25 October 2023

8D7N Kyoto & Osaka, Japan - Part One

Oh goodness me. I AM SORRY! Okay I don't owe anyone apology except to myself for procrastinating on this for way too long!

It's been more than a few months since we came back from Japan, and it is really time to share what we did there. Although if you follow us on Instagram and Facebook, you will probably know roughly. 

When we were discussing about this trip, the first two things we needed to decide was the number of days and which part of Japan do we want to go to. 

After we decided that we can survive a week without the children and we would leave out Tokyo this time, we booked the flight tickets with AirAsia. 

It took us a few days to choose the right flight because there were quite many different connecting ones, and we wanted to "fully utilize" our precious one week away. 

This is the flight itinerary that we ended up choosing. 

Penang - Ho Chi Minh City - Osaka:

Osaka - Kuala Lumpur - Penang:

We obviously chose the longest layover at Ho Chi Minh City because we wanted to also visit Vietnam. Adrian wanted to eat their pho and banh mi before going to Japan, and also they are the cheapest option on AirAsia. So much win for this. 

We paid a total of RM3,187.23 for the 2 of us - inclusive of a 20kg check-in luggage. This is the dumbest idea. Please learn from our mistake. Never go to Japan with just one 20kg check-in luggage! Don't do it. You need at least one 30kg check-in luggage EACH. Even if you are not a shopper, some things that you buy will be heavy - like mochi and kitkats and Japanese snacks. Trust me on this. 

Our flights from Penang got delayed for a few hours, and AirAsia compensated by giving each passenger a McChicken and a bottle of water. That means, we will have less time in Ho Ci Minh. We bought a 4 hours pass on their hop-on and hop-off city tour with Klook because it is a smart way to "tour" the city in a short time. It's about RM40 per person. 

It was drizzling a bit so the weather was not hot. In fact, it was really cooling and perfect. We ended up on their night tour (which costs lesser than what we paid) because our flight was super delayed, remember? We had pho, banh mi, bun cha, Vietnamese coffee and korean pancake before taking our next flight to Osaka. Oh, and Adrian finally bought his first bucket hat here. Hah. 

We went to the airport early because we needed to shower. We did, and our flight to Osaka was also delayed for a bit. They changed our gate too, so it was a bit too chaotic for us. It was like after midnight so we were on battery mode then. I was in and out of short naps, and I was going to be a very cranky traveler if they continued changing our gate or flight time. Heh. 

We were hoping for an empty flight so we could have a row each, and we did have a row each. With AirAsia, there is no food or anything, so I immediately made "my bed" and lied down. Adrian a bit paiseh so he put on a mask, a pair of shades and his cute bucket hat and hugged his backpack to sleep. He realised halfway that IT WAS more comfortable to lie down and sleep. 

The first question we asked at arrival was, "How cold was it?". It was perfectly cold. No need winter clothes but cannot sweat kind of cold. 

We took the JR Haruka Airport Express train - from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station via Klook. We spent RM116.15 for 2 persons. If I remembered correctly, it took about 170 minutes to reach Kyoto Main Station, from Kansai Airport. 

Our hotel was walking distance to Kyoto Station. We knew we were going to spend a lot of time travelling via the train, hence we decided to get a hotel nearby to the station. 

Even though we hardly slept on the plane and we were really sleep deprived, we somehow had this reserved travelling strength. We checked into the our hotel, and then left the hotel to go explore. We were not going to waste any minute here in Japan! 

Our lovely friends (whom we first met not too long ago at a wedding dinner), Shaun and Clarisse gave us 1 ICOCA card, and we decided to go get another one. We put in credits and used it for all our train rides. Super convenient and easy! You can get them at their convenience store. 

The first place we went exploring was Nishiki Market. They open from 9AM to 6PM. It was raining a little, but we were prepared. I already knew that it was going to rain a bit more than usual in Japan during our time there, so I purposely bought 1 red and 1 blue foldable really compact umbrellas. I came prepared, Japan. Ain't no rain going to stop us from going places. Heh. 

It was nearer to the evening time, so you can see like some shops are closing and already closed. But there were still quite a lot of shops still selling foods and stuff. 

