Travel Strategy: Festival/Seasonal Celebration in Hong Kong Ocean Park

148658_1492059829681_5414362_nI’m a fan of any theme parks, Disneyland, Universal Studio, pop-up carnival… I do influenced by the fun and care-free atmosphere, they make me feel young(er) again. Hong Kong Ocean Park is the one and only local theme park that like no others, it’s totally  worth a visit for whom ever planning a trip to Hong Kong. Ocean Park is a theme park locate at the Southern district in Hong Kong, with two main sites, one uphill as The Summit and one at the bottom named The Waterfront.

Ocean Park is basically divided into two theme, The Waterfront is popular among family visitors that filled with animals, including a huge and beautiful aquarium with all kinds of marine species like sharks and tropical fishes and an animal park with 4 China’s exclusive species Panda and all kinds of birds; The Summit is perfect for those who is bold and looking for adrenalin rise, it’s full of thrilling rides, 3 roller coasters, turbo drops, water rides, 360 degree swings…and much more! So there’s always a spots in the Ocean Park that suit everyone’s taste.

The permanent stuffs in the park are great enough for a enjoyable visit. However, Ocean Park has much more to offer while it’s come to special theme during festival or seasonal holidays. Here are some highlights themes you might consider in your next visit or even revisiting it:

Halloween Bash (mid Sep-31st Oct)

Tired of dressing up like an armature and doing pub crawl, or looking for some real trilling experience in Halloween? Plan a visit in Halloween. Ocean Park Halloween Bash is the most famous event in the year to all locals. It had already been holding for the past 15 years and remain one of the most popular time of the year.

The park will extend its opening hours from 6 to midnight and turned into a haunted park. Some of the venue will turn into haunted house in the evening, and each year the will have different trending themes, for example in 2015 there’s one with zombie like the Walking Dead and one with Vampires. Personally I love those haunted house with local themes that related to local ghost stories that dedicated to Hong Kong’s myth, for example decorated like an old haunted hosing estate or high school that make it extra scary when we can be related to the environment. Be careful when those actors/actresses scare you out along the side!

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Biggest show in Halloween Bash! Must see especially the last show on 31st Oct

The Halloween Bash is very entertaining indeed, you can interact with performers dressed up as all kind of ghost wandering in the park(Trust me, the ghost are much more scarier than you can imagine, with professional f make up and all the bloody disgusting stuffs will creep you out!) or go to the special shows in different corners. With lots of the most talented contracted performers, dancers recruited for Halloween, the shows in Ocean Park are surprisingly amazing. I remember the time they have a band gig called ‘Rock in Hell’ and dancing with all the ghosts in the midnight, that’s what I call a proper Halloween!

Summer Splash (July-Aug)

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Bubble bath tube !

Want something alternative to go apart from the beach or wanted to be soaking wet in the summer? Then come to visit Ocean Park in the summer holiday! There’re pop-up games for summer time, there used to be like a water maze, water fight or a 20m slides that make sure you will get wet in the hot weather! The park even increase the water amount in some of the water rides that make sure everyone get wet once again. Don’t forget to enjoy the special shows for the Summer Splash like the diving performance or music with splash!

*There’s lockers for putting belongings but if you want to save money, just bring come with flip flops, a water proof bag for your electronic gadgets and sets of cloths for change.

Christmas Sensation (whole Dec)

60997_10200357029071575_1368209386_nChristmas to Hong Kongnese is more like a celebration for young adult than a family fest. We celebrate with going out for western meal or watching special lighting decorations on those skyscrapers along Victoria Harbour.

The Christmas edition in Ocean Park is indeed very festive! The park will be refurnished like a winter wonderland, with Santa’s house you can meet and greet the old man and his elves, special rides and performances and artificial snow once in an hour! Well, seeing snow is especially exciting for local when Hong Kong never snow. There’s lighting ceremony in the park is extremely beautiful!

