Friday, December 26, 2014

Tsukiji Market: Seafood Heaven

Since Japan is all about sushi and raw food, we blocked one whole day to visit the place where restaurants all over Japan source their seafood and that is in Tsukiji Market. Going to Tsukiji Market is very easy click on this link for a step by step guide

We went to Tsukiji Market for one reason...to eat the best and freshest seafood!!! We obviously were very serious about it that we waited in line for 5 loooong hours just to eat at the famous Sushi Dai Rstaurant. The restaurant is one of the oldest in the area and tourists are willing to wait to taste the sushi recommended by the chef. While waiting in line, my friends and I tried to entertain ourselves by exploring Tsukiji Market and here are some of things you will see:

1. Authentic Japanese Restaurants- I've witnessed several people attempting to wait at the Sushi Dai Restaurant line for a few hours and then gave up because they were too hungry or they are not willing to spend that much time lining up. But there are numerous Japanese Restaurants around the area that you can explore as an alternative. Look at the menu and check the restaurant's specialty. Some specialize in rice bowls, others sushi or sometimes noodles. 
2. Market Food Stall- If formal restaurants are not your thing, you may try the food found in market stalls. They are equally yummy and they're much cheaper compare to restaurants in Tsukiji Market.
We tried the tuna sashimi rice bowl and it comes with hot green tea for free. My partner and I shared one bowl because we wanted to try as many snacks as we can haha :)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sushi Dai: THE SUSHI TO DIE FOR

WE WAITED FOR 5 LOOOONNNNGGG HOURS FOR THIS!!! So let me tell you about the half day experience that we had in tasting Sushi at this famed restaurant.

Sushi Dai (寿司大) is a famous and humble restaurant in Tsukiji Market, Tokyo (I think it's been operating for almost 20 years now). There is a lot of sushi restaurants located in the Tsukiji Market and most of it looks the same. However, you will know that you are in Sushi Dai if you see an incredible long line outside of the restaurant. I did not try the other restaurants as it was highly recommended for us to try Sushi Dai. What I can conclude is that this is SUSHI HEAVEN for me because the food are extremely fresh and the taste of Sushi will never taste the same anymore after this experience. 
We woke up early just to go to Tsukiji Market. We arrived around 8:00 am together with my 2 other high school friends. People recommend to go there early morning at around 4-5am but the waiting time is the same regardless if you go 4am or 8am so we chose to go 8am. But expect to wait for around 5 hours (people say it used to be 3 hours a couple of years ago) and eat for total of 1 hour. So in our case, we were able to eat by 1:00 pm.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to Travel from Osaka to Tokyo via Night Bus

There are two main options you can take to travel from Osaka or kyoto to Tokyo. The most popular and preferred one is riding the Shinkansen (bullet train). A lot of people say that riding the Shinkansen is an experience in itself and it's a must do for them. However, we decided NOT to ride the Shinkansen but ride the overnight bus from Osaka to Tokyo instead, and here's why:

Cost:
- Shinkansen (1 way) costs 13,620 Yen or 5,100 Php. 
- Overnight Bus (1 way) costs varies from 3,000 Yen to 11,000 Yen. We selected one of the cheapest but still comfortable bus which costs 4,200 Yen or 1,600 Php.
- It's a whopping 3,500 Php difference EACH!

Time:
- Shinkansen obviously is faster as the whole journey takes 3-4 hours.
- Overnight Bus takes around 8-9 hours.
- The difference however is that, there is no night trip for Shinkansen and you need to travel during the day. For Bus, you can take the overnight ride which in our case was from 10pm to 7am. So you can sleep during the entire bus ride and immediately go around by day time.

Total Savings:
- We saved total of 7,000 Php for transportation for the two of us
- We saved half a day of itinerary which we used to go to Disneyland in Tokyo
- We saved additional 1 day of hotel cost (since we did not have to book 1 day of hotel).


