How's it like Homestaying in Japan

Thanks to one of our friend's recommendations, 
we met a  really nice family in Narita. 
Narita was out of our way as our return flight is from Hanaeda airport. 
Nevertheless, we decided to stay with this family host as we were keen to know about them.

Our first night arriving had surpass our expectations!
A specially architecture house with doors that looks like wall.
Meaning, once you enter the front door, you'd be confuse to find the next opening door and so as it as inside ! We sure had problem finding the door to the toilet !
We were welcomed to a ready made dinner, a super delicious sashimi dish together with homemaking takoyaki.


What's special is that i can choose to avoid the ginger and add cheese in it.
 Well, Brie cheese tako yaki, turns out to be super delicious !!
 We then continued to wonder around their ninja door house to shower and prep for sleeping time.
 Their bathroom amused us ! LiKE WOW !! THE BEST HOME BATHROOM EVER !!
It sure felt like an onsen. Even the public bathhouse aren't as nice and private as this !
 They even placed those bathsalt in it providing relaxing aroma while soaking in the hottub.
 And the night, we slept super well but to wake up in awe after we opened the windows to find out what a beautiful garden it is here !!
 And so does the living room gets to enjoy the garden view. There is so much natural sunlight into this house.

 not to foget a cute old cat who loves okonomiyaki fish flakes.
 Their toilet is automated, the seats just open up everytime we open the door and step in.
 And next to their house, we walked to their mum's house where it's all old japanese style.
 a beautiful garden with lots of fruits
 Everywhere ! From mini oranges- mikan , to Yuzu( sour orange), some melons, vegetables ... etc!
 She even dries her own chilli
 And I got to try her homemade Umeboshi. Ummmmmm~ that was yummy!!
 And then a day out visiting Narita-san temple area which was huge and super pretty !!!
 A night tasting different japanese liqour.
 And squid kimchi which turned out to taste so good !!
 Not to forget, I made Malaysian curry with salad, wasabi dressing~
 And they fried some Hotatae,SUPER DELICIOUS !!!!! I have no idea what spice was in it but it was the best ever i had with a nice BBQ taste!
 The lady was super talented and played piano so well, we even karaoke together !! Super fun !!
 And not only that, she played, Taiko drum where I got to try out as well
 And also the Koto, which is super long compared to the chinese GUZheng, the music was as well different.
 Look at the Koto music sheet !!! It's written mostly in Numbers, 1- 10 in kanji
 Lastly, another instrument she plays, the Shamisen !! Amazing talent isn't she?!!
These are the kind of people that makes us love Japan even more.. 8th time to Japan and still counting....So if you have the chance, do try homestaying with the locals and they would make your stay more memorable !!

Latest Cost of living in Norway 2016 - 2017

At last! This is the Latest, Newest Updated Version of the Cost of Living in Norway, Oslo for this year 2016 and 2017. Well, at least I hope the inflation won't rise that much. To my surprise, within these 4 years, the inflation price of goods is not that much as compared to the bubbling property prices. Seriously like i mean people whom bought property 4 years ago in Oslo are like RICH now!! Dear Norwegians, do confirm with me if this is true or not cause all my friends are complaining a lot about the increasing prices of properties in Oslo. Well, if you don't mind the rural parts of Norway with lots of beauty of the nature, the properties in outskirts aren't that expensive. All the above listed prices of goods and services as well as tax prices are researched by me in Oslo. Norway. In Oslo, Norway,  here are some experience on what I faced when I came to Oslo,Norway and knowing the Cost of living back then in Norway as a tourist was sure shocking. However, Norwegians living in Norway would not have any problems as such living in Norway is affordable based on their working income. Thus, I am slowly getting use to also not getting surprise with prices these days instead more surprise of the inflation rising in my own country Malaysia. (it's still not as expensive as Norway though)
 Meanwhile, I'd  be doing some other videos about these years what have a learnt in Norway so far. ALL About Norway is something what I am working on currently so I can help out those that are curious on the Norwegian Life, Culture and of course what to see and experience in this beautiful country, Norway.
So let me know what are you curious about of Norway living and culture, and I will try to make more videos and information regarding it. 
Recorded Location is in Oslo,Norway


Asian Trying Norwegian Candy and Chocolates

Ever wondered how Norwegian chocolate taste like?
Or are you coming to Norway and thinking of trying out Norwegian products?
Apart from the salmon, don't miss out the Norwegian chocolates as they are one of a kind !



