Category Archives: Journey

Tokyo Trip – Part 1

Once a year, I make a journey home to Hong Kong to visit my Grandma (and everyone else in HK =P).  I’ve done this for almost 10 years now, annually, and with all my vacation.  Until one year, I joined a group of friends in Mexico for a beautiful destination wedding.  Then it hit me – there is so much of the world to see.  Yet with 15 days of vacation per year, a girl can only do so much. Hong Kong is a non-negotiable…so making a pit-stop en route is my compromise.

The usual stop is Korea.  But we decided to shake it up a bit and head over to Tokyo instead in 2016.  So began my first ever trip to Japan (I don’t know why people are always so surprised when I tell them I had never seen Japan before this!)

[FLIES]

Air Canada (Because unfortunately, despite their shoddy service each year, they have the best flight time out of HK to go home).  Landed in Narita.  The other airport of choice is Hanaeda of course (which is much closer to the city!) – but my friend was flying in from Korea and the flights which matched mine from Vancouver were Narita flights.

[STAYS]

A nice little apartment in Ikebukuro.  It seems to be a taboo thing in Japan still, to book an apartment on this little website that we make full use of in NAmerica… however the selection in Tokyo was amazing!  My friend and I weren’t too picky about the place, as long as it was safe, and convenient…oh and it had to have a decent sized fridge.  The beer had to be cold when we got home.  This place was definitely convenient!  A quick 5-10 min walk from Ikebukuro Stn (it’s the 2nd largest station in Tokyo!) which connects to the NEX train from Narita.  The host was great at responding to all my mundane questions before the trip (Her name is Sanae, if you want to try and find her on the website).  Apartment was Tokyo sized, tatami style (aka we slept on the ground but it was just fine), and the washroom was so small that for once in my life I was glad I am short.  However, everything worked, and we were happy there.  Hotels in this area would have cost quite a bit more, and would’ve been a bit further of a walk…so we were glad to have found this little gem.

[GETTING AROUND]

From Narita, we took the NEX (Narita Express) into the city.  It was a good 1+ hour ride, so by the time we got to the city it was night.  However it is convenient – the ticket counter was right were the arrival gates exited, and the train was just underneath.  We also chose Ikebukuro Station because the NEX goes there directly.  That was important as I didn’t feel like being lost after a 10 hr flight in.

The ride from the city to the airport was brilliant.  Especially if you are a Studio Ghibli fan like me.  The train goes through small towns and farms, and the scenery is not unlike the scenes you would see in Totoro.  I wish I spoke some Japanese so I could survive in a small town or farm for a few days…but alas.  Anyway, it was great to sit and just reflect on the week of whirlwind activity.  I was by myself on the way out as my friend had to catch an earlier flight back to Korea, so it was definitely an unexpected hour of peace just for me.

We also took the local subways as much as possible as it seemed to be the fastest most fail proof way to get around.  Which of course meant we planned our trip according to where the stations were clustered.  Lots of places were close by enough that we could just walk from place to place (and end up a few stns away from where we began).  Advice, get the Suica/Pasmo card as soon as you get to a station.  The machines speak English (literally one I used could talk), so it was no problem.  You can use that card for paying at convenience stores, and as well the lockers inside most stations will accept the card as payment and re-entry.  Plus you can customize your card and print your name on it…a great souvenir.  There is deposit required for the card (Y500), and when you return it I think they charge Y200.  So might as well keep it for a souvenir!

 

[IKEBUKURO STATION]

We stayed here, so I’m a little biased.  I found this station to be super convenient and highly recommend it for first time travellers.  A few lines connect to this station: the NEX as mentioned above, the circle line which takes you all the way around and back in Tokyo, a line which cuts straight across to Ginza, lines that take you out of the city…etcetc.

Around the station are the major department stores which come in handy because their food and supermarket floors are out of this world.  We found ourselves buying food and going back to the apartment to eat on more than one occasion simply because we were too exhausted to battle dinner time crowds.  There were many 24hr convenient stores and marts along the main road, floors upon floors of restaurants and bars (advice, look up and into basements for great food choices!)…and our absolute most favourite store: Don Quijote.  It was a 24 hr store in Ikebukuro, 7 stories of extreme random, extreme cheap buys.  Think dollar store mixed convenient store mix pharmacy (I mean Japanese pharmacy…where they sell all sorts of non medical beauty products along side all the drugs).  We were there daily… and found that the same item would be much cheaper here if it is in stock.  They even sold charcoal baked sweet potatoes..yums!

Daytime is a bustle of activity, and nighttime is quieter, especially if you walk a block away from the station exit.  Plus didn’t feel like I would be dragged into an alley and mugged even when I am alone at night.

