Sunday, December 28, 2008

Trip to Jacksonville Hindu Temple

Trip to Jacksonville, Florida
Hindu Temple of North East Florida
Sunday, December 28, 2008

We visited the Jacksonville Hindu Society of North East Florida and the Ganesh temple today. We started around 8:00 AM from home and took Interstate 10 East and drove for about two hours and 45 minutes. The temple is now located in a new subdivision Greenland Road (4968, Greenland Road, Jacksonville, FL 32258 (904-268-7630) (compared to the time when we visited the temple in 2004).

The temple construction work was still in progress with volunteers painting the driveway. We went inside and participated in poojas for Ram and Ganesh. We finished our meal in the temple and volunteered to set-up chairs for the upcoming New Year Services on Thursday, January 1, 2009.

We then drove to Rajan Indian Grocery store in Baymeadow Road and purchased some grocery items before heading toward Beach Boulevard and reached the Jacksonville Beaches. The water was cold and there were signs stating that there were rip currents and hence swimming was not encouraged.

The kids waded the water in knee deep water for about 45 minutes. Then we picked some coffee and donunts at the Dunkin Donut shop and headed toward home. We were home just before 8 PM.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Highlights and tips of our Japan trip

Tips and ideas from our Japan trip
Monday, September 01, 2008
Tallahassee, FL, USA

We have visited couple of places in Japan and here I have given list of those places and highlights of our trip. Enjoy


  • Hirohsima and Himeji
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Nara
  • Nagoya

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Travel back to home

Travel Back to Home
Saturday, 30, 2008
Orlando to Tallahassee

After spending eight days in Japan, we were ready to head back home. Our almost 18 hour (9 1/2 hour to San Francisco and 5 1/2 hour journey to Orlando) journey and 13 hour time difference made us very tired. So we stayed at a Hotel last night.

Around 10 AM we got back in our car and headed toward Tallahassee. We stopped only briefly to pick up some lunch. We arrived around 3 PM.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Travel in Japan 05 - Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)

Osaka Aquarium
Osaka Kaiyukan
Thursday, August 28, 2008

I completed my morning session and came for lunch and we decided to see the Osaka Aquarium.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Travel in Japan 04 - Nara

Short trip to Nara
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 2-4 PM
Nara, Japan

We wanted to do a short trip to Nara since it is close by Osaka and relatively a small town. So after completing my morning session at the conference we took the Osaka sub-way system to a station called Tennoji.

From Tennoji we needed take JR Yamtoji line to Nara. We wanted to do a short trip to Nara since it was close to Osaka, relatively a small town but had couple of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. So after completing my morning session at the conference we took the Osaka sub-way system. At Awaza station we caught the Chuo Line (Green) to Tanimachi 4-chome and at Tanimachi 4-chome caught the Tanimachi Line (Purple) to Tennoji station.

In Tennoji station we needed to go from the Osaka Municipal Subway system to Japan Railways' Yamatoji Line. The Yamatoji line runs from JR Namba Station to Kamo (three stops past Nara). Since the Yamatoji line is part of JR system we used our JR Pass and rode the train for about 45 minute. The scenery was very beautiful with lush green plants everywhere including rice paddy.

At Nara JR station we picked up a tourist guide and had lunch at the local McD. From Bus Stop Number One we took Bus Number two toward Kofuku-ji temple. On the way to the Temple we saw lots of spotted deer roaming the grounds. The Kohfuku-ji Temple complex has several structures and we saw the following: Kokuhokan (National Treasure House), Tokondo (Eastern Golden Hall), Nan-endo (Southern Octogonal Hall; open only one day in a year), and Goju-no-to (Five storied Pagoda).

From there we walked all the way along the Nara National Museum, Nara Prefecture Tourist Office to the Todai-ji Temple.

