My Team For Kids Interview (Sneak Peek)

My TFK Interview. When is it going to be published, I have no idea. 70 days to the big event and a month more to raise funds.

Learn more about Team For kids here and of course my donation link.

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?

I am running the TCS New York City Marathon!

 What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?

We don’t have much spectators in Singapore so basically one that excites me the most in this TCS NYC Marathon is the crowd that cheers and motivates you to keep moving forward. Secondly, I have walked NYC once or twice a few years back and I had dreamed of running this city. It is one on my bucket list to be ticked off.

 Where is your favorite place to run and why?

I have never done so much overseas running except in Australia (Sydney/Gold Coast) where the running culture is so much different than in Singapore. There is a joyful atmosphere from the cheering crowds all throughout the race route. Well, most races in tropical Singapore is held very early in the morning like around 4 AM so we don’t really expect people to be out that early too. Downtown Singapore, with its magnificent architecture balanced with gardens and nature gives it a relaxing and extraordinary view. I would say it is my favorite place to run.

 If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?

Like a G6 by Far East Movement was my first ever power song. I actually listen to random upbeat songs. Fall Out Boys is one of my all time favorite artists. Their album Save Rock and Roll fairly boosts me during my leisure runs. During training and races, I prefer listening to my body, my steps and my breathing – the beats and rhythm create a different kind of music to me.

 What is your favorite post-run meal?   

I am the typical Asian who loves to eat rice. I eat rice meals 3 times a day in fact and I crave for anything with rice after my runs. Of course, the brown rice is the healthy version of the white rice.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?          

I used to be overweight at over 80 kg with bad cholesterol at undesirable levels. That was 3 to 4 years ago. I wanted to lose weight and so I started hitting the gym and ran on treadmills. The max I can use the treadmill was 30 mins and slowly after a a couple of months, 30 mins wasn’t enough. I enjoyed beating the distance I was able to cover on my previous treadmill exercise and then eventually I started running outdoors which I even loved more. It has made me discover places and it has brought me closer to nature too! A friend once asked me to sign up for races to stay motivated and to train consistently. Now I have established a discipline to train even without a race. My week is not complete without a mid-week run, a weekend LSD and a recovery run exercise. This year marks my 3rd year in the running community.

 Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?

I do pray a lot. Ultimately, we want to finish the race without any injuries. I believe there is a supernatural that helps us even if we put on our 100% effort. I always pray to God that I wouldn’t get any cramps and blisters or any kind of injury as I run and finish with a decent timing and by that I mean a finishing time better than my previous.              

 Why did you choose to run with Team for Kids? 

It was my dream running the TCS New York City Marathon. I have walked the streets of New York once or twice my entire life and it is a dream-come-true for me running the city. I wasn’t lucky at the balloting so I decided to raise funds instead where I get to know about TFK. Being from the other side of the globe, it is quite difficult to raise fund but I know there a lot of angels in disguise here on which ever part of the earth. The culture could be different from where I am from currently but we don’t choose who we help. I’m saying this because I am from Asia and people’s first question would be TFK is not from Singapore, Philippines or even Asia. We could be neighbors with someone of different religion or someone of different color, but we should always be open to helping regardless of religion or color. That is humanity. I love kids. They are the future and WE play a very crucial role in their development. Supporting youth programs is just one small way of ensuring that these kids are occupied with healthy habits.

 

 Tell us a little more about yourself

I am a Medical Technologist/Clinical Lab Scientist from Philippines based in Singapore. I am a husband to Aiza and a father to Cassy, my 7 year old daughter who will be the next marathon sensation. I am a believer, a foodie and a traveler.

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The Pinoy-Sg Runners. Reworded.

I was tasked to write something to introduce our Filipino running group here in Singapore where we took part as pacers for the Race Against Cancer which has recently concluded successfully on 30 July 2017.

Some snaps during the race.

and more from my pacer group..

 

Here goes the write up. Thanks Aidan Huang of RunSociety, it is basically a reworded version. No plagiarism issues here, original article below.

