Trouble in Paradise

I was sad to leave Bounty Island but there were plenty of activities on the mainland that we wanted to do like going to the garden of the Sleeping Giant, the Sabeto mud baths and the zip lines. Tours were pretty expensive so we opted to do it by ourselves. Just before we left our resort, we decided to see a woodcarving demonstration. As we were watching the demo, I started to feel a bit weird like I was getting rocked on a waterbed. Since no one around me was reacting, I figured it was probably my body responding to the 30+ degree heat. It was only later we realised that the sensation was actually due to the 6.9 earthquake at hit Fiji. We were unaffected, however, it caused major power-cuts in Suva (the Capital). More

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Bounty Island Time

There’s various descriptions of the term Island Time, my favourite is from Urban Dictionary: The time vacuum created by the ocean’s presence. Similar to stoner’s time, everything moves nice and slow. We sure experienced some good old fashion island time on Bounty Island. The island is pretty small, so we could easily walk around it on half an hour. Our three days there were leisurely spent snorkeling, reading, napping, learning to weave and doing a Fijian language class. At times, I didn’t do anything at all besides just stare out at the ocean.

Bounty Island is also known for turtle conservation. They had tanks with baby turtles (which I affectionately referred to as ‘turties’) swimming around in them. Early on New Year’s day, a turtle marched up between two bures, dug a series of nests and laid her eggs. I didn’t see the nest because I didn’t want get too close and disturb it. It was cool to think that at some point baby turtles will hatch and march themselves back into the sea.

I sincerely hope I have an opportunity to come back to this island at some point but mainland adventure awaits.

Next post: Trouble in Paradise

 

Carefree Fiji

Many people on the internet have written 2016 off as some kind of terrible, let’s-never-speak-of-it-again year. Although 2016 did have some challenges, for me, it was a pretty awesome year overall. I thought a nice trip to Fiji with my childhood friend was just the thing to top it off.

I planned this trip back in June and had promptly forgot about it, except for the odd occasion when I needed to think of something to look forward to. Surprisingly, this trip snuck up on me really fast. It felt like that one moment I was spending Christmas with my family and the next I was on plane bound for Fiji.

We spent our first night on the mainland, just enjoying the peace and relaxing in the warm evening air. We caught boat the next morning (New Year’s Eve) to Bounty Island. We were greeted with blue skies, golden sands and a song from one of the staff members (Effy). We spent the rest of the day kayaking, napping and reading. In the evening, we playing naff party games and welcome the new year with a bonfire and fireworks display. 2017 is going to be a great year!

 

Northlandia

The days are getting longer in New Zealand and the temperature was definitely rising. I jumped at the opportunity to do a road trip up north with my good mate Richard. The weather was just perfect and we left the city extra smug with the fact that everyone else was working. More

Time to say Sayonara

My last day was spent leisurely exploring more of Tokyo. I went to Ginza and saw the Godzilla statue, admired cherry blossoms in Yoyogi Park, and did some last minute shopping in Harajuku. I tried to get to bed early so I can get up super early the next day. Oh the things you do to see the Tsukiji fish market – the early morning tuna fish auction to be precise.

I strategically chose an AirBnb accommodation in Tsukiji for its proximity to the fish market. I had originally planned to get up at 4.30am for the auction that starts at 5am. My host laughed and told me that people are all lined up by 2am. This was backed up by some fellow guests who were turned away the previous day for arriving at 3.30am. We all agreed to set out at 1.30am and hang out together for three and a half hours. Visitors start to get processed at 2.00am, you get given fluoro vests and get ushered into a room for the wait. Some people sit down and chat, others catch up on sleep. Time passes surprisingly fast if you make new friends and you feed off each other’s excitement. The group is split in two, 60 people per group. Each group observes the tuna auction for about 35mins. We get to see the merchants carefully examine the fish and then magic happens. The auctioneer pretty much sings. It is beautiful. And it’s over before we know it. There’s nothing else to do but get some breakfast sushi nearby and crawl back into bed for a few hours rest.

Japan has been excellent but I had to bid it sayonara. I’ve got new adventures waiting for me back at home. The flight back home was pretty empty, I got 3 seats to myself. This is the life.

Tokyo Love Hotel

Despite my best intentions, I had failed to make it to a traditional onsen (Japanese bathhouse) when I was Kyoto. I didn’t worry too much. I had a day and a half to play with when I got back to Tokyo. Plenty of time to get butt-naked and chill with strangers. The only other activity I would love to do is visit the world famous Tsukiji fish market. But alas, my visit to the onsen would have to be in a post about a future visit to Japan. This post, however, involves the tale of how I accidentally ended up staying at a Japanese love hotel. More

Kyoto Express

Going to Kyoto was a bit of an after thought for my trip so I only gave myself just under two days there. Instead of taking the bullet train, flew from Tokyo to Osaka and then got the train to Kyoto. I accidentally got the train pass that went around all the houses to get from Osaka to Kyoto. As a result I arrived to the accommodation nice and grumpy. But got promptly cheered up by the food at a sushi train restaurant called Musashi. After dinner I strolled to Yasaka Shrine to see some cherry blossoms all lit up at night. I would have loved to have tried some of the food at the stalls if I hadn’t have gorged myself at the sushi train.

