Sunday, October 23, 2016

Japan: Day 2 (Kyoto)

It was finally the day for us to explore Kyoto! As we were really dog-tired from the day before, we decided to have breakfast at the hotel that morning. It was a really simple breakfast and since I had not gotten used to the food there, I did not eat much.

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We first went to Kyoto Station to get all day bus pass which only cost 500 yen per day. As it will cost 230 yen per trip, it is really worth to get this pass and it can be used for unlimited rides.

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Our first stop was Nijo-jo Castle. It was only the way to Kinkakuji Temple. We decided to drop by just for a while for some photos and continued to our next destination. As it was already lunch time when we reached Kinkakuji Temple, we had our meals at one of the small shops we saw by the roadside – Gold Roll.

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They serve curry rice so, we decided to give Japanese curry a try. To be honest, I was truly surprised that it was really good. It was not spicy, of course, and the taste was flavourful.

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I had seen  a lot of beautiful pictures of Kinkakuji Temple online and they are not as magnificent as you see it right in front of your eyes. It is definitely one of the must-go places in Kyoto.

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I had also read that the matcha ice-cream at Kinkakuji Temple is famous. Hence, I had already set my heart for it even back in Malaysia. It was good but it did not cause any addiction. In my opinion, it is optional whether you want to have it or not. Not a must-have.

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Our next destination was Sagano Scenic Train Station. It is a sightseeing train line that runs a long a river – Hozugawa River. This train bought us through the mountains at a relatively slow pace, about 25 minutes from the station to Kameoka. However, it was not that cheap – 620 yen per trip. Therefore, it is 1,240 yen with return. Still, it was a nice experience. The boyfriend particularly enjoyed the ride even though it was freezing for him as we sat at the fully open car. As it was raining and it was getting dark when we got back to Saga Torokko Station, instead of continuing our destination to Ginkakuji Temple, we took JR train back to Kyoto Station which cost 240 yen.

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We had our dinner at The Cube Gourmet Street which is located on the 11th floor of Kyoto Station. There are few restaurants there, ranging from cheap to expensive. After our dinner, we went to hunt for my luggage as my luggage broke down when we first reached Japan. We ended up buying one at this random street when we were supposed to go to Nishiki Market. Why supposed? Nishiki Market was already closed when we reached there. We found out that it is only opened until 6.00pm. Hence, we walked into a cafe to chill before heading back to our hotel to call it a day.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Japan: Day 1 (Kyoto)

It was finally the trip that both of us were really looking forward to. We had bought the flight tickets one year ago. Researched and planned this trip for over a year as well. And yes, been looking forward to this trip for over a year.

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We were supposed to leave Penang and reached Japan on the same day. However, due to flight changes by AirAsia, as usual, we had to stay extra night in Sepang. To be exact, two extra nights – a night when we flew from Penang to KLIA2 and another night when we flew from Japan back to Malaysia. Of course we stayed at Tune Hotel on those extra nights. Though the room is small, it is enough to sleep just for one night.

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It was a 6-hour flight from KLIA2 to Kansai Airport. When we landed the airport, we headed to Kansai Tourist Information Centre to get the necessary transportation passes. Our trip consisted of 3 nights in Kyoto, 1 night in Ise, 1 night in Mount Koyasan and the remaining nights in Osaka.

Therefore, we bought Kintetsu Rail Pass Wide which provides five consecutive days of unlimited use of local, rapid and express trains with up to three rides on limited express trains on Kintetsu Railways. Additionally, it includes airport access with return whereby these trips can be made outside the 5-day period. Also, we can use this pass for unlimited bus rides in Ise. Though it cost us 5,860 yen each, it was really worth the purchase. For our trip, below are the suggestions to use the three rides on limited express trains:

  1. Osaka-Namba to Kyoto
  2. Kyoto to Ujiyamada (Ise)
  3. Ujiyamada (Ise) to Osaka-Namba

We also bought 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass which cost us 3,000 yen each. It provides unlimited use of subways and city buses within Osaka City for two consecutive days. Additionally, there are free admission to some tourist attractions which can help to save our expenditure.

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As the railway from Kansai Airport to Osaka-Namba was operated by Nankai Line, we had to use the vouchers to change to tickets at the ticket counter. As I did not know how to use the limited express ride at that time, we used local train where we had to make a change once for us to reach Osaka-Namba. Fortunately we asked a local for help. Else, we would not know that we had to change to another train at one of the stations.

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As it was already dinner time when we reached Osaka-Namba station, we decided to get a quick bite. We came across this restaurant – Nankai Soba. To be honest, I was really amazed by the technology in Japan. There is a vending machine for you to place an order. A freaking vending machine! Fortunately they have an English menu available for us to place our orders.

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Moving on, we used local train from Osaka-Namba to Kyoto which took us a few hours as the train stopped at every station. What we could have done differently was to use one of the three limited express rides to bring us to Kyoto faster.

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As we were wiped out, we decided to take a cab, just once, from Kyoto Station to our hotel. Again, I was amazed by the technology – the passenger’s door is an automated door! You do not have to open and close the door yourself. I was really impressed by how Japan wanting to provide convenience to its people. The next amazing thing was at the hotel. We normally make payments at the counter when we checked-in. However, this hotel, you have to make payment at a machine! Kakkoiii.. Anyhow, as expected, the room was really small but it was comfortable enough for us to stay for 3 nights.

Since it was already late night, we did not go anywhere but to call it a day for an amazing day the next day. Therefore, stay tuned for my next post!