As I am waiting for my rice plants to grow, I decided a great way to spend the weekend would be to visit my best friend Aida (an IWU student studying abroad) in Tokyo, Japan! Bring on all the sushi and ramen.
But first, we had to get to the airport. For those of you next year, the Manila airport is about 2-3 hours away depending on traffic. There are a couple of ways to get there:
1. Take a bus from South Supermarket to Buendia, get off Megallanes and then take a taxi to the airport;
2. Rent a driver and van to take you to the airport (3500P for one way, 6000P for two-way), this is the much more expensive route so I would recommend not doing this unless it is a last resort.
3. TALK TO IRRI STAFF. I was about to get on a bus to Manila by myself not knowing what was going to happen when one day I told my lab receptionist of my situation and she did some magic and got me on an IRRI van that was already scheduled to go to the airport that same night FOR FREE. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to talk to the IRRI staff because they have connections that you don’t have access to and know their way around much better than you ever will.
So off the airport we went! Manila airport is pretty simple to figure out, and if you have questions, everyone speaks English. Getting there about 2.5 hours early is plenty of time. So after my 6 hour red eye flight to Japan, I finally landed in Tokyo. I could already hear the bowls of hot, slurpy bowls of ramen calling my name.
After stopping at Aida’s apartment to change we set off on our hunt for the best eats. We worked our way through sushi, ramen, tonkatsu, and yakitori all in one day. If you ever go to Tokyo and want ramen, I highly recommend Ichiran ramen. It is a chain but boy do they make the best tasting ramen I have ever had. AND, it was the coolest experience! For any of you who are socially awkward, this is the place for you because you eat in individual cubicles! They give you a sheet to circle exactly how you want you ramen such as noodle firmness, richness of the broth, spice level, etc. For sushi, you can find good sushi anywhere really. We used a site called Tabelog which is the Japanese equivalent of yelp. Because the Japanese people are so picky about their foods, anything above 3 stars is really good!
Something that I found interesting was that no one speaks English and rarely are things written in not Japanese characters. So if you go, have a translator app on you. Also, public transportation is really expensive but still the cheapest option you have. There are also Japanese toilets EVERYWHERE, even in convenience stores! I have never seen such nice bathrooms in public places! Also, very few places use take credit card, most only use cash so be aware of this if you do go to Japan.
All in all, Tokyo has become one of my favorites cities in the world, so if you have the chance and a little extra cash to spare, I would highly recommend!