All posts tagged: Asia

Journey to the Bucolic Japanese Alps – Shirakawa-go and the Gifu Prefecture (Part 2)

Waking up to birds chirping in the garden from my Japanese futon somehow felt surreal. This was a strong contrast from the night before, where I slept in a small modern hotel room in the center of Tokyo. As I watched the sun streams in through the paper windows, a sense of serenity enveloped me. It was mostly due to the time difference that I was awake this early to enjoy this moment. It was joyful to listen and observe nature doing its morning song and dance. I could’ve stayed in bed much longer but another day of exploring the Gifu region beckoned me to get up and start my day. I still had 30 minutes before breakfast, so my sister and I took advantage of the quiet morning and rode our bikes around the village. As it was very early, and no one was out and about yet, we had the roads to ourselves to leisurely admire the mountain scenery around us. There was a sense of freedom and playfulness that we don’t often …

A Short Visit to Tokyo

Tokyo is a dizzying hub of sights and sounds and was also the first destination on this 2.5 week trip to Japan for my mom’s special birthday. While I have been exploring this city over the past 10 years, it was her first time in Tokyo,  I created this truncated itinerary to give her the best flavors of Tokyo in a relatively short duration and I’m excited to share it with you. Day 1: Arrival into Narita Terminal 2 and the Shibuya Scramble We arrived on Japan Airline at Narita Terminal 2 in the early afternoon and proceeded to procure a pocket Wifi. This was very important as we needed the data service for navigation throughout the country. I went to the J Wifi and JAL ABC counters located on the first floor and Softbank Global Rental and XCom Global counters located in the basement level near the train platform to search for the best data plan. (see Terminal 2 map) After getting my exercise running around the terminal, I concluded that J Wifi had …

Review: Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas

Phuket has always been on my list to visit whenever I am in the southeast Asia due to the inordinate amount of enticing beach photos that are published on social media. On my recent trip to the region, I was able to fit a few days in Phuket. The biggest question while researching the popular destination was where to stay because Phuket is renowned for its amazing luxury resorts and party towns. After receiving advice from my Thai friends, I opted to stay in the northwest region of Phuket as the weather is better there in November and my main objective was to relax. I selected a 5-day stay in a pool villa at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket Villas located near the Sirinath National Park. Did the 5-star resort meet my expectations? Positives: This 91 villa-only resort is catered to honeymooners and high-end clientele. The location is approximately a 20-minute cab ride from Phuket International Airport. Each villa has an infinity pool making it a perfect spot to hide away for days. Alternatively, there …

3 “Days” of Gluttony in Osaka, Japan

Osaka has been a YouTube sensation over the past few years due to its reputation as a street food haven. The city has been overshadowed by Tokyo and Kyoto for the last decade and is now finally coming into its own. On my recent trip to Japan, I made it a point to include this foodie destination on my itinerary and the city did not disappoint. I had limited time since it was only three full days, so my trip was packed with eating and some sight-seeing. This is my foodie adventure in the kitchen of Japan. Day 1: Dotonbori I had underestimated how long it would take for me to travel from Bangkok, so by the time I arrived at my hotel, it was already 7pm. Since I only had three full “days” in Osaka, every minute counted. I quickly made my way to Dotonbori, the heart of Osaka’s entertainment district, which reminded me of New York’s Times Square with its bright neon signs and throngs of tourists. I quickly searched for Mizuno, the …

A Layover in Narita, Japan

On a recent trip to Asia, I decided to have a 12 hours layover in Narita to explore the city. Narita Airport is at least 40 minutes on a train from Tokyo while Narita city is only a 10 minutes train ride away. Narita city is not about the sights as there are few things to see. However the city boast an abundance of charm and a good way to observe everyday Japanese’s lives for a short duration. Narita is known for grilled eel or unagi and that is where my senses led me. I was fortunate to have a friend residing in Japan meet me in Narita for a short sight seeing break. This is the breakdown of my  adventure in Narita. I had Japan Airlines’ Sakura Lounge access so I was able to freshen up after a red eye flight and grab a quick bite in the lounge. I stored my luggage at the lounge but there are locker options at the arrival hall as well. You can inquire about the locker option at the information …

Must Do’s: Select Local Eateries in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC”) is the center of a diverse food and modern culture in Vietnam. HCMC is also the largest city in Vietnam and home to approximately 9 million people and growing. The city has gone through many iterations from an important Khmer seaport up to the 17th century to a romantic city under French colonization and now a vibrant metropolis in 2016. With its diverse history, it is no wonder that the variety of food is present in HCMC. I asked a good friend of mine to scout her favorite places to eat in HCMC and the following places are her recommendations. Ốc Đào (Seafood Restaurant) Address: 214/C84 Nguyễn Trãi St, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam Open: noon – 9:00 pm This is a quintessential local hangout for friends and co-workers. This restaurant serves many different types of snails and seafood at reasonable prices and has good quality. Don’t be afraid to check this restaurant out as they have pictures for non-Vietnamese speakers. Banh Mi Huynh Hoa (Vietnamese Sandwiches) Address: …

Hotel Review: Lotus Blanc Resort (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

On my recent 3.5 day trip to Siem Reap, I decided to check out a local boutique hotel instead of staying in better known international hotels. I combed through the offerings for 5 stars hotels on booking.com and other similar sites and decided to give Lotus Blanc Resort a try. I did not know what to expect from this hotel when I arrived in Siem Reap. There are some positives and negatives to staying at this resort. Even though the hotel is listed as a 5 stars establishment, it is really on par with 3.5 to 4 stars international rating. Overall, I rated this hotel 4 out of 5 stars as explained below. Website: http://lotusblancresort.com/ Room (3.5/5) The hotel was built approximately 10 years ago and recently changed owners.  All the rooms and public spaces were renovated two years ago.  I had the Landmark room that comes with a double bed and is very spacious. The room décor is a mix of modern with a lot of wood furniture that is typically seen at Asian resorts. Even though it was …