Thursday, April 18, 2013

Japan Trip (part 3)

I tried to put in the text after the itinerary table, but failed so here the part 3.

Day Three

We start off in the morning to go to Kyoto. I had searched for various route for our Japan trip and brought chosen printed routes.  The thing about Japan trains, it is really remarkable how they manage to have punctual time table and even this time table is available in their various route website. Amazing !! 

Arrived at Kyoto station, really recommend to buy lunchboxes here, cause its quite cheap compared to foodstalls we saw around Kiyozumidera and the Nishiki market..  and its taste quite good too. (I forgot the specific location but it’s around the exit and Tourist Information office). 

We got the Kyoto map at the Tourist Information office and took bus to Kiyozumidera Temple.  The climbing walk is quite long. When we arrived, the temple was being renovated. 
I think in winter or spring the view maybe better, but the weather that day was nice enough.
In several location there were wooden spoon, where mistakenly I tried to drank the water at the first spoon I saw. Turns out there is only one place where you can drink the water, it has a ultraviolet disinfection machine. You have to go down the temple through the stairs.

When we left Kiyozumidera Temple, I think its around 2.00 pm something and we don’t have lunch yet, then we settled in a small restaurant in the area. Its quite expensive for our budget but well, we have to sample the real Japanese food, right ?  Afterwards we went to Nishiki market. It was quite a long tunnel-like market.. so many things to see. They have fresh seafood section, crafty section, 100 yen store, arcade games store.. yeah, my boy tried to ask money for this. But we know, he could be hooked and spent more, so we didn’t allow him. (I watched too Japanese movies with bad guys trying to get all the money)

Then we tried to find toilet, and couldn’t find it in the market, then we found one in the Museum near the market. I think it was a Kyoto painting museum. It contains old paintings showing life in Kyoto in maybe 16-17 Century.  It was quite nice.  At this time, I think we forgot about visiting Gion district or decided not to go there.. I forgot but then we decided to go to the Kyoto Imperial Palace.. garden by foot.  Looking at the maps, it seemed the distance to get out from the current street labyrinth to take bus to go to the garden was the same length to go to the garden by foot directly. So the four of us, walked pass Kyoto houses to go to the garden. It was nice walk, the houses mostly still landed houses, and quite traditional with wooden fence.  When we were in Nishiki market, it was raining, so when we arrived in the Palace Garden, the benches are wet.  The park is nice and quiet, and they preserved some old houses.. really really beautiful.  

Getting out from the park, we were quite confused where we can take bus .. so we were quite loss for a while trying to figure out the way. We found the bus stop for bus that goes to the Kyoto station.  So Kyoto is very nice for a city walk. I really recommend getting lost in the labyrinth of streets.  

The next day, we prepared to check out from Osaka hotel and going to Tokyo by Shinkansen.  Our next hotel will be at Disney Tokyo area. Turns out our train lane to the Disney area is the farthest from our arrival platform at Tokyo station.  We walked for 20 minutes, carrying our heavy luggage. This is one of the things that I missed out in planning. The other major thing was I packed too many clothes haha.

From the Shin Urayasu train station we took taxi to the hotel, it was around 10 minutes journey. If we stopped at Maihama station, it maybe around 30 minutes by taxi.

Our hotel is a bed and breakfast Disney style. Comparing between Universal Port and Palm Fountain, in terms of space size and quality, Universal Port is better. But for Tokyo, for the size and price Palm n Fountain is quite OK.  We looked at the map and decided to go to Odaiba but it was raining when we arrived and already around 7 pm so we had dinner at McDonalds, bought some food at the convenience stores for breakfast and head back to hotel.

Our major weakness during holiday is to wake up early. Its such a struggle to go out before 9 am. If we can, it was a miracle. So the next day, we went to Tokyo Metropolitan Govt Building, Harajuku, and Odaiba. Didn’t get to go to Shibuya crossing. We seems to be lagged behind schedule or unable to go to many places  all the time haha.. maybe we were too optimistic ..
We bought  crepes near the entrance of Harajuku and while eating the crepes found that behind Harujuku there is a small temple, a pond and a nice path.. then we spent too much time there. I thought its Yoyogi park, but we were wrong. It’s too small to be Yoyogi park.  Too many people in Harajuku, and funnily many westerners do wear costumes/ cosplay make up … . Strangely the japanese mostly hide if they saw we pointing our camera to their direction…  I don’t know.. maybe they are working there without their parents consents ? (my motherly instinct or detective instinct in action)

We then went to Odaiba, our objective was the Sonyexplora science place.  Then we found out that the Tokyo Bay scenery from Odaiba is quite spectacular so we lost track of time there hehe… and finish off Odaiba with Yoshinoya beef bowl.  

