Author Archives: Brad

Temples, Tigers and Waterfalls

Day 2 in Chiang Mai turned out to be super awesome. I headed for breakfast around the corner from my hostel with no plan in mind. I ended up running into a girl named Regina from Holland I’d met the night before, and after breakfast we set off to visit some temples around the city.
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After checking out a couple of temples, we decided we both wanted to get out of the city and head up the mountain see the jungle, temple and waterfall. We ended up hiding a taxi for the afternoon to drive us around.

It’s so cheap to hire someone to drive you anywhere you need go, and then they will wait for you so you don’t have to worry about how to get back. It’s absolutely fantastic!

The ride up the mountain took about 45 minutes and was a twisting, bumpy adventure that was a lot of fun. I didn’t even think about the fact we had no seatbelts and the back door is open so you could fall out!

First stop was a viewing are that allows you to see the entire city of Chiang Mai. It was much larger then I expected, and there was a lot of smog which is sad.

Next up was Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is famous for it’s giant staircase. We opted to take the little tram up the hill, and walk down after we were finished. The view from the top of the mountain was breathtaking, and the grounds covered with lush vegetation. Although I later discovered that a lot of the orchids and other flowers were fake!
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Next up was a quick stop at a waterfall on the way down the hill, just at the entrance to Do I Suthep National Park.
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Such a tranquil place, in the middle of the jungle. Exactly what I wanted to see.

Afterwards we headed back to town and grabbed a bite to eat. I had a chicken and rice dish, along with iced tea. I sure love my iced tea!
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We decided we wanted to get massages, so Regina got a full body while I got a foot massage. That’s two foot massages and one full body so far….gotta take advantage! After that we just chilled out with some other people from the hostel, then headed out for some food on the streets. We almost ended up going out to the bar, but most of us were almost falling asleep at this point we went to bed. Smart decision!
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Saturday was my last day in Chiang Mai and I left it up to chance what I would do. I’ve learned keeping an open schedule Jere always works out for the best. I woke up and waited for Ed, Dallas, Stef and Josh to get ready. They were planning to head to Tiger Temple but I didn’t have a scooter to get there, and didn’t want to get one yet. I also wasn’t sure if I had to me as my flight was at 5:35pm. Well, they suggested I hire a taxi to take me there while they followed on their scooters, and I could just head the airport from there. Excellent plan, so I did.
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I grabbed my stuff and we took the 35 minutes drive out there. Once we arrived, bought our tickets see a big tiger and wandered around a bit.
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I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea, but it looked like the tigers are taken care of really well so I convinced myself it’s OK. I’m glad I did it, because getting up close to these majestic cats was so awesome!
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We got tons of photos and video, then decided we should stop at the waterfalls nearby. Hey, more waterfalls? Why not!

These were much more impressive than the other ones, with a huge train heading up the hill and about 10 different interconnected waterfalls. We hiked to the top (which almost killed me!) then worked our way back down.
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Not going to lie, in the back of my mind I was afraid of seeing a snake. Luckily we only saw a few small spiders, then a giant venomous looking one above us on the trail. It was pretty cool!
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Hard to see, but the spider is on this picture.

After trekking back down, I said my goodbyes to the group and hopped in the taxi to the airport. Such cool people, had an amazing time and I hope to cross paths with them again.
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After being dropped off at the airport, I checked my bag (they made me!) and grabbed some food. I flew Air Asia to Krabi and arrived at about 7:30pm. Met a couple beside me from Greece and Croatia who were also heading in my direction to Ao Nang so we split a cab. Arrived at Slumber Party Hostel, but didn’t realise their were two. I was at the wrong one, however one of the guys who works there gave me a motorcycle ride to the proper one about a 10 minute drive down the road. Checked in then headed right into a beer pong tournament. Once again met a huge group of amazing people!
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We ventured out to some local bars and I went to bed at some ungodly hour. Really enjoyed the night and can’t wait to do it again!

Chiang Mai

Yesterday was a day of random and exciting adventures. After waiting around for a while, I found the rooftop secret garden and had a nap there I til about 7:30am. I waited out front for the office to open as a bunch of other backpackers arrived and we all chatted and got to know each other. Finally after 8 the office opened, but we could only leave our bags there as actual check in wasn’t until 12pm.

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I ventured off with my new friends from the U.K. and Canada to grab some breakfast and do a bit of sightseeing.