Todaiji Temple ticket is shown below:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Travel in Japan 03 - Kyoto

Trip to Kyoto
Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple and Sanju-San Gendo Temple
Monday, August 25, 2008

On Monday we decided to do some site-seeing in the morning in the historic city of Kyoto, Japan. So like Saturday, we got out of our Hotel Okuuchi Osaka and went to the near by Awaza Subway Station in Green Line and used three more individual tickets for ¥ 230 to get to Shin-Osaka (New Osaka) station. We first traveled to Hommachi station in Green (Chuo) Line and transferred to (Midosuji) Red line and arrived in Shin-Osaka.

From Shin-Osaka we took the Shinkansen Hikari Number 364 around 8:40 Am and going toward Tokyo. Kyoto was the very next stop for that train. We got out of the train and were looking for the Kyoto (Prefecture) Tourism department at the 9th floor of JR station building was not open yet. So we proceeded and picked valuable information from Kyoto city Information center in the second floor of Kyoto JR station.

Kyoto's tourist places are well connected by buses (in Hiroshima we found street cars or trams were convenient and in Osaka we found sub-ways were convenient). So at the Kyoto City Information Center we picked up the Kyoto City Bus Travel Map (aka Bus Navi Guide). Based on the places we wanted to visit the lady at the center asked us to buy City Bus All-Day Pass (for one day) at ¥ 500. At the end of the day we found that her suggestion was good.

We first headed toward Nijo Castle by taking the bus number 101. Our starting point was Kyoto Eki-mae (Kyoto_train-station_in-front). In Kyoto in city buses you board from the middle of the bus and disembark from the front (in Nara it was opposite). While disembarking you either pay ¥ 180 or get your All-Day Pass stamped once in the machine. Then you simply show the card with the current date on it. That was what we did. We got out at the Nijo-jo-mae (Nijo_castle_in-front) stop.

Nijo Castle Ticket is shown below:

The Nijo Castle is a huge place and we spent about 1 1/2 hour touring both the interior and exteriors. The castle floors still make squeaking noise when one walks on them. It was originally built that way to warn the Shoguns if somebody tries to get inside the castle with out their knowledge. We found common crows at the castle grounds and with loud mouths. There were beautiful blooming trees and a lily pond.

Then from Nijo Castle we took another bus (Bus-Navi actually lists what buses you need to take to go another location from any other location, a very convenient feature). We headed to Kinkaku-ji (and not the Ginkaku-ji Temple) Temple and took the same Bus Number 101 and got off at Kinkaku-ji-michi stop.

Kinkakuji Temple ticket is shown below:

The Kinkaku-ji temple has the beautiful golden pavilion. Even the tickets to the temple are so beautiful to look at. As you around the bend all of sudden you see the golden pavilion with a reflecting pond just next to it. Even though the day was cloudy we could still see the shiny gold color. In the pond there were several colored fish swimming around. The whole temple had a peaceful mood. Even the walk way out of the temple is so nicely done.

Then from there we went back to the Kyoto Station and had lunch at the McDonalds nearby the station. After lunch we headed to the Sanjusangen-do temple by another bus from the Kyoto JR station. In the main hall (where you have wear the shoes provided by the temple) you see 1001 Kannons. It is considered by one of the oldest and longest wooden structures in the world. Even the court yard outside with corridors filled with equally spaced orange pillars make this place really nice to visit.

SanjuSanGendo Temple ticket is shown below:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Travel in Japan 02 - Hiroshima and Himeji

Travel to Hiroshima and Himeji
Saturday, August 23, 2008

After resting for a night we started our travel in Japan by going toward Hiroshima and Himeji. It was a cloudy day. We got out of our Hotel Okuuchi Osaka and went to the near by Awaza Subway Station in Green Line and bought a multi-use subway pass for ¥ 3000 and used it to get two more individual tickets for ¥ 230 to get to Shin-Osaka (New Osaka) station. We first traveled to Hommachi station in Green (Chuo) Line and transferred to (Midosuji) Red line and arrived in Shin-Osaka.

