The Truth about 3.5 Years as a Struggling Digital Nomad

(This is a pretty depressing post to be honest, but if you’re where I was a few years ago, weighing up whether or not to go for it as a digital nomad full time travel blogger, you need to read this because it doesn’t always work out – for every successful blogger telling you to go for it,

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A Local Shrine Combat Festival in Ikebukuro Honcho (Tokyo)

So one Sunday afternoon a few years ago while living in the Ikebukuro Honcho district of Tokyo my hungover ass was woken up far earlier than intended by the sound of drumming and rhythmic shouting coming along the street:

Tokyo local festival Tokyo local festival Tokyo local festival

A parade was coming my way,

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Photos of an Ultra-Nationalist March I Witnessed in Tokyo

When I was living in Tokyo a few years ago I sometimes used to walk half an hour from my place down to Ikebukuro if I needed to do a little shopping or whatever. On one occasion as I got near the station area I could hear a crowd calling in response to an amplified voice,

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Koyasan

Koyasan is a large temple complex in the mountains of Wakayama, located not far south of Osaka. It works well as a day trip from Osaka and is a great option if you’ve already been to Kyoto and Nara and want to check something else out. It’s also a popular place to stay overnight (temple stays are available),

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The Owls of Ikebukuro

A few years ago I was living in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district while teaching English a few miles away in Shinjuku. Ikebukuro is written 池袋, and the second character bukuro happens to sound very close in pronunciation to the Japanese word for owl fukurō. The entire district has taken this little linguistic coincidence to heart and adopted the owl as its symbol –

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Damage to Kyoto’s Hiking Trails from Typhoon Jebi

On my recent visit to Japan (researching my new website Rugby Guide Japan for the Rugby World Cup) I spent a day in Kyoto doing a couple of hikes so I could update the crappy photography on those pages (namely, the Shogunzuka and Kami Daigo hikes).

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A Dramatic Lightning Storm Over Bangkok

Lightning storm over Bangkok
Having only just recently gained access to all the photos on the hard drive from my old broken laptop, I’m finally getting loads of old travel pics up on the blog.

Here’s the view from the window of a cheap hotel I stayed at for a month in Bangkok (on Soi Rambuttri round the corner from Khao San Road) a few years back:

Bangkok skyline Bangkok skyline

It was rainy season and one night we had this spectacular display of lightning.

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2018 updates

It’s been a couple of years now since I launched this blog, yet I’ve been so busy catching up on writing posts from many years of earlier travel that I’ve largely failed to write posts updating where I actually am and what I’m actually doing. So with that in mind,

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Broken Bones and Silver Linings

Famous last words:

“Okay, last run and then I’m off to get some dumplings and catch the bus.”

I was talking to my riding pal Lilly, we were stood at the top of the terrain park at Welli Hilli Park,

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Life in Taipei: Stumpy the Lizard

Fucking bugs. Fucking cockroaches, fucking flies, and fucking, fucking, fucking mosquitoes; one thing you’re always going to have to put up with if you go live in the Far East is all the damn bugs.

If you’re in Korea or Japan then at least it’s only a summer thing,

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Tokyo’s Controversial Yasukuni Shrine and Yushukan Museum

Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

This isn’t a politics blog. But when I travel I like to learn about the history of the places I visit, and to at least somewhat get a handle on the political landscape. Fact is that politics & history are closely intertwined, and if you travel without paying any attention whatsoever to those things you’re travelling with your eyes half shut.

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How to Take the Ferry to Hokkaido

Coastal scenery on the ferry to Hokkaido

Most visitors to Hokkaido fly in, but to do it overland you have two options – bullet train or ferry.

If you have the JR Pass, the train’s the way to go – with the bullet train having recently been extended from Aomori through the Seikan Tunnel to Hakodate,

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The Gion Festival

Gion Festival float preparing to turn at Shijo-Kawaramachi

The Gion Matsuri is foremost among the 3 great matsuri (festivals) of Kyoto (the others are the Aoi Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri), as well as being recognised as one of the 3 great festivals of Japan (along with Tokyo’s Kanda Matsuri and Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri).

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An Ode to the Crows of Japan

Crow at Osorezan

One time while living in Kyoto… “I went for a midnight stroll around Mt Inari, the red gates picked out against the snow, and with the sounds of the city muffled to nothingness, the night deathly quiet and utterly still save for the flakes tumbling silently down,

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Bizarre Encounter at a Nanjing Station Urinal…

Chinese CRH bullet train

So there I was in Nanjing Station to catch the bullet train back to Shanghai, minding my own business, and going for a quick slash before boarding the train as you do.

It was one of those massive toilets in those massive train stations, the urinal room with 20-odd urinals lined along the walls,

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The Yunnan Overland Backpacker Trail

Prayer flags in Shangri La

I was just sorting through some old travel photos after finally gaining access to the hard drive from my broken old laptop, and realised I’d never posted about the Yunnan backpacker trail in Southwest China. The basic route goes from the sprawling provincial capital Kunming up to the ancient lakeside town of Dali,

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The Time I Got Apprehended by Ten Cops in Japan for Riding a Stolen Bike

「僕の言葉わかるでしょう」

“Boku no kotoba wakaru deshou!”

“You understand my words, don’t you?”

It wasn’t a question, more an accusation, and he delivered it in a point blank yell with a thump of the desk for emphasis.

They were literally playing the good cop bad cop routine,

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Volunteering in Tohoku after the 2011 tsunami

Tsunami damage in Onagawa

I didn’t feel the Earth move at 2:46pm on that day in early 2011, but I remember exactly where I was when it did; I was just finishing up my last lesson before lunch, a lunch break I’d be mostly wasting rushing out to buy white chocolates for my female coworkers (for White Day,

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Tohoku, Japan’s Treasureland

Bodai-ji, Osorezan

Tohoku, 東北 (literal meaning ‘Northeast’) is the northernmost region of Japan’s main Honshu island, consisting of 6 large but relatively sparsely populated prefectures of great natural beauty. It also has a rich folklore tradition and many sites of historical importance, with a recent marketing campaign branding the region –

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Osorezan, Mt Dread

Bodai-ji, Osorezan

For something a little different the Shimokita Peninsula at the northern tip of Japan’s main Honshu island fits the bill. The peninsula’s northern end is formed by the volcano Osorezan, which translates as Mt Fear or Mt Dread. Lake Usori, the caldera lake in the volcano’s crater,

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