New Year’s in Kyoto

Jan 1, 2017

New Year’s Eve At Fushimi Inari

Celebrating New Year’s in Kyoto and specifically at Fushimi Inari temple is very different from the western idea of ringing in new year’s. It isn’t the crowds of drunk obnoxious people, yelling as they count down into the new year like Las Vegas, for example.

Instead it is almost completely the opposite. New Year’s Eve is a time for family, traditions and  abundant blessings.

We arrived at Fushimi Inari close to midnight. The crowds were large and growing. We could see the temple in the distance and families surrounded the front of the temple.


There were street vendors lining the walkway that led to the shrine. People were selling all types of goodies, from sweet to savory.  There were strawberries dipped and hardened in a glass red candy shell, yakisoba and roasted nuts in a bag to name a few.


Fushimi Inari was packed. We heard one pop of a small firework, which definitely wasn’t from a local.

2017 has commenced! We were one of the few yelling and jumping with excitement! What a blessing it was to be welcoming in the new year in Kyoto! Hell ya!

We got sake from a convenient store, sold in a glass cup, had it heated and it was perfect. We drank under a tented area with the locals. An elderly Japanese man tried to talk to us and I desperately tried using my google translate with only a little success. Everyone was friendly having a great time conversing, eating and drinking.

New, New Year’s Traditions

It was my first time walking through the tori polls in almost complete darkness with only the dimly lit lanterns guiding the way.

We waited for the crowds to die down, then took part in the Japanese tradition of ringing bells and offering our prayers for a fruitful new year, as well as paying our respect for this amazing experience.

We shook a jar full of sticks, got a bit confused, then figured out that it basically led to a specific fortune.

Next you fold your fortune and tie it to a string that is place next to a temple.

There were also thousands and thousands of beautiful folded paper cranes hanging on the walls.

Onto Kiyomizu Temple

The  friendly locals pointed us to Kiyomizu temple to watch the first sun rise of the New Year. It is Japanese tradition to stay up and witness the sunrise on this day, so we had to do it! It was a real struggle for Villn but he did it!

We hopped in a taxi and headed there, eager to see the first sunrise of 2017.  I was too excited to be tired.

The Kiyomizu temple at night is a absolutely stunning!

The temples were literally glowing. So pretty! We walked around admiring the different shrines.

First Sunrise Of The New Year

Finally it was time to witness the first sunrise of the New Year.  We sat and waited patiently for the sun to rise. We sat facing a mountain with clouds hovering above.

When the sun rose and lit up the sky, we could feel the blessings of the new year. What an amazing experience! It was a perfect way to begin our first New Year’s together in a different country.

After witnessing out first new years sunrise, we walked around and explored more of the temples in the area.

Villn found his lucky rabbit.

Kyoto is hands down a beautiful, one of a kind place to welcome in the New Year. Filled with traditions, beauty and zen, these pictures don’t do it justice!

I would definitely recommending experiencing New Year’s in Japan, especially in Kyoto. There is something very special about witnessing and taking part in another’s culture during this time of year. It is by far my best New Year’s experience.

Need other ideas on what to do in Japan? Check out Nara, you can feed sacred deer here. If you want to watch a fun creative travel video from Hakone, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo click the link.

 Thanks for reading! Please comment below with any questions or comments -Val Pal

Glamping, Zion and Hikes

October 2017 I hope you enjoyed the Glamping, Zion and Hikes video I made!  I went for my friend Jasmin’s bachelorette celebration and it was the best bachelorette party ever! UNDER CANVAS GLAMPING This was my first time glamping and it was a memorable experience. We flew into Las Vegas, rented a van and drove …


July 2017

Our weekend getaway to Ojai was completely rejuvenating. With less than a two hour drive from Los Angeles, it is a hidden gem, filled with history, healing natural hot springs and a great eco-friendly community.  Farmers markets, hikes, Rose Valley Falls and Los Padres National Park can also be found in Ojai.

