Ocean fishing in Phuket, Thailand

Well, this is a first! First time being in Thailand, first time being in Southeast Asia. And it sure is damn hot and filled to the brim full of TOURISTS! I could not comprehend the insanity of all these people being down there especially since it’s not high tourist season but I suppose that’s what happens when you market it as a tourist haven. So many people… which is why I need to escape to the nearby water to go FISHING!

For some reason, a lot of people don’t really think of doing this activity while in Thailand as they are too interested in the booze, bright night lights, and other stupidity going on (I shouldn’t have to explain the moronic drunken state of people). Also, forget lying on the beach and boozing up the night life…. and then having to deal with a loud, obnoxious drunk or some idiot yelling and screaming stupid obscenities. This ain’t the Balearic Islands! No! I want minimum amount of people with clear blue skies and oceans to go fishing! This was why I came to Thailand – to fish! There weren’t a lot of other people out there on the water but a few boaters, a few fishermen, jet skis… but not enough to jam-pack the waters with people like on land especially on the beaches. Nope! And another great part about all this is that I went fishing for the first time in Indian Ocean waters so this was an exciting time to fish new waters which means that there is a great chance to catch new fish species.

But of course, fishing saltwater species means that you will never know what you will catch out there until you put that hook in the water and set it when there is a bite. So you must always be ready for a long fight and in these waters during autumn, it was practically Dorado / Mahi Mahi heaven! Nothing but feisty, hard-fighting Dorados everywhere! I was actually looking forward to catching other species but I found out that they generally show up later, but that’s fine. I can live with that since we all caught a ton of Mahi Mahi! An ice box full of them!

Thai ocean fishing Phuket Thailand fish saltwater Indian Ocean Talang Tanjung Salang Andaman Sea boat vessel crusing trolling tropical monsoon climate tourist fun tourism beach sun water awesome adventure SE Asia Southeast Asian country big fishes hard to catch fight sunny skies boating party fishin' Thaifishing super excitement fishin' dreams come coming true achievement of dream lifelong always wanted to do this in nature harmony happy bliss true exciting happiness single lonewolf solo pirate adventurer spent good money on good fun games in total happy euphoria childfree childless by design going my way in Southeastern Asia guided

Here’s a photo of a Dorado that I hooked up. Even the small ones at 3-5 pounds, these fish fight unusually hard. And another amazing fact is that they grow really fast but don’t live long (maybe 4-5 years max).

Thai ocean fishing Phuket Thailand fish saltwater Indian Ocean Talang Tanjung Salang Andaman Sea boat vessel crusing trolling tropical monsoon climate tourist fun tourism beach sun water awesome adventure

Just look at how many Mahi Mahis were in the ice box! For some reason, the Thai government has no fishing zones but no daily limits on how many fish you can take and harvest. And another weird thing is that the Thais consider Dorados / Mahi Mahi to be an inferior fish and often sold at low discount rates.

Thai ocean fishing Phuket Thailand fish saltwater Indian Ocean Talang Tanjung Salang Andaman Sea boat vessel crusing trolling tropical monsoon climate tourist fun tourism beach sun water awesome adventure SE Asia Southeast Asian country big fishes hard to catch fight sunny skies boating party fishin' Thaifishing super excitement fishin' dreams come coming true achievement of dream lifelong always wanted to do this in nature harmony happy bliss true exciting happiness single lonewolf solo pirate adventurer spent good money on good fun games in total happy euphoria childfree childless by design going my way in Southeastern Asia guided

I caught a fairly decent-sized Dorado on this trip. I’ve caught bigger but these fish just kept coming and coming for our baits!

And at the end of the day for both days I went fishing, I took one of the smaller Dorados to get it cooked Thai-style!

Dorado with garlic and peppers

This was Dorado with garlic and pepper which was tasty. It had a nice taste to it. The cost to have a Thai restaurant cook it was so minimal – just 100 Thai Baht (less than US$5 or about 4 euros)!

