A random Kyushu sunset, taken from the bus!

November was a fantastic month! We moved around constantly for 3 1/2 weeks, but it all went by in a flash. I got to practice LOTS of Japanese with people in Kyushu, too! It's so much easier to improve your language skills in a place where you don't really have any other options (there were virtually no western tourists outside Nagasaki, and even there, very few).

Make no mistake, it was an exhausting month and we are both happy to hibernate a bit and focus on work for the next two months.

Hong Kong
 
This time, we stayed at a serviced apartment near Tin Hau, which gave both of us a bit more freedom (for fun + work). Mostly, we spent time catching up with family, eating a large variety of foods and buying random electronics. We also went on a little hike to the Dragon's Backbone, a first for HK local Celine!

Seoul & Busan

Accomplished: Visited all five of Seoul's Royal Palaces
I can never get enough of Seoul! We just spent a week, as we really had no specific plans for Korea this time. We ate lots of Korean foods and ended up visiting some historical sites and museums I haven't been to in my previous three times in the city. In addition, we met a friend who lives there and of course could not escape the lure of all those silly Korean cosmetics shops. My face will be SO moisturised this winter!

We also spent three days in Busan, where everything seemed to fail. When we wanted to go on a hike, it rained. When we wanted to go to the bath house/spa, it was the only day in the month they were closed. When we finally found the hike, we found the trail limited and the way back almost impossible to find. Nevertheless, we managed to meet up with a couchsurfing friend we hosted a few years ago in London.

Kyushu - Nagasaki, Kagoshima and Yakushima

laughing at Dutch people in Nagasaki
From Busan, we took to the ferry to Hakata/Fukuoka, where we were welcomed with a good grilling by the Japanese immigration officers, who wondered why we were in Japan again after just three weeks ago. I had assumed that they would question me and assume I'm an illegal English teacher, but they seemed to be much more interested in Celine. Once I told them that we "are partners" and "live together", they let go of us, but not without asking me if I had any illegal drugs first.

We went straight for the next train to Nagasaki, because Fukuoka is not exactly a very exciting or lovable place from my experience. Nagasaki turned out to be quite different from what I expected, much smaller and more provincial than I thought. The tourist attractions are all a bit overly garish and fake for me, although the Dutch related history parts were interesting. Of course, we visited the atomic bomb related sites and museum, which is a little bit more politically sensitive than the one in Hiroshima when it comes to Japan’s war crimes.

On we moved to Kagoshima, by bus, because trains are seriously expensive in Kyushu. I love this southern island so much; the climate is almost sub-tropical and the landscape always seems more lush and unspoilt than other parts of Japan. The sunset on the bus was amazing.
Kagoshima - Would you dare to live opposite a VERY active volcano?

Kagoshima surprised us not with volcanic ash, but with a lot of amazing food and vibrant nightlife which I had not expected at all at this end of the country. People in Kyushu are a bit strange - 50 % of them are welcoming and excited to talk to travellers, 50 % seem to be freaked out if they have to interact with a white foreigner. 
We stayed at a very cute traditional guest house on Yakushima

Our last stop was Yakushima, a UNESCO protected natural world heritage island which is famous as the inspiration for Princess Mononoke (which I've never watched, but of course it needs to be mentioned).


We rented a car and managed to do a small hike (most there are for the serious hiker, from 8 hrs to 2 days) while driving around the entire island.

After two days, it was time to catch the ferry to Kagoshima and our flight...


Back to Osaka!

For the next 8 weeks, we're in Osaka, in a flat that suddenly feels way to big after all those small Japanese hotel rooms. It's the longest we'll be in one place since we set off from London in June 2015. Osaka has long felt like a second home to me, and since I've lost touch with London more and more, maybe even like  my first home.


We were considering staying here for the long run, or at least a year or so, but it looks like life has something else in store for us...


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