Siem Reap, Day 5: Shopping + More Food Trip

r. Kim fetched us before lunch so that we could eat (again) in IL FORNO.

When we got there, we decided to eat in the same spot where we dined 3 days ago. One of the servers and Marzio, the owner, recognized us and smiled at us. Was it too obvious that we love their food?

FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Our last day in Siem Reap was just spent shopping and eating. We woke up quite late since we did not have anything important in our itinerary then Mr. Kim fetched us before lunch so that we could eat (again) in IL FORNO.

When we got there, we decided to eat in the same spot where we dined 3 days ago. One of the servers and Marzio, the owner, recognized us and smiled at us. Was it too obvious that we love their food? 🙂

We ordered pesto (for pasta), cheese platter, and pizza al funghi. I am semi lactose intolerant so I don’t know why I initiated ordering the cheese platter. Everything in our plate (taleggio, spicy primo sale, gorgonzola, mozzarella, honey, nuts, pears) tasted good, although I ended up regretting a little bit why I ate too much of them.

The home-made tagliolini al pesto was excellent! Not too oily and you could really taste that fresh herbs were used for this. Serving was just good for one (hungry) person though so good thing we still ordered a pizza.

We were supposed to order one main dish but the waiter (who was familiar to us) told us that we would not be able to finish our food if we ordered a main dish. At first we were skeptical but turned out that he was right.

It was good that they were consistent with how they made their pizza — a tiny hint of burnt crust, thin and chewy, and generous with the toppings. We enjoyed our pizza al funghi and even if we already finished the cheese platter and pasta, we were able to eat all pizza slices. *oink?*

Homemade tagliolini al pesto
Cheese platter (gorgonzola, taleggio, spicy primo sale, fior de latte mozzarella, olives, honey, nuts, pears)

While eating, we were trying to plan having an early dinner before we go to the airport. But when we finished our lunch at past 2PM, we were too full already and we could feel that we would not yet be hungry by 5:30PM.

We walked around the area and did some last minute shopping after lunch. After that, we walked to BLOSSOM CAFE AND TRAINING CENTRE for desserts.

The place is best known for cupcakes that are “too beautiful to eat, too delicious to resist”, as their tagline says. Indeed, their cupcakes looked really pretty! Plus they offer a lot of flavors so if you have a sweet tooth, it will be difficult to choose which one to eat. But, what is more interesting about Blossom Cafe is that this is also run by an NGO that provides assistance to Cambodian women through vocational training. Similar to Marum Restaurant. 🙂

We stayed there until 5PM, and Mr. Kim fetched us so that we could pack the items we bought that afternoon. Before we bid goodbye, we had an obligatory picture taking. Yay! Let me give you a quick rundown why we deem Mr. Kim (of Kim Cambodia Driver) as one of the best tuktuk drivers in Siem Reap:

  • Responds promptly in e-mails
  • Can negotiate rates, even volunteers discount — case in point, his rates do not include sunrise & sunset viewing in Angkor Park but he gave these for free for our 2 days in the main Angkor Park complex (i.e. those days not in Banteay Srei/Kbal Spean)
  • Unlimited COLD water! Very much appreciated especially during our temple run days. He had a small cooler in his tuktuk and even during the afternoon, water bottles were still cold.
  • Very flexible in terms of pick-up/drop-off arrangements — initially we only booked him for Angkor Park trips but we ended up getting him as our tuktuk driver for the WHOLE TRIP, including non-temple run days; there were also a few occasions when we changed our mind on pick-up/drop-off time and he was okay with the changes
  • Punctual, already waiting in front of the house even before call time
  • Recommends activities in case you have free time and no itinerary yet. I remember he showed us brochure for Flight of the Gibbon and Phare, the Cambodian Circus. We did not avail any of the activities since we felt that our itinerary was already enough, but in case interested, he can buy the tickets since he knows locals working there.
  • Very caring as he bought us free unripe mangoes and a local snack (sticky rice inside a bamboo shoot)
  • Cheerful guy, he likes to laugh and smile during conversations

After having our photos with him, we also had one taken with our Airbnb host, Bunthai. As I mentioned in my first post for Siem Reap travel series, you won’t regret booking with her. I provided a review for her listing as well (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5140353).