I had one full day in Kyoto, so I did some turbo sightseeing. First, I went to Arashiyama at about 7.30am to avoid the crowds at the famous bamboo forest. There were plenty of people taking their wedding photos, I’m pretty sure there are some wedding snaps with me awkwardly trying to get out of the frame. Next I headed to the Imperial Palace. This is not normally open to tourists without a reservation/tour, however I was at the right place and the right time so in I walked for free. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan so the palace was very important as it was the Emperor’s pad. After seeing the Imperial Palace, I headed to Fushimi Inari Taisha (the Fox Temple), it is well known for having thousands of red posts going up the mountain. I opted not to do the two hour trek because it was just too densely packed with tourists. There were food stalls at the entrance to the temple so I had a delicious Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) for lunch and then headed back to the hostel for a rest. By rest I mean I passed for the two hours and woke up with a sore hip. I had initially planned to go to an Onsen (Traditional Japanese bathhouse) but was too groggy so instead I went to Nishiki market to see food stalls, the green tea ice cream was excellent. I rounded my day off with round two of sushi train at Musashi.

The City of Shrines, Cats and Robots

My cat allergy does not stifle my love of cats and I was determined to go to a cat cafe in Tokyo. I even took my antihistamines in anticipation for the encounter. I head to Asakusa because I know there will be cat cafes but it also known for the lovely Sensō-ji Temple. There are heaps of cute little shops and food stalls around the Temple too. In front of the temple you can pay 100yen to shake a metal box to get a stick with a number, then you pick the drawer with corresponding number to get your fortune. My fortune was overtly nice, I was starting suspect that all the fortunes were favorable until I overheard an Australian complain about their terrible fortune. Looks like I’m just a lucky person and this lucky person is going to the cat cafe. I got directions to the place from a Rickshaw driver by miming a cat. The cats were the gorgeous and aloof, it was glorious. There is nothing cuter than watching a munchkin cat go crazy over a feather toy. More

Tokyo, Tokyo

There are so many things I wanted to experience in Tokyo. Staying in a capsule hotel was high on my list. It is disappointing that a lot of capsule hotels are male only. It is believed that businessmen are the people who require this form of accommodation the most. Lame. I did eventually find one which took both genders. Slept well. While we are on the subject of gender segregation, it is not uncommon to have women only train carriages.

Another experience high on my list is going to the Kanamara Matsuri – Festival of the Iron Phallus. This festival is located in Kawasaki, on the outskirts of Tokyo. The legend goes that there once was demon which fell in love with a woman but she didn’t feel the same. To make her life miserable, it inhabited her vulva and would bite off the penis of whomever she slept with. She solved this problem by getting an ironsmith to make a metal penis and tricked the demon into biting it – breaking all its teeth. Lovely. The actual festival was full of foreigners like myself and the festivities is vague themed around fertility. There was a parade of the large phalluses all around town. I have some interesting souvenirs.I did not plan my trip around this festival, I really wanted to go during the Sakura festival. This just happened to be a happy coincidence.

Shopping is a favourite pastime of Tokyo tourists. Since I’m about to move to a new city I wasn’t keen to buy up large. However I did break my jeans so I headed to the popular shopping area of Shinjuku to get some new jeans at Uniqlo. I officially have mom jeans.

I also visited other popular shopping areas like Shibuya (known for its chaotic road crossing junction) and Harajuku. I did not see any crazily-dressed Harajuku girls. Apparently they are not around all the time. I happen to go on a Sunday afternoon and there was a lot of people, tourists mainly. I headed down a quiet alleyway to try and get away from the crowd and stumbled upon an owl café. The café had seven owls, the largest one was eleven-month-old called Bob. They were all very cute and very soft to pat. Another awesome experience ticked off my list.

Still to do: Cat cafe, Sakura Festival and the robot restaurant

Oh Seoul beautiful

Going to South Korea was never part of the original plan when I first booked this trip. I was just meant to go to China and Japan. When I looked into getting flights between the two countries a stopover in Seoul looked like an ideal option… so I booked it! I had so many good puns to work with for the title of this blog about my time in Seoul. Going Seoul(o) was my working title but I ended up making some new friends at my hostel.

I only had two and a half days in Seoul so I got busy straight away but heading to the popular shopping area of Myeongdong. Myeongdong is best known for its abundance of retail shops (especially cosmetics) as well as delicious street food. Hey lady, if you buy a bunch of make up I’ll give you all these snail face masks for free. Ok mate, game on! More

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