Happy New Year, everyone! 2015 is in the past and it's now time to embrace 2016. This also means it's time to do my annual "Greatest Hits" or, my greatest 5 moments of the year. I explain this more in my post from last year, which you can check out here. It's just a way for me to reflect on the past year and remember the moments that helped me grow into the person I am today, here and now at the beginning of 2016. For my public blog, I don't go into detail about the significance of these moments but I do like to share my list.
Greatest Hits 2015
#5 Saying hello to my family after a year away and saying goodbye before another year away
#4 Utah trip with mom
#3 Getting hired by EPIK
#2 Meeting up with my dad in Thailand
#1 My first solo trip to Seoul
Cherish your moments. After all, as Neal A. Maxwell once said, "moments are the molecules that make up eternity."
Monday, February 15, 2016
You know what's really great? Yes, Korea. But also Japan!
This year I have more vacation, which means more time to travel. I am so pleased to say I have finally made it to Japan--a country I have been itching to visit for a very long time.
It's pretty remarkable to live in a country where I can sit on a plane for a measly hour and 50 minutes and be in a whole different country. When it comes to using vacation time, foreign teachers are split. Some prefer to stay in the country and explore just Korea. Others prefer to use living in Korea as an opportunity to see other Asian countries. I like to think I have a good balance. But I figure, who knows if I'll be able to make the opportunity to come to Asia again? I might as well spend a little time in Thailand, Japan, and (hopefully) China, right? Of course right.
|Flying into Osaka|
The first noteworthy difference between South Korea and Osaka, Japan: bikes, bikes everywhere! We were amazed to see so many people riding bicycles up and down the streets.
Second: it's so clean! I love South Korea but man, the amount litter and filth on the streets of Seoul is appalling.
Third: people are so nice! The workers at the train stations were always kind when we asked for help. And while we were looking for our Airbnb, one woman got off her bike to ask us if we needed help.
Fourth: bright makeup! Korea is all about natural colors when it comes to makeup--the key is to look flawless. But in Japan, makeup was bright and more of a statement-maker.
|This blush under the eye thing was super popular|
I traveled with three friends of mine who were not yet acquainted with each other. Luckily, the four of us worked together well, navigating the unknown streets and railways of Japan.
First thing we did after checking into our tiny Airbnb was, naturally, track down a place to eat. We were starving! So we just walked down the street and wandered into the first good curry place we saw. We were not disappointed. I'm not sure if it's because we were starving, but I still think it was the best meal we had over the course of the trip.
Afterwards we looked around the nearby shopping center and came across a Pokemon Center. I am so in love with the sleeping Pikachu. Gahh so cute!
And with that, we called it a night, excitement for the next day brewing in our brains.
Why the excitement? Because this was the day we were all waiting for--Universal Studios Japan!!
For the longest time, the only thing we really had planned for the trip was to spend a day at Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It took us a while to plan the rest of our time in Osaka. WWoHP did not disappoint, folks. None of us had been to the one in Florida so I can't compare it. But I liked what I saw in Japan!
There are two rides in WWoHP: Harry Potter 4K3D and Flight of the Hippogriff. We only did the 4K3D one, which was absolutely amazing. It's the best theme park ride I have ever been on.
|Waiting in line for the ride!|
We spent the rest of the time wandering through the shops, looking at every single piece of merchandise, negotiating between our heartfelt desires and our wallets and reason. I walked into WWoHP with the intention to buy a wand and instead left with a more reasonable Hufflepuff sweater.
We were sorry to leave WWoHP but alas, there was more to see. We half-halfheartedly walked through the rest of Universal Studios. We didn't want to wait in line for any other rides so we just wandered and looked at other fun merchandise.
After a while, we decided to see something else in the area, as we had traveled a good distance from where we were actually staying. We chose to continue our adventure at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. This aquarium is phenomenal. It's home to one of the largest aquarium tanks in the world--4 stories, I believe. You start at the very top and work your way down. It's incredible. We spent several hours admiring the energetic otters, large rays, and massive whale sharks. If you find yourself in Osaka and you aren't afraid of sea critters, you should go. It's worth it.
After the aquarium we headed back to our place and got some food before calling it a night.
|Find the turtle!|
The hike up the mountain was long and tiring so we were ready to eat by the time we got back to the base. Lucky we had plenty of choices! There were many street food vendors.
Once we had our fill of street food, we pressed forward towards Shitennoji Temple. It remarkable how different Japanese temples look compared to Korean temples. In Korea, they are bright and colorful. In Japan, they are simple and white.
|A little post-Kyoto dinner|
|Toasted rice cakes!|
|And once again, ramen.|
I'm grateful for the five days I got to spend in Japan. I think it was just enough time to see everything worth seeing in Osaka. Next time, Tokyo!