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Simple Recipe: Inspirations of Alternative Chinese Mains in 30 Minutes

IMAG1934Rice is an essential element in Chinese dinning however, I’m not much of a rice person. Since my family is not a very traditional one, they won’t force me to have rice in every meal, so I prefer having mains with very small portion or even without rice. After I’ve been studying aboard, it became even harder to cook the right proportion of rice that I always ended up eating the same pot for few days. So here are some inspirations mains that sorted a meal for one:

Tiger Prawn in Two Ways (Steamed with shredded garlic and in tomato stew)

I’m a seafood lover, prawns, crab, fish, oyster…are all my  favourite. I found that the way of cooking seafood had much more variety in Asia than in the west, and here are two of my favourite ways to handle a whole tiger prawn (from head to tail!):

Ingredients:

1/2 kg whole prawn

Tomato stew:

2 tomatoes

ketchup

sugar and salt

chopped garlic

Steam with garlic:

shredded garlic

2 t/s rice wine/white wine

salt and black pepper

Preparation: Clean the prawn and leave the shell on, put them into a cold salted water for 10 minutes that will make the  prawn more chewy textured

How to(tomato stew):

  1. Pan fried the half of the chopped garlic with butter. Then add half of the prawn in. Take them out when you see the prawn started to change into orange colour for later.
  2. Added the tomato in, flavouring with ketchup, salt and sugar, taste it for your own preference. Pour bit of boiled water till the sauce became thicker.
  3. Add the prawn in and stir until they are wrapped in sauce and fully cooked.

How to(steam prawn):

  1. Prepare a pot of boiling water and a metal tray that higher than the water level.
  2. Place the rest of the prawn on a plate and topped with shredded garlic, salt and pepper. Evenly pour the wine on the prawn.
  3. Place the plate on the metal tray and cover the pot with it lid (this method is call water steaming, that apply to many other Chinese dishes as well).
  4. Steam around 7-10 minutes until cooked (varies with prawn size) and dip with soya sauce.

Homemade Dumpling

IMAG1932Alternative choice of nutritious meal, with starch, meat and vegetable. Homemade one is much cheaper and tastier than those you buy from any Chinese supermarket, simply frozen and save for the next meal when you fancy some dumplings!

 Ingredients:

300g minced pork

1 pack of Chinese dumpling pastry (30 slices in white colour)

1 Pak choi (large) or 4 (small)

plain flour

How to:

  1. Marinated the minced pork for 10-15 minutes How to marinate*
  2. Spraying some plain flour on a plate that make the pastry dry and separated from each other.
  3. Chopped the pak choi into fine pieces and mix well with the minced pork.
  4. Take out a 10p coin sized portion of meat filling and placed it in the middle of the round pastry.
  5. Folded it halved, stick the edge of the pastry with water and flour. Making small fold along sides bit by bit to seal the dumpling.
  6. Put the dumplings into a boiling pot of water until they all float. Serve them will you favourite sauce!

Dip suggestions:

– soya sauce with fresh chopped chilli

– soya sauce with sesame oil and vinegar

– soya sauce, sesame paste, vinegar and chilli oil

Special Congee in Winter Melon Broth

Serving rice in soup is perfect for those day that you don’t fill like eating a lot and suitable for dieting. Winter melon is summer seasonal vegetable that can cool down your inner body heat.

Ingredients:

1 slice of winter melon (3-4cm thick, can be found in any Chinese supermarket)

1 portion of boiled rice

1 cube of chicken cube

Any other ingredients you want, ham, chicken slices, mushroom, mixed seafood…

How to:

  1. Pealed the skin of the winter melon and chopped it into 2cm cube size. Chopped any other ingredients you want
  2. Add the chicken cube to a boiled pot of water and the melon in and cover with lid then boiling it for 10-15 minutes. Added other ingredients.
  3. Pour the soup into the rice bowl and it’s done!

Simple Recipe Part 1: Quick and Tasty Hong Kong Dishes you can Sorted in 30 Minutes

IMAG1274My cooking skills had improved a lot since I studied aboard, since I’m totally dependent on my own now. Eating out in London is a quite pricey for me, I prefer cooking myself in order to save up and be healthier. While I got used to the busy, efficient lifestyle in Hong Kong, long preparation for a meal like marinating, baking really bother me, so usually my meals can be sorted with the simplest ingredients, nearly no preparation time and cooked in less than 30 minutes. If you are looking for a quick meal for 1-2 portions like me, here are few easy and still, tasty recipe inspired by homemade Hong Kong dishes:

*Remark: Marinate beef, pork or chicken with soya sauce, salt, sugar and black pepper is our basic preparation for meat. This is a simple but incredibly useful tip to bring up the taste of any dishes.

