Meet Up in Singapore

It’s my second time in Singapore and the reason why I’m visiting the Merlion nation was to meet up a friend. She has been my host everytime I visit the country. She has been my closest friend back when we first got our real job in the unforgiving world of employment. I arrived in Singapore around 1400H, went to Immigration Counter and it was no hassle. Then, I walked to the Arrival Gate and there I found my close friend waiting for my arrival.

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She already planned my itinerary while in Singapore. She made sure that we won’t get hungry while in a country of rich culture of Indians, Malay, Chinese and more. Our first stop was Food Opera in Ion Orchard.

We rode the SkyTrain to get to the MRT station that will bring us to our destination. We got to ION Orchard and went directly to Food Opera. It was jam-packed. A lot of people dined there since there were more food stalls to choose from different cuisines of other Asian countries and etc. My friend ordered Tom Yum Soup which is known as a Thai cuisine. We got some really good pork meat food preparation. They were too good that I didn’t have the time to take pictures of them.

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Food Opera
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Tom Yum Soup in Food Opera

After the sumptuous dinner, we headed down to the street of Orchard Road. Different high brands lined the road from MK to Victoria’s Secret. I felt like the whole Singapore was on shopping spree with everyone out doing their Christmas gift buying.

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Tiffany and Co, Cartier, and many more stores
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Victoria’s Secret
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It was a short visit just to meet up a friend who lives in Singapore. For me, friendship is one of the most treasure gifts in life. I’ve been always out of my comfort zone and I’ve been far away from my family, thus, friends are the only people I can look up to whenever I’m in trouble or I want to have fun. They made my life more bearable in the battle called Life.

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Gone Home 2018

It’s my annual vacation again. Last year 2017, I went home and visited various countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea. This year, I had a quick trip to Japan and before I head back to the United States, I will also visit another country and another state of the US. Anyway, as my stay for 3 weeks in the Philippines, these were all my activities and I called this article, gone home 2018.

The whole time of me going home was spent meeting and setting up reunions with my relatives, friends and also went to have a weekend getaway with family in a world class resort. In my first week, my schedule was full of meeting with friends and relatives. Dining to different restaurants old and newly opened. These are the restaurants we dined:

  • SMOQUE Bistro + Cafe

SMOQUE Bistro + Bar is located at CPG East Avenue, along ACE Medical Center near Bool Basketball court. The name goes from Smoked and Barbecue foods. For me, the crispy pork knuckles was the cherry on top. I loved it so much that I ordered it twice. They also have platters which are good for big group of diners. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 918-300-8180 or visit their location during Tuesday til Sunday from 11AM to 2PM for lunch, and 6PM to 10PM for dinner.

Meatlover Platter with pulled pork burger, fries, steak, ribs, deep-fried pork
Crispy Pork Knuckles
Calamari
  • Boy Zugba

Boy Zugba is a chain of restaurants located mostly in Visayas and Mindanao area. It has branches in Cebu City, Iligan City, Davao and their main restaurant in Cagayan de Oro City. Boy Zugba centers on serving food with different varieties such as smoked, boodle, kinilaw, and many more. For more information, visit their site at boyzugba.com

Bandihadong Karne which consists of pork bbq, chorizo, and liempo
  • Monina RM Inn and Restaurant

Monina RM Inn and Restaurant is located in Tagbilaran North Road, Tubigon, Bohol with telephone number of +63 38-237-2890. The venue served as the location for my mini reunion with my relatives. Seeing them all coming, I forgot to take some photos of the food. But what I can say is the food were really good. We ordered crispy pata, lechon kawali, corn soup, grilled fish, and for dessert was a gallon of ice cream.

  • Lantaw Native Restaurant

Lantaw Native Restaurant just opened in Tagbilaran City last September. The location has good view of the sunset and Tagbilaran Bay. It was spacious, airy and the foods were good, a wide range of Filipino dishes and cuisine. The only downside about it that I can think of is they weren’t still equipped with credit card readers so, diners have to pay cash. Who pays cash these days? Lol. If you want to try Lantaw, visit their location at V.P. Inting Avenue, corner Mansasa-Dampas Road, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines or call them at this phone number: +63 38 427 2485.

