Tag Archive | holidays

Ogasawara Islands: Miyanohara beach

One from the archives – return to Ogasawara Islands. One of the most amazing trips I did last year was to the Ogasawara islands. Here are some pics from one of the many beaches I went to – Miyanohara beach. Chichijima island was amazing – so many amazing beaches and very few people. Practically had almost every beach to myself. I walked to Miyanohara beach in time for a sunset swim.

From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach

My own private beach:

From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach

Coral not so colourful but there were some fish:

From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach

A giant fish right here:

From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach
From Ogasawara day 3 – sunset beach

 

Dumpling central – Din Tai Fun, Taiwan

One can’t go to Taiwan and not go to Din Tai Fung – the dumpling mecca of Taiwan. I’ve actually been to Din Tai Fung in China and Japan, but Taiwan is home to the original Din Tai Fung : award-winning dumplings. The lines at all the Din Tai Fung outlets are crazy. I went to the Taipei 101 Tower outlet.

From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung

Be prepared to wait:

From Din Tai Fung

Take a number, they said:

From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung

The dumplings are prepared with surgical precision in the operating theatre:

From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung

I ordered the shorompo (soup dumplings):

From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung

And a wonton soup:

From Din Tai Fung

I was thinking that the dumplings would be overrated, but they REALLY were that good. Even the broth for the soup was just so clean. So pure. So tasty. The perfect meal:

From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung
From Din Tai Fung

But dem shorompo need to be eaten with safety warning. You’ve gotta watch out for when the soup inside the dumpling squirts on your face. I’m sure it’s happened to us all. I have since learnt to pierce the dumpling and let the soup run into the spoon first. Ate at Din Tai Fung. Taiwan done. Next stop airport. Just kidding. Plenty more stuff was seen and eaten in Taiwan.

Indonesia Day 2: Borobudor

Have recently just got back from Golden Week holiday in Indonesia . Had an amazing adventurous time. Only spent about 10 days there. Way too short. I totally loved Indonesia. Definitely warrants another visit. So much to see and do there. Only went to Java Island and Lombok region. Went with a friend flying from Haneda to Yogyakarta on Java Island. We decided to avoid Jakarta although we did have a layover there enroute. On the second day upon arrival in Yogyakarta we went out to Borobudur about 1.5-2 hours from Yogyakarta. Borobudur is pretty amazing. It’s the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The stupas (bell-like mounds) are really cool to see. Just the scale of the place is pretty amazing.

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

There are apparently 72 of these stupors. Entry into the grounds of Borobudur requires all visitors to wear a sarong (provided) regardless of what you are wearing.

From Borobudur

Pretty fashionable stuff. Cheesy poses are mandatory at all touristy places.

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

The grounds are pretty massive surrounded by various gardens and forest. So lush and green, surrounded by low-hanging mist.

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

The temple consists of a few different tiers:

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

Most people are eager to climb up straightaway to check out the stupas, but the correct ritual is to actually walk around the whole complex three times in clockwise motion. We took the time to do this before entering the temple getting a 360 degree view of the place, all three times.

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

The stupa mounds are pretty fun to look at. They kinda look like bells or Hershey kisses or short-handled toilet plungers. They’re so photogenic, one cannot stop taking photos of them. There is after all, 72 of them to look at. And you betcha that I’m going to post a photo of every.single.one.of.them. Just kidding. But I did take a hell of a lot of photos.

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

The walls of the temple:

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

Check out all the Buddha carvings into the concrete:

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

A walk through the garden grounds:

From Borobudur
From Borobudur
From Borobudur

We had to pass through a maze of street stalls strategically placed enroute to the ground exit full of sellers selling their wares and touristy knick knacks. Mmmm coconut. I love fresh coconut water.

From Borobudur

Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most popular tourist attraction. I can see why.

Indonesia Day 1: Kraton – Yogyakarta Palace

We arrived into Yogyakarta on Saturday night. Therefore Sunday was Day 1 of our Indonesia trip.
It was hot hot hot.
Sunday was our designated day to sightsee the city of Yogyakarta. Most people stay in Yogyakarta as a base to see Borobudur and Prambanan further afield. It didn’t seem to me that there was a lot to do in Yogyakarta and most of the major sights can be covered in a couple of days. We had two main things on our checklist for the day: Yogyakarta Palace (the Kraton) and Taman Sari (Water castle ruins).

We set off on foot to the Palace. We kind of got lost along the way but eventually found it although we kind of came in at the wrong entrance point.

Everybody in Indonesia rides motorbike scooters. They are everywhere.
We passed a lot of bicycle shops, motorbike scooter stores, and surprisingly a lot of wooden coffin stores. Correlation or coincidence?