Baked Rice with Pork Chop in Hong Kong Style

Baked rice is a very signature dish for Hong Konese ‘Local Tea House’, kind of a east meet west fusion dish and taste extremely satisfying!

 Ingredients:

2 pork chop steak

2 tomatoes

2 portion of rice (may varies)

1-2 eggs

1 bottle of tomato pasta sauce

Cheese

How to:

  1. Marinate the pork steak for 15-20 minutes, pan fry it for use later.
  2. Fry the steamed rice with eggs. (even better with leftover/refrigerated rice, the less water in it, the easier to fry!)
  3. Place the egg fried rice at the bottom of a oven plate, topped with pork chops then tomato pasta sauce. Add as much vegetable and cheese as you want!
  4. Pre heat the oven, but the plate in and bake for 15 minutes/ the sauce dried up.

Braised Pork Belly

IMG-20140123-WA0007When I cooked this dish for my westerner flatmate they all don’t believe how easy and tasty the dish is simply made with 3 ingredients.

 Ingredients:

200g pork belly

Soya sauce

5-8 Crystal sugar cube (this sugar is best for braise dish)

Additional flavouring:

-White/black pepper

-seven spicy powder

-deep fried onion

-dark soya sauce

How to:

  1. Put the pork belly in a pot of boiling water for few minutes till the surface is slightly cooked. Diced it into small pieces around 1cm cube.
  2. Hot a pot with oil, fry the diced pork belly. Add 1:1 ratio of soya sauce to water into the pot. Turn it to low heat after boiling.
  3. Add the crystal sugar cube, constantly taste the sauce and varies the sweet or salty level with sugar or salt. Gently stir it or with additional flavour and colouring with dark soya sauce .
  4. Braise for another 20-30 minutes till the sauce is thicken and wrapped around each pork belly cube.

      5. Serve it with plain noodle/steaming rice/ hot steam rice!

Tomato Soup with Homemade Meatball

Ingredients:

4 tomatoes

2 potatoes

1 carrot

1 onion

150g minced pork

Meatballs preparation:

  1. Marinate the minced pork* for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix well the minced pork with strength like crushing a flour dough, till it became a meat platter with thick texture.
  3. Take a portion out and rounded it like a ping-pong size.

How to:

  1. Quartered the tomatoes, chop the other vegetable.
  2. Pour a t/s oil into a pot, slightly stir fry the tomatoes. This will get the taste of it into the soup easier
  3. Put all the vegetable to a pot of water till boiling, then add the meatball in.
  4. Crush the tomatoes. Wait till the soup changed into slightly orange colour and the vegetable are fully cooked. Sever we a pin of salt and it’s done!

 

Volunteer Trip in Taiwan: Tribal & Cultures Experience that You Can’t Miss

1526808_10202957483081300_210882518_nI volunteered in YMCA since 2009, I enjoy doing services and this opportunity had brought me lot of precious memories along with some of the best people I’ve ever met.

Under a global citizen scheme of YMCA, I had a volunteer exchange aimed at elderly issues in臺中TaiChung (middle part of Taiwan) for 10 days in winter 2014. We had a inspirational and unforgettable trip to volunteer in a whole new environment. Since we were taken by staffs in Taiwan YMCA, they offered us some ultimate activities we never expecting with the tribes that you can’t come across in a travel guide.

Private Hot Spring in the Woods

After spending two days visiting the services center and exploring the city in南投Nantou, we arrived 野百合民宿 YeBaiHe Hostel, located in a valley with natural hot spring in 仁愛 RenAi province. If you’re looking for a hostel that relaxing in the nature with high privacy, this will be the ideal place to spends a few nights.

The hostel is very hidden, needed to be picked up by the owner to a narrow, one-way path (barely called a road). First thing we came across is the open garden with the public hot spring, we were arranged to a dorm for 4 and each room has its private hot spring pool as well. The owner of the hostel was from布農族Bunun, one of the Taiwanese aborigine ethnic groups, the taught us how to make some tribal accessories and offered us hot pot and grill of local farm’s ingredients.

We spent the night bathing in the private hot spring and slept like babies!

