Plans for this blog and other content

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading about our travels in Japan, I know I’ve had a few new followers and lots of nice feedback. Next time we travel, I’ll resurrect this blog but for now there’s maybe one more post (about my shoes maybe) and then it’ll be quiet.

My plan is to take these blog posts, edit them to add more information and some practical tips and tricks for travelers and then publishing it through Amazon. So I once I find some time to do all that, I’ll post the link here.

In the mean time, I’d be very much obliged if you’d consider buying my young adult paranormal novel, The Suburban Book of the Dead… for more information, see below.

If you’d like to follow my author blog it’s here.  That’s where I’ll be updating most of the time for the foreseeable future.

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No one expected the last night of the Summer holidays to be deadly.

Rain and her best friends Rachel and Jackie head to the carnival. Rain’s plan was to chat up Jake, who runs the Ferris Wheel, and maybe get a kiss or two.

But then Rachel’s killed in mysterious circumstances, and none of them will ever be the same again.

When Rachel returns as a ghost insisting Rain find out who killed her and why, she turns to Jake, who knows more than he seems to. In fact, he’s encountered weird stuff like ghosts and monsters before.

So now she just has to grieve for a friend who she’s still talking to, try not to fall deeper in love with Jake, keep her family off her back, decide who to trust, infiltrate the funfair and find Rachel’s killer. Piece of cake, right?

Day eighteen – Kyoto, Gion district

Sleeping on a futon isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. Thankfully I was so tired out, and the onsen had steamed me so well I mostly slept okay. I woke a couple of times, and when I woke in the morning there was no way I could lie that didn’t hurt some part of me, but I was generally rested.

We had the full Japanese traditional breakfast, again served in our room and again much too much food for me. It was really tasty, though.

We had a little time before checkout so I got another chapter of my new novel written and then we left the ryokan to wander around Gion. We started with a walk around the Yasaka shrine gardens.

Yasaka shrine is really a huge complex, including street food, candy and tourist souvenir vendors even at ten in the morning. In spring it’s a huge destination for the cherry blossom viewing parties, but in autumn it’s not quite as busy.

Kyoto is a more old fashioned city, and you’re much more likely to see men and women of all ages in traditional dress – yukata, kimono, etc. It’s very picturesque. There’s also a lot of shops offering kimono rentals, including hair and make up for a price, but I feel pretty weird about using someone else’s culture for a photo opportunity.

Anyway, even that early in the day there were plenty of people at the shrine and in the gardens. Some of them in fancy kimono, taking photos at various spots. There was also a loud group of teenagers on a school trip, and when we stopped to take photos of the koi, three of the boys were pretending to shove each other into the water. I guess teenagers are kind of the same everywhere?

During our slow walk we discovered many shrine cats. It’s a sort of surprising thing to me that moving slower produces more detail, or hidden things like cats. If we’d power walked through the park and concentrated on getting to all the far corners of it we likely wouldn’t have seen any cats at all.

It was a very nice way to start the day. From there were wandered down the shady side of the street in the Gion district. Gion is historically Geisha central, full of salons and entertainment halls. Now it’s high end shopping, tea and dessert cafes and lots of tourists. We first stopped at Candy Show Time, which is a rock candy store where they make their own delicious looking treats. We bought some gifts for people back home and for ourselves.

Kyoto is very, very pretty.

 

We ended up at the Kyoto Pokemon Center where Anna got an amazing Gengar hoodie to match my Mimikyu one (photos to come). I also got a ‘precious wedding’ pikachu set, because if not now, then when would ever be appropriate?

That done we hit a few more stores and made our way back up to ryokan to collect our bags. We found the craft market place we liked last year, but the earring maker Anna had loved wasn’t there. I did end up buying a beautiful zodiac animals wall hanging, which is going to be – someone-‘s wedding gift to us. We just haven’t decided who yet.

Back at the ryokan they kindly summoned a taxi for us and we made our way to Hotel Aranvert, a nice hotel with big rooms and our home for two nights. They welcomed us in with wine for our honeymoon, and we collapsed on the beds to chill out.

