Trav and Suki

About to embark on a BIG adventure :)
  • Day222

    We're Home!!!!

    October 29, 2015 in Australia

    What an amazing trip we've had! After an unforgettable 7 months, 22 countries, 115,000kms..... snowboarding, hiking, volcano boarding... zip lines, surfing, sailing, diving with manta rays, canyoning, fly a jet pack, cliff jumps.. glaciers, mountains, volcanos, hot springs, a cargo barge.. Times Square, Patagonia, Oktoberfest, old towns, concerts, road trips, soooo much cheese (and wine!).. live on a farm in Kansas, escape from husky prison, fly a plane, party in NOLA...Temples, robots, pandas and an owl cafe. Bonfires and laser tag, burn a book, loving Hugo, chicken buses, 70c tacos, cenotes and snorkeling.. the world's largest cave and our unforgettable engagement! Meeting so many amazing people along the way and catching up with friends across the globe.. we want visitors next year people! Sad that its coming to an end (fortunately we stole a bottle of champagne from the lounge to fix that!) but excited for the next chapter of our lives together :-)
    See you soon everyone!
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  • Day221

    Australia here we come!!!!

    October 28, 2015 in Japan

    Its our last day of holidays and although we're excited to get home, depression is starting to kick in.

    Instead of a nice relaxing day, we opt to get up early and visit the Tsukiji Fish Market - the world's largest, busiest fish market! One of the highlights is the Tuna auction for which you need to line up for 2 hours starting at 3am but we weren't that desperate. Casually strolling in at 9am its organised mayhem with stalls in every direction for as long as you can see. Trav even used his GPS app to help us find our way out of it! Our plan was for a fresh sushi breaky but the prices at one of the surrounding little restaurants but the sky high prices and long queues turned us away.

    We check out (and yes our airbnb host is still alive) and make our way to the airport to catch the final flight. There's no time for tears as the selection of food (ie fresh sushi bar) and expensive single malt Japanese whisky keeps us busy in the first class lounge before we blindly stagger to board our final Qantas jet.

    Next stop Brisvegas!
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  • Day220

    Owl Cafe.....hoot hoot + ASIMO

    October 27, 2015 in Japan

    Most people have probably heard of the popular 'cat cafes' throughout Japan where you can pop by for a coffee and be surrounded by cats.......boring.........how bout an Owl Cafe! We booked the night before and we're lucky to get a 1 hour time slot.

    Patiently we wait outside the Owl Cafe and get given a massive info book providing some good background and tips on how to handle the birds. Its time to go inside and we enter fancy posh looking white room with gentle background music. We wash our hands with antiseptic alcohol and set down as the tables as the 20+ owls patiently sit on their perches. Its quite surreal.....the owls range from 180g to 5kg in size in numerous different colours. Were joined by 8 others in our group and the hosts slowly make their way around and ask which owl we would like to spend time with (we only get to choose 2!). After a photo shoot we sit down with an owl on our arm. They all have a little collar attached to the leg and the rope is wrapped around our hands - sometime the bigger ones like to fly over and attack the smaller birds. Most of the owls are well behaved except for one rebel who persistently kept walking up Travs arm until he could sit on his head!

    Next stop we travel to the Honda Welcome Centre just in time to see the daily performance of ASIMO (allegedly the most advanced human like robot in the world). After watching Honda try to bore us with a robot unicycle contraption, ASIMO walks out to greet us. Honda have been working on prototypes for over 30 years and its pretty impressive what ASIMO can do. Although were limited to a short display with some jogging, hopping on one leg and other human like movements, there are clips on the internet of him playing soccer with President Obama!

    Suffering from 'fomo' and food anxiety, Suki convinces Trav that they should return to Takeshita-dori Lane for more food. This time we ordered a green tea icecream and red bean crepe - this thing was the bomb. It took about 20mins to get threw the line but with over 100 options you need that time just to decide on what to get.

    Back at our airbnb apartment (hosted by a weird Japanses guy who has been away all weekend - Trav thinks he's dead) Suki cooks up our final meal and we wash it down with some brilliant Japanese Whisky. Tomorrow we return home to Australia.
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  • Day219

    So far we are loving Japan - the food, the culture, the landscape, the world class public transport - who wouldn't want to live here!

    Trav has a surprise in store for Suki. Months before we set off on our holiday she was obsessed with seeing Panda's.......even going as far to try and volunteer with them. Finally we're in luck! On loan for a cool $950k/year from China, Ueno Zoo has two Panda's - Shin Shin & Ri Ri which are the main attraction.

