Breaking the very long blogging hiatus

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Photo taken by Pops at Nami Island back in December 2012

t’s been yearsssssss since I last wrote something. To be completely honest I really do want to update regularly and post all my past travel photos/experiences probably one to two months after I completed those trips but I’m just too busy with work and other things. This year, as part of my new year resolutions I’ll try to my best to religiously update this blog.  🙂 As the saying goes, “better late than never” so even though decades have passed, I will still be posting everything about all the places I’ve visited for the past 5 year. Anyway, I keep journals of my travels so I’ll basically rely on those for the details that i’ll be posting.

P.S. I just started vlogging too! I still have 72678264728 videos to edit though. Anyway here’s my channel >>>  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaIK08Niq4LpgTu15zgt0XA

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Kyoto & Osaka December 2015 Travelougue

December 4 – Osaka: Universal Studios Japan, DotonBori

The bus arrived in Kyoto at around 4:50AM. The drop off area is near Nishiyamatennouzan station and from this station, it’s just a train ride to Kawaramachi Station(closest station to my guesthouse). It took me 30 min to reach Kawaramachi station and another 20 min walk to Khaosan Theatre(my guesthouse). Unfortunately, it was still close so I had to go back to Kawaramachi station and leave my stuff at the station lockers. I took the Hankyu-Kyoto train to Umeda station in Osaka and it only took me less than an hour.
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I took another train from Umeda to Universal Studios Japan.
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The line at the USJ ticketing booth was really long and the fast pass was already sold out so the moment I entered the park, I immediately rushed to the time ticketing booth to get my tickets to Wizarding World.
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Before my scheduled entry, I went around USJ first to check out other rides. I’ve been to Universal Studio Singapore in the past and USJ is bigger but the rides are all in Japanese. After going around, I finally went to Wizarding World.  I was so obsessed with Harry Potter back in high school and until now Harry Potter is still my favorite book series and finally seeing the real life replica of the places in the book/movie is just very nostalgic. Wizarding World is divided into two places; Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. I went to Diagon Alley first and if you’re not familiar with the book/movie, it’s a shopping area where Hogwarts students buy their books, wands, clothed and other stuff. Aside from the stores, you can also see the Hogwarts Express.
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After Diagon Alley, I went to Hogwarts castle and  lined up for the Forbidden Journey ride. Since I don’t have the fast pass, I waited  for almost 2 hours but it was worth it!  It’s a 4D ride so it really felt like playing Quidditch game and it’s honestly the best ride I’ve ever tried. After Forbidden Journey, I went to a store inside the Hogwarts palace to buy souvenirs and butter beer.
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Before I left Universal Studios, I went around first and I was able to catch the characters’ parade.
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Because I didn’t do any research prior to this trip, I had a diffuclt time finding my way to Osaka Castle.I took the wrong train so I end up not going to castle and went to Doton Bori instead. It was getting late so I only took photos of Dotonbori river and the Glico Man.
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I took the same Hankyu-Kyoto train again to Tawaramachi. I arrived in Kyoto again at around 9PM and I was so surprised at how lively it is at night. I finally went to Khaosan Theatre and was greeted my a really kind staff. I checked in first and went out again to buy Starbucks Kyoto mug. I also went around Gion District and luckily was able to see a Geisha walking around. I then went back to my hostel to rest.
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Day 6

I first went to Arashiyama to finally visit the bamboo forest. From My bus to Nagoya will leave at around 3PM. After less than an hour, I finally reached the JR Arashiyama station. I had breakfast first at a nearby convenience store. I saw a bike rental shop and actually considered renting one but I wasn’t familiar with Arashiyama and I still need to navigate the place so I decided to walk.
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Arashiyama is such a very laid back place. If you’re the type of person who loves nature, you will surely love this place. I first went to  the Bamboo Forest and the part that I visited isn’t the same as what I’ve seen in photos or those photos were heavily edited already LOL. Anyway I also visited the temple JongYeon couple went to where they wrote their marriage wishes.
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After that, I went around Arashiyama and bought green tea Ice cream(another JongYeon related thing lol). I also went to the keychain shop they visited on WGM and bought my own 02 keychain.
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After Arashiyama, I went back to Tarawamachi station and took another train to Fushimi Inari station. While walking to Fushimi Inari, I saw a lot of souvenir stores, and food carts but I wasn’t able to check due to lack of time. Fushimi Inari probably has hundreds of tori gates but I only went to the first 3 set of gates. I went around for only one hour before I head back to Tawaramachi station to get my stuff.
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I took the train again to Nishiyamatennouzan station. I lost my train ticket but the guy at the station allowed me to exit without paying anything.   I waited for my bus at the pick up area near the station. It only took me 3 hours to reach Nagoya from Kyoto and and I still have time to make it to my 9PM flight back to Manila. After checking in and getting my boarding pass, I had dinner and walk around the airport.
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Traveling alone for 5 days wasn’t that easy but I am so glad there are lots of Japanese people who were willing to help me and made this trip a memorable and meaningful one. To be completely honest Japan is the best country I’ve visited so far(Korea is still my favorite J). Although this was a quick trip, I’m glad that I was able to visit 4 major cites.

