Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Daily Trip Recap : Day Two - A Wet Tuesday Morning In Asakusa And Kanda

First, if you wanna read the earlier posts, check them out as listed :
Day One - Touchdown
Willer Express Trip

Day 2 saw us arriving to Tokyo at 5:05am from Nagoya. The bus stopped and we disembarked in Shinjuku and after topping up our Suica/Pasmo card (click here for the post); we made our way to Asakusa. Stop : Tawaramachi Station.

Checked-in at the hotel and left our luggage there and as we can't yet enter our room, we head out again and tried to find a place for some breakfast.

Our favourite kind of breakfast! ^^
Natto breakfast set!

350yen for this set and 500yen for a set with salmon added. Both were yummy. ^^
Raimie just wanted to enjoy his natto so he got the one without the salmon but we upgraded his miso soup to a clam miso soup for another 130yen. Total paid for him : 480yen.

A good value, right?

We sure love them. :-)

We still had a few hours to kill before we can be allowed to rest in our hotel room, and it was still quite early for any shops to open, so we decided to go walk around Nakamise dori.

I was hoping that none of the souvenir shops were open because I wanted to photograph their shutters.
The shops at Nakamise dori sure has nice shutters. Their shutters served as a kind of canvas depicting traditional and important scenes and its actually quite nice to visit the area even (or I would say especially so) when the shops are closed.

We are used to viewing them at night during previous visits and I had hoped to view the whole street in daylight this time. But alas, some of the shops were already open but still, I got to see a few. ^^
It was a rainy day on Tuesday, but despite the rain, the area got bustling with visitors and tourists soon after.
There was even a shooting that morning there!

We just took a break, stood around and savour the atmosphere and people watch for a bit.
And oh yes, enjoy this too. Hehehe

Gotta love free wi-fi spots!

We later made our way to Kanda so that we could (or I could) shop for some sports gears.
Plenty of this around now.

Information about an area in English. I love them! I guess this is in line in Japan's preparation for the Olympics?

It sure feels like Tokyo is so much foreigner friendly, in terms of having access to English/Chinese/Thai/Korean speaking staff around. Can't help to notice that the sign "English menu available" are so readily seen now as opposed to say, 5 years ago?

After walking around and having bought a few items, we decided to have an early lunch.  A few minutes early, before the lunch crowd starts going.
 Udon for lunch.

At the same place that we went to the last time we visited this area. ^^
 This was what Raimie and I had for our lunch, while Zaini had the one above this photo.
Happy tummy, everyone will be in a good mood. ^^

We continued with more window shopping later, stopping at almost every single store that lined the street. Hahaha
Even the Mizuno flagship store.

When we were there, the Fujisan Marathon booth being set-up for, I guess, local runners to collect their race kit?

It was 3:00pm that we finally head back to our hotel.

We had an appointment to meet a friend later at 5:00pm and we were afraid that we might be late. We still needed to shower and change our clothes, which we wore since the night before... so I called up Minoru to tell that we were going to be late.

Sorry Minoru!

It was a matter of a quick shower for us three and heading out again for a 30-minute train trip to meet a friend (Minoru), visit a nearby famous park and had a nice delicious and intimate dinner together. ^^

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Daily Trip Recap : Day Two - Renewals

First, if you wanna read the earlier posts, check them out as listed :
Day One - Touchdown
Willer Express Trip

Anyway, what's our first order of business other than get to Tokyo from Nagoya after we arrived?

Hubby renewed his Toyoko-Inn membership card. Toyoko-Inn is a chain of budget business hotel in Japan and now even has branches overseas. We've always chosen them for cheap choice of accommodation as opposed to staying in dorms. 

