Part II: Konnichiwa Japan (Getting There)

We chose Philippine Airlines for the Manila-Tokyo flight, which took 4 hours and 20 minutes only. The Narita airport arrival hall looked ordinary unlike I have ever imagined. It's Tokyo, so I was imagining of oversize gleaming hallways and hi-tech trimmings. Ah, I shouldn't have set my expectations too high. Anyway from Narita International Airport, we decided to take the Narita Express (N'EX) Train to central Tokyo. It takes about an hour to reach the capital city. We purchased our rail tickets (1,500 Yen per person) in the international arrival hall. 

Narita Japan rail ticket station counter
 The Narita Express (N'EX) train is fast and offers comfortable seating. Oh please, avoid taxi it will cost you an arm and a leg! Unless of course, you have hefty bags full of cash.

interior of the standard class carriage
photo source: zimbio
But I was in for even bigger surprise when we arrived at Tokyo station. I know July and August are summer months in Japan, but I didn't expect a scorching hot summer! No wonder, I spotted several people carrying hand fans to keep themselves cool. On top of that, most of Tokyo Metro stations are not air-conditioned. However, Tokyo has one of the most extensive mass transit systems in the world.

Related Post:
Part I: Konnichiwa Japan

Till next time... toodles,
June

Part I: Konnichiwa Japan

HB had been planning traveling to Japan for years, but I was the one who kept on postponing the idea. Don't get me wrong, Japan is one of my travel wish lists, and I just wanted to be mentally and physically prepared to enjoy it fully. :) Anyway, to make the story short, plan was pushed through. HB prepared the necessary documents including bank certificate and applied for Japan Tourist Visa and got it in 3 days.


We decided to do this trip on our own rather than joining an organized tour group. We stayed 6days/5nights in Tokyo and 7days/6nights in Osaka. Day trips to Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Kobe. 

Tokyo, Japan
Osaka, Japan
Kyoto, Japan
Nara, Japan
Hiroshima, Japan
Miyajima, Japan
Kobe, Japan
As a traveler, the best way to get around places is to do as the locals do, right? And that's we did! :) We tried getting around Japan from walking, and getting subway train, bus and taxi. Tokyo Metro is the easiest way to roam around the city, and it is extremely punctual. While bus is the cheapest mode of transportation you can get but time consuming. On the other hand, Japan taxicab is the most convenient but very expensive.

Tokyo Metro station ticket vending machines
Japan bus interior
Japan taxicabs are mostly black
But mind you, our trip was outrageously physically exhausting! Because of the seemingly endless long walks and a shit ton of climbing up and down the subway stairs. I rarely had a minute to breathe. Japan is pretty big unlike Singapore that is compact.

Related Post:
Part II: Konnichiwa Japan (Getting There)

Till next time... toodles,
June

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

We were delighted to stay for 2 nights at the newly opened 5-star Marco Polo Hotel. Its interior is very contemporary decked with noticeable art pieces. Our decently priced Premier Room (P6,300/night), which is a corner room was gorgeous, clean and spacious with a stunning bathroom.

Marco Polo Premier Room


Video of the Premier Room.


One of the amenities we like most is the Nespresso Coffee Machine. There's also a welcome fruit platter in our room on arrival. Furthermore, it offers a fabulous view of the Ortigas Center. One minor niggle though, the peephole is positioned way too high for an Asian standard height. I'm 5'5 and even standing on tip toes I still struggle to reach the hole.

Nespresso Coffee Machine


Hallways are dotted with air-purifier machines. Also, a 24/7 security officer is designated on each floor.


The huge lobby is striking as well.


Marco Polo has a fairly awesome and decent buffet and a la carte selection. If you're craving something healthy, the Pan-friend black eye cod fillet with capers, lemon segments, brown butter and mashed potato cannot be beat.


We had our breakfast and dinner at Cucina situated at the 24th level of the hotel tower, which is right beside the hotel front desk. Sampled some dishes such as Nasi Goreng, Fish 'n Chips and Pancake Stack etc.

Cucina
Cucina breakfast buffet spread
Nasi Goreng


sandwich from hotel room service
complimentary breakfast
Oh, and before I forget I've managed to bring home a box of Cafe Pronto chocolate in exchange for the unused P800 Gift voucher. :)


Marco Polo Hotel is conveniently located in Ortigas Commercial Business District. It features 316 well-appointed rooms and upscale suites. If you're looking for a relaxing staycation, this is a great place to go with family.

Address:
Meralco Avenue and Sapphire Street (across Metrowalk)
Ortigas Center, Pasig City


Till next time... toodles,
June

Cafe Juanita Pasig

Since this restaurant is just near from my brother's place, HB and I invited him over for dinner. Cafe Juanita is located within 5 to 10 minutes walking distance from Privato Hotel. Enhancing the appearance of the restaurant are the flamboyant and eclectic decors. Food here is great at a reasonable price. Diners can also indulge a live piano performance at night. I recommend that you make a table reservation in advance. However, the small parking lot is creating a dreadful parking problem.










Address:
Cafe Juanita 
19 W Capitol Dr, Pasig City
Tel. No. (02) 632 0357
Operating Hours
Open daily, 11am to 2pm; 5.30pm to 10pm. - See more at: http://www.clickthecity.com/food-drink/b/PX17eb0/cafe-juanita-west-capitol-drive#sthash.kHSAY1Oc.dpuf

Operating Hours
Open daily, 11am to 2pm; 5.30pm to 10pm


Till next time... toodles,
June

Privato Hotel

We stayed at Privato Hotel a few months ago for a one night stay. This hotel has a 177 rooms designed in contemporary style. It features authentic and sustainable art work, such as the wall pieces of Mona Lisa and Acrylic Birds designed by Japanese Artist Wataru Sakuma. And there's a life-sized Ostrich welded wire sculpture by Davao-based artist, Ann Pamintuan. Also, the small chic lobby is fully covered in Italian marbles.




Situated on the 6th floor is the Piazza Privato restaurant where we had a simple set meal breakfast - rice, 2 eggs, danggit, and choice of coffee or juice.




However, our stay wasn't as great as we had hoped. We chose the 28sqm Deluxe Double Queen Room (P4,294.50) including breakfast. The beds are relaxing and I like the long headboard. But that's about it for the good points. Our room is otherwise, just ordinary. Bathroom has a distinct smell probably because it's new, and shower area has no door. There was also a problem with the water heater and reported to the front desk, but they couldn't fix it so we had to take a bath with cold water. 


Nevertheless, this hotel is conveniently located in Shaw Blvd., Pasig City, only about 5-10 minute walk from Cafe Juanita, Ace Coffee Lounge at Ace WaterSpa and Three Sister's restaurant.

Till next time... toodles,
June