A Nice Break

A change is as good as a holiday, but a change and a holiday is a whole new me. Let’s talk about this in two parts:


Nathan came with me to Bali for a long weekend (and is an absolute hero for doing so – his work schedule was hectic but he still carved out some time for us). It was so… needed. After all the everything of this year, it was our first time to actually just enjoy each other’s company. Nathan used some points to get us a little chalet at our resort away from the hustle and bustle of the main area, and it was blissful.

And we’ve had many conversations about whether we need a twelve foot bed in our house and a pool in our backyard (answer is yes, duh).

After Nathan had to go home, I went to Ubud to stay in my favourite little bed and breakfast style hotel. The plan was that I would just write and write and write – this didn’t happen to the extent that I hoped for. First reason was that fluctuating power in Ubud meant that my laptop electrocuted me while charging, twice. Second reason – the medication I’m (still) on for trigeminal neuralgia has had two nefarious effects. It has given me a rash all over my body that has been driving me mad. The second part is that the medication is well known for turning people into bumbling zombies. We’re talking major cognitive deficits. I have struggled with things like paying for my prescriptions with a credit card or ordering from a menu, so as you can imagine, writing has been an insurmountable task*. So I didn’t get much done. But reading has been fine, swimming for about 4 hours a day (I have a tan!) and eating – I found a warung near my hotel that made the most amazing tuna curry (I know – tuna in curry? I was shocked too, but it’s really good) that was so delicious that I went back for it three times.

Here’s a story though: one night, I went out for dinner and made my first fatal mistake – I ordered beef carpaccio. In low season, in a regional area. It came out from the kitchen and I could immediately smell it. Like a toilet. I froze up, knowing that I was the only person in the restaurant, they would see if I flung it into the bushes, and I would die of shame to send something back or refuse to eat it. So I ate it. Tasted like a toilet too (I imagine). I struggled on through, diplomatically eating about two thirds of the plate before fussing with the remaining slices to make them look smaller and hiding them underneath some rocket. It was so bad, and yes, I paid for it later. Only for about thirty six hours, but still – I am so ridiculous that I will risk getting typhoid or whatever rather than hurt a stranger’s feelings.

Aside from that, my trip was calm, peaceful and uneventful. I skipped a lot of things that I usually do – no massages, no classes, no sightseeing, not a lot of shopping. Just a lot of restorative time by myself to recover from the year that was.


When I got home, Dad had put in a mammoth effort and put a shower in our bathroom for us, after nine months of having to go to Mum’s every day. It took him three weekends, but I can’t even describe how much this has changed my life. Yes, seriously. The day after I got home, I just woke up, had a shower in my own house at my leisure, put on clean clothes, and it was such a revelation. There is so much self-esteem and positivity in being able to do these small rituals of self-care.


Both of these things together have signaled such a fresh start for me, it’s unbelievable. I came home full of hope and optimism, like I’d shrugged it all off and the year’s worth of bad things was all behind me. It was such a relief, and now I finally feel like I can get on with things. Aside from the novel, I have a bunch of upcoming projects and instead of approaching them with dread, I’m so excited. Instead of feeling tired before we’ve even begun, I can’t wait for what the future holds.

* This is slowly getting better. I am weaning off the medication because the flare seems to be over, so we’ll see how this goes. It’s really hard to be a writer who isn’t writing, and it’s especially hard when everybody is crowing about their NaNoWriMo triumphs and you are averaging 300 words a day. But it’s coming back. Maybe January will be my novel writing month.

I Write This From the Pool


I’m in Bali. Nathan was here for the first weekend, now I’m on my own. I’ll write more when I get home, but it’s all about sleeping*, eating**, swimming***, writing**** and reading***** right now.

* Luxuriously for as long as I want.

** Lobster rolls and dragonfruit and mahi curry.

*** Every single day, sometimes twice (part mermaid, after all).

**** Trying, mostly.

***** Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman at the moment.

Whirlwind Sydney Weekend

It’s no secret that I’ve had a rough year. I was meant to have a manuscript written by now, but that didn’t happen. We were meant to have a solution on the shower situation, but it still hasn’t happened (at least it’s a lot closer now). I’m still having issues with my leg, I’m still trying to get even just to the level of health and fitness that I was at pre-leg calamity, and a bunch of other hard things have happened as well. So it was so nice to get away for the weekend for the RWA annual conference in Sydney.

