Wednesday, December 24, 2014

hello from cologne

I'm in Germany! Cologne is the first of the German cities I'm visiting this trip. I'm staying in this wicked hostel, in a themed capsule queen-sized dorm bed! Best combination possible? I think so too. I'm almost sad to leave, but there are more countries to visit and cities to see. Heidelberg is the next stop, as long as I find the bus. (Finding bus stops is migraine inducing. There was a lot of panic in Ghent. Running through my head was a litany of swear words before I found the small sign signalling the Eurolines stop.)

Anyhow this is Cologne, of the famed cathedral. The detailing is incredible.

And the last of the many Christmas markets I've been to. Photos below are a combination of the many in Cologne. The one in Neumarkt was my favourite, with the canopy of lit-up stars and carousel.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

here be a london tourist post

The good thing with jet lag - if it could be ever considered a good thing - is that I have a lot of time in the mornings. The past two mornings I've been waking up at the ungodly hour of three, where I crawl out of bed into the living room and woe at my body clock. My friends have been telling me it'll take me about a week to recover. In the mean time, I will attempt to keep up some schedule so I don't reach that stage where there are too many photos to edit that I throw in the hat. My poor laptop doesn't know what to do with so many raw files.

Starting off the day with breakfast before taking the tube to Westminster. It was a grey and slightly wet morning.

Met up with my friend at the British Museum but didn't stay very long. We came to the realisation that museums are not places to catch up. Alas, I'm going to head back there today to enjoy it at my own pace. Time to pull out that high school history list of things to see!

Because tourists. When in London, y'know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

i'm in london

...and I'm so incredibly jet lagged. Two twelve hour flights and a six hour layover where I was mad enough to dash out of Beijing Airport and meet up with friends over coffee. (I had a sunset airport photo I was going to insert here, but I managed to delete it without exporting it because I'm brilliant like that.)

My friend lives in outer London, and I feel like I'm staying in Privet Drive, in one of those square brown houses. I'm incredibly charmed. That, and very exhausted. I woke up at 4:30AM this morning and read two-thirds of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and ate all the chocolate in this One Direction advent calendar. My friend picked me up from a tube station and presented it to me as a "Welcome to London!" gift. What can I say? She knows just how incredibly uncool I am.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

cherry picking in young

Young is Australia's cherry capital. My family decided to go again this year, and I dragged my friend along for the four hour ride from Sydney. Olympic Highway is where we found the majority of the orchards, and we visited three in total in Goldilocks fashion. The first one was Allambie Orchards. Cherries were $6 a kilo and weren't very big or sweet, so the five of us barely filled a bucket together. The second one isn't even worth mentioning - required a minimum of 3kg per person so we didn't enter the orchard. And the third and preferred one was Ballinaclash, where we sat on the back of a pick up truck on hay bales. Cherries were $7 a kilo and better, though I think two more weeks would've had sweeter and riper cherries.

Pick your own? More like all you can eat. My friend and I sat down because we were tired from tasting each tree. It was a process of taste, taste, taste, empty that tree.

There is now almost twenty kilos of cherries in my fridge. It feels like Summer.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

hiroshima, which should've been the first japan post

As procrastination seems to a way to turn into blogging, here's a continuation of my Japan posts. Partly because being in the middle of exams means the most exciting my life gets is when my mum buys mangoes. The excitement was real this afternoon. Almost as exciting as going to Japan for the first time. I kid. Not even close.

My friend Helen and I met each other at Narita Airport at night, and if it wasn't for my waiting-for-boarding-time boredom inducing me to take photos of my plane ticket and posting it on WeChat, I don't know how we would've found each other - but can I just say how freaking exciting it is to meet someone at an airport. It went something along the lines of: On plane from Sydney! One plane from Beijing! See you in Tokyo!

As we - and by we, I mean Helen, because she's a organisation champ - planned Hiroshima to be our first stop, we stayed overnight in a hotel opposite Shinagawa Station, where we took the shinkansen to Hiroshima in the morning. Tokyo to Hiroshima involved two bullet trains with a change in Osaka, totaling at least five hours, and a lot of onigiri. I will never get enough of Japanese convenience stores. I'm going to rank them towards the top of my highlights in Japan. (From time to time, I reflect back to my midnight bike trips to the convenience store in Kyoto and sigh in fondness.)

Our hotel was above Hiroshima JR Station, and if I ever entertained dreams of living in a shopping centre, it would go something like this. The food halls! Ooh, so fancy.

Dinner was Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, which is layered rather than mixed like Kansai style. It was also the applied observation to a conversation my friend and I had a while ago about food culture in Asia. Lesson in point: Japanese people do not waste food. My friend was on exchange in Japan at that point and she had unconsciously adopted this mentality. When she had dinner with someone visiting and he did not finish all his food, it made her uncomfortable. We were comparing this to China, where over-ordering food is the accepted norm.

After dinner we went browsing. Earrings, accessories, clothes - pharmacies. Time just seems so disappear when I'm in a pharmacy. I think every visit is a realisation of things I never knew I needed and not needed.

The next day was visiting the memorial sites of the atomic bombing. It started to snow as we got off the bus, but stopped shortly afterwards.

A solemn reminder to the devastation of nuclear warfare and the importance of remembering history.

Then it was a brief coffee matcha latte break before enjoying the light of golden hour.

And my first bowl of ramen in Japan.