Weekly Photo Challenge: Colors

it’s weekend again and it means, it’s weekly photo challenge time. thanks to wordpress dailypost community for the good ideas (^_^). and so, this week’s theme is about colors. here’s my photo entry for the week. (to be honest, i’m just lazy to blog and all i want to do is sleep, eat and relax in this cold weather…hihihi)

colorssouvenirs at asakusa 

this picture was taken at one of the souvenir shops at asakusa in tokyo, japan. as you can see, tourists are not allowed to take pictures of them (you should buy it!!!)…but i was able to sneak one shot. one.naughty.bad.ass.

i wish to be able to go back to japan again someday, perhaps in kyoto or osaka so i can see the beautiful sakura blossoms during the spring.next time, there’s always a next time. ;)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

“health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” -Buddha

it’s saturday again and another time for weekly photo challenge. i’m running short of topics to share so i’m mostly relying on the friday’s challenge. hopefully soon *fingers crossed*, i’ll be able to post something ‘exciting’ here (watch out for it!).

this week’s theme is all about BIG (literally or figuratively)…and these are my photo entries.

this picture was taken last year at wat pho or the temple of reclining buddha in bangkok, thailand. i was very keen to see this statue of the big buddha since i first learned about it from the movie ‘the beach’, which is one of my favorite movies. this is very huge standing 15m high and 43m long.

this picture was taken at odaiba shopping center in tokyo, japan. this larger than life gundam robot reminds me of my childhood days when i used to watch japanese cartoons and tv shows during weekends and afternoons after going home from school.

lastly, this photo was taken during a trip at ta phrom temple at angkor wat in siem reap, cambodia. the growing trees among the ruins makes this place one of the most visited spots at angkor wat. this place was also used as a location for the movie ‘tomb raider’ by angelina jolie.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

“solitary (adj) – state of being alone; without companions; unattended; living alone; avoiding the society of others by itself; characterized by the absence of companions without help or accompaniment”

this photo was taken during a recent ‘solitary’ travel in tokyo. i was bound mt. fuji, hoping to have a glimpse of the beautiful mountain. unfortunately, i did not see anything due to the bad weather. while waiting for the trains to arrive, i enter this dark waiting room to see an old woman sitting at the corner and must be waiting for the train as well. of course, i was fascinated to see someone in flesh wearing a kimono. i guess most of the elderly still wear the traditional attire after all.

i was just sitting there with her waiting for the train to arrive. because that’s all we can do, to sit back and relax. just like in life, waiting patiently for things to come. because as they say, “the hardest tests in life is the patience to wait for the right moment”.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life

thank God it’s weekend again! i’m excited to see what’s up for this week’s photo challenge. i’m starting to love this weekly activity.

the theme for this week is ‘everyday life’ like things, people and the activities they do on a daily basis…so here’s my photo entry.

this picture was taken during a recent tokyo holiday vacation. i’m meeting a friend at shinjuku mrt station for dinner plans. as you notice, the time in the picture was around 7-ish evening, which is a peak hour for most commuters going home from work. shinjuku mrt station is one of the major and busiest interchanges in tokyo with millions of passengers passing through everyday.

wherever part of the world we are, trains or subways plays a major part of our daily life. personally, i prefer riding trains since they’re cheaper and faster. though the only thing that i don’t like about it is standing for an hour or more especially during busy hours.

Adventures in Tokyo Disneysea

for my 5th and last day in japan, i spent the day at tokyo disneysea. it’s a separate theme park from tokyo disneyland and more catered to adult visitors because this is where the wild and thrilling rides are found.

tokyo disneysea is a bit far from maihama mrt station, so i bought a single journey ticket for the disney monorail to go there. ang cuteeeee ng train!

the first thing i did upon arriving at disneysea was to have a photo-op with mickey mouse. yehey!

disneysea has 7 main areas: mediterranean harbor, mysterious island, mermaid lagoon, arabian coast, lost river delta, port discovery and american waterfront. 

mediterranean harbor, is the first area upon entering disneysea. there you will see mount prometheus, which is the iconic structure of disneysea. this is also where you can ride the venetian gondola as well as see the fortress exploration, where i met captain jack sparrow aka ahem potential lovelife kasi ang gwapo. haha. starstruck!

