Tokyo’s cheeky little brother

Osaka, you always know how to make me feel more alive and younger! The shops at Osaka train station are actually pretty dead in the morning. Everything comes to life around 10 am …and suddenly there are all sort of sounds and amazing smells – think of freshly baked bread, cake, waffles, tempura, perfumes – ohhh, that butter smell is so irressistable. There is a big gaming centre near Osaka station that has so many claw machines with massive potato chips that you can win!

Comparing the size of giant pringle with my hand

TIP: you are planning to roam around the city quite a bit, do check out the train passes on offer. They can save you some money, depending on your itinerary. I decided to get the one day pass (800 yen on weekdays or 600 yen on weekend) which allows me to take any osaka trains/subway unlimited times. 

I met up with a friend from high school who moved to Osaka 5 years ago. I was very excited as I had not seen her for at least 16 years! We went to Nakazakicho, an area that has super old houses (apparently older than 100 years and from the World War 2 period) that were reformed into either a cafe, art space or bars! 

The cafe we went to which is also a really old house!
You can take the stairs and sit on the second floor
Old Japanese telegrams

My friend told me that Osaka is the kitchen of Japan during edo period. She brought me to eat Udon for lunch and said that the udon soup you get in Osaka gives you this extra ‘kick’ compared to the ones in Tokyo.

After parting ways with her, I went to visit Hogoken Dog cafe near Dotonbori area. This was my first time visiting dog cafe and I didn’t realise how smelly it could be! Having said that, I did get used to the smell after 5 minutes and who cares about the smell when upon entrance, all these curious cute dogs started coming over to greet you. I absolutely adore these dogs – so gentle, fluffy and cute. A perfect way to spend your afternoon if it is rainy in Osaka!

After that, I decided to walk around Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi area. So many people, so many shops & drug stores, so many restaurants! 

People! People everywhere!
Famous Glico man sign

This area can also be a bit dodgy though – a lot of male hosts/female hostess looking for clients on the street and R18+ shops/services. 

You can get washed by girls – ew

I find that it is still a safe area – as long as you stick to rhe main touristy area as there will be loads of people around. Just be cautious of your surrounding and if you get approached by dodgy people just say “wakarimasen!” (I don’t undersand). 

Kanazawa – Part II

I started the day by visiting Kenrokuen garden early in the morning. Apparently, it is better to visit the garden around 8 am as it is not as crowded and you get to take pictures without anybody photobombing it! I visited around 8 50 am and while it wasn’t very crowded, there were already lots of people and a few big tour groups there.

Plum blossoms

After spending about 35 minutes, I made my way to Kamazawa Castle park (Tip: there is a free guided tour at 9:30 am – 3:30 pm). I didn’t go into the castle, and decided to just roam around the area. 

I then made my way to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. I was actually really looking forward to this museum but upon arrival, I was disappointed to find out that they are in a middle of changing the exhibitions so most of the main areas are closed 😦

Was looking forward to this exibition 😦 – source: https://www.kanazawa21.jp

Lesson learnt: it pays to research properly before visiting an attraction. Oh well, I guess I just have to visit Kanazawa again 🙂

After the museum, I met up with my friends, M & G to visit Higashi Chaya district. Apparently there are geishas here but we didn’t see any (maybe we were too early). 

We visited one of the teahouses and had matcha toast, matcha tea and Japanese sweets. Japanese people sure know how to make super cute adorable sweets!!

That’s it from Kanazawa! Off to Osaka now 🙂

Till then, Kanazawa!

Kanazawa – Part I

After 154 minutes on the bullet train, we finally arrived at Kanazawa – Yay!

Kanazawa JR train station

I am loving the slower pace in Kanazawa (compared to Tokyo) and how I am able to walk to most of the attractions from my hostel. Also, just as I thought Japanese people could not be nicer, Kanazawa caught me by suprise! When we arrived at station, we went to eat sushi for lunch and my friend chose a slightly expensive set. The chef then recommended my friend to buy a cheaper lunch special set instead as it was better value! Like seriously, I was so in awe. The chef was also very smiley and tried to talk in English to help us choose.


Arigatou nice chef 🙂

They say bad luck comes in three – it may be true after all. First, it was my luggage that broke 50 minutes before I had to go to the airport. Today, after losing my pasmo card yesterday, I found out that the my new jacket was ruined.   

I was quite disappointed because I just bought it a few days before my Japan trip. I ended up buying a new jacket from H&M (luckily on sale) but grumbled a bit because of this unexpected expenses. But then I realised that everything happens for a reason – we planned to visit Shirakawago the next day and it was forcasted to be snowing briefly and the max temperature was 4 degC. The original jacket would not have kept me warm AT ALL (it didn’t even keep me warm for 10-16 degC, let alone 0-4degC)!! 
Omi-cho market Kanazawa

While I was waiting for my friend to meet at Omi-Cho market, an old lady sat next to me and started speaking in japanese. I told her that I couldn’t speak Japanese but she just smiled and kept talking in Japanese. She told me that she was going to dance (she made dancing gestures and I confirmed it using my Japanese phrase book). She then asked if I was OK. I told her that I was waiting for a friend and she said thank godness in Japanese which I understood from all the animes I watched! Who knew that watching these animes could be useful 🙂

Omi-Cho market

The crab croquette from this place was amazing!!
White strawberry
Kanazawa gold leaf ice cream
Our lunch place

Lunch – yummmmm

After lunch, we took the Nohi bus to Shirakawago and my oh my, this place blew my mind away! Words can’t describe how beautiful this place is, and pictures definitely do not do this place any justice. I also got to tick off another thing in my bucket list, which is to see real snow!! It was sooooo cold – Man, that new jacket was definitely a blessing in disguise!

