Archive for category Travel

Japan Trip 2014: Day 2: Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari

Day 2 started with an early wakeup call at around 8am. Well mum is always early and came knocking at my door even before i started styling my hair and putting on some SPF 50.

For today, we are going to Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Having heard much about it, I decided that we must go since I missed it the last trip.

One of the must have handy Japan Travel apps to use is Hyperdia. With simple operation, I am able to gather all the available travelling options from 1 station to another. The type of train, time of departure to time of arrival, train transfer, transfer time and track & platform information.

Just 16mins away from Kyoto station by JR Sagano Line. We reached Sagaarashiyama Station at around 9.16am. We have in fact bought the 11am 1-way Sagano Scenic Train tickets at the JR office from Kansai Airport and upon arrival we decided to add on the boat ride down the stream back to the Togetsukyo Bridge  which is Arashiyama’s well known, central landmark.

Since we still have some spare time, We decided to walk over to Tenryuji Temple. Along the way, we there were some shops, cafe and beautiful house with bonsai plants. We were tempted to find a cafe to have our breakfast but they were all closed.

 

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At the serene Tenruji Temple, we bought more blessed charm.

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We stroll for awhile and even bought soya ice cream.

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Slow stroll and ppl watching….what a nice morning.

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Over at the Arashimaya Station, preparation were in progress for an Ume wine festival.

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At 11pm sharp we were back at the Sagano Scenic train station waiting for our romantic touristy train ride.

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Mum was mesmerised by the beautiful famous Hozugawa River (保津川).

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And we will be like these ppl when we take the boat ride later.

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Stopping at  Torokko Kameoka Station, the terminal station of the sightseeing train. With beautiful padi fields and mountain views.

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From here, we transfer via taxi to the boat terminal.

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By now we were famished so Sebas offered to buy some yummy snacks for us.
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The boat ride took slightly more than 1 hr along the Hozugawa River. We were accompanied by 3 boatmen with each of them taking turns to row the boat while another as tour guide with the 3rd steering.

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Along the way, we saw interesting rocks formation, animals and waved to passing trains.

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It was a scorching hot day so after riding a 12 noon boat ride, we were totally exhausted and dehydrated. It ws such an unbearable sight looking at these ppl eating their ice cream near Togetsukyo Bridge. In the end, we stop by a family restaurant near the river for lunch before heading back to the train station to go to our next destination. In my original plan, we were suppose to be heading to the bamboo forest but looking at all the tired souls, I decided to give it a miss.

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After lunch we went to the nearby shops to buy some famous green tea snack before catching the next train back to Kyoto station. Thinking mum will be too tired to carry on, I was prepared to bring her back to the hotel before the rest if us continue to Fushimi Inari Shrine, a shinto shrine and famous for the thousands of Torii gates trail behind the temple. To complete the torii trails up to the mountain and back will take at least 3 hrs.

 

Well, mum was so sporting and decided to carry on the journey with the boys. So from Sagaarashiyama Station, we tool the 16mins train ride back to Kyoto station, change to JR Nara Line to Tofukuji station and finally change to Keihan Main/Nakanoshima Local to Fushiminari Station. From the train station we followed the crowds and walked for about 5 mins before reaching the Shrine.

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Before tracking the torii trails, we offer our prayers for good luck and health. Took lots of pics as the bring red colours look exceptionally good on pictures.

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Bro brought his fav canon and iphone while I used my Olympus Pen and Samsung Andriod phone.

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Like a marathon event, this is the starting point.

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These torii gates was also featured in the scene from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. I was so glad to capture a beautiful lady in kimono at the torri gate trails.

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Since mum and bro can’t really walk for too long, we decided to stop at the 1/3 mark where there is a small pond and after some rest, backtracked to the bottom of the hill.

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Back to the temple area, I took a pic with mum looking like a super model. hehhehe
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On our way back to the hotel, bro suggested going back to Shijo area as he wanted to check out Burberry Black Label. The train stop at Pontocho area. As we walk across to Takashimaya we saw lots of ppl enjoying their evening leisurely along the river. I really wish I could be like them but I have some shopping to do before all the shop close at 8pm.

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Finally, its dinner time.

We had a fulfilling day around Kyoto so we need a fulfilling meal too. And I have to say we had the most awesome yakitori ever at the Kintetsu mall. The crispy chicken skin is to-die-for….. it is soooo good that we even order a 2nd round. So if you are round the corner do go try:

孫兵衛
Japan
〒600-8215 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, 31−1
近鉄京都駅 1F
+81 75-661-8505

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Afrer dinner, we comb the family mart n 7 11 yet again.

Look at our supper loots. I must say I am totally addicted to the pineapple beer.

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Japan Trip 2014: Day 1: Kansai to Kyoto

Yes, we finally touched down at Kansai at 7.15am.

Immigration clearance at Kansai Airport was a breeze. We took less than 40mins to clear thru n only then did we realized we were way too early to collect our b mobile sim card from the post office at 9am. So we took the opportunity to walk around the airport shopping mall.
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At 9am sharp, we hit the post office n collected our b mobile sim card, went to the travel desk to buy our 1 day Amazing Osaka day pass and the JR office to purchase the Haraku (JR airport train transfer) & Icoca (equivalent to our ez link card)
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After getting the rail tickets, we quickly hop on the next available Haruka train to Kyoto.

