Monday, 4 October 2010

Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Kobe-Okayama-Hiroshima trip – 4 Oct 10

Another morning flight again... I left my home and called a cab to airport since there are not many cabs in the wee hours. I reached airport at around 5.30am and met up with CH, Fredrick and his relatives before we proceed to check in. We had our breakfast at Ya Kun. Hmm... not a good choice cos the bread is not nice at all. =(
The flight departs promptly at 7am and the flight is almost full. This is my longest flight to date as it takes 8hrs to reach Osaka with 1hr layover at Taipei Taoyuan Airport. Surprisingly, I didnt slept at all throughout the flight.
Bye bye Singapore
Does this cloud resemble a face?

I ordered beef stew which cost $8. A $3 top up will includes a drink and a dessert. The beef stew taste quite nice and it's one of the nicest meal that I have ate on the budget flight.

I was surprised when a flight attendant replied that we need to fill up the Taiwan immigration card even if we are only transiting in Taiwan. It turns out to be wrong later.
Beef stew

After about 4hrs, we reached Taipei Taoyuan Airport. Everyone on the plane has to alight including those flying to Osaka.
Taipei Taoyuan Airport

For those flying to Osaka, a transit card will be given when exiting the gate. There is a bit of confusion as the ground staff only told us to go one round to the scanning area before returning back to the gate. We missed the scanning area and walked until the immigration area and crossed a corridor to the gates on the other side. ><" We couldnt find the gate with Jetstar flight so we asked someone at the information counter. We then realised that we are at the wrong side. Hence we walked back again and we spotted the scanning area which is actually located before the passengers turned left into a long alley after disembarking from the gates.
Transit card
We have walked too far.

It was quite rush as the layover period is 40min only. There should be a ground crew guiding us to the scanning area as it was quite confusing for a first time passenger. The flight departed at 12.20pm from Taipei Taoyuan airport.
Japan immigration card
Custom declaration card

Finally, we reached Kansai International Airport at 4pm (GMT +7). Kansai International Airport is located on a man-made island and is one of the man-made structures that can be seen from outer space. It is linked to the mainland by Sky Gate Bridge.
Sky Gate Bridge

It doesnt take long to clear the immigration and I was quite surprised that both of my index fingers need to be scan. Normally, it's the thumb which is being scan. We collected our luggage and cleared the custom declaration. 
Arrival hall

The information counter is located at the centre of the arrival hall. Maps and brochures are available here. We asked the counter if we can purchase Nankai Airport express train tickets and Japan Universal Studio (USJ) tickets here. The Nankai Airport express train ticket cost ¥890 ~ S$14 and is the cheapest from Kansai Airport to Shinimamiya. The lady at the counter gave us each of us a USJ discount coupon but ticket has to be purchase at USJ. Original USJ ticket cost ¥5,800 and with this coupon, it cost ¥5,500 ~ S$87.
Map of Kansai region
Information center
Nankai Airport Express Ticket

We took a lift to the 2nd level and exit the airport. Kansai airport train station is located directly opposite.
Kansai airport train station
Tickets vending machines at Kansai airport train station

We walked to the JR Ticket Office which is located at the corner of the train station. We intend to buy JR West Rail pass and Sanyo pass. Seat reservation can be make at the Green Window (Midori-no-Madoguchi) Reservations Ticket Office.
JR Midori counters

We bought a 4 days Sanyo pass at ¥20,000 ~ S$317. However the staff doesnt allowed us to purchase the JR West Rail pass. We asked the staff but he seems to have problem explaining to us in English. He get his colleague to explain but they also cant articulate well. We intend to use the JR West Rail pass fom Kyoto to Kobe and within Kobe. This turn out to be blessing in disguise as we were too tired and didnt took much train ride on that day.
 Vadility of Sanyo Pass:
o Unlimited usage of the Sanyo Shinkansen (including nozomi) between Shin-Osaka and Hakata
o Unlimited usage of local trains on the Sanyo Main Line between Osaka and Shimonoseki
o Unlimited usage of JR trains in central Osaka and the JR airport trains between Kansai Airport and Osaka (including Haruka Limited Express)
o Unlimited usage of the JR ferry to Miyajima
o Seat reservations can be made for free
After returning back to Singaore, I did a check and discovered that each foreigner is limited to One pass when purchasing rail passes inside Japan.
 Sanyo Pass

