Sunday, 30 November 2014

Marks and Spencer Christmas "Follow The Fairies" Adverts 2014

For the whole of December (and the last day of November) it's going to be all about Christmas - adverts, food and all!!

Marks and Spencer seem to surprise me every year with their adverts. Don't know why. Last year it was all about fairy tales and fashion, and it seems they have moved on to telling a fairy tale of their own this year. ^_^

Here are two fairies (from where I assume come from Fairy Land), one teaches the other about using their "magic" and "sparkle" (saw the pun there - M&S) helping out families, couples, kids, a person with a lost cat and new lovers come together for Christmas. It's a fun advert. I like this one very much compared to the re-telling of fairy tales from last year. It tells you more about the clothes that you can buy for people for Christmas in this ad.

But YES! Marks and Spencer are back with a food advert for Christmas. It's about time too!! Being looking forward to these. The Banquet Advert is lavishing with rich foods that make your mouth water at the start but then it kind of slips towards the end because the desserts and cakes don't unfortunately make my mouth water. M&S need to put more dribble (with sauces) and less sparkle in this ad. A little bit disappointed with this.

Same goes with the Party Food ad. The only part that made me dribble were the desserts towards the end.

All in all, it was a good effort from M&S - the first advert was the best out of the three here!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Smile Hotel Nihombashi - Tokyo, Japan + Top Tips and Misconceptions

Smile Hotel Nihombashi is not hard to find. If you see the Starbucks from across the street when you come out from the Tozai line at Kayabacho Station, then you just have to cross the street and walk straight, and then it's on your left hand side. 

This has been one of the easiest hotels to find in all our adventures so far. 
Smile Hotel Nihombashi in Kayabacho
Our room came with two beds as requested online. They were comfortable, but we found the pillows a bit too weird which made my neck uncomfortable...
Twin beds
The bathroom is small but bearable. Bathtub is useable but make sure you bend your knees otherwise you will have a hard time bathing. The shower is pretty good and not hard to use, but make sure you switch on the extractor fan as it gets hot in there. You get free goodies like brushes, razors and some other stuff. They provide you with soap, shampoo and conditioner too.

What we also found weird about the bathroom was the toilet seat... it warms up when you sit on it and it starts flushing too... ¬_¬""
Kettles, TV, cups, coffee sachets, hairdryer and fridge is all in there for you to use. They provide slippers for you to use (I took a few).

Here's the view from the window... I don't think the aircon was on that night, that's why it looks so steamy... But not much to see from the 9th floor...

Laundry is quite easy to find. It costs 300 yen (~£1.89) to do your main laundry. So make sure you have 3x100 yen coins. To get the washing powder you have to go to main reception and it costs 50 yen (~£0.31) for a sachet. Make sure you go to reception first!!! For the dryer it costs 100 yen (~£0.62) for about 30 minutes and an extra 5 minutes for cooling down process, BUT, on the machine (and I agree with this) that you should dry your clothes if they are thick - for 1 hour...!!
Laundry room at Smile Hotel
It wasn't a bad hotel and it wasn't a good hotel either. It was somewhere to sleep and it was practically near everything!

The ok factors:
- staff spoke in multiple languages: Japanese, a bit of English and Mandarin... Not sure if they speak Korean.
- there's a restaurant available in the basement, but it isn't opened on weekends
- lots of convenient stores nearby and it's about a half an hour walk to Tsukiji!
- They have vending machines on each floor

The disappointing factors:
- WiFi can only be used in the lobby. There is no WiFi in the rooms.
- no cupboards or wardrobes available to put your clothes in
- you cannot use the cafe section during 8 till 5 unless you are buying something to eat or drink (waitress only speaks Japanese)

Address:  Japan, Yubinbango103-0025 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Kayabacho 2-13-5
Telephone: +81 3-3668-7711

Nearest Station: Kayabacho Station



My Geeky Top Tips 

- buy either a Pasmo card or Suica Card. Pasmo card is used for Tokyo mainly but can be used outside Tokyo, but you may have to make fare adjustments depending on where you're coming from. Suica card is a better option if you plan to travel outside of Tokyo and anywhere in Japan... Britain needs to use this. I think train tickets are a thing of the past!

