I’m in Taipei! 1st Real International Solo Vacay

I forgot I wasn’t going to have a computer to type a blog post but that won’t stop me!

Today started off well. Woke up early to go to Immigrations, waited 30 minutes, got my card and got more than 1 year for my visa. Granted I requested 5 years but another 3-year visa is great news to me. I tried to figure out how they decide this but I’ve grown tired of that guessing game. Just when I think I figured it out a fellow foreigner tells me their experience that throws off the whole pattern I thought was occuring. It’s complicated and by no means do I want to bore you with my thought process on that one.

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After Immigrations, I went back home to finish the last minute packing of last night. I think I did well. I only forgot my black soap for my face, but I can live without it for a few days.

I left my apartment at 2pm and got to the Kansai International airport in about an hour. I was actually 3 minutes early for check-in.

Skipping all the boring stuff, I got to Taiwan safely but my journey to my hostel was a bit weird for me. From the airport to Taipei Station by bus was fine but trying to figure out where to buy tickets to the the next station for my hostel was hard. Even though I can recognize Chinese characters from knowing Japanese, it’s still very different when in Chinese. There is a lot of English under the Chinese on the signs but it was confusing still. I did ask someone but was in a weird space of wanting to ask in Japanese. Kept saying ‘hai’ as well. I eventually found the right ticket machines but waited until I could see someone use it for me to buy mine. I didn’t really want to bug and ask anyone unless it was really necessary. Got to the next station and stressed out. The taxi stand was closed and I couldn’t find the next station that goes to my hostel because no wifi. Went above ground to get a taxi… I’m on the wrong side to get one. I shouted to the universe ‘please send me a taxi!’ Seconds later an empty taxi across the street appeared and I had the green light to cross. Thank you universe.

So I made it in time. The staff at my hostel so far are really nice. Found out the front desk has someone for 24 hours. Breakfast is from 7:30am to 10am…free! That was one of the reasons why I chose this hostel actually.

Anyway, because it’s late, I haven’t had the chance to explore the hostel. I’m tired and will rest right after I post this. I will explore and get lost in the city tomorrow. Pictures to come!

My 3 Day Solo Trip in Taiwan

I overestimated myself. I thought I would be able to post on here while I was in Taiwan but I was too exhausted after every adventure. Well now I am back in Osaka, although today I traveled to Tokyo for work for the week, I will now post about my trip in pictures. If you followed me on IG or Snapchat then you’ve already seen these, but if not, enjoy!

Day One

I went to Taipei 101 to go up to the top and see the city. When walking to the building the sun was out for a bit but when I got to the top they said the visibility was poor. The start of my cloudy weekend started then. I enjoyed the view but didn’t capture any internet worthy pictures to share. Just know, I was really high. This building used to be the tallest building of the world at some point. It does have a cool round golden damper in the middle of it. One thing I would like to see in person, is the fireworks they have for New Years. I saw a video in the theater room and it looked amazing.

I ate my first Taiwanese meal at Taipei101’s food court. Boy, was that food court crowded. As you can see in the picture, the size was huge. I ordered two cheap things and got this. That’s when I realized I assumed Japanese servings. Totally different. I did eat it all, though. I’m a big girl. 

After my big lunch I burned it off with a nice hike up Elephant mountain. The entrance was about a 10-15 minute walk from Taipei101. Glad Maps GPS dot moves around even offline. It helped me lots during this trip. 

This is the most popular area where everyone climbs up these huge rocks and takes a pic of Taipei101. I did not want to bust my arse so I stepped on the smallest most accessible one. Although I wished for sun, the clouds looked cool around the building. 

I saw some cool writings on some of the rocks. I walked across the mountain while most people walked back down the same way the came up after the 6 rocks area. The other side of the mountain had less people and was even a little spooky. I definitely enjoyed the peacefulness and tried my best to just soak it all in. 

Afterwards, I met up with these folks. My friend here in Japan linked me with the girl in the middle and she brought her crew around. It was very interesting to here their experiences in Taiwan. Very similar to foreigners in Japan.

