Day 4: Tokyo, Ueno & Roppongi

So, day 4 was a bit different to the 3 that preceded it… Day 4 was a day we didn’t really have too much planned, so we just took it easy, and did a few bits and bobs. It was a nice change of pace from the crazy amount of stuff we’d managed to fit into our first few 24-hours in Tokyo. So, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, this post shouldn’t be too long…

The blue bridge of Rhyl?

Blue Bridge of Rhyl?

I feel like all my posts regarding this trip start the same “It was a pretty lazy morning….”, and shock horror, this one is no different. We decided to venture somewhere else for breakfast (only next door to our trusty bakery), and it wasn’t worth it. We ended up making a pit-stop at Tom Tom’s anyway before heading over to the other side of the bridge. We’d managed to finish up the disposable camera we’d bought and decided to try and get it developed before we moved onto Seoul. So, before getting on the metro we went back to the little shop on the corner we’d bought it from and swapped it for our pick-up slip.

We travelled the few short stops along our trusty Ginza line and came up into the (cold) sunshine of Ueno. We headed straight for the park as this seemed to be the main area we’d heard and read about at this metro stop. As we stepped into the park we were met by a crowd that had formed around a pretty sharply dressed man in a suit. We joined the horde of people and watched as the man put on one hell of a performance. He wasn’t a juggler, he wasn’t a singer, and he wasn’t a street magician. I’m not sure what you’d call him, just a Continue reading

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Day 3: Tokyo, Harajuku & Shinjuku

Kyle's Burger King Breakfast, green drink and all...

Kyle’s green drink for breakfast

Yet another stop-start morning for us, pretty slow, pretty lazy, with a not so exotic breakfast at Burger King (please don’t judge), and then a trip back over the bridge to the hostel for Kyle to collect his phone that he’d left on his bed…

Today’s first port of call was Harajuku, somewhere which I was really excited to go and experience, it was also a place I couldn’t even think about without Gwen Stefani [around the 3.30 minute mark… or] ringing round my head. For some people, all they know about Japan/Tokyo is that it’s famous for cartoons, it’s a crazy city, and there are such things as Harajuku Girls. As we arrived at Harajuku Metro Station, it wasn’t what I expected at all. 20170121_125935.jpgI expected to come out into another urban jungle of tall skyscrapers, insane buildings with a very futuristic feel. It was, in fact, quite the opposite. The metro station was a super cute little low levelled building by the river and backing onto a huge park. Each place we’d been in Tokyo so far was so different from the last, they each had such a different feel and style, Harajuku was no different, and I loved it…

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were still loads of huge shops in the area, and I mean huge, but it just had such a different feel to places like Shibuya or Akihabara. Again, Kyle knew more about what was going on than me here, and pretty quickly he spotted a Purikura place. Purikura is basically a shop/huge room that you go in that is filled with photo booth type things, all with different themes and styles. You pay your money on the side, wait in line, and then go in through the curtain with your friend to have a mini fun photo shoot. After your turn is over, you then get chance to Continue reading

Day 2: Tokyo, Akihabara & Shibuya

Day two was a busy one, we decided to try and find the nearest cat café to have brunch in before getting onto the metro and heading off for the day. Unfortunately, Kyle had some money issues with the weird Japanese ATMs and we also had to head back to the hostel for warmer clothes (it was actually snowing a little and we weren’t prepared for a day out in the city in the cold!). After a bit of a frustrating morning, and a trip to our local bakery, we got down to the metro and headed to the world renowned Akihabara.

We didn’t really have a set destination in Akihabara; it was more of a place we just wanted to experience. There are 100s of themed cafes in Tokyo and we knew of a few in the area that might be worth a visit (and the entrance fees). We wandered around for a bit, and then a bit longer, and then even longer, until we eventually stopped to try and get our bearings as there was nothing of major interest on the streets we were meandering down… Turns out we’d been heading in the wrong direction for god knows how long, so about turn and back to our original starting point we went. Once there, we continued in the right direction and the difference was insane. The buildings were huge, streets were crazy, and the shops were infinite. There were sooooo many figurine shops selling everything from cute little creatures, to giant complex beast figures, and yes, unfortunately, even sexualised cartoon characters in skimpy little outfits in provocative poses. We had a look around a few, amazed by the vast amount of things on offer, and then, we happened to stumble upon somewhere we had Continue reading

Day 1: HK & Tokyo

It still seems crazy to me that when searching through SkyScanner for the cheapest flights, I have the option of selecting my departure location as either Guangzhou, or Hong Kong. This time, it actually worked out cheaper to get the ferry over from Shunde to HK and fly out from there, rather than leaving straight from Guangzhou, which to me seems mental. So on Wednesday 18th of Jan, that’s exactly what me and Kyle did. We grabbed a quick Subway sandwich, had our rucksacks on our backs and off we went…

I won’t spent too much time chatting about the transport and our few hours in Hong Kong, I have a habit of describing every detail of a trip, and if I don’t get out of that habit for this post, we’ll still be here in 2018 listening to how me and Kyle had 3 seats to ourselves on the Ferry, a coco-pops McFlurry from Kawloon Park, or about how we enjoyed a sausage roll and a cider on Lan Kwai Fong… Anyways, I’ll skip straight ahead to the crrazzzyy city that is Tokyo….

