Saturday, 16 December 2017

Travel: Japan 2017 Day 1 // Tokyo // Stay: Hilton Tokyo Odaiba // Walk: Odaiba, Oedo Onsen Monogatari

05 December & 06 December 2017

It has been a while since I blogged. Life has been pretty busy, and we have settled in our new house (no more renting! Yay). I did manage to squeeze in a bit of vacation back in July 2017 to Los Angeles and Seattle, straight after I did my yearly business networking in Miami. However, there was hardly any time to take decent pictures, let alone blog about it.

I decided to take a short trip to Tokyo this time for the above reason: Because I had to go to USA at end of June & beginning of July, I had to miss Final Fantasy Distant World's concert in Sydney back then (despite having purchased the tickets for it early this year). So I stalked the webpage for their ticket release for the Tokyo's concert. As soon as they released them, I booked for this flight (work hard, play hard :D)

Before going to Tokyo, I did spend about 10 days in my birth-hometown - Bandar Lampung (a town in South Sumatra, Indonesia). All I did was eat, eat, eat, eat, so I won't blog about it. (I blogged about some of the food back in 2012). This was to spend time with my parents who I haven't visited for years (Sorry, Ma & Pa :( )

Having left Lampung and arriving at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta airport at Terminal 3, we had to make our way to Terminal 2 to catch our midnight flight to Tokyo (via HongKong) with Cathay Pacific.
The brand new terminal has connecting skytrain to Teminal 2, but when we arrived (around 8 p.m.), the train has ceased operation for the day -_-


So we caught the shuttle bus to Terminal 2. Flying Business Class, we were given a lounge priority check-in for convenience (instead of having to queue at the check in counter). Service was speedy and polite, and we were ushered to the lounge while the attendants took care of immigration formality.


Lounge was pretty basic, but comfortable enough. There was an adequate selection of hot and cold food, and drinks.


I tried their coffee machine and pressed the 'latte' button. I stared in horror as the machine dumped 1 full cup of milk then barely 1 second worth of coffee shot. So I had to make another cup of espresso - double shot.


We basically just spent our time in lounge (and I had to do some work while waiting. No such thing as full holiday for me) until it was time for boarding. This was the first time for me flying Cathay Pacific business class. Their A350 cabin has 1-2-1 configuration and is so spacious and look swankily new.





and oooooo the fancy TV remote...
 Had steamed cod for supper (at around 1 a.m. in the morning).


After around 4.5 hours flight, we touched down at HongKong International Airport. Because we were quite tired, we made our way to one of 4 Cathay Pacific Business class lounges. We could have chosen any of the 4, but we chose the one closest to our boarding gate - namely The Wing.


There are 2 levels, downstairs where the showers are also had a buffet bar of some food & refreshments (and damn right we used the showers - which was awesome).


Then we made our way upstairs to check out the rest of the lounge. They have noodle bar (where you can order freshly made wonton noodles. Oh please do order some wonton noodles here :)), and the coffee bar where there are some pastries and freshly barista-made coffee.
I had to try their Christmas Cocktail (seasonal?) - a mulled wine served warm. It's like a very warm sangria and I liked it.
But more than that, I loveeedd the Creme Brulee Latte. A bit on the sweet side, but you won't find this taste anywhere else, I think. I am still reminiscing about it as I type this. Mmmm... .


the lounge overlooking boarding gate & non first/business class waiting area.

various pastries at the coffee bar
 Before we flew, we managed to squeeze in a Margarita and a Beautiful (it's a mix of Cognac and  Grand Marnier. Not on the menu. But the Bartender will happily make one for you). It was a drink we had during our wedding 7 years ago, so a bit of nostalgia.


Boarding the next flight to Tokyo, I opted for the Dim Sum for breakfast.


We arrived at Tokyo Narita International Airport Terminal 2 at around 2.30 p.m. Tokyo time. I have previously booked for a portable wi-fi through Purupuru Wi-Fi. For the total of 8 days, including tax and insurance, I paid 12,312 Yen. The gadget was picked up from QL Liner counter (also at Termina 2). When you booked your wi-fi through Purupuru Wi-Fi, you would be asked your arrival terminal and would be given your pick up location.
Because 1/2heart and I also brought 2 smaller suitcases (that contained various snacks from Indonesia, as well as our lighter clothes which we wouldn't be using during our stay in Japan), we deposited the 2 suitcases, also at QL Liner. For the 8 days (to be picked up on 13 December), we paid a total of 8,320 yen for the 2 suitcases for their safekeeping. I think this is much better then having to lug or TaQBin the 2 suitcases all around Tokyo (especialy knowing we wouldn't be using these suitcases anyway).