We showed our ticket to the person at the glass counter and the gate will be open. Only use the automatic gates if tickets are purchased from the ticket machine.
JR & Nankai lines at Kansai Airport Station
Board showing train departure time, train platform and type of train

I choose to take Nankai train instead of JR train from Kansai airport as it is cheaper and faster. Nankai Limited Express train is ¥500 ~ S$8 more expensive than Nankai Airport  Express Train due to compulsory seat reservation. Since Kansai airport is the terminal station, one does not need to worry about not getting a seat in the train. Every dollar counts bcos everything is so expensive in Japan!!!
Nankai limited express train
Nankai Airport express train

Doesnt the interior of the train carriage resemble subway train carriage? This is the case in Japan except for those express train and shinkansen. There are also no steps on the trains when passenger has to alight or board the train from the platform. I remembered that when I took the trains to Malaysia when I was in my teens, the trains had such steps.
To my surprise, eating is allowed in train and subway yet they are so clean!
Interior of the Nankai Airport express train

The sun sets very early in Japan at around 4.30pm.
My first sunset in Japan
We reached Nankai Shinimamiya Station after 40min train journey. It was already pitch dark when we exit the train station. We managed to find our way to Hotel Chuo Selene which is about 10min walk away.
I choose to stay in Hotel Chuo Selene as it is a new hotel which was open in Mar10 and the rate is cheap at ¥6,000 for double room. It is also conveniently located near Nankai Shinimamiya Station, JR Shinimamiya Station and Dobutsuen mae subway station.

 Hotel lobby

We were given 2 rooms on the 7th floor and 1 room on the 6th floor. We requested for all rooms on the same floor to discover that there are only 2 twin rooms on each floor.
Hotel access card

When I opened the room, I was a bit disappointed as the room is not as big as what was displayed on the website. As there are only 2 twin room on each level, it's the other room which is bigger. In fact, this is the largest room that we will be staying throughout our trip.
 Twin room

We left our luggage in the hotel room and left for dinner. We encountered some difficulty in buying the subway tickets as some of the destinations in the machine are displayed in Hiragana and not Hanji. Luckily, a Taiwanese guy helped us to select the destination.

Frankly speaking, it's easier to buy tickets by selecting the fare amount than destination. For the fare to your destination, refer to the map above the ticket machines and locate your destination and fare. I use this method for the rest of the trip. 
Subway ticket machine
Subway ticket
Female carriage boarding point
Inside the subway carriage

We reached Namba in 5min and there are many exits at Namba station. Dotonbori is at Exit 14.

Dotonbori is a popular tourist destination in Osaka. Dotonbori is famous for the neon billboard and restaurants.
Osaka Shochiku-za Theatre
Takoyaki shop
Famous Kani Doraku (Crab restaurant)
Restaurants along Dotonbori
Anybody know the name of this restaurant?
Where is superman's companion?
A shrine in Dotonbori

We were quite famised and in the end we settled for ramen after walking around. We had to purchase the food ticket at a vending machine outside the shop. After purchasing, we gave the ticket to the waiter and wait for our food. This shop is quite narrow as it is just a row of tables surrounding the serving area and customer enter and exit at different doors.
The ramen shop where we had our dinner
Choice of ramen

 Waiting for our ramen

I ordered a bowl of pork and egg ramen which cost ¥850 ~ S$13, that's expensive! 
Pork & Egg Ramen
I love the egg!!!
Takoyaki shop
Catering to different nationalities
Takoyaki (A box of 9 takoyaki cost ¥500)
Dotonbori canal

Glico man is the famous symbol of Glico confectionery. When I was blogging, I discovered that actually Glico confectionery is the manufacturer of Pocky & Pretz. 
 Glico man
Asahi beer advertisement
Jinro is a famous Korean soju producer
I just dont understand why Singaporean are so crazy about Uniqlo

While on our way home, we passed by a Pachinko shop. I didnt entered as the shop is full of cigarettes smell. So stinky!
 Pachinko machines

We also passed by a carpark and I wondered how this carpark works as there is a metal hose shape at the front of the parking lot.
Automated carpark

We discovered that the hotel is located beside the railway but was too tired to be disturbed by the train.

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