Tokyo December 2015 Travelougue

 

December 3 – Shibuya, CNBLUE Concert, Akihabara

I arrived in Tokyo at around 4AM but I have to wait until 5AM for the subway to open. I’m so used to Seoul’s straight forward subway system that I find Tokyo’s subway system kind of difficult to navigate.
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The hostel that I booked is in Asakusa so I get off at Tawaramachi station since it’s nearer my place. I was expecting to find a 24 hours café with internet connection around Asakusa but to my surprise all the shops are close at 5AM except for 711(obviously).  I had no choice but to ask the 711 staff for the direction and I’m just so glad he didn’t hesitate to help me find the location. Asakusa Hostel Toukaisou is in a neighborhood area so it took me more than one hour to find it. I went inside the hostel and the staff wasn’t there yet so I went to Asakusa Temple first since it’s just 10 min walk from my hostel.
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After Asakusa, I went to Don Quixote to buy some stuff before I went back to the hostel.
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The staff is already there when I went back and unfortunately he wont allow me to have early check in and or to freshen up first so I only changed my clothes before heading out. Before I left, he suggested that I buy the 1 day subway pass to save up money and time(which I did).
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Since I don’t have my pocket wifi yet,I unfortunately got lost again and it took me almost an hour to find Shibuya crossing. I read somewhere that the best view of Shibuya crossing is at Starbucks so that’s where I went to have a good view of the crossing.
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After 20 min of just watching people cross the street, I went around and explored other places. Shibuya is truly a shopping heaven. There are a lot of stores that sell bags, shoes, gadgets, and clothes. I found a store that sells New Balance shoes at a really low price so I bought shoes for my parents as Christmas gifts. At that point I was really frustrated that I still don’t have my portable wifi so I contacted the company and decided to pick it up at their office.  Luckily, almost all subway stations in Tokyo has free Wifi so I was able to find the office of my pocket wifi provider. The place was near Ginza, a famous shopping place of high end brands so after picking up my pocket wifi, I decided to check out this place too.
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I went back to my hostel to check in, drop off the stuff I bought from Shibuya, and prepare for the CNBLUE concert.
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Budokan venue is near the Imperial Palace so I was going to visit it first but I arrived late and it was already clode. Upon arrival at Budokan, I met up with my ticket seller to get my ticket. I waited another one hour before I finally entered the venue. It was my first CNBLUE Japan concert and also the main purpose of my Japan trip. Budokan has a very interesting stage set up. The stage is at the center and it’s rotating while they’re performing. CNBLUE is one of those bands that you just have to watch live at least once.  During the third song, I decided to film secretly using my GoPro but which is not accepted in any Japan concerts. The security caught me and kicked me out of the venue and didn’t allow me to enter again. I was so devastated, mad and disappointed at myself but it was my fault and I just have to suffer the consequence of my action.
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I decided to just visit Akihabara to move on from what just happened. I went to Yodobashi,  Gundam Café and AKB84 Café but I didn’t buy anything since I wasn’t a fan of any of of those.
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Akihabara is a heaven for Anime lovers. My admiration towards anything related to anime ended when I was in college but if  I visited Akihabara while I was in high school I’ll probably end up being broke. I didn’t buy anything from Akihabara since most of the shops only released items of new anime.
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December 4 – Tokyo Tower, Harajuku, Odaiba

The next day I went to Tokyo Tower first and on my way I stopped at a restaurant nearby to have brunch. I ordered Katsudon with noodles and for  700yen it was really worth it.
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I made it to Tokyo Tower and was really impressed even though I think it’s better at night(based on photos I’ve seen). I made it to the top and luckily the weather’s good so I was able to see a clear bird’s eye view of the city and also Mt. Fuji’s peak. Inside Tokyo Tower there are also museums and stores that you could visit.
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After Tokyo Tower, I went to Meiji temple which is considered as one of the popular temples in Japan.
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After Meiji temple, I went to Yoyogi park to relieve some JongYeon moments that happened there(excuse my WGM fangirl self). Both Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine are in Harajuku area so after visiting these places,  I was supposed to go Takeshita street but I just cant find it even if I used Google maps so I ended up  shopping for Christmas gifts at GAP and I also went to Kiddie Land(I wanna buy all the Rilakkuma toys!).