History of Ojai

Ojai was named after the Indian term meaning “Moon.” The Chumash Native Americans originally inhabited the area. Today, the community is comprised of organic farmers and people dedicated to healthy living. It is known as sacred land as well as for its crops such as oranges, olive oil and wine.

Farmers Market

They have farmers markets mainly on Sundays, which sell fresh fruits and veggies, local jam, walnut/olive oil and more. We tried their fresh sprouts, ate them raw with some hummus and chips, which was delicious!


We decided to stay at an AirBnb.  The house was beautiful, very welcoming, bright and cozy. We had a private room with a shared bathroom. Very clean and accommodating. There was also a pool, jacuzzi and tv outside on the patio, yes!

Los Padres National Park

Rose Valley Falls can be found in the Los Padres National park and is covered with lush moss. It reminded me a bit of Oneonta Gorge in Oregon. This 300-foot waterfall is located on the west end of the Topatopa Mountains of the national park. Although there wasn’t a lot of water gushing from the falls, it was still, very serene and beautiful to experience. It was a short easy hike to the falls, about 20 minutes more or less. I felt the misty water from the falls, fall onto my face and skin, which was refreshing after soaking in the hot springs.

Ecotopia Natural Hot Springs

Ecotopia natural hot springs are said to have healing powers. If you are lucky enough to find this hidden gem, be sure to explore the community sustainable gardens.  The scent of eggs filled the air, that distinct sulphur smell. This scent was much more potent than the blue lagoon in Iceland. The different pools ranged in temperature, from hot to warm.

A cold creek flowed nearby, surrounded by trees.  Dipping back and forth from the hot to the cold was both invigorating and relaxing.  At the end of the creek was a small waterfall, which provided the zen sound of running, flowing, healing water.

Also don’t be alarmed but there may be naked people at the springs as swimsuits are optional.


If you are in the area be sure to check out Hip Vegan for some delicious vegan food!

This bomb BBQ coconut bacon vegan burger was so tasty!! One of the best vegan burgers i’ve ever had!

The vegan reuben sandwich was busting with flavor despite its lack of color lol. One of the best vegan reuben sandwiches as well!

The South Indian Dal soup was also bursting with texture and flavor. This place does really good with making my taste buds dance, so good!

For dessert, this vegan vanilla ice cream affogato topped with cacao nibs was absolutely divine! So we ordered a second one, fattys! lol!  All the food that we tried here was amazing!! This doesn’t happen all the time so we were so happy this place exist! A perfect touch for Ojai!

*Be sure to check them out on Yelp or give them a call firs. I recently heard they are temporarily closed as of now.

Thanks for reading and watching, if you haven’t yet please subscribe to my blog and to my YouTube channel. Thanks for your support!


Vegan By Nature: Vegan Camp Food

Hello all! Welcome to Vegan By Nature, my first episode cooking in nature.  This vlog was filmed in the beautiful Sequoia National Forest in California. Camp food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.  Here is a vlog showing you some recipes on how to make vegan camp food. So pack your tent and don’t forget these ingredients!

Vegan Breakfast Avocado Quesadillas


  • Organic Corn Tortillas
  • Vegan Mozzarella Cheese from Trader Joe’s ( recommended because it actually melts)
  • Avocados
  • Hot sauce of choice


Heat corn tortillas on both sides, add in vegan cheese, allow to slightly melt and add in cut up avocados. Eat with hot sauce if you like.

Vegan Sausage Hash


  • Vegan Spinach Pesto Tofurky Sausage ( buy at some Ralph’s, Sprouts or Whole Foods)
  • chopped onions
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped bell peppers
  • chopped potatoes or sweet potatoes


  • Nutritional Yeast ( adds nutty flavor, can get from Sprouts or Whole Foods)
  • Vegetarian Mushroom Flavored Stir Fry Sauce (Asian Store lol)
  • Bragg Amino Acid
  • Pepper
  • Optional Squeeze of lemon


Over medium heat, cook the potatoes first ( don’t follow what we did in the video lol). When slightly soft add in garlic, onions and bell pepper. Cut up the sausage and add in.  As far as how much to add with the flavoring, we always just eyeball it.  If you that doesn’t help add less, then you can always add more. The Bragg Amino Acid is salty so just a few drops.

