Happy New Year, Happy 2018…

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!πŸ₯‚πŸŽ‰

May all your dreams and aspirations in 2018 come true. My wish is that I could be more active in updating my travel blog. That I could write and share my travels and some other interesting things in cyberspace.

For the past three years, I welcomed the new year in a place I don’t call my home. The first two was in Japan and now I’m in the neighboring country, South Korea. They had an amazing fireworks and LED show in Lotte World Tower that we watched ftom the sidewalk. It was freezing but we braved the cold just to witness how the Koreans welcome the new year.

My tips if you are planning to experience seeing their fireworks display:

1. Bundled up especially if you aren’t used to the cold weather. Temperature drop is common in the middle of the night.

2. Eat your dinner on or before 8 p.m. Most restaurants in the area closed early.

3. Stay inside the mall while waiting to escape the cold. Lotte Mart is open and you can do some shopping if you like.

4. If you’re saving money and taking the train, buy the return ticket before you go out of the train station.

5. After the fireworks, rush to the nearest train station. The crowd is huge with all the Koreans and foreigners catching the late night train. Train will run until 1:35 a.m.

It was an experience to board the Seoul Metro earlier today with the mob of people trying to get in. It was wild but had fun even if we were squeezed silly. If you don’t want that kind of thing, you can probably take the bus or taxi back to your accommodations. If you have young children with you, I advise you take a taxi!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

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Travelogue…

I literally broke a promise to myself about writing at least once a month in my blog. It’s been four long months since my last post. 😰 I’ve been so busy with my ordinary (work) and not so ordinary life (traveling). While I was away hibernating from writing in my blog, I was able to go out and explore. Yes, that means I traveled to near and far away places. My “itchy feet” was tired but very happy exploring new destinations this year. However, my wallet wasn’t very happy! 🀣

In June 2017, I went to my dream destination in Europe. It was literally a “dream come true”! What used to be a favorite daydreaming habit of exploring Rome, Florence and Venice in my mind became a reality! Italy is I guess in everyone’s bucket list. I am not an exception. What can I say? I fell in love with the country! Ten days is not enough to explore all the beautiful Italian places. I will write about my visit there soon. 😊

July 2017 made me do some traveling within the country (Cebu City, Philippines) and region (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). The first one is for pleasure. Visiting the city where I grew up and hanging out with friends. The second one was for work which is boring if you’re all alone.

August 2017 had me packing for a trip with the family to Taipei, Taiwan. It was a very quick weekend getaway. The country is practically our neighbor but was never in our destination list until they decided to let us travel visa free! πŸ˜‚ Surprisingly, I liked the place and will definitely go back someday because two days was too short. I can’t get enough of the delicious street food. The price is value for money!

I can’t wait to write about my travel escapades. So dear readers, just hang in there! New content coming up… 😊

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Travel Tips for Tokyo…

I have shared Japan travel tips in a previous post but let me add some more from our last trip to Tokyo in December. First stop was always the grocery since we need food supplies to fill up the refrigerator in the apartment we rented through Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). Remember, we are budget travelers and therefore cost efficiency is important. πŸ˜„

Tip: Prior to booking, make sure the place is near a grocery store. Some items are cheaper and choices are better than the convenience store.

Grocery store Comodi-IIda


Store entrance below street level

Mini Grocery in front of the apartment


Tip: Near closing time some of the meals are already discounted up to 50% off.  Grab some to eat at your rented place or hotel. 

Maki Sushi Plates at the Grocery Store


Different Kinds of Tea


You can find different kinds of Japanese green tea at the grocery store. I always buy a box or more to give away to relatives and friends. It’s always a gift that they appreciate. I personally liked the roasted green tea. 

Tip: Choose your location wisely. Always research before you book and ask the landlord about the area 😊 Is it quiet and safe? Near the train station?

We got an apartment in Bunkyo area which is a quiet part of Metropolitan Tokyo. The train station is 3 to 5 minutes away. There’s a shrine nearby and the Shin-edogawa Park is walking distance. Restaurants and food places are aplenty. The Catholic church is also a 10 minute walk away.

Winter time view while walking towards the park


The winter view at the park


Tip: Prior to finalizing your booking, check out the area for restaurants or food markets. What we did was to use google earth to view the area. Bunkyo had good restaurants near the train station street level exits.

Tempura Place

Ramen and Gyoza Place


The go to food place πŸ˜„ Yoshinoya!


Japanese Curry House


Korean Burger Joint Lotteria


Fast food are always a happy sight for when you’re weary and tired from walking around Metropolitan Tokyo. Especially if you’re with family with growing kids who seem to be always hungry! πŸ˜„

Tip: Drop by the convenience stores like Lawson, Family Mart, 7-11. They do have instant meals that they can heat for you. Kids love the chicken kaarage that can fill their little tummy plus it’s affordable. 

Chicken Kaarage at a convenience store


You will not get hungry anywhere in Japan. For as long as there’s a convenience store! You will not get thirsty either for there are numerous vendo machines! Plus some even offered chips and sandwiches. 