After a couple of hours resting, Anna located a nearby sushi place with good ratings on google maps and we found ourselves in an unassuming restaurant on a corner a few blocks back from the main street. The little old lady running it had no English, but it didn’t matter. English menu, lots of pointing, and I understood enough that I got that she said the dish I’d ordered was delicious. I ordered Okayodon, which is a chicken and egg donburi. Basically rice with tasty stuff on top. It was indeed, oishii. Anna had hand rolled tuna sushi, which she enjoyed as well.

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There was no one else at the restaurant the entire time we were there, but it was fantastic food, and cheap too.

The new hotel is mostly European styled, but it has a top floor onsen, so we went to try it out. Much bigger than the onsen in the ryokan, this one had about ten washing stations around a large hot pool. The women’s one is on the corner of the building, and there’s large picture windows looking out over the city. It’s very pretty, and one has to assume on the thirteenth floor that no one can see in, although a building over the road has pretty big windows…

The onsen was wonderful. I don’t know if it’s because of the bigger room, or if it just wasn’t quite as hot water, but it wasn’t as humid as the ryokan’s one, and I didn’t come out of it feeling totally wrecked. I did also rinse with cold water to finish off, which may have helped, too.

New beds not as comfortable as I’d like, but much more than the futon on the tatami mats.

Day Seventeen -Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto

We woke up sort of energised. I say sort of. Maybe we were high on the success of Bunny Island and Ichiro’s amazing okonomiyaki. Maybe it was the choco-flakes I ate at the hotel buffet for breakfast ( delicious btw), but we packed up our things, checked out of Chisun Hiroshima and left our bags with them. We walked up the road to the Peace Memorial Park and had a quick wander, taking in the atomic bomb dome, and I foolishly hit play on an info reading on a memorial which made me cry.

It was a memorial statue to the students who died in the war, and depicted a peace goddess in front of a five storied pagoda. It was emotional. The peace park is built almost under the detonation point of the atomic bomb that went off over Hiroshima. The Bridge it’s next to was the target of the bomb, and the peace park includes monuments to peace donated from all over the world, the Atomic Bomb Dome, memorial hall, peace museum and various memorials. It’s a beautiful place, generally very calm. Yesterday it was full of tourists and school groups, and we were lucky enough to walk by the children’s memorial as a school group sang a song to it. It was eerie but beautiful.

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We got on the ferry to Miyajima (it’s more expensive to take the return one from the Peace Park, but it’s quicker than the train + ferry option, and we were wanting to get to Kyoto later in the day. Plus the park was just up the road from our hotel, so convenient.)

Our pocket wifi stopped working. Actually we think it stopped working on Bunny Island, maybe because of remoteness or something but I emailed the company and they offered a replacement for the next day, to be delivered to our new hotel, so that was good service. Everyone, Global Advanced Communications is a good place to rent from 😀

The ferry ride from the Peace Park takes 45 mins and is a nice ride down the river and then out into the Seto Inland sea. Last time we went to Miyajima, we stared around the waterfront, visiting with the deer, having lunch and going to the aquarium. I was keen to try something different this time so we went into the island to the ropeway, which is what the gondola up the mountain is called.

Miyajima is the common name, the island’s proper name is Itsukushima, but Miyajima means ‘Shrine island’ and that seems appropriate. There’s a huge floating tori gate and a huge floating shrine over the water. It’s a UNISCO world heritage site, and very pretty. It was also pretty clogged with tourists, so heading up the mountain it was a bit quieter.

You can choose to walk up the mountain, but the bit we did getting to the gondola station was plenty. It was a beautiful path up through the mountain forest with traditional Japanese gardens and a koi pond on the way, but it was steep and there were a lot of steps. You can choose to hike right up the mountain and I’m sure it’s amazing to do, but we are nowhere near fit enough for that. Plus it had become a super hot day (again) which didn’t help. Once we got to the station we took a break for some peach nectar out of a juice vending machine and then hopped on. The ropeway is actually two gondolas and it was very calming to ride. It’s so silent, and the views are incredible. You’re over the tops of the trees looking down the valley out to the sea and Hiroshima city on the other side. Just fabulous.

