A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: LaurenSho

So we've come to the end of the road...

sunny 28 °C
View Aus and Japan 2010 on LaurenSho's travel map.

It's our last day already, the past 30 days have gone sooo fast I can't even believe it!

I'll pick up where we left off....DISNEYLAND TOKYO! Definitely a great last minute decision, we arrived just after 10am to the sound of disney music and hundreds and hundreds of japanese people, most of them wearing mickey mouse ears (even the boys!) so we felt a little underdressed in our shorts and tshirts...!

It's halloween time there now too, which made it even better. We managed to do a LOT of stuff despite the masses of people and the burning hot sun (temperature was high 20's and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, phew). In no particular order, we did (and more) Star Wars, Peter Pan, photos with Smee and some Dwarves, Pirates of the Caribbean with added Jack Sparrow, Roger Rabbit ride and the Haunted Mansion which was Nightmare Before Christmas themed - amazing, I was so excited! I also finally managed to get on Space Mountain after being too small the last time I was at a Disneyland, and you may not believe me but Shona went on a rollercoaster - Big Thunder Mountain - and she actually enjoyed it!

We stayed until pretty late and saw the electric parade and the fireworks over the castle. We had a bit of trek home after and by this point we are both completely shattered, I've never been so tired in my life!

For our last day we spent some more time Tokyo. We went looking for the Harajuku girls first of all, but there was none there today. A bit disppointing, but we went for a walk down the crazy shopping street Takeshita in Harajuku, and wandered through Yoyogi park. There was a Vietnamese festival on but we didn't see any of the old rockabilly guys, another disappointment but nevermind, everyone must be having a day off this week. We went out this evening for some ramen and gyoza (apparently called pot stickers here, not sure why) near our capsule hotel in Shinjuku, and finished off everything with some posh cocktails and an incredible view of the whole city at night from the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel - a perfect ending.

So we're off to our capsules to sleep now, and up early in the morning for our 12 hour flight back to the UK. That's all for now folks, see you back in real life very soon!


Posted by LaurenSho 05:12 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Tokyo part 2 and more of Japan

sunny 26 °C
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Omoide zokocho is the BEST THING EVER!! It's even more cool than I expected, and way better than the Piss Alley nickname suggests! We had some trouble finding it at first, but we resorted to our failsafe way to find anything here - ask someone! We knew we were there as soon as we saw it, a tiny little smoky street that could barely fit two people down it at once filled with tiny little bars and japanese lanterns, and smelling like lots of tasty food...
We were spoilt for choice, so went for a walk down and on every side people were shouting out to us to try and convince us to come into their little room (well at least I think that's what they were shouting, it was all in Japanese). They were all just bars in front of a tiny kitchen and one chef and you sit and face the chef at the bars on tiny little stools, it's amazing. We tried a couple, we had Yakitori in the first that also handily had an english menu (a very small one) and noodles and gyoza in the second. We spent so much time there though that we missed Golden Gai - saving that for later hopefully! If you ever go to Tokyo though, make sure this is one of your stops!

Next day we attempted to get up early and go to the famous Tsukiji fish market, we almost managed, but it was really heavy rain and we were pretty sleepy so eventually managed to get there just after 8am (pretty late for a market, it starts at about 3am apparently, eek). We didn't see much market action, but we did the important bit - super fresh sushi from one of the bars in the market made from the fresh market fish, and it was sooooooooooo good! Shona had some trouble eating it, so the little chef cut up her sushi for her, it was so cute.

After that we sneaked into the Park Hyatt Hotel, famous from the movie Lost in Translation - I've never seen it before but I'm gonna try and watch it on the plane on the way home. It has amazing views from the 52nd floor, we managed to see a bit but it's an expensive restaurant and bar and we couldn't get in with our flip flops on. We had a bento box for lunch, and then it was Bullet Train time! 90 minutes to Fukushima, where we went to stay with our friend Alex who's teaching English here. We had some crazy Japanese pancakes for dinner, where you sit at a table that has a huge hotplate in the middle then order your pancake flavour/filling. They give you the raw mixture in a bowl, mine was prawn, and you mix it up then pour as much or as little out onto the hotplate to cook. When it's done, you top it off with different toppings and it was best with everything: mayonnaise, fish flakes, bbq-ish sauce and seaweed. Yum!

Day 2 in Fukushima, and we went off on another bullet train and some smaller ones to Nikko, where they have a national park with a LOT of shrines and temples. The buildings are amazing to see, they're so detailed but we didn't learn much as all the signs and information was in Japanese...and we had NO idea what they said. They only things we could read were the no smoking signs and the ones that told you to take your shoes off before you go inside...hmm! We finished off the day with some more food and some drinks in Fukushima, a place called Hanebi and ate a LOT of food! We also had hot sake, but I wasn't such a big fan of that, think I'll stick to the beer...

We have some exciting last minute plans for tomorrow - Tokyo Disneyland!!! I cannot wait, so going to bed right now!

(It was also my little brother's 21st birthday yesterday, so everyone wish him a happy birthday!)


Posted by LaurenSho 07:03 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

First stop TOKYO!

overcast 23 °C
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THIS CITY IS AMAZING! Imagine what you think it would be like, and it is actually that!

We are staying in a capsule hotel called the Ace Inn and its so cute. The beds that are holes in the wall are surprisingly spacious and theres free internet, not that we will have much time to use it!
Im also struggling slightly with the Japanese keyboard, last night we both kept getting it stuck on japanese and although I can sort that problem now, today the keyboard has decided to switch the letters y and z around, and just wont type some punctuation like apostrophes so apologies in advance for the bad writing!

