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Catching Sakura – Spring 2015

In our previous trips to Japan, we never really have chance to get real fully-bloom Sakura. Our last trip was 2 years ago on April 16th and the sakura season was already ended. So we plan our trip at the end of March, hoping to get Sakura at its best.

Well, we were not so lucky. When we arrived on March 20th, the temperature was still cold, so we would not see many blooming soon. We prayed that in a week time when we are still in Japan, many of them will bloom. Turns out, we were a week too early. This year’s Sakura around Tokyo blooms at its peak at the end of March-early April (which is now!).

But we did catch some early Sakura and think positively that this is a sign to visit Japan again in the future 🙂

Any of you wish to catch Sakura in Japan, these websites are very useful to see Sakura forecast

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011.html

http://hanami.walkerplus.com/

 

Sakura by the Kamo River, Kyoto

Sakura by the Kamo River, Kyoto

 

Sakura at Park near Tsukuba Daigaku Oikoshi

Sakura at Park near Tsukuba Daigaku Oikoshi

 

Early Sakura at the entrance of Ueno Park

Early Sakura at the entrance of Ueno Park

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Planning a trip – start

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Planning a getaway is always a fun thing to do 🙂 But sometimes, the excitement confuse us on where to start 😉

Few tips from my experience on how to start planning a trip

1. List down all attractions of your destination – everything, don’t hold back 😀

Then sort the list based on priority, which attraction you would like to visit most, and less.

 

2. Make simple table in a spreadsheet to start your itineraryaaa

Day – to remind you , because day matters (some attraction like museum is closed in particular day).

Date – put the date

Agenda – put the attraction name that you want to visit that day. Not everything in your #1 list will fit into the itinerary (depend on how long will you stay), that’s the reason to sort it based on the priority. Don’t be too sad, the list of places that cannot make it to your itinerary is a motivation for you to make another trip! Hehe

Lodge – doesn’t have to be spesific hotel/hostel, but the area where you will stay the night.

Remark – useful link of the attraction, etc.

When starting the itinerary, I usually downloaded area and transporation maps to help me understand the mobility (so I know how to group attraction based on their location and how to hop on to next destination).

 

3. Calculate the budget

I always travel on a budget, so this part is vital for me 😀

Add more columns to your itinerary

abbLodge – budget for hotel/hostel each night. If you don’t have exact amount, make approximation by searching general hotel/hostel fare in the area.

Transport – transportation budget from one attaraction to another, or approximate by day if you don’t have the detail. (For Japan, you can use this site)

Meals – budget for meals & snack per day

Misc. – for misc expense like admission fee to attraction, airport tax, souvenirs, etc.

You’ll have the overall budget. Then you can see if still fits your budget, and adjust the itinerary accordingly (remove some attraction with expensive admission fee? cut off the meal budget? stay in hostel rather that a hotel?).

 

There you go, you have the simple travel itinerary now 🙂 this will also be useful when you’re applying for visa (the embassy usually asks for travel itinerary).

Happy traveling!

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Useful Links for Planning Travel to Japan

Few sites I found very useful when planning travel to Japan

1. Japan Guide – almost all information you need about Japan and a useful forum to ask questions/share.

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2.  Hyperdia – super useful on checking transportation in Japan including timetable and fares. I also have the apps one installed in my phone.

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3. JNTO (Japan Nationa Tourism Organization) – useful interaction maps and itinerary suggestion.

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4. Tokyo Metro – for Tokyo Subway Maps

One thing I did not find is a site that provides a good downloadable maps of Japan. Whereas I consider this very important on planning my trips. I need to know geographically the places to decide travel route (together with subway/train maps).
I did find what I was looking for in form of brochure, when I arrived in Japan in Tourist Information Center.

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Hope this is useful for you who is going to exlplore Japan. Happy traveling!

