Monday, September 8, 2014

My Boyfriend's Trip to Japan & Spring Vacation in Taiwan!

Hello, everyone!

I mentioned a while back that I was having a big influx of visitors over April - May 2014, and well, they kept me pretty busy for a few months!

The first visitor was my boyfriend, Paul. He came for a three week visit beginning in the end of April. We spent the first weekend at Tokyo Disneyland Resort. We spent one day at Disneyland, and one day at Disney Sea. It was my first time going to Disney Sea, so that was really fun! Disney Sea is unique to Japan, and it's a beautifully designed theme park. The rides at Disney Sea were more action-packed than they are at Disneyland, so I think it's good for a slightly older crowd. By the way, although it's called Disney Sea, it's not a water park. However you can see the ocean from various points in the park, and all the areas follow a sea theme - most are based on different famous ports or sea towns from around the world.

Here's a few photos from our days at the Disney Resort:

I'm by New Zealand on the globe!
All the buildings behind me are part of Disney Sea...it's huge!
See how it really does look like a dock? Even the ship in the background is part of Disney Sea.
Next up: Disney Land! Me and Paul are outside Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Riding the teacups, one of my favourites.
After that, I went back to work for a couple of days before we left for Taiwan. Paul's sister is currently working for an Eco-friendly textiles company in Taiwan, so we went to catch up with her and get the local tour. We had a great time visiting night markets, biking around the city, and of course eating heaps of Taiwanese cuisine! By far, the best food we had there were dumplings, specifically those from a restaurant at the bottom of Taipei 101. I ate so many I pretty much turned into a dumpling.

Me, Paul's sister Stacey, and a panda at Taiwan zoo!

The view from our gondola up to Maokong.
1,600 pandas - an exhibition at the Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall, where we watched the changing of the guard.
Taipei night markets - a must-do!
Taipei 101 at night, another amazing place we visited on our trip.
Hello Kitty Cafe!!! Need I say more?
Paul and I flew back to Japan via Osaka, which was a really great last trip. When we landed in Japan, I really felt like I was home again! Osaka was a beautiful place to explore, I wish we'd had more time there. As it was, we got to go to Universal Studios Japan, which was fantastic fun! Compared to either of the Disney parks, USJ's rides are much more thrilling. I especially liked the Spiderman ride, the Back to the Future ride (it's one of my favourite film series') and Hollywood Dream, a roller coaster where you get to select a song to play through speakers in the headrest near your ears! Most of the songs were Japanese (there was definitely one by Arashi), but there was a One Direction song, or Flo Rida - Wild Ones, which is what I chose. We saw a good show in their broadway hall, some awesome electric violinists on the street, and I also spotted Marilyn Monroe walking around a 1950's style burger restaurant where we having lunch ;) Another amazing part of USJ which I recommend checking out is the Hollywood collectibles shop. They have some really great memorabilia, including original movie pamphlets, real film cells, and signed movie posters. I even spotted a signed movie poster for the 1995 movie Heat. It's one of my favourite movies of all time, and my brother likes it a lot too, so I took a photo on my phone and sent it to him. All these things were for sale in the shop, but you can just imagine the prices! I bought a few cute souvenirs for myself and my family elsewhere in the park.
Getting my bearings in USJ.

Hello Kitty headgear, anyone?
A stunning night parade at USJ.
 We also made our way to the infamous Osaka castle. It was a fantastic time of year to visit, because sakura (cherry blossom) trees were in full bloom all over the city, and there were loads around Osaka castle. It made the whole scene even more beautiful.

Me and Paul at Osaka Castle.
We then went back to Utsunomiya for Paul's last week in Japan. I had to go back to work (even though it was still the school holidays!) but he had a few days left on his Japan Rail Pass, so he went to Tokyo a couple of days. I was really impressed with how brave he was to go to Tokyo by himself! He checked out a few different areas like Akihabara, Harajuku, and the area around Tokyo Station. Back in Utsunomiya, we attended a weekend ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) party with a lot of other JETs and some Japanese friends. Since I didn't have classes that week, I also took a long lunch one day and we went to a park by my house and had a picnic hanami luch. ^^ It was really lovely! The trip was over far too soon, and Paul went back to NZ.

We also enjoyed okonomiyaki on our 3-year dating anniversary! 
One of the many beautiful shots Paul was able to take of cherry and plum blossoms.
Our lunchtime hanami at my local park!
In my next post, you'll see who visited me soon after!

- Annabelle

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I've been a high school English language teacher on the JET Programme since August 2013. Read about my experiences, advice on being accepted into the JET Programme, and travel tips around Japan on my blog:
 
 
よろしくおねがいします!

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