The last two days we went to Disney Land then Disney Sea. Both have their charms so making decision which one first was difficult. Found out that there weren’t any Fireworks at the end of day.  We went to Disney Land first. But then my kids who are now 8 and 13 thought that they are too old for Disney Land attractions.  And I also had enough of Turkey Leg. Uugh.. no more !! We were able to enter most attractions which mostly a translation from Disney story book.

The next day we went to Disney Sea. We really need to watch our timing this time, because we have to go to the Haneda airport around 6 pm. So, we were running around Disney Sea taking fast pass as much as possible. Doing as much attractions as possible. At the end, we were able to try mostly everything that are interesting.  And we also found the food in the Arabian Coast area to be delicious. Try the curry. I like the shrimp curry.  And the shop has better stuff compared to the neighbor Disney Land. Maybe because it targets older kids / teen so fit us better.

Our taxi to Haneda cost around 10,000 yen. We almost had to use two taxi since our luggages are too big. Thankfully, we could fit them all, at the end.  At Haneda, we found KitKat green tea and Tokyo Banana. I wasn’t able to find them before. Bought some, and tried to put them in the bag. So remember don’t check in your bag before you check out the stores in Haneda. Or you might carry a lot of things in the cabin.

Finally, our Japan trip come to an end. I felt we needed more days… We haven’t seen everything but we had everything, quarreled, angry, despair … but I’m glad we stay healthy during the trip and seen most of the places we want to see.
And hopefully, we would be able to see Japan again.. well, at least after Harry Potter attraction opened in 2014 at Universal Studio Osaka !!  yay !!  and hopefully we can use full board airline next time… 

Japan Trip (part 2)

Here is our original trip plan..

04 Juli 2012
Arrive  Osaka.
Osaka Aquarium, Osaka Castle,
Namba, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi
Hotel Universal Port
1-1-111, Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka,Japan
05 Juli 2012
Universal Studio, Osaka
Same as above
06 Juli 2012
Kyoto : Kiyomizudera Temple, Gion District
Same as above
07 Juli 2012
Osaka – Tokyo with train.
Tokyo : Shibuya, Odaiba, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Palm & Fountain Terrace Hotel
7-1-1 Akemi Urayasu-shi, Chiba, 279-8502 Japan  
TEL: 047-353-1234  
FAX: 047-353-5916
08 Juli 2012
Tokyo :  Ginza, Asakusa Temple, Harajuku, Shinjuku
Same as above
09 Juli 2012
Tokyo Disney Sea
Same as above
10 Juli 2012
Tokyo Disney Land
Haneda Airport (for flight back to Jakarta)


Japan Trip 3 July – 11 July 2012 (part 1)

I cant thank enough all the blogs, forum s I visited to prepare for our family trip to Japan .. so here goes…


Since we are from Indonesia, we require visa to enter Japan.  In the beginning I thought of going to the Consulate ourselves, to minimize cost but unfortunately my schedule and the distance between my office n the Japan embassy made it difficult to spare time within office hours, although I already prepared all documents basically based on several references.

Then I tried to apply visa through Travel Agent.  Found out that I must change the visa application form, then they also required that I provide all pages in the bank book. And I have to provide sponsorship letter for my kids who will be traveling with us (funny isn’t it) . but it wasn’t time for logic, so we just try to comply with whatever the travel agent required.
After the visa issued, I also bought travel insurance for each of us at a travel company.  

I read that its quite difficult to convert foreign exchange into  Yen,  i bought the yen here in Indonesia.  In June 2012 the selling rate is around 119.8 – 120.1. I bought in several foreign exchange places. If you want to get lower rate, u need to buy in Thursday/Friday, call first in the afternoon around 2 pm with minimum buy around 100,000 yen then pick it up in the evening. In one exchange place, u may need to deposit some fund first for them to be sure that you will buy the Yen. 

