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Kyushu Part II

September 6, 2017

I’m back with the remaining bits of my Kyushu Summer trip with Donna!

Having been to countless shrines in Tokyo (namely Meiji-jingu being my favourite), I wanted to check out the shrines in Kyushu too so we went to Udo Shrine which is dedicated to Yamasachihiko, the grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, the mythical first emperor of Japan! The brightly painted shrine is set in a cave on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean and with a spectacular view kinda reminded me of Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari shrine. You’ll know what I mean after looking at the photos!

Since it was relatively nearby, we also drove alone the Nichinan Coast drive which is a famous sightseeing road of Miyazaki. Think Los Angeles palm trees and sea view!

Not forgetting some soft-serve ice cream! I got Hyuga Natsu citrus soft ice cream and Donna had mango soft ice cream.
I’d recommend getting the Yuzu soft serve if you’re at Horikiri Pass & Roadside Station “Pheonix” (:

We stayed at ANA Holiday Day Inn Resort for its close proximity and the hotel staff recommended this Japanese seafood restaurant which I have no absolute regret trying! SO GOOD!!!

If you know me personally, you’d know I’m a big fan of sushi, sashimi, Japanese-cooked fishes and crabs so this was such a feast for me! The fun part about this restaurant is that you can actually fish for your own lobster as they are “swimming” around you. The sashimi is sooooo fresh and the sushi is just perfect!

1-5-5 Aoshima Miyazaki Miyazaki

One of the biggest highlights of my trip has got to be this AMAZING ryokan-villa I’ve stayed in. I’ve been blessed this life to have stayed in many nice hotels/villas but this just takes the cake, HANDS DOWN. It’s the best villa I’ve stayed in Asia, with the best service and facilities possibly throughout my whole life. If you saw my Instagram story during my stay, you would have seen how humongous the space was, how we had our own movie and music room with Bang & Olufsen sound system, our private indoor and outdoor onsen, Hermes toiletries, personal chef and in-room BBQ, free flow ice cream, both alcoholic and non-alcohol drinks. Let the pictures do the talking!
Our private outdoor onsen which we spent the night stargazing.

Nestled in a bamboo forest, so blissful.

For honeymooners or if you just wanna spoil yourself, Takefue is a MUST-STAY in kyushu. I’d totally stay here again if I return to Kyushu and trust me, it’s worth every cent.

Headed back to Fukuoka city for a night via my favourite Japanese mode of transport ; Shinkansen!

We ended the last night feasting at roadside stalls and hours in Don-Quijote buying random cosmetic products and cup noodles. Such a short trip but proud of us for accomplishing so much! If you wanna follow our itinerary, you can check it out here. However, I’d recommend to do extra 1-2 more days if you wanna fully bask into the beautiful nature of Kyushu.

Thank you JNTO, Japan National Tourism Organization for having us! Can’t wait to return to Japan again (:

Sophia Chong


Kyushu Part I

August 17, 2017

I’ve always loved Japan since my first visit to Tokyo when I was 21, like it’s literally one of my favourite countries in the world. But I’ve never travelled extensively across Japan except for that few major/popular cities like Tokyo and Kyoto so stepping foot and exploring Kyushu last month really opened up a fresh new perspective.

Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, located southwest of the main island Honshu is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. As an early  centre of Japanese civilisation, Kyushu offers many historic treasures, modern cities and natural beauty. My trip was only 4 full days, and I wish I had more time to fully explore and bask into the nature (think active volcanoes, beaches and natural hot springs) and slow pace life in Kyushu.

Checked into our first ryokan; Yama no hotel Musouen after 1.5 hr drive from Fukuoka airport.

  1. a traditional Japanese inn.

After a quick wash up and rest, we took the chance to explore Yufuin area which is…beautiful. It’s one of my favourite parts of the trip with its quaint shops lining the streets and walking around in a yukata! Mouth-watering cheesecake at Yufuin Milch! I’m so excited that they are opening a store in Singapore soon! It’s so fluffy and it just melts in your mouth yumsss~

Sorry for using the word favourite again but this is one of my fav meals in Kyushu. I had the beef mabushi and the beef was cooked to perfection along with the fragrance of the charred rice. And when you’ve enough of it, you can pour some soup over to make it into beef congee which tasted as good or even better!

Appetizers!You gotta try this place if you’re in Yufuin for their famed local cuisine!!

Yufu Mabushi Shin

2F 5-3 Kawakita Yufuincho Yufushi, Oita Prefecture

+81 977-84-5825

The Traditional Japanese Rickshaw was just a few minutes drive away and it’s surrounded by incredible sceneries. For that moment, I felt like a chinese princess being escorted to meet my prince hahah

Just look at the view, will you?

The iconic Japanese vending machines.

A much needed onsen sesh within our ryokan with a view after a long day!Followed by a massive dinner spread in the ryokan restaurant! Life’s good~~~

We woke up really early the next day for a long day of adventure ;

  1. Kokonoe Dream Bridge
    1208, Tano, Oaza, Kokonoe-machi, Kusu-gun, Oita Prefecture
  2. Kuju Flower Park
    Kuju Oaza, Kujucho, Takedashi, Oita Prefecture
  3. Mt Aso Helicopter Tour
    2163 Kurokawa Asoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture

There were so many scenic pitstops along our drive in Kyushu Kokonoe Yume Grand Suspension bridge is 390 meters long, 173 meters high and is the highest suspension for walkway in Japan. It’s nice to enjoy a cone of milk soft-serve while enjoying a full view of 2 waterfalls when you’re standing in the middle of the bridge. 