Another dubious store:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0NesBtbV44PhVE8yzb87FPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xA_Ju1O6pSQ/U2o7NMBgriI/AAAAAAACkoQ/3BpA9uujQok/s640/DSC_0013.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

A becak – rickshaw vehicle where the driver rides a bicycle to transport you.
<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/mgQ_lzut4gH1gLepajxDsfU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-i40gsZRpzD8/U2o7NH9yUMI/AAAAAAACkoM/8BvKMFyACN8/s640/DSC_0014.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

It took us a solid half hour or so for us to finally reach the Palace with a couple of detours.
The Palace is rather unusual. It’s basically a large gounds complex with a lot of performance pagodas. You can see performances of traditional music and dance. Apparently the dance performances are only on certain days, Sunday mornings being one of them.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/–EltiyIk5PW81QkKs7rTPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zZjHjQLErmQ/U2o7OIuVO-I/AAAAAAACkog/JJCY0xK8sXk/s640/DSC_0016.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/KeGy9_j0lOgqhMki4clK_fU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0f7Yq33dd0A/U2o7PFjYlWI/AAAAAAACkos/GpVl2fHv5ik/s640/DSC_0018.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/J0lsE5G3WR8sT-pdrkq1IPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-IAnryq6kAH0/U2o7RsMNG0I/AAAAAAACkpM/XmX76hVuIBw/s640/DSC_0022.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/IQtuewqXoGYTmPjM2kZzq_U5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-OKNk55hDoqY/U2o7VVqCa8I/AAAAAAACkps/D3j9Du58lnU/s640/DSC_0026.jpg&#8221; height=”640″ width=”425″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

There were a lot of school groups and the kids pounce on all the foreigners/tourists to practice their English and do questionnaires in English and have their photo taken with Caucasians.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/LbYKfkPEh_h15okqKkPO3_U5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-jlTG9EbCOEk/U2o7WkeDhOI/AAAAAAACkp4/MLC8lh6Y120/s640/DSC_0028.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5pvZcKvO75mdRGwRC63Mv_U5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-WKjr4FO7QBc/U2o7XOPFjAI/AAAAAAACkqI/jxSxtuqfm4s/s640/DSC_0030.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

Here are some tourists being mobbed by the schoolkids:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/zRZpl1sZrndoDaPttuxua_U5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-4KqukP2FoOE/U2o7bS0KBMI/AAAAAAACkrg/mHxNnSTTu98/s640/DSC_0039.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

The Palace is essentially a museum of sorts, but a lot of it is not really accessible nor is it very informative.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/vBOjyZwU-W3F7R6j6PEhPPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-jS3WLPbqCuA/U2o7XTSQ-QI/AAAAAAACkqM/85dN6s5xftg/s640/DSC_0031.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCN74l-j3wNHryQE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gqkj15Go3jS5X-w9ek-eLvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-OAhFHwMkeyY/U2o7Ykvx5kI/AAAAAAACkqg/SjxB7WvzV_4/s640/DSC_0032.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCN74l-j3wNHryQE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/rP7Ri4O1szEq3U-qKcKE2fU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-cfVEYcP5ado/U2o7c9qUphI/AAAAAAACkrk/hZcM2IY2PjA/s640/DSC_0042.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCN74l-j3wNHryQE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

The highlight and the only interesting attraction are the cultural performances.

The males dancing:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/vybsYPZLu3RT_ebJPa_UWPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wxtg_iqvuPU/U2o7k5qdk9I/AAAAAAACkso/ggWMtqx4cOg/s640/DSC_0050.jpg&#8221; height=”640″ width=”425″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;authkey=Gv1sRgCN74l-j3wNHryQE&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/-Q-twtUxx2bQdT2zDjA-HvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-l4l0ymfcblo/U2o7l7n2AcI/AAAAAAACks0/Ui3mZbU_zhM/s640/DSC_0052.jpg&#8221; height=”640″ width=”425″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/71OSnYOvyZeO845sTIp_AvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-_sM3muIGnI0/U2o7m4_ac0I/AAAAAAACktI/OLxGouvUJiE/s640/DSC_0054.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/SJIQT67iKs2pR32PrnTzAPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-lsWwrPsUhh4/U2o7oDeSwJI/AAAAAAACktY/mVx8yZaM6fo/s640/DSC_0056.jpg&#8221; height=”640″ width=”425″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/mlrV_yKGRCBX6rr38pYVFPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-LncZkjULmcM/U2o7po_KUyI/AAAAAAACktw/jgPoch7bePs/s640/DSC_0059.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/NG7BpHfBjQZMfzjo5_lU5vU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-HKBRFAFfCcc/U2o7qimF6mI/AAAAAAACkt4/AFaVgiebCgo/s640/DSC_0060.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

Got to see the females practising outside before they went in to do their performance. The girls looked so pretty and graceful.

