Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tokyo Free and Easy : Tokyo Tower

Can see the Tokyo Tower from the station exit. You can definitely find you way there.


There are a few stationS available to reach Tokyo STation. Definitely will choose the one with the least walking time unless you have a day pass to make use of.
I got off at Akanebashi Station and follow signs and exits and definitely my Google map. Navigation is not hard. Just follow the crowd.

There are 2 paths leading to Tokyo Tower, the closer one is a steep slope and the path further down is flat. If you with eldery or not one who like slope, walk further down and take the shorter and flat path

My favourite shot.

JCB card members will have complimentary tickets for Tokyo Tower. That is why mine is 0 yen

Tickets for Main Observatory:
Adult 900 yen and child is 500 yen.
Tickets for One Piece Tower and Main Observatory Set Ticket:
3900 yen for adult
2000 yen to 3600 yen for students/child

Main Observatory Business  Hours are 9am - 11 pm ( Final Entry at 1030pm)

Tokyo on piece Tower Business Hours ar 10am - 10 pm ( Final Entry at 9pm)

For any tourist who did to do their snack shopping.
MOst snacks are available at airport unless some more unique ones.
However, airport has quite a long queue and a big crowd so go to DFS early if you intend to purchase souvenirs at the airport.

  We did not go to the Tokyo One Piece Tower. However, there are some images which you can take photos with.

Tips :
1. If you are exiting at the same station as me, choose the right path to the Tokyo Tower unless you don't mind slopes.
2. Apply for the JCB card, you save $10
3. Go around 1 to 1 .5 hour before sunset. Google sunset at Tokyo. It will give you ample time to take photos of the Tokyo tower in daylight and also a clear view of the buildings and landmarks. It will be hard to spot Mount Fuji and other significant landmarks.
4. Choose a clear and bright day. The views will be better and clearer and the sunset will be beautiful. I did not manage to catch any sunset as it was too cloudy. I was quite disappointed. 
5. If you are into night scenery, a tripod will be good.
6. Do not plan to have your dinner at Tokyo Tower, the food choices was very limited. The food court food was just average. Not really worth my time and money.

I never been to other observatory towers in Tokyo so I can't give my comparison.
It is definitely worth going for me as I did not pay for the tickets. 

The other 2 Obversatory Tower.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How to travel around Tokyo Metro Subway Jr Keio Line Suica Map

Tokyo train lines maybe complicated but with Google Maps. Things has become much much easily.

Suica/PAsmo Card

If you are doing a free and easy in Tokyo, you can buy a Suica / Pasmo card at the airport. For theThe card will cost 2000 yen, a deposit of 500 yen is automatically included in the price. The deposit can be claimed back ONLY in Tokyo, at by JR East stations for Suica, and participating private railway and subway stations for Pasmo. You can purchase both cards at the airport. There is no significant difference in price most of the time. Mainly is for the convenience of checking out the fare and queuing up to buy tickets and having to take out your money every now and then. However, it can't be used for shinkansen, limited express tickets and airport bus.

For me, I bought the Suica card, it can be used in some other parts of Japan which include Osaka and Kyoto which I also visited.

MOre information on Suica Card and where to get it

More information on Pasmo card and where to get it

Good read on both cards

One-day Pass

There are more than 1 type of one-day pass available.

If you do want to save some money, you can buy the pass only on days that you travel extensively.

1. Metro one day pass Adult 600 yen Child 300yen

At trip on the metro cost around 170-310 yen. If you make more than 3 trips, this is a good deal to get. However, not all places are accessible by the metro. Do your research and plan those metro trips together, it will help you save quite a significant amount of money. This is valid for 24 hours.

2. Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro One day pass. Adult 1000 yen child 500 yen

This is valid for Toei Subway and Tokyo. However, this is only valid for the day of purchase

3. Tokyo Combination ticket (Tokyo Furii Kippu) Adult 1590 yen Child 800yen

This allow unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, Toei Streetcar (Toden), Toei Bus (except for buses with fixed seats, etc.), all sections of Nippori-Toneri Liner as well as all JR lines within the Tokyo metropolitan area. This is only valid on the day of purchase

4. Tokunai PAss Adult 730 yen child 360 yen

This is for JR trains (except JR express trains) running within the 23 wards of Tokyo as many times as you want.

This is valid on day of purchase.

5. Toei One- Day Economy pass Adult 700 yen Child 350yen kyotso ichinichi Josha-ken

This is available on Toei streetcars, buses and from ticket vending machines at Toei Subway stations. This is avilable on day of purchase

6. Yurikamome One-day Open ticket Ichiniichi JOshu-ken Adult 800 yen Child 400 yen

Availble for Odaiba (Tokyo Bay area)

The one day pass is available at the train station itself. The Metro pass will be available at the metro station.

