Category: Travel

London trip

Posted by – July 15, 2019

Technology has dramatically changed people’s travel experiences by allowing people search and browse pictures, articles and videos of their destination on-line nowadays. Before the space for my imagination of one of the greatest culture and economy hub in Europe – London runs out, I decided to travel to UK’s capital for the fist time. Besides, the pound sterling is very weak, as nearly as half of a few years ago for my Japanese yen. I thought this could be a good timing.

Since I have travelled to some metropolitan cities like New York a few times already, my expectation for London is similar to New York except that everyone would be speaking a different accent of the English language. To my big surprise, London’s public space such as the underground is well-maintained and much cleaner than that of New York despite being of the oldest subways in the world. The train itself is also cleaner than the ones in Paris.

A connecting tube between two station in London underground

Compared to the concrete jungle in Tokyo or high-rise buildings in New York, London has its incredibly lush greenery and parks in the city centre. Despite being a modern financial and economic centre in Europe, most of the buildings in London are well preserved for hundreds of years with beautiful architecture and designs dated back Victoria and George eras. It is quite a scenery for people like me who are used to dwelling in high-rise buildings to saunter around these old buildings and walk under the huge green lawns in the park.

The massive pond in Hyde park in London

It is also quite strange when some one who you do not know refers to me as “gentlemen”, as I was walking towards a lady and her kid was running around and kind of blocking my way, the mother shoved her child and said to him, “You are blocking this gentleman’s way.” It is an odd feeling when you were referred as “gentlemen” like that. It feels like you were in one of the TV drama.

I was lucky enough that the weather was lovely during my stay, a great escape from the rainy season (Tsuyu) in Tokyo. Summer (especially July and August) is truly the best time to visit London. It does not get hot as cities that I used to live like Shanghai, Tokyo and New York. People are mostly polite and welcoming.

Londoners absolutely love flowers. You can see flowers decorated everywhere both on the street or on people’s home.

London has one of the oldest department stores in the world. I enjoyed both the shopping experiences in the famous department store ‘Harrods’ with glamours interior design and the magic experience staying hundreds-years-old college in Oxford as a student. There are no cafeterias at Oxford University. There is only a place called dining hall. How fancy! Having breakfast or we shall say dining there feels not just like formal but also a privilege. I have heard that from times to times, dinner will be served and pre-booked and proper attire are required to dine there. I think it is a nice tradition to keep from time to time. My friend James helped me to get into these colleges and experienced the lives there in Oxford University.

One of the dining halls in Oxford univerisity

Many of British friends in Singapore and Tokyo had already warned me about British food, however, I have enjoyed some of their dishes such as fish pies. The ales in the pubs in Oxford are definitely the best that I ever had. And there are so many of them. The vegetables comes with the pies did not have much taste but, hey, it is quite healthy in my opinion.

One of my friends in London took me to this old British pub to try their fish and chips and the ale

London has an astronomical number of food options. I tried some nice Italian pasta dish and a glass wine near where I stayed. The chef recommended me a pasta dish called langoustine Linguine. The pasta was freshly prepared so was the prawn. The waiter even took out a basil plant and started cutting off fresh leaves from the plant into the olive oil for the bread. It was really tasty but of course, the price was also steep – 43.7 pounds for 1 glass of wine and a dish of pasta.

Overall, London is a great city to visit in the summer time if you are interested in historical English and European cultures. A bonus point is that almost all the museums and galleries are free to enter! During the colonial period, the British have collected many valuable artefacts from the rest of Europe and East Asia. With a low expectation in my mind, it was a truly satisfying and enducational journey.

New York trip, 2018 summer

Posted by – October 13, 2018

Disembarked at LaGuardia Airport, I was still digesting a self-perceived racism experience from the steward in Delta airline. During the flight, an old Japanese old lady sat on my right and a white man on my left. When it comes to tea time, a steward came and asked the Japanese old lady whether she wants tea or coffee without addressing her, but with his arm crossed, insinuating his impatience and carelessness. I was treated better maybe only a little better, as I was, at least, addressed as “the middle, tea or coffee?” There is no question that this simple English would be helpful for non-native English speakers to understand. When it comes to the turn for the white man on my right, he was greeted with “Sir, would you like a tea or coffee?” The steward might have been tired of lots of Asian faces who have limited command of English languages on the plane, thus, did not care much about how to address them properly. But his attitude for sure did not satisfy me who had been accustomed to the superior services from these Japanese airlines.

This was my second journey to New York, which could mean it would be not as exciting as the first trip two years ago, and this was not a good start to the vacation. However, this time the fact that my best friend Anthony is in New York and I would be his guest could be the most promise of the happiness of this trip.

As Confucius said, “有朋自遠方来 不亦楽乎” – To have friends coming in from afar, how delightful! It’s been a while since we last met in Tokyo and in Singapore, but it felt like it was just yesterday. I clearly remember he visited me in Singapore while I was there by myself and struggled with the relationship with my wife. It was indeed a delightful feeling and now it is my turn!

