Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Trip to Japan, February 2012

Wow, this is going to be a long post. First of all I really have to thank Sir Terrible Memory for doing a fantastic job on organizing the trip and also for paying for everything excluding shopping. I will show you what I bought in the next post instead. Didn't exactly buy out Japan or anything with merely 30,000 yen in my pocket.

This is it? At our hotel's toilet in Chisun, Osaka
Less than 2 arms length

It's a good thing I'm used to small spaces cause for one, Japan is not a good place to visit if you're obese. Good luck squeezing into their toilets..

We flew down to Kuala Lumpur via Firefly and stay at the Tune Hotel for a night before our flight to Kansai Airport the following morning. Tune Hotel is best booked in advance. It's usually pretty cheap but we booked a month or so in advance and it was bloody expensive.

View from the door

The room is so small that I ended banging my foot on the bathroom door. Yelp and nurse my poor bleeding feet a few hours prior to our trip which involved a lot of walking. Great!

7 hours of boredom later, we arrived! I was sweating bullets while queuing at the Immigration. No thanks to Sir Terrible Memory for scaring me saying that if I couldn't remember our itinerary, they'll put me on the next plane back!


Arrived at Osaka and took a train to Kyoto where we stayed for 3 nights. Whee!


Our room at the Kyoto Royal Hotel was very reasonably price thanks to Sir Stingy doing fantastic research and cancelling our room 3 times as he kept finding cheaper and cheaper deals on the internet. Was pretty sure they were going to give us a haunted room for repeatedly canceling and re-booking.

I was a little shocked to see the size of our room though. Even our room in Hong Kong was bigger than this! But it was very well maintained and clean. Gotta love the heated toilet seat.


The toilet bowls as I learn in Japan do many things, they wash multiple places and can even make flushing noises if you're embarrassed that someone might hear the 'plop'. I'm sure the Japanese will make it greet you in the morning pretty soon.

Our hotel was in a fantastic location, surrounded by places to eat and shop. The bus system in Kyoto is amazing, I loveee. We ate a budget restaurant, Yayoiken on our first night and I had the grilled mackerel set.


Only in Japan can a restaurant be run with just a single waitress and 2 cooks in the kitchen with the food serve to you in less than 5 minutes. In Malaysia, you can have 3 waitresses and 5 cooks and your food will probably arrive in half an hour and taste terrible.

Sir Stingy ordered the Katsu Don

In Japan, they have vending machines issue you a ticket. You make yourself comfy at any empty space and wait. The waitress comes over tears your ticket and serves you tea while you wait. She then goes off to clear the other tables. Fast and efficient.

Who says food in Japan is expensive? :D

FREE refill for rice and tea. Wheeeee! I ate two bowl and Sir Stingy rolls me out of the door.


We walked around after dinner and saw this beautiful looking cake shop called 'Lipton'. Walking pass the display, I had to do a double take, the cakes looked so good they looked fake! Bought a slice of the Strawberry short cake and devoured it in our room, heavenly. They taste as good as it looks! A miracle!


St Marc Choco cro was something we had nearly every morning while we were in Japan. They were so good. Everything there (except maybe the coffee) was so good. A must try while in Japan! Eat the chocolate croissants.


Yes I stared and stared and drooled a bucket full outside this restaurant. Unfortunately we didn't have any. The weather was too cold, eating any ice cream would have killed me off.


I bought a handpainted fan from this lady for only 1,000 yen and it was absolutely beautiful. It has sakura tree on the background along with two bunny looking at the big giant golden moon. It was such a good buy.


My only regret was that I didn't get more for family and friends. I wasn't sure if I had enough money to last me till the end of the trip and Sir Stingy told me to save my money for Osaka and there was more things there. (I later found out, I love shopping in Kyoto better than Osaka!)

It was Valentines Day thus you have 2 rabbits under an umbrella on the door step of one of the tea houses

We took a walk along Ponto-cho in Kyoto to admire the older tea houses. One look at the prices and I was ready to run the other way. 6,000 yen is roughly about RM240 per person. You can get fine dining at RM150 per person over here and that is considered bloody expensive.


