Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Moved my blog!

Posted: November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

To anyone who is currently following or stumbles upon my blog.

I have moved my blog to if you would like to follow me on my adventures!

Thanks for reading!

– D 🙂


Japan Day 16: Coming Home

Posted: October 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

After going to bed at 02:00h, we wake up at around 09:00h and start walking to Ueno train station. We grab a couple of eats from the bakery we’ve been visiting every morning in Tokyo, and make our way to Tokyo station to catch the Narita Express to the airport.

Our JR Rail Pass expired a couple days earlier, so we had to pay out of pocket for our train ticket to NRT. It was about $45 CAD for the 2 of us, though this puzzles me. We asked up be upgraded to first class but first class seats are over $40 per person. Even for regular reserved seating is about $30 per person. I’m not too sure if he gave us a discount because he knew that our JR Rail Passes expired, or if he just punched in the wrong tickets.

We get to the airport and we noticed that the Air Canada booths were not open. We got to the airport at 11:30h as the flight was scheduled for 14:00h.

… or so we thought.

I apparently mixed up the time and we were not meant to depart NRT until 16:00h. Jason was not very impressed but it gave us some time in the airport to eat lunch and to do some last minute shopping. We decided that our last meal in Japan would be katsu.

Ever so delicious katsu...

Ever so delicious katsu…

We go through security and start shopping in the Duty Free section. What’s upsetting is that with our transfer in Vancouver, we were unable to take advantage of buying duty free booze (due to the liquid restriction on flights). We picked up a couple of cartons of cigarettes, some smaller sake bottles that were less than 100ml each, and a couple trinkets and we walk over to our gate.

One of the many reasons why I love the Narita Airport is this…

Indoor smoking rooms.... I love you, NRT! <3

Indoor smoking rooms…. I love you, NRT! ❤

Ashtray and they even have lighters! Talk about courtesy!

Ashtray and they even have lighters! Talk about courtesy!

… if I wasn’t travelling with a non-smoker, I wouldn’t have left this room until I had to board.

Due to another typhoon, our flight from Japan was delayed by an hour. This made me panic, as I had it perfectly planned that once we landed at Edmonton that I would be able to sleep for a decent amount of time before going to work that evening. They rebooked our connecting flight from Vancouver, as we would have missed our connection, and instead of landing in Edmonton at 13:00h we were scheduled to land at 17:00h.

… thank goodness I asked for the first 4 hours off, so I started work at 23:00h instead of 19:00h.

After praying to every religious deity out there for no further delays, we boarded our plane and were on our way to Vancouver.

I had a lot of problems trying to sleep on the flight. I don’t sleep on flights usually, but I’m able to doze off for about 30 minutes every couple hours. This did not happen on this flight. Maybe it was due to me being worried that I might miss work if there were any further delays, maybe it was the turbulence on the flight, maybe it was the group of Japanese youth that was really irritating me on the flight. Either way, I didn’t sleep and couldn’t nap on the flight.

Air Canada announced prior to take off that they would be serving us 2 meals on the flight; one 2 hours into the flight and another 2 hours before we landed. Our last meal didn’t show up until 55 minutes before we landed and it looked like this.

Apparently what's in the middle is scrambled eggs... it didn't look or taste like scrambled eggs.

Apparently what’s in the middle is scrambled eggs… it didn’t look or taste like scrambled eggs. It was served with 5 tater tots, salsa, and a questionable and sad piece of broccoli.

Unimpressed, I begrudgingly ate it because I was so hungry (Jason just ate his tater tots and the side of fruit they provided). We land in Vancouver in one piece (but unfortunately with some damaged luggage) and make our way to customs and security to board our flight to Edmonton.

Looking at the schedule, we noticed that there were 2 flights that flew to Edmonton before ours. We asked a very nice Air Canada employee boarding at another gate named Linda Clarke to see if we could get on an earlier flight back. She checked for us but informed us both flights were completely booked. She did, however, give each of us a $15 meal voucher due to the extended layover.

… her helping us was the only quality service that we received from Air Canada. Thank you very much, Linda.

We go eat a proper breakfast (bacon, how I missed you) and then get one of those 20 minute airport massages. It was more than what I wanted to spend but it was very much needed.

