Asia Day 10 – Living the Day Twice

by Jenn

So today (Thursday June 30th), at exactly the time it is now (4:45pm), but 16 hours ago – we were in Tokyo boarding a plane for the US.  How odd it is to live the same day twice.  Does that mean we did some time travel?  I think so!

Day started out getting last souveniers for friends and family.  Then back to Marriott where we finished watching Tangled and hung out till about 11:40am.  We then spent the next 40 minutes at the check out counter trying to use our honeymoon gift card to pay our 72,000 YEN bill ($940 USD).  After several tries, managers checking that the balance was indeed high enough, and length phone calls – he told us again that it would not work.  So who knows what’s going to happen with that but I ain’t forkin over the cash, that’s for sure.  Just another reason to loath Tokyo in my opinion.

It wasn’t all bad – surely we did have a good time there but it just hadn’t been as easy and friendly as Hong Kong and this was just one more thing.  Pair that with the fact that Air Canada bumped us a few months back off our flight (no biggie… except… it was to another AIRPORT!) – and then when we get to the airport we were bumped yet again.  However, they put us on a direct flight which was nice, though none of the AC perks I SO LOVED on the way to HK.

But alas, we got on the plane, and got into LAX as scheduled for the new flight (yet 7.5 hrs. ahead of our original plan and with not means to get home).  Following that was a 3 hour wait for passport check immigration and customs – then sitting on a curb, deciding to spend $50 on a shuttle, and being the last (furthest) to be dropped of over an hour later.  We still saved ourselves tons of time and exhaustion and discomfort.  Jeff ordered pizza, we got our mail, we layed down and now I am blogging all before my plane even took off from Tokyo (ok kinda) – but seriously before we were supposed to even arrive.  So, all is well and I am looking forward to TV catch up and rest.  Great trip, though exhausting.

No pix today – Boo on us – but I hope to post nice edited ones tomorrow now that I am home with Lightroom.

Asia Day 9 – Missing Disney

by Jenn

And what really sucks is that I have no Annual Pass right now which means no Disney for me till our November trip to Florida.  Tough life right?

Woke up later this morning which was nice – had breakfast at St. Marcs – chocolate gooey croissant, yum.  Our day at parks could not have been hotter.  (Well maybe it could have been, but it sure was blazing).  I’ve gotta say I love that people here use umbrellas for shade.  It really helps me not feel like I’m on a spit getting charred.

Before the parks we went to the Fish Market – one of the largest in the world and you can tell by the smell.  I, of course, was wearing illegal flip flops so I got to experience the slime first hand – er – foot.  Yay!

After that was the Detached House Garden a short walk away.  I really liked it there – warm but plenty of shade and places to sit.  I imagine it would be beautiful in spring with blo0ming flowers in their two large gardens, but it was still lush and pretty.  We went up some cobblestone steps to the top of a hill for a look at the lake and tea house in the middle.  Tea wasn’t open yet, that would have been fun.  Next time.

Our third stop was at the Imperial Palace grounds.  Lots of it is off limits as it is the emperor’s home, but the surrounding areas give you a good look at his place and even the gates into the “off limits” areas are something to see. 

Thank goodness for the little building half way through serving ice cream and an air conditioned bench.  I thought I was going to crash getting hungry for lunch with my old achey back.  Sugar is wonderful and they could totally make a killing on those ice cream bars but they were excellently priced.

We trapsed through the East Gardens after that and out the grounds at the Northern end.  We decided to come back toward the hotel for lunch at Denny’s.  Way different than Denny’s in the states.  And my dessert of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, fudge, brownies, coco puffs cereal, chocolate shavings, banana, and whipped cream was amazing (sans banana – Jeff ate that).

Back at the hotel after a refreshing shower and figuring out what to do next.  Will post again if anything exciting happens.

Scratch that — never posted before we went back out.  Went to see the red bridge that I needed to see – yay.  Walked the grounds of the Koishikawa Korakuen Garden for about 30 minutes before coming back home.  Just have to decide on McDonald’s or Lion’s Beer for dinner now.  All packed for tomorrow: just need to get some souveniers in the morning, then hop on our $70 Limousine BUS to the airport.  Looking forward to endless movies in English.

Pictures from today:

Asia Day 8 – Disney Sea Rocks!

by Jenn

So I almost said no to going to a second Disney park in Tokyo — but I’m sure glad Jeff talked me into it!  The park is huge, but managable and there is great attention to detail and theming of different areas.  Really I now think everyone should experience it for themselves.

