25 June 2014

5D4N Osaka, Japan: Day I.

Date: 16-20 June 2014

Update: You can now find the other days here: Day II, Day III, Day IV, Day V and first ONSEN experience!

About one and half month ago, my boss told me that she was going to send me to Japan for a Fam Trip. Fam Trip is also called Familiarization Trip, where you experience all the famous touristy place or the places that they want to introduce, get familiar with them so we can come home and put them in our tour packages.

The last time I went to a Fam Trip was to Club Med Cherating end of last year.

My reaction upon hearing the word, 'JAPAN' was priceless. Not that I can see how I looked then but I can imagined how I'd look if I were looking at a mirror. My eyes wide open with one eyebrow raised to a side, mouth widely opened with a very soft 'huh?' and body all straightened up. 

It was an insane moment. I couldn't believe it. It's Japan okay. JAPAN!

Of course minutes after that, more questions were asked towards my boss and then finally, I came to understand that the invitation was aimed towards the KL travel agents and since Holiday Tours & Travel have a branch in Penang and since they decided to send someone from Penang instead of KL, I was chosen. *proud*

Thank You Jesus :)

So, I flew to KL from Penang (MH 1161) on the 15th, Sunday evening and waited for few hours to board the 7-hours flight to Osaka (MH052). Initially, Koay had football training so he couldn't drop me off at the airport but he changed his schedule. Aww. He wouldn't admit it but I think he was sad that he couldn't see me for the next one week. Hah. 

I actually asked if I could get seat upgrade to business class but no because flights were full. If not, sure ada chance d. It'll be nice to be at business class for 7 hours. It would feel super great! 

A hint! If you want to be upgraded to business class for free, don't check in too early and always be in proper clothes. No slippers. Wear nicely and maybe, just maybe they can do give you an upgrade. You're welcome :)

I requested for window seat and was given a window and emergency area's seat. That means more leg space although it was like very very near to the toilet. Good thing no smell or anything. When I settled down and became comfortable in my seat, I begin chatting with the lady next to me, only to find out that she was going to Japan for Fam Trip too. The same one with me. Hah. How nice. So we got to know each other more and stuff. So nice.

I tried watching Glee but was so tried my eyes kept closing. I even declined supper. Maybe because I had seafood sandwich at KLIA earlier and they were serving egg sandwich for supper. I slept until 4-5am and they started serving breakfast, which I ate happily, while watching Glee from before. 

It's funny that when we reached the airport, it didn't feel like we had so little sleep. I was definitely so awake and all pumped up to explore Japan. That is not until when I got into the bus and found out that we have 2 hours before we reach our first tourist attraction that the 3 girls crashed. Slept like a baby. Fastest 2 hours bus ride for sure. 

We were greeted by our Japan Co-ordinator, Mr Nagaoka-san and our temporary Tour Guide, Ms Miyako-san and the Manager of Nippon Travel Agency (who handles all our travelling documents), Mr Yamazaki-san. 

I really hoped that these names are correct. I have a lot of name cards okay. Don't judge me please thank you. 

This trip was planned for us to cover 4 prefectures; Mie, Shiga, Kyoto and Osaka, where we will spend a night at each prefecture. Mie was the first one and we headed straight to Iga-ryu Ninja House.

I must say I was pretty excited for this one. When we got there, we got to choose our Ninja 'costume'. Obviously black is Ninja's color and the rest are just for fashion sake. Hah.

Only 3 of us for the entire week. Don't ask me why my headband was tied like that. I know it's supposed to be across the forehead like Jane and Selina's. I don't know why mine was like that. The ninja lady there tied it for me. Everything was done for me, so yeah. 

 Then, we walked for quite a bit to the place where this whole Ninja thing was 'founded'/'discovered'/'created'. This exact hillside where Ninja hides in the old times from some political influence or something. I can't remember the story behind it. 

Ninjas used to be really small and petite group of people. They are even shorter than me I kid you not. Small but really fast. They showed us how Ninja moves around in a house and stuff. It'll be super fun to live in a ninja house just because there are so many hidden doors/pathways/weapons that you can 'play' around with. Hah. Love the experience!

Then, we watched a Ninja Show and boy, it was goood! I was even 'selected by them for a 'show' in front of other visitors. Paiseh betul. They made me hold like a long bamboo-like stick and asked me to aim at a hanging balloon and to blow the needle (that was already inside) towards it. First time, failed. to my defense, it was far! Second time, POP! Everyone kept laughing and I was clueless because they spoke in Japanese. So, I just kept smiling. Not so fun being laughed at without knowing the reason. Ahhh such bizarre moment for me.