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/–h_qdLsN5TLpyUiFsB0rvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-uwJyhDZDIyc/U2o7rNNOChI/AAAAAAACkuE/DFied0jm3e4/s640/DSC_0061.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/qNuw8ZGDrW7OouvzTJZf9PU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-IUhXq1cKK4M/U2o7tfSalxI/AAAAAAACkuk/gZ8ONPFn2BQ/s640/DSC_0064.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0x6ZVV-XtoymT6NUkGWfVvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-iJr3uYTx76k/U2o7vxxyqaI/AAAAAAACkvQ/jMAndJhHB8w/s640/DSC_0070.jpg&#8221; height=”640″ width=”425″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Amj72M8NCrrOV7_2R1xo6fU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-FiycUvFIC2U/U2o7w1_MwFI/AAAAAAACkvk/tDOUhSudwpw/s640/DSC_0072.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/kaK1pSwkQ1XgCA8-o-4KN_U5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Tt8Cpu_9eSo/U2o7xTt_i1I/AAAAAAACkv0/A0znyzkrXoA/s640/DSC_0074.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/GJYPQ5bWeMcP7ILg7fpJ3fU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-U7kxvugOTqE/U2o7z8xPkuI/AAAAAAACkwY/mLtymf3YQRo/s640/DSC_0079.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

On stage:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/NXLltluS_oh9KNLFQktvtvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-DRp5_tE2hfQ/U2o76bUMQzI/AAAAAAACkyI/mWeslXp26EI/s640/DSC_0095.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/C67SzFA_DrT_pwmQPEAjE_U5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-0VrAvMXQmr0/U2o78kUzxXI/AAAAAAACky4/eVACFXSZ54s/s640/DSC_0099.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/h00l1sS8ZRsRwQBR8zBEhfU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1RkwkbXsn0U/U2o77sA2f3I/AAAAAAACkyg/1yhWRoCaMyY/s640/DSC_0098.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Jj2MVGiapCiw27BEgEkCiPU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-pcQE-3Sy48g/U2o79D6flNI/AAAAAAACky0/SoDDU5y_Ot4/s640/DSC_0101.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/9W0FhJzLAn-FUzRl6MsU7PU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Ib7vrazdweg/U2o79fplyjI/AAAAAAACkzA/Oc3d6DHwQhc/s640/DSC_0102.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

Other parts of the Palace:

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/l60mNNdgA8XC328Yl8Q_9vU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-9TYL3_pwhb4/U2o72r_b1XI/AAAAAAACkxA/cp_kSMDLgGk/s640/DSC_0085.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/OlWjmxysdHQZLgEEfu6XPvU5QC8SDchkDIvDpg7-jbE?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ODRU_xEe2Us/U2o72yPaoNI/AAAAAAACkxM/9nRxriTYRlo/s640/DSC_0086.JPG&#8221; height=”425″ width=”640″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/116032719585350311356/YogyakartaPalace?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Yogyakarta Palace</a></td></tr></table>

One of the things I observed throughout the trip was that very few buildings in Indonesia seemed to be built above one storey. All the buildings are flat. It doesn’t have that metropolis skyrise effect. Everything was just single storey buildings, Not a lot of high rise apartment buildings nor apartments for that matter. Even most of the hotels, hospitals etc weren’t built much higher than 4 floors. Everything was built flat and spread out rather then built upwards and underground. Perhaps because Indonesia is prone to a lot of earthquakes and volcano eruptions. But I noticed that everything was built low and out rather than up. Huge contrast to Japan where space is scarce and so everything is built up and down with numerous multistory buildings and a huge underground network.

Indonesia Day 2: Prambanan

Borobudur (the Buddhist temple) was then followed by a visit to Prambanan – a Hindu temple. It too, is a popular tourist destination in Indonesia. The city of Yogyakarta is the best place to base your stay for seeing Borobudur and Prambanan. We combined the tour into a single day tour, spending a couple of hours at each. It’s best to join a tour as they are not easily accessible by public transport. There are half day tours left, right and centre for Borobudur and Prambanan. We did the sunrise version which meant getting up at 3am to see the sunrise over Borobudur (more to come on that later). This meant that the tour was done by about 1:30-2pm. The last stop was Prambanan – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. It was kind of Angkor Wat-esque.

