ODAIBA

I must say Odaiba has been a favorite get away for me whenever I came by around Tokyo. First was back in 2014 with people from work, we were eight, three of us were Filipinos and the rest were all Japanese. It was a bit of haste so I didn’t have that much time to explore but still enjoyed it because it was only from then that I experienced a short river cruise. Being born with just enough where lavishness is an impossible thing, the cruise was already luxurious for me. The route we took was from Odaiba down to Asakusa via Sumida River.

Friends at work back in 2014
While on cruise

The next was just last year with two of my co-trainees. It was a purposeful travel because we yearned-for a final peek before Gundam be taken down and replaced with a new iconic touristy figure which wasn’t revealed until late September of the preceding year. We were also quite in a hurry as we are looking into other places to drop by as well. Even so we have taken copious souvenir photos of the well-known anime robot.

2017 with co-trainees
The Former Gundam

While both visits were surprisingly short but sweet I wanted more from the place. It is as if a pain that hankers for cure and an empty hole that needs to be filled in.

I knew if I get the opportunity to call in once more I’d be happy to compel. So when my co-trainees at present planned a trip for cherry blossoms viewing last weekend I took advantage of it and suggested that we shall go see Odaiba too. With all of my convincing prowess complete with search results from the internet, it appeared at least to me like winning over a well-fought battle. Then we were off to set foot on the notable manmade island.

We first went to Chidorigafuchi moat for a boat ride (I have written about this from a previous entry), ate late lunch on a picnic ground not far from the pier, window shopped at the busy crowded Asakusa Nakamise Shopping St. and paid respect at the Temple.

Boat ride in chidorigafuchi moat
Asakusa Sensõji

Exhausted after all those, we leisurely moved to Odaiba. Because it’s a first time for most of my companions, astounded by the rainbow bridge and the replica of the statue of liberty they took off immediately for some photo ops. Walking here and there, completely unaware of the hour, it was almost dusk when hunger struck us. We responsively grabbed a meal and went on probing the rest of the area. Hurling ourselves towards opposite direction of the bridge, we bear witness to the new self-aggrandizing life-size Unicorn Gundam. Unveiling it with our own eyes is undoubtedly seventh heaven as majority of the anime enthusiasts may agree on. It is still the renowned robot but an upgraded and modernized version. On the spur of the moment we were back to being youngsters!

The new and improved unicorn gundam

We learned that the gigantic figure will have a show later that night at 7:30pm. Yet we decided to start rambling again and just go back closely when it starts. That’s when our pedes brought us to palette town. Part of it is a shopping mall patterned in an 18th century European town, the Venus Fort. Inside is an exhibit free-of-charge showcasing vintage cars and a small library compiling their chronicles accessible for public reading. There are besides a series of posh restaurants and boutiques. Its best feature for me would be the domed ceiling in an artificial deceptive real looking sky. With our eyes replete, we head to Megaweb Toyota City Showcase. It is home to latest models of the popular brand where you can test drive any of the cars displayed for a certain amount provided that you have driver’s license accredited in Japan. Unfortunately we got there a minute later than their closing time. Probably another reason to hark back again huh?

One amongst many featured vintage cars in megaweb history garage
Fountain Plaza in Venus Fort
Church Plaza under the artificial sky

Afterwards we were sitting in Diver City Tokyo Plaza all good and ready for the Unicorn Gundam presentation. Basically it is a 3-5minutes entertainment showing transformation from Unicorn mode to destroy mode of gundam vice versa with Japanese animation demo in a huge projector alongside. I’m not sure if they do but it would be nice though if they have a certain schedule where it can be watch dubbed in English or maybe with subtitles in it. Nonetheless this kind of amusement for me is outstanding, interesting and unique.

Rainbow bridge at night

I reckon the day had been awesome enough to conclude. While we were directing towards the train station going home I laid my eyes ahead to the rainbow bridge. As a debut viewing it during night time I was instantly hooked. I got really infatuated and that’s when I recognized that was it. The pain has been cured and the empty hole has been filled up. I sat down and stayed awhile cherishing and capturing the mesmerizing structure in front of me. Moment passed and we went along. And so whilst my spirit was on high I left with a grateful heart. So long Odaiba!

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Boat Ride In Blossomy Tokyo

It was an almost unplanned sudden trip. Saturday when we invited our work friends for dinner at our house. We do it often as we are all on a tight budget and it would be practical to share meal expenses. While we were eating we talked over so many things until we came up to the idea of hanami which is Japan’s far-famed “sakura”~ cherry blossoms viewing. And then before we knew it we were all consumed at the thought.

The irresistible charm of sakura.

Sunday next morning, it was a bright sunny lovely day as if apropos for such an event. We left the house at exactly 7am as we are catching the 7:21 train via keiyo line going to Tokyo. Nearest station by the way is 13-15minutes walk from our accommodation. Upon us all arriving at the station we boarded the train using our suica card and alight to shin kiba station. We then proceed to changing trains via yurakucho line going to kojimachi station. We got there at 8:15 and carried on for a 20minute walk as we reached the pier for the boat ride.

Flushed with fervour just like me people can’t help but photographed the scene.
The kind of vista that makes you forget about the long queue.