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After a couple of hours, we all got officially checked in and they headed up to sleep for a bit as they had been up all night in a bus. I wasn’t as tired as expected, so I ventured off to get some lunch, a Thai massage and wander around the city.

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The people at the hostel also arranged a BBQ for the evening, so we all pitched in some cash. It ended up turning into an impromptu street party with around 20 people there, come places like Slovakia, Holland, England, Scotland, Portugal and a couple other countries. We ate the delicious chicken skewers, which had peppers, onions and pineapple on them.

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A few beers and whisky shots later, a large group of us headed out to the bars. It’s so easy to make friends in hostels, I don’t want to stay in normal hotels ever again!

Bangkok temple and train to Chiang Mai

It was bittersweet to leave my hostel today, because it had such a cool vibe and was in a great location. I may stay there again on my way back to Japan in a couple weeks because so far it’s been my favourite hostel yet.
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As for Bangkok, not sure how I feel about the city. I didn’t get to see a lot of it, so maybe when I’m back I’ll give it another chance. I won’t miss the traffic and noise though!
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Before I left Bangkok, I wanted to visit the famous Golden Buddah while I had some free time
It was was conveniently located a ten minute walk from the Bangkok Railway Station so I headed there after taking the metro.
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It was beautiful as expected and of course crawling with vendors at the entrance trying to sell stuff. I applaud the effort, but no thanks!
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After purchasing a ticket for 40 baht, I headed up the stairs to the floor. After taking off my sandals, hat and sunglasses, I entered into the temple. It was so beautiful with gold adornments everywhere, trance like music and perfect natural light.. despite the amount of people inside, it was a peaceful environment.
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After spending a bit of time there, I headed to the rail station to grab some lunch and wait for the train. I must say I was happy to head to a quieter place for the next few days, Chiang Mai. It’s located in Northern Thailand and I took the train there, a quick jaunt of only 15 hours! I took a 2nd class upper berth in a sleeper car and it was such an authentic experience.

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A bunch of backpackers were on with me, so we chatted and compared travel tips. This time it was people from Holland, Switzerland and Columbia. As food vendors walked up and down the aisles selling their goods, I looked out at the beautiful scenery for a few hours and read my travel guide. The sunset was amazing, and having open windows blowing the country air into the cabin was a refreshing change from the smog in Bangkok.

For dinner I headed to the dining car and had a chicken, veggie and rice dish with hot peppers. It was good but not nearly as tasty as the street food I’ve had.

At around 7pm, they brought down the beds and I headed up to the top to chill out for a bit. I popped a Nytol and it worked it’s magic.
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I actually managed to sleep pretty well for the duration of the train ride. Something about the rocking motion and white noise created by the train. The Nytol helped too!

At 4am, I was woken up by the conductor saying we had arrived in Chiang Mai. The girl I met from Holland and I shared a ride to our respective hostels, with me being dropped off first. Of course the office is closed until 7:30am so I had some time to kill. I walked to 7/11 to grab a drink and snack, headed back to the hostel and found a place to chill out until the office opens.
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Hopefully once the office opens I can get into the room, have a quick nap and start my day. Until then, I’m glad I have my iPad and have found an outlet to plug in my phone.

One Night in Bangkok

Since I went right to bed after arriving at the hostel, and stayed by the airport last night, I don’t really count that as my first night in Bangkok. Tonight will be, and after a day of minor setbacks I must say this is a pretty cool place, of not overwhelming at times.

I ended up sleeping in this morning before taking a motorcycle taxi to the train station. The hostel people said it was quick and cheap so I got them to call me one. I’m not one to hop on the back of a motorcycle anywhere, let alone in a foreign country, but when in Thailand right? It was a totally scary and outside my comfort zone, in addition to me with my backpack and bag with me. I held on for dear life, but gotta admit it was really fun. Check that off the bucket list.

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I took the super efficient train into Bangkok and wandered through the streets to get to my hostel called Suk 11, recommended from one of my favourite travel blogs Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. Walked past a couple of “adult” oriented places, one was called Doctor BJ’s or something so you can fill in the blanks as to what that is. Also got used to being approached every 10 feet by tuk tuk drivers looking for business.

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The hostel is super cool, with a ton of character. There is writing on the walls everywhere from visitors, and just a cool cove overall.
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Once I checked in, I headed upstairs to my room to drop off my stuff. Yet again thought it would be shared but it’s all my own. I forgot that things are cheaper in Thailand, so for what a 10 bed hostel costs in Japan, you get your own room here. Excellent!