Amy’s Organic Vegan Chili From A Can


  • 1 can of Amy’s Vegan Chili (from Sprouts or Whole Foods)
  • Sprinkle of Vegan Mozzarella Cheese from Trader Joe’s ( or any other vegan cheese)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Optional: Chips or Bread
  • Optional: Beyond Beef ( We forgot to bring it but would have totally added it in)


Mix it all together over medium heat and eat plain or with chips or bread. Taah-Daah! Super simple and easy!

VEGAN SMORES (not featured on vlog)


  • Vegan marshmallows ( from Trader Joes or Whole Foods)  *marshmallows aren’t vegan because they contain gelatin, which is derived from collagen from various animal body parts…betcha didn’t know that huh)
  • Vegan Graham Crackers, I use S’moreables from Whole foods because they are also gluten-free, you can get any that don’t have honey
  • Vegan Dark Chocolate (Trader Joes or Whole Foods)


hMake them just like normal Smores, have fun! The Smores taste just the same, or actually even better because no animals were harmed hooray!

Hope this helps with veganizing your camping meals. Please comment below with any questions or comments and subscribe to my Youtube channel Loving and Alive

Thanks for watching and reading!

-Val Pal


A Taste of Ireland: Vegan Irish Food

Here is a vlog on some of the vegan Irish food I was able to try while in Dublin and Kilkenny.  I really enjoyed the potato cauliflower lentil cake, it was tasty and filling! The Irish coffee was a fun drink to try as well.

On this trip we definitely missed asian food.  So we were happy to find Nore Asian Street Food in Kilkenny Ireland. Sadly it isn’t featured on this vlog, I think we were too hungry to take footage LOL. They were able to veganize just about any of their dishes.  We got the vegetable curry which was packed with flavor! Hope you enjoy the video!

Please subscribe to my youtube channel!   ——> Loving and Alive Youtube Channel


Roadtrip To The Cliffs Of Moher

Hi everyone! I’m having a lot of fun editing videos and making vlogs, so here’s another one! Hope you enjoy this short video of our road trip from Kilkenny to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. It took about 3 hours one way.

The roadtrip was definitely an experience riding on the opposite side of the road! Pretty scary at times too, but all worth it! The cliffs were absolutely breathtaking!


Please click “like” and subscribe to my youtube channel for more. THANKS SO MUCH! – VAL PAL

Sneak Peak Inside The Guinness Storehouse Factory

Here is my sneak-peak vLog inside the Guinness Storehouse factory! I had a lot more fun than I imagined .The tour was very informative about the whole brewing process of Guinness and was definitely a 5 sense experience. It gave me a deeper appreciation of the traditional Irish stout beer.

If you are in Dublin, Ireland or planning a trip there, be sure to check it out!

Book your tickets in advance as it can get packed.
Sláinte! (CHEERS!)


Please comment, like and subscribe to my youtube channel


7 Ways To Avoid Travel Disasters

CONSIDER THIS SCENARIO You have been planning an international trip with your friend over the course of months and the thought of travel disasters never even crossed your mind. You both bought your plane tickets and also booked all your accommodations.  You’ve rented a car in advance too. The excitement is real! Now the both …

Vegan Bgirls at the Vegan Street Fair 2017

The Vegan Bgirls (Val Pal, Logistx, Mae Day) were thankful to be invited as VIPS to the Vegan Street Fair 2017 in North Hollywood! I hope you enjoy the video I created that captures some yummy food and us getting down for the animals. Special featuring @villnlor and @mpact_lor ENJOY! I’m having a lot of fun …