An RM800 return ticket to Tokyo.
My eyes were practically glued to the computer screen when my colleague, Vicky was standing next to me. I was partially poisoned by a full-fledged advertising campaign by Maddie, another colleague of mine, who just came back from a ten-day trip to Japan as well.”You will love it there,” she assured me with almost unprecedented confidence oozing out her every pore.
By the time I was thinking about the financial implication that I am about to incur, Vicky looked at me and asked: “What are you still thinking about? This is really cheap.” Well, she did have a point, that was what I already knew. How much is the entire trip going to cost me?
Vietnam Air was something I have never taken before. But oh, what the heck. I may not know when exactly is my last day, but counting back the days after deducting the possible amount of annual leave left, I should be able to go by the last week of June. When I clicked “Buy Now”, I know one thing for sure: I am definitely going to Japan now. With a quick search on Airbnb, I booked a bed in a dormitory for RM70 per night at a district near Shinjuku station.
I barely had the time to plan for anything. We were rushing for the Raya campaign in the office on the last few weeks I was with NagaDDB. On the very day of departure, I was only armed with Maddie’s itinerary (which was the most beautiful one to date I have ever seen) and Tokyo Cheapo (which was recommended by Calvin Choong), then I was on my way to the land of the rising sun.
The flight was decent, I was able to get 30KG luggage allocation and in-flight meal with an AirAsia price. The only downside is the one-hour transit at Hanoi airport, which I had no qualms about. Arrived at Narita airport in the morning and took Tokyo Shuttle to Tokyo station for 1,000 yen (~RM39). Then swiftly bought a Suica card for 500 yen (~RM18) and reloaded 4,000 yen (~RM156) at the Tokyo station.
I must admit, deciphering the Tokyo train system will take some time. Do spend some time on that on your first day before taking the super express train and ended up a few hundred kilometers away from your intended destination. Some lines like Odakyu line have local trains that stop in all stations and express trains that stop in some stations only. Avoiding the rush hour is a smart thing to do because remember those sardine-packed train videos you see on social media? It’s as real as it gets.
If you are 6ft and above, please be extra careful with low door frames, ceilings, showerheads, beddings and almost everything here in Japan. Travel light with small bags because maneuvering in compact shops and restaurants would require extensive planning as well.
During my stay in Tokyo, the weather was not as forgiving as I wish it would.
It was the spring showers for the entire week I was here. Probably because of the rain, I was down with the basic package of under the weather: flu, cough, and fever. Note to self, avoid June at all cost. I was lucky to have a friend while I was there, KK bought medicine for me and my daily schedule was reduced down to 4 hours per day before my head felt like it was going to explode into million pieces.
Walked the streets of a suburban neighbourhood at Nakano, intentionally got lost between the high rise buildings near Ginza and wandered around everywhere in between these two. Liberating may not be the word I’m looking for, but it was surely distinctive.
I won’t discount the fact that it’s really fast-paced in Tokyo. People are all living their life, efficiently, I suppose. Beside one of the most advanced metropolitan concrete jungle, culture and history still lived side-by-side. Personally, I enjoyed the tension between progression and preservation in cities like this. They are reserved and open and the same time, which was starkingly interesting to me. You would see traditional Izakaya (Japanese restaurant and pub) on one end of the street and a 7-storey sex shop on the other end. Personally, it was very eye-opening.
Eating was utterly euphoric in Japan, but please refrain from converting the currency. The trick here is to eat like a king during lunch hour by taking advantage of their lunch sets in most restaurants and eat Japanese food in fast food chains all around Tokyo for dinner. Lunch sets would roughly cost around 1,500 yen (~RM58) and dinner would set you back around 500 yen (~RM18). Take a random trip and have a go at the local supermarket and try their rice bowls. Their portions are huge, even for me, and it tastes amazing. Worth every yen you poured into the cash registry.
Take a sip of Japanese whiskey while you’re at it. Or, the newest craze in town, the Japanese wine, if you prefer something lighter. And grab a bottle of umeshu for 1,500 yen (~RM58) before you head back to your dorm and you’ll stay happy for the night and make some new friends too!
I won’t consider myself a shopping kind of person. You know, those who won’t buy anything even if he spent a day in Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. But when I took a spin at Tokyu Hands, a lifestyle store that sells practically anything under the sun (can be found in the more crowded train stations), I ended up with a mug, a coffee grinder, cold brew bottle, and three tea brewers, which set me back by around 10,000 yen (~RM390). I guess, I can’t resist creative solutions to our everyday grind.
I went on to meet up another friend, Chen Liang before flying back home. Splurged a bit on our food budget and tried the Japanese buffet Yakiniku (grilled meat) for 5,000 yen (~RM195) per person. Broke my allocation of meat for the entire week ahead, because it was simply a meat galore. If you can’t live without meat, please make sure you put this in your itinerary.
Took Tokyo Shuttle back to Narita airport and grabbed whatever was left of Tokyo Banana as souvenirs for around 1,000 yen (~RM39) for 8 pieces. I was carrying 6 boxes around the airport like I’m addicted to these banana cake filled with banana flavoured custard.
The total cost for the entire trip? RM3,000 with random splurges here and there. Yes, and it’s entirely possible. Perhaps it’s your turn to go to Japan now. =)