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Lembang, July 2013

Finally had the first family trip since..well, looong time ago, I suppose. Also intended as family gathering before Ramadhan.
The venue: Mountain Spring Resort Lembang, Bandung- around 1km from Pasar Lembang. Rented two villas (2 bedrooms each) side by side.
Had barbeque at night (arrived Friday evening), some exercise and gift exchanged in the morning. Lazy lazy committee for not planning more programs xixixi

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Joining the team was mostly mom’s and madang’s family (madang = mama gadang = mom’s big sister). I lived with Madang when I was a kid so this is basically my extended core family 🙂
I remember the time when I shared room with my cousin, and when we started being a grown up and had a girl chitchat.
Oh…how time flies..

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Fujiko F Fujio Museum

Ever since I knew that this museum exist from my friend’s pics in FB, I was determined that I HAVE to visit the museum on my next visit to Japan 😀
As a loyal viewer of Doraemon, I would love to ‘meet’ his creator, also to meet the ‘real’ Doraemon. So there it was, listed on our must-visit in our trip to Japan last April.
The thing was, the ticket museum must be purchased in advance via loppi machine in Lawson convenient store in JAPAN. To visit the museum, we need to purchase the ticket a month – 2 weeks prior the visit. And we only started to arrange itinerary around 3 weeks before the visit. We’re doomed! 😀
My sister in Tsukuba helped us to purchase the ticket, so we are saved for April 25 2013, 10 am.

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Fujiko F Fujio Museum tickets

The ticket is 1000 yen for adult, and you must determine the visiting date and time when purchasing the ticket. There are 4 options of visiting time: 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, and 16:00. The website states that we need to enter the museum no later than half an hour within the reservation time.
The museum is located in Kawasaki, nearest stations are passed by JR Nanbu Line (Noborito and Shukugawara sta.) and Odakyu-Odawara Line (Mukougaoka yuen and Noborito sta.) from Tokyo.
It’s a long journey for us since we departed from Tsukuba, so we have to leave early in the morning after the exhaustion in Tokyo DisneySea the day (night) before. Aaandd..we missed the train so we need to wait for the next one and it screwed our plan. We were anxious whether we can get to the museum on time (or 10:30 am the latest).
We took the Tsukuba Express train to Akihabara then JR Chuo Line to Shinjuku, then JR Odakyu Odawara Line to Mukogaoka yuen station. It was a looong ride and we made plenty of unwise decisions here 😀 First, taking Chuo Line in work rush hour is very bad decision – it is packed!
Second, we should’ve gotten off in Noborito station and take the shuttle bus to the museum instead of got off in Mukogaoka yuen and walked to the station. We thought that we can still make it, but the stated 16mins walking distance from Mukagaoka yuen to the museum in the website turned out to be JAPANESE WALKING distance and the distance is actually about 1km. Hahaha
So anyone who’s visiting Fujiko Fujio Museum, please take shuttle bus from Noborito station. It’s moreee convenient and the bus is cute too 😀

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Noborito Station, shuttle bus to the museum is just in front of it

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Shuttle bus to the museum. Kawaiii 😀

By some miracle we made it to the museum at 10:30 and greeted warmly by the museum staff. In the front office, we were briefed what to do and must not do in Museum. The museum has 2 exhibition rooms, a theater, playing room for kids, a cafe, backyard and rooftop for taking pictures and have a walk.
The two exhibition rooms tell story about Fujiko Fujio life and masterpieces. We were lent a guiding device to hear information of each item exhibited. Taking picture is not allowed on the exhibition rooms. My favorite section in room 1 is hologramic screens showing the process of making manga 🙂 The exhibition section also has the replica of Fujiko’s office which is packed with science fiction books, dinosaur books and figurines. Giving the thought, Doraemon is also a science fiction movie rather that ordinary “imaginary” manga. There I know where Fujiko got his inspiration and that his work resembles very much of his interest.
At the end of exhibition sections, we were asked to return the guiding device to the staff there. The drawer to store the devices is in the form of Doraemon magic pocket 😀

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Would love to have similar in my house :p

The next room is play room for kids (no adult allowed to enter) and a long bench to read Doraemon manga (unfortunately in Japanese hiks).

