our heads and habitats for other animals that we could walk through. It’s a bad picture but as you can see I also got to hold a koala (which has bristly fur instead of the soft teddy bear fur most stuffed recreations have) and I got to see some kookaburras, a bettong, and a few sleeping wallabies (which look like small kangaroos when awake). Here is more on the animals at the Dome and here are more pictures I took in the Dome. I hope you enjoy the pictures and I highly recommend a stop at the Dome if you get to go near Cairns, Australia.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Kuranda Trip

Kuranda is a tourist town in the Tablelands of Northern Queensland in Australia. I recently rode the Kuranda Scenic Railway up the Atherton Tableland, which seemed like a mountain but was really a high and rocky plateau. One of the greatest engineering feats of Australia, the railway was finished in 1891 and is now used entirely for sightseeing thanks to the road that was built to allow cars and buses to ferry people up. The two hour train ride was in an old fashioned train wide enough for a wooden bench that seated four people and a thin aisle to walk up. It stopped at a few places with great views and allowed us to get out and stretch our legs, get pictures, or read the information provided. After a gorgeous ride, we got to the town of Kuranda. If you like to get shop at expensive boutiques for one of a kind items or if you like browsing and bargaining at craft fairs, Kuranda is a great place to visit. If you aren’t in the mood to shop, try some of the wild life areas nearby. If none of those appeal to you, umm…, the food is really good. It was near the end of the trip so my friend and I didn’t have much money left to buy a lot but as we didn’t have much time before we had to get on the SkyRail and go back down the Tableland, we stopped at a deli for an amazing lunch and wandered the craft market areas. I bought a few beads and found a stall that sold wines made from mangos, not grapes. About two o’clock we got on the SkyRail to fly us down to the station the bus would pick us up at. We stopped at a few stations to get pictures of the rainforest plants and I even saw a peacock that nicely posed for my camera but eventually we got to the bottom of the tableland and went back to our hotel, one more trip done.

However, the next day we were planning to go to The Dome, a mini-zoo above the casino in downtown Cairns, and hold a koala as well as get lots of pictures. See you next week for that post. Click here to view photos I took on my trip.