Meet the Pinoy-Sg Runners: A Club Dedicated to More Than Just Running

Started not too long ago in 8th March 2016, the Pinoy-Sg Runners (PSR) have grown tremendously fast in number of over 300 members to date. The Pinoy-Sg Runners, as the name suggests, is a running group not only for the Filipino community in Singapore but is also for other nationalities – locals or foreigners, who share the same interest in continually improving themselves in running or to supplement themselves on their other training programs, or even to those who only wants to adapt an active lifestyle. It is a platform not only for runners and athletes of different disciplines, but for all happy and congenial individuals across diverse Singapore. 

It all actualized when pioneer members, ArnelJayson, ZelOninGlenn, Ricky, and MJ, bound by a common enthusiasm and passion – long distance running, discussed how their most recent race performance went and most of them came out with a common problem of hitting the wall at as early as the 28th kilometer of a full marathon. Driven by the bible passage in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others,” the group that started on a Facebook conversation advanced to finally conducting their first meet up at Yio Chu Kang Stadium with few members assuming responsibilities to look after how they can push their limits further. Arnel leads conditioning and strengthening whilst Jayson focuses on speed workouts. Onin and Zel and the rest provides administrative support. From then on, the steadily expanding Pinoy-Sg Runners meet up regularly for weekly trainings catering to various levels and disciplines. 

Initially, the group gathered every Tuesday, 7 PM at Yio Chu Kang Stadium and eventually, with the purpose of properly aligning with the marathon calendar, the weekly workout session was moved to every Wednesday with the time and venue remaining unchanged. It is the routine of the PSR to thank the Creator for blessing them with strong and healthy bodies before they start their session. It is a value that Arnel (or Coach A) instills among the group that above everything else, it must not be forgotten to give thanks and praise to the Almighty and at the same time to ask for guidance as they train safely and without getting injured. It is immediately followed up by a short body loosening activity which is also fairly important before engaging to any heavy workout. Then the real training begins. First is a 15-minute warm-up run drill around the track. Second is a 45-minute workout session comprising of multiple exercises focusing on the lower body and core. The group believes that if you possess a strong body especially those muscle groups utilized in running e.g. legs and core, you can sustain and endure running a full marathon distance or even longer. A Yaso-800 and interval speed trainings are also conducted once a month, usually on the 4th or 5th week. A final quarter of an hour is reserved for a set of a cool down and stretching exercises. Concluding the workout session is a photo taking session which is innate to every Filipino. Every workout session ultimately sums up to loads of fun and silliness after the heavy workout as evidenced by pictures all compiled in an album at the PSR Facebook page. It is a very serious 2 hour workout session balanced by laughter. A regular long distance run is also being held every weekend on various locations organized for those preparing for an upcoming race. 

Aside from continuous improvement and setting higher performance bars without injuries, like other runners, the group also dreams big to as huge as qualifying for Boston Marathon. PSR also aims to participate into more charitable works in different ways, be it through running or volunteering, as a way of giving back to Singapore and how the Filipino community is welcomed and have become their home away from the Philippines. 

The before and after our pacer duty.

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Philippines’ Birds Eye View Through Running. Philippine Independence Day Flag Run.

*an overdue blog entry

It’s June and it’s my Lil’ Miss’s school break and that means it is that time again to go back to my home country – our annual affair. 
 
As I am in the midst of training for Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2017, I decided to sign up for a local race to keep me motivated and continue training. I thought it would be literally cool to run in Baguio City, Philippines. A place I have always been in since childhood as it is just an hour away from my hometown but I never had the chance to run there ever since I picked up running. I have always wished to experience running there too after seeing a few of my brothers froPinoy-Sg Runners (PSR) run there during their holidays. Baguio City is about 6 hours away from Manila, the capital City of the Philippines, by land travel and is situated about 50km above sea level. This city is tagged as the summer capital of the Philippines because of its year-round cold weather. It is the most popular non-beach summer destination among Filipinos if I am not wrong. 
 
The Philippine Independence Day Flag run was organized to commemorate the country’s 119th year of independence and it took place on 12th June, Monday on the public holiday itself. Though the organizer doesn’t have a website, signing up was easier than I thought. A registration form simply needs to be filled up and sent back via email and payment was via bank transfer. I appreciate the organizer’s effort to reply to all my queries promptly within a day and even on weekends.