    We catch the train and subway to Ueno station.....still oblivious to the surprise, Trav informs Suki of the Panda's and excitement in uncontainable. Housed in their own separate yards (with a hammock and there own deck!) the Panda's seem very chill sitting own leaning against a rock slowly chomping down on bamboo. Trav was impressed. A 2nd visit before we were allowed to leave proved worthwhile as it was feeding time. Being lazy, the zoo keepers dangle down their food (chicken we think?) on massive looking chopsticks just above headheight making the panda walk around like a grizzly!

    It wasn't just the Panda's that stole the show, a giant Polar Bear diving into the water and swimming backwards in his underground pool, an orangutan family with a shy little baby perched on top of the mum who would jump off and run towards his dad before running back, 2 x manly kangaroo's having a crazy boxing match before the boss jumped in and broke it up, and plenty more!

    Next stop was the famous Takeshita-dori Lane - a pedestrian-only street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants right next to Harajuku Station. The sun is starting to set and this street is packed with local teens, school kids and the occasional tourist carrying a massive bulky camera. Certainly the trendy part of town, its not uncommon to see kids dressed up in halloween-like superhero costumes or little kids carrying around fairy floss 3 times the size of their head.

    After some yummy octopus balls we line up at one of the many fancy takeaway crepe stores. With up to 110 options (all displayed with immaculate plastic models in the window) it's really hard to choose the right one. We settle for a savoury ham-based crepe and it ok....but nothing to right home about. Time to move on to our next destination so Suki convinces Trav to line up with her for a custard churro - Tokyoite's seem to love waiting in lines for everything - but aleast this one was worth it. Why did we only buy one?!

    A short subway ride to Shinjuku station and we stroll down to the Robot Restuarant. Recommended by Suki's friends and a glowing review on Tripadvisor, were excited as we pick up our tickets and head into the waiting room. Its like we've been teleported back to the 70's with mirrors lining the walls, old school throne link funiture and 5 piece band dressed like robots. This is crazy town but we love. After a few warm-up drinks we get ushered downstairs and we're seated either side a long rectangular room. We've scored possibly the best seats in the house located in the front row!

    The lights fade and the music cranks.....this is not for the faint hearted. Over the next 90mins were treated to a crazy music/dance show with bikini clad tiny japanese chicks dancing, banging drums, and fighting massive remote controlled robots. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it. The performance is well choreographed and it was certainly one of the best shows we've seen!

    Its getting late but we find the time to take a quick walk around the neighbouring Golden Gai district. A cool little part of Tokyo with about 7 streets of tiny bars - each one can hold about 5 people and some have different themes.

    Its been a massive day but we've had such a blast!
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  • Day217

    Day Trip to Hakone

    October 24, 2015 in Japan

    With many options of day trips to choose from from Tokyo, we decide to go to Hakone as its one of the closer destinations and we had to visit an Onsen while we're in Japan!

    Transport options were not as straightforward as we had expected and we discover all the attractions are quite spaced out. Fortunately the friendly Japanese help us out and we end up buying a day ticket that covers half of the area.

    Unfortunately we underestimate the time it takes to travel between locations and end up taking an extremely long winded route to the main harbour where you are meant to see great views of mount Fuji... On a nice day. Unfortunately for us it starts raining as soon as we get there so our 4 hour slow train and bus ride up and down the mountain was somewhat fruitless.. at least the train ride was quite nice!

    Next stop we head to the Onsen.. which fortunately is lovely! Its a traditional Onsen where the men and women are separated and everyone goes in the nude... We spend 2 hours there relaxing in the baths and enjoying the scenery. Suki even manages to get a bit of meditation in!
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  • Day216

    Kyoto Studio Park

    October 23, 2015 in Japan

    Suki had read somewhere about Kyoto Studio Park- a theme park type place where they allegedly still shoot Japanese movies and TV series. There were also supposedly several attractions involving ninjas.. sold!

    We arrive and quickly realized the park is primarily aimed at kids. Disappointingly the majority of the attractions are also at an additional cost after you pay the entrance fee. - boo!

    Its a tad lame but we make the most of it and watch a few of the free shows (all in Japanese)- a ninja theatre performance, a samurai sword demo, and a behind the scenes look at filming an old Eko period movie- its all very kitschy but you kinda have to love the Japanese for their enthusiasm (they do the same skit every day 4 times a day but still seem to genuinely enjoy it) and some parts are actually quite funny.

    So, not what we expected but still a good day. We are off on the afternoon bullet train back to Tokyo for our final few days of holiday.. Haai Ya!
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  • Day215

    Hiroshima and Miyajima Island

    October 22, 2015 in Japan

    Day trip!! Travis had done an awesome job planning our day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island for the day. Its an early start as Miyajima is 2.5hours away.

