Yosemite National Park

Generally in a day you could cover the valley floor and one or two of the shorter mountain/waterfall hikes, however, ideally a two day stay on site would be best to cover a fair portion of the popular areas as well as chances for sunrise and sunset photos and revisiting areas at different times of the day. In saying that, if you’re on a tight schedule, a “summary” tour of the park is doable in about half a day.

Yosemite National Park - one of the many lookout spots on the way in

Firstly, the place is vast, not just in a physical sense but in a commercial way to accommodate the masses of tourists, for the most part its all 2 lane, one way bitumen roads with plenty of spots to pull over. On the way up and over the mountain range its single 2 way roads but still plenty of lookout spots. Travelling in late May, early June will still see plenty of thick snow at the top of the mountain areas. Temperatures were high single figures (Celsius) in these areas but were quite warm on the valley floor, around low 20s. So while you’re active you can easily get away with shorts and t-shirt for most of the day, though temps drop off fast once the sun slips behind the mountains.

On the valley floor, you can actually drive to most of the major sights. This is definitely the quickest way, but of course everyone has the same idea and you will get caught up with those inconsiderate types holding up traffic, triple parked trying to get photos from their car. Even if you choose not to park somewhere, unfortunately there’s no escaping them because of the one way ring road layout of the park. There is a shuttle that loops this ring road but for a relaxing experience and access to extra areas minus some of the strenuous hiking or traffic headaches you can’t go past hiring a bicycle.

The bicycles are hired from the Yosemite village, which is the central point for visitors. Take your pick of mountain bike, cruiser, tandems or even ones with trailers for around $10 hour or $28 for the day. Helmets are included for the safety conscious. Yosemite Lodge is also the major hub for tourist information, eateries and a grocery/souvenir store. The store prices are all reasonable and service was friendly and quick. There’s even free ice water (:

Yosemite National Park - Mirror Lake

For the most part, the ride is quite easy with very little variation in inclines so no prior triathlon experience is required. The steepest part you’ll encounter will be the path up to Mirror Lake but its only a short run before bicycle access is restricted. There are racks at this point but no locks or chains are provided, just make sure you remember which bike is yours! We marked ours with a napkin and rubber band around one of the hand grips (:

The rest of the walk up to Mirror Lake is quite steep. This is where you thank yourself from packing that extra bottle of water 😉 From Mirror Lake you get the classic view of Half Dome and some nice white water river action so make sure you have the camera and tripod ready.

Yosemite National Park

The bike path crosses over the river a few times so plenty of scenic moments can be had. If you have the extra time, head on over to Yosemite Falls, if not you can still see it from the path.

Yosemite Falls

Travel tip: If you’re travelling in the off season, road closures are always imminent around the park and access will be limited so check the forecasts and updates on the Yosemite park site.

Yosemite National Park

After a quick frolick in the snow at a rest area along side a biker gang, we were heading down the mountain and out to the bay area. Next stop… Milpitas!

Yosemite National Park

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here

On the road again...


After nearly a week of LA driving, I was quite looking forwarded to hitting the open road with minimal traffic and doing the speed limit for more than just sporadic bursts. For the most part this wasn’t the case, thanks to convoy after convoy of semi trailers but having multiple wide lanes made it bearable.

We headed up the #5 through plenty of vast open plains and rolling hills to Bakersfield. Apart from the scenery there wasn’t much else, even the gas stations were slim so make sure you have plenty in your tank before heading off.

Valley Plaza Mall - Image courtesy of Bakersfield.com

Bakersfield was on the pit stop list for two reasons, the first being the Valley Plaza Mall off highway 99. The locals may not think much of it but it’s a great one stop mall with a lot of your favourite stores with small city prices and sales.

Three Footlockers, two Journeys and a Champs get the ball rolling for sneakers while there’s Mainland Skate for skate and surf gear. Purely by coincidence there is also a Wetzel’s Pretzels 😉

The major retailers are what you would expect, Target, Forever 21, JC Penny, Macy’s and Sears.

The second reason for our stop is of course it being Nu-metal band Korn‘s home town and the renaming of a small street for them. There was surprisingly little info online about this but that didn’t deter us from driving around in circles. Be warned though, creeping slowly through back alleys and circling empty carparks and service entrances WILL lead you to being tailed by police. Thankfully we weren’t driving a white Bronco, things could’ve ended quite differently otherwise. So we came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t there anymore. Further research however shows the town may have backed out on the renaming altogether or maybe some kids just taxed it. Either way, best not to waste your time.

