‘Kanpai!’ The cry echoed around the hotel dining room. It was the fifth ‘Kanpai!’ of the evening in our trip to Japan and it wouldn’t be the last. At this rallying cry, the Japanese equivalent of ‘Cheers!’, we all had to stand up and down a shot of sake – the clear but potent Japanese rice wine.
After emptying our glasses (which were quickly refilled) we sat down to enjoy the rest of our 15-course meal, each course a delicately crafted work of art.
We were in the fishing village of Toba, around 200 miles west of Toyko, and staying in a traditional Japanese ryokan where the bed was a rolled mat on the floor.
However the food was anything but basic: the first dish alone was the most intricate I’ve ever seen, laid out to represent a wintry scene: there was a snowy topping to represent a peasant’s hut, a ‘devil-faced carrot’ to ward off evil, pearl oyster shellfish, pine-cone shaped sea cucumber, herring wrapped with kelp, peony-shaped salmon – and that was just the first course.
Swimming near a school of dolphins, walking on a recently-erupted volcano and diving to a wreck of a World War 2 Japanese fighter plane might seem like once-in-a-lifetime holiday but if you are exploring Papua New Guinea, it is just an average morning.
[Note: this article was first published in 2014 so some details might be out of date]
I was spending 10 days travelling around Papua New Guinea, which is just 100 miles north of Queensland, Australia but 8,600 miles and halfway across the globe from the UK.
Having been previously colonised by Germany and Britain, and governed by Australia, Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975 and is now part of the Commonwealth – (driving is on the left, as in the UK and Australia) but it is also one of the most diverse and undiscovered places on the planet. People are fascinated by Papua New Guinea culture, how to travel around Papua New Guinea, what type of holiday to expect in Papua Guinea and having spent a week there, I can truly say it’s one of the most memorable place to visit – a real bucket-list destination. Continue reading Volcanoes and fire-dancing: just a typical day exploring Papua New Guinea→
News, reviews and opinions on everything to do with leisure, from hotels and holidays to food and fitness, by national newspaper journalist and author Sarah Bridge