January 2015

This is an extraordinary trip as I planned to visit Manchester, but my friend happened to live in Ramsbottom, about an hour away from Manchester station. It was a pleasant surprise because it’s countryside.

I rode steam train for the first time here to Rawtenstall, where we hung around the city, got a cup of coffee at Illy’s in Whitaker Museum. We couldn’t visit too many places because we only had 3 hours, but it was a very interesting and relaxing journey.

East Lancashire Railway (the link is to the timetables and fares)




Ramsbottom station


inside the train


arrived at Rawtenstall station


Rawtenstall station. Inside there’s a bar where you can try the local ale while waiting for your train or chatting with your friends


took a pic of my friend, somewhere along the way…


The Whitaker Museum


chilling at Illy coffee shop in Whitaker Museum


From Whitaker Museum window

It was a rainy day, but we decided that we had to go to Kanazawa no matter what. We needed our shopping in Costco.

After 5 rounds of chocolate testing and 3 rounds of saying hello to clam chowder, we bought what we wanted and headed to the place I had been wanting to go: Myoryuji templein 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, which is famous as Ninja Temple (Ninja dera). It’s not actually made for ninjas, but it’s full of tricks just like a ninja house. We went through the back gate as we walked along Nishi Chaya, a former geisha district, first.


Nishi Chaya. There’s a writer’s museum you can visit for free, and this district is famous with its very delicious (yet very expensive) golden chocolate or something like that


Myoryuji back gate


Myoryuji front gate

Sorry taking pictures is not allowed inside the temple. It costs 800 yen to enter, please make a booking beforehand (click the link to the website above). Surprisingly the temple provided guide books in so many languages!

Then we proceed to Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History. I really love this museum because it costs only 300 yen but they provides audio guide in several languages for free. Here I could understand more about Japanese history, which impressed some of my Japanese friends because they didn’t even know some of it.

Bonus for me, it was raining and there were barely anyone but us, so I got to try a beautiful kimono (Japanese women clothing) worn by princesses in the old times. There are several other costumes people can try, BUT they suppose to be for children only. Glad that I knew that later after I took the kimono off.


Became a Japanese princess. Photo by Suemasa Kyohei.


My Loco Moco set

We had late lunch at Nanea Hawaiian cafe, where another friend works.

Here’s another recommendation for you if you love food:


Dai Nana Gyoza no Mise (Dumpling Shop Number 7), 7-120 Onebu, Uchinada-cho, Kahoku-gun, Ishikawa-ken. Anyways it’s not exactly in Kanazawa but pretty close.

I love gyoza so much I ate 17 pieces of them. They have pan fried dumplings (yaki gyoza), deep friend dumplings (howaito gyoza), and steamed dumplings. Just point at the picture!😛

Mikuni Minato Station is the last station of Mikuni-Awara line of Echizen Train / Echi-tetsu. It’s the closest to Mikuni Sunset Beach, where you can go fishing or surfing as well as watching the beautiful sunset. If you come on August, you can see Fireworks Festival too. Nearby, there’s Yuaport Onsen (hotspring) to experience the Japanese public bath for only 500 yen.


The classic Mikuni-Minato Station


kite surfing / kite boarding at Mikuni sunset beach


Near sunset at Mikuni sunset beach (please pardon my phone camera – the color is uneven because of the lighting)

Walk along the beach (heading northwest) about 300m, you will find stairs going down to Tojinbo Nature Forest walking trail. Follow this path to Tojinbo Cliffs, one of the world’s most beautiful natural cliffs. The sad thing is that so many people come here to commit suicide. Thankfully there are volunteers who always patrol to rescue these people. Their basecamp is a Japanese rice cake /mochi shop near Tojinbo Tower. Then you can walk to Oshima Island, which is famous with its vermilion bridge and as a sacred place.

Other attractions of Mikuni are Echizen Matsushima Aquarium and Mikuni Museum. Mikuni also has beautiful parks with cherry blossoms (sakura) if you come on spring time. Check HERE for events information.


Around Mikuni Sunset Beach (Komegawaki area, where I lived)

Mille Graines. It’s a petite cake shop but has really pretty and yummy cakes. My suggestion: ask for seasonal cake or go for the cheese cake. The owner speaks English and a bit French. Open at 11.00 – 19.00. Closed on Sunday – Tuesday.