It is easy to find coin laundry in Japan so I highly recommend travel lightly.  And if possible find accommodation that allow you use microwave.  Since we travelled with kids we were worry that they ate less so we bought small rice cooker to make sure that they properly ate during breakfast. Most combini / convenience store sell microwaveable rice and u can also asked them to heat them... u still can cook it using rice cooker but just add a bit of water.
We also bought universal adaptor and T-connections

For hotel, we looked for reasonably priced family room.  I found that it is easier to get family room in area near theme park such as hotels within Universal Studio Osaka or within Disney resort.  Fortunately these hotels usually also have slightly lower price for 40/60 days advance purchase. So it was  good bargain. I got four-bed-room for 3 nights with price around 48,000-49,000 Yen (for 3 nights without breakfast). And there was no additional charge for advance booking.

Begin the journey

We took Airasia X flight for the trip. 
      Heres some note from me. 
          - No need to rent their personal video entertainment, since the flight is at night so actually u don’t need to wake up 
      - No need to buy the hot seat  for more leg room, because these seat are located behind the partition, the bad news is, when you are family, you cant pull up the arm rest .. my younger kid who wants to sleep cross-section, therefore she couldnt do this.. and made her upset.  During the flight I found a better option (in the Airasia magazine) that we could buy 1 – 2 empty seat at our row with only low price around 30-40 ringgit Malaysia.  This is worth trying. 

          - The air asia flight consist of two legs of journey. Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur then Kuala Lumpur to Osaka/Tokyo.  If you want specific food, its better to have it in the second leg of journey. Cause on the first leg of journey, its better to eat before you board the plane. And if you haven’t  prebook the meal before the trip, seems they can easily sold out (except noodle cup / milo stuff)

Day One
Arrive in Kansai Airport Osaka.  

We rented sim card for Iphone at the Softbank counter here.  We will return the card at Haneda Airport.  During my search for simcard rental, Softbank website is the easier to understand and also has a good rate for iphone. They have unlimited data usage fee : 1500 yen / day.  And we did use the iphone and its gps application quite a lot when finding certain street during our walks.
Kansai airport also has a travel counter.  We bought the limo bus ticket to get to our Hotel.
The journey from airport to hotel took around 1 hour.
Check in time at hotel is at 3 pm. We arrive around 12 noon. They say that if we want to check in earlier we have to pay more around 6000 yen. Oh my !! there goes my expectation of having easy checkin and had a shower before wander around osaka. 
So we left our baggage at hotel reception. They will put those in the room. 
I know that ICOCA is recommended but I was tempted to buy Osaka Unlimited Pass(@2000 yen / person). Ok, then I found out that it was a wrong, and bad decision. Why ? Japan is run by various transport company. Their government transport company is JR Train. But the JR Train is not included in Osaka Unlimited pass.  Its for usage within subway and other private train company. And they don’t have the good access as the JR Train. Because subway and the private train has different access, we spent more time looking for the access, getting in and out looking for sign.. and this is definitely wasn’t good for the kids and us who just came to Japan just few hours ago. 

I also found the subway sign as strange, because the put the last stop at the electric signage however the map didn’t show this last stop.. so it was a quite confusing and create tension between us.
The first day we are able to visit : Osaka Castle Park, Osaka international peace center, Osaka Kaiyukan and Tempozan Ferris wheel.
Osaka Museum History is around the Osaka Castle Park and Osaka peace center area, but we read the map wrongly. So instead of walking closer, we walked farther. And we couldn’t afford the time. We choose to go to Osaka Kaiyukan and the Ferris Wheel.
The Osaka Kaiyukan is quite huge and I think the best thing is the sight of sardines.. they really like what cartooned sardines in Finding Nemo depicted.
I found that many places in Japan provide stamping place for momentos. So if you are bringing kids to Japan don’t forget to bring a small note book, and look for stamping place around. Its quite fun. And I also saw some adult bring their book and put stamp on it.
When we finished with the Ferris Wheel it was already around 6.30 in the evening  so we tried to find food in the foodcourt near the wheel. Beware because the foodcourt in the area is quite expensive. A chicken curry rice set us back 850 yen / person.  Bad choice for first day. Haaah.

Day 2
We spent the day fully in the Universal Studio Park. We wanted to go out at night, but the kids are exhausted so we stayed in the hotel .  too bad that Universal Studio has shorter operating hour (in comparation with Disney).
We tried to visit all the attraction, at least ones that not available in US Singapore.
US Osaka open from 09.00 – 06.00 while Disney opens from 09.00 – 22.00. We split out for dinner, my daughter and I tried the takoyaki while the father and the boy tried the standing sushi. All in the USO citywalk area. 

note : turns out i only wrote down up to day 2. hope i can continue the post.. hahaha.. 


Yikes.. its been three years since my last post ??

what happened ?

 I'll try to post again soon...