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The organizer. The blood line of Emilio Aguinaldo himself.

 
At a fee of 500 peso (S$15), I was entitled to a finisher shirt, a medal and post-race refreshments. Arrived an hour early at the event site at the Emilio Aguinaldo Museum, named after the first president if the Philippines, and found the crew still setting up. There was no loud music, no fancy lights nor banners. As this is my maiden local run, I have no way of comparing it except to Singapore races. Turn out of registrations were not as plentiful as in Singapore. No waves of flag off for every category. The 21km runners were flagged off first followed by my category, 10km. There were 5km and 2km categories too! From what I have heard, there were around 500 participants in all, mainly Pinoys and I saw a couple of Caucasians surprisingly. 
 
The earliest flag off according to the registration poster was at 4:30 AM for the 21km category. There was a slight delay as they were actually flagged off at 5AM. Half an hour late but I never heard or felt a complaining atmosphere. There were no time chips issued. One of the crews holds a stop watch at the start/finish line and from there the finish times were recorded. Knowing Baguio City, I expected a hilly route but I did not expect too much of it with steep downhill slopes too! There were no distance markers. My GPS watch is showing me only my pace and time on the 3 data fields. I don’t remember exactly what happened. There was a part where it was already bright at 5 AM plus but I can only see the red lights from behind the marshal‘s motorcycle due to the thick fog. There were so many sharp turns too! I was so tired and was shouting at times to catch my breath. There were about 2 hydration stops which is not bad at all as they offered Gatorade and water. I felt so bad as I see runners slowly overtake me along the uphill. They looked so relaxed while I felt like stopping anytime soon, lucky I did not stop though I slowed down to almost walking. Cheerful volunteers are distributed along the route to signal the correct way and I am quite sure they don’t represent a certain distance as some are too close like less than 1km. 
 
The post-race “carnival” was also interesting. Similar to most races, you get to claim the finisher shirt packed together with the medal in a clear plastic bag with your name on it written on a small piece of paper. A small goodie bag was given too which I didn’t get to see what is inside as I reserved it for my Lil’ Miss. The best part was the unlimited warm coffee, water and “pandesal“- a local bread. It was a fun run indeed though I didn’t do well, I felt great still as I was able to support a small race on our very own national day. It was a meaningful cultural run worth my maiden local race remembering.

 

Check my other past race reviews.

Race Review: The Performance Series 2016, Race 4, Bedok Reservoir

Race Review: Newton Challenge 2016 [32km] 

Race Review: The Performance Series 2016 (Race 5)

Race Review: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016 [Full Marathon]

Race Review: Safari Zoo Run 2017 [10km & 2.5km Kids Dash]

Race Review: 2XU Compression Run 2017 [21 KM]

A Letter To My Mom on Mother’s Day

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Hi Ma, 
I hope you are doing fine. I know that, inevitably soon, you will completely forget me – my face, my name, who am I to you and who are the people I am with that I dearly love. I somehow regret the times that I wasn’t with you. Those times I spent away from you to study and work and explore the world. I wish I could have spent more time with you and had fun while you were more agile, while your legs can still let you walk tirelessly anywhere and while your brain still allows you to be filled with happy memories. Yes Ma, I am still your most loved youngest son who, at 31, still misses you and longs for your most comforting warm hugs specially at those times that I was feeling really down and low. I tried to look up at people on my immediate surrounding for some motherly figure but the truth is, none of them equates to your most genuine care, support and understanding.

Ma, your obvious wrinkles, your sagging skin, your deep tired eyes, your mixed layers of hair colors to cover up those silvery gray hair – all these proved how cruel life can get as early as 70, and with your worsening shaking weak knees sufferring from osteoarthritis, I feel it has shattered everything that you had simply given up on life just like that. I wished you could have been much more stronger just like how you have raised me to be, or at least you mind was. I wanted to cry. I wanted to shout. I feel apalled, amazed at the same time, sad and helpless at how you can share the same happy life event of yours repeatedly in a day, even in an hour. When you get agitated when you hear loud angry voices, oh Ma, I wish I could stay there beside you and remind you constantly how beautiful you were in those days at your wedding picture.