At Shin-Osaka (only here the Shinkansens Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama come and not to the Osaka station) we took JR Shinkansen Hakari #453 train at 9:11 AM going toward Hakata. In about hour and half we arrived in Hiroshima JR station. At the station we took travel guides from the Information station about Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and A-Bomb Dome. Hiroshima tourist sites are connected from the JR Station by tram (aka Street Car). We took the tram number #6 and reached the Peace memorial park in about 20 minutes (Genbaku-dome-mae).

We spent about an hour going around the A-Bomb Building, Peace Memorial Park, and Eternal flame all located on either side of the Motayasu-gawa river. Then we turned back to the tram station and took the Street Car # 2 and got back to Hiroshima JR Station.

From there we took Hikari Railstar # 460 around 12:50 PM to Himeji and arrived there at 1:50 PM. At Himeji we saw one beautiful palanquin at the JR station. It looked very similar to the carriage that are prevalent in India for carrying deities from the Hindu temples. We walked out of the JR Station and it started to drizzle a bit. We quickly saw the special bus that took people to the Himeji Castle and paid ¥ 180 and took it the Castle. It was probably the fourth stop.

The rain stopped but it remained cloudy and slippery. We bought the tickets for the Castle and started to climb the winding path. We saw beautiful bonsai-like trees in the castle grounds. Almost all the important structures were made of wood.
We stopped at couple of places to take rest since drinking (even water) and eating were not allowed. There was no electrical connection and hence no a/c or fan inside the palace. The raining and cloudiness in addition to the hot climate made it hard for us to climb all the way to the top. We stopped at three floors from the top most floor and headed back. We bought some souvenirs at the shop on the front of the palace.

We took another Hikari Railstar home that evening. The legs were bit sore at the end of the day. But it was well worth it. Another thing we noticed was that there were no public water fountains anywhere to be seen. They were not there even near the public restrooms. So if you are traveling during summer pack lot of water or buy them at the shops.

Himeji Castle ticket is shown below:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Travel in Japan 01 - Nagoya and Osaka

Nagoya to Osaka
Centrair International Airport
Friday, August 22, 2008

We arrived in early afternoon in Nagoya International Airport also called CentrAir. After clearing our immigration, picking up our bags in carousel 3 we headed through the customs to train terminal in the airport.

The trains that connect from CentrAir to Nagoya are run by a company other than Japan Rail and is called Meitetsu Railways. We had to take this train to reach Nagoya station before we could reach Shin-Osaka (New Osaka) and finally Osaka proper and to our Hotel.

Since this train system is different from JR we had to buy tickets. We bought the tickets in the Limited Express Train (¥ 850) and took the first available train around 3:15 PM going toward Kanayama. We had to transfer to another train at Jungu-Mae station after traveling about 25 minutes. At Jungu-Mae station we took a train going toward Nagoya and the second stop was Nagoya.

After leaving the Meitetsu Railway station we transferred to JR Railway station. Went to the JR Information booth. At the information booth we gave our receipts for JR 7 day railway pass and showed our passport (JR passes are available ONLY for non-Japanese citizens) and got the shiny JR Railway Pass. From this point onwards we could travel in JR lines unlimited times for another 7 days.

By this time we were tired and hungry. We started to inquire people whether there is a place to eat. Since we were not yet sure where to eat we were looking for some familiar places to eat and found out that there is a McDonald's at the Nagoya JR station itself. We took our luggages and sat at Mickey D and had some coffee and hot lunch. The people were very nice. There were both Japanese and English menus with pictures. We showed them the pictures of what we wanted and they were able to serve us what we needed. Not many people could speak English.

Then we took the next available Shinkansen (Bullet train) headed toward Hakata (opposite side to Tokyo) and in our case it was a Hikari Railstar train. We boarded the train and sat there for about 1 hour 10 minutes before arriving at Shin-Osaka (Shinkansen station for Osaka). Since we were very tired by that time, we came out of the station and hailed a taxi to go our Hotel paying about ¥ 3000 for about 15 minutes ride through Osaka (it was worth it considering our baggage and our tiredness).

We checked into the Hotel Okuuchi Osaka and were ready to go to bed around 8:00 PM JST.

