Pictures of Tokyo and Yokohama

We were just so excited to finally leave for Japan but the days we actually spend there went by so fast, the two weeks felt just like a few days. This city is really huge and we still have so much to explore for future trips! We vowed to come back in a few years time and even though we plan on exploring more of the kansai region in Japan, we want to return to Tokyo again.
Enough talk, now to the pictures! :)

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You may have noticed that I did not post any food pictures. Those will be featured in my next post, to not make this post too long.
I just loved our trip and exploring Tokyo in a slow pace. We got to meet lots of friendly people and learned a lot about Japan but also ourselves. Oh, I wish I could have taken one of those modern toilets home with me haha

What’s in my hand luggage for two weeks in Tokyo

I like to travel light and only packed clothes for a week, you never know what clothes or items you find while strolling in a new city! Clothes can easily be washed in the hotel and worn again to safe precious space in your luggage. It is Autumn now that’s why I opted for clothes that could be easily combined (neutral colours) and layered, if needed.

My clothes:

  • underwear for a week
  • 2 bras
  • socks for a week and one stocking (I packed some cute socks in case I need to take of my shoes)
  • 2 dresses (one more casual and one for fancy restaurants)
  • 1 jeans
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 short sleeves tops
  • 4 long sleeves tops
  • pyjamas
  • 1 pair of sport shoes for walking around
  • 1 pair of Chelsea boots for a more polished look (easy to wear and get out of again)

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Toiletries:

  • 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deo creme
  • Hairbrush and hair ties
  • Make-up (just the basics but anyone can take as much or less as they feel comfortable with ;))

Electronics:

  • My DSLR
  • Mobile phone
  • MP3 player
  • Chargers for every device
  • Travel adapter

I decided to leave my e-book reader at home because I easily get motion sickness and rather observe people in airports and in a foreign country than read a book I can read anywhere and whenever. I’d rather lay at home on the couch with a hot mug of tea, for a good read.

Other:

  • earplugs for the plane
  • nasal spray against air plane bacteria
  • (empty) memo bottle to bring onto plane
  • Neck croissant
  • Japanese phrase book
  • cash
  • photocopies of passport and other documents (reservations for example)
  • scarf for the plane
  • emergency medicine for headaches, cramps and motion sickness
  • Gifts from Vienna/Austria to give friends
  • weighing scale
  • pento fill out the custom sheet
  • umbrella

Do you have any tips on what I should bring for my visit to Tokyo in Autumn?
Did I forget anything important?
I am a bit late with posting this since I will be flying tonight but I hope your tips still reach me in time :)

Plan your trip to Tokyo with Odigo and Apps

I have been longing to visit Japan for about 11 years now and finally me and the Mister have the time and money to fulfill this wish of mine. Since I can be over the top with planning things and I just can’t seem to live without to-do lists, I already wrote out everything I want to see/do, what I want to take pictures of and of course, what I want to eat. I get too excited and pack my travel bag way too early (weeks in advance) and have weekly dreams revolving about my trip to Japan. Only a week to go, whoop whoop!

It just shows how excited I am and just thinking about this trip is getting me all fired up!
The platform that helped me out a lot with planning this trip is Odigo which is a great online tool to sort all activities by day. What I like best is that you see each activity/place on a map and therefore lose less time by trying to do two things that are on the opposite of Tokyo.

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You can see the route I planned on Odigo, it is great for sharing since Erwin will also accompany us and we can compare our plans quite easily like this.
When you are done with your planning you have the option to download the travel itinerary, you created as a PDF file.

 

Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists

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Other tools that are very helpful for your Japan trip are apps. The ones I installed are the Japanese railway guide (can also be used offline), a GPS tracker to see where I have been, maps me (also offline available) and of course google translate.

We are going to book a pocket wi-fi which seems to be the best option.
You can also use the wi-fi at Starbucks Japan but you need to be registered in this network first and need to confirm your e-mail, which is of course best done beforehand or in your hotel is possible.

