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

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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Japan Free and EAsy: Yokohama Monterey Hotel

There is not a lot of option for airbnb at Yokohoma so we decided to stay in hotel.
The location was great.
Location: 5-10 minutes walk from Motomachi Chukagai train station.
Motomachi Train station is just beside Chinatown.
Then to walk to the Red Brick House is around 15 minutes. And to the cup noodle museum is around 20 minutes. It is also 5 minutes to the Yokohama Marine Tower and 10 minutes from Motomachi shopping trip.  There are convenient stores and cafes nearby.  I consider the location great. 
We took a bus and then the train from Tokyo airport. The train station is the last stop, so it is great as we manage to get good seats for the long train journey from Yokohama to Tokyo. 

We went during the end of December, it is a nice weather to stroll around, then take the train.

First impression. Clean and new although furnishing looked dated.

It comes with 3 proper beds. A small TV, a soft and a small chair and a big desk. 
The room is considered quite spacious as hotel room are quite small in Tokyo.

Comes with a kettle. and 3 cups. Triple sharing room usually have 2 sets of toiletries and cups. This is one of the good hotel that provide 3 sets of everything.

We booked a room with harbour view as the price difference is not high and we were celebrating Christmas. The view was really good. There is no obstruction and there is just a small park just in front. 

The view from the hotel room

 The park near the hotel. Nice a stroll and great scenery too.

I will recommend this hotel as I like that it is accessible to most places. Taking the train is sometimes a bit troublesome as we have to walk to the train station, walk down the flight of stairs. Wait for the train and go up the stairs again and is not free. 
If you want a funky hotel, then this not it. 
The wifi is free and fast. No limit to the number of devices that can connected.

The only negative point is that their customer service is a it weird. I left an empty bag at the hotel. I check out of the hotel around 11 am and left my luggage at the hotel till 3 pm. They did not notify me I left my bag. When I email them a few days later, they mention they have the bag in their procession and ask me to pay for postage if I want the bag back. They say it is not their policy to check with customers if they still want the bag. They will just wait patiently us to contact them.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Save on travel with ShopBack: Expedia promo codes and cashback

As a frequent traveller, saving money on trips is very important to me.

More savings in air tickets and accomodations means more money for shopping and good food.

And don't we all love the feeling of being smart and accomplished because you get a better deal then anyone else?

I have been using Shopback for around a year. When my friend told me about it, I rolled my eyes and have my doubts. It is too good to be true - are there any hidden terms and conditions like administrative fees and etc? However, the savings was too tempting for me to resist and I thought there was no harm giving it a try. That wass how I start using Shopback.

Using it was a breeze, it can use for a lot of online merchants and the list keep increasing. Some of the merchants that I tried using Shopback on are Zalora, Lazada. Zuji, Expedia,, Asos, Taobao and a lot more. I have unknowingly accumulated more than $200 of cashback credits!

Reasons why I recommend Shopback

It is very easy to use. Just click on the link to the online shop to make your purchases and you can start accumulating your savings.
There are no hidden administrative charges, and terms and conditions.
There is a summary of workable discount codes. (you know the hassle of googling for discount code but to realise most of them are fake or expired)
The Shopback credits can be transferred to your bank account with no hidden charges
Shopback can be used concurrently with discount codes.
They are really organised and nice, they will send you an email once your Shopback is credited to your account.

I will be making a trip to Melbourne in 1 Month.

The airtickets cost:

Flight Booking Price including Taxes, Charges, Payment and Service fees (SGD)$1,950.60
Emirates Airline Airfare from Singapore to Melbourne (Tullamarine)
3 Adult Airfare(s)$1,548.00
Taxes & Surcharges$402.60
 Booking Fee$90.00
Discount: By Applying Coupon LUNCHTIME20$(20.00)
Booking Price including Taxes, Charges, Payment and Credit Card Fees (SGD)$2,020.60

Rebate $16.33. And I am still allow to use the discount code. Double savings!!!

Rebate of $29.36 and still allow to use discount code!!!

So for my trip $45.69 not including discount code. Cant help feeling so smart. Not just feeling. I am really smart.

How to join Shopback

1. Click this

2. Create an account. $10 bonus for signing up. :D

3. Search for the online shop, click on it. Scroll down for promotion code.

4. Click on shop now and you can start shopping and saving.

5. There will be an email sent to inform you of your savings after you make payment.

6. Just wait for the money to be credit to your account and you can transferred it to your own bank account.

If you find my instructions unclear, take a look at Shopback Tutorialvideo for a step by step instructions

Therefore for the best deals, do your online shopping at ShopBack.

And for those travellers like me here is the link to find the list of travel merchants!

Here is the link to more offers on travel bookings from online travel merchants such as Expedia and Agoda.

And for those who are not into travelling but just love food and cooking, you can try getting the ingredients with cashback at Honestbee!

I was invited to do this review by ShopBack

However, the information is personal and true. Extracted from my own accounts. Do not copy and use them without permission.