Geisha Show

We met a lovely group of American girls and boys at the hostel who were heading to Yasaka Hall Gion Corner to watch the Geisha show.  Tim and I met 2 amazing girls from the hostel. Amanda and Dani who are extremely friendly and sweet. Hope we will get to meet them again.

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They asked us if we were free to join and since we had nothing else to do, we decided to go and watch the show.

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We highly recommend the place and just a little tip, read the catalogue that’s provided before the show. It has the full translation so you won’t be clueless when watching. Note that the whole show is in Japanese. There will be a puppet show which I found creepy and a show about tea ceremony and arranging flowers. There will also be a comedy show which is hundreds and hundreds years old.

 

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TOLD YA IT’S CREEPY

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So if ever you are in Kyoto you must visit Yasaka Hall for the show. It is totally worth it.

 

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Visiting 4 Temples in Kyoto in just ONE day

One of the best days I’ve spent in Kyoto. Tim and I decided to visit the best and top temples of Kyoto in one day. So we woke up at 8 in the morning, had our breakfast and purchased a City Bus All Day Pass from our hostel which costs ¥500 approx. £4.

Fushimi Inari-taisha – Thousand Gates

The first stop was to Fushimi Inari-Taisha, which is a shrine located on the mountain, 233 meters above sea level and the shrine was initially built in 711 A.D and there are over 10,000 tori gates. You’ll notice a lot of fox statues and one particular fox holds a key in his mouth. Foxes apparently used to be the shrine’s messengers that’s why you will find a lot of statues.

As per Trip Advisor it won Travelers Choice Award for 2017 and it’s well deserved. Although it is a long walk, I highly recommend you walk it all and do not give up. Trust me, it is worth it. So take your time and enjoy it.

Visited: April 2017

Admission: Free

Transportation: Take the Train; it’s closer to the temple than the bus station

Stop at Fushimi Inari Station.

Location:

 

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Kinkaku-ji- Golden Temple

Also, known as the Golden Temple. The incredible temple dates to 1397 which was a villa owned by Saionji family and was purchased by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu a statesman. He transformed the villa into Kinkaku-ji and when he died, his will was to convert the place into a Zen Temple and now it is one of the most visited temples in the world.

Tim and I couldn’t stop taking photos of the temple and although it was Tim’s second time to visit the temple, he said it still looks surreal. The temple is completely covered in gold leaf and overlooks the lake. AHHH SO WONDERFUL. On our way our Tim and I stopped at the tea garden to enjoy a cup of Japanese green tea served with a Japanese sweet on the side to avoid adding sugar to the tea. Unfortunately, the outdoor garden was full so we had our tea indoors instead.

Visited: April 2017

Admission: ¥400

Bus: 101, 102, 204 or 205

Location:

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Ginkaku-ji – Silver Temple

Also known as Temple of the Silver Pavilion and the Jisho-ji which translates to ‘Temple of Shining Mercy’. It is also a Zen Temple representing the Higashiyama Culture. Ashikaga Yoshimasa created the temple as a retirement villa however after his death it has been become a Zen Temple.

There is an amazing feel to it. Calmness and nature makes you appreciate the present time. We usually dwell on the past and think of the future and ignore the present. However, if you are in Ginkaku-ji just enjoy the present moment you are in and attract all the positive vibe that place represents.

Visited: April 2017

Admission: ¥500

Bus: 5,17 or 100

Location:

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Chion-In

Honestly, it was not even on our list but we happened to be there. Chion-In is the headquarter of the Jodo-shu, founed by Honen. The story behind the temple is that it was originally built in 1234 by Honen’s disciple.

Tim and I visited the Temple and visited the massive Sanmon Gate. Unfortunately, we were there quite late so the temple was closed but we managed to walk around the area.

Visited: April 2017

Admission: Free

Bus: 206

Location:

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There are so many other temples to visit in Kyoto but we narrowed the best temples in one day and we wouldn’t be able to visit the others since we will be heading to Nara the next day.

