some little snippets from the week

We found some giant sparrows in the city.

Ed ate a free sample at Whiterock beach on his birthday.

We walked along (and under) whiterock pier

We ate at milestones in West Van.

We went to a pow wow.

This was such an amazing experience for me. I got to dance with first nations dressed up in all their traditional regalia. I took it all in and I loved every minute of it.

Many more photos from my adventures on my flickr page, as usual.


5 weeks, 35 days or lots of hours.

I figure that it’s about time for a recap post! It’s important to stop and look at all you have achieved and reassess your goals and to do list now and then!

When you put it all down together I cant believe how much has happened! I dont mean to blow my own trumpet but I am really proud of myself! Hehe. So on the 2nd of April I stood at Melbourne airport and took the first official step of this journey, saying goodbye to my town, my country, my family and friends.

I boarded a plane to Brisbane, and a connecting flight to Tokyo.

I explored the city streets and found beautiful blossoms.

I caught the train to Kyoto and explored a whole lot more!

I found the Nanzenji Temple and the Philosophers Walk and I watched the people go about their daily lives. I soaked it all up. I was a foreigner in a foreign country and I didnt really speak the language. That’s kinda thrilling.

Then I headed to Vancouver, Canada – a city and a country that I had been dreaming about visiting since I was 18. Nine years later and I finally got here – at precisely the right time. It’s funny how things work out like that, but I truly believe that to undertake such a big adventure I wouldnt have been in the right frame of mind to do until now.

And so I made it to Stanley Park – I even walked all the way around it. I saw squirrels and a raccoon and a hummingbird and canadian geese and deer and robins. I ate a nanaimo bar, a cinnamon bun, a beaver tail, a reese bar, a jolly rancher, a key lime pie and more! I went to the hockey, gastown, granville island, kitsilano, lynn valley suspension bridge, lonsdale quay, metrotown, park royal mall, commercial drive, main street, downtown, MOA, the Aquarium, capilano suspension bridge, pemberton, van art gallery, deep cove, chinatown, chinese gardens. I made new friends and listened to tips about where to go and what to do. I crossed a lot off my to do list!! And you know what? I still have a lot to do!

A customer at work enquired about my accent today and asked whether I was from Australia or New Zealand. I realised that she is the first stranger I have spoken to who has guessed it correctly. She was so lovely and told me her son had visited Australia. I asked if he had been to Melbourne and she said no. I told her that he missed out! She laughed. See, I know my accent stands out and to locals I say things strangely, but hardly anyone has actually said anything to me about that. Isnt that a little strange itself?
There are people over here that are so lovely and welcoming and friendly but there is also a part of the population that seem to be quite unfriendly and.. well.. basically cold. It’s hard to break through the surface with them.

The main thing that has struck me is that everything is so different over here. And yes, I mean everything. The only thing that remains the same is the human relationships and psyche. As we are all humans on this earth the issues dont really change with the location.

It has been an incredible, interesting, fun, inspiring trip so far. 35 days of adventure down- and counting!! Here’s hoping that there are many, many more to come. And I hope that your adventures inspire you to try for more too.

Someone said to me that I am brave doing all of these things by myself. Many people have said that they couldnt have done what I am doing. I dont think it’s about being brave. I spent a few years of my life waiting. I was waiting for friends. Waiting for them to come along so I could have someone to go to a concert with. Or go on a roadtrip with. Or go overseas with. Years I waited and friends came and went. And as their promises faded to dust I realised something. If I sit and wait for someone to come before I do what I want to do then I will be waiting for years and lets face it – I might never get there! So you know what I did? I started doing things by myself. I like my own company – I know I am reliable, fun and I listen to my gut. I got to go to concerts and line up early and go front row and meet my fave musicians. I got to travel and explore and I found out that being alone isnt as scary as being with someone you dont want to be with.

So thats how I came to take this trip by myself, and I say to all those who dont think they could do it – you can. You should! Dont put something you want to do on the backburner for someone else. Go do what you want to do – go explore the world. It’ll be the best decision you ever made for yourself.

happy travels!!

Roadtripin’ along the sea to sky.

Hello folks!! Wow, what a day it has been today! Insane. We were up at 7am and out of the door by 7:30 to start our adventures. My homestay family ever so kindly invited me along on this trip and I was excited to join them. After a bit of a rough start we took the sea to sky highway and headed to Pemberton via Whistler.
Georgia insisted that I sit in the front so I could take it all in and take some photos. These were the kinds of roads I had been dreaming about.

I would turn my head and take in the mountains and they took my breath away. Immense is the word that comes to mind. These photos dont do them justice at all. The sheer height of them and depth of greenery is something that I dont think I will ever get over. I imagine myself hiking along hidden trails for days.