I could probably go ahead and add a third item to the list and that would be the hot rod meet up at a small shopping center that we passed on the way in.

After Bakersfield the only other major stop is Fresno. With time slipping away from us we decided to “stay on” instead of “get off” (yes it’s a Speed reference :p ). From the freeway it all looks pretty same-y as you pass the small towns peppered through out the darkness with fields of carparks surrounding strip malls, all under the glow of fluorescent lighting makes for some eerie moments in the dead of night.

The lanes will lessen and the traffic will thin and you will finally arrive at the little mountain town of Oakhurst. Roughly about 4-5 hour drive but with stops and traffic you’re looking at closer to 7-8.

Travel tip: If you pull in to a town/city for a pit stop it is best to fill up as there are no gas (petrol) stations accessible/visible from the freeway.

Oakhurst - Yosemite NP in the distance

We stayed at the Best Western review here for a few hours sleep before heading up and over the mountain range of Yosemite national park.

Staying at Oakhurst may save you a few dollars and some time off the initial drive but it does mean it’s a little longer to get to the park the following day. However if you play your cards right, its not that bad. It’s a given that the warmer months are when the park is at its busiest, so choosing an off season date will avoid some traffic and crowds, but generally you’ll want to leave yourself about 2hours to get there from Oakhurst, just to be safe. The distance isn’t that much but once you get to the mountain roads it will be slow moving thanks to inconsiderate drivers/sight-seers that don’t pull over to let traffic pass. Restrictive speed limits don’t help much either.

Travel tip: The entrance is still about 30-45min from the valley floor. When you arrive, make sure you have cash for the park entrance fee which is $20 per vechicle. Motorcycles, bicycles or if you’re travelling on foot its $10

Next up is the Yosemite national park, darn tootin!

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here

Japantown is pretty much an outdoor mall (Japanese Village Plaza) and its surrounding streets. The plaza has a good mix of the stores you’d expect. Sanrio (Hello Kitty), traditional style souvenirs and apparel, authentic cuisines, bakeries and grocery markets. Sneakers are covered with Footland Sports. They stock a good range of current items including colourways and styles that you’d expect from a much larger store. Very few of the items have prices, when asked, they’re all around standard RRP but with a “I give you a special price” post-fix, so there’s a bit of bargaining to had if you’re purchasing a few items. There’s also a sale wall at the back with old season stock.

Sanrio - Japantown LA

Outside the mall the sneaker fun continues with RIF LA, the downtown consignment answer to West Hollywood’s Flightclub. Similar range, though the prices were higher. As with any bricks and mortar store, the benefit would be being able to go in, handle the shoe and try it on rather than taking your chances on ebay and the like.

RIF LA

On the northern side of the plaza is easily one of LA biggest and best anime stores, Anime Jungle (second store on the southern side). Huge selection of Manga, cosplay outfits, Gundam model kits, tees and anime related merch. The store itself isn’t very obvious with “Cure shop” on its front window but its unmistakable once you walk in.

Anime Jungle

A block to the west you have Weller Court, a small mall with a nature strip and Japanese gardens, perfect for taking a rest from all that walking! The last stop is Q Pop, a mid size store with a good selection of vinyl collectibles, clothing and books. It differs from the usual with a more advent guarde approach to the clothing and artworks, a bit more twisted and a little less cute, there’s also a selection of finer arts like paintings and sculptures. They of course still have the cheek squeezing super cute stuff if that’s more to your liking.

Q Pop LA

Q Pop LA

Next up, we ditch the shopping bags and hit up a string of sight seeing and entertainment!