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At the top of the green one you switch to another gondola which goes in a different direction up to Mt Misen. The green gondola is a seated one, which allows 6 – 8 people (I don’t see how 8 could fit in but maybe they’re thinking of children?). The second one is a mostly standing one which fits like, 20 people. It was a lot like being in a tram or a train carriage which happened to fly through the air.

Mt Misen’s peak is another 30 minute hike further from the top gondola station, and again, at another time when I’m fitter I might be into it. As it was we had a fast turnaround time for our return ferry to Hiroshima, so we didn’t linger too long. Just took in the stunning views of the islands in the sea and I got a little lightheaded from the thinness of the air and the heat of the sun.

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We caught the gondolas back down and I started to get nervous about getting back to the ferry in time (we had I think, 40 mins from mountain peak to ferry).

On the green gondola down we spoke with a Japanese guy who asked about Anna’s shiny penguin shirt from Kaiyukan. Then he noticed my Tokyo Disney daypark and asked us about our trip and where we’re from, etc. He was very friendly, and very amused that we’d traveled so far and were seeing so much of Japan, and also that we thought it was hot. He had long sleeves on and extra layers, we had shorts and t shirts.

The gondola timing worked pretty well, and we had 20 mins from when we got off to get back to the pier.

We powerwalked like pros. Even though both of us were stinking hot, tired out, sore feet and various other aches and pains, we motored across the island and through tour groups and past deer… only to get to the pier to see the boat leaving. It had been scheduled to go at 1.40 and at 1.41 we were too late. Thankfully the woman at the ticket booth happily swapped our tickets for the next sailing at 2.15 and we had a good rest while we waited for the next boat.

The boat ride back wasn’t as restful as I’d have liked, as an American couple sat behind us with their Japanese guide. They (mostly the guy) peppered her with questions about the details of the bomb going off in Hiroshima, why it happened, how good it was (!!) and generally I got a gruesome history lesson that I didn’t want or need. It was made worse by this guy insisting that it was a good thing the bomb went off because his father was fighting in the American army and he could’ve been killed if the bomb hadn’t ended the war. It was deeply unpleasant listening and Anna and I both got irritated by hearing it. The Japanese guide handled it like a pro though, so kudos to her.

My heel on my left foot had seized up some so we took the tram back to the hotel and picked up our bags. While Anna used the bathroom I had a really nice chat with one of the hotel staff, who had exceptional English and was also surprised we’d seen so much of Japan. She’d never been to Kyoto she said, which sort of blew my mind as it’s not that far away from Hiroshima, but then. I guess I live in Auckland and I’ve never been to Russel or Cape Reinga so…

We got the tram to the train station and went to get Shinkansen tickets for Kyoto. The English language assistant pulled a face and said ‘for today??’ and then informed us we’d missed the last one (I think she must’ve meant direct?) So we went up to the platform for non-reserved seats to Shin-Osaka. I got pretty anxious. I like having a clear path to our new destination and it had already been a tiring day. I just couldn’t stop thinking ‘what if?’

We got on the train all right and made it to Shin-Osaka where it was easy to get tickets to Kyoto ( reserved this time, much more calm). It’s only a 15 minute trip from Osaka to Kyoto so we didn’t bother putting our suitcases on the overhead racks.

From Kyoto station we caught a ‘foreign friendly’ taxi to our Ryokan. There’s a whole fleet with English speaking drivers, it makes things quite easy. I asked him how busy Kyoto was, since Hiroshima had been so packed with tourists and he assured me that Kyoto has many, many people in it.

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese in. No shoes inside (they store them for you by the door) and very attentive service. They welcomed us in, insisted on taking our bags for us, and got us to sit down to do the check in process. They also insisted we have dinner, since we were just in time for the last dinner service. They led us up to our room and dinner was served inside the room.

We hadn’t’ really had lunch, but with all the travel and stress neither of us actually felt hungry. How wrong we were.

Dinner was a full Kaiseki style banquet of eight artful courses. Starting with such appetisers as chicken liver in chrysanthemum petals and chestnut, through shiitake mushroom soup and fresh popped rice on the stick to miso and fruits in jelly, it was exquisite. It was way, way too much food as well, but we made a valiant effort.