walking further, you will now reach the american waterfront area.

i also watched the broadway musical show featuring the disney characters. pero na lola mode ako, nakatulog ako. pahinging kumot!

this is the tower of terror. mukhang kalmado on the outside di ba? pero high drop tower thrill ride yan. maiiwan ang kaluluwa sa taas. haha.

ang cute nila, pakalat kalat sa park!!!  :) :)

this is the toy story section area. it was still closed when i visited and only opened last july 9.

i also watched the lumiere and friends show by noon. this is one of the shows i enjoyed so much. sing and dance ang disney characters ang saya.

lakad lakad la la la, i reached the port discovery area. sumakay ako ng isang ride pero byahilo ang nangyari. nakalimutan ko mag bonamine. paikot ikot ikot ikot ikot lang ang ride…

this is the mysterious island zone. i rode the ’20,000 leagues under the sea ride’, a submarine-like ride.

then this is the mermaid lagoon area which is my favorite among the 7. ang cute ng rides at ng pastel colors. hehe. sinakyan ko lahat ng chikiting rides sa mermaid lagoon!!! wahaha.

humahapon na ng onte so i went to arabian coast. this is where aladdin and princess jasmine’s characters are seen. i rode the jasmin’s flying carpet ride and the aladdin’s carousel. hilo-hilo paikot-ikot rides galore.

because the theme park is so huge, i was not able to explore the lost river delta area that much. i just took a picture of the temple of the crystal skull ride.

i super enjoyed my two days of stay at the disney resort. the theme park is very big that a whole day is not enough to cover all the areas and attractions. nevertheless, i really made the most out of my 2 days and rode as many rides as i could.

good-bye and thank you japan for being nice to me. i enjoyed my vacation at your beautiful, warm and friendly country. i wish i can go back there again some day. thank you tokyo for the good memories. :)

Adventures in Tokyo Disneyland

tokyo disneyland … ✔

japan experience is not complete without visiting tokyo disneyland. since it’s my first disneyland experience, i don’t know what to expect apart from seeing mickey mouse and minnie mouse in person. i’m lucky because the weather is good that day after days of non-stop raining.

tokyo disneyland is located not in tokyo but in chiba area. so i have to travel for an hour and transfer train lines to reach the destination. i bought the 2-day pass, 1 day each for disneyland and disneysea. they are separate theme parks and a whole day is required to visit each place. based from personal experience, even a whole day is not enough because the theme park is so huge and there are lots of attractions to see. the park is divided into 7 themed areas: world bazaar, adventureland, westernland, critter country, fantasyland, toontown and tomorrowland.

i spent the entire day walking around, trying some mini rides and watching the attractions. the morning and evening parades are very nice as well. disneyland is a very happy place, i almost think of staying here forever. someday, i wish i can bring my loved ones here so they can see and experience the happiness i felt that day.

tokyo disneyland jubilation parade

to wrap up the day, i stopped by a 24-hour sushi place near my hostel for dinner. my friends advised that I try eating authentic sushi in japan, of course for experience. :)

Tokyo: Shinjuku and Mt. Fuji quest

for my 3rd day adventure, i decided to try my luck and go see mt.fuji. since i almost finished the major city spots, i’m basically free for the entire day. i asked my friend for some tips and directions to help me go there. he suggested that i ride the train instead which is easier, though i can also ride the bus but it will take me longer to reach the place.

from my place at asakusa, i traveled city bound going to shinjuku station. this is one of tokyo’s central and busiest stations. i bought a rt ticket for shinjuku to kawaguchiko. the travel time all in all is almost 2 hours by train – 60 minutes from shinjuku to otsuki and another 45 minutes from otsuki to mt.fuji area.

ready for the mountain

otsuki station

after traveling for almost 2 hours and reaching kawaguchiko, it broke my heart to see that the weather was not good. it started to rain badly and the sky was dark and gloomy. i was thinking that the rain will stop anytime soon, so i waited for an hour and ate lunch at the train station.

happy food

of course, this lunch is another happy moment for me. i bought a pork rice topping which is very good. wala atang hindi masarap dun. then after eating lunch, i board a tour bus found in kawaguchiko station and see if it can bring me somewhere else.