Cooked Coryphaena hippurus Mahi mahi dolphinfish thai style mode method spices seafood sauce

This was Dorado with 3 spices. This was by far, the best of all the Thai-cooking of fish that you catch and bring it to the kitchen experts of any Thai seafood restaurant.

mantis shrimp in thailand ugly sea bug white colored stomatopods Stomatopoda sea locusts prawn killers thumb splitters Oratosquilla oratoria Edible crustaceans

And you can also get your seafood live as some restaurants will have tanks with fish, crabs, lobsters, and even these guys: Mantis Shrimp! They are not true shrimps but more like lobsters – which they do taste like lobster. These mantis shrimps were cooked with garlic and pepper. And by the way, these mantis shrimps don’t have the punching ability but rather they use spears to hunt their prey. This species is farmed throughout Southeast Asia and they have a more whitish/gray color compared to other mantis shrimps which may come in a variety of colors.

Panulirus longipes longlegged spiny lobster Edible crustaceans thai restaurant food awesome tasting dish asian thailand phuket

Another awesome dish is to go with lobster. Even though it might be pricey, get the biggest one possible as it will have the most meat and most juiciest of all the meat in those tanks! Most of the lobsters are not the rainbow colored ones but more like brownish-white colors. I think they all taste the same though… like lobster!

Tip: If you’re going to fish in Thailand, bring sunscreen, water, camera, and know what you are doing because it’s going to be hot out there in the water! Make sure you drink water the day prior to fishing – you will sweat a lot! I also recommend book 2 days of fishing because you never know with the weather that you might be forced to stay on land. Also, some fishing boat captains like to rotate locations which result in catching different fish species. I remember fishing in Slovenia where the first two days were at this one stretch of a river but different parts of it and then on the third day, off to a completely different river. It was quite nice going to the other river since there was no other fishermen and I caught one rare Hybrid Marble/Brown Trout! I wished the same as I boarded the fishing boat in Phuket!

Tip: It’s best to go out at least 2 days of fishing out on the open seas because you never know if the weather might play a nasty role in ruining your chances like it did when I went after Whitespotted Char in Japan but never got an opportunity due to severe wind and rain. We went to the same fishing area 2 days in a row and the second day was far different from the first – more and bigger fish around! You just never know as the fish were there today but gone tomorrow and back again the day after.

Tip: Ensure that you bring a rain jacket (or at least a full-body condom) and hearing protection when you go on what’s called a long-tail boat. Thais have a very different type of fishing boat out there that doesn’t look anything like I’ve seen and that includes the pangas in Mexico. They are called longtail boats where a propeller is connected by a long pole to an engine that is exposed. Some are really loud so bring that hearing protection! And rain gear is a must – it’s the jungle/tropical area so a massive rainstorm can come in and despite the hot, warm weather… you will be very cold when it’s windy and rainy. I learned my lesson from being in the jungles of Nicaragua fishing for Snook and Tarpon there.

Tip: Make sure you take a fish whole to one of the seafood restaurants as they will cook your fish for a very cheap price. There is usually a variety of ways you can have it cooked but my favorite so far has been the 3 spices – get that! I wished that I could have had some tortillas and bring to La Paz, Mexico for a Thai-Mexican food fusion!

Contact:
http://www.fishing-khaolak.com/

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In the midst of the crowded Streets of Seoul, I found solace in a fishing café

Like all big cities, Seoul is blisteringly full of people, loud noises, and bright lights at night – maybe, more than most cities out there as there are just LOTS of humans since the city does not sleep and hums brightly and noisily all day and night. For the day walkers and night owls, this is a major city for everyone. Originally, it was a capital city with walls built by the Han River to protect the citizens and provide a trade route through the Han River, but Seoul has evolved over the years into a megapolis like Tokyo with a population in the millions to where walls are no longer there (except some of its gates as tourist destinations) as the city has overgrown its boundaries and beyond. The streets of Seoul to me always seem to be cranky and restless because of the sheer number of people and vehicles which has contributed to it overall of positives and negatives.

