Dinner and Umeda Sky Building

Asia, Japan

After a few hours wandering around the aquarium we were famished.

Tucked away in the bay area of Osaka are a cluster of traditional Japanese restaurants that we explored.

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In Japan, restaurants display models of the meals they serve. Quite odd, but really helpful.

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How cute are these steamed buns?!

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We had to stop and try real Ramen.

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Japan is known for having weird and wonderful Kit Kat flavours. I tried the green tea and red bean bites. They were really unusual but not bad.

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Quite full, we headed of to the Umeda Sky Building.

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The Umeda Sky Building is the 8th tallest building in Osaka. It consists of two 40 story towers that are connected at their uppermost stories. This astonishing building has a floating garden on the rooftop observatory.

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After a long ride up in the lift as well as a few escalators I reached the observatory deck.

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Osaka Aquarium, Japan

Asia, Japan

While we were in Japan we visited the Osaka Aquarium. As cool  as aquariums are, they would never normally be on my list of places to go while in another country. Buuuut, Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest and best aquariums in the world.

The layout is really unique. You take an escalator up to the 8th floor and work your way down in a circular manner. What I found amazing about the aquarium is that every section is totally devoted to a particular area in the world and is made to look exactly like it. One minute you are wandering the great barrier reef and the next you are in the amazon.

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How adorable is this?!

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What a grumpy little face…

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A whale shark!

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This is one of the cutest animals I have ever seen

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Seriously, look at that face!

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Osaka Castle, Japan

Asia, Japan

A little while ago we went to Japan for the weekend. After a quick flight we landed at a tiny airport on an island in Osaka.

We got horribly lost trying to find our hotel and eventually gave up and flagged down a taxi. After driving about 200m (I’m really not exaggerating) we were charged R70. Madness! We won’t be doing that again.

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After navigating the complicated subway system we popped above ground again and set off at a stroll towards the castle.

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It was a beautiful spring day. The streets were lined with happy couples, budding trees, impressive architecture and laughing children.

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Before long the castle was in sight…

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We spent some time wandering in the gardens and taking it all in.

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We stopped for some ice-cream. I picked green tea and vanilla!

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After walking through the castle gates I spotted a time capsule. I was so intrigued. I’d love to know what is inside of it.

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It was such a lovely day and there was wonderful atmosphere at the castle. We strolled around the ground, up to the museum inside, out to the souvenir shop and back into the gardens.

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Osaka Castle was a wonderful first glimpse of Japan.

Cherry Blossoms

Asia, Busan

I adore cherry blossoms. I always have. I’m not even going to pretend that they weren’t part of the reason I wanted to move to Korea.

Spring arrived with a beautiful burst of cherry blossoms all over our town. There is a Japanese word to describe the act of viewing flowers, particularly cherry blossoms. They call it hanami. I wonder if there is a career in this and where I could sign up…

In the town next to ours, Jinhae, there is a wonderful cherry blossom festival every year. However, it is usually absolutely packed with people. I wasn’t particularly keen on anyone coming between me and my precious cherry blossoms and so we decided to go ridiculously early one morning before work.

Bleary eyed and shivering we made our way to Starbucks for some coffee before boarding the bus to Jinhae. Our plan was successful! When we first arrived it was totally deserted.

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I felt like a little kid running from spot to spot. I had no idea where to look first. Maybe I’m not cut out for a life of hanami

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As I woke up that morning and snuggled deeper into my warm duvet I seriously considered going another day, but I’m so glad I dragged my lazy bum out of bed and went. It is a day I’ll never forget.

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The walkway, which is covered in cherry blossoms, is interspersed with bridges that lead over the river and stairs that drop below. After walking a way along the path we took some old stone stairs that led us to the river and spent some time looking up at the cherry blossoms.

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Troll faces are absolutely mandatory when standing under an old bridge.

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As the icy wind swirled around us it brought with it cherry blossom petals.

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We left the river and took a stroll down the street just as the food vendors were beginning to set up.


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After a magical time at the river we took a taxi to another beautiful hanami spot in Jinhae, an old train track. By this time of the morning there were quite a few people there, but we didn’t mind.

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We made it snow cherry blossom petals for a while before just relaxing on a swing and absorbing everything around us.

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What a perfect and unforgettable morning.

Phi-Phi- Part 2

Asia, Thailand

Our second day in Phi Phi was so relaxed. We woke up late and spent the morning walking around the island looking at the shops and different activities on offer. We decided to join a boat cruise that visits the nearby islands, such as Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island, and stops off at popular snorkeling spots along the way.

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After a night of heavy rain it was another stunning day in Phi Phi. We got comfortable on the deck of the boat and watched little fish swim around us. I still can’t believe how clear the water is.

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After a few minutes we reached Shark Point and jumped off the boat for a snorkel. Unfortunately we didn’t see any sharks but we did see some beautiful fish and stunning coral.

Our next stop was Bamboo Island, a reserve North of Phi Phi. We paddled from the boat to shore and spent some time on the island, which is mostly covered in pine trees. It was quite weird to stand in the middle of a pine forest and catch glimpses of the turquoise sea in the distance. You just don’t really expect to see them together. We snorkeled for a while before paddling back to the boat.

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The drop off (makes me think of Finding Nemo).