Travel to Japan 13

On Flights to Japan
Friday-Saturday, Aug 21-22, 2008
United 51 and 831

We started out journey very early in the morning in Orlando, Florida. With tropical strom Fay still threatening the East coast of Florida (current location is around between Cape Canavarel and Jacksonville) we woke up around 3:15 AM prepared ourselves, checked out of the HoJo and headed toward the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Flights from MCO fortunately were not affected, but it was raining on and off.

We parked our car in one of the Satellite parking lots and took the shuttle (in rain) and reached the gates for the Untied Airlines. We checked our bags with relative ease and MCO was much more easiser to navigate than the busy ATL airport in Atlanta, GA. Since there was still time we grabbed some breakfast before the 5-hour trip to San Franscisco (SFO) International Airport.

Our flight to SFO was smooth. The weather in SFO was much better, cloudy but no rain. Even though we reached early, we had very short time before catching the connecting flight to Nagoya International Airport (NGO). The flight 831 was about 10 1/2 hours long. We saw Kung Fu Panda and Iron Man while traveling.

Finally around 1:40 PM JST (Japan Standard Time) ahead of our 2:20 PM scheduled arrival we landed at NGO. 15 minutes before we landed we had a beautiful view of Mount Fuji (no snow cover at the altitude of 14,000 feet) to our right of the flight path.

We were fingerprinted and photographed (all non-Japanese citizens are required to go through this procedure) and collected out baggage and needed find a way to get the Nagoya Japan Rail station.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Travel to Japan 12

Trip to Orlando
Wednesday, Aug 21, 2008

Due to tropical strom Fay we had to start earlier on Wednesday afternoon from Tallahassee toward Orlando. So we picked up VTS around noon. Packed our bags and headed out of Tallahassee around 2:00 PM. On our way in I-10, I-74 and Route 4 there were rains on and off. Nothing torrential but constant cloudiness and continous drizzle greeted our trip.

We checked into the HoJo and went to the MCO airport to find out more about the long-term parking and United terminal. We retired early so that we will we well rested for tomorrow's journey to Japan.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Travel to Japan 11

Short-term Cell Phone Rental for Japan
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Tallahassee, FL 32306

I have been researching for quite some time to a get a cell phone for my short-term stay in Japan of 10 days or less. I read the forums and travel blogs. Finally I decided to go with This company is based in Kyoto, Japan and seems to be popular and favorite company to rent a cell phone in Japan. The Japanese cell phone system is unique and therefore most of the cell phones (both SIM based and non-SIM) don't work in Japan. Therefore, my global SIM Card from won't work here.

So I contacted them about a month ago and told them that I needed more than one phone so that I could carry one and my travel party could carry another. They were quite happy to comply stating that they could even send one to my home (Florida, USA) for extra charge.

This company will charge me ¥ 3900/for a week/phone and additional days charges are ¥ 300/day/phone purely in rental fees. Additional charge of ¥ 1000 will apply for the phone that will be sent to my home address in the United States.

Besides the rental charges I have shown above, you will pay for usage just like a pre-paid phone. The company says that typical charges for calls in Japan is ¥ 90/minute (a cheaper rate of ¥ 35/minute is available if you put in a special code) and international calls range anywhere between ¥ 45-60/minute depending upon the country. The charges are taken out in 1/10 minute increments i.e., 6 second increments. There are no charges for incoming calls.

So I placed order for two phones. One to be delivered to my home address in US and another to be delivered to Hotel that I will be staying in Osaka. The first phone arrived today. It came with a Softbank Sharp 420SH type phone with a 1.3 Mpx camera, universal charger, instruction sheet, pre-paid return envelope (with Japanese stamps) and a pouch. I charged it and is ready for use when I travel to Japan.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Travel to Japan 10

Japan Map with English Tags
Locating a place in Japan by Address or by Zip Code
Friday, August 1, 2008

I found the website to be very useful in locating an address on map in Japan. The website uses Google Maps API to display the underlying map, however, diddlefinger generate its own English name tags that are then superimposed on to the main map. Diddlefinger can be used to find a place if you know the postal address or zip code (it has other options but I find the listed two more useful). Let me explanin how I found a place.

