A huge part of my Japan trip was inspired by anime. I guess there is nothing more cliche than going on a pilgrimage to the location basis of one of my fave show, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni! So I went to Shirakawa-go, the basis of the cursed Hinamizawa town in the anime.
From Atami, I took the shinkansen to Nagoya and boarded a local train to Takayama. It will be a 2h30m journey from Nagoya so make sure you are full or you have a bento ready before you board!
My Japan trip started on March 8 and because it is an early morning flight and my family is away, I had to camp (yet again) at the airport. Seriously though, I can count the times that I didn’t camp at the airport because of the flight schedule. I’m used to sleeping on the airport floors though.
I was on CEB, Flight 5J5054. Check-in and boarding went exactly as promised. Actually, before this flight, I stalked its flight history and saw that it is early or on-time most of the time. Indeed, we left a little behind the schedule but arrived a little earlier at NRT. I didn’t have proper sleep this time not to mention that I didn’t avail an in-flight meal so to avoid the hunger, I slept during the whole flight. #streetwisetips
SO… I woke up and we are only an hour away to Narita!
After a fast lining up at the immigration and claiming my baggage, I’m off to my journey… TO FIND LUNCH! I was in Terminal 2 and I got lost in NRT finding the ‘4F Food Court’ because apparently its floor is like a mezzanine. It is not connected to the escalators and elevators that you used going up from the arrivals area to the departures area. You have to pass by the check-in counters to go up. So before finding a place to eat, I searched for the post office to get my pocket WiFi. The post office is at the 3rd floor and if you are facing the check-in counters from the departures entrance, it is at your left side. It has this sign- 〒
I had this lunch set at UCC for JPY1200. I discovered that this is expensive.
Visiting Japan is my greatest (and most feasible) dream. I’ve been always told that I need a lot of money to go there because everything is expense most especially the airfare and you need to have a high amount of ‘show money’ for the visa. I was actually told that I needed to prepare Php300k for the show money and was given a safe estimate of Php100k for an all-in 7 days trip to Japan! Given that I am just a starting employee, fulfilling my dream to go to Japan seemed to be far-fetched.
HOWEVER… the odds suddenly became all in my favor and will you believe, I managed to spend only a little above Php40k all-in on my 7D6N Japan trip! In this series of blog posts, I will tell you about my Japan experience and how I managed to spend that little for a country that is notorious for having everything expensive.
Let’s start with my preparation in the Philippines!
Step 1. Airfare
You might be surprised why this is my #1 step in preparing for my Japan trip but I would not be going on this trip if I wasn’t able to stumble upon this ridiculous airfare discount— Cebu Pacific’s Piso Fare! For my non-Filipino friends, piso fare means that the base fare for the selected flights of Cebu Pacific will only cost Php1 (piso) which is like, USD0.023! They usually release on days with something to celebrate (i.e. holiday season, national holidays and heck, even Pacquiao’s win) so I suggest you do this:
Cebu Pac and other budget airlines in the Philippines like AirAsia usually release their promo fares at midnight, but it depends as I got to know about the promo fare that I availed while derping on Facebook at around 7 in the morning. (Cebu Pac didn’t pay me for this or anything, I am just a satisfied customer 🙂 )
Overall, my roundtrip airfare for MNL-NRT-MNL with 15kg baggage allowance on both trips was Php6574 (USD149)! Generally, this is already such a big bargain but I think you can now go lower than this because they have removed the fuel surcharge after the long weeks of low fuel costs earlier this year. They released a Piso Fare without a fuel surcharge in January I think.
It was my first time with Cebu Pac and I was prepared with my contingency plans if ever my flight got cancelled or delayed. We departed not exactly as scheduled but we arrived a little earlier! If you are skeptical, check the flight history of 5J5054 here.
Take note that what I did was a gamble, because I do not hold a visa yet and this ticket is basically, non-refundable and non-transferable. Even name change is not allowed. I do not recommend flying on a budget airline during peak seasons, I haven’t experienced it but have seen that it is such a pain in the ass.
