Japan is famous for Buddhism and tofu but it’s definitely not the best destination for vegetarians. When we arrived in the country, I very quickly felt frustrated that I was missing out on Japanese specialties. It happened several times that my lunch ended up being a slice of cake because that was the only thing without meat on the menu and I might surprise you but even I, sometimes, need more than sweets!
If you have read this blog before, you might remember that we didn’t exactly fall in love with Hong Kong. After a month in Japan, where the streets are clean and people are kind and helpful (even though they don’t speak English), we ended up in the crowded and dirty streets of Wan Chai where I felt uncomfortable and stared at. It wasn’t our favourite destination but we would still encourage other travellers to go and experience it by themselves. Although we met people who share our point of view about the city, a lot of people actually love it there and expats are countless.
When we started planning our long full-time trip through Hawaii and Asia, China was on our list. But after some quick research, we realised that getting visas as American and French citizens was going to be a hassle. Not only were we supposed to apply in our respective countries, but my visa would be valid only if I entered the country less than 3 months after applying. We couldn’t make it work with our other prior plans to visit Hawaii and Japan.
We arrived in Sri Lanka without knowing much about the food there except for the idea that I should be ok as a vegetarian. Well, it is absolutely not difficult to be a vegetarian in Sri Lanka. Unlike in other countries, I didn’t have to spend time researching vegetarian restaurants in the areas we visited, if such restaurants even exist. I knew for sure there would be several meat-free options wherever we would go. The country is actually so vegetarian friendly that when we took a cooking class in Ella, we were surprised to see that all dishes were vegetarian by default.
Japan was probably the country that surprised me the most because I simply didn’t expect to like it that much. Big cities, busy streets and others, Tokyo above all has everything I would usually want to stay away from. Very quickly, I was won over by the Japanese culture and people’s kindness and these aspects became enjoyable and fun to experience.
Galle is mainly famous for its fortified old town, symbol for the colonial era. The fort was first built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and reinforced in the 17th and 18th centuries when the Dutch took over. Today, it is considered a bridge between European and Asian cultures and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Who wouldn’t agree that food is one of the best ways to discover a new culture? I’m French and a vegetarian, which usually don’t go together at all. Luckily for me, other countries are more open to vegetarianism than my own, like South-East Asia. Once we found out that our diets restrictions were no obstacles, we took cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Ella, Sri Lanka. In Vietnam, no cooking class but we had the amazing last-minute opportunity to take a food tour in Hanoi the night before leaving the country.
These days, I’ve been nostalgic of our travels through Japan and I’ve been thinking about the pretty city of Kyoto a lot. It was the first Japanese city we visited and it didn’t take long for us both to fall in love with it. We were lucky enough to arrive just before the end of the cherry blossom season which gives the town some magical tone. We were also especially struck by how kind people were with us. It happened more than once that locals came to help us when we were lost (in public transportation among others!) although they didn’t speak a word of English.