 I ended my first full day in Taiwan was laughs and new friends. I didn’t feel so alone after this night. 

Day Two

So this day. This day this day. This day. Let me just tell you, I was not suppose to be at this station. This was not my plan. I had made a mistake. 

As you can see on the map, the red line marks the route I mistakenly took. I got on a super express train thinking it was a regular express that stops at that orange dot before the waterfall. The English for the train was not English at all so I decided to decipher the kanji from my Japanese knowledge. And as you can see the result, I was wrong. It was an hour long ride with no seats. I stood and watched outside and actually got to see the shore. That was a plus. When I got to Yilan, the first station master tried to get me to pay $30 for the ride. He didn’t speak English so I was like no, I made a mistake. He flagged down someone who could in his grumpy old man grunts. The other station master was kinder and told me I had an hour to wait for the next train. He kindly said go out and get something to eat. So I did and checked around the area close to the station. 

I didn’t buy any souvenirs from Yilan but I was facisnated by what they had in their stores. I heard Yilan is where people go to the beach, so next time I go to Yilan it’ll be on purpose. 

So I finally made it to Shifen after a 2 hour local train trip. I had limited time so I couldn’t wait another hour for the express train. The waterfall I intended to see closed for visitors at 4:30pm. I got to Shifen station at 3:45pm and still had to walk up the mountain to see the waterfall. In this picture above you can see how crowded it is. I had to get through that crowd not knowing if I’d make it or not. Luckily it wasn’t as far as I thought it would be. 

The waterfall was even more amazing than the pictures I saw in my guidebook. I did my best to capture the moment but seeing it in person is way better. It’s an impressive waterfall. Although small compared to Niagra Falls, the shape of it makes it look majestic. I was glad I didn’t miss it and was able to forgive myself for my 3 hour mishap.

After the waterfall I walked around the village and was happy to see some cats. The floating lanterns were entertaining and a lot better when it got darker. 

If you see closely, the lanterns are floating up or falling down in the sky. I was also able to see some workers picking up the laterns after they’ve fallen on the ground, tracks and/or roofs. 

Around 6pm is when I got mentally and physically exhausted but once I returned to my area I felt this was the time to check the night market. Since it was on the way to my hostel I figured why not. If I had known how long it would take to walk through, I would have gone back to the hostel to rest a bit first. Then again, once I got out an hour later I just collapsed in my bed and called it a night. My day was definitely adventure filled. 

Day Three

For my last full day I decided to stay in the city of Taipei to avoid any train mishaps again. The subway was way easier to navigate. I got to see this amazing building and finally took a proper solo trip selfie. 

As you can see, it’s another cloudy day. The temperature was decent but the skies gray. Despite that, I still enjoyed everything. 

On my way to Longshan Temple, I passed through this cultural area that also had a student art show. Since it was free and I like art, I peeped inside a bit. Some things were creepy and interesting, while some were really thought provoking. Since these students were learning through a European art school, all the descriptions were in English. And yes, that is a piece of art of Tronald Drumpft. I refuse to write his name correctly in my blog. That painting is suppose to depict his childishness. 

Longshan Temple was my last major site for the trip. I wanted to visit more but grew really tired. I still hadn’t recovered from the day before. My back was starting to hurt again from walking so much. I felt old. 

After all that walking, I met up with the girls one last time. I needed it. As much as I liked traveling and sightseeing solo, I wanted to share it verbally as soon as I could. I even told them about this old man who stopped me to practice his English. I had him help me order some food at a street market in Chinese then he talked my ear off while I ate. When he started getting inappropriate with his comments, is when I politely excused myself without looking like I was rushing to leave. I was annoyed but glad I got food. 

Overall, the trip was a success. No accidents, no sickness, and no real incidents from strangers to me. I wasn’t really approached from anyone but that one dude. I did get help by kind souls when needed and bought some cool things for myself and my friends. Would I go back to Taiwan again?…I’d say yes but with friends. Now that I know I can handle another Asian country on my own, I think I should start planning for next year’s international solo trip. 