We've done so much in one day so far (just found the apostrophe!) so here goes...

Started off more than a little confused with the subway here, there's no English, aaaah! After a whole day now though we're experts, if you're ever here just follow the colours and read the number and the letter of the station you want to get to, easy! We began the day in Shinjuku and had breakfast, where I ticked off the first in my list of things to eat here...NATTO. It's soya beans fermented with a bacteria called bacillus subtilis natto and it's really really really gross, bleurgh, especially for breakfast! So not trying that again, wish you could've seen how stringy and slimy it was!

After breakfast we walked past some markets and went to Hama Rikzu Teien gardens, and we had a small japanese tea ceremony in the teahouse on the water...and with it came gross food no. 2, some sort of super sweet powdery mushy 'confection' that you have to eat before you drink the tea. I'm a bit disappointed with myself for not liking the food we had in the morning, but there were some successes in the afternoon!

We walked back past the markets and this is where all the free stuff started! We got a few tasty things to try from the vendors on the way past, the best were some kind of sweet sesame tuna cubes (Shona even liked these!). We then took a walk around Ginza, the upmarket shopping area and we got a free bag with some kind of sweets and a little notebook in it from a really cute little sweet shop, but we haven't tried these yet not sure if they're tasty or not. Next stop was the Sony Building and we got to go in and see all the latest Sony technology, there was some amazing cameras in there, and their 3D TV's. No robots though, boo.

Then we went to the Takashimaya department store to check out the famous gourmet food basement, depachika, which was amazing and we got yet more free stuff! Every second stall had some sort of taster and all of it was yum, we definitely managed to eat our way around the floor!

Next stop was electric town (Denki gai) Akihabara, where the geeks hang out as it's the Manga and electronics main area. This place was amazing, so colourful with lights and adverts everywhere, people standing outside the shops with microphones trying to get you to come in, and lots of girls dressed in manga style maid outfits trying to get the men to come into their maid cafes (nothing dirty, they just serve people dressed like that). We got some octopus balls too (another on my list to try, bits of octopus in runny batter and harder batter on the outside) and they were really good! We're back at the hotel now, going to head out to Omoide zokocho (also known as Piss Alley), a street full of street food vendors to get some dinner then we're going to go explore Golden Gai, lots of narrow alleys filled with little tiny bars. Some only fit 3 or 4 people in at a time! Some don't like foreigners though, so wish us luck...


Posted by LaurenSho 02:45 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Goodbye Australia, Konnichiwa Japan

sunny 27 °C
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So we've come to the end of 3 amazing weeks, I almost want to cry! All it's done is made me want to stay longer, and travel more...luckily Japan tomorrow will be able to console me for a wee while at least.

Had a pretty fun night out last night, and finally NOT an early morning today! Just away to have a lazy day in Cairns (pronounced Caaaaannes if you're Aussie), we might even pick up a few presents for you guys (or I might just treat myself, haha) and the sun is coming out just in time for a wander around.

Things I've learned about beer in Australia:

- A schooner is their pint equivalent, and it's a little less than a pint - they obviously can't hold their beer as well as us Scots!
- A pot of beer is not as big as it sounds, it's actually just half a schooner/half a pint.
- Tooheys Extra Dry is tasty.
- Flip Cup is an awesome beer drinking game.

So we're gonna have a bit of a homecoming party the weekend we're back, and I challenge you all to Flip Cup!

We also had a bit of a go at Didgeridoo playing today, I'm a natural:

Didgeridoo playing

Didgeridoo playing

Didgeridoo playing

Didgeridoo playing

That's all for now folks, next update from JAPAN!

- Lauren

Posted by LaurenSho 18:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mission Beach and Rafting on the Tully River

overcast 23 °C
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After I updated yesterday, we went for a drive to Mission Beach (our hostel was a bit out of the way). It's not like I expected at all, I thought it would be Airlie Beach style with lots of bars and restaurants, but it's a very small town mostly full of campers. We still managed to find some fun and had a few drinks and a lovely meal there, and then yet another early night to go white water rafting the next day. An early night was the best thing for us, especially if you know what happened last time we tried to go rafting! We accidentally got very drunk on champagne at the musselburgh races the day before and were pretty hungover for rafting in Pitlochry, oops.

So no hangovers this time and soooooooo glad we didn't, this river is waaaaaaaaay more intense than the last one we did; we lost a girl at the first rapid! There were no more spillages after that really, but it was SO much fun! The amazing surroundings helped aswell, we had bright blue dragonflies sitting on us and fed burgers to turtles at the lunch stop.
Scariest part of the day by far was when we got out of the boat to swim/float down a grade 2 rapid. I know you're thinking grade 2 doesn't sound like much, but trust me, it definitely is when you're drowning in it! We weren't actually drowning, but it was pretty scary and almost felt like that - I think I swallowed most of the river, and will not be doing it again in a hurry. It was definitely fun though, and if that wasn't enough I also jumped off a 4 meter rock into the water after that...wooooooo!

We've also now completed the final leg of our roadtrip and arrived in Cairns, boo! Well, yay for Cairns but boo that Australia is almost over...for now anyway! Not sure of the plans for tomorrow yet, but heading out for some celebrations tonight. And everyone tell Shona how amazing she is for her incredible drive from Brisbane all the way to Cairns, that's pretty impressive.

I've also finally managed to put up some more pictures from the last few days so go and have a look at what you're missing!

- Lauren

Posted by LaurenSho 01:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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