Day 6 in Japan: Kyoto – Arashiyama

Today we went to Kyoto! We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto, then another train to Arashiyama with Bryan’s family.

I had been looking forward to Arashiyama for pretty much the entirety of the trip since I had heard a lot of great things about it from Bryan’s cousin who had just recently been.  I was so excited to ride a bicycle around to see the sights but… well, I kinda messed up.

I thought I could ride a bicycle, but turns out I can’t remember how LOL.  Not sure whether it was because these bicycles were really different to what I was used to, but LMAO.  Can’t believe I forgot how to ride a bike.  I was so sure I could!  We even rented bicycles but I had to return mine (luckily they gave us a refund for it). Sooo embarrassing, but oh well.  It was still a fun day out — we visited some temples, the Togetsu river & the Bamboo Forest before returning the bicycles.

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The bamboo forest is really serene, the air feels weirdly fresh!  The only thing is that it was quite crowded – not so bad that you can’t move but it is difficult to bring bicycles through and I wouldn’t recommend bringing them in next time.  It’s definitely a great experience though.

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Next was the Monkey Park which was the highlight for me!  We were greeted by a pretty red entrance:

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It was a surprisingly long walk up to the top of the mountain where the monkeys were.  If you’re planning to visit the Monkey Park, make sure you wear walking shoes and be prepared for a little hike – it is very much worth it though!  I was worried the monkeys would be mischievous but they were cute little angels, hahaha.

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The path up the mountain eventually branches off into different sections, but we chose the one that was a longer walk because Bryan’s dad had a feeling it would be a lot better or something.  I definitely recommend the longer path though – the view was breathtaking!  Picture spam time:

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The monkeys were so cute and so close too. There were baby ones which were adorable! I took a lot of pictures, and even fed some in the special little feeding enclosure. Bryan even got pushed by a monkey a little as it ran away

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Afterwards, we had lunch  at a random udon place.  Idk, I feel bad for saying it, but I’m already sick of udon/the benito/dashi flavour!  I actually find myself craving fries/chips and pasta more and more.  It was still yummy, but I’m missing the variety of Aussie food.

We then went back to the station and returned to Kyoto again, for Inari Shrine. It was pretty cool there, the thousand gates were impressive and we ate some shrine food — preserved strawberries (they tasted yummy like jam) and mochi.

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At around 3pm we said our goodbyes to Bryan’s family, and Bryan and I headed off to our Ryokan in Kyoto: Ryokan Izuyasu!  It was sooo lovely there, such a Japanese experience — like what you see in anime and TV with a tatami filled room, the most awesome heated toilets & tea. We were given yukatas, and the place had three communal onsens that you could basically reserve for your room (no need to book the onsen ahead of time though).  Too bad my camera ran out of battery by the time we got there, so I couldn’t take any HQ pics – but I took on my iPhone.

I love how peaceful it is here! The walk here was only 10 mins from Kyoto station (a straight path from the exit near to Century Hotel Kyoto), and it was a little scary because the streets seem so colourless compared to Tokyo and even Osaka, but the Ryokan stands out with it’s traditional decor.

Entrance Ryokan Entrance

We were greeted with sugar snacks and tea, and our room has it’s own private garden. Ahh, it’s beautiful. Breakfast is included with the room price, so I am looking forward to that tomorrow.

Our Room

[Grabbed this pic of our room from their website, just so you can get a better idea of what it looks like:]

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After getting settled, we went to Kyoto Station for a bit of shopping and bought some white choco covered strawberries from Muji and a caramel bamkuhen (it’s a rolly layer cake). We had tea in our room with the little cakes, and relaxed for the afternoon.

Snacks

We didn’t book dinner at the Ryokan, so we went out to Kyoto station to grab a bite to eat. We had monjayaki, a specialty of Kyoto in terms of okonomiyaki.  I was craving beef, so we had some of that — although I wasn’t that big a fan of it because it tasted just like basic Aussie beef (I may even go so far as to say I prefer the beef we have at home!  Lesson learnt: don’t order regular beef in Japan again when there are so many other foods to try).  We also had an okonomiyaki of course – we ordered a pork one, and it was tasty.

My legs were dead by then, so soon after we went home and used the private onsen!

I find it pretty gross using the same water as everyone else tbh… I don’t know if I could deal with a public onsen. I loved the temperature and everything though, it’s very relaxing. We wore our yukatas (traditional clothing) and went to bed with what Bryan calls “cloud” blankets — very soft and puffy blankets.  Looking forward to tomorrow!


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Day 1 in Japan: Arriving in Japan & Eating Yakitori!

