MOUNT FUJI

MOUNT FUJI

May 20, 2017

From Kagoshima, we made our way to Nagoya for a day of eating and met up with Stef, Jonathan's cousin who lives in Hong Kong. No trip to Japan is complete without her! :) We stopped in Tokyo for a couple days and took some day trips to different flower parks to see what we could find. 

We took a train to the Fujii Five Lakes area and took an hour bus from Kawaguchiko to check out the Fuji Shibazakura Festival. Shibazakura is a flower that covers the ground like a lawn and the flower's petals look like that of sakura or cherry blossoms. It didn't hurt to have Mount Fuji in the background. :)

BEPPU

BEPPU

May 17, 2017

Beppu is most famously known for being the home to over 2,000 onsens. Sadly, because I was already pregnant by this time, I couldn't partake in any of the activities, which included mud and sand baths and a visit to the hot springs. So bummed!

Instead, we took a day trip to Oita, visited a museum, and did a little more people watching outside the train station. Can't help but fall in love with all the little kids in their cute school uniforms! :)

NAGASAKI, KUMAMOTO AND KAGOSHIMA

NAGASAKI, KUMAMOTO AND KAGOSHIMA

May 15 - May 17, 2017

Since we were in the south of Japan, we decided to hop around to different cities, try the local fare and explore a bit since we didn't know when we would be back again. 

Our Airbnb host picked us up from the station and took us to a restaurant in Chinatown with what he considered to be the best champon. Champon is a Chinese style of ramen, where the noodles are cooked with the broth then topped with various vegetables and meat. Unlike Japanese ramen, where the broth and noodles are cooked separately and only put together when served. 

ARITA

ARITA

November 13 - November 15, 2017

We took a two hour train ride from Fukuoka to Arita, a small town known for its porcelain and ceramics. We heard about Koraku Kiln the last time we were in Japan, which was founded in 1865 and has been producing ceramics for the past 150 years. Over time, they've accumulated overstock and have been housing product in warehouses over the years. Just recently they started hosting a "treasure hunt" where visitors can pay 5000 yen to 10000 yen and can spend 90 minutes digging through the different crates and whatever you can fit in your basket is yours to take home. 

FUKUOKA

FUKUOKA

May 10, 2017

Yatais or food stands in Fukuoka are really popular and are sprinkled all over the city. They usually set up shop in the early evening and stay open until the early morning. We decided to eat at Yatai Mama Chan and it did not disappoint. Mama Chan wasn't there that night but her son and husband held down the fort and prepared our dinner. It was so simple but we quickly fell in love with the fried rice and ramen. So delicious!

INLE LAKE

INLE LAKE

November 26, 2016 - November 29, 2016

We spent the next three days exploring in and around Inle Lake. The lake is huge and lined by reed marshes and canals that take locals to the small towns that surround the lake. We visited local markets and saw some of the local craftsmen still practicing their trades - boat-making, weaving, fishing, and metal-working.

Enjoy the photos!

BAGAN

BAGAN

November 23, 2016

After Yangon, we made our way to another popular Myanmar destination - Bagan, mainly known for the thousands of temples spread across 40 square miles. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, there were more than 11,000 structures (temples, pagodas, monastaries) in the area and only about 2,200 remain today. We spent the next two days exploring the area, getting up before sunrise and finding the best vnatage point for sunset. 

BANGALORE, MYSORE AND MADURAI

BANGALORE, MYSORE AND MADURAI

November 12 - November 20, 2016

We were lucky enough to be a part of TOMS in its early years. Nearly two and a half years after we left, we were blessed enough to participate in a TOMS giving trip in India with two incredible partners, Karuna Trust and Aravind. For more information on each organization please click on the links. Both are amazing organizations in different ways.

TIGER'S NEST

TIGER'S NEST

November 10, 2016

Visiting Bhutan wouldn't be complete without a hike to Tiger's Nest. This Buddhist monastery considered to be one of the most important in Bhutan, hangs on at the cliff's edge more than 3000m above sea level. 

The temple was first built in 1692 and believed to be where Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three days, three hours in the 6th century. Guru Padmasambhava is a real historical figure said to have brought Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet and believed to be the second reincarnation of Buddha. 

PUNAKHA

PUNAKHA

November 9, 2016 

Today was spent exploring the valley of Punakha. Initially we passed the Punakha Dzong set between what is said to be a male and female river. This dzong is also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong, which means very awesome dzong or the palace of great happiness or bliss. But we will come back to this dzong later. We did happen to run into a National Geographic tour group as we stopped to take a photo. I think we preferred our small private trip after seeing the large group tour bus and I'm pretty sure we paid less for our private tour. 

TRONGSA

TRONGSA

November 7, 2016 

When we initially chose the itinerary I'm not sure we read all the details or quite understood what the roads and transit time would be between cities. Today was a long day driving from Thimphu to Trongsa. Thankfully, we had a stop about a third of the way at Dochula Pass, home of 108 stupas built by the eldest queen mother as a memorial in honor of the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in December of 2003 in the battle against Assamese insurgents from India. The pass is at an elevation of 3,100 meters (10,200 feet). In the distance, on a clear day, you can see the snow capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Thankfully it was a clear day for us.

PARO AND THIMPHU

PARO AND THIMPHU

November 5, 2016 

Before this trip, we were deciding between Nepal and Bhutan. After our friends Sean and Marcel told us about their trip last year, we decided on Bhutan. Lucky for us, Marcel had done a ton of research on tour companies, so we contacted the same group that coordinated their trip last year, Adventure Planet Travel. The owner of the company, Ugyen, was very responsive and gave us several suggested itineraries based on our interest. We decided on a 7 day itinerary focusing on central Bhutan.

EATING IN NAGOYA

EATING IN NAGOYA

November 2, 2016

I hope you're reading this next post on a full stomach. If not, you're tummy will definitely grumble for the next few minutes.

In our 24 hours in Nagoya could be summed up in two words, it would be "happy tummies". All we did was EAT EAT EAT. We had every intention of seeing the fall colors here but again, we were a little too early so we did the next best thing.

HALLOWEEN IN TOKYO

HALLOWEEN IN TOKYO

October 28, 2016 - October 30, 2016

Halloween isn't Halloween, until you've done it in Tokyo.

Our best friends, Hajime and Maily, spent last Halloween in Tokyo and told us it was the best party of their lives. It didn't take much convincing us or Jonathan's cousin, Stef, to join in the party this year. Knowing the Japanese and their love to dress up, we knew we had to be something special. I would try to explain what we were...but I feel like the pictures can pretty much do all the talking. Just as we expected, there was a big party in the Shibuya area, where thousands of people flocked the streets and would stop to take pictures with anyone and anything!

CLOUD'S REST

CLOUD'S REST

September 24, 2016

Big day hike today, about 12 miles round trip to the top of Cloud's Rest and back. Unfortunately, Wallace misplaced his water bottle at the top of the ridge on the way from Cathedral Lake to Sunrise Lake, so we were down to four water bottles. Stupid us, we also decided not to bring a water pump and instead tried to ration the four bottles amongst the five of us.