Archive for the 'TOKYO' Category

11
Jul
14

DOCGELO’S CHOICES : REMARKABLE TASTES FROM MEMORABLE CITIES

Traveling and eating.

Food and places.

These are indubitably inseparable.

Each time I set foot in a country that’s absolutely new to my senses, I try my best not to leave without sampling any dish that at least represents that place, or any plateful delight that could make my days more memorable. Frequently, I crave not only for the food itself, but there’s so much longing for vivid moments inked in my memory to be re-experienced, to be replayed.

Imagine my joy when I read the below email sent to me by TheBetsy.com, asking my humble recommendation of the best restaurants from various cities I’ve been to.

 

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Admittedly, it’s flattering (and overwhelming). I’m honored actually. No word is enough to express my gratitude.

So without further ado, here’s my random list of remarkable tastes from memorable cities…

CHAR KOAY TEOW.  PENANG, MALAYSIA.

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Char Koay Teow, from Kafe Heng Huat, Lorong Selamat, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Dubbed as Malaysia’s gastronomic paradise, Penang boasts of diverse flavors, textures and tastes. Of all the countless dishes from local ethnic groups of Malays, Chinese and Indians, I consider Char Koay Teow as my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish. My taste buds fell in love with every plate of fried flat noodles, mixed with chili sauce, egg, fresh sprouts, cockles, Chinese chorizo or pork sausage and large prawns!

During the years of 2010 to 2013, when I had Butterworth, Penang as my second home, I usually satisfy my craving for CKT by going to the island via buses and ferry, just to indulge myself with such noodle dish, cooked on the spot in a hawker stall in Gurney Drive or in Kafe Heng Huat at Lorong Selamat, Georgetown. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2013/03/16/more-than-a-plateful-of-char-koay-teow/.

 

 HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE. CHINATOWN, SINGAPORE.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice, from Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House, Chinatown, Singapore.

Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House became a word of mouth after Anthony Bourdain gave it a thumbs up.  So famous, that what made it popular became one of my favorite chicken dishes too –Hainanese Chicken Rice…(believe me, this plate tasted so much better than it looks on photo). The rice was boiled with seasoned chicken stock; it’s already tasteful sans the tender chicken itself. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2011/09/07/chinatown-singapore/

BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN. KETTLE, METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Kettle, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines.

Kettle’s brilliant expression of the usual comfort food, fried chicken left all of us in awe and wonder. From its crispy and lightly battered skin (Sinful. Spells HYPERLIPIDEMIA, I know!), the tender chicken fillets in huge fractions were gloriously seasoned to perfection! They’re beautiful and ultimately delicious even without condiments! However, for complete Kettle experience, you need to dip a chunk of that happiness to its country gravy and drizzle it with cajun honey, toy it in your mouth, swallow smoothly then dunk your fork to those equally tasteful honey glazed cornbread muffins. Bliss! Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2014/01/27/kettle-at-shangri-la-plaza-east-wing-inspiring-comfort-food/

 

ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS TEA. ARABIAN TEA HOUSE, BUR DUBAI, DUBAI, UAE.

 

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Exotic Chicken Salad, 1001 Nights Tea, Arabian Tea House, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE.

My so-called comfort place in Dubai at present is Arabian Tea House in Bastakiya, Old Dubai. I love their 1001 Nights Tea from Sri Lanka. Fruity. Sublime. Soothing. They also have Green Tea and Jasmine, White Tea Jasmine and Marigold, English Breakfast, Early Grey, Fairytale, Turkish Delight, Ceylon Sencha, Exotic Paradise, Milk Oolong, Raspberry and Mint, Mysterious Passion and a whole lot more teas!

From their menu, I usually opt to have Exotic Chicken Salad.  Heavenly!

Served with complimentary Arabic bread, the Exotic Chicken Salad is the most delicious and freshest I’ve had! The fusion of textures and flavors of ripe mango and avocado, cucumber and lettuce was simply divine! The BBQ-flavored chicken also doesn’t disappoint. I can have this simple all-in-one-meal plus that 1001 Nights tea as my last meal when I die. I kid you not. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2014/04/05/bastakiya-al-fahidi-my-favorite-place-in-dubai-to-date/.

