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”

The Hidden Tree Top Terrace Cafe with a Breath Taking View in Okinawa

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Moving from Hokkaido (the North-est part of Japan), to Okinawa (the South-est part of Japan), I’d like to share with you my recent trip to Okinawa a few weeks back.

A lot of people think of Okinawa as a summer destination, all the beautiful white sandy beaches, blue cave diving, sun bathing and reading a book etc… but a lot of you didn’t know, there are still quite some places and things you can do in Okinawa during winter time! I’d like to show you a few of them in my next few entries.

During my recent trip, I visited this really cute tree house cafe called the Beach Rock Cafe. It’s nestled and hidden in the deep forest of the Nakajin area, indeed it was so hidden that Google, nor the car GPS can take you there. I had to ask around a couple of times for direction before I manager to find this narrow entry leading onto the bumpy mountain road, but, it’s all worth it!

 

Beach Rock Cafe is actually ran by the Beach Rock Theater Group. This place is their stage where they do performances, as well as providing camping/glamping, different activities, as well as a cafe. As my trip was short, so I did not have time to join their performances nor activities, but I did spend a chilled afternoon relaxing on their tree terrace, browsing at the amazing forest scene.

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Continue reading “The Hidden Tree Top Terrace Cafe with a Breath Taking View in Okinawa”

Colourful Spring Time in Hakodate Hokkaido – Goryokaku Park

It’s been over 2 months since I last updated my blog, and it’s quite a contrast that my last post was something that happened in Okinawa (the South-est part of Japan), while this post is going to talk about Hokkaido (the North-est part of Japan).

So during my month long’s business trip in Japan last month, I decided to try to take a 4 hours bullet train ride from Tokyo to Hakodate City of Hokkaido. As Hokkaido is the North-est part of Japan, it also means that it gets cold the quickest, which leads to the earliest viewing of maple leaves/red leaves in the whole of Japan. I visited in mid October, and the leaves were already 80% red!

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Just the street of Hakodate – Ginko Trees

Although you can view the beauty of red leaves nearly in all part of the city, there are a few spots which are highly recommended, one being the Goryokaku Tower and Park (五稜郭). The original site was a pentagonal shaped fortress with inspiration from the French architect Vauban, the design allows for greater numbers of gun emplacements on its walls than a traditional Japanese fortress, and reduced the number of blind spots where a cannon could not fire.

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

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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.

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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.

Continue reading “Hotel with Mount Fuji View for Under USD$100/person including MEALS!”

Annual Tulip Festival near Melbourne – a field of vibrant colours

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This is not the Netherlands, this is Australia!

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Each year during the months of September/October, there are two big tulip festivals. One is in the Wynyard Tulip festival in Tasmania, and the other one is the Tesselaar Tulip Festival in Victoria. The later is only 40km East of Melbourne, which makes it easily accessible by car. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to drive, you could also get there easily by a train which departs from Melbourne, then board a shuttle/bus to get you to your destination.

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This year, the Tesselaar Tulip Festival was from the 8th September till the 4th October. I arrived Melbourne on the 3rd afternoon, which means the only day I could go was on their last day. During the 4 weeks of the festival, they have different events on every weekend. I would highly recommend you to check out their schedule before your visit.

According to Google Map, the journey shall only take approximately 45 minutes. Since it’s not a long ride, I have decided to have lunch at Melbourne first before we head over to the festival.

Well, a 45 minutes journey ended up being a 2 hours ride! Instead of using my Google map on the phone, I was using a GPS which I borrowed when I rented my car. For some strange reason, this GPS keeps directing me to roads that either did not exist, or was too narrow for my 4WD to get thru… Ok, it may also have to do with my bad sense of directions, and lack of skills in driving too. BUT, thanks to the GPS, we went on a route thru the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was an extremely bumpy, yet fun ride – I encountered a wild deer in the middle of nowhere!! I have no idea where it came from, but it was there, starring at us. So sometimes, a little detour on a journey aren’t so bad at all.

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Oh my deer!!

Finally, I arrived the Tesselaar Tulip Festival at around 3:30pm. The weather was super nice when we got there.

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The entrance tickets are very cute, unfortunately you don’t get to keep them as they collect them at the gate 😦

About 10 minutes after entering the festival, it started pouring, and it was so windy and cold and wet, all I could do (and most of the others as well) was to hide in the shelter to wait for the rain to past by. The weather was not very nice that day, it keeps raining, then sunshine, then raining, then sunshine… but it made the flowers look very pretty, with the rain dew drops on the flowers.

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This is one of my favourite out of all the pictures, just love the dew drops on the flowers, looking so fresh and pretty

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Purple is in the air – Jacaranda Festival in Brisbane

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Purple is the color of the month!

Are you ready to be drown in purple-ness? Because this is what this post is all about!! Be surrounded by pretty purple flowers.

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Overview of the park

In the Southern Hemisphere, we are stepping into Summer, and one of the must do in Summer for Brisbanians are to go and see the jacaranda trees! Basically, these purple pretty flowers could be seen in every corner of Brisbane, but of course, there are places which I would highly recommend you to go and visit, such as The University of Queensland, New Farm Park, Kangaroo Point etc. But my favorite jacaranda viewing place must be at Goodna. Each year, they have a festival just to celebrate this beautiful season!
(Where to see Jacaranda in Brisbane – http://blog.queensland.com/2016/10/12/jacarandas-south-east-queensland/)

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