Remarkable place to visit in Kyoto

The first touristic attraction we visited was the Bamboo Forest located in Arashiyama, west district of Kyoto. If you are coming from Kyoto Station take JR Sagano Line to JR Saga-Arashiyama Station. However, if you are travelling from central Kyoto then Hankyu Line to the furthest Omiya Station then transfer to Keifuku Randen Tramline.

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Tim and I arrived at the station and the first thing that caught my attention was the cherry blossom trees. We walked in the area before heading to the Bamboo Forest and tried a lot of street food. Of course, while walking we took lots of photos of the cherry blossom tree since it’s listed on my bucket list.

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As we walked the streets and checked the market, we passed the Nonomiya Shrine. Honestly, the place was packed with people so we managed to take pictures and continued to the Bamboo Forest.

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As soon as we arrived, my mouth dropped. The place looks surreal, it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. The calmness, the serenity and nature; I just couldn’t believe my eyes. As we got out of the forest, we made a stop at Okochi Sanso Garden. Seriously I’ve never seen such beauty in my life, my eyes were glittering just like the girls from the anime LOL. I felt like I needed to be there at that moment, so we stayed there longer than expected and afterwards headed to one of the restaurants near the main road called ‘Gion Naritaya’. They serve very delicious ramen and for my muslim family and friends, good news they serve Halal Food.

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Anyway, as it was getting dark, we headed back to the station and made our way back to Central Kyoto. I highly recommend the place because there’s something enchanted about it. It leaves you breathless and astonished. Till today I can’t stop talking about it and every time I see it on TV I get excited. We highly recommend you visit the Bamboo forest, I guarantee that you will fall in love with the place.

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Visit: April 2017

Admission: Free

Transportation:

  • From Kyoto Station take JR Sagano Line to JR Saga-Arashiyama Station.
  • From central Kyoto then Hankyu Line to the furthest Omiya Station then transfer to Keifuku Randen Tramline.

Location:

 

I LOVE JAPAN

I seriously don’t know where to start and now that I’ve started,  I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever stop writing about how amazing Japan is.

Unlike the majority of the people I know, Japan wasn’t on my list of top 5 places to visit. Please do not judge me, let me continue. So when I told my brother that I’d be travelling to Japan with Tim, his response was hilarious, he said “WHAT? You don’t deserve to go there. You do not even appreciate the culture.” I thought to myself ‘I did watch few Japanese anime and movies and also love their cuisine but yes he is right. I’m not a Japanese fanatic like most of the people but I must discover.’ Little did I know that I would leave my heart in Japan.

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Kyoto

Anyway I know what I listed wasn’t sufficient enough for a person like me to travel to Japan. I did list Japan on my bucket list and particularly having a picture under a cherry blossom tree. SO TICK THAT. Anyway I’m not here to tell you about what is on my bucket list or anything lousy like that but I’m here to tell you how Japan had an impact on me and by far, it is the best place I ever visited.

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On 24th March 2017 was the day we landed in Narita Airport, I’ve travelled as a Palestinian refugee holding a hand written passport that’s printed in French and Arabic. The guy at the immigration counter was amazed and couldn’t speak English. I stood there for almost an hour explaining to the immigration officer that I’m a Palestinian Refugee and my travel document was issued in Lebanon but I reside in Dubai and yes, I’m half Filipino. That made matters much more complicated. Finally, they scanned my visa and apologised for wasting my time. I said there was no need to apologise and I thanked them for trying so hard. I instantly thought to myself ‘OH MY GOD.!!!IMMIGRATION APOLOGISING’ that really doesn’t happen and I bowed and continued walking.

Tim and I got to the train station and were trying to navigate our way, I kept looking around with an astonished face because all the signs are written only in Japanese. Gosh, I’ve never felt so helpless abroad. After walking around, Tim managed to find the ticketing counter and the lady behind the desk had the most heart-warming smile and assisted us with our journey. And at that moment, I knew I’d love Japan.

