Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Getting my Working Holiday Visa for Japan


After spending the Summer in the Yorkshire Dales working in a hostel my time like all things soon came to an end. I had been working as a seasonal position so come November I was done and ready to travel again. I'd always wanted to live in Japan and decided now was the time.

Off to London I went with my documents for my Working Holiday Visa;
  • Passport
  • Visa application form & recent passport photo
  • My CV
  • My itinerary for my whole stay
  • My statement saying why I want to live/work in Japan
  • Proof of £2500      or       £1500 & a return ticket.
 At the Japanese Embassy it all went pretty smoothly - had it in the back of my mind that I'd missed something or forgotten to do something. I passed through the airport-like security entry, collected my ticket number and waited. Ten minutes later I was called forward and asked to present my documents to the worker at the window. He carefully read through them and proceeded to put them into a pile -  except the final piece which was kept to the side. My heart stopped.  O no, what didn't I do? Or do that I shouldn't have done? The man pointed at my bank statement and was pondering why the money hadn't gone in regularly. Ah! I then quickly explained that it was my saving account and whenever I had £1000 saved in my current account (he referred to it as my salary account) I moved it across. He looked confused for a moment before appearing to accept my reasoning and gathered my documents and shuffled to a side room. I was left standing there, have I got the visa? Do I wait? 
Shortly enough he returned and pointed at piece of paper telling me to come back in a week with precisely £16. I asked if a friend could collect on my behalf. He nodded, only if I wrote a letter of permission and signed it. And that was that, a week later and £16 down I had visa sticker with the emblem of Japan and my face allowing me to live and work in Japan!
I'm keeping a Vlog of my Ventures here.

Thursday, 6 October 2016


To Kosovo! So I walk to the bus station with Rba who is heading to Sofia. I get there to discover my bus is leaving in 30 seconds - I immediately buy my ticket, say goodbye and run out to the buses. I see it pulling out of the bay.
       "Wait!" I dive onboard and take up my seat relieved. I'm now on my way to Pristina. A few minutes later a man comes round to check the tickets. He gets to me and stares at my ticket for ages. He then asks for 5€ saying the ticket is wrong. my head a voice screams SCAM! What can I do?
I sigh and hand over 5€. A local man says I can use it on my return journey and that my ticket was wrong. Maybe the ticket booth lady thought I wouldn't make this bus so printed a ticket for the later one? I guess it didn't matter as I was on the bus. Still a part of me felt like I had Foreign Idiot on my forehead.
Alas the scenery that whizzed by in the distance was lovely as autumn was clearly beginning to take hold. Two hours later I found myself in Pristina, avoiding taxi men and walking to my hostel. It was a cool, relaxed place run by workawayers who were from all over. England, Denmark and the United States to name a few. I chilled for a while until I made friends with an Aussie woman who invited me out for a tour of the capital. She was a top level nurse and was taking some time out for herself. She had awesome dreads.

Monument of The Martyrs

Dorm from my bunk

Hanging out in the living room

European map of languages

I can't believe how cheap and trendy Pristina is. We make friends with an American girl and form a trio as we wander around. The sight seeing is swift and we end up chilling in a park on the outskirts. On the evening 7 of us go out for tea and the total cost is 12€! We order simple meals and not everyone gets a drink but still it's cheap!

One evening we go out to a club playing House music, not my choice of music but it's not bad. Everyone is allowed to smoke in the tiny club which after 2 hours of dancing I can feel my throat. As I lay in bed that night I can just smell a cloud of cigarette smoke hanging around me.

On the last day we head out to visit the Mother Teresa church as there is a view point from the roof. We take the lift up which we discover whilst in it that it only moves with a workers key - this we learn after the doors close and lock... Luckily for us, we have someone local who rings a number and speaks to someone who then speaks someone on site and within ten minutes the doors open and we're free. Our savour says he'll set the lift to go and down once allowing us to have a look from the top.
The weather is dismal but still we get a good view.

