Tag Archives: neon

Osaka, 2016

My husband, daughter and I caught the Shinkasen very fast train from Kyoto to our next destination- Osaka. We spent a little time hanging around the train station in Osaka before we could check in.

There were many artful manga posters, a lot of samurai, art deco lights and some great earing shops. My daughter also got her fast food fix at Lotteria.

Upon arrival, we found our modern apartment and then headed out to the Minami area in the late afternoon. The atmosphere was electric and caused me to think that Osaka was the most liveable city in Japan that we had been to yet.

We strolled the Dotombori river walk, over bridges and beside the river. A tall duty free Ferris wheel rose above a lantern-lined promenade. I spotted a fancy establishment that just had a giraffe on it, framed by projected lines of light that changed colour periodically.

A stage was set up on the water where Japanese pop stars were singing, which my daughter loved; and there were stalls selling beer in plastic cups that you could drink on the river bank, which my husband loved; so everyone was happy.

As the light began to fade, the high-rise buildings lit up with neon and boats passed along the river hosting tourists and locals partying. The famous running man at the mouth of the Shinbashi-suji shopping district was flashing and crowded with people.

On Dotombori Street, the crowds grew thicker, jostling for a place in one of the many restaurants with various gimmicky signs. There were plastic puffer fish, crab, octopus and gyoza next to a market of local food stalls.

We ended up heading to a quieter back street for dinner on the way back to our apartment. Amongst cool funky bars and skewer stalls, we found an oyster bar that served wasabi oysters. It had been nice to head out at night and mix with the locals.

Related posts: Onsen in Nantan, 2016Markets and Manga in Kyoto, 2016Gion, Kyoto, 2016Food and Fervour in Kyoto, 2016Kyoto, 2016Takeyama, 2016Samurai and Shidax in Kanazawa, 2016Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

Tokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and Yanaka

When night came, we headed to Shinjuku where all the neon lights are. Outside of one of the many Sanrio Hello Kitty shops that they have in Japan, I found the biggest Hello Kitty statue I have ever seen.

We also found the infamous Robot Restaurant and climbed a stepladder for a photo with one of the robots. The area was lively and we stopped in a restaurant that served whale bacon and made soft serve ice cream instantly. We declined the former, but my daughter enjoyed the whole process of the later.

Most of the locals were playing a betting game where they betted on rolled dice for free beer. I think my husband wished he knew how to play.

The next day we woke later, exhausted from all the walking and almost overloaded with sight seeing.

We went to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, part of which is set to close in early 2017. There were enormous slabs of tuna everywhere prepared in any fashion you desired. My husband had raw fish and sea urchin for breakfast, followed by eel skewers for a snack. I couldn’t quite stomach it and had omelette instead.

I liked the huge mushrooms of many shapes, the paper-thin sheets of Nori seaweed and the lollies that were made to look like a tray of sushi. One question we never had answered was where is the inner market and how do you get there?

Next we went to Yanaka old city. It was small and hard to imagine that this was once the centre of Tokyo. The main street had tiny shops. My daughter enjoyed reading the Japanese manga fairy tale books and we liked looking at the houses, both small and grand.

We went back to Shinjuku in search of one of the Alice in Wonderland restaurants. Finding one of these themed places was a little bit of an obsession for me. After a lot of searching, I thought, why is an Alice restaurant so hard to find? But I suppose that’s the whole point.

Eventually we found it, down the rabbit hole elevator in the basement of a non-descript building. It was closed.

Instead, we went to Omide Yoko Cho memory lane for a tasty traditional lunch with Japanese beer and went shopping in one of the many Uniqlo’s- the Japanese brand that has now taken the world by storm.

Back in our neighbourhood, my daughter played in the block courtyard park before we went to dinner at one of my husband’s friends places. The local lady of the house served Daiwa Sushi (make your own) and the thinnest and tastiest slices of Kobe beef that we had ever eaten.

Related posts: Tokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and Shibuya, Tokyo, 2016: Ueno and Harajuku, Japan, 2016

Hong Kong, 2013: Part 2

One afternoon, my husband, daughter and I caught one of the double decker trams to Soho. For a toddler, the journey is often better than the destination and for my husband he very much enjoyed revisiting one of the Soho bars that he went to last time he was here for work.