The positives: Lots of great places to go eat Korean food and if you’re into the nightlife and drinking – there are plenty of places to go for that.

bbq barbeque meat sheep restaurant kabob style meats 양고기

Here’s another one that people miss as they usually go kalbi, bulgogi, noodes, or something simple like that. This is sheep meat which is why you should go for something more… irregular! Sheep meat kabob! And the best part is that the meat moves back and forth as it spins so it cooks equally.

fugu blowfish sushi sashimi shabu soup korean fish dish rare expensive fishmeat

Know what this is? It’s Fugu! Yes, blowfish can be eaten in Korea! And no, I didn’t die from it so it’s safe to eat as long as you don’t eat any of the Fugu blood or eggs.

The negatives: Everything that comes with a lot of people such as overcrowded conditions, traffic, pollution, noise, etc.

Buddhist temple in Seoul 절 도시의 불교

As I’m at this Buddhist temple, I see nothing but lights pouring in from all sides of tall buildings. It’s one thing that you cannot get away from – lots of people and buildings while in the city of Seoul.

Never mind that the natives and tourists in this humongous city are rumbling around like ants and generating so much noise pollution like a sticky mach truck going full speed through a very dusty road. That’s why I looked for places to find some peace and quiet in this massive city. And the one activity where I might some solace through fishing. And yes, there are places in South Korea which allow people who have never fished a chance to catch a fish.

First, I headed down to Incheon, a major port city, which is also where the major airport is located at (Seoul-Incheon International Airport). There are a lot of boats that go out fishing but the major problem is that the weekends (and holidays) are overcrowded and completely booked up.

There is a website where you can look around in (http://woorinaksi.com/rb/), but the website is entirely in Korean as I’ve found out that Korea overall is not the most foreign-friendly place. So trying to get a spot on a fishing boat is not exactly the easiest thing to do. You can walk around the area to see if there are any walk-in availabilities but as I’ve stated before, the general off-days will not be productive. My friend and I did find a 1 hour fishing course but we would have to go on a 3 hour cruise to Palmido Island where it would be a 1 hour boat ride, 1 hour spent at the island, and a 1 hour boat ride back. It wasn’t that expensive but in order to get some fishing in, so we went ahead with it. I didn’t see any website associated with this place as you have to walk in, register, and pay for the scheduled cruise.

Once we arrived at the island, everyone else got off the boat to go exploring but my friend and I stayed behind as it was FISH ON time! At first, we had to get used to the gear and location but within 30 minutes, I’d already learned the best, most efficient way to catch fish as my friend caught one Reef fish and I ended up with 7 small fish (3 Goby-looking fish, 3 Rockfish, 1 eel) in the 1 hour allotted. The crew onboard the cruise ship was amazed at my ability to catch fish as they were not used to having such an experienced fisherman there.

Casting out into Palmido waters for fish

I cast out and see what I could get…. I wasn’t a fan of the right-hand reel retrieve on this spinning reel rod.

fishing 인천 낚시 바다 incheon rockfish eel fishes find the fish catching searching

A double hookup which surprised a lot of the crew because they weren’t usually to seeing people actually catching fish. But I know better…. and once I spent about 40-45 minutes figuring it out, that’s when the fish started biting en-masse.

But the problem was the time – it was too short, I’m sure that I could have caught a LOT more. And I would have caught more quality fish if I were on an actual fishing boat. However, not all is lost as there is a PLAN B: A Fishing Cafe where you can catch Carp!

I’ve already caught Carp before in the UK and in the Czech Republic, but if you’re in a big metropolitan city that is swarming with people on almost street then this can be a relief. You might not even think about it at all but blending in with all the stores, restaurants, apartment buildings, and offices – there is an indoor fishing pool!

There are several fishing cafes in and around Seoul (as well as other major cities in Korea) and basically all the fish in their indoor pools are Carp. The fishing is not quite to what I’m used to such as I generally use a fly rod for Carp OR I’m setting out some smelly baits and waiting for them to take my hook on a regular fishing rod. Instead, the rod and bait that they give you is quite different as it reminds me of hooking piranha at a certain angle in order to hook them. So basically the bait sucks and you’re fishing tenkara-style with no reel and just a rod with a line on the end of it.

cafe fishing indoors Carp carps fish specialized crowds of people Korean men women something different loud screaming of a catch slimy indoor SE Asia Korea Seoul daylife tourism nature city block

So that’s what it looks like inside a fishing cafe…. a dark place with lights to either help you or slow you from fishing better.

putting on bait for carp 미끼를 입고

Putting the bait on is a real hassle to put on the hook but it’s part of the game.