We ate quite a bit of stuff here. Nothing is really cheap if you convert, and you cannot actually stop yourself from converting, so just bear with the fact that food in Japan is quite pricey. 

Their 1,000 Yen is our RM33. 

We walked until it was dinner time, and decided to get ramen for dinner. The ramen Adrian chose has a very thick broth base, so it was a bit geli and jelak after a while. Mine was the basic ramen, which was already so good on its own. Simple and yummy. 

We went to their Family Mart to get supper (duh, of course), and Soju and some snacks. You can tell that one of us was not very satisfied with our ramen, hence mapo tofu rice to the rescue. Heh. 

By this time, we were both in our PJs, and we had just facetimed our minis. We ate and drank a bit, and talked and laughed, and then we slept like a baby! It was really nice to have a one-long stretch of sleep with no interruptions. It was really good. So thankful for that. 

The next morning, Adrian decided that we would rent a bicycle each and explore Kyoto on 2 wheels. He was hesitant at first, because he was worried that I wouldn't be able to ride them safely. It was sweet la, but how dare he thinks that I couldn't ride a bike safely! 

He confessed that he always thought that I am very "princess-ish" when it comes to this kind of things. But after a lot of examples, he also agreed that I am a very adventurous person okay please. Maybe motherhood made me slow down in these things, but I still got it ah please. 

But he was not entirely wrong la. I actually don't have much confidence riding bicycles. But we did it, all around Kyoto, and it was the best thing ever. 

It was so easy and convenient to go and stop anywhere anytime we wanted. It was really cheap too! Adrian needed to work that morning so we made a lot of spontaneous stops along the way. Then, I randomly searched for a nearby cafe and found Kawama Cafe

It's a very small quaint cafe along the local houses. We had our breakfast here before starting the day to the more happening area. Kyoto is huge by the way! 

Our next destination was to the Kiyomizudera Temple (the famous nail-less temple built on a hill). 

The road to this temple is steep all the way, and we pushed our bicycles up and stopped along the way for ice cream. There are many small shops along the road, so it was really nice to walk. 

Their green tea ice cream is next level please. Nothing can be compared to this la. Or maybe I am a bit more biased because everything you eat in Japan is nicer. 

Actually not really. Not everything. 

Oh and that cinnamon stick on my cone, that was crazy yummy! We bought back a packet and gave most of it to our family and friends. After that, regretted that we never bought extra for ourselves. I love the cinnamon stick so much! 

We got to the top and realised we need to find a parking space for our bicycles. We cannot just find a side place and lock them together. They can actually be towed away. It took us some time to figure out how to navigate their parking system. 

It was actually a fun experience. It almost felt like if we were in The Amazing Race together, the chances for us to be top 3 finalists is very low. Hahaha. We discover things too slow! I am too panicky and rushy, and he is way too relaxed. It almost sounds like we're the prefect combo, but I think we would argue more than we race in the reality show. 

But if there is a chance to do it together, of course I want to do it with him. 

You may know know this, but Adrian kept persuading me to rent their kimono and wear them out for a day. I obviously said no, because it is not cheap and I cannot walk la with their entire kimono set and shoes. It's insane. Small steps want to walk till when.

So, when we saw these 2 mother and daughter, we had to ask for a selfie. Adrian is happy la ya because got to take a photo with a pretty girl in a kimono. Too bad, he is married. Hah. 

There were a lot of walking, so please go Japan expect to walk A LOT. That is why it is important to go to Japan in the nice cooling weather. 

Although we walked and cycled everywhere in Kyoto, we hardly sweat. The weather was super cooling and perfect. 

A selfie with the nail-less temple, because we too cheap to pay to go in and take more similar photos. If you follow my IG, you would have seen how beautiful this temple is if taken from the other side of the temple, especially during sunset. 

But we were happy with this shot anyways. 

The other activity that we did a lot while we were in Japan was helping families take family photo. We couldn't help but to offer them our help because we know how hard it is to travel with young children, let alone trying to capture photos for memories. 

So, we made it our mission to offer help take photos when we see family with young children. 

When I put on my IG about my struggle to read the physical map, many of you reached out and said, "You can use Google Map". 