Beauty Alert: Hot spring is very good for blood circulation due to its temperature, and the minerals in it refreshed your skin. However, don’t jump in a hot spring if you’re too hungry or full. Don’t stay in for too long and remember to keep yourself hydrated and cool down after a while in the hot spring.

Adventures in the Rainforest

TaiChung still kept some of the rural environment of Taiwan. We visited one of the rainforest and guided by another tribe. We had a brief session of simple safety precaution and basic knots making skills before going in. We walked through the mist along thousands years old woods. The guide stopped us in front of a fairly empty space with massive trees surrounding us and told us it’s the time to swing on the tree like. The moment we were still in confusions, he pulled a string on one of the trees like 15 meters high and started tiding a safe lock on the lock on our body . WE HAD TO SWING ON THE TREE! I was bit terrified when it came to my turn, I step on the holder with one foot standing straight and both hands grabbing the string, while other pushing me up hill then released, I was strung in the air like 10 meters above the ground! I literally felt like Tarzan and swing across the forest, it was an amazing experience to feel the excitement and freedom!

If you want to have some adventures like this, there’s local travel agency that customize different tours around the area according to your needs.

Volunteering in Rural Taiwan

I know it’s a bit hard to accomplish but definitely worth a go, especially a very special and precious chance for me to volunteer in a different country and culture.

Due to the mountain and valley type geometric condition of南投Nantou, leaded to transportation problems for health care and low job opportunity, the area are left with lots of elderly that their family are working big cities in Taiwan. The aging and elderly problem is the focus service in this trip.

We arrived a charity run day-care center for elderly in埔里鎮Puli, that elderly in the area can gather for food and activities. We had a warm welcome by the elderly in the center with a lovely dance and eventually we shared our performances and little gift that we’ve been preparing for the entire trip. Although we speak different languages (most of them still speak Japanese due to their history that some of the tribes are taken by Japan) we had an amazing time together.

The experience was differ from I thought, the elderly in the center are very healthy despite their ages, they go to day care is looking for companies and better way to spend their days. They were so happy even we just sat and talked, the moment when they held my hand and giving me blessing touched me deep down. All they want is not money sent from the city but their family and accompany.

Watching Sunrise on top of the Tea Field

Don’t miss the sunrise in Puli! Driving to the top of the hill at 5 am, first the sky was covered in mist, then there’s a yellow string curled up the clouds and finally golden light beams burst through. It was just like a water color painting and blessed to see what the nature had gave us.

Photo credits to my best friend Michelle.C 🙂

Northern China: Camping Under the Summer Aurora and Shooting Stars

1001769_4942790013906_1429221115_nMissed seeing the Aurora Borealis in Northern Europe the Winter? There’s an alternative plan for you to catch the northern lights in another season and even another side of the world.

Not many people or even Chinese know that you can see the Northern light in Mohe, the northest city in China, in the summertime according to Chinese calendar(it’s slightly different every year and different from western calendar, usually in mid June). Summertime in China have long daylights and a chance to see the aurora borealis.

Cities in northern China still kept the nature sides of her and it’s a very special trip I and my mom travel up north for 10 days back in 2013. I really recommend a trip there to discover the other side of China that still haven’t been commercialize. Since Mohe is a  trip long way up north, here are few highlights on the transit city:

 

Hong Kong>Beijing

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My mom in front of Main Street WangFuJing

We first make our stop in Beijing and it was my third time there already. The first time was like in primary school and the second time was an exchange in the year of Olympics 2008.

It was really different from the first time I’ve been there, now turned into a crowded and super busy city. We made our stop at the famous王府井大街 Main Street WangFuJing, where is full of authentic street food and weird snacks. Well, personally I think it’s just another tourist attraction so it’s not the place you find super decent food though.

 

Beijing>吉林 JiLin>漠河 Mohe

The next day we catch our flight to JiLin then finally to the domestic airport in Mohe.

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Basically, Mohe is a city river away from Russia, just started developed as a tourist spots for northern light in the summer, so really not much going on or exciting about it rather than her beautiful nature. It was pretty hot in Mohe like 30 degree in the summer, I still remember how the color of nature were so vibrant under this nice weather.