Ma, it might be too late now but I wish you all the hapiness in this world. You may not be able to remember piece by piece now but I pray that you will live your days with only the happiest memories. May God strengthen you always and give you the best of health if your memory can no longer be restored. Just live your life well Ma. Though we are oceans apart physically, and the barrier between us is more than the gaps I can ever imagine in this universe even when when the fact is we are only an inch away, we are forever connected through our hearts.

I am singing this for you Ma,

“Mama, I miss the days when you were here beside me
Mama, those happy days when you were here to guide me
Safe in the flow of your love
Sent from the heavens above
No one can ever replace
The warmth of your tender embrace
Oh, mama
Until the days that we’re together once more
I live in this memory
Until the days that we’re together once more”

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I LOVE YOU MA.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Isamar

10 Songs I’d Be Playing If I Were Chris Martin on a Coldplay Concert In Singapore

Coldplay is on Asian tour and yes they will be here in Singapore for initially a 1 night only concert but due to high demand, a pre-concert night was opened after a 30 minute sold out ticket sale late last year.

I was still lucky to get a pair of the last few seats with restricted views on the pre-concert night as getting tickets for the original concert night, which is a day after, was hopeless. I queued for 6 hours after my night shift just to get those restricted views which means that we will be having a good seat at the concert night but we will be seeing ant-sized band playing with maybe some pillars or giant spot light stands blocking the view.

It will be held at the Singapore Sportshub on 31st March and 1st April.

Here are my picks:

1. Viva La Vida

2. Speed of Sound

3. Fix You

4. Up and Up

5. Something Just Like This

6. Magic

7. Ink

8. The Scientists

9. Clocks

10. Hymn for the Weekend

Starting to lose myself now.

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 (Part 5 – Hakone Day Trip)

Mount Fuji – Japan’s highest peak. It is on top of our Tokyo bucket list.

Staying at near Kameari station is a choice I would never regret. Though it seemed to be a little far from the city center, our Tokyo experience would never have been as unique as getting lost on every interchange and exits and the feels of rushing finding the correct platform. I would say, me, my wife and our daughter have experienced the best of Tokyo’s subway from sparked arguments that lasted the next day, to sleeping carelessly on the train because of the never ending walks, to memorable times of just pure happiness of togetherness in a foreign land, typically our normal. Shinjuku area would be a better choice as it provides the easiest access to all points of Tokyo, but the value for money, it is somewhat a “hot” area so everything else would be as expensive: food, accommodation and the likes.

Run With Me At The New York City Marathon with Team For Kids. Find out more here.

I have arranged a day trip to Hakone while we were still in Singapore through Odakyu travel. The Romancecar, Hakone FreePass and a Hot Spring for 2 adults and a primary 1 child is worth 19600 yen. The Hakone FreePass includes unlimited use of the Tozan Cable Car, Tozan Train and the Hakone Ropeway as well the the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. More details of the the Odakyu Travel package here. A DIY day trip to Hakone is also possible but I didn’t want to trouble myself too much with the planning. Besides, a day trip is not enough to explore the best of Hakone especially when you intend to catch more of Mount Fuji’s splendor.

We started our day early. We had to be at Shinjuku by 7 AM. That will give us ample of time to find the Romancecar, to relax and to grab a little breakfast before our train departs at 0730 AM. A normal train to Hakone-Yumoto will take about almost 3 hours which includes transfers at Odawara whereas the Romace Car will take you straight to Hakone-Yumoto Station in approximately 85 minutes with breathtaking views.

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 “Romance Car”. The fastest means of getting to Hakone. I wonder why it is called that way.
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Inside the Romance Car is a comfortable 2-4 seater. Immediately we dozed of to recharge ourselves.

Our Hakone Day according to weather forecast is mostly sunny. We are feeling so excited to see Mount Fuji! On the one hour and half trip, I have caught a glimpse of the incredibly magnificent ice capped Mount Fuji. I was too sleepy and too lazy to take out my camera and get a snap. It was a bright cloudless sky though so I really did not bother. I will be taking tons of closer photos of the Mount Fuji later.

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The only photo I was able to take on the way to Hakone.

