Day 19 - Farewell Japan

Our holiday has sadly come to a close and today is the last day.

As yesterday and today were planned as 'free' days, it was the last chance to see anything before we left. Anthony and Amy were at Disneyland, the other group had plans so that left Rob, Chris, Sarma and I so we went to Doutor Coffee for breakfast and discussed what to do. Rob and I had basically ticked off the main things we wanted to do, Chris wanted to see the sword museum and spend some time in Akihabara and Sarma wanted to go back to Asakusa market for some last minute shopping so we had our plan.

Day 18 - Shinjuku

After two big days at the Disney theme parks, today was a free day. Chris, Sarma and Rob were going to Nakano Broadway and I was tempted to join them because I hadn't seen it before, but knowing that it would be another big day of shopping for things that I'm not that interested in, I decided to skip it and have a quiet recovery day - I had to digest all that Disney!

Day 16 + 17 - Disneyland and DisneySea

Today we're going to DisneyLand. Anthony and Amy have a massive 4 days of Disney stuff planned, but most of us are just doing a day at each park (DisneyLand and DisneySea). While these parks are quite impressive, I've already visited them in previous trips and because I'm not a huge fan of Disney or rides I wasn't quite as excited as Amy, but its still worth the trip even just to take in the sights. They are very well designed parks and a fun place to take photos.

Day 15 - Sumo Wrestling

Today we had an easy morning and met up for a late breakfast at a cafe down the street. Ended up having some sandwiches, juice and a chocolate danish - so healthy! We've been eating a lot of junk food on this trip and I'm actually looking forward to getting back to my usual diet.

We were joining a tour group today to go see the sumo wrestling! We had to be at the Hamamatsucho bus stop by 1:40 so we walked to Shinjukugyoen-Mae station and caught a metro train to Ginza Station where we changed over to the a JR train to go to Hamamatsucho Station. From here we walked around to the bus stop where we met our tour guide, the rest of our group and the other people on the tour.

Day 14 - R&R, Shibuya and Akihabara

After a massive day of shopping yesterday, I'm all shopped out so I decided to take a day off today while the others went to "Nakano Broadway" which is a big shopping complex famous for anime and manga merchandise. I'm not a huge fan of this stuff so I wouldn't appreciate it as much as everyone else but from what I saw in our group chat it sounded like they spent a lot of money!

Day 13 - Asakusa Market

Today we had a shopping day planned and just about all of us slept in! After so many nights of getting to bed late, it eventually catches up, but met in the lobby and headed over to Asakusa market.
I've visited this market all three times I've come to Japan, its a pretty good tourist spot with the very eye catching Kaminari Gate out the front, followed by about 250m of markets and the famous Sensoji Temple at the end. This market sells just about every souvenir you can think of from chopsticks, keyrings, sake sets, toys (including BB guns) and street vendor food to full kimonos and there was even a wig stall! We got some breakfast nearby and headed over.

Day 12 - Hakone to Tokyo

We woke up this morning a little sad that we'd be leaving this amazing place, but we got dressed and got a call from our room maid to let us know breakfast was ready. We went back to the same banquet room as last night and had yet another amazing set of courses. The breakfast was not just toast and cereal, it included fish, egg, rice, tofu, yogurt and few more items I couldn't recognise. The fish was definitely the favourite. It was pretty boney, but the meat was amazing!

Day 11 - Hakone

Today we left Osaka for Hakone. We checked out of our hotel and organised to get our bags delivered to the next hotel. The forms we needed to fill out were practically all in Japanese so last night we got the hotel staff to help us fill out one as a template so we could copy it for the others. The first form she filled out was all in Japanese characters which we would have had a really hard time copying, but then thankfully she started again in English for us.

Day 10 - Hiroshima

We had a really early start today because our destination was a little over 300km away! Luckily Japan has a bullet train for this though. We met downstairs at 6:45AM made our way to the station. From our local station, we had to go to Shin-Osaka station to catch a bullet train to Hiroshima. It was a long trip, but the bullet trains are very spacious and smooth and it was easy to get a bit of rest in before our big day of sightseeing.

Day 9 - Universal Studios

Today we went to Universal Studios. To get there, we needed to take a local train to a JR station, then a JR train to the Universal City station. This brought back memories of the last time we were here, except this time it wasn't snowing!
Rob was really under the weather today, so in the morning we organised some food and painkillers for him and he started at the hotel for the day to catch up on some sleep.

Day 8 - Taipei to Osaka

Today was not a very exciting day. We checked out of our hotel and thanked the staff for all their assistance. They were really helpful, they spoke English very well and helped us overcome the language barrier quite a few times, pointed out where we could buy sim cards, booked our taxi to the airport at a discounted rate and even walked over to the family mart with us to help us organise our train tickets all with a really friendly and happy attitude! I would highly recommend this hotel if not just for them. It was a little sad to be leaving, I've really enjoyed Taiwan, but we were also excited to be heading to Japan next!

Day 7 - Shifen, Juifen and toilets!

Today was out last full day in Taiwan and we had planned a day trip to Shifen and Juifen with a Driver named Peter Wang. The weather forecast was not looking great, so we packed rain coats and umbrellas and met Peter downstairs at our hotel at 9am. Peter introduced himself, ran through where we were going and we were on our way.

Day 6 - Taroko Gorge

We had to get up really early today! I tried to get an early night before hand but I ended up writing my blogs until midnight. We met downstairs today at 6:30am so we could catch a train out to Hualien to see Taroko Gorge!

Day 5 - Beitou

After a late night last night, we left a little later than usual and the first thing we wanted to do was sort out our train tickets for tomorrow. Amy had booked these back in Australia because the train we needed was not part of the standard rail network and our guide, Tonny Teng suggested to book in advance. We ordered the tickets, but then we had to pick them up from a local train station, post office or convenience store.

Day 4 - New Years Eve

The last day of the year! We knew it was going be a long day so we tried to take it easy today. We didn't try to get up really early because with the pace of this trip we knew we wouldn't have made it to midnight, so we slept in a little and took it slow. We went to a local cafe for breakfast and headed out.

Day 3 - Taipei Zoo and Maokong Tea Plantations

Today we ventured out to the Maokong area which is famous for tea growing and the Taipei Zoo. After leaving our hotel we got some breakfast at "Dante's cafe". They had a lot of western type food but some interesting ones too like egg, ham and peanut butter toast!

Day 2 - Taipei City

After a good night sleep we decided to explore the city today.

Our hotel doesn't provide breakfast, so the first item on the agenda was to get some food.
We went for a short walk from our hotel and found a bustling little street with some shops and street food vendors. We were looking at some cafes, but there was one street vendor cooking up bacon and it smelled really good. As we were watching him make up an interesting looking egg and bacon pancake type of thing, Anth decided to buy one and after such a good review the rest of us were soon in line to buy one too. Even just watching him cook was entertaining, but it tasted amazing!

Day 1 - Arriving in Taipei

What a long day. Today we left Melbourne for Taipei via Hong Kong. We made it, but quite a few things went wrong! Here is a summary.