We know that of course. Adrian planned our trip based on Google Map prior to the trip. But he wanted to make it more adventurous, so he got a physical map and led us to the streets of Kyoto with that. 

It was a successful one. He is very good with roads and maps and all. 

I, on the other hand, still uses Waze in Penang island, so yeah. 

So, once you are at that area, you will also need to explore the many rows of Kyoto's old street. They are called Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka. My information may be wrong ah, so you better check with other legit travel bloggers. 

But these old streets were one of my highlights. I love the small shops along the narrow walkways, and there are so many other small streets that branches out. 

This is also the place where we went to see the Starbucks with tatami set-up. We wanted to get a drink and a pastry to chill there, but it was really crowded, so we decided to continue walking and soaking the Kyoto vibe here. 

This is also the place where you will find the famous IG-worthy shots of Yasaka Pagoda. You will know that it's a famous spot to take photos when you see a bunch of people taking them from a certain angle. 

So the smart thing to do is to follow them and do the same. Take as many shots as you can, and check them only when you go back to the hotel okay. 

Just stand there, and enjoy the view and the people. 

It was really an amazing experience. Japan is really something. 

There are a lot of eatery place along these endless small streets, but since he got me to decide on lunch place, I chose a nicer looking restaurant. Heh. A bit regret when I think back, because it was not that yummy and it was expensive, but I cannot remember how expensive. Hah. 

We cycled around the area after lunch, and happy boy is happy when he found this pokemon stop thing. I'm sure there is a proper name for it but I cannot remember, and Adrian is not here with me now as I am typing this so too bad. Heh. 

More temples and shrines wherever we cycle to. We stopped for a bit at the Maruyama Park - famous for the sakura flowers. When it's that season, the entire park is filled with gorgeous pink sakura flowers, and humans! 

Since it was not the season, we had the entire park to ourselves. See my IG story highlights for the videos. 

It was getting late, and we decided to head back to our hotel. We had to stop when we saw a father and son catching shrimps along the river. Adrian couldn't help but felt a tinge of sadness because it is the kind of thing that he and Alex always do together. Not catch shrimps, but similar sports things. 

So, he got off his bicycle and walked to them, and talked for a bit. 

I was almost sure that he was going to take off his shoes, fold his jeans and join them. I was 85% sure he wanted to do that. And right after that thought in my head, he asked us to do exactly that! But we could not because we needed to get the bicycles back to the shop before they charge us another day's rent. 

The entire scene was a confirmation that I married the right man for me. A family man who is devoted to his children and wife. Even when he is on a holiday, it's things like this that slows him down, and makes him re-calibrate what life is all about again. 

I fell in love harder at this scene :) 

It was too early for dinner but I was hungry and craved for their KFC. I needed to know if they are the same, or better. 

So we cycled to a nearby shopping mall, and I went in to get a snack plate to share. Their lift buttons are out of this world - huge like what only. Is this culture shock? Hah. 

Verdict on Kyoto's KFC: blehhhh. 

It was so pathetic la please. The chicken pieces were so small and their coleslaw cannot beat our Malaysia's coleslaw. Their fries was not bad. 1 normal snack plate costs about RRM40. I think. I know I was shocked to see the price. 

We rested in the room for a bit before dinner.  Since normal-not-famous-eatery needs more business than the famous ones, we decided to walk into a normal looking "cafe" and order a typical Japanese dinner. 

It was so so good, and cheaper than our 1 KFC snack plate. 

After that, we walked around for a bit, went to Family Mart again, and I decided to get a bottle of Evian water. Why is it that it is so expensive here? Is the water sweeter? What is it?

And this is the best place to try, because a bottle of Evian was about RM4. Cheap enough for me to try. 

It tasted like water. Surprise surprise. I think maybe rich people don't know how else and where else to spend their money, so just spend on "better" water la. 

So I googled, "Why is Evian water so expensive?"

Apparently, it is because Evian uses polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, which is the most recyclable bottle worldwide. It's all just marketing la please. 

Just use your own bottle and refill with water everytime. Save the world. Spend your money elsewhere please. Okay, please don't hate on me and DM me your POVs okay? I'm not here to shoot anyone. 

It's a happy place, heh. 

Okay, Part 2 will come soon, I hope. 

Till next update.