A Travellerspoint blog

Ueno, Asakusa and Akihabara


View 2015 Tokyo on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_14319864115630.jpgArriving at Ueno Park to the disappointment of cherry blossoms having largely disappeared.
I started the day with a buffet breakfast in the hotel. It was a sumptuous Japanese and Western spread. EVA Airways crew were there and they didn’t hold back. Gotta have the energy to work I guess.

I left the hotel for the metro station a few minutes away by foot at 1000. First up, I had to buy a reloadable PASMO card. Putting my money into the machine, the note got stuck. An alarm went off. A hatch opened in the wall. The uniformed man held up a JPY5000 note and I nodded. He came out and gave me my money back and reset the machine. How efficient is that?

With one transfer at an intermediate station, I was at my new hotel, the Tsukiji [Tsukiji-travel-guide-1321092] Business BAN hotel before 1100. It was too early to check in, so I left my luggage and went exploring.large_5550_14319864174408.jpgGreeted by a carpet of fallen pink petals at Ueno Park.

Keen to see if I had missed the sakura bloom, I took the metro to Ueno [Ueno-travel-guide-285965] Park. Yep, my fears had been confirmed. Most of the cherry blossoms were gone. They were off the trees but parts of the ground were covered in a carpet of pink petals. Just my bad luck, I guess. A friend who visited last year (to the exact same day) saw the sakura in their fullest glory.

It was a cloudy day. After exploring parts of the gardens, I made my way back to Ueno station area to explore Ameyayokocho, an alley full of eateries and shops of various kinds (food, fruit, clothing, housewares).

I metroed to Sumida Park to disappoint myself further with the lack of sakura before walking to Asakusa Temple. It was a busy area bursting with tourists. Some mainland Chinese were dressed up in kimonos - that’s treason, isn’t it? The area leading to the temple was lined with many stall selling rice crackers and other snacks.large_5550_14319864236929.jpgToken shot of last remaining cherry blossom.

It was around 3pm, so I made my way back to Tsukiji to have a lie down in my new hotel. The room was called a small double but for me, it felt like a very generous single bed. There was enough room to swing a cat and had all the mod cons like fridge, kettle and internet. Considering the price and the proximity to the fish market (which requires an early wake-up) it was perfect for 5 nights stay!

I regained my energy to head back north to Akihabara [Akihabara-travel-guide-1311243] to explore the stores specialising in electronics gadgets and electrical appliance. The weather turned foul, so I limited my explorations to largely one megastore.

After a dinner at Suki, a franchise diner across the road from the hotel, I retired early for the 0245 wake-up tomorrow.

5550_14319864115630.jpg5550_14319864174408.jpg5550_14319864236929.jpg5550_14319864287760.jpg5550_14319864437652.jpg5550_14319864499272.jpgeda2f4c0-5750-11e8-bc4e-4930156df34c.jpg5550_14319864621621.jpg5550_14319864686628.jpg5550_14319864755979.jpg5550_14319864798330.jpg5550_14319864841018.jpg5550_143198649047.jpg5550_14319864959886.jpg5550_14319865013134.jpg5550_14319865072970.jpg5550_14319864328454.jpg5550_14319865138821.jpg5550_14319865182347.jpg5550_14319865256695.jpg5550_1431986532388.jpg5550_1431986540626.jpg5550_14319865497346.jpg5550_14319865556646.jpg5550_14319864376991.jpg5550_14319865602234.jpg

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Arriving at Big Smoke ... make that Biggest Smoke


View 2015 Tokyo on alexchan's travel map.

I left Kuching at a civilised time in the morning for Tokyo [Tokyo-travel-guide-285666] via KL on AirAsia and AirAsia X. The two hour transit in KL gave me enough time to fit in a quick light lunch at the lounge before boarding the flight to Tokyo, the world's largest urban area with 36 million people. [Shanghai is a bigger city because greater Tokyo comprises several jursidictions].

I was lucky enough to get 3 seats for the 6h flight which went quickly enough. We landed at Tokyo’s Haneda [Haneda-travel-guide-280184] airport 20 minutes early.

Walking from the plane to the immigration area, I couldn’t notice the large number of toilets all the way through the route. Checking one of them out, they were large with many stalls and urinals. Perhaps the designers know that many people are bursting to go after long flights. Or people here have small bladders?