At around 6PM, Mr. Somnang fetched us and drove us to the airport. Ride was about 20 minutes and we got there, we found out that check-in would still be 8:30 or 9PM. There was only one restaurant outside the airport — not in the mood for the food they offer, no Wi-Fi so Kim and I kept on regretting out loud how we were not able to eat in Il Forno for dinner…

aThen, Kim had a bright idea — call Mr. Kim to pick us up at the airport and bring us to Il Forno. And so we did. Good thing Mr. Kim was available at that time so after about 30 minutes of waiting, he arrived at the airport and we rode his tuktuk again. Hooray to spontaneity?!

When we reached Il Forno, the place was jam-packed! Good thing there were 2 seats left and it was amazing because it was “our” spot, the table where we ate for the past 2 occasions. Marzio approached us and we told him that we wanted gnocchi and a main dish. Unfortunately, he told us that we would have to wait for 40 minutes because the orders ahead of us were for big groups. I think we were unable to hold back our sad + disappointed looks since he suddenly said that if he could give us pizza quickly, especially because we had a flight to catch. We were already happy with that since we absolutely loved the pizza  at this place so we ordered Pizza Ricca.

It usually takes 10-15 minutes for the pizza to arrive so we kept ourselves busy with chatting. We were surprised though that 5 minutes after ordering, the pizza was already served to us. We looked if they brought the wrong order but it was Pizza Ricca. We were deeply moved by their concern and service for us, which made the pizza taste even better. The pizza was still cooked perfectly, not undercooked, so we kind of thought if this was an order for another table and they just gave it to us since we were in a hurry. Now that kind of concern and service is something that you won’t be able to experience in all dining places. Before we left, we just had to give our biggest thanks to Marzio for the impeccable service they provided us.

Pizza Ricca

After our wonderful dinner at Il Forno, Mr. Kim drove us back to the airport and this time, for real, we bid farewell to each other. Flight back to Manila was not delayed, thankfully. Kim had an awesome foreigner seatmate who is working here in MNL. We exchanged some stories of our Siem Reap trip and he gave me advice for my BKK trip for March. Even until the end, we still got to talk to a fellow traveler which was really cool for me. 🙂

Despite the intense heat, Siem Reap will be a majestic place for me and the kindness of the people is something that I will never forget. Til the next time we see each other again, Siem Reap!

—————————————-

Before I end this post, a big shout out to my best friend, Kim, who made this trip very memorable! Even if we are total opposites when it comes to traveling — I’m a planner, she is more spontaneous — we really had good chemistry. No bickering, no negative feelings, just pure fun and kulitan. Cheers to our first awesome travel… and cheers to more travels together in the future! ❤

 

LINKS TO OTHER SIEM REAP 2016 POSTS:

Siem Reap, Day 0-1: Angkor Archaeological Park – 8 Park Stops in 1 Day

Siem Reap, Day 2: Il Forno, Quad Adventure Cambodia, Miss Wong, Pub Street

Siem Reap, Day 3: 10 Park Stops in 1 Day, Touich Restaurant

Siem Reap, Day 4: Outskirts of Angkor Park, Bugs Cafe, Lemongrass Garden Massage

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa

We arrived at Sensoji Temple at past 8AM and the place was deserted. Total opposite of the Sunday vibe and environment

Shops started to open a few minutes after 9AM. At around 9:30, the number of people also started increasing and the streets slowly got busier.

JANUARY 20, 2016

We only had a few hours left before our airport service picks us up in our lodging. Our only destination was to go back to SENSOJI TEMPLE to buy local street food. During our visit last January 17, we saw tents near Hondo that were selling all sorts of food — steamed sweet potato, takoyaki, crab claws, big crab meat on sticks, etc. We were not able to buy back then since we were following Toshi-san around and it was almost lunch time.

We arrived at Sensoji Temple at past 8AM and the place was deserted. Total opposite of the Sunday vibe and environment.

The only people around were locals who quickly visit Hondo before going to work/school.