Last Minute Packing for Taiwan Trip

I have this bad habit of last minute packing, especially if the trip is short or not that far. I haven’t packed yet for Taiwan and I leave tomorrow. Luckily I leave in the late afternoon and the airport is one express train ride away. I still shouldn’t be procrastinating though, right? As I continue to write this post at 11:40pm….heh.

What I did do was, send my cat to my friend’s place with her cat, Bingely. He’s Purrcy’s best friend. Whenever I drop off Purrcy there, he forgets I exist. It’s fine though. I get a peace of mind that he is being taken care of and has copious amounts of play time with a fellow feline. He can sniff Bingely’s behind anytime.

Anyway, tomorrow travel day! I also have to go to the immigration office to get my new visa. That’s right, my visa has already been processed! I went February 24th to hand in my application. 3 weeks later I get the notification to pick it up. Operations hours are always sucky so I figured going in the morning tomorrow before flying aboard would be a great idea. I hope I am right. I also hope I get the desired years I wrote down on the application. I won’t disclose that just yet to prevent jinxing myself. Positive thoughts!

Wish me luck! Let tomorrow be a day of safe travels, no unwanted stress along with my desired visa years granted. Catch my update tomorrow!

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Q&A: Have You Always Wanted to Live in Osaka?

In my Super Short post I wrote last week I had asked if anyone reading my blog had any questions about me and my life in Japan. The first question I got was from Kay. Kay asked;

Hi Yana! Have you always wanted to live in Osaka? What made you interested in the city? 

Thanks for the question Kay. No I didn’t always want to live in Osaka. Actually, I didn’t know much about Osaka before coming to Japan. I like to say Osaka chose me. I came here through the English conversation school/company, Aeon and they asked me to choose 3 areas I wanted to be placed in for work. I told them Tokyo, Chiba, and Osaka. I knew of Tokyo because…well who doesn’t know of Tokyo!? I chose Chiba because my language exchange partner turned friend lives in Kashiwa. Then lastly, I chose Osaka because I met one cool dude in a language meetup from there. With those choices, I got notified about an opening in the Osaka school first. The recruiter told me to take my time to call back about my decision, but it only took me 30 minutes of researching online to know that Osaka would be right for me.

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The descriptions of Osaka interested me way more than Tokyo. Many sites said that Osaka is cheaper than Tokyo, more colorful, with warm, loud and funny native Osakans. Since living here I can say a lot of that is true. Of course, not all Osakans are warm, loud and funny but I’ve met a good amount. Although, the difference is clear when traveling in a train. Trains in Tokyo can be completely void of voices while in Osaka some trains you hear people laughing, and even talking on the phone.

I’m glad Osaka chose me. I think if I lived in Tokyo, I might not have stayed in Japan for this long. Especially, since I came a week before the Great Tohoku Earthquake. Many foreigners left after the earthquake while I was here in Osaka chillen and calming my dad down saying, ‘Osaka is far from Tokyo. Like a 10-12 hour car ride. I’m alright.’

Thank you again Kay for the question. If you liked this post and want to ask me a question please write in the comment section.

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Gochiso & Dear Me’s Fundraising Event

I went to a fundraising event today after work. It was hosted by Gochiso (a social dining app that lets you donate to non-profit organizations of your choice) and a social project called DEAR ME.

I was invited by a new friend who is involved in the two projects. I was intrigued that such an app exists and was down for the cause. From what I could understand in the event the DEAR ME project goes to the Philippines to donate clothes and make a runway show for a group of kids. The fundraising event helped raise money for the project.

Dear ME gochiso

There was a buffet, slide shows, speeches, and singing performances. I only knew one person in the entire event and she was working the door. Although I consider myself an extrovert and not shy I really feel awkward being in an event where the one person I know is not around to introduce me to more people. I just need a tiny push and then I’m fine on my own. Luckily there was one person my friend knew that was more forward and talked to me as I tried to figure out where to eat my food.

