New Site

Hello hello! Thank you for coming by  if you enjoy what is here, please join me at my new site.

Click on the cute little Mudkip who will lead you to my new site:

See you over there!

Advertisements
Mt. Fuji and Sir Fuji

Mt. Fuji 5th Station

Mt. Fuji 5th Station

If you are into collecting postcards, you cannot miss sending one from Mt. Fuji’s 5th station post office. But you need to be prepared for crowds of people, most pushing and shoving, to get their postcards stamped and mailed as well. Our tour gave us 45 minutes here and just sending the postcards took about 30 minutes – I did send 10 postcards though so it wouldn’t be as long if you only had a couple of postcards to write on.

5th Station Post Office 2,305 meters above sea levelStamp Time
Another thing of collectors are the ink pad stamps. Bring your own ink pads! The ones here were really dried out. You had to basically slam on the ink pad really hard a couple of times just to get a faint stamp to show up – I learned this by watching the person before me do it.

The ladies behind the counter selling the postcards and stamps has other kinds of ink pad stamps that they put on postcards. You can ask them to stamp your book if you’d like but make it quick as there are lots of other people waiting to purchase postcards.

Fusion Jump!Family Fuji

I would have to say that this stop on the tour was my favorite. Although we did not get to spend a lot of time here, it was beautiful. Even thought it may look hectic with so many people running around, it felt pretty peaceful to me.

After visiting this location, I now have “Climb Mount Fuji” on my bucket list.I think I would start somewhere up here as opposed to from the very bottom though.

Have a great day everyone!

Have you climbed Mount Fuji? Are there any tips or tricks you would recommend?

giant gundam

Giant Gundam

One of the things on the tour list that I was most excited about was the Giant Gundam. I didn’t watch it as a kid but I knew what it was. I think most people would compare it to Transformers but Gundam has actually been around longer.

When visiting the Giant Gundam, we noticed lots of kids in uniforms there as well as in the Diver City shopping mall. We asked our tour guide about this – since none of my schools would have taken me to the mall for a field trip – and was informed that those groups were probably from schools in the country sides so the shopping mall and random giant statues were not a common sight for them.

While doing some research, it seems like the Gundam has different performances throughout the day depending if it is day or night. I guess we were not there at a performance time.

Giant GundamDiver City Giant Gundam!Backside
Odaiba
Goats! Just randomly on a hill!

Let me leave you with something a little random. Goats on a hill in the middle of the city!

Did you watch Gundam as a kid?

 Links to Places Mentioned:

Japanese fish lunch

Akihabara + Grilled Fish + Shabu Shabu

AkihabaraAkihabara

Akihabara, the electronic district for things like camera to rice cookers. There are so many shops to choose from and all of them pretty much sells the same things. I would say the prices in the shops we visited were actually pretty expensive.

This is also the first place we saw the girls dressed as maids advertising the maid cafes. I thought they would be very open to taking pictures but they actually have signs with them that says no photographs and would turn away from camera. I guess that is so you will go into the cafe is pay for photos with them. We did go into one maid cafe, not in Akihabara though, where we learned quickly that their voices hurt to listen to pretty quickly. I wanted just a single ice cream sundae but it only came in as a whole set with 5 other things – who can eat that much dessert? Not me! You can also pay to take a polaroid with them and have them draw on it.

Japanese Fish LunchSetting for 11

For lunch, our tour guide took us to have a “traditional Japanese lunch” with grilled fish and many side dishes including tofu, soup, radishes, chicken, salad and natto ( in the white box under the radish) …. Natto is fermented soybeans and according is Wikipedia is an “acquired” taste – one that our family could not acquire..

Just know .. it's all you can eat.

For dinner, we were on our own and wanted to try out a shabu-shabu (a style of hot pot) place nearby. We couldn’t speak any Japanese and they couldn’t speak any English so we resorted to pointing and hand gestures. What we didn’t know and wasn’t able to point out was that we were at an all-you-can-eat place. camerapixel We ordered the one on the bottom left. What we gathered from looking at the receipt is: the price on the top is the price per person if you order the dish one time. If you order it again, the price is the next one down per person. We figured this out because we needed two tables and one table ordered two times.