Posted on 11-01-2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We’re in Japan!  Landing in the airport felt so surreal, like 9hrs of flying time finally resulted in something!  I slept a lot on the trip, but not as well as I did on the way to Korea which was at night.  It felt a bit wrong to sleep during the day for this trip but I was exhausted anyway from waking up so early to get to the airport.

Unfortunately Bryan and I couldn’t get a wifi dongle online prior to the trip — and we didn’t want to spend like $90 each for a wifi dongle at Japan airport, so we decided to go without portable wifi for the first few days.  So far we have survived!  I was recommended a free wifi app, which occasionally works, but it’s the offline maps (maps.me in the App Store) that really impress me as you just DL them and the gps will still help you determine a route even without Internet.

We are staying at Hotel Horidome, so we had to take the Kesei Skyliner to Ueno, then walk to the Ueno station on the Hibiya line.  It’s important to know which line you are on or planning to go to, because not all of them are the same.  The Skyliner is very comfy, lots of leg room and a place to put luggage.

At Ueno, we took the train to Kodemmacho station.  Luckily, the time we arrived was not busy, and there was space on the train to put our bags :D  We got a bit confused about where to exit the station and get to the hotel though— it was a short walk away but we had no idea which direction.  Bryan asked one of the station officers where to go, it is actually not that hard to get through what you want in English, as long as you can point to a map or something.  They are so helpful here!  Even with the officer’s help, we got a bit lost and had to ask a random on the street for help.  She even went as far as to knock on the door of some restaurant to ask for directions for us!  So kind.

(To get to Hotel Horidome: At Kodemmacho station, take Exit 1 and walk up the stairs.  Turn left, then turn left again when you reach the lights/corner where there is a restaurant with cats on the window!  Hotel Horidome will be on your right after a few mins of walking.)

They led us in the right direction and we made it to the hotel, which is clean but absolutely tiny. It’s not so hard to stay here though because everything is ~just~ big enough.  Like the absolute bare minimum of what you could consider liveable.  But it is also a great price for a nice, clean place with a good location (I think it was around $50 a night for 2 ppl).

These aren't my photos of Hotel Horidome but this is basically how our room looked except ours was even more cramped than this!

These aren’t my photos of Hotel Horidome but this is basically how our room looked except ours was even smaller than this!

Despite the size of the Hotel, it is a really good location imo, especially for a few days of exploring around the Tokyo area!  The Hibiya line connects to both Akihabara (1 stop away) and Ginza, which is great, and it isn’t far to Tokyo station from Ginza either.  It is also right next door to a Family Mart convenience store.

After getting settled, we headed out to look around the nearby restaurants for dinner.  It is a business district, so it is quite quiet compared to the rest of Tokyo.  We stumbled upon a yakitori (chicken skewer) place with little booths.

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They had an English menu and I liked the atmosphere!  Bryan ordered a bunch of weird skewers, including chicken liver – I tried being adventurous and took a bite of it, but it almost made me throw up because of the texture (the ones on the top right) LOL.

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Highlights were the tea rice soup thing (not pictured, too hungry – ate it before I took out the camera) and the karaage (on the left).  Yum.


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Camping in the Summer

Posted on 18-12-2013 | Tags: , , , ,

Surprisingly my Summer has been pretty busy… I find that I always have something to do, and when I think that I have nothing to do it turns out I’ve forgotten something and make a huge mess of things.  I wish I were more naturally organised.  I plan and plan but theres always an issue lol.

So after Korea we had no budget for another trip, so we went with the cheapest option we could think of- camping!  Last weekend my friends and I went camping at Cape Paterson, sort of near Inveloch.  Tbh when I suggested camping I actually meant roughing it out in the bush with only a crappy “toilet” and no showers LOL.  I know it sounds gross but I actually kind of enjoy the feeling of camping ’cause it’s just so chill and stuff.  But the trip was so much better than I expected!  I would even say I enjoyed it more than our 2nd trip to Rosebud, hahaha.

The camping site was really, really nice.  Not what I was expecting at all.  I was just imagining the horrible toilets which are basically holes in the ground with a toilet structure plonked on top- but it was totally not.  All the facilities were so clean and nice!  The showers actually had hot water, the toilets were flushable and the whole bathroom area was cleaned daily.  There was a camp kitchen, with 2 fridges and a microwave + other appliances (but we still brought our own bc the kitchen…while it was usable, you can never be sure..) and a bbq area.  Not only that but the sites were powered, so there were no issues with charging phones and having light, and the lots were large enough to fit both our tent and car~  The price was very reasonable, about $30pp for 2 nights.  Considering we usually have to pay like $50 a night for a rental house… plus bond, it was really a great saving.  The fact that our stay didn’t fall into peak season was really good, because the camp was close to empty

Just a short walk from the camp- literally just behind the camping site, is the beach.  The beach is beautiful!  Really clean and there were heaps of rocks to explore around and it even had a patrolled area so you know that it’s okay to swim LOL unlike Rosebud where we were just sort of around the beach near the drain… omg.

