Category Archives: Uncategorized

Day 5 – Togakushi Shrine and Kagamiike Pond

Having only one full day in Nagano and as the weather forecast was finally rainless after the last few days of rain, I decided to go on an adventure up in the mountain and visit the Togakushi Shrine.  Together with that was the Kagamiike pond, famous for having a perfect reflection of the mountains behind it. I was a little hesitant as I wasn’t sure how tough the walk would be between the different sights and I was also hoping to take in Zenkoji Temple, supposedly one of the important temples in Japan.  Anyway, I decided to just wing it and give it a go!

I reached the bus stop (opposite Nagano station) with barely minutes to spare.  Upon the recommendation of the Tourist centre, I decided to go all the way up to the Togakushi Upper Shrine – Togakushi Okusha (the topmost one) and make my way down to the lowest shrine, Togakushi Hokusa – a suggestion I would very much come to appreciate and recommend to anyone thinking of visiting the three shrines.

The hour-long ride was not very scenic and upon reaching the Togakushi Okusa bus stop, I alighted and realized the long walk I would need to make just to reach the shrine!  It was a 1km walk just to reach the door and another 1km walk which included steps to reach the shrine!  Oh boy… what did I get myself into… (but this was just the start of things to come…)

The first km to the door was a pleasant stroll with tall beautiful trees lining the path.  It was so serene and beautiful, almost made me think I was in another world.  I can only imagine what the pilgrims of old experiences when it was even more undisturbed.

The main door had a beautiful thatched roof.  Beyond it looked deceptively like another pleasant 1km walk….

The path started to have a slight slope, as if warning me of things to come.

Japanese (and I think chinese in general) love their sacred trees.  I believe this tree was sacred also because it had another tree growing out from within it!  The tree just behind it actually has it’s roots inside this little alcove of the first tree.

And then it started….

(insert pic)

Steps… and more steps…. It was a painful climb up to the shrine.  The steps were uneven and pure hell on the knees.

Along the way up the steps were more little shrines along the way.  I love this little shrine carved into a rock with little statues inside.

Just outside the main shrine was a little waterfall over a stone,.  I’m not sure how man-made it is, but it was certainly beautiful and there was a group of happy pilgrims praying for blessings in front of it.

The actual shrine was actually not very majestic.  Quite simple and unassuming.  In a way, I was disappointed.  But in a zen way, I also appreciated that I had enjoyed the journey so much more than the destination.

Despite the simplicity of the shrine, I thought the whole journey made it quite worth it.

I made my (painful) way down the steps back to the thathed-roof door.  There, I made the decision to do the forest walk to Kagamiike pond instead of taking the bus to the nearest bus stop to the pond.  The walk was actually quite nice with the path clearly marked out and there were planks along the way for you to walk on.  It was fairly flat and didn’t take much effort except for a small slope near the end.

Along the way to the pond was another shrine with two sets of torii gates.  A nice picture moment.

Finally, after about 35mins, I completed the first walk to reach Kagamiike pond.  Although cloudy, it was really quite beautiful.  Can’t imagine how it would look if it was summer and sunny.  I enjoyed the walk from the Okusa door to the pond BUT felt a little cheated when I saw that you can drive right up to the pond!  Kinda took away part of my effort to reach the pond on foot through the forest.

I then made the decision to do the forest walk to the middle shrine – Togakushi Chusya.  This was one walk I kinda regretted a little, just a little.  The walk was very different from the first one and although it was only about 3km, it was a painful 3km with many slopes and some marshy land.  The path, while clearly trodden, wasn’t paved so it was more natural but some marshy spots made the walk quite challenging.

I was beginning to fully regret my decision to do the walk when  I reached the Suzuriishi Stone.  There were beautiful views of the mountains and like I said earlier, this almost took away any regrets I had of doing this walk.

Just after the Suzuriishi rock was another pond – Kotorigaike pond.  Although somewhat similar to Kagamiike pond, it was interesting that there weren’t any reflections in this pond.  Maybe it was just the wind at the moment.