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After about an hour of lying in the sun as the boat slid through the sea we arrived at Monkey Bay.

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It was so beautiful. The thick, green forest ends dramatically at the narrow strip of white sand. Most of the tourists got off to see the monkeys that inhabit the island but we weren’t really interested in them. We hopped into the water with our masks. We weren’t expecting much but it ended up being one of the best snorkels we had in Thailand. It was quite shallow at some spots and I was nervous of touching the anemones below. We even spotted a Lionfish, which was awesome!

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The sun set on another perfect day as we returned home.

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Phi Phi- Part 1

Asia, Thailand

I took a break from the Thailand posts in order to settle in a bit in Korea. This month in Korea has been a massive adjustment and quite often a total blur. I’m still getting used to working from 12-9pm, I haven’t been able to fall asleep before 1am and I’ve been pretty tired. By the time I get home at night I really don’t feel like sorting through photos and we are quite busy in the morning. I also felt like a had thousands of photos to sort out and edit before I could even begin to think about posting them. I’m not complaining at all, this month has been wonderful, but I didn’t want my blog to be something I felt like I had to do, I want to really enjoy it.

We have almost nothing planned for this weekend. We are going for sushi with friends this evening and Peter and I are going for a picnic tomorrow if the weather is nice. Oh, and I want to go and take some photos of the cherry blossoms, they’re so beautiful! I finally feel like carrying on with our Thailand photos so I will be posting those every few days for a little while.

While we were in Thailand we spent 3 nights on Phi Phi island. It was nothing like I expected but rustically beautiful. After a stop at Starbucks we took the ferry from Phuket and docked at the island 2 hours later.

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I was a bit nervous about the ferry trip, but it was great. I spent most of the time reading my new book and popped up to the deck every now and then to see where we were. Before long the Phi Phi islands were in sight.

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My first impression of Phi Phi was how insanely hot and humid it was.

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It sounds obvious but it really has that islandy feel about it. High cliffs, white sand, palm trees rustling in the wind, long boats and winding sand paths.

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Phi Phi island has no roads or vehicles. Instead, there are what seems like hundreds of footpaths amongst stalls selling jewelry, clothes, food,souvenirs, alcohol and anything else you could possibly imagine. We were led through the maze of paths to our resort.

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We didn’t want anything fancy while we were in Phi Phi and chose to stay somewhere that looked quite rustic. When we arrived we were very impressed. It was much better than it had seemed online and was perfect for our stay. While it was quite busy due to Chinese New Year, each room was an individual little cottage which was great.

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After putting our bags down, and having a quick dip in the resort pool, we did a little exploring. We decided to just buy food from stalls as we walked around instead of finding one place for dinner. It was such a good idea, we had the best spring-rolls I have ever had. 

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We had so many of theses iced pineapple drinks while we were in Thailand, but I think these ones were my favourite. I still crave them.

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After eating our dinner on the beach and getting some drinks we made our way back to the resort for another swim before bed.

Day 5: Island hopping (Part 2 of 3)

Asia, Thailand

Part 2! After our adventures exploring caves and sea canoeing it was time for James Bond Island, the most famous spot in the bay. This island is actually called Koh Phing Kan but after the 1974 James Bond movie (The Man with the Golden Gun) was filmed at this stunning spot it became known as James Bond Island.

We bounced over the waves and the bay was soon in sight.

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As we drew closer we spotted a small fishing village nestled between two cliffs.

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Once on the island we had a quick tour by our guide, Harry, and then were left to explore.

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I have heard this island can get pretty busy, but luckily we beat the crowds and thoroughly enjoyed our time at this beautiful spot.

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After spending some time on the island and acting silly we climbed back on the boat and sped off in true Bond style. The day was quickly warming up and we stopped off at a secluded bay for a swim.

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We jumped off the boat and swam to Treasure Island, a hidden beach only accessible by swimming through a narrow cave.

After a refreshing swim and being destroyed by fire coral (seriously. that stuff is insane) we were back on the boat and on our way to Koh Yao Noi for lunch. All the women needed to get properly dressed before we arrived as this is a Muslim island. We pulled into the tiny docks and got ushered into tuk-tuks and driven to a stunning local Thai restaurant for lunch.

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This ten minute drive gave us some insight into the local economy on this island. Rubber production is one of the main enterprises and we drove past people extracting the latex directly from the trees. We also spotted monkeys who had been trained to climb up and retrieve the coconuts for their owners to sell. Apparently one monkey collects as many coconuts in a day as ten men would be able to. We also drove past a buffalo who saved his owner’s life during the 2004 tsunami. The buffalo wasn’t constrained and about an hour before the tsunami came he started running away. The owner, whose livelihood depended on this buffalo, chased after him. He followed the buffalo up a steep hill and as the tsunami hit they were both on high ground.

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The restaurant was directly across from the beach. We ordered our drinks and wandered off for a walk along the deserted bay.

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We sat down to an absolutely delicious lunch at the restaurant (I only remembered to take pictures of the starters). The waiters places a myriad of dishes down in the center of the table for our group to help themselves from. We shared red curry, green curry, chicken with cashew nuts and an assortment of salads.

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We spent a little more time relaxing on the beach before being transported back to the docks and onto our boat.

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Next up: Island fun, snorkeling and a night out in Kata.