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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Japan Day 3: Kinkakuji, Yasaka Shrine, Kiyomizudera & Gion, Kyoto

Lots of sightseeing to do on our third day here!! Anyway, our first stop for the day is the famous Golden Pavilion, or Kinkakuji in Kyoto. We boarded a bus at a bus stop nearby our hotel. The bus fare for all stops within the Kyoto city centre itself costs 220 yen each and is paid only when we get down at our stop. It's quite easy to take the bus here as they display the names of the stops in both Japanese and English on the bus itself.

The famous Golden Pavilion is set overlooking a pond, and is said to be covered with gold leaf, as you can guess from the name. Pictures below as proof, hehe ^.^ So pretty right? We were lucky that it was quite bright and sunny on this day, as all the pictures turned out nicer too =) 

Entrance fees to see the pavilion and the surrounding gardens cost 400 yen and we got the tickets at the counters before heading in with the crowd. Not too sure if it's the school holidays in Japan around May? There were lots of schoolchildren here, all busy taking pictures of and with the famous pavilion.


We followed the trail around the pavilion, and further around the gardens area as well. The garden area was quite large and in certain parts, there were steps which we had to climb. We just slowly walked along and enjoyed the scenery (though it was quite hot then).

Towards the end of the path, we came upon a little shop(?) selling matcha and sweets. There's seating places outside at the garden as well as inside which also overlooks the garden. We decided to get a cup of matcha and sweets each (500 yen per set) and settled on sitting inside ^.^

Enjoying some matcha and sweets ^.^

Monday, 3 December 2012

Japan Day 2: Endo Sushi, Osaka & Kyoto

Continuing where I left off, 3 months ago? Anyway, we got up bright and early the next morning to head for our fresh sushi breakfast ^.^ For this, we're headed to Endo Sushi (ゑんどう寿司) which is located at the Osaka Municipal Central Wholesale Market (中央市場).

We took the subway from the Namba station nearby to our hotel to the Tamagawa station on the Sennichimae line. Not too hard to find the station we needed as the station names and exits were all written in both Japanese and English. From the station, it's about a 10 minutes walk to the market where the shop is located. Took us a while to find the place as there weren't any signboards that we could see (especially since we can't even read Chinese), but got there in the end with the help of some friendly Japanese =p

There wasn't anyone else in the shop when we arrived, though I'm not sure why...Anyway, they passed us a laminated English write-up to read, about the sushi prepared. We each got ourselves a plate of sushi, as well as a bowl of miso soup. If you order "omakase", they will serve you a plate of 5 types of sushi, and the next plate ordered will be with another 5 varieties of sushi, up to the 6th plate, where it will start repeating again. The only sushi which remains the same with each plate is the tuna or toro.

Sushi and clams miso soup at Endo Sushi, Osaka

We got our one plate each consisting of tuna, eel, sea urchin and two other fish which I'm not sure of the names. Don't regret coming here as the sushi was super fresh and just melted in our mouths. The steaming hot bowl of miso soup was amazing as well, thick and filled with fresh clams. Never had such a thick bowl of miso soup before. I'm drooling again just thinking about it *.*

Each plate of sushi cost us 1,000 yen each and the bowl of miso came up to 520 yen. Definitely more expensive than the prices here in Malaysia, but the taste and freshness more than makes up for it. Would definitely recommend this place for sushi lovers =)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Japan Day 1: Dotonbori, Osaka

This has been one of my most anticipated trips over the last year, and finally we have arrived on 28th May 2012!! (Hehe, shows how slow I am in updating this blog). I had initially purchased the return tickets to Osaka, Japan for a total of RM700 per person 1 year ago, when Airasia had first launched the new flight route to Osaka.

Due to work purposes, I was unable to buy tickets for April, else I could've had a chance to see sakura =( By the time we went in late May, the weather was already starting to heat up a little bit as summer was almost there. However, for the most, it was still quite cool, and we were lucky enough that we hardly encountered any rainy days ^.^

We had an early flight out, departing at 8.20 a.m. and thus, made our way to LCCT by 6.30 a.m. I had already completed mobile check-in using my phone and so we headed directly to the counter to drop off our luggage. After cheking in our luggage, we headed for some breakfast and coffee at McDonalds while waiting to board the plane.

