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Visiting the Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima, Japan

Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima, Japan

Prior to visiting Japan, I didn't know the name of the island that is home to the famous floating shrine. Rather like my visit to Himeji Castle, I knew the emoji symbol and the fact it looked pretty in photos, but it was only with some research that I realised it would be feasible to visit it on a day trip from Osaka, and that the island it lives on is called Itsukushima, but is commonly known as Miyajima.

How to Spend 24 Hours in Osaka, Japan

Neon running man sign, Dotonbori, Osaka

Before heading to Japan, I was told by everyone who'd been before me that Osaka was their least favourite city, but within moments of being there myself, I knew I'd disagree with them all. OK, it's not the huge bustling, modern metropolis that Tokyo is, or has the history of Kyoto, but it is vibrant, friendly, and it's wonderfully easy to lose yourself in its warren-like streets.

Three Ways to Eat Dim Sum in Hong Kong

Yum Cha dim sum, Hong Kong

Dim sum was my first foray into Chinese food, way back when I was still a fussy eater (can you believe I was ever anything but a never-ending stomach?!). It's bite-sized food filled with all sorts of delicious things; it's canap├ęs that have been souped up and they are generally more plentiful than the food you'd be served up on a silver platter, too.

It was the first traditional food I ate there during my first trip back in 2014, but each time I've been back, I go in for so much more. No matter what your budget or palate, there's a way for you to enjoy dim sum in Hong Kong:

Seven Things British Transport Could Learn From Japan Rail

Shinkansen N700 bullet train

When my friends and I were planning our trip to Japan, we knew we wanted to cram in as many places as possible within our two-week itinerary. Bullet trains are synonymous with the Land of the Rising Sun, and it was the obvious way to travel so that we could see as much of the country whizzing by as possible as well as tell people how fast they are (my ears popped and I felt dizzy on our first one, so BIG TICK there!).

Eating Kobe Beef in Japan at Wakkoqu, Kobe

Kobe beef being cooked

As much as a country may be well known for certain dishes, if you dig a little deeper, you'll always find regional specialities that locals are super proud of. Here in the UK we have exactly that, from Yorkshire puddings to Cornish pasties, but the legend of Kobe beef was a whole new foodie step for me. I'm a street food hunter; a dingy side-alley-restaurant-with-questionable-hygiene dweller. I've been known to dress up and splash out, of course, but this is the first time I've allocated a chunk of my holiday budget to a specific meal.

A Day at Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle has a lot to answer for. Its iconic structure and shape has been the blueprint for literally hundreds of imitation buildings across Japan and the world. You might not know it by name, but I bet that as soon as you see it, you know it. Or at least have referred to the emoji it's influenced as 'that Japanese castle'. And to be honest, if it's famous enough to have its own emoji, well, consider me in. I realised it was only an hour away from Osaka, my first stop in Japan, and as I had a day to kill before the rest of my travel buddies arrived, it became cemented into my itinerary.

Traditional Claypot Rice at Four Seasons, Hong Kong

Chicken and mushroom claypot rice

Hong Kong is a city that fascinates me in its juxtaposition of modern and traditional, and there's no expression that shows that any more clearly than in the variety of food available. I've had wonderful brunches in Hong Kong that epitomise western culture, and just like London, they love a food trend (the unicorn toastie was my particular favourite). But I always try and search out traditional meals in Hong Kong too, and claypot rice was a new one for me on my most recent visit.

Why Sheung Wan is My Favourite Area of Hong Kong

Skyscrapers in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

The first time I visited the Hong Kong, I stayed in Sheung Wan, but on my most recent trip I still gravitated back there. It's a vibrant mix of traditional Chinese culture and modern urban living, with some of Hong Kong's best restaurants and bars propped up there. Here's what you might find a day wandering around Sheung Wan:

Three Awesome and Affordable Places to Eat in Hong Kong

Chilli scrambled eggs, bacon and rocket

Hong Kong has strong elements of London's vibe, with food trends and brunch culture being alive and well. Each time I've been to Hong Kong I've been overwhelmed by where to eat, because generally, you can't really go wrong. However, you can end up overspending. It's not the cheapest place to visit, but it is exciting.

