Japlanning! pt 1

My trip to Japan has been booked for May 2019!  We’ll be there for 18 nights, and are visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. We’ve been talking about going to Japan for a long time so it’s very exciting.


Everyone keeps torturing me by telling me how pretty the cherry blossom will be BUT we are going after cherry blossom season.  It devastates me as I love cherry blossom more than anything else in the world but it would have been difficult to guarantee a decent cherry blossom sighting anyway.  It also would have been busy and, I think, harder to take off work. But May should bring warmer weather and some other pretty flowers.

I did a lot of planning before we even booked the trip.  If we were talking a shorter trip to Europe we could just book it and wait until nearer the time to think about what we wanted to do.  But with longer trips, that are more ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ I think it’s necessary to plan it before you book.  I did the same with the three week trip I took to the US in 2014.  Before we booked the flights we needed to know how long we wanted in Japan in total, and before we booked accommodation we needed to know how long we wanted in each city.  This required me to come up with an itinerary well in advance.  Well I think so anyway…Japlanning

I started with mad googling ‘what to do in Japan’, ‘what to do in Tokyo’, ‘vegetarian Tokyo’, etc to bring up the top or most popular things to do. I also bought a Japan guide which helped to narrow down where in Japan we wanted to go.  Tokyo was a definite but we wanted to get the most of our trip by visiting as many places as we could.  So once I’d hit on Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka I also did some research to make sure it was easy enough to get to each city.  I also made a list of anything in the guide book that sounded interesting and then did some more research online later on.

I marked them on map of the cities we’re visiting (using Google maps).  I also did a lot of searching on Google maps to find things in the vicinity of major attractions.  For example, Tokyo Imperial Palace is a major attraction that pops up on lists of top attractions in Tokyo.  So using Google Maps I looked in the area to see if there were any restaurants or shops nearby we might want to visit whilst we’re in the area.

CaptureMarking things on the Google maps is really helpful as it shows where things are in relation to one another.  This helps plan out your days and showed us how many days worth of activities we had and therefore how many days we needed in each place.

The vegetarian searches are also really important, and I do it before I travel anywhere.  Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are all known for their food but, unfortunately for me, it’s very fishy.  I know I can find things to eat in Japan but I’ll struggle if we just try to wing it and wander into restaurants and eat street food.  I need to look online at their restaurant website, blog posts, and  From this I can find places to eat and then basically plan my day around the vegetarian restaurant I’ve found.  People who think this strategy is nuts are people who haven’t spent many hungry hours wandering around Paris, or Dubrovnik, or Barcelona, or Gdansk looking for food getting increasingly hangry.

Anyway, come back next week and I’ll share more of my Japlanning!



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Stuff From Shanghai

I found a bag full of ‘stuff’ from a couple of trips I had taken a while ago.  I had already scrap booked these trips and I didn’t really want to hold onto to all of it but it did bring back a few memories.  This is the stuff I found from the trip I took to Shanghai, China in 2009.20180204_174518Above- My sister took me on a little trip to visit a place she liked to go to buy little cups.  I can not remember where that was, but we did indeed buy some tiny, handmade, cups.  The kind without a handle, that you can imagine drinking green tea out of, they were wrapped in the orange Disney paper you can see top left.  Whisk was a fancy place we went for lunch, I remember getting a chocolate torte for dessert.  I remember significant things.  I think the white business card in the middle was for a lottery or gambling, the blue blob of toothpaste on it is Haibo.  Haibo was, obviously, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo and he was EVERYWHERE in Shanghai whilst I was there.20180204_175209Above- We went to a small Art Gallery, and the only thing I remember is my sister making me and her boyfriend (now husband) stand in a very hot window, in full glare of the sun as she spent 20mins trying to take a picture.   The photo, top left, shows where we were standing.  On one day we went to a shopping centre and I felt compelled to buy something.  You can’t really browse without a sales assistant insisting on helping which was interesting given that we were speaking totally different languages.  When I’d picked my item I went over the till to pay, she took my leggings and gave me a receipt and sent me to another till.  At the other till I handed over my money and was given another receipt.  I took this back to the first till and got my leggings (with the delightful orange mushroom label pictured).  Seemed like convoluted way of doing things but that’s the style in China.   20180204_175250Above- I took and used my Lomography fisheye camera.  How I wish I’d been able to take a better analogue camera, the fish eye thing got really old really fast!  Top right is an exciting photo of the TV screen in the taxi (like the future) which instructed me to ‘please do not forget the things you take’.  We went to an English language bookshop on my last day and I obviously bought something, wrapped in the brown paper.  I think it was something odd like Frankenstein, and the font had been printed so small I never actually managed to read that copy!