rain rain go away

after endless searching and drenched from the cold rain, i didn’t see any trace of mt. fuji. it’s not a lucky day at all. :( i even got lost somewhere at lake yamanaka and had to pay a cab which cost me 4500yen ($S60) just to be able to reach the main station. the weather and the language barrier made this quest very challenging, yet somehow i enjoyed it. asking directions was difficult because people never speak in english. kaya pag na best in lost and found, bawal mag panic! hehe.

i decided to go back to the city instead. when i reached shinjuku at around 7pm, i called my friend for our dinner meet-up appointment and then had dinner at a nice japanese restaurant.

gastronomic experience (again)

after dinner, we walked around the long avenue of shinjuku as i requested. the bright city lights are nice to look at in the evening. we also scoured the red light alleys and spent almost 1 hour just walking around the area.

shinjuku evening scene

my japan experience would have been complete if i saw the mountain at least. anyway, i can still go back next time. haha. i need to save and will go back in case i want to visit osaka and kyoto next time. (hahaha excuses!) but yeah, there’s still next time. :)

Tokyo: Ueno and Odaiba

i woke up early on the 2nd day to start my diy city tour adventure. my next target areas are ueno and odaiba. my friends suggested that i include ueno in my itinerary as this place is filled with old japanese culture. but before i officially start the day, i first made a stop at a local eatery for breakfast.:)

i used the vendo machine to buy my order. i ordered curry rice because it’s the cheapest. after getting the stub from the vendo machine, i handed it over to the attendant and waited for my order to be served. it is a small place similar to a carinderia in the ph.

breakfast

after breakfast, i went to ueno park which is just a short walking distance from the train station. it would have been better if it’s spring season because the place will be filled with cherry blossoms. but since it’s summer in tokyo (with occasional rains on some days), the park looks ordinary to me.

ueno park

after visiting the park, i went to odaiba as my next stop. you will see there various attractions such as the newly opened mall with a life-size gundam statue, statue of liberty, rainbow bridge and oedo-onsen. i had no idea what onsen was all about til my friend told me about it. he said i should try it because it’s relaxing and of course…it’s part of the japanese experience.

rainbow bridge, statue of liberty and gundam

the onsen experience was memorable for me. it’s a public bath and hot spring in one. they had me change into a yukata, a japanese robe, before going inside the bath (feel na feel ang culture). aside from the bath and hot spring areas, there are also restaurants and souvenir stores inside.

oedo-onsen

later in the afternoon, i went to see the tokyo tower. i just walk around the vicinity and took pictures from the outside. the tower looks better at night because of the red glow light.

tokyo tower

that pretty much explains the adventures of my 2nd day. it’s as tiring like the 1st day. i noticed that in tokyo, they are never short of vending machines. as a matter of fact, you will see it in every corner be it for food, drinks, cigar,etc. japanese just love vending machines. hehe.

vendo machines everywhere

also, unlike other train systems that i know, eating inside the station and train is allowed in japan as evidenced by the stores inside the mrt platform areas.

stores inside the train platform

i ended the day by eating a delicious, big serving of authentic katsudon. for experience sake it is. :-)

katsudon

Tokyo: Harajuku, Shibuya and Asakusa

i’m excited to write about my adventures in tokyo, but i don’t know where to start. honestly, a 5-day stay was too short to embrace the beauty and culture of this beautiful city. of all the places i visited, i consider tokyo one of the best. the food, people and culture, everything is wonderful.

arrival
tokyo is my last stop after an 11-hr layover stay in hongkong. i rode cathay pacific and had a wonderful experience with them. the travel time from hongkong to tokyo is 4 hrs and i was asleep during the entire flight.

upon landing narita and passing through immigration, i get my bags and started to find my way to the hostel. this is where my 1st adventure begins. i immediately got lost since i rode the wrong line and it brought me to the outskirts of chiba which is already outside tokyo. my cellphone roaming was not enabled and my travel map do not have all the train lines, so i called my friend noel and asked for directions. finally after 4 tiring hours, i reached my place. i was so tired and haggard from all the walking.