After about an hour’s walk, I reached the end the trail to almost arrive at the middle Shrine.  But just before that was this beautiful collection of memorial stones (?) or graves(?).

The moss covered stones continued to add to the mystery and beauty of Japanese culture.

The Togakushi Middle Shrine (Togakushi Chusha) is grander than the upper shrine.

This triplet of trees is the sacred tree for this temple.

After Togakushi Chusa, the last shrine was the Togakushi Hokusa.  The Shrine was a further 20min walk from the Togakushi Chusa across a combination of roads + forest trail.

A loooong set of steps leads up to Togakushi Hokusa.  While I made my way down (since I diid the reverse routing), I can imagine the ‘joy’ of doing the upwards route from Hokusa to Chusha to Okusa.

And with that, I ended by day out in the Togakushi area, totally tired out.  What was supposedly a 2.5hr visit, turned out to be almost 4.5hrs.  But it was an enjoyable day out.  And like I mentioned at the start of this post, what’s interesting is that this was a day where the journey itself was much more enjoyable than the actual sights.  The three shrines were nice… but not awesome.  I would say that the shrine at Chichibu was more interesting.  But this trees and the walk really made this interesting.

Day 4 – Matsumoto Castle

After checking into my hotel in Nagano, I decided to maximize my JR pass for the day and travel to Matsumoto to see the castle since it is considered one Japan’s top 5 original castles.  The journey on the local train took about an hour.  

There was a light drizzle throughout the day.  I guess it did dampen spirits a little but the thing about being caught in the rain in Japan is that you dry out pretty quickly so it’s just a momentary discomfort,\.

The walk from the station to the castle was a pleasant one with many interesting shops, especially some selling beautfiul ceramics.  As usual, there were the obligatory bridges over rivers which always lent itself to picturesque shots. 

This unusual ‘old’ building sandwiched between two modern buildings caught my eye.  Appropriately, it was selling antique books!

Despite the rain, Matsumoto castle was a sight to behold.  I have to admit that in my books, it’s a close competition to Himeji Castle.  Talking about that, it’s been years since my last visit to Himeji, think it might be time to renew that love.

Supposedly, one of the most unique features of the castle is the extension building on the left side, known as the Moon Viewing Platform.  No other castle has this.  In typical japanese fashion, the platform was specially built for the emperor (I think) but in the end, the emperor never visited the castle.

View from the Moon Viewing Platform. The free docent guide explained that during the full moon, it is said that you get to enjoy three moons – the moon in the sky, the moon reflected in the lake and the moon reflected in your sake.  If you have a girlfriend/wife, then you will see the 4th moon, the moon reflected in her eyes. Yes, slightly puke-able but romantic nonetheless.

A pity with the rainy weather.  I’m sure with clear blue skies, the view of this castle would be even more magnificent.

Using google, I located this soba restaurant – Kobayashi Soba, near the castle.  It was a charming little place and I appreciated the fact that they made the effort to explain to non-Japanese guests how to enjoy the meal (like which sauce is for what, etc)

The soba was delicious.  I dislike soba back home in Singapore, but soba in Japan always tastes right.  I wonder why we can’t get it right.  Maybe it’s the weather?  After the meal, they gave me a free gift of some tea bags.  Talk about scoring points 🙂

This is a small traditional shopping street, linked somewhat to frogs?  It had interesting little shops selling all sorts of knick knacks.  I guess the combination of low season + rain ensured the emptiness of the street.

On my way back to the station, spotted this heron enjoying the weather along the river.  It must be so nice to be able to see scenes like this everday.

It was a wet day, but the visit to Matsumoto Castle was still a lovely one.  Highly recommend this castle to all Japanese castle-lovers and don’t forget to go on a free guided tour with one the volunteer guides (the booth is near the entrance to the castle).

