October 31, 2012

Day 1 in Japan: Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour

I booked a 1-Day Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour (with lunch and return by Shinkansen) from Japanican.com  for 16,000 yen or about $210/person.

I thought it was expensive and wanted to arrange the tour by myself. But I did not have  a lot of time to plan everything so I opted to just book the tour.

The tour includes pick-up at hotels. But  not all hotels in Tokyo are included. We stayed at Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu and it was not in their list of hotel pick-ups. Luckily, Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel is and it's walking distance from our hotel.

The tour starts at 9:00 from Hamamutsucho Bus station after all the guests are picked up from different hotels.

The guide told us it's usually under 2 hours to reach Mt. Fuji area by bus. But that day, the traffic was heavy even in their expressway as it was a Saturday. So instead of going to Fuji Visitor Center, we had our lunch first somewhere. I forgot the name.

Our Japanese lunch. Yummy!

After lunch we went to Mt. Fuji 5th Station. If you're climbing up to the summit, 5th station is halfway though. It's 2300 meters above sea level.

Mt. Fuji 5th Station. Go inside one of the shop to get free your lucky bell and buy some Japanese snacks to munch during your tour.

Family picture at the 5th Station

Husband and Wife moment :) The leaves have just started to change colors. It's pretty. But I'll bet it's more beautiful now that autumn is already in full swing.

Our next stop after 5th Station was Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway. We were supposed to go to Lake Ashe and ride a ropeway for a view of Mt. Fuji and Hakone National Park. Unfortunately, traffic was getting worse so the guide brought to an alternative location.

My boys at the Lake Kawaguchi before our boat cruise

Mt. Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi

Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway

Sweeping view of Lake Kawaguchi from Mt. Tenjo

At Mt. Tenjo with an obstructed view of Mt. Fuji

Hubby and EJ. This time Mt. Fuji is visible.

The Bell of Tenjo. The guide said it's believed that your wish will come true if you ring the bell while looking at Mt. Fuji.

Our last stop before we took the bullet train (Shinkansen) back to Tokyo was the Fuji Visitor Center. I did not go out of the bus because I was already tired but hubby did. He took this picture of Mt. Fuji with a beautiful cloud formation.

I love the composition of this photo.

Our ride back to the city, Shinkansen. EJ was so amazed and happy that he finally get to ride the famous bullet train.

The Shinkansen ride back to the city only took 36 minutes from Odawara Station. If you take a bus/car it'll take around 2 hours.

We did not get to see Hakone because of the traffic. So if you're planning a day tour to Mt. Fuji and Hakone, maybe you should go on a weekday. But then the guide said, that's also not a guarantee that traffic will be light. Oh well.

This whole day tour was a bit exhausting for me, to be honest. Maybe because I only had 3 hours of sleep before going on this tour. And the traffic made it worse.

But that doesn't mean, I did not enjoy the trip. We plan to go back there one day. I think Mt. Fuji will be majestic with a snow cap.

October 29, 2012

Hotel Review: Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu

My lucky streak with hotels hasn't waned yet. Thank goodness!

For our Tokyo trip, I booked Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu. There are a lot of hotels in that area so choosing the best hotel for us really took a lot of my time.

Depending on where you book your hotel room (Agoda.com, Hotels.com, Booking.com, etc) and the season (peak, off-peak), Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu's premier double room rate is around  $275 - 350/night.

I booked our room thru Hotels.com because at that time they had the best rate.

Premier Double Room at Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu. Picture from the hotel's website. We had a late check-in so I forgot to take a picture of our room.

My husband and son enjoying the Shibuya view from our room. We were allocated a room on the 19th floor and we had the view of Tokyo Tower.

The Shibuya Scramble Crossing made famous by the movie Lost in Translation. This picture was taken from the hotel's elevator hallway.

Okay, let's get down to business.

We had a pleasant stay at Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu. I could easily recommend this hotel for the following reasons:

1) Accessibility. The hotel is conveniently located near the Shibuya Station. When you are in a big city, I think it's best to stay where the train station is for easy hopping in and hopping off.

2) Location. Shibuya Scramble Crossing is a tourist destination itself. And you don't have to travel for it if you stay in this hotel. You'll see it from your room (depending on your room allocation), from the elevator hallway and when you go out of your hotel room. Another thing, the hotel itself is on top of a mall called Mark City. Right there, you'll have plenty of food choices if you're too tired to go out.

3.) Affordability. Well, this one is relative. But then again, hotels in Tokyo are very expensive. I say affordable because in that area, I find Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu's rate to be reasonable compared to others.

4.) Room Size. I heard Tokyo's room are very tiny (14sqm, 16sqm). But our room wasn't too crowded. I checked their website and it says the premier double has 30sqm of space.