I liked that the bar was cool and had an indoor fountain as well as tasty cocktails. We also took a ride on the longest escalator in the world and saw some local market stalls in the area.

On the way back to the hotel we stumbled upon some modern art installations inside a train station. There were mural of rainforests, kites and a Chinese dragon.

The next day we took the iconic Star Ferry to Kowloon. The colourful ferry was striking and the old wooden boat was lovely.

On the other side, we were greeted by the tall stone clock tower and the views back to Hong Kong were great. The buildings on this side were older, apart from the modern museum, and had flashing neon signs.

We stumbled upon a children’s fun run sponsored by Kinder and took a walk along the strange Avenue of Stars that had bronze statures of film makers, Bruce Lee and the handprints of Jackie Chan.

The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade was a bit of a disappointment, but it did have a cool modern dragon fountain. They sure do love a fountain in Hong Kong as we were to discover even further with a visit to Kowloon Park which was basically a park of fountains, lakes and even a waterfall. Plus the cartoon art installation featuring Dragon Ball-Z and a big Panda that we found.

Lunch was had in an modern air conditioned café near the ferry terminal where high chairs were not a problem, before we caught the ferry back to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was not as overwhelmingly busy as I expected and there was more to see than I had thought. It was an easy and cheap stopover with a one year old and I could see why so many expats enjoyed living here.

Related posts: Hong Kong, 2013: Part 1, It’s an Asia Thing

Las Vegas, 2011

From Cancun, it was an easy flight to Las Vegas. It was the second time my husband and I had been here. Even though we knew what to expect, we found plenty of new surprises.

We stayed in the middle of The Strip this time at the Monte Carlo casino. There were good views from hotel and many Italian statues and fountains out front.

The Cosmopolitan was the newsest casino in town with its open-air nightclub, Marquee, on the roof. We hit the Bellagio and took the time to look up this time at the beautiful glass ceiling and glass sculptures.

We took a closer look at the Venetian on this trip. I was amazed by how much St Marks Campanile, the Brige of Sighs, the Doges Palace and the Grand Canal with gondolas; all replicated the real thing so well.

While my husband gambled at the Mirage, I went to the Secret Garden to see the dolphins, white tigers and leopards. Then we went in to M & M’s World which had four levels, ending in an entire room filled with as many different flavors of the treat that you could think of.

We went to Blondie’s Sports Bar that had a cheerleader as its mascot and tried the tasty Washington Apple cocktail. At Wynn, we ventured behind the waterfall, saw the lake and went to the biggest buffet I have ever been to with cuisine from all around the world. The room was elaborately decorated and the best bit was the toffee apples and other yummy deserts.

Thinking ahead, we had pre booked a sunset dinner at Alize at the top of The Palms. The signature dish, the Lemon Sole, was definitely memorable. On the way out, we passed drenched drunk girls in bikinis at the slots who had just come out from the Rain nightclub.

It was all blue skies above the Pont Alexandre 3 inside Paris. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a view of The Strip by night with all the glittering lights. We could see people lining up for the famous Chateau nightclub and the Bellagio fountain show from above.

My pick for a show was Bite at Stratosphere, which turned out to be a lot of topless vampires. My husbands pick, O at the Bellagio, turned out to be a much wiser choice. Cirque du Soliel and water- what’s not to like? The clown also used me as a prop in his pre show, which was fun.

On our last day, we went to Old Vegas, awash with Mardi Gra beads and showgirls with a zipline running through the middle of it all. We saw the famous neon Vegas Vic, Sassy Sally and Golden Goose.

We found the Four Queens and the buffet at Fitzgeralds. My husband had the biggest win of his life with a straight flush at the Golden Nugget, while I was more interested in the waterslides inside the casino.

It was sad to see the neon gallery from demolished casinos and hotels. Here we found the Hacienda horse and Alladins lamp. I guess with a city that is always reinventing itself, there is bound to be some collateral damage.

Related posts: Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011, Tulum, 2011,  Chichen Itza, 2011, Campeche and Merida, 2011, Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011