Japanese Custard Cake Stall


A must try Takoyaki in Akiba area


Don’t hesitate to try out the street food stalls selling snacks like Japanese Custard Cakes. It’s a favorite of my kids and filled their tummy while walking around. Aside from the Takoyaki, of course. πŸ˜„



xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

Getting Around Japan…

It’s that time of the year again in this side of the world. It’s summer time and people are preparing to escape to somewhere cold or to the beach. My social media timeline is full of travels to one of my favorite destination — Japan! It’s spring time and always a good time to visit since it’s also the Sakura season. The bitter cold of winter is no more. The gardens will be so pretty and colorful. The shrines alive with the trees turning green again. Oh, how I miss the Land of the Rising Sun!πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅πŸ˜„

After numerous trips to Japan, we finally decided to use a card to easily use their train transportation when we visited last December. Since we find the JR Pass too expensive for a vacation in Tokyo area only, we opted to get the Pasmo Card. JR Pass is okay if you plan to go around Japan. Like traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka. But in my opinion it’s not a good deal if you will just stay in one city. You can get a Pasmo or Suica card at the airport.

Pasmo Cards


We loaded Β₯10,000 in the adult cards and half of that amount for the kids 12yo and below. The card of the child was linked to an adult card. It can be personalized with your child’s name. The reason we chose Pasmo instead of Suica was because we can refund everything. πŸ˜„ Of course, some of the family members opted to retain the card as souvenirs or to be used for when we visit again.

Train Station going to Narita using Keisei


We used Keisei Electric Railway from Narita to Tokyo and back. Not the Skyliner but the normal train with lots of stops! If you aren’t in a hurry, you can save money by using the regular train. It will be 30 minutes longer but you can catch some sleep on the way to the city. 😊 If you are in a rush to get to the city, choose the Skyliner. It is more expensive though.

The Pasmo Card is not only for transportation but can be used to buy food at the convenience store or even in restaurants that accept it for payment. Even vendo machines accept it. Very convenient to have especially if you have children who are constantly hungry and a trip to Family Mart or Lawson to buy food is something that they enjoyed doing. My child lost her Pasmo Card with about Β₯3,500 remaining balance when we were in Akihabara. But it was linked to my card so we were able to retrieve the balance. We just reported it to the nearest train station and with a minimal fee we got a new card and the balance intact. The vacation wasn’t ruined!πŸ˜…

However, if you plan to move around Japan then you have to get the JR Pass. You will also have easier mobility and it will help to cut down on transportation cost. Check out www.jrailpass.com for more information. 

Getting around Tokyo and understanding their train network is tough. But with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the country is definitely preparing. With influx of tourists wanting to visit the country, most of the sites are tourist friendly. There are translations and menus in English. So different from the first time I visited Japan in 2008.

I know I should post more often. To be more active in my online journal. πŸ˜‚ I’m really sorry blog! You have been neglected but I hope I can find time to write some more… soon!πŸ˜„

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

A Visit to Stone Henge…

I guess if you get a chance to travel to England, a visit to Stone Henge should be part of your itinerary. I’m just a normal tourist with a bucket list. A very happy one when this world heritage site was crossed off from the list. However, I was quite surprised that the stones aren’t quite gigantic as I imagined. It’s funny because I’ve always thought it was left by aliens that visited Earth. Blame it on watching too many movies and reading too many books! πŸ˜›

Stone Henge on a FIne Day

I’m lucky I have friends in England and they took us to this place. It did not rain at the time of our visit and it was a very lovely day because the sun was out for about two hours! πŸ˜€ Yes, the weather in England is really erratic and I guess not only during winter. So, savor whatever sun you’ll get and hurry with the picture taking before the clouds go dark and rain starts falling. Ha!ha!ha!

Stone Henge with Heavy Clouds

If you do plan to visit this place, be prepared to shell out some money for the entrance fee which is about Β£14.90 (Adult). They have a newly built Visitor Center and from there you’ll take a short bus ride to the site. You can walk if you preferred as it’s not really that far but I recommend taking the bus especially if the weather isn’t too great. Visit their website for more at: http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo

London Calling…

It has always been a dream of mine to travel to London since I was a teenager. Probably because of the many books that I’ve read with England as the setting. Whenever someone asked me where I’ve been and even if it’s only at the back of the house, the answer was always: “I’ve been to London to visit the Queen”. Such childish retort that now I can say came true. πŸ™‚

London did not disappoint. Even in the middle of winter time, it was a magical place to be in. World weary travelers may not agree as it’s a densely populated place after all and the weather is not so great. But it has it’s beauty which is solely it’s own. I even enjoyed walking in the rain. I loved that the transportation is great in this city. Our preferred mode of transportation was the bus and we made good use of the Oyster card given to us by friends. For more information, check out: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

Parliament

Because we stayed for such a short time and it was our first time, we tried the Hop On Hop Off London bus to tour the city. We took the Original London Tour bus because it was recommended by the hotel http://www.theoriginaltour.com but found out that the other one which was the Big Bus Tours had a better schedule http://www.bigbustours.com and more buses. The tour offers a free cruise on the River Thames too which is nice. Check out their individual websites to know more and for discounts or deals.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

We were able to experience Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park which was practically a ‘carnival’ with rides, food booths and stalls selling souvenirs. I enjoyed the place even if I was freezing! πŸ™‚ There I saw the ethnicity of the city. So many people from different countries converging in that corner of Hyde Park. Locals, immigrants, visitors enjoying the place together. To check their future schedule and entrance fee go to http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London

Oh yeah, I was able to ride the tube too! Sad to say, I never found platform 9 3/4 where Harry Potter boarded his train towards Hogwarts. Maybe, on my next visit I’ll find it. πŸ˜›

P.S. Pardon the photos, weather wasn’t so great to take a lot of awesome pics!

xoxo,

the traveling KANGaroo