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You have to net your own fish but it’s pretty easy. One time I almost lost a fish but the net saved me.

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This was probably one of the biggest fish that I caught. The biggest fish that you can catch is about 2 kilograms (about 4-5 pounds max) with Grass Carp, Mirror Carp, and even Koi as possible fish species that you can catch.

Once you hook a fish, you net it and walk over to the scoring machine where you scan your bracelet (which they give you) to register and score that fish that you caught. You can keep fishing which they charge by the hour and once you are done fishing, they tally up your bill and final score. Whatever your score is, they might give you a prize for a job well done. Of course, you need to catch a lot and the bigger ones give you more points which will help you get a better prize so it’s up to you to get ’em!

fishing cafe scoring score machine carp fishes

I actually threw my first fish back into the water until I was told that you have to put the fish through the score machine. I had a feeling that I caught some of the same fish over and over again.

prizes gifts gallery fishing cafe carp

You get prizes for catching fish and you get better ones if catch more and bigger fish. All based on points!

Tip: Cost of an hour being in a fishing cafe is roughly about 9,000-11,000 won (US$10 or €9) per hour depending on which cafe that you go to so it’s best is to give it a go for about 2-3 hours to learn the basics because one hour is too short. The first time I went to a fishing cafe, I landed 32 Carp in 2 hours! But of course, I’ve been fishing for awhile so your experience may vary as the owner told me that generally most people don’t really catch that much even if they are experienced fishermen… so that should tell you something. Gotta have skill but I also think it’s more of having a fast lift and hookup like setting it up with a fly on a fly rod.

Tip: Fishing cafes, like regular fishing trips, are crowded on the weekends so take note if you decide to go to one. Also, in most internet search engines, fishing cafe doesn’t come up so make sure you input the Korean word for fishing café (낚시 카페) which will then pop up more search options.

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Japanese Fishing – Going for Taimen (Japanese/Asian Huchen)

Of all the places that I would imagine going fishing, Japan was NOT on that list that I initially drew up. However, after reading up on some reports of people catching some incredible fish species that I definitely interested in, I knew that I had to do it! I couldn’t just do some typical tourism stuff in Land of the Rising Sun and NOT fish! Targeted fishing location was Hokkaido, Japan’s most-northern main island.

And the targeted species here in Hokkaido for me was Taimen, a fish species very similar to the Danube Salmon (probably in the same fish family species) that I tried to catch in Slovenia last year, but nevertheless this is always a tough fish to land! But I believe that I’m ready to catch one! I chalk up all that fishing practice in the past 2 years that has gotten me ready for this: Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, California, Mexico, United Kingdom, and most recently in South Korea… hell, I could go back several years to fishing in Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and even further back to Argentina, New York, etc. I would like to think that I’m ready for this! I won’t fail like I did with the Danube Salmon and the Atlantic Salmon in Scotland. I almost faltered in Slovenia but I succeeded in catching a Marble Trout there and caught its ultra rare Hybrid Marble/Brown Trout!

fly fishing fishin' flyfishin' Japanese Japan Japon black colored trout hard to catch type of fish NE Asia fishes Asian Asiatico man going solo guided tour tourism tourist waders fall autumn timeframe rocking loud nature trees countryland countryside en el campo con japoneses

This was the first place where I fished for Taimen. I would see them jumping at the surface as they would be cruising and hunting down baitfish but NOT once, did I get a bite. Reminded me too much of Atlantic Salmon in Scotland – lots of fish but no bites.

I actually had some of my own fishing gear for this trip because you never know that what you use at home will work very well in foreign waters since the fish are NOT at all used to seeing something different which might induce a bite very quickly. Some fish get used to seeing the same thing over and over again that they get smart REAL quick. I figure that I would use something similar to a blind side sucker punch to hook and land the Taimen!

