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18th January
written by Hazel

We had a really nice flight from Singapore to Tokyo.  And that’s coming from the girl with the deathly phobia of flying.  Really smooth, beautiful views and the food was good too.  It was a daytime flight, unusual for such a long flight, but I loved seeing some of the tropical islands and other scenery from the air.

We arrived in Tokyo just around sunset and began the adventure of getting to our hotel.  Since we only had a week in Japan we decided to book one hotel for the whole time and just focus on seeing the city.  It wasn’t enough time to see much else without having to race around like crazy and Tokyo is such a huge city we figured there would be plenty to see and do.

Tokyo is a very expensive place.  Our first encounter with this was just getting from the airport to our hotel.  The airport is about 80 kilometers from the city, and the convenient travel options are extremely costly.  We opted to take the local trains instead, an adventurous move for people who speak zero Japanese.  The subways in Japan take a little figuring out and although the main lines have signs in English, the smaller stations and trains rarely used by tourists do not always.  Fortunately, before we left the airport we grabbed a “Tokyo Handy Guide” (free at a ton of different tourist locations) which was a lifesaver in finding our way around.  Seriously, if you are going to Tokyo try to get one of these!

Our hotel, Grand House Hotel Changtee, was right next to one of the biggest train stations in the city in the Ikebukuro neighborhood.  We made it there with only a little confusion and the help of a very kind Japanese girl who tried very hard to speak English and assist us when we were looking lost.  The hotel provided a good map, so it was surprisingly straightforward getting from the train to the hotel.

However, we were starving by this time.  So on our way to the hotel we stopped at the least intimidating place we could find to eat – a ramen shop with pictures of the dishes and a sign in English saying “order by number.”  It was a good move.  We each got a huge bowl of noodle soup, mine had tempura green beans on top and Justin’s had tempura squid.  Then we stood at the counters with our backpacks still on our backs and slurped away at our delicious soup along with a bunch of men in suits.  Tasty, fast, and affordable.

The hotel was another great move.  We went for clean, well located, and with free wi-fi and this place was all that and more.

Futons in our Japanese style room

Futons in our Japanese style room

There was a choice between Japanese or western style rooms for the same price.  Of course we had to try out the Japanese style!  Our room was small, but very comfortable.  We had a tv, a nice bathroom, comfy futons, really fast internet, free tea and coffee, a microwave, and staff who spoke enough English to help us get around.  Much more expensive than SE Asia, but it felt luxurious to us.  So if you want a reasonably priced place to stay in Tokyo I can highly recommend it!

Converted into beds - pretty comfy!

Converted into beds - pretty comfy!

Japan was such a different experience than anywhere else we had been, so I’ll try and get lots of the little details into these posts.  Even though we didn’t travel far and wide, we had enough on our hands just soaking up the culture and taking everything in.  I loved it so much more than I ever anticipated.

Keyhole in the wall that operates the lights

Keyhole in the wall that operates the lights!

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