I was looking for the location of Grand Cube Osaka (aka Osaka International Cenvention Center) in Osaka City, Japan. Of course, a famous landmark like this is easy to locate but I am going to use it as an example any way. The address for Grand Cube Osaka is:

Grand Cube Osaka 5-3-51, Nakanoshima Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0005 JAPAN

Explanation for the address is given below:

Grand Cube | Name of the place
5-3-51 | Door number {chome-ban-number}

Nakanoshima | Area {by itself or may end with -machi or -chu}

Kita-ku | Ward {ends with -ku or -machi}

Osaka | City {by itself or may end with -shi or -gun}
530-0005 | Postal Zip Code
[Osaka | Prefecture {ends with -ken; NOT needed}]

So I first started to find this place using the Zip Code. So I brought up the website and clicked on the Zip lookup feature and typed-in the Zip code 530 followed by 0005 and clicked the Go button. The website found the address and gave the following zoomed up image:

Now let us look-up the same place if had the address in English but without the help of the Zip code. First we start with Diddlefinger map and start with"English Address Search" feature. The first step is to start with the city name (Step 1.). In our case we start with Osa..., as you type these letters the program gives all the possible names and you just pick the right one.

Then continue on to Step 2, by typing the Ward Name Kita-ku and on to Step 3, Area Name Nakanoshima and finally the Door number.

Once it is done. You simply click the Map This button and you will get the zoomed up map of the location as shown below.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Travel to Japan 09

JR Train Connections, Time table, and fares via Hyperdia
Friday, July 25, 2008

From the Japan Rail website there is a separate link called Hyperdia Timetable that allows one to find out the possible trains that one can take from Point A to Point B with further information about the connection choices and fare.

I found it extremely useful to consult this link for deciding on which trains to take.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Travel to Japan 08

Japanese Yen
Currency Rates
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Before you travel to Japan you need to carry some Japanese Yen so that you could use it quickly to make a call or call a taxi. Since the upcoming travel will be my first trip, I wanted to carry some Yen.

I inquired a local bank and a credit union in town. The credit union didn't deal with foreign currencies and the local bank did but through another bank. The bank will only get a foreign currency if you are a member. Since I was already an account holder that was not a problem. I had to physically go to the bank (they won't do it over the phone or on-line, your bank may be different) and fill out an application and request a specified amount in Yen.

The bank will then calculate the amount in dollars and add handling charges (in my case two charges one for my bank and another for the bank that brought the Yen). The dollar amount will vary depending upon the day they calculate the conversion due to currency fluctuations. Then when the currency is ready they will call and you go and pick it up at the bank.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Travel to Japan 07

Japan Travel Forum
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I wanted to find out more information about travelling to Japan and check and see how individuals handled various situations like buying tickets, traveling in trains, handling the language barrier, visiting the shrines, and eating out. So I found out that is one place to start.

One can simply go to this website and click the "Forum" tab and browse through vaious questions and answers posted by newbies and experienced folks. But if you wanted to post a question, like other forums, you have to register (for-free).

When you search certain terms one gets both forum answers and relevant advertisements for that item. Like if you search for "stay" you get results that give information about where to stay in various cities as well as advertisements for hotels. Similarly if search for "food" you get information about Japanese food, food habits, and resturaunts. I found this site very useful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Travel to Japan 06

Japan Rail Pass

Multi-day pass

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Since my trip to Japan was relatively soon, and I needed to go from one international airport to my conference site on the way in and the way out, I started to look for Japan Rail Pass. The multi-day pass (7, 14, and 21 days are available) is expensive in the hundreds of dollar range (due to exchange rate fluactuations, the exact cost will change unless bought it using Japanese Yen) but worthwhile, since couple of trip in Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet trains) is costly. So even if you are going to be traveling two or three days and take long trips it is worthwhile to get the Japan Rail Pass.