Cordova Express
  • Gerry’s Grill

Gerry’s Grill Restaurant is located in Level 4 Cineleisure Centre, BQ Mall, CPG Avenue, Tagbilaran City 6300, Bohol, Philippines. This restaurant never fails me if I’m craving for Filipino dishes since it is within downtown. It is inside the mall so, after I shop or watch movies, then I can just head to Gerry’s Grill without having to leave the mall. In terms of food, they were well-seasoned and very delicious. If you want to dine with them, just visit their location or call them for reservations or questions at this phone number: +63 38 411 3164.

Lechon Kawali
Chopsuey

I didn’t just eat the whole time I was home. I also spent time with my family. I gave them a treat on going to a 5-star hotel in Panglao Island. We went to Henann Resort. I’ve been there one time few weeks after their soft opening. At that time, it was still only 50% operational. That is the reason why I wanted to go back and I brought my family with me. Check my previous blog when I first visited the Henann Resort.

Henann Beach Resort – Alona, Bohol

Henann Beach Resort still remained to be one of the resort hotels to visit and stay in Panglao Island. The location was perfect for sea lovers since it was right next to Alona Beach. They still have plenty of pools where guests will be confused on which one to dive in.

I Love Henann
Sea view of Alona Beach
Pool with Bars
More pools
Relax under the sun with umbrellas

There were more to the resort that meets the eye. Henann Beach Resort has spa service, and bountiful restaurants. I haven’t tried the spa but the foods in one of the restaurants were really delicious.

Kai Spa
Sea Breeze Cafe

The whole Henann Beach Resort premises was wide. It’s on 6.5 hectares property on the pristine shores of Alona Beach. But it wasn’t a problem since upon check-in, receptionist gave out map of the resort. In every corner of the resort, there were signage telling directions where is where.

Check-In Counter
Lobby
Directions within the resort

When it comes to rooms, we got the family room which was good for 6 people. It has 2 rooms; 3 full size beds and a queen size bed. It has one spacious bathroom and toilet. The room also came with a porch.

The first room with 1 queen size bed and 1 full size bed
The 2nd room with 2 full size beds
The toilet and bath

Henann Beach Resort has also villas for larger numbers of guests. It offers a lot of activities such as biking on the shores of the beach or downtown, sailing, or just enjoying the beach and pool. Due to the resort’s location, there were other activities but offered by independent providers not by the resort like snorkeling, island hopping, and etc.

For Villa Guest
Walkway to rooms
Picking flowers in early morning
Koi Pond

The whole time I spent during my gone home 2018 was great. I’ve gained some weight due to every night dining out. But the best experience I had was spending my time with my family. Seeing them smile and having fun was worth the treasure in the world. Next year, I might not be able to go back home since I have decided that it will be my mum visiting me here in the United States.

IATA Code: HND – Haneda International Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Location Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.

HND/ Haneda International Airport is one of the two primary airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area. It is also the primary base of Japan’s two major domestic airlines, Japan Airlines and ANA or All Nippon Airways. The airport is located in Ota, Tokyo which is 8.7 miles south of Tokyo Station. HND was used to be the primary international airport serving Tokyo but was changed in 1978 when all international flights were diverted to NRT/ Narita International Airport. Thereby, making Haneda Airport only serving domestic flights and some chartered flights to nearby East Asian’s cities. It was then changed in 2010 when a dedicated international terminal was opened along with the completion of a 4th runway that allows long-haul flights. In 2014, HND was back to serving international flights. The Japanese government is currently encouraging the use of HND airport for premium business routes and the use of NRT airport for leisure routes and low-cost carriers.

I was down in Tokyo, exploring. It was almost my time to go back to the airport for the continuation of my trip. I was in Harajuku Train Station and for me to get to HND Airport, I have to get to Hamamatsucho Station and change service train to Tokyo Monorail.

