You did it. You made it. After months of researching, applying, praying, planning, and preparation, you’ve finally made it to Sweden. And so begins a brand new adventure.
Note: Suuuuper late post as in years late. This trip was in 2018 or 2017 (??) lol. But the words are here and they are still informative I think! At the very least, this is a good travel diary. Enjoy 🙂
Sounds tiring? You’re not wrong. Will I do it again? Not Amazing Race-style like this, no. I’d take my time and stick to one part of the country next time. But if you’re a first-timer who wants a sampler tour and enjoys the rush of seeing so many firsts at once and also wants to experience riding a shinkansen, then this is for you.
I’ve been to Tokyo and Osaka in the summer and Tokyo in spring, but this was my first time coming in the fall. I wanted the pretty autumn leaves, Japan-style, but October was too early for most of them apparently. The weather was supposed to be kinder in October, however, which was the point of choosing this month instead of my usual November. But alas, Typhoon 21 was right on our tail, so what welcomed us was chilly winds and nonstop rain and a full-blown typhoon. And I thought I’d look silly if I brought a waterproof down jacket. Sigh.
This didn’t stop us much, though, nope. We were travel-happy, sight-hungry, sushi-starved, adrenaline-pumped machines!
Still with me? Good. Itinerary below:
Day 1. Manila to Narita, Dump bags in Shimokitazawa AirBnB apartment, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku Takeshita-dori, Cat Street
Day 2. Shimokitazawa, Ghibli Museum! Shibuya
Day 3. Tsukiji (SUSHI CAPS LOCK), Ginza (shopping and tea), Shimokitazawa
Day 4. Shinkansen to Osaka, check in at Osaka business hotel, Nara, Dotombori
Day 5. Kyoto. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Gion, Dotombori
Day 6. Check out hotel, Osaka Castle, check in ryokan (onsen!)
Day 7. Check out ryokan, Hep Five, Kansai to Manila
What to wear
The promised Japan temperature was in a mild below 20 C range, so we packed sweaters, jeans, long skirts and dresses, light jackets and thicker cardigans. I brought scarves and my trusty Uniqlo Heattech thermals just in case, which turned out to be great packing sense because early fall + surprise typhoon = strong winds + freezer chills. Temperature math, see? Sister and I ended up buying proper coats to stay warm (thank you Muji and Shimokita vintage stores), and also those very nice transparent umbrellas everyone was sporting. Available at your local 7-11 or Lawson for a few hundred yen (100-500Y).
Also, wear comfy shoes! The most comfortable you have, because unless you are game to spend yens and yens on taxis, you will be running around their amazingly huge train system and doing a lot of walking from the station to your actual destination. Sometimes you will walk instead of taking the train if it’s only a couple of stations’ ride because trains don’t go cheap and you like the adventure anyway. Also, stairs.
Pro tip: make sure you bring shoes that are easiest to take on and off. I know this but I still wore my high cut Onitsuka sneakers which hugged my feet like a mother so they were yes, comfy and warm but also hard to take off and even more challenging to put back on. You will take your shoes on and off multiple times, thus is now my ultimate reminder to my hard-headed self. At the threshold of your apartment and hotel room for one, in some restaurants and in all changing rooms. So yes, comfy, slip-on walking shoes.
Tl, dr. For this fall in Japan trip, I layered as thus: Thermals + sweater + coat + scarf + jeans/long skirt (didn’t need thermal leggings) + socks + sneakers.
Do note I am a tropical girl and the cold does bother me. Adjust the settings as necessary 🙂
Hellooo first post of 2022 and first post in a while (wew). Definitely long overdue. Just like this book!
I first started writing Love To Meet You in 2019, finished the first draft quickly by October 2019, and then surprise, a pandemic. It’s been struggs city ever since, and really really slow going, but I’m surrounded by people who love to create and who choose to create despite unprecedented dark, trying times. I’m grateful for the continued push of accountability buddies (always RomanceClass!), and now we have this book.
At 33, career woman Sol Trinidad wasn’t really looking for anything other than a fun evening when she attended the fan meet of hot Korean celebrity Nam Jihun. She certainly wasn’t expecting to get up close and personal with the actor—like rolling-in-the-sheets-until-dawn personal. It was just one night after all. She will never see him again and he’ll forget about her soon enough. Right?
