I decided to blog about the Japan trip when I referred to my previous Bangkok trip post whilst planning a trip there. I haven’t been blogging much as even though I love writing I just haven’t felt the motivation to do so and didn’t have (or make) much time for it. Sometimes I wondered what blogging was for. However, if it helps with happy memories and even future planning I guess blogging is not for nothing. ;p
I had been planning the Japan June 2016 trip for a while, ever since just after they announced the date of blythecon Japan. I decided to finally buy my plane tickets early for once (at least more than a month before, the latter being our usual style it seems) and finally managed the best price I’d ever gotten for Japan at $650 and this time I decided to try SQ to boot (although that was a washout…more later). In fact, as I was searching for a flight, I saw a direct flight by Delta that was only $410. What a good price for Japan if you don’t mind the airlines! Maybe next time…
The interesting thing about this trip was that it was the only one I had ever taken with only me and my girl, who I’ll call AD for short. Despite trying to get her inputs she seemed content to let me plan the itinerary wholly. And plan I did! Although instead of pacing myself along the long runway to the date, I instead did the last minute eleventh hour strategy and only filled in the details in June itself although I had a backbone earlier on.
Besides the booking of flights and accommodation? I also bought the Japan rail pass voucher at takashimya a few weeks before the trip. Did a bit of googling and still felt more secure in buying it in person and rates seemed similar anyway. In addition I decided I couldn’t live without data as I needed GPS so I rented an egg (cdjapan) and bought a SIM card (bmobile) and had them sent to the airport post office.
It was exciting to get to the airport but I was also feeling a bit anxious about having to take care of the two of us all by myself. Taking care of myself was one thing but having a dependent by myself was another.
The check-in was smooth and dropping by the ladies just before entering the gate we noticed the butterfly garden entrance and decided to pop in – couldn’t see any butterflies and it was dark so we popped out again.
The flight was pretty uneventful although I couldn’t really sleep and it being a red eye flight I was quite tired thereafter. I can now only remember thinking the kid’s meal was boring (compared to ANA) and watching zootopia and kungfu panda 3.
Upon arrival and collection of baggage it was a bit of a frenzy as we had a few errands to run. First we located the baggage delivery counters and sent off the luggage via the Yamato (the one with mommy cat logo) delivery service. There were a different few counters from different companies but I didn’t spend time looking or deciding. This was the first time I had ever done this and there was a fear I had just sent off my luggage to somewheres never to be seen again. Leaving that we then looked around for the post office (in another floor and section) and collected both the wifi egg and a data SIM card sent from two different companies. I wanted at least one SIM card to last me to the very last minute without needing to return it before leaving the country. In future I’ll likely just get two SIM cards as the mobile egg was not very consistent and kept running out of battery. Charging seemed quite slow and we had so many things to charge.
Then we ran over to the JR office to exchange our vouchers for the actual pass. Couldn’t recall doing this last time and this took the longest time of all to do as there were a number of tourists in line to do the same thing. Whilst doing this we missed the N’EX that we had hoped to take. We were first handed a form to fill in before we could get in line. The staff were patient and friendly and the exchange process was smooth. The counter staff also helped us reserve our seats for the Narita Express (N’EX) and our first trip to Toyama JR station. Whilst we waited for the N’EX we bought ourselves some drinks from the vending machines, including AD’s favorite calpis. We then rushed to take the N’EX and at the gantry we didn’t know whether to insert the ticket but when I did it was rejected. Apparently those with the rail pass have to go through the manned gate always and at this juncture I met the first rude Japanese person on this trip (the rest were also station staff), who shouted at us to show our passes in a brusque way and then walked away to attend to something else leaving us stuck at the gantry. When we finally got through, the rest of the trip into Tokyo went without a hitch.
On the N’EX or Narita Express
our bento lunch ans sandwich for the train ride.
spacious clean and comfortable
We then quickly went into the food halls in Tokyo Station to grab a sandwich and bento for the long trip to Toyama
. The katsudon at 1000 yen turned out soggy and cold and AD didn’t seem enthused by the sandwich. I didn’t sleep on the 2 hr 37 min trip either and instead of dropping at our accommodation we went straight past it and onto Shin-Takaoka, where I happily found some lockers for my heavy backpack (which contained clothes and stuff for the next two days). From there we got off and walked to the nearby Johana Line platform, which did not have a gantry but one elderly train inspector (so we think he was) there who spoke no English but tried his best to help us as much as possible. We had a bit of a time figuring out what he was trying to say to us but supposed we were in the right place and that our Rail Pass covered the trip. At the station it was quiet and very countryside like and there were “birds” chirping. All the while waiting for the train I thought they were birds…until I noticed that there was a sign above and speaker to show that the sounds were for the seeing-impaired….
buy your own ticket on the platform
no they weren’t real birds chirping…;p big LOL
part of a station along the Johana Line
The train ride was interesting and we passed a number of small stations, some of them looking unmanned, before arriving at Tonami
. As soon as we stepped out it started to drizzle and I was contemplating going backwards but I wasn’t going to let ourselves off after travelling so far. We HAD
to go see the tulips! Doubling back we asked the station staff whether there was a convenience store nearby and bought an umbrella at the 7-11 (our first umbrella of the trip but not the last ugh) and walked and walked, pretty much making a few circles.
Asked someone walking past who also did not know where the Tonami tulip gallery was and was about to take out her own GPS to search. Decided to just try to locate it ourselves again and at this time the rain was semi-heavy so it was a bit dismal. We finally spotted the building and walked over quickly all the time wondering if it was closed as there were NO (not one) persons around and the place was quiet. We hesitantly approached and realised the tulip gallery was just a small building (1/8th the size of flower dome at Gardens by the Bay) and that we were the only souls around except for the staff. Interesting. A bit disappointing to me, but AD was still in high spirits and we brought out the dolls for shots of practically everything there was. Afterwards we seemed to have outdone ourselves in attempting to gain maximum enjoyment because we found we were a bit off schedule and practically ran all the way back to the station and ended up super tired and huffing and puffing like crazy persons. Fortunately, we made it back to Shin-Takaoka and then onwards back to Toyama on time. All this time I was using the JR West website and it was just perfect in allowing us to plan the train schedules. At Toyama we finally located our accommodation and went out to a nearby small mall for dinner, which was black pork ramen. It was yummy!