Tokyo 2015.

Finally!! The entry on my last personal trip for the year 2015 is out!

So I was headed to Tokyo Japan once again… this time with a different group of people, my ex-colleagues from the last workplace! We wouldn’t have attempted on this trip if JC hadn’t initiated for this one as we weren’t super close working partners in the workplace. But as I was familiar having been to Japan before, I gamely accepted it, although fully stressed because I knew I’ll be the “tour guide” or “tour leader” for this trip. There were a lot of things to figure out, such as  Japan’s complex metro subway network, intricate map of Tokyo, etc. Those street names although they have an English interpretation of it, they are forever so hard to remember. We even got a lil lost at Narita AP when we were trying to locate the place to get the discounted train tickets from AP to the city and back to AP on the last day. I was lugging a 13kg luggage that contained autumn clothes for my 8D7N stay as well as a 1.5l mineral water bottle (a habit of mine when I visit less developed countries or countries with undrinkable tap water). I could get the distilled water from their supermarkets but I tried to save some money lah! hehe. Anyway, a word of warning though, you will expect to see more pictures of ramen as you scroll down later in this entry. 😛

For the first 2 days, thank God for LY who used his data roaming to get us around Tokyo and even helped us to locate our hotel as due to some hitches in the logistics, we could only have our wifi egg delivered to us on the 2nd night of the trip.

#0: This was our first meal at a restaurant within walking distance from our hotel. Ramen meal was quite cheap and good.

#1: We popped by the Gundam cafe because ET was a huge fan of these robots and it was very near to Akihabara station. P/s: AKB48 cafe was just beside it as well.

#2: The weather was cool at air con temperatures but it was sunny in the morning and afternoons.

#3: After a super long working distance, we arrived at the Tokyo Metropolitan Building where we caught a glimpse of the beautiful skyline of Tokyo at no charge. The waiting in queue was what we had to endure after we finally found the building.

 

#4; This was the Ramen museum where they showcase all the types of ramen that is available in different parts of Japan.

#5: Cant remember where this ramen was from. But I didn’t quite like the texture and type of the noodles being used. It was thick like what we have over in Singapore – Mee Pok noodles. HAHA

#6 Kumamoto ramen which I did not get to taste when i was in Kyushu. How ironic that i am having it only now when I visit the ramen museum in Tokyo.

#7 A group pic of us outside the Ramen museum!

#8: We went to Disneysea! My 2nd time there and i wasn’t bored at the thought of going there a second time!


#10: The highlight of this trip! Although LY gave this a miss, but the 3 of us totally enjoyed it and sweated it out. We went for a mountain hike at Mt. Takao which was only about 500 m above the sea. But as we weren’t too prepared physically for this challenge, we made it still. Yes!

#11 That was the view of Tokyo midway up the mountain. Thank God for keeping us safe!

#12 I was in good exercise gear although my bag was quite heavy after carrying this thick sweater as I thought it might get windier or cooler uphill. But i was wrong. Probably the hordes of japanese warmed the entire climate over there. HEHEHE.

#13 Ramen after ramen.. and ramen again!
  

#16 Rainbow bridge and the waters that linked Tokyo up with this reclaimed island called Odaiba. It was raining hence the picture looks foggy like that. The rain made us all wet and cold but the shopping was good!

WE LOVE JAPAN!!!

Ok.. there weren’t as many pictures as expected since my handphone was spoilt.. I didn’t bring out the DSLR because I wasn’t going to be carrying it around everyday when all the walking would have exhausted me totally. But I am glad this trip was a success! Feel free to ask me any questions by leaving a comment below as I will try my best to answer you on your questions about this trip. And before i end this post… again…

WE LOVE LOVE LOVE JAPAN!!! 

xo, thedarktraveler

Kyushu 2014.

Oct/Nov 2014

Although backdated for some time, I really need to start writing about Kyushu and stop procrastinating already.

We took a package tour and went on a red eye flight from SG to Fukuoka and so spent our first night on the plane. Flight was pretty comfortable because it is Singapore Airlines and i managed to catch a few movies on the flight. Hehehe!