Alaskan King Crab? Well whatever it is, this crab cost a freaking 18,000yen over. Interested in having a RM750 crab, anyone?


Lucikly, Sir Terrible Memory found the restaurant he was looking for, Isshian. For about RM160 for two, it wasn't too bad. My treat to Sir Terrible Memory for taking me to Japan. Pretty cheap of me, I know. The chef was a Japanese man who spent 16 years in America and spoke good English. Well, it didn't really matter since Sir Terrible Memory spoke fluent Japanese but it's nice to understand and join in the conversation.

He serves grilled items grilled in front of you in a stone plate. It was delicious. Sir Terrible Memory didn't stop raving about the place for days. The chef even threw in a surprise on-the-house wagyu beef burger for us since it was Valentines Day! *gasp* Lucky~!

Kinkakuji, The Golden Pavilion

Sir Terrible Memory dragged me along to see all the famous temples in Kyoto. You should have seen our itinerary when we applied for the Japanese Visa. It listed all the names of temples, the Immigration must have though we were on a pilgrimage.

To be truthful, while the Golden Pavilion was indeed very beautiful, we were both a little disappointed. It's actually very small...

Ginkakuji, The Silver Pavilion

Even worst, we visited the Ginkakuji and we walked right past the Silver Pavilion. When I pointed out the Silver Pavilion to Sir Terrible Memory, he loudly said, "That shack? That can't be it!". On closer inspection of the information board, the "shack" really was the Silver Pavilion.


While the Silver Pavilion isn't anything great but the surrounding greenery was absolutely beautiful. Walking and admiring the streams, lakes and trees made it worth the admission price.

We also visited the Fushimi Inari temple which was definitely one of my favourite cause it sounds so damned delicious! Yum!


The place was amazing. Unfortunately, it was raining heavily and the steps were slippery. Luckily, I had an umbrella, Unluckily, Sir Gung-Ho suggested trekking all the way up to the "Top of the mountain". That was atleast an hour of trekking and a gazillion and one slippery steps.


Miraculously, I survive the trek up much to my own surprise. The "Top of the Mountain" really was the top I guess but there wasn't much of a view. In fact, there was a shrine up there and that's pretty much about it. Uhhh...


While people look fantastic during holidays, I look like a very fat bear. Really. I'm just so incredibly unfashionable. *sigh* I look like a middle age house wife. *snort*


After all the rain and exercise, I need lunch. A huge bowl of curry saved me from bending over and dying of cold and hunger. YUM YUM! This bowl of curry, kick start my Curry Cravings for the entire Japan trip. Expect many more curries to come.

A new day, a new temple. The Kiyomizudera temple is next. And many many more steps.

And more steps...



And if that wasn't enough...


When I finally reach the top, I'll found...


How interesting. Write your troubles away! I wonder if I could write a "certain" name and soak the name in the tub. Maybe the person might dissolve and go away. AHAHHAHAHAHAAAA!


Knowing me, I'll probably write an entire essay just to make worth my money but since all was fine and dandy and Sir Stingy wasn't starving me or openly oogling at other girls in front of me, there wasn't a need to write anything.


The love stone sounds easier than done. As we were about to leave there was a Japanese filming crew doing some kind of filming *d'oh* and one of the girls tried it out. The crowd parted ways to give her ample space as she did her walk but unfortunately she veered off course.

I'm not entirely sure but I think the human body is slightly heavier to the left and if blindfolded we tend to lean towards it and end up walking in circles.

I didn't try it. Knowing my luck, I would have over shot and fall down the stairs.

We bought strawberries from Nishiki market for 550Yen. It beats the crap out of all the strawberries I had in Malaysia.

We headed to Nara next. I was a little reluctant to go Nara because the B&B was the most expensive at RM240 per night with free coffee, tea and wi-fi.

But Nara turned out to the place I want to go back to. It's a small town but I absolutely loved it there. The people are very friendly.


Sir Terrible Memory booked us the Japanese styled room tatami mats and futons.