Shops started to open a few minutes after 9AM. At around 9:30, the number of people also started increasing and the streets slowly got busier. A rice cake shop caught my attention because of the cute edible designs they sold.

We were looking for a shop that sells Adidas shoes when we chanced upon a long alley near the temple that is full of shops. Most of them were still closed but there was a shop there that sells luggage. I bought a hand-carry luggage there so that I can transfer my other pasalubongs + I now have my own hand-carry luggage. No need to borrow one from a relative or friend, yay!

I took a look at some of the bags and clothing stores opened there, and they sell affordable items. T.T Such a pity but I guess that’s a good reason to go back here. We went back to our unit after the shopping trip and finished our final packing.

Our driver arrived promptly and he spoke English well. If I am not mistaken, my office mate booked our van with TOKYO AIRPORTER (http://www.tokyoairporter.com/fares.html) since we paid the exact rate of 21,000 yen for an 8-seater van. No other or hidden additional charges like tax, toll, parking as the rate in their site is already “ALL IN”. We had to get the 8-seater instead of the 5-seater van since 3 of us in the group (including me) had 3 luggage each, while our other office mate has a backpack and a suitcase. If you are a group of 4-8 people with at least 2 luggage each, we highly recommend availing this rather than pulling your suitcases to ride a train or take a bus.

We were already in Narita Airport at around noontime. Our flight was scheduled in the evening so we had lots of time to eat, shop, and chill in the airport. It was in an airport shop where I finally found the ViVi issue where Reina Triendl is part of the cover page. YAAAAYYY!!! I also bought the latest tankobon of One Piece there. *-*

It is still quite surreal that I was able to finally visit Japan. Tokyo has been one of my must-visit destinations since high school and now that I have done it, I can’t wait to go back to Japan and explore the other areas — Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Hiroshima, and many more.

Til we see each other again, Japan. じゃあね!

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 4: Meiji Jingu, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, and More Food Trip

We started our 6th day in Tokyo really early — left our Airbnb place a few minutes after 5AM to catch an early train going to TSUKIJI MARKET. It was really cold that morning for me, around 4C and when we reached Tsukiji Market, it got even colder because of the wind.

JANUARY 19, 2016

We started our 6th day in Tokyo really early — left our Airbnb place a few minutes after 5AM to catch an early train going to TSUKIJI MARKET. It was really cold that morning for me, around 4C and when we reached Tsukiji Market, it got even colder because of the wind.

Our first mission that morning was to look for the famous SUSHI DAI or SUSHI DAIWA. Once we found the long line, J stayed behind. We thought that it was the line for Daiwa which has faster turnaround since they have more seats but we later learned that the line was for Dai (the original shop). The rest of us in the group decided to look for other breakfast options…

A few sites recommended this because of the huge crab meat but they did NOT mention about the generous amount of wasabi flavor here… ended up eating 2 bites of this only

We spent 3 hours going around the market, buying food, and resting inside a coffee shop. We also encountered a woman handing out survey forms to tourists. Main topic is Tsukiji market and the move that is going to happen late this year. I read a few articles saying that the relocation is mainly due to sanitation and safety reasons. Guess we were lucky enough to see Tsukiji in its original area before the big move.

After 3 hours, we decided to go back to Sushi Dai to check if our J had already eaten. To our surprise, she was still in line so we told her we would go around some more. After a 5-minute walk, I saw a sign that we were in GINZA already. Too bad though that all of the stores were still closed.

When we returned to Sushi Dai at past 10AM, J was already done and she said that every penny was worth it in Sushi Dai. The place charges 4,000 yen for 10 sushi pieces, in case you’re wondering. Sushi is served omakase style, meaning you leave it up to the chef to come up with the different kinds of sushi. There is no fixed menu but rest assure that each sushi is fresh and tastes really good. My office mate also said that you can order extra pieces of sushi.

After our visit in Tsukiji Market, our next stop was KAWAGOE. We boarded a train going to Takadanobaba Station, and bought tickets for Honkawagoe Station. The purchase was quite confusing though since the employee was not fluent in English. She showed us a poster that highlights a Kawagoe package. She said that it already includes 2-way ticket via New Red Arrow Line (reserved seating, scheduled rides) and bus pass in Kawagoe. We bought it and since we still had almost an hour before our train ride, we ate a light lunch in a nearby shop.

