Pasyal Japan: Wrapping Up

Day 1 Part 1 | Day 1 Par 2 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Expenses

IMG_2676I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m glad and thankful that this trip pushed through despite my friend and I’s hesitation around 2 weeks prior this trip. I came back inspired and  more hopeful for my own country, which is also timely because we have newly elected government officials.

Here are some things that amazed me during our trip:

  • Their transport system is so efficient. There’s no fear in getting lost because for sure, you’ll be able to find your way back because all train lines are connected at some point.
  • Their urban planners are good. Aerial view pa lang, maayos na ang pagkakalatag.
  • A friend who worked in Japan before said that the Japanese are hard workers. I have witnessed that personally. They do their work with pride, passion and ensuring that they deliver with quality. Even with the train cleaners, I did not sense any feeling of “ay train cleaner lang ako”.
  • They are disciplined. Imagine Shibuya crossing. It’s a big intersection but there are no overpasses because everyone just follow the traffic rules. I only saw overpasses in highways. They alight and board only at bus stops. The buses stop only at bus stops. There are seats designated for elders and no one seats there unless s/he’s an elder. One time we did not notice the signage and an elder was strangely looking at us. We realized maybe it was because we were seated at their allotted seat! We stood up right away just to be sure hehe. Buti na lang malapit na kami sa bus stop. Sana ganito rin sa Pinas.
  • They take advantage of technology for efficiency.
  • Their attention to the tiniest detail is impressive. Signage in every possible place, baskets where you can place your bags in restaurants, plate especially designed for buffet where it is compartmentalized into small bowls so that food won’t mix up, and the list goes on and on and on.
  • Their toilets with all those buttons! I want one of those for my own toilet! Heated seat please!
  • Their parks are really huge and well maintained. Summer na don but all plants are vibrant green pa rin!

I would still like to go back to Japan and experience the other seasons naman. If maganda ngayong summer, I’m sure mas maganda pa sa ibang seasons.

This ends my Japan series of stories. Hope to have another series about Japan in the coming years or even decades if that’s how long it will take me to save up for another Japan trip hehe.

Thank you, Father God, especially for your generous provisions for this trip. I am forever grateful.

Pasyal Japan Day 7: Thank you, Japan. Hello Manila.

Day 1 Part 1 | Day 1 Part 2 | Day 3 | Day 4Day 5Day 6

Our last day was all about finding enough energy to pull our luggage in all the train stations to get to the airport hehehe. Our flight was still at 12:50 PM but we left for the airport early, just to be sure. And good thing we did. My friend needed to refund the remaining load of her ICOA card and the line was long. She was done after about 40 minutes. That left us with just enough time to check in, and drop by Duty Free.

I had no choice but to buy goodies at Duty Free. Nag-inarte kasi ako when I had the chance hahaha. You see, while we were in Tokyo, we went to a store that sells cheaper green tea kitkat. But since we will still be going to Kyoto, then Osaka, and I didn’t want to add weight to my luggage just yet, I decided to just buy in Osaka. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything na in Osaka, or at least at the places we went to. So ayun, napamahal ako sa Duty Free. As in a very expensive lesson hehehe. But it’s ok as I was able to buy Royce for a cheaper price than in Manila! Masadong mahal yung nandito, about twice the price siguro. Kaloka di ba?

Di ba that week, there was a typhoon in Pinas. Medyo may turbulence when we were in the air na. But it was just mild naman.

Our flight landed in Terminal 1. The most that I dislike every time I’m at our Manila airports are the over expensive taxi services! Langya lang kasi talaga eh. So prior our flight to Japan, I asked one Uber driver if they are already allowed in the airports. Yes, they are. So I just booked for Uber para less hassle and headache.

Pictures.

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Kansai airport. So busy.

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So efficient.

To be continued. Yes, there’s more :).