The slow way it was presented (one dish at a time, and time to eat, then the next), made me calm down. It was good, nourishing food as well, it felt good to eat it. Minimally processed, lots of vegetables and soups. It was the perfect antidote to the fiveish hours we’d spent in transit. Perfect welcome to Kyoto as well.

After dinner we went to use the in house onsen, which was very good but very hot. I got a little heat affected I think. While we were in the baths the staff came and made up our beds, traditional futons on the tatami mats. (With little paper cranes on the pillows!

I crashed out pretty hard.

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Day three – Disneysea

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Another early start, and a much less cheery/excited one as we’re both still in physical pain from the big day yesterday.

After the rest when I updated this blog, we went back to the park for the night parade, some more shopping, and a wander around looking at the lights and seeing if we could get on any rides quickly. The night parade and fireworks were amazing, but we both felt too tired to stay another hour for the projection show, so that’s tomorrow night’s mission.

I slept okay in the Tinkerbell bed, but my body had a lot of things to tell me about the hours of walking and standing and the various ways it’d been thrown around on rides. I woke up at two am ish with no way to get comfortable as whichever way I lay something hurt. Lesson learned: last night I didn’t have a bath before bed, so my muscles weren’t forced to relax. Will not make that mistake again!

So today we got up, got into our Disneybound gears (Ariel for Anna and Prince Erik for me), and we navigated the Disney Resort Monorail and got to Disneysea. One of the many benefits of staying in a Disney hotel is free monorail passes, so when you get to the park to use your early entry you don’t even have to pay. I guess it’s probably covered in the room rate, but whatever, it feels nice. The monorail, like most things around here is very in theme.

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Where Disneyland is a pretty close copy of Anaheim Disneyland, Disneysea is a different beast. it’s an immersive park designed to make you feel you are in different worlds. The worlds include a Mediterranean harbour, a New England American waterfront, a mythic Arabian inspired Agrabah, a Mermaid Lagoon and some steampunk inspired zones called The Mysterious Island and a gigantic volcano forming the centre of the park. The volcano goes off every now and then, with booming, smoke and fire plumes.

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Last time we’d visited Disneysea we didn’t quite do it ‘right’. We didn’t research before going and we missed some entire zones. This time I researched the crap out of the park and we went in with something of a plan. We’d missed the most popular ride in the park last time: Toy Story Midway Mania, which is a game ride, you get in a little carriage with a toy gun loaded on it. The ride takes you through various passageways where you fire at targets and a running total is kept of how much you’ve hit.

As soon as the park opened we followed the crowd of early entry guests directly to this ride in the American/New York zone. It was only a ten minute wait so we decided to skip the fast pass and just get on the ride. It was a lot of fun, and the ride’s theming is beautiful, lots of gigantic toys and furniture to make you feel like you’re tiny. We liked it, especially the game aspect (Anna won points wise, although I had a better hit rate), but I’m not sure I’m desperate to ride it again. It’s not in my top ten rides, let’s put it that way. But I’m glad we experienced it.

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After that we had an American hot dog for the first part of breakfast and headed to my favourite ride at Disneysea: Journey to the Center of the Earth. It’s heavily steampunk inspired. We had about an hour until the fast pass return time, so we went on 20,000 leagues under the sea which is another excellent steampunk ride. Predictably, you get in a little submarine pod and go under the sea, you’re attacked by a kraken and then rescured by alien-esque Atlanteans. It’s pretty neat! After that we had a special Halloween food item, the Queen of Hearts sausage gyoza bun. It was… very strange. I liked the bun part very much, it tasted like a bao bun, but the filling was an oddly crunchy sausage mince and I don’t really understand what the flavour was. Anyway, we tried it!

Before riding Journey we made a dinner booking at Magellan’s, which is a fancy, mostly hidden restaurant overlooking the harbour at the base of the volcano. Looking forward to trying it out tonight!

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is another miracle of immersion. The line ( which you race through with a fast pass) sets the scene: a mining operation deep into the Earth in some kind steampunk world. You get into an elevator down to the start of the ride, and the elevator is designed to appear rickety, and make loud, disturbing noises and blow air at you. Then you get off into a place cluttered with boxes and crates and are loaded into a weird drilling bulldozer looking vehicle. The ride starts out beautifully with crystal caves and large, strange funguses but quickly turns to disaster as you get deeper and deeper into the Earth. I won’t spoil the ride but it goes from lovely and slow to a fast roller coaster through the dark and you shoot out the top of the volcano. It’s absolutely brilliant and very thrilling.

