Whale Watching in Okinawa during Winter – Departing from Onna

If spending a day chilling on a white sandy beach, or diving into the amazing blue cave are the best things to do in Okinawa during Summer time, then hopping on a boat to go on whale watching tours is a must during the winter.

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Humpback whales migrate seasonally, traveling to cold polar waters during summer seasons and to warmer waters during winter seasons, and thanks for the warmth of the Okinawa waters during January to March each year, it makes it a great place for us to watch these gigantic mammals in action.

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The humpback whales do not feed during the winter months, but breed, and the Okinawa waters is their ideal breeding grounds. During this season, whale breaching is seen often, showing dominance and power. (Though I did not see it myself)

There are many Whale Watching tours that operate in Okinawa, majority of them leaves from Naha or Chatan. However, as my hotel is in Onna area, I didn’t want to spend so much time driving back and forth, so I decided to join this smaller company called the “Onna Whale Watching Association” (恩納ホエールウオッチング協会). They are the one and only company that leaves from the area.

Our tour starts at 8:30am in the morning, and to my surprise, it was quite a small group, there was only about 11 people in total, which made the boat very spacious. We were handed out a flyer when we board the boat, which is a little introduction of the whales, and what behaviors are we expected to see. And because they are the only operator in the area, we pretty much had the whole water by ourselves, no need to fight with other boats.

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It took us about an hour before we reached the breeding area. We waited for around 5 minutes, before we had our first encounter with the humpback whales. They were so close to us!!

We stayed and watch the whales for a bit over and hour, we were lucky enough to be able to spotted the whales many times, although we did not see them breach (I REALLY WANT TO!!), we did see two whales coming up at the same time, so that’s pretty awesome too!

If you are considering to visit Okinawa during January to March, be sure to book yourself a whale watching tour, it’s something you will not regret!

Onna Whale Watching Association  (Japanese only)

NOTE:
– You can ask the hotel front desk to help you book
– The waves tend to be very big during this time of the season, remember to take the sea sick pills before boarding (Even if you don’t usually need it)

Continue reading “Whale Watching in Okinawa during Winter – Departing from Onna”

Pay Attention to the T&C When Renting a Car in Japan – Learn from My Mistake

So I’ve just came back from a family trip in Ishigaki Island of Okinawa, and had an amazing time. Before I start writing about this wonderful island of Japan, I’d like to first share with you a little learning I’ve got from my car rental this time.

I’ve done so many car rentals thru out Japan, with both big and small companies. I usually tend to rent from bigger dealers as they seems to be more trust worthy, and their websites are usually fairly easy to navigate around.

This time, as I was travelling with my family in a group of 11 people, we wanted to rent the bigger people movers. After looking thru both English and Japanese websites, there’s only one car rental company that had the car we wanted during that period, so with no choice, we went with them. I did some google search of this company, and they seem very legit and have high ratings.

On the date of arrival, we waited for about 20 minutes, then the representative from the car rental company arrived and picked us up. It’s about a 15 minutes car ride from the airport to where the company is, and while we were shown with our cars, we were slightly disappointed, as the cars seems to be a bit dated. It’s the first time I’ve rented a car in Japan that doesn’t have reverse sensor, nor electronic key fobs…. Nevertheless, everything was functioning well, and I mean, safety comes first right? So as long as it’s a safe car, we are happy.

I’ve went thru the T&C briefly, purchased the optional CDW (collision damage waive) at 1,080yen/day, signed the contract, and here we go on our road trip!

Must Read Japan Ishigaki Rakuen Rental Car Experience

Everything was fine with the car, only minor issues were every now and then, the GPS would go wack! It would all the sudden tell me to turn when there’s not a road, or it would suddenly show that I’m driving in the middle of the water lol. Half the time I ended up following my Google map on my phone instead.

On the 3rd day of the trip, when I was reversing the car, I must have gone blind, and crashed the rear of the car into the stone barrier. The bumper ended up with some very visible scratches and dint. As there were no third party involved, and the stone barrier was not damaged, so I just took some photos of the car and drove off.

Must Read Japan Ishigaki Rakuen Rental Car ExperienceMust Read Japan Ishigaki Rakuen Rental Car ExperienceMust Read Japan Ishigaki Rakuen Rental Car Experience

NOW THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!!