Los Angeles 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Melrose Trading Post
Los Angeles 2011 part #2 – West Hollywood shopping, Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles 2011 part #3 – Downtown shopping – Fashion District
Los Angeles 2011 part #4 – Downtown shopping – Japantown
Los Angeles 2011 part #5 – Steel Panther @ The House of Blues 17/5/11
Los Angeles 2011 part #6 – Hollywood sign, Farmer’s Market
Los Angeles 2011 part #7 – Peterson Automotive Museum
Los Angeles 2011 part #8 – Greater LA area shopping
Los Angeles 2011 part #9 – Hollywood sight seeing with Orbic Air
Los Angeles 2011 part #10 – Driving in Los Angeles/California

Complete Los Angeles 2011 photo gallery here

Downtown LA

Most cities around the world tend to have a CBD which is based loosely round a large mall or group of shops, not so much for LA. Its CBD is strongly focused on the ‘B’ and can throw off first timers expecting more, very much like ourselves. First stop and possibly only stop for most people is the infamous 100 block “fashion” district. I use the term “fashion” very loosely as it seems like its more targeted to certain demographics and it seems one of the biggest markets are middle age to elderly women, not too unlike the mother of Nanny Fine. You know the look, big loose clothing with violent clashes of colour and patterns or an unashamed overuse of glo-mesh and bedazzling.

Coming a close second are the hoochie mama outfits. If you finally got that part as “background dancer #14″ in your friends rap video (yes we know, it’s a foot in the door till your boyfriend/manager sorts out that demo for you) then this is the place for you! Store after store of leggings that look like jeans, jeans that look like leggings and mannequin bums that look like two pigs fighting under a blanket. Starting to see a pattern yet?

YA RLY

Unfortunately the guys gear isn’t much better, while some of the prices are good, the range is limited to basic work wear, athletic gear and Ed Hardy styled fashion. On the upside there are plenty of suit stores and tailors, a lot with questionable designs and dated cuts to go with their outlandish sitcom drug dealer style shirts but there are some good places with classic designs and vintage flare.

One thing to note is a lot of the stores are wholesalers (some don’t actually sell to the public) so the prices can get very good if you’re looking at buying in bulk eg. For your team, school, work. One of the Dickies sellers mentioned he supplies a few stores in NZ and AU.
But remember these are the UDM (US domestic market) work wear variety, not the “Dickies Street” version sold by stores like City Beach in Australia, which incidentally have very little difference to the work wear ones.

In the way of sneakers, you’re best to just keep walking. The few stores we ventured into were a mixture of fakes, factory seconds and low end “rubbishy” models. There were a couple worthy toy stores with less commercial product, one I found in the most unlikely of places selling wind chimes and jewellery, everything BUT toys. But they did have a shelf in the window of collectible vinyl in a hiphop/graffiti vain which look liked they’ve sat there for years. Pieces which I’ve seen around the traps ranging from $50-200US as limited runs in selected Kidrobot stores and the like. When asked on prices, they were clearly made up on the spot from a guy that should really never play poker! I’m sure I could’ve haggled a better price out of him, but with numbers between $10-15US it was hard to keep a straight face. Needless to say, I cleaned them out 😉

The rest of this precinct is divided up for flowers and textiles. The flower section has a huge selection of cut flowers and potted garden flowers and plants along with associated accessories. Obviously the weather dictates a lot of the seasonal/regional flowers but its still a surprise to see massive 10-15 flowered Phalaenopsis orchids for a throw away $10ea. Similar items would fetch between $50 and $100 mark here. The cut flower arrangements are what can only be described and typically American. Big, bold and brash, like a brand new Escalade with chrome wheels or your mum’s hair style from the 80s, they feature a fanned peacock tail arrangement with a random selection of “pretty” flowers. Roses, sunflowers, tulips and ample Baby’s Breath are all slapped together in a tribal head gear fashion with cohesion and colour blocking coming in with a DNF. If you really want to dazzle your loved one you can even go for the pieces that feature a large plastic gold plated ornament! Needless to say, if you are buying cut flowers, you’ll do better buying a couple bunches and putting them together in the dark 😉

Textiles on the other hand, while still having the patterns/styles of a Rugs-a-million clearance rug, are saved by sheer variety. Even if you have a brief passing interest in sewing its worth a look, if you’re at the other end of the scale and are already thinking how many fat quarters you can get into a suitcase then you may want to consider ditching some of those sneakers :-0

iPhone case anyone?

Its probably best to just park your car as close as possible to the area you’re visiting, then move it to the next area and pay the few bucks again as the blocks are loonngg. If you want to brave it or aren’t driving, walking does have its advantages in stumbling across stores and flea market style centres with electronics, souvenirs and general plastic crap, not too unlike your average Asian shopping “centre” and all at prices less than the usual tourist spots. For example, souvenir tees were around 20-40% less than places like Santa Monica and the Farmer’s Markets.