Norwegian chocolates are one of the best souvenir to buy back !
Why? Because you can't get it as it is not a very common brand in Europe or Asia.
 I mean seriously you can never ever find Norwegian chocolates in Asia. However, the Norwegian chocolate would probably find problems to stay in shape in warm countries. The chocolate has a rich butter taste as it feels more creamy and rich in flavour as compared to the Asian chocolates. If you not a fan of sweet and fatty milky buttery chocolate, Norwegian chocolates might not be of your taste. However, I do think the various variety of Norwegian chocolates are quite interesting to try out. The among Norwegian chocolates I would be trying out is out of 2 different brands, Freia and Nidar. 

Coming from Malaysia, candy and chocolates taste different than the Norwegian candy , chocolate or confectionery products which was bought in Norway. Yes, Norway ! Cause we are in Norway and it's like impossible to find Norwegian products back in Asia. We were told that most Norwegians are proud of their chocolate ! Here are some lists of the Norwegian chocolate products that she had tried:
Nidar Smor Bruk
Nidar Chocolate Milk
Freia Mondalez Oreo Chocolate
Freia Modalez Yoghurt berry oatmeal chocolate
Extras: Nugatti tube
Sfinx Confectionery Nidar Chocolate
Freia Chocolate sauce

Special guest : Lina the cat 

XOXO
FeliciaZoe

Must checkout in Japan : Snow Monkey Hotspring Nagano

My experience visiting Snow Monkey Hotspring!

It's Snowing in Nagano 2016 already !!
Nagano was surely a place worth spending many days at. Apart from beautiful nature, winter olympic 1998,  crazy amount of hotspring towns, fruit farms and lastly the snow monkey is also one of the main reason why we spent a week just in Nagano only. 
Before deciding on visiting the Snow monkey park, we checked the weather forecast and decided to postpone visiting the snow monkey village a day later as it says that it would snow on that day itself.
Well, the weather forecast was accurate enough as we woke up to a beautiful morning with lots of snow !

*Detailed information on how to get there and prices of tickets are listed on the bottom of this blog post.

We started our journey from Yudanaka staying with a friend whom parents live in Malaysia. 
Aparently her grandmother lives in Shibu Onsen area so she fetched us in the morning to visit her grandmother ! It was surely a lovely morning looking at the snow but our local friend doesn't seem too happy about the snow. She kept reminding us, it's cold today !

We had a short visit to say Hello to her grandmother and then walked around Shibu town to take some photos as we were worried the snow would disappear later in the afternoon. 






Then we went back and her uncle drove us to the parking of Jigokudani(Snow monkey parking area)
So kind of him !! We realised the walk up to there from Shibu Onsen by the road is quite steep and dangerous !
We were amazed by the view while driving there !! It's such a lovely pastel colour blend of autumn and winter.
Well, it takes another 30min walk to the ticket entrance park and the forest walk was steep on the start but easy later on. On the way, there is a mini hotspring resort, restaurant and hotspring as well.
The ticket counter lady speaks good english. Other than that, there are signs informing not to feed the monkey or use special video equipment to get close to the monkey. There is a locker as well for those whom are worried of their bags with food.
(Ps.The monkeys are not as aggressive as compared to the ones in Asia)
*photos are copyright of Christian Bjerknes

Well, to be honest, we were expeciting fences and barriers like a zoo but it turned out to be like the Monkey park in Kyoto where you can see the monkey and be as close as to them and vice versa. The monkeys don't seem to bother human that much as at times they would just suddenly walk beside or even under you. Yea, monkey with balls.
From the ticket entrance, it's only 5min walk to the monkey hotspring area. However, you might be very excited to take photos once you see your first monkey and spend probably lots of time taking photos of them.