We visited to the “Northest Village”, an easy hike to see the beauty through rivers and plants, visited the northerst catholic church in China and a small museum about people live there. Northern Chinese look pretty different from southern Chinese like me, they are usually much taller and with different facial features like taller nose or deeper eyes, even more like a westerner than typical Chinese since it’s just a river oppose to Russia. Next, we visited the northest post office as well. People may not be rich or receive well education, but northern Chinese friends of mine are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, that really respect of friendships.

We stayed in the one and only one hotel in Mohe when it was way too hot to go out at noon. It’s a massive hotel with room huge like an en suite but still only operate when few tour came to the city.

At night, the tour had provided us camps so we headed out to a empty plaza and wait for the northern lights around 10pm. We first saw a very round and clear moon and a sky full of starssssssss (was literally filled with stars and you can simply spotted the whole zodiac!). After hours waiting, we finally saw some abnormal lights curling up the sky and that’s was the first time seeing the aurora! We got so emotional and happy to go back to sleep 6 in the morning.

 

Mohe>哈爾濱 Harbin

Spent two nights at Mohe, we fought back to another northern city Harbin. It’s a city influenced by Russia culture. We visited the famous St. Sophia Cathedral in the city center, the Russia Village, and some museum. There will be covered with snow in winter and very for its annual ice crafting festival!

Food in Northern China

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Food are really different in the north which I’m much preferred! Due to the different growth of crops, people eat more dumpling or noodle than rice, and much spicier because of the cold weather. Since the crops and animals are house farmed in Mohe and not proceed with artificial stuff, you can taste the origin flavor of everything! Dishes simply like steamed vegetable amazed me with its refreshing and pure sweetness!

Chinese New Year Special Edition: Festivals in China

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Chinese New Year celebration taken in China Town, London

Happy New Year Everyone! Today is the 2nd day of Chinese New Year on the year of monkey. We have totally different festivals than in western countries and many people are curious about it so I think it would be nice to list out and explain some of the festivals. The date of the festival is conducted in the Luna Calendar that might varies from the western calendar. Let’s get some festive vibes started!

Chinese New Year, 1st day of the Luna Calendar, in February

Chinese New Year is probably the most important festival in China, when the whole family have to gather around and celebrate, just like Christmas in western countries. CNY is a period overlapping the New Year.

Since Chinese are cautious about idea of Luck so there’s a lot of interesting traditions that need to be followed. For example, we have to clean our house before new year eve and all the dirt have to swipe out of the house since it symbolizing all the bad luck are out. And we have to wear new cloths and red colored underwear symbolizing a new start with good luck to the bottom!

On new year day, we have to visit different relative, according to our generations, the youngest to meet the oldest. We have to propose greetings for good lucks like 心想事成 means things come as you wish or 龍馬精神 mean being energetic for a whole year!

Food are really important in every festivals in China, New year food are what we call symbolic dishes, whether they look or named after luck.

端午節 Dragon Boat Festival, in June

Dragon-Boat-Festival-03_tourismboardDragon Boat festival is another big festival in China, it’s a festival for getting rid of the dirty sprite in the house and commemorates the death of the good hearted poet and minister QuYuan.

The most popular activity is Dragon Boat riding, a ceremony for scaring out the bad luck and sprit. The long narrow boat itself is decorated like a dragon, with head and tail, ride by around 22 panderers 2 by 2 and a drummer in front as controlling the tempo. 粽Zong is a sticky rice with different fillings wrapped with bamboo leaf, the traditional food for dragon boat festival, serve with steaming or boiling it. The myth behind Zong is by throwing them into the river in order to prevent fishes or creatures eating the body of QuYuan.

 

盂蘭節Ghost Festival, in August

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Theater for ghost

It’s a very special festival the specialized for passes away sprits according to Buddhist belief. Chinese believed in ghost that were trapped in Chinese hell and in 14th June, the door of hell will be opened once a year. Family will be doing ceremony for their ancestors to return home, preparing meals and burning paper goods like food, cars or even servant for them to enjoy in afterlife. Religious master will ceremony for wandering ghost to get into better place and Chinese theater will be performing outdoor for entertaining the ghosts as well.

There’s certainly things that we can’t say that day like can’t say the word ‘ghost’ directly when avoiding to bump into them or any bad luck.