…. There was only one big problem… these Taimen do not want to cooperate. A lot of them would look at my fly and not take it! C’mon! I came all the way to Japan to catch one Taimen at least but noooo. Through the first two days of Taimen fishing, I only got 1 bite! And it wasn’t much of a bite either as it held on for 2 seconds and then bam, gone! It was giving me flashbacks of the Danube Salmon I hooked for 2 seconds and that was gone. Deja vu… of failure.

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My third and last day to go Taimen fishing. I have to be truthful here – I was not 100% positive that I would catch a fish here, let alone a Taimen because I didn’t see anyone else catch a fish.

The third day was the last day for fishing for Taimen so the impending feeling of failure of doom was impatiently rapping at my brain’s side. It looked like the grim reaper of failure wanted to ax me another one into my side since on this stretch of the river, I saw that there were 5 other fishermen already fishing away, trying to catch a Taimen with 2 of them, one to my left and one to my right, were using Spey fly rods (double-handed) meaning that they could get more distance on me than my one-handed 10 weight fly rod. Oh great, I’m already at a disadvantage since the Taimen were stingy with their bites. What made things worse is that I found out that my waders were leaking during a cold day with rain showers. This was an uphill battle. After several hours of feeling sad for myself, I hooked onto a stick… which my guide helped me get it off. As I cast it into the water, I got another snag. Great, another stick….. only to find out that this one actually fought back! Alright! A fish! A small one at best, at least. Turned out that I hooked a small flounder which I wanted to take a picture of to do research on it but my guide just dropped it into the water. “Don’t worry!” He said. “This is a good sign. You’ll catch a Taimen.”

fisherman in brackish japanese waters saltwater freshwater estuary high low tide tides fishin'

One of the 5 other fishermen on that same stretch of the river that I was fishing Taimen for. That meant that I had some competition and being me the new guy, the foreigner, coming in…. well, I needed a lot of luck competing with the native experienced fishermen.

Easy for him to say because I didn’t see any of the other fishermen catch anything. After about an hour of regretting of not getting a photo, I pulled up another snag again. Great, another stick or weed…. and then I kept pulling and I felt a head shake! FISH ON! It wasn’t a big fish but at least, I got some action! Finally! As I kept fighting the fish, I initially thought that I hooked a Chum Salmon… oh man. A Salmon, here? But as my guide holding the net looked at the fish, he said the words that sounded like music, “It’s a Taimen!” About 10-15 long seconds later, he netted the Taimen and it was over!

Yesss! The Fishing Gods have blessed me once more! I know it’s not BIG, but it was still a Taimen!

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I was very ecstatic as soon as my guide netted the fish which meant that I finally caught the targeted fish species: Japanese Taimen! It kind of looks like a Brown Trout with all the spots but not quite. I initially thought Salmon but not enough chrome color on it. The fish did look a bit weird in the water when I hooked and fought it.

Upper and middle Sarufutsu River Japan Fishing pesca en Japon Taimen big fish fly fishing fly-fish freshwater tourist best kept secret lone traveler traveling Hokkaido Northern North country island Japanese secrets style of fishin' big long fishes East Asia NE Asia Asian Rising Sun fishermen guided really fun culture outdoors environmental healthy catch release Hucho taimen Siberian taimen, Siberian giant trout, Siberian salmon threatened vulnerable endandered Salmoniformes Salmonidae

I cast and cast and cast… yet nothing for 3 days. And then finally, all that hard work paid off as I was rewarded with a Taimen. I know it’s not big but after all that work, I was blessed to be on this long, arduous journey to catch a Japanese Huchen/Taimen. I used my 10 weight Winston fly rod with an intermediate sinking line and a 16 pound saltwater leader with a green streamer. Yes, I used a saltwater leader because I was in the salt marsh area and besides, the leader worked!

Japan Fishing pesca en Japon Taimen big fish fly fishing fly-fish freshwater tourist best kept secret lone traveler traveling Hokkaido catch release huchen taimen

After about a few minutes of fighting this fish, it was time to let it go unharmed and let it get bigger. According to the Japanese fishermen, this is NOT a fish to eat as they don’t have the greatest taste in the world. It probably makes sense as these are muddy fish and even though they might be in tributaries and estuaries, they don’t actually make runs to the ocean which explains why they are not eaten but released; the fish are more valuable as a sport fish.

