Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Trip: Day Four, Hagone->Mt. Fuji->Tokyo

I woke up before the alarm, again, and decided I should made the most of my time by hit the bath again :) It felt quite exquitsite to take some leisure time first thing in the morning. Alone in the male section to enjoy the bath alone. Of which I did a little swimming in the of the bath too ^^.

Then when I went back to my room I notice that the sky has open and we have a clear view of Mt. Fuji. I reluctant a bit but decided to go back to the bath again enjoy the the view of the famous mountain.

The breakfast was... ediable to say the least... Although the grill salted salmon was very good, the egg was cooked in a pot with heat on paper so it looks like fried egg but no fat, which does not taste good :P

After the meal we have a few moments to take the picture of Mt. Fuji before actually going up the mountain :) Our guide had warned us that it will be very cold up in the mountain (which was up two thirds of the height) so I wore my longjohn bottom just to be cautious and I was not disappointed.

I think I slept a bit on the way up to the tourist stops on the fifth level. When we arrive it wasn't just cold, it was chilly and quite windy. There was snow everywhere as well as tourists :P My younger bros. spot a white couple in ski suits, carries ski boards walk pass by. There were about three to four shops around there as well as a small shrine. Our guide said once we got off the bus we will receive a ticket for a blessed small bell from one of the shop (which appearantly the busiest shop too).

Only one shop seems to have the toilet and it smell Really Really bad. We learned afterward that this is because there was no plumbing up there and it would be too costly to buy water just for the toilet use. The guide mention that they use some sort of bubbly substance to clean it instead.

What surprise me is that the shopkeeper (or perhaps the owner) who hands out the bells as well as the few salespeople in the shop can speak Thai. After walking around between shops as well as looking for my family. I could not stay outside for too long due to the wind plus the chill made my earlope hurt (it would be nice if I have a tall man to kiss my ear warm later *sigh*). I walk into the big shop again and then I heard a loud yelling by a Thai guy accusing the shopkeeper of cheating on the changes, it sounds pretty bad so I hastily leave the shop. Before leaving I finally bought a blue tea cup with Mt. Fuji print on it. The funny thing is that when I hand it over to the cashier he pull out the one that's already boxed and wrapped from under the counter (which implied that this might be a mildly popular items or it's a common policy of the shop the save the time of both the buyer and seller).

After we're all back on the bus, the tourguides talked a bit about the *side show* we witnessed. First, they say that the Japaneses are trustworty regarding moneys. They said you can hand them the coins and bills and they will always pick out the correct amount for your purchase, adding that of all their 10 and 20 years of working as toursguide they never saw, heard, or been cheated in Japan. When the shouting match erupts they said they were all scramble defuse the situation as well as calling other guides to see whose group was the troublemaker belongs too. They also said that it is quite embarrasing that this happen as they were very sure that the guy must be mistaken his money somehow. They also mention that it is very difficult for Japaneses to learn to speak Thai and yet the people working in that shop all speak Thai (they were able to distinguise Thais from the crowd too) which shows how much they appreciate our business up there and said that Thais buy things up there like no others :P.

On our way down the fog began to set again which prompted the tourguide to mention how lucky our group were since if this happen in the morning the mountain will be close and not to mention we won't be able to get the view too.

Then it was a pretty long bus ride to Tokyo. We stop for lunch in Ginza area at a Thai restuarant (although in the brochure it said we would be having korean grills). The food was quite good, grilled chicken is very good, the spicy glass noodle is quite like home while the tom yum is almsot tasteless. The restuarant is very popular. People qued up for seat when we were there.

After lunch we have a bit of time to check out the area. The road in Ginza area will be close for cars and bench with parasol will be setup in the middle of the street for patrons who will crowded the area after 13:00. In front of one shopping mall there were people lining up for something and my mom push me and my youngest bro. into the que as well. As I observe the staff and the poster at the end of the line, its appear to be the draw lots of the mineral bath association in one of the province. We tried but got the lowest prize (Darn it...) which is a bag of herbal teas :p.