In New York, Anthony took me to a cafe that serves proper omelettes, the quality of which Anthony grew up with. Unlike him, who has a penchant for eggs, I did find it quite tasty compared to the ones in Japan. I enjoyed a show called “the Book of Mormon”, in the theatre for the first time in my life. While I watched the American people mocking one of their own religions at Broadway, I was switching between the thoughts of the universe and trying to catch up the fast-paced speaking English.

Another highlight of the trip was the visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the third most visited museum in the world. Coincidently, Anthony and I visited the Louvre back in 2009 together in Paris, the most visited museum in the world. I learnt a lot about the Byzantine empire and medieval history in Europe. Although most of the art was centred around Christianity, it is a wonder to behold these masterpieces while imagining what kind of life people were living back then.

A catch-up with ex-Morgan Stanley colleague Susumu got me to the Internet Googling what kind of jobs in New York that I could find and they pay. The result of almost-three-times high compensation as Tokyo is like an invitation to deepen my attraction to work in the low latency trading firm here. New York might not be my favourite place to live, but it definitely is a place that I can spend for a few years to gain some serious professional development. We went to a rooftop bar near Chinatown. The bar experiences were not particularly interesting except that Anthony was asked about the details of a drink by a girl but he could not articulate and pick her up. However, on the way back, we got a chance to pool a taxi ride with a Jewish lady. I started the conversation and got to know she was a relationship consultant. As soon as I insinuate that Anthony was single, she immediately spotted my tempt as a wingman. I guess I need to step up my game next time. She was tall and thin and beautiful by Anthony’s word. He seemed also like her beauty as well as her intelligence.

The grand and magnificent new york public library made me want to come to New York to study here every day until I saw the tranquil Harvard Business School campus with a lavish green lawn in an idyllic setting, a place where I could temporarily forget all the troubles and annoyances back home and stay calm. Walking in the neighbourhood near Harvard University where all the brick sidewalks, made me time slip back to the colonial era in America. Boston is better than New York in the sense that it has the balance between over-crowded and bustling streets and totally rural village.

In Boston, Anthony and I visited Harvard campus and tried various cuisines from high-end Italian food in these tourist areas to the “American house favourite” potato fries near Boston’s rail station. The adorable squirrels in the Boston Common park were almost like domestic pets. We pretended to have some food in our hands and they would just come after us. Just by looking at them, made me happy.

A week was too short to experience the New York life. With the imagination of how would my life would be if I move to New York and reminisce of the old good times in Tokyo, I am already on my plane back to Tokyo, which awaits me to embrace the reality and challenges of the life there.

A weekend trip to Saigon

Posted by – October 5, 2016

A weekend trip to Saigon , September 2016

Ho Chi Minh city does not have subways but it is the home to about 8 million people as of 2016. According to a signage on the street, It seems that Japan is helping it to build its subway, and the famous Japanese department store Takashimaya also has its branch, where you will see lots of Japanese and international food and products.

Once again, I saw another southern east country that is under heavy influence of Japan. No wonder that I stumbled into many Japanese wives of expat(駐在員)

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Through a conversation with a local, I heard some interesting anecdote about the men’s mentality towards women’s sexual experiences. For example, many Vietnamese guys prefer to marry a virgin , they will be upset if they discover that the bride is not virgin. So many girls here thrive to keep their virginity.

I didn’t know that Vietnam is one of the biggest coffee bean producers until I hit the famous Bến Thành Market and found myself surrounded by numerous coffee bean stalls. I bought a few Vietnamese coffee beans in the market, and I will try them out with my Mazzer machine in Singapore.

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I discovered some new fruit that might be unique to Vietnam. For example, Sapoche smoothie, and Mia Lau tea and a lime smoothie which is very tasty and refreshing!

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And for the first time, I learnt how a papaya tree look like in Vietnam

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Since, there are currently no subway. The scoot-like motorbikes are like streams on the street , they are ubiquitous, rampant and never stop even in the middle of the night. Check out this video below:

Vietnamese cuisine is amazing. I fell in love with it . The food is affordable, healthy and tasty, compared to the food in Singapore anyway. Meals usually include fresh herbs and veggies. Apart from the famous Vietnamese phô , which can be found in other countries. I tried many dishes that I have never seen in my life before

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This is a desert. It may look not as sophisticated and pretty as western desert, but it is simple, primitive but yummy and healthy. It suits my Asian tongue well.

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Food in Vietnam

Posted by – September 27, 2016

Despite that I have to give up my vegetarian diet for 3 days, food in Saigon is cheap and incrediblely tasty and pleasant for my tongue. I tried so many tasty food that I never had in my life.

The broth they made is very tasty.  I gave up 3 days of my vegetarian diet to try the local food, I still do not like the meat in it. Actually, I got a bit “drunk” – some strange reaction from my body, radish on my skin (maybe allergy). Nevertheless, I recovered from that in an hour or so. I especially loved the spring roll with vegetables.

 

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3万円台 航空券+ホテル代 海外旅行!