 

Do you have any tipps for me regarding my Tokyo trip? I would love to hear from you :)


This post is not sponsored by Odigo or anyone else, everything is my own opinion.

Bratislava Summer Vacation

Due to the new flat I now share with the Mister and our little Percy we do not have a huge budget for vacation but we did have a blast and enjoyed our little trip to Bratislava.
Bratislava is not very big, especially when you come from Vienna but it does have its own little charm if you look closely!

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Soon after that a very good friend of Germany came to visit me and we explored Bratislava together to find her an apartment! She aced the entrance exam and will study in Bratislava! I am not only super proud but I am glad that we can now spend more time together (if she won’t be too busy studying ;))

Zotter

Sepp Zotter who is the founder of the Zotter chocolate company is a pioneer in the chocolate industry.

In Feldbach, the company is a bean-to-bar production, which means that they do every task themselves to produce their bars of chocolate. They also have a main goal to use organic produce and to pay the workers a fair loan, focusing on fair trade during the production.

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Visiting a chocolate factory is magical and nearly as good as the one from Willy Wonkas since you could try so many different products and different stages of the chocolate to-be.

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The chocolate tour starts with a movie that explains the company’s work ethic,  how the chocolate is made and makes you realize how special chocolate is.

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Please enjoy the show while you place your bum on these comfortable chocolate bags.

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Not all chocolate beans taste and smell the same,and it was great to get to know the different chocolate beans from all over the world.

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There is even a chocolate fountain from 100% chocolate without any sugar added. It tastes super bitter and I wonder how if that is tasty to anyone.

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I by far preferred the very sweet nougat fountains below, with the almond and hazelnut flavours being my favourites.

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I loved that tasting station!

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Chocolate with soy content in the shape of light bulbs, the tour is even great for vegans since a lot of chocolates are vegan-friendly.

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Lots of different Labooka Bars can be tasted here while you watch the workers down below, going after their work ;)

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Finally you get into the hot chocolate room with a splendid view over the animal park. Little gondolas are filled with different kinds of flavoured chocolate to help you decide to pick one. I went with Mango Lassi, one of my favourite drinks and enjoyed the view.

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We passed filled shower caps with breakfast flakes, of which I just had to buy the matcha flavour.

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In the next room we could try their bolleros, which are mainly fruit covered in chocolate. I loved their caramel bolleros and the raisins in chocolate which was melting in my mouth.

In the last room we tasted the handmade chocolate but those were my least favourite because the flavour combination can get really weird and most of the bars contain alcohol. If you are very adventurous and like alcohol you should try those out though!

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At the end of the tour you find yourself in the Zotter shop to buy all the things you loved during the tour.
The Mister and me spend a whooping 52€ on chocolate and happy left to wander off those calories in the animal park below after getting a Leberkäse because we were over sugared.

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You should visit the toilet, the walls are filled in cacao beans and there is an aquarium filled with piranhas!

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For lunch we went to the restaurant located in the animal park which offers biological and region sourced foods, manly from the garden itself.
I had a Beuscherl (and Austrian dish that contains innards, most common of a calf, in a cream sauce and dumplings) and the Mister went with a burger. The food was tasty and definitely worth a visit if you are craving something savoury.

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A very nice gesture, fresh bread is offered for free!

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Our yummy drinks made from the herbs that grow in the garden.

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Now off to the animal park!
You can take a framed picture of the Rieger’s castle, which is such a beautiful motive.

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They even have a small cemetery for the chocolate bars that “died” and did not make it in the long run. Most of these bars sound super weird and I can understand why it did not work out but a few did not seem that bad.

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Most of the animals enjoyed the sunshine like us and happily munched on the grass or hey.

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good pun? ;)

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Feldbach

Feldbach is only about one and a half hours away from Vienna and the perfect get-away to the famous Zotter company.