Afterward we went on the bus again and passed the palace, and a few sightseeing spots in Tokyo before stopping at Tasaki Pearl company. According to the guide Tasaki has became the leading pearl making company in the world. They even give away the pearl by lucky draw to one of the tour group using a number randomizer after we finish seeing the demontration of how they make pearl. Then on the first two floors it was showroom for the pearl. Some are quite cheap 14,000-18,000 yens to the very expensive necklaces. We stay here for quite a long while since there were many women in the groups :P

After we got everybody we finally went to Miraikan Museum. However it was 16:00 by the time we got there and the museum close at 17:00. So we did not have a lot time to completely scouting the place out. So I just concentrate mostly on the globe that show the current world weather and other pattearn in real time that I had often saw on Discovery channel.

Then we all leave to get back to the hotel. We have about an hour of free time before the dinner time. So I decided to check out the mall that sell earbud headphones since I seems to broke mine while I slept in the ferry. Also two of the women in the group wants to check out the mall for other items as well so we agreed to go together.

The weather is certainly colder in Tokyo than other city we were in especially after dark. We went looking for this place that called 'Bic Camera' which seems to be the biggest chain that sell electric appliances all over Japan (I saw one while in Osaka). It took us a while to look for this place as it does not have a big banner telling which building it is but we eventually found it. Once we found it we first took care of the business of my parties first which is battery for her camera. Then when it's my turn, it turns out that what actually broken is the earplug socket of my mp3 player. Since the warranty of this mp3 player is alreayd expired so I think it's a better idea to buy a new one. After browsing around a bit I decided on Creative MuVo s200 1Gb. It seems to be a brand spanking new model too ^^. It cost me around 12,000 yens, something that's close to 4,000 baht. Which is quite a good price, considering the brand and the size, comparing to TH.

Our dinner for today is at a Chinese restuarant. It was again abit edible... Personally I would prefer some ramen but still...

After the meal I rush to my room to gathered the camera, mp3 playerS, flash drive, and all the cable in order to transfer all the photo from the camera to flash drive. As it turns out the hotel does not have available business center but the staff pointed me to the internet cafe just opposite from the hotel.

It was easy enough to find but the place stink of cigarette and I really do mean STINK and REEKS of cigarette. It took some minutes to transfer all the photos and it could not be fast enough. On the bright side it cost me only 80 yens after I finish using it. I could only focus on checking my emails while waiting for the transfer to complete... Although the place looks quite interesting as it as a manga corner I just wasn't in the mood for it as I could barely breath with all the stink of cigarette smoke.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


In case any of you guys (it would only be a handful but still...) I am back from Japan already and drafting my last 3-4 days in Japan.

However, I am also came right back to work which is now a 12 hours shift 19:30-7:30. On top of that I seems to experince a moderate level of depression. While I was in my office the next day after I got back I felt drain, disdain toward my job and felt like quitting just so I have more free time for myself. At the same time, I kept telling myself that this could be the results of the exhaustion from the trip (six hours of non-continous sleep each night during the trip).

Today I felt considerbly better than the last couple of days, and I will continue blogging the trip. Although it would be nice if I saw some comments on the trip posts... Especially when I type those trip in slightly hasting manner since I was tried and really need to go to bed then as we would have to wake up at six o'clock for our trip.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Trip: Day Three, Nagoya->Hagone

We start the day with the breakfast in hotel. It wasn't as good as the dinner but I guess it's typical breakfast for hotel everywhere...

Then we were off on the road again to Hagone. We made a pit stop at a rest area which is has eel products in the store as it is what the area is famous for. These eels are sea eel which, according to the tour guide, taste better as they live in clean water. I have not tried any of them though... The stop was not very long anyhow, however, it is the first place that I found the 'Gajapong' or the gumball like machine. Only that it didn't dispense gumball but plastic balls containing small toys insides. Most will cost you 200 yens per times and usually you will have a chance of getting getting one out of five to six varieties of the items inside. I tried a couple of dispensers and got some cute stuffs :)

Next we visit Heiwa Park, the peace park, to symbolize the peace making efforts of Japan toward the countries that it had been wronged by. The park, seems to built on a small hill has various breed of Sakura all over the place. We only visit a few high points though as time was limited but the park was very beautiful with all the sakura blooming all over the hills. On the top section there is either a church or a stupa with about 6 pairs of stone lions from India, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Malaysia, and China positioned on the path to the center building.

