Posted in Japan, Tokyo

10 Cool & Weird Things To Do in Tokyo

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Kitschy display of neon lights @ The Robot Restaurant

So a dozen of your facebook friends have been to Tokyo and you’re planning your trip in the next couple of weeks or months. But you want to stand-out. You want to be distinctive from the usual ramen-induced and sakura-obssessed instagram-photos that mushroomed around your circle of social media acquaintances. You want to experience something new other than having really kawaii shots at Tokyo Disneyland. Fret no more for here is a list of the cool things you can do while still enjoying the classic adventures when you’re in the capital of the so-called Land of the Rising Sun:

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arger than life Robots @ The Robot Restaurant

1.) Try some quirky and out-of-this world restos/cafes (Tokyo has dozens of it)! Go to the most insane one in town – The Robot Restaurant in downtown Kabukicho district. This is Tokyo at its highest energy and it’s truly an experience you wouldn’t find in any other cities in the world! It’s like Carnivale/Mardi Gras gone entirely insane.

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Bikini-clad performers @ The Robot Restaurant

I mean, seizure-inducing fusion of flashing lights, bright anime-style graphics and murals, giant LED screens, a bathroom embossed entirely in glossy gold, jaw-dropping electronic effects, a flying neon airplane, leather-winged dinosaurs, bikini-clad performers and of course some really cool larger than life robots! It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie and no expense has been spared in making it the wildest and weirdest show in town – well, maybe in the whole world!

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Mt. Prometheus @ Tokyo Disney Sea

 

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Water Parade @ Tokyo Disney Sea

2.) Be amazed by the absolute awesomeness that is Tokyo Disney Sea. Tokyo Disneyland is so ages ago, Disney Sea is the bomb! The mere sight of Mt. Prometheus (erupting every 2 hours at night) when you enter the park and not see the usual Disney castle, you know this is going to be something special. And…wait for it…it surely is! Tokyo Disney Sea is Disney Imagineer’s masterpiece, being the most expensive theme park ever built as of to date.

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Coolest ride in Tokyo Disney Sea: Journey to the Center of the Earth

 

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Tokyo Disney Sea never gets old!

The attention to details, elaborate designs beyond epic proportions, the technology/animatronics/robotics of every rides, the jaw-dropping architecture and landscapes, the sheer magnificence of it all – it’s mind-blowing! Plus the customer service given by the Japanese is unparalleled. This grand spectacle is sure to give any theme park in the world a run for their money! I mean they have a freakin’ volcano (What the?!!?)!!!

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3.) Witness the gyaru culture at Harajuku and Takeshita streets! Or better yet, dress like one and take part in the latest Japanese street fashion! You won’t be judged in Tokyo despite your flamboyance or eccentricity. In fact, the weirder your fashion sense is, the better. On these streets you will witness youngsters dressed in different anime costumes, thick make-ups, colourful wigs, and glamour resembling that of French actress Brigitte Bardot. This might be your chance at expressing your inner fashion diva so grab it while you can!

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Yellow Rapeseed Blossoms

4.) Appreciate the different spring flowers. The sakura or cherry blossoms festival gets all the publicity and limelight in Japan but yellow rapeseed blossoms also known as Nanohana are just as pretty and breath-taking. Showa Kinen Park, Sumida River and Hama Ryikuu Gardens are good places to see these blooms. Kasai Rinkai Park located in eastern part of Tokyo is another option to see these spring flowers.

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5.) Taste some authentic Japanese wines at Katsunuma winery.

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Vending Machine for drinks such as coffee, soda, tea, etc.

6.) Soak in the uniquely wonderful culture of Japanese vending machines. Japan has the highest per capita rate of vending machines in the world. You’ll be surprised by the array of strange yet interesting  things they offer via vending machine such as manga, underwear, bread in a can, toys, video games, etc. You just gotta give it to the Japanese and their flair for quirky stuff!

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Shibuya Crossing

7.) Do some serious people watching at the world-famous Shibuya Crossing. Numerous films were made on this famous crossing such as Lost in Translation and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift.

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Ticketing station at Tokyo subway

8.) Take the subway and admire it’s cleanliness, efficiency and sheer confusion.

