Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cycling Japan 2013 Day 8 - Shopping Ameyoko & Then Home!

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Cycling Japan Day 8 : Shopping Ameyoko & Then Home!
Tokyo, Japan : 14th November 2013
Small Group Ride -
K's House (Kuramae)>Ameyoko Market Street>K's House (Kuramae)
Duration : Apologies, no tracking & map as it was a shopping ride.

The previous night, we had packed our luggage and bagged/boxed our bicycles. We checked out just before eleven (like most Japanese hotels check-out time at K's House is 11:00am), left our bagged bicycles and luggage there and headed out. For some of us, it will be shopping time. Time to get unique things to bring back for loved ones and friends back home.

Map of the Ueno-Ameyoko area
Taking the train from the Kuramae Station which is just round the corner, a few of us headed for the Ameyoko area - that will be a good place to do some shopping. We got down at the Ueno-okachimachi Station proceeded up to start our spree.

First stop - A leather shop, where Nash wanted to pick up some bags.

2nd Stop - the Uniqlo thermal wear shop. Things are cheaper here than from Uniqlo outlets out of Japan, with some items on sale at as low as 30% the price elsewhere. It would be a good idea to bring just one thermal wear to Japan and then buy extras locally.

3rd Stop - A Manga/Anime shop. Kim being an avid fan went in there to get cuties.

There is a whole range of toys sold here, ranging from Transformers figures, Manga dolls, to cute stuffed rabbits.

4th Stop - Lunch at a Stand-up Ramen shop, where one eats standing up (space is precious in Tokyo, the more people can fit into the shop, the cheaper the food should be.

To cut down on staffing, orders are made through this vending machine. It is not a food vending machine, instead it issues a ticket of the particular food ordered. This ticket is then passed to the counter staff for preparation - no time wasted with the staff to chit-chat...

The problem is, the vending machine tickers are in Japanese. Somehow I screwed up my order; instead of getting warm ramen with the rice set, I got cold Soba. Which brings a question to mind, "Why eat something cold?" My guess is that it's probably for a rush of time - eat the cold Soba while the hot rice is cooling down, eat rice then off we go back to work. This meal cost me 600Y, not the cheapest as at Sukiya the food are even cheaper but then we could not find an outlet at Ameyoko.
To furthers save costs, there are not waiters; patrons are expected to clear up their things onto a tray and deliver it to a washing counter staff. There's even a table cloth to wipe the table yourself and Viola! the table is ready for the net customer.

5th Stop - KitKat cookies shop.
I have a long list of KitKat to get and there is one such shop that sells a good range of these chocolate goodies. It's a pretty large shop in Ameyoko selling all sorts of cookies and titbits.

Business is so good that they have two outlets, facing each other.
For those interested the GPS coordinates for this KitKat shop is 35.708473, 139.774380.

A nearby land mark would be the Tokudaiji Temple.

My stash of KitKat  chocolate goodies - flavours are strong chocolate, strawberry, white chocolate, green tea, wasabi, and coffee (the wasabi was from a third floor outlet at Haneda airport).

An unscheduled stop, Kim got some Korean facial mask cheap and recommended that I get it too. So we went back to the shop to buy back some for the wifey. The Japanese girl selling the Korean masks were most happy to see us again.

Well, time to head back. Along the way to the train station, I stopped and swayed to the cool rhythm of this saxophonist, to chill a bit after a hectic shopping spree.

Train full of us, our luggage and bagged bikes.
"Balik Kampung" is a Malay term meaning "Going back to one's village". It means much more than just going home, and it hints on some sentimentality of going back to loved ones, friends and spending time with them. After eight days in Japan, we did indeed miss home in that way. Hopefully our friends and loved ones feel likewise too and are waiting for us to go back and tell them tales of our adventure.
We lugged our multiple combo of heavy baggage, bagged bikes to the Kuramae South Station along Edo Dori, about half a kilometre away. There was a good team work as we help each other push/pull our bulky luggage along the streets, down the lifts and staircases. With all those heavy stuff, it seemed like such a longer journey before we were able to board the train. After all that lugging, now I know why they call it "luggage"

Forunately, we did not have to change trains; and even more fortunately at the Haneda Aiport Station, there we trolleys waiting for us. No more lugging the luggage... Phew!

At Haneda, it was still too early to check in, we took this travellators up to the upper floors to do some last minute shopping - a tip here, things and food are much cheaper at the higher floors.

Got the famed Tokyo Bananas and also some Wasabi KitKat form this shop; mind you it was not the pretty shop-girl that attracted me to this place, it was the cheaper pricing.... Honestly!

Had dinner at this place called Pronto - sausages, bread and salad - also much cheaper here.

We checked in our luggage at the regular counters but were required to check in our bicycles at the oversized section. A friendly lady staff escorted each of us over to this section for screening and checking in.

With still three hours to go before flight time, a few of us went over to this coffee bar to have .... er coffee (what else!) and puffs.
Oops! By puffs I do not mean those of the pastry variety but those of the ciggie variant. Heh! Heh! While Nash and me enjoyed our puffs, Kim slowly sipped and enjoyed her coffee.

Winsin was back to his Ninja form again, spartanly eating rice cakes while waiting in queue to board.

As we flew off, I melancholy look downwards at the bright Tokyo lights;

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