Almost everyone who’s visiting Hong Kong for the first time visits the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. It is literally a giant Buddha sitting atop a hill. You can take the train to the island – it’s a little past Disneyland. That’s just the beginning of your journey. From there comes the frustrating part – waiting in line for the Ngong Ping cable car up the mountain. As always, the earlier you go the better. Of course, you can also hike up there…but that’s crazy. It’ll take you hours. Make sure you purchased tickets online beforehand or you’ll end up queueing even longer. We got the crystal cabin, which is only slightly more expensive than standard but the wait was much shorter. Warning: there will rude people who will try to cut you in line. Your choice to either give them the stank eye or a piece of your mind.
In Tokyo, we typically do a lot of walking. The metro stations are massive so it’s not like you can just go underground and quickly hop on a train. And yet, we decided adding hiking to our itinerary would be a good idea for our legs. No regrets, though! Mount Takao was only a 50 minute train ride away from Shinjuku Station on the JR Chuo Line. It’s one of the most popular treks in the world, so expect to see a ton of people there, especially around foliage season. Get an early head start so you give yourself plenty of time to really enjoy the hike.
When we went to Kyoto, it was during cherry blossom season so we were hoping to get some beautiful sakura in our photos. But as we quickly learned, even though it was in full bloom in Tokyo, that was not necessarily the case in Kyoto. It’s pretty tough to plan a trip right around that season because the sakura are only really up for about two weeks before the leaves come out and they all drop to the ground. So whenever I see them, I always try to get them in the frame!
Yokohama is a port city only about 1.5 hours away from Tokyo by train, and has shopping, sightseeing, amusement parks, and museums. One of our favorite attractions was the Cup Noodle Museum. On a weekend, there were a bunch of tourists – Japanese and foreigners alike. Whether you’re a kid, a kid at heart, or just a plain ol’ adult, you’ll enjoy it.
This past trip to Japan was full of One Piece-related activities. If you are not a follower of the manga or anime, feel free to completely ignore this fangirling post. Actually, Tie’s friend got me into the series. He insisted I watched at least 10 episodes to try it out. Needless to say, those 10 episodes eventually became close to 800 episodes… Anyhow, our first stop was at Sanji’s restaurant, the Baratie.
As a kid, I had always heard of Ocean Park in Hong Kong and assumed it was just like SeaWorld (although oddly enough, I had been to neither). But a few weeks prior to going to Hong Kong, we had just returned from DisneyWorld. I thought we were going to suffer from amusement park overload. But fortunately, not only was the weather nicer in Hong Kong than in Orlando, but Ocean Park was also a lot nicer than I had originally envisioned.
N Seoul Tower can be seen pretty much anywhere in the downtown area, and it’s actually not that difficult to get to. Close to Myeongdong, there is a tram that goes up to the cable car station. From there, you can either hike or take the cable car up the mountain. We wanted to save our legs from tiring out too early, so we took the shortcut. It’s a nice view going up – if you can see anything at all. Most of the time, there will probably be too many heads in the way.
I almost talked us out of visiting Seoul Forest because I thought it might’ve been too far – so glad Tie changed my mind. It was definitely the highlight of our trip. Seoul was full of beautiful fall foliage when we visited, and Seoul Forest was the epitome of it. Just check out the photos.
When we first visited Gyeongbokgung Palace, we realized that it’s closed on Tuesdays. So please don’t make the same mistake! I should’ve checked beforehand. Newbie mistake ^^;; We took either the 402 or 405 bus there. It’s very accessible and close to Insadong and Bukchon Village as well. Admission price is only ₩3,000 for adults. The palace opens at 9am, but closing time varies according to when you visit. Double check the web site to make sure.
While Tie is working on a post about our First Class Korean Air flight experience, let’s start blogging about our latest trip to Korea before I forget everything. The first leg of our Asia trip was in Seoul. When people think of Seoul, they probably imagine tall buildings and a very metropolitan area. True, but if you want to take a break from the city, Bokchon Village is within walking distance from Gyeongbokgung Palace. There you can find some beautiful hanok (traditional Korean houses). Just remember to keep your voices down, as this is also a residential area. There are signs reminding you of that everywhere. The paths are pretty well-marked – just be on the lookout for maps. There’s an observatory as well as several small shops. At the very end there is also some street food and places you can pick up souvenirs.