5.) The Vibe. Our Japanese friend said our location was in a "noisy" place, more suited for the younger people. It's true. But we are still young, so we belong with the crowd. LOL!

October 28, 2012

"Tanaw Nila ang Liwanag Mo"

I wish it's December already. I just can't wait for Christmas.

It's been a long time ago since we celebrated Christmas in the Philippines. Christmas has been a non-holiday in the countries we have lived the past seven years, so we have always chosen not to go home and just use hubby's VL on months where there are holidays so we'll have longer vacation days.

But this time around, we've decided it's time to celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. Nothing beats Christmas in the Philippines!

ABS-CBN's Christmas Station ID (2009-2012) has been on replay button since Monday on my MacBook. I love the 2009 the most but lately I have been LSS-ing on their 2010 Christmas Station ID song.

ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID 2010

I also couldn't stop myself from crying. Even if I have to put toggle clamps on my eyes, I don't think the tears would stop.

We'll spend Christmas in my hometown and probably celebrate New Year in Manila. I couldn't wait. I am about to book our tickets and hotel accommodations this week.

I am just so excited about this Christmas season.

October 24, 2012

The Famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing

My husband will tell you that I always choose the right hotels during our travels. For our Tokyo trip, I chose Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyo.

I will post a hotel review in My Travel Folio. But let me say now, that we enjoyed our stay in this hotel. We have the view of the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing.

This was taken during a weekend and it wasn't as crowded during the weekdays. If you have watched Lost in Translation, you'd see this in the movie.

Aside from this view, we also enjoyed the Tokyo Tower view from our room. It's beautifully lit at night. It's almost like the Eiffel Tower.

Before we checked out, I swiped one merkur safety razor from our hotel room and brought it back with me. Shhh..LOL!

Seriously, we did not use the razor so I thought I might as well bring it home. It was already paid for anyway. Hahaha!

October 22, 2012

Random Pics from our Japan Trip

Here are some pictures from our recent trip to Japan.

At Lake Kawaguchi. I booked a Mt. Fuji and Hakone trip on our first day and Lake Kawaguchi was part of the itinerary. From here, you can see Mount Fuji.

Haneda International Airport. I love their airport, especially the restaurants. In my opinion, a good airport should have nice coffeeshops and restaurants.

The Bell of Tenjo at Mt. Tenjo (with Mt. Fuji in the background). It is said that your wish will come true if you ring the bell while watching Mr. Fuji.

At Sensoji Temple (or Asakusa Kannon Temple). It is a Buddhist temple and one of the most colorful and popular temples in Tokyo.

From Hakone, we took a bullet train (Shinkansen) back to Tokyo. EJ was happy that he finally rode the bullet train.

Ginza district - Tokyo's premier shopping district. Everything is expensive! But we couldn't resist a little shopping at Uniqlo (Japan's affordable clothing company).

Tokyo Disneyland. Entrance fee for adults 6,200 yen ($80+) for kids 4,100 yen ($53+). I couldn't remember which is more expensive, Paris Disney or Tokyo Disney.

One day was not enough to go around the theme park. And that's Disneyland only. Just beside Disneyland is Disney Sea. Maybe next time..

EJ, resting after one hundred steps. He climbed 500 steps up to the first observatory of Tokyo Tower. He's familiar with Tokyo Tower from the movie "Mater tall tales".

Hubby, very happy with his lunch. Nothing beats eating sushi from Japan itself. 

I will be writing more of our travel stories in my travel blog. I am still busy right now, hopefully I'll find time this week.

Happy Monday!

October 20, 2012

Back From Tokyo

Hi! We're back from our Tokyo trip. Like any other trips we've had, this recent one felt so "bitin" as well.

I love Japan. I admire their people and their efficiency. And I love their food. I hope we could go back again someday because those four days were not enough.

At Kawaguchiko 5th Station, Mount Fuji at the background.

If I am not mistaken this is halfway thru Mt. Fuji if you are going to climb up to the summit. It's the start of the fall season and it's evident on the color of some of the leaves.

The city's temperature at that time was about 21 degrees. At 5th Station it was about 10-12 degrees. My jacket wasn't enough to shield me from the cold. But hubby said, it wasn't cold enough. He did not even put on his jacket.

Will be posting more pics later. Off to the groceries first.

Happy Saturday, guys!

October 9, 2012

Two More Days

On Friday, we fly to Tokyo. Sweet!

I have been waiting for this moment to happen. I can't wait to eat sushi in Japan! LOL!

Seriously, Japan is one of the places I really really want to visit. It's in my checklist.

Aside from loving Japanese food and their crazy fashion sense, I am intrigued and curious about their culture and tradition.

This particular trip is very short - just four days and four nights. We'll have two days of city tour, one day outside of Tokyo (Hakone and Mt Fuji) and of course Tokyo Disneyland for EJ.