International members needed to update our member card, and he did it while we stopped for an internet connection at Toyoko-Inn in Nagoya while waiting for our bus to Tokyo. ^^

Free update and a new card was issued immediately. Easy. Fuss free.
And topping up our Suica and Pasmo card, which we use primarily for our train fares. We got our Suica card through a JR East promo at Narita Airport a few years back. At that time, there was a promo of paying for it for 3,500yen and it included a ride of N'Ex train from Narita to Tokyo and 1,500yen in e-money. Pretty good value for money option. 

Since the promo didn't have a kid's Suica/JR East promo at that time, we got Raimie a Pasmo card for his use (not sure if there is similar ones now). A Kids' Pasmo card, because only then he'll get the fares charged at children's price.

By the way, if you have a Suica card, there's a way to get/redeem free postcards by using it. Details here at JR East page. We had in previous occasion redeemed quite a number of freebies with JR East. Gotta love them! Hehehe

Now, we're set to blaze through the city of Tokyo! :-)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Willer Express - Our First Ride On An Express Bus In Japan

Yup, first ride for a long trip in Japan since 2002, instead of using the extensive train network Japan has to offer, like what we always did in previous trips. I mean, we rode on buses a lot before, but not on express buses. 

That's why the rides deserved special posts and mention. ^^

Read our first day post here

Upon arriving to Nagoya Station from the airport, our first order of business was to look for the West Exit and locate the bus station where we were supposed to wait for our bus. We had reserved our bus tickets with Willer Express and travel from Nagoya to Tokyo (Shinjuku) overnight in the bus.

Sounds pretty simple but somehow we couldn't locate any bus station (we later realised why. Hahaha)

Turns out that the "station" we were looking for was just a bus stop. Upon checking later, we finally realised that we just need to look for a Bus Stop.

It's amazing how clueless we can still be despite the many trips that we had already done to Japan in the past! Hahaha
This bus stop. Huh.

We actually passed this stop earlier. Double huh.

A staff was there I guess in charge of the stops there and he actually checked with us whether we were waiting for the correct bus.

Later, when we decided it was too cold to wait (we had like almost 20 minutes to kill before the bus arrival) and was dragging our bag to the nearest Lawsons to get some drinks and snacks, the same fella motioned for us to leave our bag at the side. On the pavement. No problem.

And we did. Only in Japan.
The bus is here!
Was glad to finally board the bus.

I noticed most buses here has Ladies Seat policy which is seats reserved for  female passengers only. What a nice touch. And of course for safety too.

It's been such a long time since I rode an express bus in Malaysia, but do we have this too here, now? When I used the buses going and returning to/fro my hometown to my school/college, the annoying itchy hands of male passengers was something I wanted to avoid. Ugh.
 The Boy all excited and ready for the 7-hour bus trip to Tokyo. ^^
Sitting in our personal cocoon was really great. I can sleep with my mouth open and no one can see me! LOL

And of course, I wasn't disturbed by the light outside.

With the blankets provided, suffice to say I had a good night sleep.
 A curtain separating the driver's seat and the passengers.

There were a few rest stops made along the route but I actually couldn't be bothered to check them out but luckily Zaini did.
Maybe next time, I'll go and check them out myself. ;-)
We finally arrived to Shinjuku at 5:05am, which was way too early for anything although there were already people busy rushing to seemingly to work that early in the morning!

We decided to take a rest and a nearby McDonald's, about 100m from where our bus stopped and enjoyed a cup of coffee before heading to Asakusa to check-in at our hotel located nearby Tawaramachi Station.

We got a full day ahead of us on Tuesday and resting in the hotel room will have to come later at night. Late, at night. Busy! Busy! Busy day ahead! Hahaha

Next up : Morning jaunt around Asakusa and Kanda.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Daily Trip Recap : Day One - Touchdown!

Early Monday morning on Nov 24th, 2014; we took a cab which we had reserved through MyTeksi App (I tried calling airport limo which I've always used before but couldn't get through) at 5.30am to KLIA2.

The taxi was nice and new and the driver diligent and punctual. Good to have so early in the morning.