I stayed at the ultra-plush Sofitel Wentworth, and was thrilled that there was a little book in my room with photos of when Charles and Diana stayed there (it was the last place that they publicly danced as a couple), the Queen went to a gala in the very ballroom I was in, Andrew and Fergie were there too, plus Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and a whole bunch more. I loved all the chandeliers and beautiful flowers, and it’s gorgeous when hotels have grand pianos being played in the lobby. And it was beyond brilliant to finally have a long, luxurious bath in a marble bathroom (while eating chocolates, of course).

The conference was good – numbers were down, so it wasn’t quite as hectic as Adelaide was. I met some people and learned A LOT. I didn’t pitch this year, but I did completely embarrass myself by sitting next to a legendary writer who has sold millions of copies of her work and has won so many awards, and I asked her if it was her first conference and what genre she published in. She was gracious, but I was mortified to see her on stage two seconds later and I realized who she was. Luckily this seems to be a regular thing – one of the panelists recounted when she met a lovely woman in a conference buffet line and asked her whether she was published yet, and it turned out to be Nora Roberts.

The whole thing was pretty exhausting though. I’m looking forward to next year – it’ll be in Melbourne, which automatically makes things much cheaper, plus the theme is extremely conducive to me potentially wearing a mermaid tail to the cocktail party – may have to bring Nathan along to push me in a wheelchair, we’ll see!

Some photos:


A tiara for the cocktail party

On Monday, I had a little bit of time to kill before my flight home, so I wandered around Circular Quay. Sydney is not my favourite city by a long shot, but it’s kind of magical around the harbour. I went to an oyster bar right on the water with a view of the bridge, and sat in the sun for a long, grazing lunch. The water below was clear turquoise and teeming with little puffs of jellyfishes. I ate three different types of oysters and some delicious crab on toast (sounds really boring, let me elaborate: king crab with aioli, capers, pickled fennel and lemon on toasted ciabatta – fixed it, sounds loads fancier than ‘crab on toast’). Also try angasi oysters if you see them on a menu – they are a native mud oyster that I’d never tried before, and they were so good.

I had previously asked Nathan if he’d come up for the weekend with me (he didn’t want to because he likes Sydney even less), but that was the moment that I wished so much I could have shared with him. But there will be other times, I’m sure. And I think he secretly enjoyed having some time at home by himself to indulge in his secret bachelor behaviour (he did NOT buy a bucket of frozen pre-fried chicken from the supermarket this time, thank god).

Statues and Stories

I’ve hinted more than a few times, but I guess it’s time to let the (still hypothetical) cat out of the bag – we’re planning a big honeymoon adventure. For a few reasons:

  1. I’ve never been to Europe, and Nathan hasn’t been (except to the UK) in a very long time.
  2. You only get one honeymoon, if all goes to plan.
  3. So far we’ve only traveled to Japan, Bali, Hobart and Sydney together – we need to branch out.
  4. We have some other post-wedding plans that will change life as we know it forever, and big trips like this will suddenly get a lot harder, a lot more expensive and a lot less romantic.
  5. The more I travel, the more I feel like I have stepped into so many different lives, and the more I have to write about.
  6. It will be so much fun!

Our vague plan at this stage is completely subject to change, but involves France, Italy and the UK. We’re still not sure how many weeks away from work is feasible for both of us, or what the best itinerary is. But we would love to see Paris, Normandy, Versailles and Alsace, then do a road trip south through various cities and villages, ending up somewhere like Nice. We will probably catch trains a lot in Italy; we want to see Rome, Positano, Pompeii, Pisa, Napoli, Capri, Sorrento and of course Florence. In the UK we have a few people to visit, but I basically have the world’s longest list of literary landmarks and locations to see – gonna get my Jane Austen on, for sure.

And I will listen to The Light in the Piazza the whole time and wear 1950s skirts, a straw hat and little gloves.