Someone left their kipling mongkey tag!

For dinner, we went back to Kanazawa JR station and ate another sashimi rice bowl at Furos shopping mall. Full tummy = happy life! 

Thats it for today – can’t wait to see what other adventure awaits!

Mochi & Okonomiyaki

On the second day of my Japan trip, I went to Disneysea with my good friends whom I had not seen for a very long time 🙂

All on board!

The weather was very cold and unfortunately, that day was a bit too crowded for my liking. The waiting time for popular attractions were about 140-200 minutes (eek)! The place itself was very beautiful and I loved how everyone queued properly and was in happy mood!

I also got to eat this super cute mochi !!! 

At night, we decided to go to Sakura Tei at Harajuku to make our own Okonomiyaki. When I was about to get out of the the train station, I couldn’t find my pasmo ticket!! Thankfully the ticket master was very kind and just asked me which station did I come from so he could charge me the proper fare. No further questions were asked – this made me realise how honest Japanese people must be in general! I was a bit sad actually – because I just topped up 20$ in my pasmo card 😦 and it also had about 7$ remaining! Oh well – life goes on.

Anyways, back to my dinner – it was definitely a great experience and I highly recommend it. They have all-you-can-eat option starting from 2100 yen (+ 1 drink additional extra fee), and some staff are westerners – making it easy for us to communicate and ask questions!

Ta da – happiness on a hot plate!

Their website gives clear directions too which is really helpful as I find that google map does not really work properly in Tokyo. 

If you are interested, this is the website:

http://www.sakuratei.co.jp
Next stop – Kanazawa!

🙂

Taiwan -> Japan (Day 1!)

After spending what felt like an eternity transiting at Taiwan airport (I lie – it was only 3.5 hours really), I am finally in Japan! Taiwan airport is actually quite nice. There are heaps of clean toilets (available every 5 minutes walk) and they have interesting waiting area. One of the theme for the waiting area is Xiao-long-bao! I can’t wait to eat these juicy dumplings again at Din Tai Fung. Last time I went with Mr TD, we definitely ordered way too much…but all the dishes were so delicious. So I am not sure which dish to eliminate in my next order.. I guess I’ll save that dilemma for when the time comes!

Super short escalator at Taiwan Taoyuan airport
My cute suica and NEX tiket 🙂

First stop : Nihombashi Muromachi Bay Hotel – my first capsule hotel experience! I got lost looking for the hotel and unfortunately, it was raining quite heavily. It took me about 20 minutes and by the time I reached the hotel, I was very drenched! Confession: I was actually thinking of buying an umbrella on the way to the hotel, but my stingy self decided not to, incase the hotel provides free umbrella. Note to self: do not be stingy.

Staff: Polite (as you would expect at most places in japan).

Bathroom: Super clean (big tick!). They also supply towel, toothbrush, comb and even this cloth thingy to brush yourself when showering! Their toilet seats are so warm ^_^ 

Bed: Size wise, it was comfortable for me as I can sit on my bed without hitting the ceiling. There is a tv, a mirror and power plug for convenience. Noise wise – not sound proof 😦

Locker: the locker is quite small, so if you are bringing a big suitcase, definitely carry a small carry-on bag so you can separate the essentials to put in the locker and keep the big suitcase at reception.

oyasuminasai おやすみなさい – good night

I ended the night eating my all time favourite Japanese food – gyudon!

Ahhh, what a day – sleep time now! 

Goodnight, world!

Bon Voyage, see you again Melbourne!

Holey Moley – the time has finally arrived…My first solo trip to Japan and Taiwan! 

Up until 5 hours before the flight, I was actually feeling quite proud of my organisational skills. Everything went according to my master plan, and I purposedly left the last few hours to chill with Mr TD, and to check that I had packed everything for the 4th time.

One hour before I had to go to the airport, I saw some weird metal ball near the wheel of my luggage and decided to snap it. WRONG DECISION, MISS!!! As a result of this, I broke the wheel and was literally *omg*-ing for a few minutes. First, I was in the”denial stage” – I played around with the luggage hoping that it could survive with just 3 wheels. As I entered the “acceptance stage”, I decided to rush to a department store to buy a new one..oh boy, 50 minutes before I had to go to the airport! Unexpected expenses during my one year off with no income is definitely not what I want 😦 

Thankfully, I got my new luggage within 20 minutes and rushed home to repack everything!

I managed to reach the counter check in 5 minutes early (whoop!) and that’s when everything sunk in (Uh-oh). I am actually going overseas alone, I will be alone 90% of the time and I will be going outside my comfort zone (hostels…sharing toilet and room with strangers – eek)…aaaaaaahhhh!!!! 

I am definitely feeling super scared…but also zuper duper excited!! So many people have travelled alone before right? I should be ok right?…hmm – Wish me luck! Hopefully I don’t get homesick 🙂  

Paleta Paleta Paleta! I am obsessed with paleta!

Qué es la paleta?

Excuse my spanish.

Paleta is an ice-cream from Mexico that comes in a stick. We were walking in Melbourne Central (Melbourne) when we spotted a cute mini push cart and a board with colourful ice-cream pictures.  Somehow I felt like the ice cream pictures were screaming “buy us buy us” – so even though we had a massive lunch 30 mins ago,  I could not resist to try it.

We decided to buy the watermelon, kiwi and lime paleta ….and boy, it was so so good! Sweet, sour and refreshing. Perfect for the warm day yesterday.

If you are an ice-cream lover like me and you happen to live in Melbourne, definitely try the paletas from ChillBro Paletas.

http://www.chillbro.com.au/

Adios! 🙂