Japan {Pt. 1}

TL;DR: I fell in love with Japan.

Japan has been on my list of places to explore. It’s definitely one for the books.

Japan.

I’m going to do this in two parts because there is so much to talk about and so many pictures to show you guys. When you hear of this country, you think of anime, food, and cuteness overload.

The first city that I visited was Kyoto. This town is filled with rich history. It’ll pull you into the serenity of the shrines.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is probably the most famous shrine in Kyoto. It is lined with the these orange red columns. I ended up going in the afternoon for the first time and it was pretty packed. So if you’re wanting a picture of just the columns and no one else, going there around 6 am is suggested. Trust me, I did it after a night of drinking and it was still worth it.

It is a bit of a hike as this shrine was built on a mountain. Definitely bring some shades and a water when hiking through this amazing shrine.

If I had to pick a favorite shrine, it would be this. It’s a must see when going to Japan.

The next part of Kyoto that I loved was the food stalls. There were so many good af food places. It was a foodie’s paradise.

There were so many things to try. I decided to get small snack throughout the day so that I may be able to eat everything.

The most memorable stand was this walk up that served steak nigiri. The steak was wagyu beef and was placed on an edible plate. Which to be honest, I may have enjoyed the plate a little more than I should.

Other than the food, the shrines and temples were definitely the highlight of Kyoto. I wish I stayed a bit longer to explore the bamboo forest and other attractions, but I had Tokyo, Osaka, and Nara to explore.

All in all, Kyoto gives you the feeling that you’re in the ancient times of Japan. As I said, I would stay in Kyoto for another week to just explore everything.

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Tulum, Mexico

TL;DR: Tulum was awesome. You should definitely go for the food, adventure, and culture.

My motto has been “Might as well.” I’ve applied this to mostly every place that I’ve visited so far and it has always been an interesting journey. This phrase has definitely given me the courage to try new things and be a bit spontaneous.

When I told my parents that I was going to Mexico by myself, they freaked out. They obviously were worried for my safety since this was the first time I was going to Mexico, especially on a solo adventure. But I convinced them that I would be ok and that I’ll be back in a week.

So the adventure begins. I flew into Cancun International Airport and it was a dreary day. The rain was pouring like no other. I thought that this would dampen my time by the beach (pun intended lol). The best way to get around Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, is to utilize the public transportation. To get to Tulum, I took the ADO bus, which only costs about $8.00.

When I arrived to the Tulum bus station, my Airbnb host met me and we walked to where I was staying for the week. Once settled, I decided to explore downtown. The main street is one of the main highways, HWY 307. It’s lined with many gift shops and restaurants.


The vibe of the small city was relaxed and “chill” to say the least. I did make time to go to the beach before the sunset. It was picturesque. I’ve never seen whiter sand and bluer water than here.


Pretty sure there are other beaches that have better views than this, but it was outstanding.

The next day, I decided to go ziplining. There is an amusement park in Playa Del Carmen called Xplore. This had about 14 different zip lines throughout the park.


During this trip, I’ve learned that it’s easier to make friends while traveling solo. It’s pretty great.


I’m not able to post videos in this post, but the zip lines were exhilarating. There was a course that you went through a waterfall, which was definitely fun.

On the third day, I decided to go snorkeling with turtles and see the Mayan ruins. The turtles were so cute but we weren’t allowed to touch them because the oils on our skin affects them, negatively. Other than turtles, we were able to see stingrays and other fish.

Turtles

Enough of what I did. The most important thing is what I ate.

As I’ve mentioned before, the street of Downtown Tulum was lined with many restaurants and bars.

There was one specific taco place that was only open during the night. And when it opened, there was already a line out the door. This was a hole in the wall that wanted to be discovered. Tacos here were about 7 cents USD or less than 15 pesos. It was unbelievable.

Their al pastor was what everyone came for. And it didn’t disappoint. Ugh, my mouth is salivating just thinking about it.

Other than the food, the beach was all the rage. The white sand against the cerulean (tell me you thought about Pokemon when this work came up) blue ocean was a sight. The pictures speak for themselves.

All in all, Tulum was a great getaway from the cold days of North America. It’s culture is enticing and the food makes you want to stay. Here’s a picture of a palette, which was out of this world.

Iceland

TL;DR: Iceland was amazing and anyone who tells you to go, you should take their advice.

Let me tell you about Iceland. It’s absolutely magical.

This was my first solo international trip. I was excited but also a bit nervous. Only because I was going to an unknown place that was an ocean away from home. It was exhilarating to think that I would be in Iceland. A place that I’ve been dreaming about visiting since college. A place that you can really lose yourself in because the landscape is awe inspiring.

As this was my first international trip, I decided to rent a car. Renting a car gave me the freedom to explore the island anyway I wanted to. I mostly stuck to the southern half of the island. 

One of the must see attractions that I would recommend are the different waterfalls that makes Iceland so magical. TLC would definitely be disappointed as I chased too many waterfalls on this trip. 

Day 1: But before exploring the many waterfalls, I had my eyes set on the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal hot spring lived up to my expectations. The milky blue hue of the pool mixed with the above 100 degree temperature made it a relaxing morning for me after a red eye flight. What’s more relaxing than a huge jacuzzi and sparkling wine at 9 am?




I set some time to wander around Reykjavik. First thing on the agenda was to get some food. Since Iceland is known for their fishing industry, I had to get some fish and chips. There’s a small fish and chips cart by the harbor that is known for this particular dish. From there, I ventured out to downtown Reykjavik and walked through the center that’s lined with shops. There were many gift/souvenir shops that filled the streets, so finding something to take home from Iceland.


Day 2: I woke up early to get a head start on chasing some waterfalls. From Reykjavik, I trekked south and the first waterfall that I visited was Seljandfoss. As this was the first waterfall, I was overtly excited. There were many tourists that had the same idea as I had. 


The next waterfall that I trekked to was Selfoss. This was the biggest waterfall in southern Iceland. You could hear the roaring water. You’re able to get up close as you want and feel the mist from when the water hits the rocks. 


As the day progressed, I headed towards Vik. Vik is known for the Black Sand Beach. This beach definitely matches the color of my soul. It was a bit cold and misty but it was definitely worth the view.

Day 3: This day was filled with adventure. I kind of wanted to live out the Justin Bieber music video he shot in Iceland. With that, I made it a goal to go to the glacier national park. As it was off season, there weren’t as many glaciers to photograph. 

Aside from the glacier national park, I had booked a tour/lesson on ice climbing. I was a bit nervous to do this activity as I have never done it and a bit anxious about my shoulder because it could potentially dislocate.


But to my surprise, I did ok. Ice climbing is a lot more intense than rock climbing.


During this tour, we were able to rapelle into the glacier through a small hole and see what the inside of the glacier looked like. This was probably my favorite part of the whole trip. The crystal blue color of the glacier is very prominent and beautiful. 


As we climbed back to the top of a glacier a rainbow was waiting for us. It was surreal.

 Btw, they always turn the rainbow on at the end of the tour.
Day 4: It was my last day in Iceland. I saw a picture on Instagram of a waterfall that I haven’t visited and knew it was in the Justin Bieber video. So I woke up early and left to find the last waterfall in southern Iceland. This was by far the best one that I’ve visited. 

​I had to walk through a crevice to get to the magic. 


Anyways, I was able to live out my college dream and it was everything and more than what I expected. 


All in all, I survived my first solo trip and I would definitely do it again. I’m going to leave you with some liquid nitrogen ice cream I got in downtown Reykjavik.