Winter Vacation Part 7 – Bali

For those following along at home, Nicole and I visited Osaka, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore before moving on to beautiful Bali. Nicole found an awesome travel deal for a resort in Bali. For around $400 we got a week’s stay, a deluxe room with a hot tub on the balcony, free dinner one night, free breakfast everyday, and free airport drop off/pick up. It was an amazing deal and one of the cornerstones of the trip. It was one of the first things we booked and the basis of what we planned around. If you don’t want to read the whole post, watch the video below, courtesy of the GoPro Nicole bought me for Christmas.

Sleeping in the airport
Sleeping in the airport

If you remember, Nicole and I spent the last night in Singapore sleeping in the airport. I’ve never slept in an airport before but if I ever had to do it again, I would stay in the Singapore airport. We woke refreshed and since we’d already passed through security, our walk to the gate was only a few minutes. The flight wasn’t very crowded and everyone seemed in a good mood. After all, they were going to Bali.

Getting to Bali

We landed a few hours later and disembarked. Bali was hot, but tropical island hot, not city-in-summer hot. To get through Bali customs you need to pay around $30 for your visa. That equates to an absurd amount of money in Indonesian Rupee. We took out something like 400,000IDR each. Then I lost my debit card. The ATMs in Bali were really slow so I think I just walked away with my money and receipt and the machine ate my card. I’ve never lost a credit card or debit card before and already I’d lost it literally 15 minutes into our trip. No big deal though. I cancelled my card at the hotel and that was that.

As part of the Travelzoo deal that Nicole found, we got free airport pickup, a first for me as an adult. The driver was nice and the hotel was even nicer. It was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. There was a pool with several waterfalls, a swim-up bar, a beautiful dining area that opened out into the pool. Our first day we just explored Sanur, the area we were staying in.

Yoga

The second day in Bali, Nicole and I took a cab to the Yoga Barn in Ubud. Nicole’s always wanted to visit the Yoga Barn and I like doing yoga sometimes so it was a good fit. We signed up for a relaxing type of yoga. Most of the hour we laid on the ground and squished a tennis ball into our kidneys using our body weight. It was not the best use of $5.  After yoga we ate at their vegan cafe. I had some sort of tempeh taco and a mint lime drink with a shot of honey. It was pretty good. I would definitely recommend the cafe.

A note about cabs. The blue cabs with a bird logo on them are the ones you want to use. The other ones are likely to scam you.

Massages

massages
massages

After yoga, Nicole and I got a couples massage and body scrub for an hour for nickels. Okay, not quite that low, it was around $10 a person. The massage was amazing and the scrub was….rejuvenating. I’m sure if you’re a lady without body hair it’s great but for me it just felt like someone with a handful of coarse sand was trying to scrub off my top layer of skin.

Monkey Forest

After being massaged and scrubbed within an inch of my life Nicole and I visited the Ubun Monkey Forest. It’s a preserve filled with semi-wild monkeys. They roam around and people feed them. Nicole was too afraid to get near them so we skipped the feeding part. The monkey forest is also filled with some incredible temples, waterfalls and bridges. Admission was something like $2 and included a free postcard.

Surfing

Surfing
Surfing

The following day Nicole and I visited Kuta and went surfing. Kuta is a bit more lively than Sanur. Sanur is a more laid back restaurant and quiet beach area. Kuta is where the backpackers go to buy neon tank tops, ray-bans, and tattoos. There are lots of hawkers on the street selling bracelets and bars blasting dubstep. All that aside, there’s a nice beach with great waves. Nicole and I rented a board to share and took turns surfing up and down the beach. Nicole had never surfed before so I taught her, and after a little practice, she was able to stand up and ride a wave.

That night we returned to Sanur and the hotel and went out for food there. We found a place right off the beach that had those giant drinks you see in movies about tropical islands. My drink came in a pineapple and Nicole got a drink inside a coconut. Both had umbrellas and fruit. We also got surf and turf for a few dollars each. We were only halfway through our time in Bali and already trying to find a time to come back again.

Snorkeling

Snorkel cafeOriginally we’d planned to get SCUBA certified in Bali. However, there was so much to do in Bali, it was impossibly to commit to three days of training and sitting in a classroom when we could be surfing and rafting. We decided to book a snorkel trip instead. Based on the time constraints of our week in Bali, it was definitely the right decision. A van picked us up from the hotel and took us to the dive center where we signed our lives away and met a nice guy from the UK. He was doing a dive that day and recommended a number of great dives for us the next time we’re in Bali.