Day 3 (cont) – Takaoka Sights

Of course, Takaoka isn’t only about Doraemon (any Doraemon diehard would probably disagree), there were some nice sights to enjoy while uncovering the Doraemon treasures.

At Shin-Takaoka Station, I was greeted by this massive (samurai? Royal?) hat.

A short walk from the station on the way to the park is the Great Buddha, supposedly one of the 3 large Buddha statues in Japan. Its in an unassuming little neighbourhood, not in some huge Buddhist temple.

Takaoka Park is really quite beautiful, even though there was a light rain. The autumn colours were nice and there were many little statues and monuments that created picture perfect moments.

Just outside the small municipal museum (free and worth a quick walkthrough though everything is in Japanese),is a little path leading to the zoo (also free!).

The zoo covers a small are no larger than half a soccer field. Really looks more like a children’s zoo but there were nice little exhibits like the flamingos…

And monkeys, and there was a sheep, a little pony and even a penguin enclosure!

More autumn colours. And there’s something about the red Japanese bridge among the trees…

Park near Shin-Takaoka Station where I went to look for the Doraemon ‘vacant lot’.

Shin-Takaoka Station, at the end of my day out at Takaoka.

And of course… The ever popular shot of an arriving Shinkansen train 🙂

Day 3 – Takaoka: Hometown of Doraemon

It was a crazy decision, but I decided to spend almost 120sgd on a return trip to Takaoka. Unfortunately, the city was just outside the Jr pass boundary but I really wanted to visit Takaoka as it was the birthplace of the Fujiko Fujio, the artist of Doraemon.  This would probably complete my pilgrimage of Doraemon-related places after visiting the Doraemon Museum in Kawasaki two years ago.

The shinkansen from Joetsumyoko to Shin-takaoka took about 45mins but cost about 5000yen one way.  Upon arrival at Shin-takaoka, you still need to take a train/bus from the shinkansen station to Takaoka Station.  If you are thinking of making this trip, do note that the train (Johan line) from Shin-takaoka to Takaoka is pretty infrequent (maybe one or two each hour) so you might want to consider taking a bus instead (google is your friend…).  Another tip, Takaoka city seems to be against Suica cards, so make sure you have plenty of coin for your bus rides and other small purchases in the city.

At Takaoka Station, you see the first major homage to Doraemon, a postbox where you can send postcards and get a unique Doraemon postmark.  The Doramon tram also starts from here.  There is an information counter near the Doraemon postbox BUT note that this has nothing to do with the tram service.  Don’t bother asking them anything.  I was rewarded with a cold response.  If you need some information, the main tourist info centre is on the 2nd Floor.  In case you are wondering what’s the schedule for the Doraemon tram, you can see it from the Manyosen timetable, it’s all the timings highlighted in blue (of course!).

Just above the station at the second floor is a gift shop with a small display of Doraemon gifts, again, just the start of things to come, especially if you’re a fan of Doraemon goods.  Don’t start your shopping here.  These are kinda like the standard gifts you can find all over the city.

Opposite the station is the ‘parade’ of Doraemon characters.

Couldn’t help taking a selfie with Doramon!

 
 

 


About 50 meters from the ‘parade’ is a bookshop (文苑堂書店) where there are plenty of Doraemon goods on the 2nd floor.  If you are short of time, this is a good place to stock up.

Lots of good stuff including plates and cups!

Next stop is a statue of a paint brush in the Takaoka Kojo Park.  The brush is located at the entrance to the Zoo (free admission).

The statue is filed with plates with what I assume are contributions from different comic artists.

Try locating the one by Fujiko Fujio…

And there’s also one by Astroboy artist, Osamu Tezuka!

Next on the pilgrimage is the Fujiko Fujio Hometown Art Gallery.  It’s on the 2nd floor of the Takaoka Art Museum.  There’s no need to pay for admission to the museum if all you want is to see the Fujiko Gallery.  You just need to pay for that on the 2nd floor (only 500 yen).