hk - tk.jpg

The flight was only about 3 and half hours and we landed at roughly 4.30am (local time). It was freezing, we were tired, hungry, and low on battery, so we sat down for a while to recharge our phones, and ourselves. We soon hopped onto a metro after a very friendly and well-spoken guy helped us with our tickets, and off out into the world we went. The closest metro stop to our hostel was Asukasa (A18), we walked over the bridge, heading towards the SkyTree, and a curious looking building which throughout the trip we

Continue reading

My Pre-Travel Blog, Post

[PHOTO: everything I travelled with over the 3 weeks; the rucksack I use for work, and a mini rucksack that just about holds my camera and purse]



So, I’ve been struggling to decide how to start these next 3, inevitably looonngg, blog posts about my Chinese New Year travels… I guess it would make sense to start at the beginning right? I mean, “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..” But these tales aren’t bookended by a musical do… they start and end with a mixture of excitement, worry, and uncertainty. One constant throughout my trip however, was that I was constantly learning. They say travel is the best form of education, life education that is, and I definitely did a lot of learning over the past 3 weeks. From doing research on my destinations, managing my money in both China and the UK, learning how to travel with a variety of different people, learning how to take my trip into my own hands, and so much more… (I also learnt that I’m not as good at the limbo as I used to be, but I’ll come back to that sad fact)

Well, my trip was clearly and easily broken down into 3 solid sections:

  1. Tokyo
  2. Seoul
  3. Thailand

So this is how I’ll be forming my travel blog posts. It’s going to take some time for me to get everything down, I can see it being over a month before I wrap things up and get to type up the words “and then I was back in my teeny but homey apartment in Country Garden.” But I don’t mind too much, it’s always nice to re-live the travel experiences and this will be a good way to prolong the feeling and memory of travel. Plus, it will mean you guys, my few but reliable readers, don’t have just one HUGE post to read, which would inevitably bore you to death.

At this very moment, I’m typing this up (on my phone) on Saturday at 9am… no I’m not at home in bed with a cuppa, I’m sat in one of the school theatres, while someone stands on stage, chattering away in Chinese, and all the international staff sit here with headphones in listening to some poor Chinese lady try and translate as quickly as she can. To my left, is another international teacher looking through photos on her laptop. To my right is a Chinese teacher reading a children’s English book. All around me I can see everyone on their phones, reading books, on their laptops, or just outright sleeping…

Anyway, this is a pointless blog post so I’ll cut it off here before I woffle on even more. Thanks for reading folks, and I look forward to sharing my travel adventures with you “all”.

Peace out!

Cling – 11th Jan Promp

[PHOTO: Taken at Bodnant Gardens sometime a couple of years ago.]

Cling – hold on to tightly.

People cling onto everything. We cling on to people, places, things, memories, dreams, and ideas. Some people cling less than others, some people like to live a very minimalist lifestyle and have no room for things that clutter up their life. Others are the opposite. Others are like me… I’m going to try and keep this blog separate from my “Getting lost in documentation….” post that I wrote way back in June, but, I feel I need to make some form of connection before I can move on… I cling to a lot. Not so much people, I’m not a person who needs to be attached at the hip to others at all times and cling to them and their every word, I’m much clingier to things… Back at the house (36) I have roughly 5 boxes full of “things”, bits and bobs and random crap. I cling to them and what they mean, what they represent, and I’m not very good at giving them up. Up until this summer I even had an old Sprite can in a bag, in a box with a really badly drawn love heart on it from high school. I have ticket stubs, old corks, my Emrys ap Iwan swipe cards, bookmarks, notes etc. etc. … all collecting dust and weighing down the rafters. I hold tightly to things that once upon a time meant something to me, whether it was something that made me smile in the middle of class (thinking here of a 2 inch piece of paper that Aysha threw at me one Chemistry class), or a token memento of a really good night… no matter how big or small it was, if it was even vaguely significant to me for more than 6 seconds, it’s probably in a box somewhere.

So, imagine my upset when Continue reading

Is it enough?

[ PHOTO: the view I had when leaving work the other week, sunset and flags over Country Garden]

I’ve been at a loss for words recently, blog wise anyway. Despite having gone through the festive period and New Year’s, I don’t feel like I’ve got much to report on. My last post was a pretty big and it talked in depth about a kind of ‘light bulb moment’, so I’ve not wanted to just tap away meaninglessly about my monotonous daily life as a teacher for its follow up.

I feel like people often expect my life to be so much more than it is. They expect each week, each day to be filled with crazy experiences and adventures that will produce even crazier stories; whereas in fact, it’s not that at all. I don’t even know if I’d want it to be that, it sounds tiring in all honesty. Yes I live away from home, but I’m not travelling, I’m not living on the road, I’m not exploring new places each day and meeting new people. I’m working… I’m living in a small cosy apartment. I have a small group of friends. I have a fridge I try and keep stocked. I have a bus commute to work. I have laundry to do, dishes to wash, bins to empty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m thoroughly enjoying my life out here. But at times, it doesn’t really feel too “out there”. During the work week, when I barely have time to cook my own meals or get home before dark, I could be anywhere… I could be living in some remote town in England, Germany, America, Wales… anywhere that I don’t have family or childhood friends. Anywhere that I don’t know the backstreets or the roads like the ones I do in Abergele.

Speaking to family and friends over the last few weeks has been amazing… but also a little disheartening… People have been Continue reading