Grand Central

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March 12, 2017

The great thing about the Grand Central Terminal is that your train terminal is a tourist spot all by itself. Hence, going to New Haven, I had to take a train from Grand Central.

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Things to Know

  • You buy the ticket to ANY counter OR from the inspector himself. There is, however, a price difference of around USD5 between these two, with the ticket counter being the cheaper one.
  • There’s Peak and Off Peak tickets (based on the hour you’re traveling), with the peak tickets being around USD5 more expensive. The usual rush hour time is the peak period.
  • You will present the ticket to the inspector, inside the train.
  • I don’t know how to get the track number other than the info off the app I’m using, or asking the information center (the booth with the iconic clock)
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The ticket is valid for a LONG time, though of course you’d normally use it within the day. I don’t see the point in buying bulks as I might end up not using some, and the line is really really short.
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The Inspector will take your ticket and will put this little slip of paper off the back of the Aisle Seat.
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Navigating Hakone

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April 15-16, 2017

A Hakone is like a tour of modes of transportation. How does it go?

  1. Shinkansen. For the trip from Shinjuku to Hakone, with a premium fare, you can take the Romance Car, which unfortunately is not romantic in any way.
  2. Bus. Some routes are only serviced by buses, so better memorize those letters. Yes, they are identified by letters. This is the stop right outside the Hakone Yumoto station:P_20170415_150539.jpg
  3. Boat. You can sail through Lake Ashi, seeing the tip of Mt. Fuji at one point.
  4. Ropeway. From the end of Lake Ashi up to Mt. Owakudani.
  5. Cablecar. From Mt. Owakudani down, we have to take the ropeway then cable car.
  6. Railway. It’s different from a train – I don’t know how to explain it, but it is like the train’s grandpa.
  7. Train. Finally, since I’m on the budget, I decided to take the normal train to go home.

All these are covered by the Hakone Free pass (JPY5,140). Is it worth it? I didn’t compute – I think I got more than enough rides on it to cover the flat rate. If you’re there for just one day… it might not be. I think the difference is less than JPY1,000 overall if ever, it will be way simpler if you just take the pass (and not worry about the fare)

 

 

Miyagino: Hakone’s Sakura Path

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April 15, 2017

The most fickle Japanese event for me, sakura blossom has such an un-Japanese trait: It does not follow schedule well. So if you only have one week to visit Japan, I suggest you do it in winter or autumn, or basically any other event with fixed dates. Believe me, the schedule changes so much, it’s pretty much either it’s there or it isn’t. For example, the full bloom was originally scheduled at March 25ish. Then it was moved to March 30 ish. Then to April 2 ish. Then the actual full bloom was April 7.

Oh, and this full bloom varies by location. So this schedule was for Tokyo. And to make it more interesting, this full bloom also varies by tree. Yes, BY TREE. For example, the Sakura watch says that the Tokyo full bloom starts at April 2 – but that’s only for some of the trees. The window is pretty short, and so timing your entire vacation credits and taking a leave for a week might be a tad risky.

The sad thing is that I was in New York for April 6-10 (I know, first world problems), so I actually missed the full bloom of the sakura in Tokyo. But oh well. I went ahead with my trip to Hakone, and lo and behold, it’s full bloom! So I’m really happy that I actually did a hanami. ❤

 

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It’s about two kilometers of this, if I remember the article right. Basically an entire pathway of sakura.
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So yes, you’ll be walking under the sakura blossoms. That’s it. Just bask in the glory of the Japanese cherry blossoms.
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And I think the magical part is how MUCH of these blossoms are. They are overflowing in one tree at full bloom. Put these trees together, and you get a surreal view.

 

 

 

 

Peace Memorial Museum

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March 4, 2017

This is a place I simply passed through – I came in at 5:30pm because I missed the bus going here from Okinawa world, and I decided to just walk the two hour path. Based on google maps, I should have gotten here around 5pm, but I walk far too slowly.

The place is pretty peaceful regardless, with plenty of space should you want to pass time playing on the ground or just sitting in the grass.

How to Get There

Very few buses pass here – none of which comes straight from Naha. So you either:

  1. Take bus 89 and go to Itomori terminal OR
  2. Take bus 83 and go to Gyokusendo (Okinawa World)

At which point, you can go take bus 82 to the museum’s entrance.

OR

You can be like me and walk two hours from Okinawa World to here.

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So since I got here far too late, and the last bus coming in around 6pm based on my estimate, I had to find the next bus stop really soon. All my gadgets are out of juice, so getting on the right bus was really critical. Unfortunately, google maps does not show the bus route, so I have to figure out my way on my own. Given this rush, I had to play the game “find the bus stop”.

Let’s Play a Game: Find the Bus Stop. I usually use the satellite view so I can see the actual place (from the top of course), particularly for the stops that aren’t integrated with google maps yet.

Now, this one has a spoiler alert to it. I’ve already encircled and erased the original picture, sorry.

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Thankfully there’s a map near the parking lot. With the actual map in the park and google maps’ satellite view, I was able to locate the bus stop, and get there. Didn’t make it on time though. 😦

Hunt for Falls: Snowy Edition

December 31, 2017

To close my Nikko trip, I went up north to just walk around. While looking at the map, I saw that there’s Yudaki falls and Ryuzu falls near each other, so I decided to stop at Yudaki and walk to Ryuzu.

Yudaki was pretty impressive. The falls was really, really high.
To walk to Ryuzu falls, I have to enter this. It says there are dangers in the path. Honestly, this scared me a little bit!
But onward I must go!
The path was really pretty – snow DOES make things look magical.
Let’s walk some more….
Walk a bit more… (oh, people are actually in some picnic spots!)
Keep on walking!
After around an hour, I’m almost out of the mountain area so the snow thins.
A little bit more and bye bye snow. 😦
The swampland (?)
I’m quite sure that this is not Ryuzu falls. But I’ve been walking all over the place for two hours, and it’s COLD (-2c)! I’m a Filipina who has never even touched snow. So I’m happy with this. 😉

Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace

February ~15, 2017

One small place that you should visit a guide, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace is so rich in its history you will be missing out so much if you just go to look at it.

This is the Sultan’s view while he listens to his people.
On the right of the palace are these structures.
As they didn’t have paint then, they put cloth (like a canvas) on ceilings, and to get the color gold on the design, they put… gold on it.
There’s a meaning to these statues. Sorry, I forgot. 😦
Right in the middle is where the Sultan sits, and on the veranda on his left and right (where we are standing), are his concubines, if I remember correctly.
These pillars have been standing for hundreds of years. And they are made of wood. Impressive, eh?