Entrance to the gallery.  Unfortunately (just like the Fujiko Fujio Museum in Kawasaki) no pics were allowed inside。Not really a bad thing coz it forced you to simply enjoy the exhibits and no one would be busy shooting pics to distract you.  The exhibits inside are in Japanese but there is a handy english companion booklet which the counter will loan to you.  Really helps you understand the exhibits so much better.  The exhibition mainly talks about Fujiko Fujio’s childhood, how we started drawing comics and the journey that led him to Doraemon.  I think it’s sufficiently different from the museum in Kawasaki and well worth a visit!

Just outside the museum is small museum store with some exclusive items for purchase.  I noticed some similar items which I’d seen at the shop in the Kawasaki museum.

Another view of the external area of the exhibition.

I don’t usually take pictures with dolls but the staff were really friendly and kept pushing them into my hands so I decided to oblige them!

I decided to finish off my museum visit with a ride on the Doraemon tram back to Takaoka station.  The nearest stop was about a 10min walk from the museum (志貴野中学校前駅).

The tram arrived on schedule (as with all things Japanese!). The interiors had all things Doraemon…

From the sides of the seats,

To the ceiling of the tram…

To the little clamps above the holders.

The tram wasn’t crowded so I had a fun time shooting pics for the entire 10min ride back to the station.  I have to say in comparison, that the Doraemon bus in Kawasaki might just be a little more complete in its Doraemonization. But this was still a memorable ride!

The very last stop is a display of the 6 Doraemon characters in a ‘vacant lot’ in a park.  This one is a little more difficult to get to as you’ll probably need to take a bus OR make a long walk from Shin-takaoka station.  Again, google is your friend. Just google the directions and you’ll probably be able to catch a bus to the park with this final display.

It’s a nice little display.  I can’t decide if it’s really worth the additional journey but if you’ve made it all the way to Takaoka, I’d imagine you would want to just complete the whole pilgrimage anyway.

And nearby the ‘vacant lot’, just next to the outdoor playground, is a Doraemon sundial. A pity it was so cloudy, couldn’t see any shadows to see if the dial was at all accurate.

And that’s it for the entire visit to Takaoka! I arrived at about 11am and finished at the ‘vacant lot’ at about 5pm.  It was definitely well-worth any Doraemon fan’s time to do this visit.  On a related note, if you are looking for more Doraemon products, there was a small (but nice) selection in the Convenience store at the Shin-takaoka station.  Near the station is an Aeon Mall where I managed to find more stuff at the Toys r us and this palce called the Village Vanguard.

It was an extremely fruitful day – both in terms of memories and Doraemon souvenirs!

Day 2 – Takada

With over 42 hrs with no long rest, I slept like a log on the night of Day 1. Before I knew it, it was 11.15am and the front desk was calling my room to ask why I hadn’t checked out yet (check out time was 11am).  Luckily my things weren’t really messed up as I was too eager to crawl into bed, so I quickly washed up and packed up and managed to be at the front desk by 11.40am.  Not too bad eh?

I then made by way via Shinkansen from Ikebukuro to Joetsumyoko and then transferred to a local train to Takada.

The view of the sky from the station was breathtaking.  Anyway, I chose to stay at Takada because (1) there weren’t any hotels at the transfer junction, Joetsumyoko and (2) Takada was the next nearest station with hotels.

Takada is a sleepy little town.  It was really quiet, especially since it’s off season, from what I can tell.  The streets were quite empty and restaurants would only open for meal times.  I stayed at Art Joetsu Hotel, which was conveniently located steps away from the train station and just at the edge of the main shopping street.  I read there was a takada castle here so, being a bit of a castle fan, I decided to check it out.

Don’t know why everything about Japan is just so beautiful and serene.  The autumn colors covering this river just caught my eye.

At Takada Castle park, there was a huge lily pond with the typical Japanese red bridge spanning across it.  Although the lilies were all shrivelled up as it was already winter, I thought it was still a sight to behold.  Of course, I imagine it would be even more amazing when the lilies are in full bloom.