Manila was supposed to be just one of the many cities in 30-year old Nam Jihun’s work itinerary. Just like in any other city, he was excited to greet his fans. Then he met Sol, someone who had a knack for throwing all his expectations out the window. Romance wasn’t in his schedule, but he wants to keep seeing her again, if only she and his celebrity trappings would let him.
This book is fan-meet meet cute, noona romance where noona is a Filipina chocolate sales executive and the younger man is a hot, fast-rising Korean celebrity. There’s travel and city-hopping landian across Metro Manila, Seoul, and Sydney.
I daresay you will like this book if you like Korean dramas, competence porn (women who excel!), travel, oh, and a bit of heat. This book is level 3 according to RomanceClass Heat Levels.
Cover design by Tania Arpa with background art by Miles Tan. Cover photography by Alexandra Urrea featuring Mela Serranilla and Dae Lee. Thanks to Mina V Esguerra for the cover models. Book layout by Carla De Guzman.
Edited by Layla Tanjutco, with beta reading by KB Meniado and Katt Briones.
In print soon!
May I suggest a walking tour of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, South Korea, and a relevant HONNE song before you go 🙂
So I’ve had drafts on this series of Japan posts since the autumn trip happened on October 2017 haha. It’s a seven-day trip and who knows when I can finish writing about all seven days. I figured might as well shoot out what I already have, so here we are 🙂
For this trip to Japan I played happy and very willing tour guide to my sister. It was her first time in Japan and she was very excited and was also very easy to please. She had a list of things she wanted to see (which is basically why this itinerary was spread out so thin hah your fault but it’s cool). I filled in the gaps with my own best-of and must-go-never-been list.
Day 1. Manila to Narita. We flew in via Jetstar on a 12:40am flight from Manila. It was a smooth 5-hour ride to touchdown. Escalator from luggage claim and immigration clearance led directly to the food court, such genius. We parked our luggage for some well deserved hot udon for breakfast, then took our time playing with the Gapcha machines (found a Bigbang one!) while sister bought a magazine* from an airport store.
*This will be the first of a few that she will buy. Japanese magazines are thick and come with super nice freebies such as packets of fancy facial serum or a pack of Moomin-print pouches.
Jetstar sells the Keisei Skyliner tickets we needed going from airport to Tokyo, so we got that for Y2,200 (discounted by 270). Hopped on, almost broke our backs hauling our luggage up and down the designated rack (Use your core! Use your core!), then got off at Nippori station to transfer to the Yamanote line. Got off at Shinjuku station then transferred to Odakyu line and finally landed at Shimokitazawa station. Sounds like a lot of walking and hauling luggage and climbing of stairs? Yep. We just got there and our limbs already hurt and we loved it.
Official check in wasn’t until 3pm, but our very nice Airbnb host Masashi/Massage offered to meet us at 12pm so we can leave our stuff and walk around freely. Yes, please. The stuff must be left behind and we had a lot walking around to do. So we bought some curry pan from a nearby Family Mart and stayed put at the station’s West Exit for Masashi to get us.
Should you ever want to stay at Shimokitazawa, maybe take a look at Masashi’s apartment? It’s a 5-minute walk from the station, it’s nice and clean and had enough rooms and space to comfortably fit three grown girls and all their stuff. Also, it’s the best best best neighborhood with all the vintage shops, cafes, restaurants, hair salons, live houses, and little grocery stores. The apartment was close to a post office too! Which was great cos we wanted to send postcards. The area is also only a 5-minute train ride from Shibuya and Shinjuku, so easy access to the other fun stuff.
Meiji Shrine. After dropping our bags, we walked back to Shimokitazawa station and took the train going to Meiji-jingu. Followed the signs and checked the map and tried to jog my memory and soon enough we arrived at Meiji Shrine. I’ve been here before and I enjoyed how peaceful and quiet it is as soon as we crossed that first torii gate. There’s that sense of calm from the thick canopy of trees and the steady yet leisurely pace of everyone else around. Like the bustling city outside was far far away. We took our time, walking up to the main shrine and waving at the trees. We saw a cute family dressed in their kimono best, posing for pictures. Sister bought a charm for good fortune. I’d say allot an hour here if you want to visit, because it’s a bit of a walk in and out again, and when you get there, it’s not really a place you would want to rush through anyway.
