Jan 25, 2015

Koyo (Autumn) in Japan

I think I have mentioned it before, my dslr died when I was in Tokyo last autumn due to water. And I had to rely on my friend's camera and my handphone for most of the photos. Besides sakura, autumn is another season whereby most of the places in Japan is full of tourists. For koyo viewing and it's much longer period than sakura.

I checked that the time I was there (mid Oct) was not the peak season for koyo yet. Leaves are still in green and we only saw full blown autumn in Nikko, which is around 3 hours away from Tokyo city. Yes, we purposely sit 3 hours of train to see the autumn leaves. When we were there, I kind of regret not staying a night so that we can queue for the cable car.

Most the autumn photos are taken using my Samsung S3. Not as nice as dslr but better than nothing.

Floor full of autumn leaves

The famous bridge in Nikko, Shinkyo bridge

Kegon waterfall at Nikko

So nice

Jan 20, 2015

What Snacks to Buy in Japan, or At Least What I Bought

my haul from Japan

I kind of compile a list of food stuff that I bought from my two trips to Japan. Can't say I am the expert in this but I kind of observed and see what other tourists bought, haha.

The list goes like this:

Many flavours of Tokyo Banana

1. Tokyo banana
This one I totally went crazy the last time I went to Tokyo. Story goes like this. I first saw someone holding the tokyo banana bag when I was in Kansai airport and almost everyone was holding one. So I came back and googled. The next time I went to Tokyo, I sapu so many boxes but mostly for other people la but I think I bought almost 10 boxes. There is one flavour only available at Tokyo skytree. We walked all the way there. Regretted didn't buy more. And I kept a few in the fridge to extend the shelf life which is usually a week. Both the hot and cold version taste very good.
Verdict: Highly recommend and it comes in many flavours

The many Kit Kat universe
credit to japanverse
2. Kit Kat
I bought three boxes in Osaka with green tea, sakura and hokkaido red bean. Came back to Malaysia and saw these flavours, I can get in Sukiya, sigh..waste my effort in carrying. So I googled other flavours and bought a lot more in Tokyo, this time in smaller packs as I was not planning to give anyone, haha.

photo credit to Cheryltay

3. Potato Farm chips
This by far the best chips I ever tasted. Period. Much much better than Mcd fries, haha

photo credit to Shizuokagourmet
4. Japanese mochi
I prefer the one I got from Kyoto called Yatsuhashi, shaped like a triangle. I got this a lot when I was in Kyoto last time. The normal round balls mochi were kind of too sweet for me.

check out all the flavours
credit to japanstyle.info
5. Pocky
Again, it's available in Malaysia but for the different flavours you can't get here.

6. Royce chocolate and potatochips
I got this again because I saw some air stewardess rushing into the tax free shop in Haneda airport and grabbed so many. I asked one of them, "Is this good (referring to the chocolate)?" She replied, "Royce is the best chocolate in Japan." Needless to say, I was sold and bought one pack home. Had to wrapped it with ice pack to prevent from melting. And not forgetting the very unique potatochips in chocolate. Fattening but so addictive!

Jan 13, 2015

Experience in a Public Bath House or Onsen in Japan

I think I kind of wrote about this in a very short version detailing my experience when I went to Tokyo last time. Since I don't have the photos to show how it actually looks like as we are not allowed to bring in cameras into the bath/onsen (duh!), the pictures shown were ripped off from the world wide web.

You see, I kind of prepare myself with the onsen experience by reading all the guides and articles on how to behave or how to bathe in the public bath area. And not forgetting the experience shared by my friend who used to study in Tokyo on how he got a super culture shock when he need to strip and bathe in nude in front of strangers. I was laughing so hard when he recalled the experience to me and never in my life I thought I would experience the same thing.

But, there is always a but, I never knew that the capsule hotel that we booked in Haneda airport will be the first time I bathed in nude in front of strangers. When we reached the capsule hotel, it's called First Cabin, we checked in and brought to our beds. And then we were handed with a flyer on how to behave and use the public bath. I think my friends' face went a little pale seeing that it's a public bath and they insisted not to bathe after sitting through 7 hour of flight! I was shocked as well but I need to clean myself before sleeping and the only way to do it was through the public bath.