We stopped by another Hanabishi for another round of local cuisine on the way to Kuju Flower park to try their renowned beef bento set

If you’re big on flowers and you’re in Kyushu then you have to visit Kuju Flower park! The spacious park covers 49 acres of land and has many different flower fields such as lavender, sunflower, poppies, blue berries etc. On a clear day, you can enjoy the gram-worthy view with Mount Kuju as the backdrop!
Note that it’s closed from Dec-Feb tho!

Aside from coastal and mountainous views, I’d recommend you to take in the vast beauty of Kyushu from an aerial view. I’m glad we took the helicopter ride cos we saw so many things we could never see just by driving/taking public transports.

Helicopter tour in Aso was very comprehensive and our guide was very detailed in explaining every landmarks. Another good thing about it is that it’s located in Cuddy Dominion which is an animal park so I got to see ponies, alpacas and other cute furries as well. 

Lo and Behold, this was the most fun part of the trip ; rowing a boat to a waterfall.

Takachiho Gorge is a narrow chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase River and the cliff columns remind me of the scales of a dragon. It was so therapeutic to experience the cascading waterfall, green foliage and majestic surrounding cliffs. There are 2 ways to enjoy the gorge. First is by rowing a rental boat which was what we did, another was to walk on the paved paths along the gorge. 

Just a few mins walk away, there’s a very interesting somen stall which serves somen (very thin wheat noodles, similar to soba) through a bamboo trough and doused with boiling water. I’m sure some of you caught that on my IG story! It’s known as flying as somen so you’ll have to catch as much somen as possible with your chopsticks as it passes you through the bamboo trough. Super fun!!

I forgot to take pictures there so I took this from Google to show you!

Pic creds here.

That’s all I have for you for the first part of my trip! I’ll be back for the second part soon. Meanwhile, you can check out our itinerary at this link here!

(Stay tuned!

Sophia Chong

Featured New Zealand Travel

Lake Taupo & Acacia Bay villa

May 25, 2017

We spent the weekend hitting the roads to Lake Taupo, 4.5 hours drive from Auckland city. We, or rather I needed an escape from the city and bask into New Zealand’s famed nature and Lake Taupo seems like one of the best choices in the north island. Lots of greens, cows, sheeps and horses along the way which I really enjoyed. NZ has such beautiful skies that every sunset is so unique and beautiful. This blog post is done up in a way where I want to express myself from “the moment” so I’ve little scribblings on every photo which either express how I felt at the moment the photo was taken or little details of it.

River leading to Huka Falls. On the way to Taupo, you will see New Zealand’s longest river, The Waikato River. We did an hour hike along the river near hula falls and I probably breathed the freshest air I’ve ever inhaled there.

Moving on, we drove half an hour from Huka Falls to Orakei Korako which is is a highly active geothermal area most notable for its series of fault-stepped sinter terraces. You can find lots of mud pools and geothermal pools (not for swimming/soaking tho) there.

Cute little sheeps everywhere!
Fun fact : Did you know that NZ has the highest density of sheeps per unit area in the world? There are approx 27.6 million sheeps in NZ and there are only 4.6 million human population. SHEEPS RULE THE WORLD!

The balcony which I spent every morning drinking my coffee. It would be a perfect dinner/breakfast spot during summer.

I was very blessed to stay in an incredibly gorgeous and spacious lakeside villa with breathtaking view of the lake and mountains during my time in Taupo and I’d highly recommend it to anyone especially if you’re on a honeymoon or if you’re travelling in a big groups (cos it can fit about 10 people comfortably). I’ll spare you the details for now and feast your eyes with pictures (:

Sleeping in the master bedroom with a floor to ceiling glass window is the best cos I stargazed to sleep and woke up to a scenic view of the mountains. Can’t describe how soothing that is for the soul.

Stone bathtub just outside our room

If you had been catching up on my Instagram stories when I was in NZ, you’d notice that Jin and I are such a cooking couple. We love cooking together and eating together to a movie so we couldn’t resist the BBQ pit in our courtyard. I have to say it was a challenge to bbq in 10 degrees celsius so he did most of the work while I stayed indoor most of the time :p

We love spending time like this. Food wine music movies and conversations. 

And one hell of a kickass movie room!

Staying in this lakeside villa certainly made our road trip a better one. We loved coming home to such a big yet cosy heated house, with stars as our ceiling and our favourite jazz playlist playing throughout the house with their home sound system. The villa is  secluded in a very private and safe estate, and is very accessible to supermarkets and cafes within 15 mins drive. There are 4 bedrooms so it can comfortably fit a big group and you can use the facilities at the point including tennis courts, a petanque area, 2 private boat ramps & access to private beaches.

One thing that we really like is that the place is very tastefully decorated with nice art pieces and ornaments. The kitchen is also furnished with good quality and sufficient cutleries, pots and pans, condiments and sauces! Yum!

Here’s the link to the villa if you’re planning a trip to NZ/Lake Taupo. Highly recommend!

I just got back to Singapore yesterday and I’m so jet lagged so I’ll be back soon (:

Sophia Chong