中秋節Mid- Autumn Festival, in September

Mid-Autumn Festival is another most important festival in China. It’s obviously a festival the middle of autumn, celebrating the great amount of harvest of the year hard work when China was supported by agriculture. The full moon in that time also symbolizing the united of the family.

Moon cake is a tasty traditional sweet pastry for Mid-Autumn Festival, which is filled with lotus seed paste crust and contain yolks from salted duck eggs. After the gathering dinner, family will go out for a walk or night picnic under the full moon and ever with seasonal fruits and snacks and kids will play with lanterns.

Macau – 4 Different Sides of the Mysterious Peninsula

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People may heard of Macau but not sure what and where is it. Macau is a special administrative region of China, used to be run by Portuguese and now well known for  its gambling and entertainment industry. It’s a city of contrast, with super luxurious hotels for a modern vacation and old town of historical attractions and area.

My family often took me to Macau for day or weekend trip when I was a kid, since it’s just an hour boat ride from Hong Kong. Macau people are nicer than Hong Kongese in my opinion. Food in Macau are a blast as well, I love those family business  restaurant remains its signature homemade dishes for generations. Here are some information revealing what to do in the mysterious Macau:

Gambling and Entertaining Macau

If you want to try out your luck or an relaxing vacation, you can plan your trip to those 5* hotel resorts with their own massive casinos and full house of entertainments. Once you step out from the ferry terminal, you will find racks of shuttle bus straight to those different resorts.

These resorts are like an amusement park with their own themes and shopping area  that you can simply spend a whole day indoor.

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View from Macau Tower

You may want to visit the Macau Tower as well, it’s the tallest skyscraper in Macau where you can see the panorama view of the city or bungee jumping! I recommend having the buffet on the 360 cafe on the 60/F which already included the entrance of  the tower and the whole floor will be turning 360 degree in an hour!

Historical Macau

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Handmade almond cookie

The culture in Macau are influenced by Portugal, and many buildings and artifacts are left with a sense of western and Catholic style. One of the main attractions is Ruins of St. Paul’s, a front side of a Catholic Church left after a fire burnt down in the 17th century. You can find out more about the history of Macau by visiting the Macau Museum behind St. Paul’s. It’s located at the central of Macau where next to it the shopping area where you can find those most popular souvenir like pork and beef jerky, Portuguese egg tart and almond cookies.

Cultural and Alternative Macau

If you want to see the alternative Macau and avoid the crowd, I’d recommend you to visit the area of A-Ma Temple. Apart from the famous A-Ma Temple that protect the fisherman, there are a lot of artisan cafes and galleries in the area. There are some old flat turned into museum where you can see the living environment of the old days.

Foodie Macau

Food in Macau are amazing! I especially love those home business restaurant that still do homemade dishes, using their dedications and times. Simply ignore any travelling books since they disappointed me way too many times. Those recommended shops used to be great but quality drops due to popularity that taken away the time to make good food. Portugal restaurant serve very nice food as well.

Ultimate Experience in Kyoto: Time Travel through Historical Japan

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Kyoto was one of the oldest capitals in Japan, also known as The Thousand Years City. Kyoto is filled with historical sites like royal palace, temples and Japanese style gardens. Being in Kyoto is like travelling back to the old days in Japan, when you can still see traditional architecture and people dressing in kimono walking on their way to pray in the temples.

We stayed in Kyoto for 3 nights during our 2 weeks trip to Japan this summer. Apart from visiting all the grand and elegant attractions, there are few ultimate things that you can try in Kyoto!

Kimono Trying

Want some amazing portraits or prove photography you’ve been to Japan? I highly recommend to rent a Kimono and walk around! It’s a special and memorable experience for sure. There are few kimono shops that offer kimono(yukata in summer, thinner layer and more colorful) trying experience around清水寺Kiyomizudera.

We picked 岡本織物 as it can be booked online. Due to popularity and high volume of response, it rarely has space for walk-ins. You can book your time slot of arrival, that I found the earlier the time, the more choices of kimono available. Usually you can rent the kimono for the entire afternoon and return it by 6pm. There are different price ranges for certain quality and styles to chose from.

On arrival, you will be assist by a staff, picking one and changing with a bottom layer and the kimono complicated applications. If you booked the additional hair styling service as well, you will then pick the accessories and chose from 3 type of hair style. And you’re ready to walk along Kyoto like a local!