So… what was supposedly supposed to be Takada castle, turned out to be Takada castle turret!  Lol.  I’d thought there was a full castle, but apparently, that was destroyed and the people of Takada had lovingly recreated this lovely corner tower.

It’s a lovely recreation.  There was a mini-exhibition of things related to the original castle inside but it was all in Japanese.  You can climb up to the top and have a nice view of the surrounding areas.

I have to admit that if this was why you were coming to Takada, it might not be worth the stay/visit.  But it was a nice little detour from my previous night of crowds at the Chichibu Yomatsu.  I didn’t mind some peace and serenity.

A note to those intending to stay at Takada to use as a mase to explore the surrounding areas – the local trains don’t run very frequently.  They also alternate between local and limited express trains.  Hence, it can be costly if you want to go to a nearby station to explore (like Naoetsu) if you miss the local train and have to catch the limited express for 2 to 3 stops only.

Day 1 (cont again!) – Chichibu Yomatsuri 2018

So herevs the reason why I came all the way to Chichibu – the night festival featuring 6 beautiful hand-pulled floats, 3hrs of continuous fireworks and FOOD! Countless food stalls!

It was a really nice experience, my first Japanese float festival. It was also amazing that the fireworks continued for more than 3hrs, ending with a big bang around 9.45pm.the The food stalls went on and on but I have to say it appeared to be a rotation of stalls selling fried chicken, fried noodles, fluffy egg cakes, coated bananas, barbecued sticks. Still, you had your pick of delicious Japanese street/festival food.

There’s really too much to describe so I’ll let my pics speak for themselves below.

I left the festival at about 9.30pm as I didn’t have a reserve ticket on an express train and I wanted to make sure I had a seat for the 2hr journey back to Tokyo. All in, it was a memorable experience which I believe no Japanese-culture-loving person should miss. As tired as I was, there were no regrets I made the trip to Chichibu.

Pork broth. A hot bowl is perfect for the cold evening.

One of my all-time favourite jap Street food. I believe it’s called ‘butabara’ but I might be wrong… Its basically luscious slices of pork grilled to perfection!

These looked really good and there was a queue for it. However… Really not my taste. Seemed they were buns that were lightly grilled with a generous coating of some sweet and savoury sauce. It’s the sauce that really got to me. 😖

Guess the pork couldn’t get any fresher than this.

My last dish for the night, a delicious packet of fried noodles wrapped in an omelette with an egg on top. It was delicious!


I’d wanted to try these chocolate coated bananas but was too full to eat them after all the other street food.

Day 1 (cont) – Chichibu Yomatsuri 2018

Going to Chichibu was the main objective of staying one night in Tokyo (on hindsight, I could have continued my travel to Takada after the festival since it was almost similar distance back to Tokyo anyway…).

You can take the New Red Arrow express train to Chichibu which cut your travelling time to about 1.5hrs. A regular train would take slightly more than 2hrs. Unfortunately, being the Chichibu Yomatsuri, the trains coming back were already fully reserved from 8pm onwards although I could still get seats to go to Chichibu.

As usual, the ride was smooth and thankfully, I managed to grab a nap on the way.

Arriving into Chichibu, you can already get a sense of festivity in the atmosphere.

Right in front of the station were many food stalls and I could feel my tummy rumbling for the delicious food. (it was only later that I found out that these food stalls were just the tip of the iceberg).

My favourite pork broth…

And really interesting charcoal roasted rish which I would never take coz I’m not a fish person.

As it was only about 2pm, I decided to do some sightseeing before the night festivities. I discovered there was a beautiful Mitsumine Shrine about 1hr bus ride from the station. Seeing an opportunity for another nap, I decided to visit the Shrine.

I caught the bus near the station (just ask for directions at the tourist info centre on the right as you exit the station).

The scenary along the way up the mountain was beautiful though I did nod off along the way. You take the bus all the way to the end point.

