When we got to Nara we went straight to the deer park to play with the deer, which roam freely around the park doing whatever they please. We brought some deer cookies and immediately they all turn and come towards you because they can smell the food. They are very cute and well behaved. They even bow to you before you give them the cookie.
Our Airbnb in Osaka didn’t have a shower so we got unlimited free tickets to the local Onsen and went every day. Our first night in Osaka we stumbled upon the best Okonomiyaki ever…there are no photos to prove it because it was in our stomachs before we could even think of taking a photo. Second day we came across a tasty cafe that has a special for each day and that’s all they serve at lunchtime. It was the most massive mind blowing salad I have ever seen and tasted. Then we spent the rest of the day naked with other naked strangers… for the people who don’t know what I am talking about: we went to Onsen. It’s a public bath (please refer back to my first blog post “when in Toyko” for best description of Onsen). This particular one we went to is massive. It’s called “Spa World” I had two favourite baths one was outside and it was pink and the second one was inside the Japanese themed room and it was freezing cold (it’s summer in Japan so cold baths are a dream). We went to dinner at a place near our Airbnb called “The Lock Up”. It’s a scary themed restaurant. There is a little walk through bit at the start that’s like a haunted house, then you enter the restaurant and a girl handcuffs you and takes you to your cell where you eat. All the food items look scary but are totally normal and tasty. We ordered, ate and had a good time. When we were done, we rang the buzzer and no one came. We jail-broke out of our cell and still could not find anyone so went back to our cell to wait. Then the lights went crazy and the music turned up really loud and for 20mins there was scary masked people scaring us and it was amazing! Totally scary and insane… just so random and such a fun experience.
We went back to Northshore for some delicious breakfast because yesterday blew our mind. Then spent most of our time at the aquarium looking at interesting creatures, like Chris’ favourite the Common Clione, and patted a slimy Honeycomb Stingray. We decided to discover our neighbourhood we were staying in, called Tennoji, and found a cute place for dinner run by a very nice lady who who speaks English very well and has never left Japan because she is afraid of flying. She said she is self-taught… we were impressed. We ordered Okonomiyaki for the millionth time, plus a tofu salad, and we liked it. Then went to see the oldest temple in Japan, Shitennō-ji.
We tried a coffee shop that was the best coffee we have had here in Osaka. Chris even reckons it was high by Australian standards… haha. In the hottest part of the day we decided to walk up a hill to a castle, so we brought a black sesame ice cream to cool us down. In Japan there are these super cool roller-slides you can find on playgrounds, instead of just sitting on a slide that’s still you actually sit of loads of mini rollers all the way down which makes you go faster than a normal slide. We went to Spa World for the last time to relax before going back to reality.
I love flying long distance, because when you get to your seat you are always welcomed by gifts. I immediately put on the complimentary red socks and blanket. Thanks Virgin.
Hong Kong is warm and foggy. The city is layered on the mountain slopes like a complex web of jungle trees and brutalist architecture. As you raise your eyes, instead of sky, you see more trees, more roads, and more towers. The air smells rich and sweet and exciting.
Our hotel was dripping in fake glitz. Gold mirrored tiles covered every surface and there were chandeliers on every ceiling, including above our bed. We were up on the 26th floor looking over the water. It’s very foggy here so everything feels mysterious as you wander the tiny streets. We met up with our friend Laura who is a local and showed us around. She took us to amazing food and dessert places that were very local Hong Kong foods. Everything here is Mango flavour. It’s the local’s favourite, we have been told. They actually have amazing Mango, unlike London! We caught a ferry over to the mainland to get a sick view of the island we were on.
It was hot the next morning as we did some last minute exploring. We walked up a steep hill to Third Street, which is a cool up-and-coming area and grabbed a cold brew, then rode the escalators the rest of the way up the hill… that’s what you need in all hot cities! It’s so hot here you need a constant cold drink in your hand. We stopped at a juicery for our second drink. There were cute cats in the local food shops just chilling with the food.
We walked, we sweated, we talked, we ate, we drank and we looked. We enjoyed Hong Kong.
We set off into the sunset, leaving London behind, with Edinburgh in mind, stopping in Leeds for the night. We passed millions of canola farms and fields with wind turbines both of which look very beautiful. We got to our Leeds airbnb late, made friends with a cat named Mitsy, and went to bed.
We rose early to get a good start on our journey. Leaving Mitsy was hard but we had to say our goodbyes and move on. We made an important stop to eat bad road-trip food… The service stops here in the UK are massive and very good, this country was made for road trips. We thought we spotted the Harry Potter train bridge, so we detoured for it. It was amazing but it definitely wasn’t the right one. When we got to Edinburgh, we hit up Mother India for a feast, chilled out at a jazz bar and almost got kicked out by a stern woman because we were high-fiving and had Australian accents. Edinburgh is known for ghost tours so we made sure to fit that in. We did the 18+ Auld Reekie tour and it was pretty impressive! We went into vaults that were 4 stories underground. It’s pitch black except for a few candles and the guide’s small torch. The guide told us all about the many people who had lived and died there, and still haunted the halls. He showed us the old instruments of torture with delightful names like The Jaw Breaker, The Tongue Twister, The Thumb Crusher and the Ball Smasher.
In Einburgh there is a sweet coffee scene and the best seven joined together to become the “Disloyal 7”. They have a loyalty card that has one stamp space for each one, and if you visit all seven you get a free coffee. Such a cool idea. We visited two of them today, Baba Budan and Lowdown Coffee. We then went on a whisky tour at Glenkinchie Distillery and it was good and Chris liked it, but I still think whisky tastes like poison… I tried.
We climbed Arthur’s Seat and it was amazing! Great exercise, views and pretty flowers. Then we went home to Netflix and eat all the chocolate in the world we wanted (to stick to tradition for Easter). Ready for our long road trip home. Catch ya Scotland.
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