Travel: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia is my home.

The simplicity, the warmth of the people and of course, the scorching heat! We go around day by day our daily lives that somethings are just left unseen. There is so much that Kuala Lumpur has to offer but we tend to take for granted off. Many tourists come to Kuala Lumpur and see what beauty it has to offer but when we are told how lovely Kuala Lumpur is, we scoff and brush it off saying, “Really?”

I have been making trips to the heart of Kuala Lumpur everyday for the entire week for work and I start to realize that our city is pretty cool after all. First there’s the SMART Tunnel that we travel in day in and day out because we “have” to but just the other day traveling through it, I realized “Wow, there was actually a dual purpose of the tunnel!” See we often complain when it rains heavily and the tunnel is closed causing a super traffic jam but we forget that the tunnel was actually made for the rain drainage that’s why it’s closed off!

Back to what I was supposed to focus on.

I am doing some research for a trip I’m making in April and boy, am I grateful that I like in Kuala Lumpur. We really get the best of both worlds. We have the cheap, the mid-range and the high-street. Food is can range from a hawker stall by the road to an extravagant fine dining experience in the heart of town.

I want to take on a small challenge on what would I do with MYR50 (according to coinmill.com it’s equivalent to US$15.25, GBP 9.17) in a day, from the things I eat to what you can do for free from a locals point of view. Of course, prices from where I live would be slightly different from the places where tourist go but everywhere is almost accessible.

I might even be surprised with the results.

Stay tuned to see how it goes!

XO,
Joanna

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Super Delayed Update

Finally a tiny update!

I’ve been so caught up with work and R&D for another project, that I just couldn’t find the time to update this travel log.

The itch is here and I’m wanting to travel somewhere but I’m too busy with work.

But the good new is that I AM GOING SOMEWHERE in APRIL, the trip is finalized and I’ll be away from the 8th till 16th of April. This is the trip that I’ve been longing to go and been waiting for this moment. Where? I won’t say just yet but do stay tuned!

On another note, I have yet to continue Day 4 of Japan. Till then, I will be writing a post on How to Travel Light!

XO,
Joanna

Travel: Japan (Mt.Fuji Day Three)

Now that the Lunar New Year rush is halfway through, I’ve got some time on my hands for Day Three of Japan. Happy Lunar New Year by the way!

So Day Three of Japan, we made our way to Lake Kawaguchiko. Prior to the trip to Japan, I already knew I wanted to see Mt Fuji. We didn’t know if we could spot it because it was fall time and the mist and clouds may cover the beautiful sight but we decided to head there anyway. I did my research and found that there was something called the Fuji Five Lake Region (Fujigoko) which were actually five spots where you could view Mt Fuji from a close distance. They are Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko and Motosuko. Lake Kawaguchiko was listed as the most accessible for tourist because it was more developed and easier to access by public transportation so of course, this would be our top choice of place to visit.

We got up pretty early on a Sunday morning around 6 plus to head to Tokyo Station from Shijuku via the JR Chuo Line. Once there we waited for the train that says Kawaguchiko.

IMG_1433Here’s the train.

It’s the “Holiday Rapid Kawaguchiko” that travels directly to Kawaguchiko Station from Tokyo Station on the weekends and public holidays so there wasn’t any need to hop off the train to switch lines at Otsuki. Big time saver there! Somewhere along the ride the conductor comes by to collect a fee of 1100Yen when you’re at the Fujikyu Railway Line. Our trip to Lake Kawaguchiko was a cold and rainy trip; more luck to us on spotting Mt Fuji. Sigh.. 😦

IMG_0174Raindrops…

The ride took about an hour and a half and I was dozing off in between. The sightings were pretty beautiful along the way. You could see the quieter side of Japan and people undergoing their daily lives.

IMG_0189Lovely field of crops.

IMG_0202I even saw a stream

It was a pretty peaceful ride there. After almost two hours, we’re here!

IMG_0218There’s Thomas Train, literally!

We walked out of the station and immediately spotted the Tourist Information Centre where you could grab a map and also ask how to get to the lake. There was a shuttle that went around the lake but we opted to walk. FYI, it was freezing! Lucky for me, that day I decided to wear another layer. So I was on three layers while I was there. It was really cold because of the morning rain. Grab yourself a map like this.

IMG_3386This is the map that is ready available at the Information Center.

Follow the map and you’ll reach the lake.

IMG_0219Photo time!