Two hours later I'm on the bus and have my 5€ ready. The exact change and this time it runs smoothly. Once back in Skopje I get the bus to the airport and stay awake till 5 am when my flight leaves. My mobile broke the first night in Skopje so I don't have anything to set as an alarm to wake me.
Mother Teresa

Protest from electric workers recently laid off
Newborn Monument

Monday, 3 October 2016


 I finally got to Macedonia! When we were driving through here back in 2014 we had to miss off both Macedonia and Kosovo as we would have had to pay 100€ total to drive through. So we decided to miss out both countries and drive down through Albania - which required a 50€ insurance fee anyway. I had a week off work so had a quick look online to find a return flight for 40£ I thought it would be rude not to.

Arriving at my hostel I met fellow travelers; Stefan a guy from Belgium who had rode here all the way on an electric pedal start bike. Rba who had been traveling for the past two years via hitchhiking, couch surfing and wild camping. We were soon joined by a Colombian called Hernando who was having a few months off to travel the Balkans.

 After wandering around the town center where statues are everywhere we headed to the little fortress which sat within walking distance. It is also known as Kale Fortress and was built in the 6th century using limestone. We found a discrete way in and also found someones backpack which I'm guessing they didn't want to lug around all day. After going in the wrong way we realised that you didn't have to pay anyway - or at least when we walked out the exit no one was sitting in the security booth.


Dinner is served

The next day we decided to get the bus to Matka canyon which was stunning! It didn't take long and the weather was perfect. We walked along the right hand side of the lake as far as the walkway let us. We didn't know what to expect but kept on walking anyway. We slipped over the barrier but the path eventually became unwalkable.

So much rubbish...
So so cold...

Realising that there were only two buses back to Skopje, one leaving in 10 minutes and another in 2 hours we began to run. I haven't sprinted like that in since an urbex gone wrong. People move out our way and watched as we dashed by. I'm red faced by the time we reach the bus stop and the bus has already left. We wanted a drink so went in search of a bar but ended up at a chilling spot for local kayakers. It also happened to be the home of a musician of a band called Karamela who was also an artist. We drank and listened to their music and were rode home with a police man friend of the musician. He spoke of his brief trip to the UK to understand how we do things and also what he saw whilst in Greece and the incoming of refugees. It was refreshing to hear his point of view.

Our last meal together was hot dogs and fried vegetables. Tomorrow we'd be going on our separate ways; Stefan back home - he was going to leave his bike here, Rba was hitching to Sofia, Hernando was continuing his tour of the Balkans and I was going to get the bus to Pristina.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

3 days in the Peak District

My days-off were mid week and I'd gained a lieu day so with my 3 days off I decided to head to the Peak District. Finishing work at 22:30 I drove to the Lady Bower Reservoir arriving there at 1 am and rolled out my sleeping bag on the dam. It was a semi peaceful sleep once I got use to the water lapping up against the dam and eventually fell asleep.

Waking early I walked to the visitor centre nearby and brushed my teeth at the toilet block before heading to Stanage Edge - climbers paradise.


I headed out in a little circular route before returning back to Stanage Edge and then down in
Hathersage for some supplies.

 View from my cave room

 Robin-hoods Cave
I was the only person staying the night and it was bliss. I perched out before bed and took a few photos whilst enjoying the view from my private spot. Lights flickered from Hathersage and Hope in the distance. I could see a the cement factory, its red lights blinking. A low mist rolled in and swirled around submerging the whole village apart from the white industrial site. It looked like a castle.
I slept amazingly well snuggled down my sleeping and bivvy bag. There had been a slight wind outside but inside the cave I was sheltered.
Next I headed over to Hope and retraced my steps to a walk I did back in 2009.

I wild camped opposite Win hill and enjoyed the sun set. It was set to rain but thankfully didn't as I only had my bivvy. The sky for the most part was clear and starry - luckily.