Saturday, 26 March 2016

More Tokyo Fun - Koenji & Beyond

Being away from home is the hardest when your friends are going through the toughest of times. You can't be there for them in the way that you'd like and you end up with a feeling of helplessness mixed with sadness mixed with I don't know what else. Feeling like this also got me thinking that I don't even know where I consider home to be anymore, for years it's been Brighton but honestly my friends are so scattered (thanks to the joy of connecting with wonderful people online!) that I don't consider any one place home these days. I honestly have no idea where I'm going to end up when I stop travelling... if I stop travelling. I love Brighton but I don't know if it's going to be quite the right fit for me after this journey which is gonna be hella confusing given that I've been Vegan in Brighton for years. How do you move away from somewhere that's such a huge part of who you are?!

I'm still madly in love with Tokyo despite the fact that we're going through another cold snap here. It hit 8ยบ C yesterday but the wind bites at your exposed skin making it feel even colder. Despite the chill I ventured out to meet up with some of the vegans I hung out with last week as well as some new peeps at T's Restaurant which is run by the same people who own and run everybody's favourite spot T's TanTan. It was so fun and the food was amazing. I ordered a cheesy baked rice dish with a side of soy chicken with mayonnaise dressing and salad as well as a chocolate parfait for dessert.

The rice casserole was perfectly creamy and delicious but the parfait was killer.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Vegan in Tokyo!

Being back in Tokyo is throwing up so many feelings, I love it here so much that if you told me I could move here tomorrow I'd be beyond overjoyed but being here for so long with no specific purpose has me thinking hard about the different experiences you have somewhere when you're on holiday vs travelling vs settling somewhere. Last time Nick and I were here we weren't really sticking to a strict budget but this time is different, our SE Asia appropriate travel budget doesn't stretch anywhere near as far in Japan as it did in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos or Taiwan so we're having to be a little more careful than usual. When it's been cold out we've been chillaxing under a pile of blankets at the Air B&B rather than catching a movie and we're eating meals at home at least once or twice a day. Our biggest travel expense is almost always food - I can skip an expensive touristy thing like heading to the top of the highest building in favour of exploring an area on foot for a day; popping into shops, admiring the street art and just soaking in the atmosphere, but I'm never going to skip a meal! So far my favourite breakfast / lunch / dinner spot is T's Tan Tan which I mentioned last time. I love it - it's super reasonably priced and filling as well as being delicious and I love that ramen is a meal suitable for any time of day.

Ain Soph Ripple is another contender for fave' restaurant - it's a casual burger place with a small but totally excellent menu. I'm obsessed with both the cheese fries and the crispy chicken burger.

The cheese fries are made with Sheese and on my last visit I was excited to learn they they make the chicken patties themselves from shredded soy meat, wheat gluten and other yummies. They also have the best buns. You know when you get a burger and it looks like it should be great but the bun is totally inflexible making it impossible to fit in your mouth?

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

I'm in Tokyo!

Oh hey there! After two weeks spent travelling around Taiwan and another week exploring Hong Kong I'm back in Tokyo. I last visited Japan in 2014 and fell in love. I've been dying to come back ever since and here I am. I literally couldn't be happier. I almost shed a tear as I was riding the Yamanote line yesterday because I had one of those I kinda can't believe that this is my life moments. Writing that felt weird. I'm scared that it sounded smug. I hope not. I guess part of the reason that I find it hard to believe that I get to be here again is because my life used to be so different. I used to live in a moulding basement flat with no electricity or hot water and a drug addict flatmate who did some pretty awful things to me. I also spend a lot of time analysing my privilege and I know that getting to travel this much is for sure a privilege so I just feel lucky a lot of the time.

One of the first places I went was Takeshita Street in Harajuku, a mecca for youth fashion and everything cute. A lot has changed since I was there last, fashions have obviously changed, I spotted a lot more cat unicorn hoodies and less heart shaped sunglasses on this first wander and I saw plenty of the heart window backpacks that have been popping up on the Tokyo fashion social media accounts I follow for a while now. There are also a whole lot more crepe places now that the whole Harajuku crepe trend is an internationally known phenomenon. There's also an unofficial mascot now and I loooove her!

Another thing that's new since I was last in Japan is that Starbucks now have a vegan doughnut! I'd actually never been to Starbucks until I came to Tokyo for the first time, I obviously hate their business practices but what can I say, I'm weak and the soy milk situation here is very dairy-ful. Without speaking the language a dairy free latte is not easy to come by.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Oodles of Noodles

Noodles are up there with my pizza on my favourite foods list and they're definitely going to be some of the best possible fuel for your Taiwanese adventures. Walking up elephant mountain to catch a glimpse of Taipei 101 is high up on my list of must do's for travellers visiting the city. When I was walking around the business district Taipei 101 didn't look that big but from up above you get a whole different sense of scale as well as an amazing view of Taipei's urban sprawl. On a clear day you can even see planes taking off from Songshan airport. Pretty cool!

Taipei has a huge wealth of noodle options, enough that it would be almost impossible to write about them all although I am of course going to try.