Harajuku. After the calm, here comes the frenzy. I was super excited to come back to Harajuku. The Fountain of Youth is here, didn’t you know? We walked down Takeshita-dori once, just to see what was there (there was A LOT), crossed the street for some tantanmen (yes we were hungry again) then crossed right back and walked back up and down the street a few more times, stopping in stores and wandering down a few side streets. It was well into the afternoon by this time and it was freezing by the way, because we were two girls who dressed for very light autumn. Thank you, stores and your heaters for being our refuge.
We found ACDC RAG and Stylenanda and a few vintage stores (some were high-end selling LVs and Comme des Garcons and some choice Chanels, some were much more affordable). We had Marion Crepe and Calbee fresh potato chips drizzled with honey. It was awesome.
Cat Street. We had to choose between Cat Street and Omotesando given the constraint of time and capacity of our bodies, and we ended up at Cat Street since this place was both new to us. My only wish was that we came here when we had more time/were less tired/had proper outwear because it was freezing. It’s a quaint shoppersville too, much more spacious than Takeshita-dori, lined with stores that were a bit more expensive. We found more vintage stores like Ragtag and Flamingo. We found Opening Ceremony which had great stuff, G-Dragon style but huhu not cheap.
It was well beyond dinner time at this point and well below 20 degrees too. A nice, warm restaurant would have been in order but we found Luke’s Lobster and we weren’t going to say no to those lobster sandwiches even though we had to hunker down in one of their tiny outdoor chairs and eat them there. While eating, we eyed a gyoza place that had a long queue of locals–the sure sign that it was delicious stuff–but we were too cold and beat to line up. So we headed back to the station, found this cafe-slash-boutique called Honey Mi Honey, and climbed the stairs and went in for some warmth and rest and lattes. It was our last stop for Day 1, and it was a great call.
As incredible a hobby travelling is, it can be undeniably expensive. However, it doesn’t have to be – there are plenty of useful tips for you to consider in order to cut the costs on your holidays, and here are just a few of them.
Have a daily budget
It admittedly doesn’t sound like a breakthrough idea, but you’ll be surprised at just how helpful it is to establish a daily budget for you to follow. By planning your expenses in advance you’re ensuring you won’t be left out of pocket in the future – it’ll help to plan for unexpected fees alongside the necessities, too. Goats On The Road’s guide to daily budgets in different countries is a helpful insight into how to do it.
Master the art of haggling
Being a tourist, you’re likely to stand out to opportunists in the crowd. With that being said, you might find that street vendors, taxi drivers and market stall owners try and get a bit more money out of you than usual – for instance, some vendors in Beijing’s markets will inflate their prices by up to 300%. Don’t fall victim to it, and pluck up the confidence to haggle the costs back down. Vendors will expect it and, so long as you’re kind and reasonable, they’ll respect you and negotiate.
Fly at unsociable hours
We get it – nobody likes being up too early or too late. But sometimes sacrifices have to be made, and if you want to be saving money on flights, it’s the best way to do it. Look to book the times that are least popular (usually through the night or very early in the morning), as avoiding peak times means avoiding peak costs.
You may also want to choose flying during the week as opposed to the weekend, as well as during term times and not school holidays. These little cuts to costs will go a long way.
Stay in hostels or even locals’ homes
If you’re looking to save money when travelling, you’re going to have to expect to skip the luxury hotels in favour of something less extravagant. However, you’ll find hostels are usually much more fun – you’ll be staying with like-minded people who share stories of their travels that will fascinate and inspire you.
And there’s also the opportunity to stay with locals, as many apps and websites can find you a home in your destination that is open to travellers looking for a cheap retreat.
Rely on your feet
One thing you’ll want to avoid when travelling is taxis. As previously mentioned, taxi drivers will attempt to get more money out of you than they should – as experienced by Nomadic Matt – and it’s sometimes hard to trust taxis depending on where you are in the world.
Public transport also isn’t usually as developed and reliable as you may be used to, so you’ll want to rely on your feet as much as possible when getting around. Buses are usually a safe bet, but you’ll want to do your research on them before getting on board.
This is a collaborative post.
This is a legit question my friend Hazel and I agonized over once the decision to go to Japan’s annual music festival Summer Sonic was made. That was in 2015, and we picked Tokyo, and the following year headed on over to Osaka. Both were awesome trips, memorable weekends, stellar lineups ikidyounot, but we did come out of it with a solid winner. Read on and I hope our past summers will help you plan your future escapade. Continue Reading