Oh! We saw these two boys who were so cute! Cannot tahan! So handsome bunch of boys! Selina even asked the parents' permission to take their photo. Haha.

After the show, we were given three times to throw shuriken at a wooden board. 

After all that ninja actions and bizarre moments, it was time for mam mam. We were so hungry we could swallow a cow each except for Selina because she doesn't eat beef. Hah. Our lunch was at this service area along their highway called the Meihan-Ueno Drive-in. Cannot compare this 'rest-stop-eating-place' with the ones we have along our highways.

No need to talk about being in a large area, ours also very big. Want to talk must talk about the quality of their food and service and food. It's insanely high in quality. They even serve free coffee/oolong tea/green tea.

I ordered what was highly recommended on the menu. Beef. Beef has a name but I forgot. Urghh. This beef melts in the mouth alright. I think it has more fats than meat. Few bites and I was ready to stop. 

After makan, we walked around for some local food shopping. I didn't get anything because I really wasn't in the mood for shopping. No idea why. Afterall, first day only what. One thing I tried on that was err.. disgusting? Not really lah but it tasted super odd. Jeruk-ed lala. No way I'm ever putting that in my mouth again. Local goodness but no thanks for me :)

The girls managed to squeeze homamade ice cream into their tummy but not for me. I was ready for another round of sleep. Before we say goodbye to this place, we took a photo with their mascot. They all kept saying, 'kawaii' which means cute. It's alright. Never into this kind of soft toys whether small ones or giant one.

Oh did I also mention that this one bottle of water costs abour RM3 and I kept it for few days. Expensive water is expensive. 

 Next on our itinerary is the ever famous Ise Shrine. Japanese peopel takes their shrines veru seriously. Before they enter, they bow. Before they leave, they bow. Even when they leave their school, they bow. Such patriotic action towards their nation. 

It's a very big piece of land where a lot of walking is needed. Their walkways are all scattered with small pebbles/stones/rocks. It is believed that these pebbles will purify your whole self from all the sins that you have within you. So, as you walked towards the most inside of the shrine, you're already quite cleansed spiritually. Other than these pebbles, they also have holy water from the mountains where you have to wash your hands and mouth following a certain steps. 

After Ise Shrine, we walked to the Okage Yokocho - food and shopping street. One of my favorite place to be at. It has these olden days' houses and shops and walking down the street just gives that oh-my-goodness-I'm-in-Japan-for-real. You can find food, souvenirs, restaurants, bars and all sorts of things there. It's a very warm street. Actually the weather was really cooling but I wasn't talking about the weather warm kind. You get it.

Another kind of beef that I tried. This one super yummy! For one stick like that, I think it was RM30.

The famous dessert shop. Every Japanese will know of this brand. Their famous dessert is like our ice kacang. They don't have all sorts of beans and syrup. They only put green tea syrup and a ball of red bean paste. Japanese all-time favorite dessert. Not so much for me although I like green tea. Three people can share one bowl.

Thank God that was our last tourist place to go. Energy level zero already by then.Our stay for the night is at Hotel Rosa Blanca. One of the most beautiful hotel I've even been. We did a quick hotel inspection where we see all the category of the rooms in the hotel. Super sweet. They even have a wedding chapel on top of the hotel. It is the most beautiful walk-down-the-aisle. SERIOUSLY! 

 View from my room. That is not a tennis court. That is a helipad and the white patch is the outdoor wedding walk-down-the-aisle. The idea is you arrive at the resort with your groom and walk straight to your guest and exchange your vows. Sweet.

Junior Suite.
Nagaoka-san: Sarah, next time you come here with your bf and stay in this room. Very romantic.
Me: No way! Not married cannot!
Nagaoka-san: Can lahh. Why cannot?
Me: Cannot! Not husband cannot lah!

Cottage Room. Can accommodate up to 8 people. One of my personal favorite because can fit so many people leh! 

Our final inspection: Wedding Chapel. SO BEAUTIFUL COVERED WITH WHITE ROSES AND A CROSS! Christians in Japan is like less than 1% okay. LESS THAN 1%!

Fancy dinner at the hotel where we were served with all kinds of goodies. My most loved is the cold cut of duck with slices or orange.SO YUMMY! I tried sake and plum wine too. Oh so good. 

My room. One person gets one room each. My room very nice. 

I went for onsen but I'm going to talk about onsen on another separate post because it's too special :)

Only first day away from home and I had to have skype sessions with the family already. More on Sha Lynn because I miss her so terribly lots!

Ahhhh. Day 1 over. That was pretty tiring.

Day 2 will come soon when I really have the time.