One Touch Café. It was a church established by Norwegian missionaries, now run by church staffs (they speak English and some speak Chinese/Mandarin), open on Saturdays 12.00 – 15.00. One set of fine meal and free flow coffee/tea for only 500 yen. Serve limited number of people, so please make reservation. (I’m trying to get the phone number for you. I’ll update this A.S.A.P)


Meal set example – salad, meatloaf, garlic bun, cake

Port Dijk Coffee. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset. Just up the hill behind One Touch Café. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Open at 10.00 – 17.00 (or sometimes 18.00). The owner is learning English and really loves talking to new people. The price is quite high though.


L.A. Surf. Learn surfing or kite surfing/boarding while you’re here. This store is across Port Dijk. The owner speaks English and very active surfer. If he closed the store then he might be at the beach surfing! Best time to surf is autumn to beginning of winter (September-early December).

Tentsuru Noodle Shop. If you go up (heading east) from One Touch Café, then turn right and walk around 100m, you will see “てんつる” sign board. It’s classic Japanese noodle shop which is run by a family. Their katsudon (rice with deep fried pork cutlet and egg) was on the newspaper. There are 3 kinds of Japanese noodles: ramen (Chinese egg noodles), udon (chewy big noodles), and soba (buckwheat noodles). If you’re mainstream, just pick ramen. Otherwise, chikara udon (udon soup with mochi) or tempura soba (soba soup with deep fried seafood/veggies) will be good🙂 PS. They barely speak English. Closed on Mondays. Open at 17.00 – evening (maybe 22.00 or 23.00).


Must Try

Echizen Crab. Get it with other fresh seafood around Mikuni Fish Market (across Mikuni Minato Station) or Tojinbo Cliffs shopping street. Best time to get it is October, when the crab hunting season is on. Usually there’s crab festival on the beach around 2nd week of October.


Sakka Manjyu. It’s a traditional Japanese bun with sweet and soft mashed red bean inside and hint of sake (Japanese rice wine). The best shop to get it is Nishisaka: walk on the road across Mikuni Station (not Mikuni Minato) – heading southwest- about 200m, it’s on the left side.


Sakka manjyu from Nishisaka – the mark on the bun shows it

Church / Sunday Service: Sundays 16.00 at The Lighthouse 749, 5-8-3 Komegawaki, next to One Touch Café. For now the 1st to 3rd Sunday service is at a church nearby Mikuni station. They also have a lot of other events like parents-children event, oil painting class, baking class, pizza party, etc. Please ask the church staffs on One Touch Café for more information.

27 December 2014 – 2 January 2015

London – Edinburgh – Newcastle

This is a short note from my backpacking holiday with a friend. We stayed in London at a couchsurfer‘s house and in Newcastle in my cousin’s house. Sometimes we went out separately as we had different things we wanted to see. I wrote about transportation, ideal duration to explore (subjective), and landmarks.


Tube: subway. Sometimes you will find strangers giving you their one day ticket because they don’t need it anymore but you can still use it. It will be nice if you do the same to other fellow travelers🙂

What sucks about London in winter holiday? Too many tube stations are closed that you need to find alternative ways to get to your destination.

Best duration to explore: 3 days.

Buckingham Palace. There was changing guardian procession when I was there. I didn’t know the exact time, but you can check the website. You can also book the ticket if you’d like to see inside. I didn’t because it was too late and too expensive for a backpacker.

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London Eye. Take pictures both daytime and night time.


London Bridge. Better take pictures night time.


Thames River. Souvenir shopping, relax and picnic with friends.

lunch by the river...

lunch by the river…

Big Ben. Take pictures both daytime and night time.


Westminster Abbey. I dreamed of getting married here when I was 9. This time I came for a Sunday mass. It’s still a privilege🙂 I remember the sermon! “… and Mary ponders it in her heart.” The young virgin Mary was very humble and obedient when she received the message from angel Gabriel. May we also receive God’s message in our lives with that attitude. I was so mesmerized that I didn’t take any pictures inside.


St. Paul’s Cathedral. I heard it has beautiful architecture and interior, but when we got there it was closed for public.





Museums. There are a lot of museums you can visit for free here. Victoria and Albert is one of the most famous one. My favorite was Science Museum. I spent so much time observing everything one by one.

Trafalgar Square. Take picture with the lion, the fountain, and the pigeons. Go the The National Gallery just behind it.

Can you see the lion? hahaha... the chicken was more interesting to me, honestly...