From the Hakone-Yumoto Sation, we need to transfer to the Tozan Train to Gora Station and from there we took the Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan Station and finally the Tozan Bus to Owakudani since the Cable Car was not on operation during our visit. There are a lot of things to see in between stations like the Open Air Museum but we are too tired to do extra. We just want Mount Fuji.

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From Hakone-Yumoto, we took this Tozan Train to Gora Station.
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The Tozan Cable Car will take you to Sounzan Station.

…and yeah, we reached Owakudani. From the Japanese language, it literally means Boiling Valley and one of their attractions are the hard boiled eggs with shells that turned black from the sulfurs natural from this mountain.

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Steam vents out from the surface of the mountain.
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Normal Tasting Egg. They say eating one would make one’s life longer.

More of the featured egg.

Lil’ Miss asked for some time to play with snow. It was her dream to get her hands on to a real snow, though I heard her complain she wanted it falling from the sky.

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Owakudani is home to a museum, some shops and a few restaurants as well.

I didn’t know that the clouds outside were already covering Mount Fuji. I was expecting we would see Mount Fuji somewhere else. Little did we know, Mount Fuji is just behind us hiding away behind the thick clouds. Can you recognize it from the photo below?

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Perhaps the best shot I was able to take of Mount Fuji. *sigh*

We continued our journey although we know that it is hopeless to see Mount Fuji anymore. It was almost a perfect day trip that started from a clear blue cloudless sky.

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This is the Hakone Ropeway where during cloudless skies, a beautiful Mount Fuji will keep you company as you go down to the Lake Ashi
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Our Sightseeing Cruise ship waiting for us down the Hakone Ropeway

Below is the rich view from the cruise.

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Torii Gate in the Lake

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Coffee break at a local cafe.

Onsen Time!

This officer entertained us while we wait for our Romance car back to the city.

Our mission Mount Fuji may have failed but we will surely be coming back for a better acquaintance with the shy Mount Fuji.

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 Holiday (Day 2)

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 (Day 1)

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 Holiday (Night 1)

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 Holiday

Run With Me At The New York City Marathon with Team For Kids. Find out more here.

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 (Part 4)

Likewise, our Day 2 weather is even worse. The rain shower is slightly heavier accompanied by gentle winds making it even colder compared to the previous day. The sky is condensed ash grey and seemed to pour  down graciously later. Today’s itinerary is mainly Asakusa and Odaiba as illustrated in the below image.

day 2 itinerary

We had a delicious instant noodles for breakfast bought at the convenience store last night matched with bread and a hot coffee and chocolate. The day in Tokyo appears to start as early as 5 AM. Around those times, outside our window next to our bed is already bright.

We started our exploration starting at Asakusa station which is at one end of the Tsukuba Express, just one transfer from the Joban line where our closest Kameari Station is. As the train nears the terminal station, we can get a glimpse of the towering Tokyo Skytree which is not part of our to-visit-list. The Skytree is said to be the tallest tower not only in Japan but in the whole world – that was a few years back. Today, it is now just one of Tokyo’s most prominent landmark. It is not cheap to get up there and I have been to high towers before and I feel the views will always be the same – small and unrecognizable and dizzying (except maybe for the Mount Fuji which you would be able to see on a clear cloudless day) so I did not include going up the tower’s observatory. They say the view up there is marvelous. I say, you don’t need to be up there and spend excessively to see marvelous views. It is just a matter of perspective.

*Please support my cause as I run the New York City Marathon With Team For Kids.

On our way to Sumida River Park we saw this tree with little pinkish white flowers – cherry blossoms! Finally ticked off one from our bucket list. The other trees has not bloomed yet. They all looked sick and scary lifeless branches.

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With this sight, I remembered when I was doing my Tokyo planning, the familiar Sumida River/Park stretch is lined with cherry blossom trees too! So, we went on to walk along the Sumida Park first since it is just across the street of the Asakusa Station.

And we were not disappointed.

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Lovely Cherry Blossoms. My wife is still the loveliest!