The airline had run out of arrival cards so the crew only handed out the customs declaration. Even with filling the arrival card out inside the terminal, I was out of the airport in no time. It was a brief wait in the 7 degC late night for the complimentary hotel shuttle to the JAL Express Haneda Hotel.

Due to the late night arrival into Haneda, I didn’t want to risk public transport into the city centre as they generally stop at midnight. I thought it would be wise to stay the night in the airport area instead and make my way to my central hotel in the morning. Fortunately, I managed to book one night at the JAL Express cheaply - the rate was cheaper than that for the surrounding nights.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Time with family


View 2015 Tokyo on alexchan's travel map.

My aunt insisted on driving me to the airport, saying that the car needed a good run. Bag-drop at AirAsia was quick and I was in the lounge having breakfast before the short flight to Kuching [Kuching-travel-guide-1096915] for a 10 day stay to see family.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

State funeral


View 2015 Tokyo on alexchan's travel map.

I accompanied my aunt to church this morning in her old neighbourhood of Serangoon. As we were early, we drove around and saw how her old house (and many others) had changed from simple single storey to typically three.

After church, we had a simple lunch at home. The heavens had opened and wept for the funeral procession of Mr Lee from Parliament House at midday to the University Cultural Centre. The state funeral started and 2pm and continued till about 4pm when transmission stopped (when he was taken to a private cremation ceremony).

During my stay, I hadn't noticed any entertainent on TV. It was all state propaganda on Mr Lee's life and achievements, and I don't dispute that he has done tremendous things for the nation. The speech that struck me the most was a Malay quote:

Hutang emas boleh dibayar
Hutang budi dibawa mati.

Translation:
Debts of gold can be repaid.
Debts of deed can never be
(But will be taken with you to your grave).

The Singaporean gratitude to Mr Lee for bringing them from Third World into the First within a short space of time cannot be easily understood.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

A nation in mourning


View 2015 Tokyo on alexchan's travel map.

large_5550_14283308133591.jpgElevated walkway at Gardens by the Bay.
We managed to get our last-minute paid upgrade to Business Class for the flight to Singapore departing at 0115. Despite the ungodly timing, I stayed up for the supper service before sleeping, because I was hungry. I had expected to skip it in favour of a longer downtime but my tummy rules.

I did have 3 hours solid sleep followed by another 3 hours of dozing before waking up for breakfast and the 0645 arrival. We arrived at an odd timing as the founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee had passed away only a couple of days ago and the country was in the midst of six days of mourning.

We stayed with my aunt. After a swim, snooze and lunch, we taxied to Gardens by the Bay, which represents one of the city state’s newest attraction. The place included a skywalk (SGD5) and two domes (one tropical and another Mediterranean) which we skipped as it cost too much for our low level of interest in plants and garden.large_5550_14283308154525.jpgElevated walkway at Gardens by the Bay.We wandered around the various themed gardens for free.

For a place that’s relatively new, the plants appear very fully grown. I thought that some serious horse shit must have been used in the place. I later heard that they looked fully grown from Day 1.

From there we continued to the Marina Sands mall which looked more established than our previous visit. We ended up in the city centre area where we saw the queues of people lining up for up to 10 hours in order to pay their last respects to Mr Lee.

Back at my aunt’s place, we saw on TV people breaking down on their knees while paying their respects. I found it hard to comprehend how people can be so aggrieved by the loss of someone they haven’t personally met.

It wasn’t until a few days later at the state funeral that someone quoted a saying that clarified it 100% for me.large_5550_14283308177029.jpgGardens by the Bay.
Hutang emas boleh dibayar
Hutang budi dibawa mati.

Translation:
Debts of gold can be repaid.
Debts of deed can never be
(But will be taken with you to your grave).

The Singaporean gratitude to Mr Lee for bringing them from Third World into the First within a short space of time cannot be easily understood.

During Kim's 2 day stay in Singapore, we largely window-shopped. On Saturday, we had a long walk at East Coast Park by the beach before he flew to KL for the Grand Prix. I spent some time with friends in the evening. I would have a couple more days in Singapore before flying to Kuching.

5550_14283308133591.jpg5550_14283308154525.jpg5550_14283308177029.jpg5550_14283308186005.jpg5550_1428330820523.jpg5550_14283308211099.jpg

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 15) « Page 1 2 [3]