The salad bar, drinks and ice cream is self- serve and also all-you-can-eat. Also for the meats, one table can only order one kind.

Expensive lessoned learned! We would have ate much more if we knew how the system worked!

Do you have any funny stories to share for a time when you could not speak the language?

Links to Places/Things Mentioned:

Sensoji Temple + Nakamise Street

The Garden at Narita Excell Tokyu HotelIMG_0317

Our first night’s hotel, Narita Excell Hotel Tokyu, had a nice little garden in the lower level. They also have an outdoor pool but it wasn’t very well maintained.SensojiSensojiSensojiSensojiSensojiSensojiBreathe in the smoke for good fortuneFirst stop, Sensoji Temple  in Asakusa (also called: 浅草寺, Sensōji, Asakusa Kannon Temple). This is Tokyo’s oldest temple which came about when two fishermen fished up a statue of Kannon. The temple was bombed in WWII but has been rebuilt to what it is today.

Inside you can throw coins into a kind of wishing well. According to our tour guide, the kind of coin you threw in mattered: 5 or 50 is for destiny, a happy marriage; 10 or 100 is for general luck, good travel, etc.

Outside there is a big incense burner for those praying outside. It is said that the smoke from the incense have a healing power so you will see many people fanning the smoke towards themselves.

They can get their own food!Blending in
Nakamise Street
PastriesCharmander can't have anyWish I got the sumo cup!Right by the temple is Nakamise Street where you can pick up some souvenirs or try some Japanese snacks. Tiger told us there are done snacks that you could only fund here but we didn’t know which ones so we only tried what looked good.

This day we also learned a bit about the Japanese job hunting process when we drove by a few people wearing “cheap” suits. University students job hunting all wear the same thing: a cheap suit and white shirt. Everyone is on the same level. You don’t wear an expensive suit until you go up in the ranks and once you have gotten the job, you do not wear the same suit you wore to the interview again.

Another interesting thing he mentioned – that I’ve actually read online before is the work culture:

“In America, when the bell rings you can leave. My American friend gets upset if he cannot leave at 5:30; but not in Japan. If you are a manager, you can leave when the time comes but if the work is not done, the rest of the team cannot leave until it is finish. If the manager does not leave, worker cannot leave or it shows disrespect. But we are a helping culture. We all cover each other. We like to drink. The good paying salary (managers), need to take the team out at least once a week. The last train on Friday is full of drunk people. This is a good culture (builds team bonding.)”

I’ve read somewhere before that Japan gets to take naps during their work day. But then I read somewhere else that they get to take naps because of the ridiculous amount of hours they must work. I will skip taking a nap for my regular hours thank you.

Welcome to Japan!

Our first time in Japan! We booked a tour with J&L Travel Agency because none of us can speak any amount of Japanese to survive and the parents wanted to try out a tour first. The lady that helped us there was very thorough when explaining what all the charges were for and what we needed to do. However, she didn’t tell us that the places are subject to change; maybe even she didn’t know.

We booked the 7 Days Japan [Kanto, Kansai] Special Tour (JTK7) from Grand Holiday. Having been to the places and looking back now, we were cheated in their extra “admission” cost. On their website, it starts that there is an extra $250USD for admission fees to: Ginza + Asakusa KannonTemple + Oshino Hakkai + Mount Fuji + Kiyomizu. But it looks like only Oshino Hakkai has an admission fee and we didn’t even go to Kiyomizu. Our tour guide also liked to change up our lunch options without telling us. He would tell us what lunch was suppose to be for the day then tell us that he thought the local food around the area is better and give us back our money for that. I didn’t mind this too much since I like wandering around looking for food.
Layover!

This photo right here is a bit misleading .. that is because after our 16 hour flight, we stopped in Hong Kong for 4 hours and met up with family from California before our 4 hour flight to Narita, Japan.