Can you see the lion? hahaha… the chicken was more interesting to me, honestly…


The National Gallery

If you have time and budget, check on the schedule for musicals and watch!


Tram. It’s easy to get to downtown by tram. Once I had a 3 years old boy sitting next to me and couldn’t stop singing, “Stop the bus I need a wee wee…” (wee wee: a slang for pee)

I stayed in Ibis Budget hotel. It has good location and value. Nearby a supermarket and tram station.

Best duration to explore: 2-3 days.

Edinburgh Castle. It’s HUGE. You might spend the whole day here. The ticket cost 16 GBP. I didn’t get in, it was too late.


From afar

German Market. Every Christmas they will have this kind of market. They have goods, food and beverage, also mini amusement park and ice rink.


Scott Monument. It’s really cool monument if you look at it from above. I rode this flying thing with my friends and almost thought we’re going to die.

Do you see that shining colorful thingy next to the monument? That's the ride

Do you see that shining colorful thingy next to the monument? That’s the ride

Museum on the Mound. It’s money museum where you can see a million Scottish pounds! I got a really cool souvenir as well: a keychain with shredded pounds inside. Free entrance.

that million pounds

that million pounds

made my own Scottish money

made my own Scottish money

Writer’s Museum. It’s museum of 3 famous Scottish writers: Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson (the writer of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). The museum is so small, but if you’re a book worm, better come by and see around. Free entrance.

National Museum of Scotland. This is one of the most amazing museums I’ve ever visit. They have 7 levels that I almost spent literally half day there.

A bar in the UK is a place you drink with friends but also have meals with family. We wanted to have dinner at a famous bar, but it was full, so we moved to a bar next to it. Lucky! That was Deacon Broody Tavern, the inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The food was brilliant too. If you don’t want to pay so much for your drink, just order tap water with lemon and ice (everywhere in the UK, I suppose).


My food

My food

There are more museums and art galleries I skipped because I didn’t have enough time. I was very interested in going for The Real Mary King’s Close tour, but I had to miss it. You can visit the Edinburgh Dungeon too if you’re a fan of mystery tours.


Subway will be the easiest transportation. Well, basically I stopped somewhere and walked around.

I found the accent here is quite difficult to understand, but the people are really friendly.

Hancock Museum / Museum of The Great North. Free entrance. Quite entertaining. I met my first real mummy here.

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Had an afternoon cream tea at Jesmond Dene House. Better book it online first. It was quite pricey, but the service was really good.

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There’s a surprisingly nice Asian market here. I forgot the name, sorry, but it’s quite easy to find since just around city center. You can find almost all familiar Chinese stuff like plum candies, bubble tea pearls, herbs, and seasonings.

We watched a music show and a parade at Grey’s Monument, then we walked down to the Millennium Bridge (Tyne river) to watch the new year fireworks show. I helped an Indian girl who looked so lost in the crowd, but she wasn’t that thankful and suddenly left me without saying a word after she saw her cousin coming. Anyways, I do what I expect others to do if I’m in that kind of situation. Sow and harvest someday.

Millenium bridge

Millenium bridge


fireworks by the river

I heard that there are times that they open the Millenium Bridge, but when I was there, it seemed not in operation anymore. There’s Baltic Mill Art Gallery at the same spot too if you’re into art.

If you want to go a bit further, you can meet Angel of The North statue, the landmark of Gateshead.

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I ended my journey on the bed with heater on for 2 consecutive days at my cousin’s house. What a busy holiday…


19 December 2014

My cousin brought me here to show the set of Harry Potter movie: Durham Cathedral. I’m not a fan of Harry Potter so I don’t really know how it really looks on the movie, but it has great architecture. My cousin said the main hall of this old church was the dining hall in the movie (pictures not allowed because there was an event) and the yard outside was the quidditch arena. Here are some pictures, maybe rings a bell for you🙂

A castle you can see from the road

A castle you can see from the road

On the way up and down

On the way up and down

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral. Sorry backlight…

One of the corridor

One of the corridor

The quidditch arena

The quidditch arena

Lego miniature. Donate and get you own lego piece to put there.

Lego miniature of the cathedral. Donate and get you own lego piece to put there.

November 2014 – January 2015

Lake District is located in Cumbria, north west England. It does have many lakes and is a popular holiday destination in England. If you love nature, stay here longer and explore the whole area. I went to these places I’m going to share you.

