Tokyo, Japan: A Stroll in Ueno and Asakusa


Back in Fall 2016, I get to finally visit Japan. After ticket hunting since the start of the year and a long wait (yes, the sacrifice for a affordable but legit plane ride), it was another “big trip” of the year. Travelled there with my friends, we simply can’t stop smiling along the way. 7 hours of a plane ride with forced sleeps in between, we were just overly excited. Having somewhat an expectation built from simply watching TV or looking at photos.

It should be good, right!

It was during the fall season, maybe close-to-winter back when we were there so the weather was constantly gloomy. Out of 9 days, I think we only had about 1 or 2 days of sun!
Arrived in Narita, Tokyo, we decided to go to our apartment (BnB) in Uguisudani just to drop off our (super heavy) luggages before taking a stroll somewhere around Tokyo. And you of course gotta go for the Japan train ride while you’re there. Taxis in Japan are expensive! Save your money for the food or shopping.

Living too long in Singapore with the already-pretty-efficient public transports, I can’t help but compare the public transport, especially trains, in each country that I visit with the one in here. I must say, indeed Japan is one of the most efficient.

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The view from our apartment in Uguisudani. Not advertising the hotel, guys.

We had our 7 days Japan Rail Pass ready to travel all around Tokyo. This is one of the cheaper way to explore around Japan, rather than paying each trips separately. Simply put, JR Pass allows you to take unlimited train/bus rides during your stay. There are different types of the pass depending on your needs. There are some train lines that aren’t JR Pass friendly so have a read beforehand.

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George Town, Penang: Your Next Short Trip Idea for Cultural Sights and Food

Penang is rather peculiar destination compared to other Malaysia’s major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, and Malacca that I’ve visited for a short trip. Clean and neat streets, great food, and a cool transportation mode like the CAT (Central Area Transit), a free shuttle bus. In short, Penang is modern city that keeps its cultural root well.

Day 1
Arrived in Penang around 9 on a Saturday night, it was surprisingly quiet. Not much options of activities to do besides wandering around, tasting their street foods.
So before ending the night, we visited one street called New Lane Hawker Center, which was closed to become a food street at night. Complete with their plastic chairs and tables, this place provides you ranges of local dish from Char Kway Teow, Satay, Assam Laksa, Popiah, and many others.
The best part? It was just across the place I stayed, Hotel Sentral Georgetown. Appropriately convenient!

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Day 2
The next morning I went on visiting few touristy place for the sake of “been there-done that”, such as Fort Cornwallis, that Old-Clocktower, and Kapitan Keling Grand Mosque. Just hop on the free CAT ride! Free, easy, and the name is funny. CAT.
The majority of tourist spots or attractions are located at George Town and they are surprisingly accessible by just walking and the directions for the area are easy to understand too. As I said there above, clean and neat streets. Indeed!

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Street food seller are literally everywhere, by the corner of every small alley, in between streets, across the road, a shy away here and there. Not street food per se, more like a food shop, but selling street food. Get the idea?
One of the highlight of the street food was Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul located at Lebuh Keng Kwee, off Penang Road. It was a friggin’ long snaking queue for a bowl of Iced Chendol. For just RM 2.30 you get a small bowl of crushed ice, topped with wholesome and thick gula melaka, scoopful of red bean, and flooded with the coconut milk and Chendol itself. Heaven.
I devoured two full bowls in no time.

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Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
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The Chendol!

Day 3
The next day I continue to be a tourist. However, it was further away from George Town. Visited the old Buddhist temple – Kek Lok Si. Quite amusing to visit, given that we had to climb flights of stairs due to the fact that the temple is located in hilly place. I mean it when I use the word “climb”, I thought I lost few hundred grams at least. But hey, quite worth to visit and cool temple actually.

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After that, I continued the journey to the most skip-able trip of the trip; Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera). To cut the story short, you had to pay RM30 to take an ascending (elevating?) tram that get you to the top of the hill so you can have a bird eye view of Penang. Activities other than that? Nothing.
Maybe a bit of ice cream, yes.

Day 4
On the last day, I went full on tourist. One thing that make Penang attractive for tourists is their street murals created by local/international artists. The artworks appealed to tourist and it is scattered around the city’s streets and alleys, which force you to keep walking to find a different others. More than 30 murals and I don’t think I managed to visit each one of them, given the time and heat of the sun.
Was it really hot? Hot sunny days indeed. So again, I had two more bowls of Chendol.

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Some of the wall murals

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Overall, George Town, Penang, was a great city to visit on your short food trip and mini sight-seeing. Had I have more time, I would have visited other places like Batu Ferringhi or the resorts area as well.

Ultimately, I had great food and new place that I’d love to return back to. For another bowl of Chendol of course. Two bowls!

Recommended Food & Drinks:
• Penang Char Kway Teow
• Nasi Kandar (IMO, mixture of Nasi Padang Melayu and Nasi Briyani)
• Prawn Noodle or Assam Laksa
• Chendol (duh?!)

Recommended Place of Interest:
• Wall murals and artworks
• Camera Museum
• New Lane Hawker Centre
• Chulia Street and Love Lane (Cafes, Restaurants, Bars area)

George Town, Penang

This post was contributed by Raga Rasuanta
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