I didn’t really have a plan today other than booking my train ticket for Chiang Mai at the main station (you can’t do it online), and figured I would just wander around. I headed up Sukhumvit Road and took in the atmosphere and enjoyed the hot, humid weather. At certain points of my journey the smell of incense was in the air, followed by periods of nasty smelling things. They say Bangkok is a city of smells, so I was getting the complete experience.
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At the train station, I attempted to buy a ticket for the overnight train with no luck. All the sleepers were sold out (even the ones without AC) and I was not sitting in a chair 13 hours! December is high season here, so I just rolled with the punches and came up with Plan B to take the train tomorrow at 12:45pm. It gets in just after 4am, but it’s a sleeper bunk. Problem solved. I don’t need AC anyway. I’ll just open the window.

The other minor bump was that the zipper on my small backpack broke somehow, rendering it useless. I just bought it! Not the end of the world, I’ll find something to replace it with. And that folks is how to enjoy travel, find solutions to problems and just let it go.
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I was starving at this point so I stopped at a street vendor and got a chicken and rice dish. It was delicious as expected and cost me a total of 40 baht, or just over a dollar.
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I also sat for a while trying to find a reasonable flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi as I didn’t want to get stuck taking a train or bus as that would take a long time. I finally found a flight for around $140, which is super expensive any other time of year. Note to all those who told me to just book things when you’re here: Have you ever been in December? No, you haven’t. Book as much in advance a possible. The end.

After that I took the train back to my hostel and decided that after the last week of walking 12 hours a day and being cramped into economy class seats on planes, I needed a foot massage. It was 250 baht for one hour of one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. Not only do they massage your feet and legs, the do your back, head, arms and shoulders. I think I’ll be getting a couple more.
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I headed back to the hostel and ended up chatting with a couple people from France, a girl from Southern Thailand and another from Belgium. We had a few beers and compared similarities and differences between our countries. I also grabbed more street food, this time a chicken dish with peppers, onions, noodles and a bunch of other things. All that matters is it was so good, and only 55 baht. I’m going to have a hard time paying $9+ for Thai food ever again when I’m back at home.
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That’s about it for today. Going to get a good night a sleep then head to the train station tomorrow for my journey into the north!

Tokyo to Bangkok

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Spent my last day wandering around at the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s second tallest tower after the Burj Khalifa. After spending a couple hours there people watching and browsing the shops, I grabbed my stuff and headed to the airport. I just wanted to chill there before my flight.

The flight was on ANA, an Asian airline that is know for amazing service. I must say I was happy from the moment I sat down because I managed to get a bulkhead seat with no one beside me!
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Along with that, they started the flight off with a hot towel service, followed by drinks and a snack. Alcohol included for free too. I had some white wine along with their signature drink called Aromatic Kabosu. It’s a fresh my squeezed fruit juice that I’ve never tasted before.
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That’s a nice touch! Good luck getting that in Economy class in North America.

The dinner was next and there was a choice of a traditional Japanese meal or more traditional western meal. Of course I chose the Japanese meal, which consisted of a fish and rice dish, noodles, miso soup, green tea and a dessert pie type thing. I also had beer and wine, because why not. It was a 7 hour flight!
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I watched started watching some random Japanese game show, followed by anime and music videos.
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Those weren’t keeping my attention so I put on “The Beach” on my iPad starring Leonardo DiCaprio, not the best idea because it starts out all fun and yay Thailand, then gets a bit crazy! Still a good movie and got me ever more excited to get to the beaches. I also watched “What If” and fell asleep during it, I think it was a mix of my exhaustion and the couple of drinks I had.

Once landing in Bangkok, I navigated through the massive airport to get through customs, then grabbed a shuttle to my hostel called Nest Boutique resort. I forgot I had booked a private room, so that was nice. I got myself organised and passed out.
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Today was my first full day on Thailand, so stay tuned for my first experiences in Bangkok!

Sunday Funday

First up today was browsing through Family Mart, which I found out as I explored is the Japanese Walmart. The only reason I was browsing a grocery store at 10am was that I needed to kill some time as I waited for the rest of the shops to open.

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I wanted to go to the Uniclo right near my hostel to buy the winter jacket I saw the other day. I decided I really liked it and is worth shipping home. I managed to grab a couple of boxes from a local 100 yen shop (Dollarama type store) and hoped it fit (it did). Got the jacket and won a scratch and win prize of 500 yen to use in the shopping centre I was in, and used it to buy an assortment of Japanese candy to ship home as well.