Japan with Nathan, Part Six: DisneySea

Last Japan post (finally), I promise! But this is the big one. Doing the whole Disney thing was another thing that I had put off both other times, because I wanted to do it with Nathan. He admitted that he was a bit half-hearted about the whole thing in the lead up, but we were both utterly blown away. It was the most wonderful day ever and I just wish we could have spent more time there. There’s no point in me going too far into the nitty gritty details, because there are blogs all over the internet by hardcore Disney fans who have been to all the parks in the world and have literal strategy guides and multi-day itineraries mapped out, so I’ll leave that stuff to the experts.

Anyway, a few recollections and a million photos: I was amazed at the level of detail. The monorail to get from the train station to the park had little Mickey shaped windows. The Christmas decorations everywhere were all gorgeous, and all the gift shops in different zones were all themed or had specific special items that weren’t available anywhere else in the park. We didn’t see a single piece of litter, and when somebody dropped their popcorn, previously unseen staff members (sorry, “Cast Members”) zoomed seemingly out of nowhere and had it all cleaned up in less than ten seconds. There were surprisingly few children there (maybe 20% or less of the total crowd) and they seemed generally well behaved. And after going to a Disney park in Japan, I’m so glad we didn’t go to the original American one first – everybody was so polite at this one, you didn’t feel like you had to watch your bag at every moment, people waited in orderly lines with no pushing or complaining, everything was just efficient and punctual and pleasant. Somehow, I don’t think that would have been the atmosphere anywhere else in the world.

Anyway, photos!

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^^ We got a few nice photos together, a few by ourselves.

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^^ Nathan loved the Arabian area. Even the food court seemed like a place where Aladdin was going to jump out a window at any moment. This photo of him on the carousel is one of my all time favourites; he is so excited, he looks like a kid who won a prize and just met their hero and got a puppy on their birthday which is also Christmas.


^^I was winning all the style awards with my fabulous sartorial decisions, as usual. Nathan said I looked like a kid who’d dressed themselves for a school field trip and was sure they had covered all the important bases – “Disney hoodie, check. Miss Bunny hat, check. Socks and ballet flats, check. Emergency popcorn supply, check.”

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^^I loved the fact that the centerpiece of DisneySea is Ariel’s castle. She normally gets overlooked for Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, and as a part-mermaid, how could this not be my favourite? Plus, Thumper really enjoyed his scallop croquette sandwich served in a clamshell bun.

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^^ I was so tired by the end of it all, like falling asleep on my feet. It’s a long day, there’s a heap of walking and waiting in lines, and so much to take in.


^^ Nathan was pretty tired too.

But it was so wonderful.

My biggest tips for anybody who is thinking of going:

  • Wear trainers. Not even cute sneakers, wear proper sports shoes with cushioning and support and everything. Do not attempt to look stylish or sexy because you will be on your feet non-stop for over 12 hours, and you will be kicking yourself if half of that time is spent either limping around the park or having to sit around on park benches because your feet are so sore.
  • Take a small backpack – if you buy stuff during the day, there are plenty of coin lockers around to store it all in. All the rides have a little pocket on the back of the seat for you to put a small bag in.
  • Get there early and head straight for one of the big rides to get a FastPass straight away. There is a time limit on when you can apply for your next FastPass (like, say, in two hours time), so you want to start early. Some of the rides had queue times of 90+ minutes, so you will definitely want to take advantage of the FastPass system for the bigger rides.
  • There is an app called TDR Wait Time Check that gives estimates on wait times, which helps you decide which rides to head to next. It also gives you information about whether any rides are closed, if certain parades or shows get cancelled, etc. Not always 100% accurate, but it helped.
  • Wear layers.
  • Buy one of the popcorn buckets (they are pricey, but cute!) and get cheap refills all over the park. There are different flavours in different ‘lands’ – my favourite was black pepper, but there was also salted, caramel, chocolate and cappuccino that we saw. It’s also handy having popcorn in a bucket because then you have a snack if you have to wait in line.
  • And of course, you and your sweetheart/mum/BFF/whoever must wear matching hats. It’s practically compulsory.

But overall, it was completely magical and I can’t wait to go back.

