We've been really busy the past week, so we haven't had much chance to post. Here are a few pics from the journey so far. It's been a while since I've used blogger or edited html, so apologies if this is a bit basic.
We spent the first week of our trip in Shinjuku, a very vibrant, interesting part of Tokyo.
Second morning was rainy and we made a trip to nearby Shibuya to get some special Hodohoku makeup brushes. The huge crossing at Shibuya was quite wet.
The next day we went to Tokyo Tower which looks a lot like the Eiffel Tower.
We had reservations at the stupefying Robot Restaurant back in Shinjuku and had to rush back to make it in time. Many, many pictures to come. No picture can really give you the true experience of Robot Restaurant. Kind of like the Matrix, it cannot be explained, only experienced.
Later in the week we went on a Sakura Tour, but there weren't a lot of cherry blossoms open yet. On the way we ran into a lot of college students in formal dress for their graduation.
So many cute signs, everywhere.
On Friday we went to Tokyo DisneySea with our friend Sayaka, who greatly improved our experience here by explaining all sorts of Japanese things and translating for us and generally being awesome.
Random Tokyo scene...
Saturday was rainy again, so we went to the Natural History Museum, along with a lot of other people.
Thursday was full of Buckingham Palace in the morning and then we met up with my pal, Cathy, and went to the V&A. Cathy and I went to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit and the fashion museum while Chris went off to look at sculpture. The McQueen exhibit was amazing. It's a traveling one, so if you ever get a chance to see it, go for it!
After a really yummy dinner, and a failed attempt at putting Cathy on a train home (there was a death on the train tracks so she just got a hotel), we went back to the hotel full and sleepy!
On Weds we went to the WB Studio Tour in Leavesden to see the Harry Potter sets with my friend Sarah. It was absolutely incredible, but I don't recommend taking the tour bus that they suggest. The only allow you 3 hours in the facility, and if you get the audio tour, there's absolutely no way you could finish in that amount of time. I'd say you need about 5 hours there if you actually want to soak in everything and if you want to be able to have a solid look around the shop.
Either way, the scale of the props and sets and the sheer amount of information that they have preserved was breathtaking. I will for sure be coming back again to get even more!
Tuesday was filled easily by dropping Chris off at the British Museum (I went in and did Egypt) and then heading out to do some shopping with my friends.
We went to a bunch of different shops in Oxford street, but I must say that I have not seen anything as nuts as Primark before. It's a giant frenzy of fairly decently made, pretty cool clothes at crazy good prices, and there are mobs of people there to let you know that everybody knows about it. I got a cool jacket and a bunch of loungewear!
Wen then headed to one of the most intense and cool prices of theater that I have ever had the pleasure of attending, called "The Curious Incident of the Dig in the Night-time". I won't say much about it as it's best seen without too much knowledge, but if it ever comes to a place near you, do go see it.
We finished up with some ramen at Bone Daddies, which made us very happy!
We got to the airport in Taipei on Sunday and waited for our flight to Manila. The time to board came and went and then we were told that the plane would leave an hour late, which was a problem because we had about an hour layover to get our flight home. Ugh. (Incidentally, they told us that the lateness was due to the plane coming in late from the last flighty, but it was already there! Virgin America can turn over a plane in 15 minutes, so I have no idea why it took them an hour and a half to do so!).
Ok, so we board and fly. Then we get to the gate and just sit there inside the plane for 15 minutes because 2 planes were trying to get to the same gate at the same time. You can imagine me and Erin at this point, doing the same dance that you do when you have to pee... We then jam up the ramp and are told that we have to go to the transfer desk because we have to go through security. Whatever. We go to the transfer desk and are told to sit in their holding pen while we wait for someone to walk us to security (why???). We are super late at this point and stressed so we are just staring at the woman and keep asking to please be let to go. Finally they take us to normal, vanilla security (we could have just gone there ourselves) and then AGAIN through the exact same security 10 feet inside of that, at the gate. It's as if they just don't trust those guys standing literally 10 feet away...
Anyway, yay!! We made it. Lots if stress, but we are there! Once again, our board time comes and goes and then our fly time comes and goes. Nothing is said.
Finally, someone comes on the PA saying it will be delayed 45 mins.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat like 3 times.
Finally at 12:30am they start reading out names. My name and Erin's name are both read out, so we go to stand in a huddled mass of concerned people who are told by a totally terrified and incompetent girl that we must go back to the transfer desk with no explanation of why. This is a bunch of Americans, so obviously no one moves and people start asking for a manager. We have one lady who takes charge, who speaks Phillipeano, and gets the skinny: the flight is cancelled and we have to go through immigration because they are putting us in a hotel.
Long story slightly less long, at like 1:30am we are taken to a casino hotel in Manila and given rooms and vouchers for food. We are shuttled back to the airport at 8:30 the next morning for a noon flight, which turned out to also be an hour late, but whatever. We finally got home at 10 am on Monday...
The actual accommodations on the plane were delightful with screens and actually really great leg room (the same amount I had paid Cathay Pacific 2.5 x that amount for on the way out), and the food was decent! So, I'd say, if you are totally fine with a random departure and arrival time, Phillipeans airlines is actually pretty ok. Just don't have a connecting flight!