Monday, June 15, 2015

Inside a glass house looking out

The end of a vacation and the end of an era.

A poised moment in Singapore

Do I look like the type of person who stands calmly on a suspended bridge above the trees? Because I assure you that before and after this shot was captured I was laughing hysterically to myself, taking selfies. running back forth, and freaking out that I was about to plunge to my death. Yep, that's the Gemma you all know.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kyoto by night

Featuring Kamo River and Shimbashi - the most beautiful street in Asia.

I thought Kyoto had a very European vibe. Though we did spend a lot of time in trendy Western bakeries and giant department stores.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Takayama: A song of ice and, well, more ice

Our two day trip to the quaint mountain town of Takayama was sorely needed after the hustle and bustle of Osaka and the ever-touristy Kyoto.

As I was sick from climbing Mount Inari in the cold a few days prior (post to come) evenings were spent relaxing in our cosy ryokan that looked out on to the Miyagawa river. Luckily our host was hilarious and good natured.

I haven't spent much time in the snow before so I was in for a bit of a shock when we arrived. Snow was piling up several feet in the streets and ice lined every footpath. Shoveling snow off rooftops and from roads seemed to be a never-ending, arduous task for the locals. It did make our exploring a bit treacherous - even navigating streets in the town centre I managed to slip over a few times (much to Kyril's amusement).

We tried hida beef, the local speciality, and pumpkin puddings with warm sugar sauce. So. Freaking. Good. I also had my worst Japan dining experience but I can't even bring myself to type it out here so ask me if you're interested (hint: it involved a 'lucky' prawn).

Hida Folk Village was one of the highlights of our trip. Despite having to navigate more icy terrains to explore the village, it was so picturesque with snow falling onto the thatched roofs. I also really enjoyed the Takayama Jinya building. Both of these places were really interactive and captured a sense of history so well - I love walking through old structures and imagining how people lived.

I'd love to come back here in the spring - I imagine it would have a totally different vibe.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tokyo tourists

By the time we reached Tokyo, our last Japanese destination, there was a fair bit of camera fatigue going on. We didn't take the DSLR to many outings so most of our Tokyo snaps are taken on our phones.

Here are a few photos from our visit to the Emperor's Palace and to Yoyogi Park.

Note the continuing theme of long lines and crowds!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Years' Eve in Tokyo

I dub this segment of the blog: many high-res travel photos with inane accompanying text. I'll try to keep this brief and hopefully interesting. And because I like to be entirely logical, I'll recap the last city we visited on the trip, rather than beginning sequentially.

We spent our NYE in Tokyo, at the Senso-ji Shrine in Asukusa, Tokyo.

Check. Out. That. Crowd.

Lining up to get into places pretty much defined my Japan trip. I was fascinated by the lines that stretched for numerous blocks to get into places like Max Brenner and the Apple Store. In any other country it probably would have been chaos but the linees stood patiently and comfortably waiting, guarded by policemen on every block. (I realise I said I'd keep this interesting and then just wrote a  paragraph about lining up).

After spending my last January 1st with the most appalling of hangovers, I was looking forward to spending a quiet evening at a shrine with thousands of others.

It was the coldest night we'd spent in Japan and at one point I didn't think I'd make it until midnight. To pass the time we ate soba noodles (for good luck), got our fortunes read three times (until we received good luck) and ate chocolate-covered bananas on a stick.

Polite cheering and speeches in Japanese followed the countdown. The highlight was seeing thousands of camera phones out at once. The lowlight was bitter disappointment that the Skytree didn't change colour or shoot fireworks from its pinnacle. So much gaudy-potential lost.

A great night! (and definitely beat the year I was in New York and saw the ball drop. Never again.)