Archive | July 2013

Brunch with a view (Park Hyatt Tokyo)

I can never turn down an invitation to brunch. And hell, I deserved it after the previous day’s half marathon walk.

I had a most perfect Sunday.
In the morning, I went to the Tokyo metropolitan photo museum to catch the annual World Press Photo exhibition. I go and see this religiously every year. The exhibition ends in Tokyo on Aug 4, so I finally got around to seeing it. Very sobering pictures. You should definitely go and check it out before it finishes.

I then met up with a friend for a late brunch (late lunch?) with a view – at the New York Grill on level 52 of the Park Hyatt hotel (of Lost in Translation fame). Awesome brunch was had. It’s basically a course that consists of a glass of champgane, unlimited bread, a gourmet appetiser buffet, a choice of main protein, a dessert buffet and tea and coffee. That’s a lot of food.

To our surprise we had scored window seats that look out over Tokyo:

From brunch, park hyatt

Time for Brunch:

From brunch, park hyatt

I could get used to this:

From brunch, park hyatt

The appetiser buffet is a spread of gourmet goods – cheese, smoked salmon, salads, prawns etc.

From brunch, park hyatt

And it’s all you can eat!
I managed to stop at one hefty-portioned plate.

For the brunch main, I opted for the Aussie lamb cutlets. It’s been yonks since I’ve eaten lamb cutlets.

From brunch, park hyatt

A nice leisurely brunch indeed.

Once you’re ready for desserts, they move you over to the lounge area where you can enjoy a pot of tea and the dessert buffet. I might add, that the lounge area is right near the buffet. Rather dangerous! In addition, you get a different angle view over Tokyo.

From brunch, park hyatt

I didn’t get through all the desserts, but I damn well tried:

From brunch, park hyatt

The highlight of the dessert buffet was the whole bowl full of gummi bears! I absolutely loved that at a 5-star hotel you could get your fill of gummi bears. Very classy. I’m rather obsessed with gummi bears. I dared to take a photo of them.

From brunch, park hyatt

I was suitably impressed with the service here too.

A very pleasant long brunch. Can’t complain of going hungry here nor the prime piece of real estate.

From brunch, park hyatt

Whilst it is a brunch, you won’t find traditional fare like waffles, pancakes, eggs benedict etc here. Nor is it cheap. But very reasonable and worth it for the quality. Reservations essential to secure a seat (tip: request a window seat if you can). Check the hotel website for the menu.

By the time we left at around 4pm, we were positively satisfied and full. Practically had to roll out the door!

Half marathon walk

I did a half marathon walk over the weekend. A walk, not a run.
It was part of one of the Tokyo Walk events. There were three different distances and I signed up for the longest one – 21km.
I figured it would be good training for the half marathon run that I have entered. I know, I should have learnt my lesson the first time around. Not only did I convince myself to do another half marathon run, but I’ve also managed to convince a friend to do it with me too. It will be her first half marathon.

A solid 21km walk in the stinky Tokyo humidity and heat was probably what I needed after eating my way through Seoul. I did the walk on my own. It was not a timed event. You could start whenever you like provided you made the checkpoints by certain time.

The starting point for the Tokyo Walk day:

From Half marathon walk
From Half marathon walk

The walk was completely flat. Yay. And most of it was shaded too. The first 8km was a river walk and the remaining portion was through streets and then along a cyclepath.
It was a very easy walk, albeit very long.

From Half marathon walk
From Half marathon walk

Found these awesome berry shrub:

From Half marathon walk

As it was not a timed event, I timed and mapped the distance on my iPhone:
A total of 21.68km in 4 hours and 13 minutes. That included a toilet stop at a conbini and lots of stopping at traffic lights through residential streets as well.

From Half marathon walk

Got a lot more training to do!
I can walk a half marathon distance. Now I just gotta run it!

A walk through Bukchon Hanok village

I only had three full days in Seoul. Just a short trip. So I had to cram in as much as possible.
I didn’t realise at the time of booking this trip that I would be going in their rainy season! It put a dampener on things, to say the least. It rained every day that we were there. I was not a happy girl. Of course, the last day I was there, it didn’t rain.

I got wet a lot. So much rain! South Korea may the Land of the Morning Calm, but what the tourism brochures fail to mention is that Seoul is the city without drains. The rainy season is made worse by the fact that there is a complete lack of drains, road sewerage systems so the streets just flood in water until your feet and shoes are soaked through.

Braving the downpour, I took a stroll through Bukchon Hanok village, which was walking distance to where I was staying in Seoul. The village is a traditional, historical Korean village with tiled roofs. You can do homestays at the “Hanoks” which I guess is like a Korean version of a ryokan. Walking up and down the little slopes, you can find little boutique art and craft stores, tiny galleries and museums/workshop venues.

I just meandered around the village on my own down little paved streets, not really knowing where I was going.

From Bukchon Hanok village

I stumbled upon the highlight of the place- the Bukchon observatory which is actually the third floor of a house/apartment building. For 3000won (about 3buks entry, you got a great view over Seoul and a free drink). I had gotten there quite early and was the only person there. I camped out there for a bit enjoying a beverage, the view, the free WiFi and the serenity.

The view looks out onto over the tiled rooftops of the traditional houses:

From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village
From Bukchon Hanok village

The old and the new, the modern and the traditional:

From Bukchon Hanok village

Boarding the Seoul plane

It was a long weekend here in Japan. Tack on 1.5 days of personal leave and that makes for an extended long weekend mini break in which to head over to Seoul. Had snared me some cheap airfares. So off to the Seoul of Asia it was.

