Exploring the Scottish Highlands: A Week of Nature, History, and Cozy Comfort

Embarking on a journey through the Scottish Highlands, my boyfriend and I embraced a week of captivating landscapes and rich history. Our path led us from serene Loch Lomond to the charming village of Ballater, offering nature walks, castle visits, and a warm stay in a centuries-old cottage.

My favourite part of the trip was seeing the Scottish Heather (purple flowers) everywhere, I find them pretty calming to look at.

We competed a few easy walks, including up to see the Jacobite Train go over the aquaduct (harry potter fans: I reckon a must do lol.

We learnt a bit about Scottish history of the Clans and I did some research on my own family, while historically there is some Scottish family, they didn’t come from the highlands.

We didn’t manage to see a Highland cow, which is weird because all the tourist shops have them plastered on everything.

Our last stay of the trip was in Ballater, which is a small town in the Cairn Gorm area. Our cottage was about 150 years old, although you wouldn’t know it by the insides. It was a small cottage for just 2 people. I spent one evening just coseyd up on the couch with a blanket, watching some prime British tv, a cup of tea in hand.

Weather wise, Scotland was a bit rainy and windy, however we packed smart and didn’t get wet. We did need to pull out our wind proof jackets a few times tho!

i wish we had more time to slowly explore more if the Highlands. Perhaps we’ll be back!

Here is a photo dump of Scotland:

Five tips to have a fab holiday @ your home town

This post is a little tongue in cheek. I was supposed to be going away for an amazing 4 month holiday in Europe. There was going to be sun. There was going to be sand. There was going to be breathtaking historical sites. It was going to be amazing. I’d been dreaming of this since I was a kid!

There are currently a lot of blogs out there with “10 steps to still feel great during covid!” including recycled tips such as “make sure you have a schedule!” “work out!” “Read a book!”. Sometimes they will have a unique tip like “try reading a genre you don’t normally” but not tooooo often.

So I thought instead of doing a “six tips I saw online and now I’ve amalgated into a list of things I don’t do but I’d recommend to others!” I’d take my salty I’m not going on holiday anymore attitude, and make a fun post about. So without further adue, here are five not that funny but it’s my type of humor tips to help you still have fun at home, after covid ruined it for you.

1. If you were supposed to be going on a summer vacay, and it’s winter in your home town. Just use your “summer” shade of foundation

And the opposite if you were coming to the Southern Hemisphere!

Seem ridiculous, I know! But how else would you get a beautiful sun-kissed glow from Croatia or Greece, while staying in your cold, wintery country? Pair with a turtle neck so no one can see how pasty you actually are. Add some sun glasses, maybe a little (or a lot) of bronzer, and voila! Summer kissed skin without leaving winter.

Alternatively, fake tan until you’re an amazing shade of orange, and freeze your booty off in whatever clothes you had pegged to take on your vacay.

2. Hire a car! Drive around like a tourist!

So heres the situation: You’ve saved a lot of money to go on your once in a life time vacay. Now it’s just sitting there in your bank, begging to be spent! Don’t save it! Use it!

Maybe hire a car! Maybe a massive 4×4? Maybe a small eco car! Perhaps buy a cheap van that’ll break down every 100km. Just something that’s not the same as your every day vehicle so you can take it on a tiki-tour and explore your town / region like a tourist. Drive super slow. Drive in the over-taking lane. Don’t indicate! Drive slowly past signs which may or may not be your destination! It doesn’t matter! The car isn’t registered in your name! This isn’t your country!… Oh wait.

(PS please drive safely)

3. Put a hammock up outside and let the howling wind rock you to sleep

Don’t worry about getting wet. You’d be getting wet at a beach somewhere in Europe, the only difference is this water is rain. Directly from the sky. You can also invest in a water proof Kobo or Kindle and read a book outside, on your hammock, in a raging storm! Ahhh peace.

This is legit the only relevant photo I could find on Unsplash. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
4. Get totally wasted on summer cocktails, but in the comfort of your own home

Now look, I’m not a huge drinker, especially when we travel because it’s just expensive. However if I’m not going away, I now have a lot of money to spend, and what better way to spend it then on booze, and getting totally wasted in your own home? You don’t have to worry about sleezy people taking advantage of tourists, plus you learn a new skill!! My fav “summer” cocktail is defo sex on the beach but you can’t go past a Mojito!