- make sure you bring a plastic bag with you for your rubbish as there aren't many bins on the streets of Tokyo

- spending money should be up to £1000 to £1500 for 2 weeks depending on what you are buying and how many gifts you intend to get (I managed to spend less than £1000 and still have money to exchange back to British pounds!)

- don't bring too much luggage as you will find yourself buying more than you had intended to

- learn the language... Especially with shopping and directions as well as greetings (lots of people thought I was Japanese as I looked like one... I don't really)... Definitely learn Hiragana and Katakana. I knew some kanji (Chinese characters) already so I was ok understanding some of the foods and places to go to. Also learn about counters, i.e. 1 apple, 2 people, 3 pieces of paper...

- if you're lost and a Japanese person asks if you need help, say yes! They will help you all the way!

- Wear comfortable shoes or trainers as the Metro has a lot of stairs and there's a lot of walking in the station areas... I think I stayed the same weight because I was exercising throughout. ¬,¬""

Misconceptions about the Japanese

- do they stare? Yes they do a lot! On Miss Pinky's behalf they stared at her like she was an alien

- are all Japanese people skinny? No, definitely no. We have seen some overweight people

- are all Japanese people short? Nope, some are my height at 5"4' or taller. But according to friends and family the native Japanese were short and skinny.

- is service too polite? Yes and no. Some are just ok, some go over the top but I was ok with that

- are they really strict on rules and regulations? In some places yes, like taking your shoes off, but eating in public transport seems to be the norm (kind of) - just make sure it's not smelly food. Yawning and sneezing seems to be ok too! But don't do it all the time!

- is it busy on public transport? Yep, defo. All you see on Monday to Friday is men and women in suits. The people in black. It's busy all day round.

- can you talk on public transport? Yes... A lot of the Japanese do but quietly and politely... a lot of people were playing with their mobile devices - reading and playing games... It was just like being in Hong Kong all over again!!!!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 14 - The end of our (almost perfect) journey

Friday 14th November

The final day started really early. Miss Pinky seemed to have given me less than an hour to get ready. (I usually need an hour Miss Pinky!!). And yes I was grumpy! :(

We checked out and made our way to the metro. We took the lift from Kayabachō, to the Tozai line and changed at Nihombashi for the express line to Narita Airport Terminal 2. Our train came on the dot at 6.32 am and it took us an hour to get there.

On the train journey we saw an old man and I think his son eat their breakfast on the train so I did the same. (We've realised from the two weeks that we've been in Japan that lots of Japanese people do break their own rules in public!). I had bought these sandwiches from a mini shop the night before...

The first one I had was a chocolate wafer one. It tasted nomilicious (or tabelicious 食べ-licious).
Chocolate wafer sandwich
The next one was probably something like a bacon katsu of some sort. It smelled a bit and it was salty. I think the people on the train were not appreciative.
Some sort of salty bacon flavoured sandwich
I liked the chocolate one. Despite my efforts not to eat on the train I couldn't resist even when I was stared at by a guy who seemed to respect authority in Japan and didn't like those who broke the rules. (I have a feeling he was social networking his tantrum... whoopsie!!) Sumimasen!! Even foreigners can break some basic rules right??? ¬_¬"""
On the train journey... the morning sun was bright
We finally got to Narita Airport Terminal 2. Easy journey! But the only thing now was to wait for the check in kiosks to open which took a little while longer. Miss Pinky was of course overweight, her baggage I mean, not her body mass, heheh (sorry had to pull that joke!). When we asked how much it would be to pay for the excess baggage the person at the counter said 71,000 yen. Whaaaaat?! Isn't that too much, but when she calculated it as £39 I thought she must've said something wrong, because in fact Miss Pinky actually paid 7100 yen!

During that time Miss Pinky had to get her lighters out, as only 1 lighter is allowed per person on a BA flight, and only as hand luggage. Bah humbug. (And no Miss Pinky, the woman at the BA desk is not my friend!).

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 13 - Last minute shopping!

Thursday 13th November

Thursday seemed to be a struggle for the two of us. We couldn't sleep and seemed to be running on British afternoon time... However we did manage to sleep, and I always seem to wake up around the same time.

Since I woke up early I went downstairs to use the WiFi in the lobby area to check in with my flight. I was just wishing that no one sat next to me (on the flight)!!!

It was now time to do last minute shopping in Ginza, so we took the metro to Shimbashi and walked to this toy store that we fell in love with on our first trip there (it's my favourite cute store in Tokyo). We had to buy Mr Picky a robot!

