Akihabara – Where Tech and Anime Collide

Since childhood, I was already a big fan of anime and as such, I’ve always wanted to go to where it all started; JAPAN! This country has been consistently at the top of my travel goals and I’m very thankful that my dream became a reality when I flew to Tokyo last month. 🙂

Among the places that I checked out during my stay in Tokyo is non-other than Akihabara (also called “Akiba”), an area in Chiyoda, famous for great tech finds and anime merchandise stores.

The place can be easily accessed via the JR Yamanote Line at Akihabara station. The Gundam Cafe and AKB48 Shop is just near the station’s exit.

The area is filled with tax-free shops and stores for any kind of anime merchandise you could think of. Figures, games, DVDs, and other anime-related items can be found in this otaku paradise. And the prices for these items are way cheaper (obviously) compared to when you buy them outside Japan. I was basically at a loss of words when I got there. Feels overload!

It's Akihabara!
It’s Akihabara!

A shopping place that I checked out among others is the Yodobashi-Akiba. It’s a huge establishment filled with various items (not just limited to tech).

Yodobashi-Akiba.
Yodobashi-Akiba.

Each floor in the building features a category of some of the many items being sold there, such as cameras, souvenir items, game consoles, mobile phone accessories, etc. And the best part: it’s tax-free!!

JUST A TIP: ALWAYS bring your passport with you, because many shops in Akihabara (and Tokyo in general) offer discount to tourists! They also sell  “exclusive” or “limited edition” items at a reasonable price.

My visit to Akihabara won’t be complete without stopping by the numerous anime merchandise stores!!

A particular hobby shop that I encountered is VOLKS, a secondhand anime figure shop (but they also sell other merchandise). Collectors have their own glass cubicle where they could showcase and sell their collection. When buying here, it’s important to have a box ready as the store won’t provide you with one since it’s not brand new. But most of the figures sold here are still in good condition.

Other places that can be seen is the AKB48 Cafe & Shop and the Gundam Cafe. And can I just say that AKB48 posters are all over the place?? 🙂

 

So if you’re planning to pay Akihabara a visit, either you bring a lot of money, or a LOT of self-control. HAHA. Get ready to shop ’till you drop!!

 

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A Week Of Seoul Searching

Seoul has always been one of the must-see places in Asia, and the rise of the Korean celebrities to global stardom has made this city even more popular among tourists. I have to admit, I wasn’t particularly curious about the Korean culture until I watched Super Junior. So I guess I’m one of those who got affected by what they call as the Hallyu Wave/Korean Wave.

Last month, I was fortunate enough to go on a Seoul Searching trip to South Korea’s capital city.

Aside from the different places we’ve been to, we also had a chance to mingle with other tourists during our stay. Since we all had different bucket lists in our Korean experience, we got to try various activities in Seoul. 🙂

Just a word of caution: prepare yourself as you’re about to get smothered by tons of pictures. I mean it! Haha.

Our first two days consisted of going to Gyeongbok Palace, the National Folk Museum, Insadong Area and the very famous Nami Island.

Since it was November which is fall/winter time in Korea, we didn’t stay out too late because we couldn’t take the super cold weather (I’m talking about 7-16 degrees Celsius as the “warmest” it could get during the day). It was one of our biggest struggles during our trip, especially to some of my peers who DID NOT bring thick jackets! :O

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It’s Music Day at Hongdae!

When South Korea music comes into mind, most people could almost only think of one word; K-POP (Korean Pop). So during my last trip to Seoul, as an aspiring music traveler, I wanted to get a taste of the other kind of music that South Korea has to offer. And I’m not talking about other K-pop groups, but about 100% LEGIT show bands (not that I have anything against the mainstream Korean pop bands). And to me, there’s no better place to find music in Seoul than in Hongdae.

Hongdae is an area around Seoul’s Hongik University. It is a cultural melting pot where you can find various shop finds, art exhibitions as well as a bustling nightlife. So if you’re the party goer type, then Hongdae is for you. What’s even more interesting is that they have these “Club Day” and “Music Day” events going on periodically throughout the year.

Among the places that you can visit in Hongdae is the Hello Kitty Cafe, Coffee Prince Cafe, and the Trickeye and Ice Museum. But the most memorable highlight of this place are the street performances that you can enjoy as you frolick around.

One notable performance that I’ve seen during my visit to Korea last month is from a band by the name of Soundbox (Learn more about them here!). They held a street performance in the Hongik Children’s Park. Among the songs they played was their own spin of Hanson’s hit “Mmmbop”.

There were also street dancers all over the area doing performances as well as other bands playing different genres of music. So if you’re in Seoul and you’re craving some indie music and art, then Hongdae is the place to be.

Updated: 12/27/2014

The 5 Emotional Stages When Making Your Trip’s Itinerary

These days, thanks to the internet, when it comes to travelling abroad for vacation, more and more people have now taken the matter into their own hands when it comes to their travel itinerary. Not only does it save more money (instead of relying on travel agencies), but it also gives you the freedom to personalize your travel experience and do things at your own pace.

So in my upcoming travel to Seoul, Korea this month, I was given the privilege (and the burden! Hahaha) of making our itinerary. Doing this, (especially if you’re in for a long vacation) can be mentally excruciating, sometimes even frustrating, yet rewarding. There are tons of things to consider, such as your preferences in getting around the city, the transportation costs, the list of must-see places, etc. I know you know it. 😛

So here I would like to break down the emotional roller coaster in making an itinerary. For those who have experienced making your personal itineraries, I’m pretty sure you went through this (if not, then you’re not human O.o). Haha.

1. The “How the hell do I do it” Stage

In here, I’m certain you’re very overwhelmed, there are lots things going through your head and you don’t know where to start. If you’re here, just take a deep breath, and tell yourself it’s just a phase. It will only get better. 🙂

2. The “Getting the hang of it” Stage

By this stage, you have found some reliable websites where you can base your itinerary (or even set your budget) from. You’re skimming and scanning through the pages to see which activities/destinations would go well together. And thankfully, you’ve managed to finish a schedule for one day! But you know you still got a loooooonnnggg way to go.

3. The “I got this” Stage

Now you’re getting pretty confident.  After some heavy research over the internet that you could almost feel like you’re becoming a Google Ninja, you little by little fill in your travel schedule with your sightseeing, shopping and even some of the activities in your bucket list, without failing to consider the budget, allotted time, as well as how to get to those places. And the next thing you know, you have successfully put together some kickass itinerary! Give yourself a pat on the back and relish this milestone. success baby

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