Boarding the flight to Edmonton, we were stuck in the very back row so our seats could not recline. The entire trip back to Edmonton was the most painful and uncomfortable experience; partially due to the seats, and partially because of how long we’ve been awake for.

We finally land in Edmonton and Jason’s dad picks us up from the airport. I finally get home around 17:30h, go to sleep at 18:00h and wake up at 20:15 to get ready to be at work.

After 16 days of traveling, walking, taking trains, seeing the sites, more walking, eating delicious food, even more walking and experiencing Japan in 8 cities, it is kinda nice to be home again.

… now to start planning my trips for 2014 🙂

Things I Have Learned from This Day
1. I’m going to avoid taking Air Canada flights unless it’s super cheap or because I have to. Looking back, I don’t mind that the flight was delayed but I think next time I will pay the extra money and fly with JAL or Cathay Pacific. Maybe they will serve me edible food and not damage my luggage.

2. Depending on the next trip and the cost, I might splurge for Business Class/First Class tickets. After seeing the type of “accommodations” they had on the flights to/from Japan, it might just be worth it.

3. If I have to fly with Air Canada again, bring more snacks on the plane.

4. Either cut your vacation a day short or book another day off work; going to work that evening was killing me (and I was only scheduled to work 8 hours of my 12 hour shift).

5. Bacon in Canada taste better than bacon in Japan.

Japan Day 9 & 10: Beppu

Posted: October 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

We wake up in the morning and have breakfast scheduled for 09:00h and check out at 10:00h. After another phenomenal breakfast, we finish packing our bags and head onto the ferry to head over to Beppu.

Once again, we forgot to book our tickets in advance but didn’t have to go to the non-reserved cars again. We hop on the Shinkansen to Kokura and then transfer to head over to Beppu.

Beppu is located on Kyushu Island, and contains 8 major geothermal hot spots. They have dubbed these hot spots as “The 8 Hells of Beppu”, and also have various natural onsens (hot springs) located in the city

We arrive to Beppu station and walk to our hotel, which was only a 10-15 minute walk from the train station. It was another ryoken style hotel, and the view from our room was fantastic. This facility included an indoor and outdoor public bath that is tapped from a natural hot spring.

We start get settled in our room and notice that there is a massage chair. Jason and I desperately needed a massage but were quite skeptical about how good this massage chair would actually be. The massage chair ran in 15 minute sessions, and had 4 different massage features that we were unable to read. Desperate for a massage, I pop myself on the chair, select an option (we dubbed it as “square three, square three” and turned it on.

This was seriously the best massage chair that I’ve ever used. We spent our first 1.5 hours in Beppu taking turns using the massage chair.

Once we were able to peel ourselves away from the chair, we get dressed and ask the hotel to call us a cab so we can head to the onsens.  We get in and Jason asks the driver to take us to Hoyoland, which is an outdoor mud bath hot springs. We stay there for about 45 minutes and then start walking back to our hotel. We find a sushi restaurant along the way and stop there for dinner.

I was going to upload a video of how our dinner was served to us, but Word Press wants me to pay to upgrade to have video embedding feature. Since I’m now quite poor from this trip, it will have to wait.

From there we call a cab to take us back to our hotel (as we realize that we are about an hour away walking), bask in the outdoor public bath and then go to bed.

We wake up late the next morning and walk over to Beppu Station to catch a bus towards the 8 Hells of Beppu. 6 of the 8 hells are located in the Kannawa District, while the remaining 2 are located in the Shibaseki District. The 8 hells consist of the following:

1. Umi Jigoku (Jigoku = hell): Known as the “Sea Hell” due to it’s cobalt-blue color.

Steam coming off the Umi Jigoku

Steam coming off the Umi Jigoku

2. Oniishibozu Jigoku: The “Shaven Monk’s Head Hell”, as the bubbles from the mud look like the shaven heads of monks.

Oniishibozu Jigoku

Oniishibozu Jigoku

3. Shiaike Jigoku: “White Pond Hell”

Shiaike Jigoku

Shiaike Jigoku

4. Kamado Jigoku: “Cooking Pot Hell”, as the steam was used to cook foods in the past.

Kamado Jigoku

Kamado Jigoku

5. Oniyama Jigoku: “Monster Mountain Hell”. Not exactly sure why the named it that, but they now use it to breed and keep crocodiles.