 

YAKINIKU BUFFET. KARUNESUTEHSYON GINZATEN, GINZA, TOKYO, JAPAN

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Yakiniku Lunch Buffet, Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan.

Price for lunch buffet inclusive of drinks (sodas, juices, coffee) back in 2010 was Y1,000 and for dinner -it’s a whopping Y3,000/pax!  I don’t have idea what Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten serves for dinner but obviously, it must be something better as it’s thrice expensive compared to their lunch. Nonetheless, the marbling of the beef slices to grill, the tenderness of the pork and freshness of the fish cuts, and the pure excitement of grilling your own food made the entire dining experience memorable. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/03/26/letters-from-tokyo-7-yakiniku-buffet/

 

 
HALO-HALO. ICEBERG, THE PHILIPPINES!

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Special Halo-halo, Iceberg, Timog Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines.

If there’s one dessert that could best describe our being Filipino, it’s our very own, Halo-Halo in my own opinion. Troop to Iceberg restaurant in any of its branches in Metro Manila or to any street vendors of Halo-Halo in any parts of our country and you’ll know what I mean. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/04/25/much-ado-about-summer/

 

JORDANIAN BUFFET, Near MOUNT NEBO, JORDAN.

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Assa Mosa restaurant near Mount Nebo – Middle Eastern Buffet, Jordan.

I was never fond of eating lamb dishes unless it’s cooked well without leaving an after-taste. Luckily, my taste buds were treated to a few delicious lamb dishes I’ve ever sampled! I never found a single fault on everything we’ve feasted! Jordanian-Arabic food was that good!

I loved the Shish Kebab, the Oozie rice dish that was nicely seasoned,  the hummus dip, the local salads and everything that I paired with a small bottle of that smooth-tasting local red wine, appropriately called Mount Nebo. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2014/06/10/jordan-road-trip-x-food-trip/

 

MOMO AND VARIOUS NEPALESE DISHES. COSMO DE CAFE, KATHMANDU, NEPAL.

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Our lunch at one of the rooftop restaurants in Kathmandu, Nepal.

We had vegetable momo (Newar dumplings) instead of chicken momo (others offer buffalo momo) simply because there’s bird flu in Nepal during the time of our visit. How exciting, isn’t it? Going back to momo; We had it two ways – fried and steamed and found it just okay, nothing to rave about. What made it unusual or special perhaps, was its dip compared to the soy and chilies of Chinese. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2013/08/11/our-unforgettable-journey-from-malaysia-to-nepal/

 

SEAFOOD BUFFET. SARKIES, EASTERN AND ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG, MALAYSIA.

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Salmon Sashimi, Duo of Gravlax, Seafood Extravaganza Dinner Buffet, Sarkies, E&O Hotel, Penang, Malaysia.

Two words. Favorite and fresh! Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2013/03/17/sarkies-seafood-buffet-dinner-extravaganza-eastern-oriental-hotel-penang/

PAD THAI. CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET, BANGKOK, THAILAND.

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Best Pad Thai on my list. From a hawker stall in Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand.

Flavorful, mouthwatering, fragrant and inexpensive dishes pleased us all on our very first meal in Bangkok. From an eatery in the heart of Chatuchak Weekend Market, we had Shrimp Fried Rice, Pad Thai, Pork Barbecue that we’re missing in Penang, and a few fried goodies for our son, Gabby. Full blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/08/31/bangkok-2012-series-thai-food-porn/

I could continue to enumerate more however, these are the top 10 on my list as of present. Each taste reminds me of a moment. Every texture and spoonful of goodness relay something to cherish.

