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Showing posts from December, 2014

2014 By the Numbers

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My travels in 2014, by the numbers:


6+1 
countries I visited in 2014: United States, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, plus the Philippines

4
Number of states visited in the US: California, Missouri, Illinois, Washington

51
number of places/cities visited during the year (some more than once): San Francisco, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Sta. Monica, Venice Beach, Mexico City, Teotihuacan, Cancun, Chichen Itza, Valladolid, Oakland, St. Louis, Belleville, Nuvali, Calamba, Bacolod, Murcia, Himamaylan, Kabangkalan, Laiya, Clark, Zamboanga, Kabasalan, Tagbilaran, Panglao, Carmen, Kota Kinabalu, Runau, San Juan, St. Louis, Chesterfield, Springfield, Champaign, Kankakee, Chicago, Seattle, Tukwila, Taipei, Beitou, Shilin, Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka, Matsumoto, Hakuba, Nagoya, Nagano, Chiba, Narita, Zamboanga

18
Number of airports I've flown in (or out) this 2014: MNL, SFO, LAX, OAK, MEX, CUN, SIN, NRT, MSP, STL, DTW, BCD, ZAM, CRK (Omni Airfield), TAG, BKI, SEA, TPE. It's my …

Merry Christmas

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I'd like to greet the readers and visitors of BoardingGate101 (and of my other blogs) a blessed and merry Christmas. May the magic of the season bring cheers to everyone.

Kin

Airline Review: Japan Airlines (JAL)

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Japan Airlines is the flag-carrier of Japan and I was able to fly with the airline during my trip to Japan in December. This is my review of the trip and the airline.

Booking, fare and Schedule I booked my economy seat ticket to/from Tokyo-Narita during the Travel Expo in Manila, so the booking was done through the JAL sales staff. It was also discounted, as I paid only about half the normal fare. As I bought the ticket without having a visa first I was told by the staff that they can reimburse me for the ticket cost if my visa application gets denied, despite my ticket being restricted and non-rebookable. JAL offers four seat classes: first class, business class, premium economy and economy class, flying to 220 destinations in 35 countries worldwide. 
I think it is possible to book on the JAL website but I find the site confusing and tedious, which is a shame really. The mobile app for Android which I downloaded is also useless, as it is only in Japanese. I gave it a zero rating in G…

Snowboarding in Hakuba, Japan

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I've always wanted to try winter sports, snowboarding in particular, and the trip to Japan presented an opportunity to do just that. Actually, it was because I wanted to try winter sports that I decided to travel to Japan during the winter.

Winter sports - skiing, snowboarding, bob sledding, or even the weird sports of curling - are something that I, who was born and have live most of my life in a tropical country,  can only see on television during the winter Olympics, or in the movies, like in James Bond films. I think there's something very exciting zipping across a snow-covered landscape, even without the henchmen of Ernst Blofeld chasing at your heels.

I arrived in Hakuba late at night after taking the Shinkansen to Nagoya from Kyoto, then taking the Azusa train to Matsumoto, then two more changes on local trains. As soon as I checked in I asked Toshi, the owner of the hostel, where to book snowboarding lessons. He made a few phone calls and managed to get me one - a gro…

Shred the Gnar: Japan Trip Live Blog

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Day 7
A week's been gone now of my 9-day trip to Japan and my activities are winding down. I did saved the best for last.


9:00 am K's Backpacker Hostel
I went through the normal morning activities after waking up: breakfast, checking emails and messages, chat with the hostel owners, and a brief walk around the village. The walk made me appreciate how beautiful the village of Hakuba was - all covered in a blanket of snow, with its chalet type houses and alpine trees dotting the white landscape.


10:00am Hakuba
I hitched a ride on Toshi's car (Toshi is the owner) to the main village area so I can change some money to pay for the lessons and buy some supplies too. On the way I was able to see the ski slopes of Hakuba for the first time. We went back to the hostel after that, and I prepared for the lessons scheduled for later.


12:45 pm,  Winpy Box
I went to Winpy Box to rent some snowboarding gear: waterproof pants, goggles, boots and snowboard. I then proceeded to the base ce…

Wingardium Leviosa: Japan Trip Live Blog

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It's Day 5 now of my trip to Japan and here's what happened during the day.

9:00 am, Gion Ryokan Q-Beh
I woke early than usual so I can be ready by nine. The weather is a bit chilly - 2°C - but the sun was up, so that's a good thing.


9:30 am, Kyoto Station
I caught a bus to Kyoto Station and went immediately to the Japan Rail office in the station to get a ticket. Destination: Osaka. I grabbed a latte before going to the track to wait for the train.

10:00 am, Shin-Osaka Station
The trip was actually less than an hour but I had to figure out what line to take next to where I am going. I finally got that I had to go to Osaka station first before taking another line that will take me to Universal Studios.


11:00 am, Universal Studios
It may seem shallow to ditch the things I can explore in Kyoto and actually go to a theme park, but I only came here for one reason only, and that is for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one of the attractions of the park set to the world of …