Are there lots of tourists? 
We came in the end of autumn and was super lucky to experience the first day of snow , for Nagano itself. However, I spoke to the monkey park forest rangers and they said the most tourists arrives in winter and Majority are from China or Caucasians. ( They pointed out they can't understand why Caucasians like to come to see hotspring monkeys so much. )
As a matter a fact, we have not seen a huge tourist bus parked at the parking centre. Most tourists were not local Japanese.

*photos are copyright of Christian Bjerknes

We spent around 2 hours in the park area as the forest ranger informed me that 12pm is when they would start feeding the monkeys.
Since I could speak Japanese, i was spending time chatting with them as they had a bonfire to keep themselves warm.

Here are some information of the monkeys which some english speaking tourists came up and asked them about and I had to help out with the translations.
Questions and answers about the Monkeys in Jigokudani (Snow Monkey Park)

How many monkeys around this park area : Around 160+ monkeys.
How old can these monnkeys live ? : Up to 25-26years old
What does the Snow Monkeys eat : Grains,(Mugi むぎ) and their favourite food is Apple !
(Interesting fact): So the Forest park dude told me, they tried to feed a snow monkey banana before but they would not understand what it is at all and totally ignored it !

Where does the monkeys sleep?
Back in the mountain area where they came from.

Is there is King Monkey ?
Yes , there is and he then pointed the King monkey out. I still have no either how he recognises that King monkey !

Is there like any boundaries for the monkeys?
No, there is no boundaries. The monnkeys are free to go whereever they want to
(Yes , that is true as the Grandmother who lives in Shibu Onsen later tells us that she gets naughty monkeys stealing her plantations and fruits. )

Are these monkeys the only type that likes hotsprings?
As far as they know, the forest rangers replies, only these type of monkeys around this area likes hotsprings. They have not heard of other monkey hotsprings in other part yet so far. These type of monkeys learnt to enjoy hotsprings from many generations ago even before Jigokudani became famous globally. Most japanese would come here to see the monkeys and then enjoy the hotsprings in Shibu / Yudanaka Hotsprings.


*photos are copyright of Christian Bjerknes
The monkeys sure look like they enjoy the hotsprings. However, do be aware that there are lots of monkey poops everywhere. However, the forest park rangers would clean them once a while. I am not sure how would it be like during winter when the grounds are full of snow. But I did realize the floor did not look that clean and I had to clean my boots when I got back.

One thing i find adorable about these monkeys are when they are in the hotsprings, they look so relax and some would be picking on another's fur or some would jump around and play. The monkey hotspring sure looks tempting on such a cold day but I can imagine some of them shitting in that pool and oh, no way i wanna soak in the hotspring with these monkeys.
*photos are copyright of Christian Bjerknes
Awwww................helping each other !
*photos are copyright of Christian Bjerknes

my Best Monkey pose.

Don't forget your umbrellas if it's snowing !!!
Here's the hotspring town in Jigokudani itself.
If you dare to have HOTSpring together with Monkeys ?

Try out 地獄谷温泉 後楽館
Korakukan Hotsprings which is outdoor and soak in with the monkeys~ ( it's located just before you enter the ticket entrance)
500Yen per hotspring entry.

Snowing on autumn colour leaves are just so beautiful !!



Well, we then later headed down back to Shibu Onsen and then enjoyed Hotspring Hopping
(9 Altogether) ! A Perfect day for a hotspring !!



How to get to Nagano?

So , if let's say you are coming from Tokyo,
the fastest option would be taking the Hokuriku Shinkansen which takes about 2 hours 45min or  driving on the highway about 3 hours plus. depending where you start. 

