Landing right into Myeongdong

Before our plane landed, a Korean stewardess was handing immigration cards and her first response to me answered the aged question some friends have asked previously; you look more Korean or Japanese ?

When the stewardess asked whether I would need an immigration card naturally in Korean, my guess is my first impression to her was that I’m Korean. And since a Japanese stewardess didn’t ask me this question while in Japan, it concludes I’m more Korean looking. Moving on.

Hotel check-in time was only at 2pm. With time to stray, missus and I walked around the area for the hunt of our first meal. Passing several small shops along the alleys, we digressed to a skincare shop. And very surely, customers who purchased were rewarded handsomely with freebies – they even gave a can of coffee. *sweat* As I observed the cashier person, she was digging out almost anything she could find from her freebie drawer and giving it to us. I guess this was one of the perks shopping skincare in Korea.

When we were back on the food track, we finally settled at probably the most unlikely place – a food stall. Lol.

With chilly winds penetrating through our layers, warm food like deokbukki, omuk and some soup was a fine choice to chow down. The price of 3 fish cake sticks, a stick of some meat and a bowl of deokbukki totaled 8000 won (approx. MYR 25) – a little pricey, we thought.

Once we refueled, we decided to walk along the road to explore nearby areas. The sight was pretty plain, so we opted to step into a nearby Lotte mall. Clothes and shoes from what I consider indie brands were priced between 40,000-100,000+ won. *gulp* After using up the time, we headed back to the hotel to check-in and rest a bit before heading to Myeongdong.

At Myeongdong, we were looking for NANTA theater because hearing the recommendation of a friend, it was to be worthwhile. And dear readers, it was a good amount invested in the VIP seats to experience an awesome performance of music with kitchen utensils.

Chopped it up at the Nanta's Kitchen musical #korea #nanta #seoulsearching #vscocam

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The thumping sounds thundered through the floor and you could’ve really seen how much heart and effort the cast put into their performance. If you’re into musicals and creativity, this is an act you’ve to experience.

After we were done here, we waked around the area, had some 32cm tall ice cream and looked for a cat cafe we wanted to visit. While we weren’t sure whether it was the Lilly cat cafe, we still really liked it because the variety of cats were aplenty and they looked quite big.

When we started feeling hungry, we explored the streets of Myeongdong further. By this time, food stalls had opened along the walkways and we passed various eateries too. However, food stalls weren’t really attracting us and most eateries seemed like their prices were a little on the high side. Thankfully, we discovered a local eatery and paid 5,500 won for kimchi fried rice.

Myeongdong at night reminds me of Shinsaibashi #korea #seoulsearching #vscocam

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Myeongdong was a really excellent place for NANTA, buying clothes and skincare (again) due to variety and competing promotions. At night, it transformed into a similar scene like Japan’s Shinsaibashi – maybe narrower walkways. But if you’re not into the shopping, you’d probably not want to spend too much time walking around there.

Here’s to tomorrow, more blue skies and chilly winds!

Seoul Searching

The missus and I are doing some Seoul searching – that’s what she wants to call it. To be honest, I’ve not the slightest clue what to expect in this country; all I know is it’s only probably filled with k-pop madness, korean food and crazy fans. But I suppose getting away from the current heatwave and being distracted in a foreign land from the inevitable GST would be a good thing.

It’s funny having thought to myself, I’m writing in my blog again because I’m traveling. Maybe that’s what I could do, maybe it’s a phase. Whatever it is, I’m adding new entries again into this space. That is a good thing.

Here’s to some Seoul searching. And if we’re lucky, bump into some celebrity or get picked to be on Running Man. Fighting!

생일 여행 지금 시작해용! #seoulsearching

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The deity army and ninjas of Toei

First stop of the morning today was a Buddhist temple called; Sanjusangen-do. The primary reason for tourists to visit this spot is because in the long (approximately 120 meters) wooden hall, it houses more than 800 statues and 1 very huge version.

The special characteristics of the statues is it has 1000-arms and 11-heads atop of its own, as if wearing a crown. Furthermore, when you read its history at the Genjusangen-do, you will learn there were more than 1 sculptor who created the 800 statues, as it took around 100 years to complete them.

Ohayou #sanjusangendo #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam #japan

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Photography and any form of recording, including mobile phones, are prohibited inside the hall. Warnings placed before entry mentions the devices can be confiscated later.

The next time I visit Sanjusangen-do will be to witness an annual archery event adopted from the old Toshiya tradition. Back in the day, only men (I believe) were participants. The version of today; Oh-mato Taikai, draws male and female participants from all over Japan. The best part is most women will be dressed in kimonos when they take part. Beauty and brawn – check.

The next stop we decided on was the Toei Kyoto Studio Park. Also maybe known as the ninja village.

Behind the scenes of Toei kyoto studio park #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam

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Inside the park was a variety of entertainment areas ranging from ninja schools, ninja theater, behind the scenes filming (pictured above) and many others. But I do have to stress this, entry fee is not the only fee you will have to pay because selected areas like the ninja school will demand you pay an additional amount too. The free entertainment (as I recall) apply to the cinema, theater and outdoor performance.

