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One Week in Tokyo

Experiencing Tokyo, the world’s most populous city, a melting pot of old and new, tradition and business, temples and neon lights, was one of the primary reasons why we travelled to Japan. When we were looking at accommodation (two months in advance) we almost cut down our days in the city due to the high prices and lack of availability. But we stuck to our plan of spending a week there and booked a small, cute and modern private apartment conveniently located by the largest JR station. We used credit card reward points to offset the price and justified it due to the fact that our trip was nearing it’s end and we were running short on places to splurge. Continue reading

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A Day of Temples and Shrines in Kyoto

Kyoto, one of Japan’s most famous tourist destinations, was at the top of our list for places to visit in Japan.  Everyone who has visited Kyoto will tell you that the city deserves more than a single day. And while that is true, when we looked at booking accommodation in Kyoto, we were out of luck. We looked about a month in advance (thinking we were getting ahead of the game) and booking.com was almost 100% sold out! We managed to find a few hotels and upscale guesthouse but nothing for under $100 CAD a night, which was way over our budget. I guess we should have expected inflated prices and full occupancy given we were travelling in the busiest time of year – cherry blossom season. When we found a private room in Osaka, a 30 minute train away, for only $40 CAD a night we really couldn’t justify the stay in Kyoto. And that’s how we ended up with one day to see and explore as much of Kyoto as possible. Continue reading

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Busan & “Fan Death”

“Fan death” isn’t really specific to Busan, it’s country wide; however, this is my last post about Korea and I just have to talk about it. Fan death is a very serious thing and not something to be taken lightly in Korea. Fan death is the misconception that leaving an electric fan running in a closed room (no windows or doors open) can lead to death, literally, death. To try and get across just how seriously this is taken in Korea, consider that in 2006, the Korea Consumer Protection Board (a government-funded public agency) issued a consumer safety alert and published the following: Continue reading

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Spa Land: Our Jjimjilbang Experience

Korea was full of new experiences; and our Korean spa experience was no exception. I would be at a ‘jjimjilbang’ every day, or at least every week, if I lived in Korea. A jjimjilbang is essentially a large, public bathhouse (gender-separated) furnished with hot tubs, showers, saunas and massage tables. Every spa offers unique features; however, there are often snack bars, ondol-heated flooring for lounging and sleeping, wide-screen TVs, exercise rooms, ice rooms, heated salt rooms, and even sleeping quarters. Most jjimjilbangs are open 24 hours and are a popular weekend getaway for Korean families. During the week, it’s common for business men to stay overnight after either working or drinking late. *The one we visited is one of the only ones in Korea that closes at midnight and has no sleeping quarters. Continue reading

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Eating Our Way Through Seoul

Growing up, my family hosted home-stay students from around the world who were studying English in Vancouver. Soo Yeong lived with my family in 2002. Years later we reconnected through Facebook (the magic of social media!) and I reached out when we were travelling through Asia. Dan and I were unsure if or for how long we wanted to visit South Korea for but shortly after talking with Soo, we booked our flights to Seoul. Having her as our personal tour guide and local friend was probably one of the main reasons that our stay in Seoul was so fantastic! No matter how many “travel like a local” blogs you read, you never really experience a city ‘like a local’ unless you are with one. Continue reading

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Macau: The Vegas of Asia

Macau, officially ‘the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China’, is a autonomous territory on the southern coast of China… just like Hong Kong. When we read that it was the “Las Vegas of Asia” and only a short ferry ride from Hong Kong, we decided to do a day trip. We left Hong Kong in the morning and returned in the early evening. Continue reading

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Hong Kong: The World’s #1 Tourist Destination City

While there are hundreds (if not thousands) of cities in the world worth visiting, there’s a few that just about everyone has on their list of ‘must-see’ cities and Hong Kong is one of them. Not only is Hong Kong one of the world’s three most important financial centres (alongside New York and London) and a major global trade hub, but it’s also the world’s number one tourist destination city. Top 100 City Destinations, published by Euromonitor International, has placed Hong Kong in the number one spot consistently since the 2010 data was published in 2012. Of course, a big reason Hong Kong is on the top is its proximity to mainland China and the massive increase in Chinese tourism around the world. Continue reading