Living in a Onsen Ryokan

Ryokan is the traditional house in Japan, it’s a really nice experience to try out how people live in the old days and totally different environment to a hotel. Ryokan have rooms with bamboo wall paper and carpet that kept warm in winter and cool in summer, and you will need to sleep on the floor with mattress and duvet. It usually have a outdoor garden for having a cup of green tea and chatting. Some luxury one even have their own hot spring per room, where you can enjoy a warm relaxing bath after a long day travelling.

Eat like a Royalty

Since Kyoto was the empire capital, it offers a lot of traditional exquisite cuisine that is a must try! Washoku is like a visual and tasting delight. Meal set is at reasonable price like 1500yen to 2000yen, with well executed dishes from small snacks, appetizer, main to dessert, colorful dishes on a set of matching tableware serve in a plate for one, small portion of each so you can try bit of everything without being stuffed. If you are looking for something more luxury, you can order a multiple dishes meal up to 10 dishes.

Kyoto is also famous for its specialty tea Macha, naturally grinded green tea, smooth and rich flavored. There are lots of sub product made from Macha like snacks and ice cream that taste amazing!

Planning Your Trip to Japan: 5 Daytrips Inspirations Departed from Osaka

IMAG4455Osaka is located in Kansai region in Japan, the second largest metropolitan city apart from the capital Tokyo. Osaka is the city I visited the most in Japan, where filled with Japanese pop-cultures, fashion, great food and most important, very convenient connecting other region’s popular destinations.

Lots of the region’s main attractions can be accomplish in one day, so I usually stay in Osaka and planning return daytrip to other cities in Kansai. Here are few ideas of where you can go for a day started from Osaka:

1. Inside Osaka

Start your day visiting the amazing 黑門市場 Kuromon fish market where you can get all kind of freshest seafood and sashimi as a budget but luxurious breakfast! From a selections of raw fishes, fresh oysters to hot meal like gill eel or scallop don, there’s always something perfect for you(and heaven for seafood lover like me)!

Head to the amazing Shisaibashi shopping streets, you can find all kind of stuffs, from signature snacks shop, boutiques, cosmetics to toy shops, along with a mouthful of Osaka famous takoyaki and ramen!

2. Kobe

Kobe is well known for its special kettle ranching that producing tender and juicy beef steak. Kobe is next to a port wit beautiful night view.

Kitano Ijinkan, where used to be a military area in Japan and buildings there are pretty westernized. There are 8 household refurnished into interesting museums with different themes. We brought the passes (3000 yen) that included all of their admissions.

Don’t leave Kobe without trying its beef steak, grease are evenly spreader, grill it or simply boil the beef slice in a hot pot, it melt right into your mouth! Taste that I will never forget!

3.     Nara

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Nara shopping street.

Nara was the first capital of Japan and many temples and historical artifacts are well kept in the regions, and just hour away from Osaka. It’s a city full of vintage and handcraft shop.

Nara is most well known for the deer park, where deer are religious animal which they can walk around the park freely. They get used to human so it’s a popular detonations to pet them and a special encounter with these adorable animal . There are stalls selling biscuits for deer and be careful they are quite aggressive when they notice the food, especially the male one!

4.     Wakayama

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Wakayama castle

Wakayama has some beautiful old temples and one of the most famous castles. You can start your day walking a beautiful hiking path 熊野古道 Kumamon Kodo, used to be the path for Buddhist religious practices. The path was recorded as world’s heritage by UNICEF in 2004 and the whole path takes 5 days to complete.

5.     Universal Studio, Japan

IMAG4019Universal Studio is perfect for movie junkie and kidult like me, it’s my forth time here and I’m still excited about it! Make sure you get your ticket before arriving (for example in travel agency or the airport) so you can pass the long queue just for buying tickets!

USJ opened a Harry Potter themed area The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Remember to the exchange the special timed entrance ticket for the Harry Potter area. It’s first come first serve that very easy to run out due to its high popularity.

Must go: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Space Fantasy, Back To The Future, Terminator 2, Water World and Backdraft.