After Harajuku, I went to Odaiba to see the giant Gundam. I first went to see the rainbow bridge and statue of Liberty.
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I wasn’t informed that Diver City is another shopping heaven. Seriously, I don’t usually shop that much while on vacation but I bought so many stuff at 70% off.
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Anyway, after almost 30 min in H&M(yes I shop really fast) I finally went to the location of giant Gundam. As I said I’m not a fan of anime anymore but I was really impressed by how huge it is Japan never ceases to impress me at how they do such things.
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I really want to stay in Odaiba longer and shop more but I have to be at the bus station at 8PM(my bus to Kyoto leaves at 10PM). I went back to Asakusa, get my luggage and went to the bus station near Metropolitan building.
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I arrived at the bus station 2 hours before my scheduled and I have more than 1 hour to spare so I decided to visit Metropolitan building for Tokyo’s view at night(entrance is free!). Tokyo is really beautiful at night. From the Metropolitan viewing floor, you could clearly see both the Skytree and Tokyo Tower. We left Tokyo at around 11PM and the travel time to Kyoto is almost 8 hours.

Nagoya December 2015 Travelogue

December 1  – Nagoya Arrival

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I took the Cebu Pacific afternoon flight to Nagoya and I arrived at around 8PM.

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I had no Pocket Wifi yet that time so I had to rely on my preloaded Google map to go to my guesthouse. I took the Meitetsu train from Chubu airport to Nagoya station. The  train wasn’t really tourist friendly(no English translation of the stations) so I had to listen carefully for the English announcement.  In addition to that, Nagoya’s subway map was really confusing for me. I didn’t do any prior trip research so I was really hoping not to get lost. Thanks to the ever reliable Google maps I was able to find Wasabi Guesthouse without getting lost.
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I was welcomed by a kind Japanese staff and she first gave me a welcome gift, the wifi password, then she showed me my capsule, the restroom and other amenities that i could use.
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After settling in, I went down to grab dinner and  found this convenience store which i thought a police station at first (seriously Lawson whats with that logo). I bought a sandwich and strawberry milk drink and before going to sleep I had to finish some work related task too.
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My capsule was actuallly nice but since there’s no ventilation it was kinda hot inside and I wasn’t able to sleep well.

December 2 – Nagoya Castle, Nabano No Sato

My pocket Wifi still hasn’t arrived and I was really not comfortable going around the city without it but I don’t want to waste time so I decided to visit Nagoya castle. I googled how to go there from my guesthouse.
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At Nagoya station, there are several train lines and a kind old man accompanied me to the correct train platform(one of the many things I like about Japanese people).

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Unlike other castles in Japan, Nagoya castle’s interior was already restored. Even though this castle is not that popular, it’s picturesque exterior still impressed me.
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I found an ice cream vendo machine(sorta 😀 ) and of course I had to buy the green tea ice cream. First you have to select the ice cream you like, pay for it then the machine will give you a claiming ticket which you will present to the lady.
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After Nagoya castle, I went back to Nagoya station and explored the surrounding.
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I went to Yodobashi to check out stuff and was so impressed by the amount of electronic devices they have.
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I then went to Yoshinoya to have lunch and I ordered the beef rice bowl which instantly became my favorite(had it almost everyday!)

I went back to my guesthouse to check if they already have my Wifi but they still don’t so I decided to just go to Nagashima to visit Nabano No Sato. Thankfully, the lady at the reception was kind and she gave me instructions on how to get to Nabano No Sato. The bus station to Nagashima is also within Nagoya station area so staying in Wasabi Guesthouse was really a good idea since it’s close to both the train station and the bus station.  I first bought the roundtrip ticket before I went to the platform area at second floor.
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I was such a big WGM JongYeon(Jonghyun and Seungyeon) fan and one of the places they visited during their fake honeymoon trip in Japan was Nabano No Sato. It’s a huge garden during the day and an illuminated light park at night. The park was pretty huge and because it’s winter season, I didn’t expect to see flowers so I was surprised when I saw a lot.
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My favourite place is the giant green house known as Begonia garden that has a large display of potted Begonia plants throughout the year.
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After visiting Begonia garden, they finally light up the entire which made everything more beautiful.
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This park is not only known for the flower display but also for the illumination displays such as the light tunnel. I’ve seen photos of the tunnel in the past but seeing it in real life is just so surreal.
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I went back early to my guesthouse and was supposed to go to Sakae but I’m afraid I might get lost and miss my 12MN bus to Tokyo so I just went around Nagoya station again.
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I found the best cheese bread at 711 and also tried  the iced honey cafe au lait.
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The bus pick up area was actually really confusing so please do ask Willer bus staff to make sure you’ll ride the correct bus. I booked an overnight bus to just to save up time(and money) but the bus seat wasn’t that comfortable to be honest so I only slept for around 3 hours.