Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Last Night In Kyoto and Dinner In Hotel Room ^^

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As it is the last night in Kyoto, we decide to buy food from supermarkets and eat in our hotel room. And we manage to pack our luggage and bath before settling down for dinner. It is a wonderful and relax dinner and I really do enjoy times like that. Eating dinner on the bed and chatting / gossiping about everything under the sky. 🙂

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Look at the spread! Lol!

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Service in Japan never disappoint but exceeds expectation! Ice packs for our sushi and bento to keep these sashimi fresh even after we return to hotel, pack and bath then eat. Seriously, I am impressed!

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Salads in Japan are so fresh and yummy. Especially their sauces! 😀

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The black ‘seaweed like’ thing on the left is really good! Fried chicken on the right.

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Grilled duck on the most left is so tender and delicious! All the grilled stuffs (Yakitori), especially hearts the chicken skin. Tried Chicken Soft Bone but is so-so. 😛

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Siew-Mai in Japan is really different from Singapore. Nice if don’t compare, haha!

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Mushroom, squid and prawn salad. So fresh and good. Love the taste of this. 🙂

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Dessert. Red Bean Pancake is average. The waffles are leftover from afternoon but still taste so good in the evening! 😀

We are leaving Kyoto the next day for Tokyo. A short 4 days in Kyoto but a memorable and happy one. I love Kyoto’s culture and friendly people. Kyoto, okini!! I will come back again soon~~~ ^^

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Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社)

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Our sad face because we took the express train and it does not stop at Inari Station. When we reach JR Nara Line in Kyoto Station, this express train is already there and we check with one of the station guard if this express train stops at Inari Station, and he said ‘Yes’.

So, happily we board the train thinking ‘Oh how lucky that the train is here and we do not have to wait.’ Only when we realise that the train is taking longer than usual to reach Inari that we realise the train does not stop at Inari and has pass through it. *smacks self*

So… we alight at the next station that the train stops and take the normal train back to Inari Station. Phew~~ lucky it does not take too long. Lol!

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Too happy to see Inari Station that I just have to take a photo with this sign board. 😛

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Once exit Inari Station, Fushimi Inari Shrine is just right outside. My friend call this the Fox Shrine. 😀

It is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto and is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.

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The shrine is really beautiful with bright red-orange-y exterior. 🙂 It is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.

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Now you know why my friend says this is the ‘Fox Shrine’. 😛

Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital’s move to Kyoto in 794.

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Ema and colourful fox tails. I am not too sure what is the meaning of these colourful fox tails. The downside of a free and easy trip, no tour guide to explain to you about the meaning or history of some places or interesting sightings.

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Before the trip, I already make up my mind that I want to write a ‘torii gate’ shape ema when I visit Fushimi Inari Shrine because it is so cute and also, the shrine is famous for it’s rows of torii gates! 😀

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The famous thousands of torii gates in a row leading to Mount Inari. I should have visited this place in the morning because it is so super crowded in the late afternoon that taking a serene photo of the torii gates is not possible because of the crowd in the backdrop.

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The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and the donator’s name and date of the donation are inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.

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We complete the first part of the torii gates trail and decide to end there. Lol.

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Exit the shrine and turn to the right, there is this street with souvenir shops and food stalls.

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Queued long for Takoyaki and it’s just mediocre. I still prefer the ones we have at Nara. Nicer. Hehe.

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Hiroshima Yaki! This is really good! The vegetables below are just so sweet and juicy! If we have more stomach space, I would definitely go buy a 2nd one to eat. 😛

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Arashiyama – 嵐山のTogetsukyo Bridge (渡月桥)

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Finally we are here at Togetsukyo Bridge! It is so crowded that I finally get a clean photo of me and the Togetsukyo Bridge signage. It’s called 渡月桥 in Chinese or Kanji. The view from the bridge is beautiful even though the photos look normal. You need to be there to know it!

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Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama’s most iconic landmark. It was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and most recently reconstructed in the 1930s. And I realise I did not take a photo of the bridge itself! *smacks head*

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It’s the perfect place for photos taking! 😀

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Once we crossed the bridge, we walk a bit around and spot this kawaii Pooh Bear!!! Cannot resist to kiss him. Lol.

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Selfies with the Bear! I bet he says ‘Stop Molesting Me!’ Heh.

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Fooling around because of the good weather, great sunshine, cool breeze, blue sky and mountainous view!

