Day 1: Singapore-Beijing-Osaka

This was our first long vacation since our honeymoon and we were pretty psyched up about our 2-week holiday! Work had taken a toll on us and we couldn’t wait to escape.

We took a midnight flight and transited at Beijing. We realized that everything in China is about scale. The bigger, the grander, the better. The international airport was huge and there was a lot of empty space and circulation which was kinda a waste. For all that space, where we queued to clear transit immigration, it was cramped and we frequently had to give way to passengers coming through from the East side gates. Customer-centric planning didn’t seem too high on the list.

Mid-way through the slow-moving queue served by 1 counter, I started to regret not using the washroom which I passed on the way to the immigration counter. I made my long way back to where I last found one and discovered that there was now a long queue waiting.

Lesson: Opportunities sometimes have to be grabbed just as they come. Don’t wait for a better time. By the time you realize that was a good opportunity, many others may now be ahead of you!

We took the train from Osaka to Kyoto and soon we reached our hotel. Royal Park Hotel (The Kyoto) was excellent in every aspect! From quirky art placed around the lobby, to helpful service, to great attention to design details. Best of all, it was easily accessible via 2 of the Kyoto subway lines, making travel very easy. We quickly loaded up on Sushi at the nearby Musashi, and caught our first glimpse of Kamo River. This was the start of many more evenings spent along this beautiful river.

We headed over to Gion and just like the pictures we have seen before our travel, the buildings looked like they were frozen in time. Beautiful wood structures that whispered the stories shared over sake from long ago.

Just as we were getting lost in this olden world, a geisha in full make-up very quietly and quickly walked past us. Like a silent wind that human hands cannot capture in time. She was here and then gone.

Travel Tips:

1. Air China has relatively cheap multi-trip tickets that allowed us to fly Singapore-Beijing-Osaka-Beijing-Singapore for around SGD1,000. They don’t have individual TV screens  so bring your own entertainment. Otherwise, the seats are decent and they keep feeding you food and drinks so you don’t have to worry about being hungry or thirsty.

2. Visit the JR office at the airport and purchase a discounted “ICOCA & HARUKA” set that provides a round-trip Kansai-Airport Express ride and a pre-paid ICOCA card with 2,000 yen credit (of which 500 yen is deposit) for a total cost of 4,000 yen. ICOCA can be used for JR, subway, private railway, buses and shopping. A very good deal!

3. Booked hotel via Agoda: http://www.rph-the.co.jp/en/kyoto (near to Kyoto Shiyakushomae station on Tozai line and Sanjo station on Keihan line)

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