The morning started with a 20 minute walk to the park after our express metro ride.  It was warm but not bad.  Due to power cut backs, a lot of AC is off so it did get stuffy in some queues, but the park was significantly less busy than yesterday at Disneyland and with fast passes and shorter lines, we got through everything we wanted to pretty easily.

Only hiccup was that we decided to go light and bring one camera and it failed on us part way through so I got fewer photos of genie stuff than I would have liked to.  But dig this – there is a carousel in the Arabian Coast area gives you a chance to ride on multi-colored genies!  Bummed I missed the photo op for my sis, Jeff decided her and I need to make a trip back sometimes (he says he’ll watch George =P ).

Right before the camera crash was the awesomest parade/water show/performance I have ever seen at Disney.  Ok I take that back, but it was awesome!  10 water floats and jet skis and on the back of jet skis at one point was a second guy flying 5 kites at once, omg!  I can’t even describe it except to say it was a whole array of color and show with dancing and characters and I bet a whooooole lotta money went into it!

Food was also up to my Disney food standards – lots of cury – YUM – including cury popcorn which I loved but Jeff hated.  These parks are all about the popcorn.  Yesterday we had soy sauce and butter flavor, today it was cury, then caramel, and then strawberry (twice, because it was that good).  Um, why hasn’t DL California caught onto this amazing pocorn idea.  I’m convinced that anything will taste good on popcorn now – and I usually say I don’t even like the stuff!

Jeff’s most favorite ride of the day was Journey to the Center of the Earth, which we rode twice.  Starts out as a slow ride through, though beautiful, then gets all crazy and speedy and roller coaster-y. =)  The first ride we went on, with a 360 degree loop, was lame for as scary as they made it sound, but I must say it was smooth.  This park just had a lot of cool different things.

My favorite attraction was probably the Ariel show.  With dialogue in Japanese and songs in English, we got most of it – but everyone flys around above you as if swimming while you watch from the ocean floor.  Ariel’s whole land is underground which was a cool escape from the heat and was so cutely done with colorful lighting and rides.

On our way home we finally got to experience a truly packed metro.  Twice I thought “hmm, this is pretty full” and I was apparently wrong because more crammed in.  Didn’t have to hold on, just had to be squished in the swaying mass for a stop or two.  It was pretty fun. =)

We went to the 100 Yen store after that (Japan’s version of the Dollar Tree) and bought a few goodies.  I think Dollar Tree is better but this store is 4 stories and is pretty nuts.

Tomorrow we have decided to stick around here and visit some parks including the Imperial Palace.

Here are the pictures we managed to get today:

The Japanese YEN is a big bill

by Jeff McNeil

Taking a 2nd look at the currency that we got to take with us, I can’t imagine how big the Japanese wallets are?  These bills are fat!  They are about 50% taller than US Dollars and will not fit in my wallet unless I fold them into smaller portions.  They are also in HUGE demoninations.  If you read the bills they are in teh thousands!  But that doesn’ t mean they are worth that much in USD.  Infact the current excange rates have them at $0.0125 for 1 Yen.  That means 1000 Yen is only $12.50  How crazy is that?  I can buy something for 100,000 Yen and it will only be a $1,200.  Not that I am going to be spending that much money over there on one item, but it makes me wonder how many zeros department stores have to have on hand when prices change.  I should be careful if i go to a Wal-mart over there.  Falling prices really could hurt you if that many numbers where involved.

I am feeling more confident in the plans for Hong Kong and Tokyo now that I have the currency and am getting good with knowing which is which, as well as knowing the current conversion rates.  I feel that things will go smoothly for us once we arrive.  This week will all be about cleaning up the apartment and packing for the trip.  Do you have any suggestions for packing?  Have you been there before, or other Asian countries during the summer?

Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel

by Jeff McNeil
Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel

Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel

Our second stay on our Asia Honeymoon mini-moon trip will be at the Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel.  It is a no frills business hotel with style and the most important thing, location, location, location. In the heart of downtown Tokyo this Marriott is only steps from one of the many subway lines in Tokyo.  It will be a quick 20 minute ride to get to the front gates of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.  The hotel doesn’t offer a pool but it surely makes up for that with the number of restaurants it has for the tourist or business traveler.  I look forward to some sushi and other asian cuisine when we get there.  I hear noodles are all the rage these days 😛  I have done a little homework on the hotel and it did not suffer any ill effects from the earthquake in March.  Keep in mind that the most earthquake and tsunami damage was done several hundred miles away. 