>><<

27
Nov
12

TOKYO STREET

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With the sight of that giant Japanese lantern, there was a flashback. Vivid memories of my day in Asakusa (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2010/04/06/letters-about-tokyo-12-asakusa-temple/ ) after I rode the train in Tokyo from Gotanda to its tail end just to experience that much celebrated temple and my very first glimpse of cherry blossom.  Fourteen long days in Tokyo back in the first quarter of 2010 were already etched in my cerebrum and shall never be forgotten. Cue dramatic music here! Toinks! ;)
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Reality instantly kicked in and I lost that state of being surreal.  I wasn’t in the Land of the Rising Sun any more and it’s no longer Asakusa but Tokyo Street -the Japanese themed precinct located at the 6th level of Kuala Lumpur’s premier mall – Pavilion.

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Vibrant colors of gold, red and green decors greeted shoppers and tourists like me at Pavilion’s lobby.

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15th November 2012, Thursday. It was a public holiday in Malaysia; exactly a day prior my filed-work-leave to renew my passport at the embassy. My stomach was still empty; I can almost hear its borborygmi growling after that 4-hour-bus-ride from Penang. Well, not actually since I munched on a hotdog sandwich and drowned myself with a bottle of Coke on the bus en route to KL. But that was hours ago! It was way past lunch time and I needed to hail a taxi cab to Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang from my budget hotel after a quick check-in-and-drop-the-bag- plus a hurried shower.

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SUCCESS!  At 2:45PM, I was already strolling around Tokyo Street and snapping my cam on a whim. I was even a bit early to the 3PM call time with fellow Filipino bloggers who work in Kuala Lumpur and requested for a casual meet up. When I was about to make a call, I found out that my mobile prepaid load expired already, and I had to hunt for a shop that sells top up in a jiffy.

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Just before I went down to resurrect my mobile again, I was happy to take all those photos around Tokyo Street. Apparently, the place is a pretty slice of Japan in Malaysia’s metropolis. Everything from food, gadgets, bags, toys and even potted bonsai remind you of Tokyo! It certainly adds to the infinite reasons why people should troop to Pavilion Mall!

As I reached the 6th level again and stepped out of the escalator, I easily spotted Sky and Summer -the Filipino bloggers who invited me for this meet up. After cordial greetings, we didn’t waste a second and went to Tokyo Teppan for that much-needed-lunch.

SILENCE. We immediately browsed the menu and ordered something to eat. Not long enough and we’re talking about our experiences adapting to living and working in Malaysia. Glad we shared almost the same views and insights about being OFWs.

I was a happy diner once more with my two lunch plates. Yes, you read it right. I had two plates. Perhaps, this clearly proved my delusion that I’m a half-blood Japanese in the past life! ;) I thought it so because I believe, when in Japanese, must eat sashimi! :)

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Those freshest slices are one of my kryptonites! Indulge in another shot…
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Then my second plate was Chicken Teppanyaki. Tender, tasteful, terribly delightful! :)

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Except for the next photo, the bloggers -Sky and Summer together with their friend, Leo ordered their own which I didn’t photographed. I was too shy to do so! *insert evil laugh here*

Aren’t those fish roe embracing each maki’s a visual feast? Mouthwatering to me!!!

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Meet Sky and Summer, the bloggers behind Boundfortwo.com. Thanks, Leo for taking the pic!

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After that shot for posterity, I thought everything’s done with the nice meet up and great lunch, not after  Sky brought out a printed copy of my photo that was fortunately published on LONELY PLANET ASIA MAGAZINE  (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/17/surreal/) a few months back. I honestly didn’t expect he was serious when he mentioned he’ll ask for my autograph on it. Imagine, he even brought a permanent marker for my signature as if a simple ink would not suffice! It’s an oh-em-gee-facepalm-moment for me!

*photo of the print out by Sky and Summer.
Khlong Hae Markey Taken By Doc Gelo Published in Lonely Planet

What can I say but THANK YOU! According to them, this photo that they actually saw on a page of Lonely Planet Asia Magazine in Popular Bookstore in Kuala Lumpur inspired them to travel to Hat Yai via crossing the borders of Malaysia and Thailand on foot.
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Maraming salamat for that kind words and gesture of respect!