However, there is also a cheaper ride for only 2500 Yen for a Bus ride from Tokyo to Nagano with Willer express which would take you about a 4hours plus ride journey. 
Tips: Book the willer express bus ticket online beforehand to secure your seats and get the cheapest available price !

Well, if you are not in a rush to see the monkeys, try stop by Gunma Prefecture for some hotspring visiting in Kusharo/ Ikaho/ Shima Onsen(hotspring) Villages. 
Either way, you can choose to spend somedays in Nagano city

Now to get to Snow Monkey village,
From Nagano city, there is a train all the way to the village nearby the Snow Monkey hotspring location.
The express train takes only  38min but the local would be around 1 HOUR Journey ride up to the last stop call Yudanaka Station. 

WALK? (1hour 30min)
However, from Yudanaka it's about 2km (about 30min walk)
to Shibu Onsen Village which is the closest town to Jigokudani (aka, Snow monkey hotspring )
However, from Shibu Onsen itself, it takes about another 2km to the parking entrance of Jigokudani-
Which then also another 2km from there onwards to the reach the ticket entrance to the monkey hotspring park. 

BUS? (15min ride)
Well, if you want to skip the walking, just take the bus from Yudanaka station -Kanbayashi Onsen Bus Stop


How to Guaranteee yourself for a Perfect day to see Snow Monkeys?
Use yahoo weather forecast and check beforehand for the weather details on the day which is best to see snow monkeys. Well, of course you would want to choose the day which is snowing !
The Best season to visit : Late Autumn-Winter
(In Autumn, the monkeys fight a lot and are quite loud due to the mating season)

Well apart from that, you can also visit the Snow monkey website to view their live webcam!

Q/a: Will the monkeys go into the hotsprings often?
YES, if it is cold.  Most of the time in Summer  the monkeys will bath less in the hotsprings. 

Opening hours:
Start About9:00 End About16:00
Ticket price : 500Yen
Car parking price : 500 Yen


More infromation at 











Back from Lofoten, North Norway 2016 !

This summer holiday we decided to explore northern NORWAY !!!
It's been awhile since i last blogged with words as I had been also busy with video editing on 
YOUTUBE ! 
Do check my Youtube page out for more infos about Norway !

It's been my dream to cross the artic circle and get to mesmerise at the beauty of the northern parts of  this country. Anyways, we are flying off to Japan in few days so here's 
some short information on how we get there and I will be sharing more information on our travel later on. 

My utmost favourite photo was this shot taken on Reinebringen.
Taken with my Huawei P7 which was just stolen last week in Malaysia ! 
(URGHHH the agony of facing crime in my homeland  !!!)
Anways, it sure served me well for 1 year and Im glad that I didn't lost much precious photos.
From OSLO - LOFOTEN 
a total 15hour train ride, changing 1 time at Trondheim.
First arrival place, Bodø
Where we had a lovely day fishing by one of the strongest current (Saltstrømmen)



And then went for a BBQ by some secret beach and a nice skinny dipping :P 




 PLUS Then, again SUSHI for dinner ~ BLOATED !!
Next morning, we caught the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes.
Spending 2 nights in Å where again I dipped in the super cold river!
 Enjoyed the view

And Breakfast!

Hiking to Tinds Top


 And reached the top to find ourselves being alone. The trekking path was surely unclear and quite dangerous.



 Spotted my first Giant Kettle, aka Jettegryte in nature.
And enjoyed the HUGE MOON

Next, 3 nights in Reine was surely amazing !!!
  Great weather and mysterious mist all around only Reine area !
 And lots of SUN TOO ! Who would knew north norway can be quite warm in the sun as well !
 PS ! Reinebringen is also a dangerous hike due to their crazy loose rocks!

 AND we caught a fish which had another fish in the mouth and another digested fish in the stomach !
Dried norwegian fish monster ! Their teeth are scary !!!!!!


Thats all for now !! Now i can say i have been to a place which the name is only 1 alphabet !




Hope you enjoy the photos !
XOXO
Feliciazoe


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