Friday, November 2, 2007

Tokyo Drift - Episode 1

DAY #2
22nd Nov 06

After we checked out from the airport, we met our tour guide – Philip (name is not changed as he deserved an applause). We took our tour bus to our first stop – Tokyo Disneyland! Along the way, Philip told us some background about Tokyo Disney.

Philip’s version

It was built in 1985 by an insanely wealthy mogul. He invested more than US$20 million to build this fantasy land. He don’t need to worry though as within 5 years, he earned back every dollars of his investment. Can you imagine, 15 years down the road and he is earning nothing else but profit! Disneyland has to restrict up to 30,000 visitors for 1 day. Else the place will be so packed and the rides are unreachable.

Researched version
It was built in 15th April 1983. It costs US$1.4 billion to build this fantasy land. Tokyo Disneyland is privately owned by Oriental Land where Disney is the designer and licensor. Not forgetting to mention, a visitor will spend average of US$90. Disneyland has an average of over 20 million visitors and increasing every year.

OK. Enough of the facts and not so accurate facts. We arrived in Disneyland about 7am. Even on this Wednesday morning, hordes of people came to visit this fantasy land. Mostly are parents carrying their little babies. I was wondering, nobody works in Japan?

We took our tickets and followed Philip to our 1st ride – Pirates of the Caribbean. We sat in a boat and started our journey unfolding the story of Pirates of the Caribbean. It was dark and kind of creepy. There were several plunges and splashes. It’s just like a Deja-Vu. I took this kind of ride in Korea last year. It was also about Pirates. Oh yeah-it was a story about Sinbad. Though this one is slightly longer and the moving dolls looked more real.

Our 2nd ride is also a mild ride. Lucky for us, we have fast pass (this pass is limited to 3 rides per person. It allows you to cut the queue so you can access the rides quicker). “Toot-toot” the siren bellowed. The train ride was slow but it gave us views throughout the “WesternLand” which is one of the theme parks in Disneyland.

We noticed that the kids in Japan are really cute. They are chubby, with red-rosy cheeks with snow white skin. Their parents dressed them up in extremely cute gears. Su and I kept stealing shots of the cute babies. Hehe…We saw baby prams lining up systematically outside each attraction with their belongings inside. They will not have to worry about people stealing their stuff. Unlike China, if you left something unattended in a minute, they are gone just like that. I am afraid things are not that great as well in my own country.

Anyway, off we go to our 3rd ride. Still utilizing our fast pass, we boarded Big Thunder Mountain. I was so excited for this. It is just like a mini roller coaster acting as a runaway mine train. It’s pretty mild, without any 360 turning but exhilarating as the cold wind hits my face. Too bad the ride ended just a little too fast.

We got out and Philip told us we can go anywhere we like now. Armed with our Tokyo Disneyland Guide, off we go with our own little adventure. We wanted to go to the Haunted Mansion but unfortunately, the queue is 70 minutes! We wanted to go to Pooh’s Hunny Hunt but the fast pass ran out and the queue was 110 minutes! It seemed like we need to queue for everything. Even buying a pop-corn, taking pictures etc. Su & I had a mission to visit all the theme parks.

We do not know where we are heading but every steps we took, we snap pictures. Everything is so nice. So beautiful! Everyone is smiling and children are so happy. Christmas songs filled the air and in a moment, we were swept off to our very own fantasyland.

We saw a beautiful Beauty and the Beast statue. Belle was sitting on a bench reading a book while the Beast is sneaking behind her with a gift. Su was so excited and went to sit on the bench with Belle. I took some shots of her with different pose. I sensed people are looking at me. I looked towards my right and a bunch of Japanese were all lined up with their cameras looking at us with the strangest look. Omg! Are we supposed to line up just to take a picture with a statue? “Su, let us get out of here quick!. Before they kill us!

Since we were already in Fantasyland, we took countless shots of Cinderella’s Castle. As we walked on and snapping pictures, suddenly I felt dizzy. I feel really blur and extremely exhausted. People are walking in all directions and the noises are so loud. I feel like am about to faint. I told Su we better sit down and eat something before I pass out. Fatigue hit me real hard. I guess from the jet-lag and not getting any sleep on the plane. The changes in temperature, not having proper breakfast and walking non-stop since morning.

We saw a stall selling fast food. I saw this really queer looking fried noodles wrapped in a flat-bread. I remembered one of my friends telling me that this is a must-try food in Japan. I took a bite into the frozen chow. Tasted like KFC’s tortilla wrap but instead of chicken, it was substituted by noodles. Not really my favourite coz it’s frozen but at least it gave me some energy and reduced my fatigue.

Toontown will be our next stop. I can’t wait to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the cute little houses they lived in. We were kinda lost so we asked a Disney staff. Although they barely speak English, they were really friendly and so eager to help us. Blab la bla…off they speak in Japanese and waving their hands around. Su and I, looking attentively as if we understand Japanese were trying to figure out what they are really trying to say. “Left, then turn right and walk straight?” or “Straight, then left and go right?”. We just thanked them and decided to walk towards the direction they are pointing.

Mickey's House

Behold! We found Toontown in the end. I must admit Toontown is the prettiest of all the 7 parks in Tokyo Disney. You gotta check out the pictures!
Goofy’s house was crooked and cute. It looked like a mad scientist’s home. I really liked the bush trimmed to the shape of Goofy-Uh Hyuk!