The drive out to the boat was only an hour, like just about everything in Bali. It’s not that anything is particularly far, its just the roads are small and windy so the travel itself takes awhile. We dropped our things off at a little cafe on the beach and changed into our swimsuits. Our buddy from the UK took one boat and we took another. The trip out to the reef was only a few minutes and definitely worth it. We put on flippers and hopped overboard. The reef was incredible, and so close. It was right below us. At times I thought I might scrape myself against the coral it was so close. There were so many fish and different colored coral. It was even better than what I remember of the Great Barrier Reef.

Nicole and a traditional Balinese dancer
Nicole and a traditional Balinese dancer

We stayed an hour at that reef before boarding the boat again and visiting another coral reef 5 minutes away. It was inside of a small cove and just as vibrant as the previous spot. Our guide led us around the reef and showed us schools of fish as well as some giant brain coral.

At the end of our trip we took the boat back to the beachside cafe and had some lunch before heading back to the hotel. That night Nicole and I went out to eat in Sanur again. At the restaurant we went to they had traditional Balinese dancing and a live band performing. The performance was a sort of “best of” various Balinese plays. There was one lead female dancer and she invited Nicole up on stage to dance with her a few times. The food was really good as well. A little too good.

White water rafting

Nicole and I rafting
Nicole and I rafting

On our second to last day Nicole and I took a white water rafting trip. A van picked us up early in the morning and took us and an Arabic couple high into the mountains, seemingly to the top of Bali. We hopped in a raft with our guide and made our way down the rapids. Many years ago I went white-water rafting in Costa Rica and while the rapids there claimed to be level 3, they felt pretty tame. The rapids in Bali were a whole other story. We were tossed around and went over rocks, rapids, and even a waterfall. The rafting was fantastic and I highly recommend it if you get a chance to visit Bali. However, be careful when choosing your guide. Some of the guides out there are less experienced than others and you’ll spend more time on the rocks than actually going down the rapids.

At the end of our several hour rapid adventure, we hopped off the raft and climbed what felt like a thousand steps. Nicole and I have climbed many steps before like in Hong Kong and at the Cherry Blossom festival, but this was insane. I was fine to climb them, but Nicole was feeling a bit under the weather and had to take some breaks on the way up.

Leaving Bali

It’s with a heavy heart that I write about leaving Bali. We had a blast while we were there. We rafted, snorkeled, surfed, dined, relaxed. We did it all in only a few days and for a fraction of what it would cost to do just about anywhere else in the world. Of all the places I’ve ever traveled, Bali was one of my favorites.

Winter Vacation Part 6 – Singapore

Nicole and I never really added Singapore to our list. We always considered it a nice place to visit, but pretty far down our list. However, the cheapest way to get from Hong Kong to Bali, our next destination, was to fly through Singapore. So we figured, why not? Our stay in Singapore was short and sweet. We were there only a handful of days and we saw most of the highlights. If you need to fly through Singapore, take a few days to yourself and explore the city-state.

Singapore

Singapore is really clean. That’s one thing most people know. It’s also a very orderly society. Things run on time. There are no beggars or street musicians. It’s a city that’s been scrubbed clean, and with that you lose the bad and the good. There isn’t any gum on the street or people harassing you, but the media is also censored, you must be over 35 or married to get a government apartment. The same political party has been in charge since 1959. It’s an interesting place culturally and politically. However, without looking under the surface you wouldn’t realize any of that. On the surface Singapore is a clean tourist destination great for those attending conventions or stopping through on a cruise.

Singapore Flyer

Our first stop was a the Singapore Flyer, Singapore’s giant ferris wheel. It’s also home to a beautiful outdoor garden and market, which are both free. We walked through the tropical garden area and got some food in the market. I ordered some fried dumplings, their contents unknown, but delicious. Nicole ordered stingray. It was surprisingly easy to eat and tasted like white fish. I recommend it if you get the chance, even just for the novelty of it.

Little India

Little IndiaOur first full day in Singapore we visited Little India. It’s a small neighborhood centrally located where Indian immigrants settled. Nicole and I walked through the shops taking in the spicy aromas of various curries. If you’re looking to visit Singapore and you want to do it on a budget, there are several hostels in Little India. We had lunch at a North Indian/Nepalese restaurant. We had fish, curry, and naan. It was some of the best curry we had outside of India. It was just like India except not as hot, crowded, or noisy.