Big Man Bakes

As you’re venturing north take a detour to South Main street for Big Man Bakes, nothing as suss… or big …or manly as it sounds! Simply some very tasty gourmet cupcakes. Try the Red Velvet – a traditional southern style cake, the caramel apple or the “old school” – yellow cake with chocolate butter cream icing; the list goes on and they get cheaper the more you buy.

Further north is the “Toy District“, which was in all accounts disappointing. A whole district of toys?? Yes please! Unfortunately, from the several blocks we walked through it was nothing more than novelties and knick knacks bar a few remote controlled helicopters and cars. There’s also a scattering of home wares and car accessories stores. There’s a Hello Kitty store, or should I say a store that sells Hello Kitty items. Hard to tell if they were real or not but the branding and packaging looked authentic as did the HK car mats. Hello Kitty as a robot with Astro boy styled rocket feet flying through a rainbow? Just try and stop me!

By now you’ve probably ready to hurt someone if you see another battery powered car that flips over when it hits a wall or a “live” ball with a tail, but don’t despair, Japantown is just around the corner.

Los Angeles 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Melrose Trading Post
Los Angeles 2011 part #2 – West Hollywood shopping, Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles 2011 part #3 – Downtown shopping – Fashion District
Los Angeles 2011 part #4 – Downtown shopping – Japantown
Los Angeles 2011 part #5 – Steel Panther @ The House of Blues 17/5/11
Los Angeles 2011 part #6 – Hollywood sign, Farmer’s Market
Los Angeles 2011 part #7 – Peterson Automotive Museum
Los Angeles 2011 part #8 – Greater LA area shopping
Los Angeles 2011 part #9 – Hollywood sight seeing with Orbic Air
Los Angeles 2011 part #10 – Driving in Los Angeles/California

Complete Los Angeles 2011 photo gallery here

So we’re back in West Hollywood. Kinda like catching up with an old friend really. You know their quirks, you know what you have in common, you by pass the touchy subjects and jump straight into reminiscing.

We covered the bulk of the West Hollywood stores previously here and here, but just to quickly recap, Flightclub LA and Sportie LA are always good stops for consignment/pre owned gear, though some of their prices are starting to get a little greedy. If you worry more about how good you look while skateboarding than how good you can actually skateboard then you might wanna pop your head into the stores of
Supreme, Diamond Supply and Crooks and Castles. Each trying to out do each other in hipster arrogance and poor service. What’s worse is none have the inventory to back the attitude, with limit range and sizes, give the glorified check out chicks a miss, there’s nothing you cant buy online or at another store for cheaper.

Flightclub LA

Sportie LA

Johnny Cupcakes is always worth a stop in for in store exclusives. A recent subtraction from this cluster of shops is Loyal Army, sadly they pretty much upped and closed their store overnight with very little notice. They are however still selling online and from their San Francisco store in Haight.

Japan LA

On the plus side, JapanLA has moved on to Melrose not too far from their old location to a newer and bigger store. Still the same good selection, abundance of Hello Kitty merch, friendly staff, sale items and now also sporting a small gallery room at the back with works from local artists.

Meltdown Comics

Last stop in West Hollywood was Meltdown Comics. Easily one of the biggest comic stores we’ve seen in awhile. Huge selection of comics and just as big selection of collectibles, figures, toys and plushes ranging from movie/comic based items to urban vinyl collectibles and blind boxes. They also have the complete range of So So Happy merchandise, which means if you’ve got a sweet tooth for the sickly cute and colourful you’ll no doubt go into a diabetic coma here.

Pop Killer

While you’re there, pop over the road to Pop Killer. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling of vintage and vintage styled new items. Mostly clothing but also a range of accessories, knick knacks, novelties and house hold items.

Mulholland Drive

As the sun slowing slipped away at a leisurely 8pm we took a drive up to Muholland Drive. Just follow the road up to the lookout (with fixtures and signage, not just dirt!), even though there are spots before this, parking is a little hit and miss as is the view. Don’t forget to take a jacket as well, those mountain breezes are very unforgiving! The view here is mostly of west LA, to see more of downtown follow the road around and head east through the tiny residential streets. You will eventually go over the mountain and start heading down, half way down on a rather Mt. Akina style of road, there’s a dirt spot to pull over to get your cityscape pano on.

LA cityscape (click for big)

Next up, we hit the downtown area where dodgy and awesome go hand in hand like Jesse James and Kat Von D!