More information on one day pass

GOOGLE MAP: How to navigate your way around Tokyo

As I mentioned, Google maps work very well in Tokyo and other parts of Japan.

Before you set off, you can plan your route. Google map will show you the different options available. If you have the metro pass, you will try to choose the one that suggest metro rides. And if you are someone on a budget, you can choose the one that is the cheapest or walk. If you are with elderly, choose the least complicated and the one with least walking.

Key in the place you are going. You can choose my location. As I am back in Singapore, I can't choose my location. Walking is the cheapest. Jr line seems to the cheapest but takes the longest time and the walking time is almost the same as walking straight to the location.

Fakutoshin line will be the metro line. The bus caught my interest the most as I have never taken the bus in Tokyo before and the walking time is shorter. I asked the hotel about the bus route, but they do not know anything about it.I went during autumn so the weather was good for walking. If you are going during summer/cold winter, maybe walking is not a good choice. The bus is good if you are not good with stairs but bus stop is not as clearly marked as train station. The good thing about walking is sometimes you catch some beautiful sights that you clearly don't expect to see.

I am a bit paranoid about getting lost so I will be check whether the walking route is complicated as sometimes we missed a turn and we end up walking a much longer distance. I will keep my GPS on till I reach the destination to ensure that I don't missed out anything

1. Taking the bus to Meiji Shrine

Click on the options for more details like walking distance. The number of stops. Fairly close by bus stop.

Bus stop is near to the shrine which means I can take a nice walk around the gardeb before I reach the Shrine.

2. For the walking part, I will definitely recommend you keep the GPS. They will tell you when to turn at every little junction. Will get there safe and sound and shortest possible time. Zoom in to see the important landmarks to make sure you are on the right track. And there is a little arrow when you are walking. Make sure your arrow is pointing to the direction of the road you are supposed to talk. I sometimes do a 360 turn to make sure I am starting on the correction direction.

Below is the preview. You can analyse the route to decide if it worth the walk. However, when you are walking and the GPS is on, you can instant update of your location so you will not be lost.

3. Going by Metro. They will show you the stops and time so if it is a long ride. Can just space out and play with you hp. press the individual options for more information.

I am not an expert on Japan transport but I hope this helps.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tokyo free and easy : Ameyoko Market

Ameyoko market.The name "Ameyoko" is a short form for "Ameya Yokocho" (candy store alley), as candies were traditionally sold there.

Take the Jr to Ueno (Hirokoji Exit and cross the road and walk alone the right lane) or Okachimachi (North exit and cross the road and walk alone the left side) station. Ameyoko is a long stretch of shops so both stations are fine.

I visit Ueno park before walking to Ameyoko Market. Hence, I got down from Ueno Station.

Reason why I love Ameyoko MArket

1. Food

Sashimi by the roadside.  Price range from around 800 yen to 100 yen. 
It is situated near the snack store. Place your order, find a seat and enjoy your food.
When I first visited Japan 8 years ago, lot of locals dine there. I think because of the influx of the tourist, most people who eat here are tourists and the food serving did become smaller. However, it is still sashimi at reasonable price and it is an interesting to try eating by the roadside. There are also a lot of similar small eateries serving this for people. There are eateries selling sushi and other food. No worries if you don't take raw food. There are also small shops selling takoyaki and other snacks. A great place for lunch and there are food to snack on while you shop.

2. Big supermarket with snacks and cuttlefish

I cant really pinpoint the exact location of the shop. But it is just beside the shrine. There is this big supermarket selling all sort of Japanese snack at reasonable price. You can cart home a lot of snacks at reasonable price and the best of all, the packaging are simple. You are not bringing back air and cardboards. The best part of all is you spent 10 000 yen( please check with the staff whether it is 5000 yen or 10000 yen as I can't remember), you get tax refund.  
I love cuttlefish and this is the place to get them at reasonable price.

3. Fresh seafood. 

You can either just take a look at them and just enjoy seeing the locals peddling their seafood. Or buy some and enjoy it in the hotel if your apartment has a kitchenette or microwave.
It is an interesting sight.
Avoid new year eve as it can get really crowded.

4. Shopping

 There are sport apparels, anello bags, luggage, clothes, spectacles shops. Some of the sport apparel are having quite good deals.  Be ready to shop.
There is a 100 yen shop located near the snack shop too. The selection may not be as good as daiso but there still some interesting finds.

Ameyoko has changed since I last visited 8 years ago. Now, it cater slightly more to tourists. However, it is still an interesting place to be at, with delicious food, shopping, snacks and fresh seafood. And it is conveniently located near the train station. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tokyo Free and Easy: Ueon Park

How to get there: Ueno JR line.