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Senso-Ji Temple

9.) Fall deeply in-love with Tokyo…It’s beautiful and polite people, it’s cuisine which is second to none, the culture of cuteness and efficiency combined, it’s postcard-worthy landscapes and scenery — the utter magnificence of it all!

10.) Plan your next trip as soon as you say “Sayonara, Tokyo.”

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Posted in Taupo

Taupo: Nature’s Ultimate Playground

Had we not plan to do a 10-hour road trip from Auckland to Wellington (New Zealand), we probably won’t realize how freakin’ly awesome Taupo is! Auckland to Wellington is approximately 10 hours drive so we decided to have a one night stop-over at Taupo which is what we considered the middle of our Middle Earth journey. We leave Auckland at around 8:45ish in the morn with a few pitstop every now and then for bubba’s nappy change so we reached Taupo at roughly one past noon. We only have about half a day to roam around so we didn’t waste any time and managed to visit 4 to 5 attractions which isn’t so bad considering that the weather wasn’t too cooperative that day.

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Cascading Water Flowing through the Huka Falls

 

On top of our list was the magnificent Huka Falls which is regarded to be New Zealand’s most visited and most photographed natural attraction. It’s an amazing 11-meter high waterfall in Wairakei Tourist Park, just a few minutes drive north of Taupo following the Waikato River. It’s crystal clear blue waters cascading through vertical rock walls is a spectacle to a multitude of tourists equipped with cameras and phones ready to capture its grand splendour.

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We were intrigued with the term “Craters of the Moon”, so we drove to Karapiti Road and paid $8nzd each as an entrance fee to this geothermal walk. It was a 45-minutes walk to a protected geothermal site complete with paved pathways and boardwalks so anyone can easily complete this loop regardless of one’s fitness level.

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Vents, and sulphuric steams

Since the bubba was sleeping, we leave her in the car with my mom so it was just me and hubby who visited this thermal wonderland.

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Moon-like terrain @ Craters of the Moon

 

Rugged, moon-like terrain, sulphuric steams and sudden bursts of volcanic vents  can be experienced as you go through the walk which added to the other-worldly feel that the place conveys. There are several lookouts as well for those much-needed selfies. Others were saying that this geothermal site was a bit of a let-down compared to the ones in Rotorua, but we haven’t been so Rotorua’s and we are those types who are easily pleased so we enjoyed the place nonetheless.

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Photo Wall @ Huka Honey Hive

 

We also visited Huka Honey Hive which is a store for all honey stuff with actual bees and beehives on display. I sampled some of their Manuka Honey and honey-flavoured Kapiti Ice Cream while my mom and hubby had their afternoon coffee break at their on-site cafe. Manuka Honey from New Zealand is said to contain anti-bacterial properties which is highly beneficial for digestion and over-all well-being.  Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the lakefront just people-watching, strolling and taking snapshots of the Great Lake Taupo. Later on, we had dinner at one of the coolest McDonald’s in the world which housed an impressive decommissioned D3 plane as part of the restaurant and with actual seats inside for that authentic aero-dining experience!

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If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, Taupo offers a bunch of activities such as tandem skydiving for as low as $299nzd which is said to be one of the cheapest in New Zealand and one of the most scenic as well as you will get to have a good aerial view of the Great Lake Taupo. A hike to Tongariro National Park, a dual world heritage site is highly recommended as well as it is heralded as the best one-day trek in NZ. You can opt to do a freedom walk or avail of guided services. Huka Falls Jet which is an half hour of pure thrill and adventure with 360 degree spins on the awe-inspiring river backdrop filled with native flora and cliff-like rock formations will surely suffice your cravings for excitement.

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by the Lakefront @ downtown Taupo

 

Taupo is indeed New Zealand’s ultimate natural playground with so much activities to offer either for those seeking to have a quick escape from the city’s humdrum, or those pushing themselves to the limit and go for that adrenaline-pumping escapades. It is an ideal place for a family getaway too as Taupo provides family-friendly activities such as hiking, biking, golf, and there are museums, indoor-playlands and different parks to choose from. Whatever it is that you fancy doing, Taupo is sure to fulfil it’s promise of good, clean fun and enjoyment!