I’m not sure what the highlight of this trip was for me, but Disney was up there. I think Nathan loved the trains and the deer the most. But every moment of it was just so much fun, it really was an adventure. And it was so good to experience it all together. We will be back – Nathan’s already planning to go back after 2020, because apparently a Nintendo-themed land is opening at Universal Studios. And I never did manage to get my Harry Potter wand. There were so many other things that we planned but ended up running out of time, but I suppose that’s to be expected when you are only in a country for less than two weeks.

Next time! Because there will definitely be a next time!

Read my other posts about Japan here:
Part One – Getting There
Part Two – Fushimi Inari Shrine
Part Three – Hiroshima
Part Four – Nara
Part Five – A Bunch of Things

Japan with Nathan, Part Five: A Bunch of Things

I bet you’re getting sick of hearing about Japan by now? I’m almost sick of talking about it. No, that’s totally stupid – I feel really grateful that people are interested enough and care enough to keep asking me about it, but it already feels like a lifetime ago. This new year has really energized me and I have so many little (and big) projects on the go right now that it feels odd to keep stepping back in time to something that feels so long ago now.

Anyway, this post is not strictly chronological, but I’m trying to organize all the little random things that happened into just one post as tiny step towards brevity. So here are some of the other things we got up to:


^^ Nathan fulfilled a lifelong dream and made us catch a train out of Kyoto so he could see the Nintendo HQ and development buildings. No museum, no gift shop, you could not even go in. He was just desperate to make this little pilgrimage so I indulged him. He was so happy to see those plain concrete buildings. I love Nintendo games, but this… I will never get this. Oh well!


^^ We caught the shinkansen back to Tokyo and spent a lot of time doing what could be best described as ‘urban roaming’. We saw puppies at a pet store in Shibuya and I actually died and was transported back to a time when Posie was that small. And suddenly I missed them so much. Sometimes it can be the most luxurious feeling in the world to wake up without a furry butt in your face or four little pointy paws digging into your back, but other times, it just hits like a train how much you would give to hug their tiny squirming bodies and let them cover you in kisses.


^^ We took a lot of photos of Christmas trees while we were there, because Japan does Christmas very well. I really wanted to see the illuminations that were dotted all over town, but we never came across any of the really impressive ones. And I had to throw in a #ShamelessRingSelfie, because really, it has been a year of so much trouble and distraction and depression and grief that I never really got to participate in that glowy, giddy period of time where you’re just showing it off any opportunity you get. I still have another eight or so months of being a ‘bride to be’, so expect me to be flashing that thing like crazy!


^^ We went to Studio Ghibli! No photos inside, so this will have to suffice, but it is really magical. The building itself reminds me of Howl’s castle, we got to sit inside a real plush life-size Cat Bus, and we saw an exclusive short at the mini cinema about a boy who grew a universe from a magic crystal. But the one thing that I wish so dearly is that certain museums and attractions would seriously think about having one childfree day a month or even a quarter for adults only. Not that (some) kids aren’t delightful in small doses – it would just be nice to be able to choose to enjoy things on occasion without running, pushing and screaming.

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^^ We went to the Hilton for dinner. This will be a point of contention for the rest of our relationship, I’m sure! Full story: I really wanted to go to the Conservatory in Melbourne, because I love fancy hotel buffets, but it’s very expensive. Nathan has never wanted to go for that reason. I was determined to go to the Hilton for their buffet because I had somehow figured it out in my head to be cheaper than the Conservatory – it was not. By a long shot. And our days of prodigious eating seem to be past us anyway, so it was kind of a bust. But the food was great and hey, we can at least say we did it.

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^^ Conversely, Nathan had much more fun at a mall food court restaurant called The French Toast Factory. We had, hands down, the best pancakes ever made – thick and fluffy like chiffon cake, with ice cream, whipped cream, maple syrup and cinnamon apples. Massive sugar coma and I couldn’t finish mine, but so worth it. The post-pancake fugue was real though, and so I retreated to the 5th floor of Yodobashi Camera to test drive their massage chairs while Nathan bought (yet more) toys for himself. This particular machine had rollers inside it that massaged your feet while inflating/deflating like a blood pressure cuff to stimulate circulation – I need one of these machines in my life!

