2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic is getting on set!

Yes you read it right, the exciting XXIII Olympic Winter Games that will be held for 17 days from 9th-25th February 2018 in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province is getting ready with all the athletes and officials with a test events.

The reason behind these test events is to give a unique opportunity for athletes and officials to familiarize themselves with the competition venues and the host region. They will be expecting a total of 3,000 athletes to participate in the test events with 1,000 volunteers, and many of them coming to Korea for the first time. This makes an ideal platform for the public to participate and engage with the events and the Games.

With a total of 29 events, including 20 Olympic events, 5 Paralympic events, 2 non-competition events and 2 non-sport events, through out the period of February 2016 - April 2017.

The events will taking place at several stadium and centre located in Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

Transportation has been made easy with a few highway to ease the traffic. The construction of the 2nd Yeongdong highway between Gwangju in Gyeonggi Province and Wonju has been completed, and the new highway between East Hongcheon and Yangyang is now under construction. When the new highway opens to operation, it will distribute the traffic volume between Seoul area and Gangwon province or Gangneung and improve the travel between these two regions. Also, for spectators who are going to Gangneung for ice sport competitions, the new highway between East Hongcheon and Yangyang will shorten the travel time.

More information kindly check out their Official Page :)

What to do in Wakayama City, Japan?

Wakayama city is located in the southern part of the Kansai Area, it is the capital of Wakayama Prefecture, and its in a very convenient location for most sightseeing. Although Wakayama Prefecture's best known tourist attraction is Mount Koya (Koyasan), but you might not want to miss out seeing the beauty of the capital city too.

There are a few places to visit in this city before you head down to Shirahama or Mount Koya or anywhere from there, you are best suggested to stay overnight :)

My accommodation in Wakayama City - Wakayama Guesthouse RICO

1) Wakayama Castle

Apart from Osaka castle, Wakayama Castle is also famous for its cherry blossoms view in full bloom between late March and early April. Furthermore, in between late November and early December, leaves beautifully change into red and yellow colours to welcome Autumn.

Wakayama Castle was built in 1585 under the command of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In the Edo period it flourished as an important base for the Tokugawa Clan, which turned out great numbers of generals. Now it serves as a symbol of Wakayama City, and its tower offers great views of the whole town. 

Admission fee - ¥410 , closed on 29th - 31st December.

Access - located within 30 minutes walking distance from JR Wakayama Station, other option to take Wakayama City bus.

2) Wakayama Marina City

A theme park with an air of a Mediterranean port town. The buildings which are divided into 3, are designed with motifs of an historic Spanish castle, an Italian fishing village and a traditional French town. There are also attractions, an amusement park and restaurants as well as many events.

In Wakayama Marina City, it is popular with its tuna auction show in Kuroshio Market. The market is located on the west side of Porto Europa, its a market where anything can be found such as tuna, seafood, sushi and seafood barbecues. 

Admission fee - Porto Europa is ¥1500 for adults and ¥900 for children, however the attraction fees are not included, so if you want to try every attraction, show and event at the park, it might be a good idea to buy a premium pass. It costs ¥5900 for adults and ¥5000 for children.

Access - From Kainan Station on JR Kisei Line, take a bus bound for Marina City.

3) Kimii-dera Temple

The structures of this temple made with gorgeous red decoration and solemn Buddhist images are the pleasure to the eye. Kimii-dera temple was founded in 770 by a holy priest Iko coming from China. This is a prestigious historic temple visited by successive emperors and where over 500 monks at a time underwent training during the Kamakura Period.

The name of the temple comes from its three wells: Kisshosui, Yoryusui and Shojosui in the precinct. They are included in the 100 best waters in Japan. The place is also known as a cherry blossom viewing spot where about 500 cherry trees blossom creating a joyful atmosphere.

You need to climb 231 steep stone steps to reach the main hall. However, the steps are called “Slop of marriage.” It is said that the climber of the steps will be united with the person in mind. It is a hard work but finishing the climb you will see a wide view of the beautiful coast. The main hall houses a large number of Buddhist images designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. And you can view them by paying a fee. 