There are a lot of attractions at Ueno Jr line.
Firstly, Ueno park which is a great place for cherry blossoms. Ueno park's entrance is also free. Just follow the exit to Ueno park, cross the road and follow the crowd. You will get there in no time. You can also being food for a nice little picnic. However,  I went in November,  I only manage to catch autumn colours.
There are shrines, museums and a zoo nearby. Great for family with kids. 
Within walking distance, there is the Ameyoko market which has a lot of eateries, sells seafood, bags, sport apparels, snacks and a lot more.

The park is not very big. If you are fast, within half an hour. If you taking photos and strolling around slowly. Maybe an hour or two. If you trying to take the perfect ootd photo, is dependent on photographer.

The Tokyo national Museum is just nearby.

There are shrines at the park for you to explore. 

I did not visit the zoo and the museum so i can't say much. But I did hear my friends mentioned the kids have a great time there.

For more information

After the park, we walked a to Ameyoko market for lunch. Just walk along the main path, opposite the direction to the museum. From the founation, it wil take around 15minutes or so. We stopped by the shrines here and there so we took quite a while to reach Ameyoko Market

my post on Ameyoko Market

Japan Tokyo Free and Easy: Tokyu Stay Shinjuku

Some of the important places and distance from Shinjuku Tokyu Stay. The walk to the JR station and bus terminal should be around 10-15 minutes. The Shinjuku Gyoen( Koen) is around 10 minutes walk away. A great place to catch cherry blossoms and autumn leaves . There is a bus stop before you cross the road to Isetan on your right. The bus takes around 15 minutes to Meiji shrine. much faster and less hassle compare to the trains.

First impression of the Tokyo Stay. Great. Everything looks so clean and new. 

I book two different kind of room, one is the small double room and the twin room. The bigger room for my parents.
The different between the small double room is that there is two big chairs with the table so it is a great place for the whole family to have dinner or have a small discussion. The twin room also have a extra small room where the makeup table, washing machine.washer, microwave, trousers press and clothes hanger are. The small double room have everything except the makeup table but is crammed into a narrow walkway.
Both rooms also comes with a humidifier, one packet of detergent, safe and one free use of the instant coffee and a kettle.

This is the twin room. 

Double room and the small table for gathering

This is the small double room.

Small double room. The bed is use beside the table The white part is the first photo is the bed. The room is quite narrow,

 Free coffee every morning

Why I would recommend Tokyu stay.
1. It is just located behind the Shinjuku-3-chrome station, 1 minute walk  and there is an escalator leading up to the exit, although no escalator down. There is a lift like 4 minutes walk away. If you bringing elderly. This is a great hotel to stay.
2. It is located not far from JR station, if you exit at the JR station near to platform 1 to 2, it is only a 10 minutes walk away and if you are lazy, The bus terminal which has buses to the airport and other places like Mount Fuji are located 10 minutes walk away too.
3. There are convenient stores, eateries, small supermarket, drugstores, Shinjuku park, malls and also 100 yen shop located nearby.
4. There is a microwave and washer/dryer. I would sometimes like to buy food back to eat at the apartment in the morning before I set off. Too lazy to go out for breakfast. The microwave is really useful. The washer and dryer means I do not need to bring too much clothes, it is very important especially during winter.
5. The staff speaks good English.
6. They have real windows.

Why I would not recommend Tokyu stay.
1. There is only room service once a week.
2. The small double room is a bit crammed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Flight Review: Japan Airline JAL to Japan

This is my first flight by Japan Airlines. I was expecting quite good services and food as Japan is know to meticulous and of good quality. Moreover, my parents took a flight to Hokkaido via JAL and was full of praise for JAL.

The seats was comfortable to me. My mum complained the new design of chair seat is not really suitable for her back. I think it is just that the seat design is comfortable to most people but not  tio some. 

The food was the main problem of the flight. We took a midnight flight to Tokyo. No midnight snack /drink  was offered. The only meal offered was two hours before landing. Most flights I taken will at least offer a light snack.

Most airlines or all airlines I have taken offered two choices of food. JAL has only one option for breakfast which is soup with bread. Firstly, I was disappointed firstly with the lack of choices. As an Asian airline, I would expect something more Asian and if another choice is offered, something more to modern western taste buds.. My parents do not like the soup, therefore, they have to make do with cold bread and a hot drink.  I am not a fan of pumpkin soup too, but when you are hungry and tired, you have to make do with anything they offered.

On the flight back, which was an evening flight. We were hoping for a better meal.The only options available was either beef with something or a beef burger. The only options available on flight was beef. We were visibly upset as we did not realize beef is a special request. There was no special meal for no beef. The main reason is also we took quite a number of flights with various airlines and never encounter beef as a special request.  They will have a safe option like chicken or seafood. The second reason is a large number of Asians do not consume beef due to their religious beef and JAL do not seems to realise that. 