I also got to see some of the many islands that dot the coast along here. I will definitely be putting a few visits on my to do list. vancouver Island and Bowen Island are right up there.
Unfortunately the weather wasnt too happy, but I still got to see a lot.

Then we stopped at Pemberton church for Georgias cousins daughters christening, and later headed to her house for lunch. We had yummy quiches and cake and then I got these photos of her property and views.

Then after some chatting and meeting of the families we headed to Whistler!

I have been told that Whistler actually possibly has more Aussies than Canadians, and will investigate this later. This time we just took a driving tour.

It was really cold but I got a feel for the place. There were lots of chalets and wooden buildings and hotels and people- making this a typical ski town!

It’ll be interesting to check it out a bit more in Summer and then go back in Winter! I’ll need to buy some thermals beforehand! hahaha.

Next on the schedule was a trip to the Open House School Festival in Squamish.

Here’s the parka people heading to check it all out!

They had animals, popcorn (which Kylan loved) and a nature house where he got to dress up as a bald headed eagle.
but my fave part was the Bighouse/Longhouse where we got to see some Squamish first nations playing drums and singing and making traditional bread (which they call bannock).

The house was all decked out with banners and it had a huge fire pit in the middle where people would cook their bannock. There were lots of families around, checking it all out and cooking. It was really interesting.

It tasted like damper! And then they brought out a salmon that they had been smoking and that was yum! We stayed in the room for a while, just taking in the warmth from the fire and the rhythmic sounds of the drums. I really enjoyed it!!

On the drive back home I saw some deer! YAY! hehe I didnt get a photo though. I did get a photo of some people sleeping in the back though.
Kylan and Tim -Like father, like son!

Opening my eyes to Vancouver

Well after a long sleep I think I am almost cured of the jetlag! Now that I remembered what it’s called my brain must be working a little better I’d say hahaha. I got up late this morning and had to throw some clothes on and run downstairs to make the most of the free breakfast. Once I’d had my fill I came back up to my room to have a shower and get ready for my day. I hate to sound like a broken record here but – what a day it has been! haha.

I’d worked out that today I wanted to visit Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium and that if I hopped on a bus I should be able to get there from my hotel pretty easy. I was right!

I’m still getting over cars driving on the wrong side of the road! Haha. Not only that but the steering wheels are on the wrong side too.. I didnt realise that. The buses in Van run kinda like trams – connected to these wire lines ontop. It’s a little unusual but it seems to work well.
At the gate to the park I was greeted by these signs.

Hahaha! Thats exactly what I wanted to see! No ‘danger snakes’ or ‘beware spiders’ – but coyotes!! I didnt see any though – infact the only wild animals I saw were these.

Boy the park was pretty! So gorgeous!! But it was really cold today – almost as cold as it gets to in Melbourne’s winter. Not quite but almost. Infact I had to buy an umbrella as it was pouring down at one stage. More on that later.

I only saw a tiny fraction of the park, but I got some amazing photos. Oh and I asked a lovely Canadian man to take this one for me.

The trees are so alive and beautiful – I just wished I had a tripod to take some fashion shots!! I had to make do with some self shots instead.

Then next thing I knew I was out the front of the Aquarium.

I was hoping it’d cosy and warm – and they have this new exhibit of the tropics that features parrots that is really humid and had me feeling hot in no time.
But I had to venture outside to the pacific dolphin and beluga whale areas – and I got to watch both shows. I hadnt really seen any other dolphins up close except bottlenoses, so that was interesting!!

They were so fast through the water!! And they did these huge jumps that I didnt manage to catch on my camera.

The belugas were a lot fatter and slower but fun to watch too!

I got to see the jellyfish that were at the airport – ok not the exact same ones but they are the same species I am pretty sure. Love the lighting!

I thought the Aquarium was set out really well – it had descriptions and photos of the habitats above each exhibit.

So yeah, I had fun. Then outside it was pouring and I had to buy an umbrella. Luckily they had a lot of choices and I got to make a stylish decision.

Oh yes I did!! Looks a little bit like my one at home doesnt it? Well it is, except that this one is retractable and much smaller, and still heavy duty!! YAY!!! Do you like it??

I took it down to the sea wall and we looked out along the water, and watched people pass us by.

And then I took the bus home and was watching out the window when I saw something in the street a block before my stop. Me being me, naturally I got off and went to investigate.

I walked down until I came to the street and here is what I saw.

A film/tv set!!! Right near my hotel!! That is so Vancouver, and so very very cool!!

