Thursday, November 26, 2015

Trip to Thailand!

I went to Thailand last week! It had been about 7 years since the last time that I went, so I was really excited to see my family who live there, and to eat delicious Thai food!

It was a pretty short trip, but I had a great time!

Here are some of the things that I got to enjoy there:

First meal in Thailand. Noodles with barbecue duck and pork at a gas station. In Thailand there are many gas stations that have restaurants and even stores attached!

Thai roti. Fried flour with sweet condensed milk inside. Delicious.

Breakfast. Barbecue pork and and a boiled egg over rice

Mango and sticky rice

Dried fish over lettuce

Fried banana

Sweet Siamese pancake

Such colorful rice!

Ice cream sundae at Swensens

Sticky rice and steamed banana cake. So delicious! Wish that I could have brought it home with me.

Lots of sweets from my uncle! The green ones are called "condo cakes", since they are layered

Salapao, or meat buns

Barbecue duck(?) over rice at my favorite restaurant

Ramen with pork also from my favorite restaurant

Some spicy ramen with fried wonton 

The Earthquake from Swensens. 8 balls of delicious ice cream, all for me~


All done!
I also did some touristy stuff too!
Muay Thai match in front of a department store

At the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)

Khrut's along the outside wall of the temple

The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

At the Jatujak Weekend Market. The best place to buy souvenirs from Thailand!

At a night market on the outskirts of Bangkok

River at the night market
I really enjoyed visiting the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) and the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. For visitors to Wat Phra Kaew, the entrance fee is 500 Thai baht (about 1,500 Japanese yen/ 14 USD) and they have a strict dress code. No short pants or dresses/ skirts, or sleeveless T-shirts.  For people who are stopped by the guards for being not dressed appropriately, there are sarongs that can be rented to wear into the palace.  The entrance fee into Wat Pho is 100 Thai baht (about 350 Japanese yen/ 3 USD) and their dress code is similar to Wat Phra Kaew.

I strongly recommend trying Thai street food if you get the chance!  If you are worried about getting food poisoning though, make sure that the food you buy is hot (if it's food that is supposed to be hot), and hasn't been out for a long time. There are a lot of flies and other bugs that carry diseases and other yucky stuff, so be careful if you buy food that has a lot of flies around it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fukuroda Falls in Ibaraki!

My friend and I drove up to Fukuroda Falls in Ibaraki Prefecture this past Sunday! I remember seeing pictures on Instagram last year of Fukuroda Falls and I knew that I had to go see it for myself! Located in Northern Ibaraki in Daigo Town, Fukuroda Falls was about a 2.5 hour drive from Chiba.  It is one of the three most renowned waterfalls in all of Japan. We got there just before the sun started to set, so it was especially beautiful!
Fukuroda Falls

Suspension Bridge

There were many parking lots along the road to the falls, but the one that we ended up parking at cost 500 yen.  But instead of paying the 500 yen, the store owner asked that we buy something at their store that cost about 500 yen. I had never experienced this kind of payment plan before in Japan, but it ended up working out well for us!

As we were walking down the road, our noses were greeted with not only the smell of autumn, but with the smell of Ayu fish, or sweetfish.  Cooked over a fire, it is slightly salty and delicious! 
Ayu sweetfish
Getting dark...
We finished walking around dusk, so then we made our way to our hotel.  We stayed at the Mito Keisei Hotel in Mito City.  We found that they had a special offer for people who stay on Sunday, so if you plan on staying on Sunday, please try to check it out! It only cost us 4,400 yen per person for one night.  After checking in, we walked to Kushitonbo which was located just outside of the JR Mito Station.  Not only was the food delicious, but the atmosphere was a lot of fun!  For certain drinks, if you win a game of rock-paper-scissors against the server your drink will be upgraded to a bigger size for free! Definitely a fun restaurant for anyone!  After eating, we walked to Jazz Bar S&F for more drinks.  After walking up a flight of stairs we could hear jazz piano music through the door.  The bartender greeted us and took our order in English, and even gave us free fruit with our drinks!  For jazz or record enthusiasts, this bar is a must!  The bartender had an entire room of jazz records!
Drinks and fruit at Jazz Bar S&F
It was raining a lot the next day, so we decided to go home in the afternoon.  But we stopped at Kani Hompo Ganko-ya for a crab lunch!  We got crab legs and a crab gratin.  Both were amazing, but the legs were the best!  There was too much food for me though, so I couldn't finish my crab legs.  Since we went during lunch, the bill came out to about 2,500 yen for the both of us!
Crab Gratin
Crab Legs

Monday, October 12, 2015

Japanese Pear Picking in Chiba!

Today was such a beautiful day!  It would have been such a waste to stay inside (especially since it was also a holiday), so I decided to go Japanese pear picking!
Takaai Nashi Farm, Chiba
Japanese pears can be found in many supermarkets now, but the actual fruit picking period is quickly coming to a close.  According to many sites, many people can participate in Japanese pear picking from the end of August till the beginning of October.  I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to find a place to go pear picking but after many phone calls I found one that was still open!
Takaai Nashi Farm
Japanese pears, or nashi
About a 10 minute walk from the east exit of Higashi Matsudo Station in Chiba, Takaai Nashi Farm is a small Japanese pear orchard.  It is run by a nice lady who helped me pick the best pears!

Admission into the farm was free, and two pears cost about 300 yen.  I paid about 850 for the pears that I picked, and she even gave me one for free!
Bag of Japanese pears
For those planning on going, definitely call ahead!

Takaai Nashi Farm
Open: 10am-4pm

Sawara Fall Festival!

On October 10th, my friends and I went to Sawara, Chiba, for their biannual town festival!  This festival has a history of more than 300 years.
Onogawa River running through Sawara
Visitors to the Sawara Festival can arrive by boat!
Sawara has two festivals throughout the year, the Fall Festival and the Summer Festival.  It's famous for their towering doll dashi, or festival floats.
Citizen's pulling the doll festival floats.  Some of them weigh more than 2 tons!
Pulling them through the streets of Sawara
Walking around Sawara gives visitors a sense of going back in time, since the shops and buildings haven't changed for hundreds of years.  Many of the shops now are still as they were more than 100 years ago.
Visitors can also arrive by train at Sawara Station
The Sawara Festival (Fall especially) is one of my favorite festivals in Japan, since visitors can see traditional Japan wherever they look.  I always see and learn something new every time that I go!  Plus there is a lot of delicious food here!
Chocolate Banana sold at stall
Sweet Potato Ice Cream! Tasted just like Japanese sweet potato
Fan Dance
Floats lit up at night
Even young children help pull the floats! So cute!
In addition to the doll festival floats, Sawara is also famous for sake and for a shop that makes black soba (buckwheat) noodles.  I've never tried the soba noodles, but their sake is delicious!  If you get a chance, please try their Doburoku sweet sake!