[LOCKERS]

There are lockers in almost every station we went to, especially at the bigger more touristy locations.  It was very convenient to just put all our shopping into a locker and just come back for it on the way out.  You can opt to pay with coins, and the machine will give you a little receipt which you will have to keep and scan for re-entry.  You can also choose to use a password for some of the lockers.  Otherwise, you can also use your Suica/Pasmo card as a form of payment, and when you need to get back into your locker you simply tap your card again and it will open up!  We aren’t talking grungy gym lockers here guys…these are high tech, very well kept (even when the locker seems to be in a sketch part of the station!) and super convenient.

[Part 2: Tokyo Eats]

 

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Winter, Spring…

It’s always so exciting to plan trips.  I’ve actually probably never planned any trips before. hahaha.  Mexico was planned by the wedding planner (and the excursions were decided on the spot when we arrived), HK is just going home. Vegas…I just went along…

BUT THIS TIME! I’m planning for myself…cuz I’m pretty much going by myself lol. To a land of unknown.  Unknown cuz well I don’t understand their language and they most probably won’t understand mine.  I wonder if my mediocre Mandarin will work in Korea. lol.  Either way I’m so super excited…and really nervous.

I’m studying hard…to hopefully know more than “hi”, “thanks”, “wait”, “i don’t know”, and “sorry, I don’t know Korean…I am Chinese” (lol I use that…at work…when Korean ladies insist on carrying on conversations with me in Korean).  oh I also know “stop it” and “it hurts” lol.  >_<

I’m too busy laughing while watching Korean variety shows to actually pick up on words.

I think I’m going to be in trouble HAHAHA.  oh well!  It’ll be one heck of an adventure~

Maybe I’ll get lost and will find 2PM while I’m there.  If not I’ll just imagine I did. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

….Summer…but I won’t fall. (harhar)

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Fell…

Holy, it’s been MONTHS~!
I didn’t even realise it.  Or maybe I did but I really had nothing to write about.

What I also didn’t realise was that I never wrote about Dong Yi, did I?  I actually haven’t really watched anything else for the past 2 months haha.  Just Dong Yi, over and over and over again.  Yes, it’s long, and yes I watched it all….in full….twice…certain parts of it COUNTLESS times.  I promise to write a review to do it justice later.

Real life has gotten me all tangled up.  I can’t even call it a roller coaster anymore, because the ups and downs are predictable and it doesn’t roll to a stop at the end.  It’s just a big fat mess.

Every year at the end of the year I do a year in review.  I actually tried to type that up here at the beginning of Dec ’01, but stopped because I wasn’t quite sure what I accomplished in 2011.  Then I sorted through iPhoto and realised I did a heck of a lot last year…probably more than any other year before that.  THEN effing life caught up and stabbed me in the heart a couple of times and I didn’t have the energy to think.  But all in all I guess 27 was decent to me…it certainly tried really hard to show me that goodbyes aren’t forever.

The year started out a blur… to be stood up again and again with someone I just learned to trust. So I had to learn to let it go.  Then came a flash flood of “firsts”: first time “captaining” a softball team (or co-captaining it lol considering I don’t actually play ball lol) for BC Children’s Hospital Superheroes tournament; first time at a destination wedding (in Mexico! with a group of 40+ people! ENDLESS TEQUILA!!!! oh heaven!), which also came with my first time at a real beach (MEXICO!!! lol), first bikini, first hammock, first snorkel trip, first whale shark, etcetc; then one week after I returned from Mexico was HK for my first time as a maid of honour (congrats ta!)….then came home to a bunch of other randomness.

While my summer was full of adventure, hidden just beneath the mask I wear were heart break after heart break.  Goodbye after goodbye.  fml.  the day after the softball tournament, my wonderful manager called me and told me he was going to be leaving. Not just leaving my branch, but leaving my bank all together.  Just like that.  I was in the process of telling him about my double RBI….JesusChrist.  I cried all the way home.  and for pretty much to Mexico, and then back…especially when the onslaught of questions came because people wanted to know where my boss went.  Then I cried all the way to Hong Kong because I KNEW J would leave…and then B would leave.  My manager asked me once what made me go to work…those three guys made me want to go in to work every morning.

In the process, I found shelter with D.  When I couldn’t stand to be at the branch anymore because I couldn’t stand the questions, I couldn’t stand having lunch with two guys that were like ticking time bombs, about to blow my life apart.  D took me out to lunch and listened…and played games with me on his iPhone lol.  With him, I found safety…sanity…and while we laughed, my heart missed a couple of beats.

Summer was spent at work, and on the baseball field.  Who knew I would end up finding peace and enjoyment at a local park watching a bunch of people i didn’t even know (or understand a word they said) play baseball?

The goodbyes came, unavoidably.  But they also showed me that it’s not really goodbye if you made sure it wasn’t.  Since, we’ve met up for drinks and dinner, and even managed a weekend trip that would’ve been impossible had we been at the same branch still.  I miss them still…dearly…every morning when I walk in to work.  I wish I had the same sense of safety as when they were there…knowing someone would have my back, no matter what.

Fall came and went….then came the Christmas season.  I can’t say it was one I really want to remember.  Especially our work Christmas party…it broke my heart…but still…while on one had he held the knife which stabbed me over and over, he also managed to make me smile again.

