I started blogging on Dayre! It’s super easily to use to blog mini chunks at a go, and then it gets added up into a daily post. I still use our DSLR camera to take nice photos of things that I want to cover in dept, though, so while I’m copying the Dayre contents onto this blog, I’ll be adding DSLR photos here!
Last night, our flight from Korea to Tokyo was the last flight of the night arriving in Narita Airport, and in fact, we were the last two passengers to clear immigration!
As our flight had not been planned, we didn’t have any accommodation booked, and it was too late at night for us to take public transport anywhere, so we decided to stay overnight in Narita airport and spend time doing research and booking accommodation.
Good thing Narita airport has free wifi! And plenty of charging spots too! We got all our gadgets charged and then I started researching hotels, airbnb apartments, and even serviced apartments, as we were contemplating staying for between 2-4 weeks in Tokyo. We wanted to take a good break and forget about the nightmare experience in USA, and try living like the locals do in Japan!
Finally decided on a hotel and booked it for 12 days first, since we hadn’t decided how long we wanted to stay yet. Our main considerations when choosing a hotel were PRICE (can’t be too expensive cos we’re staying for so many nights), LOCATION (must be near a good train station – doesn’t have to be very central but must be a station with a useful line that connects easily to other lines…), and AMENITIES (laundry, wifi, good bed).
The thing about Narita Airport, though, is that it’s not as nice as Haneda Airport – not as new, and doesn’t have as many 24 hour shops or comfortable chairs. The area that passengers can stay overnight in is pretty limited, unlike Haneda, where you have more options. Anyway, we took turns to nap because we need to look after our belongings! The seats we slept on were actually not too bad.
Good thing I had my Snuffles bears of different sizes with me! Some make great pillows; others make great bolsters. Slept for about 3 hours before waking up to switch with Mario.
Anyway, I think I’ve lost weight since embarking on this trip… It’s been slightly over two weeks and my shorts are getting quite loose. Maybe it’s because of the tons of walking/travelling… Or the Japanese diet… And of course my USA ordeal probably contributed…
ANYWAY!! Since we might be staying for up to 4 weeks, I purchased Japanese data SIM cards from one of the counters. The one I chose was the cheapest – gives 30 days of data, for just 3980 yen. The catch is that only the first 100MB of data each day is high-speed; any excess data will be at a pathetic 128kbps. It’s just enough for me when I use it for Google Maps, Hyperdia (great for checking train routes), Instagram, Line and Whatsapp. Need to be disciplined and only download stuff when on WIFI!
It’s the cheapest option, but not necessarily the best – because if you’re a heavy user of data, you can very easily bust the 100MB daily cap and when that happens, the speed is SO SLOW it’s unbearable. If you need unlimited high speed data, and you’re an M1 subscriber, I would recommend the unlimited data roaming plan – $18/day, but super reliable. Alternatively, you can rent a portable wifi – which will be similarly expensive, but can be shared if you’re travelling with other people.
Bought some food from the Keio station to eat while on the train to be hotel! Got fried rice for myself…
Checked into our hotel – Hotel Livemax Fuchu. It’s within walking distance from Fuchu Station (Keio Line, goes direct to Shinjuku station in 24 mins) and for the price ($85/night all-in for 2pax!), it’s an excellent deal – considering that you get a large room by Tokyo standards, with your own washing machine and kitchenette to boot! There’s free wifi as well, so I don’t have to worry about my data cap so much – I use my data SIM when I’m out, and the hotel’s wifi when I’m in.
I had the fried rice on the train to our hotel, and Mario bought some interesting onigiri! We’ve eaten plenty of onigiri from combini (convenience stores) but they’ve been quite generic, like salmon, or mentaiko, or omu rice… These three contain more premium ingredients like unagi, and cost more too (over 600yen in total, so about double the price of the normal onigiri). Well, it was an interesting meal!
We reached our hotel pretty early – before 12pm – and left our luggage there because they would only let us check in at 3pm. We then went around exploring the neighborhood! To our delight, we discovered several familiar restaurants like Sukiya (cheap and good beef bowls), MOS Burger (not so cheap actually), Gindaco (takoyaki – great as a snack), and even Saizeriya… The neighbourhood is quite rustic and quiet, but around the train station, there are malls and plenty of food options. Awesome!
We wanted to buy tickets to go to Eorzea Cafe (for the uninitiated, it’s a Final Fantasy-themed cafe in Akihabara and they let you in at fixed timings – only if you have tickets, and the tickets are usually sold out up to two weeks in advance!) so we had to hunt for a Lawson’s. At Lawson, you can buy tickets for many things, such as Disneyland! We used google maps to search for Lawson’s in the vicinity and found some, so we started walking to the nearest one.
Even the nearest one was quite far away, but it was a pleasant walk as we got to check out the neighborhood. Unfortunately, when we got to the Lawson’s after a looooong walk, it turned out to be a Lawson 100.
It was only recently that we discovered Lawson 100 stores. They’re like a cheap version of Lawson’s, with most of the products priced at 100 yen only! Unfortunately, the Lawson 100 stores didn’t have the Loppi machine that you can use to book tickets, so we had to hunt for a proper Lawson. We started trekking again and yay! The next one on the map turned out to be a proper Lawson and we bought our tickets successfully. After that, it started pouring so we sought refuge in a MacDonald’s!
We weren’t really hungry so we ordered a meal to share… But strangely the nuggets didn’t have a meal option so we had to buy everything a la carte. Even more strange was the fact that the nuggets only came in a 5pc option! Hmm… Is this why the Japanese people are usually quite slim? Anyway, the nuggets were really good! They were nice and crisp on the outside, but very juicy and fresh-tasting on the inside – did not taste like processed meat! Ah, Japanese restaurants always do it better!
After the rain stopped, we headed back to the hotel to check in. The room exceeded our expectations! First thing we did was to shower – it felt so good to be clean again! We then spent the rest of the day unpacking, making full use of the wifi, and just resting until we got hungry again… And headed to Sukiya for dinner!
Can always count on Sukiya for cheap and good food! Mario’s beef bowl was only 350 yen and super yummy! MUCH better than Yoshinoya in Singapore! But then again, even the Yoshinoya in Japan is better than the one in Singapore… There’s just something about the way the Japanese do food – everything seems better!
It seems that unagi is in season! We’ve been seeing it in restaurants everywhere, for the first time! Usually, it’s rare to find unagi in Japan – more likely to find anago! So, when I saw that a beef+unagi bowl was available at Sukiya, I had to try it! At 880 yen, it wasn’t cheap by Sukiya standards, but still cheap compared to the unagi bowls at other places (2000 to 3000 yen on average). And when I tried it… Wow! Best unagi ever!
Headed back to the hotel after that satisfying meal and bummed around some more. Then, we did laundry! I had packed two weeks’ worth of clothes and Mario had packed more like one week’s worth, so we had pretty much run out of clothes. Thank goodness for the washing machine in our room! There was also a coin dryer downstairs – 100yen for every 30minutes. Ended up spending 300yen to get our clothes fully dry…