We also went to Nippori textile town and I spent all my Christmas money on quilting fabric and patterns for dog Halloween costumes:


Other things we did included: fighting it out for seats upstairs at Starbucks so we could watch the world’s busiest crosswalk; we went to a games arcade and Nathan had serious second thoughts about marrying me when he saw how horrifically bad I was on the taiko drums; ate a truckload more sushi; convenience store food picnics in bed while watching crazy cartoons in Japanese (Goma chan!); and of course, one or two fights. I think it’s impossible to in such close proximity to somebody every single day with an exhausting itinerary and not lose it at some point. It’s hard in a hotel as well, because you have no option to just leave the room and cool off somewhere away from each other. But mostly, I think we traveled pretty well together. A lot of little stresses were ameliorated simply by the fact that I’d already faced them and knew what to do, but I think next time, we’ll have to schedule in a little more downtime to regroup and rest – any time we didn’t work well together, it was a combination of one or both of us being either overtired or over hungry. We were determined to see as much as we could while we were there, but a holiday should also feel like a holiday at least some of the time… lesson for next time!

Read my other posts about Japan here:
Part One – Getting There
Part Two – Fushimi Inari Shrine
Part Three – Hiroshima
Part Four – Nara
Part Six – DisneySea

Japan with Nathan, Part Four: Nara

I was desperate to go to Nara. A bunch of people I know went there in 2014 and 2015, and I was in total envy over their awesome photos of them posing with deer. But it was something that I really wanted to do with Nathan, so I kept putting it off. We finally went though and it was Nathan’s absolute trip highlight. Nara is about an hour out of Kyoto on a local train, so not too far. It’s always interesting to step outside of big cities into smaller, more regional towns to see a glimpse of what Japan is like beyond a glossy touristy facade.

We took far, far, far too many photos:










^^ You could buy wafer crackers for the deer from vendors dotted around the park, and there was a feeding frenzy anytime any of them realized you had crackers. I had some in my pockets and this particularly wet and muddy deer came up and rubbed himself all over my previously pristine coat. We also spent way too much time trying to take selfies with the deer – one of my favourite photos is the last one, because it looks like Nathan has just made friends with this random deer and is trying to show him a cool video on youtube or something.








He just had to do a face swap with the statue!

Best moment of the afternoon came after we bought a roasted sweet potato to snack on. This deer was following me the whole way and was determined to get some. He kept bumping my elbow to try and knock it out of my hands, finally got sick of that tactic and ripped the whole bag out of my hands! See here:

We also got to see the giant Buddha, as you will have seen above. None of these photos do justice to how big it actually was – huge! Some of the signage said that there used to be two wooden pagodas on either side of the temple that were over 100 metres tall.. built hundreds of years ago. I can’t even comprehend how difficult it would have been to build anything that tall without the use of cranes and modern equipment, but they did it all.

After all that, we found a random arcade that had a slightly dingy but so good sushi train. The other two times I went, I barely ate any sushi – I think it was just too intimidating to go into a lot of restaurants as a solo traveller, and if I am by myself, there is nobody I can fob my food off onto if I take a bite and don’t like it. But this time it was all about sushi, and it was amazing. My favourite will always be fatty tuna nigiri and salmon roe gunkanmaki (hope I got that right), but they also had these very lightly seared salmon nigiri with lemon that were totally divine. We ate thiiiiis much:


So good!

Read my other posts about Japan here:
Part One – Getting There
Part Two – Fushimi Inari Shrine
Part Three – Hiroshima
Part Five – A Bunch of Things
Part Six – DisneySea

Japan with Nathan, Part Three: Hiroshima


The day after Fushimi Inari, we made the trip to Hiroshima. I think it’s really important to visit sites like these, as a sort of pilgrimage of empathy with people you’ve never met in a time you’ve never seen, to fully connect with the sheer enormity of what happened there. The first time I went, I cried. It was such a dreary day just before Christmas and there was barely anybody there. I wrote about it before, but I saw an old man in a wheelchair with what looked like a burnt-off ear, in front of the cenotaph… and I wondered if he’d been there. On the study tour, I actually met a diplomat who had been three years old in Hiroshima on the day it happened and it was humbling to hear his perspective on it too. This time, I managed to keep my emotions in check, but Nathan was the one who seemed to be completely awestruck and silenced by the whole thing. It was raining again, but we took a lot of photos (some taken by me, some by Nathan):

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^^Waiting for the first lot of trains and looking super impressed. We’d already been on a bus for forty minutes and had a two hour train trip ahead of us. But it would be worth it.

