By Nina Sabin - Travel
In our last blog, we left you off as we finished exploring South Korea. As I have mentioned before, it is hard to believe that we are on another once-in-a-life-time trip. All I can say is every time I am sitting on a plane, I am in awe at the fact that we are off to travel to another country I used to dream of visiting and now we are actually being able to see it in person.
On this repat – Amazing Asian Adventure – we traveled to three of those incredible places. First was South Korea, which I shared about those experiences in the last blog. Next is Japan and we finished this repat journey in Hawaii.
If you are like me, I think of Japan as crowded cities, beautiful countryside, incredible costumes, friendly people, and delicious delicacies. Japan has all those things and so much more. We began exploring Japan in the famous city of Tokyo.
If you have been following our blogs, you know Asia is our favorite continent to explore. Japan is about our tenth country we have visited in Asia. In each country, you can feel the excitement of the Asian experience along with different cultural flair unique to that country.
Getting around Tokyo is convenient and easy. We love to walk and most places are within walking distance. We enjoyed exploring the very heart of the Tokyo's old downtown known as the 'Shitamachi'. Shitamach is known for its authentic crafts shops and cultural events. We saw many people walking around in local costumes called kimonos. I really wanted to try one on and see how it looked on me, but unfortunately we were so busy with our adventures, that the opportunity never happened.
Close to our hotel in Andon Ryokan, is the area of Ueno. In Ueno we saw dynamic parks. So many things to experience while exploring the parks. We watched many street performers and there was plenty shopping available. Shopping is far from our families favorite thing to do; though we do bring a few souvenirs home. We love nature and in Ueno we were able to paddle in a rowing boat around a majestic lake and feed a variety of swans and ducks. Ueno is widely recognized as a showcase of Japanese culture.
Besides walking there is also suitable public transportation. In the evening, we took the subway to Shinjuku Station. Shinjuku is known as the NYC of Tokyo with its amazing lights and nightlife The Shinjuku district is, without doubt, the most vigorous part of Tokyo; two million people per day pass through Shinjuku subway station alone. The east is colorful, seedy and exotic while the west is planned, administrative and full of sky scrapers. We felt Shinjuku is a must see for tourists.
Another main attraction to visit is Tokyo Disneyland. Just like all Disney parks, it is a great place to take children of all ages. The park is full of incredible rides, Disney Characters, amazing food, and fantasies of all kinds.
We finished our time in Japan visiting Mount Fuji. It is a true icon of peace and serenity. This mountain has been regarded as home of the gods. Fuji-san lies about 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Tokyo & is the highest mountain in Japan (12460 feet / 3798 meters). Oldest lavas here have been dated as 8000 years old. The five lakes arched around the northern side of Mt. Fuji are an added bonus. You only need one day to enjoy the unbelievable views from this magnificent mountain.
Trying true authentic food is always the highlights of our trips. Yes, sushi in Japan is amazing. If you are a sushi fan and love Asian food, you will be in heaven tasting all the amazing cuisines in Japan. My mouth is watering right now as I write this blog.
We spent five days in Japan before our long flight back to the US. Hawaii here we come!
The flight took over ten hours’ door to door along with flying over the international dateline, which we thought was so cool. No matter if the time zone change is three hours or 19 hours, it does take a few days for your body to adjust and to get over jet-lag.
Hawaii is everything we imagined it would be. So tropical! Couldn’t wait to taste macadamias and see pineapple plantations. I had never seen pineapples growing from the ground, it is quite a site.
What is totally amazing is seeing the large sea turtles on the beach. There were so many just lying there sunning. They weren’t bothered by all the tourists taking pictures of them.
Our main destination was Honolulu. We have friends who lived in Saudi with us at the time and their home place is a Hawaii. We had a blessed day spending time with them and catching up.
You can’t miss going to Hawaii without going to a luau Yes, they do bury the pig underground and give every person a lei to wear. I felt like an island princess. The tropical drinks are amazing as well. My favorite was the Blue Hawaiian of course.
At a luau they have wonderful food in a buffet style, Hawaiian music and dancers, and audience participation is recommended.
One can’t leave the island without see Pearl Harbor. We always want to make sure we get the most of each trip both culturally and historically.
Pearl Harbor was originally known for its stocks of pearl oysters, which were eventually wiped out by mudslides from surrounding hills denuded by overgrazing. But as of 7:55am on the morning of 7 December 1941, this sheltered harbor on Oahu's southern shore became the geographical and emotional catalyst for the USA's involvement in WWII.
Over 1.5 million people 'Remember Pearl Harbor' every year by visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, still responding to the rallying cry that ushered the US into WWII. The floating memorial perches directly over the Arizona, still lying in the shallow waters where it was sunk by Japanese fighter planes on 7 December 1941. The massive warship took a direct hit in the early morning fighting and sank within 9 minutes, taking with it 1177 sailors.
The Amazing Asian Adventure came to an end as we flew back to Saudi. However, before going back to Saudi, we usually did a quick visit to Florida to see our family. This repat was a total of 45 days. It was so incredible to be blessed with so many days to travel and see the world.
Stay tuned for our next blog as we take you back to the Middle East through the True Turkish Experience.