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(this was taken at Kyoto station but the train in this pic is not the Haraku Train)

Reached Kyoto station around 11.31am and walk across to our hotel, New Miyako Hotel opposite Kyoto station.

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Front desk informed us that check-in can only b done at 3pm so we decided to have lunch at the Kintetsu mall to fill our stomach. After walking around, we settle for this ramen store with lots of spring onionsssss.
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After lunch, we walk around Porta shopping mall n Isetan basement food mall which is a food heaven. Well actually all the big department store’s basements are food heaven in Japan. The greedy us bought some fresh sashimi n some really expensive honeydew n strawberries.

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At 3pm sharp we checked into our hotel rooms. Facing the hotel’s church, our rooms are abit small but comfortable.

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After some rest and a change of clothings, we decided its time to lay our hands on stuff the sashimi n fruits bought from isetan. The sashimi was awesome but not the fruits which is too ripe. Honey dew is way too sweet n strawberries were abit sour.

At 5pm we finally get out of the room to explore some of Kyoto. We took the subway n head for Shijo the shopping area near Gion.
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Probably due to the red eye flight and with little rest, everyone seems to be dragging their feet while following me. Passby quite a few big malls… Daimaru, IOIO, Takashimaya but we are all still not in the mood to shop.

Went into starbuck to buy some drip coffee which my colleague love.
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The lovely part of traveling is sometimes you never knew what the next turn will bring you to. And true enough we realized that we are at Nishiki Market which we originally intend to go on another day.
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Although touristy, its a fabulous place to stock up those yummy snacks n seasoned goodies.
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We chanced upon a store that sell grapefruit juice mix with alcohol and served drink directly from the fruit with a straw.

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Next to Nikishi Market is 錦天满宫where we bought some blessed lucky charm and immersing
ourselves in the Japanese temple culture.
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As we continue to stroll down the street towards Gion, I can sense the tiredness of the group and decided to start looking for a place for dinner at the famous restaurant street Pontocho (先斗町, Pontochō).
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Walking down Pontocho we finally decided to go for slightly cheaper Kyoto Tofu cusine restaurant such still cost around $50 per person.

The food was interesting but probably not to my liking well cos I dun really healthy food. …bland.

After dinner, we stroll over to IOIO to shop abit, had some drinks n dessert before heading back to hotel.

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Back at Kyoto station, the greedy us although very full still went over to the Mcd, family mart n 7 11 to buy MORE supper.

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and all these on our day 1……

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Japan Trip 2014: Day 0: Singapore to Kansai via KLIA

Its D day n we are all so ready to go.  Flight time is around 9.15pm n we will b transiting thru KLIA before touching down at Osaka Kansai Airport at around 8am.
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The services experienced on Malaysia Airline was only passable…..unfortunately. Their service used to b much friendlier n pleasant but in this trip we hardly felt any friendliness anymore. At times we felt like they are the zoo keepers while we are the animals. Well I have to clarify that they wasn’t rude but its just a feeling that got from them.

As usual, I hardly get any sleep on flight n during which I also hardly see flight attendant going their rounds with hydrating liquid.

Thirsty? very!. .. … lucky I am used to keep some drinking water around after meal service.

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Japan Trip 2014: 22 May – 1 Jun 2014

After months of planning, we finally embark on our 2014 Japan Trip. This is the first time my mum n bro set foot on Japan soil. Considering both aren’t avid travellers, I have been warned to go on a slower pace n a less tiring itinerary instead my usual fast paced, see, do n eat as much as possible trip.

Here is a summary of the places we had covered during this trip with links to the little things we did on each day:

22 May 2014 – Day 0: Singapore Changi Airport to Osaka Kansai Airport (transit at Kuala Lumpur)

23 May 2014 – Day 1: Osaka Kansai Airport and Kyoto

24 May 2014 – Day2: Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari

25 May 2014 – Day 3: Local Day Tour 1: Kyoto and Nara Day Trip by Japanican (pending update)

26 May 2014 – Day 4: Kyoto to Osaka (pending update)

27 May 2014 – Day 5: Shiga Ryuo Mitsui Outlet Mall (pending update)

28 May 2014 – Day 6: Local Day Tour 2: Early Summer Mystery Tour by Yokoso Japan (pending update)

29 May 2014 – Day 7: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (pending update)

30 May 2014 – Day 8: Kobe-Sando Outlet Mall (pending update)

31 May 2014 – Day 9: Osaka City Tour using Amazing Osaka 1 Day Pass (pending update)

1 Jun 2014 – Day 10: Osaka Kansai Airport to Singapore Changi Airport (transit at Kuala Lumpur) (pending update)

Overall, this was an awesome trip. I hope to go back Japan soon.

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Kyoto Golden Pavilion Gold Flakes Matcha

Some 5 yrs back during my first Kyoto Trip, i happened to chance upon this awesome gold flakes matcha from one of the stall at the Golden Pavilion Temple.