If you paired your cocktail with togs, and went out to your hammock from tip 3, you really could have a party! Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
5. Spend a shit ton of money on stuff you don’t need

Bonus if you can order summer things so it’ll arrive when summer does! Maybe a pool you can wack up in your backyard. Some of those blow up unicorns for said swimming pool. A cute bikini you saw online that certainty won’t fit your top half, but you’re hopeful anyway.

You could buy a cocktail set from Amazon to WOW your friends next time you see them in person! Perhaps buy you dream car (but in toy format because we actually do want to save a bit of money!). Spend $200 on “planning” note books and stickers etc to plan for that really busy schedule you’re sure to have after COVID is over.

But seriously…

Let’s look at these tips and take a serious spin on them

  1. Right now is the perfect time to play with makeup if you’re so inclined! So then you can get that perfect “no makeup / makeup” look for your photos when you’re on tour! (I don’t wear makeup on holiday, but I’ve started to at work! so I’ve been playing with suitable looks)
  2. It’s also a perfect time to travel your own country. You could make a week of it with your friends and/or family. Tourism outlets will be happy for the business and you never know what you might stumble across in your own backyard!
  3. Don’t actually set up a hammock in the rain (I mean, unless that sounds amazing to you!). You could maybe fine a quiet spot in your home (which isn’t your bed or office) to read a nice book. Or not. You do you.
  4. Get wasted. Or not. Everyone has their preferences. I started drinking a bit of gin during NZ lockdown. No reason, I just like it. Just be safe!
  5. Putting a strain on places like Amazon is probably not ideal – America is… well America is busy right now. Try local! It might be a bit more expensive, but your local economy will need it soon, if not already. Otherwise, just save what you can for that next big trip.

Right now, I am reading a lot of blogs to see places I’d love to go when this is all over. For example, I wasn’t planning on spending much time in the UK at all on our trip, except for Harry Potter world, however now I want to head to Edinburgh to follow the Harry Potter Trail, and someone really has me sold on Iceland now! (convincing Jared – who hates the cold – is another story!)

What are some silly tips you’ve thought of over this time? The more ridiculous the better!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A non-paid review of Dollar Shave Club

Everyone managed to save money during lockdown, I somehow spent way too much on random stuff, including but not limited to: makeup, planning supplies, brush pens which I don’t know how to use and STICKERS!. I also signed up for something I’ve been meaning to try for ages: Dollar Shave Club. (DSC)

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Dollar Shave Club, a lot of Youtubers are sponsored by them. Because I am tool, I ordered the starter kit without any discount code. I’m unsure if the code even works for the AU site. But it wasn’t even that expensive, anyway.

I should preface this by saying I am a bit of a razor snob. I swear by the Gillette Venus Razor. Every other razor I’ve tried is just trash. You have to go over the same spot a million times, or somehow think you’ve done a good job, get out the shower, and the whole back of your leg is still hairy. Angle of the razor? who knows. But I swear by the Venus, so I was a little skeptical if this really was going to be as amazing as MUA’s / Voggers etc claim it to be!

Price breakdown: Venus vs DSC

  • Venus Razor body + 1 head: Price: $9
  • Venus Refills: 4 heads $16+ (depending on sales). $4/item
  • Dollar Shave Club: Body+4 razors+ sample of the shaving butter (shipping free) $15.
  • Dollar Shave Club: Every two months: 8x shaving heads, 1x full size Easy Shave Butter $28.50 works out to $3.19/item (I guess shipping is worked into this too)

I should mention I don’t actually buy shave cream and usually just use Soap. However this whole kit is still cheaper then buying 3 heads! Why not splash out on the shave cream, eh?

I ordered on the 3rd of May and it took quite a while to get here, arriving on the 23rd May, however given the covid situation, I mean, I didn’t expect anything better. I don’t think this is a fault of the company – The only annoying thing was that there was no tracking and our community had had some issues with deliveries in the area so I did start to get a little worried it’d been thrown out a van!

It did come in a box but I forgot to get a nice shot

So the razor body itself: it’s heavy, which if Jeffry Starr has taught us anything about, weight is a good indicator of quality (so am I high quality?). The shaver heads have 5 blades!

The body alone is quite heavy which is really good because MUAs say weight = quality?
The body is gripy which is good when you’re working with slippery products!
Is this art?

So lets get into the actual usage: I tried a little experiment, which thinking back, was totally unfair on the brand. I didn’t shave my legs from the time I ordered to the day I got the box. It felt like longer than 3 weeks. It looked like longer than 3 weeks….