We changed into a warmer sweater to brace the cold winter air (Tokyo is not that cold though, I promise you ;)), and noticed that our cat's fur were still stuck. Haha


Btw, I won't miss a chance to show my beautiful furkids. Here they are: Senpai (the munchkin cat), and Sake (as in the Japanese drink - he is a long haired mini Dachshund)
In this photo, they were in their halloween costume. If you wanted to see more of them - they have their own facebook and instagram (@senpaisake)


I booked one night accommodation at Hilton Tokyo Odaiba, as I wanted to spend the night time ogling over the new Unicorn Gundam (the last time I visited in 2015, it was still the old one)
Thankfully, the Limousine Bus could take us straight to the hotel (2,800 yen each way per person)


Off from Bus Stop no. 17... .


I didn't take any pictures of the Hotel's front as it was already dark when we arrived, but Christmas' decoration inside was in full swing.

***

Accommodation: Hilton Tokyo Odaiba 
Total night: 1
Total price: 25,307 Yen


And they had a mini train set - soooo detailed and beautiful.

Day 1 Movie 1
The room at Hilton Tokyo is on the bigger side (compared to other hotel rooms in Japan in general).


And bathroom amenities are from Crabtree & Evelyn. Looooveee their products!


This is probably the first hotel in Japan that I stayed at that has balcony in-room.


View from balcony... Pity I couldn't see the rainbow bridge from here.



***

After refreshing ourselves for a bit, we headed to Diver's City to check out the mighty, awesome, handsome, drool-worthy Gundam.



can't get enough...

Obviously the trailer shop also now has unicorn gundam decal as its front... .


A couple of days ago, 1/2heart found out that a few of his friends from Taekwondo class were in Tokyo as well, so we decided to meet up in Odaiba (the friends are also Gundam maniac). While waiting, we had some gyoza from the foodcourt at Diver's City.


And I had to have some Matcha slurpee.


Diver's City has some awesome shop where you could burn your money without thinking, but I had to mention this cute shop:


Because you can buy a soft serve inside their veryy cute mugs, which you get to take away - only for 600 Yen! I chose PomPomPurin (which I gave to my sister-in-law)


After meeting up with our friends, we made our way to Oedo Onsen Monogatari. Not much to say as I had been here before, but if you are in Odaiba, please go here. At both times we arrived during their evening operational hours (slightly cheaper entry fee at 2,072 yen).



Their food court boasts a lot of variety of food & drinks as well.



(past blog about this can be found here)

As I have arrived in Sydney when I blogged this, I will post the rest of the other days' entries over the next few days.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Travel: Hunter Valley, NSW; Stay: Block Eight Villa

1/2heart and I spent the Easter long weekend (Happy Easter everyone :D) in the Hunter Valley. The purpose of the trip was to avoid people (ha!) and relax as much as possible. We could have gone to Blue Mountains for bushwalking or the coastal areas for beaches and water activities, but that means effort! I simply wanted to do nothing, eat good food, and just enjoyed each other company.

Why not stay at home, you asked? Because then we would not have seen this:



Uninterrupted sky with wine in hand? yes, please!

***

We stayed at Block Eight Villa, a privately owned vineyard with a few quaint cabins to stay at. It is as quiet as we could ever wished for, and with beautiful backdrop of their small lake/dams, and the owners' vineyard. The rates are very reasonable considering it was public holiday long weekend when everywhere is dramatically much more expensive (I paid A$366 per night), and they also include two bottles of their own wine in the tariff (Beautiful locally produced wine :)).



The cabin - rustically styled - is big for two people and very comfortable. Every little touches have been well-thought of, from the aromatic candles, the toiletries (even styling iron for the ladies), the pictures and drawings of their pigs and chooks. Everything is delightful



The cabin faced towards 2 decently sized dam, where ducks & water birds constantly roam. They also contain silver perch (so if you wanted to stay here and wish to fish, you can!)
dam just in front of the cabins
There are several animals on the property. The hens provide the eggs that is included in the breakfast pack (also included in the tariff). While we were there, the female peacock was tending to her baby chicks inside gated enclosure (and the male peacock just roamed freely outside).



And of course, the non-gated free-to-roam kangaroos & wallabies are everywhere!







We had clear sky on our last night of stay, so star watching it was!



The hosts have several other cabins. Definitely worth checking out and a much more better alternative than your standard hotel stay.


65 Squire Close

Belford, NSW 2335

***
On our 2nd day of stay, I made a dire mistake: I thought of checking out the nearby Pokolbin (a Hunter Valley township about 15 minutes drive away) and to visit the Hunter Valley Gardens (A$28 per adult)

Throngs of people (T_T) Well I should have expected it, it was public holiday after all. 

Nevertheless, Hunter Valley Gardens provided some lovely backdrop for photos. 







The most crowded garden of all is probably the storybook section. Containing some figures/statues depicted from children stories/fairy tales, this section is a delight for children (and adults with young hearts alike).




Personally, I love the oriental garden. Beautiful koi fish in the lake, ducks, and stone lanterns amongst the velvet grass (if you're as interested as I am, the name is 'Korean velvet grass' / Zoysia Tenuifolia).


\

I want those grass!