Hope they get to visit Penang soon!

____________________

10
Nov
12

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : RENEWAL

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A Shinto Wedding, Meiji Temple, Tokyo. April 2010.

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Immaculate blooms at Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur, May 2012.

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Offerings at the Temple, Cheah Kongsi, George Town, Penang, June 2012.

These photos to me mean renewal of self, life and faith.

This post is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Renewal

19
Jul
11

EVERYTHING JAPANESE AT 2011 PENANG BON ODORI FESTIVAL

16th July 2011, Saturday.  My family and I spent our late afternoon in Esplanade, George Town, an open-space-park by the bay and soaked ourselves in Japanese colors.

As you may know, dusk falls in Malaysia later than other Southeast Asian skies due to its location so the sun was still up at 6PM when the 2011 Penang Bon Odori Festival started.

Drum rolls lorded our ears as a group of Japanese students performed on stage.

Despite its flaws, Penang never ceases to surprise me positively. With barely a year of stay as an expat here, I and my family are constantly soaked in cultural diversities. And almost every weekend, we gain new learnings from this Malaysian state. Familiar only with the 3 predominant races -Muslims, Chinese and Indians, we never thought Penang has a volume of Japanese too, enough to fill an entire park to feature and highlight one of their colorful traditions.

Bon Odori, or dances for the dead, is one of the traditional Japanese dances held every Summer in almost every city in Japan. And the Penang Bon Odori Festival is the largest of its kind celebrated outside the Land of the Rising Sun. This festival is about welcoming ancestors’ souls by beloved families and reminiscing their memories with them. Because of this Japanese Buddhism belief that ancestors’ souls return at night, the Bon dance is performed at dusk.

The Esplanade at George Town that stands by the glorious bay, on its smaller scale, is comparable to our very own Rizal Park in Manila. It was transformed into a merry land filled with booths that offer foods, drinks both Japanese and some local cuisines, and a lot of fascinating items.

Expectedly, the most favored drink with health benefits and perhaps, the most famous export of Japan was there at Bon Odori…

Gabby, ang laki ng Yakult, hindi kasya sa fridge! :D

Family photo-op with those beautiful people dressed in their yukata… *this doesn’t happen on a daily basis in Penang!*

Before they officially opened the program, I was looking for something more than the Bon Odori dance; something like a theme to capture…

It was a challenge to click the cam on their traditional wooden footwear called, geta 

Japanese kids were a bit reserved…

I’ve already done features of Japanese food from sushi, sashimi, takoyaki and even Okonomiyaki

and edgy-anime Japanese hair styles weren’t showcased that much. *punks not dead!* :P

so I shifted my fascination to their yukata, or their casual summer kimono made of cotton , particularly their sashes or obi belts.

I have been fortunate to experience Tokyo last year for 14 days exactly and since then, I’ve developed an appreciation for Japanese culture, arts and tradition. It’s amazing how these people fuse their colors and customs amidst their advancement in technology. I always marvel at the fact that there are always art and substance in anything they eat and wear.

For someone like me who’s fine with a pair of jeans, sneakers or rubber slippers, I wonder how comfortable wearing a yukata is.

Have you worn one? How does it feel wearing yukata?

“The left side of the yukata is wrapped over the right side (commonly reversed with right over left when dressing a body for a funeral) and secured with an obi sash tied in a bow with the excess or with the koshi-himo and traditionally the bow is placed in the back. Traditionally bows in the front represented a prostitute. In private, such as after a bath, the yukata may be simply belted. Yukata are often worn with wooden sandals called geta.” Soured via wiki

So if the bow is tied in front, it denotes being a prostitute, hmmm.. all obi belts I’ve seen in the event had bows at the back.

Even men wear obi…

but apparently, the sash is narrower and the knot is less intricate than in women, of course.

Knotted with creativity…

An art in itself..

Funny how someone who’s wearing a yukata can blend well with someone with the look of Harajuku Street in Tokyo…

They’ve kept last year’s fans and used it again this year.