So Bryan and I left his house first, because Michael Pua told us the night before that he couldn’t drive there early with us because of work.  Basically, our plan was to have Bryan drive me, Pua to drive Mikey and David to drive everyone else because he’s the only one with Green P’s and a car.  Pua dropped the tents off to us the night before and we drove off.  I think it was the first time Bryan had driven so far, but luckily it was a very quiet and straight road trip.  About 10 mins before we arrived, we got extremely hungry so we stopped by Maccas for lunch.  I had a Grand Angus burger and half an apple pie which we shared.  Afterwards, we arrived at the site, checked-in and grabbed the keys to the entry gate.  We didn’t explore because the sky was kind of dreary… so we started to pitch Nelson’s huge tent.

Bryan and I were deciding which to put up, but we figured that Nelson’s tent was packed neatly in the black bag (since we didn’t get it from Nelson/David themselves, we got confused as to which bags went with which tent- we thought David’s tent was half in a plastic bag).  And, his tent had “instructions”, so we went with it.

Turns out it was the most difficult tent to put up.  Took us like… 4 hours to put it up BUT seeing as it was just the two of us, the fact we even got it up before everyone arrived is a feat in itself LOL.  We were really confused…we tried to follow the instructions but it didn’t make sense.. the pictures didn’t match up.  So we ended up doing what we “thought” they meant, spending like 3 hours putting it up that way… but turns out a part of Nelsons tent was inside the plastic bag which we thought was David’s tent.  Finally we worked it out and put up the tent.  It was particularly confusing because Bryan and I are used to smaller tents.  This huge tent had a really unique structure… you have to build the outer “shell” then hook up the inner shell afterwards, which was weird.  But in the end it looked really good and the tent was super nice!

Finally, everyone arrived and we were fairly hungry from all the energy we used putting up the tent.  Luckily they brought food!!  :D  There was heaps of food- more than I thought there would be.  They bought KFC, and Calene + her mum made heaps of dishes, Nelson brought “chinese japchae” that his mum made, Jess brought sandwiches.  So much food, yumm.  But unfortunately, before we could eat it we had to put up the 2nd tent.  It took like 5 seconds LOL.  Bryan and I cri everytim.  Oh well, it’s better that we didn’t waste time putting up tents while everyone was together anyway.  We unpacked everything into the tents and ate outside on picnic rugs.  The only bad thing about the camp is the fact you can have open flames, which means no bonfire But I guess it’s a worthwhile price to pay for nice facilities and electricity.

After we ate, we walked down to the beach.  Too cold to go into the water or anything, but we explored a tiny bit and watched the sunset.  It was really nice and relaxing after the tiring day.  At night we stayed up late playing Mafia and chatting.  I suck so much at Mafia cause Im terrible at lying omg.  But somehow I managed to trick Pulu HAHahah.  Bryan and I were the “murderers” in the game, but no one knew.  Jess and David were trying to convince me of some reason why Bryan was the “murderer”.  David was also like “if you vote for him, you’ll win.” and that scared me cause it looked like he was lying… like he knew it was me or something and his “convincing” me was just a ploy to get rid of Bryan so that they could aim me next round.  So I didn’t want to get rid of Bryan.

I suck at Mafia so I played dumb.  Actually, I could see what they were trying to get at, but it was slightly confusing… so rather than try to comprehend what they were talking about, I blanked my mind out whenever Jess spoke so that I could convincingly not understand.  LOL it must have worked because they didn’t seem to suspect me until later… it probably helped that I also have the excuse that I don’t want to vote out my own bf hahaha.  IDK WHY people always blame me when its not me and when it is… wat.  Anyway in the end Pulu listened to confused me and voted for Jess because her method of playing is to be super sure and convince ppl.  I think Pulu was just like wtf so he looked to me who looked as confused as he was.  I don’t actually like playing Mafia that much… LOL well maybe not “dislike” but I think I’m weird cos I find it really ~stressful~ having to lie.  I mean, it’s definitely fun.  But I hate being anything other than citizen.  I’d rather just watch everyone else play.  I suppose I’m just like that… I don’t like Cheat, and even in Dota I hate “pubbing” because it’s too stressful having the team rely on me.  Idk when I’m doing something “for fun” I like it to be stress-free and no one is relying on me to do anything etc.  At least Mafia is just within friends though, I guess.  Don’t know how I will continue my stress-free life in the real world.

Anyway, we ended up all sleeping in the giant tent because it was scary to go into the other tent… also the other tent didn’t have power cause we didn’t have an extension cord.  The girls basically just used that tent as a changing room in the end.  I’ll try to post about Day 2 tmr.


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