After that, it’s about a 15min walk up some steps and a gradual slope to the Shrine.

At the entrance is a beautiful 3-tori Tori gate that was guarded by 2 wolves. In fact, all the gates of shrines in this area are guarded by 2 wolves.

Interestingly, the wolf on the left had its mouth closed…

While the wolf on the right always had its mouth open. I’m not sure why though.

The entrance to the Shrine with the two wolves again on the sides. The carving on the gate was beautiful, a theme you would continue to see at the main Shrine..

More wolves…

Steps up to the actual Shrine… And yes, more wolves!

Beautiful ‘sacred trees (神木)’ to the left and right of the Shrine.

Really beautiful Shrine.

I’m typical Japanese/Asian fashion, there was a shape caused by the uneven floor which, when splashed with water, appeared to look like a dragon. Not sure what you think about that. Does it look like a dragon to you?

Outside the Shrine was a small park with a bronze statue of the founder right at the peak. Can you spot him?

Opposit the Shrine were steps up to a viewing point which I think is the real money shot for this visit to Mitsumine Shrine.

At the pavilion, the views of the area were breathtaking.

Just next to the pavilion seemed to be a hikers path down the mountain. Would be interesting to try it… Some day…

It was a short visit of about an hour as I had to catch the last bus down to Chichibu at 4.30pm. I wanted to be early as I wanted to make sure I get a seat for another nap on the way back to Chichibu.

A final pic of the views around the Shrine. Almost took the sleepiness out of my system!

Next up, Chichibu Yomatsuri!

Day 1 – Arrival into Tokyo

Today was a blur. Having not slept on the overnight flight, I knew I was in 8 at 7am into Narita is quite early as the next few express trains to Tokyo are around 7. 30am to 8.30am. While this doesn’t seem long, the extra half an hour felt like a lifetime when you have not slept over night.

I paid for a return ticket on the Narita Express. Firstly, it was much earlier than the Keisei Skyliner which I usually took and secondly, there was a decent promo for 4000yen for a return ticket within 14 days. Luckily, my return flight was exactly 2 weeks from my arrival date.

The Narita express was comfortable but it still took almost 2hrs to get to my hotel. That’s always one of my bugbears about arriving into Narita. I very much prefer Haneda but flight options are more limited.

I was staying at APA Hotel Ikebukuro Eki Kitaguchi. I’ve stayed there so it’s quite familiar with the location at reached the hotel at about 10am. I was eagerly hoping to have an early check-in and grab a nap before travelling to Chichibu. What I forgot is the typical Japanese joy of sticking to rules. I could only check in at 3pm and there was no way they would let me pay to check in early… I really can’t blame them but this is one time… I so wished they would be flexible. There really wasn’t any recourse so I grudgingly freshened up as best I could, left my luggage and made my way to Chichibu, determined to grab naps all along my journey… Definitely wasn’t a good start to the trip.

My Biz Flight Experience

It was an experience which I was looking forward to. The plan was to take a redeye flight to Tokyo on Biz class so that I can enjoy the rest and wake up fresh for my trip. Boy was I ever wrong (to no fault of JAL).

My preflight experience in the lounges were fantastic. I managed to squeeze in a shower before my flight.

As I boarded the flight, I was excited to be in the early group of travellers invited to board the flight 🙂 yes, it does sound like a cheap thrill, but hey, a thrill is a thrill.

11D, my own little world for the next couple of hours.

At first glance, this is what Japan hospitality is about…

From the lovely toiletry pull-string bag (which I of course didn’t use) …

To the slippers…

To the Shock of receiving the headphones in this awful pink plastic bag! I couldn’t believe my eyes to see this monstrosity hidden underneath the menu. It wasn’t so much that a pink plastic bag was used but how this doesn’t say Japanese standards of presentation at all! Quite speechless at this.

The best part of Biz class, the awesome leg space. I could recline fully (all 186cm of me), and still fit reasonably well in the whole space.