After several more hours of casting and casting, there was nothing to be seen, heard, felt. It looked like I was the only one that I got bites and landed fish. And that was the end of it for me going after Taimen since I had to leave early in order to move on to another location within Hokkaido to go another fish species: Whitespotted Char. This was an interesting species because I’ve gone after Char before but there was none during that time of the season (when I went fishing in Iceland)…. and again, another issue: bad weather. With lots of rain and wind, that doesn’t make a good time fishing especially for fly-fishing. Crosswinds just absolutely suck as I personally experienced the day before after catching that Taimen. So basically, the next two days I was supposed to go fishing but all of that was pretty much a complete cancellation due to the Typhoon coming in and bringing in tons of rain and wind. Not good for casting and not good for the fish that cannot see my fly especially when the rivers are completely blown out. Yeah, it sucked because I really didn’t have anything to do productive-wise when I was dead-set on hooking and landing some Char!

But that’s where my traveling and adventuring are completely different from other people whereas I can succeed or fail. For other people who travel, there is no failure. You just practically go from point A to point B to go see some stuff and then back to point A. The only restrictions are really time and money. That’s it. For me, however, I have to actually perform the task at hand – when I’m fishing, I have to catch the targeted fish species. The same goes for hunting – I have to successfully hunt the targeted species. Scuba diving does not generally targeting something but rather, I have to do everything safely and correctly so I enjoy my time underwater.

And that’s why I think Japan is a great time for fishing – it’s highly underrated and those who like a fishing challenge, then this country is for you. Many different species can be caught with a fly rod here so let the adventures continue in the future!

Contact:
http://www.troutandking.com/eng/

Categories: Asia, Hunting and Fishing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Japanese big cluster cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara

In Osaka, Japan’s third largest city (after Tokyo and Yokohama), the sights and smells of this Japanese port city are distinctly different compared to the other cities that I’ve been to. I think it’s mainly that Japan in general is far cleaner than many places that I’ve gone to before. I suppose it helps when you are on an island or islands which help in the defense of your people so back in time when Japan was not really Japan but a slew of different tribes, nations, peoples spread all across the Japanese islands, there was no combined, one group identity unifying the people together. It was only when finally one group, the Tokugawa shogunate, dominated all of Japan, uniting it under one flag banner. This helped usher in a more peaceful times where all the people could state that they are one people, Japanese, and thus could improve themselves and the infrastructure rather than scheme to outmaneuver each other in the political/military world of the Japanese islands. That’s probably why cleanliness has become part of the culture as it became part of the upbringing and lifestyle over many generations.

Japanese castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan 大坂城 or 大阪城

When you think of a castle, you might think of one with a moat around it. Well, this castle has that and it has involved in several battles during the wars to unify Japan.

Rebuilt Main Tower Osaka castle architecture japanese wars fighting

One thing to note that unfortunately, the Japanese government during World War II used this site as an armory which later got bombed and destroyed the original Osaka Castle. Fortunately, after the war, the government embarked on a rebuilding project which turned out to be a great idea as it provided some greenery to the city and a tourist destination.

And despite modernization taking over the majority of Japan, the country and its people have not forgotten their roots as their history oozes through the preservation of well-made buildings. And among the small pockets of preserved cultural history, Osaka has developed quite a bit of modernization as well.

principal tourist destinations in Osaka, Japan eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards

Dotonbori street has seen quite a bit of change over the years as people have developed their buildings more and more elaborately in a bid to bring in more customers and attention to themselves. There are quite a bit of cool restaurant signs which people happily snap away with their cameras because you won’t see this anywhere else other than in Osaka or Japan in general.

Osaka Gilco Running Man famous billboard japan osakan famous street shopping restaurants

The famous Osaka Gilco Running Man which has featured itself as the unofficial famous landmark for the Dotonbori street/canal area. It cannot be mistaken-ed nor missed with the running man with his arms up in celebration.

