Monday, September 8, 2014

Hongkong It Is!

Hello from me! I hope you still remember this alien who is hibernating for almost 2 months. Sorry for not keeping you updated in ze blog. But you can follow me on Instagram(@jenponix) and Twitter(@jenponix) to be updated once in a while. Well, I have some news for you guys! I am now offficially one of those unemployed. Just resigned in my job and now still enjoying the feeling. Despite of being idle, why I can`t find time blogging my current adventure? So here I am moving those lazy bones, opening my Blogger account and writing my first of many posts about my latest travel; HONGKONG!

I used my remaining paid holidays from my previous work and decided to flew to Hongkong by myself and met with friends in Hongkong. Flying with Peach Air via Kansai International airport in Osaka for 28,000JPY round-trip. Arrived in Hongkong almost noon, bought myself Octopus card for 150HKD to be used in Airport Express and MTR the whole duration of our stay. Rode the Airport Express to downtown Hongkong for 100HKD. 50HKD in your Octopus card is some kind of deposit to be refunded when you return the card upon leaving Hongkong.
We checked ourselves in European hostel located inside Chungking mansions for 2840HKD for 5 nights(family room) and 280HKD for a night(single room) via Booking.com. If you want cheap accomodations, better check out the hostels in Chungking mansions. It might not be as nice and great as the hotels, but for us, since we were out all the time and we`re just inside to sleep and take a bath, the accomodation we chose was okay with us. But just be aware of the strangers around the area offering accomodations and other services. Almost all of them are Indian and the area smells Indian curry and cuisines.
Since I am the first to arrive in the area, I was the one who checked-in for us. Took some bath (free towel and toiletries), got ready to have some walk around Tsim Sha Tsui since the others are arriving around 9PM(HK time). All you can see around Hongkong are tall buildings, shops for cosmetics, fashion and branded ones. For tourists are so many, you cannot define who are locals and aliens. But almost everyone walking along the streets were tourists. Went to Avenue of the Stars (free of charge) and the old Clock Tower located along the harbor of TST. From the harbor, you can see the panorama of the buildings along the Central area.
Getting tired of all the walking and because of the afternoon heat, I went back to the hostel and decided to sleep while waiting for the others to arrive. When the others arrived by pass 9PM, rested for a while and we went outside for some walk before hitting the sack and got ready for the next`s day adventure. Walked along the The Peninsula hotel, Heritage mall and along the harbor to watch the Central area during night.
Access:
Chungking Mansions: From Tsim Sha Tsui station, C1 exit, walk for 1 minute.
Avenue of the Stars: From Tsim Sha Tsui station, J4 exit, walk for 2 minutes.
Clock Tower: From Tsim Sha Tsui station, J4 exit, walk for 5 minutes.
The Peninsula: From Tsim Sha Tsui station, J6 exit.
The Heritage: From Tsim Sha Tsui station, L5 exit, walk for 2 minutes.

That`s it for now. Stay tuned for our Ngong Ping and Disneyland Hongkong in the next days. Will try to blog it ASAP! See you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meiji Architecture in Meiji Mura

Meiji era is a Japanese period wherein they opened their doors to the outside world and laid foundation from Western cullture and technology to become a modern Japan. In this era, not just culture and technology was influenced but as well as architecture. From the building's designs and styles, techniques and materials, the country was influenced by the Western architecture. And to show these buildings that was unfortunately destructed by massive earthquakes, some important/known people in Japan cooperated and together they established an open-air museum/village and reconstructed these buildings as to their original appearance to showcase to the new generation the beauty of the Meiji period's architecture.