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More fooling around on Togetsukyo on the way back from the other side of the bridge. We are famished and started looking around for food. 😀

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Arashiyama – 嵐山のTenryuji (天龍寺)

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The route towards Togetsukyo Bridge and Tenryuji Temple is the same, and we pass by Tenryuji Temple first before reaching the Bridge. The streets are lined with various souvenir shops and we shopped along while walking to the temple and bridge. 😀

We spot this guard standing on the road and are amazed by his bright green uniform, and so we request a photo with him. He gladly accept our request, I suppose he’s used to tourist taking photos with him? Hehe.

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And here we are! At Tenryuji Temple.

It is the most important temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. It was ranked first among the city’s five great Zen temples, and is now registered as a world heritage site. Tenryuji is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.

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The walkway in from the entrance to the temple.

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Tenryuji was built in 1339 by the ruling shogun Ashikaga Takauji. Takauji dedicated the temple to Emperor Go-Daigo, who had just passed away. The 2 important historic figures used to be allies until Takauji turned against the emperor in a struggle for supremacy over Japan. By building the temple, Takauji intended to appease the former emperor’s spirits.

Tenryuji’s buildings, were repeatedly lost in fires and wars over the centuries, and most of the current halls, including the main hall (Hojo), drawing hall (Shoin) and temple kitchen (Kuri) with its distinctive small tower, date from the relatively recent Meiji Period (1868 – 1912).

It’s a pity that the temple was under renovation when we were there. 😦

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Despite not able to see Tenryuji due to the renovation works, I still enjoy strolling around Tenryuji’s garden due to the beautiful landscape and autumn scene!

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Autumn leafs are really pretty! Red leafs and red torii gates are such a match. 😀

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There are various other buildings at the temple grounds. Not too sure about their history but I personally love these japanese architecture design.

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If only these maple leafs are red!

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Even though cherry blossoms and flowers during spring are beautiful, I am more for autumn season. The red, yellow, green mixture creates a mood that is somehow romantic, quiet and peaceful. Fall, I love you more than Sakuras.

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After Tenryuji Temple, there’s a shop opposite it selling Soya Bean flavor ice cream. It’s really really good! Soya Bean taste is so nice and fragrant, ice cream is smooth and not too sweet because it’s soya bean! Yummy! 😀

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A selfie of happy us with our Soya Bean Ice Cream before embarking down the road to Togetsugyo Bridge. 🙂

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Taking the Kintetsu Railway to Nara!

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We take the subway line from Gojo Station to Kyoto Station and transfer to Kintetsu Railway to Nara. We have pre-purchased the tickets at the Kintetsu Ticket Office on the first day and by the way, JR pass does not cover Kintetsu Railway. 🙂

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This is the mascot of Nara at Kyoto Kintetsu Railway Station. Heh.

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There’s a big family mart within the station and we buy some snacks and drinks to munch on the train later (look at the plastic bag in my hand). In Japan, we are allow to eat on train and sorta a kind of culture that I really love, and so I have to enjoy such privileges as much as possible. If you eat on train in my country, you will get fine big time. 😛

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The snacks and drinks that I bought. Super love the dark chocolate milk drink. It comes in such a nice and convenient packaging, I thought.

Anyway, we actually get on the wrong car no. and sit on an auntie’s seat! Luckily, she is nice and explains to us where’s our car no. At the very last minute, we rush down and run to the correct car no. 本地に緊張ですね!

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Isn’t this too cute!!! And it’s very yummy and chocolate-ly but not too sweet! Thinking about this now makes me craves for it so much. 😀

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Selfie of us in the train! The journey takes about 45 minutes or so to reach Kintetsu Nara Station. We are excited to meet the deers or rather, only I am excited. Lol!

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – The Breakfast Before Nara :)

20140226-122943.jpg I know I have been neglecting this blog for quite sometime because I’m just too lazy to start typing. Hur. Anyway, Day 3 (3 November) plan is to go for a Nara day trip. 🙂

Before we leave our cozy hotel for the train station, I have my egg roll which I bought at Nishiki Market the day before for breakfast.

20140226-123008.jpg The egg roll is good! So tender and egg-y plus not too sweet. Oh well I love this kind of egg so much that usually I can have it for breakfast almost everyday in Japan. Heh. Too bad I did not manage to buy the one with unagi wrap inside, I suppose it will be much more yummier!

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Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Breakfast and Subway / Bus to Kinkakuji!

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2 December 2013 – We wake up around 6.30am and are planning to leave the hotel around 8am. I love Citadines Kyoto because it provides a very homely and cosy feel which allows me to sleep very well even on the first night! 😀

Hui Ping has the tuna salad (bought from the supermarket near our hotel) for breakfast. I try a bit of the salad and I fell in love with the sauce! It’s neither Wafu Sauce nor Sesame Sauce and I do not know how to describe the taste of the sauce either, but it is really good!