We started off from Yanagawa where we took the traditional wooden boat from one end to the other admiring the spring-autumn foliage by the riverside. And then, we had a really awesome eel meat rice bento for lunch for the very first time as I will never try eel meat in Singapore because I never trust that the fishy smell of it will be masked off completely. yanagawariver

#0 Yanagawa river

Then we were off to Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum and the nearby Peace Park for sight seeing. Some of the atomic bomb survivors lived to pen down testimonials and it did indeed send chills down my spine when they describe how the impact of the atomic bomb affected them both mentally and physically. Some of the stories were really heart-wrenching!

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#1 Peace Park Statue

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#2 Nagasaki Peace Park

Very soon it was time for dinner and we were chaffeured off to somewhere for some good ‘mochi’ rice cake set meal. IKR, japanese meals can be that interesting! And yes, i did not remember to take a photo with the lid opened so had to googled for it. This is exactly the set meal we had at the same restaurant as I’d recognised the restaurant name imprinted on the disposable chopsticks holder. After the dinner, we were directed by the tour guide to take a city tram in the city of Nagasaki to our first check in at the Crowne Plaza GloverHill Nagasaki Hotel.

Guzouni (Picture courtesy of Google Images)

Day 2 started off with us getting on board a cruise boat for some dolphin watch! Excited excited excited.. although I am never happy with humans disturbing marine animals like the harmless dolphins and whales. I was so much more well informed after catching the documentary “The Cove” and if you guys are interested, go google about it. Next off, we were send to take a car ferry across Ariake Sea to Kumamoto pier. What’s a car ferry?? It’s a damn huge ferry that takes vehicles across the big ocean! Again, this is my first time… and i could not believe my eyes when i saw how our whole tour bus went into the ferry. I was dumbfounded and in awe of it… hahaha

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#3 Wild dolphins

SO.. we landed on Kumamoto soil. We were headed off to Kumamoto Castle. As you know, castles are almost everywhere in Japan because of their rich castle history in the past. It was almost dark and so we postpone the last activity on the itinerary to the next morning because it is very near to the Kirishima Royal Hotel that we stayed in on the 2nd night. It was also the first night where we started our onsen addiction going on…

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#4 Kirishima castle?

Day 3 morning as planned, we went to Kirishima Shrine and yes.. it is just a temple where all the devotees will walk up the slope of steps to reach the shrine. Camho a bit there as we had nothing much to do besides waiting…

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#5 that’s me lah.. posing with one of the shrine’s lamp post. SG where got such design leh..

Credit: Courtesy of Google Images

#6 Kirishima Shrine

After the shrine visit, we reached this observation platform that requires us to walk a bit distance uphill to the deck itself and then it was overlooking the Nagasaki city scape and the magnificent Sakurajima Volcano.

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#7 Shiroyama Observation Platform overlooking the Nagasaki cityscape

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#8 Volcano Sakurajima captured in the background which is still very active and can be seen from the observation deck.

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#9 Sekino-o waterfall, this is further into the forest where the streams lead to the waterfall

Quickly after the shopping & lunch at Tenmonkan area in the city of Kagoshima and the sightseeing, we were headed off to Miyazaki before the sun sets. It was a pretty long bus journey and I just keep dozing off and waking up to check the time. Our third night was spent at Miyazaki Kanko Hotel which overlooks a very nice lake view.

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#10 Teruha Suspension Bridge

Day 4 was to this Teruha Suspension Bridge at a height of 142m above a valley where this Aya Minami river flows.

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#11 Pretty enjoyed taking shots like that.. hehe

After all the walking, another 2 hours of bus journey to Mt. Aso which is also an even more active volcano. Unfortunately when we were there, the volcano was already erupting and we weren’t allowed up to the observation deck. Sad…

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#12 Mt aso erupting and the emergency alert was everywhere nearby..

That pretty much ends for the day and we were sent to our next 1 night stay hotel at Aso Farm Village. This resort style hotel was much interesting because of the dome shaped rooms we stayed in. And the weather that got much cooler at night became even cooler that night because we were at a pretty higher land in that area hence the temperatures can get lower as you ascend higher.

Day 5 –  After the buffet breakfast at Aso Farm Village, we headed to this old town village in Yufuin. If i’m not wrong, it’s usually called Yufuin Town or Yufuin Floral Village. I just simply adore countries like Japan because of the vast landscapes and natural places like that. Look at the lush aww-mazing landscape that I have captured!