A tip: If you stay over night in a hotel from the first of March till the 31st of October you can ask for the Steiermark-Card. With it you can explore many attractions in Styria for free! So we did not have to pay the entry for the Zotter chocolate factory (felt like we had golden tickets), had a free tour through Vulcano Schinken manufacture and could have even visited several hot springs for free if we had stayed 3 nights.

The Zotter tour was amazing and I made so many pictures that I have to do an extra post about this experience and the chocolate :)

Vulcano Schinken is a very famous brand for high quality pork produce. The tour starts with a video and information about pigs and you get to see their livestock. The design for their entrance is quite original!

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You really notice how much love and care the producers put into their pigs and their final end products.
At the tour end, you get a plate with different samples, which were all delicious and made us by lots of products ;)

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shooting_vienna_Feldbach

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In the evening we went to Therme Loipersdorf, which is a great place for both young and old. They have a “fun park” area with 4 slides, a panorama slide and a separate baby beach for parents with young kiddos. Then there is the swimming area with lots of outdoor pools and best of all the sauna landscape which is very extensive. It is definitely worth a visit and I recommend you to visit during the week at night. Not only, because you can relax in the hot outdoor pools and watch the stars but because the entry is cheaper from 6pm onwards and there are barely any people, making your stay even more relaxing.

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Siem Reap

How to get there:

The flight from Manila with Cebu Pacific Airline took about 2 hours and 45 min.

What to see:

We had an organized package tour which we already booked in Vienna. We had a personal driver and tourist guide everyday with us, who could speak English and a bit of German.  The most beautiful and interesting temples were picked out and the ones we enjoyed the most will be featured here. (We visited at least 10, if you are interested in the other ones just ask me in a comment!)

Ankor Wat

The most famous and most visited temple of Siem Reap is the largest and best preserved. And by large I mean huge!

We had a sunrise tour at Angor Wat which felt a bit magical with the changing colours of the sky.

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In the end a lot of people left already so I could get nice shots of the temple :)

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A lot of Buddha faces and statues were destroyed by Hindus and during the Khmer Rouge time.

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Angkor Thom has a lot of popular sights and is another must visit! I think this temple has the most Buddha heads and it is popular to pose with them.

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Banteay Srei is made out of pink sandstone and just looks amazing! The size is quite small but you can see the detailed handiwork of the Khmer artists and you just can’t believe that everything is made out of stone.

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Ta Prohm is a very popular attraction due to it being in the jungle and appearing to look like nobody has stumbled upon those temples before you. If you can blend out all other people that is ;) it is also famous because Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones have been filmed at this location. It was really such a magical place to me and definitely one of my favourite temples.

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This tree somehow reminds me of a creature that could appear in a Ghibli movie, like Princess Mononoke!

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That looked like a cute little dinosaur, don’t you think?

What to eat and drink:

The food in Cambodia reminded me of Thai food but it is not spicy and perfect for people who can’t handle heat of chilli. I loved the fragrance of Cambodian cuisine and definitely will try to make some Cambodian curry at home. Meat, especially beef can be a bit though here but their favourite “meat” would be fish and seafood.

Where to shop:

We did not do a lot of shopping in the city centre, we just went to a local market and bought a lot of souvenirs there.
As in most Asian countries, haggling is a part of the buying process so don’t be shy about it!
At the temples and tourists spots there will be many people, especially children selling souvenirs and they can be very persistent.
The kids would often say that one should purchase from them that they can go to school but the government is providing that and the children have morning or afternoon classes, which explains why they are selling during the day.

General information:

You can apply for your Visa online which I would recommend since the airport was really busy when we landed and we had to wait at least 30 min in line. Also they call out your name but it is a bit hard to understand with their pronunciation so get yourself a nice passport cover so you can recognize it from afar!