Though to get your money’s worth, be on the lookout for staff cosplaying as samurai or elegant women in kimono. 😛

Cheese-zu ✌️#toeistudio #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam

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On another side of the park, there’s also a mini Toei anime museum to explore their previous works such as Dragonball and One Piece to name the few I remember.

Besides the above, there’s apparently also a cinema or something like it on the 2nd floor of the building. We didn’t go up there but I think they screen some movie / anime done by Toei.

And that’s pretty much been Kyoto for me. Maybe I’m missing on some other experiences here, so I guess until next time Kyoto, during the Oh-mato Taikai – if I’m allowed to witness it. :)

Fushimi Inari and the golden pavilion

We started the day easy with breakfast in the room bought from the nearby 7-11 last night. You gotta love them “conbini” (convenience stores) like 7-11, Family Mart and other similar outlets around the area.

By the the time we arrived at Fushimi Inari, it was almost 10am and there was already quite a number of people there. As we walked the path, we came to the famous orange tori gates which you may have seen aplenty online.

Hello torii gates #fushimiinari #kyoto #visitjapan #vscocam #japan

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Snapping a photo here without distractions was a challenge because it wasn’t early enough that only few bodies were moving about. In addition, walking higher up the hill wouldn’t make a difference because the gates further weren’t as tight and short.

Therefore, the only choice you would have is to wait for your chance during this situation. And there were many doing the same.

Once we completed our visit, we headed to Gion for a chance to catch some geisha’s walking around. Although we didn’t manage to stumble on any, we had a really good lunch at a restaurant with yummy oyakodon and grilled chicken. As a Malaysian, that’s still a win. Lol.

Then we wrapped up the touristy activities for the day by paying a visit to the golden pavilion; kinkaku-ji. The amount of people here was kinda crazy especially when you could’ve seen the amount of them from individuals, tourist groups and also, school trips.

The Pavilion in all its golden glory #kinkakuji #kyoto #japan #visitjapan #vscocam

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By the way, if you do visit the golden pavilion, take note the best place to take the photo isn’t where everyone is crowding around. If I may make a suggestion, it’s at the bend between the crowd and leaving the crowd.

The other interesting place at the Kinkaku-ji was a shrine where others wrote on a wooden panel with the face of a fox. It was interesting because you may draw on the white wooden panel with the face of a fox. And being in Japan, you could see the huge influence of manga style in the drawings.

At the end of today, our feet could feel the numbness from the walking and step climbing. Oh how it would feel to enter an onsen or hot bath. Because though our hotel room has a tub, there’s 3 of us and not enough space outside the tub to shower first. Sigh.

Well, we’re not quite sure where we’re headed tomorrow, but I do hope the weather forecast would be wrong and we’d have either a cloudy or sunny day. :)

Sayonara Tajimi, Konichiwa Kyoto

We said farewell to Tajimi to ride the Shinkansen and make our way this time to Kyoto.

さよなら Tajimi-shi. またね。#tajimi #visitjapan #vscocam

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Using the bullet train, it only took us approximately 30 minutes to reach a stop where we transferred to another subway line and then made our way out onto the surface of Kyoto.

Similarly to when we emerge from the Tokyo station, we needed some time to get our bearings in unfamiliar territory. Thankfully, it didn’t take us long to navigate the direction we needed to head with Google Maps.

Funny thing about Japan’s check-in time I find is you can only check-in from 2pm onwards. Because we were early, we were allowed to place our baggage at the hotel while we headed out to start exploring.

Hello Kyoto #kiyomizudera #temple #kyoto #visitjapan #vscocam #japan

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Destination, Kiyomizu-dera. It’s a world famous temple with an extended patio supported by wooden stilts and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage now.

We kind of struggled a little getting there because we wanted to use the bus. But we managed somehow with some apps, Kyoto website and a little luck. Riding the bus in Japan was different because you only pay the required fare once you get off, so that’s a first for me.

Once we walked up a narrow road just enough for 1 van to pass through, we finally were in view of a large orange gate. After you pass through the gate and walk up again a few more steps, you’ll have to purchase an entrance ticket (300 yen) to gain access to the extended patio.

Not only were there a lot of locals and foreigners like us, it seems this was also a popular place for students to make their prayers.

Most students would make their way up these steps and there are some other shrines, plus places to purchase charms for wealth, victory, studies, child bearing and more.

By the time we made our way back to the hotel for check-in, it was already around 4pm. The lobby was pretty busy with guests checking in and thank goodness our reservation wasn’t affected.

When we entered the room, it was different from the other one we stayed in Tokyo. This had a premium feel, such as your 4-star hotel. Though the room may be a little smaller compared to some 4-star hotels, it’s still very comfortable.

That means, it’s time to make the best of it and tuck into bed. Oyasuminasai.