Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What I Look for in a Hotel Room

When booking hotel rooms on Agoda.com, my "go-to" website for hotel bookings, my key criteria would be
  • Terms of stay for children - children allowed?
  • Location
  • Size of Room
  • Non-Smoking (usually non-negotiable)
These are in no particular order of priority, though generally, location is the first, and size of room is next.

Hotels that do not accept children usually won't even turn up in the search results.

And yes, non-smoking is almost non-negotiable. I can imagine a situation where I have to get a hotel in that location and there are no other choice except for a smoking room, and I might have to compromise, but generally, no.

Sometimes, other consideration may become paramount, but generally that is the order of priority.

Hanayashiki Amusement Park, Asakusa

Hanayashiki is an charming old amusement park. It may not thrill older kids, but those below 12 should fine it exciting.

It claims to be Japan's oldest amusement park, and while some rides are quite modern, there are some rides which are clearly legacy rides and meant to charm and entertain in a different (earlier) era.

Which is still great if you are a 3 year old.

Like my daughter.

The Hanayashiki is in Asakusa (A-Sak-Sa. The "U" in the middle is silent.) We traveled on the Ginza subway from Ueno (where we were staying) to Asakusa (part of Tokyo). Then we headed towards the Senso-ji temple and turn left at the temple. And guided by Google maps, we easily found Hanayashiki.

Admission is 1000 yen per adult, free for children below 6, but we got our 3 year old a "Free Ride Pass" which gives her unlimited rides on all the attractions for 1800 yen. And because she is under 4, one adult gets to ride with her for free (attendant).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review of Hotels - Early November 2017 Sendai & Hokkaido

We visited Japan for two weeks in early November 2017 with our daughter.

Here is a review of (or my impression of and reaction to) the 4 hotels we stayed in during the trip.


Richmond Hotel Sendai. 
We arrived at Narita and took the train to Sendai. We wanted to re-visit Omoshiroyamakoen. We would have like to stay in the same hotel we stayed in the last time, but the Hotel Monte Hermana Sendai was not available or did not cater to small children.  We liked that hotel because it was in a good location and the price was good value for money. But we settled for Richmond Hotel. It was a little further, and the price was a little over my budget, but there was not much choice in terms of hotels that catered for small children. I was a little desperate to get a hotel in a relatively good location.

I booked 3 nights for S$847 for a Twin room non-smoking (all my bookings are for non-smoking). The room details were presented as two Double beds, with 27 sq m. Which would be quite spacious by Japanese standards.

What I got on check-in was a Superior Double bed with an extra bed, which I had not asked for. The extra bed made the room very cramped. Which was already rather small at 22 sq m.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Planes, Trains, and no I'm not driving from Tokyo to Sapporo

I'm not sure that it is possible to drive from Tokyo to Sapporo.

Anyway, for our next holiday to Japan, we thought we would like to return to Hokkaido, because the last time (end 2016), we decided to skip Hokkaido so that I could try Kobe beef. Considering I had been to Japan 3 times, and have not had Kobe beef.

So to save time, I thought we could fly straight to Sapporo.

The first thing I found was that there were NO direct flights from SG to Sapporo.

Other airlines (like Thai) would have a stopover in another city. Even Japanese Airlines like JAL & ANA would have a stopover in Narita or Haneda before going on to Sapporo. And if you do choose to fly JAL (maybe ANA, too), note that there are some SG to Tokyo flights that land in Narita, and then 3 hours later your "connecting" flight to Sapporo (Chitose) takes off from HANEDA - the OTHER airport.

Brick House Furano

Have you heard of Furano?

I first heard of Furano when an Ekiben I bought proclaimed that the beef was authentic Furano Beef. I had no idea what was so good about Furano Beef but like a tourist, I was duly impressed by the marketing.

I found the beef quite nice. I am not a gourmand to be able to explain WHY it's nice or HOW it's good, but I liked it.

And that's how I heard about Furano.

I was looking for accommodations for our coming trip to Japan, Hokkaido, and was considering whether to spend a day or so in Furano. Maybe meet up with some cows. Get some authentic Furano Beef.

And that's how I found Brick House, Furano.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hokkaido - why we plan to go there again.

We went to Hokkaido in 1998 as part of a group tour (sponsored by the Japanese Govt - Thank you JICA! - for ASEAN countries), and then returned in 2012. And then again in 2013.

For our last trip in 2016, we skipped Hokkaido reluctantly, because we brought our kid along - her first overseas trip - and we didn't want to be overly ambitious and visit like 5 or 6 cities... Actually, we covered 4 cities (not counting the brief stopover at Kyoto where we bought an eki-ben on our way to Tokyo/Shinjuku).

The other reason (or real reason) is that Kobe is quite a distance from Hokkaido.

But here are 35 reasons to visit Hokkaido at least once in your life. Or more.

Those are 35 places and things I haven't really done in Hokkaido. So it is on my list.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A comparison of Zoos - Ueno, and Singapore

First off, let me just say I'm Singaporean, and damn proud of our Zoo. And it is an award-winning zoo, so we have reasons to be proud of it.

But this is a comparison of two zoos, mainly because I have been to the Ueno Zoo recently (early Nov 2016), and returned to the Singapore Zoo recently (early Dec, 2016) and the impulse to compare and contrast was strong.

Anyway, these are just my impression, and, spoiler alert, I think the Singapore Zoo is much better generally, although there are some good points with Ueno Zoo.