Chinatown

Chinatown
Chinatown

Singapore’s Chinatown was our next stop. It’s one stop down from Little India. Chinatown was ramping up for Chinese New Year and the year of the goat. Here’s a great link for everything Year of the Goat. There were streamers up across every street in the neighborhood.

The roads were narrow and pedestrian only for most of the neighborhood with only the occasional large road cutting through. Chinatown Singapore was filled with markets with everything from herbs and spices to a Tin Tin Museum. Nicole I stopped into a little covered alleyway with food stalls and had a bite to eat there.

Swanky Downtown

Singapore has a really cool downtown. It has Marina Bay Sands resort, better known as the building with a ship on it because it looks like three buildings with a cruise ship dropped on top. The cruise ship part on top has a giant pool, as well as garden and bar, looking out over the city. Nicole and I didn’t have $600/night to stay there so we just took pics of it. It’s not the same, but I’ll save some money. Inside the lobby area looks like the Contemporary resort from Disneyworld. It was one of the fanciest places I’ve ever been. There’s a mall with tons of designer stores connected to it that has it’s own miniature river complete with boats. It was nuts.

 Singapore Sling

Ah the Singapore Sling. A drink both created and made famous in Singapore. If you’re ever going to try one, you should go to where it all began. That’s just want Nicole and I did. We visited Raffles hotel and had peanuts and Singapore Slings at the Long Bar.

Leaving Singapore

After our drinks and relaxing it was time to head to the airport. Our flight was early the next morning and rather than get up at 4am we decided to stay over at the airport for the last night. The Singapore airport is a megahub, like Abu Dhabi. It’s open 24 hours a day. It has it’s own swimming pool, movie theater, butterfly garden, and 24 hour food court. Nicole and I had time to do every one of those things, minus the pool because it was closed. We sent video postcards back home, we watched some movies, and visited the butterfly garden, all for free.

Sleeping in the airport
Sleeping in the airport

In the morning we just had a short walk to our gate and then we were off to Bali!

Winter Vacation Part 5 – Hong Kong

Hong Kong, what an experience. We landed at the airport around noon and took an awesome double-decker bus into the city. Coming from the snowy land of Japan to Hong Kong was quite a shock. Tokyo was very cold and clean while Hong Kong was warm and dirty. I got some fantastic pictures in Osaka and Tokyo of beautiful blue skies and temples. All my pictures from Hong Kong have grey smoggy skies. I felt like my health would take a big hit if I were ever to move there. Regardless of the air pollution though we had a great time.

Getting to Austin Inn

Austin Inn

Our airport shuttle bus dropped us off a few blocks from our hotel, the Austin Inn, on Austin street. How fortuitous that I, Austin, should stay at Austin Inn, on Austin street. The hotel was just a few rooms on the second floor of an apartment building and one weird walk up. Hong Kong exists in a parallel universe without any kind of zoning. Residential, commercial, it’s all the same. There are homes next to restaurants next to apartments all in the same building on the same floor even.

Getting to our room was like descending into the middle of a labyrinth. We had to walk down a hall past a security guard up a flight of stairs, around the corner, up two more flights then through a series of doorways and long hallways. Even when we finally left Hong Kong, Nicole had a hard time finding her way out of the building. Our room was small, very small. I was taller than the room was wide. That means the room was less than 6 feet wide, which made sleeping difficult. Also there were no windows. It was weird.

Our First Night

The first night in Hong Kong, Nicole and I took the MRT, subway, into Central Hong Kong. The subway was only a few blocks away from our hotel and the stop itself was very close to the center of Hong Kong. We hopped off downtown and explored the city center. Our first night we had some amazing food at the equivalent of a Chinese diner. The food took minutes to come out. It was the fastest service I ever had.

Hong Kong Dinner
Hong Kong Dinner

After dinner we walked along the water and picked up some groceries for our hotel. Despite the small room, we did have a refrigerator. What Hong Kong lacked in breathable air they made up for in high-quality groceries. Nicole and I stocked up on all the finery we can’t easily get in Korea like guacamole, fine cheese, olives, and craft beers not from Korea.

Tian Tan Buddha

Hong Kong Gondola
Hong Kong Gondola

The next day, our first full day in Hong Kong, Nicole and I visited Lantau Island and the Tian Tan Buddha. Lantau Island is most excitingly reached by a 5.7km cable car that takes about 20 minutes. If you figure out how to get reservations ahead of time for the cable car, I encourage you to do that. The line for tickets was 30 minutes. It was a great ride out to Lantau Island. We passed over the harbor, numerous mountains, and a hiking path that looked like a million stairs. It reminded me of the gondola we rode in Taiwan but with grassy mountains instead of forested ones.