Here is a closer look at the pretty flowers. (Click to enlarge)

 

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Behind is the Tokyo SkyTree across the Sumida River.
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Lil’ Miss with some tourists in rented Kimonos

It took us some time to move on from our fascination over the cherry blossoms before we continued our walk to Sensoji Shrine. The street is packed massively with people not only because of the shrine but the surrounding neighborhood is the Asakusa Nakamise which is a shopping street of all sorts mostly souvenirs and japanese snacks.

Below is the street leading to Sensoji Temple. (Click to enlarge)

Below is a display from a nearby shop of miniature figures. KiSamaru fitted in so well.

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KiSamaru has made it to the wedding!

More photos of the Asakusa Nakamise-dori below. (Click to enlarge)

And yup, we went in to explore Sensoji Shrine. (Click to enlarge)

 

This has quite caught our attention – a fine looking Caucasian lady.

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A Caucasian yet speaks Japanese.

More inside Sensoji Shrine below. (Click to enlarge)

Below are some of the snacks we tried at the Nakamise-dori. (Click to enlarge)

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Not to forget my Shinobi tools!

Our next stop is the Hama-Rikyu Gardens. The idea of a garden is quite mundane and it doesn’t sound interesting at all. We just wanted to try the water bus and see Tokyo through its waters. Having a pocket WiFi is really an indespensable tool when travelling specially on the navigation part providing us ease of locating our destinations through google maps.

We took our exit from Sensoji Shrine and headed out to Tokyo Cruise. It is not difficult to find as it is just across the street next to a bridge along Sumida River. The attendants at the center are very friendly. Although they don’t speak English, they seem to explain how the tickets are sold on a way we can somehow understand them. The cruise stops at Hama-Rikyu, at the Hinode Pier and then back to Asakusa. Some cruise go even further until near Tokyo Bay. Our Hama-Rikyu stop cost about 980 yen (slightly over S$10, slightly less than PHP500) per adult and my daughter who is just 6 year old is free fortunately. The adult fare includes entrance to the garden. The cruise to Hama-Rikyu is approximately 35 minutes and passes along many bridges of the big city. You can check more details here on timetables and fares of the Tokyo Cruise.

The first 10 minutes of the cruise was okay listening to the soft English recording from the water bus. The next 20 minutes, me and my Lil’ Miss were asleep. We reached Hama-Rikyu stop and the boat slowly docked as Japanese announcements were made. A few passengers went in. We thought we will be asked to alight at least in English and we thought the crew were securing the boat for the alighting of the passengers but we were wrong. The water bus slowly disembarked away from the pier fast enough for us not to be able to alight. We took our disappointment into laughter and instead of whining and wasting another trip we decided to alight at the next stop which is at the Hinode Pier. Hinode is not too far anyway from Hama-Rikyu, just 2 train stations and a little walk, we finally got in the garden. I have totally forgotten that our garden admission was already included in our water bus that I again bought another set of tickets to get inside the garden. What a waste.

Our efforts to visit Hama-rikyu Garden was never, on the contrary, a waste. Opposingly to the mundane impression, Japanese gardens are really worth a visit. As cherry blossoms are in full bloom later this March, the main attraction here in Hama-rikyu currently is the field of rapeseed flowers.

 

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The Rapeseed field at its finest.

More inside Hama-Rikyu Garden.

…and more of the garden.

Last stop for today is Odaiba. It is getting dark quickly and as recommended, we took a seat at the front car of the elevated train of the Yurikamome line for the best view.

You judge!

Spectacular isn’t it?

Odaiba area doesn’t have much to offer I think. Mostly shopping as AquaCity, Decks, Diver City and Palette town are all there. Some attractions like Trick Art and Legoland can be found there too but it didn’t really took our attention instead we did a little shopping since this side of Tokyo are mainly shopping malls before we finally went back to Kameari for another big day tomorrow.

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This is the Rainbow bridge and on the right is the Tokyo Tower.

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San Francisco and New York in one place – Odaiba.

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The Ferris Wheel to Palette Town.
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My anticipated Gundam Robot that has gone under maintenance.

Supper. Nothing tasted better than authentic Japanese goodies.

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Delectable Udon
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Winning Takoyaki

So many sights, so many foods, so little time.

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 Holiday

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 Holiday (Night 1)

Tokyo, Japan March 2017 (Day 1)

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