Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spring Breakers: Hawaii (Part Deux)

Here we are folks! The final post in the Spring Breakers series. *WHEW* (Bet you guys didn't think I'd get through it all, huh?) Our last stop on our trip was back in Hawaii. We flew back to Hawaii from Japan so that we could have 2 precious days to spend catching up with some of my friends before we headed back home.Not to mention it really helped ease us back into pacific standard time.

We spent sometime catching up with some of my pharmacy school friends over milk teas at Taste Tea. The milk tea was just meh...but I may have a strong prejudice due to my nostalgic attachment to the tea place I frequented during pharmacy school. Regardless, it was great to have a chance to catch up with friends.

look at all that buttery, garlic-y goodness!
The next day we met up with one of my friends I used to ice skate with. We made our way to Haleiwa for the best garlic shrimp truck, Giovanni's. This place is always on our list of places we must go to while in Hawaii so I was glad we could check it off our list.

On our last night in Hawaii we had a spectacular dinner at Roy's in Waikiki with my friends from highschool and their sig others. The only thing that topped the delicious food and awesome service was the great company. We hadn't seen these friends since our wedding so there was so much to catch up on. We were so caught up in conversation that we didn't realize we were the last people there. You know you're having a good time when you shut a place down.

It's always great when we are lucky enough to meet up with friends from so many different stages in my life. I love catching up and seeing what's going on in their lives. But most of all I love that no matter how much time has passed since the last time we've seen eachother when we do finally get a chance to get together it's as if no time has passed at all.

That finally wraps up the Spring Breakers series. Thanks for bearing through all the long posts that have been far and few between. I promise I'll try to step up my blogging game.

Check out all the stops from the Spring Breakers series... Hawaii, Singapore, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara/Hakone, and Tokyo.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Spring Breakers: Tokyo

Oh boy! It's taken me soooo long to get through this vacation post that we're just about to get ready for our next trip. Blogger FAIL. Many apologizies and thanks for sticking around. Anyway...on with our last stop in Japan, Tokyo.

After spending the night in Hakone we took the looongest bus ride ever to Tokyo. On the way there we stopped by the Mt. Fuji visitor center in hopes of catching a glimpse of Mt. Fuji herself. Unfortunately it was a very gloomy and overcast morning so we didn't get to see her and all her glory. We also made a quick pit stop along the way to get some lunch at a rest stop. I wish the food at American rest stops was this good. YUMS!

By the time we finally made it to Tokyo we visited the Edo-Tokyo museum. They had all kinds of exibits about pre-war Tokyo. Everything was very interesting especially with our tour guides explanations of things as we walked through. One of the most amazing things there was seeing all of these intricate miniature models that were created to show what life was like back then. We also enjoyed learning how much work goes into making a traditional Japanese wood block print. So much so that we ended up buying a print for ourselves.

The next day we had a free day to spend wandering the different parts of Tokyo. Our tour guides provided us with a pre-loaded suika card so that we could get around on the JR trains and subways. At first we thought it would be relatively easy to navigate their subway system since hubs and I have used subways in other countries with ease. But the Japanese subway system proved to be a lot more complicated then we anticipated so we stuck to the JR trains instead.

As you'd probably expect, we spent our free day shopping in the many different districts of Tokyo. We started in Harajuku, but since it was a week day we missed out on seeing all the colorfully dressed teenagers roaming the streets. After shopping around Harajuku we moved on to Shibuya and then Akihabara. Lastly we made our way to the department store filled Ginza district.

On our last day our tour guide took us to Asakusa where we walked up and down the many streets lined with vendors selling yummy goods and cute knick knacks. After hubs and I shared our lunch of karaage chicken and yakisoba our guide recommended that we take a stroll the Sumida River while we waited for the other tour members to finish their shopping. We were so happy that she shared this insider tip with us as we strolled along the river lined with sakura trees in full bloom. Whenever the wind would blow we were showered with the delicate blossoms falling from the trees above. It was nothing short of magical.

With that, our tour of Japan came to a close and we flew back to Hawaii for the final leg of our epic vacation.

Missed out on the other parts of this series? Check it out our posts about Hawaii, Singapore, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Nara/Hakone.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Spring Breakers: Nara and Hakone

So sorry this vacation recap is taking me forever to finish up. Little Lulu has been quite the handful. As some of you may have seen via fb or instagram, hubs broke his leg in an attempt to avoid stepping on Lulu while he was running down the stairs. Chalk ER and doctor visit bills to the growing list of expenses she's costing us. It's a good thing she's so cute! Luckily it looks like she's doing a lot better with the potty training (knock on wood).

Anyway, when we last left off we were done with Kyoto and on our way to Nara. While in Nara we visited the famous Nara deer park. This place is so full of deer it's crazy - like everywhere you turn there's deer. They even sell special senbei for tourists to feed the deer. But take caution, these deer aren't the same as the docile deer we saw at Miyajima island. The deer in Nara are super pushy and agressive. As soon as you buy your senbei be prepared to be swarmed be deer pushing and shoving their way to the front. My mom even got a nip in the butt for ignoring the deer behind her. I was so amazed to see our tour guide bravely feed a deer a senbei from her own mouth! (Man I wish I'd taken a video of that). Either way it was still fun to get to feed the deer and pet them.

While at the deer park we visited Todai-ji, a buddhist temple known for housing the daibutsu, the largest bronze statue of Buddha. There is a supporting post inside the temple with a hole in it that's the same size as the statue's nostril. It's saod that if you're able to pass through you'll ne granted enlightenment in the next life. There was quite a line of people waiting to gain enlightenment so we watched in amusement as a large white guy struggled to get through with the help of some bystanders. And then a cute little girl who quickly and easily passed through right after. I guess enlightenment is grasped easier for children than for thought, huh?

After the deer park we took a bullet train to Mishima where we had 20 minutes to stuff ourselves silly with fresh strawberries we picked with our very own hands. Strawberries in Japan are absolutely on another level compared to strawberries here in the US. The strawberries are outrageously sweet and juicy. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

With our bellies full we made our way to Hakone. On the way to our hotel we stopped by the Hakone Sekisho Checkpoint. This was a checkpoint that travelers were required to stop through on their way to Tokyo during the Edo era. It was set up to mimic the what it would have looked like during that time.
We spent the night in Hakone and partook in traditional Japanese hot springs. It was very interesting how comfortable people in Japan are with walking around and hanging out together stark naked for such a modest country. Kind of reminds me of those times I've been in the locker rooms at the gym with the asian ladies that just walk around so casually with all their goods hanging out.

After our night in Hakone we headed to our last stop in Japan, Tokyo.

Already forgot all the other stuff we did during our epic spring break vacay? Check out our posts on Hawaii, Singapore, Hiroshima, and Kyoto.