Goofy's House

Minnie’s home was purple and pink. Hearts was the motive for Minnie’s home. It’s totally girlish. Kids can get actually get into the house to play. There was a long line of people queuing to get into Mickey’s home to meet Mickey himself. I was totally awed by Chip & Dale’s acorn tree house. It must be a lot of hard work to build this one.

Minnie's House

We took more pictures at the center court of Toontown. A mini choo-choo train carries visitors around Toontown. It was such a beautiful place. There was a Roger Rabbit fountain where water is coming out from the rabbit’s ear. Not far away, a crowd started to gather. Oh yeah! It was Uncle Scrooge! It’s so hard to take a picture with Uncle Scrooge. Kids are all over him. Su said the best is just to stand with the crowd and just take the picture. Su got a picture with some unknown kids. Lolz. But I wanted to take a 1:1 picture with Uncle Scrooge! As he was walking away, I quickly grabbed him to take a picture. Voila! I got a picture, just me and Uncle Scrooge. Uncle Scrooge gave me a kiss too! Hehe…Su was so jealous. Haha!

Chip & Dale's Treehouse

Not far away, stood a gigantic book titled Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. I think it was 20-foot tall. We really wanted to get inside Pooh’s Hunny Hunt which I heard is one of the best ride in Disney. Unfortunately, the queue was over 100 minutes long!

We finally covered all the theme parks in Disney. There was another Christmas parade which is about to start. People are all sitting and getting comfy on both sides of the road where the parade will take place. Gosh! Where did all these people come from? We walked and walked trying to find a place to sit. It was so packed. Luckily we found a small spot to squeeze in. It was one of the last places to sit in.

Christmas songs filled the air again. The crowd started to cheer! Mickey and Minnie was the first to arrive. Sitting on top of a sleigh. Mickey is so lovable. Though this Mickey is speaking in Japanese! Next came Donald, Daisy, Uncle Scrooge, Chip and Dale. They were dressed in white and looked ecstatic. There are loads of Disney characters coming to live - Toy Story, Gingerbread man, Lilo & Stitch, Goofy, Monsters Inc., Pinnochio, Buzz-Lite-Year etc.
Then came the 12 dancing reindeers. They were cute and mischievous, dancing with 2 legs. So what come after the reindeers? Ho-Ho-Ho! Merry Christmas! It was Santa himself! Too bad he didn’t throw present out to me – I am a good girl.

My legs are wobbly and my I am basically rooted on the spot I was sitting. It took a lot of effort to get up. It’s almost time to go back. We wanted to get to the World’s Bazaar before we go back. Not sure where we are as we are now getting very tired and cold. Luckily came a cheerful Disney staff to help us out. This one speaks a bit of English which is good. He was going to World Bazaar too so we followed him there. He said Tokyo was not exactly a very clean place. We got some tips about Tokyo and he said we should visit other parts of Japan. Soon we reached the World Bazaar. We waved goodbye to the friendly guide.

It appears that we’ve been to the World Bazaar twice today. We just didn’t realized that. The giant Christmas tree was all lighted up now. A long queue has started again to take pictures of the Christmas tree. Japan people are some systematic. If they see a bunch of people trying to get something or take a picture, they will automatically form a line by themselves. Nobody needs to tell them. They just automatically know what to do. Nobody complains and everyone will have their fair turn. I wish this happens in my own country. But I guess this behaviour needs to be planted when young and it will take a lot of effort to change the mindset & behaviour of a nation. We bought some souveniers from the shops. I got myself a lanyard. Something to remind myself that I’ve been to Tokyo Disney when the going gets tough at work.

It was just 5pm. The sky was dark as if it’s 9pm. We were running late as we are supposed to meet at the bus at 5pm. However, we just needed to take one last picture outside the park’s entrance. We were already pretty late and people kept asking us to help them take their pictures. Then we saw a very beautiful garden where the flowers are arranged in a shape of Mickey’s face. We were waiting for our turn and suddenly, came a bunch of kids. When I turned around, Oh No! The Japanese had formed a line by themselves again. We were already late people. So we have to drag ourselves and queue for our turn.

Seriously, we lost track of time. When we got out, our tour agent was fuming. “Hey, you guys are really late.”“We can’t find our way out”“Well, you gotta explain to the whole bus that you guys were an hour late”

As we got up the bus, the uncle sitting behind us was scolding us like u know…like our grandparents.

“You guys were an hour late!” Blab bla bla….

Su and I just apologized, said we were lost and stay low and quiet throughout the whole journey to the restaurant where we had our dinner. We had a normal Japanese dinner. Nothing extravagant or special. We had Tofu, soup, some vegetable etc. Soon, we were on our way to our Hotel- The Grand Palace Hotel.

The hotel, according to the tour guide is a 5 star hotel. However, we can’t really judge if it is really 5 star as all the rooms are pretty small. Su and I were still pretty hyper. We changed to our Yukata (Japanese robe).

of ourselves in them. Haha…Doing all crazy poses. Laughing ourselves silly. Looking back at those pictures never fails to make us laugh. However, these pictures are only exclusive to me and Su.  We had a long day. No matter how excited we were, we still need to rest as tomorrow will be another long day!

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