First the traveler needs to determine whether he/she needs Superior Class (Green) or Ordinary Class (Pink). The Green pass is about 1 1/3 more expensive but there are certain advantages. Then the traveler needs (assuming it is an adult; if not there are children's passes available too) to decide whether she needs it for 7-, 14-, or 21-day validities.

Then he needs to decide whether he will be traveling more than one or two regions of Japan or will travel extensively in one region only (refer to for regions). Assuming she will travel more than one region (which is probably best bet if you are visiting Japan for a short trip) then go ahead decide on the General Pass rathern than Regional Pass.

I decided to go with the General Pass and so I contacted the travel agent to get the Rail Pass and purchased it. What I got was not really the Pass but receipt to purchase the Pass. Once you arrive in Japan take this receipt and passport and then you will get the real Pass at Exchange Office. At that time you have tell them when the start date and time of the pass will be. It Need NOT have to be immediately. However, once the start date and time is stamped it can't be changed. So plan ahead and get it stamped properly. Let us, say your first trip using the train will be a short one and you will not travel for another day or two. Then buy separate ticket for the short trip and save the pass for the extensive and long trips.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Travel to Japan 05

Travel Tips and Advisories
Department of State

When you are traveling from the US to any other part of the world it is a good idea to check the US State Department's Travel Advisory Website to find out tips and advisories about travel to that country.

The site gives requirements for travel, tips about avoiding problems at the airports and advisories regarding new developments. I checked their website to see whether there any points I should look into before traveling. At this time everything seems to be OK.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Travel Tip 01

Tracking Flight Paths
Real-time tracking
Thursday, May 29, 2008

While I was checking my itineraries both for Knoxville and Osaka I came across couple of websites that allowed me to track the flight paths and status of current and future flights. Some of the services, at least the basic and simple ones were free to the consumer.

I thought I will share these sites to those who read my blog. Only requirements you need are a web connection and some information about the flight you are trying to track. Easiest way to track is by the flight ID, that is airline abbreviation plus flight number. For example DL115 or DAL115 for Delta flight 115 or UA51 or UAL51 for United Airlines flight 51, etc. Of course, if you don't know the flight ID then you can go for the advanced search and start with a departure city and arrival city then select the air carrier name and time of departure or arrival.

The two sites I found useful are: (top picture) and (bottom picture).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Travel to Japan 04

21st Congress of the InternationalUnion of Crystallography
Osaka, Japan

I went ahead and filled out the registration form for the IUCr conference in Osaka, Japan and submitted via web. They were ready to take American Express CC to for the registration. Soon I received the confirmation of my registration and receipt of the payment.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Trip to Konxville TN 02

Car Rental from Hotwire
Trip to Knoxville TN

After booking my flight and Hotel together using Expedia, I found out that if I booked car rental separately I would get a cheaper deal for my travel location of Knoxville for the specific time period of early summer. So I decided to do the car rental using Hotwire.

The difference between using services like Travelocity, Orbitz and Expedia as well as car rental companies like Budget, Avis, National, Enterprise and Hotwire is that in Hotwire you have to book and purchase the reservation at the same time. There are no refunds or changes allowed which are routine and easy using other rental outlets. That means if you decide to book using Hotwire that should be your final itinerary and you should be fairly certain that you are NOT going change any plans.

The positive side of this means that you get a good price for the rental. They advertised in the $14 while I was searching for the location and time while other rental agencies that allow for cancellation modifications were advertising in the $20 range. The difference per day was substantial but the purchase had to be final.

Another point with Hotwire is that you won't know which rental agency your car is going to come from. But they will be from one of the big four or five agencies mentioned above. I was happy to accep these conditions and booked using Hotwire.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Travel to Japan 03

Accommodation in Osaka
Near Grand Cube Osaka
Osaka, Japan

I needed to get some accommodation in Osaka for my trip to attend the 2008 Congress of the International Union of Crystallography. I wanted the accommodation to be closer to the conference site which is Grand Cube Osaka. I contacted the organizers and found out the first choice I had requested was no longer available.