I pray that we could go back to Japan again someday because I am sure four days won't be enough to soak in everything that is Japan.

Everything on this tour is DIY. Well, except for the Hakone and Mt. Fuji tour which I booked from a tour company because I did not want to be overwhelmed with too much information. I just focused on the city sightseeing and the Disneyland tour.

I am waiting for the lapel pins which the tour company will send. It's supposed to arrive today.

Anyway, I am almost finished packing. Yeah, I pack early for special trips like this one. Hahaha!

See you soon Tokyo!

October 7, 2012

Next in Line: A Ski Experience

I have just finalized our travel itineraries to Tokyo! Spell EXCITED!

Anyway, after this Tokyo trip, hubby and I decided that our next destination should be in winter wonderland for a luxury ski holiday experience and a white Christmas.

I think I have mentioned already that our son is a fan of cold and snow. And we're thinking, we might still be able to squeeze in another trip before the year ends.

We're thinking of skiing in Lake Tahoe, USA.

Photo Credit: SUPERTRAVEL.co.uk

I know it's a random choice but I am doing more research about this place. I am sure I am going to be neck deep again in research after the Tokyo trip. Plus, I'll have to prepare documents for the USA visa application.

There's not much time to prepare but with travel, I will always find time :)

Let's see where this plan will leads to.

Kabbage is Money

I woke up at 3:30AM this Sunday morning. It's pretty early even for me. I tried going back to dreamland but my mind is already wide awake.

So I just went out of the bedroom and into the living room bringing my macbook with me.

I wanted to be productive by blogging early but my mind, although wide awake still had a hard time thinking deeply. LOL!

Instead I found myself looking at my friend's FB photos, reading my twitter's timeline and occasionally reading the news and articles on my feeds.

I came across an article from Forbes about kabbage.com. I got curious mainly because of the name of the site.

Then, the more I read about it, the more it became interesting to me because I was just thinking something like that the other day.

I have a friend who has a small start-up business at eBay. He's doing well selling second hand watches but his money is mostly tied up with his stocks. He said he needs additional working capital but he cannot borrow money from banks. If I had the money to spare, I would have invested in his business but alas, I don't have the money.

I was thinking the other day, if only there was an online financial institution out there would lend money to online businesses.

Of course, unknown to me, there is one already. And that's Kabbage.com.

The process on how you borrow money is so easy and fast. You can get your ebay cash or loan approval in as fast as 8 minutes.

I say, it sounds like heaven sent to online merchants looking for extra capital.

Now, excuse me while I send the link to my friend.

October 5, 2012

I'm Glad I'm a Boy

While having dinner last night, EJ just suddenly blurted:

"I'm glad I'm a boy. Because when I'm a grown up, I don't want to carry a baby in my tummy."


"You carried me in your tummy, right Mom?" He added.

Kids really are amazing. Unless they are throwing a tantrum. Hahaha!


There are days when you wake up and you just want to dance all day. LOL! Seriously, I just feel so light and happy today, I can't stop myself from dancing.

I can't pinpoint the exact reason why I am so happy today. Maybe because hubby is finally considering buying the midwest tropical fountain I so wanted? Or is it the upcoming Tokyo trip (6 more days)? Or because I just had the elusive 8 hour sleep last night?

Ha! Whatever. I am just a happy camper today.


Wish you a great weekend bloggers!

October 2, 2012

Toilet Training, Second Stage

EJ had a toilet "accident" almost two weeks ago in school. As weird as it sounds, I kind of expected it to happen.

EJ has this habit of waiting at the last minute to run to the toilet. In their school, the toilet is one floor down. So I imagine, that's what he did that day and he did not reach the toilet anymore.

When he went home that day, we reminded him again for the nth time that he doesn't have to wait. If he feels like it's coming, he needs to rush to the toilet right away.

I know EJ knows by heart the drill already. But I guess with kids or with EJ particularly, it's not fair to interrupt a playtime or something fun just to go to the toilet.

Hubby suggested we train him daily to go sit in the toilet and "force" himself to poop.

I told EJ about this and he was willing to try it. So a day after his accident, I let him go in the toilet. I told him to just sit there and will "it" to come out.

"How long do I have to stay here, Mom?" he asked.

I told him the minute it comes out and and after he cleans himself up, he can leave the toilet.

"What if it doesn't come out?" he asked again.

Well, let's just give it 15 minutes, I told him.

But you know what, he only sat there for two minutes and out it came. LOL! It was a success.

It's been more than a week now and everyday has been a success (except for one day where he said nothing really comes out). We do it late in the afternoon after his school because mornings are just too hectic. We tried it one morning and it was a no go for him.

I am pretty pleased with our experiment. With this, I am confident there won't be any "accidents" anymore unless he is sick or something.