Why is this unfair? Well I don’t normally go more than a week without shaving my legs, so it’s not really fair to judge the razor based on something I wouldn’t usually expect of it! I did take a photo of my legs, but… who really wants to see that. Just imagine 3+ weeks of hair growth haah.

So the razer didn’t preform amazingly because it got clogged up pretttyyy quickly! It took a couple of swipes in some areas, but only the areas that were oddly more hairy then others (maybe I missed them last time I shaved? Maybe other areas are effect by socks? Who knows!) However it still have a really close shave after the 2nd swipe and I think it did a better job than the Venus, probably because of the 5 blades! If I had done this with the Venus I feel like it would have taken me a lot longer than it did.

I did try it on my bikini line, which my Venus sucks at doing and usually leaves me itchy and bumpy no matter how much soap I use – and I’ve had NO issues yet with the DSC in that area! I’m stoked!

The shave butter was OK, I honestly have no comments about it. It wasn’t overpowering in smell. I did need quite a bit to cover my legs as it thinned out pretty quick however I do have big calves! Maybe for the average person a small amount would be fine.

So overall? probably 10/10. It will defo replace my Venus for a few reasons

  1. It’s delivered to my door. I always forget I need a new razor and end up using the same one for like a month or more
  2. It’s cheap
  3. It preformed better then the Venus on the bikini line and the feel of my legs afterwards feel better than the Venus.

As I was writing this post, I also checked on the website (AU) to see what else they sold and see they sell things individually:

At time of writing, the prices are (NZD)

  • Pack of 4 razors – Ranges from $9.68 – $4.40
  • Handle = Ranges from $6.16 – $3.50

I do have a URL that EVERYBODY who purchases from there gets, and if you click that

There is a range of other stuff on their website too, including their shaving creams (which I see come in different smells!), scrubs (which I might try!) hair products, oral health and antiperspirants! Wonder if I should buy some more and review? Let me know if you’re interested to hear more!

6 things you should do or know about before traveling to Japan

As you can tell by the latest few posts, in 2019 we traveled to Japan. First and foremost, to compete, secondly – to have an amazing holiday. Here are some tips that might help you on your trip to Japan.

You don’t need to speak fluent Japanese, or.. any at all for that matter

This sounds incredibly rude, of course you should learn all of the language you possibly can! And I really did try, at least to pick up some catch phrases that might be handy, but I have a learning disability which makes it really difficult for me to learn, so while I practiced, I really struggled to even say hello & thank you (don’t worry, I have it downpat now and used the two phrases throughout our journey).

Here’s the reality: Most food places have images on their menus, if you really have to, you can point to the food item you want (I usually follow up with “Arigatōgozaimas”). However all restaurants we went too had someone who spoke broken English, enough to take your order. I don’t think we once had a problem – and we went to a few really small – off the beaten path type restaurants. If you have allergies, I’d probably learn a few phrases!

Tourist signs are in English, and if not, Google Maps is incredibly helpful! You can also use Google Translate but we didn’t have too much luck with that (although a few laughs were had when we tried to translate a Japanese menu).

Overall, we had no issues in Japan language wise! (although if you are not like me and do not have a learning disability, I’d recommend trying to pick up a few phrases!)

Although it would have been nice to able to read things like the above, its not going to stop you from having a good time

There is a difference between a Shinkansen and the city-transport (+bonus tips..)

The Shinkansen is the train that gets you from say… Narita to Tokyo, or Tokyo to Osaka etc. IE: Region to Region (prefecture to prefecture? I’m still not 100% on the structure of Japan’s regions). The trains / metro etc are the trains / buses / boats etc that get you from your Shinjuku to Shibya (IE; within the same city).

For the Shinkansen you can buy each trip as required, or you can get a JR Pass – which is a pass you buy that lets you get around for X amount of days. You really need to check if its worth the price though – we only got one on our trip because it saved a whole $2 as we wanted to go on a boat trip over to Itsukushima. There is a calculator here on the Japan Guide website (An amazing resource, FYI!). If you do decide a ticket will be worth it – order it in the correct time frame as your confirmation ticket gets sent to your home address! And don’t lose it!

Right, then the trains that get you around the city. It’s best if you purchase a Suica (or alternative!) and use this. This card can also be used to buy food/drinks/items from major outlets like 7/11, Lawsons, I think even McDonalds might have Suica!