However, I was able to find some accommodation in a nearby hotel called HOTEL OKUUCHI OSAKA, 3-8-8 Utsubo Hommachi, Nishi-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka. The price was reasonable running around 110 range. The Kinki Nippon Tourist Co., Ltd from Chuo-Ku, Osaka handled my reservations.

Once I reach Osaka I will find out the convenience of this place.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Travel to Japan 02

Purchase of Japan Tickets
Tickets to Osaka via United
Friday, March 28, 2008

I have started to inquire about my upcoming trip to Osaka, Japan in late summer 2008. I first started my search using the regular websites like, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, and OneTravel. However, since I am leaving from a small town in the USA my flight options in late March 2008 for a trip in late August were not good. Several of them quoted prices in the 1500 range.

So I decided to modify my plans so that I will leave from a bigger city in the US and try to fly to Tokyo or Nagoya both of which have relatively larger International Airports compared to Osaka. In addition, since I will be traveling to Japan just after the Olympics in China gets over, I assume that may contribute to the high cost of the ticket.

Even after exploring the options I was unable to find good fares either through the above mentioned sites or even through airlines themselves like Delta, NorthWest, and Continental.

Then I spoke to people who are native of Japan and they suggested I contact Travel Agents who specialize in travels to Japan. One such vendor was IACE-USA Travels. They have offices in Orlando, Atlanta, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other places.

I sent out my plans and the next day they sent me an itinerary via e-mail. Then I spoke with one travel agent who helped me fine tune my departure and arrival as per my request. It turned out that if I traveled out of Orlando (MCO) and arrived Nagoya (NGO) they would offer me their best price. So I decided to go with that itinerary. This meant I had to travel to Orlando by car and take a train to Osaka after arriving in Nagoya. Another option would have been to arrive at Tokyo/Narita (NRT) International Airport and change to Haneda (HND) Domestic airport in Tokyo and arrive in Osaka. I preferred to fly to NGO and take the train rather than shuttle between two airports after a long journey.

Once I gave my selection they sent me the tickets in United Airlines. The tickets were reasonably priced in the 1300 range.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Trip to Konxville TN 01

Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association
Knoxville, Tennessee
I wanted to travel to Knoxville, TN to attend the Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association at Knoxville Convention Center. Since Knoxville is served via Delta (I always start my searches with Delta, since Tallahassee is well connected via Delta than any other carrier), I tried to look for flights that left late evening and arriving their in before 10 PM (CDT).

I found couple of them and decided to book one of them using Delta's own website. But when I tried to book reservation for my stay and flight, Expedia turned out to give me a better deal for the combination rather than separate reservations. So I went with Expedia.

My flight routing was TLH to ATL and then ATL to TYS. The return journey was simply the reverse of the forward journey. When I tried to combine hotel, car rental, and flight that combination was more expensive. So I decided to do car rental separately.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Travel to Japan 01

Japan Books and Travel Guide
Feburuary 28, 2008

I started to search for books and Travel Guides for Japan. I first started my search at my local county library (Leon County Library) and found couple of good books. But some of them were bit older and so I used those books for general information.

Then I selected the books I liked the most and went to Ebay, Half, Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, and Alibris, as well and searched for the titles and ISBN numbers ( to get the newer versions or newer editions of the same books.

I was able to get some of the books through Ebay, Half and Amazon. The following are the books I liked the most.

  • Good picture book from Dorling Kindersley (aka DK) called Eyewitness Travel Japan (ISBN: 0-7894-9719-0 or 978-0-75662-876-5)

  • General information about Japan - Frommer's Japan by Beth Reiber, Edition 8, (ISBN: 0-471-763-91-8 978-0-471-76391-8)
  • If you plan to travel by train - Japan by Rail by Ramsey Zarifeh (ISBN: 978-1-873756-97-3)
  • Japanese Language Audio CD - Pimsleur Quick & Simple Japanese, 3rd Edition (ISBN: 0-7435-2351-2) 4CD set with 8 lessons.