|2007 has been such a great year for me, travel wise. Just this year, I went to 8 cities in 3 different countries in Asia. One week ago, I came home from my last trip for the year: an 11-day trip to Japan. And 2 weeks before that, I came from a city I haven't been to in 17 years: Bangkok, Thailand.
Like I said, I haven't been to Bangkok in 17 years. I barely remember the places we went to except for the temples and the different statues of Buddha. Coming there a second time still feels like the first time. Four days though is not enough to visit this amazing and intriguing city.
Since I have heard that it's hard to communicate with the locals because not a lot of them speak English, I decided that we should just take the risk and arrange for a city tour with my travel agent. And thankfully, our tour guide in Bangkok was able to arrange for us several other tours that would have otherwise been problematic for me (I was the one arranging the itinerary during our stay there).
Shopping in Bangkok is so wonderful. A lot of the products are very cheap! And the food! Yum-meh! My only regret (which I can still do on my next visit there, hehe) is that I didn't get to ride an elephant. *sniff sniff*
You can view pictures of my Bangkok trip here.
Japan has always been a dream destination for me and my sister. We've always thought it was going to be impossible for now because of visa and financial restrictions. Well, God heard our prayers and probably thought it'd be a good idea for us to visit Japan now. So with our cameras, bags and guidebooks in hand, we left for Japan with our dad.
Our first stop was Osaka, Japan. We arrived at Kansai International Airport at around 7:20pm, with no airport shuttle and no guide picking us up. So we had to settle for the airport limousine bus to take us to the hotel, which took the longest freeway in Japan to get to the hotel. We were tired, sleepy and hungry. But we didn't care because we were finally in Japan! Well, my sister and I jumped for joy. My dad had already been to Japan several times already.
I was in charge once again of our itinerary in Japan. The next day we toured the city of Osaka, concentrating on few sites, including Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, America-mura, Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street and Den Den Town. It was one of the hardest walking trips we've ever done because it was a very, very hot day that day. Unfortunately, it was summertime at Japan then. And to make matters worse, it rained heavily in the afternoon. Fortunately, I had enough meds to keep me from getting sick. Osaka pictures are here.
Next stop was Kyoto, where the weather was hot and humid. I swear, the main thing I remember most about Japan was the unbelievably hot weather we experienced. Kyoto was full of temples, a lot of which we weren't able to visit. But I think the highlight of our Kyoto trip was seeing Osama Tezuka's most famous work (well for me, at least), ASTRO BOY! I think I almost blew my whole budget for the day on Astroboy merchandise. Because, well, it's Astroboy! Don't you think so? Kyoto pictures are here.
The hottest day of the year (or at least during our entire stay in Japan) fell on our trip to Nara. Nara is a small city but it felt bigger because we had to walk everywhere under the sweltering heat of the sun. Nara Park had so many deers! I wouldn't be surprised if I stepped on one (or two) coz they were just all over the place. They were cute though but scary to feed mainly because once they see you with food, they all come charging towards you. But they can be sweet. There was one point where we stopped by a small store to buy water and there was one deer there asking the people to feed it. It approached everybody but I think people were scared if they started feeding the deer, then others will come charging towards them. Nara pictures are here.
Our trip to Kobe was our most unfortunate visit. Apparently, September 17 was a National Holiday in Japan and all museums that were supposed to be closed on Mondays, opened for the day. They were to close the next day, on Tuesday. We went there on September 18, a Tuesday. So yes, all museums were closed. We ended up doing only one thing on our list: eat Kobe beef, which was delicious. And at least I was able to meet up with one of my best friends, who was there to study. Kobe pictures are here.
The next day, we left Osaka for Tokyo. By bullet train or shinkansen. I never thought I'd be able to ride a train in Asia but I did! My dad told me that the bullet train traveled 250 kms per hour. And the trip from Osaka to Tokyo that will normally take 8 hours by bus only took 2.5 hours by bullet train. Tokyo was amazing. It's always been one of my dream destinations and it finally came true! We got to buy electronic equipment at Akihabara, got to visit museums at Ueno, saw Hachiko and Cos-players at Shibuya, strolled along the streets of Ginza and toured Tokyo Disney. Pictures of Tokyo are here (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
And one place we went to in Tokyo that made my sister almost cry was the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. It took us almost an hour to get there by train but it was well worth the trip. You can view pictures here.
And one adventure in Japan that deserves a post of its own is the food in this country. You can view it all here.
I want to go back to Japan. There are still so many places in Japan that I want to go to.
But for now, I'll try other destinations first. But I'm definitely going back to Japan!
Labels: bangkok, japan, kobe, kyoto, nara, osaka, thailand, tokyo, vacation