Recommendation:
- Ride the bus if you want to save time and money. It's very comfortable as they have reclining seats and it's very spacious. Only downside is that you won't be able to see any sights going from Osaka to Tokyo as you'll probably be sleeping the entire time.
- Ride Shinkansen, if you plan to travel around 4 cities that are far from each other (not counting Nara, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe which are near from each other) since that's when Shinkansen unlimited ride will be worth it. If you do the math, even if you go to 2-3 cities, it's still significantly cheaper to ride the bus vs. unlimited JR Pass which costs around 13,000 Php and needs to be bought outside of Japan. 

How to Book?
- You need to choose among several bus companies. We chose Willer Express Bus  (http://willerexpress.com/en/) because of reviews and recommendation from our friends. I also highly recommend this!
- You can buy ticket at the venue or online. We booked through online to avoid risk of running out of ticket and also there are discounts at times if you book through online.
- Print the confirmation ticket and go the station around 30 mins prior to your scheduled departure time and just show the ticket. All of the staff speak very good English.

How to get there?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mothers know best!

Cliche as it may sound but mothers know best! They are the light and heart of the family for a reason because mothers are superheroes in real life. They can be comforting, nurturing, and loving. They wear different hats or roles too! They can be your best friend (or enemy sometimes hahaha just kidding), nurse, doctor, teacher, or a cook! Mothers juggle a lot of responsibilities every single day and that's why they are considered as the backbone of the family and it is all for unconditional love and for the good everyone in the family. 
Moms instinctively knows what's best for her child or children. They are very meticulous in finding out the best school, food, clothes, and products in the market. They would really do research example find the most nutritious milk in the supermarket, inspect the quality of the products for the house, and even are willing to pay extra fee just to buy a trusted brand. In short, they will never compromise health, comfort, and safety of her family. My mom is always like that and she worries a lot even the smallest thing! But thankfully, there is one easier way to help Filipino moms be at ease in finding the best and excellent brands with the help of the Taiwan Excellence, a symbol of quality that guarantees the superior value of Taiwanese lifestyle brands that are being sold in the Philippines. 

Taiwan Excellence campaign was organized by the Bureau of Foreign Trade of Taiwan (BOFT) and implemented by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). It was recently launched here in the Philippines (endorsed by no other than Iya Villania-Arellano) and to find out what the campaign is all about click here

Taiwan Excellence help mothers make sound and quick decisions when shopping for products because they are assured that the Taiwanese brands accredited in this non-profit organization have high quality and are worth it. The organization recognizes the needs of the mothers in order to fulfill their roles inside and outside the home. For instance, juggle work and family, wife to husband, nurse the sick children, and the list goes on. With Taiwan Excellence, the world's most demanding consumers, the mothers, are guaranteed of quality so they can just focus on the things that are more important at home or what truly matters instead of making the moms worry all the time. The brands accredited by Taiwan Excellence are fit for all supermoms in the Philippines! :)

For more information about the campaign and the brands visit ww.taiwanexcellence.ph and like Taiwan Excellence Philippines on Facebook. 
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Asakusa Hostel Toukaisou, Tokyo

During our trip to Japan, we went to 4 different area and our last stop was Tokyo.We stayed in a hostel called Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou. It is located in Asakusa area known as the heart of old downtown (Shitamachi) Tokyo. It is an area reminiscent of traditional Japan which is quite rare now in modern-day Tokyo. 

Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou's rates are very affordable and it's in a convenient location. These two factors are most important for us whenever we travel on a budget since it allows us to  save money and visit many places in the shortest time possible.

We booked via hostels.com for only 2,900 yen per night per person (I think booking directly to their website is much cheaper versus booking via booking sites). The hostel offers a lot of room options from single private, twin bunk beds, double room and even dormitory rooms. We chose the cheapest option which is for 2 people dormitory room/ Twin Private. We didn't have a private bathroom in our room but it didn't really bother us because the bathroom, common lounge area, and everything else are really squeaky clean and cozy! Also, we rarely see guests using it (since we leave the hostel very early and come home late) so we didn't encounter any problems when it comes to privacy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

8 Places to Visit in Osaka

Osaka is the second largest metropolitan city in Japan and one of the largest in the world. It is also the third most populated city in Japan. Our trip to Japan started in Osaka and we spend only 1 day touring entire Osaka. Here are the numerous tourist spots that we've visited in Osaka (in no particular order):
1. Umeda Joypolis Sega- It's an indoor amusement park operated by the major video game developer SEGA. It has 2-3 floors with numerous arcade games (like Timezone in the Philippines) and on top of the building there is a huge Ferris wheel which you can ride to see the whole city of Osaka. Entrance for Joypolis is free of charge and it operates daily from 11 am to 11 pm. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

China 2014 SDE Video

Sharing our China 2014 same-day edit video!!! 

