Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to keep in touch while traveling in Japan?

SIM cards 'collection' from countries I often travel to. For Singapore I'm using Starhub (cheaper rates), XL for Indonesia and 3 for Australia.

Like the previous post, this one has also been sent via email to my fellow friends who will be traveling to Japan with me. Of course I have to edit some details to avoid confusion. Having worked with telecommunication companies, I feel obliged to inform them with some of my findings in this area.

Feel free to comment/advise on this article since these are just what I've researched so far.

How can one keep in touch while traveling to Japan? Can I use my mobile phone in Japan? Can I rent prepaid SIM card in Japan? Are there any alternatives?

Japan network is quite different from our country since they are using CDMA (now W-CDMA) and we are using GSM. However those who have a 3G enabled mobile phones (with functions to switch to dual mode/UMTS) are able to roam in Japan ie. Nokia N82.

Here are a few options;

1) International roaming using your 3G mobile phones

Just my 2 cents and opinion traveling in general, international roaming is VERY messy especially when you're on postpaid or if you're using Celcom cos they don't limit making/receive calls, data, etc. Balik rumah, check bill, boleh pengsan! (Come back home, check phone bills and faint) I've experienced paying about RM2k in several occasions for inter'l roaming, so for 5-day travel, just use public phone to say your hellos.

Below is how charges work for Celcom users;

Making calls in Japan and different country: RM 3.50 per minute
Making calls from Japan to Malaysia: RM 8.80 per minute
For discount (roam saver) dial *120* (country code and phone no) + # : RM 2.50 per minute
Send SMS: RM 2 per sms

This is based from my conversation with Celcom careline, for more detailed, verified info, please dial 1111 (for Celcom users) or here

I am not sure how charges work on Maxis, Digi, U-Mobile, etc though.

>>UPDATE: I ended up going on roaming via Celcom. (After all the comments) Most of my friends and family are aware I'm in Japan, so I didn't receive much calls, more sms, but hey, luckily my phone bills was okay...I forgot the exact number, but its less than RM100. Yay!

2) 3G phone rental in Japan
A few operators/phone rentals co. in Japan are offering this service; Vodafone, NTT Docomo, Softbank, PuPuRu. I'm not sure about another operator, KDDI. It seems they only offer fixed line? (telephone)

3) Rent prepaid SIM card
In my opinion, this is a better choice only to those who wants to keep in touch with people around Japan. Travelers often use this to keep in touch with their travel partners and in several occasions make international calls/sms to family and friends back home but it also depends on the operator's charge fee. Softbank provides 3G SIM card rental.


Again, for 5 days travel, in my opinion, there are other cheaper FREE = better alternative.

1) Keep in touch with family and friends using public telephone to notify safe landing or updates.
2) Skype/email/sms via internet using hotel's free internet wifi. Those who'll be bringing laptop or wifi/wlan enabled mobile phone, you're in luck. Most accomodation in Japan offer high speed internet and also computers for browsing.

If all fails, there's always google :D

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Travel to-bring Check List to Japan

My next travel will be in less than 3 weeks time. I am going to Japan this September. Word has it, its gonna be autumn soon. Excellent. More reason to go to Kyoto.

Here is my to-bring list for 3 weeks travel. I hope this will help any travelers who wants a sneak peek on what needs to be in the luggage/backpack.

1. Toiletries
- Compact toothbrush
- facial stuff (cleanser, toner, moisturiser)
- body lotion/cream: for the chilly weather. I use cream cos it sticks more on cold weather.
- dental floss (very versatile tool to tie stuff and can be alternative for luggage lock)

*If you're bringing your own toiletries, its better to bring it in small amount. I do this cos I always take the hotel shampoos, goodies as sounvenirs.