Travel Strategy: Start Planning Your Trip to Japan

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Japan is one of the most popular holiday destinations for other Asian countries. My first trip to Japan was back in 1997, when I was 3 and the most recent trip is from last summer. I’ve travel to Japan 5 times already, it’s a country that I never get bored of: with varieties of cultures like anime or sub culture like adult industry; Combination of big city like Tokyo and rural city like Hokkaido; Last but not least, best food that word can’t describe and nowhere else to compare of. I planned most of the trip on my own(well, except the one when I was 3 obviously), I won’t say I’m an expert but here are some tips I summed up with for the trip to Japan:

1. Pick a City

First you have to think of what kind of trip are you looking for.

Are you looking for a trip with group of friends having a fun time? Or you fancy about Japanese pop culture? Planning to get a full luggage of Japanese souvenir? If your answer is yes I’d suggest you going to big city in the west part of Japan like Tokyo or Osaka. You can get pretty much everything there that full of energetic vibes!

Are you looking for a trip more relaxing and closer to nature? Chilling in a hot spring or visiting traditional temple? Watching autumn leaf or spring sakura? If yes, I’d say the ideal destination for a comforting or bit more luxurious trip is to the middle of Japan like Gifu or Miyagi region.

If you are looking for some water sports in the summer or simply freshly caught seafood for sushi and sashimi, regions next to the sea like Hokkaido or Kyushu would be the best kind of cities.

2. How long should I go?

If you’re going for the first time not for a deep encounter of the country, 5-7 days is good enough for 1-2 regions. If you are going for a 2 weeks trip, 4-5 regions can be accomplish. You can simply plan a return trip or an en route from one airport to another, since there’s domestic airport in each regions.

Sample itinerary for 2 weeks(summer 2015):

Day 1 Arrived Osaka

Day 2 Day trip to Kobe

Day 3 Day trip to Wakayama

Day 4 Osaka

Day 5 Universal Studio Japan

Day 6 Nara

Day 7-9 Nagoya

Day 10-12 Kyoto

Day 13-15 Osaka

3. Languages and Cultures

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This is the question that people most concern. Do Japanese speak English? Well, not really. Please don’t expect them to understand English especially in small city or non tourist attractions but that’s not a problem at all. I knew some basic Japanese word but most of my conversations in Japan is conducted in body gestures or even I drew them out! Once I was talking to an old lady in a market about the town she lives in for 10 minutes in body language.

You will probably receive the best customer service in Japan. People are polite and prompt. Try to be polite as well and check what is being rude or offensive in Japan. Be respect and open heart.

4. Estimate spending

Is depends on your style of travel really. For me, I’m up for a budget travel, I rather save up from accommodation for activities and food(I’m pretty sure no one can resist of Japanese food). A 2 weeks trip to Osaka for me, I spend around 1000 pounds for the whole trip including flights, hotels, transportation, attractions tickets and souvenir.

Food in Japan is pretty cheap, and really decent. A meal from convenient store or fast food restaurant is like 3-5 quid. Even set meal in proper restaurant is like 10 quid. Well, I never went to a really luxury one so I can’t tell the maximum. The most thing I spent on is buying snacks as souvenir back to Hong Kong.

5. Transportations

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Japan has well developed transportation. It’s easy to travel by rails and well scheduled buses. It’s easy to rent a car for self drive trip. If you’re travelling in a bigger group, there’s company offering personalize minibus tour services as well.

Beware that there are few rail companies running in Japan, which mean you need to check carefully which rail are you taking and it can be confusing sometimes. And they use the same platform for different trains route as well.

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Remember to try the Train Bento take away Set before departed on a long journey!

Additional tips for travelling in Japan

-Get a Travel pass/ Rail pass: There are passes for travelling in Japan for specific regions. The travel pass may covered inner or near city transports and attractions that can be use for a short trip. If you are going for a longer trip to few cities, rail pass is great for saving up for individual trains ticket, that valid to redeem up to numbers of trains trip.

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All from reductions.

-Food reduction: There are lots of big supermarkets that have large hot food session. Japanese is aimed at high quality of their good that they never keep food overnight . Every day after 4pm, the price of hot food started to reduce up to 60% off!

Stay tuned for this week’s Japan trip update!

Check out the official Instagram for travel update here

Check out my personal Instagram for random fun stuffs here