Is this the first stock image you search on Unsplash for Shinkansen? Yes. Does it depict exactly what I want? Yes. Credit: !https://unsplash.com/@lunakay

You can order your Sim and Suica (travel card) and get it sent to your home address

Jared is a smart lad. He ordered the Sim and Suica to be sent to our home (IE: In New Zealand) so we didn’t have to worry about it when we got to the airport. It means as soon as we got out of customs, we could input the simcard and find out information quick snap. Given how large the airports are (at least to me they are huge!) the last thing I wanted to do was walk around looking for the Sim Card shop + Pickup for our transit card.

Do you have money remaining on your Suica? You can get a refund!

Be ready to getup early if you want those amazing photo opportunities

We woke up pretty early to do Fushimi Inari. Partly because reviews said so, but also because our friend went there the day prior, around 11am and said it was hell.

We then went to the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji) and the Bamboo forest and it was horrible. Everyone was standing around taking photos and didn’t care about the people around them. Have you ever seen the bamboo forest photos? It’s honestly nothing like people somehow manage it to look like. It’s overcrowded, people stop in the middle of the path to take photos of their significant others and take so long to do it you just have to walk around them (Oh gosh, if I’m going to go into the travel blog world – am I going to have to do this? :O ).

No no, my friends. Plan ahead. Find out when the earliest train leaves. Get some breakfast from 7/11 that can be eaten quickly or eaten at the location (NOT on the train!). See the earliest time you can arrive at these locations and just do it. It’ll be worth the grumpy groggy feeling when you wake up at 6am.

Catching in image like this is amazing. Plus the (almost) silent walk.. Totally worth the 6am start!

Most of the hotel rooms are small. Just live with it!

Out of all the hotels we stayed at, only one was a reasonable size (and it was massive!). I’m not entirely sure why, it wasn’t an expensive hotel compared to some other places (bonus, the staff where amazingly helpful!). But yeah, expect tiny, “i have to put my suitcase in front of the door so I hope there is not a fire” type rooms.

And be honest, are you really having a good holiday if you’re spending all your time in your room, anyway? Go out! See the sights! The only time we were in our hotel room during the day was the one day it had rained and we were both recovering from a cold and had been full all tourist mode for like, 5 solid days, we needed a nap!

So don’t worry about size. Worry about what its close to. Public transport is a must if its not located in the area you want to be in. Close proximity to a combini (convenience store) is also ideal! Those 7/11 / Lawsons have AMAZING food for such low prices. How do they do it? Why are they not in NZ? Please, come to New Zealand, Japanese 7/11! I beg of you!.

Bonus: If you hotel has an Onsen, just do it. Honestly. Who cares. You’re never going to see those people again anyway. Mate I am an 84kg+ powerlifter (um so you know. Plus plus size!) and when I finally tried one.. i was so gutted I’d left it to the last hotel.

Japanese etiquette and being a good tourist

If you’ve watched the videos and read all the blogs you probably already know the following, but I want to confirm that while no one will say anything it’s just rude to disrespect peoples customs. You’re a visitor there!

  1. Don’t talk loudly on public transport
  2. Don’t eat on the metro systems (Shinkansen is OK I think)
  3. Do not rush onto trains / metro systems etc. Let people off before you go on
    1. Fun fact: if you go to Singapore after you’ve been to Japan, you’ll notice the stark difference!
  4. Sit down and eat. Don’t walk and eat
  5. Be respectful of those around you. Trains in Tokyo are PACKED yet no one managed to stand on my food or touch me weirdly. Be aware of your surroundings!

Misc tips that don’t need a whole paragraph

  • Carry cash – Japan is a (mostly) cash based society
  • No one really bated an eye at my tattoos however I wore leggings (one small leg tattoo). I even got into 3 gyms after showing them the tattoos on my wrists
  • You’re going to do a lot of walking. Take out those high heels + dress and replace with comfy walking shoes + shorts
  • Don’t stress! Are you lost? Bring up the location you want and ask for help – Japanese people are very friendly
  • Avoid the Starbucks and McDees – honestly they have like 1 or 2 items that are different, if that. Try something different!
  • If you see a long line for food – its probably amazing and worth the wait. I stayed in line for Ramen for 2 hours. I didn’t like Ramen on the whole of our trip (too salty!) but this Ramen… This Ramen I would wait 2 hours for again
  • Trip advisor gave some solid restaurant advice!

Narita, Japan 2019 – The start of our trip

Narita was our first stop on our month long Japan trip. Many people skip Narita because they think there isn’t much there, just the airport, that’s all. However, the competition was based out at an airport hotel, and we didn’t think it would be worth it traveling in to Tokyo.