2011 forced me to stand on my own…. how I wish I wasn’t.

the best of the best.

In a very brief nutshell…those were the main highlights of 2011.  Not that anyone cares.  I’ll be back with Dong Yi….and the new one that I’m watching: The Moon that Embraces the Sun.  Loving that one so far too.  They’re only on episode 6 in Korea, so it’ll be a while 🙂

 

…off the face of the earth.

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If you don’t want to get hurt…

good luck with that one.  If anyone’s figured out how to live a full life and not get hurt, please do let me know.

Today’s the last day of August.  It’s been a summer filled to the brim with adventures and firsts – I’m trying very hard to live life.

Mexico was pretty much a week full of firsts: first time to Mexico, first time to go to the airport at 4am, first all nighter since BCIT, first beach, first bikini, first all inclusive, first HAMMOCK (oh loves!), first time running around in a tropical storm at 2am drunk out of my mind, first snorkel, first scuba, first CLIFF JUMP!, first cenote, first time at Chichen Itza (it’s a chicken?), first beach wedding! first whale shark, first Isle of Coco, first sunburn (!), first so many everything~

HK was actually quite adventurous too actually, which is strange because I go back on an annual basis.  It’s like taxes…I’ll be there. 😉  First time as maid of honour (Rita, I love you~), first wedding speech (ohmygad), first spa in HK, first time in SheungWan during a freak storm which flooded every freakin intersection, first time (x 6) to Elements and the Sky100 + Ritz Carlton, first time inside Peninsula, first time I met with Daniel, Tim, BenG and ChiChi in HK, first time I got along with the cat I don’t like….etc.  Happy I got to share my birthday with my Gramma!  and Ta!! Even though these yearly trips are now pretty much a must, it’s always felt like I’m going home.  I’m thankful that I can feel that way…thankful of all the love that is still there waiting for me.

Oh…hit my first, and prabably last, double this summer for softball.
First time I’ve gone to watch baseball…first time I’ve enjoyed baseball. I’m in denial…caught my dad watching MLB the other day…he raised his eyebrow at me when I walked by and laughed at me. -_-”

First time I’ve gotten so completely hooked on Korean dramas. O_o sighs.

But as adventurous and first time worthy as summer 2011 was for me…. underneath it all, I just wished I could’ve been there for you…. miss you lots, baby girl.  Hope you’re doing ok.

And as September closes in, Greenday once again rolls through my mind:  Wake me up when September ends.

13 days.  In 13 days it’d be 10 years. Grampa, I miss your smile.

…Don’t fall in love.

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not ready for reality

it’s my birthday tomorrow.

i’m celebrating with Rita for the first time in half a decade plus. 
was originally going to celebrate with kathy also in like half a decade.

why are my two best so bloody far away?! roar.

i miss vancouver.

but i also miss hong kong already.

p.s. would you go for what’s within reach, or reach for the unattainable?

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Going Home. Part One.

Every year, I return to HK because my gramma is there.  Every year, I pack and sort of wish I didn’t have to spend all my vacation time there.  Then I look at my room and miss it a little.

Then every year I get off the plane and load myself onto a bus and think “Welcome home, Echo.” and my heart swells just a little bit when I walk through the street and buzz myself into the apartment.

This time is no different.

Except part of my heart is in Vancouver right now, so I really wish I could stay.  Always with you babygirl, no matter where I am and how pathetic our timing is.

Updates from across the ocean?

p.s. you won’t realise how much i really needed that hug tonight.  thank you.

it’s a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we’re aware
its a small world after all

There is just one moon and one golden sun 
And a smile means friendship to everyone. 
Though the mountains divide 
And the oceans are wide 
It’s a small small world 

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Crap, I blinked….

…too many times for it to be mid June already.

So. I don’t even know what I’ve done in the past 4 months really. Gotta check my calendar and planner.

Highlights?

[+] getting to go to Canucks Playoffs round 1 game 7 where Burr scored that OT game winner and I screamed til I lost my voice.
[+] watching the Canucks go all the way to the Stanley Cup finals….and perhaps bringing the cup home with them tonight from Boston. 🙂
[+] shopping trips to the states to get prep’d for Mexico 2011!
[+] softball season! practice every sunday made me feel active. lol and the tournament rocked my world.
[+] first time on a beach! in a bikini! actually had to get used to feeling so scandalous lol
[+] Mexico. It’ll have its own post eventually, I’m sure 😉

the lowlights:
[-] watching the Nucks lose twice in Mexico. *sad face
[-] having to leave work in a pinch when i left for Mexico (yes, I felt bad for leaving on vacation. that’s a first)

and the ugly:
[=] the reason for the pinch at work was Stan leaving us for CoastCapital with a 2 day notice. which led to me bursting into tears in front of my area manager when he came over to congratulate me on a great softball game. lol aw man I felt so bad. now i dread going back to work because it’s just not the same without Stan.
[=] coming home.

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