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^^ The Peace Memorial Park. There are so many statues and monuments scattered around amongst the trees that line the banks of the river. It’s sombre but calm and reflective, and until you go to the actual museum, it’s hard to imagine the absolutely cataclysmic scene that occurred right there, where we had spent the afternoon walking.

There are a few exhibits in the museum that I always remember, that always haunt me: a toddler’s half-melted tricycle, deformed fingernails that grew from damaged hands for years after the blast, the pieces of skin that literally just fell off a real person who was there, Sadako’s tiny cellophane cranes, and a tin lunchbox with the charred lunch still inside. I left with so much sadness, anger, guilt, and frustration that countries are still building up arms and threatening to nuke each other every day – knowing full well what the human cost truly is.

Anyway, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We found a Pokémon centre in Hiroshima and Nathan was overjoyed and bought way too many soft toys. Including a few that were very sweet – a girl and boy Pikachu in raincoats (“it’s just like us!”) and a dog Pokémon called Iwanko, to remind me of Posie and Rupert, so I would have something to hug and cheer me up on the long shinkansen ride home after an emotionally gruelling day. It helped a lot. We also drew pictures of P+R on the iPad all the way back to Kyoto.

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Aside from all that, why is toast so strange in Japan? Whenever we ordered toast for breakfast, anywhere, it could come to us as inch thick slices of barely crisp hot bread – fluffy but cakey in the same way as chiffon cake. Not really toasty at all. And it happened everywhere. Some things we will never understand!


Read my other posts about Japan here:
Part One – Getting There
Part Two – Fushimi Inari Shrine
Part Four – Nara
Part Five – A Bunch of Things
Part Six – DisneySea

Japan with Nathan, Part Two: Fushimi Inari Shrine

We slept in a little too long the second day in Japan, and Nathan got scolded by the cleaning ladies for running down the hallway in bare feet to go to the toilet – the rules are that you change into slippers when you get there, but you take them off before you enter your tatami room, and if you want to leave your room to go to the bathroom, you need to step back into your slippers to walk all of ten metres, before changing into the designated toilet slippers. At no point must your feet touch the ground in all this transferring!

Another little problem sprang up on this particular morning as well, something that has been literally haunting me ever since. I woke up with intense rib pain. Like a tight band was squeezing my ribs and trying to press them into an unnatural shape. I could barely move, hardly breathe, couldn’t reach or bend or lean or anything. I assumed it was from sleeping on the futon on the floor and tried to carry on the best I could – it seemed to ease after a hot shower, some tea and walking around.

Anyway, we pushed ahead and figured out the Kyoto bus system and successfully navigated our way to the Fushimi Inari shrine. It’s famous for having more than ten thousand bright orange gates that snake all the way up and down a picturesque forest. The shrine itself is also ‘guarded’ by fox statues, everywhere – Nathan loved them all and thought every single one of them looked like Rupert, henceforth calling it the “Rupert Shrine”. Last time I went, it was so cold that there were snowflakes in the air and it was already dark by the time I got halfway. I was determined to make it to the top this time, but pain got in the way. The first half is such a sight though. It was winter while we were there, but there were still blushes here and there of autumn colour – a gorgeous red tree in the middle of a clearing, like something out of Game of Thrones. And some really annoying tourists who spent an inordinate amount of time just standing right in front of it, having a chat and blocking everybody else’s chance of taking a decent photo of it (but whatever).