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Meet Doraemon and Dorayaki 😀

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Manga

On the 3rd floor is Doraemon cafe, the menu seems delicious and cute buuutt very expensive so we skipped this area (we bought some dorayaki for take away though). And finally the backyard and rooftop with some of Fujiko’s movie character to take picture with.

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Pintu kemana saja - it's on top of my magical wishlist

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characters

It’s been a lovely day in the museum. Downside: it’s a small small building and I expect more Doraemon to meet hehe..

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Museum Visit: Bank Indonesia Museum

It was 2.30 pm already. based on the information i gathered, most of museum in Jakarta is closed on 3 pm. That’s why I’m not sure if we could visit another museum. But we should not give up without trying. So, there we were, headed to Bank Indonesia (Indonesia Central Bank) Museum. I knew that the museum was new, so it better be a good one 😀

Fortunately, the museum was still open. I knew later that the working hour for this museum was up to 4 pm on Saturday.  And this brand new museum was really awesome!! Instead of giving us many rooms to visit, they gave us a journey. They arranged the sequence so that we would get the whole story.

Started by introducing the old Indonesia history, an archipelago with rich natural resources, especially spices that have been known in an entire world. Next is the Indonesia and its economic history: the beginning of Bank Indonesia (was De Javasche Bank) and the modern Indonesia economic policy and polemics. This museum surely gave me more than a sightseeing, introducing me to the importance of economic strength for a country.

the entrance

metamorphosis of BI logo

I will surely recommend this museum to everyone who’s visiting Jakarta! 😀

We ended our tour in Bank Indonesia museum (it’s 4 pm already), and walked to the car. My stomatch was longing for a food, so we decided to find someplace to eat. And since we did not want Simon to have issue with food hygiene, we went to Grand Indonesia for meal.

After meal, we had some walk to Gramedia, looking for Jakarta history book. Fortunately, we found one there! Its title is “Historical Sites of Jakarta” by AJ Heuken. Good book with great pictures 🙂

Historical Sites of Jakarta

And it ended our one day museum tour. Never thought that visiting museum could be so fun. Seriously. From now on, I think museum will be one of my destination for vacation. Anybody want to join me? 😉

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Museum Visit: Fatahillah Museum

Our third destination was Fatahillah Museum (also known as Jakarta History Museum). I was not really interested on this museum, don’t know why. But I did enjoy sitting on its backyard, so cozy and windy! 😀 And i love the building architerture, too.

The building used to be a city hall of Batavia, the old Jakarta, built on 1707. And the building basement used to be a prison. In front of the building is a large yard, filled with hawkers at the time of our visit :p

It cost Rp.2,000 to go in. Here, we found collections of old furnitures (bed, huge cupboard, chairs, etc) used by the Batavia governors and official. And of course, the trademark of Museum Fatahillah, Si Jagur Cannon and Hermes Statue.

at the backyard

like this! 🙂

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Simon was looking for historical book of Jakarta at the gift shop. Unfortunatelly, the book was soooo expensive (with poor quality). I guess he was looking for the historical book to learn further about the Jakarta history (since he came to the museums). Cool! 🙂

Right in front of the gift shop, I found kerak telor seller. Wooow…can not miss it, since you hardly can find one out there. So there we were, buy kerak telor and teh botol sosro (Simon liked teh botol sosro, and he ate some of my kerak telor too). This is the best part of Museum Fatahillah. Hahaha

Our next destination supposed to be the Art and Ceramic Museum, just next to Fatahillah Museum. But when we got closer to the gate, one of the security said that the museum was closed for a wedding party. What???!! Where can you find a museum closed for a wedding? Only in Indonesia :p