Japan Trip Expenses

Pasyal Japan Day 6: The Rest of Osaka

Day 1 Part 1 | Day 1 Part 2 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4Day 5

*** Text was written at the airport while waiting for our flight back to Manila. ***

Day 6: July 9, 2016

Our target return date was July 9 but there were no cheap flights when we were booking. What we got as return flight was July 10 via Jetstar.

And so, we had to transfer to A La Maison for our last night. This is a guest house na. We got a room with the typical Japanese toilet bowl and common shower. I think it was expensive though. We paid Y6,990.00 for just 1 night. The hotels we’ve booked in advance had almost the same rate. So better to book as early as you can for hotels din so that it would be cheaper.

Anyway, since it was still early for check in, we just dropped our luggage at the guesthouse and went out again to visit Osaka Castle. That was walking distance from the guesthouse according to the staff. Totoo naman din. Isang mahabang lakaran. I don’t mind walking naman. Kaso I can’t over walk din dahil takot akong magka-plantar fasciitis uli. I have a history of that because of too much walking. Pero since kailangan, go lang ng go. Last day of gala na. Kailangan sulitin. So picture picture lang uli. There’s an entrance fee if you want to go near the castle. Pass na kami. Ok na kami sa view from below hehe. Nag takoyaki na lang uli kami. Good thing we did because it was another long walk to the JR train station that will bring us to Osaka loop. Target namin always ang JR train para libre  since we had our JR pass. Mahal din kasi if magbabayad lagi kada sakay ng train.

From the castle, we went to Osaka Loop for late lunch. We tried one of the buffet restaurants. I had cheese cake to my heart’s content hehehe. Bahala na kung kumulo ang tyan. Buti na lang hindi naman hehehehe.

After lunch, we wanted to check out the Umeda Sky Building. But after learning that we still need to walk a considerable distance, we just checked it out from afar. Hehe. Mga tamad at pagod na kasi.

There was nothing more to do so we decided to go back to the guesthouse so that we can pack and rest early…or so we thought…

We asked a couple at the train if that passess by Morinomiya. He said yes, but also said that it would be much faster if we take the train in the other platform (or at least that’s what we understood)…and so we did. We are supposed to reach our destination after about 2 stops. However, after several stops, no Morinomiya. We are not also familiar with the train stops we passed by so far. So we thought, ok, we’ll just have a joyride. Anyway, the train will go back. So joyride it is. My friend slept, I watched the places we passed by. We were going away from the city. After about 45 minutes, my friend woke up.

Friend: San na tayo?
Me: Lucena na.

Hehehehe.

After 15 more minutes, I thought I heard the train operator announced that the train will be uncoupling and one goes to Kansai airport and the other goes straight to another destination. All bound for Kansai airport should be in cars 1-4. We were at car 7. I told my friend let’s just transfer to car 4. If we were lost, at least dapat sa airport man lang kami makakarating di ba? Hehehe. However, the door to the car 6 was already locked. Patay. Medyo panic na. Good thing a staff saw us. We got out of the train and he showed us how we would be able to get back to our destination.

So what happened? We were at the right train naman. However, malay ba namin that we should get off at one station and transfer to another train to get to our final destination hehehehe. Syempre wala yun don sa sinabi ni tatay na napagtanungan namin. Malay ba nyang di namin alam na ganon dapat. At malay rin ba naming kailangan palang maglipat ng train makarating lang sa Morinomiya hahaha! Tapos pagdating pa sa Morinomiya, di pa rin namin makuha yung correct exit, and correct left turn going to our inn. In short, ang dami naming ligaw this day, kung kailan last day na namin. Kaloka lang hehehe.

Anyway, after a very long joyride, we were back at the guest house.

Pictures!

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At the moat. This is still far from the castle.

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Entrance to the humongous castle compound.

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Osaka Castle from below.

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We walked through this park on our way to the train station.

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Ganda! We saw joggers and others doing some exercises. I wish we can have more beautiful parks like this in Pinas.

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Umeda Sky Building

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Osaka station! So modern and so big!

To be continued.