After shopping around we took the metro and ended up in Hiro-Ginza Station to see how we could get from somewhere to Narita Terminal 2. It almost looked like a mission, and luckily we didn't go the full way otherwise we would have no more money on our Pasmo cards. We actually asked someone at the gates (there's always an information desk at each station gate you go to).

We came out of the station with some struggle as we had already paid using our Pasmo cards to do this train journey which never happened.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 12 - Walking and Eating around Kayabacho

Wednesday 12th November

The next two days in Japan was basically a free day for Miss Pinky and I. Miss Pinky wanted sleep, so I decided the night before (although I wanted to do this on Thursday) was to do my laundry...

I sat around in the lobby, then I sat in the laundry room for more than an hour for my clothes to dry... It was boring.

Miss Pinky was awake once I got into the room. We did a long walk from Kayabachō Station but first we ate at Pizza and Wine which is a few doors away from the hotel.

There is no menu in English, so we got the waiter to explain. Miss Pinky wanted pepperoni pizza but unfortunately they didn't do this flavour so she had chicken pasta and I had the same. The pasta came with sweet potato pieces, cheese and chicken. It was different and I liked it. Miss Pinky said it was too much for her so she didn't finish hers.

It was 880 yen each which isn't bad, but our only complaint was the music. It was rather techno and I think something peaceful would've suit the place a bit more.

My geeky rating: 4.5/5

Address: It's a few doors down on the left from Smile Hotel... can't find the address

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 11 - Meiji Shrine

Tuesday 11th November

As the 2nd week neared to the end Miss Pinky and I got very lazy (just like how I am being lazy to blog right now)... Didn't get up until midday!

Today's breakfast consisted of another bun. Strawberry jam and cream filling. Nice one! Not too sweet and just right. Miss Pinky had a very sweet cream bun, although I warned her it would be too sweet.

We headed towards Meiji Shrine as it is one of the famous shrines in Tokyo. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 10 - a walk, a bus ride, Yaro Ramen Bar and Roppongi Hills

Monday 10th November

I seem to always wake up on time, so I kind of got ready before 12 thinking that I would be able to have lunch at the soba store a few doors away from the hotel. I was wrong. It was lunch time and that meant a lot of the business men (men in black as Miss Pinky called them) were out for their afternoon meals. I didn't want to queue and I didn't want to get a ticket... So I left and got a couple of buns from Lawson's and ate in the hotel lobby. :(
Eating more buns for breakfast
Miss Pinky was finally ready, so we headed in the opposite direction from the business area from the hotel... Basically we headed to the right side (instead of the left). It's actually quite beautiful on this end. Very quiet and hardly any men in black.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 9 - Imperial Palace Gardens & Sensoji Temple

Seemed to have taken too many pictures for this post!! 

Sunday 9th November

Sunday started off before 12! Both Miss Pinky and I couldn't sleep much that night because we weren't stressed out from the day before.

First stop was Lawson's. I got myself a packet of croissants that had ham in it. I'm sure croissants are supposed to taste sweet as these weren't sweet at all. Oh well. It filled me for a few hours.
Croissants with ham
Next stop was the Imperial Palace Gardens. We took a simpler route via Ginza to Tokyo Station (my route was better from Miss Pinky's route as we seemed to have exited the right way). It was a small walk from the station to the palace and we seemed to have walked in area that I thought could be used for a catwalk! Pretty! Tokyo Station is just awesome!
In Tokyo Station
Just to warn you, you must try and cover your skin as there are tiny mosquitoes that fly about the river banks. There is a warning sign that tells you the rules of the grounds.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 8 - Yokohama China Town

Saturday 8th November

My body seems to know when it's Saturday because I got up late (not that late though... Miss Pinky couldn't sleep much... Probably because of my tiredness and snoring). Anyway, I started off with eating some mini sandwiches that I bought at Shimbashi Station the night before. The bakery is called Kobeya.

The sandwiches are cute, and filling for ones stomach for breakfast. Each mini sandwich has a different filling with crustless white bread. This cost 570 yen (~£3.58) by using my Pasmo card. 
Mini sandwiches
Hotel reception called... It seems if we don't go out before 12 they will ask if we want room service... Miss Pinky not impressed... She wanted to sleep more!