The stools that you are suppose to sit on and clean yourself before dipping into the pool next to it
photo credit to itravelstories.blogspot
So I gathered my stuff, the hotel provide a big and hand towel and pajamas for those who stayed there and I went to the outer area of the public bath. Already saw naked woman running around, ok more like they were stripping like it's the most normal thing in the world. I kind of stunned not knowing what to do and stand there like an idiot for like 5 minutes. Then I saw some private showers and thought of waiting for it but it was full. Then I just thought, 'Screw it la, since I am in Japan, must try the public bath'. And off I went and joined those obasan for a very naked and public bath, haha.

Turned out it was not that bad. Shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and facial scrub were all provided and dare say they were all expensive stuff (Shiseido brand, until now I still remember how silky smooth my hair after using them). I sat on the stool and start looking, even brought in my specs, haha, trying to figure out how to behave or more like bathe, haha. After looking and spying, I got the hang of it. You are supposed to bathe and clean yourself before dipping into the pool. And truthfully having nearsightedness really helps as I can't really see those naked obasan except for the outline of their body, haha.

Some do's and dont's in the public bath/onsen
photo credit to rocketnews24
So the next time when I was in a ryokan, I was so prepared to bathe naked in front of obasans but too bad the ryokan onsen is more like a private one where we can locked the door and have the whole bath area and onsen to our self. And that sums up the most daring thing I ever done while travelling, there are a few others but that's for another day.

Here's the onsen at the ryokan that we booked
photo credit to Agoda

Jan 10, 2015

Ratu Boko @ Yogyakarta

If I can use one word to describe this place, it would be "It's Not Worth It", ok make that four words.

Seriously, I almost fainted when I went to the counter to buy the tickets. It's USD 13 which translate into almost RM 50. If I were there for the sunset, I would not mind at all but the sky was crying and the sun was nowhere to be seen. My heart also crying after paying about RM100 for 2 tickets into the temple. Ratu Boko is not too far away from Prambanan temple. I think the driver was a bit shocked when we asked him to bring us there as I guess not many people went there and now I know why. I wished I did some proper research before suggesting the temple. We could turn back after reaching there but sigh, damage to the wallet was done.

If Borobudur is a good place to watch the sunrise, Ratu Boko is the best place for sunset. And I had to admit that from the photos that I googled, it was definitely one of the good place for sunset viewing.

The temple was practically empty when we reached there around 3pm after Prambanan. We started with Borobudur temple and then followed by Prambanan and lastly Ratu Boko. Temples overload. We just spent less than an hour here as it was drizzling ans we were knackered from the temples marathon, lol. So it was just few clicking here and there and walked from one end to another.

So, do I regret going there? Yes. Frankly I would rather spend the money on more batiks, haha. Could have bought another two sets of cloth or rather 3 sets of cloth with that amount of money.

Jan 4, 2015


One last place I kind of forgot to write about is Osaka. I tend to forget that we actually flew into Kansai and went to Kyoto from there back in April. Ya, I know, outdated post again. This will be the last of the Kyoto, Osaka sakura adventure before another adventure coming this April.

I did not planned to spend much time in Osaka as it is a city and like many other cities, it is full of people and tall buildings, not my kind of holiday. I prefer something exotic and different. But, there is always but...I kind of regret not spending more time here. This place is like a shopping heaven, tonnes to stuff and things to see. We actually went to Osaka during the last two days of our trip and only spend a night there. Went to see some night view and the famous Glico man at night and the next day at the Osaka castle. And then back to Dotonbori for more shopping. Regretted that we only discovered GU so late that we had to rush in and shopped until the very last minute before making it to the airport. Luckily our flight was at night.

The famous Glico man in Dotonbori

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle ground area

Osaka city

And total regret to buy all those skincare and SKII from Japan as it was not that cheap and busted my weight allowance. Only found out the hard way that Japanese follow the rules very much until I had to pay extra to check in another bag. A word of caution though for those flying into Japan, if you bought 20 kilos of weight, make sure that you don't bust the limit or else be prepared to pay for the penalty. I busted about 3 kilos and they even weighed by hand carry. Sadly, hand carry also busted, all busted. No choice but to pay extra RM 100 to check in another bag. Or else, I think I had to start throwing things in the airport and made a big scene.

Ok, enough of sidetrack. A little tip, we bought the day pass for the Osaka travel by train/subway and we got a discount for the castle entrance. There are a few perks for getting the pass, so make sure you read through and ask the counter staff for any discount.