Out on Lantau Island, Nicole and I walked through a cute little village of gift shops. It looked like the sort of places elves would live if they colonized an area of rural China. The little village had a drum for celebrating Chinese New Year and it’s very own open-air gondola museum complete with a variety of gondolas from around the world. Having made it past the gift shop village, Nicole and I ascended the 268 steps to the top of the Tian Tan Buddha. The site from the top was breathtaking, partly because of the view and partly because of the air pollution.

Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland

After a sufficient amount of gazing and drinking in the experience, Nicole and I headed off to Hong Kong Disneyland. Disney Sea was a little bit crowded, but Hong Kong Disneyland was practically empty by Disney standards. There was a 15 minute wait for Space Mountain and every ride in the park had a short enough line to just walk on.

Hong Kong Disneyland is really similar to Magic Kingdom, and I’m guessing Disneyland California, although I’ve never been. The big difference being mostly Chinese visitors and Chinese snacks in addition to the usual hamburgers and fries. There were some little differences as well. For example, they don’t have a Haunted Mansion. Instead they have Mystic Manor. It’s a similar ride through a dark house but instead of ghosts it’s antiquities brought to life so instead of coffins and tombstones it’s suits of armor fighting each other and dragon tapestries come to life. There’s no Thunder Mountain either. Instead they have Grizzly Mountain. It’s a great ride and it has a big twist to it that I was honestly caught off guard by.

Nicole and I got a bunch of great pictures in the Toy Story area with all the oversized toys. We rode Space Mountain twice, got our picture with Buzz Lightyear, learned how to draw Mickey Mouse, went on the Jungle Cruise, saw a parade and wrapped up the day with a firework show. It was so much fun, and a taste of home. There were quite a few Western visitors in the park, and around Hong Kong when we visited. I imagine it’s also a taste of home for many of Hong Kong’s foreign residents.

My tip for Hong Kong Disneyland is this, after the parade a bunch of people will leave the park. Instead of leaving, go further into the park. Nicole and I were able to do almost every single ride in the park between the parade ending and the firework show starting. There were no lines because everyone was either leaving or staking out a spot to watch the firework show.

After the firework show, there was a mad dash for the park exit. The entire park’s population tries to fit onto the same subway train, because it’s the only way in or out. Fortunately, we got on the second train out of Disney and managed to avoid most of the crowd.

Dim Sum

If you’re in China, you’ve got to try dim sum. It’s Chinese tapas, but heavy on dumplings and tea. We visited Maxim’s Palace Chinese restaurant in city hall and had some great dim sum. The restaurant looks like the ballroom in a fancy hotel. It’s filled with white tableclothed tables as far as the eye can see and each one of them is packed with hungry patrons.

When we arrived we were instructed to take a number and wait. We were something like number 198 and we arrived around noon. The wait was only a few minutes and we were quickly seated. Instead of ordering food, waitstaff walk around with wheeled carts filled with various dishes. You ask for a dish that looks good and they place it on your table and mark your ticket. At the end of the meal you bring your ticket up to the register and pay.

Happy Hour

One thing I miss about America is Happy Hour, some time of day when drinks are discounted or two for one. Korea doesn’t have it. Japan doesn’t have it. Hong Kong embraces it. Central Hong Kong is practically built for it. There’s a street filled with bars thats up a steep hill. However, and here’s the kicker, there’s a series of escalators leading up the hill. It’s the longest series of outdoor escalators in the world. But wait, it gets even better. At midnight the escalators switch from going up to going down. In addition to the drinks there were nice restaurants catering to every kind of cuisine imaginable. There was BBQ, Greek food, tapas, Chinese food, everything.

Victoria Peak

Visiting Victoria Peak was the most crowded thing Nicole and I did in Hong Kong. The line for the tram was an hour long, but Victoria Peak is one of the few attractions right in central Hong Kong and we did visit on a weekend. At the top of Victoria Peak there are some shops and restaurants and a nice vantage point looking out over the rest of Hong Kong or as far as the smog will permit you to see. There’s also a nice hiking trail that leads around the top of the peak. It’s paved and well lit with light posts that recall a bygone era. Nicole and I had lunch at the peak at a nice restaurant. We split some bruschetta and seafood bisque.