Route Map from Harajuku Train Station

It was a relief since my friend offered to go with me to the Hamamatsucho station. But after I got to the Tokyo Monorail platform, I got a speed bump. There were 3 trains servicing the line. I was a little bit confused on when to ride the train. I asked 3 people and none of them speaks English. A red train arrived and was waiting for passengers and there was me, still looking for answers. The last person I asked, still has limited English communication skill but told me that the red train will go to HND airport. I was still questioning if it was a right information but the signs were so fast that I can’t even read the English translation. Time was clicking and I don’t want to miss my flight and then suddenly, I made up my mind and rode the red train. Thank goodness, it was indeed the right train. I got to the International Departure area with ample time to check-in.

Departure Lobby
Flight Information Board
Check-In Counters
Online Web Check-In

After I got my boarding pass, finding the boarding gate was easy. I passed the security, immigration officer in less than 10 minutes. I have enough time to walk around the airport while waiting for boarding time. In boarding gates, there are more international stores like Cartier, Victoria’s Secret, Chanel, and etc.

Departure Area near Security
Immigration Booths after passing them
Stores..
stores..stores..
and more stores..

I was so tired after the stressful day in Tokyo. I found my boarding gate for my flight. I took a quick nap while waiting while charging my phone for my next flight.

Free charging station in boarding gates

Haneda International Airport is a pretty new and nice airport. It was wide and the whole time I was there was good. I was really tired that I didn’t have the energy to see some of the services the airport offers. It was a long day for me in Tokyo but at the end of my journey in Japan, I found refuge in HND Airport.

Transit Trip to Tokyo

I was riding the Narita Express heading to downtown Tokyo from Narita International Airport. I couldn’t help it but take some photos of the greenery scenes of Terazaki and the concrete jungle view of Edogawa and Koto while in the train sitting comfortably.

Edogawa showing Tokyo Tower
Koto ricefields
Terazaki ricefields

Before I left the United States, I already have a list of places to visit in Tokyo. I also made sure what train stations to ride and what train companies and lines to take. I did this because I only have a limited time to see the city and this was just a layover. I called this adventure, Transit Trip to Tokyo.

I have 8 hours to see Tokyo. This was my itinerary. From Narita International Airport, take the Narita Express and get to Shibuya Station and meet my friend, Chihiro, to visit Hachikō Monument and to see the Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing. After getting something to eat in Ichiran Ramen in Shibuya, I will then, go to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. After the garden, I will visit Anamoriinari Shrine and before going to the airport, to check Ota Tourist Center.

Hachikō Monument cr: beauty_of_japan
Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing cr: videoblocks
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden cr: japan_guide
Anamoriinari Shrine cr: poge.exblog
Ota Tourist Center cr: ota_tokyo

That was the plan but I hit a big speed bump right after I got out of the train. I got lost. My friend told me to meet her in Hachikō Exit but instead, I went to the South Exit and I didn’t have any means of communicating with her. I tried to ask some locals but they don’t speak the language. It took me about 30 mins to find my way back to the train station entrance and when I got there, I met a security guard who showed me the right path to the Hachikō Exit. I was already shaking if my friend was still waiting for me since it has been almost an hour of waiting. When I got out, she found me and I felt relief. I needed few minutes to calm myself and when I was good to go, we decided to go to Hachikō Monument which was just few steps from the exit. Hachikō Monument is very famous around the world. It is a statue that commemorates the loyalty and fidelity of the dog named Hachikō . Hachikō was a pet and would meet with his owner in the Shibuya Station every day after work. When his owner died, he continued to wait for his owner in the station until his last breath waiting for his owner to return. When I was there, the queue was long. I didn’t have time to follow the queue since I still have other places to see. So, I just took a peek and then, moved to the Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing.

Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing

It was already 4PM and it was getting darker. I got a lot of photos while in Shibuya Crossing. It was lively, busy, fun and even amidst the chaotic people walking everywhere, it was still great. Shibuya Crossing was considered the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. A traveler can really say that he has been to Tokyo if he take a photo when in Shibuya.