I’m excited to see my first hockey game tonight, should be lots of fun!!
If you’re in the crowd – be gentle.

saying sayonara to Japan and g’day to Van

Hi! You’ll have to bear with me on this post as I am still recovering and a little fragile. It has been another crazy day and by my new timezone it’s only around 2.30pm and I have been up for 27 hours. I tried to have a little nap but even though I am exhausted and my hands are sore from wheeling around my luggage I just couldnt. I think this is what they call …ya know what I even forget what its called! Hahahahaha. Brain frazzle.
Anyway, you know what I mean.

So this morning I checked out of my hotel early and headed to the local subway.
I passed this shop on the way.

And thats the subway train. I had trouble getting a ticket because the machines were all in japanese. After much looking and thinking I just pressed a button, got a ticket to who knows where, and took it to the counter. The man then said something to me in japanese and I said Kyoto station. He said a few other things in Japanese and then gave me some money back and sent me to the platform.
I got to the main station and then got another ticket for Kyoto back to Tokyo and was sent to another platform.

And more waiting with my luggage!

I look a little tired there already! Imagine how I look now! Hahaha.
And on the train again. Here are some more passing shots – I got a window seat this time!
They seem to have these huge nets in the middle of residential areas.. I have no idea what they are.

If you get the chance to go to Japan in the cherry blossom season you must go! I cant explain to you how beautiful it is to see the pinks against the city and country backdrops. Infact, I’d like to go again and explore some other islands and less populated areas – get to the real centre of the country.

There are a heap more photos in my flickr set.

Once I got to Tokyo station it was time to get on another train to the airport.

Once I was there I got my big suitcase from storage, checked in at the boarding gate and did a little bit more shopping. I was starving and I knew that I wouldnt want to eat much on the plane, so I decided to make my last meal in Japan a special one. I was game again and I tried this dish – ramen noodles with spicy bean sprouts.

And yes, I even used chopsticks (kinda badly haha).

It was actually really nice, and I ate a whole lot of it! Yay for my last meal in Japan being traditional and a hit!

Then after another wander I went to the gate to wait to get on the plane. I took the opportunity to listen to all of the voices around me, picking up bits of stories here and there but mainly focusing on the accents. When you’re in a foreign country you seem to be drawn to familiar faces – and I found myself searching for an Aussie accent or passport. I didnt have much luck! I sat there and thought about how surreal this whole thing still is. There I was, in Japan, about to get on a plane to Vancouver. Wow!!

And before I knew it I was on the plane! I watched a couple of movies (It’s complicated and Mister Magoriums Wonder Imporium), listened to music and tried to rest. Hours later we landed and I walked off the plane and into Vancouver Airport. It’s a really nice airport! They have a fountain and some jellyfish and totem poles and everything! I went through customs and immigration and was granted a 2 year working holiday visa – officially! YAY!
So then I had to find my way to another train and got off at the nearest stop to my hotel. I looked out the window and smiled at the view. I was planning to get a taxi to my hotel from the station but ended up walking about 8 blocks with my 2 big suitcases and 2 bags. No wonder my arms were sore!!! But it was worth it for the views.
Welcome to Vancouver!!

And this is my view from the hotel.

Pretty cool eh?!! Eh! Hehehe.
Now to look through all the brochures I’ve got and my new map and work out my plans for tomorrow!

The rest of the day

Where else do you go that you can make three blog posts about one day?! Gotta love travel and adventures!! Hope you’re still with me, peoples! Ok, so where were we? Thats right, I was at the platform. They have a thing with cleanliness in Japan – as soon as the train pulled up and the passengers departed a team of brightly dressed women boarded to clean. You can see them there in pink – and the guy in the blue with the white helmet was I think the leader? Or maybe he had another job – there was one of him for every cabin. I watched them work through the window and it was like magic. They had a special brush to brush the seats down, a cloth to clean the armrests and then they would clear the bins and just make sure it looked tidy. I appreciated the effort when I went to my (very clean) seat.
Unfortunately I had an aisle seat, so it wasnt as easy to take photos or look out but I did my best. I got the payload shot too that I was hoping to take and forgot about but then I saw it (more on that later).
Here are some random railway window shots.

We passed all types of terrain – at one point I think I saw an ocean or maybe it was a huge lake, mountains, cities, fields, everything. Are you ready for the money shot?

We passed a few mountains and I wondered… but when I saw this peak I knew without a doubt. Hello, Mt Fuji! I am so glad that it was sunny and I got to see the icon!
I just tried to relax and listened to my ipod and the 2 and a half hour train journey seemed to go quite quickly! As soon as we got off the train I headed for the taxi queue… after a few moments of feeling lost looking at all the screens to find the exit! Haha. On the way I was tempted by the bakery shop, so I picked these up for lunch.
Yeah, just like me to stop for cake. hehehe. I had no idea what these were – they cost me about $4 for both I think. This whole money conversion rate isnt too precise with me! Anyway, the triangle one tasted like a cinnamon donut but it had custard in it! YUM! And the round one had a different custard in it and it was sweet too. I thought they were nice. Now – I know I’m not doing too well on the whole ‘different foods’ thing, but hold on until you hear about my dinner!