Our travel to Japan consisted of staying at reliable hostels, eating at local restaurants, learning & embracing the culture, meeting new people and enjoying the nature. All of those things that I’ve listed affected me physically and emotionally but mainly mentally.

There were days Tim and I would just sit on a bench and just observe the people walk by. I cannot describe enough on how amazingly Japanese people are respectful.  That word ‘respectful’ is also underrated. I’ve never encountered such graciousness and such mannerism and without even realising it, I unconsciously  began to act and speak gently. Although the majority do not speak English, they will do their level best to help out. I still remember the pharmacist who held my hand because I was crying from the pain and she assisted us till we found the right medicine. She got a booklet with pictures and I just had to nod yes or no so she could give the right prescription. Other locals made an effort to help us find our way when we got lost. Those little act of kindness to a stranger proves that humanity still exists in this harsh world.

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I was really ill when we arrived to Tokyo

I will post about the itinerary and places we’ve visited on a separate blog post. Tim and I visited 2 major cities; Kyoto and Tokyo. They are completely opposite and not comparable what soever, each city is unique in its own way. I personally enjoyed my stay in Kyoto and loved every single thing about it.

I see myself living there, waking up early in the morning, riding my bike and eating Japanese food and enjoying the moment. I love the simplicity of their lifestyle especially in Kyoto. Speaking of Japanese food, everything over there is healthy or offered in healthy portions. Japanese people are health freaks and all the drinks especially in the vending machine are without sugar. Being Fat is illegal. Everyone maintains their weight and are in good shape.

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I’m sure you are still wondering how Japan affected me; well besides eating healthy and walking everywhere. I enjoyed the nature and fell in love with the Bamboo Forrest. Breathing fresh air everyday helped my lungs. Japan’s nature makes you feel calmness and serenity. The past doesn’t matter to them and they live the present for a productive future and to keep their legacy for the next generation.

Arigato Japan for letting me get to know you.

Till we meet again

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Our 14 days Travel Itinerary

Tim and I took 14 days off of work; actually to be precis, we took 10 working days off to finalise personal errands in the Philippines and then continue our holiday to other destinations.

So our itinerary of 14 days covered, Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong and Macau. I guess being a full-time employee to a huge organisation restricts our travels because of the limited days off.

In UAE, we are entitled for 22 working days off but being an expatriate, our holidays include visiting families abroad which means travelling to the same destination quite often. We don’t mind it at all because we really do miss them. So our current travel mission is to cover as much places as we can in a short period of time.

Here is how our itinerary looked like (not detailed)

Day 1: Landed late night in Philippines

Day 2: Makati, Philippines

Day 3:

  • Bonifacio Global City, Philippines
  • Rockwell
  • Travelled to Japan

Day 4: Landed in Narita Airport and took a bullet train to Kyoto

Day 5: Kyoto

Day 6: Nara & Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto and took a bullet train to Tokyo

Day 8: Tokyo

Day 9:

  • Tokyo
  • Travelled to Philippines

Day 10:

  • Landed in Philippines and spent 5 hours at a nearby hotel
  • Travelled to Hong Kong
  • Explored Kowloon Island

Day 11: Macau & Hong Kong Island

Day 12: Lantau Island – travelled to Philippines

Day 13: Eastwood, Green Hills, Pasig, Marikina and Antipolo.

Day 14: We woke up an hour before check out and had breakfast in Pasig and headed straight to the airport.

Day 15: BACK TO THE OFFICE

PHEW!!! Typing the itinerary was as tiring as the trip but worth it. LOL. I really want to dedicate time to write about it because we’ve learned a lot and observed a lot and I’m dying to share everything with you.

Unlike most of my other posts, I want to put a lot more effort into writing about our experiences and stories, particularly Japan. I’ve visited 20+ countries and Tim has been to 30+ countries and by far our favourite country is Japan and I can’t think of any other place that can beat it. It was Tim’s third visit and that says a lot and I can’t wait to go back.

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