Time to head out to Yokohama! (This was Miss Pinky's idea on the first day we got here to Japan). What's in Yokohama? China Town. Yes we went out to find THE China Town in Japan. This time I let Miss Pinky take us there. And she took us the long way 'round or a way that I would have not chosen.... So we went from Kayabacho Station to Otemachi and changed for the Maranouchi line heading towards Tokyo Station (but that line is just so far away... Finally we got off at Shinjuku Station. We had to get a round trip ticket for 840 yen (~£5.28) from Shinjuku to Yokohama.  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 7 - Puroland (Hello Kitty World) (=^.^=) & Tonkotsu Ramen Hakata Furyu

The long awaited post for Hello Kitty fans!!! Another extremely long post with pictures.

Friday 7th November

The day started with us eating breakfast at Denny's as we missed the breakfast at the hotel. But that doesn't matter. I finally got to order a Japanese breakfast which included natto beans. This is the first time I tried it (and the last time). Natto beans smell, it's bitter and it's very sticky! Never again natto. Never again. Bleurgh. It's like a love-hate thing that you have with Marmite (and I hate Marmite too...!!).
Japanese breakfast

Natto beans with spring onions. Ugh. *SHIVER*
Miss Pinky had a normal breakfast... Boring!! (But with some EXTRA THICK toast!).

Total cost came to 1604 yen. (~£10.09). Such a cheap meal. Don't understand why people think Japan is so expensive. It isn't really.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 6 - Trick Art Museum and Tokyo Station

Thursday 6th November

I had sleep finally!! Didn't nap the day before so I thankfully slept for most of the night and didn't get up until 9.30! Miss Pinky carried on sleeping so I decided to do my laundry at the hotel. Will explain how to do all of that on the hotel blogpost!

So after the laundry and in between washing and drying Miss Pinky (when she finally woke up) and I went out for a small walk around the blocks behind the hotel. Didn't realise Kayabacho was pretty in the back streets. You will realise that there are a lot of business men/women around the area as I think this is considered as the business district in Tokyo. Miss Pinky started calling them "men in black" as everywhere we went there were gatherings of business peeps left, right and centre. If you didn't wear business clothes Monday to Friday, you didn't fit in! (That's her explanation).

Nice painting
I think my clothes finished drying at this point so when that was all done we had our brunch at the hotel's restaurant Cherbourg. I ordered this mixed plate of food which included spaghetti in tomato sauce, flavoured rice, pork katsu and shredded white cabbage. It was good stuff! I felt really stuffed afterwards and thankfully I gave most of my rice to Miss Pinky.
Salad starter

Mixed plate dish
Miss Pinky went for the pork steak and veggies. She found the sauce too sweet... Hmmm and I didn't. I think I'm just used to the fact that I like sweet foods more! I have a very big sweet tooth.

Our waitress kept asking about the bread and if we wanted "pan" (bread). I kept saying yes. I should've just spoke in Japanese.... pan o onegaishimasu!

Total came to over 2000 yen (more than ~£12.57). Not sure why people say Japan is expensive, it's not really. 

My geeky rating: 5/5
Address: 2-13-5 Nihonbashikayabacho | Smile Hotel Tokyo Nihonbashi B1F, Chuo, Tokyo Prefecture 103-0025, Japan

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Lost in Tokyo, Japan 2014: Day 5 - Akihabara and Shibuya

Wednesday 5th November

We started this day at 11ish in the morning. We were both hungry so we made our way to a cafe/restaurant near the hotel called Jonathan's. Another American-Japanese influenced diner. 
Jonathan's Coffee & Restaurant Hatchobori

It got busy at lunch time
I ordered a French Onion soup and a burger steak covered in tomato soup. I enjoyed my food and Miss Pinky just looked at me in horror... What? It's food. Chinese people eat anything, right? She tried to annoy me but saying bad things about my food, but I didn't care. *ROLL EYES*.
French onion soup

Hamburger steak in tomato sauce
Miss Pinky ordered a hamburger steak covered in a soy sauce based sauce (I think it was teriyaki sauce) but she thought it was too sweet. I thought it was ok and not sweet at all. She must eat a lot of salty foods! 

Total came to 2526 yen (£15.89). Not bad!! Not sure why people think Japan is expensive, it isn't really...

My geeky rating: 4/5

Address: Jonathan Hatchobori, 1 Chome-12-8 Hatchobori, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0032, Japan