U.S. Virgin Islands

Our 2021 T-giving break was in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), a group of Caribbean islands and islets that are U.S. territory. It’s known for white-sand beaches, reefs and verdant hills, thus a popular vacation destination for the east coasters.

We spent a total of 8 days (3 in St. Thomas and 5 in St. John) in the USVI, and had a really good time thanks to the great beaches, hiking trails and water activities.

Unfortunately, my SD card failed during this trip and nearly all of my photos were lost and un-recoverable, so I only have very limited photos to display here. Given that, I will make this post short, and I will remember to buy a camera with dual SD card slots next time…

Trunk bay
Trunk Bay - St. John

The USVI consists of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas. A fun fact about USVI is it’s the only place under United States jurisdiction where the rule of the road is to drive on the left, however, almost all passenger vehicles are left hand drive due to imports of U.S. vehicles. This makes[...Click title to read entire post]

Takefue - a luxury ryokan in Kyushu, Japan

The happiest part of a vacation often happens way before one ever steps foot in the destination, and this is especially true with planning travel to Japan. The accommodation options are so diverse and high standard that one can’t go wrong with almost any of them, but of course, we still want to stay at the best possible one for the price we can afford. Choosing where to stay in your Japan trip becomes a challenging and delightful activity.

The hotel cherry-picking game is even harder when it comes to onsen towns in Japan. During our trip to Kyushu in early 2020, we visited Kurokawa (黒川温泉) and Yufuin (由布院), two of Japan’s most attractive hot spring towns. Both offer an abundance of unique ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) with high quality meals and gorgeous scenery, and the quality of the hot spring itself is excellent, needless to say.

Among those, Takefue (竹ふえ) stands out as the ultimate choice of our stay in the area.


The otherworldly setting

Takefue is a typical Ikenyado (一軒宿). In the Japanese ryokan world, the word Ikenyado is used to describe the type of hotels which have their own private, exclusive place. They[...Click title to read entire post]

2020 Pre-Covid Trip in Kyushu, Japan

Duration:
02/05/2020 - 02/15/2020

Destinations:
Fukuoka (福岡) - Hita (日田) - Beppu (別府) - Kitsuki (杵築) - Bungotakada (豊後高田) - Usa (宇佐) - Yufuin (由布院) - Kurokawa (黒川温泉) - Aso (阿蘇) - Takachiho (高千穂) - Hyuga (日向) - Miyazaki (宮崎) - Nichinan (日南) - Kirishima (霧島) - Kagoshima (鹿児島) - Ibusuki (指宿) - Kumamoto (熊本)


Planning

For this trip, I booked two return award tickets from Boston to Fukuoka for my wife and myself - one booked with Marriot Bonvoy points (transfered to Japanese Airlines mileage with some bonus), the other with Alaska Mileage directly. I’m not going into the details here, but booking with JAL miles directly has a few advantages, the top two being:

  • You can book multi stop tickets with the same amount of miles as just flying to Tokyo (e.g. JFK - NRT - FUK costs the same amount of miles as JFK - NRT)
  • You will have more available dates & seats for award tickets than booking with partner airlines
waterfront
JL7 Sky Suite

The business (aka Sky[...Click title to read entire post]