April 23, 2016

Stay Connected in Japan with Yokoso Sim

I used portable wifi to stay connected during my last trip to Japan.

One day while out shopping at Isetan KLCC earlier this year, I came across this advertisement.

Off I went to i-Club and enquired about the sim card.

So here's the details;
* The sim card cost RM 120.
* You get 3.5GB data with 4G/LTE network speed.
* It is valid for 15 days from activation date.
* Comes in nano sim (micro sim adapter included).

If you're interested, you can get it at i-Club Isetan KLCC or if you live outside KL, you can contact sales[at]yokososim.net for delivery to your doorstep.

Do note that this is data-only sim, no calls available. But no problem la.. if you need to call someone, you can use Whatsapp or Line call.

Sounds expensive? If you are going to Japan for less than 7 days, yes it is a bit expensive cos you can rent portable wifi for RM15/day during promotional period.
But if you plan to stay longer (not more than 15 days), this is probably your best option.

I went to Japan for 10 days last February and as usual, #foreveralone. So yeah.. the sim card was my best choice cos it was only RM 12 per day. 

Bought it about one week before my trip. Don't buy the sim card too early cos it has an expiry date. Do check the expiry date before you buy. It is written at the back of the sim card pack or you can just ask the staff during your purchase.

Setting up
After you insert the sim card, go to your phone settings. At mobile network settings, enter the APN, username, password and authentication type as listed on your sim card pack. So easy!

Overall experience
Setting up was straight forward.

It was much more convenient cos I didn't have to bring pocket wifi everywhere with me. Less device to carry, less device to charge.

Coverage wise, Yokoso Sim uses NTT DoCoMo's network so the coverage was very good. I got LTE connection even during snowboarding at Gala Yuzawa in Niigata prefecture.

December 26, 2015

Travel 3Sixty 100th issue party

Earlier last month, I received an email from AirAsia, inviting me to be part of their blogger community, #AABC. As someone who loves travelling, of course I joined it!

Fret not, if you didn't get any invitation, you still can apply to be part of it.
Just email the team at maa_corpcomm@airasia.com .

About one week later, I received another invitation from them. This time, I was invited to Travel 3Sixty 100th issue celebration party.

First making it's debut in August 2007, it's amazing to see how the magazine has grown over the years. Never missed to read it every time I was on board the plane. And yeah, guilty to admit that I've stolen a couple of issues as well. Ooppss!! I am sorry! The digital version wasn't available yet at that time! ;p

It was held at one of the coolest bar in town, Marini's on 57.

One cannot miss this amazing view of the Petronas Twin Tower. ♥

Met a friend from Jom Jelajah Koperasi Johor trip. Surprised she still could recognize me with the short hair. hehe..

Oh that's Dato' Shake.. but I am not a fan of him, so don't care hahaha.

We were entertained by Tune Studios artist, De Fam. Honestly I've never heard of them cos I was ignorant of the local music scene, but they were not bad at all. If I hear them on radio, I might think they're one of those new and upcoming foreign artists.

Dato' Aziz Bakar, Board of Director of AirAsia Berhad revealed the cover of the 100th issue.


He later launched a special contest where readers of the magazine have the opportunities to invite Travel 3Sixty team to visit their hometown and be featured as the cover story. How cool is that!

Here's to 100 more issues! 

December 7, 2015

Indian e-Tourist Visa

India has introduced Indian e-Tourist Visa (eTV) last year and Malaysian can take advantage of this starting from August 2015.

You can apply for this eTV if your purpose of visit to India is for sightseeing, recreation, visiting relatives/friends, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit.

I am in India now for work meetings. Business visa needs invitation letter from the company I am visiting in India, my company letter and some other documents so I would need longer time to prepare for it. And existing visa needs you to go in person to the visa agents to submit your application and register the biometric data.

I have no time for all that!!

So relieved the Indian government introduced this as it's really convenient to apply it online.

What you need to do/prepare:
1. Fill in the online application form
2. Upload your visa photo
3. Upload the front page of your passport
4. Pay the visa fee - USD 48 for Malaysian (fees vary according to country)

Check out this website to apply for the eTV and for more details on eligibility, requirements, fees etc.   

Once approved, the eTV will be emailed to you.