Day 7

Pasyal Japan Day 5: Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan!

Day 1 Part 1 | Day 1 Part 2 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

*** Text was written at the airport while waiting for our flight back to Manila. ***

Day 5: July 8, 2016

We spent all our free time at USJ! Specifically, we spent it at the Harry Potter attraction. My friend is an HP fan so we stayed there the longest. Tiniis naming pumila for more than 2 hours para lang mapasok yung castle and ma-experience yung 4D ride. Sulit naman kahit saglit lang. May tinitinda ring magical wand. My friend bought one and there were 6 activities where you can experience magic with the use of the wand you bought. Enjoy.

We had late lunch inside the HP attraction too. May touching experience kami dito. We paid our orders and we didn’t realize that the cashier punched 2 for 1 of the meals. We only learned about it when the servers served the food. We asked if they can cancel it and if we can get a refund. They allowed it and they were even the ones who went to the cashier for our refund. They were apologetic about it to think that it was our mistake since we did not double check before we paid. Customer service at its finest.

We also tried the Spider-Man ride. 3D lang sya hehe.

It was past 7 PM when we left USJ. We dropped by the mall next to USJ and ate takoyaki. Yun na rin dinner namin.

End of day 5.

Pictures!

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Entrance to USJ!

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Obligatory pic by the revolving globe 🙂

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Panoramic view upon entering.

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Cuties! 😀

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Hello there from Hello Kitty Cafe! 😀

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Entrance to the Harry Potter attraction. Still a long walk from here!

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And here we are!

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Panoramic view inside.

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Ummm…I was really trying to capture the one inside…kaso gusto nyang sumama sa picture eh hahaha :p

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Wizarding Equipment!

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Hogwarts Castle

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The castle and its reflection

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At my castle…I mean picture taking at the castle

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Me, my castle and its reflection 🙂

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Butterbeer!

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Wands of the cast! Can you see Harry Potter’s? 🙂

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Abrakadabra!

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Happiness Cafe

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Mr. Spidey!

To be continued.

Day 6

Pasyal Japan Day 4: More of Kyoto and off to Osaka

Day 1 Part 1 | Day 1 Part 2 | Day 2 | Day 3

*** Text was written at the airport while waiting for our flight back to Manila. ***

Day 4: July 7, 2016

Today, I woke up not feeling well! Kamusta naman yun. Maybe it was due to lack of sleep and tiredness na rin.

We were bound for Osaka in the afternoon so we checked out early and just left our luggage at the hotel lobby and picked it up later.

First stop this day was the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This was one of the shooting locations of Memoirs of a Geisha if I’m not mistaken. Picture picture, especially at the Orange tunnel. As in tyagaan sa paghintay until mawala ang tao just to get the perfect shot. More about the shrine here.

From the shrine, we went to Philosopher’s Walk. Ang hirap namin nahanap itong place na ito. Di namin masaktuhan yung talagang babaan. Nahanap naman namin after going back and forth at least 3 times. Ubusan ng load ng Suica hehehe. At literal na walk ang gagawin mo sa kahabaan nung area.   There is a walkway along the creek. Yun lang yung susundan mo. There are also shops selling souvenirs. Based on one of the posters in one shop, mas maganda itsura or mas dinadayo yung park during winter and cherry blossoms season.

Medyo mahaba naman nilakad namin before going back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. Medyo nawala kami sa bus stop din hahaha. Namali kami ng bus number na sinakyan. But again, since ok din ang bus transport system nila, nakabalik din kami sa hotel. We just took our luggage, and rode the bus going to Kyoto station. We rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) going to Osaka. We reserved seats at the JR office para sure na may upuan.

I thought it would be an hour ride pero yung tipong kaka-settle pa lang namin sa upuan at matutulog pa sana, ayun nasa Shin-Osaka station na kami. That was around 20 minutes travel time. Ang bilis!

It was already night time when we arrived in Osaka so diretso check in na kami sa Hotel Mystays pa rin. We booked all our hotels in advance.