After that scary, energy-draining incident of getting lost in translation, Chihiro and I decided to go for dinner. We already planned to dine in Ichiran Ramen.

Me in Ichiran Ramen Shibuya

Ichiran Ramen is popular in Japan according to my friend. It has one of the best the ramens in town. When we got there, we still have to be in queue. Ordering was thru a vending machine and when a seat is available, they will call you. The Ichiran Ramen experience was differently odd but in a good way. Diners won’t be able to see the people making and delivering your bowl of ramen. The restaurant has been called for people who want to dine alone or anti-social beings. The set-up was a cubicle just for one diner and was separated by a divider which you can also fold if you want to talk to your seatmate. The concept of not seeing the waiter or cook or the staff was unique. They just emphasized to ramen lovers to enjoy their ramen and there shouldn’t be anything in between your bowl of ramen and you. It was cool and the ramen tasted very good.

This is how you order in Ichiran, thru a vending machine.
Inside Ichiran Ramen, authentic Japanese restaurant
The eating table/cubicle
Hot and perfect ramen bowl soup for a cold weather
My whole dinner table

My belly was full after that Ichiran Ramen experience. It was affordable and definitely, travelers should try when in Shibuya or Japan. We went back to the streets. It was already dark. I thought the gardens and shrine will be closed by then. It was around 5:10PM. My friend recommended to see Meiji Jingu Shrine. We walked for about 20 mins but to our surprise, the shrine was already closed. They closed early due to renovation. She brought me to Takeshita Street.

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street is a popular pedestrian street that features trendy independent and chain shops, along with eateries. It is in Harajuku and is known for wacky, youth-driven shops selling colorful and crazy clothes and accessories. It is crowded but a mecca for youth fashion in Harajuku style.

It was already 6PM and I’m due to head back to the airport to continue my journey home. We went to Harajuku Station and got a ticket for me to go to Haneda International Airport.

My transit trip to Tokyo was indeed short. I missed a lot of places that I planned to visit but it was OK since I got to see other locations while my friend was touring me around. I would definitely love to come back to Japan. This time, it would be more of temples and shrines and of course, the mountains and nature.

Check my vlog entry for my Transit Trip to Tokyo by checking my YouTube channel:

IATA Code: NRT – Narita International Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Location Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.

NRT or known as Narita International Airport is located approximately 37 miles east of Central Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture, straddling the border between the city of Narita and adjacent town of Shibayama. It is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of the country. NRT was the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan right after Haneda International Airport. The airport has the record of the longest runway in Japan. NRT serves as the main international hub of Japan Airlines, ANA, and as a hub also for low-cost carriers such as JetStar Japan, Peach and Vanilla Air. In 2017, Narita International Airport has ranked 49th on the list of the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic.

Narita Airport Terminal 1

We deplaned in Terminal 1 and after the plane made a complete stop and the door was opened. I went out to see NRT Arrival Terminal 1. I was welcomed with these signs.

While I was walking to the arrival area, the hallway was spacious and tidy. We were scanned by their thermal-imaging cameras making sure that everyone is screened for passengers with high temperature and is not sick. Right after the body heat scanner, I followed a queue to the immigration officer. The immigration counter was divided into 2, the foreign passport holders and the local passport holders. They have a lot of IOs making the processing easy and fast. Since I was already in Japan, the country is famous of how their toilet seat looks like. So, I went into the bathroom and took a photo of how sophisticated their toilet seats are.

Super advance toilet seat with bidet

I’ve been to different places but I have never seen such bathroom as complex as this, LOL. While a person is taking a dump, an individual has an option to turn the music on for privacy if he/she has gassy situation. It has volume functionalities thus, able to control how loud privacy is needed. The best part of the seat is the bidet. There are two options for bidet, the rear and the front. The rear bidet is used to clean the butt after taking a dump while the front bidet is mostly used for women after taking a piss. It can be controlled by pressing on/off button and also can be managed by increasing or decreasing the water pressure. This toilet is indeed an invention of a genius. After my Japanese bathroom encounter, I went to the luggage claiming area. It is again spacious, well maintained, orderly and tidy.