Hong Kong Tram

Hong Kong has this really cool tram system running through town. The trams are from the early 1900s. They’re wooden, double decker, really tall, and narrow. Basically they’re the night bus from Harry Potter when it squeezes between those two other buses. In addition to the novelty of riding them, they’re extremely affordable. Nicole and I rode on one just around town. We had no destination in mind, we just wanted to ride. The trams are a great way to pack in a cheap tour of the city.

Boom Shack

Boom Shack
Boom Shack

It wasn’t a big moment from the trip, but I still think it’s worth writing about. Nicole and I popped into a little restaurant called Boom Shack. It’s a hole-in-the-wall place on a side alley. The kind of place that serves Illinois beers, chicken and waffles, tacos, and all kinds of burgers. Basically, it’s my kind of place. I started chatting with the owner and it turns out we’re not only from the same town, but also the same neighborhood. The guy used to live a few streets over from where I grew up.

Hong Kong in a Nutshell

Hong Kong in a Nutshell
Hong Kong in a Nutshell

I really enjoyed how international Hong Kong felt. It’s one of the most international cities I’ve ever been to. There seemed to be an equal proportion of just about every group of people on the planet. There were equal portions Chinese residents and international residents. Nicole and I both felt like, aside from the air, Hong Kong would be a great place to live. Many of the amenities and goods available in the west are also available here, from fine groceries to familiar food.

Winter Vacation Part 4 – The End of Tokyo

The Tokyo posts ended up running a bit long so I split them up. The first two parts are here. Tokyo 1 and Tokyo 2. Also, Nicole bought me a GoPro video camera and I made a video of our trip to Tokyo. Check it out!

Our Sixth Day in Tokyo – Hakone

Photographing Hakone
Photographing Hakone

Our time in Japan was coming to a close so Nicole and I decided to get outside the city and visit Hakone. It’s famous for it’s giant Torii on Lake Ashi and it’s shrine. The ride outside the city was only an hour or so. From there we took the world’s craziest windiest bus up the mountain. The ride was only hairpin turns. As my grandfather said there’s one turn for each letter in the alphabet. As cold as it was in Tokyo, even though we only had one day of snow, there was plenty of snow in Hakone. The bus wound through snowy roads up to the top of a mountain then back down the other side to Lake Ashi and the giant red Torii.

The lake was really peaceful. Nicole and I were some of the only people there that day. It was a big difference from the bustle of Tokyo. Nicole and I spent the afternoon walking around the lake and visiting the shrine. When the sun started to set we took the bus back to the train and returned to Tokyo.

Seventh Day in Tokyo – The Last Day

Pancake Breakfast
Pancake Breakfast

Our last day in Tokyo Nicole and I returned to Harajuku so we could visit the Meiji shrine without getting lost like we did last time. We stopped first at a little breakfast place serving some of the best pancakes I’ve had since moving to South Korea almost two years ago.

Meiji Shrine

The shrine was really cool, much larger than I expected. It was also much newer. The temple was built in 1920. However, it looked hundreds of years older. As I mentioned in my Osaka post, it was neat to see the shrines and temples actually in use. One of the buildings beside the temple grounds was closed to tourists and only open to people wishing to come in and pray. Another thing that struck me was just how quiet the grounds were. We were only a block away from the main road and the subway line yet it was so quiet walking around the shrine.

Time to Leave

After visiting the shrine Nicole and I gathered our belongings from our AirBnB and took the train out to Narita, home to Tokyo’s nearest International Airport. Our flight wasn’t until the next day, but it was very early and Tokyo has little to no public transportation to the airport before 7am.

Narita

Narita
Narita

Narita turned out to be a really cool little town. We walked up and down the main strip which was only a few blocks and settled on a small bar/cafe with reasonably prices tapas. Lots of the bars and restaurants in Narita catered to airline staff and crew and many of them had really cool airline memorablia including old ads for now defunct airlines as well as medals and awards from flight crews. It was neat to get a glimpse into this world. The first place we stopped at was the Jet Lag Club. It was a cozy place with wood trim and a dog in a flight jacket sitting on the bar. I chatted with the proprietor/bar tender and he gave me two decals from the bar.

The second place was the Barge Inn. It was built by Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines. He originally built it for his airline employees when they had to stay over in Japan since the airport was so far from Tokyo. Supposedly the establishment is a subtle joke on the Japanese pronunciation of Virgin. Try saying Barge Inn several times fast.

Well that concludes my Tokyo leg of the trip. The next morning Nicole and I headed out to Hong Kong and I’ll add another post about that soon.

