So its another year with plenty of trips being fulfilled. Last year (2017) I missed out a trip to Helsinki and Tallinn with the winter proving too expensive for me to finish the year off, however 2018 fulfilled this plan.
Below are just some of the places ive managed to visit, click on them to read some of my write-ups. Next year I already have plans to go to Cambodia, Turkey and Chamonix in France. Other places that are a possibility are Morocco, USA and a return to South America.
South American Trip
Sao Paulo, Mar 18 – First trip of the year and entering South America for the first time on a Brazil and Peru trip. The city was safer than I thought I used public transport and walked everywhere.
Lima, Mar 18 – The Peruvian capital was a pleasure to visit, its museums were different to any other in the world.
Cusco, Mar 18 – The city is beautiful, old churches and Incan ruins was out of this world. Be very careful when visiting this place as the high altitudes do affect people in different ways.
Ollantaytambo, Mar 18 – One of the smallest but most beautiful places I have stayed. Me and my brother stayed next to a river with some of the best views of the surrounding river.
Aguas Calientes, Mar 18 – The main stage for the world famed Machu Picchu, one of the best places I have been, truly majestic.
Rio De Janiero, Mar 18 – As long as you’re extra careful Rio is a safe place to be, maybe a few money hustle form a few taxi drivers or vendors but other than those it is safe. Its scenery and beaches are some of the best in the world.
Cardiff, Apr 18 – A short weekend in the welsh capital, a place full of investment in order to establish it as a shopping haven.
Philippines & Japan Trip
Manila, Jun 18 – Its that time again where once a year I visit Philippines. A base to srelax before we head off to Japan.
Osaka, Jun 18 – Our entry point in Japan, smaller than Tokyo but a metropolis nonetheless.
Kyoto, Jun 18 – Beautifully preserved temples and religious places. Home of the world famed Geisha entertainers and the most cultural traditions preserved.
Tokyo, Jun 18 – Last city visited in Japan, a beautiful busy metropolis. Very crowded and bustling 24 hours a day. Bright lights, most modern technology and cuisine were a huge plus for this city.
Finland & Estonia Trip
Helsinki, Dec 18 – The Finnish capital had little to offer in attractions however the beauty of the capital is its people, arts and history.
Rovaniemi, Dec 18 – A true winter wonderland, the coldest place ive visited and the most magical place for families.
Tallinn, Dec 18 (post coming soon) – Outstanding pagan churches, Medieval Castles and modern festive market. Spookiest place ive ever been to with many stories of haunted past on many building in the old town.
This was my first trip to one of the richest and most powerful country in Asia, one which has rich history and best preserved tradition. I expected a very busy working country and also the most technologically advanced. My trip consisted of three of Japans most notable cities or prefectures (as its known) in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. I only had a total of 6 days and took the local trains to travel around except for a flight to Tokyo. I saw the most modern side of Japan but also its magical history and culture all whilst experiencing Japans world famous dishes.
Please click on the cities below to see how my journey went.
First part and entry point of my Japan trip was Osaka, starting with a busy airport and a confusing transport to our hotel. City looked industrial with many modern amusements.
A tiring start to the Kyoto experience, as we used a very busy commuter train to travel from Osaka. Although it rained on our Kyoto visit, the city definitely had character.
The last city on my Japan trip, a bustling mega city.
Type : City, Provincial
Best Date : Feb-May
Expense : Expensive
Things to do : Sightseeing, religious prayers, dining, shopping, dress up in kimono, ect
Points of Interest: Nijo Castle, Fushimi-Inari, Kiyomizu-Dera, Gion, Kyoto Impreial Castle, Nishi Hogan-Ji, ect
The Good: Best preserved Japanese culture
The Bad: Generally expensive
Kyoto is another of Japans former capitals. Rich and famous for is various Buddhist temples, shrines, gardens, imperial palaces and wooden houses. The Prefecture or city is said to be the historical and cultural centre of the country with its traditional society, dining and architecture still experienced today. The kaiseki dining and the female entertainers known as geishas are found within this city.
Getting a train from Osaka to Kyoto (S rapid train) within 30minutes was amazing to say the least, even though it was very busy and crowded. I was expecting to get out of a very rural small station but was surprised to arrive to a large station just like Osaka central. Walking out of the station I was starting to get a vibe that Kyoto was anything but provincial but another metropolis.
I arrived in Kyoto in the evening and planned to check-in and head straight out to visit what I could. The first building you see once stepping out of the main entrance of the station is ‘Kyoto Tower’ which is an observation tower overlooking the city, I didn’t enter the building but ive heard its a sight to see. After we planned a trip to a place called Shijo Dori (Shijo Street) to have something to eat and see what the nightlife is like as it was also the area for their clubs and bars. Walking around the streets there were plenty of shops some more traditional than others. Arcades were also a big thing around these streets and can get very busy with local children, some even still in their school uniform.