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I wasn’t planning on sending anything back, but I want some of the cool stuff I’ve seen.
After wandering around for bit, I dropped my stuff off at the hostel and headed for Ueno. There is a giant park here along with a place called Yanaka Ginza that’s known for the wandering cats that hang by the Yuyake Dandan staircase. Sadly I only saw one cat, so that was slightly disappointing. However I did manage to have some delicious crispy snacks from a local shop, along with some street side dim sum. So tasty, I just love trying random foods everywhere I go here!

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Next up was Ikebukuro, home to Sunshine City entertainment complex and about a billion arcades.Sunshine City is home to a couple of mini indoor theme parks, J-World Tokyo and Namjatown. It is also home to a Pokemon store, which was the most insane crazy crowded store I have ever seen. The line must have been 250-300 people long and wrapped around the whole place. Just for Pokemon!Pokemon Store Sunshine crazy lineup
As I wandered the streets, I popped into a couple of the arcades and pachinko places. These people mean business. There were so many types of games I have never seen, and their favourite is called the UFO, or as we call it in North America the claw game. The prizes are stuffed toys and action figures, but people treat these games the same way as gambling. Interestingly enough, gambling is illegal in Japan so this fills the void for people since they cannot win money, prizes are given out instead by trading in your tokens or balls.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-WYyD9VTg6UA/VI08jfMUF3I/AAAAAAAAMqQ/5tPHB34Djlw/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_161742.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092592451268384626″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_161742.jpg” ]

My next destination was something right up my alley called Tokyo Dome City. It is an entertainment complex that has an amusement park, stadium, hotel, shopping and other awesome stuff. Totally my thing. As I wandered around looking at all the attractions at the park, I was awestruck about how cool Tokyo really is. I know I keep saying it, but there is so much to discover here. My style of travel is to do a lot of research before my trip, then as I venture around I find even more things to see. I like to be flexible and just wander, which is how the best experiences always happen.

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Since I was at an amusement park, I had to ride something. I didn’t want to pay for a full pass as it was around $40, so instead I picked one attraction that was very unique: The Big-O Ferris Wheel. It happens to be the worlds largest centreless ferris wheel. Tickets are 820 yen, so about $8, but the experience was priceless. Not only do you get an amazing view of the city for 15 minutes, there is a built-in multimedia screen that lets you select music for your ride. I listened to some incredible J-Pop as I made my journey up and around. How cool is that? I’m totally terrified of heights, but this was so much fun.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-E71nUoQbYN4/VI1ngsNL1SI/AAAAAAAAMsk/e_3j9UCbmHU/s144-c-o/IMG_20141214_182319.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141214?authkey=ORypHgJ55F0#6092639682222085410″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141214_182319.jpg” ]

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I also managed to visit the 45th floor of the Tokyo Dome Hotel. FYI I always walk through the front door of many hotels like I am staying there and never have any problems wandering around and exploring. You can have some awesome experiences this way, like incredible views of the city and super nice bathrooms, all for free! Tokyo Dome Hotel view

Finally my last stop was to visit Akihabara, home to a million electronic stores and a large hobby shop filled with awesome comic and manga fan-boy things. I don’t know about 99% of the popular anime, manga and other things here, but I plan on getting into it more in the future because it’s all so cool. I keep overusing the words cool and awesome because I really don’t know how to describe everything im seeing. Sensory overload. That is how I would describe this whole experience. Akihabara fun prizes

As always after my 12 hour day, I am exhausted. Off to bed in a bit and spending my last half day tomorrow heading to Tokyo Skytree before flying to Bangkok tomorrow night. I know I’m going to miss the magical toilets here, along with about a million other things. It is all good, because I come back for 24 hours on my way home to Calgary! God I love this place!

Lost in Translation

Woke up early again today with plans to head off and explore the real Tokyo. On my way to the train to start my journey, I took a stroll through the Sens?-ji Temple and market area as everyone was setting up their shops for the day.

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Grabbed a One Day ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway so I could traverse the city.

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For 1,000 yen it let me travel around the city all day on the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines. I must also mention the Tokyo Tourist Guide has been a life saver, I’ve literally used it at every turn to find my way around and also decide where I want to visit. Grab it at the airport!

My first stop was in Ginza to check out the Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. What could be better than a market visit early on a Saturday Morning? Also famous for it’s fish auctions for which people wake up at the crack of dawn to witness. Walking through the market was a voyage of discovery. Men zipped around in electric carts delivering styrofoam containers of fish in ice as fishmongers sliced up tuna and shucked oysters, all fresh from the boats. The smell of seafood permeated the air as I avoided puddles of water and navigated through the massive terminal, passing buckets of fish guts around every corner. It was definitely a cool place I would highly recommend on a trip to Tokyo.