About 10 minutes before the scheduled departure, we went inside the station to look for New Red Arrow’s platform. Do not make the mistake of boarding trains randomly. Always ask around. We asked nearby locals if the train already arrived. We showed them the ticket and they would shake their heads to say that the train was not yet there.

True to the character of punctuality, our train arrived on time. It was clean and the seats were comfortable enough that I drifted to dreamland after a few minutes of sitting down. The doors connecting each cabin were also awesome because there was no knob or handle; instead, I had my hand near the door surface and motioned it like I was swiping on an invisible surface. Should have taken a video of it for better demonstration, lol.

Inside the reserved seating train

The ride to Honkawagoe was about 45 minutes and we were at a loss where to go out. Eventually, we found it but the problem was finding the bus going to Old Town. After speaking with an employee in the station, he gave us a map with bus schedules and when we checked the time, it was already boarding time for the Koedo Loop Bus (http://www.koedo.or.jp/foreign/english/bus/). I ran like crazy when I saw the bus from the exit, and when I reached the bus, the driver had just closed the doors. I knocked loudly at the door and the old driver laughingly opened it. Now that I think about it, that was really embarrassing!

We remembered that we bought a package so we showed our train ticket but the driver did not accept it. Not sure if the employee in Takadanobaba forgot to give our bus tickets, ugh. Since we did not know the distance of the places, we bought a 1-day unli pass. It was a waste in the end because we did not ride the bus anymore after that. Also, from the station, Old Town is apparently just walking distance. The loop bus drove around different spots in Kawagoe before we reached Old Town. No regrets though because at least we can all say that we were able to ride a vintage Japan bus.

It was amazing to see lots of snow in Kawagoe at that day because in Tokyo, there was just little snow left. A few roofs even had small icicles with water dripping due to the heat. The old buildings looked amazing! This long stretch of Old Town was able to preserve the vibe and look of the Edo period.

What else to do but take pictures, look into shops, and find a restaurant that sells unagi which this place is known for…

Unfortunately, an unagi restaurant was nowhere in sight and when I checked Google Maps, it was quite far and we only had less than 2 hours to explore the place before our scheduled train trip back to Tokyo. 😦 I tried dango instead, thinking that it is the same or similar to fish balls here in MNL… Wrong! Dango is apparently made from mochi… That was okay for me but the sauce that came with it did not taste good at all. Good thing I just bought one stick. Still willing to try dango when I return to Japan, perhaps it was just a “miss” incident.

I was really hungry already since we did not have heavy lunch earlier. There were few shops opened at past 3PM that sells decent food but either the price was too expensive or the type of food sold did not interest my appetite. Eventually settled for soft-served matcha ice cream. I was given a small cup of sweet tea as part of their free tasting activity inside.

After finishing the ice cream, my office mate and I walked back towards the train station. Also took some more pictures of people and places while walking…

Five minutes before the scheduled departure, we were already at the platform but we made the mistake of going to the side where the doors were closed. We ran with all our might to be able to reach the correct area where the doors were opened. We made it in time, thankfully!

Our destination was Shibuya to eat at the famous MAISEN (MNL has a few branches of Maisen already!). Indeed, their katsu was really good — crunchy, juicy, not too oily. But the best part of our dining experience in Maisen was getting to use their own salt & spices. Too addictive! If they were selling it there, we would have bought at least a bottle each. It was also funny because it was in Maisen where my office mates saw a woman who really looked like me, especially with her side view. We also had the same habit of smacking our lips together and tucking hair behind an ear. Quite freaky but really interesting and funny.

On the way home, we dropped by SOLAMACHI where my office mates bought Tokyo Banana. Turns out that this is a famous Japanese treat so they bought a few boxes as pasalubong. Before leaving the mall, we also bought takoyaki for our drinking session at home.

While walking to our Airbnb unit, we saw the Skytree all lit up. Since it was our last night in Tokyo, we just had to take a group selfie with the Skytree in the background. Yay to selfie skills!