Posted by – February 4, 2016

日本で海外旅行、航空券+ホテル代込3万円みでは ー ありえないでしょう。シンガポールに住んっている人々はもし旅行するは、基本てき海外旅行。しかも 東南アジア諸国に行くのはめちゃめちゃ安いです!
東南アジア諸国連合(ASEAN)とは原因がな〜

今回タイに旅行しう、ネートて探したら。3万円て航空券+ホテルびくりました!

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Nations who do not need visa entering China

Posted by – February 20, 2015

Last night, a friend of Sayaka who is currently working in China as an English teacher, complained the Chinese working visa process for foreigner is bloody cumbersome, and even getting a tourist visa is expensive.

I joshed a bit, “Getting a Japanese passport! They don’t need visa to go to China”. Then her jaw dropped! “Seriously? Are you kidding!”

I know I am not kidding. Oddly enough, the Chinese government opened up its gate to the tourist from the following countries without any inspections.

Amafanyun Hangzhou

Posted by – May 5, 2014

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Many people probably know the famous Buddhist temple – Lingyin Temple (灵隐寺).   But not many know that there is an hidden village next to it. It is renewed and opened to public by Amanresorts, a hotel group founded by a Indonesia business man Adrian Zecha. The village is an incredible tranquil Buddhist valley – Amafanyun (阿曼法云) in Hangzhou, compared to the bustling world in China. Approximately one hour drive from my home, Jiaxing, it is a fantastic place for meditation during your weekend.
This place is magic, making you feel like time-traveling to ancient China hundreds of years ago.

The food was fresh and, I must say “elegant”, particularly at the Buddhist vegetarian restaurant (斋菜馆).

Victoria Peak (Tai Pin Shan)

Posted by – August 5, 2012

I am at the top of the Mountain Austin, which is surrounded by an area of super rich residential where HongKong tycoons live.

Hong Kong’s skyscrapers are not so high from this Angle.

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Ukai Toriyama

Posted by – May 26, 2012

Since the treat from my boss to celebrate the initial release of our company’s product in this amazing traditional Japanese restaurant not far away from Tokyo (approximatley 1.5 hours), I have been taken several friends traveling to Japan to this place called “Ukai toriyama”(うかい鳥山)

This is the place almost every foreigner visiting Japan would love, for its magical and wonderful decoration representing traditional Japanese garden. Thus, I highly recommended it to anyone who wants to experience some unique Japanese restaurants with great food.

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As you can see from the below picture, rush ruffled private dining houses are scattered within the lushly mature and immaculately manicured Japanese gardens. When you walk into these gardens, you will feel like being dropping into history.

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They have different courses covering all kinds of traditional Japanese food. Each course is presented as the art whilst you behold the koi swimming in the pond right outside your dining house. The food tastes divine.

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The photos below are ones with my Chinese friends visiting it second time in 2014, where we celebrate two couples having their first baby.

 

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The Japanese Saki should be a must-to-order in your drink menu.

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Hokkaido Trip

Posted by – February 9, 2012

We visited Hokkaido in Feburary, where there was a snow festival in Sapporo. It was my first time to Hokkaido, as well as first time doing snowboarding there. The snow was indeed as most people say, fluffy, and you don’t have to worry about too much if you fall down.

 

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You can’t miss the Sashimi there as my friends insisted. Well, it does look really fresh but also “RAW” and “FISHY”. If you are not used to raw fish. I would only recommend try small amount of these seafood first to see whether your stomach could handle it.

 

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And the Sapporo Clock Tower , which is and landmark for Sapporo and must-visit spot for Japanese people, although I didn’t find it so interesting. I guess the reason that Japanese people are so attracted to it is the european style of the building where the clock is.

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New Year vocation – Indonesia

Posted by – January 4, 2012

I would like to really thank you Takanobu and his friend in Bali – Suzie, who had made this Indonesia trip so fun and great! Had not you guided us in Bali, we would have not found these nice spots so easily. I landed the famous tourist island – Bali,  a place where you can see both well-developed western standard restaurants and bars and poor local house. Thanks to its unique geographic position and , it is a popular holiday destination for Australian and its Asian neighbour, as well as tropical beach lovers from Europe and North America.

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These western standard bars can be found every nook and cranny on the island, where the same price tag is expected when back to your home country and where local people are rarely seen in these bars.

This beach is heaven for surfers. Suzie and I in this photo was taken by Takanobu.
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Then, we forayed into the inner part of the island, finding ourselves emerge into some tropical forest, where you can find these old Hindu temples, which are preserved well. According to Suzie, Ninety per cent of Balinese are Hindu. Wild animals are also well protected by the local law. As you can see, the monkey below in the pictures are not in a zoo, by the way.

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Breakthrough of my Snowboarding Skills

Posted by – March 5, 2011

It’s my third year doing snowboarding in Japan, and it becomes much fun after you can balance your body not falling over. Occasionally, even if you fall over, it does not hurt so much anymore.
Japan is one of the best countries for snowboarding lovers, where there is a load of snowboarding resorts, with easy access from Tokyo. The temperature on these moutains usually is not too low so you can enjoy the sport, not worrying too much about the cold weather.