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IMG_0235 Sorry for the photo spam. The lake was THAT pretty!

We wanted to ride the cable car so we went searching for it. Initially we thought we were lost but we saw a group of tourist, assumed that they were searching for the cable car as well and just followed them. Lucky us, they were!

IMG_0236Here is Mt Kachi Kachi Ropeway

IMG_0244View from the cable car

The sightings from the cable car was so pretty. We could see the township as well as the roller coaster that we saw on the way to Kawaguchiko. The Kachi Kachi Ropeway goes up 400 meters onto an observation deck near Mt Tenjo.

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Got off the cable car and hung out on the observation deck for a little bit. It was really misty and we didn’t even know which direction Mt Fuji was so we just snapped pictures with all corners. It was really pretty.

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Word is that Mt Tenjo is a setting of a folk story called the “Kachi Kachi Yama” where a rabbit gets revenge on a thieving Japanese racoon by setting it on fire and drowning it in the river. Really gruesome story for such cute characters. (I forgot to take a picture of the rabbit but you can view it online.)

It began to drizzle for a bit again. We went to the only stall at the observation deck to get some souvenirs and some food. I tried Dango for the first time. It’s actually glutinous rice balls grilled over charcoal and topped with a sweet and savory sauce. It tasted pretty good, maybe because I was hungry. (again I forgot a picture)

We descended the ropeway after a little disappointment not being able to see Mt Fuji but no worries! We’ll be back!

Coming down the ropeway we could smell something like cookies baking so we followed our noses to a little cookie bakery that sold Mt Fuji cookies. And being the tourist that I am, I bought all flavours to try.

IMG_1437The array of colours and flavours from green tea, earl grey, strawberry and vanilla.

IMG_0306Here’s the green tea one. They were pretty delicious.

We got back to the Kawaguchiko Station and grabbed something quick to eat before hopping onto the train to get us back to Tokyo. And that was about it for that day. An unforgettable trip to Mt Fuji. Honestly one of the best spots during the entire trip. Lake Kawaguchiko is a definitely a must visit.

Till Day 4!

XO,
Joanna

P.s. Happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate it! Wishing you good health, prosperity and abundant wealth!

Barred by language.

It doesn’t hurt to learn a new language especially if you love to travel.

Communication is key wherever you go, in my opinion. During my trip to Japan, there was close to no communication with the Japanese people. I guess they either really love their language or they thought I was Japanese and insisted on speaking to me in Japanese. Either way, maybe learning a few words before you head to the country is key but, really learn to pronounce it right or you’ll be a laughing stock. There certainly was a communication barrier in Japan. I speak fluent English both conversational and written, I learnt the Malay Language in school and I understand a little Mandarin and Cantonese. I am still trying to learn Mandarin and picking up a few words every now and then, though I could never survive in China if I were to head over.

Figuring out directions is one thing, but when you aren’t equip with accessible Wi-Fi, you definitely need to start asking around. Upon searching for our first hotel in Tokyo, we were so lost and decided to get off track the JR Train line and headed to one of the subways to get straight to our hotel. At the subway, figuring out how to purchase a ticket was insanely difficult. We stood there blankly trying to figure out the buttons because FYI they were in Japanese. We decided to ask the train conductor, he did explain but we had no idea what he said, so we went back to try again. Lucky for us, a passerby who spoke a little English helped us out. When we reached the destination, which was actually two stops away, we got out the subway and got lost again! This time, we bumped into a few students who tried to help us find the place with their cellular data. After trying to help us, they decided to bring us to the train information counter to seek more help. We ended up reaching the hotel fine, but needless to say, learning a language is quite an important thing to do. But you can’t be learning every single language there is right? My opinion is, learn English. Make sure you’re fluent in English because as the international language, someone is bound to be able to talk you through your questions.

These days, when I travel, I make sure to download a Language App on my iPhone just in case. It could come in handy because most of these apps are created with guides for eating, shopping, transportation, numbers and so on. I am trying to learn new languages. I don’t have anyone to practice it with because I seem to be the only one interested in learning various languages but I guess new languages could come in handy someday.

What I’m trying to learn?

French.

Yes, French.

I’m already finding it quite difficult but I’m trying to self-learn. I downloaded an app called “Duolingo”. Not too sure if it’ll be a good French learning tool but I guess it’s worth a try. I’ll let you know if it did help me learn French! At the moment it’s teaching me Le garcon, L’homme, La fille, La femme. 🙂

Maybe you could help me practice?