Again upon entry, we had to don sarongs that were provided. Entry into both Borobudur and Prambanan require visitors to wear sarongs. We also went through the foreigner entrance. Both places include a light refreshment upon entry – tea, coffee, water.

From Prambanan

Very little information at these tourist attractions are provided in English save for a few notice boards. A lot of the museums were also in Indonesian only. And even though we went on a tour group, there was no guide. Just a driver.

Prambanan suffered some considerable damage during an earthquake. It was also closed to the public earlier this year after being affected by a recent volcanic eruption.

As usual, lots of pics (albeit not very good ones).

The main entrance:

From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan

The weather was insanely warm in Indonesia. All we did was sweat all day. So hot. The kind of place where you have the ac on all night at 18 degrees. And there seemed to be very little shade. I was just constantly hot and sweaty.

From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan

This was what was inside one of the temples:

From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan

Rock carvings:

From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan

Now, I’ll tell you what seemed to be all the rage in Indonesia. Brace yourself.
The selfie stick!
Yes, a stick in which you can attach your smartphone to take a selfie pic.
Short arms? No problem. The selfie stick is here to help.

From Prambanan
From Prambanan

I do believe it is someone’s birthday next week. (Nudge, nudge, hint, hint.)

My friend who I travelled with was mobbed everywhere we went. The worst was at the Yogyakarta Palace. But here at Prambanan, she got mobbed again by schoolchildren. They like foreigners. And be foreigners, they like Caucasian English-speaking foreigners. They all wanted photos with her. She was constantly being asked to have photos taken and even fill in homework questionnaires. The schoolkids were given questionnaires to ask various tourists.

From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan
From Prambanan

Borobudur: Check.
Prambanan: Check.
And it was only our second day there.

Life’s short: You OTTO eat good food

A tradition whenever I visit home is to catch up with my foodie friend, Jess.
We always eat somewhere fancy. And she loves her food as much as I do. And talk about dedication, she flew up from Melbourne for 24 hours to meet me. (I have awesome friends).
We narrowed down our options and settled on lunch at Otto down at Woolloomooloo (such a fun word to spell even though I know I’ve just spelled it incorrectly. Autocorrect goes nuts).

From Otto

The weather was perfect. Welcome to spring in Sydney. Can’t beat Aussie weather.

From Otto
From Otto
From Otto
From Otto

Truer words have never been spoken: inscribed inside Otto’s menu:

From Otto

They take their olive bread seriously here. Chunks of olive in bread:

From Otto

A little shared entree to start –

From Otto
From Otto
From Otto

For entree, we both ordered the scallops. Kinda hard to resist:

From Otto
From Otto

I opted lamb for the main. Can’t get good lamb like this Japan. Gotta get my fix when I’m in Oz.

From Otto
From Otto

Alfresco dining:

From Otto

The piece de resistance of the day was the tiramisu dessert. It was practically bigger than the main meal and absolutely divine. Absolutely hands down best tiramisu EVER.

From Otto
From Otto
From Otto

A caloric orgy of cream, cake, coffee, and chocolate:

From Otto
From Otto

Restaurant review in a nutshell: decent food, busy atmosphere, service mediocre, slow service between dishes, pricey for what it is was (not the best value). It’s redeeming quality – the tiramisu.

A walk through Bukchon Hanok village

I only had three full days in Seoul. Just a short trip. So I had to cram in as much as possible.
I didn’t realise at the time of booking this trip that I would be going in their rainy season! It put a dampener on things, to say the least. It rained every day that we were there. I was not a happy girl. Of course, the last day I was there, it didn’t rain.

I got wet a lot. So much rain! South Korea may the Land of the Morning Calm, but what the tourism brochures fail to mention is that Seoul is the city without drains. The rainy season is made worse by the fact that there is a complete lack of drains, road sewerage systems so the streets just flood in water until your feet and shoes are soaked through.

Braving the downpour, I took a stroll through Bukchon Hanok village, which was walking distance to where I was staying in Seoul. The village is a traditional, historical Korean village with tiled roofs. You can do homestays at the “Hanoks” which I guess is like a Korean version of a ryokan. Walking up and down the little slopes, you can find little boutique art and craft stores, tiny galleries and museums/workshop venues.

I just meandered around the village on my own down little paved streets, not really knowing where I was going.

From Bukchon Hanok village

I stumbled upon the highlight of the place- the Bukchon observatory which is actually the third floor of a house/apartment building. For 3000won (about 3buks entry, you got a great view over Seoul and a free drink). I had gotten there quite early and was the only person there. I camped out there for a bit enjoying a beverage, the view, the free WiFi and the serenity.