At home, while packing all of our clothes and pasalubong, we had our drinking session ongoing. The takoyaki still tasted good despite being quite soggy already. We did not lake the taste of the sake from the convenience store because of the very strong alcohol taste. For me, it somehow resembles isopropyl alcohol, yikes!

While packing, I could not believe that our week-long stay in Tokyo was coming to an end already. *sigh* Good thing we still had half-day left the next morning to do some last minute exploration and shopping in the Asakusa area. Til the next post!

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 4: Meiji Jingu, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa

Tokyo, Day 4: Shrines, Temples, and Museums

Our first stop during our 4th day in Tokyo was the MEIJI JINGU (or Meiji Shrine) in Shibuya. It was just around 8AM so there were only a few locals when we got there.

Toshi-san explained that “shrine” is used for sacred areas under Shintoism while “temple” is for Buddhism. He taught us how to pray like the locals and explained a bit more about Meiji Jingu.

JANUARY 17, 2016

It was the last day of our company outing (but not last day in Tokyo for me and a few colleagues) so we had to check out at Hotel Monterey Akasaka.

Bye to this nice view of Tokyo from our room

Our first stop during our 4th day in Tokyo was the MEIJI JINGU (or Meiji Shrine) in Shibuya. It was just around 8AM so there were only a few locals when we got there.

Temizu — process to clean one’s self before entering the shrine
Raking the pebbles neatly also helps in cleansing visitors

Toshi-san explained that “shrine” is a term used for sacred areas under Shintoism while “temple” is for Buddhism. He taught us how to pray like the locals and explained a bit more about Meiji Jingu.

I kind of drifted away from the group when I saw the ema at one side of the shrine. I only saw these in some anime shows I watched so seeing them in reality was a delight. Most of the ema are written of course in kanji, but I still found it fascinating to look at some of the ema with cute drawings.

When I returned to the group, Toshi-san was already giving instructions on meet-up time and place as he would give us free time to explore the place. I followed a few office mates exiting the shrine but I remembered that there was one area in the shrine proper which I did not check out. I traced back my steps and found some locals crowding a wooden box where they were getting a piece of paper.

At first, I thought it was like a fortune cookie where you get to know your luck/fortune for the day… But apparently, they were getting omigokoro which is a poem card written by either Emperor Meiji or Empress Shoken. According to the printed paper in English:

“Emperor Meiji wrote about 100,000 waka and the Empress about 30,000 waka, which are not only excellent as literary works but also constitute significant teachings to enhance the national moral character. Meiji Jingu has chosen fifteen waka each from among their composition in order to provide visitors and worshippers with the divine grace of the Imperial couple in the form of omikuji (oracles).”

No shrine staff to watch over this. Goes to show how honest Japanese people are as they trust that no one would dare not to drop 100 yen.

After getting an omigokoro, I noticed two women in the other stall browsing boxes then getting a small item and paying for it. I got curious so I checked it out. The items sold looked like amulets but everything was in kanji, except for the price. Then, I found one amulet which had an English translation — unfortunately, I found its purpose not that relevant for me but at least it confirmed that all the items were amulets indeed.

I picked an amulet randomly, praying that it was of more relevance — whether for luck, work, love, or health — then paid for it. I was already itching to go back to the bus so that I could ask Toshi-san what kind of amulet I got.

But, before I left this area, I saw a couple dressed in traditional clothes passing by. A woman and photographer were following them so I guess they were having a pre-nup shoot here. So lucky to be able to see locals wearing their traditional clothing~!

I was able to catch up with two office mates and we passed by Toshi-san who was counting the number of people going back to the bus. I tried to ask about the amulet I bought but he said he would check later.

We went to the souvenir shop first before heading back to the bus. Once we were complete in the bus, Toshi-san mentioned to the group that I bought an amulet. Turns out that what I chose was a luck amulet and he told me to keep it with me at all times. He showed his own luck amulet which he keeps in his wallet. He said that the amulet had been with him for 40+ years already, even before he got married. Amazing!!