Looking at their yukata and obi sashes was like viewing a kaleidoscope!

Obviously, there is harmony in diversities…

But nothing is sweeter than a sight of an entire family proudly wearing their tradition on their skin…

The event stretched from 6PM and ended with a colorful bursts of fireworks at 10 in the evening. We left the park at half hour after 7PM  with takeaways of our leftover Japanese foods and just viewed the night skies from our porch at our 10th floor home.

To the people behind Penang Bon Odori Festival, Domo arigato gozaimasu! Terima Kasih! Maraming Salamat po! :)

31
Dec
10

LOOKING BACK AT 2010, LOOKING FORWARD TO 2011

The outgoing year has given me a lot of humbling experiences. Only my family and truest friends can attest that 2010 has been a tough year for me, financial-wise. I have been under the weather but nevertheless, I am so grateful to our good Lord for providing His blessings in critical times when I needed the most. 

Huge decisions ranging from dropping a job early this year in the name of principles, to accepting new offers to continue to seek personal and professional growths and making vital sacrifices for my family and myself form part of my 2010.  Despite my on-going struggle to become stable, there were countless remarkable memories from this year to cherish.

I reckon being in two Asian countries for more than 2 weeks (and counting) as a great privilege for me. I’ve experienced varied cultures, beliefs and religions, was exposed to amazing gastronomic flavors, have been to wonderful sights that provided opportunities to learn new things and at times, to unwind and be stress-free.

Looking back, I never planned nor thought of being in these places to wintess the turn of events happen before my very eyes. Indeed, God’s love works in mysterious ways.

Experiencing Tokyo (for 2 week-all-expense-paid trip) was truly one for the books.  I swear, I’ll revisit that most expensive city with my family someday.

The stylish and luxurious street of Marunouchi was definitely unforgettable…

 

Like other tourists, I also fell in love with the street Ginza…

Tasting authentic Japanese foods which are among my favorites really heightened my appreciation of Tokyo…

 Places like Akihabara Electric Town…

Harajuku, Shinagawa, Gotanda, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Asakusa are worthy of recall…

Who would not enjoy Tokyo Disneyland…

and Tokyo Disneysea…

While the second part of the year gave me a chance to work in Penang. Thank you, God!

I was impressed with one of UNESCO’S World Heritage Cities, Georgetown…

I became part of a small community of 24 Filipino MD-lecturers amongst multicultural faculty of an international medical university, all proving our worth not to anyone else but primarily to our families…

I got to experienced an overnight sailing via Star Cruise Pisces with my friends/colleagues.

I have embraced the fact that my work site is absolutely rich in diversities…

Everything has been overwhelming.

But the sweetest thing that happened to me this year was when I had a chance to bring my family over to Penang after 5 months of homesickness and solitude… Our reunion that brought us to Penang Island, Genting Highlands Resort and the city of Kuala Lumpur that also gave Tina that 1-year renewable contract as an Operating Room Nurse in a Joint Committee Accredited Hospital in Penang Island (she’ll start working after her registration with Malaysian Nursing Council is released that we hope to happen 1 – 3 months from now) has been truly rewarding.

 

I pray for abundance, health and safety for my family, friends and myself.

I wish I can perform my job beyond my employer’s expectations and more importantly, I want to continue being an inspiration to others, particularly my former and present students.

I hope for more travels and learning opportunities to come our way.

I’ll try my very best to save, save and save and to establish my family abroad in God’s will.

I pray to become a better person and a blessing to others.

With challenges and graces from 2010, I pray that I can carry on to 2011 with so much hope, optimism and faith.

So help me, God.

Have a prosperous, healthy and happy 2011, everyone!

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this post also serves an entry to (for tina to win the prize from) jeanny’s blog contest.

Visit her blog Starting A New Life. :D

09
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #14 : PASALUBONG!

Dear Tina and Gabby,

Despite the very limited budget and only 20-23kg luggage allowance from PAL, I still managed to get you some stuffs from Asakusa, Tokyo Disney Resorts and Akihabara as my little pasalubong for you!  