The view looks out onto over the tiled rooftops of the traditional houses:

From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village

The old and the new, the modern and the traditional:

From Bukchon Hanok village

Boarding the Seoul plane

It was a long weekend here in Japan. Tack on 1.5 days of personal leave and that makes for an extended long weekend mini break in which to head over to Seoul. Had snared me some cheap airfares. So off to the Seoul of Asia it was.

A long weekend = time to escape:

From Departing for Seoul

I have mastered the art of packing lightly. For a 4-night, 3 day stay, I managed to pack less than 6kg of luggage. Carry on, carry on. Nothing to check in here. Just call me the Stealth Packer.

A mere backpack weighing 5.75kg.

From Departing for Seoul

Coming back to Tokyo, I did however have to check in my luggage. Managed to double my baggage weight to just under 12kg. Must have done more shopping than I thought. How did I double my baggage?

Boarding the Seoul plane:

From Departing for Seoul
From Departing for Seoul

Drinking water…Gangnam style:

From Departing for Seoul
From Departing for Seoul

You know I’ll have heaps of photos to post of my trip – Aleisha style!
Eh- sexy lady
O-oo-o
(Don’t pretend you don’t know the lyrics and the moves!)

Afternoon Tea in London (Four Seasons)

This is an afternoon tea that I did last summer when I was in London. Still haven’t gotten around to posting anything from the my London Trip (last June!).

I would absolutely love to live London! It’s the mecca of high tea! It was a major dilemma to decide which two afternoon tea venues I would do there. So many to choose from! As part of my Four Seasons Afternoon Tea project, I had to go to the Four Seasons hotel in London. A perfect venue for a mini reunion! I was in London to meet my best friend and her fiance, plus catch up with Bex and Jess (whom I knew my days living in Fukushima back when I was a JET). It was pretty awesome that we were all going to be there in the one city at the same time.

The Four Seasons Hotels always have impeccable taste in decor and matching tableware etc.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Champagne all round to start of the festivities:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

I should probably add, that I only had about 2 days in London and I crammed two afternoon teas in one day! So actually, before attending this afternoon tea, I had come straight from another one beforehand. Ugh, what a glutton.

Lovely tableware – plates, cup saucers, timer sets (for optimal tea brewing).

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

There were two afternoon tea options here. Decisions, decisions. They had the traditional classic “English afternoon tea” as well as a “Gourmet Italian dolce vite afternoon tea”. Talk about torn.

I am a massive fan of Italian food, so the Italian set it was. Between the six of us, I think we ended up 3 Italian sets and 3 English sets, that way we could try both and share.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea
From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea
From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Yay. Reunion time:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

The Italian-themed afternoon tea set did not disappoint. The savoury morsels were to die for. Way better than cucumber sandwiches.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

The desserts on the Italian set were also the better option. The two side by side (Italian desserts on the left, English desserts on the right):

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

English desserts:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Italian treats:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Yum:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Only the English afternoon set came with scones though.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

I thought the food in the Italian afternoon tea set was amazing. Would definitely opt for that again.

Plenty of pots of tea:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Service here was also great. They each gave us a little souvenir of some chocolate tea leaves which I took all the way back to Japan with me. They also gave us a Four Seasons pen. The afternoon tea here is a solid choice venue.

Friends and tea – nothing could be better:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Sydney Pool Crawl: Harbour Bridge Walk

Part II of the Sydney Pool crawl was walking the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From North Sydney Pool I thought it would be a good idea to walk all the way to my next pool – the Andrew “Boy” Charlton (ABC) Pool. I did not realise how far that was!

From North Sydney train station, you can walk along the entire length of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Blessed with blue skies and sunshine, it was the perfect day to tale in the sights of Sydney’s main attractions – namely the harbour, the Bridge, Opera House and Circular Quay.

Near North Sydney Pool – Under the Bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Luna Park:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Circular Quay:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Start of the Bridge walk:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Sydney’s harbour bridge has a pedestrian walking path on one side – open to walkers, joggers and the occasional person with a bicycle, and train tracks on the other where the North Sydney train line runs.

Over and across the Bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Great views of the harbour from the bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

I love harbour cities!

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Not only can you walk, train, drive, cycle across the bridge, you can also climb on the Bridge – if you do the Bridge Climb Experience (definitely worth doing!).

Here are some bridge climbers:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

You can also walk up to the Bridge lookout pylons (an $11 entry fee to walk up 200 steps).

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

A typical Sydney summer’s day:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Circular Quay:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

From The Rocks:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Walking route from North Sydney Pool, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, around Circular Quay, around the Royal Botanical Gardens and to the next pool (approx 5.3km – 1.5hours at a leisurely pace):

From Walking the Harbour Bridge