The long queue is no joke. Good thing there were six of us that we never ran out of topics to hash out. And of course internet had been a big help in killing our boredom which I supposed all of us can relate to. Also we had an ample time appreciating the scenery and taking photos of the river and the cherry blossoms around the area.

Viewing deck at the boat house.
Almost getting there. Managed to snap this photo while on the line right down to the dock.

When it was our turn purchasing tickets for rental fee, we settled for the 30minutes option which costs ¥800 per boat. The other option costing ¥1600 was one hour. Each boat can accommodate strictly only up to maximum of three persons. Wearing life jackets are not compulsory but are available upon request.

Surreal as a dream.
Oblivious.

The weather had been perfect and the sailing went smooth and suave. The combination of the picturesque panorama naturally painted in pink by cherry blossom trees, the still clean waters and the clear blue skies soothing the inner senses is definitely not for one to miss out.

It was a fine blissful day.

Indeed the pleasure sakura brings for this certain season is incomparable. Lasting only for a week or so, making it more too precious, no one can just skip this once-a-year phenomenon if you are around the area. And I couldn’t think of any other better way of celebrating it than riding a boat in Chidorigafuchi moat. It is my third time here in Tokyo during springtime so I know at least some sorts. I was only skeptical back then due to waiting time. I now have proven its worth and that the only regret was not doing it for an hour instead of half.

Boathouse exit area.

Starving after cruising, we were off to find a good place to eat our packed lunch. Like I said we are all on a mission to save up so we brought food with us. And hey it has also been a tradition to have a picnic and drink under a sakura tree during this very same period so it is just well-timed to do so. Luckily we stumbled on the picnic grounds not far enough from the pier. It was crowded and full but still a delight to witness families eating together and hearing kids’ laughter. I smiled at the thought until we finally discovered a vacant space for us to dig in. We fed ourselves and finished with not just our stomachs full but our hearts, minds and whole of our beings as well.

Splendid.

Considered myself lucky as I am heading off to my next hanami this coming weekend in my favorite park because Tokyo and Chiba has a one week full bloom interval. I’m so worked up now!

HK Trip Part 1: Kowloon

June 22, 2017. It was my first time in Hong Kong so my cousin fetched me at the airport. Benevolent as she is, she also offered me to stay in their flat while I was there which I thankfully accepted. It was night time when I arrived and we took the bus going to causeway bay (where she lives). I barely seen anything as we are chatting the whole trip but it was hard not to notice the skyline when we passed by a bridge.

Seeing by the window all these beautiful colourful tall buildings, I immediately put kowloon (that my cousin told me where I could have a better view of those) on top of my list to visit.

The next day, my first morning in Hong Kong, I boarded a train going to Central. After a fair walk from the station, I reached the pier where I took a ferry ride bound to Tsim Sha Tsui.

My first stop after getting off was the 1881 Heritage showing a Victorian-era. Interestingly, this used to be a Marine Police Headquarters. It holds a number of monuments, one of which was the Time Ball Tower. The concept was to drop the ball at exactly 1pm (which they manually raise every morning) notifying vessels in Victoria harbor to recalibrate before sending them off to other parts of the world.


I persevered to climb the old building up to see what’s inside and while in there I’ve managed to flick a photo.

Moving on, I led myself to Kowloon Park. It’s a public park with a vast area for leisure and cultural services. Here I’ve seen an arcaded building formerly British Army barracks now restored as Heritage Discovery center.

Furthermore, scarcely keeping an eye on time, I passed by the gardens, aviary, fountain lake and bird lake. I have also observed a large swimming pool and a sport center as I stepped farther.

After leaving my footmarks at the park behind I was set to discover more in Hong Kong Museum of History.

In my country I’ve always liked visiting museums as it allows you to travel back in time.

Similarly, this museum astounded me with their intricate exhibits from pre-historic to modern day times.


Every corner was one to learn from and relish. Once again I lost track of time.

It was so unfortunate for me that the Avenue of Stars was close at the moment for a major renovation until end of 2018 because that’s where I’m supposed to steer to. However, they relocated some of the most popular statues to Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Podium Garden which later on called as Garden of Stars.


Temporarily it became a tourist attraction in replacement of Avenue of Stars. I remember I bumped into a solo Japanese tourist who asked for a photo with Bruce Lee’s statue which I then called to return the favor and we both willingly obliged.

Good thing I’ve been taught at work a little of their language.

I continued in locomotion till my feet brought me to the southern shore of Tsim Sha Tsui and arrived at another landmark, The Clock Tower.

The location was near Victoria Harbor with a side of it facing the Victoria Peak across the other side of the coast. And since it was almost dark when I got there, I decided to find a spot at the promenade with a grand view of the Hong Kong Skyline (one of the finest in the world I’ve read). It was a piece to capture for shutterbugs (I’d like to include myself in).

For the highlight of my Kowloon trip I waited for the Symphony of Lights presenting the Skyscrapers’ synchronized searchlights, lasers and LED screens providing a magnificent show for us spectators.

Proud to say that I was able to survive and enjoy all these by myself and only just by walking from one point to another. Kowloon has so much more to offer though. It’d be nice to pay another visit by any chance.