Friday, November 29, 2013

Travel Tips - Japan:Tokyo, Kamakura & Hakone

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                     JOTARO'S TRAVEL TIPS                   
Entrance to Engakuji Temple from Kita Kamakura Station.
These are tips we picked up during the course of preparation for our biking trip in Japan & while we there in these three cities (... see Cycling Japan 2013 blog). This page provides : useful net sites, hand-phone apps, maps and a simple discourse on the Japanese people. 
Hope this will be helpful.

Useful Net Sites:

For Travel Spots

Japan Guide : Tokyo
Japan Guide : Kamakura
Japan Guide : Hakone 
eBook : Lonely Planet Japan 12th edition

For Transportation & Hotels

Hyperdia (Rail Transportation)
Tokyo Sightseeing Bus Tour
- K's House Tokyo Backpackers' Hostel (for cheap lodging in Tokyo)
Fujimien Ryokan in Hakone (highly recommended)
- Hakone Free Pass (a pass that covers travel from Shinjuku Station to Hakone, free cruises, cable car rides, entry into selected sites - 5000Y for 2-day pass; 5500Y for 3-day pass).
Air Asia (for Air Travel) (Hotel bookings - this site is good as no deposits required, pay at counter) (Hotel bookings)
Tripadvisor (Hotel users' reviews)

Useful Apps For Hand-phones:

Travelling In Japan (a host of apps for travelling in Japan)
- Japan Trains (for Android)
- City Maps 2Go (offline maps for iPhone, $2.99)
- City Maps 2Go (offline maps for Android, free)
Learn Japanese Phrase Book (Basic Japanese - resides in memory, no internet required)
Easy Taxi (Booking taxies for Android, free)
Aldiko eBook Reader
- Sony Reader (eBook reader for PCs, Tablets & Handphones)

- Uniqlo thermal wear items are much cheaper in Japan, there's an outlet at Ameyoko, Tokyo.
- A lot of choices of Kit Kat available at Ameyoko Market Street. Wasabi Kit Kat available only at certain seasons, but is available at Haneda Airport shops anytime.
- At Haneda airport, shop at the upper floors. There are better deals there.
- Souvenir shopping at Hakone-yumoto and Kamakura is cheaper.
- A wide range of electronic goods at the Akibahara district.

Japanese People:

Generally, Japanese are disciplined, honest, courteous, helpful, clean, etc.
Disciplined - you won't see queue jumping, no bumping into people, etc.
Honest        - No worries about leaving things behind and getting them stolen. No snatch-thieves.
Courteous  - They greet people with warm smiles. In shops they will thank you profuesly, whether you make a purchase or not. "Arigato, Arigato! Unlike some other countries, where one will face sultry looks and rude remarks if one does not purchase or ask to many questions.
Helpful         - They will go out of their way to help lost tourist (like us) in their limited English.
Clean           - Most streets & alleys are clean, hardly any rubbish around. No lazy throwing of rubbish anywhere, even if public bins are scarce (many were removed after the subway poison attack). We noticed that in fast food outlets, they will clean up after finishing - even to the extent of wiping the tables, so do follow likewise.
Neat              - Products are nicely packed and arranged even in the wet markets. A lot of effort and detail made to ensure packaging is neat and beautiful.
Workers sifting out fallen leaves.
Meticulous - Japanese are meticulous in maintaining their image. At Sogenchi Gardens, workers could be seen sifting the ground to remove fallen leaves.
No Smoking!
Smoking Zones - Many areas are designated non-smoking zones. Smoke only where there is a public ash-tray stand.
Urinals for elderly and the blind
Handicapped Friendly - Special embossed floor tiles are there to help the blind. Raised line for normal walking and raised studs for junction points, top of stairs - and even for urinal standing positions. Railings for elderly - even for urinals.

Useful Maps (Airport & Train Stations)

(click on map for enlarged view)

Map of Kuala Lumpur Rail Links (More Info)

Map of Haneda Airport Terminal 2 for international flights (click here for interactive map).

Map of Tokyo Station (click here for PDF copy)
Map of Kamakura Station (click here for map link)

Map of Odawara Station (click here for map link)

Map of Hakone-yumoto Station (click here for PDF copy)

Useful Maps (Parks & Temples)
(click on map for enlarged view)

Tokyo Attractions
Senso-ji Temple Map

Ueno Park Map

Tsukiji Fish Market Map
(Note: Be at the guard-house early, before 4:00am to get visitors pass; only 120 passes are issued.)

Tokyo World War Two Museum Map

Tokyo Imperial Palace Map

The East Gardens Of The Impeial Palace Guide Map

The Ueno-Ameyoko Area Road Map

Kamakura Attractions
Kamakura Tourist Attractions Map

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine Map

Engakuji Temple Ground Layout Map

Kenchoji Temple Map

Hakone Attractions
Hakone Area Map showing tourist attractions

Hakone 3-D Map

Hakone-yumoto Map

You are at -  Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / Jotaro's Travel Tips / Tokyo, Kamakura & Hakone
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

YummY! - Penang Curry Mee Noodle @ Sun Sea Restaurant

You are at - Jotaro's Blog  / FootSteps / YummY! / Chinese Food / Noodles / Curry Mee Noodle @ Sun Sea Restaurant
                                      YummY!                                         Jotaro's Food Review     
Overseas Union Garden, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - November 2012
Looking for good Penang Curry Mee noodles while you are in Kuala Lumpur? Go no further as there is a stall that sell pretty good Penang-style curry noodles. It's at Sun Sea Restaurant in Overseas Union Garden, just next to the wet market.