Late lunch rin kami this day kaya wala na rin dinner. Mas gusto na namin magrest ng maaga. And at the end of this day, mas malala na sipon ko hahaha.

Pictures!

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Panoramic view of the shrine

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Bigger orange posts

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Blocks of wood where one can write their wishes and prayers

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Posing by the orange posts. We stayed here the longest just to get a shot without people.

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Kyoto Tower at the Kyoto Station

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Map of the Philosopher’s Walk

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It’s literally a path where you can enjoy your walk under these trees. Imagine if it were winter or Cherry blossoms or even Autumn!

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Dropping by this small place and we found out that it’s a cafe

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Another part of the area

To be continued.

Day 5

2016 Week 29 Recap: Back to the Real World

July 11-17, 2016

keepcalmdeployWork

I am so excited! We started deploying some of the components this week. While it will be busy until we complete everything and ensure that there will be no more issues, I am so happy to finally see this project in its completion stage. Hopefully, there will only be few issues. This implementation will affect around 15K PH employees so it’s a little intimidating but I know we’ve all done our best to minimize whatever risks there are. I am confident that all issues will be addressed as quickly as we can. Kaka-excite talaga! 🙂

Travel

I have started posting my Japan stories. I have most of the narratives completed, as I started writing all about it at the airport while waiting for my friend to refund her ICOCA card (OSAKA IC card). However, I wanted to post with pictures in it and it’s taking me longer to sort out/select the pictures hehehehe. Anyway, I’ll get there. Matatapos ko rin i-post lahat.

Speaking of travel, another friend is requesting for travel to a beautiful beach daw. Stressed si ateng. Gusto mag-out of town. Hopefully, we can find a reasonably priced place that’s near Manila.

Savings and Investments

I’m thankful that the Japan trip is over. While it’s exciting to always travel, I would like to pause for a while. I’d like to focus on building up my savings. I’d like to reach my first million in cash and investments, excluding real estate :). Opo, sa tanda kong ito, wala pa akong isang milyon in cash. Napunta lahat sa ibang bagay pero hindi naman lahat nilustay.

Weekend

I missed malling so I met with my friend yesterday for dinner and to hand her the Japan goodies for her. We met in Glorietta. We went to SM Makati after. I saw that Loreal still has their free hair color application when you buy their hair color. I wanted to avail of it so earlier today, I went back. Unfortunately, I have my hair rebonded last May and they have strict rules that they won’t color if rebond session is less than 3 months. So better be safe than sorry hehe. I’ll just go back in August. So another malling session for us. She met up with me again because she’s supposed to see my new hair color pero dahil di natuloy, ikot ikot na lang hehehe.

Ahhh, I was also looking for a blouse that I can pair with the skirt I bought around 2 months ago. I am attending a wedding next week and the theme is rock and roll, so casual ang peg. However, medyo kupas na ang mga blouses na meron ako na pwedeng i-terno don sa skirt so I decided to look around. Nakahanap naman ako, and more hehehehe. I was able to buy a dress na parang sinukat lang para sa akin. Di ko na pinakawalan. Bihira kasing mangyari yun sa laki kong ‘to. Ok rin sya with Chucks so ito na lang isusuot ko sa wedding hehehe. Hay pero utang na loob Mylene, tama na ang gastos. Wala ka nang kailangan :p.

Ok, that’s it for now. Good night and may you all have a great week ahead :).

Pasyal Japan Day 1 Part 2: Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree

Day 1 Part 1

Day 1: July 4, 2016

After settling down in our hotel room, we rested for 2 hours before we headed out again. Mga pagod sa kakahanap ng train lines and platforms so kailangan talaga mag-recharge hehehe.

For this trip, we didn’t have a solid itinerary. We just planned our next day’s activities the night before. For the directions, we just used Google maps. The hotel has free wi-fi so mega hanap muna then screenshot so that the next day, we just show it to the staff for them to point us to the right direction. Nabuhay kami sa ganon ganon lang. And I appreciate the Japanese because they have all been helpful even if we have language barrier.

