Schiphol Airport

May 1, 2017

With the exception of the offloading issue, this European airport is a delight. I so loved ING’s campaign of ____, here I come. I initially saw this, not knowing it was a campaign. But it was so fitting. The next week was filled with culture shock!


On my way back, I saw it again. This time, with Tokyo, here I come! Which I found funny ‘coz I AM going to Tokyo.


They had plenty of food, and since I’m a Diners card holder, I was able to maximize the benefits of having that credit card.

Schiphol Airport has plenty of shops and stalls to choose from. I thought that I bought a cheap set of perfume at EUR50 for two bottles, but my classmate said they weren’t cheap. But my fellow flier bought one bottle at CHF90 in Zurich Airport. Well, it’s all relative.

Seeing this reminded me that I AM in the land of tulips! Oh, I wish I could have gone out!

and just some quick comments about Zurich airport – they have plenty of Toblerones! Well, as expected from the motherland of Toblerone:


Huge toblerone. My boot for scale.


April 1, 2017

The things one finds in tripadvisor. This one was not on my list, but I had so much free time I had to scroll for ideas. One that interested me was the FREE robot show. So off I went.

The Robosquare is in now way cutting edge technology. But it’s pretty good for those who are out for a stroll. 🙂






A year back, the first place I went to here in Tokyo is my new home – the Tokyo International Exchange Center. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me the best place I've lived in my entire life. A month ago, they sent me an email – they are kicking me out.

The Start of the Journey
Once I got into the compound, I went immediately to the Admin office. It's basically the area where there are rows and rows of flags. The entrance is at the back, in a corner. There's plenty of sign pointing to the admin office.

I got in and presented my resident's ID and passport, I think, upon registration. I simply have to fill up a couple of forms, and since they speak English, it was pretty easy. They also give you an invoice to pay in a convenience store. You can pay it in Daily Yamazaki, which is at the ground level of building B. They then give you your keys and take you to your room.

The TIEC Layout
There are four buildings – A, B, C and D. I've only been in A, B (I live there) and C.

Building A is for singles, but with limited appliances and space. It's the cheapest option, and based on my observation, has the cheapest price that does not change as much as the other 3.

Building B is also for singles. It has air conditioning, refrigerator, washing machine (from wash to dry), iron, iron board, vacuum cleaner, bed, mattress, all sheets (for JPY7,000 annual lease, you get a bed mat, sheet, fleece layer, futon, futon cover, pillow covers, and futon), cabinets, stove, table (study table and circular), lamps, and air conditioning. Basically, what you need to bring from wherever you are from are clothes, cooking tools and utensils (should you plan to cook), and other personal items/consumables.

Building C and D are for couples. I don't know much, all I know is that it's extremely big. More than twice the size of a B room, and yet only with around 50% price premium.

Money Matters
You have to pay:
1. Rent – automatic deduction from your bank account. Prices have been increasing (2016 & 2017) for B, C, D and E. The 2017 increase was around 15%. But if you've signed a contract, then don't worry. Price changes don't affect current contracts.
2. Electricity – there's a daily charge of, er, JPY50 if think? Or JPY30? You precharge your account in a machine in the Admin area.
3. Telephone – there's a daily charge of JPY10, I think. Precharging is the same with Electricity.

Regarding daily charges, I believe you need to pay them regardless. When I missed paying for the telephone, I had a negative amount in my account!

I paid around JPY10,000 per month for electricity WHEN I used the heater daily. It can go way lower otherwise (around JPY3,000 or 4,000 a month, probably). I also cooked almost every night.


  • Daily Yamazaki. The most convenient one, there's a convenience store that sells food right in Building B.
  • Maruetsu. There's one right next to the Daiba-Kaihinkouen station of Yurikamome line. It's way cheaper than a convenience store. For example, a liter of milk is JPY180 in Maruetsu, JPY250 in Daily Yamazaki.
  • Green Market. Every couple of days (Monday, Wednesday (?) and Thursday (?), around 7pm to 8:30pm, Sunday around 3pm). I've been here a year, I still don't have their schedule memorized with certainty. It's way cheaper – for example, one (head?) of garlic at JPY150 in Maruetsu. JPY150 in the green market gets you three.
  • Coop. A service I've never tried, they cook food and deliver it to you daily.

Life in TIEC
The daily life is pretty simple. You have your own mailbox, and there's a communal delivery box where people can leave things for you. You have your own unit, and you basically are there alone… forever. :p What are the other facilities?

  • Lounge. There's a lounge area in every floor, just in case you and your friends wanna hang out and chat.
  • Training room. There's three treadmills, four cycling machines, weights, etc. You need to register for a training before you get access, so do it once you get in. It's open around 6am to 12mn, so it's a pretty good deal.
  • Gym. Yes, you get a gym for free. Just register to reserve a time spot in Admin. There's a limit of 4 hours a week per team (because you also write the name and room number of who you're playing with). They have a basketball court, table tennis area, soccer area, a net for badminton (or whatever needs a net), etc.
  • Guest house. This is a dorm, not an apartment. Hence, the room is only for YOU. If you have other people coming in, family members can be accommodated at the guest house, at a fee. I don't remember the rate, but it's a pretty good deal if you compare to a hotel.