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So during my recent trip I lugged back 5 pcks of these for my friends n I (if only I have more luggage space).

These matcha are in powder form and cost 1080 yen (abt Sgd $13.50) per pk.

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Its easy to brew using either hot, warm or cold water.  The tea is kind of sweeter than normal but it is perfect for  me.

I tried brewing using hot water n it taste awesome.

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I also made matcha latte with some Meiji milk. It kind of dilute the sweetness quite abit

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whichever why …I am so glad I can enjoy my lovely mini Japan Hours in my little Singapore home.

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3 Nights Best of Malaysia Royal Carribean Cruise

This is my first time taking a cruise and I am defintely going back for more. The experience is extremely good especially when I am travelling with my best travel kakis Sebas, Chloe and Jay on board Legend of the Sea.

Food is plenty on board. From snacks, teabreak, buffets to fine dinning. What we had was the ultimate high-life dinning experience for a 3 nights cruise.

During the 3days onboard, lots of activities were lined-up (both paid and free) for passengers. There are games, sports, chillout, gambling, shows, movies, swimming, jacuzzi, etc.  

The room, although small but is neat and tidy. Room attendant is attentive and make-up the room twice everyday.

After checking-in our baggage at level 1 Harbourfront Cruise Centre, we went to the 2nd level to check-in. We were given a blue card called The Sea Pass. This is a very important card throughout our cruise vacation.  What can we do with our seapass?

  • check our identity each time we board and leave the vessel
  • gain access to cabin/room (aka stateroom),
  • as a form of identification
  • make onboard purchases
  • withdraw cash for onboard gambling

The card is linked to electronic data, including the guest’s photograph to assist with onboard activities such as verifying the guest’s identity when they leave and return to the ship. Therefore, we have to be very careful and always check if we had misplaced our Sea Pass else we might be surprised shocked with a huge unknown bill (in USD) to settle when we check out on the last day of the cruise.

Everyday, we were given an itinerary that states all the activites and meal time for the next day. Additional copies can be found at the Purser Counter. This is the counter where passengers who choose to pay all the additional charges (wines, beers, fresh juices, spa, etc) onboard by cash will go to settle their bills on the last day of the trip.

There are plenty of facilities onboard to explore as well. In the morning, we can jog round the track on deck 10, use the gym, do a morning swim or  pay  USD$12 to attend a yoga class. During the day, we can soak in the nice jacuzzi pool,  go for a swim (indoor and outdoor), do  rock climbing, play a game of mini golf or just enjoy the nice breeze. There are also dance classes, mini table tennis/galf/rockclimbing tournaments

For those who less active, there are also plenty of  other activities available. Once the ship is out in the open sea, DFS shopping is all ready for passengers onboard and of course the Casino. There are also scheduled Bingo sessions each day but each games sets us off by USD$23.

And if gambling is not your cup of tea, there are also karaoke (karaoke at schedule time in the lounge is free but private karaoke rooms are charged by the hour), movie, sauna, talks on anti-aging/fitness or chillout at various location where there are live singing.

There is also a library and a game room. We did see a group of passenges playing mah jong but not exactly sure if they had bring their own mahjong set on board.

Basically, there plenty of activites for the young, old, active and not-so-active passengers.

Dining is another wonderful experience onboard (if you are someone who appreciate food and wine & dine experience). From buffet dinning in Windjammer Restaurant to fine dinning in Romeo and Juliet Restaurant (no tanktop, singlets, shorts, slippers in fine dinning restaurant). We were required to dressup for the 1st night (formal dressing for 1st night and casual dressing for subsequent nights) and it was a fun experience all together. In the end, we decided to dine in the Romeo and Juliet Restaurant every night.  

After our night activities (typically Casino gambling followed by chilling out at the piano bar) we will head for the Solarium for our night supper. I simply love the french fries. Crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside. 

While on board, we also check out the various landtour packages that the ship docks. For Penang, the port is nearer to the city and we were daring enough  choose to explore the city on foot but with the limited time and the ultra hot weather, we quite regretted our decision.

Over at Port Kelang, we were quite worried about the transport to the city as friends informed us that it takes almost 2 hrs by taxi to the Kuala Lumpur (KL) city. In the end we decided not to take the risk and bought the land transport from Port Kelang to KL Bukit Bintan Lot 10 shopping centre at USD$39. With the limited time, we manage to comb through part of Bukit Bintang from The Pavilion to Lot 10.   

Overall, the experience on board is better than those on land. With all my kakis ever so willing to accomodate each other’s request and going crazy playing Blongo, Table Tennis, taking carzy photo pose, etc. I am sure we will be doing another cruise soon and with the same kakis and a few others as well.

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Yo Its Cruise Day…Thanks to Reebonz’s Royal Carribean Cruise Promotion

Could hardly hide my excitement.

First time on a cruise and I think its gonna be fun.

Fine dining, buffets, shows, casino, spa, hanging by the pools, babes and dudes, land tour in Penang, shopping in KL.

And thanks to Royal Carribean, we gonna stay in the upgraded superior stateroom. If only its the oceanview ones…..but I shall not be too greedy.

Ciao…..

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