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Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

6 May

Three A.M. and the hustling hub of Tokyo’s fish market is packed with live and frozen aquatic creatures. ImageA stroll through any of the aisles is a compact lesson in marine biology with seemingly endless varieties of fish, shellfish and mollusks. ImageImageSeasoned workers methodically trim and cut while professional buyers make a invisible beelines around shops to select fine cuts for restaurants all over town. Serious sushi restaurants stick to trusted suppliers and will pay top price for a good fish.ImageImageThe tuna auction takes place at 5 am where the prize is a tuna the size of a grown person. I would not be able to tell you why one tuna fetched more than another but the record price was ¥155.4 million in 2013 for a 222 kg fish. High auction prices are typical on January 1st where the purchase of the best catch is seen as a celebration. ImageWhile you’re here, it would be a shame not to eat some sushi. There are some famed sushi restaurants around with equally famous line-ups of up to two hours. I’ve tried two less busy restaurants and the sushi was the best I have ever had. I am confident you will not be disappointed with any restaurant you choose.

ImageImageThe market is busiest until approximately 8 am when restaurant buyers have finished their procurement. If you’re not an early bird or don’t want to see the auction, I recommend arriving at Tsukiji around 8 am for sushi breakfast at a restaurant of your choice. It might feel strange eating sushi at such an early hour but one bite in and you’ll forget you ever had such a silly thought. Afterwards, head over to the wholesale area (open to tourists from 9 am on) and soak in the experience. ImageIf you want the chance to catch the action, you’ll have to arrive around 4 am. The auction is free but limited to 120 people, first-come-first-serve. The first tour for 60 people is from 5:25 to 5:45 am. The second tour is between 5:50 to 6:10 am. Due to the early hour, spend the night in the area around Tsukiji because the trains won’t run that early and a taxi ride across town will be very expensive. Tokyo Cheapo has great recommendations on places to stay the night before.

Kung Hei Fat Choi

7 Feb

Only a few more days to Chinese New Year and everything seems to be decked out with red lanterns, gold chocolate coins and colourful lion masks. The energy in Hong Kong is brimming with excitement as the city counts down to the year of the snake. Here are some of the beautiful sights to see during this auspicious time.

chinesenewyear Temples are bustling with people who come to pray for good fortune in the new year. Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is home to Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. The grand temple is adorned with intricate carvings, large archways and bright red, gold and blue hues as far as the eye can see.  chinesenewyear2The wishing trees at Lam Tsuen are a favourite spot. People write wishes on paper and tie it to a clementine. The wishes are then tossed onto the branches of the tree, in hopes that the higher the tree branch, the more likely the wish will come true. The wishing trees have become so popular that imitation trees have been set up nearby so that the real trees do not become overburdened. chinesenewyear3Lion dances can be seen all over Hong Kong during this time of year. Led by clashing cymbals and beating drums, the mix of martial arts with bold colours and fringe are really a sight to see. Business entrances will hang green vegetables, usually lettuce, high above the doorway for the lions to eat. Skilled dancers are known to perform acrobatics to reach the greens and are rewarded with red envelopes of money. It’s one of my favourite parts of Chinese New Year and is always a stunning performance. The dance is thought to bring good luck to companies. 

chinesenewyear4There is also the much anticipated firework show on the 1st of the lunar year. Celebrations will be erupting worldwide on Sunday and I hope you get the chance to enjoy it!

photos via Discover Hong Kong

Leap of Faith

9 Dec

How would you feel if your morning started off with a near vertical fall off the top of a Ziggurat with sharks swimming at the bottom?leap-of-faith

This is definitely an experience that will get your adrenaline running. Once you step off the 27.5 m high slide, you are launched down a see-through chute that runs through a shark filled lagoon. If your eyes aren’t closed shut, you can wave hello at the bow mouth sharks , white and black tips, guitar sharks and grey reef sharks going about their business. Aptly named The Leap of Faith, this water slide is not for the faint of heart. 

Atlantis, The Palm via Entertainment Designer

Moon Fest

30 Sep

Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival! It’s a harvest celebration when families come together, admire a bright full moon and give thanks.

My favourite part of the festival is the lighting of candles inside paper lanterns. As a kid, I would hold a long stick with a lantern tied to the end and gingerly walk around just admiring the flickering light and the glowing colours and patterns. If you get the chance tonight, head out to Chinatown and witness hundreds of colourful lanterns on the streets, hanging from balconies or held by laughing children.

While you’re at it, try some moon cake too! It’s generally sweet and filling so you probably won’t eat a whole lot but it’s the only chance to eat it in the year so it’s something I always look forward to. 

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Mardin, Turkey

29 Sep

Mardin, located in south east Turkey, is one of the oldest settled regions of Mesopotamia. Archaeologists have found remains from 4000 BCE! Certainly nothing to sneeze at. But the real wonder in my opinion is the beautiful architecture in the city.

Constructed during the Artuqid Dynasty in the 1100s, the limestone buildings are beautifully carved, crafted and preserved. What a deep sense of history you would feel walking through those honey coloured streets. Another bonus? No cars! The streets are too narrow and the stairs are too winding for vehicles to get through so you can peacefully spend the afternoons wandering around the old town and heading in whichever direction you fancy. On a walk, you might stroll into the Church of Forties, a 10th century Syriac Orthodox church or Zinciriye Medresesi, a madrasah/Islamic school, built in the 1300s with beautiful wall decorations.

To top it all off, there is a citadel at the top of the hill which I am sure would provide a spectacular view indeed! All in all, Mardin looks like a breathing outdoor museum I would love to wander through.

 

source here

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New Adventures

25 Sep

Psst…I have some news!

I was just offered a new job and will be moving to Japan in the coming months! I am absolutely thrilled and cannot wait to share in the new adventures! Cherry blossoms, temples, fish markets, Mount Fuji and so so SO much more. I hope you stick around for the ride!

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Uluru

19 Sep

Uluru is a giant sandstone monolith over 340 metres high with a circumference of 9.4 km. Also known as Ayer’s Rock, it is the remains of a mountain that once stood in the center of Australia. It is certainly a place I would love to see and hike up, down and around.

Impressive in itself, it becomes even more beautiful when the rains fall and the runoff produces large waterfalls that delineate the erosion it has gone through over the centuries. You have to agree- nature is stunning.

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