Osaka and Kobe are some of Japan’s busiest seaports as well as part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area which also includes Kyoto. In my opinion, Kobe did not have the cultural treasures like the other cities and there are probably several reasons behind it such as being bombed during World War II and becoming more of an industrial city, instead allowing other cities to be more of the focus of the cultural aspects as Kyoto and Osaka being the grander ones.

kobe port city famous industrial manufacturing development fun tourism attraction

Kobe is not just all industrial since being industrial also means that it provides jobs. Jobs also mean that people have money to spend so it’s important to keep the populace happy with great restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, and the like.

bamboo trees Bamboo Forest, or Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or Sagano Bamboo Forest, is a natural forest

Kyoto, however, was far different than Kobe since this city used to be the imperial seat of power – the capital until it later moved to Tokyo. As such, there are plenty of places to see such as the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or Sagano Bamboo Forest or simply the Bamboo Forest. You can just look at the people’s faces as they gaze above them to the high-rise bamboo trees.

金閣寺 Temple of the Golden Pavilion Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, literally "Deer Garden Temple"

Another one of Kyoto’s treasures is the Kinkaku-ji. Originally, a villa and later converted into a Zen temple, the place was burned down during the wars in the 1400s with the exception of the pavilion… only to be finally burned down by an ill person in the 1950s. The pavilion was re-built quickly afterwards to be one of Japan’s cultural treasures.

Golden Pavilion (金閣 Kinkaku) is a three-storey building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex

This place was far larger but I think the people wanted to keep it this way with the pavilion standing out on its own to keep the peace and serenity.

清水寺 Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺) independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site

To get to this place, one must travel uphill through a narrow street and again, uphill through a pedestrian street where there are a lot of shops and restaurants before you finally get to see the Kiyomizu-dera, a famous Buddhist temple.

temple complex buddhst pagoda kyoto japan tourism

There is quite a bit to see at this location (aside from the tons of people) so walk around and take a look because there is some great stuff to look at such as this pagoda.

Nara’s peak used to be back in the 700s when it was the Capital of Japan or at least, among the rivaling Japanese warlords and rulers until the capital moved to Kyoto. Moving the capital seemed to be a common occurrence back in time but in some ways, it has been helpful in developing the country in the long run when Japan was finally unified under one banner. But the one thing that has become an odd tourist attraction in Nara was the deer – there were deer freely roaming around in Nara’s city park!… Of course someone would probably ask me if I could shoot one, would I? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because it would be neat to say that I went hunting in Japan and no because all the deer are so small (and totally illegal!). One adult deer from there would not provide much meat like some of the bigger deer that I’ve harvested in my life.

Sika Deer in Nara Park sacred/divine status

Not the type of deer (species: Sika deer) that I am used to seeing (White-tailed deer) but it was strange to see these somewhat tamed deer walk in/around people and cars with no fear of either. Of course, they are not allowed to be hunted but they must be culled in order to keep their numbers in check which the government does… quietly.

Deer running in Nara Park deer crackers feeding

As you can see that this group of deer running… running to a group of people who bought some deer crackers which quickly get the attention of these animals. And trust me, they have no manners at all and will chase you down and even bite you to get you to feed them.

Eastern Great Temple

Once you get past the deer, you will see less and less of them as there are less and less deer cracker vendors. Also, I’m sure the local government don’t want the deer hanging out near Todai-ji, a grand Buddhist temple in Nara. The view is quite amazing and even more so when you walk in the temple.

Eastern Great Temple Buddhist temple complex world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese as Daibutsu

Inside Todai-ji is the world’s biggest bronze statue of Buddha. There are several other statues surrounding this huge Buddha statue.

Japan has a lot of cultural, architectural, and advancements that I have never seen before such as the high tech bathrooms, electronic vendors to pay for your meals, high-speed trains, the amount of respect given to clients/customers, and other oddities such as I’ve even seen a blue-and-pink hair dyed dude in punk rock clothes speak respectfully to elders and one even gave up his seat on the metro to a pregnant lady! Even Europe cannot contest the might of Japan – this is one very interesting country!

Tip: Japan is pricey particularly in its food. Some items were very expensive as they are well-known throughout the world: Kobe beef, Waygu beef, certain sushi/sashimi items, etc. So make sure you do that currency exchange rate in your head and realize that what might look cheap, really is not!