From ASAKUSA TEMPLE, I got these ref magnets to add TO OUR FRIDGE MAGNETS COLLECTION

I got these 2 keychains as you’ve requested… (simple lang at maganda ang wife ko, keychain lang ang gusto!)

I bought a white Japanese tea-cup  mug with faces of Sumo wrestlers engraved as design for myself (not in photo). 

I also got something for our friends –chopsticks! :D

These pillow and cans of butter and chocolate cookies are all yours from TOKYO DISNEYLAND  and  DISNEYSEA

(FYI, my wife collects tin cans, that’s how simple she really is! So I thought these 2 tin cans  with  Stitch design and embossed Disney characters would delight her more than its contents.  I also brought home a zippered lunch box I got from my dinner set in Tokyo DisneySea for Gabby) :D

‘ney, I got this ‘kikay kit’ for you with Minnie Mouse ‘s soft and chewy sweets inside…  

Last but not the least…

Gabby, since I and your mom love you so much; not only because you are named 3rd Honorable Mention at your recently concluded Kindergarten graduation and has been awarded honors in your preschool’s Declamation and Academic Contests in 2 consecutive years,  we think you deserve something you really want.  

(with Dr. BPS)  went back  to AKIHABARA ELECTRIC TOWN  a day before my flight back home just to get you this present…

This is your most wanted pasalubong, right?  :D I bought those from Ishimaru store in Akihabara; glad you like it, anak! :D

Now you have both your gameboy and this new Sony PSP with 4-gig memory stick to enjoy during the summer break!  But promise me and your mom that you’ll continue to be a good boy and a smart preschool pupil, OK? 

I love you ‘ney and Gabby!

:D Tatay-doc. 

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Dear Kind Readers,

Beyond Toxicity will be celebrating its 3rd anniversary on May 08, 2010.  Because of this, I thought of giving away little something from my Tokyo trip. No, it’s not the PSP I bought for Gabby, but these wonderful pairs of authentic Japanese chopsticks; all yours when you join and win the small blog-contest that I will be throwing before this month ends (will be only open to all readers within the country and abroad who can provide mailing address within the Philippines ).  Simple and easy mechanics will be posted on the last week of April so stay tuned. :D  

Now, who wants these chopsticks?  :D

 This ends my 14-part-Letters about Tokyo series. Thanks for following!

Sayonara and Arigato Gozaimasu, Tokyo!

-gelo.

09
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #13 : TOKYO SEA LIFE PARK

Dear Tina and Gabby,

About three weeks ago, I spent my first weekend in Tokyo with sharks, school of fish and corals…

I rode a train with a bunch of fun-loving Pinoy MDs from Gotanda to Tokyo Stations then we took a 15 minute-train-ride from JR Tokyo Station via Keiyo Line. 

Entrance fees to the aquarium are  Y700 (PhP 350) for adults, Senior Citizens Y350, Students (13-15 y/o) Y250 and Children (0-12 y/o) FREE.  

Before we saw the fish tanks and what the Japanese waters have to offer, I’ve started my admiration with colorful blooms that grow best even in almost always-single-digit-temperature.

And here are some of those cold-blooded friends we met from Tokyo Sea Life Park…

Having seen Ocean Park in Hong Kong, Kelly Tarlton’s in New Zealand, and even our very own Manila Ocean Park , I was a bit disappointed when I found out that Tokyo Sea Life Park has no walk-through-180-degree-glass aquarium. :( 

Nevertheless, the penguins made my day that Saturday afternoon.

The first time I saw live penguins was at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World in NZ; then was only followed by the sight of these cute little ones…

We ended our day at this spot near the sea; We had fun like kids, taking photos–jumping left and right for the cameras…

The place was simple yet a perfect one to commune with nature.  The day had the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced; it was no longer winter in Tokyo then but definitely it was chilling cold.

God willing, one day, I’ll be able to bring you to Tokyo and we’ll visit these wonderful parks together. 

I love you, ‘ney and Gabby.

:D Tatay-doc.




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