Cherry Blossom time!

One of things I wanted to see the most in Japan was the beautiful cherry blossoms. They didn’t disappoint  either. Our first day we slept off the flight and then headed off to Shinjinku park. I love parks in huge cities there something so peaceful and tranquil about them in a city full of bustle and madness. Shinjinku was beautiful full of traditional Japanese gardens. Locals picnicking with wine and cheese, painters making the most of the beautiful scenery. The children loved it as it was an open space to run, find sticks and twigs and explore the woods, which sadly for 10 months of the year they don’t really get to do. The park had quaint little bridges, that were perfect for lovely family photos. Which, I never got, trying to get them all in photo and smile is damn near impossible. Until I threatened them with no pokèmon centre if they didn’t let me have at least 1 nice photo per day

 

 

 

 

 

After we had seen all Shinjinku had to offer we headed to the Hanazono Shrine,one of the most historical in Japan, it is said to be the home of the god of fertility and where you come to pray for success in your career. Needless to say we didn’t reach other to the fertility god!!! I enjoy bringing the children to temples and shrines, they may not appreciate their significance at the time but I feel it helps to teach about respecting others beliefs and to act appropriately when someone is praying or paying their respects. Of course with all best intentions all the wanted to do was ring the bells and thrown money in the donation box. You can only but try to introduce them to culture, all I pray for is that they grow up open-minded and with acceptance of others and with introducing them to the big wide world I hope we are doing that.

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Airbnb is the only way to go

After completely falling in love with Hong Kong last year, we decided to continue conquering East Asia and we planned a trip to Tokyo Japan. We definitely were not as organised in the planning of the trip and left it dangerously last-minute to book accommodation. After  looking at hotels in Tokyo it became real that we could not find anything within our budget. So we turned to Airbnb, I had massive reservations the thought of sleeping in someone’s house made my skin crawl. We’re they clean people? Do they have bed bugs? Was it in a safe neighbourhood? I do have a tendency to over think things a wee bit.

My back is to the wall here!!

I have friends that have used it and they were all happy, so we bit the bullet and went for it. We found a lovely little place owned by the nicest of ladies. It was close to the metro, it was quiet and had a supermarket, restaurants and a McDonald’s if we needed it  all a stones throw away. Now space in Tokyo comes at a premium, however nothing could prepare me for what awaited us. We lugged our cases and children up the 3 flights of stairs to the top floor, Daddy opened the door. You have to worry when the door opens outward to save on space, we both looked at each other and laughed. The whole place was the size of our kitchen trying not to sound like a complete asshole there. However it had a bathroom with hot running water AND a heated toilet seat, which would prove invaluable in 7’C temperatures, Nothing like a warm tooshy!! It had a fridge , kettle, washing machine. Which was also very handy considering we don’t have many warm clothes at all. The bed was comfy, it was clean, it was warm and really it was only a base to store our things while we were out exploring.I stocked up on the children’s favourite mini cereals, we brought teabags and a few essentials at the supermarket. To be honest having breakfast there was one less meal out we had to pay for as Tokyo wasn’t cheap and at least we could get up, eat and get dressed at our own pace, rather than running down for an over priced buffet where you pay over 20quid for the children to eat one bowl of cereal. We also had a pocket wi-fi included in the price, this was extremely handy when you’re trying to navigate your way around the unknown, you can call on google maps to help you.

The best thing about using Airbnb is that you can tailor it to your budget, the further out you stay the cheaper they are, they can vary from 37 to over 200 pounds per night. Ours cost us around 500 for 5 nights, which I think for a huge city was very reasonable.

I would definitely use them again considering my mind is doing overtime planning next years holiday!!!

They were very comfy

The year gone by

ALERT THIS POST WAS STARTED BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2016!!

This is a strange time of year, a time of joy and excitement, potential bankrupcy and at times  sadness. It’s definitely a time to reflect on one’s life, a year gone by full of highlights and some bumps in the road.

I have to say for me one of the highlights of this year was our family trip to Hong Kong. Being an expat I sometimes find that you end up using all your holiday time a money flying backward & forwards to home. Which, don’t get me wrong is lovely. However it’s never a proper holiday. So this year we were selfish and used the Easter break to take a family trip, just the 4 of us to Hong Kong! We took the plunge and booked totally landing on our feet by bagging two for one flights with Qatar airways. Only going for 6 days we split the trip into adults and kids, the first few days we took in the sights of Hong Kong and the last two days were all about the kids at Hong Kong Disney. We booked into the Marriott hotel  not the most child friendly but in a superb location. It had a pool which was freezing and was attached to mall so we didn’t have to go far to eat. As I said before it was in a great location, a short walk away from Hong Kong park, a beautiful oasis in the middle of this bustling city. Play area’s, waterfalls & streams filled with terrapins, restaurants and an aviary. All for free!img_2813

We were also with walking distance of the extremely steep tram that takes you up to Victoria Peak, if you can bear the ride up and people push to get on the tram first. You’ll be greeted with some of the most breathtaking views of Hong Kong city and Kowloon. We were extremely lucky with our weather as it was a warm spring day, no clouds in the sky and zero humidity.

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We also took a ferry ride across to Kowloon and watched the city light show, it was fantastic but of course the children we’re far more excited about the ferry. We also went to the Hong Kong observation wheel. This for me was hell on earth but the kids loved it and I think it did a fab job of hiding my complete and utter fear. We then checked out and headed over to Disney. We got a good deal staying at Disney Hollywood hotel the pool was unfortunately out of use however we we’re so busy at Disneyland we didn’t even have time to explore the hotel fully. However we  loved it, there was a Disney movie playing in reception while we were checking in so the children weren’t running around like loonies.Every was Disney down to the wee soaps in the bathroom. We checked in  dumped our stuff and jumped the free bus to the park. We struck gold on our first day at the park, although we got there at lunch time we pretty much walked on to every ride.

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The favourite was toys story land and future land where we met Buzz lightyear and found Star wars eggs! We also were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when meeting our other favourites. To see the children’s smiles was pure magic and I would do it all over again.

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I have to say Hong kong was expensive, it was on parr with Dubai so although we had saved we went through our money pretty quickly. If you’re thinking of making the trip I’d get saving as you don’t want to scrimp in this amazing place.

To end our, much to our sons disgust we went to visit the “Big Buddha/Tian Tan” we climbed the 260 steps all the way to the top. the views were awesome even if it was very smoggy and humid. After being convinced by my family I braved the Nygong Ping 360 cable car, not an experience I would want to do again as I’m afraid of height but it’s the best and most beautiful way of getting back to Hong Kong Island.

So that was our amazing trip in a nutshell, start packing and get going, show your children the world is their oyster.