Anyway, the event’s slideshow and video was nicely put together and I tried my best to understand everything since it was all in Japanese. Good practice eh. The kids in the video seemed to enjoy putting together a fashion show and expressed their dreams for the future. I was glad I could participate in some way and now I wonder what other types of organizations in Japan are around. I really need to keep up with my Japanese to find out.

 

Invasion Club; Tattoo Shop in DenDen Town

I visited a tattoo shop in the area of DenDen town (Osaka’s own kind of Akihabara) yesterday. My friend Taylor has been wanting to get a tat for awhile and found this artist through an event with ArtMag Osaka. The tattoo shop is called Invasion Club and it’s all kinds of wonderful.

I tagged along with Taylor because I’ve been thinking for years about getting my own tattoo but never decided on what and where to put. I’m getting closer to what I want but the owner, Benny (Horibenny) advised me to pick where I want the tattoo first. Once I choose the spot then I can think of the size and proportion of the tat. I will think more about what I want still. I think I’ll shoot for late spring early summer to get one.

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Benny and Chapi

Anyway, I was impressed with the shop and just had to take a picture of the storefront. The door slides as you can probably tell in the snap above but before we got there it was shut and I was confused to where the door was. I give props to Taylor who figured it out in no time.

Benny told us he is booked up until May which means he is a busy and popular artist. His partner Chapi is also very talented. I would also recommend her work according to what I saw in her portfolio.

Below is snap of Benny’s work.

 

And Chapi’s work.

 

The store itself has been open for about 2 years but Benny has been tattooing for a whole lot longer. I’ve seen some good reviews on his FB page and his work also says a lot. I’m glad I went and talked to him. Now I have a reputable place to go to when I finally decide to get some ink.

Click on some links:
Horibenny’s
Facebook
Facebook Page
IG
Twitter

Chapi’s
IG

Invasion Club’s
Main site
Facebook Page
IG
Twitter

Invasion Club is located a little off of DenDen town. Copy and paste address into Maps to see. 大阪府大阪市浪速区下寺2-3-9 順和ビル1階

My 1st Experience Seeing a Japanese Bondage Show

I’ve heard of these kinds of parties before but didn’t know what I was really expecting when I went to this particular party. Friday’s event was fun and interesting. Emphasis on interesting. It was different, quirky, weird, entertaining, and pretty underground. The party was set up by the birthday boy who is a bar owner who also has a band. I don’t know too much about him, though. I just know he is unique.

Thanks Alyse for inviting me to this the new experience.

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Alyse and Chris showing how to be FIERCE in a mask

In my last post, I had mentioned that their will be a 縛り[Shibari aka Japanese bondage] show and I was interested in that in particular. Why? Because it is out of my norm and why not. I only live once. Before that show I saw the 女体盛 [nyotaimori aka eating food off a naked lady] show but instead of sushi it was fruit and the girl wasn’t completely naked but had pasties and a thong.

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Peep the girl on the left with her phone lol

I honestly felt like I was watching a movie scene of underground parties for rich people. Well, come to think of it, this party was definitely underground minus everyone being rich. I was asked the next day, if I ate any of the fruit off the girl. The answer is no. I rather not eat off someone handling the food like the birthday boy did then eat off her skin. Doesn’t matter how clean they are. Just icky to me.

The bondage show was something I’ve never seen before. The whole time I wondered if the girl being tied up was okay. I also looked at the audience and could see the intensity of their gaze. It was very eerie in a sense but still I enjoyed the show. Taking pictures and video was forbidden during the show but I will share the performer’s IG again.

 

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Towards the end of the bondage show, the birthday boy got whipped. Of course they were in character but I was surprised that he really got whipped. Welts included. He even said it felt good. Totally ドM [pronounced ‘doh emu’ aka masochistic].

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Screenshot from my saved snap [Snapchat: yana_yz]

Overall I enjoyed the event and wouldn’t mind going to something similar again. The people were cool and the food was decent. Just wish the drinks weren’t so expensive but that seems to be inevitable in any of these kinds of events.

Oh and yeah, I figured out my outfit an hour before meeting my friends.

me alyse and moonman
This Moonman was the MC of the party and also Alyse’s coworker