... I hope this is self explanatory. If not, we never took pictures at the Hell.

… I hope this is self explanatory. If not, we never took pictures at the Hell.

6. Yama Jigoku: “Mountain Hell”. This was the saddest one we went to, as it was turned into a zoo and was very depressing and sad.

Yama Jigoku -- we got to feed at Hippo some carrots (as we felt really bad for the poor thing).

At Yama Jigoku — we got to feed at Hippo some carrots (as we felt really bad for the poor thing).

7. Chinoike Jigoku: “Blood Pond Hell” was named due to the red clay in the area. This is the oldest natural jigoku in Japan.

Chinoike Jigoku

Chinoike Jigoku

8. Tatsumaki Jigoku: “Spout Hell” is a geyser that erupts every 30-40 minutes from anywhere between 5- 20 minutes at a time.

Yup... First World Problems.

Yup… First World Problems.

Touring around took us approximately 2-3 hours, and the cost of admission to view all 8 Hells of Beppu was about 2,000 yen. You can visit just a couple at single admission but we planned on seeing all 8 (and you get it at a reduced rate if you see them all).

We were planning on hitting up an onsen but I was fighting a headache all day that just kept getting worse and worse. We take a bus back to Beppu station and try to find a place for dinner. I noticed on the back of the Beppu Bus Map that there was a restaurant called “Shinzushi” and we decided to check it out.

Warning: if you ever visit Beppu, do not go to this restaurant. Extremely overpriced food for very little. We noticed the outrageous prices right away and said that we would just order a couple items and leave to find a different restaurant. $15 for tempura that was low quality (and came with less than 9 pieces) and the sushi was being sold at over 500 yen for 2 pieces. We did, however, order something that we should have paid more attention to. We noticed that they were serving Toro (Fatty Tuna Belly) sushi and ordered some, thinking that it was 200 yen for the 2 pieces. We receive the Toro and I notice right away that it looked higher quality in comparison from other times that I’ve ate it and it tasted phenomenal.

It turns out, it was 2,000 yen for those 2 pieces. That’s just over $21 CAD for 2 pieces of sushi. When I glanced at the menu, I didn’t see the extra zero and Jason just assumed we were paying the outrageous price of 500 yen for 2 pieces of sushi.

… oh, how we wished it was only 500.

Though it was probably the best Toro sushi I’ve had, it wasn’t worth the $10 a piece.

We walk down the block and find another restaurant to eat at, where we were able to order more food for less than what we paid for at Shinzushi.

With my head still killing me and the weather starting to get a bit windy, we ended up catching a cab back to our hotel. As we were getting ready for bed, Jason turns on the TV and there was a news report about Japan getting hit by a typhoon (and it’s the biggest typhoon within the last 10 years).

… this explains why I’ve had a headache all day.

We watch on the news how it was hitting Tokyo and we were hoping and praying that it would be gone by the following day, as this was our last night in Beppu before we head back to Tokyo to finish our trip. Jason hits up the indoor public bath while I take a bath in our room and then we go to bed.

Things I Have Learned in Japan Thus Far
1. Hand dryers/paper towel in public bathrooms are not common. Sometimes soap isn’t either. I find myself in a lot of places where I wash my hands and there is no hand dryer or paper towels for me to dry my hands. I assume that people use clothes/handkerchiefs that they carry, as many do to wipe the humidity off their faces/body.

2. Pay more attention to prices of food before you order them.

3. Japan makes a mean fried chicken; both in restaurants and at the convenience stores.

4. Foot baths are amazing! There were quite a few foot/leg baths when we were touring the hells, and there is a hand bath outside of the Beppu Train Station.

Leg Bath at the first of the 8 Hells of Beppu.

Leg Bath at the first of the 8 Hells of Beppu.

5. Those foot/leg baths are also very hot!

At the Kamado Hell; Jason had his legs in for less than 3 minutes.

At the Kamado Hell; Jason had his legs in for less than 3 minutes.

6. People at Hoyoland didn’t seem to mind that I had a tattoo, though I did freak out a couple girls with it. I’m not too sure if they didn’t report me to get me kicked out because it was so late in the evening, or if they are starting to get more lenient on tattoos?

Well, it’s 01:00h Tokyo time and I have to be up in less than 7 hours to get ready for my day.