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#13 Yufuin

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#14 Reflection of the morning sun at Yufuin’s lake 😀

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#15 The other side of Yufuin

We left the old town with perfect memories captured of the lake and the amazing landscape, and were told that we will also be going to this safari zoo park. It did not sound as interesting as it should be when the tour guide explained to us. But it was a pretty good experience since we can have such a close encounter with this animals!

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# Feeding the animal KING his food

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# this beast blocking our roads is the …!

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# Giraffe walked towards our safari vehicle and started licking the side mirrors!

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# Never had I seen so many cheetahs this near, even SG Mandai Zoo only had 1 or 2 at one single time and they were not as wild as these four musketeers!

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#16 After the zoo visit, I was almost quite tired already probably due to the sun shining brightly less the cold. We then headed off to the Beppu Death Valley which I remembered is the area where the highest concentration of the onsen spring is found!

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#17 Crystal blue waters at boiling temperatures. I guessed thats why its called a death valley. So before the skies turn dark, we quickly hopped on the tour bus and left for our dinner and the next 1 night stay at Beppu Wan Royal Hotel. After all the unpacking and packing of luggages every night, I must say that joining tours are indeed quite tiring so to speak and I am really not the kind who loves doing that. This is also why this blog is still existent because documenting these journeys down will helped me to recall the times we had and the places we had visited.

So the last day has finally arrived and we were heading back to the city. I can’t wait to try hakata ramen!! The only regret of this trip was not having a taste of the original Ippudo ramen that originated from hakata a.k.a fukuoka. đŸ˜„

We were so in a rush back to the last check in at Canal City Washington Hotel probably due to the long road distances. Kudos, new-found respect for the bus driver who kept us safe and sound throughout this journey. Not forgetting also, thank God for the blessings and protection we have received during this trip.

Hotels that we have stayed during the trip:

crowne plaza gloverhill nagasaki

kirishima royal hotel

miyazaki kanko hotel

aso farm village

beppu wan royal hotel

canal city washington hotel

cheers,

thedarktraveler

Japan 2012 Vol. 2!

So as promised in my last japan post.. I’d handpick a few snapshots that I think capture my heart quite abit (ok well, I did upload afew of them on instagram to test “response”, haha!)

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#1 I am glad I insisted on pressing the shutter button when I snapped this lady staring/glaring at me. I was alittle stressed after putting the camera down as if this lady was annoyed at me snapping at her without getting her permission. The priceless expression on her face is what I called, “The Moment”. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. =D
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#2 Can’t remember how i got this shot, but I was literally snapping away at strangers walking beside/away from me.
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#3 After numerous snaps of strangers, this lady capture my attention becox of the strap around her neck. I’m glad I found a Nikon fan in the midst of a busy Nakamise street. =D

#4 I couldn’t have gotten this shot if I hadn’t carry the 85mm lens that day. I was kinda regretting that I wasn’t able to get full shots of the tokyo tower because I did not lug along the other wide-angle lens but am thankful still. =D
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#5 I like the colors of these houses.
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#6
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#7 Snapping my little bro is easy, at least for once, it is not another shot of a stranger =P
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#8 At nara deer park.. The baby deers are really cute!

Now a total of 7 8 best shots at the moment, please enjoy the other pictures in the album link and do give me your honest comments! When time allows, I will upload more of those that I like the most in this trip.

♄ loves,
the dark traveler

Japan 2012 here I come!!

So yes yes, i am finally able to cross
Japan off my bucket list. I was so eager to
share what I had gained / lose in this trip before going but
unexpectedly when i came back, I was so lazy to put everything down
into words. SUMIMASEN! đŸ˜„ (oops, it means ‘excuse me’ in
japanese, i can’t remember whats ‘im sorry’ in japanese,
hehe)
I was even more lazy to edit the pictures that I
had took but fortunately, most of the pictures came out in pretty
good exposures and settings. =D So after delaying for sometime, i
had managed to upload all my photos in my google plus account and
here and there in Facebook, even to the extent of accidentally
deleting one of the albums in my SD card! BOOoo. So without further
ado, let me share with u the album titled “Tokyo streets and
strangers” via this google plus link, pls enjoy =) https://plus.google.com/photos/112942645831858050961/albums/5814701992264531969?authkey=CIGp0a688cD7IQ
I know it’s my usual practice to shortlist a few pictures that I
feel its “snapped at my best effort” / “having the right feel and
atmosphere” but well, please bear with me.. I will find time to
update this post if possible. =P

xo, the dark traveler