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After traversing through the giant market and terminal, I took a quick tour of the main road in Ginza, which is basically a high-end shopping area like Bloor St. in Toronto. I then headed for Shibuya. [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-tLD9sgPXLSs/VIulVXNaNWI/AAAAAAAAMcg/B_dfOC1uxKQ/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_113013.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092144707374822754″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_113013.jpg” ]

Shibuya is most well known for its crazy scramble intersection, which can be seen in countless movies and music videos. People watching is the name of the game here, and I found the Starbucks to be a great place to get a nice view.

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After spending some time wandering through the stores here and having McDonald’s for lunch (yes I had to try it once!), I headed up the road to Harajuku. Sadly, I did not see any Harajuku girls as promised by Gwen Stefani, however I did find an amazing candy store where you can watch them make the candy right in the store. I was fascinated, so I ended up buying a couple of bags.[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-Swrsf43c9eY/VIwFqRsBCbI/AAAAAAAAMhs/DSLRGFnjkC0/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_160424.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250619786103218″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_160424.jpg” ]

Another highlight was an amazing store called Kiddyland. It is a 6 storey toy store, filled with tons of random amazing products that I have never seen before. I wanted to buy everything, but managed to leave with nothing. The place was packed with people, so it was difficult to navigate a bit.[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-2JbvYI4CLzQ/VIv3Y9ZTZqI/AAAAAAAAMgo/mxbY6N6BsLA/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_151754.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092234929118340770″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_151754.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-CQMX4sJG40E/VIwFzk20_zI/AAAAAAAAMjA/ub0k9ojxh4I/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_150113.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250779550547762″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_150113.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-HypGyMWvhTo/VIwFyN-P69I/AAAAAAAAMi0/ew9vlR7H_5I/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_145930.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092250756227787730″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_145930.jpg” ]

 After Kiddyland it was getting dark out, but I took a stroll through Yoyogi Park to take in the atmosphere before heading to my last spot for the day: the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku.[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-e8gOJEPSodI/VIwEFoTezJI/AAAAAAAAMhE/VQpSi5OOJL0/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_163102.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092248890690423954″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_163102.jpg” ]

It has a free observatory on the 45th floor with views of the city in all directions. It was incredible to see how spread out Tokyo is in all directions, I just wish I had come in the day so I could see Mount Fuji.

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While I descended I remembered the Park Hyatt Tokyo was in this part of the city, and it was on my must see list of destinations. If you’ve seen the movie Lost In Translation then you are familiar with the amazing view from the bar at the hotel, where scenes from the movie were filmed. It really is a gorgeous hotel, unique in that the lobby is on the second floor of an office tower, and everything else is way up on the 42nd floor and higher. While I didn’t have a drink at the bar, if you have an extra 1800 yen I highly suggest it for the view alone. [pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-7dk25KjchsE/VIwtfPxHW4I/AAAAAAAAMlU/0B8Wj5nEs10/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_190817.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092294410757168002″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_190817.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-vOvzP1Prm1I/VIwN8PNedsI/AAAAAAAAMkk/MbDjssBPBiQ/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_185906.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092259724451804866″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_185906.jpg” ] [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-61brzhhqWDM/VIwNroh4wjI/AAAAAAAAMjw/eTp3NoAikGE/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_185506.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092259439190524466″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_185506.jpg” ]

 After venturing through the hotel and wishing I was staying there, I headed back to my hostel. I ended up on the wrong train so had to backtrack. I was impressed that this was the first time I got lost all week on the train. The walk home was beautiful, with everything lit up and still bustling.[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-dDbkH2wplpU/VIwttswOTXI/AAAAAAAAMl0/usTfLzTw3qE/s144-c-o/IMG_20141213_205506.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/106936826608506155895/20141213?authkey=jfYRJW3iEzA#6092294659056225650″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20141213_205506.jpg” ]

I needed to do laundry so I just chilled out at the hostel and got that finished. I would say it was a very successful and crazy busy day. Just the way I like it! Tomorrow is my last full day and I still have a long list of things to do. I have also decided to buy a bunch of things and ship them home. There is so much cool stuff here I just cannot leave without taking a few things!

Last Day at Tokyo Disney Resort

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Winter Shiny Tea...tastes like cider.