Then we left for lunch, which is bento (japanese style lunch box) it wasn't very good since some of the food were cold :p

Afterward we were on the bus again to Mt. Owakudani to have a taste of black boiled eggs that was boiled in the natural mineral water hot spot. The result are the black shell boiled egg due to the sulfur in the water. It is believed that one black egg will extend your life by seven years :)

However, it was foggy that day up in the moutain which slowed the bus. When we reach the top it was so foggy and windy that my pants felt moist from just a brief exposure going from the bus into the building. Inside the tourist stop we have a bit of time to shop and I bought a small black boiled egg Doraemon strap, of which I can be sure that it can't be found anywhere else in Japan (although it was made in China :P) Then we were rounded up by our tourguide to go down to the pier by cable cars.

We got the first class ticket to do sightseeing on the ferry on Achi lake. The ferry outer appearance were deck out in pirate ship style. Also we were on the red one (I notice there were the blue, violet and green ones too) which seems to be the main symbol for this attraction since the Hello Kitty keychain is of this red ferry.

Afterward we were on the bus again to Gotemba outlet mall, which is the outlet mall of all the brandnames products from Nike to Bvlgarri. All are genuine sales items, by that I meant the items were the top quality products that were out of fashion and the company did not wants to stock them.

The mall itself is quite amazing. It seems to be up in the hill somewhere and the space was quite large. Each shops has its own showroom in open area which clutter together down the path. Heck the place even have it's own ferris wheel.

By the time we left Gotemba mall it was like 19:00 already. We should head straight to the hotel to be on time but we still have one place left to shop which is Seifu Supermarket. Our tourguide has to tell tall tales to the hotel people (which had setup the dinning room for us) in order to make time for us to do one more shopping for the day at this supermarket. The tales is that there was an accident on the moutain road. However, we were busted when we stop at Seifu since it's the big supermarket of the area, the hotel staffs also shop there too :P So another tales has to be made which one of the woman in the group need emergency... maxipad :P

After the shopping ended we finally head to the hotel. The dinner is traditional shabu Japan style, it did not taste much but it was ok by that time.

The next agenda on the list is the onsen (mineral water bath). The practise is to shower first to clean yourself before go down into the bath section. We can't use towel to cover.... our midsection either since the guide said if the hotel caught us doing so we will be fine 300,000 yens since the hotel will replace the whole batch of mineral water to perserve it's cleanliness.

In the end, I did take the hot bath 4 times altogether. Two in the night and two more in the morning ^^.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Trip: Day Two, Osaka->Kyoto->Nara->Nagoya

The breakfast was not as grand as the last night's dinner but it still good. My mom found out that the hotel plant a lot of rosemary on of side on the hotel as decoration. I get to rub my hands and glove on it to get the scent and it's quite good :)

After the breakfast we took the subway and the Shinkansen to go to Kyoto to visit the clear water temple. It was not unlike the scene from many many manga I had read. The balcony, the sakura, the 3 streams water for drink for blessings.

Then we took the bus to see Kingkakuji Castle (the Gold Castle, as in real gold from gold leaves, the guide mention that now the gold parts are about 2 inches thicks from all the annual renovation every 4-5 years) Too bad that it was quite windy in that area so there was no clear shot of the castle and it's reflection in the pond in front of it.

Afterward we went to Nara to visit the temple with Giant Buddha. This place is famous for the deer living in the entrance area of the castle. They didn't look as pretty since I think they are sheding to their summer fur after the winter has ended.

For Dinner, we go to a grilled house, much like Daidomon, but a lot of food and also taste quite a lot better!!