Admission fee - ¥200 for adults and ¥100 for children and students

Access - JR Kimiidera Station, walking distance of 15 minutes from the station.

4) Tama Museum Kishi Station

Tama was a calico cat and has served as a Kishi station master from 2007 to 2015. Tama has contributed for Wakayama sightseeing and revitalization of Local Public Transport with her co-worker Nitama who is a calico cat too. 

At 22nd June 2015, Tama passed away and she became an ‘Honorable Eternal Stationmaster’. Now Tama who is a goddess of Wakayama Electric Railway and Local Public Transport welcomes many passengers at ‘Tama Shrine’ which built in the Kishi station platform.

Now, Nitama who had worked at Idakiso station succeeded to Tama’s position and called ‘Tama the 2nd Stationmaster’. Like other employees, ‘Tama the 2nd Stationmaster’ has working hours. She usually works at Kishi station. Nitama’s day-off are on Wednesday and Thursday from September 2015. Irregularly her off-day might change.

There are three theme trains operated along Wakayama Electric Railway - iChigo EC (Strawberry Train), Omoden (Toy Train), and Tamaden (Tama Train).

Fees - One day ticket at Adult ¥780 and Child ¥390, Single Fares for Wakyama to Kishi are¥400 for adult and ¥200 for Child.

The Must-See Places in Kyoto, Japan.

Kyoto is one of the most visited city in Japan as its full of historical buildings and beautiful nature scenery. Kyoto served as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868, and it is now the country's 7th largest city with a population of 1.4 million people.

I did not know that Kyoto was so huge until the time I finally get to go to Kyoto and trying to understand the map, the city has got too many places to see that even a 4D3N trip wasn't enough to really explore this beautiful city.

If you're planning a trip to Kyoto, be sure to learn about the map of this city as it would be a waste of time if you didn't already have a plan. Basically, Kyoto is separated into 5 parts, Central Kyoto, Eastern Kyoto, Southern Kyoto, Northern Kyoto and Western Kyoto.

Now you see why I said you need a plan before heading to Kyoto? You might have a few places that you wanted to visit, but they might be located in different part of Kyoto, hence you will need to know before wasting your time on travelling from one place to another.

Central Kyoto - 

Central Kyoto is where travellers usually stay in, there are many hotel or hostel available around the central area especially when it's closed to Kyoto Station. There are also a few interesting places to visit around the central.

Kyoto Tower - located right in front of Kyoto Station, is the landmark and tallest building in the city of Kyoto that features Observation Deck located 100 meters above the ground, commanding a panoramic view of the city.

Nijo Castle - built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). Nijo Castle can be divided into three areas: the Honmaru (main circle of defense), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense) and some gardens that encircle the Honmaru and Ninomaru. The entire castle grounds and the Honmaru are surrounded by stone walls and moats.

Nishiki Market - with the narrow five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants, it is known as "Kyoto's Kitchen". You may find all things related to food here, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.

Eastern Kyoto -

Kiyomizudera - literally means "Pure Water Temple", is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan that was founded in 780 on the site of Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto.

Higashiyama District - one of the city's best preserved historic district, definitely a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city.

Southern Kyoto -

Fushimi Inari Shrine -  famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.

Northern Kyoto - 

Kinkakuji - the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. 

Western Kyoto -

Arashiyama - is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons.

The Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama's well known, central landmark. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are found nearby, including Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama's famous bamboo groves and pleasure boats that are available for rent on the river.

Favourite Snacks Shopping in Korea!

A trip to Korea is incomplete without visiting the local supermarket and getting some local snacks back as souvenirs. Even though Korea is famous as a shopping heaven for clothing or cosmetics, but you wouldn't want to miss out trying their snacks!

