So you may or may not know that I was away for the whole month of June backpacking through cities in East Asia with my friend Joanne. We went to Tokyo, Seoul, Jeju Island, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket and Bangkok. We had some very interesting adventures, saw a lot of weird people and ate some amazing food so I thought I would write a few blog posts detailing our adventures.
We landed in Tokyo at around 8 in the morning and our hotel didn’t open check-in until 3 o’clock, neither of us had slept on the flight so we just wanted to nap but instead we dropped off our bags and went for food. Now you know I’m a vegetarian and have been since December but I knew going to Asia it would be difficult to find veggie food, because of course there was a language barrier but vegetarianism isn’t a big a thing in the cultures as it is over here (apart from the countries that have a strong Muslim population. So I had a pork curry, I didn’t eat the pork as I generally don’t like pork but the sauce was so good.
Then we went to Ueno park which was a 20 minute walk from out hostel and was super pretty but there was some weird drunk people there and it was a very interesting experience for the first day in Japan. Then we went back to the hostel to check in and have a nap. The hostel was really nice and I would definitely recommend it. So if you’re ever in Tokyo 1 Night 1980 Hostel is a good capsule hostel.
The next day we went to the Palace Gardens, but they were closed, which you will notice is a theme of the experience. Then we decided to walk from the Palace to Ginza to see Tokyo station, which has some French architecture then we headed to the Kabukiza theatre. We went to the museum that is part of the theatre which has some things you can try on or test noises to see how they did the theatre. Part of our ticket for the museum included a 3 minute watch of the show which was really interesting. We didn’t want to get a ticket to the full show because they were crazy expensive but we wanted to see what it was like so that was worth the money.
We headed back to a more central area and found a Sanrio shop where I spent a lot of money on stationary without realising because I was still kind of jet lagged and the currency conversion confused me. After lunch we headed to Shibuya and got a bit confused along the way because we got out of the train station at the wrong place so we spent half an hour wandering around not sure where we were. But we managed to get to the Scramble Crossing, which you honestly will not understand how crazy it is until you go on it. I have never seen so many people cross a road in my life. And it’s every single crossing as well, it’s not like every now and again there’s a build up, there’s just so many people.
Before going to Shibuya we had stopped off at a place called the Second Hand Books Street and honestly it’s just something you can’t even imagine. Every building has a second hand shop and there’s so many books. Not only that there was a few that had English books and I was expecting like some well loved Dan Brown novels but no, there were these HUGE first/second/third editions of classic, people’s bind ups of essays, histories. Things you couldn’t even dream of owning because they’re so expensive and it was incredibly surreal to see something like that so far away from home.
We walked up to the top floor of Shibuya 109, not really sure why, but just to see what was going on in there and to say we did it. We saw some really interesting clothes and accessories but nothing I could pull off. We also spent some time in an arcade where I played Mario Kart as an actual racing game and I was freaking out.
The next day we went to the Tokyo SkyTree which is the world’s tallest tower. We didn’t go up it because it was super expensive and there was a viewing deck at the Government Metropolitan Building which was free so we felt like that was a better idea. In the SkyTree complex was a Studio Ghibli shop which was super cool though it only really had stuff from Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro, It would’ve been cool to see other items but hey ho. We also stumbled on a Pokemon store which was incredible and we spent a lot longer in there than necessary, and I spent more money than necessary. Then we went on a walk to go to the Sumo Museum but found it was closed (see the theme?) so decided to walk to Akibahara. We did a lot of walking this day because there was a couple of places on lines of the metro that we didn’t have tickets for and didn’t see the point in paying more just to go to one place. We realised we made a mistake when we checked our health apps on our phones and discovered we’d walked 36000 steps.
We couldn’t be bothered to walk the whole way to Akibahara because it was a lot further than we thought. So we skipped to going to the Meiji Shrine which was insanely busy and very idylic. There was a wedding having it’s photos taken when we were there which was really cool to witness as they don’t smile in their photos, but there was so many tourists taking photos of it and being annoying it made me a little bit mad.
Shinjuku was next so we could go to the Government Metropolitan Building. We got lost because Shinjuku is an absolute mess of a place. We also didn’t realise how far the building was from the station and ended up walking really far again. But the views were phenomenal, you can’t even see the end of the city it’s so vast.
After this we headed to Tokyo Bay to see the Rainbow Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. We took the monorail across the Rainbow Bridge to Bay. We walked around the shore bit where there was a bunch of malls and hotels and where the Statue of Liberty was. There was also a viewing area for the bridge, which was incredibly disappointing because it wasn’t rainbow at all. We also witnessed a couple on a date taking more selfies than you can imagine and some middle aged American man trying to chat up some young Indonesian women, very badly.
We ambled over to Palette Town to see the rainbow ferris wheel which was definitely more rainbow than the bridge. Then we stumbled into another arcade which had a lot of penny drop machines. I found a coin in a machine and put it in and like 10 came out so I just kept playing. Then a guy came over to us and gave us a huge tub of coins because him and his son had to leave. We ended up playing for somewhere around about an hour without spending any money. And these coin drops were on a whole other level than the ones I’m used to, there was like an arcade game as part of it. I had no idea what was going on but I had fun.
The Sunday was the day we chose to go to the first of the Asian Disneys. As we only gave ourselves one day for Disney we decided to go to Tokyo DisneySea as it’s the only park of it’s kind. It was such an aesthetically pleasing place as I love the sea. All the groups who were there were all dressed matching so they knew where there friends were or just because they were trying to be cute and it was adorable. We went on most rides though it was a little bit busier than we expected. They have this whole popcorn thing there where they had like 7 flavours. I tried caramel, pepper and salt but I wasn’t really interested in trying curry flavour or tomato and basil flavour. I discovered that Japanese people absolute adore the Disney bear: Duffy. I had never even heard of Duffy before this but he was EVERYWHERE. My only problem with the park was that it was hot and not enough rides sprayed water on you. Tokyo Disney also still runs on old school fast pass where you have to go to the ride and get your fast pass which stressed me out and most of the rides which were busiest ran out by 11/12.