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Scuba Diving in Jeju Island

While on the island of Jeju, I already knew my other goal that I had to accomplish: scuba dive and explore the underwater sea! Of course, this attitude made a lot of people turn their heads with me as if I won the billion-dollar lottery. Most people that go to Jeju are there primarily for sightseeing and/or relaxing. That’s why they look at me weirdly as I clearly state my intention to scuba dive where there are no tourists! A huge change compared to be on the surface of Jeju Island which is crowded with people, all year-long. Time to jump in the water!

And what do I see? Well, coral like anywhere else but this coral appears to have more of a bushy, forest-like appearance.

Blue White Forestlike coral Jeju South Korea Hangook diving scuba padi

The coral looks far different from what I’ve been used to looking at. It’s kind of a nice change.

Needlefish Korea diver trained experience saltwater strait of Japan Koreanhawaii

That’s something different – looking at a small school of Needlefish swimming through. I hated catching these fish in Mexico as I would be targeting other fish species but they appear to be more cooperative.

starfish eating a dead fish scuba diving underwater photography picture taking

Now there is something that you don’t see everyday! A starfish eating a dead fish!

jeju triggerfish

This fish looked a Triggerfish but I wasn’t sure what kind of species. Asian species I suppose.

Pterois miles the devil firefish or common lionfish Korean western Pacific waters ocean

Ah yes… the Lionfish. Invasive in the Atlantic particularly in the Caribbean but they are at home in the western Pacific.

Fish everywhere around mounds

There is fish everywhere! Most novice scuba divers fail to look around so it’s important to look up, down, left, right, and back…. you never what you mean miss.

Big fish swimming around in Jeju jack

There was big fish lurking around above me that most people would have missed. They looked like Jacks or Groupers, but I couldn’t tell.

On the second day of diving, we get on a fishing boat which then drops us off in between 2 islands in this shallow part where the tides and currents collide! It seems like a weird place to go diving but it was actually quite nice. There were even ropes/lines in the water to make it easy to go up and down as well as line that went through the trench because there was some strong current going through that would have made it very difficult to make it back without holding on. They really thought this through!

Jeju water island passage for scuba diving

We’re going in there? Yes, we are. Going to drop our gear off and set it all up!

Low area for starting diving Jeju scuba divers adventure Korean strait tourism fun

And that’s what the low area looks like. Even at high tide, it doesn’t completely overwhelm this place unless there is a tsunami or typhoon incoming. It was quite fun sitting in the water during our break in-between our 2 dives. You can see me in the back looking at my friend who decided that he would rather crawl to the deep end than risk getting knocked over by the incoming waves.

Diving along the trench taking pictures island Korean strait boat cruising rocks unusual tourism water sports wetsuit requirement diver

There I am… diving along the trench looking for cool stuff to find and take pictures of.

pure waters diving Jeju Korea diving scuba diver PADI tourism fun uncommon beyond the crowd

The water was kind of murky but it was still quite clear to see while underwater. The water was not cold nor warm so 5-6 mm wetsuit was perfect for the job.

Note: It’s best to be scuba diver qualified prior to coming to Jeju because getting certified there is quite pricey and it could take a lot of time from other things that you might want to do, instead of studying to get that certification. The water in Jeju is also colder than it looks. Despite being the “Korean Hawaii,” the water is not quite THAT warm but it’s also NOT that cold either. The water to me was like being in Egypt… but even then, it’s best prior to coming to Jeju is to have scuba diving experience in colder waters as well. That way, you are not completely freaked out at the water temperature and you can simply enjoy the time spent underwater.

three yellowfish underwater in Jeju

Always be on the lookout – I saw these three Yellowtail cruising at full speed while going back to our original starting point.

Tip: It’s best to have some knowledge of Korean or at least have a friend who knows Korean because the divemaster did not speak any English at all. But then again, this apparent all across the board throughout Jeju whether you go to the market area, restaurants, fishing boats, hunting place, etc.

Tip: Rent a car – everywhere is too damn far! Even from the hotel to the dive shop was still a drive.

Contact:
http://aradive.com/

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