First stop was Tokyo Tower. From what I remember, maliwanag pa nung naglalakad kami para hanapin ‘to eh. Nahanap naman namin after many stops to ask for directions. Picture picture sa labas then pasok na sa loob to buy tickets and go up the main observatory, which is 150 meters high. Charge is Y900 per adult. They have different rates for adults and children. They also have a special observatory but more expensive and since we were trying to cut cost, the main observatory was enough for us.

What is Tokyo Tower? It is a communications and observation tower. You can check here and here if you want to learn more.

What can be done at the observatory? Get a 360 degree view of Tokyo, enjoy the milky way illumination while walking around the observatory, and take lots of pictures. They also have shops and restaurants in another floor, which you can go to if inabutan kayo ng gutom.

Next stop was the Tokyo Skytree. We got there via trains rin lang. We paid Y2,060 per adult for the admission fee. Again, they have different rates per age bracket. We just bought the tickets at the time we visited the tower. I’m not sure if you can buy tickets in advance. Pwede siguro. But the lines were not long din when we were there so it wasn’t a hassle even though we did not purchase the tickets in advance. Maybe it’s because of the time na rin. We were there almost 9PM na. Almost closing time at 10 PM.

What is Tokyo Skytree? It’s also a communications and observation tower. It’s also the tallest towere in the world as of March 2011. You can check here and here to learn more.

While at the observatory again, one can see a 360 degree view of Tokyo. Ang masasasabi ko lang ay ang taba ng utak ng mga urban planners ng Tokyo or entire Japan siguro. Napaka-ayos ng zoning/sectioning ng areas which can be seen from way above the ground. Ang ayos-ayos tignan ng infrastructures even at night. Hay, wish kong mangyari din yan sa Pilipinas kong mahal. Libre ang mangarap hehehe.

After Tokyo Skytree, we had dinner at Torikizoku, a Yakitori restaurant. I can’t remember the exact location but I think it’s near Ueno zoo. Marami namang ibang branches pa. Everything for Y280. Dahil sa gutom namin, ayun, naka-7 orders kami including rice and drinks. At ayun, inabot din kami ng Y2,718. For two lang yan ha hehehe. Lamon pa.

Dahil sobrang pagod na pagod at antok na antok na kami, we took a cab going home. It was already past 12MN and we paid Y730 for the fare. Not sure pero parang fixed rate sya since parang hindi naman umaandar yung metro. Anyway, it’s ok. Pagod na talaga kami eh.

And so, we survived Day 1! Hay, wala pa akong nakikitang hindi ko gusto at this time. And I always hear about their toilets (pasintabi sa mga kumakain) with shower and/or bidet. Syempre yan ang una kong ni-try as soon as I had the chance. Gusto ko rin ng ganon sa CR ko! Hehehe.

Day 1 summary:

5:25 AM: Departure at NAIA Terminal 3
10:40 AM: Touchdown Japan!
Around 11:15 AM: Out of Japan Customs
11:15-12 PM: claim JR Pass, reserve car seat in JR line, ask for directions
12:23 PM: bound for Tokyo via Narita Express
Around 1:45 PM: Touchdown Inaricho (train station nearest our hotel), lunch at Mc Donald’s
3 PM: Checkin at Hotel MyStays (around 10 minutes walk from Inaricho, shorter if with no luggage hehe)
3-5PM: Rest and refresh
5PM-12AM: Gala and late dinner

Pictures!

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Tokyo Tower at around 6:30 PM in Japan, 5:30 PM in PH.

View from the top. I love the parks amidst the urban jungle.

View from the top. I love the parks amidst the urban jungle.

Obligatory pic :p

Obligatory pic :p

Thinking of you...char! :p. Balik tayo dito, hon :)

Thinking of you…char! :p. Balik tayo dito, hon 🙂

We are this high from the ground!