I am excited about our stay here in Tokyo as I learn more about the culture and the sights to see.  Unlike Hong Kong, Tokyo has 2 Disney parks, Disneyland and DisneySea.  Jenn and I will be going to be of them on our trip.  The Disneyland park is what you would expect to see in Anaheim from the original Disneyland.  However the DisneySea park is based on different ports of call like New York in the 1920s, Venice, Moracco and other exotic places around the world.  It looked so interesting that Jenn and I will be paying a visit.

We  will have 1 afternoon, 1 day and 1 night to explore the city, asisde from our trips to the Disney parks.  We again are going to not be the museum tourists and instead trek to the Imperial Palace, the Tokyo Tower and as many local hot spots as we can find.  I have seen many photos of the Tokyo streets at night lit with all the neon signs that give Las Vegas a run for their money. I will post a little bit about those later.  For the most part I think this going to to be a photo trip for the two of us.  Jenn will bring her new camera and I will bring my old trusty Canon XT.  Who knows, maybe there will be a great sale on Canon camera when we are there in some huge electronic store.  I could get a top of the line camera for pennies on the dollar.  Eveyone has told me that the deals in both Hong Kong and Tokyo are really good.  We shall see.

2 Weeks to Hong Kong & Tokyo

by Jeff McNeil
Disneyland - Hong Kong

Disneyland - Hong Kong

I am getting excited, we only have 2 weeks until Jenn and I are on our way to Hong Kong and then Tokyo. For those who do not know, Jenn and I are going to all 5 Disneyland parks in 1 year. We began our trip with Disneyland in Paris on December 30th 2010. We later went to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA on April 16th. Our next park is going to be Disneyland Hong Kong on June 23rd.

The more research I have been doing for Hong Kong the more I get excited. Jenn and I will be staying at, where else, the Marriott Sky City in Hong Kong. It is near the airport which is far away from the city center, as a result we will have to learn how to take public transportation and use an Octopus card for payment. It is the size of a credit card and has a RFID chip in it to record when we enter and exit the stations. It will then charge our pre-paid account for the fare. We will change our normal trip to the museum days into walk around town days. From what I have read and heard, there is a lot to be explored in Hong Kong from the mountain top monasteries to the daily farmers markets. One person described Hong Kong to me as Chinese culture with British civility.

Like with our previous trips we will be posting on the blog each night so please stay tuned for our photos and our stories. We enjoy the comments that everyone has posted and welcome input if you have been to Hong Kong or Tokyo.

Honeymoon Trips to Tokyo & Hong Kong

by Jeff McNeil
Courtyard Marriott Tokyo

Courtyard Marriott Tokyo

Thank you to all who have contributed to our Marriott Honeymoon Registry.  Jenn and I have discussed what we wanted to do for a “BIG” trip.  We have decided to go to Tokyo and Hong Kong.  This will be part of a larger overall concept of going to every major Disney Themepark within one year.  During a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim this last month, Jenn and I got to talking about what to do for our year of honeymoons.  The crazy thought came to our mind “What if we traveled to every Disneyland park in the world?”  We laughed it off for a few hours and while on the way out of the park that night, I said “Well we are going to be in Paris and going to Euro Disneyland in December. There are only 3 more parks we have to go to in order for it to happen, Tokyo, Hong Kong & Florida.”  We got excited.  Upon further research, there are some 20+ official “Disney” parks like Epcot, California Adventure, Oceanworld etc.  We narrowed our focus to Disneyland parks with castles, regular Disneylands at leach location.

Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel

Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel

That being said, we have now booked out flight & hotel reservations for Tokyo, Japan & Hong Kong, China.  The Tokyo hotel is a few miles from TokyoDisney, however the subway is easily accessible and leads right there.  We will be staying at the Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza.  We will be staying several days in Tokyo to absorb some tourist sights as well as the Disney park.  We will then fly from Tokyo to Hong Kong.  We discussed making 2 trips, but the long and costly flight meant that we could save money if we made it one long trip instead of 2 trans-pacific crossings.  The second stay will be at the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel.  It is located near the airport which is on a man-made island in Hong Kong harbor.  Here again, public transportation will take us directly to the park.  We will have 4 days here including one at the Hong Kong Disney park.  Jenn and I are very excited about this trip and are looking for tips and suggestions for things to do in Tokyo and Hong Kong on our touring days.  Please reply to the post with your comments or e-mail us directly.

If you are asking yourself, what about Disneyworld or Disneyland?  We are in the process of planning Disneyworld, possibly over Thanksgiving 2011.  No booked hotels or airfare yet, but it will happen.  As for Disneyland, we have annual passes and will for sure go to the park in the next year after we return from Paris.  So no worries on those 2 parks just yet.