A long weekend = time to escape:

From Departing for Seoul

I have mastered the art of packing lightly. For a 4-night, 3 day stay, I managed to pack less than 6kg of luggage. Carry on, carry on. Nothing to check in here. Just call me the Stealth Packer.

A mere backpack weighing 5.75kg.

From Departing for Seoul

Coming back to Tokyo, I did however have to check in my luggage. Managed to double my baggage weight to just under 12kg. Must have done more shopping than I thought. How did I double my baggage?

Boarding the Seoul plane:

From Departing for Seoul
From Departing for Seoul

Drinking water…Gangnam style:

From Departing for Seoul
From Departing for Seoul

You know I’ll have heaps of photos to post of my trip – Aleisha style!
Eh- sexy lady
O-oo-o
(Don’t pretend you don’t know the lyrics and the moves!)

Gonpachi

I am soooo behind on updating this blog with the goings on of my life.
Not enough hours in a day. This year more than ever, I am so behind on things. I have a neverending to-do list and not enough time. Not enough hours, not enough weekends! How is it July already.
I have so many photos to sort through. It’s getting a little out of hand. I am almost tempted to buy another computer just to hold all my photos, despite the fact that I own half a dozen HDDs.

Here is a brief post, albeit belated one.
A restaurant that had my sitting on my list for a while but wasn’t sure if it was going to be any good. More for novelty rather than anything else. Finally got to check out Gonpachi – the restaurant that was the inspiration for one of the scenes in the movie Kill Bill (which I admittedly haven’t seen).

It’s an izakaya restaurant but extremely touristy, mostly filled with foreigners. And they definitely cash in on the novelty.

From Gonpachi
From Gonpachi
From Gonpachi
From Gonpachi

The hallway entrance has a wall full of photos of all the celebrities and famous people that have dined there, including actors, musicians, former presidents etc.

The food was better than I expected it to be. Was surprisingly decent…portions were small and a pricey. Not the most value for money venue but if you’re a tourist in Tokyo it’s an easy option. Japanese-style dining, novelty factor, and very foreigner friendly (English speaking staff, menu etc, so no language barrier hassle).

The yuzu mojito was definitely a winner. I have a bit of a thing for yuzu.

From Gonpachi

And the food whilst decent, was not the most filling nor value for money.

Had me some asparagus and bacon. That’s how you get kids to eat their greens: wrap it in bacon!

From Gonpachi

Fried prawn gyoza with a lot of crispy noodley thngs that kind of scrape the inside of your mouth:

From Gonpachi

Yakitori:

From Gonpachi

A very small unappetising pizza:

From Gonpachi

This fish is awesome. Love me some cod:

From Gonpachi

The upstairs dining booths:

From Gonpachi
From Gonpachi

Tick. Done. Don’t plan on going back there….well, maybe on someone else’s dime.

HOW??

How do I get over my unhealthy obsession with mullets???!!!

<table style=”width:auto”><tr><td><a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/YcLV7LcblQubF2hh0DAc7oZ1RoTLeDulhGIwW8y5zH8?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-0fjcxxOXGiA/UdLGtM0B7mI/AAAAAAACU9Y/vwIiFfNmVdk/s800/punmullet.jpg&#8221; height=”512″ width=”335″ /></a></td></tr><tr><td style=”font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px;text-align:right”>From <a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/aleishariboldi/Mullet?authuser=0&amp;feat=embedwebsite”>Mullet</a></td></tr></table&gt;

(Picture sourced from Google Images)

Inage OWS: Medals and mullets

Without any swim training, I went along to yesterday’s OWS race at Inage, Chiba. A beach it is not. The Inage seaside park OWS race is in fact in Tokyo Bay. At least the race venue was close to get to. Can’t say much about the scenery though.

I had signed up for this race at least a month ago, and with the burn injury in early June, I haven’t been able to do any swim training. It was painful to wash in the shower, let along jump in the pool. In spite of lack of training I went in the race – my first swim since the burn. I wore a wetsuit, mostly because I was dubious about the water quality of Tokyo Bay. Water temps were pretty warm though. Actually, this race was probably had the highest number of people competing without wetsuits that I’ve seen so far in the last 3 years.

The Inage swim venue is surrounded by industrial factories and airplanes overhead from both Narita and Haneda airports.

From Inage seaside OWS

The water was super flat on arrival, but got pretty choppy by the time it came to race:

From Inage seaside OWS

The conditions got too choppy and the wind really picked up, so they had to shorten the race distances – the 1.5km would only be a 1km race, and the 3km race would only be a 2km race. I was a little relieved. I had signed up for the 3km! Was grateful that I would only be doing 2km especially without any swim training.

From Inage seaside OWS

The “beach” had more pebbles than sand. One of those rocky beaches.

From Inage seaside OWS
From Inage seaside OWS

I ended up swimming not too badly, all things considered. I swam the 2km course in a time of 35minutes and 7 seconds, which was decent for me. I got second place in my age group, which was enough to score me a medal.

From Inage seaside OWS

I got 6th place female overall. Granted, there were only 10 of us. The girl who was first female, I later found out is currently training for the Olympic Games — pretty impressive. But I actually did pretty well, out of all the competitors – of which there were about 60.
A couple of friends even came along to the race to watch and we had a bit of chill out day at the beach.

I think the highlight of the day, was not the medals, but rather the mullets. Yes, plural!
The only thing better than a mullet on a Japanese kid (or any person for that matter), are twins with matching mullets!!! Pure gold. Twice the mullet, twice the fun. You know what they say about mullets – business at the front, party at the back!

From Inage seaside OWS
From Inage seaside OWS

Just too goddamn adorable. Twins and mullets. Just kill me with cuteness now.

Seriously, what did these kids do to deserve such a hairstyle? Do their parents take joy in child cruelty?