Leaving TIEC
Short term. If you are coming back but will be out for a couple of days, you send them and email to let them know. I don't think this is critical, but it doesn't take more than 5 minutes so why not.
Long term. You'll still pay rent, so think about it carefully. No special procedures, though I'm not sure how it'll work if longer than a month. I was gone for almost two months (coming back for around a day every two weeks), and there's nothing special I had to do.
Exit. At least a month's notice is needed, and you personally have to go to Admin to sign some papers and reserve your spot for the final inspection. It doesn't take more than 10 minutes.

So. That's it, I think. Did I miss anything? Just ask!

Coffee at Tonagi Hostel


March 31, 2017

One of the cutest ways I’ve been served coffee – they have this press thing (that I keep on seeing being sold in Starbucks but I cant figure out how) and a hourglass! I even think that it’s coffee grounds inside that hourglass! Basically they serve you the entire thing, then say until it’s done before I drink it.  (oh, it’s ~JPY350)

Now, I don’t think it tasted differently, but it is still the most adorable way I’ve been served coffee. ❤

Uchinonakamichi Seaside Park


April 1, 2017

This is simply gonna be a collection of flower pics. You’ve been warned.

Well, let’s start with:

How to get there:

At Yoshizuka station, go to platform 1. Get off at Kashii station, take the escalator to platform 4. The train to Saitozaki does not look like a normal JR train (it was printed with Kyushu). Get off at Uminonakamichi. Right outside the station is the entrance – I’ll be impressed if you manage to get lost.

Overall fare is JPy460 I think.

Quick Tips:

  • Check the season. It’s all seasonal in Japan, so you’d better look up the website (or the latest sns tags) to see what the place looks like.
  • Rent the bike. It’s a big, big place. It’s around JPY100 per hour, I think.
  • If you have time, make it a picnic. It’s a pretty peaceful place. 🙂
I am a bit too early – the sakura is only starting to bloom. 😦 But look at the bright yellow flowers on the right, and the white flowers underneath the trees! Ah, so pretty.


The main attraction is, of course, the nemophilia. I bet this has nothing on Hitachi Seaside Park, but this one has sakura blossoms in its midst.

See the bridge on the prior picture? This is the view from that bridge. 
Next stop? Flower museum. They also have a rose garden, but it’s not the season of roses – so there were no flowers in that garden. 
I don’t know what this is, but the color contrast is easily my favorite.
I went to the entrance last >.<
Oh, and it’s a SEASIDE PARK. Of course, the sea has to be in its side! :p
It looks good, I know, but you won’t like it. Too hot!


Shuri Castle


~February 2017

One of the few temples/castles (?) in Okinawa, Shuri Castle is a very famous one. Since I’m already in Naha, I figured I might as well go.

It took me a while to find it as I decided to walk rather than pay the JPY100ish bus, and the main entrance the google maps was pointing at is closed for renovation. Hence, I had to go around the castle, and boy, was it a big castle.

This is one of the entrances that I had to pass through, and honestly, I was pretty impressed by the moat!
But then I had to pay for the entrance! 😦 since I’m cheap and I’m not really fond of Japanese temples/castles, I decided to pass on this opportunity.

PS. Eat before coming here! The food in the cafeteria is NOT good, and it’s such a waste when Naha’s food is one of the best there is!

Japanese Manners – Rei and Archery

~January 2017

One common comment about the Japanese is that they are rigid. They have so many rules. Want a taste? Here’s are the ones I’ve been told during my stay here (as part of conversation, not because they are correcting me. I’m a foreigner, after all)

  • Where you sit matters. If you are in a high position, you have to stay farthest from the door. If you are in the lower position, then you should be closer to the door (this has Japan samurai ages origin. The one closest to the door gets killed first, right? :p)
  • When doing a toast, the lid of your cup should be lower. (I think the Chinese also has this).
  • Talking about lower – when giving your business card, yours has to be lower too, as a form of humility. If you clearly have a higher position, then you can have the higher one (but come on, how arrogant is that? :p)
  • Continuing on the lower part – when taking the escalator, your head has to be lower. So if going up, your boss should go first. When going down, you should go first. (go on, think about it!)
  • You cannot pour your own drinks, and people around you should not have empty cups (the opposite for Koreans, they said. For Koreans, the cup should be emptied before pouring more alcohol)
  • No loud talking on the train! and no phone calls!
  • Backpacks should not be worn on a crowded train as they take up space. So if you have a backpack, take it off your back and hold it in your hand (or put it down) if the train is crowded

These are just off the top of my head.

For one of our classes, we actually went to Ogasawara-ryu, one of the oldest samurai training clans. Basically, they used to teach the samurai (and other high class people) the right way to do things.

They even have a booklet of proper etiquette! Let me share some items:

  • The right way to bow – your fingers should be close together (not spread out).
  • When receiving a drink or food, put it down first before taking a drink/eating. Meaning if you receive a beer, put it down the table first, then lift it up to drink. Why? Because you are overly eager if you don’t put it down first.


We were taught the right way to bow. There are different bows – we were taught the standing up and kneeling ones. 



A lot of the “correct” ways to do things depend on where the main area is – like this, er, altar (?)
We were also taught how to do the traditional Japanese archery! That one was pretty cool. 
Then we leveled up! We got to try the wooden “horse”. Take note, he is squatting, not sitting. It seems that when they do archery, they don’t sit. They squat. Ouchie.