Keswick. The first place I visited in Lake District because there’s regular bus from Carlisle, where I lived :D There are interesting things you can see here: St. John Church, Alhembra Cinema (a very old one), Fitz Park (that has the biggest cricket stadium in England?), Packhorse Court (souvenir complex), Pencil Museum (if you love drawing / painting, you’ll find awesome stuff here), Theater by The Lake, etc. You can take a picture of the map on the bus station or get a map for 2 GBP. I chased some sheep at Crow Park. They ran away too fast while I was busy avoiding their poo.




It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!!

It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!!

St. John Church from the back. Most of old churches here have graveyards. Creepy yet still stunning...

St. John Church from the back. Most of old churches here have graveyards. Creepy yet still stunning…

Kendal. I have a friend there so I went visit her. I stopped at Oxenholme station as it’s closer to her house, but we took bus that only comes every hour. We had breakfast at Brew Brothers, then went shopping for our baking afternoon. Then we watched movie at Brewery Arts Center. I didn’t get to see around so much, but I saw a castle ruin which my friend said belonged to the last wife of King Henry IV, the only wife he didn’t kill. King Henry IV was the pioneer of the Anglican church. Sounds cliche huh… killing his wives vs church founder. Never mind. That was history. Do you know Peter Rabit? You can visit the museum too. Kendal is the hometown of Peter Rabit. Another famous thing from there is Kendal Mint Cake.

The main road

The main road

My egg benedict at Brew Brothers

My yummy egg benedict at Brew Brothers

Aira Force. My office-mate, who regularly goes to Lake District on weekends drove me and my housemate here and the other places below. There is a really nice hiking trail and waterfalls in Aira Force. It’s also famous with the red squirrels. I was hungry and ate ice cream. That was good, just made my friends amazed that I ate something cold while they’re having hot tea.


a view from above

A view from above. I think that lake is Ullswater

My housemate walking on the trail

My housemate walking on the trail

Going through the old bridge to see a waterfall

Going through the old bridge to see a waterfall


Hello, gorgeous!

Ambleside. We had lunch at The Apple Pie. We saw the very famous bridge house (a national thrust).

The main road

The main road


My “jacket potato” at The Apple Pie

Bridge House (front)

Bridge House (front)

Bridge House (side)

Bridge House (side)

Grasmere. There are quite a lot of nice lodging house here. It’s quiet and relaxing. We visited Wordsworth Daffodil Garden, which is just next to Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere ginger bread shop. There I also saw snowdrops for the very first time (probably). I bent as low as I could to see how it looks like from below.


Retro? Nope, it’s original!


Inside you will see people’s names that donated for this garden. You can have your name carved there too if you donate😀


snowdrops from below

snowdrops from below

12 December 2014

So during the weekend, my housemate and I took a one day trip to York by bus.

First place we visited was the Railway Museum.

Look cool with real old station setting

Look cool with real old station setting

York Minster. It’s a beautiful minster. The chimes were ringing when I was there. Super🙂 If you want to look inside, check the schedule first.

What? Yeah, I wish I could get rid of the pole and the

What? Yeah, I wish I could get rid of the pole and the “bush” too

The Shambles. It’s a medieval street where you can find cafes. We had lunch at Shambles Kitchen. The space is pretty small, but they serve good food. Try the pulled pork or shawarma.

The Shambles

The Shambles

My shawarma at Shambles Kitchen

My shawarma at Shambles Kitchen

The Monk Bar. I think this was on the Shambles too. They have good home made chocolate. Lots of people buy it for souvenir. I shared a mug of hot chocolate with my housemate. That was not the best ever, but it was Belgian chocolate😀


York Christmas Market – St. Nicholas Fayre. All you need for Christmas? Well… not really. But the fun being in that kind of atmosphere on Christmas time is precious. Have some mulled wine, walk around in this historic city, find something unique to bring home. I found York home made ale which was only for 5 GBP per bottle (around 500ml) and 2 boxes of hand made chocolate.


Those small sheds are the shops

There are more things you can see here. I was walking around traveler style. I didn’t make any research about York. I just knew I was going to Christmas market, see York Minster and have lunch at the Shambles. It turned out to be very relaxing. Got to taste different kinds of chutney and cheese, talked a lot with my housemate, then ended the day with a cup of warm brandy fruit punch.

A view from the bridge

A view from the bridge