Continue reading “Pay Attention to the T&C When Renting a Car in Japan – Learn from My Mistake”

A Playground in The Heart of Taipei for KIDULTS – Your Perfect Weekend Place

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>
Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集>

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集

During my weekend escape to Taipei, my local Taiwanese friend took me to a market in the Yuanshan area called the “Maji Maji Square”. I have to say, as a Hong Konger, I know Taipei pretty well, but to my surprise, this market that my friend took me to, I haven’t even heard of it before, and it’s been there since the end of 2013. Better yet, this place is like a playground for adults!

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集

A little bit of the background information about the area, Yuanshan is home to a popular children’s theme park, and has been very popular with parents bringing their kids for a family day. With the opening of “Maji Maji Square” (By the way, “Maji” means buddies/good friends in Taiwanese), adults now have a place to spend a few happy hours too. Located in the Taipei Expo Park’s Yuanshan Park Area (this was one of the exhibition ground for the World Flower Expo a couple of years ago), the square is designed as a fun and causal gathering spot for friends – an adult version of a children’s playground! The square is like a mix of a flea market and shopping complex, a place filled with culture, music, food, and agricultural products!

Travel Taiwan Taipei Maji Weekend Market 台北集食行樂 創意市集
Entrance to the Maji Market

“Maji Maji Square” is about a close 5 minutes walk from the Yuanshan MRT station, and upon entering the market, visitors immediately notice the slow pace and laid back, casual foreign-style atmosphere.  The market uses a variety of recycled materials, using wooden pallets for the walls of restaurants, old cargo containers to house small eateries, and discarded military tents and iron frames to create sunshades and display racks. The design is eco-friendly yet still chic and stylish. Adjacent to the market is a carousel, adding to the atmosphere of youthful play.

Continue reading “A Playground in The Heart of Taipei for KIDULTS – Your Perfect Weekend Place”

Hotel with Mount Fuji View for Under USD$100/person including MEALS!

Mount Fuji Yamadaya Hotel Review Japan Tokyo Yamanashi Travel COVER

Just imagine yourself sitting in an open air hot bathtub, having a glass of hot sake, and right in front of your eyes is the Mount Fuji sunset view surrounded by maple leaves?

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It’s the maple leaves season in Japan again, and one of the best place to see the leaves is at the Fuji Five Lake, which is about 2 hours drive from Tokyo. The five lakes are Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakaka, Shojiko, and Motosuko. It is one of the best places to view Mount Fuji from a close distance, and a great base for climbing the mountains.

Mount Fuji Yamadaya Hotel Review Japan Tokyo Yamanashi Travel MAP
Map of the Fuji Five Lakes area

There are many hotels around the areas of the Fuji Five Lakes, especially near Kawaguchiko, which is the biggest and the most touristic one. However, if you prefer something quieter, this hotel I’m going to talk about may just be the one for you!

This hotel is right in-front of Shojiko, which is the smallest lake out of the five. Comfortable rooms with Japanese traditional bedding, view of Mount Fuji in your room, private open air hot spring, and amazingly delicious meals all in one place. Better yet, you can get all these for under USD$100/persons! This is one you sure can’t miss.

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A Super Cafe in Sydney – Coffee, Weekend Market, Florist & more all in one!

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“OCD – Obsessive Coffee Disorder!”

If I were to ask you, what are the places that ones must visit in Sydney, I’m sure everyone will answer The Opera House, Bondi Beach, Darling Harbour, Fish Market etc. Well, let me add one more to your list – “The Grounds of Alexandria”. And if you are a coffee lover like me, then there is absolutely no reason why you would miss it!

Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集

For the Sydney-siders, “The Grounds of Alexandria” is no news to them. It is a “super cafe” located in the inner west city fringe suburb of Alexandria Melbourne. It is not just an ordinary cafe, but one that you could spend a whole day exploring on a Saturday!

“The Grounds” is made up of coffee roaster, café, bakery, bar, restaurant, outdoor garden, weekend market, florist and a mini farm all within this acre of land in Sydney. It is pack all week long, and especially on the weekend, because of the amazing weekend market they have.

Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集

Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集
Freshly baked mouth watering pastries

The florist was my favourite section out of the whole complex!

Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集

Travel Australia Sydney The Grounds of Alexandria Coffee Roaster Weekend Market 澳洲必去雪梨假日市集
The very famous rainbow roses

Continue reading “A Super Cafe in Sydney – Coffee, Weekend Market, Florist & more all in one!”