Till then, stay tuned for the next update: Day 3: Japan (Lake Kawaguchiko, Mt Fuji.)

XO,
Joanna.

Travel: Japan (Tokyo Day Two)

I’ve always been a planner, whether it’s for work, play or travel. I prefer to know that I am well planned rather than to wake up in the morning, especially during a holiday and say “what should we do today?”. Researching what to do at the moment would take too much time and would probably hold you down for 2 hours finding places to go. I never like the last minute kind of thing, although I don’t mind being spontaneous. I wanted to see as much as I could in that time I had there.

Rail Roads JR Line. Yamanote Line

For Japan, I really went down to the details of which trains should we take and what time should we take them, and if we missed the train, I would have the other time too. That was how detailed I was for our trip to Japan. It did help that Japan was very systematic and the train times were available on Hyperdia. You can search what time you want to take the train and from your location to your destination, the best thing is you’d even know what time you’ll reach. I was really surprised by the fact that it was really accurate and I experienced first hand of how punctual they are. We were actually lost at one point in our trip and we got to the train assistant and asked for directions, he took out a timetable as thick as a book and showed us the times. The book was marked Train Timetable 2012. Wow! They have the entire year planned out for every single route and every single train in the country! Good for them! 😛

yamanote-map

This is roughly what the railway system looks like narrowed down. The line in green is the Yamanote Line, which is by far my favourite railway line in Tokyo. What we did was take the line and stopped at most of their stops to see each city. It was extremely tiring but it was fun to be able to cover a few extra spots. First stop was Hamamatsucho Station. This was to see the Tokyo Tower but lucky us, we stumbled upon the Zojoji Temple before we headed to Tokyo Tower. We took some pictures at the temple and continued walking to find the Tower.

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o matter what angle we took the photo, we couldn’t get a non “Traditional meets Modern picture”

There were a lot of tourist entering the Tokyo Tower and we didn’t want to rush with them so we just took pictures from the hill below and made our way back to the station to adjourn to the next stop.

Tokyo Tower
This is the Tokyo Tower. Funny enough, it was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris but it stands 13 metres taller at 333 metres.

Next stop, we went to Ueno with the purpose of looking for the Tokyo Skytree which was built in May 2012. We saw it in a distance but didn’t know the way there. And then we saw this.

Ueno
Why would you saw no to snapping a picture of a giant panda? A zoo was a must!

We walked up the bridge and just followed where everyone seemed to be walking towards and we found Ueno Park. There were buskers, artistes, musicians entertaining people on the streets. It was really interesting. There was this guy using water to make art on the ground.

old man at zoo 2
T
here he goes……

old man at zooAnd this is the result. Amazing huh..

We walked deeper and found the ZOO!

Ueno Zoo(There were two kids taking pictures so excuse them. ;p)

IMG_0092The Pagoda of Kan’ei-ji from a distance.

IMG_0078And this, the Equestrian Statue of Prince Komatsu Akihito

The zoo was really huge and there were so many animals there, not to mention people too. We were lucky we were there earlier in the day and as time passed the crowd started to build.

Ueno Zoo MapThis is the map of the zoo, look how big it is. Doesn’t help that it had TWO different entrances and we got lost.

I loved the penguins, polar bear and the seals. You can’t see them here in Malaysia so might as well enjoy the sight of them as much as possible there.

Polar BearPolar bear!

Super playful sealsSuper playful seals.

Ueno Zoo Jackass PenguinsI‘m not lying, they are called “Jackass Penguins”.

Malaysian Sun BEarThis here is my home buddy! They called it the Malaysian Sun Bear but I have yet to see one here!

Ueno Zoo FoodThe Panda street food that served pretty great Karaage Chicken. I was just shifting into Pescatarian mode before I went to Japan but I did take a bite because I was starving. Boo me! 😦

We got lost when we exited the zoo because we took a different exit. It was so excruciating to be walking round and round and not know where you’re going. We managed to get to the Ueno Station and took it to the next stop, Okachimachi Station where we wanted to visit the Ameyoko Street, famous for selling food products and Japanese goods. It was like a little market place. We walked pass a Takoyaki stall and just HAD to buy it to try. We ordered 8 Takoyaki balls, I think for 500 yen if I’m not mistaken. Once the balls are cooked and placed on the tray, you put your own Aonori (Seaweed flakes), Katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes), Takoyaki sauce and Mayonnaise if you wanted it, self service. Little did we know our first Takoyaki of the trip was actually the BEST TAKOYAKI of the entire trip.