I found it really hard to find anything to do in Narita when Googlíng, and there is a reason for that – it’s not a main tourist destination, there isn’t the WOW locations like Fushimi Inari or the Golden Temple in Kyoto, or the busy streets of Osaka and Tokyo. No, most people think it’s a location to fly in and fly out. However what is present is an amazing Park site and a pretty cool shopping strip!


We stayed at Hotel Welco, we requested a smoke free room however the room we got was a previous smokers room. We didn’t have any view, however it was cheap, close to Lawsons (a 7-11 alternative) and close to transport so we could get around for the day we were in Narita town.


Like I said, there isn’t too much to do in Narita, but like all Japanese towns, they had a temple site and park, and a small shopping strip which I found amazing!

Naritasan Park

Naritasan Park is a large location which has gardens, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, a Great Peace Pagoda, a calligraphy museum, ponds and waterfalls, and well kept gardens.

We skipped the calligraphy museum due to the price, however we walked all around the gardens and took some cool photos. This was our first taste of temples in Japan and I loved it!

The Great Peace Pagoda was truly an amazing site, it was built in 1984 to celebrate the temples 1,150th anniversary. The water feature you in the gallery below is the site you can see from the steps leading away from the pagoda. While this is a young building in comparison to all the other buildings on site, it’s really a site to behold!

The great hall (Daihondo) is a large building on site which was built in 1712. I am unsure what the colored flags surrounding the building are – in photos online of the building, the flags are not present. The tower next to the building was built to pay respect to Prince Shotoku (572 – 622 AD).

These bricks have messages enscribed in them but we’re unsure what any of them said. They could be buiness pay to be here (Like Fushimi Inari) however I read online that there was also Poems in this park from notable Poets, perhaps these are them?

There was also a Buddhist temple and what I recall (I think!) used to be a storage of grain? I can’t remember! I Wish I took photos of the description boards. We went inside the temple, but we couldn’t take photos (common place in all temples)

We got a lot of photos from around the park, too. I’ll add those at the end as part of a larger gallery.

Omotesando Road

On the way to the Park, you have to go down Omotesando Road (not be confused with the same road in Tokyo!). The road is very narrow and has 100s of small shops selling freshly made goods or souvenirs. I’m really gutted I only have a few photos from here. Walking down the street kind of sends you back it time, doing a bit of digging, apparently this is the road which was the last leg of the trip from Edo (Tokyo) to the Temple. Travelers would stop here to rest and eat. We stopped at a cafe where I got to try some amazing fluffy pancakes, which I didn’t get a photo of, either. So just check out the restaurants Trip Advisor here for photos. It was the only restaurant in the whole of our trip where we sat on the floor. I expected we’d be doing that a lot more then we actually ended up doing!.

We also visited a mall, and went to Watami Narita. Which had good food and drinks.

So overall, no, there isn’t a million things to do here like in Koyto or Tokyo, there’s no “IG influencer” worthy shots here, but the gardens are beautiful, same with the temple. The shopping street is fascinating and there are quite a few nice restaurants around! I would recommend staying in Narita if you had, say a half day spare before you fly out and you want be close to the airport. Maybe don’t stay at the hotel we did though if you are sensitive to smoke.

IPF Bench Worlds 2019

While we’re on the topic of Japan, Bench worlds was actually the reason I went over there in the first place! I haven’t spoken much about my powerlifting “career” here, so what a good way to start then the highlight of that “career” so far!

I set my sights on bench worlds when I hit a 100kg bench – which in the scheme of things, is low for my weight class. However – just like going to uni and graduating – I set that goal and worked hard.

To get to Worlds I had to qualify at Bench Nationals. The qualifier was quite low, probably around 90kg, however I hit 120kg on the day! I was super stoked!

The prep to Japan was stressful. So many people were excited for me and I kept thinking over and over in my head “what if I fail? What if I can’t even get a lift on the board?”. I had to push those thoughts aside and just keep my mind of the goal, I wanted to go worlds, and I wanted to smash it…

Until the nominations came out. I think the year before Japan, whoever attended worlds was not who would attend in Japan, and as such I seriously thought I had a shot at placing top 3! The nominations took me down a peg (or…6, spoiler!~) but I was amendment I was still going, and going to at least get a competition Personal Best (PB).

We received our comp gear before we left for Japan, this included a t-shirt with a fern – a huge honor to wear – representing NZ! I honestly never thought I’d get to this place! It was all starting to sink in when I received this kit that i was going to represent Aotearoa in an international sport.