It was also our first (and only, really) street food experience. First pick – thick cut bacon grilled on a stick, slathered in Japanese mayo. Grilled corn. Fresh orange juice served inside its own orange with a little straw. Takoyaki for Nathan. Custard pancake things. And I can never say no to a spiral potato on a stick. At one of the many gift shops along the avenue, Nathan bought a huge bag of stinky dried fish to eat (WHY?) and we bought a little soft toy of two foxes (one brown and white, the other plain white) hugging – on our Christmas tree now, of course, along with the little foxes I brought back last time. It looks like P+R hugging, couldn’t leave without buying it!

Read my other posts about Japan here:
Part One – Getting There
Part Three – Hiroshima
Part Four – Nara
Part Five – A Bunch of Things
Part Six – DisneySea

Japan with Nathan, Part One: Getting There

It was literally only a few weeks ago, but Christmas and the New Year have a way of making days feel like months, so I hope I can remember every glorious detail of this trip enough to tell the tale. It was such a great time, and having been there by myself twice, it felt so much more like a romantic adventure this time with Nathan. Anyway, here goes:


We scored business class tickets! Nathan’s first time too, so I was super excited for him (my third or fourth, I think? However many times, it was long ago). He was dubious about how much nicer it could be, but now he’s absolutely sold. I don’t think he’ll ever want to fly economy anywhere ever again. Our flight ended up delayed, so it was very nice to hang out at the Qantas club drinking G&Ts during that extra time. On board we drank champagne, ate creamy prosciutto potato salad for dinner and buttery toasted banana bread for breakfast. There were a bunch of movies I wanted to watch, but the seats were so comfy, there was just so much room and it was so nice to have a pillow and blanket that we both slept soundly for about seven whole hours – Nathan has never been able to sleep on a longer haul flight before, I’ve never slept so long uninterrupted. Flying rattles me so much, but this was bordering on blissful. It wouldn’t be worth it to fly to, say, Sydney, but next time we go to Japan, I think we should definitely spring for business class. On sale, of course (I am the queen of impulse buying sale fares and planning the details later).




We landed in Narita in the morning, rested but still tired. Capsule hotels are the most glorious invention on earth and make me wish that we could have nice things like that in Australia – we napped a few hours and took showers before beginning our next big commute via shinkansen: Narita to Shinagawa to Kyoto. Nathan had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen as he watched the absolute efficiency and precision of the trains – how everybody knew exactly what car to get onto and where to wait for that particular entrance, the way the train would line up perfectly with the platform every single time and everybody waited politely for exiting passengers. No pushing or stupidity like you would encounter on V/Line. We must be getting old to find it so exhilarating to see public services that actually work properly (I am looking at you, Myki).

So, we arrived in Kyoto later that day and ended up going on an expensive taxi adventure to find our hotel; actually a ryokan, or traditional inn. I stayed there last time I was there in winter and although it was far out of town and not the fanciest, I thought it would be an experience to stay somewhere with tatami mats and futon beds. The restaurant downstairs was closed and although I’d heard a rumour that there was an amazing six-seat sushi bar next door, we couldn’t find anything, and plus it seemed that pretty much everything in the suburbs closed down as soon as it got dark (which was about 4:30pm). So we went trekking for snacks. About an hour later, of walking in the freezing cold on an uneven footpath, we were back and Nathan had been introduced to the sheer wonder of Japanese convenience stores. It’s always hilarious to me that people who’ve never been always respond with, “Eww, you ate convenience store food? When you could have been eating the best sushi in the world? What is wrong with you?” – but how could they possibly understand how glorious it is to hand over your 1500 or so yen and come home with a giant peach flavoured beer, microwaveable gyoza that is actually good, instant noodles, cakes, those little rice and sesame seed triangles that I could eat all day, hot milk tea, some sort of special edition Häagen Dazs that you could never get in Australia, and a freaking hot dog on a stick with a perfectly portioned pack of ketchup and mustard? And it all tastes good? Nathan was dubious, but now he too understands – we absolutely feasted*.

*We may have almost burnt the ryokan down by mistaking a convection oven for a regular microwave and putting our plastic gyoza containers in there for far too long unsupervised, but all’s good – we all survived!

Read my other posts about Japan here:
Part Two – Fushimi Inari Shrine
Part Three – Hiroshima
Part Four – Nara
Part Five – A Bunch of Things
Part Six – DisneySea