A nice ride to KLIA2 from our home and it cost us only RM48.00 by using the taxi metre for the ride. We got a discount of RM5.00 for using the MyTeksi App for the first time and the driver reminded us about it (kudos to the driver) so we paid only RM43.00. Compare this to the amount we paid when we return from our trip of RM78.30 by buying the taxi coupons from the airport! @.@

We arrived to KLIA2 and saw a busy, bustling airport and it was only 6.00am. This was our first time using the new KLIA2 since we don't really travel that much. ^^
We couldn't decide on breakfast and finally decided to head to Marrybrown, thinking of getting their porridge for breakfast.

Just our luck, they ran out of porridge by the time it was our turn to order so I ordered the toast set.

I know I can't expect much from airport food but seriously? Those were toast? They were cold and chewy. Probably the bread was put on the grill for three seconds and left to cool down for half an hour. Hmph.

Our flight to Nagoya was at 8:35am and upon boarding, all we look forward to was to catch some sleep and get some rest. We only managed to sleep a few hours since Friday!

I attended a company dinner on Friday and got home late while the boys did some last minute shopping for the trip. 
Saturday and Sunday saw us (yup, all three) stationed at Taman Rimba Alam manning a check point and support station (CP4) for the inaugural Putrajaya 100 Miles Ultra Marathon.
Raimie was a huge help with recording the time of arrival and departure of runners at our CP. He had fun playing "camping" too, I must say. ^^

Later on Sunday evening, we made a trip to the newly opened IOI Mall in Putrajaya and were there till closing time! Clever, huh?

In the flight, we were only up to eat as we had pre-ordered food when we booked our flights. Otherwise, it was ZZZZZZ time.
We had chicken teriyaki shortly after take-off for our brunch.
And the Uncle Chin' chicken rice for tea-time. ^^

Now I'm seriously missing what JAL offered! Beggars can't be choosers. Huhuhu

We arrived to Chubu Centrair International Airport a few minutes early than expected and getting through immigration and baggage claim was fast and painless. As one would expect from Japan. ^^
Welcome to Nagoya!

We enjoyed the free wi-fi at the airport available for a bit before catching the train to Nagoya Station because well, must read FB updates of friends and declare to everyone that we've arrived. Hahaha
Family wefie in the train! Hehehe
The train fares from the airport to Nagoya Station was 870yen for adults (one way) and half-priced for kids below 12. It took us about 30 minutes for the trip using the Meitetsu line (Nagoya Rail). Very very smooth ride to Nagoya Station, as expected. ^^

We only had a few hours in Nagoya as we had to take a midnight bus to Tokyo at 10:15pm. 

I know. I know. It is perhaps perplexing for some on why we bother to buy a ticket to Nagoya instead of choosing Narita or Haneda. I mentioned this earlier, it was simple economics. Tickets to Nagoya at the time we bought our tickets were the cheapest option and this was after counting the midnight bus fares.

Anyway, since we arrived to Nagoya late evening, there wasn't much option of stuff to do for the first day anyway... and the bus trip saves us on a night in a hotel. ^^

We got lost trying to find the location of where we were supposed to board our bus so in the end Zaini decided to look for a nearby Toyoko-Inn to use their free internet for the direction of the bus station.
Plus we had dinner at a nearby place which had almost the same modus operandi as Yayoi-Ken. 90% same. I think so lah because otherwise, it looked like a non-updated version of our favourite chain. ^^

It uses the older version of food ticket vending machine that Yayoi-ken used to have and the staff uniforms are different.
Pretty soon it was time to board our bus.

We used Willer Express for our trip from Nagoya to Tokyo (Shinjuku) and had made online reservation for it. 

I sure heaved a sigh of relief after we got on the bus and off we went to Tokyo! Time for ZZZZZZZ... Bliss, I tell you. 

Next : Midnight Express Bus special. Now Ru. Behave. Hihihi

Oh yeah... before I forgot, check out Nagoya's manhole cover!

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