Today was the last day at Tokyo Disney Resort before I see the rest of Tokyo for the next couple of days. It’s been an eventful day and I started late. I managed to sleep until 6am today! That’s 7 full hours of sleep.
First thing this morning I grabbed some food on the street outside my hostel and wandered around a bit before I headed to Disney.

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Once I arrived at Disney I realized I have not seen a seen a single Cast Member that doesn’t have a smile on their face. Seriously, it’s like they are super happy people all the time…or robots. It is Japan, so it’s quite possible. Disney Parks in the United States are renowned for their level of guest service, but here it’s distinctively better in every way.

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Also, people here bring the craziest things with them, like full on luggage and giant bags with mini stuffed toys all over them. The most common thing I see are the refillable popcorn buckets that have straps so people carry them like purses. Everywhere. It’s nuts! They sure do love their popcorn. Another thing…Duffy, Duffy, Duffy. They love him so much. So, so much. Yet another thing that hasn’t really translated to the U.S. parks.

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Today’s goal was to get two very important photos: Oswald and Mickey. Oswald is only available to meet here at Disney Sea and Disney California Adventure. I strategically went over to his line while everyone else was distracted by the Colorful Holiday Greeting (yes it’s called that, ha ha) on the harbour. I only waited about 30 mins in line to get a pic with him. Next up was Mickey, over in Lost River Delta. A quick Electrical Trolley and walk through Port Discovery got me there.

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One of the coolest rides ever!

For the past 2 days I’ve been hesitant to wait in line for an hour, but I happened to get there at the right time at Disney Sea and only waited about half an hour. How could I visit Tokyo Disney without getting a pic of the boss? The whole character experience here is also interesting, as they have a dedicated photo person and cast member for each group. I’m also glad they had random characters around the park as that’s how I got pictures with Dale, Goofy and another character I can’t place from Robin Hood I think.

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Line up for Mickey!

After another tour around the park, I headed to Tokyo Disneyland to catch the Jungle Cruise, however it was totally mental, like the extended queue was longer than the normal one and was full. Needless to say I skipped it and wandered around until the Electrical Parade of Dreams and fireworks. The parade was almost a mix of Spectromagic and the Main Street Electrical Parade and was super long.

Finally ended the day with fireworks, then sprinted to to train to get home. Off to explore the real Tokyo now!

Tokyo Disneyland

Woke up at 5am today, so at least I slept a bit more than the previous day. For some reason I’m not the basket case I should be.
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Arrived just after the 8:30am opening of Disneyland and made a beeline to Monsters Inc. Hide and Go Seek. It’s one of the most popular attractions here, along with Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. I’ve learned that the cuter it is in Japan, the more crazy they go for it. This includes everything from the merchandise to the food. I mean where else can you get dumplings that look like the Green Aliens from Toy Story?
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The weather was okay until mid morning and the rain kept going from a drizzle to torrential downpour. I gave up attempting to by dry, it’s wasn’t going to happen. Of course I left my rain jacket back at the hostel because I’m a genius and didn’t even think to check the weather. Lesson learned.

The rain did stop by early afternoon so both the Happiness on High and Santa’s Village Parade happened.
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Must visit attractions here included: Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare, the Tokyo version of the popular Christmas overlay at the original Disneyland. Also, got a Fastpass for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and won the “lottery” for the One Man’s Dream show.
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They love their ticket lotteries here, it’s very cool and people get super excited when they win. It’s the small things right?
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It’s also interesting to note that for all the indoor parts of Florida & California that have air conditioning that is always too cold, all the buildings here are heated and are too hot. Guess you can’t win no matter what part of the world you’re in!

Haunted Mansion is located in Fantasyland, which makes this the only part in the world that you can get Dumbo in the shot with it!
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I keep walking around the park going “that’s strange” because some of the placement of things is weird, compared to the US parks.

I waited all day to ride Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and it was well worth it. It’s a dark ride that uses trackless vehicles and is incredible. Your vehicle interacts with the other ones, zips around and you never know where you’re going to go. It’s sort of non linear to start, then you head into a big dance floor scene filled with music, lights, effects and is just brilliant. Finally you end up in the honey tree and it smells just like honey. The set design and everything is stunning, and gave me another wow moment.
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Ended the evening by watching the Once Upon A Time castle show. It’s a mix of some light pyro and amazing projection mapping.
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That’s it for now. I’ll be posting way more details on Theme Park Canuck when I’m back!