Sunday, March 16, 2014

Japan Golden Week - Intro to Couchsurfing

It is a fact that traveling to Japan is relatively more expensive as compared to other Asian countries. Since I got my Japan flight via Air Asia X on promo sale (to get the good date, book your flight at 3 am upon their 12 midnight sale launch), my next concern is the accommodation.  I have been searching for ways to find low cost accommodation for 2 weeks stay in Japan.  Some of my friend recommends sleeping in book shops' cubicles; while others recommends capsule hotels.

Luckily, a friend introduced me to Couchsurfing (CS), and there I saw Mochan's profile.  He organize CS trips around central Japan, and he even drives you around.  Joining his group, I have to pay him 2000 Yen / day =  25 SGD (includes land transport & accommodation).  

Basically, CS is to allow strangers to stay over night in your house (if your the host), so the accommodations we had (as the guests) were mostly with local Japanese who willingly shares their home with us. 

One important rule for CS is to be open minded to get along with different people with different cultures around the world.   But I would also like to remind those interested to do CS to prepare giving some gifts / token as a sign of gratitude to your hosts, it is also nice to lend a hand in doing some house chores (floor swiping, washing the dishes, help cook the dinner, etc.).

Our Itinerary : 

= Golden Week Japan Highlight Trip 2013 =
Apr 27-28     TOKYO (central, west)
Apr 29          Mt.Fuji 
Apr 30          Tea ceremony / ONSEN 
May 01         SHIZUOKA sightseeing
May 02*-03  KYOTO (Day 1, Day 2)
May 04-05   OSAKA/NARA 
May 06*       KOBE/ OSAKA
May 07-08   AMANOHASHIDATE/SAKE brewery 
May 09        SHIZUOKA
May 10        Back to TOKYO
* nights we have to book our own accommodation
So the travel began...

Flying out from Singapore via Air Asia to Tokyo, requires me to have a layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  While waiting for my connecting flight, I used my bank cards free lounge access :

I arrived almost midnight at Tokyo, Haneda Airport, but the city train closes till half past midnight, so I decided to stay inside the airport for a night, since taking Taxi is very expensive and will require me to book for an overnight hotel stay as well.  Inside the airport, it is acceptable to sleep around the open areas, but I decide to try a unique accommodation - capsule hotel.

 Taking the free Shuttle transfer to Terminal 1, I checked in at First Cabin hotel

After checking in, I took a shower and snack before sleeping
Welcome to the land of the vendo machines! I had Takoyaki (370Yen) and Milk Banana drink (120Yen) for a mid-night snack.

The facilities are all clean and modern, see how clean their bathroom is.

The not so complicated control board for flushing the toilet bowl:

The sleeping area were not the typical capsules, but a decent box space, where you can even stand inside, and they have compartment for the luggage as well.

The following morning, I took a shower and bathed in their indoor Onsen.

Wait for my next article for the Golden Week Highlight tours around Japan, and learn how many places I was able to visit with a budget of 2000 Yen per day (excluding food cost).  Follow me with my first ever couch surfing experience!

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