I complete as a 84+(f, obviously!) in the open category, raw. This means that I competed on the last day of the Raw competition. So I did a lot of watching of other classes. It made me really nervious, considering we were at the top end of the sport, a lot of people were missing their opening lift, and quite a few missed all three lifts. This made me incredibly nervous and I had to limit how much I watched. However there was some amazing lifts, and the general atmosphare could be pretty amazing! I got to watch some of the 4 best bench pressers in the world make some incredible lifts!

I got to see Yusuke Suzuki hit 216.5kg Bench @ 80kgBW

Daiki Kodama hit 225kg @ 77.5kgBW (No video on IG :()

Jen Thompson hitting an amazing 140kg @62kgBW. Freaking amazing!

Thomas Davis’ three hundred kilo bench press!

Butttt it was finally my turn. And here is where I get stuck writing and explaining how I felt.

I was nervous and excited. I ate what I could for breakfast – I’m always so nervous I don’t like eating, but I know I need food, especially for bench! I weighed in and then… kinda buggered off to my room for an hour to chill out and not overthink.

When we got to the warm up area, i was surprised that noone really wanted to talk or say hello, I just found that really odd, but I guess we’re competing against eachother, after all.

My warm ups went so smoothly. I really felt in peak, tip top shape! My music playlist wasn’t killn’ it tho.. I ended up adding the New Zealand Haka ( can’t find the exact version but this is a goodie!) to my playlist, as well as a few other kiwi classics or “amp” songs. David Dallas – Runnin’ is a classic go to. I am representing New Zealand, guys! I need some of dem Aotearoa beats!

My turn was suddenly up – I was full of nerves. I had a good coach though, he knew exactly what to say to keep me focused.

If you know much about powerlifting, you’ll know some people (many, probably!) can be quite agressive and have an angry look about them when they’re ready to hit the platform – for my bench, I need to be calm and happy – the this!

And that.. is really how the rest of it went! I was still a ball of nerves after the first lift, but essentially I hit the platform with a smile on my face, knowing I could knock it easily!

And I did get my goal of getting a PB Competition bench! Which means two reds on each side of the the bar! (A red is a 25kg plate haha)

In my weight class I came 6th out of 7 but I got to compete against people who have competed for years, I’ve been competing (at that point) for only 1.5 years.

And I guess.. that was my worlds experience so far.. And it was enjoyable! I met some really cool people (pozed for an awkward photo with Jen Thompson, but I have some amazing photos of me and Geno haha

I didn’t really learn too much from this experience – it went perfectly. We had access to food, I had a really good coach with me, I had my partner and a few other people from NZ. The people in Japan were super friendly, too. My strength didn’t take a hit from travel, the beds were comfy, honestly it was just a great time and I had hoped to do it again this year.. but, well.. obviously not.

Tokyo 2019 – The highlights.

Carrying on from last weeks post, it’s hard to put every place we went into a numerical order of what was bestest to… not bestest? Today I’m feeling Tokyo, so let me share some highlights (and I’m happy to answer any questions!)

Tokyo was the second part of our journey after Narita. We met up with some friends here, and did various activities together. Tokyo is huge and every time I went to plan out our time in Tokyo, I normally ended up closing the browser entirely, because compared to “large” New Zealand towns, Tokyo is huge, on top of that, the population is almost double the size of New Zealand, in a single city! crazy!

Accommodation: I won’t dwell on this too much. It was a tiny room in a Super Hotel in Shinjuku, about a 1.2km walk from the main Shinjuku train line. To get from the train line to our accom, we walked right through the busy town, which for someone whose grown up in small town NZ – was a little scary! Anyway. The accomidation – nothing much here. Really small. Not greatly priced, but close to stuff.

Activities and stuff:

You can tell I’m not normally a travel blogger – “activities and stuff?” IE: Shit we did in Tokyo. As I said, we met up with two groups of friends when here. We did a lot eating and a lot of walking!

Takeshita Street: One thing on my must do list was defo Takeshita Street. Now, there’s no way I’d fit into any of the clothes or even have luggage to cart it around if did buy stuff – nope, what I wanted was the food. And I only have two pictures of what I ate there, which is upsetting, yet its colorful so it makes me happy anyway!

