Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lost in Tokyo: Day1

Having no sleep at all during the last 24 hours, I fell asleep even before my plane took off. But then the stewardess had to wake me up.

"Hello! Low fat meal for you, miss?" the stewardess was handing me the tray.

"Ah.. No thank you," I was a bit confused, why would she give me low fat meal? Do I look fat?

"But you requested for it?" and now she's the one who looked confused.

"Sorry, but I didn't." what else can I say?

She then apologized and left me in peace. I was about to resume sleeping when she came back with a small slip of paper.

"Hello again but is this your name?" she handed me the paper. It had my name on it with a request for a low fat meal.

"Yes, it's my name. But I didn't request the low fat though," what's going on here?

"Hmmm... It's ok," she said while moving away with the meal.

"No, It's ok. I'll take it," honestly I don't care about food. I just want to sleep.

So she gave me the meal and I ate it. It was weird. It was an egg omelette with sad green leaves inside it. Why the hell did my travel agent asked low fat meal for me I don't know.

7 hours later, we landed on the Narita Airport. From here, I have to take a train ride to Tokyo. For tourists, they recommend the N'EX plus Suica card for 3500 Yen. N'EX is short for Narita Express, it's the most expensive and one of the fastest(1 hour) train ride to and from the airport. The Suica card is useful for traveling on subways and buses on Tokyo and it has a value of 2000 Yen on it. Not bad since the N'EX ticket alone is worth 3000 Yen.

my train tickets

N'EX train

I was supposed to meet Simon on the Tokyo train station but he's still stuck in a meeting so I told him I'll just meet him for dinner. Once I got out of the train, I found this row of lockers and decided to just store my backpack so I can walk around the city easily. The locker(300 Yen) was a bit small but I shoved, pushed and forced my bag so in the end it gave in.

the lockers. how did my backpack fit into that?

Trying to get out of the train station was crazy! I realized then that I shouldn't have stored my bag deep inside the station. I'm not so sure I can find it again haha! I also found lots and lots of lockers, and different sizes too. You can even store a normal-sized luggage there.

the very intimidating Tokyo subway map

more lockers! and bigger!

I followed the signs to get to the Imperial Castle, from the map it's just a short walk from the station. It was cold outside but still sunny so I was ok with my light jacket. There were women wearing kimono dresses but most of the people were wearing office attire - the men were even wearing suits. Some people were even surgical wearing masks, I later found out it's because they're allergic to the pollens during springtime.

a guy wearing a surgical mask (in the middle)

a government building (i think)

I can't believe my luck! I found this street lined with sakura. Most of the cherry blossoms have fallen by now but the blossoms on this street seemed to be late bloomers. Yahoo! I saw some people having picnics under the blossoms, I sat under one big tree with lots of blossoms to rest.

sakura near the Imperial Castle

some people having a picnic under the blossoms

more buildings

water fountains in the Imperial Castle gardens

dusk near the Imperial Castle

waiting for Simon under the Sakura

Tired of walking and a bit cold(wish I had my thick jacket with me but it's in the train station's locker), I just sat on the park waiting for Simon. Ages later, he finally was able to sneak out, first thing we did was go to the train station to get my bag. I thought I found the nearest entrance where I stored my bag but I had to enter using a train card. I convinced the guard through sign language that I just wanted to get my bag from the locker and he let me in!

me about to convince the guard to let me in so I can get my backpack from the locker

Simon carrying my bag

We were starving after that so we looked for somewhere to eat, we found this warm and cozy-looking Ramen restaurant. They served us yummy ramen, gyoza and Sapporo beer. The best beer I had in a while, maybe I was just so tired or I was so cold but I loved it! Simon enjoyed the beer as well, the poor guy hasn't been drinking because of work.

kampai! (cheers!)

Simon had to work after our dinner so he gave me his keys and directions on how to find his apartment. His place(Roponggi) wasn't that far and I got there quite easily. From his balcony, I saw some small square stones jutting from the ground, I later found out it was a graveyard. Cool!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm not sure if I should still sleep. It's already 2:30am and I just got home from work. If I sleep, I will probably miss my 7:10am flight. And anyway I haven't packed my stuff yet so I should better do it now.

Or maybe I should finish watching the Astroboy DVD I got from the library the other day. I went to the nearby library to borrow some Japan travel guide books when I saw this Astroboy DVD(first 5 episodes) and grabbed it from the rack. Definitely one of my favorite cartoons(anime?) of all time! I also felt like reading a chic lit so I borrowed the Wonder Spot by Melissa Banks. She wrote the Girl's guide to hunting and fishing book and I enjoyed it a lot so I thought I want to read more of her work. Once I got home, I read its summary and it felt a bit familiar. I read the first page and then it hit me - I've already read this book ! In fact I bought a copy of it just a few months ago. Which was kinda sad because that's how forgettable this book is, I guess it was well written enough but it didn't leave any impact on me at all.

Anyway, I think I'll just watch the Astroboy while I'm packing. Maybe I'll see Astroboy tomorrow while waiting for a train in Tokyo. :)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

wait for me sakura!

I think I did it. I went to the Japan Embassy today and they gave me a visa!

I emailed my boss to give me Monday off(offset for some work I will be doing tomorrow night) but I didn't get any reply. I assumed his silence meant yes so I booked my flight. I'm to fly Friday morning and return Monday night! Not a lot of time to see Tokyo but I'll just try to see and taste and hear and smell and experience as much as I can. :)

I had to pay my plane ticket in cash though so now my budget for the trip is gone (the ticket was 1/3 cheaper compared to other travel agencies or internet booking). I just have to not spend anything or force Simon to pay for everything haha!

My real concern now is the sakura(cherry blossoms). Yesterday, Simon sent me this picture:

A street lined with Sakuras somewhere in Tokyo. Wow!

The cherry blossoms are still plenty but today this is the picture I got from him:

oh no! the flowers are starting to fall!

A picture of people having their picnics under the Sakuras, I want to have a picnic under the blossoms too!

And what about this one? I want to have dinner here as well! (i hope it will be cheap)

Restaurants next to the train, under the train railway somewhere in Ginza

I know. It's I want this, I want that. I can't help it. I think I will find it hard to sleep tonight with all this excitement.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I might just pull this off. I woke up quite early than usual this morning and went straight to the Japan Embassy in Nassim Road. Within 5 short minutes, I was able to submit all my visa requirements and receive my acknowledgement slip. I can collect the visa this wednesday! Yeba! That is if they will grant me one. :)

Their requirements were:
1. Original Passport
2. Completed Visa Form plus a passport-size photo
3. Photocopy of IC (No need to provide bank statements if you are a Singapore PR which suits me just fine because I don't have much to show. Okay, nothing to show then. But I think I have enough budget for the trip hehe)
4. Certificate of Employment
5. Flight Itinerary - got it in Lucky Plaza for 10sgd, if I get my visa I can buy the plane ticket from them (minus the 10 dollars) or I can just book online.

I was talking to Simon earlier today and he said the cherry blossoms are still in bloom! Maybe I can still see them?

Tokyo here I come!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

simon's got a job!

Yehey, he's not jobless anymore! He'll be in Tokyo later today, and I'm seriously thinking of swinging by to try some good old authentic sushi haha. Will my boss let me off for a few days??? That is the question. It's only April but I already used up all of my 14 days annual leave. Haay.

the "Thanksgiving" dinner

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