We exchanged Euro into the local currency but you can just as easily pay with US Dollars. Funnily enough, we would always get Dollars back when we paid with Riel and left with more Dollars then we came. Which was a good deal anyway. People have the exchange rate in their head and don’t try to screw you over while converting.
Also we experienced Cambodia as very safe, my dad forgot his camera twice and we always got it back without any problems.

Monks should not be touched by women so respect this custom and especially refrain from touching peoples (and children’s) heads.

The ideal time to visit is between December and March, when the humidity and temperatures are low.
Which means about 23-25°C, warm enough :)

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shooting_vienna_cambodia

What I loved:

  • the ancient temples
  • the tasty food
  • how friendly and happy the people were

What I didn’t like:

  • the traffic can be a bit intimidating and people on motorcycles drive like crazy (they don’t need a license for those)
  • the people selling at tourist spots can be very persistent and will follow you but stay friendly and resolute

My hotel:

We stayed at the Navutu Dreams Resort which is approximately 5min away from the city centre and located in between rice paddies.
The hotel was beautiful and the staff was very friendly. When we had our sunrise tour and left at 5 in the morning and could not attend breakfast, they packed us a pick-nick basket, full of goodies to enjoy later.

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The wonderful view from our hotel room!

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I just loved the fresh lotus flowers at the reception!

What to pack:
Don’t forget to cover your shoulders and legs when visiting temples so do bring a scarf and long pants or skirts.

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So that was my final post about my Asia trip and I will now be back to good old Vienna related posts :)

Philippines – picture heavy post

This was my fourth trip to the Philippines but the first time that I have been there over Christmas and New Year.

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I was able to celebrate with my relatives, whom I sadly don’t see that often since flying there is pretty expensive.
Best of all, the weather is 20-25° compared to cold and grey Vienna and I definitely won’t be visiting again in summer when it is so hot and humid.

How to get there: We always took different airlines while going to the Philippines and I enjoyed Singapore Airline and Korean Airline the most, due to their service and food ;)

What to see:
We did not do a lot of sight-seeing in Manila since we did that many years ago but we went to Tanay, to visit a friend and Boracay.
Tanay is just about 2 hours away by car and has lovely red volcanic earth.

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Boracay is about 1 hours per plane from Manila but you need to take a boat to the island.
We have been to the island 6 years ago and so much has changed! We did not like it that much because there were so many tourists and a lot of hotels were being built. Also while helmet diving I noticed a lot of dead corals which is not only bad for sea life but also for the tourism which is not sustainable.
Boracay has a super long beach and we discovered behind some rocks a beach which was empty from people and brimming with small cute crabs.

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The weather was not the best and it was raining for the most part. This is due to the climate change since in December it normally was always typhoon free season.

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I am so fascinated with the different layers of rocks. I wonder what information they are displaying.

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Can you spot the crab? ;)

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We made friends with a kitten which seemed to belong to our hotel. It was so tiny and cute!

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What to eat and drink:

What I miss most about Asia is the wide variety of fresh “exotic” fruits and the fresh seafood. I have a love for buko pie as well which is coconut pie made with the meat of fresh and young coconuts.

No Filipino party would be complete without lechon, a roast pig. Everyone loves the crispy skin but I am more after the super soft meat.

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On Boracay I discovered a cute little restaurant called “the sunny side cafe” and I ate there every single day for breakfast. So yummy! And if you order their pancakes they are so huge, you can’t possible eat them by yourself!

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we also went to the wet market on the island which really fascinated me as you can see from the picture spam ;)

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This was our lunch!

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Seafood is generally enjoyed with vinegar and kalamansi in the Philippines :)

General Information:

Traffic is a serious problem here and generally the way how people drive is quite intimidating.
The Philippines is not a super safe country, so take care of your belongings and avoid visiting the south of the Philippines, many tourists or foreigners are abducted there because of the conflict between the Christian government and Muslim rebels. The Philippines is the most catholic country in Asia and most of the muslim population is located in the south due to it being near to Malaysia and Brunei.