The Best Street Food in Seoul, South Korea

Hotteok stand, Seoul

When I travel, I always research the restaurants I want to try, but when I'm in Asia it's more what I'm going to eat rather than where. Street food is the staple of local life but to tourists it could be deemed a bit risky to eat from a tiny stall perched up on the side of the road. Most of Asia's most famous delicacies can be found in this way, from hamburgers in Xi'an to satay in Singapore, so during my visit to Seoul I sniffed out everything I could to find the best of what South Korea had to offer.

A Beginner's Guide to China - Everything You Need to Know For Your First Visit

Forbidden City, Beijing

When I tell people that China is my favourite country to explore, nobody seems to understand why. Even when I've met people when travelling, the general consensus always seems to be, 'It's just never been on my list.' To which my response is, 'WHY?!' It's one of the biggest countries in the world, with an unbelievable and fascinating history, incredible food, and a unique and varied culture.

The Markets of Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Flower Market, Mong Kok

Once I've finished stifling giggles at the name of this area (yes, that's my level of humour), a day in Mong Kok is one of my favourite things to do in Hong Kong. The area is known for its shopping, and as I certainly don't have the cash to splash in HK's row-upon-row of designer stores, this is much more my sort of place. But it's not just fashion on offer, Mong Kok attracts tourists because it has a variety of markets to explore; some much more for browsing purposes than others!

The Islands of Hong Kong: a Photo Diary

Temple on Peng Chau island, Hong KongHaving been to Hong Kong in 2014, this time around I wanted to see more of the lesser explored areas that I hadn't taken advantage of previously. Sadly both times I've visited I haven't had great weather so I haven't been able to really make the most of the islands around Hong Kong, except for Lantau - the home of the giant seated Buddha that I fell in love with one my first trip.

A Beautiful Japanese Lunch at Tsuru, Shanghai

Yorokobi Kaiseki lunch set

The fact that I've never been a huge fan of Japanese food, especially sushi, goes down as well with people as when I tell them I don't like avocado or lemon drizzle cake. I get looks of 'who even are you?' when I turn it away. However (and here's a pretentious warning alert), some foods taste better the closer you are to their origin.

Why It's OK to Eat Western Food in Asia

What is your flavor ice cream shanghai

I travel to eat. In my opinion there is no better way to immerse yourself into a new culture than to try the local delicacies and indulge in new and exotic foods. I always do a bit of research on what meals to hunt down and restaurants to book before I go somewhere, but there does seem to be a stigma against those who aren't as adventurous.

Five Places to Explore in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Lotus flower lanterns

My trip to Hong Kong this year was my second time in the city. I've already done a lot of the obvious tourist destinations and as my best friend lives there, I wanted to get to know the place a little better. I took to picking an MTR station at random and just walking; guide book in my bag, a local SIM card in my phone and camera prepped. Stepping off at Wan Chai, I picked a direction to walk in, hoped for the best

Surreal and Unnerving: Visiting the Border of North Korea

DMZ South Korea side

When visiting Seoul, I wasn't overly prepared with an itinerary. It was on my first day there, sat in a hotel room with my best friend who had come over from Hong Kong that I actually started looking through a guide book to get my bearings. To my surprise, one of the top recommended things to do was a tour up to the border between South and North Korea. A few frantic emails later and we had booked ourselves onto an early morning departure the next day.

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Seoul

View into Seoul from N Seoul Tower funicular tower

I'm more accustomed to spend long weekends in a quaint British village, or maybe hopping over to somewhere in Europe like Barcelona. But when I was flying from China to Hong Kong, it seemed a good opportunity to add another country to my itinerary by dropping into South Korea for a four day stint with my best friend.

Cycling the City Walls of Xi'an, China

Hire bicycles on Xi'an city walls

I knew precisely zero about Xi'an, the city closest to the Terracotta Warriors, before arriving there. With some basic research, I realised there were two things I needed to experience: the Muslim Quarter for dinner, and the surrounding city walls.

Dinner in Xi'an Muslim Quarter, China

Muslim Quarter market, Xi'an

Xi'an was an unplanned part of my Chinese itinerary, but as I'd been to Beijing before it seemed to make more sense to head there for a few days before leaving for Seoul and visit the Terracotta Warriors. I wasn't sure what else the city had to offer aside from being the gateway to the famous world heritage site, but a bit of guide book snooping made it clear that eating at the Muslim Quarter was top of the list.
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review