It is recommended to apply the eTV minimum 4 days in advance from the date of your arrival. I applied on Saturday afternoon and I was actually quite worried cos the website does not mention the minimum 4 days in advance includes weekend or not, and I was scheduled to fly on Thursday.

Surprisingly, my eTV was approved less than 24 hours! Received my eTV on Sunday morning.

This is how the eTV looks like.

Print it out and carry it with you when you travel to India. 

Then at Indian airport immigration area, follow the signage for the e-Tourist visa cos there are separate lanes for eTV holder to capture your biometric data.

Reference : My visa application in 2011.

November 3, 2015

Spending time in Manchester

Continuation from here ...

My train back to London was at 6 pm so after I was done with my mission at Old Trafford, I took my own sweet time sightseeing in the city center.

Didn't walk far though, just around Piccadilly Gardens and the Albert Square. Didn't wanna miss my train later cos if it happens, I'd be stranded here cos the trains won't be operating on Christmas day.

It was Christmas eve so the area was buzzing with last minute shoppers. Surveyed some items in Primark. Fuhhh.. everything was so cheap! No wonder all my girlfriends who went to UK were crazy over this retail outlet. Clothes, bags, shoes, scarves, accessories.. mostly going for GBP 10 and below. Almost went crazy but I held myself cos it's better to wait for the Boxing Day Sale! hehe..

To add to the joyous atmosphere, there were many performers at the street market and groups performing Christmas carol.

Walking around, I couldn't help but fell in love with the city. The city has rich variety of architectural styles; modern, contemporary, gothic, roman etc. The buildings were beautiful.
Manchester Town Hall

The Albert Memorial
St Ann's Church

 not sure what is this building

There's a giant ferris wheel at Piccadilly Gardens. I love ferris wheel. Wanted to ride it but after I went to the counter and looked at the ticket price, I slowly backed away. It was GBP 9 for adult, and the ride only lasted about 10 minutes. Quite expensive for what is a fairly short ride, no?

I read in the news that the ferris wheel was dismantled last June. You won't see this Wheel of Manchester anymore..

Anyway, I came across one halal food outlet in front of Piccadilly Gardens.

Tapau-ed some food for my ride back to London.

One day was not enough to cover everything in Manchester. Next trip, I should spend a night here (and make sure I get to watch a game in Old Trafford!).

October 31, 2015

Cheap Accommodation in Tokyo

Sharing some of cheap accommodations that I've tried in Tokyo.

#1 Anne Hostel Asakusabashi

Located in Asakusabashi, Anne Hostel is just a few minutes walk from JR and Toei Asakusabashi station. If you land in Haneda Airport, you can take direct train from the airport straight to this station.

It's nearby Asakusa. And Akihabara is just 1 stop away where I can change to Yamanote Line later. So convenient and that's why I keep on coming back staying here.

Each bed has curtain for privacy, and also comes with a rack, a reading lamp and power outlets. There's also locker to keep your belongings.

The hostel provides unlimited breakfast (toast, jam, eggs, coffee/tea) which is also one of the reasons why I love to stay here. Having breakfast included is not typical for Japanese hostels so this is a plus point.

I paid about 3000 yen per night for the dorm, and to me it's really worth it.

#2 J Residence

On my last trip to Tokyo, I stayed in J Residence for a night cos I travelled with a few friends. The apartment is located in Kabukicho area in Shinjuku. You either like or hate this area cos well.. it's the entertainment and red-light district of Tokyo.

The apartment is compact and simply furnished. There's a small kitchen which includes a fridge, microwave, kettle and a rice cooker. Perfect if you want to cook during your stay. The apartment also comes with an LCD TV, hair dryer, toiletries and free wired internet. There's also coin launderette should you want to do your laundry.

The toilet is small, but that is normal in Tokyo. It's good enough for me. Other than complimentary toiletries, towel is also provided so you can leave your big towel at home.

Paid 7700 yen for a 2-person apartment so it's only 3850 yen per person (the rate when I stayed in Oct 2014). If you are not keen to stay in a dorm or hostel but still want a cheap deal, this apartment is a good choice. 

Other than those two, I've also stayed at Toyoko Inn and Tokyu Stay hotel chains during my business trips.

This is Tokyu Stay Gotanda.

