Business Travels: Thistle Johor Bahru Hotel

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Due to the fact that I have a particular client in Johor, I travel down quite often and i’ve always stayed at the same place as I love the rooms and service provided (the door man recognises my face by now). The hotel is about 30mins away from Senai Airport on days without traffic. There’s a KFC just across the street and a McDonalds down the road. So location-wise, it’s pretty strategic. It’s also just a 5-10mins drive to the Immigration Checkpoint where you can cross over to Singapore which is also adjacent to two large shopping malls, Johor Bahru City Square and Komtar JBCC (home to brands such as H&M, Uniqlo, Padini, Vinci, Daiso, and many others). Continue reading

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Japan Day 6 – Shinjuku & Harajuku

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This was the last day of our trip and so we just explored the area near our neighbourhood. We woke up rather early that day to clean up the apartment and checkout by 8am. The reason why we got up rather early is to make sure that we manage to secure lockers at Shinjuku Station. We hear that it fills up really fast and considering it was a Saturday, we didn’t wanna risk not having any lockers for our luggage. By the time we reached the station it was a little past 8am and we managed to secure lockers at the same spot when we first came to Tokyo. So happy to dump our luggage there and spend the rest of our day exploring.

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But before that, we needed to secure our bus tickets to Narita Airport later in the evening. So we headed up to the appropriate bus stop at the Shinjuku Station West Exit and the ticket booth is just conveniently across from it. One way ticket for adults is 3100 Yen and the journey takes about 1.5 – 2 hours. So do keep in mind of your required travel time and plan accordingly so that you don’t end up missing your flight! Continue reading

Japan Day 5 – Tsukiji Fish Market, Akihabara and Dinner in Shibuya

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On our 5th day we did a mix of places and our first stop was Tsukiji Fish market for some breakfast. We initially planned on camping the night before to catch the Tuna auction early in the morning but we scrapped that idea as we figured proper sleep was more important than seeing cold slabs of Tuna being sold off for millions in the cold EARLY morning. But hey if you’re up to it, then by all means go ahead. We were just too tired after walking around back to back on our 5th day so yeah sleep is our priority.

Getting there was fairly easy for us as we were staying in Shinjuku which literally connects you anywhere. So we hopped on the Oedo Subway Line from Shinjuku Station to Tsukijishijo Station. It takes about 20mins and costs 270 Yen one way. As soon as you reach the station, simply follow the signboard to Tsukiji Market. The building is actually just above the station.

There’s the outer part and inner part of the market. Since we just wanted to grab some breakfast, we wandered off at the outer market and found rows and rows of tuck shops serving fresh bowls of sushi! Continue reading

Japan Day 4 – Square Enix Artnia Cafe

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Since we had some time to spare in the evening after our trip to the Ghibli Museum, we decided to head back to our place in Shinjuku and drop our bags off at our AirBnB and head out again within the area to the cafe.

Getting there was a little tricky at first as we didn’t really do our research before hand on how to get there. But if you have a pocket wifi with you, it should be pretty easy to navigate your way there (I’ve included the address at the bottom of this post).

After asking around various shops, convenience stores and random passerbys, we found our first landmark which was the iconic Square Enix headquarters in Shinjuku. Gamers and Final Fantasy fans would be in awe when you see this building. It’s literally the place where all those famous games are created. Being a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise myself, this was a really cool experience. The cafe itself is right next to it and you will be able to easily identify it by the various sign boards and its’ unique egg design.

Inside there’s another room which is a gallery featuring a number of figurines of characters from their franchise. Continue reading

Japan – Day 4 Studio Ghibli Museum

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Next up was the famous Studio Ghibli. For those of you not familiar with the name, then perhaps Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro or Howl’s Moving Castle would ring a bell?…Still no? Well even if you’re not a fan, I would highly recommend this place! In fact my travel partner wasn’t too familiar with the Ghibli franchise, but still enjoyed this trip a whole lot. I booked our tickets online way in advance before our trip and I would advise you to do so as well as these tickets sell out very very VERY fast. Can’t emphasize this enough as many of my other friends had the disappointment of missing out on this as they couldn’t get any tickets. The tickets are 1000 Yen each for adults and are sold on a monthly basis. So if you’re thinking of buying tickets this march, then get ready and be on standby by 1st March to book your tickets for the month. You can buy online here.

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What you would get is an e-ticket which you would then get the physical ticket at the entrance on the day of your visit itself. The ticket itself is super cool as it is a film of actual scenes from their movies itself. Continue reading

Japan – Day 3 Tokyo DisneySea

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Tokyo Disney Resort is one of the busiest parks in the world and it would make a lot of sense to buy your tickets ahead of your visit. We bought ours online on their official website and printed out the e-ticket for a hassle-free entry to the park. As we have both been to other Disneylands’ in other parts of the world (which are all generally all the same), we decided to try something different and spent our whole day at Tokyo DisneySea instead (the only one in the world btw).

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The park opens at 8am and so we tried to reach there as soon as it was opened. The main reason to be there early is to grab the fastpasses. Unlike the usual fastpasses that you may be familiar with, these ones are only applicable for the following rides:

  • Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Indiana Jones
  • Raging Spirits
  • The Magic Lamp Theater
  • Mermaid Lagoon Theater
  • 20000 Leagues Under The Sea
  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth

You can obtain the fastpass ticket by going to each specific ride and finding the Fastpass Machines. You simply scan your entrance ticket and you will be given some kinda receipt indicating which times you can enter the ride using the fastpass lane. For example you may only be able to use the fastpass lane between 2-3pm or so. You can check the next timing from the fastpass machines itself. So plan your time accordingly and use your fastpass wisely. Continue reading

Japan – Day 2 Hakone

On our 2nd day in Japan we decided to venture out from Tokyo to Hakone where we hear we could see great views of Mount Fuji. We purchased our Romancecar train tickets (don’t ask me why it’s named that way haha. I have no idea) the day before. If you plan to take this train, do purchase earlier as it’s by reservation only. You can purchase the tickets at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center within Shinjuku Station. There’s some tourist brochures set up around the area and useful maps and guides you can pick up for free. We also purchased our Hakone Freepass there. It’s basically a ticket that allows you to travel on any mode of transport within Hakone and discounts to museums, restaurants and etc. They only have 2 days and 3 days passes. Although we were only going for one day, I think the 2 day pass was still worth it for the convenience. We paid 5140 Yen for the Hakone 2 day freepass + (890 Yen surcharge to travel there via Romancecar each way). So that’s a total of 6920 Yen all together.

From Shinjuku station it was about 1.5 hour train ride to Hakone-Yumoto station. From there we switched over to the Hakone Tozan Train which climbs further up the mountain. This train is pretty unique as it goes up in a zig-zag motion up the mountain. From one station it will go towards the left side. Then when it reaches the next station, it will switch direction to the opposite direction. Which is pretty smart because if it goes in one single direction, it would be far too steep to climb. 40mins later we reached Gora where we hopped over to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan which was a short 10 min ride up a rather steep incline. Continue reading