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The hotel provides a small packet of cookie that is very buttery and delicious, which I have it for breakfast. But I am not sure if it is refillable because it is never being replenished in the room every since I eat it. Haha.

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A photo a day at the entrance of the hotel. The grey knitted top is the one that I bought at Uniqlo the day before. It is quite thick and really keeps warm!

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At Gojo Subway Station waiting for train. There are several ways to go to Kinkakuji but the more efficient way is to travel by the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Subway Station and transfer to a bus. Oh remember to grab a bus route map from Kyoto Station Tourist Information Centre (we collected ours the day before) as it is very useful for planning the route.

And also we bought the Traffica Kyo Card (3000 Yen, but the usage is up to 3300 Yen) which can be used on all buses and subways. We purchased it at the Tourist Information Centre in Kyoto Station too. However, do note that there is no refund of any remaining amount. 3300 Yen was just enough for us during our stay in Kyoto for 4 days.

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The journey to Kitaoji Subway Station takes about 15 minutes. Once alighted, just followed the signage towards Kitaoji Bus Terminal.

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There are 2 link-way to go to Kitaoji Bus Terminal from the Kitaoji Subway Station. One blue and one red. So just go towards the blue one. And you will see the bus terminal. Look for the one going to Kinkakuji and Bus 101 / 102 and start queuing.

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The bus comes in a while. In Kyoto, we have to board the bus from the back door and then press the bell when the stop that you are alighting flashes on the screen. Insert the Kyo Card into the machine for fee deduction before alighting through the front door.

The seats are all cushioned on the bus! Though comfy, we notice that the seats are so narrow that tall people like us find it a little cramp. Nonetheless, we do enjoy the 10 minutes bus ride looking at the passing street view and immerse ourselves into Kyoto’s morning. 🙂

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Alighted at Kinkakuji Bus Stop and cannot resist taking photos with the beautiful cafe exterior design and the pinkish wall!

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Directions to Kinkakuji from Kinkakuji Bus Stop: While facing the cafe after alighting from the bus, turn to the left and walk towards the traffic junction, then we immediately spot this huge signage to Kinkakuji. Probably a 10-15 minutes walk. 🙂

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – It is all about food and shop in Kyoto Day 1 :)

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It’s unbelievable how I managed to survive carrying a 26 inch luggage and a big hand carry bag up several flights of stairs in the subway station in order to arrive at the hotel. Amazing me. Still glad that I still have the energy to go out immediately after checking-in to hotel room. 😀

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First, we explore the streets just outside our hotel and I really love staying here! There’s a 24 hour supermarket along the street (on same side as our hotel, turn left upon exiting hotel entrance) and I love supermarket in Japan! So much snacks, and what’s not to buy!

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As we have not taken any food since we shared the waffle on NEX, we decide to buy sushi and dessert from the supermarket to eat. We settle at a small bench next to the supermarket and start on our first sushi in Kyoto. It’s yummy even though it’s from the supermarket. Awww….. how I love Japan!

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Our dessert! Glutinous rice top with sweet and big fat red bean!!! I really do not understand why red beans are always so damn delicious in Japan. Cos grass is greener on the other side? Hur.

We continue exploring the street and are delighted to find a drugs store and a 100 Yen shop around! There’s a super huge 7-11 on the opposite street. There’s a Yayoiken Restaurant and MacDonald on the right side of the hotel.  Now you know why I love staying at Citadines Kyoto!

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There’s an Aeon Mall nearby to Kyoto Station. It’s actually next to New Miyako Hotel. If you go from Kyoto Station, either look for New Miyako Hotel direction or Hachiko Exit of Kyoto Station. Kyoto Station is big and quite complicated but it really has everything! Shopping malls (a lot!), underground shopping mall (there’s 2!), restaurants (a lot!), Drugs Store and supermarkets (a lot!).

Once you get use to the station layout, it’s actually easy to navigate but be prepared to walk a lot! Back to Aeon Mall, there are 2 sides of Aeon mall separated by a bridge. The one on the right side has more restaurants and shopping. Uniqlo, Muji, Gap, Daiso and some individual shops. Oh, and a huge supermarket too!

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Christmas decorations are already all around on 1 November 2013 (that’s really early!) and how I love them! The stairs are decorated with many Santa Clauses but I thought they look more like the 7 dwarfs. Opps!

