Things to come

[Picture: my first view of the incredible beach we are lucky enough to camp on in Hong Kong – excuse the poor quality]

In two weeks I’ll be heading to Guangzhou airport, driven by Sam-the-man (our trusty driver guy), and I’ll be on my way to start my busy summer holiday…

(I so almost wrote vacation then, lord help me…)

I’ll be taking an early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh where my childhood best pal, Alice HD will be waiting for me in Hangout Hostel after embarking on a very long flight the previous day. So far, we have no plans. We’ve booked to stay at that hostel for 2 nights together (Al will have been there for 3), so we plan on spending that first day we’re together planning, organizing and getting SOME sort of idea together about all the places we want to definitely hit on our trip. We have roughly 4 weeks to make it from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok. That’s a pretty solid length of time, especially as we don’t plan on doing Thailand itself. (Alice has never been there though, so we’re going to fit in a couple of days in Bangkok if we can!)

We were stuck for ages trying to decide whether to go North to South (the original idea), or South to North… in the end we decided to start in the wetter area of Vietnam (the south), and head for drier times and days at the end of our trip (the north). SO, after comparing flight prices, weather reports etc., we chose to start in the south (Ho Chi Minh) and head north to Hanoi before we have to make our way to Bangkok (either by crossing through Laos on land or flying over.)

My research for this trip has been minimal to say the least… I’ve skimmed over a few blog posts describing others routes and suggestions, I’ve stared at a Continue reading

Let’s get back to it…

[Photo: a glimpse of my time on Lamma Island, HK, while sipping a Fresh Lemon Soda and writing in my travel notebook]

The other day I got the notification telling me that I’d been a member of the WordPress community for a whole year… a whole year of finding my feet in this never-ending online world of blogposts. I had two overwhelming feelings: pride, and disappointment…

Anniversary w. WP

I felt proud that I’d stuck something out for that length of time, something semi “creative” too. Over the past year, this blog has changed quite drastically in content, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mentioned this in an earlier post somewhere; my posts started off very personal and a way to help me understand and work through things (the Trainee Medical Photographer position), and then when that was over, it was just somewhere for me to tap away during my office hours, drawing inspiration from the Daily prompts, and I really enjoyed writing those; it was fun and interesting to see where my mind went and where I’d end up at the end… but then came the Continue reading

Day 6: Tokyo – Asakusa, Tokyo & Ikebukuro

The day had come… our final morning, our final walk to the bakery (just to find out it was closed), our final trip to Burger King…

Check-out day.

A day Kyle was not quite ready to see. “This is so sad, I don’t want to leave! Is it always like this when you travel?!” Answer: yes and no. Yes I’m always sad to leave somewhere that I’ve only been able to scratch the surface of, but also, I’m [mostly] always ready to move on to the next place and see what else is out there. As much as I’d loved Tokyo and had had an amazing time, I was definitely ready to get on a plane and explore somewhere new. Before we could do that however, we had the majority of the day left, and after we’d packed up, checked out and put our bags at reception, we headed on over the bridge to walk around the big market area by the temple in Asakusa which we’d seen on the first day.

A guy who spoke very good English offered us a ride in his cart thing that they pull and run with (like a horse drawn carriage, but drawn by one poor bloke), he promised to show us the sights of the “oldest streets in Tokyo”, and as Continue reading

Day 5: Tokyo – Asakasa, Shibakoen & Roppongi

I would say that I can’t believe how behind I am on this blog series, but the truth is, I can believe it. The scrapbook/photo album that I have all the prints and bits and bobs for is now a full year out of date. I used a valuable amount of weight in my suitcase bringing it all with me to this end of China, and I’ve done maybe 8 pages in the 8 months I’ve been here. Each Sunday I say to myself that I’ll stick on one of my go to movies (Lost Boys, Bill & Ted, Rocky Horror, Pulp Fiction, The Boat that Rocked, Waynes World etc.) and I’ll smash it out… I never do.

So, anyways, let’s get back on track and head back in time to Tokyo, Tuesday 23rd January 2017.

Oh would you look at that, lazy morning is the first thing I had written down in my notes for this day! We were out of the hostel after 12, and we’d done a little research into somewhere we could find ourselves a cooked full breakfast (British style, it’s been waayy too long since either of us had a sausage or some proper bacon), so onto the metro we went heading for Asakasa, via a change of lines. We made our way to the Hobgoblin (yes like the beer), just to find out it was closed… by this point, we were both starving, and just ready for some food. We looked at the menu of a few other places close by (including an Indian), and settled on a place called CoCo Curry House, which is a Japanese curry restaurant and I’d actually had before in Suzhou. It wasn’t quite the full breakfast we’d hoped for, but it was pretty good! It’s like a variation of chip-shop-curry sauce, but better, with rice/potatoes, and some form of meat, depending what you fancied. It was a good meal and it set us up for the day.

Back onto the metro we went to Shibakoen, which, from what we’d read, was Continue reading

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

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