Tokyo train line and ticketing system

accommodation

i stayed at sakura hostel at asakusa area. it is near the airport but far from central tokyo. i was looking for a cheap place but with good standards. it seems i find the right choice because the place is good. there’s a common area for dining and internet, sala for those who want to play video games and laundry room. upon checking in, i was given a security card door key and went to my room. i booked a bed in a 6-bed female dormitory room. initially, i was hesitant with this kind of setup since i want my own room so i can have privacy. but since tokyo is expensive, i opted to get a cheaper alternative. apparently, the dormitory room is very safe and i met other travelers and chatted with them. i have my locker to store my valuables every time i leave.

sakura hostel in asakusa

adventures

i wake up early everyday to maximize my 5 days of stay in tokyo. for 3 days, i tour around the city searching the must-see places. with the help of my tokyo guide map, i was able to find my way through the crazy interconnecting subway lines. tokyo has a massive train line system, so getting lost in the first few days is very normal. unlike singapore where it has only 4 major train lines, i think tokyo has a 100 or more. it’s crazy when you experience it. getting off and riding on a wrong line will get you all wrong and will bring you some place you don’t know, just like what happened to me when i arrived from the airport. hehehe.

1st day

on my first day, i went to harajuku and shibuya area. harajuku have lots of fashion boutiques as well as youth in various cult and goth costumes.  i came across a bunch of girls outside harajuku station, all dressed up in gothic-inspired costumes.

harajuku weekend  girls

tokyo fashion scene

after that, i met up with a friend, and we both went to shibuya station to see the famous hachiko statue and crossing. hachiko is the famous dog known for his loyalty even after many years of his master’s death. this statue serves as a meeting place for everyone in the station.

hachiko statue at shibuya station

i also had the chance to see the famous shibuya crossing, seen in the movie ‘fast and the furious: tokyo drift’. i went to starbucks 2nd floor, just across the crossing to have a good view. i can’t get a good shot so i’ve decided to take a video instead.

shibuya crossing at night 

my friend noel brought me to a nice japanese restaurant and treated me for dinner. this is my first authentic japanese food experience (thanks for the treat!). :)

dinner treat and meet-up

after the long tiring day of non-stop walking, we parted ways and went home. i stayed at asakusa area which is an hour away from central tokyo. as i walk towards my hostel, i took some night shots of sensoji temple which is one of tokyo’s oldest and colorful temples. i’m lucky that this is just a walking distance from my place since it’s a must-see itinerary for tokyo visitors.

sensoji temple at asakusa

i arrived the hostel very tired from 2 straight days of non-stop walkathon. i need to regain my energy for next day’s adventure. hehehe.

(= to be continued =)

other pics here

Travel: Japan Visa – Approved!

i’m excited!!! thank you lord! i got my passport today from the japanese embassy with approved 15day single entry tourist visa to japan. yehey! now, at least i have something to look forward to for next month. as you all know, july is my favorite month because it’s my birthmonth and i see to it that every birthday is a memorable one. last year, i went to macau and jump at the world’s highest bungy.

i’m not really planning to go to japan. i’m supposed to attend a cousin’s wedding in the US but unfortunately denied a visa since i don’t have strong ties here in singapore. and so, i made a back-up plan. since it’s been months already since i had my last solo trip and i feel that i deserve a much-needed break from all these corporate slavery and toxic workload, i pursued my planned vacation leave and decided to go somewhere else.

applying for a japan tourist visa is a breeze. unlike in manila where you need to submit lots of documents and no guarantee of an approved visa, here in singapore as long as you give the complete requirements, the approved visa will be available within 3 working days.

i went to the japanese embassy at 8:30 am and get my number slip at the entrance. when my number flashed on the screen, i went to the designated window and submitted my requirements. it didn’t took them long to check my documents because within 5 minutes time, they gave me a paper slip with the claim details and told me to go back after 3 days.

the requirements:

1. duly accomplished form

2. passport picture

3. photocopy of round trip ticket showing returning flight to sg

4. original passport

5. photocopy of pass/work permit

6. photocopy of bank statements and passbook with latest 1-2 months transaction

and here’s the bekky visa. it’s kikay with all those flowery and pinkish design. :)

kikay visa

i badly need a vacation after feeling so overwork … and sad because of people leaving our team. am i going to be the last girl standing?! *sniff*

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