We took off on time and within  6 hours, we had landed at Kansai International Airport ^.^ Do remember that Osaka is one hour ahead, so you'll need to adjust your watch. While we were collecting our luggage, my mum got a shock as there was an officer together with a huge dog there, which she didn't notice at first. I suppose the dog was there to detect the presence of any drugs?? Not too sure about that. 

Anyway, after we got our luggage, we headed to catch a shuttle bus to the Namba OCAT station. Based on directions given, we headed to Terminal 11 at the 1st floor of the airport. Right outside the entrance to the airport, there is a machine from which we can purchase our bus tickets. Luckily, there was a lady stationed there who showed us how to use the machine. The bus tickets cost us 1,000 yen each.

The journey to the OCAT station took us around 1 hour. From there, it would be roughly a 5 minutes walk to our hotel. However, we got turned around and got lost after exiting the station. Since we couldn't find our way, we decided to ask this young couple outside the station for directions. Instead of directing us, they actually told us to follow them and brought us right to the doorstep of the hotel!!! It was so nice of them to  actually walk the whole five minute journey with us!! Thanks so much to the two of them for giving us such a great first impression of Japan ^.^

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bangkok Day 2: Platinum Mall

Back to my Bangkok trip...hehe, this post has been delayed for a while now, but I've bought tickets to go again this year and feel like finishing up the last trip first =)

Anyway, on the second day, we had a half day tour around the city which came together with our hotel package. Like I mentioned earlier, our hotel cost us only THB2,100 per person per night on a twin sharing basis, and we were given a free half day tour as well as airport transfer on the first and last day.

We had to get up quite early for this as the tour was scheduled to start around 8 or 9 I think. A buffet breakfast was also included, and there were the normal breakfast food such as eggs, sausages, salads as well as some fried dishes such as fried rice and noodles. It was just a simple breakfast but still sufficient to fill up our tummies before we set off.

The first place we were taken was to this small dock for a river cruise. Got onto the boat, and off we went! Nothing much of interest, our guide pointed out several buildings to us, but we only got down at Wat Arun. We were allowed around half an hour (I think) to walk and explore before we set off on our next destination. Took the time to make some prayers there =) Bought some souvenirs too, though I think the prices were a little high there because of all the tourists like us.




After the river cruise, we were also brought to two different shops, one selling precious gems and another selling honey produce. I guess this is a normal itinerary when we follow tours, no matter which country we go to. This didn't really interest me and we left once we were able to.

We decided to forgo the remainder of the tour as we were raring to head on to Platinum Mall (www.platinumfashionmall.com) for our shopping!! =p This place is like heaven for the ladies, a whole shopping mall filled with shops selling all kinds of clothes, shoes, bags and accessories. There are countless rows of shops on each level and we could barely finish one level even with two or three hours!!

We had lunch at the food court on the 6th floor. It's quite convenient and has a variety of food. We have to first purchase a card (similar to a Touch and Go card?) with the amount of credit we want, and we can then pay for our orders by using the card. Any remaining credit on the card can then be changed back to cash at the same counter.

Lunch at Platinum Mall

Spotted a funny sign at one of the food counters...hehe, just one wrong letter can cause a whole lot of difference =) Luckily, taste wise it wasn't too bad, but didn't see much crap (oops, I mean crab) in it. We ordered several different items to share, including some duck noodles, pork, satay and mango stick rice...yums ^.^

We spent the rest of the day shopping till it was time for dinner, and we bought some food from the street stalls on the way back to our hotel. Bought some grilled squid from one of the roadside stalls and this was just soooo goood. It was just grilled on its own and only some spicy and sour sauce was added, but oh the taste of it was amazing. It was extremely spicy though...

Definitely recommended to give some of these local snacks a try as they really taste much better than what you can get at some of the restaurants.

Don't really have much pictures as we were too busy shopping the whole day, hehe ^.^ Next up, the last two days of our trip, where we did even more shopping and went for a comfortable Thai massage =)