The sights of Harajuku were pretty cool, we saw a lot of school kids (or YA?) walking around in Harajuku type clothes – not as much as I’d seen on all of the travel guides though. I little underwhelming, if I’m honest. The food was neat (the candy floss was flavored!)

teamLab Borderless: This is an interactive walk through… group of rooms (A lot of rooms?) where you can squish light bugs (they die if you step on them :() move water around you, get some cool pictures in some awesome light and ah… well, my friends said it was cool but it’d be better if they were tripping.. honestly, I’d have no clue. it was cool. Got some nice photos – The cellphone was better than the expensive camera. That’s the way life goes, isn’t it?

Robot Restaurant: Can you go to Tokyo without at least trying this place out? The answer is no. Lights, sound, people pretending to be robots, what more do you want? The only disappointment? It’s not a damn restaurant! They had intermission snacks, but not actual restaurant food. 🙁 I’d recommend taking ear plugs if you have sensitive ears, and a camera which is good at taking photos in low light.

Tokyo Tower: Next and last activity we did (I know, we probably missed out on so much, but we only had a few days!) was Tokyo Tower. It’s a tall tower where you can go right up the top and see the city. It’s expensive, but worth it! I’ll let the pictures speak.

Monster Cafe: We didn’t pick a proper show time. We also chose the cheapest seats. It was such a disappointment and not worth the money we spent. It was cool to see all the bright, weird and fun stuff they have there, but… eh, I think it was overrated.


Two stand out locations in Tokyo (well, out of the food I remember). Niether I got pictures of, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Butagumi Shokudō (Roppongi) I’m not going to lie – I had to go back on my Google Timeline to find this because it was our friend that found it, and all I know is that they do damn good pork tonkatsu but I had no idea what the place was called. Look, I didn’t even know what pork tonkatsu was before I went here. And now I am disappointed that nothing in New Zealand will ever live up to it. Ever. Ever ever. There have cheap cuts and expensive cuts (I think we had one of each and both are certainly amazing! 10/10). You sit around a long tables while chefs prepare the pork in the middle of the room, it gets deep fried out back, then bought back out, cut and served. I really wish I could go back, please someone take me back!

Cafe Aaliya (Shinjuku): A very small resturant which cooks the best french toast, hands down, I’ve ever had, and it appears the reviews all around the web agree, too. Mate, if you like french toast. Go here. I nothing but good memories and regret that we only went there once while we were in Tokyo.

Random Tidbits

  • No one online ever said that Tokyo smelled like sewerage, and no one else seemed to be mentioning it around us except for our group. Maybe it was us? Maybe it was the unprecedented heat at that time of year – but the odour was present in all the areas we visited in Tokyo. Not overpowering, just unpleasant.
  • The trains are as busy as all the Youtube travel guides make them out to be, yet somehow I never got inappropriately touched, no one stood on my shoe, no one smelled unpleasant and even if they did, I don’t remember having to stand nose to armpit, anyway.
  • The area that the Robot Restaurant is in – is a little dodgy, especially at night. There were people trying to peddle something (unsure what, we didn’t stick around too long). The same type of people were also in Takeshita Street, but during the day – trying to sell fake goods. In both instances these people were not Japanese. Please be careful!
  • Tokyo was almost too much to take in – I didn’t get to hit up all the restaurants or sweet (baked and candy) places I wanted to. We could easily go back for a whole week to explore more
  • The subway stations are damn confusing but SO SO conveniant. You can get anywhere by train
  • I’m unsure if we went to the wrong crossing or what, but Shabuya crossing was kinda “meh” and that was the only reason we went to that area, too! (actually looking
    • I checked with Jared. And with Google Maps. We went to the right place. It was just.. underwhelming. A quiet day in Shabuya I guess.
  • We visited some nice parks and shrines, and took some other interesting photos so I’ll include those below as “misc” things (otherwise known as “things I don’t remember until i saw the photos”)

If you want any tips, feel free to comment below! I might be able to help or at least point you in

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Kon’nichiwa! Welcome to the first of what I hope to be many travel posts.

First we’re starting of with my #1 memorable experience from Japan – Fushimi Inari Shrine & hike.

Last year, I traveled to Japan to compete at the IPF Bench Worlds 2019. After the competition, Jared and I traveled around the main island of Japan. For me, Fushimi Inari was probably my number one experience of whole trip!

The bright orange Torii gates are on the entire 4km walk, with only small gaps present. The gates are what the shrine is mostly known for – if you Google Kyoto, you’ll most likely get an image similar.

We’d heard a lot of things about the shrine walk being super popular (and we could see why during the walk!) so decided to get up super early, as recomended by a friend who went a few days before us.