Then we went over to the Lost River Delta and booked fast passes for Indiana Jones, which is (as I understand it) very similar to the Indiana Jones rides at other parks. Last time we went it really freaked me out but this time I managed to mostly enjoy it. There was still a lot of screaming with the giant snake and the boulder almost crushing us, but it was fun too. We went on Aquatopia, which is a lovely and calm ride where you zip about on steampunk boats on the water.

From there we went to the Mermaid Lagoon and explored ‘Under the Sea’, we managed to time our arrival nicely with the start of the Mermaid Theatre show, so we went into that and holy crow. It’s a huge theatre decorated to look like the undersea. A gigantic animatronic King Triton appears up in the corner and people animating large puppets played Flounder and Sebastian. Then Ariel the Little Mermaid appeared suspended from wires so she could ‘swim’ around the theatre and over the audience. There was projections and props and music and it was really impressive. That actor playing Ariel must have some brilliant core strength.

Before the show started Anna made friends with a little Japanese girl who noticed she was dressed as Ariel. She pointed at Anna’s shiny, scaly leggings and then shyly showed us that her black dress had tentacles attached to it. They smiled and Anna said she was ‘kawaii’ (cute) and the little girl showed the rest of her family Anna. After the show we met up again in the gift shop, and the little girl showed Anna that her seashell necklace was homemade. I asked if it was okay to take a photo and her mother said yes, but I won’t share it here as we didn’t ask permission to share it online. Suffice to say both Anna and the tiny Ursula were beaming in the photo and afterwards. It was a really lovely encounter.

After that we wandered to Agrabah and saw a couple of costumed characters, and rode the Sinbad the Sailor ride, which is a beautiful boat ride through the story of Sinbad. It has some seriously impressive animatronics and the scale of it is huge. It’s also a ride with a beautiful soundtrack and special effects like the smell of bananas during a sequence where Sinbad is working with monkeys to harvest bananas. (I think. It’s all in Japanese so the story isn’t always clear.)

We were both pretty tired out. Although it’s not so hot today which makes things easier, Disneysea is a difficult park to negotiate. It’s huge, and over several levels, so although in Disneyland you’re mostly on the flat, it’s up and down and stairs and round mountains at Disneysea. There are also less attractions, so you do have to walk further to find things. Besides that, we’re coming off a big day at Disneyland. We were joking it felt like we’d already spent a full week at Disneyland.

We did a little shopping, I got a new friend.

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Then we made our way back to the hotel for a rest. On the way we picked up some snacks for lunch at the konbini and had a nice picnic in our hotel room. Tonight we head back for dinner at Magellan’s, to see Phantasmic (a water based night show) and another ride on Journey to the Centre of the Earth, having got a slot in the last fast pass time frame of the night.

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Day two – Disneyland!

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View of the Disneyland hotel from the park side.

The time difference between Japan and New Zealand meant that we got a pretty decent sleep and still were happily awake by 6.30 local time. This is good because our special early entry meant we wanted to be at the park by 7.30.

We got dressed in our Disneybound outfits (Peter Pan for me, Tinkerbell for Anna) and headed over to the special entrance just for hotel guests, we got in a half hour before everyone else!

It’s a busy park and a very hot day.  However with our early start, and careful use of fast passes, we got on a bunch of rides. Started the day with Space Mountain and then got fast passes for Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt is a unique ride to Tokyo Disneyland, a trackless ride where you spin about in honey pots and follow animatronics of Pooh and his friends through a storm, a nightmare and searching for honey. It’s very cute, and sort of scary in the Heffalumps and Woozles sequence. The scale of this ride is kind of hard to explain, but I was in awe staring up at a huge Heffalump at one point.

We had breakfast at Camp Woodchuck lodge, which sells waffle sandwiches, delicious fried chicken sandwiched between two waffles with coleslaw and maple syrup. It was really good!

We stopped to watch the Spooky Boo! Halloween parade, which was very cute and we loved the dark Halloween style costumes.