My luck amulet and omigokoro

Our next stop was the TOKYO IMPERIAL PALACE, where the Emperor of Japan resides. Of course, we were not able to get close and see the Emperor. But Toshi-san said that there are certain occasions when they open a part of the palace so that people can go closer and see the Emperor and his wife when they greet the crowd. If I’m not mistaken, one of the occasions is New Year.

After Toshi-san explained everything about the place, we were given some free time for picture taking before we leave the place…

We went to Asakusa area afterwards and visited SENSOJI TEMPLE, which is for Buddhist worshippers. Toshi-san said that most Japanese people practice both Shintoism and Buddhism so temples and shrines can be easily found.

Most of the people in our group chose to do some last minute shopping around the area, and the ones left behind with Toshi-san are the people who would be extending stay in Tokyo — me + 3 office mates.

We visited on a Sunday so the temple was full of worshippers and tourists, yikes. Toshi-san took us around the whole area of the temple and he took time to explain every area and statue to us.

I love hearing things directly from a local as it makes me feel closer to their culture, and it always fascinates me to hear their own stories and opinion. 🙂

At one point in our walking tour, Toshi-san led us to an area where we could get our omikuji, the famous fortune-telling paper slips in Japan temples. We dropped 100 yen coin each, shook a metal can with wooden sticks and took out one stick, located the drawer with the same number as the one in the drawn stick (note that the number is in kanji though), then get the paper at the topmost. The one I got was…

..the BEST fortune. I showed it to Toshi-san and he suddenly hugged me tightly. He patted me at the back and happily told me that I was really lucky to get this one so I should always keep it with me. Apparently, drawing daikichi (great/best fortune) is quite rare. Yay! If one gets bad luck/fortune, the paper slip must be tied to a nearby tying station (not sure what it is called). Toshi-san said that this is practiced so that you leave the bad luck/fortune behind.

After exploring the area, we started to walk to our meet-up place with the rest of the group. We passed by a long alley of different kinds of stores — souvenirs, local delicacy, bags, accessories, etc. Toshi-san recommended a local food, can’t recall its name though since the matcha flavor I got did not taste that good.

After regrouping, we had our lunch in a restaurant nearby…

…then traced back our steps to go back to our bus. The four of us who would be extending would get our luggage while the rest of the group would head back home that evening.

We parted ways with the rest of the group, bid our goodbye and said our thanks to Toshi-san and Yamada-san (our bus driver). After that, we took a cab going to the Airbnb unit I booked for our extended stay in Tokyo. It was a good thing that the Airbnb listing was just in Asakusa area so paying for the cab was not that bad. I chose a listing from Shoji & Coco (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4807040) because of the following:

  • Price per night is at par with other listings but this one has a spacious area that really fits 4 people i.e., not cramped
  • Clean bathroom
  • Walking distance to Oshiage station, Tokyo Skytree, and Solamachi (mall)
  • Responsive and helpful hosts

After settling down, we headed to UENO PARK to start our museum hopping… which ended up in us going to just one museum since we were too tired already. We only visited the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE — a bit of a bummer though that most of the stuff inside do not have English translation, but we were still able to appreciate the displays inside.

We took a rest in one of the coffee shops in the park then headed for Shinjuku. We went back to BIC CAMERA (visited a few days ago) to purchase a 3-day unlimited train ticket for 1,500 yen. Note that this is only for Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines — thankfully, most of the stations we rode were under these lines. We only paid extra for a few stations under JR line.

We shopped in the nearby Uniqlo afterwards then headed to Ichiran Ramen for dinner. The line was long though and an employee said that we would have to wait for about 40 minutes. We decided to look for another place since we were really hungry, and we stumbled upon a place that sells food in sizzling plates. We waited for about 10-15 minutes since the place was small and full of customers.

It was worth the wait since the food was good. Also a welcome break from soupy dishes!

We went back to our lodging after this dinner to get a long rest and prepare for the next day. 🙂

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa

Tokyo, Day 3: Mount Fuji, Komagatake, Lake Ashi (Kanagawa)

After a few hours of bus ride, we were able to reach LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO where we got to see a full view of Mount Fuji. We were lucky because it was not yet cloudy so we were able to admire its beauty. It kind of reminded me of Mount Mayon, except Fuji has snow at the top part.