What I loved:

– Elza, the dog of my aunt is the cutest puppy and I am very sad for not having her around
– fresh mangos, coconuts etc.
– meeting with my relatives
– getting massaged and groomed for a fraction of the price I would pay in Vienna
– you can eat outside without being bothered by wasps (but beware of mosquito’s!)

What I did not like:

– air-cons are on everywhere and it gets super cold, especially in malls so bring a jacket!
– environmental pollution
– chaos on the airport on Boracay

What to pack:

The Philippines have the same volts as the US so you need to bring an adapter if you are from Europe.
Even if it is hot, you should always bring a scarf or a light jacket to cover yourself from the cold winds of air-cons.

Seoul

Seoul is a huge city and definitely needs more days than I had available to explore the capital of South Korea.
We explored mostly the areas around Myeongdong, Insadong and Dongdaemun.Also winter is not really the best time of the year to get the feeling of Seoul, so I need to come back someday and give the city another shot.
Now onwards to the real post ;)

How to get there: Korean air – I am not a big fan of flying but I enjoyed the service of Korean air and definitely would fly again with them.
The stewardess were super nice, we were offered a lot of drinks (hydration is very important!) and the food did not taste that bad.
If they offer Bibimbap you should definitely order this, a lot of people recommend it and I also think it is one of their best meals!

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What to see: The top three tourist attractions for me, if you don’t have a lot of time to discover Seoul are:

1) Gyeongbokgung Palace

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(technically this was shot at some other palace but I forgot the name of it and I really like the picture and did not know where else to put it ;))

2) Insadong (the traditional neighbourhood)

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I just loved all those tiny shops selling handicrafts and traditional Korean items. Too bad I don’t need a massive paintbrush!

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I thought this was cute,  Starbucks written in Hangul. They probably had to do it because of the area being traditional? I know that in the traditional shopping street of Salzburg all the shops are required to have “old metal signs” and even Mcdonalds has a different metal logo that looks pretty oldschool.

3) N Seoul Tower

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In all the tourist guides they said that we should go to N Seoul Tower but we did not go into the building itself and just stayed on the observation deck. It would cost 9.000W to go inside but it did not seem that necessary to us.

You can technically walk up the hill but in Winter it is advised to just take the cable car. We actually planned on going up but the streets were already slippery enough due to the snow and ice so we did not want to risk it and the ticket for both ways is just 8.500W per Person.

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It is a tradition for couples to leave a locket here. It is really impressive how many lockets there are!
I wonder if people ever take any off for safety reasons, because those lockets may be too heavy?

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What to eat and drink:

It is all about the grilled meat and bibimbap for me!

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People recommended to try the banana milk which I loved. Surprisingly the banana flavour is quite subtle and not very artificial.

Don’t forget their wide variety of street foods they offer.

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shooting_vienna_seoul

Where to shop: Our hotel was located at Myeongdong, one of the busiest shopping streets of Seoul.

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I loved the more traditional shops in Insadong which you have seen above, selling handicrafts and creative goods.

General information:

  • Get a transportation card which will make travelling with public transport a lot easier.
  • You are not obliged to give tip (sometimes there is already a service charge).
  • Drivers can be a bit crazy so be careful while crossing the street, especially look out for crazy taxi drivers!
  • There is a serious lack in bins and you are stuck with your garbage for most of the time.
  • Most of the people we asked don’t speak English or just very little.
  • Shops mostly have free wi-fi, you just need to ask for the code

What I loved:
-the Korean breakfast buffet at our hotel
– hot toilet seats are a real treat in winter!
– the mix of old temples and skyscrapers, it just looked fantastic! I loved the stark contrast between old and new. What do you think of it?
-the free pickles you get with a meal
– the very modern airport which is huge, lots to do if you have a long stop-over like me
-super nice coffee and teashops with the best lattes to warm you up
-artbox (if you love cute stuff, stationary and anything fun you don’t really need, this is THE place for you!) I bought myself a polaroid album for my fuji instax mini pictures, a cute card and a comb. I restrained myself but it was really hard!