We spent 5 days in China. Our trip started in Beijing then moved to Shanghai. All shots taken from GoPro Hero 3+ and edited via GoPro Studio. 
Watch our Same-day edit AVP here ENJOY! >> click here <<
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Japan Multi-City Itinerary: Jam-packed but worth it!

Japan is certainly one of the most diverse places that we've visited. This is where you can experience culture, nature, theme parks, shopping, and urban city life all at the same time.

Our visit to Japan included trips to 4 cities (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara which was impromptu, and Tokyo) and had to complete everything within 5 days. 

Here's how we did it:
1. Osaka - our itinerary in Osaka were "fillers" which means that it was not a priority and we went to these places only when we had time left after Kyoto and Nara. There is not much to do in Osaka and the tourist spots are situated near each other so you can visit all of these in half a day. But if you plan to visit Universal Studios (which we did not do), then you'll probably need 1 and 1/2 day in Osaka.

2. Kyoto - a lot of people recommended to stay in Kyoto for 2-3 days. We originally intended to stay in Kyoto for 2 days but we challenged ourselves to try it in 1 day during the first day and see if we can free up time to visit other places. We spent whole day in Kyoto and we were literally able to go around the entire city through the 1 day unlimited bus ride. All the tourist spots in Kyoto closes at around 5pm so you need to start your day very early (in our case we went there 6am). There is also a lot of walking (even uphill!) in the temples so if you want to complete everything in 1 day, you need to skip the trek going up to the  top of the mountains for each temple. We only stayed for around 30 mins in each venue as we went around the place, took pictures, and left. However, if you really want to spend time to relax in each temple, you need at least 2 days to go around the entire city.

3. Nara - Nara was not part of our itinerary but given that we were able to finish Kyoto in 1 day, we were able to free up enough time to visit Nara and it was one of the best decisions that we made! Nara has a huge park and it will take you half a day to go around the entire park and feed all the deer there. You don't need to spend 1 whole day there as there is nothing  else you can do aside from playing with the deer and taking a lot of pictures.

4. Tokyo - if you like shopping, cosplays, or the night life, then you'll need to allot more time in Tokyo than the rest of the cities. Two days will be enough if you want to go around all the famous places in Tokyo as these places are situated a bit far from each other and there are more things to do in Tokyo compared to the other cities we went to. However, if you want to add Disneyland to your Tokyo trip, then add 1 more day. If it's Disneyland plus DisneySea which are next to each other, then you'll need 2 additional days. 

5. Mt. Fuji - we did not go to Mt. Fuji as people advised us that it takes a few hours for you to go to the mountain and it's also risky given that you may end up not seeing anything at all due to the surrounding fog. Although people say it's worth the travel going there, we did not wanted to risk a full day to end up not seeing anything as we had to visit 4 cities in 5 days.

How to Create your Itinerary:

Creating your itinerary in Japan will depend on the experiences that you want the most...

1. If you enjoy cultural and nature stuff more, then spend more time visiting Kyoto (2-3 days).

2. If you want to shop and immerse yourself in the busy and fast paced life in Japan, then stay longer in Tokyo. 

3. If you want to tick-off all the theme parks, then spend less on other places and more on these theme parks.

4. If you want to try all of what I've mentioned, then you probably need at least 10-12 days in Japan and more if you decide to get a JR Pass and visit many other cities.

5.If you just want a glimpse of everything, then follow our itinerary. You'll accomplish a lot in Japan if you follow our itinerary and you'll have the time of your life. However, the only way to do this is by researching prior to your trip, having a strict schedule, and walking/traveling non-stop. 
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