JANUARY 26, 2016

We started our 3rd day early as we had to leave Tokyo and head for the Hakone area to view Mount Fuji.

At a stopover

After a few hours of bus ride, we were able to reach LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO where we got to see a full view of Mount Fuji. We were lucky because it was not yet cloudy so we were able to admire its beauty. It kind of reminded me of Mount Mayon, except Fuji has snow at the top part.

Toshi-san, our tour guide, gave us some time for picture taking. I was too engrossed with looking at Mount Fuji and snapping photos here and there that I did not know there was a shop in the area that sells local delicacy. Toshi-san bought us a box of mochi (matcha and strawberry flavors) and I could only chose one — strawberry won and it was sooooo good.

Apparently, this was only available in the area so yeah, I really regretted not being able to buy this one. I saw a similar box in the shop near Komagatake Ropeway but it was too expensive.

When we arrived in Hakone Komagatake Ropeway, we had lunch first.

After lunch, we had time to go around the area before going to the ropeway. We entered the shop where I first tried a gachapon (Hello Kitty keychain). There were all sorts of food and local delicacy which you can buy as souvenir.

I went near the shore of Lake Ashi afterwards to admire the view and take some shots of trees and a few locals…

When our call time for the ropeway activity drew near, we headed to the main area of HAKONE KOMAGATAKE ROPEWAY. Riding this would take you above Mount Komagatake where you can have a better view of Mount Fuji.

The cabin we rode was full of people but luckily, a senior office mate called me to a good spot near her side where I could step on an elevated floor and have a better view of the surroundings. The ride to the top was about 7 minutes and if you are acrophobic, better stay in the middle of the cabin space.

When we reached our destination, we only had 20 minutes to explore the area since we already had a schedule for the Lake Ashi cruise. Some of us ran right away and made our way to a higher, elevated area to check out Mount Fuji.

Ran all the way from this spot (where I took this picture) up to the top, near the house

Unfortunately, it was already cloudy and we could only see the tip of Mount Fuji. 😦

Hide and seek with Mount Fuji

We maximized the remaining time by exploring the other parts of the area and of course, took pictures here and there…

©Nicole – Me on top of Mount Komagatake

After our 20 minutes of free time, we rode the cabin again to go back to LAKE ASHI and wait for our cruise ship

Upon boarding, some of us went on the topmost deck of the ship. Brrrr, it was very windy up there plus winter season so it was really a double cold combo. Good thing I was wearing my long padded coat which has a neck cover and hoodie. Best Uniqlo winter wear investment ever!

Despite me freezing due to the temperature and wind, I still managed to capture some good sights during the cruise. Toshi-san also shared legends and other cultural stories about Lake Ashi.

©Nicole – Company photo during Lake Ashi cruise

After the cruise, we rode our bus to head back to Tokyo. Caught some z’s during the trip so that I would be energized that night.

Upon reaching Tokyo, our bus headed for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which is located in Shinjuku area. I think there is no entrance fee for this but be prepared for the long line of visitors at night. We went up to the 45th floor where we enjoyed looking at Tokyo at night. There was also a purikura booth there — my female colleagues and I tried it, and it was fun!

©Nicole – While waiting for our turn to ride the elevator going to 45th floor

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We went to a restaurant in Shinjuku afterwards, and had another round of hotpot. There was also a buffet which had Korean and Japanese cuisine. I was so thrilled to see Japanese curry and kimchi there so even if these did not seem to be fit to pair with hotpot, I still grabbed a few servings.

4 trays of meat for the hotpot *burp*

A few of us decided to stay behind after dinner so that we could do some late night shopping in the area. Shops visited were BIC Camera, Uniqlo, and MatsuKiyo (famous drugstore Matsumoto Kiyoshi). I splurged at MatsuKiyo and bought items like Shiseido Perfect Whip Facial Foam, Sahada Shizuku Pack Gel, CURE Natural Aqua Gel, Liese Bubble Hair Color, Curel Intensive Moisture Cream, Shiseido Eyelash Curler, Hada Labo Gokujyun Light Lotion (which is actually their term for ‘toner’).

