I’m home! Travelling is one of my favourite things to do – seeing how other people live really gives you a fresh perspective on your own life. I love trying new foods (within reason), trying to communicate in languages I’m far from fluent in and, of course, I’m always so excited by the photographic possibilities. Those who travel with me can expect to stop and wait quite often while I snap, snap, snap, and can also expect to be the subject of plenty of my shots – candid and posed!

This trip was a late 30th celebration for my man Chris, who turned 31 the day after we got home, and an early 30th celebration for me – I’ll be the big three-oh in October. We are the ultimate travelling companions for each other – we both like to be out in the thick of it, walking wherever possible so as not to see things through windows and windscreens. We love eating street food and he poses for my pictures without complaint – he even takes pictures for me (though I try to make it easier for him by setting them up for him and showing him exactly how I want them!). We took on Hong Kong, which is Chris’ dad’s hometown and somewhere I’d never been before, and three cities in Japan – a country we’ve both loved separately in the past, and finally got to experience together – in CHERRY BLOSSOM SEASON!

I could go into a full blow-by-blow of each day, but that would make for a very long blog post, so I’ll share a highlight from each city instead. If you’re interested in the whole trip, I’ll be posting a series of videos on our YouTube channel right here – you can subscribe to see them as they come out!

Tai O fishing village in Hong Kong was an eye opener for me. Many of the locals live in makeshift shacks on stilts over the water, with evidence of plenty of old shacks having collapsed and been lost to the ocean. It couldn’t be further from my cosy Brisbane home, and it fascinated me to no end. We visited on our second day in town after a trip to see the Big Buddha statue. I also loved getting to hear Chris use his Cantonese language skills!

Osaka, Japan is all about the food – it was Chris’ first time visiting, and I loved watching his eyes light up at the street food vendors lining the road – takoyaki (squid balls), taiyaki (fish-shaped sweet breads), melon-pan (a sweet bread roll) filled with matcha ice cream – it was like some kind of heaven for Chris! We both usually try to eat healthy and fairly low-carb at home (Chris does own a gym, after all), but the rules don’t apply when travelling! We got a kick out of the Kuromon markets for a fresh seafood breakfast the following morning too.

In Kyoto I lived out my Disney Princess dreams by getting dolled up in kimono and twirling around in the cherry blossoms at Yasaka Jinja shrine. Chris looked much more like a warrior than a princess, which is fitting since he’s a martial arts enthusiast (though he practices Wing Chun Kung Fu, which is a Chinese style, not Japanese). We also hired bicycles (while not in traditional getup) and cycled through the back streets of town feeling very much like locals – everyone bikes in Japan!

And of course, Tokyo – I LOVE this electric city. Eating in tiny ramen shops with vending machines for ordering by the door, never worrying about a train schedule because the Yamanote Line trains arrive seemingly every minute and getting lost in Shinjuku’s sea of neon lights – it’s an incredible sensory overload. I also got to visit Chris’ favourite bar in the world, Jazz Spot Intro in Takadanobaba, where a 1000 yen (AU$12) cover charge gets you in the door, a free drink and a night of non-stop jazz – played by the bar’s patrons! Though we were both students of Southern Cross University’s contemporary music program back in the day, neither of us were game to get up and play – we just enjoyed the jam-night rotational setup, especially when the bar’s owner and bartender Inoue-san ducked away from the bar for the occasional blistering sax solo.

For now, it’s back to little old Brisbane – but I love this city too, and I’ve been inspired by the Japanese to start a picnicking-under-the-jacarandas tradition in spring. Who’s with me?