The next morning we went to ‘Fushimi Inari-Taisha’ it rained but this gave our experience a little more character. Dating back to year 794 when Kyoto was capital, this shrine is one of the most important which is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, Inari. The iconic shrine is famous for having over a thousand orange vermilion torii gates which routes up mount Inari and into the wooden forest. The experience was incredible, the whole visit took about 3-4 hours in total trekking up and down the shrine. There were plenty of stops and different shrines to visit. I saw lots of fox statues and didn’t know what they were for till I found out that foxes are seen to be the messenger for the God Inari. The top of the mountain (shrine) was a bit of an anti climax (in my opinion) as there was nothing different than the various shrines that you pass along the way.
After hiking for almost 3-4 hours, we went back to Shijo street then got something to eat in ‘ Nishiki market’ which is known to have the best traditional food in the city.
On that same day we also visited the ‘Kiyomizu- Dera’ which is a one of Kyoto’s notable attractions. ‘ Kiyomizu Dera’ is a huge Buddhist temple which is significant to the city and named a UNESCO world heritage site. When I visited the main building was being refurbished and had plenty of scaffolding and a cover, so it wasn’t as picturesque as it would normally be. Nonetheless the Kiyomizu-Dera is one of Kyoto’s main attractions and must be visited, even with all the construction the place was still very beautiful and scenic.
‘Gion’ is also an excellent place to visit especially in ‘ Hanamikoji Dori’ the street famous for the Geisha tradition. Filled with long-established wooden buildings, this area is also famous for its traditional dining and hospitality. The walk is only about 10 minutes from one end to the other and the Geishas are rarely seen, there are very strict rules in the street which include no touching of the geishas, selfie sticks, littering and others alike. Take note although dining here is a must, it is very expensive.
Nishi-Hogan-Ji is another place that should be visited as it is the largest school for a particular type of Buddhism. Here you will find beautiful large traditional Japanese architecture.
One place that is not really advertised for tourist to visit is actually an observation point above Kyoto station. Here there are views of Kyoto but the most observed are its stairs with LED lights acting like one huge screen where short light shows happen. I don’t know a special name for this place but yeah, the light stairs!
Kyoto was the best place I went to in for Japanese culture and history. I was expecting a provincial rural atmosphere but was surprised that the whole city looked like a miniature Osaka and Tokyo with many lit up and technological areas such as ‘Gion’. Although it rained when I was there, this only just gave the city more character. Tourists rent Kimonos and Geisha outfits whilst around the city. This was interesting as this is not done in any other place around the world with their local traditional outfits. I did however under estimate the time I needed in the city, so there were plenty more places I haven’t visited.
Reference: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3915.html Photo: www.circumnavacation.com (Kyoto station light show) 663highland (Nishi Hogan Ji)
My Kyoto experience in pictures, please press on the link to my gallery…
Posts of my 5 days Japan Trip coming up. Blogs and Videos will be uploaded soon.
My last overseas trip to South American was somewhat of an eye opener. The terrain, nature, culture and infrastructure of both Peru and Brazil was amazing with so much learnt. After Peru and Brazil I travelled across the United Kingdom to Cardiff, Wales’s capital city. Cardiff had similarities to London (my home) but is developing with huge investments, hopping to be a striving tourist destination, especially for shopping. However now its time to go far again and I’m using my yearly trip to the Philippines (which is my second home) commencing this May 18th to venture to new places and excurse to a nearby Asian country. Whilst in the Philippines I’ll be staying in my home city of Quezon City but I plan to roam and visit places I have never been yet, however till now i don’t have a clue where yet.
One thing is for sure and that’s a confirmed trip around Japan. Knowing me I like to roam as many cities in a limited amount of time, just like in Peru and Brazil with a duration of 10 days and my ‘South France and Spain trip’ which took me only 5 days.
The cities I will visit in Japan are Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto which should show me many of the old and new aspects of the country.
I will enter Japan through Tokyo but will transit (flight) straight to Osaka where I will stay one night. This should give me enough time to visit places such as the ‘Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium’, Osaka Castle and other attractions in the city. I will then take either train or bus from Osaka to Kyoto where I will stay for 2 nights, giving me 3 days to roam. Kyoto which was once the capital city of Japan is famous for numerous Buddhist temples, imperial palaces and much more. I intend to visit many of its attractions and dine in their many traditional restaurants. After Kyoto I will head back to Osaka and fly straight to the capital Tokyo where I will spend a further night. I believe Tokyo will be the bustling modern city of Japan, one of the worlds most advanced in technology. Furthermore as an extra bonus I may see some of the sites for the Olympics due to commence in 2020.
I expect Japan to be very technologically advanced but very intact with their history and ancient culture. Furthermore I’m guessing Kyoto to be very strong in traditional culture and religion, whilst Tokyo and Osaka being a modern metropolis with the most modern infrastructure. Finally I think Japan will be fast paced and one of the most expensive ive travelled.