Saturday, November 9, 2019

Asia Hopper 2019 ✈ 10 Hours in Tokyo

Our 2019 home trip gave us the opportunity to hop through (and visit) 5 Asian cities within 2 weeks. Our itinerary consists of a mix of countries that I've already visited in the past but it was nice to revisit these places with hubby and MIL, and most importantly spend time with families!

Aug 31: Seoul
Aug 31 - Sept 7: Taipei
Sept 7 - Sept 8: Hong Kong 
Sept 8 - Sept 15: Penang
Sept 16: Tokyo

Our fifth and final stop on this Asia Hopper trip brought us to Tokyo. This long layover was not on our original itinerary, but we changed our flights and added this stop for free, thanks to a flight schedule and route change by United. That's one of the benefits of booking our flights early (9 months ahead for this trip), as there's a high chance for a flight schedule change before our travel date, which gives us the opportunity to relook at new routes and pick one that works best for us at no extra charges. =P 

Sept 15 (Sun): Penang - KL - Bangkok - Tokyo

First time traveling on Thai Airways. Our flight from KL-Bangkok departed at 9pm and I was impressed that they served dinner on this short 2 hour flight. However, I wasn't impressed with the layout of Bangkok airport, a whole lot of walking without travelators.

Sept 16 (Mon): Tokyo - Denver - Huntsville

Arrived Narita airport at 8am after our 6-hour redeye flight and was welcomed by crappy rainy weather. =.=

Crappy weather aside, we also received a very 'Nintendo' welcome by Mario. 

Hopped on the 9.19am Keisei Access Express train from Narita airport to Asakusa station. This train is a good choice to get into Tokyo quickly (1 hour) at a reasonable price of $12. 

It was still drizzling when we got to Asakusa at 10.30am and the place was crowded! If given a choice, I'd definitely visit this place either early in the morning or at night.

We didn't linger long because the crowd and the rain were huge turn offs. It was also difficult to take any nice photos with such crappy weather.

We then walked over to Ichiran at Asakusa for lunch at 11.30am. Surprisingly there was no line and we didn't have to wait at all! This Ichiran has both table seats and booths, which is slightly different from most Ichiran with only 'anti-social' booths. As you can see, we all enjoyed the Tonkotsu ramen. =D

After a satisfying meal, we hopped on the metro to Akihabara. Once again, I'm impressed by the efficiency and quality of public transportation in Japan. The train display provides so much useful information for commuters in multiple languages. 

This stop was mainly for hubby (game boy). Specifically two retro game stores - Super Potato and Surugaya. Hubby is familiar with these two stores because he bought a few things from them 2 years ago. He did his 'homework' prior to the trip so he knew exactly what he wanted to buy.

One last quick stop at the arcade to play Mario Kart before heading back to the airport. 

We had quite a mad rush to catch the 2.17pm Limited Express train back to Narita airport because we'd have to wait another 30min for the next train if we missed it. W'd still have enough time to catch our flight at 6.10pm even if we missed the train, but I had my reason to not 'waste' another 30 minutes. 

Because I'd much rather spend 30 more minutes in the United Club lounge. =P We made it back to Narita airport at 3.30pm, and had approximately 1.5 hours to take a good shower and grab some food at the lounge before boarding our 10-hour flight to Denver.  We used the United Club Pass that came with the United Explorer credit card to access the lounge.

Since we were flying United, I had zero expectations for this flight. The flight was indeed 'United' standard. But at least we were lucky to have a row of 3 seats to ourselves so I creatively made this poor-man's 'suite' with the extra!

That's all for our 2019 Asia Hopper trip! Big thank you to hubby and MIL for their willingness and patience throughout this 'travel bootcamp' and keeping up with the busy itinerary, hopping through 10 airports and 12 flights in 17 days!!

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