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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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Takayama: More Food & More Temples

En route from Kanazawa to Tokyo, we stopped in Takayama, a city in the mountainous Hida region of Japan. According to Japan-guide, Takayama “now ranks as one of the prime candidates among travelers wishing to add a rural element into their itineraries.” I had a desire to see as many cities as possible in Japan – something very different than the relatively slow-paced travel style we had become accustomed to. But here we were, a year and a half into travelling and breaking almost every rule we had. We had a jam-packed schedule in Japan with day trips and one-nighters; we booked things in advance (although not far enough); bought an unlimited two-week rail pass and even slept in dorm beds. One thing we should have done was research cities in advance because WiFi was (shockingly) incredibly limited in Japan. 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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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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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

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Our Food Highlights from Chiang Mai, Thailand

After a month in Chiang Mai, I’m literally drooling over the food we had there. This is quite possibly related to the fact that we’ve been on the Thai Islands for the past two weeks and the food does not even come close to comparing to the quality of Chiang Mai food. To be honest, we didn’t even eat out that much in Chiang Mai – I cooked probably over 80% of our meals. While eating out is cheap, it’s still cheaper to cook, especially if you want a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) to accompany your meal. I was also pretty happy to have a decent kitchen and a month of free time to experiment with some new meals – anything that didn’t require an oven. Some of my home-cooked favourites included: smoked salmon and mango spring rolls with a peanut dipping sauce, beer-battered tofu and eggplant, panko-crumb chicken and zucchini, blended spicy sweet potato and carrot soup, making tomato sauce from scratch for the first time ever and our morning smoothies. Unfortunately, fresh fruit wasn’t as cheap as I had imagined but fresh vegetables, tofu and chicken were plentiful and reasonably priced. Continue reading