The stall is at the front of the shop and displays sign stating it as Kuantan Road Curry Mee. I believe they are referring to Kuantan Road in Penang. The only curry mee I know there is at the corner coffee shop and I found it to be average by Penang standards.
This one though is one of the better ones in the Klang Valley.

Good curry mee starts with the soup, and I have this odd habit of peeping into the pots of curry mee sellers to see how their curry soup looks like - is it too thick or too thin? Many a times this odd habit of mine have saved me the embarrassment of eating bad Curry Mee.
The one from this stall looks okay, with the chilli oil adding colour to it.

In another pot, tau pok (fluffy tofu) is seen boiling in a curry. This is a good idea as the tofu has to be boiled adequately for it to achieve that softness so that it is slurpy bite-able. If boiled to long than it will be a gooey mess and spoil the soup too.

The curry mee is definitely Penang style as it came with cubes of coagualted pig's blood found only of those curry noodles from Penang. Long beans have been added too, this is a slight variation or perhaps a adaptation to suit Klang valley palates.
Fairly large sized prawns have been added too. The above photo is before I added more chilli to spunk things up.

Now this one is with extra chilli, look better doesn't it? And it tastes better too. As can bee seen, the chilli used in Curry Mee is chilli paste fried in oil till it reach a certain darkness and has the oil oozing out a reddishness. Here some cuttlefish can be seen peeping out.
The soup tasted good with the coconut milk thick but not overly creamy. The tau pok was just adequately soft that it absorb some of the curry soup and is yet easy to bite into. But I found the pig's blood a tad too hard, they should have added more water when coagulating it.
Overall, it is one of the closes in taste and flavour to those in Penang; one of two that I have so far found in the Klang Valley.

Jalan Hujan Rhamal 2,
(Corner coffee-shop opposite the OUG wet market)
Taman Overseas Union,
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

GPS: 3.073099, 101.672941

Sun Sea Restaurant Location Map (Google Map Link)

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog  / FootSteps / YummY! / Chinese Food / Noodles / Curry Mee Noodle @ Sun Sea Restaurant
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

YummY! - Hailam Fried Mee @ Hai Onn Penang

You are at - Jotaro's Blog  / FootSteps / YummY! / Chinese Food / Noodles / Hailam Fried Mee @ Hai Onn Penang
                            YummY!                                              Jotaro's Food Review          
Burma Road, Penang, Malaysia - October, 2013
Good Hailam fried noodles is a dish that is pretty hard to find in Malaysia. Yes, many tai-chow stalls do sell Fried Hailam Mee, but these are poor variations of the original style.
Back in Penang, I popped into Hai Onn Restaurant, a place renown for good Hailam food and did get to taste one of the better Hailam Mee.

I was on a trip up to Penang to do some cycling with local friends (... see Up The Carpet blog), when I cycled passed this place and decided to pop in. Knowing that traditional places like these have slow service, I was a bit hesitant, but it was mid-afternoon, and the place was quite vacant, so in I went and ordered their Hailam Fried noodles.

The noodles came, a mix of Chinese yellow noodles and vermicelli, it had two large prawns on top with a fair bit of cut choy sum; hidden inside are slices of pork. Hailam Fried Mee is normally fried without soy sauce, so it has a lighter colour look than Penang Fried Hokkein Mee. Some would say that the two are similar, but without the dark soy sauce their taste is definitely different.

Another thing is the noodles is fried until the yellow noodles are fairly soft and thick residual gravy from the frying is scooped in to form the overall dish. Some chilli is added to one side for one to stir in to one's liking. Liking things spicy, I requested for more chilli.
The noodles here is good, and the gravy with a hint of prawny taste just made it more delightful. YummY!

To go with the noodles I had this Hailaim Iced Coffee; it was not up to par - I have tasted better. Perhaps, their hot coffee should taste better but then one would expect better from a Hailam coffee joint.
One other thing is - try to avoid peak hours as one would have to wait more than an hour for the orders to arrive. Even during off peak, my food only came after half an hour. There is another good Hailam Fried Noodles at the Bee Hooi Cafe (GPS: 5.416563, 100.332387) at Kimberley Street.

53- 55 Burma Road, George Town, 10050 Penang, Malaysia.

Tel : +604-227 4751 / +6017-5756685
Hours: 11:30am–5:30pm (Closed on Mondays)
GPS & Directional Map: 5.41745, 100.32903.
(Click here for Google Street Map View)

Hai Onn Restaurant Location Map (Google Map Link)

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog  / FootSteps / YummY! / Chinese Food / Noodles / Hailam Fried Mee @ Hai Onn Penang
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
(comments most welcomed. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)