Speaking of costumes, through the month of October, anyone visiting Tokyo Disney is allowed to dress in costume as long as it’s appropriate and a Disney character. Today we saw countless gorgeous Anna, Elsa, Snow White, Cinderella and Belle costumes. As well as a few Giselles from Enchanted, Judy and Nicks from Zootopia and fairies, Pooh Bears and Rapunzels. It’s wonderful spotting all the outfits and how much work everyone’s put into them. It made our Disneybound outfits feel a little underdone, but there you have it. The festive atmosphere is really fun.

We also rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (one of my all time favourite rides), the special Halloween Nightmare Before Christmas version of the Haunted Mansion, Roger Rabbit’s toon spin, It’s a Small World (Anna’s first time!) and Pirates of the Carribbean (my first time!)

I’ve been to two Disneyland parks before over three separate days and all those times Pirates has been closed. So today I finally got to ride it and it was great fun! The animatronics of Jack Sparrow are eerily realistic. I know the California ride has been updated to be a bit less… gross, but the Tokyo one has not been updated, so it still shows a scene of women being auctioned off to pirates and then being chased by pirates. It’s quite uncomfortable, but I’m pleased the California Disney updated anyway.

For lunch we considered a couple of restaurants but they were very busy, so we went to a place near the castle which had spare tables outside under umbrellas. It was right over a stream from the parade route so we sat at the edge, enjoyed our lunch and got a good view of the 35th Anniversary ‘Dreaming up!’ parade. This parade has next level floats with huge moving parts and finishes with Mary Poppins flying over London and Peter and Wendy going from standing to various arial stunts based on the wires moving them up and down. It’s breath taking.

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Baymax and Hiro from Big Hero 6
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Peter and Wendy midair

It was a very hot day. Humid and up to 27 degrees celsius. This made everything a little bit harder, because there’s not a whole lot of places at Disney which are shady or air conditioned. It’s a lot of walking too, the park is big, and fast passes require you to go to the ride, and then return back in an hour or more, so there’s lots of doubling back.

We did a lot of shopping too. There’s lots of cute Halloween themed things and anniversary merchandise, but I particularly had my heart set on a rainbow theme t shirt I’d seen online. I saw a lot of people wearing them in the park and they’re so cute (and so freaking gay) and I really, really wanted one. Finally found them in the back room of the big clothing store in the first set of shops in the park. I got the Donald one and Anna got the Daisy one to match. Pictures when we wear them on Friday 🙂

For the record, I’ve done a lot of research about Tokyo Disney and I have to credit TDR Explorer, who I read avidly.

I’m writing this from our Tinkerbell themed room, where we came to crash out for a while at 3.30 pm. The Tinkerbell room is very thoroughly themed, and super cute.

Soon we’re heading back for the night parade and night show and to track down a bag Anna wanted and a Tigger bomber jacket I want :3 maybe we’ll squeeze in another ride or two as well.

Day one- Transit, Unaccustomed luxury

20181009_113142.jpgt planning on blogging about the actual plane trip but I feel I have to.

We bought our tickets to Tokyo at the New Year’s Sale Air NZ held. The sale was so good for travel dates this far out that we only had to spend a couple hundred more to upgrade from economy to premium economy.

We’d been looking forward to extra space on the seats and some extra leg room. We were not prepared for how fancy the service actually was. We were given hot towels, decent sized pillows, little amenity packs with socks and a dental kit, slippers to wear on the plane, a drink once we were in the air (sparkling wine, and when the hostess found out we were on honeymoon she brought us more in fancier glasses). The food was next level. It tasted freshly made, and gourmet. And there was an entree, fresh baked bread selection and dessert for each meal.

Halfway through the usual five-ish hour gap between meals we were served afternoon tea of club sandwiches and our choice of dessert (Anna and I both went for the chocolate profiteroles, which were a massive cream puff with solid chocolate on top). Plus, if we got peckish, we could order snacks and drinks off the menu for free from our screens.

I find it hard to sleep on planes, but with my extra room and a little footrest you could raise, I managed an hour or so of broken sleep. Not quite as good a nap as I’d get at home, but still something.