Now I am in Nagoya Kanko hotel's business center, transfering the pictured from the digital cam to thumbdrive for my mom. She already took 298 pictured already!! and this is only day two! Now I have to leave since I am getting lightheaded and I also have an early morning again. Plus I haven't prepare my clothes yet!

The Trip: Day One, BKK -> Osaka

The flight was quite grusome, starting with the delay due to the amount of people traveling doing this times... The airplane as Boeing 777 (as I was told later) which was told by the tour guide that it has rather narrowed seat, plus we were seated at the very end of the plane which is quite noisy and often shaky. To top it off it was a night flight which we were suppose to nap while on the plane, since we will began touring once we landed!

Needless to say I didn't get much sleep, tried as I might, with the above reasons. Anyhow we landed on Kansai Inter. Airport in Osaka. The airport itself looks very modern and cool. However, I guess will realize that you hsd landed in Japan when you get a fainted scent of smoke starting in the connecting tube to the terminal.

First stop was Osaka castle. the symbol of Osaka, I tried my first real takoyaki in japan here. Sakura (Cherry Blossom) were blooming everywhere. (I will post some pictured later as right now I am in an business center in a hotel in Naghoya). Not a lot to see since we were going into the castle itself.

Next stop is Universal Studio Japan, I got to see the Terminator 2 3-D which is quite nice even if it looks a little dated. Backdraft, is quite cool indeed as
shows a lot of cool pyro technique, not to mention it heat up the room quite a bit.

Jurassic Park Ride, one of the raft riding that has about 3 stories drop at the end. I am not shame to say that as the result of the panic from the drop once the raft stay horisontal again I hurt my neck, stomach and perinum from the tightening reacting of the drop. Boy was it HURT!! Especially the mid-section. Luckily it wasn't until about 30 sec later that we have to get off the raft which give me a bit of time to recover.

Later we have a chance to do a bit of sightseeing in the city as well as shopping at the 100 Yen store. Walking around I saw quite a few shops that sell mobile phone, 90% of them are clam shell type, quite heavy (due to large screen) and quite heavy. Quite ashame that it won't be working in TH.

Toward the end of the day I was quite exhausted from the lack of sleep and excessive walking. However, the dinner was GREAT. It's a buffet in the hotel we stayed in, Ramada Osaka, the salmon was good and the rip-eye steak is very Good.

I finally get to sleep. But it was quite restless, probably because of the quilt, which is quite thick and fluffy which will be hot if you stay under it after a while. And the pillow was quite strage as half of it seems to be stuff with the foam beads not unlike those in beanbags chair...

Still I did get some sleep and woke up a few times and decided to spend about 5 mins. soaking the tub with mineral bath powder :)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Physically Away...

Ummm.... well... My family is taking a trip to Japan and I will go along too...

Eventhough I would prefer going to Europe or Australia (as I might be able to sneak around for the not so clean fun of my own, plus I could speak the language :P) But it would be nice to do the traveling again after have not been on the plane or out of BKK for like... 7 years... I am not too excited about the trip but I am sure glad to be part of it.

So... I start packing today and realize that I am not sure if my clothes (especially the pants) would be warm enough to withstand the 5-10C that the tour guide said Japan will be... I got a pair of longjohn and I hope that that would be enough...

Still... it would be a lot nicer if I have a big hunky man to keep me warm though :)

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Grumpy Alan Moore

I had browse through the net today and stumble upon a forum with a post regarding the movie 'V For Vendetta' and found this link which is an MTV interview with the cartoonist who wrote the original graphic novel. I have read a few tidbits of how Alan Moore was not happy with the way his works (From Hell, Constantine and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) were 'hollywoodfied' by all parties involve with little respect to the original.

After reading the article I must say that the man, despite his caveman like hairstyle, is very intelligence, literated and poetic in his own style. You would not be surprise from this article that he really is the one who wrote all the lines that V spoke in the movie.

It is an interesting read. If you like the movie you should read this article too :)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Laughter with XXXL size

I first saw this comedian on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and this guy is GOOD. He did his stuff in the clean fun way.

I had this file on my computer as well before I found it on . I really don't have anything else to blog about at the moment so enjoy the clip :)