Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!
The first part of our ninth month on the road was CRAZY busy – but that’s Japan for you! Balancing the go-go-go feeling we had whilst we were there and getting enough down time was a struggle our entire trip which ultimately resulted in illness, but we’ll get to that later…
Japan. What an INCREDIBLE country. We had so many unique, first time experiences here that have created wonderful memories for us – memories that will last a lifetime.
We left off last month bound for Hiroshima. Our visit there was incredibly moving, as we spent most of time exploring the various memorials and museums that have been established to remember the victims of the world’s first atomic bombing. We wrote about our visit and struggle to summarise how we felt here, but came away with an absolute appreciation for the forgiving attitude of the Japanese and their efforts towards establishing peace.
After Hiroshima we headed to the Japanese Alps for several days of snow-filled adventures – well, we were hoping. We were in luck though, and on day two of our visit to Matsumoto I woke up to a sea of white outside our window – it snowed all day! We had a fabulous time there – exploring castles, making snowmen, taking beautiful train rides through the countryside, visiting an onsen – so incredibly special! You can read more about our adventures in the Japanese Alps in this blog post, including lots of photos!
Onto Kyoto next and for this stop we’d organised to stay in an Airbnb – how lucky were we when we found out our host Toshi was actually a travel agent! He was lovely, picking us up from the train station and providing us with an abundance of information about sightseeing, buses and trains in Kyoto. It was so nice having our own little space to call home for a few days – not having to share it with anyone, our own washing machine and kitchen facilities, cosy futons and heating and lightning fast wifi!
The only downside was that we were quite a distance outside of the central area of Kyoto, near a bus stop but not a train or metro line. It would take an hour to get into town by bus – so we found we took ages to get going each day. We didn’t see as much as we had hoped to in Kyoto – the traveling and fatigue was starting to set in – but we saw the main sites including the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Places I’d always dreamt of seeing in real life and I can vouch that they are even more magical in person than the photos you see of them!
Our next stop was the town of Hakone, where we were hoping to spot Mt Fuji! Whilst Hakone was a pretty spot, and we got to enjoy several modes of very cool transport, including a cable car – we felt a little let down. We’d been hoping for more epic views of Mt Fuji and whilst we DID spot the peak first thing in the morning – so glad we got going early – it quickly disappeared. However, we would never have been able to see more than the peak even it was a clear day. Turns out it wasn’t the best place to view the mountain, even though I’d been told otherwise. You can’t get everything right unfortunately!
We took our very last bullet train from Odawara to Tokyo – our last stop in Japan. We had a crazy few days in Tokyo – our first full day was spent at Tokyo Disney, our first time visiting a Disney Park – it was a dream come true. I’ve got a blog post all about it coming soon. Day two we had a slow start, as we realised when I was trying to book our China accommodation that our credit card had been scammed. $1000 had been taken out of our account! Poor Mike had to spend a long time on the phone with our bank, but thankfully they cancelled it and issued a new card – and our money has now already been returned, less than two weeks later thank goodness. Lucky we keep our money in several places!
We spent the following day apart doing our own thing, Mike exploring Tokyo to play around with some street photography and I headed back to the other Disney park in Tokyo – DisneySea where once again I had the best day! However the long, long days and cold weather got to me eventually – I woke the next day with a fever and my entire body was aching – I couldn’t get out of bed! Poor Mike spent a second day all on his own, as I stayed in bed trying to sleep it off and he went out exploring again.
I woke on our last day not feeling any better, which was incredibly frustrating as we were hoping to attend an Instameet being held by Notes of Nomads to capture cherry blossoms at Kitanomaru Park – but unfortunately we missed out. Having to check out regardless, we slowly made our way into the city and to the park where the instameet was being held (but finished by this time), where we had a lovely stroll around the beautiful gardens and then hired a rowboat. Mike rowed me around on the moat surrounding the park, floating underneath the beautiful cherry blossom trees that extended over the water – it was just beautiful!
Unfortunately as I was feeling so unwell we didn’t manage to do a lot that last day, but so thankful we got to experience the very beginning of sakura – cherry blossom season, and see the locals enjoying hanami – parties – in celebration of the blooms.
After flying out of Tokyo on a red eye flight, I landed back in Kuala Lumpur early in the morning where I was lucky enough to check in right away and sleep for the first time in three days – it was heavenly! I didn’t get too much down time though, as I was out the next morning applying for my China Visa – which was such an easy process, thank goodness – and then I headed back up to the airport to pick up a friend!
I’ve been chatting with Sasha of Seven Continents Sasha across social media the last six months. She’s an Aussie girl and we’re both the same age, and we had a lot in common – I just knew we’d get on. She was returning to the UK after being in Australia for 6 weeks, and had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur for just over a day. I jumped at the chance to hang out, and together we spent an awesome day getting to know each other in person and exploring KL. Whilst it was insanely hot the day Sasha visited – limiting the outdoor activities – it was so nice to have the company of a fellow travel lover, and someone who I got on with so well! I was sad to see her go! Sasha has been travelling for 7 years now and has a wealth of knowledge on budget travel and long term travel – be sure to check our her blog here!
Whilst in Japan Mike and I had lots of conversations about what was next for us, where we’re going and how to make this blog better. So, I’m excited to say that we made the decision to join the Travel Blog Success community! In the last week or so since I’ve been back on my own here in KL, I’ve been smashing through the course and networking with the community members online. I’ve learnt a lot about how to build a better travel blog, and we’re looking forward to implementing all that we’ve learnt from the course over the next little while and to deliver a better product to YOU – our readers. Exciting times ahead, so stay tuned!
Next up, we are headed to Hong Kong! We have quite a long visit for the one city – 11 days – but it’s a place that fascinates us and we’d really like to explore it beyond the usual 2 or 3 days most people have to spend there. After Hong Kong, I’m meeting up with my friend Alecia and we are off to Cambodia for a girls trip! It’ll be my first time there since 2012 and I’m looking forward to experiencing the country in a different way to the last time.
We’ve been publishing LOTS of content on Japan over the last month, with more still to come – be sure to check out any articles you may have missed!
- First Impressions of Japan
- Himeji – Japan’s Most Beautiful Castle
- Why You Should Visit Hiroshima
- Snow Days in the Japanese Alps
- A Geisha Transformation in Kyoto
- Is A Japan Rail Pass Worth It?
- Traversing Travertines in Pamukkale
- Koya-san – Exploring Spiritual Japan
Also our latest travel video from our trip to Japan is now on YouTube – I’m super proud of this one and really enjoying expanding my video skills. You can watch it here.
You can also now SUBSCRIBE to our blog so that you don’t miss out on any article – be sure to enter your email in the box in the sidebar to your right!
Til next month,
Mike & Amy