And for an architecture aficionado like me, this place is a must visit. So let's enter our DIY time machine and for 1,700JPY*, let's go back and get lost in Meiji era through their amazing architectures.
 Mie Prefectural Normal School. Built in 1888. It has only a central entrance and 2 classrooms in the right wing of the building. Located in phase 1.
 St. John's Church. Built in 1907. Its brick exterior is a beautiful blend of ROmanesque and Gothic design, the interior features distinctively Japanese designs appropriate to Kyoto's climate, such as the bamboo blind in the ceiling. Located in phase 1.
 Principal's Official Residence, Peer's School. Built in 1909. This is a full-storey building, comprising a WWestern-style house connected to a Japanese-style house. Located in phase 1.
 Reception Hall of Marquis Tsugumichi Saigo House. Built in 1877. This was built to entertain guests. The interior is decorated with imported French furnishings. Located in phase 1.
 House of Ogai Mori and Soseki Natsume. Built in 1887. This is a typical middle class of the Meiji times. Located in phase 1.
Entrance Porch(Tokyo School for the Blind). Built in 1910. The porch was attached to the main building of the Tokyo School for the Blind which was a grand two-storey wooden building. Located in phase 1.
 Mie Prefectural Office. Built in 1879. The building is symmetrical on the left and right sides with its axis at the entrance. Locatedd in phase 1.
 Higashi-Yamanashi District Office. Built in 1885. Traditional Japanesse techniques were employed to build Western-style designs. Located in phase 2. (As you can see in the above picture, a sign which says "Meiji mura hall, this way" was unfortunately temporarily cannot be visited for renovation purposes.)
 Kitasato Institute. Built in 1915. With German baroque as the basis, the style of the new era was added to this 2-storey wooden builing which has an octagoonal steeple on top. Located in phase 3.
 Nagasaki Foreign Settlement. Built on 1889. This building was built for residence in the foreign settlement in Nagasaki.  The bildng adopts the Southeast Asian colonial style of building and, later, an annex with Japanese style room was added. Located in phase 3.
 Japan Red Cross Society Central Hospital. Built on 1890. This Western-style wooden hospital enclosed a courtyard and has separate wards. Located in phase 4. (Can you imagine a line of hospital beds in this long alley in war movies?)
 Uji-Yamada Post Office. Built on 1909. This one-storey wooden building with copper  roofing has a conical domedd roof at is center, and its facing is in a half-timber style. Locate in phase 4. (There is really a post office inside this building currently. You can send your postcards from here.)
St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral. Built in 1890. This is a typical Gothic sructure with a large rose window more than 4 meters in diameter above the front entrance. Located in phase 5.
 Shin-Ohashi Bridge. Bulit in 1912. It's unique design contrasts art-nouveau style iron balustrades, side balustrades and white granite main pillars, with a robust metal frame. Located in phase 5.
 Main Gate, Kanazawa Prison. Built on 1907. The gate has a 2-storied watchtower on either side, and an arched main gateway in the center flanked by smaller  gates on each  side. Located in phase 5.
 Cabinet Library. Built on 1911.  Its design is genuine Renaissance style, and this is a perfect example of Meiji period's brick-stone architecture. Located in phase 5.
 Main Entrance Hall and Lobby, Imperial Hotel. Built on 1923. The main finish is Greenish tuff (volcanic rock) carved in geometric patterns, and yellow brick, while ferro-concrete is used to provide structural strength. Located in phase 5.
 Tendo Arch Bridge. Built on 1887. With a width of 7.7 meters and  length of 13.3 meters, this getly arched bridge was built from  the local Yamadera stone. Located in phase 5.
And now, after those long trip, how about a selfie with the Imperial Hotel as the background?

Since the open-air museum is a big place to walk around, they have these different types of transportations for you to ride on for 500JPY* each type of transpo. For my case, I walked from phase 1 to phase 5 and rode the black train from phase 5 to phase 4 then rode the red bus from phase 4 to the main gate since I was not able to catch up on the last scheduled trip of the brown train.
 This is the red bus that transports visitors from the main gate to phase 5 with 9 stops along the way and vice versa.
 This is the brown tram that I wasn't able to ride on. It runs through phase 4 with 2 stops (between phase 2&3 and phase 3 stops) and vice versa.
This one is the steam locomotive train. This one runs from the end of phase 5 to phase 4 and vice versa.

Meiji mura is located in 484-0000 Aichi ken, Inuyama shi, Uchiyama, Museum Meiji mura 1, Japan.

Access:
From Nagoya:
Ride a train in Meitetsu Nagoya bound for Inuyama for 550JPY*. Head along to east exit where you can ride a bus bound for Meiji mura for 420JPY*. For people coming from Tokyo, it is about 2 hours and for people coming from Osaka/Kyoto, it's an hour ride via the shinkansen to Nagoya.

*Rates as of July 2014
**Building descriptions were copied from this website.