    We take the bullet train to Miyajimaguchi and catch a ferry to the UNESCO heritage listed Miyajima Island. We have a few hours to explore the island and take in the sights, the most famous of which is Torri Gate- considered to be one of the top 3 sights in Japan. Sounds dull as its just a big wooden gate but its actually very beautiful set in its surroundings and we were lucky enough to be there at low tide. The gates are fabled to be the gateways to heaven. We sample the local delicacy, grilled oysters (delicious!) and enjoy lunch in the peaceful gardens. Apparently a thing in Japan there are also deer on the island, mainly chilling out but some stealing food and scaring the tourists.

    Next stop is Hiroshima to visit the Hiroshima Peace memorial and museum - to commemorate the lives lost due to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Some very shocking and saddening images.

    Not too much more to see in Hiroshima, we head back to Kyoto and have dinner at the 11th floor of Kyoto Station (the architecture is amazing!). Suki finally gets to try Okomomiyaki (japanese pancake) and it doesn't disappoint.
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  • Day214

    Nara - deer and more deer!

    October 21, 2015 in Japan

    Taking full advantage of our Rail Pass, we head to Nara for a day trip. Nara is approximately 1hr from Kyoto by train. It is famed to be the original historic capital of Japan.. or something like that... But the main reason we were interested in going is because of Nara Park.. which is full of deer!

    A quick walk past the town centre and its got a great friendly vibe. Straight to Nara Park (we slept in and were short on time) and there are deer everywhere! So many deer. And all super friendly. You can buy deer biscuits to feed them from several vendors in the park but we had already pre-purchased some crackers on the way over (they were super tasty! The deer had to share with us :-P ). We had our staple lunch of sushi and tofu salad (from the supermarket but still amazing) in the park then proceeded to feed the deer, who were not shy at all! They are friendly but could get a bit pushy.. one of them stole and ate one of our maps, and if you didn't feed them fast enough they would start butting you! The polite ones had the courtesy to bow after they were fed :-)

    Deer feeding complete we head back to Kyoto and end up having dinner at a local Ramen restaurant.. so cheap.. and amazing!! We had fried rice (on our own hot plate), gyoza, veges, karrage chicken, rice and an egg... Omg it was sooo good! Everything in Japan is delicious!
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  • Day213

    Kyoto- Temples and Geisha!

    October 20, 2015 in Japan

    We (Suki) officially love Japan!! Words can't describe it... Theres just such a nice feeling here. People are so friendly and helpful, everything is organized, pretty, traditional... Its got everything!

    First day in Kyoto we had a much needed sleep in before heading to Nan zin temple and then the Philosophers walk to Ginkakuji temple, with a much needed Ramen lunch stop on the way (which was delicious by the way). We even manage to run into Pratty and Katie who we were trying to meet up with so that worked out perfectly! We make plans for dinner in evening and head off again in different directions.

    Gion is the traditional area most famous for its old style tea houses, restaurants down little alleyways and most importantly, Geisha! (who are notoriously hard to spot though. We meet up with Pratty and Katie and have dinner "Japanese style" kneeling on the floor of a traditional restaurant feasting on a 6 course tasting menu. After dinner we wander the streets of Gion a bit in attempt to spot a Geisha. We see a taxi waiting outside a non descript wooden building and are convinced some Geisha action is taking place.. we loiter 10m away like stalkers only to see a businessman and what looks like his wife and mum eventually board the taxi. Fail. A few minutes late we think we see a Geisha walking down the dim lit street and stalk her for a bit.. yes, we were those tourists! We left the poor girl alone after following her for several hundred metres. Geisha stalking failed, we settle for an ice cream and head home for the evening.
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  • Day212

    Flight to Tokyo!

    October 19, 2015 in Hong Kong

    Its an early morning as we say goodbye to Josh and Hugo in the morning and head to the airport to take advantage of the Cathay Pacific first class lounge.. definitely one of the best we've experienced all trip! An a la carte breakfast and self serve Moet bar means we are quite merry before we take off.
    We are back in business class again for our flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo so we continue to hit the booze and fancy food.. before u know it suki has passed out and next thing you know we are in Tokyo! Straight on the bullet train to Kyoto with our awesome Japan Rail Passes (thanks for the tip Pratty!) but not before experiencing some excellent customer service and friendliness from the attendant at Japan rail- people are sooo nice!

    Its late by the time we arrive in Tokyo so we grab some food from 7 11 and settle in for the night.. that was delicious too by the way! Its been a long travel day but loving Japan so far :-)
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