Called it a night after MatsuKiyo shopping as the next day would start early.

©Nicole – Shinjuku Shopping Squad? :p
©Nicole – Train ride back to our hotel

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Day 4: Meiji Jingu, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa

Tokyo, Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland (Chiba)

Our 2nd day in Tokyo was dedicated to TOKYO DISNEYLAND. We were already there even before the gates opened but the crowd ahead of us was already HUGE. There were lots of teenager students (on their field trip perhaps) and families waiting as well.

JANUARY 15, 2016

Our 2nd day in Tokyo was dedicated to TOKYO DISNEYLAND. We were already there even before the gates opened but the crowd ahead of us was already HUGE. There were lots of teenager students (on their field trip perhaps) and families waiting as well.

I read about a few rides in Disneyland offering Fast Pass so we ran towards Space Mountain to get one but apparently, what we got was the one for Stitch Encounter. T.T Good thing the line in SPACE MOUNTAIN was not yet long… or so we thought. The real good thing was that the line was moving quickly even if it was quite long already. I got to ride the same attraction in Hong Kong Disneyland (which I really enjoyed) so I had good expectations on this one.

While waiting for our turn in the Space Mountain attraction

After riding Space Mountain, we explored Disneyland to take some pictures then got a Fast Pass for Big Thunder Mountain. Quite a crazy idea to ride a fast-moving cart in an open space during winter, huh.

After getting our Fast Pass, we ran to the area where a lot of people were waiting for the DISNEY PARADE OF CHARACTERS. The first set was FROZEN and I saw lots of kids who were smiling widely as Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf passed. But, the main highlight was Elsa and her iconic song “Let It Go” (Japanese version) was playing while her float was moving. I was not able to capture a good shot of her since she was still far from our place. We had to leave the place before I could have a good view of her because we had to meet Toshi-san near Disneyland Hotel at 11:50AM for lunch. *sigh*

We had a buffet lunch inside DISNEYLAND HOTEL, and there were different cuisines to choose from. The highlight for me was the desserts area because everything looked mouthwatering but at the same time too pretty to eat.

After lunch, we headed back to the theme park to ride Big Thunder Mountain, try a few more attractions, and look for characters we would love to take pictures with…

Donald Duck!
©Nicole – IT’S CINDERELLA’S FAIRY GODMOTHER! Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!
©Nicole – Crossing a bridge while on Tom Sawyer Island

While waiting for our turn for Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes
Same as HK — Tokyo also has “It’s A Small World” attraction

While walking, I also took some shots of locals inside Disneyland…

It was a bit of a bummer though that we were not able to see the fireworks display as we had to leave at 5PM to continue our itinerary.

We went straight to Shibuya to see the busy and iconic SHIBUYA CROSSING. It was chaos when the pedestrian light turned green, especially since we came to see it on a Friday night. From the crossing, I went with two colleagues to the side where we could get to Uniqlo. We were surprised to find out though that the rest of the group was nowhere to be seen. We went to Shibuya Station but we could not find where Hachiko was so we decided to go back to Uniqlo since we know the meet-up place and time for regrouping.

We were able to meet up with the rest of the group a minute earlier than the call time, and Toshi-san led the way to the restaurant for our dinner. I was not able to get the name, but they had good sashimi (which I am not fond of so that says a lot) and grilled meat.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel but a few of my colleagues decided to buy some drinks and snacks since the night was still young. LOL. Drinking session was in our room and ended late, even if we had to wake up early the next day.

Mount Fuji will be up in the next post!

 

LINKS TO OTHER TOKYO 2016 POSTS:

Tokyo, Day 1: Tofuro Restaurant, Hotel Monterey Akasaka, Gindaco Takoyaki

Tokyo, Day 3: Mt. Fuji, Komagatake Ropeway, Lake Ashi + Cruise

Tokyo, Day 4: Meiji Jingu, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ueno Park

Tokyo, Day 5: Akihabara, Shibuya – Tokyu Hands, One Piece Mugiwara Store, Ichiran

Tokyo, Day 6: Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe, Maisen

Tokyo, Day 7: Revisiting Asakusa