Best Takoyaki (Ameyoko)These were the Takoyaki Balls at Ameyoko Street (500 yen). Let it cool before you eat though. We were too hungry and shoved them into our mouths and we got Takoyaki burnt! 😦

We got a few food stuff from the shops to bring home, they were pretty cheap compared to the ones in the more popular areas. I bought rice seasoning flakes as well as the chili sprinkles. There were a lot of people selling Nike clothing and shoes on the streets but I can’t guarantee their authenticity. Next stop, Shimbashi Station. There was really nothing to see there, we just wanted to stop by.

Shimbashi

Shimbashi 2What a change of senario this was. There were so many bars, and blue movie joints. It was so dodgy we decided to leave after lunch at Sukiya.

I can’t find any pictures of where we went to next but we stopped at Ebisu, and also Harajuku. But we just scrolled through, maybe we were too tired and we took in too much the entire day, so walking in Harajuku brain dead is a not advisable thing to do! We also took the Chuo Line with the JR Pass to Ochanomizu to see the guitar haven but I have too much guitar pictures to upload. But yes, to those who are interested in looking for guitars, do head to Ochanomizu! It’s a must for any musician!

Till Day 3! The next day was the highlight of the trip!

XO,
Joanna

I’m a Little Crazy.

Have you had a time where you get the news that you MAY be traveling to a place and you get so excited that you are already planning what you’re going to pack and how you’re going to pack? And you take out your luggage bag and your clothes for that estimated weather and you start seeing what you have, then you go onto Polyvore and match them together to see what they would look like?

I’m having that moment!

The word got out that I may be going to this certain country around August last year. I got pretty excited but I didn’t know if the trip was going to be confirmed. They said that by early 2014 we would find out for sure.

Currently the news is that it may be in either March or early April.

Again, not confirmed! I’m already so anxious to know! I won’t say where just yet, so my hopes won’t get up too far! But I AM keeping ALL FINGERS CROSSED! And, it’s a trip worth skipping Bali for, IF they clash! Hoping they don’t too!

Stay tuned!

XO,
Joanna

The New Adventure

I have always known that I wanted to travel. To places both near and far, to everywhere and anywhere possible if I can. The adventure always seemed exhilarating to me. I’ve had this traveling dream since I was a school girl and I always knew that I’d travel one day given the opportunity. I always watched travel programs on the television, hoping that someday I could be sent away to God knows where and document my trips for people to watch the adventurous trips I make. But alas, that didn’t happen. Instead I have opened my traveling opportunity on my own. Grown enough, wise enough and able to fund my own trips to anywhere I want to go to.

Today as I make a purchase of a flight to a beautiful location, I realize I find myself searching for traveling outfit ideas, what are the essential items to bring with me, what types of clothing I should wear on the trips to a cold place or a warm place, how to pack light for the trip and so on but somehow I don’t get as much information from the sites that I visit, that I would love to get.

See, I live in Malaysia, tropical land, always sunny, occasionally rainy; we don’t have cold days or snow days (those that we can only wish for). Living in Kuala Lumpur, we can always take a 45 minute drive to Genting Highlands, in between states, where our city of entertainment lies. There we get breezy cool weather just enough to feel like you’re in an air conditioned room. So in that situation, we don’t necessarily need a jacket. We go as we are; in our shorts and t-shirts, and a jacket lugged at the arm, just in case. That is the closest to a cool weather as we can get, that is 22⁰C, at Genting Highland’s best.

I already have a few potential ‘cold weather countries’ planned out for 2014 but I have close to ZERO knowledge on what I should wear. I know a lot of people tend to over pack because they’re afraid they get cold. I know a cousin of mine who carries the largest of luggage bags to her destinations and I personally find it miserable to be lugging around a huge bag on the trip. I did once followed her advise when I made a trip to Japan in 2012, boy was it so tiring and a bit embarrassing I might add. We rolled the bags from Osaka to Tokyo and back to Osaka, came back and was already sick of the sound of roller bags. Extremely funny!

My last few trips I decided to use only a carry on. It was the most pleasant of trips, not worrying about heavy bags, moving around lightly, that was the best feeling! So I crack my head trying to figure out how to carry on, on my trip to colder regions. I’m doing my research but I can’t find much, so I decided to document my own experience. I’ll also tell you if it works when I get back from that trip.

 

XO,

Joanna