A glimpse into Kyoto’s temples and shrines

Kyoto was the original capital of Japan for a thousand years until 1868 and it is justly famous for its thousands of temples, shrines and geishas. Becki had visited on her previous trip but was keen to explore again so we hit some of the major sights on our two days in the city. Kinkaku-ji (The Golden…

Sipping sake like a local

From the snow monkeys, a long day of travel (train-train-bus) brought us to Takayama in the Japan Alps. After loving our time in Furano and Shibu Onsen, we were excited for more time in and around the white stuff. A relatively small town (by Japanese standards), we checked into a cozy hostel (think heaters under the…

Snow monkeys just trying to keep warm

From Tokyo, we headed 300km northwest via the super fast bullet train to the small village of Shibu Onsen. We were here for two reasons: to spend a night in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) and most importantly see the snow monkeys (Japanese macaques). Ryokans have been part of Japanese culture for centuries and…

A taste of Tokyo

We only had three days in Tokyo so wanted to see as much as possible of this vast metropolis (with a population of around 14 million). And in our 72 hours, we saw many sides of the city across the different neighbourhoods we visited. We based ourselves in a cool hostel in Asakusa, one of the older areas of…

Hokkaido: there’s snowhere like it

After much planning (there’s a lot to see and it’s expensive, so we wanted to maximise our time), we decided to begin our Japanese fortnight in the north of the country, on the island of Hokkaido. The main reason was the winter festivals in and around Sapporo, the largest city on the island. The downside was visiting in…

A tropical island under Sharia Law

To finish off our two weeks in Sumatra we flew up to Banda Aceh in the northern tip of Sumatra. This area is primarily known for two things: the 2004 tsunami and Sharia law. It was the hardest hit area of the world with over 200,000 people killed or missing in the natural disaster 13…

Ogling orangutans in the jungle in Bukit Lawang

Another long bumpy journey and we were in Bukit Lawang. The small riverside town on the edge of the jungle has grown in popularity in recent years for one reason. It is one of the few places, along with Malaysian Borneo (which we visited in 2011), where you can see the animal that we share 97%…