I didn’t have any luggages. Right after I took pictures, I went directly to customs. I completed the Customs Form easily since I don’t have anything to declare.

Customs

Then, I got to the South Wing Arrival Area. The arrival area is spacious too but with huge numbers of passengers around. It was chaotic for me to find where I needed to go. It took me several minutes to compose myself. I was looking for the direction to get a ticket for the train to go to the city. I was wandering around only to find out that it was just infront of me. In the arrival area, there are money changers where travelers can change notes.

South Wing Arrival Board
Arrival Area
Train Ticket Booth
Railways Sign and Directions

Since I only have limited time to see Japan. I went directly downstairs and followed the railway sign. I was able to secure a ticket to Tokyo via Narita Express. Narita Express has automated machine for tickets but I prefer to talk to an agent rather than getting a wrong ticket and get lost.

Narita Express Ticket Office

After I got my one-way ticket, I went another level down to get to the train. In the ticket, it will show the departure time, cart number, and seat number. The train arrived but passengers need to wait for 5-10 minutes for them to clean it. Travelers need not to worry, every sign is translated to English. There are also employees who will help and assist and they speak English.

My Narita Express ticket
Narita Express Train Cart Number 10
The Cleaning Man
An English-speaking employee

Upon getting in the Narita Express train, it was clean, easy to locate seat numbers, and luggages where placed in a safe location with locks. The legroom is wide so, for tall passengers, no problem sitting comfortably. Most important information in the train is the route map which is visible to passengers.

Route Map in the Narita Express train

The airport is where the travelers get their first impression of the country they are about to explore. When it comes to NRT/ Narita International Airport, it was an amazing experience. I always thought that I will get lost and no one will help me find my way but it was not true. I may have only seen the arrival area of terminal 1 of NRT but I could say that the whole operation in the airport is the handled the same.

Visa to the State of Japan

I’ve gone to East Asia. I’ve already been to South Korea and one other country popular in East Asia is, of course, the land of the rising sun, Japan. I have dreamt of visiting Japan when I was a kid. Thus, I made sure to go and visit the capital of Anime. I am currently holding a Philippine passport. For a Filipino citizen to enter the nation of Japan, he/she should have a visa.

Visa is a form of documentation issued by the nation’s government allowing the bearer to enter or leave that country.

Japan’s Transit Visa

Japan or officially called as Nippon-koku or literally the ‘State of Japan’ is an island country in East Asia. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian mainland and stretches from the sea of Okhotsk in the north of the East China Sea and China in the southwest. The symbol that make up the nation’s name which mean, ‘sun origin’, that’s why it is called the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire consisting of more than 6,000 islands. The largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.

I have a layover in Japan for about 8 hours and I would rather go out of the airport and explore the city than staying inside the boarding gates for the whole duration of the layover. So, I have decided to get a transit visa to see Japan. Since I live in Ohio, I have to check online where I can lodge my application. I found out that I have to send my requirements and paper application to Consulate  General of Japan in Detroit, Michigan. Here are the following documents that I needed to mail:

  1. Valid Passport
  2. Visa Application Form
  3. One Passport-sized Photo to be attached to the Application Form
  4. Proof of Current Address in the States of Michigan or Ohio
  5. Proof of Legal Residency Status in the US
  6. Documentation Necessary to Enter the country after Japan
  7. Flight Itinerary
  8. Release of Liability
  9. Self-addressed envelop with tracking system

Since the Philippines and Japan have a travel agreement, thus, Filipinos don’t have to pay for visa fees if they stay in Japan less than 30 days. Another additional requirements are if your stay exceeds one night, you have to provide itinerary in Japan and bank statement.

I mailed my application on the 18th of September and the consulate called me on the 21st, telling me that I got the transit visa to visit the country. I received my passport with the visa pasted on one of the pages on the 25th of the same month. The whole application was fast. Now, my bags are packed to travel and I’m ready to have a transit trip to Tokyo.