Next Blog Post: Returning to Tokyo

And so it begins…

Posted: October 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

It may be cliche to start off with a quote.. but travel blogs are also pretty cliche.

You might be wondering, “Doris! Why are you writing a travel blog?” Well, let’s try to sum it up as much as I can.

I’ve always enjoyed blogging. My previous blogs were published with a tiny audience due to it’s content (i.e. me being a whiny, emo 20-something complaining about anything I could complain about), and I’m also a terrible writer, but it was still something I enjoyed doing. Maybe it’s in our nature to be narcissistic; to want to tell the world everything about ourselves and the things we have experienced, but to still have anonymity.

… or maybe it’s just me.

Regardless, I feel it is important to me to document my travel experiences; partially because I would like to look back on my ventures and remember the good (and hopefully, not so scary) times that I’ve had abroad, and to share these experiences with other people.

The first time I can remember travelling outside of North America, I was 13; my father passed away from Leukemia that year, so my family and I took a trip to Seoul, South Korea to visit family. Though the trip to Korea was awe inspiring, I was too young to really appreciate traveling and the experience of being abroad. I remember hating being dragged from place to place, spending time with family that I’ve never met or rarely seen, not really capable of communicating with people without my mother translating. It was exciting to visit the “motherland”, to eat the food, spend time with my grandmother, to go shopping at the markets, and to say “I’ve traveled outside of North America”…

… but of course, even though there was the excitement of traveling to somewhere new, I was a miserable 13-year-old girl that thought traveling anywhere would be the same miserable experience.

Flash forward to 2005; at the age of 21 I was asked by my employer to launch a new program in a call center in Manila, Philippines. Against my mother’s advice, I accepted the task and went for 2 months. Maybe it’s because I rebelled against my mother’s disapproval, maybe it was because I felt like an independent adult, but the trip sparked a huge desire within me to travel. After being immersed in the culture, experiencing new foods and people, and the ever so cheap shopping, all I could think about was where I was to travel next and when I would be back to visit my new friends.

… but of course, “money was an issue” and my desire to travel eventually turned into a hopeful, yet apathetic, pipe dream.

Jump forward to 2009. I was going through a very low period in my life; I’ve broken up with my boyfriend of 5 years after calling off a wedding that we both, years later, realized that we didn’t want. My world was shattered. At the time, my friend was going through a separation with his wife so we leaned on each other for support, and distracted ourselves with dinner and movie dates. He introduced me to Anthony Bourdain and his show “No Reservations”, and we would talk about how much of a lucky fucker Bourdain was to be able to travel the world and experience not only the culture but delicious local cuisine. One night out of sheer frustration, I told my friend over MSN messenger (yes, back in the MSN days!) that I just wanted to leave Edmonton to get away from the life I lived and start anew. Venting turned into conversation, conversation turned into planning, and the next thing I knew we were enrolled in TESOL classes, planning to travel and see the world. Maybe we were fueled by broken hearts and anger, maybe it was the Tokyo episode of No Reservations that we recently watched but we planned and plotted for days, and thought we had it all figured out.

… but of course, that was the moment my ex decided he wanted to give “us” another shot.

Jump forward yet again to 2012; Jason and I have been dating for just under half a year, after ending a 7.5 year relationship with my ex the year prior. We take a trip to Las Vegas in early 2012 to attend CES, and a short road trip to Vancouver and Seattle in May. I continue to watch more and more episodes of No Reservations and then I finally snapped. I tell Jason “We are going to do 10 big trips in the next 10 years. Give me a list of 10 places you want to visit, and I will do the same. We will compare our lists and make it happen.” A day later he gives me his list, and that following weekend we were having brunch at Cora’s plotting out our hopeful future trips.

… but of course, I have ran out of excuses to stop myself from traveling.

I spent the last 8 years of my life constantly making excuses as to why I could not travel abroad.

Now I am just 3 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes away from departure to Tokyo.

I will hopefully be updating this on a semi-regular basis during my 16 day adventure to Japan. Please feel free to follow along if you like. If you’re not big on reading my terrible writing, you can follow me on Instagram @jetlaggedandhungry or on Twitter @jetlaggedhungry for snippets of my trip.

“Life is short and the world is wide!”  — Simon Raven