Airport NoodlesWelcome!Beware

Funny story about the airport .. I read about stamp collecting in Japan and was very excited to do this! My brother and I brought our old expired passports as our stamp books. We new the airport had to have a stamp so we were trying to communicate with the employees there – should have learned the word for stamp in Japanese. It turns out there are observations desks and one was suppose to have stamps. Steven and I went running through the airport and up 4 floors like crazy people trying to find it but when we got to the North Observation Deck… we couldn’t find the stamp!!! 😭😭😭 The rest of the family was waiting for the tour guide and we thought you would be late so we ran back to the group but it turned out the guide still wasn’t there yet .. but we didn’t know when he would show up so we didn’t go looking for the South Observation Deck.

First stopTakoyaki

For the first night, dinner was on our own. Our tour guide, Tiger, told us the hotel we were staying at, Narita Excell Tokyu, offers a free shuttle to Aeon Mall near by so that’s where we went.

First things first .. Takoyaki (aka octopus balls)! We tried the ones at Gindaco which was a bit disappointing ..

Sushi on a belt!

What is a trip to Japan if you don’t eat sushi!? And what better way to get sushi than on a conveyor belt! You could also pick from the menu and ask the chefs in the middle to make you something.

Japanese Snacks
Not SourChip or Dale

We spent the rest of the night shopping for little things like snacks and school supplies .. =P That little guy up there, Chip or Dale, was only $6USD! But I couldn’t get him .. It was only the first day of the trip so it would have been a hassle bringing him everywhere.

The first day was not very exciting but stay tuned for the more fun details of the rest of the trip!

Make It Rain Blossoms

BlossomsBlossoms-Raining

Ainhi and I went biking again the other day. I showed her this alleyway that I pass by all the time on the way to work and we made it rain a little bit =)

Have a great weekend everyone! Get out and enjoy the nice weather!

Hole in the Wall

Flowers and Alleyways

The weather is getting nice so the biking is going to start up again! Last weekend, Ainhi and I decided to explore Northern Liberty’s – mostly looking down alleyways for interesting houses, trees or doors. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you if you asked me what streets we were on. When we got to an intersection we would ask “left or right”, look down both ways and choose the one that looked more interesting.

At one point we ran into a photographer sitting by an arrangement of beautiful flowers. She asked us to help her with her shot by biking by a few times. (Photo above is not what she intended – that’s just us being silly.)

Our last “photoshoot” location was near South Street. I made Ainhi run and jump around in her komoto that made her look like she was flying or it was really windy. We were originally heading there to get cheese fries but by the time we were done with pictures we just wanted to go home. The photo being taken in the first photo I took of Ainhi.

Another Graffiti Hunt!

Took Hung and Khang to Reading Viaduct for the first time over the weekend. A few pieces has changed or has been covered by new ones – including my favorite “Time” one!

While we were up there we ran into 3 girls there who asked us if we knew a safer way down than how they got up Haha yes! They mentioned a “must try” taco place which is what prompted us to get tacos that night.
I was very excited to sit on the giant tire swing again but sadly one of the strings broke =(

These next two below are at a new location near Northern Liberty. You can find the artist on Instagram @glossblack

And finally, I am addicted to this song and video right now. It’s perfect for this nice weather we are finally getting – fun and cheerful!

Song: Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You
Video: Justin Bieber + friends

Cannot wait to get together with the family. This will be our next vacation song!

Have a nice day everyone! Get outside and enjoy the sun!

Ocean City in the Winter

Going to the beach in the winter has always been on my bucket list – not necessarily going into the water though. Our original plan for this extended weekend trip was to go hiking in New York but after the single digit forecast for the weather we decided to go south instead.

The trip was a very relaxing one! Because of the very cold weather we mostly stayed at the hotel only going out to eat. It also helped that our hotel was really nice! Small in general, as in not many rooms, but the rooms itself were very spacious and decorated very comfortably. My favorite comfort hotel so far!