On the plane Anna and I watched Ready Player One together, which was amusing but also quite, quite stupid. Then I watched Incredibles 2 and the first two episodes of Sharp Objects (brilliant, watching the rest of that one on the plane back.)

Once we’d landed, we were among the first off the plane, after the business class people, and our bags which had been tagged ‘priority’ were waiting for us on the carousel after we’d cleared immigration.

We exited the bag claim and right away found the bus tickets counter and purchased tickets direct to our hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort. Unfortunately the next bus to the resort was in an hour, so it was like our quick exit from the plane wasn’t as useful as we’d hoped. I was glad not to have missed it though, as it was the last bus of the day.

While we waited for the bus we had our first Welch’s grape juice of the trip, which is a delicious purple grape drink. While we sat and drank just inside the terminal from the bus stop we were unexpectedly interviewed for Japanese TV.

A team of three, a camera person, a front man and a translator making notes asked us where we were from, what we were looking forward to doing in Japan and what our anime t shirts were about. Totally random, I wonder if they’ll use any of that footage? I guess I’ll never know either way.

The bus took about an hour to get to Tokyo Disney Resort, after arriving exactly on time at ten past six. I got very excited as we approached the Resort. I just love how magical everything is, and this year is the 35th anniversary of it being opened, so there’s extra decorations and things happening.

The Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is expensive, but since it’s our honeymoon we wanted to splash out. I knew it would be fancy, but I didn’t anticipate this level of fancy.

The lobby is a gigantic Disney themed atrium with massive chandeliers and Disney mosiacs, sculptures and fountains. As we checked in we were given an anniversary/wedding card signed by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Then a bellhop escorted us to our room. It was just a standard park view room but it was so incredibly plush.

Every aspect of the hotel is either subtly or not so subtly Disney themed. It’s delightful. We were pretty exhausted from the flight but we managed to have a little wander, explored the stores attached to the hotel (a convenience store or Konbini, and a Disney merchandise shop. As we were outside we were lucky enough to catch some of the fireworks over the beautifully lit up train station which is between the hotel and the gates to the park.

The hotel room had a bath so I washed Japanese style on a stool under a shower and then we each had a soak in the bath. I put on the hotel provided pajamas, which were super comfortable. As we were getting ready for bed, I heard a boom and we realised from our room we could see the night show, which is a combination of fireworks and animated projections onto the Cinderella castle. We couldn’t see a lot of details from the hotel room but it was still super cool.

Finally we crashed out, and I had a very good sleep, ready for a big day ahead…

Getting ready to leave

Two days ago I married a gorgeous woman in a perfect garden wedding in our local park. The weather was clear and stunning, we looked awesome and our friends and family brought a lot of love and joy to the day.

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The honeymoon starts tomorrow, with a morning flight to Narita airport, Tokyo.

Today is dedicated to prep, changing some wedding gift money into yen, doing some laundry, last tidy of the house and of course, packing our bags.

For those of you who like details, here’s what’s on my packing list. Trying my best to pack light because it’s easy to launder clothes in Japanese hotels.

Wear on the plane:
Trackpants or leggings
T shirt
socks
shoes
a warm layer
jacket

In carry on backpack:
emergency clothes in case of lost bag (socks, undies, t shirt)
USB charge cable
kindle
travel journal
notebooks (Japanese language notes, travel info)
pencil case with pens and things
wet wipes
painkillers
headphones
eye mask
laptop
water bottle (Frank Green <3)
sharktopus (my travel mascot)

Clothing:

1 pair pajamas
5 pairs underthings
5 pairs socks
4 T shirts (including Harry Potter house shirts for Universal Studios)
3 pants/jeans
2 warm layers (one zip hoodie, one flannel shirt)
shoes
rain jacket
Disneybound* outfits

Bathroom stuff:
Hayfever meds
deoderant
face cleanser
face moisturiser
sunscreen
hair wax
sanitary products

Misc:
plug converters
chargers for phones
laptop cable
day packs
washing liquid pods
washing peg hanger thing
my 5 year journal
2 x powerbank

 

 

*Disneybounding was invented because adults are not allowed to dress as Disney characters at Disney parks. The idea is to evoke a character through mostly regular clothing. Examples here.