My favorite hotel in Tokyo. Super love it but the room rate has gone up about 50% since my last stay. T_T

Anyhow, if you have extra budget but don't want to splurge, you might wanna consider these hotel chains cos they're still considered cheap by Tokyo standard.

October 16, 2015

Kawagoe - the Little Edo

I was enjoying my sushi brunch in Tsukiji Market when my friend texted me.

"What are you doing now?"
"Having sushi in Tsukiji Market."

"If you are free, let's go to Kawagoe."
I didn't know where it was or what's the attraction there but my Japanese friends were so nice wanna bring me jalan-jalan how could I say no.

So we met up at Ikebukuro train station, before taking the Tobu Tojo Line Express to Kawagoe Station (the journey only took about half an hour).

It was already 3 pm when we reached Kawagoe so we actually didn't have much time to explore the city thoroughly. 

Kawagoe is an alternative to Kyoto if you want to see more of traditional Japan. There is a quarter in the central part of the city where streets constructed in the Edo period remain intact. You can see well-preserved century-old kura, or warehouses, which double as stores, workshops and homes today.

The oldest building on the street dates back to 1792.

The shops along the street mainly sell souvenirs and local snacks like pickles, nuts, sweet potato, rice crackers etc. Besides enjoying the ambience, we basically ate non stop!

Here is Toki no Kane (the Bell of Time), one of the important landmark in Kawagoe.

The bell tower has been telling the time to the townspeople through the ages. First erected nearly 400 years ago, the current 54-foot tower was rebuilt after a fire in 1893 and is held up with single cedar logs. The bell is no longer rung by hand, but chimes four times a day.

The thing I hate about winter is the short daytime. My friends wanted to show me more but it was getting darker so we changed plan and went for dinner instead. haha..

There's nothing fancy or spectacular in Kawagoe, but the trip was enjoyable nevertheless. It's a good option for a day trip out of Tokyo.

October 14, 2015

Tsukiji Market

I was looking at things to do in Tokyo when I realized that I haven't been to Tsukiji Market.

Always leaving out this market from my places to visit list cos I thought it's just a market. Do you visit Pasar Borong Selayang in Malaysia? I don't think so.. hehe..

But when I read about the market, it is actually quite interesting. Tsukiji Market is definitely not an ordinary market. Other than being the world's largest and busiest fish market, visitors flock the market early in the morning i.e before 5 am to catch the famous tuna auctions.

The auction is limited to only 120 person per day on a first-come, first-served basis, and it's free! So you have to come really early to secure your chance. Check out this website for detail, especially the market calendar cos the market does not open every day.

Mind you that there are no trains running before 5 am so you have to take a taxi or walk or spend your night somewhere nearby the market.

Since I have extra time in Tokyo, I decided to check it out. I actually wanted to watch the tuna auction but no one at the hostel was going (a group just went the day before). Taking a taxi in the wee hours of the morning sure is expensive so I decided to just skip the auction and go after 6 am.

But in the end, I woke up late and only arrived at the market at 10 am. hahaha.. The market has slowed down by then. Some of the fishmongers were already cleaning their spaces but luckily I could still see a lot of things.

Look at his knife O_O

Woah!! I definitely didn't know they used these kinds of knives to cut or fillet the fish.

The many kinds of sea creatures you'll see at the market other than fish...

After watching the tuna auctions, visiting or shopping at the markets, visitors would usually grab breakfast at one of the many sushi counters there.

But be prepared to wait if you want the best! Two of the most famous sushi place at the market area, Sushi Dai and Daiwa-Sushi are so popular that they have super long queues, it was madness!

This was queue for Sushi Dai...


Sushi Dai

You can find a queue in front of just about any restaurants here so I walked around the quarters quite a while cos I was looking for the shortest queue. haha..

Finally, I settled for this one restaurant, Bentomi. Queued for half an hour still.

I chose the S3 set, Sazanka.


How to go to Tsukiji Market:

 If you're travelling by train, take the Toei Oedo subway line to Tsukiji Shijo station, and take exit A1.
Alternatively, take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway line to Tsukiji station.

All in all, visiting the market was fun. FYI, half of the market is going to be relocated to the nearby Toyosu district in November 2016. So gonna visit it again to enjoy the market as it is now before it moves, as well as to watch the tuna auctions.