Flight started off with a late night snack. I didn’t care for the curried tempe in the middle but the chicken wrap and tomato pudding thingy was quite nice. Of course, when I’m flying JAL, I would always enjoy their trademark drink – Skytime, a refreshing kiwi-flavoured drink.

I started watching Crazy Rich Asians thinking that I would still have about 4 hrs to catch a nap after that. I enjoyed the movie but then when it ended I realised I had only abt 3.5 hrs to go. I had forgotten that I was flying from KL, not Singapore… And with breakfast due to start 2.5hrs before arrival, I had barely an hour to sleep.

So I tried, but I guess it was a combination of my excitement plus the coffee I had at 10pm which led to my inability to fall asleep. So I continued watching some random movie and managed to last all the way till breakfast…

Breakfast was not bad. I especially loved the slice of fish. I am normally not a fish person but this was really fresh and had no hint of fishyness at all! Of course, there was always the attentiveness of the air stewardess ensuring I had sufficient drinks of my choice.

And before I knew it… I had landed at Narita Airport at 7am. I enjoyed the whole experience and my only regret is forgetting that the flight might be too short if I wanted to watch a movie and grab a rest at the same time. That’s something I’ll do differently the next time, which I’m sure will not come soon enough.

A Suaku in a Golden Lounge

So this is the life…

But before that, I went to the transfer counter to get my boarding pass for my JAL Biz class flight but was told that I could only do so about 2 hours before the flight. That’s about 8.50pm and it was about 6.30pm when I went to the counter. Being my first time, I wasn’t sure if they would let me into the lounge.

So with some trepedition, I approached the lounge counter and asked if I could enter the lounge with my email and lo and behold… No issues at all! (yes.. I’m that Suaku)

What greeted me was a doorway into a world of luxurious pleasures. Prior to this, I’ve entered credit card lounges before and they were nice. This was really quite a different experience.

The lounge was huge and spacious. Quite nice and elegant with enough quiet corners to retreat to.

I love these 4-seater cubicles (in fact I’m typing this out while seated in one of them).

There was a nice selection of food and drinks. A total of 3 food islands/sections.

So I started off with the noodle section. They had wonton noodles but I went for their recommendation – – the sarawak laksa.

Nice pleasant portion made with white bee hoon. Sauce was thick and not spicy – obviously to cater to international travellers. Having enjoyed the first dish, I decided to head to the central food station.

There were hot, freshly made sandwiches (I passed on that) and went straight for the hot food section.

As expected, the Asian food selection was nice. Had the yellow rice with vegetable curry and chicken stew. Very tasty. The pasta was passable. Tried both the aglio olio penne and spaghetti in cream sauce. Not something I would go for seconds but not too bad.

Next, it’s on to the desserts.

There were two cheeses (yes.. It was actually from the salad section which I didn’t take any pics) – emmental and camerbet. Loved the chunky hard emmental. Fruit tarts were… What fruit tarts should be. The puffs were nice. Filled with cream with a caramel glaze on top.

A word about the drinks. For some reason, I really enjoyed the iced lemon tea. I’m typically not a lemon tea person but this lemon tea really tasted good! I couldn’t stop drinking it! The other was iced water with pineapple and mint leaves, quite light and refreshing too.

With my stomach full, I explored the lounge a little more.

There was a row of demo headphones for the new Sony wireless noise cancelling headphones. Very nice touch. Too bad I’m already committed to my bose QC35.

Next was a napping section with about 5 sofa beds. I peeked into the male section so I imagine the female section would have a similar setup.

There are also two family corners. Thankfully, no screaming kids were around.

There were also showers which I didn’t manage to take any pics of as I thought it might be weird if I did so. I just might enjoy a refreshing shower before my flight later 🙂

So that’s it. My first real business lounge experience. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, this is the kind of lifestyle I really must get used to. But yes… This is really the life… The way flying should be.

3 more hours to my flight. Gonna see what else I can enjoy…