Before the Mozilla Festival, I had some time to explore London! I arrived at the London Heathrow Airport (LHR) at around 6AM and I have to commute via the Tube to the hotel. This trip is different from my other overseas adventures as it was my first time to travel alone! 🙁
When I arrived, I searched for the Tube station and bought a £5 Oyster Card that I loaded with £30 credits (which apparently was enough for my whole London transportation! My total transportation expense was £31). With a conversion £1=PHP70, I have experienced the rumors about all the stuff in London being hella expensive. For example, for two stations I paid around £2+ which is PHP140 in the Philippines. Hell, the most expensive train fare in Metro Manila is just around PHP20! 🙁
So from the Heathrow station, I boarded a Piccadilly line train to Green Park then walked to the Jubilee line train to Waterloo. I got lost on the Waterloo station and instead of going to the Westminster Bridge, I went to the Waterloo Bridge! I asked around and after around an hour of looking, I finally arrived at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge. The hotel is just along Westminster Bridge and you can see this awesome view of the Westminster Palace there. I arrived at around 8AM and there are no rooms available yet as check-in time is usually 2PM so I left my luggage and stayed at the lobby to rest before I head to my forever alone adventure. GOOD THING I stumbled upon Mozillians who do not have rooms yet as well and decided to go around London. Hello Deb, Sayak, Cliff and San James!
We arrived in California two days before the Mozilla Summit 2013. The first one was reserved to cope with the jetlag and flight delays (which btw didn’t happen, thanks to ANA’s strict observance of the time) and the other, to either more jetlag or going around the Bay Area. The team met at around 6AM at the NAIA Terminal 3. Arrived there quarter to 5, lol.
My birthday was kinda sad because I didn’t receive a birthday surprise that I have been wishing for (haha). But my birthday week was a blast! We played laser tag and had a generous serving of katsu on a Friday night and I had a fun weekend with the MozPH team in Laguna. Since I think I am not in-charge of creating an official blog report on the website regarding these events, I’m going to blog about my personal accounts! HAHA.
Maker Party U-belt
The birthday week started with a MozPH event, originally set on August 21 but moved due to the typhoon. I made a blog post about it here. Here’s my fave shots from that event:
Stormy yet eventful weekend! Despite the storm that we battled to get to the venue (WE WERE OVERLOOKING MANILA BAY!), I had a meeting with UPLB COSS about an event partnership and the newly formed WoMoz team had a meetup to discuss our event and project plans immediately after.
Oh yes I’ve been very gala lately. Hurrah bum life!
My father went home for my graduation and we took this opportunity to go places! (Read: the only one in the family who can drive) Well, the Bicol region is not really new to us as my mother grew up there and we’ve already paid a visit there when my siblings and I were younger.
To Bicolandia, we didn’t use SLEX and instead took the Rizal-Laguna route targetting Luisiana, Laguna to Quezon. We were in Pagsanjan and the direct route to Luisiana was not accessible due to damaged bridge. So we had a detour and went to Luisiana from Pagsanjan via Majayjay. I didn’t know Laguna has so many municipalities *actually Googling it now*. Laguna is just parallel to Rizal so I thought it would be more like it. Or maybe there are fewer towns in Rizal because some large chunks belong to one municipalities only (Rodriguez [aka Montalban] and Antipolo), not to mention Talim Island is divided into two municipalities. Anyway, I think I have passed by majority of the Laguna towns though with my frequent adventures lately, haha. Ha, too bad it won’t happen again anytime soon.
We passed by mountains, national parks (read: forests prone to errr, hold-ups lol) and sea!
For our Seminars and Field Trips course, we had a 5-day vacation in Cebu and Bohol! It this kinda ridiculous, really. For 5 days we have to leave all our academic commitments behind (and guess what, we went home on a Friday evening then we have a 7AM Saturday class after, lol I didn’t attend it). On the plus side, it was our only chance to have a getaway with our batchmates and for the last time in our academic life, relax (The events after this trip were rather harsh lol).