The saving grace of the day was one kind and helpful air stewardess, although one make some remarks on us being too troublesome. I did not manage to get the name of the helpful air stewardess, but  she manage to get one fish meal for my parents. She tried to remove the beef and serve as the side dishes as she was worried that we did not eat anything on the long flight. We tried to eat some food but the fragrance of the beef was too nauseous for us. 

I will not recommend JAL to people who are picky about flight food. If you are someone who has no interest in flight food. It was a great flight. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Airline Review: Emirates Airlines and Delta airlines

I have tried various airlines throughout my years of travel, more than 20.
One of the reason think is fun to experience different airlines.  The other reason is definitely the price, if it is on promotion, we are getting it. However, there are some airlines I avoid but some I look forward to taking.

I heard rumors of American airlines not being up to par and how Emirates is one of the best airlines around.

I was hesitant about taking Delta airlines last year to Japan, but it was almost $200 cheaper than Japan Airlines. However, the flight turn out to be much pleasant than I expected. They provide cheap earplugs and eye mask so you can have a better sleep. They also provide bottles of mineral water so that if you can keep yourself hydrated throughout the flight without having to ask for it. and bottles are definitely easier to store than cups. The flight entertainment was good and so was the leg space.

This May/June, I took Emirates to Melbourne. I was looking so forward to it as I have heard of it good reputation. I did not have a chance to take it throughout my years of travel, usually due to pricing.

I posted a photo on my instagram when I boarded my flight, good leg space and good selection of movies.

It was an overnight flight which departs at 1040pm and will reach melbourne around 740am ( Melbourne timing). Around one plus after the plane took off, supper was served. Then the lights were dimmed, which is time for us to sleep. It is important to sleep on overnight flight so when we reached Melbourne, we can start on our trip. And I believe most people do not have the luxury to catch up on their sleep immediately when they reach Melbourne. The flight was around half full as a lot of people were taking up 2 to 3 seats so they can have a good sleep. Emirates decided they need around 3 hours to serve breakfast, they woke up around 440am ( Melbourne time) and 240am ( Singapore time).
It was frustrating to be woken up and it was so hard to go back to sleep. We have two hours left after breakfast. I wrote to Emirates inquiring about this but they say they have no rules or schedules for the staff to follow, they can serve anytime they want. What a cool airline, staff are allowed to do what they want.

For the return flight, we had this interesting air stewardess. When she was serving drinks, she just push it roughly to us. The drink almost spilled and startled  us and the air stewardess, she just move on with her job with no apology.

During dinner time, the person in front of one of us had her seat inclined all the way down. We thought just wait for the air stewardess because some people get agitated if you pinpoint their actions. The tray was those folded in two, but as the chair was inclined all the way down, there was no way we can put the tray down. The air stewardess came to serve dinner, she took no notice and shoved the tray at my friend. She was frustrated with my friend when her tray was not down. Then she finally realize that she need to ask the person to sit upright. My dinner has been a small corner open up, and my sauce was somewhat dried up. I only realized that mine was dry as my friends had their meal served 5-10 minutes later.

During the snack time before we reach Singapore around 2 hours which is around 10 pm Sg time, they started distributing food on small little plates. On the menu, it wrote beef or cheese/ vegetarian pie. Who will remember when you just woke up? They started passing it to any passengers who make eye contact with them. My pie was overturned, I thought they changed to serving pancakes as it does look like a pie. They were busy just passing pies on little plates, not serving.You put out your hand and you get a pie. This time round, they decide not to wake passengers up by switching on the light.  After passing the pies around, they decided to do it professionally with the trolley. They started to offer choices to passengers. We knew that as they were offering it to the passengers right in front of us. We were upset because we choose to take the pie first, we were not give a choice or told what was the food. As they did not switch on the light, you can hear the air stewardess shrieking that she cant see the marking on the pie. It was loud. I do not take beef, I took a small bit of the pie, I almost ate the beef. It was upsetting to me.

We decided not to make a scene as the air stewardess was busy. We were tired, so we will use very not nice words on the air stewardess.

We decide to just write an email asking Emirates how and why. Emirates' reply was great. They say they have no rules to when food was served, how it was served, seats having to be upright during meal times. In other words, the air stewardess are just trained to serve food and operate whatever things. They told me I was given beef pie due to pies running out and I did not indicate my choice. I told them in the email, there were cheese/vegetarian pies but I was not offered it. They do not read the email. I do not mind if there is no cheese/vegetarian pie. If I did not indicate, I don't mind not eating as it was my fault. They were ample cheese pies but they just choose not to offer it. Moreover, t hey encourage me to make a fuss on the plane or if not, it is too late. To them, the air stewardess and staff need nothing much wrong.

If you want to work with an airlines, choose Emirates. They are so easy going with their staff.
If you want to enjoy your flights, choose anything but Emirates.

This is upside down pie, how professional Emirates is.