After checking in to the hotel I decided to go for a wander around Kyoto. I went out into the street, thinking I’d go find some shops! I wanted to go left but as soon as I got there I noticed a huge amount of noise coming from the other way. At first I thought there was a fight or something as a mans voice was booming loudly. I followed the croud, crossed the road and then came across something I certainly didnt expect to see.

This was Kyoto town hall, and the banners said something special was happening today. Boy, was I lucky!!

It seemed to be some kind of dance competition or exhibition! There were many, many different teams dressed very uniquely – almost harajuku!

They were reeeeeally getting into it – so energetic and passionate!! I stayed to watch 3 teams before heading to the shops. I couldnt believe the crowds!! I think I was the only one there who wasnt Asian. Speaking of, several times people have thought I was! I have had to tell a few locals that I dont speak Japanese as they had been expecting me to answer them. I know a few phrases but thats it – all I have been game enough to say is ‘Arigato Gozaimasu’. My brother will love that story, he is always going on about how I look Asian even though there is none in the family.

Did someone say shopping?

I bought a few little souvenirs for friends and myself but Mum will be glad to hear that I didnt even really look at clothes. Maybe tomorrow? Hahaha.
I went back out to grab dinner and after walking past a few shops I ended up down an alleyway, where I was enticed upstairs to a Russian/Japanese restaurant. I ordered cherry juice (for a bit of Japan), Borsch (for a bit of Russia) and Naan bread (lets add some india too!). It was actually really nice!!

Ok, now that you are all caught up on the news I’m going to work out my plans for tomorrow. Shrines, cherry blossoms… we shall see!
Good night!

Konnichiwa from Kyoto

I thought I’d continue with the Japanese influenced titles as – well – I am IN Japan after all! Yes, I made it to Kyoto! Hahaha. And you doubted me? Yeah, I knew you didnt.

Ok so let me continue where I left off this morning, it’s been another eventful day! Hard to believe I have technically only been in Japan for 24 hours!! I have a gazillion photos, but I will post the best on here.
So I went down to breakfast and dived into the buffet. Check out how white the egg shells are! I think they paint them – the Japanese are quite keen on perfection.

Now, perhaps I am not as adventurous as some in trying new foods – but the sausage tasted like bacon and the bacon tasted like… I dont know. The bread was a little sugarey too but hey, the croissants were awesome! Cant complain when its free! This is the view from my seat.

I was just dying to get out an explore, so when my stomach was full out I went into the street.

I wandered up and down, taking photos and taking in the sights. It was around 9am, so not many shops were open and there werent that many people around. I stumbled across this beautiful hanami sight.

I asked a nice man to take this photo for me.

I stayed there, watching the blossoms for a little while and then I headed back to the street. Here came my first connection of the day. A very handsome and well dressed young european looking man walked up to me and complimented me on my outfit. Turns out his name was Janis and he was from Amsterdam. He asked me several questions about my life. He told me he was just headed home from a night out and couldnt believe I had just woken up! Then after a bit of a chat he kissed me on both cheeks and we said goodbye. I had to stop and sit down a bit further to write in my journal about that encounter – thats the type of thing that usually happens to Kristy! Hahaha.

So after I recovered I kept walking and took a few more photos.

I wanted to go to roppongi hills and see the viewing tower but upon getting there I noticed it didnt open until 10am. Bugger! I did see the tokyo tower from the foyer though..

So I headed back to my hotel to check out and organise the train to Kyoto.. and on the way I was approached by another man. This one was a lot older, and he was Japanese. He basically invited me to a cherry blossom appreciation party he said he and his friends were having in the park. It was to be at 1pm though, and I had to get the train so I missed it. I dont know that I would have gone along if I’d been there anyway as you know I am travelling by myself (he didnt know that). So dont worry Mum I was safe!

I saw this cake on the way back to the hotel. Read the sign if you can – it was pretty cute. I think if you click on the photo you can view a bigger version.

After checking out I got another taxi to the station. This one charged me an extra 1000 yen to the one last night, so I didnt give him a tip. They have these shopping buses over here – very kawaii!

The subways and rail systems in Japan are very confusing. I got there and felt lost in the swarm of humanity again. I took this photo to show you what it’s like.

After asking a few people for help I found where I needed to be and got a ticket on the shinkansen bullet train headed to Kyoto. Then I waited on the platform and wrote in my journal!

Phew! I’ll post about the rest of my day tomorrow! Time to go get some dinner.

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