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First thing into the mall is to look for food for dinner! I know we just had sushi and dessert but those are like snacks. Haha. Google this Shabu Shabu Buffet Restaurant before my trip and seems like the reviews are not bad. So we decide to come and try. It’s call Shabu Shabu Ku Raku.

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Happy me. I thought the price is cheap (I think around $20+ per pax) so do not expect great variety of food or what’s not. But it’s enough to satisfy me. Notice the pot of soup, it’s actually plain water. Most people has the misconception that Shabu Shabu soup is like chicken soup or pork bone soup cos it’s like that in Singapore.

But in fact, if you have Shabu Shabu in Japan, the soup is just plain water. You are not supposed to drink it. It’s just for the purpose of cooking your food. The main highlight is the dipping sauce!

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We had pork and beef. Well it’s not the best-est meat that I have (with nice marble and all) but it’s really not bad. The slices are thick and the meat are fresh! I mean those I have in Singapore are really thin that I have to cook 3 slices together in order to taste the meat. Lol.

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Sauce! This is soup (not sure what kind of soup), add a little Yuzu Sauce (I think it has pepper in the sauce as well) and green onion. Dip the meat in it and yums! I really love the sauce much!

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There’re also mushrooms, vegetables, udon and ramen at the counter for grab. Hui Ping took this photo of me looking disgruntled. But I am not. 😛

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Free flow of Vanilla Ice Cream which is so rich in milk! Slurps.

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After dinner, we see Daiso and we go crazy in it cos it’s so so so big! It’s 100 yen for everything and almost everything you need.

Then, we shop at Uniqlo and I bought like 2 winter jackets (the fat and fluffy kind, one for mum and one for myself) and also a knitted above knee top to match with leggings. OMG. Uniqlo is damn cheap in Japan (Of cos la, duh! It’s Japanese brand) and I nearly killed myself when the 2 jackets that I bought here are later on put on sale in Tokyo. It’s like a further discount of another $20! Smacks self on the forehead.

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Hui Ping needs to go to the ladies and so I settle down on the bench outside to wait for her after buying this apple tea from the vending machine. But I do not really like it. It’s not the drink, I think it’s just me. I don’t like the combination of apple and tea, it just…. taste… weird.

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We walk back to Kyoto Station and the temperature has dropped a little since night is here. Walk pass this restaurant selling fruit tarts and is attracted by the rows of display! We order 1 slice to share and we chose the cheapest one. Haha. This slice cost like $9! But it’s so yummy with the fresh fruits on top and the smooth cream below coupled with a crispy buttery crust at the bottom.

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No these are not from the fruit tart restaurant, we bought them from a bakery store next door. Love the Halloween Themed Bread which has curry filling inside. But I didn’t get to eat it cos I left it in the fridge and totally forgotten about it. Hu!

The pudding is yummy! I have it for breakfast on a certain morning. It has this vanilla custard taste and, is so soft and smooth! 😀

Time to call it a day and we return to our hotel for rest. Looking forward to the next day as it’s a day of sightseeing and history digging!

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – 11 hours To Kyoto!

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Upon clearing the custom and collecting our luggages, we proceed to the JR Office to exchange for the actual JR Pass which we purchased in Singapore and, also make reservation for Narita Express (NEX) and Shinkansen. Note that JR Pass must be purchased outside of Japan, and reservation for seats is free with JR Pass.

Here we are waiting at the platform for NEX (departing at 9.45am) to Shinagawa Station to transfer to Shinkansen for Kyoto.

Tip: Most people will transfer at Tokyo Station but Tokyo Station is big and more complicated, hence, the more straightforward transfer will be at Shinagawa Station.

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We are boarding Narita Express 12, so just look out on the electronic board to check if you are at the right track.  Then proceed to the respective car no. as indicated on the ticket (it will be indicated somewhere on the platform) and wait there.

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Happily waiting for NEX to be here. 😀

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The trains in Japan will always arrive earlier than the departure time either for the cleaners to clean up the train first before allowing passengers to board or time allowance for boarding. Note: The trains depart damn promptly in Japan, so be punctual, otherwise, if miss the train, that’s it! Hur.

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Once the train departs, we immediately saw blue sky! Yeah! First sight of Japan since arrival! A pretty day!

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The whole journey will take 1 hour and 8 minutes, arriving at 10.53am. Train arrival timing are often damn accurate too. Oh well, it’s Japan and my favorite country! As for luggages, NEX has space in front of each car for storing, but we place it in front of our legs instead since there’s a big seat space allowance. It’s just nice for me, with my legs against the luggage. Not the most comfortable position but still manageable. 🙂

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Of cos there are food services on train! Since it’s early morning, we shared a cuppa coffee and a waffle. Yums!

