Thursday, November 5, 2015

Japan Trip Day 1 (KIX, Rinku Town & Kyoto)

Total Fitbit steps of the day : 18,450 steps

I would like to share my itinerary to Osaka and Kyoto with you, whoever you are. Since you took the time to read it, I will share whatever that I remembered from this fun trip with you. I tried planning this trip's itinerary countless times but was not successful until the day before the trip. I had a hard time understanding the Japan train system.

I had no problem with other countries's stations and stuff but Japan's train system is by far the most complicated one that I have ever seen. There are too many type of trains, railways, private railways and etc running the same line and heading towards the same stations. 

But once we got there and after a few days, we finally understood how it works. And we did not book any land tours at all. I believe that it is always fun to explore on our own. With the help of an ex-colleague who had been to Kyoto and shared some "must see" places beforehand actually makes the planning easier.

We rent a pocket wifi from wiyo before leaving Malaysia because it's easy, convenient and we cannot live without social media. Check out their website for promos and we paid RM28 per day for unlimited data in Japan and can be shared up to 10 devices. Since there was only 3 of us, we each pay less than RM10 a day each for super fast data. This is definitely a cheaper option than switching on your own international data. (If you're wondering whether I was paid to talk about this, I am not. I have tried this before and thinks that this is a good device to have when traveling overseas therefore I am sharing this with you.)

Photo credit : Michelle Low

My sister posing at KLIA2 before check-in with her new hairdo, new Uniqlo x Sesame Street hoodie and LINE Sticker-ed luggage. MUST DO this before flight okay?

The travelers : My husband, my younger sister and I.
Travel goal : Sightseeing and eating.

If your travel goal is shopping, then this guide will not be of use to you. We spent most of our time sightseeing and eating. Let's go!

We flew to Kansai International Airport (KIX) via Air Asia X and arrived in the morning. Few days prior to arrival, I booked the "ICOCA x HARUKA" card here. If you are planning to go to Kyoto from the airport, HARUKA express is the fastest way to get there. The ICOCA is a prepaid card which you can use to take trains, buses, buy stuff from convenient stores. You can reload or recharge it at the stations that have a sign that reads "IC".

Photo credit : Michelle Low

The 2 designs are available for tourist only.

Photo credit : Michelle Low

Upon arrival, we went to the West Japan Railway (West JR) Company's office to collect the "ICOCA x HARUKA" card first. Please print out all the documents. We booked the one way pass because we are not staying in Kyoto for the entire trip. 

The travelator from KIX - Aeroplaza.
Photo credit: Michelle Low

After collecting our cards, we walked to the building called "AEROPLAZA". You will be able to see it on your left when you exit the West JR office. We walked over there to store our luggage at the lockers. They have huge ones and it's the cheapest in the airport area. For 200 yen, you may store your luggage for a day. 

It was drizzling upon our arrival. It is always good to be prepared in order to save money and time to look for an umbrella. I finally got a chance to wear my bargain buy raincoat from Cotton On, the red kambing biri-biri (sheep) pattern. A lot of Japanese thought I was from Mainland China because of my raincoat. Haha! My husband is camera shy therefore he is not in any photos yet.

Our first stop was to a nearby Lawson (convenient store) for coffee because we did not manage to sleep much on the flight. Head back to the West JR office area because the train station is there. We use our ICOCA card to enter and took the train to Rinku Town. (1 stop) We were there to check out Bike World (if you are a motorbike enthusiast) which is located at the Rinku Seacle.

LINE Brown introducing Bike World, Rinku Seacle.
                Photo credit: Michelle Low

Some cute little helmets for sale.

This is Rinku Premium Outlet

And then off to Rinku Premium Outlets to buy off season branded clothings. We bought some clothes from GAP because it was so cheap. And Burberry which is located across the road to help our cousin buy some baby clothes. We stopped at Coco Ibanya for lunch. The curry rice is awesome and the portion is huge.
Photo credit: Michelle Low
Curry Hamburg

Photo credit: Michelle Low
Curry Katsu

Photo credit: Michelle Low
Curry Hamburg with Tamago.
Some yens in the background to show the authenticity of this photo. This was taken in Japan. Haha!

We walked around this area until 3-ish in the afternoon. We need to head back to the airport to catch our HARUKA express train to Kyoto.  We were due to check in to our hostel at 5pm. Japan is known for train schedules, but I guess we were a little unlucky that day because 1 or 2 of the trains was not working its normal routes and have to be sent for maintenance. And that actually throw off the balance of the passengers a little bit. We had no place to sit as it was full and we ended up sitting on the floor of the train for the whole journey.

The Haruka Express train
The train ride was approximately 75 minutes. And the view was scenic, it reminded me a lot of Nobita's house in the Doraemon cartoon series.

Kyoto Tower
Photo credit: Michelle Low

By the time we arrived in Kyoto, the sky is already dark and it was only 5 in the evening. The wind got a bit more chilly and we opt to take a taxi to our hostel (to save time and we have big luggages). If you need to take a taxi, please bring along the address in Japanese because they can't read English. And if the place that you're looking for is new, chances are, it is not updated on the taxi digital map system. What wow-ed us was that if you have the phone number, you can key it into the system and it will show you the direction to the place. Taxi drivers in Japan are super helpful and they will call to find out the exact location and ensure that you get there safely. 

This pic was taken on the 3rd day morning. It was sunny and beautiful.

Khaosan Kyoto Theater Hostel is where we booked for our stay in Kyoto. Click here to book if you're interested to experience hostel stay. We paid about RM80 per person per night.The staff working here can speak English well and are really helpful. So, you don't have to worry about getting lost or have communication problems. The toilets are clean and have hot running water. They also provide shampoo, body wash, hair dryer, hair tie (for ladies) and etc. Forgot to take a pic of their public area. Check out the website, it's all there.

It's capsule like sleeping arrangements. 

 I brought my IKEA travel pillow with me.

This is the curtain that block out lights from outside.

It was quite a long day for us and we were famished by the time we get settled in the hostel and shower. The last time we showered was the day before, thank God it was not summer in Japan. Our hostel is in the heart of Kyoto city and it's super convenient to go anywhere.

We stumbled upon a popular ramen chain called "Ichiran Ramen", they are opened for 24 hours. And being the sua gu/jakun that we are, we didn't know that we had to order via a vending machine. But the waitress was helpful even though she don't speak any English. It was sign language time and we somehow manage to place our individual order. 

After ordering, we are each given our ticket meals (like train tickets) and another form for further instructions. For e.g how hard do you want your noodle to be, how spicy do you want your broth to be and any additional orders. I like my noodles super hard and less spicy.

Quite a long queue. And the inner part of the ramen shop looks like a Chinese opera theater.

The special thing about this place is that you eat alone. Which I have heard of in the past and had never experienced it before. You basically have your own cubicle and a water dispenser. The cup is there so have a blast. And you basically don't need to order any drinks in Japan if you order food because they will provide you water. But if you want to drink something else, please order. 

My Oolong tea because I didn't know better. Or else can save a bit more. ( kiasu)

Tadah! My ramen is finally here and it is served with char siew (sliced pork belly). The broth is rich and slightly more salty than the ones in Malaysia.

Since I'm a glutton, I ordered an extra egg and some char siew. Burp!

This is me eating the hard boiled egg as polite as possible.

After dinner, we walked around the area. It is actually around Teramachi Street in Kyoto. It is a very old market place that have vendors selling clothes, drug stores, food stuff and Pachinko centre. 

That's all for Day 1 in Japan.

If you have any question and if I know the answer, please leave a comment and I'll try my best to reply to your enquiries.


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