Winter Vacation Part 3 – More Tokyo

This is continued from Tokyo, Japan. If you missed that part, I encourage you to read it first. Also if you missed the Tokyo GoPro video, here it is!

Our Third Day in Tokyo – Ghibli Museum

Our third day in Tokyo was freezing, well, less than freezing. It was snowing…a lot. It was also the day we planned to visit the Ghibli museum. The Ghibli museum is a museum dedicated to Studio Ghibli, the studio behind Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and most famously Spirited Away. The museum is wildly popular and issues tickets for specific dates and times to keep the crowds down. Because of this, our tickets were date specific so we had to brave the snow. Nicole and I put on every piece of winter clothing we had and caught a train to the museum, or tried to.

Snowmageddon

During snow, Tokyo’s fantastic subway system becomes a bit more convoluted. One of the trains we tried to take wasn’t running the full length of its route so we had to hop off and transfer to a different train. Several announcements on the matter were made. However, they were all in Japanese, and, alas, I do not know Japanese.

Once we arrived at the nearest station we had a 1km walk. During agreeable weather this walk is beautiful and through a park. During snow, this walk is cold and terrible. Weather aside, we eventually made it to the Ghibli Museum. It’s a small building nestled in the corner of a park. From the outside it looks like a little cottage. Inside it feels like one too. There are characters from the movie all over and little tunnels and doorways for kids, and Nicole, to play in.

Our Fourth Day in Tokyo – Fancy Day

We met up with Robin and his wife for lunch downtown. Rob took us to one of the fanciest meals I’ve ever had. We had venison and a number of other fancy dishes I can’t name. After lunch Robin dropped us off in Ginza, the fancy area of Tokyo. We strolled past designer shops and stopped into the world’s largest Uniqlo so I could buy a thermal shirt and some long johns since it was so cold.

Bear Comic and Robots

That afternoon Nicole and I visited TEPIA, Tokyo’s emerging technology gallery. It’s a bit like Innoventions at EPCOT. There were lots of cool examples of new technologies. Nicole and I got to play video games, try on a jacket that changed colors in a mirror, and even star in our own bear comic.

Indian Dinner

Naan and curry
Naan and curry

That night Nicole and I visited a quaint little neighborhood where we ate more crepes and visited a bar/flowershop. It was really nice. The bar was a flowershop first and a bar second. There were flowers everywhere and squeezed between them, Nicole and I found a place to sit at the bar.

Flower Bar
Flower Bar

Our Fifth Day in Tokyo – Gundam Cafe and Temple

No the Gundam Cafe isn’t a temple as well. They were two different things we did that day. In the morning we went to Sensoji Temple and walked around. The place was packed. Nicole and I walked through crowds shoulder to shoulder to get up to the temple. Strangely enough the crowds were only in the market area leading up to the temple. The actual temple grounds weren’t that crowded and the gardens behind the temple were almost empty. The temple interior was beautiful but I preferred the view from outside and the small garden and Koi pond behind it more.

Gundam Cafe

Later in the afternoon we visited the Gundam Cafe in Akihabara. The cafe is based on the anime series Gundam. It’s about people fighting using giant robotic suits, similar to Pacific Rim. Inside the cafe there are models of the Gundam suits everywhere and TVs playing episodes from the series. The cafe is a real tourist trap, but it’s fun to visit for a drink and some light food and the prices aren’t bad. Even if you aren’t a fan of the Gundam series there’s enough novelty in the place to keep you entertained.

Akihabara

The gundam cafe is right in the middle of Akihabara, a mecca for all things geeky. There are tons of arcades, shops selling retro video games, and at one time cosplayers, although I didn’t see any while we were there. Nicole and I walked through a few of the electronics shops. They were selling NES, SNES, N64s, and tons of old and hard to find games.

Sushi and Setsubun

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.10.24 AM

That night, Nicole and I visited Roppongi. We had some amazing sushi and we found a little basement bar serving Japanese craft beer, called Ant ‘n Bee. However, that’s not all. The night we visited the bar they were celebrating Setsubun. A waitress gave us some origami paper and instructed us to make a box. Once we completed our boxes, she gave us soybeans and told us to throw them at the bar tenders, who were dressed as evil spirits. It was a lot of fun.

So I know I said last time…

I know I promised two entries, but there’s just so much to say about Tokyo. I’m going to split Tokyo into 3 parts, with tomorrow’s post being the last one. If you missed the first Tokyo post, it’s here.

Update: Final Tokyo Post