We are this high from the ground!

Wow abs! Hahaha!

Wow abs! Hahaha!

Night shot taken at the base of the tower.

Night shot taken at the base of the tower.

Night shot taken a few meters away from the tower's entrance.

Night shot taken a few meters away from the tower’s entrance.

View from the top of Tokyo Skytree. We were trying to beat the closing time, hence no pictures from outside. The Tokyo Tower can be seen from the Skytree. See upper right of picture.

View from the top of Tokyo Skytree. We were trying to beat the closing time, hence no pictures from outside. The Tokyo Tower can be seen from the Skytree. See upper right of picture.

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Another shot from the observatory of Tokyo Skytree.

Taking a peek at what's below...Tokyo Skytree.

Taking a peek at what’s below…Tokyo Skytree.

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Yakitori dinner! Ubos na ang soup, at wala pa ang kanin! Hehehe.

To be continued.

Day 2

Pasyal Japan Day 1 – Part 1: Train Adventures

Day 1: July 4, 2016

Hello Japan!

We were able to land in Japan without any problems. Thank God for that. We left Manila at 5:30 AM and went out of Japan Customs at around 11 AM, and reached our hotel’s area at around 2PM. Basta medyo matagal din kasi ang byahe from Narita to Tokyo station.

First order after passing through Japan Customs was to exchange our Japan Rail (JR) pass voucher at the JR office. We ordered this online a week before our trip. My friend received the voucher in Pinas 2 or 3 days after ordering. Bilis. We got this because our itinerary includes Kyoto and Osaka so this is more cost effective. We can use this pass in any JR line, which based from experience in Tokyo, most of the places we went to has a JR line passing through it or at least passing through a connecting line where we can transfer to reach our destination. Cheaper this way because train rides are really not that cheap here. Well, everything’s generally expensive talaga hehehe.

We also got the Suica card, parang beep card ng Pinas. Very convenient. Kaso sobrang na-shock ako sa unang gamit ko since kalahati agad ng ni-load ko ang nakaltas when we rode the train from Tokyo station to Inaricho station, the station nearest our hotel. I initially loaded Y1,000 at Y500 na lang natira after we got out of the train. Laking gulat ko lang hahaha.

Di naman kami naligaw sa trains kahit ganon ka-complicated hehehe. The staff are helpful everytime we ask them. At sa dami ng platforms nila especially on areas where different train lines intersect, kabisado talaga nila what line and what platform dapat sumakay based on destination. Winner talaga.

Funny story. I was in line while waiting for my friend who was at the Information desk at that time. A mother came to me, stared at me for maybe 5 seconds (as in yung tipong palapit ng palapit yung mukha nya, and then said:

Stranger: Are you Chinese?
Me: Oh sorry, no.

Hahaha! Kulang lang ho ako sa tulog kaya mas singkit than my normal singkit ang mata ko hehehe. Mukhang ligaw or lito rin sila sa mga kaganapan sa airport hihihi.

Anyway, we still had to search where our hotel was. It was hot and we were hungry so we went to where else but McDonald’s hehehe. Not inteded but it was the nearest food chain that we saw hehehe. It was just across the street where we got off.

We stayed at Hotel Mystays Inaricho. Very convenient because it’s near a train station. Maybe 5 minutes walk. Check in was very quick. We were lucky because we have Wifi even in our room hehehe. From what I read kasi, some hotels don’t have.

Anyway, we took a 2-hour rest and then went out late afternoon to check out the Tokyo Tower and the Sky Tree.

Pictures!

Hello Narita!

Hello Narita!

Hello, Japan!

Hello, Japan!

Japan Rail Pass and Suica

Japan Rail Pass and Suica

What train line?! What platform? What exit? Hilong talilong pero smile lang para sa photo ops :)

What train line?! What platform? What exit? Hilong talilong pero smile lang para sa photo ops 🙂

To be continued.

Day 1 Part 2

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