Fushimi Inari is a Shinto Shrine located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. We based ourselves in the main city of Kyoto, and woke up at approx 6am to catch a train to Fushimi-ku. Thankfully, the train station is opposite the shrine so we didn’t need to travel too far!

I was going to write a bit of the history, however you can find it scattered around the internet; So I will list the things I found interesting

  • Fushimi Inari was created to enshrine the gods (or kami) of rice and sake (Inari)
  • The foxes scattered around are thought to be messengers of the Inari gods
  • There are 30,000 Inari shrines across the country, Fushimi inari is the headquaters
  • The first structures of the shrine were built in 711! They were however not built on site, instead they were built Southwester Kyoto. They were moved to this site in 816
  • The main shrine itself was built in 1499
  • Something that I thought was interesting is that on the walk, there are many vending machines and cafes and souvenir shops. It kind of took away from the experience of walking through a historical shrine

what is important to note (I think) is that there are 10,000 (yes, that’s right!) Torii gates along the 4km~ path. These gates have been donated by businesses, and on the back (or front depending what direction you’re walking!) of most of them, there are messages (or perhaps the business’ name? I don’t actually know)

I am unsure if they are buiness names, proverbs or quotes of some kind.

Originally when we were looking into Fushimi Inari, I was very hesitant, it wasn’t until the day before we went that I decided “we’ll only be here once, we should do it!”

So as I said, we left pretty early from Kyoto to beat the late risers, and were so lucky that we got there before almost anyone else, none of the photos I have include photos of other people – except for the ones I took to showcase how busy it got when we got back down the mountain.

The main shrine – I don’t think we went inside

There are small shrines scattered throughout the walk, I really wish I could speak Japanese, as I really wanted to know what they represented. A lot of the shrines (if not all?) had what I would have called grave stones. I wonder if people are burried there? Or a memorial site? Perhaps all of the shrines / “grave stone” type things I saw were just to the kami inari?

Turns out I didn’t get much photos of the small shrines etc. This is really all I have!

If you’re short on time, or not very fit, there is a half way point which has a great view to Kyoto. However – even though I was incredibly unfit, we carried on up to complete the whole thing “when in Rome!” right?

The half way point has this view of Kyoto. My camera isn’t the best – clearly.

So we kept going – as the steps got steeper, I had to stop quite a few times! Something which wouldn’t be possible if we went there with the normal tourist crowd, as apprently the line up the mountain is person to person (as opposed to bumper to bumper) one line going up and one going down and everyone just keeps walking – so you can’t stop!

I stood like this a few times. Look at that red face!

I’m quite dissapointed…. looking through all the photos we have, I have nothing from the top! The top of the walk was amazing. It was filled with 1000s of small (what I assume) shrines. Many had numbers on them, and I think when the shops were open, you could get a piece of paper which said what each shrine was – but we were there so early none of the shops on the walk up or down were open.

I went to Google images to see if I could find some images of the top of the walk – it turns out no one really goes past the mid point. But I’m telling you! You need to do it! It’s worth it to soak up that history! I’m not a very fit person, but I managed it. 🙂

I’m so glad I decided to give this walk a try, and not give up on it at the half way point. It’s so beautiful to walk and see the shrines, feel the history of the place, and even more so when it’s peaceful and noone else is around!

All in all, 10/10. I would probably even do this again! The walk is beautiful, through some amazing forest. The Torii gates are magical, something about them just makes me smile, the cute foxes scattered around, too! Plus, it’s free!

Comment below what your favorite travel destination is! Mine has so far been Japan, obviosuly with Fushimi Inari being #1 attraction for me. 🙂

Another year, another (new) blog

Kia ora and welcome to another blog / website created by me, Jana Hayes.

A bit more maturity, less time to code my own website but more feelings and thoughts to express has led me to create (another) blog with an amazing theme per-provided. Do not judge if you’re coming from the blogisphare. Usually I’d have something cute and pink, but I can’t be bothered this time around.

I’m unsure exactly what I wanted to write about. Powerlifting? My “weight loss” journey? My travel plans and then review? Maybe. Maybe I just want to rant (but probably won’t because this domain is my real name and potential employers can find me, “hiiiii!”

So, stick around if you want. I’ll be sure to update sporadically. What I’m really hoping to get out of this blog is the old blogging community I used to be a part of. Maybe not those people in particular, but the social’ness. The thought exchanges (Oh, and the Xmas exchanges!)

Hello from my little family – ft myself, Jared and Nina 🙂