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What’s On The Horizon?

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A selection of images of the horizon in some of the amazing places I’ve visited.

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Top Travel Tips-Being Organised!

  • Write down the address of where you’re staying on paper- saving it to your phone is not good enough if your battery runs out.
  • Keep the addresses, tickets, flight times and boarding passes, and your passport in a separate wallet in your hand luggage when you fly so you don’t lose anything.
  • Research how you are going to get from the airport to your accommodation or wherever you are heading. Taxis are usually easier but more expensive but you also need to find the taxi rank.  Use the airport website to find out if there is a shuttle bus or local bus and where to get it.
  • Even if you like to be spontaneous research somewhere to eat using tripadvisor or some such website.  You will get of the plane and be hungry, you will not want to wander around wasting your precious time in a foreign city scavenging for food.
  • Also note down a few things you want to do, and how you’ll get there.  If you’re not driving you’ll need to know where to get the bus or pay for taxis.
  • Find out when you can check in to your hotel, and whether you can leave your bags there if you arrive earlier.  If not, or you don’t want to go there and then back out again store your bags at the train station or a private luggage storage place.  NB you can not store stuff in UK train stations because they suck.
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China (Again)!

Some general views of Pudong, Shanghai:

fisheye china2That’s my sister bottom right in People’s Square.  In the centre is the ticket for the Jade Buddha Temple, and bottom left is the ticket for the Shanghai Art Gallery that we visited.

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Found some old fisheye photos of Shanghai, China from 2009.

This is the Jade Buddha Temple:fisheye chinaAnd the view of the Pudong skyline from across the water: fisheye china1

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Interactive Map

I have been working on a map of the places I’ve been to (shop, restaurants, attractions etc) in case people are planning a trip and want to see some recommendations for the area.  It’s still a work in progress, as you can see there’s much of the world I haven’t visited!

I hope this is useful to people!

Let me know if you have any suggestions to add!

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Visiting China- Nanjing Street

Just a short post about Nanjing Street in Shanghai, China.  It’s full of statues and it’s fun for a wander. There’s also a film cafe, and there was a man selling bracelets which me and my sister bought (I can’t guarantee he will still be there…).

Statue Street

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Visiting China- Fuxing Park and The Bund

When I visited Shanghai, China in 2009 we spent an afternoon at Fuxing Park in the former French Concession.  Created in 1909 as Gu’s Park it was the largest park in Shanghai, during French occupation it became a military encampment, then it was renamed Daxing Park by the occupying Japanese.  In the mid-20th century it was reclaimed by the Chinese and named Fuxing Park.

China Fuxing pARK We went into Fuxing Park and were greeted by the long list of Park Rules which included ‘visitors are expected not to urinate or shit’, and ‘no playing mahjong in the park’ because you know what mahjong players get like after a few cups of green tea… There was a nice lake where people were zorbing (those big ball things you can run around in), there was tea house, people running backwards (which is a Chinese thing, it works the muscles in the back of legs more, they even have rear view mirrors attached to their heads).

Fuxing pARK1

The Bund is on the Puxi side of Shanghai overlooking the river it has a good view of the Pearl tower and all the lit up skyscrapers. We went to the Captain Bar where we got this view of the Shanghai skyline.  On the Bund no new buildings are allowed in stark contrast to the rest of Shanghai which was rapidly developing.


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Visiting China- People’s Square

During my trip to Shanghai, China we went to Renmin Guangchang or People’s Square where, by all accounts, you can get tricked into a very expensive tea ceremony.  But we just went to the Shanghai Art Museum.  We had to queue around the building to get in and go through airport style security at which point my water bottle became an issue until I drank from it to show it was just water and not a water flavoured explosive.  There were some impressive escalators in the middle that made it feel like a shopping centre more than a museum.  There was also a collection of Chinese drawings, paintings, and furniture.

Peoples Square Shanghai We also went into the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre where there is a model of the whole of Shanghai which is really cool.  The city was gearing up for the Shanghai Expo which happened in 2010.

Peoples Square

HaiboHaibo was the Expo’s mascot and he was everywhere, he looked like a squish of toothpaste with arms and legs imo.

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