The entrance to our B&B, Nara Komachi Guest House; Sir Terrible Memory busy unpacking his laptop.

We went to a walk when we spotted Fuji apples for a mere 100 Yen, we happily bought two.


They were huge! Placed on top of my Ipad.


We saw a lady roasting sweet potatoes and decided to buy one to share. It ended up being both a regret and a good buy. For one, the potato cost us a freaking 1000 yen! But it was also one of the best potato we had in our entire life.

*We found a potato seller in Osaka later on that sold us a small potato for 100yen, it was good but not as sweet.


The potato ended up drawing a huge crowd of deers to us later on.


Note the sign. These are greedy deers we are talking about and they can be aggressive about it.


This picture looks...wrong

LIKE A BOSS!

Don't mind the half cut off picture of me. After so much walking I decided to take a picture of me and Sir Terrible Memory. All pictures I took ended up with me being half cut off.


The Sika deers roam freely in the compounds and damn they are greedy little things! The smell of the Fuji apples and sweet potato whip them into a frenzy and I ended up harassed. After refusing to feed it anymore, it headbutt me, wipe it's wet, dirty nose on various spots of my coat, tried to eat my scarf and coat and chased me!!

Sir Hero ended up coming to my rescue by shoo-ing them away with his laptop bag.

Just further up, the Todaiji in Nara is a must visit temple if you ever go there. It was beyond amazing. Buddhist or not, the sight of the temple will take your breath away. It was huge!

It's the world's biggest wooden structure and to think that before the fire burned down the temple (twice), it was 33% bigger than the current one. The construction of the temple started in 728 AD. The temple today finished construction in 1709!

You.must.visit.this.temple!

At another budget restaurant in Nara. I ordered this Curry Udon for less than 600 yen. It was delicious! To me, budget food in Japan is still so good, I have no shame in telling people that I eat in places like this. I don't need a fancy smeacy restaurant for food since I had no bad meals for the 9 days I was there. Incredible.



Osaka

Another meal at a budget restaurant, this Katsu don with udon on the side cost us 580yen only. I was stuffed to the point of no return till Sir Terrible memory pointed out that it was snowing outside. I left my meal unfinished and went outside to try to eat some snow.



The Osaka castle was certainly impressive and very pretty. It was rebuilt after a fire burned it down in 1868. We didn't go in but we hanged around outside eating Takoyaki instead. Damn it was good..

Yes, the "Tast" was certainly very good. I see the missing "e" in between the "T" and "a". Hmmm~ No matter, they cook better than they spell and that is alright by me.

We spent a mere 1 day in Osaka before heading up to Mt Koya or Koyasan and then travelled back to Osaka again. I am personally a little glad we didn't spent too many days in Osaka since I didn't really enjoyed it there.

The people are slightly more pushy and not as nice as the ones in other parts of Japan. No offence to anyone from Osaka.

Our last meal in Japan before boarding the plane back. This was at the airport. I expected the prices in airports to be much more expensive but it wasn't. I was very surprised since in Malaysia, airport food is inedible and will cost you an arm and leg. Maybe both.

One is wax, the other is real. :P


5 comments:

Amyboo said...

Zomg. This looks incredible. *_____* Just makes me want to go to this country more and more...Absolutely delicious food...The sites are amazing too!

Rola said...

Your trip photos make me want to visit Japan again. I am glad you had such a fantastic time.

shuaddict said...

Omigosh thank you so much for sharing. Loved the pictures - in fact i want more pictures! Looked like a dream trip. Lucky lucky woman ... good job organizing the trip, Sir Terrible Memory!

Shop N' Chomp said...

Love your super fun trip posts, Ash! And NO, you don't look like a fat bear. :P On the contrary, you look luminous, slim, and happy!! :D You two make such a cute couple. And of course, I lovey the food porn...hehe!

(I almost forgot you did tarot readings! I really appreciate the tips you gave me. If I ever decide to see one, I will be sure to use them ;)

bellaisa said...

Really impressive pics! ;-)

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