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Keep a look out of the station on the electronic board on train while eating!

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After arriving at Shinagawa Station, just go up an escalator and walk a little (could not remember exactly the directions but it’s very easy with signage and all) to transfer to Shinkansen. Similarly, look out for the electronic board for the Shinkansen track no. and stand at the car no. assigned to wait for it.

Horror stories have been shared about waiting at the wrong track or how complicated it is to board trains in Japan. Well, I would not say it’s simple but it’s definitely not complicated. Haha. Just need to be alert and keep smart!

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In Shinkansen, there is mininal space or rather no space to store big luggages. But it is also impossible for me to travel light cos I have lots of barang barang to bring and buy from Japan. Lol.

So no choice. I brought a 26 inch luggage and place it in front of my legs. I thought Shinkansen seat space allowance is slightly bigger than NEX, so it’s more comfortable, alright just slightly more comfortable.

I suppose the bigger luggage can also fit into the space in front of me cos I saw people bringing bigger ones! It can be taller than mine but definitely cannot be fatter. However, it does pose a little inconvenience to the people sitting by the window next to me when he / she needs to alight (I am seated in the middle). And also, the people sitting in front may have difficulty reclining his / her seat too much.

Nonetheless, Japanese are kind and helpful as I have not received unhappy faces or words from them because of this. Appreciated it!

The journey from Shinagawa to Kyoto is 2 hours 40 minutes. Damn long and I am restless throughout the journey because I have already seated for 7 hours (on flight) and 1 hour (on NEX) before that! If I add all the hours up, it takes me 11 hours in total to get to Kyoto!

Once arriving in Kyoto Station (which is big!), we go around lugging our luggages to purchase tickets for our day trips and tickets to return to Tokyo. We then proceed to Kyoto Subway Station to take a subway to Gojo Subway Station which is where our hotel Citadines Karasuma Gojo Kyoto is located.

To our horror after arriving Gojo Station, the nearest exit to the hotel (Exit 1) does not have elevators or escalators. There are flights of stairs ONLY! We brave the staircases with our luggages and manage to reach ground level safely. Haha!

Lucky us, the hotel is just steps away from the exit! 😛

Autumn Story In Japan 2013 – Flying to Japan again after 8 months!

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31 October Night – OOTD for flight to Japan! I have been planning for a Free and Easy travel to Japan, mainly – Tokyo (just for shopping), Kyoto, Nara, Hakone and Kawaguchiko – to hunt down the many World Heritage places.

The planning took me several months because I am one for details and also, I totally have no idea on how to read a map. Alright, maybe simple map, yes, but not the complicated ones. For someone like me, I will need to research on the easiest way of transport to tourist attractions as well as description of directions. Oh well. I am done and here we go.

Oh and I managed to catch hold of the SQ promotion which cost me ‘all-in’ $788 for a return flight to Tokyo. (If only the luggage check-in weight increment to 30kg is implemented earlier) Heh!

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This time round, I am not going with my parents. I am travelling with one of my best-est friend, Hui Ping. It has been 4 years since I last traveled with her!

We met up for an early check-in and settled down at Coffee Bean for salad and hot drinks before the flight. The salad at Coffee Bean is bad. I like the shredded chicken, egg, tomatoes, cheese and all but the sauce is really too much and overwhelming!

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This time round, I got the seats at the upper deck of SQ A380 and it is definitely a much better experience than the previous time when I was seated at the lower deck. It is more quiet, less busy and the seats are 2 by 4 by 2. The window seats have a storage compartment (which is quite spacious) by the side which is so much more convenient for me to store my barang barang.

But remember, do not choose row 74! Because there is no storage compartment for this row. I choose it unknowingly for my return flight. 😦

After 7 hours of sleep, awake by baby crying, sleep, awake by baby crying, we finally saw the sun rising into the sky! The baby crying is really non-tolerable because he is crying non-stop! Cried for 10 minutes stop for 5 minutes and cries again. How lucky am I when I meet the same baby again on my return flight. Oh well.

Nonetheless, since I am on a holiday mood, nothing can spoil it and I remain excited + happy that I am landing in Japan soon! 😀

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Landed around 7.30am (Japan time). The queue at the immigration is terrible as it is super long! I thought I should take a photo of the long queue (since I am too bored queuing). Suddenly, one of the officer shouts at me to stop taking photo. Fine.

My first encounter of a fierce Japanese in my so many trips. Alright, I think not the first one but one of the rare happenings. 😛

This post is not too interesting since it is mostly about me ranting on and on. Opps. I shall end here.