Japan – Day 4 Studio Ghibli Museum

img_1136

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.

img_1130

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

Advertisements

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

Japan – Day 1 Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku

My friend and I randomly decided to book a trip to Tokyo one fine day. Since we’re headed to Japan, we decided to take Japan Airlines (JAL). The service is top-notch and i love the bigger tv screens and night lights. We took a connecting flight via MAS from KL (KLIA) to Singapore (Changi Airport) then JAL from Changi to Tokyo (Haneda Airport). The return ticket costs about RM1300 and the journey was about 7 hours. Lucky for us we took the night flight so it didn’t feel too long.

We arrived Tokyo in the wee hours of the morning at around 5.50am and just in time to see the sunrise (how apt since we’re in the land of the rising sun).

Upon arriving Haneda Airport, we took the Limousine Bus to Shinjuku train station. It was about an hour ride and costs 1230 Yen. Reached there at around 7am and we navigated our way through the big station to find bag lockers as our checkin for the AirBnB was only at 3pm.

You can find a bunch of bag lockers at this station ranging from S-M-L sizes. We each took the L size locker for our bags (800 Yen per day). You can use either cash or SUICA/PASMO card (Reloadable travel card) to pay. For convenience sake, we simply used our SUICA. The locker is quite easy to operate and has english instructions as well so you don’t need to worry about that. But do take note that once you put your bag in, you can’t take out your bags in between as it is a one time use only. If you take it out, and put it back in, you will need to pay again. So make sure you grab all you need from your luggage before putting it in. Once you secure your bag in the locker you will be given a receipt which will also indicate which zone your locker is located at. We also took a picture of the surrounding area just to make sure we don’t forget where our bags are (Shinjuku station is pretty huge).

After leaving our bags, we were now free to explore! :D Here’s a view outside the station early in the morning. I believe this was taken before 8am (before any shops were open).

We then took our first train ride to Shibuya via the JR Yamanote Line. We exited through the Hachiko exit and sure enough we saw the famous Hachiko statue and Shibuya crossing. 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.

20150914_092238.jpg

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.

20150914_131118

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.

20150914_133037.jpg

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.