What I didn’t like:
– the cold
–  they don’t seem to know the concept of just wanting to browse products in peace so there is always a salesperson right next to you, even if they hardly speak any English they will try and offer you their products. I know that this also happens in the Philippines and in other Asian countries but I still just want to look in peace since I am a bit overwhelmed with all those new products I have never seen before.
-if you change tube line it can be a looot of walking and be sure to know which exist you need to take, there can be 10 (or more) different exits!
– we kinda got ripped off at a restaurant and at a food stall on our first day, so always compare prices!

My hotel: We stayed at Wons Ville Myeongdong Hotel and I can totally recommend it.
It is very affordable, clean, the staff is very friendly and best of all they have an amazing breakfast buffet with many Korean dishes.

For breakfast they had cereals, salad, japchae, seaweed riceballs, kimchi, pak choi and mushrooms, egg, sausages, bread, ddeokbokki, daily soup and vegetable rice. I especially loved their japchae, I wish I could have that every breakfast :)

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What to pack (for winter): Every single warm clothing you possible have and dress like an onion with many layers to survive the cold.
When we stayed in Korea it was -10° and with the cold wind it felt like -15°, especially great when you are on the N Seoul Tower, have forgotten your gloves and try to snap pictures in that freezing weather.

We did not need an adapter for Korea since they also have 220 Volts.

If I forgot to mention anything interesting to you or you have any questions, feel free to ask :)
I am by no means an expert of Seoul but maybe I can help you anyways.

Back from Asia – Instagram

I am finally back from my three week vacation!
For starters I will sum up my experience and post some Instagram pictures since I filled 40GB on my SD Card and it will take a while to find the best pictures. Also I have an exam tomorrow and next week, those need attention as well ;)

From the three countries I visited, Cambodia was my favourite part of the whole trip.

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I loved to explore the many temples in Siem Reap, eat the yummy food and enjoy the sun and the humidity of the jungle.
The country is poorer than the Philippines but I felt a lot safer there and we even got back the cameras my dad forgot twice without any problem.
If you haven’t been to Siem Reap yet, you should or at least write it down on your to-do list!shooting_vienna_cambodia
We had a package tour which was great since everything was being taken care of and we had a personal driver and tourist guide.

I was actually looking forward to Seoul the most but it was so cold (-10 with wind), we could not enjoy our sight-seeing that much.

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The food we ate was great though and if you need a cheap but clean and central hotel with an awesome breakfast buffed I can recommend you mine, which was Wonsville. It is located near the Myengdong shopping street and the underground station of Myengdong.

In the Philippines we had lots and lots of family reunions  since we only visit every 5-6 years due to the expensive plane ticket and the long vacation one has to take. But when we do it is always lovely to see everyone again!

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My Cousin married and it was great to experience a wedding in another country, especially since it was a beautiful event and I am glad I could attend this special occasion!

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Lechon which is roast pig is probably the national dish here, no party would be complete without lechon!

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Molly has two different eye colours and gave recently birth to a kitten which has yet to be named. It is so tiny!

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Elza is a golden retriever mix with a japanese spitz and the cutest dog ever and really fluffy. So sad I could not take her here with me. I miss her already.

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Over New Year we stayed in Boracay, an Island famous for its fine white sand beaches. We stayed there 6 years ago but it we did not enjoy it that much because exactly during the time we stayed there we had a taifun and only rain, which is unnatural for December but hey climate change can’t be denied any more. Also it is a lot more commercialised with a lot more people than we expected but on the one day we had good weather we enjoyed the beach in its natural state, far away from all people.   shooting_vienna_philippines

 

Now I have to catch up on all those interesting and fun posts I missed from you guys and study a bit :)