I FINALLY FINISHED SOMETHING

Do you ever start a project and your lazy, self-doubting personality gets in the way of  you finishing it? Yeah, that was me.

I spent WAY too long wondering whether people would make fun of me for making a vlog. But guess what? I DID IT ANYWAY!

Hallelujah! It feels so good to finally finish something. I had a lot of fun making this. It’s a much better use of my time than Netflix (shh, Netflix, I still love you). And you know what? From just ONE VIDEO, I’ve learned so much about vlogging and YouTube.

So here it is. I’m so happy to share this with everyone. My first ever vlog/travel guide taken during my travels to Hong Kong.

I hope 2017 will bring more vlogging and videos. I think 2017 is going to be a big year for me and it’d be great to have it recorded.

I’ll be heading to Japan in 3 days for Christmas. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful illuminations and to spend time in one of my favorite cities on earth, Tokyo.

Have a great day y’all.

♥︎K

Fall at Tianping Mountain

I absolutely adore fall. It’s beautiful. It’s romantic. It feels full of endless possibility. The air is cool, the sweaters are soft, and everything tastes like pumpkin or cinnamon.

Unfortunately, China doesn’t have quite as many places to see fall as Japan. But fortunately for me, one of the top 4 places in all of China to see fall leaves is about an hour from our town: Tianping Mountain.

dsc_0044 We arrived around 9:30am and already there was a line of cars and hundreds of people queuing up to enter. Most were large tour groups who had traveled from other parts of China just to see these leaves!

dsc_0087Many of the hiking trails with the best views of leaves were packed with tourists. It was interesting to watch. Like ants going up a hill.

dsc_0050We chose a more quiet path away from the big crowds. It was beautiful and scenic. I liked that there were many different options in hiking paths. There’s stone pathways, more rocky climbs, and a paved road that loops around the grounds if you’re not big on hiking.

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At the bottom of the mountain was a temple, food vendors, a clown show, and small games you can play to win stuffed animals. I got my Katniss on and shot some arrows for 20 RMB.

Mid-November is one of the best times to see fall leaves at Tianping Mountain so if you live nearby, this weekend is a great time to go. The entrance fee is 30 RMB for adults and they’re open from 7:30am – 5:00pm.

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Random tibdit – while we were in Suzhou, we went to see a movie and by random coincidence, we ended up finding the Guinness World Record Largest Permanent 35mm screen. It measures 34.6 m (113.5 ft) in length and 26.8 m (87.9 ft) in height.

suzhou_guinness_movie_theaterWhile it’s grandeur can’t be denied, it doesn’t seem very useful. The screen is extremely tall but since most films are shot in a 16×9 aspect ratio, most of the screen isn’t utilized.

Still, as a film nerd, it was exciting to see in person.

I’m sitting here in my brand new Uniqlo sweatpants, purchased on Chinese Black Friday. I was so surprised that some of our orders came in THE NEXT DAY. Our apartment’s mail room was a hot mess of boxes. I can only imagine how busy they’ve been since 11.11.

♥︎K

 

 

Kirin Beer Factory

Last month we visited the a Kirin Beer factory called Kirin Beer Park Okayama. They offer free tours with a free beer tasting at the end. That’s right- FREE.

DSC_0070.JPGTo get here from Okayama Station, take the JR Sanyo line to Mantomi Station. It’s about 25 minutes away and costs 320 yen.

DSC_0073.JPGThe factory is about a 10 minute walk from the JR Mantomi Station. But if that’s too far of a walk for you, there are shuttle buses that will drive you straight to the factory’s front door. And that’s free too.

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The tour is about 1 hour long. It’s given in Japanese but if you let them know, they will give you a small pamphlet that explains everything in English. They recommend making a reservation in advance. You can do that online or by calling their number.

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The tour started off with an introduction video (in Japanese), then we were taken on a tour of the brewing area where we got to sample hops. We learned that the reason they are called Kirin Ichiban (meaning #1) is because they use a single wort brewing process. “Wort” is the liquid that has all the sugars that will be fermented later to produce alcohol.

Most other beers use the first and second wort.We got to sample the difference between first and second worts and the first wort is very, very sweet.

At the end of the tour, we were taken to a cafeteria like area where we had about 1 hours to sample 3 different beers. There are also non-alcoholic drinks available for kids or your designated driver.

 

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It wouldn’t be Japan if without omiyage. In the gift shop, I found some delicious chocolates with a beer jelly filling. Each chocolate was wrapped to look like a small beer can. So cute!

Make sure you take the train. The staff will ask you how you arrived and if you’re the driver, they will give you a pass that says you’re not allowed alcohol. Besides, they make it too convenient to get there without a car. Be safe friends!

If you live in the area, I highly recommend checking it out with your friends. Who doesn’t love free beer?

 

Today is Hakada Matsuri or the Naked Man Festival. They day where hundreds of men wear practically nothing in the freezing cold and fight for a rod that is said to bring a year of luck. This should be interesting. If you’re in the area, come join in on the fun!

♥︎K

West Japan Bucket List

Less than 3 months till our Okayama contract is over. Didn’t we just move here?

I’ve made a bucket list of places in Okayama and nearby prefectures that I’d like to see before I leave West Japan. Some are places that were so amazing, I just need to see them again. Like Naoshima.

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My West Japan Bucket List

  1. Tottori
  2. Yubara Onsen
  3. Fukuoka
  4. Osaka/Kyoto/Kansai Area
  5. Universal Studios Japan
  6. Mr. Kinoshito’s
  7. The Ohara Museum in Kurashiki
  8. The Naked Man Festival
  9. Fabric Town Kojima Festival (or anywhere denim is dyed)
  10. Naoshima (again)

 

I’d love to hear your recommendations! Where would you like to visit?

 

K♥

Takamatsu

This Tuesday we had another holiday which meant travel time! This week I took a quick trip to the city Takamatsu on Shikoku island. It’s easy to get here from Okayama. On the way there, I took a train to Uno (about 1 hour and 1100 yen one way), then a ferry ride to Takamatsu (about 510 yen).

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The ferry ride across the inland sea at sunset was absolutely beautiful.

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Takamatsu is famous for UDON. If you are an udon fan, you have to make a trip here.

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On the way back, I took a train that runs across the Seto bridge, directly to Okayama Station (about 1 hour and 1510 yen one way). I was lucky enough to catch the sunset for a second time.

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I can’t believe such a beautiful site is only a short train ride away from Okayama. I hope to make a few more trips out here before March.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone.

K♥

Himeji

Last weekend we traveled to Himeji to visit Himeji Castle. It’s 20 minutes away on the Shinkansen (3950 yen one way) or 1.5 hours on local trains (1490 yen) from Okayama Station. It’s a beautiful castle and worth a day trip from Okayama.

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Hope everyone is having a nice weekend.

K♥

Bizen Pottery Festival

A very late post on the Bizen pottery festival. This festival is held on the Third Saturday & Sunday of October. It’s a short train ride from Okayama to Imbe Station in Bizen (580 yen on the Ako JR line).

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Bizen is a small city just east of Okayama famous for the type of pottery seen above. During the festival, you can get great deals on many different ceramic items.

DSC_1019   This style of pottery is not Bizen style but still very beautiful. DSC_0992

Pretty wildflowers for your new Bizen vase.

Hope everyone is having a good week!

K♥