Hong Kong Travel

Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Macau… except not Shanghai

Tickets back home to Michigan over Xmas were too expensive this year which meant Lindsay and I had to figure out what to do to maximize our time together over the holiday break.

To be honest I would have probably stayed in Japan and spent our modest budget visiting a new region or city or something, but Lindsay really wanted to go somewhere totally new and tickets were reasonably cheap to Shanghai, China – unfortunately the tourist visa was something like $185 USD and took a long time to process… BUT you can get a transit visa for 144 hours as long as you are flying through China somewhere else. In other words, you can’t book a trip Tokyo -> China -> Tokyo and qualify for a transit visa but you CAN book a trip Tokyo -> China -> Hong Kong -> Tokyo. So this is what we booked.

Unfortunately the flight to China was out of Narita which is not the most convenient place to fly out of. It’s a solid hour and a half from our house (sorry Corie who is flying into Narita to visit in a few days!). Double unfortunately our flight to China was a red eye. Triple unfortunately, after we got on the flight around 11:30, literally minutes before we took off three people came to our seat and told us that our flight from Shanghai -> HK was cancelled… so the flight is ready to go and we had to decide if we were going to stay on the flight and very likely not be able to stay in China OR get off the flight. We had to make a decision right then with everybody on the plane watching and the cabin lights dimmed for takeoff. Anyway, we got off the flight because I was a bit concerned we’d end up being forced to buy a super expensive last minute flight once we arrived in China to HK.

Anyway we got off the flight but we were stuck on the other side of immigration – immigration was closed. So we couldn’t just walk back into Japan, we had to sit for probably 30 minutes while the airport staff got some office staff to come out and figure out what to do with us. Eventually we got let back into Japan and made out way back home, a good 2 hours later (having spent a solid USD$100 on the last night bus). We were felling pretty bummed about our plans being completely ruined, not to mention the fact we had to eat a bunch of reservations (hotels, flights, etc), but in the end the next day with fresh eyes we booked a cheap flight to Hong Kong so we could at least use our return flight HK -> Tokyo.

Here we are trapped in immigration after it was closed. Nobody at any of the lanes, everybody went home. We sat like this for a good 30 minutes.

Hong Kong

Anyway, that thrilling story out of the way, Hong Kong. What an absolutely amazing city.


Tokyogurt: Part One – New Beginnings

This is, obviously, a bit of a different topic than my normal travel related updates, but I wanted to write in this blog a bit more often. My primary motivation is simply that I think I should write more than I do in general – too much consumption, not enough generation.

Most of my early yogurt making memories come from my Mom. She used (maybe still uses?) quart jars filled with milk and put under a towel with a heating pad (the type you use for a sore back) underneath the jars. From what I remember this always worked really well. I actually wonder now why we didn’t do this all the time, I feel like it was a “few times a year” thing.

I actually can’t remember the first time I made yogurt myself. It was probably either in college in my first apartment living with Nick and Kevin, or it might have been in Wisconsin Rapids in my first real solo-apartment. Or maybe even in Lindsay and my first apartment in Grand Rapids post-college. Honestly I don’t remember. What I do remember for sure though is maybe 6 or 7 years ago living in Chicago I got slightly more serious about making yogurt and testing out different techniques. I tried different starter cultures, different incubation methods (e.g. sous vide vs crock pot), scalded vs unscaled, different milks. Strained vs unstrained. Etc. Unfortunately I remember very little about these techniques besides I remember that there was somewhat of a fine line between straining yogurt to the point of greek yogurt vs spreadable paste.

Here is a random video I found from Chicago in which I am showing how thick this yogurt is. It’s not important.

(VERY slightly interesting aside it turns out I have a fork from this same set of silverware here in Japan:

which sort of hit me a second ago because it’s a very unexpected through-line between my life 8ish years ago and my life here in Japan. I should probably throw these forks away before they develop some sort of meaning to me or are a physical representation of my 30s or something.)

OK, back to yogurt.

I like yogurt, and I like making things. I don’t have much space at home here in Japan but I do have space to make yogurt. I think the main reason I’ve decided to experiment with yogurt making here is because in general I really like the milk in Japan. Hokkaido is known for their milk and dairy in general and there are a surprising number of options for milk and yogurt at most grocery stores.


I decided to start the yogurt journey here by attempting to ferment the yogurt under our cheap ニトリ kotatsu.

I used the entire liter of milk and about a quarter of the yogurt container (which is quite a lot), and I fermented for around 12 hours (a long time)