Los Angeles 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Melrose Trading Post
Los Angeles 2011 part #2 – West Hollywood shopping, Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles 2011 part #3 – Downtown shopping – Fashion District
Los Angeles 2011 part #4 – Downtown shopping – Japantown
Los Angeles 2011 part #5 – Steel Panther @ The House of Blues 17/5/11
Los Angeles 2011 part #6 – Hollywood sign, Farmer’s Market
Los Angeles 2011 part #7 – Peterson Automotive Museum
Los Angeles 2011 part #8 – Greater LA area shopping
Los Angeles 2011 part #9 – Hollywood sight seeing with Orbic Air
Los Angeles 2011 part #10 – Driving in Los Angeles/California

Complete Los Angeles 2011 photo gallery here

“You can stick your well laid plans up your well laid ass!”. Ah yes, another pearl of wisdom from Mr. Jackson and nothing short of the truth for the opening leg of our latest trip. It’s true, there’s no amount of preparation that will prevent curve balls from external influences.

Things started off with a nervous check in thanks to our travel agent putting completely wrong passport numbers into our flight booking. Not the best thing to have against your name flying into the states with their current “everyone is a terrorist” standing. Luckily, after half
an hour of “Border Control” TV show style questioning, accusing glances and hushed phone calls it was all sorted and we were on our way around the world!

We scored some crazy cheap flights via star alliance, which led to the bulk of the flights being covered by Lufthansa. I’ve only flown once domestically with them which was fine for a short trip but I was a little skeptical with what the service would be like on a long haul – no thanks to a lot of comments and :S faces from friends and random strangers. However I’m happy to report it was great (: Service was good albeit it a bit hurried at times and the accommodations were nothing short of lush, being on a 3 week old A380 definitely helped with this. Exceptionally quiet, engine noise was easily half of a regular A300 or 747. Seats were comfy and the touch screen LCD complete with 3 external live cameras was great for in flight entertainment. Don’t forget your LAN or USB cable to plug your devices into your arm rest 😉 Best of all, it had that fresh off the floor, new plane smell.

Noisey kids, idiots bumping our seats, jet lag and the inescapable 2 hour crawl through LAX customs/immigration later, we were free from the clutches of commercial transit. Grabbed our rental car from Dollar Rentals (review here) and headed straight for West Hollywood.
(tips on driving in California in a coming installment)

The biggest speed bump I always find on holidays is store trading hours. The majority of places I have travelled to in the world (except Australia), retailers open around 10-11am (sometimes 12 or later for boutique stores), some bigger stores/malls might swing the doors open around 9. This might work well if you’ve had a big night but it seriously eats into your day when you’re travelling. So a good thing to try is to tee up sight seeing or community events to do in the morning while you’re waiting for the stores to open.

Random bits and pieces

First stop for us was the Melrose Trading Post at Fairfax High school which is pretty much what you would expect for a popular Californian market. An abundance of quirky brick-a-brack, hand made arts and crafts and vintage items galore from cute plush monsters to taxidermy to thousands of random photographs and negatives from people’s personal collection. How? Why? Who knows, it’s LA baby!

Vintage Coke Esky

Hand made plush toys

Framed butterflies

Vintage photo frames - $5

Buy someone else's personal photos

There’s also a selection of vintage and modern cameras and accessories. Forget over bidding on ebay for a used Vivitar flash, they were available here for throw away prices. Plenty of army surplus items as well, right down to aircraft instrumentation and war memorabilia.

Camera stuff... and hand mirrors

More camera stuff

Ammunition case

Aviation memorabilia

Photo tip: while there are plenty of tourists and arty types snapping photos, take care when shooting some of the stalls, especially the ones of the local designers who seem to be very particular with others “stealing” their ideas. I witnessed a guy get chased down and verbally abused by one owner. While the empty threats of “That’s stealing! I’m calling the police” may not mean much, it is definitely a conflict best avoided. Or at least wait till you’re about to leave anyway :p

Travel tip: Head to their website for half price entry coupons

Depending on how thoroughly you browse, it only takes about 1-2 hours to do the whole event. Take advantage of the food and (especially) toilets while you’re there. Parking is free when you drive into the grounds, (just follow the directions from the traffic controllers) so to save a few bucks, leave your car there and check out the surrounding shops, most of which should be open by now….

Next – Shopping in West Hollywood and a spot of sight seeing at the famed Mulholland Drive.