The Lighthouse Lounge

During our 3 night stay, we were able to check out 4 different rooms! The story behind that is .. all the Lightkeeper Suites (bigger rooms) were taken so we got a Lighthouse Suite (smaller room) for the first night. The Lighthouse Suit may be smaller but it is still very spacious. The bathroom had a big enough tub for you to take a bubble bath in and all the soap and shampoos smelled like oranges. The only negative was the view of the parking lot.

Our second night we moved into the Lightkeeper Suite – fireplace, double jacuzzi, sectional sofa and even more space! However, our fireplace wasn’t working and they couldn’t fix it so they give us a free upgrade to The Edge #3 Bliss! This place was AMAZING! I am not too great with words so let me direct you to what their website says:

A split-level one or two-bedroom suite overlooking the outdoor dipping pool at The Edge and the Isle of Wight Bay. The Tibetan influence in the accessories and photography is memorable. A Queen sleigh bed is positioned in the suite with a King bed in the second bedroom. A walk-in shower and stone bathroom compliments the eastern influence. Wet bar with refrigerator and coffeemaker, Starbuck’s Coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Cali natural amenities. Frette bedding and terry toweling. Spa Robes. Complimentary Continental Breakfast in Suite. Evening Turndown Service.

What I can say though is that their description is very accurate! I remember looking around thinking “this is a monk themed room” – the photos on the walls were of monks, there were paintings of Chinese writing and a Buddha head statue. The outdoor “dipping pool” was frozen, otherwise, it might be a little awkward when people are in there because you will see right into the giant window of our room. They forgot to mention their heart-shaped double jacuzzi which was very comfy and the fake fireplace. “Evening Turndown” service is when they come to your room with orange juice, fruits and chocolate and will light the candles in the room. I really loved the stone walk-in shower. Huge room and 2 shower heads. And 2 beds!? A king bed!? We slept sideways just because we could!

If it wasn’t for the heavy wind and expecting snow we would have been able to stay another night in that room. But instead, they asked us to move back to The Lightkeeper Suites – although the same layout as our first one, the fireplace worked!

They also have a lounge area (photo above) with boardgames, a fireplace, complimentary tea and coffee and freshly baked cookies in the afternoon. You also get a view of the bay, for us the frozen bay, and you can step outside onto the patio.

And before I forget, the GPS tells you to turn down 60th street to get to the hotel but that actually takes you to their restaurant. You need to turn down 56th street between OC Brewing Company and the plaza with Dunkin Donuts.

And now .. let’s eat!
Gator Bites The first place we ate at was actually not in Maryland but Milton, Delaware on our way down. The place is called Po’ Boys Creole and Fresh Catch and if you are not paying attention you might just drive pass it.

The place felt like a local mom and pop restaurant and the service went right along with it!

There is a special’s menu next to their kitchen, on the way to the bathroom so remember to take a look. That is where we discovered the Gator Bites – photo above. They were so good and I could eat them as a snack all day! Perfectly crispy on the outside and not oily – which is very important to me.

We were originally seated at a 2 persons table but after all we ordered, they moved us to a 4 persons tables.

Layton’s Ninety-Second St Restaurant

For breakfast the next morning we went to Layton’s Ninety-Second St Restaurant. My french toasts were too sweet and the walnuts tasted a bit burnt. Apple got the Hungryman’s Griddle – “scrambled eggs smothered with hash browns, green peppers, onions and sausage, then covered with cheddar cheese and delicious country-style sausage gravy. Served with toast.” Doesn’t that just sound soo good!? Because it was!

The Little House of Pancakes

We also had breakfast at The Little House of Pancakes. The food here is like how to make everything at home and it was good! I also discovered I really like sourdough bread! Ribs for breakfast? Why not!

And one final picture from when we ran onto the beach on the windiest day! Funny story .. I was trying to get out of the car but the wind was blowing against my door. I got half my body out when the wind pushed the door even harder squishing me!