Have you ever been to a snack section in Korean supermarket such as Lotte Mart and Home Plus? The endless stacks of snacks with dynamic wrapping must be alluring you right? I have always had difficulties when comes to choose which one, they are all just so tempting!

I don't typically have a list of what to buy, whenever I go to a local mart, I just bought whatever that I feel right :) Although there are a lot of must-buy Korean snacks list going viral on internet, but well, I am not a snack's person, most of the time I bought it for my friends and family.

Anyway, here's what I have got during my trip to Korea which I find it tastes quite good :)

1) New York Cheese Cake - BAKE 

This is one of my recent found favourite! I am totally in love with this new york cheese cake, it's soft with creamy cheese and most of all, it's not very sweet :)

2) Chocolate Cream Cake 

If you are not a cheese person, you should probably try out this chocolate cream cake. 

3) Market O Real Brownie Green Tea Flavour

Knowing that Market O Real Brownie has been very popular in Korea, but I personally don't quite like it as it's too sweet for me. I bought this new green tea flavour brownie just to have a try, it is still sweet for me but I love green tea, not too bad though :)

4) Yogurt Jelly
Yogurt Jelly is really popular in 2016, as I heard it sold out every time! This yogurt jelly can be found in 7-Eleven but most of the time it's sold out.

5) Banana Flavour Yogurt Jelly

I was quite impressed with this banana flavour yogurt jelly, I mean who doesn't love to eat banana right? I would prefer this compare to the original one :)

6) Lotte Dream Cacao

Contains of small little chocolate cube, with different level of chocolate grade. For those who like it sweet may take 56%, and for those who like dark chocolate should try 76%.

7) Pepero - Coconut Chocolate

Need not me to explain further, isn't Pepero famous around the world? :)

8) Lotte Green Chococo

I bought this simply because of the packaging. ah-ha yes that's Snoopy! Nothing too special, but just a green tea chocolate cookies.

My experience of wearing Kimono in Kyoto!

I've been always wanting to try on a Kimono whenever I go to Bon Odori, the Japanese Ghost Festival and seeing those pretty girls and ladies walking with Kimono, but I haven't really got a chance to try it until my last trip to Kansai in January 2017!

The kimono is a Japanese traditional garment. The word "kimono", which actually means a "thing to wear" (ki "wear" and mono "thing"), has come to denote these full-length robes. As I know, the kimono is always used in important festival or formal moments which it represent a polite and a very formal clothing.

It's a "popular" thing to do in Kyoto as part of wearing kimono, nonetheless, I took this opportunity to finally get myself dressed in kimono :) It was such a great experience, and indeed, an expensive experience too!

Japan is the world well-known country with expensive living cost, so I've prepared myself very well for the fact of high expenses while travelling in Japan. I had tried on Chinese Traditional Clothe in Beijing, and I had tried on Korean Traditional Clothe "Hanbok" in Seoul, and now, I need to try on Japanese Traditional Clothe in Kyoto!

Where to rent a Kimono?

In Kyoto, you do not need to worry about finding no kimono for rent, simply head on to Gojo where you will get to visit the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple and you will find one kimono to rent.

How to wear a Kimono?
Wearing a kimono is difficult, they will definitely give you a help upon your renting. Ever wonder why the Japanese girls walking so politely in kimono? Go ahead and put on a kimono and you will find out why :) 

How much does it costs to rent a Kimono?
There are many types of kimono available, hence prices are vary depends on your selection. The cheapest would be the very basic one colour pieces kimono, and go on classic with flowers and design. The most expensive kimono will be the one with long sleeves, which I assumed it usually worn by a queen? LOL. 

Accessories and hairdo have different charges, so be sure to ask clearly before you choose on anything!

And why in Kyoto?

I found myself a very good reason of why wearing a kimono in Kyoto City, because Kyoto is famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses, isn't it the best place to carry out the specialty of kimono?

And I really love walking along Kamo River! Especially with the exceptional sunset, the greatest moment to capture the beauty of yourself with kimono!