Los Angeles 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Melrose Trading Post
Los Angeles 2011 part #2 – West Hollywood shopping, Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles 2011 part #3 – Downtown shopping – Fashion District
Los Angeles 2011 part #4 – Downtown shopping – Japantown
Los Angeles 2011 part #5 – Steel Panther @ The House of Blues 17/5/11
Los Angeles 2011 part #6 – Hollywood sign, Farmer’s Market
Los Angeles 2011 part #7 – Peterson Automotive Museum
Los Angeles 2011 part #8 – Greater LA area shopping
Los Angeles 2011 part #9 – Hollywood sight seeing with Orbic Air
Los Angeles 2011 part #10 – Driving in Los Angeles/California

Complete Los Angeles 2011 photo gallery here

Monorail, downtown Tokyo

If you’re staying closer to inner Tokyo or just want a good view of the Tokyo skyline then head on down to Odaiba. Take the JR Yamanote line to Okachi Machi then switch to the Yurikamome line. This will take you through the city, over the Rainbow bridge (lit bridge that changes colour every few seconds) then into Odaiba.

Odaiba is on one of the many man made “islands” in Tokyo Bay it used to be all commercial buildings but is now home to a selection of tourist attractions. The biggest and most obvious one being Daikanransha, the “Tokyo eye” once the biggest ferris wheel in the world its still packs the wow factor with 360 degree views of the city, on a clear day you might even catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.

The ride lasts about 15min and you can choose between a completely clear capsule or a regular ferris wheel style closed in bottom. There tends to be a 10-20min wait on the all-clear ones, while it is a little easier to see out from a sitting position, its no better for taking photos as the frame work gets in the way, not to mention the windows themselves can be pretty dirty.

It is open till 10pm nightly. If you want to head straight to it, stay on the upper level of the train platform and head south to the freeway overpass.

View of Tokyo from Daikanransha, Odaiba, Tokyo

Other notable attractions in Odaiba are: the “interesting” looking Fuji TV studio, Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall, Venus Fort (Venice themed mall), the Statue of Liberty replica. Entertainment wise check out Tokyo Leisure Land (24hour gaming, karaoke and bowling) and Zepp Tokyo, Tokyo’s largest concert hall playing host to Jamie Cullum and Erykah Badu next week alone. During the day, there are numerous park areas and “beaches” on the edge of the island great for a bbq in the warmer months, though swim at your own peril.

Leaving Tokyo

So here we are in our hotel room looking down at our 2 week bounty thinking how the heck are we going to get all of this back home. Suticases. More suitcases.
After a quick chat to the concierge we headed back over to the Ameyoko markets. One thing that’s for certain is the quality of merchandise is a lot higher than what you would find in say, Hong Kong. However, this is reflected in the price, but like anything, look long enough and you’ll find what you’re after at the price you’re willing to pay. Another suitcase and carry on later, we were sorted.

Not having a budget gives you one less thing to worry about however you must always be weary of the luggage trade off. So Couple tips on packing:

– Bulky items like shoes are lighter but take up more space (try breaking down the shoe boxes and using them in the suitcase lining. You get to keep the box and have a bit of extra protection from those enthusiastic luggage throwers handlers. For extra space, remember shoes are hollow, perfect for storing t-shirts or your ball pit of Gashapon 😉
– Try to distribute heavier items like jeans across your luggage.
– Put delicate items such as glassware, ornaments, model kits and collectibles into your carryon but leave things like snow globes out. Because of the water in them, they are still classed as a prohibited item so make sure you have plenty of bubble wrap and double bagging handy. The store should normally pack them well, if not, pop into a post office for supplies.
– Lastly, if you run out of room, remember jackets don’t have to be classed as luggage. Its easy enough to carry 2 (one on each back pack strap) and spare some precious luggage space.

There you have it, city #1 covered (in a roundabout way) but we’re not done! Stay tuned for the next instalment when we hop, skip and jump over the pond to the city of angels, LA!

Domo Origato! Sayonara! ^__^

Ueno Blossom Festival

Tokyo part #1 – Ueno for a day
Tokyo part #2 – Getting round Tokyo, Ueno Sakura at night
Tokyo part #3 – Harajuku
Tokyo part #4 – Shibuya
Tokyo part #5 – Kichijoji and Shinjuku
Tokyo part #6 – Akihabara

Photo Gallery Here

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