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

Ayutthaya – Temple Hopping

This is quite a belated post and is actually part 2 of my Thai trip continuing on from Bangkok. While that one was dedicated more towards the shopping and food aspect, this one will be all about the beautiful scenery at the ancient Wats (Temples).

There’s a number of options that you can choose from to get there. By bus, minivan or train. Among the 3, the fastest is the minivan while the longest would be by train. Considering how we were quite short on time, we opted for the minivan which was surprisingly very comfortable. We got a nice new van which can fit up to 10 passengers and was fully air-conditioned.

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You can catch a minivan from Victory Monument which is easily accessible by BTS. Stop at the Victory Monument station and you will see an elevated walkway towards the monument which is literally in the middle of a big roundabout. You would need to walk straight towards that side and then turn left and go down the stairs. You will see a bunch of minivans parked downstairs. Simply ask around for Ayutthaya or if you can’t pronounce it, simply show them the word on your phone (พระนครศรีอยุธยา – Ayutthaya) and you can simply do the same when you need to head back to Bangkok (กรุงเทพฯ). The journey takes about an hour or so (one way).

Once we reached Ayutthaya, the driver dropped us off at a place where we could hire a Tuk-Tuk to take us around the temples. Please do yourself a favor and hire a Tuk-Tuk for a couple of hours. Can’t recall how much it was, but it was definitely worth it because the temples are quite far apart and you will definitely need some sort of mode of transportation to get from one temple to the other. Some of the more “adventurous” people rented a bicycle.

Since we hired a Tuk-Tuk, getting to the various temples was pretty simple from this point. The driver had a piece of paper with pictures of the temples and we simply needed to point to the one that we wanted to go to and he would take us there. Upon reaching our destination, he would just wait for us until we returned and he would bring us to the next temple.

Our first stop was at Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol. This is where you can find the reclining Buddha.

Next up was Wat Mahathat which has the Buddha sculpture engulfed by tree roots. I spent a fair amount of time strolling around the temple grounds capturing the amazing view.

The third location was Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit Temple.

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The fourth and last temple was Wat Chaiwatthanaram. At this point the temples pretty much looked similar, so we didn’t enter the temple grounds but just enjoyed the view from outside.

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All in all we spent about 3 hours around the 4 temples before making our way back to Bangkok. Getting back was pretty simple too as our driver dropped us off at the minivan area. Definitely worth the trip and getting here was a lot easier than I initially imagined in my mind. Most of the temple area have food vendors and toilets. So you won’t have to worry about that. One thing to take note of is that most temples have a small entrance fee so do try to plan your visit and if you’re short on time, just try those which are unique from one another.