USA + Tokyo 2016

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Day 1 (30/07/16)

Took a late night flight on Friday and arrived at around 9am at Narita Airport. Took the sky express direct to Asakusa station where we stayed. Was really looking forward to it as the annual Sumida River Fireworks was taking place tonight. We had some difficulty locating the apartment we rented from airbnb as we got off the wrong exit… The apartment location was less than a minute walk to Sensonji. Anyway, after settling down, we headed out straight after lunch to Sensonji and Namikasen Road. We visited the Asakusa Cultural and Tourist Centre where there was a free viewing gallery and did some grocery shopping as well.
We had dinner at shinjuku and did some shopping there and placed our belongings at the apartment before heading out to the area around Tokyo Skytree, mainly the Sumida Park where the fireworks were going to take place. There was really good crowd control from the Japanese police. Many locals were dressed in traditional clothes and drinking asahi beer. The roads were closed and we had to cross the bridge by foot while enjoying the 1.5hrs fireworks medley.

Day 2 (31/07/16)
Rise and shine to Ueno Park. I swear every MRT is so bustling there’s so many places to explore. We had lunch near Ueno MRT station and bought some fruits along their marketplace. Ueno Park had the pond which has lotus only around Jul-Aug period. We had a really great arashi lunch. We then went to Shibuya to look at the crossing before heading to Meiji Shrine which is really nearby. The walk from the nearest subway to the shrine is at least 1 km… Afterwards we had dinner at Asakusa. We explored the places nearby and went to Jakotsuyu onsen before having a late dinner. Bought stuff from the supermarket and had fortune taken which says excellent.

Day 3 (01/08/16)
Check out 11am. Visited Tokyo Station which has an excessive number of departmental shops. Had lunch and walked around Asakusa. Did some last minute shopping at Rox and tried St Marcs before we took an afternoon flight.

Day 4 (02/08/16)
We arrived at Los Angeles and stayed at Mayfair which is in downtown Los Angeles. Downtown is quite boring and the metro is kind of unsafe actually. We walked to the nearby mall and had Korean food. That’s all cause we felt really weary from the long distance flight

Day 5 (03/08/16)
Woke up really early and uber-ed to Greyhound Terminal before taking a 5 he bud ride to Las Vegas. We stayed at Stratosphere Hotel & Casino and the hotel has the best view in Las Vegas and actually has a few theme park rides at the top. I caught an infection and had to sleep the entire day

Day 6 (03/08/16)
It is the day to shop!! America is the best place to shop followed by Europe. Woke up early to visit North Las Vegas Factory Outlet and shopped there the entire day. It was filled with mainland Chinese tourists that brought and even bought luggage to fill their purchases lol. Had cheesecake factory for lunch!! And the night view on the stratosphere tower is insanely vast it’s 360 degrees and you could see hotels at The Strip.

Day 7 (04/08/16)
We joined the West Coast Tour which will bring us across 7 states and 5 national parks. I’m really excited as the past 1 week has been sightseeing at urban areas in big cities but now we are going to explore the natural scenery! This means driving hours and hours before reaching an attraction, very unlike East US as the states in the West are huge. So we drove into St George in Utah. Utah is really interesting cause it is surrounded by red mountains and is the HQ for Mormons.

Day 8 (05/08/16)
The tour took us to the Glen Canyon Area, mainly the Glen Canyon Dam which regulates Lake Powell. So as I mentioned the tour focuses on the natural landscape. This means plenty of trekking across dangerous routes. We went to Horseshoe Bend which was a 30min walk in and it was unfenced. Next, it was the
Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona which required us to walk across the dessert for 15mins… The Canyon is sandstone (unfortunately we only learn Granite and Limestone formations in Geog) and is famed for its colours and swirling shape.
National Monument Valley Tribal park in Arizona. This has got to be one of the most memorable places I’ve been to. We braved through mini sand storms that were choking and blinding us. Then, there was a sudden downpour in the DESERT and it felt like cold dust piercing our skin. We sought refuge in a makeshift shelter that provided little comfort before we could exit in Indiana Jones style – jeeping through the muddy overflow while being surrounded by gigantic landforms. (fyi they did film Indiana Jones here and photo posted was taken after all the shit)

Day 9 (06/08/16)
Arches National Park in Utah is the highlight of the trip. I’ve become more of an outdoor person now that I’m in the US. The feeling and satisfaction you get when you reach the peak and is rewarded by the view is something so lacking in our lives. Really wish I’ll be blessed this life to explore the remaining national parks in the US. We had to trek 2km up before we reached the peak and had to manouerve around the peak to get a shot at the arch. Could you imagine how scary it was?? One wrong foot and you will slide down to idk where. You wouldn’t die but will certainly be injured quite badly… Be careful and 小心 were said every few seconds LOLOL. And uhhh Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City.

Day 10 (07/08/16)
Yellowstone National Park is another highlight! It’s so huge it is the size of Taiwan and we only had the time to visit 5 places namely
Norris Geyser
Artist Point
Midway Geyser Basin
Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone Lake
Afterwards, we made a quick stop at
Grand Teton National Park. I was feeling unwell so I didn’t get down the bus. I was clearly not dressed for sub 15 temperatures and had a cold that worsened.

Day 11 (08/08/16)
The bears at Bearworld are really cute!! They kept standing on their feet and the deer were so pet friendly. Next, we saw the Aerospace Museum which was pretty cool but the coolest place would be the Utah Parliament. The Mormons are freaking rich the parliament is mostly made up of white marble from its flooring to its ceiling. Oh and we went to the Mormon’s Church HQ too which was pretty you know, typical…

Day 12 (09/08/16)
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah was really… My vocabulary is too small to describe the beauty of each national park but you know since it’s a national park it has got to be insanely unique that the government will want to preserve it. We went downhill with the risks of rock falls. Next, we had a bus ride inside Zion National Park in Utah.  I can’t describe the immerse scale of it, the feeling of being so insignificant while being surrounded by nature hmm. At night, we Ubered to The Strip in Las Vegas where most of the largest hotels are located in. In retrospect, If you are heading to the US, do take Lyft, a US taxi booking app as they were giving $5 for 10 rides!! We only realised this on the last day…

Day 13 (10/08/16)
Today’s the last day of the tour and we are heading back to LA! We made stops at Target, Cactus Garden and Barstow Factory Outlet before reaching LA in the evening.

Day 14 (11/08/16)
We took the metro to Hollywood and it wasn’t the best mode… So we just went around the same old places. Chinese Theater, Walk of Fame and saw the Hollywood Sign
California Pizza, I didn’t know it’s from the US haha as there’s a branch in SG. After, we visited Santa Monica Pier and I think there’s some sort of festival going on.

Day 15-17 (12-14/08/16)
Flight+Time Zone Differences


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