Author: Simon Norton

The Best Places to See the Autumn Colours in Tokyo

Seeing the cherry blossoms in spring probably tops the wishlist for most travellers visiting Tokyo, but an equally awesome time to visit the Japanese capital is during the autumn colours (the Japanese word is koyo, 紅葉, literally ‘red leaves’). The

The Five Grand Palaces of Seoul: which Seoul palaces should you visit?

The Five Grand Seoul Palaces of the Joseon Period, along with Jongmyo Shrine, make up the main traditional sightseeing spots in the Korean capital. Although the sites mostly date back to the 1300s – 1500s, the majority of the buildings

The Best Places to See the Autumn Colours in Kyoto

Seeing the spring cherry blossoms in Kyoto is on many a bucket list, but an equally awesome time to visit the city is during the autumn colours (the Japanese word is koyo, 紅葉, lit. red leaves). The cherry trees go first, starting

Fushimi Inari to Tofukuji Hike

When visiting the incredible Fushimi Inari shrine in southern Kyoto for the first time, there are too many routes to check them all out; most visitors simply follow part or all of the main trail up, and perhaps the loop

Fushimi Inari: Complete Guide

Fushimi Inari is hands down my favourite place in Kyoto, and my favourite place in Japan that isn’t a ski resort! When I first lived in Kyoto, my apartment was between Fushimi Inari and Tofukuji Temple, near one of the

Tokyo, Blade Runner, and 2049

I first came across this lovely video montage of Tokyo cityscape footage set to the mournful tones of the Blade Runner score while writing this post about Ghost In The Shell; with the Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049, about

Viewing the Disputed Kuril Islands from the Shiretoko Peninsula

Hokkaido’s remote Shiretoko Peninsula in the far northeastern corner of Japan was a place I’d wanted to go ever since I spent a ski season in Sapporo. At the time I’d made a trip out that way to Abashiri (famous

Crossing the Great Seto Bridge (Seto Ohashi) from Okayama to Takamatsu

(I wrote this during my last visit to Japan, but only just getting around to sorting the pics and posting it now!) Today I crossed the Seto Inland Sea from Okuyama to Shikoku via the Seto Ohashi (瀬戸大橋, Great Seto Bridge),

The JR Pass: is it worth it?

So, the JR Pass; man, how I always looked on with envy at all the tourists (including family & friends when they visited) just breezing through the Shinkansen gates, flashing their JR Passes like a wave of a wand, to

My Failed Tibet Trip: Permits, Solo Travel, Getting Stuck in Xining, and the Amdo Route from Xining To Chengdu

Cold, tired, and hungry, I finally dropped my bags and plonked myself down on the bed; all I had to do now was go out for food and then shower & sleep, before getting up next day to take the

Life in Beijing: Airpocalypse Now

One night while living in Beijing I coughed and hacked and spluttered all night long, with an itching and burning in my throat that nothing would alleviate. I didn’t sleep much that night, and when I finally did wake up

(How NOT to) Go to Guizhou: the Hidden Beauty of China

“Go to Guizhou, the Hidden Beauty of China,” the TV advised me. “No thanks mate – I already did, and it was kinda shit,” I replied. I was sat in my Airbnb in Taipei, doing some work with the TV

A Stroll in Chongqing: City of Bridges and Spices, Phlegm and Trash

Why are you even here? This wasn’t the plan at all. You were supposed to be in Tibet. Crossing the road, you tuck in behind the old bloke bent under the weight of an enormous load of empty plastic bottles

Life in Taipei: the Taiwan Receipt Lottery

If you’re travelling in Taiwan, you may notice that shop staff seem particularly keen for you to take your receipt; you may even notice members of public scrambling to scoop up discarded receipts from the floor. The reason is the

Life in Taipei: a Stroll Around Zhongshan

This little bit of public art in Taipei’s Zhongshan District depicts a scene from a Chinese proverb, which tells us that though a hare may be faster than a snail, a snail will still win a race up the wall.

Life in Taipei: Remnants of the Empire of the Sun

As a former resident of Japan who moved to Taipei, it was fascinating to see the Japanese influence on this originally Chinese culture, Taiwan having been a Japanese colony for 50 years from 1895 to 1945; this influence is actually

Life in Taipei: Qilou Buildings

I’m not sure why I stopped and snapped this picture at the time, but it captures a really typically Taiwanese scene – the guy doing the dishes in the gutter after the restaurant’s closed for the night, the lanterns, the

Life in Taipei: Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung

Xiaolongbao (小籠包, literally ‘little basket buns’) are a specialty of both Shanghai and Taipei – small dough parcels of pork and soup, they’re like bite-sized explosions of delicious joy in your mouth. Originally from Shanghai, xiaolongbao became a local staple

A Near Miss With One of Thailand’s Deadly Rich Kids

So there I was, bottle of Singha in hand, strolling along the street through On Nut (a suburb of Bangkok) towards the Skytrain station to go meet friends, when this car brushed past me – a matter of millimetres from

Overland Routes from China to Southeast Asia

If you’re looking to travel overland from China to SE Asia (or vice versa) you have four main route options: Guangxi province to Vietnam, Yunnan province to Vietnam, Yunnan to Laos (and Thailand), and Yunnan to Myanmar. There also used

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