I am currently sitting in a bullet train going about 250 km/h heading to Kyoto from Tokyo. Crazy.
Sometimes you day dream and think about things you want to do with your life or cool things you want to do around the world. Taking a bullet train in Japan has always been one of those things. Seeing houses and trees become a blur as you rip past them is a cool feeling, everything is very smooth and surreal when you’re flying though the cities and farm fields in Japan. Anyway let’s get back to where I last left off.
We checked out of our airbnb in Hong Kong and caught the ferry to Macau, very quick and easy and before we knew it we were checked into our hotel. For those who don’t know Macau it’s basically just the Las Vegas of China. Gambling is banned in most parts of China so everyone makes their way there when they have some cash to blow. I was excited to walk ‘the strip’ and just take in all the sights and lights… and also gamble a little bit of course. There are two parts to Macau The north island and south island. Our hotel was on the North side close to The MGM, Wynn and Lisboa which is considered the old side, these hotels are older but it’s still amazing to see. We wandered the streets, amazed at all the lights. We went over to the MGM where we decided to play our first game. Sic Bo… dont really know the history behind it and I’ve never seen it in Alberta but ended up being a really fun game! The Chinese love Baccarat so much. Every casino we went into was about 90% baccarat and then everything else. It was a little ridiculous at times. The time flew by and I really wanted to check out the south part of Macau (New part) so we hopped on a shuttle bus which took us to the Wynn hotel about 20 minutes south. The new part consisted of The Wynn Palace, The sands, Hard Rock, The Venetian and so many more. The Venetian apparently has the biggest casino in the world so we wanted to check that out, again about 90% of it was baccarat. Also Macau is definitely for big ballers; the minimum buy in for most tables was about $30+ CAD. Which being on a backpacker budget is hard to stomach when you can only play 3 or 4 hands of Blackjack. Regardless of the high buy ins we still had a blast and some of us got luckier than others. We were expecting to have some drinks while playing but when we saw that no one else had alcoholic drinks, everyone was just having a great time drinking tea. There weren’t many clubs or anything like that, so for us it was more of just a gambling trip. We didn’t get to really see much other then the inside of massive hotels and all of the lights during the night, It is still such an interesting city and would recommend it to anyone who is in the area.
When we got back to Hong Kong we checked into our hostel and went to explore the new neighborhood of Wan Chai it had a more western feel then Mong Kok and was a nice change. After a little bit of exploring we made our way to Victoria peak to see the skyline at night. We took a 40 min bus up the winding road, from this point you can see all of Hong Kong Island and all of mainland, it was quiet the sight. We wanted to get higher to get a better view and started to make our way to the actual peak. What we didn’t know is where the bus dropped us off was the best view and the peak was not the way to go. We learned the hard way and the 6 of us had a great time trying to navigate the winding streets, trying to follow Google maps with no internet and in the pitch black. It was an interesting time and it’s good that everyone thought it was equally as funny so no one hated me after my bad navigating skills.
The next morning Mary, Mario and Marcel caught an early morning flight to Tokyo which gave me, Josiah and Erick the day to ourselves which we filled with so many activities. Firstly we checked out the DJI store (Drone shop) then we took the metro to the Harbour and explored the streets. We stumbled on this place called Sam’s tailors and Erick heard good things about it so we checked it out. Erick got all measured out and pulled the trigger on a custom made suit! The store was very cool and authentic; He had pictures up everywhere of all his famous clients he has helped. A few we saw were George W Bush, Eminem, Michael Jackson, David Bowe and so many more. We celebrated the purchase with a few beers as we walked to a few of the famous streets, one being goldfish street. It’s exactly what you think it is, fish everywhere, if you need to fill your aquarium this is the place! We checked out the night market to buy a few little things included some nice fake watches and shoes. It was a long but productive day and the next morning we would catch an early flight for Japan. The next day was a long and tiring day, Travel days are hardly ever fun, we got to Tokyo around 3 P.M and got our rail passes for the week. As we were booking our train to get into the city from the airport Erick reminded me we still needed to pick up our Wi-Fi box for the week. Our train was in 9 mins, it was basically us running all over the place with our big bags trying to find out where to pick this thing up. When we picked it up we only had a few minutes to make it to the train, running at full tilt through the station trying to find our train we made it with about 30 seconds to spare, it was quite the rush. We eventually made our way to our hostel and got settled in for the night.
The next morning was an early one; we were out the door by 630 A.M on route to Nikko, a National Park with good hiking, waterfalls and shrines. Nikko town was small and chill we hiked around looking at different shrines and parks in the morning and for lunch we had some good ramen. The afternoon was a disaster, the group saw firsthand how travelling doesn’t always go as planned and that you kind of just have to roll with it. Our plan: Catch a bus (45 mins) to the waterfalls and then back and catch the train back to the hostel so we could go to a robot show later that night… What actually happened. Waited for the bus (20 mins) took the bus (2.5 hrs) saw the waterfall but needed to pay more to see it from the viewing platform. Our plan was to leave Nikko at around 3ish and we ended up not leaving until 7 or so. The robot show would have to wait. Instead we went for Korean BBQ, which I’ve never had before and now I’m a huge fan, it was a lot of fun and such good food! This morning was chill we prepared to take the train to Kyoto. This brings us to the bullet train, I’ve always said trains are the best way to travel and now that I got to experience a bullet train it reaffirms my thoughts, hands down it’s the easiest, most convenient and I would say quickest (because of no customs and security) way to travel and the Japanese perfected it! We have 4 days in Kyoto and area and then back to Tokyo for 2 days before flying out, this has been a fast paced trip with trying to cram a lot of stuff in, not really what I’m used to but its working!