2. Medicine
- Chik kit tek aun/diarrhea pills
- Panadol/Paracetamol (satu papan)
- Vitamin C or any forms of immune boosting pills
- Vicks/Tiger balm/Cap kapak or any soothing balm/ointment
- Alucid tablet: gastric pain, hyperacidity, flatuence and heartburn
- Antihistamin pills like Clarinase

3. Wardrobe
- One formal wear for special occasion
- Jacket: Not too thick, not too thin (1)
- Undies
- Sleeping: Long johns or any comfortable long sleeve
- Towel* (if you want to bring one, bring a thin one. Easy storage and quick dry)
- Casual and semi-casual wear
- Socks

4. Shoes

- Formal shoes (the ones that doesn't take up space)
- Tough, versatile shoes: Sneakers/Boots, etc
- Casual shoes: Sandals

5. Make-ups (for ladies) and erm, metro-guys. I need to look good in Japan, okay?
- Eye: eye shadows, mascara, eyelash curler, eyeliner
- Face: Concealer, liquid foundation, powder, make up remover
- Lip: Lipbalm, lipcolor, liner
- Tool: Brushes, sponges, cotton bud/pads

6. Necessities (to bring around most time esp during flight)
- Lipbalm/petroleum based lip protection
- Surgical mask (if don't want to freak ppl out, wear the deco version)
- Perfume/cologne (all the liquid, pls make sure less than 100ml and place in clear, see through baggy)
- Hand sanitizer; Dettol (kills bacteria), Softaman (kills bacteria and viruses). Can be found in Caring Pharmacy.
- Travel kit*: Blanket, eye patch and inflatable pillow.
- Book (compact size book is better)
- Tissue (lots of them!!!!) Bring also wet tissue for extra erm, coverage
- Japan phrase book
- Guide maps
- PEN: Better bring your own. More hygienic than using public pen.
- Identification: Passport, Identification card

7. Miscellaneous
- Plastics (dirty laundry and to separate shoes)
- Carry bag (good for shopping)
- Small padlock (for luggage/lockers with no locks for added security)

8. Souvenirs from home (I'm meeting some friends there)

9. Electronics
- Phones
- Music player
- Camera
- Thumbrive/memory card (to share and transfer stuff)
- Laptop (optional)

10. Extra expenses
- Yen money (pls budget your spending)
- RM for later use
- Credit card (just in case)
- Student card for added priveledge (damn, I lost mine).

*Clear up your wallet. Keep all the receipts and local privilege cards.

11. Food
- Mints (candy, chewing gum)
- Sweet (candy, chocolates)
- Energy bar (muesli, quaker bar, snickers)
- Instant, packaged food (mee, serunding, soup) IMPORTANT to those yg kempunan and better sahur.

12. Memories
- Bring autograph book or any blank note book. Old fashioned but effective. Good for sketching too!

Well, that's it so far. I'll keep updating this list from time to time. I think I might need to refer to this soon.

Check on my previous post on Travel Preparation and H1N1

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Lion Called Christian

Anthony Bourke, John Rendall and Christian the Lion

This video is from a documentary about a relationship between two guys, (Anthony Bourke and John Rendall) and a lion called Christian. It was not highly publicized until it was made famous in YouTube and the help of tear-jerking song from Whitney Houston of course.

Here's another longer version of the video.

I am definitely buying this book, A Lion Called Christian. Here's a link from Amazon. I managed to find it in Borders Gardens (in Malaysia), with a help of internet and phone call. It costs RM 83.90 (approximately USD 24) for the hard cover version. There are two copies so far and I already reserved one via phone :D At the moment, according to the internet database, this book is not available in both MPH and Kinokuniya yet. Maybe soon.

Now I'm missing my two cats back in my hometown. Will pay them a visit this week :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quote from an Ectomorph cum Food Lover...

At 0.43 Linguine: And you're thin for someone who likes food.

"I don't like food, I love it. If I don't love it, I don't swallow," - Anton Ego, the food critic from Ratatouille.

I'm an ectomorph (skinny by nature and fast metabolism) and a food lover, so I can very much relate to this statement.

Berry Choc Pavlova

Speaking of food, I just discovered another love at DELIcious at The Marc Service Residence for lunch. It is located in Jln Pinang, which is located next to Japan Embassy.

Crispy sugary meringue, topped with Chantilly cream, huge strawberries and sprinkles of fine chocolate flakes
. It was a fine ending to a wonderful brunch, even though I couldn't finish my favorite food of all time, spaghetti bolognese. I guess I'm just not a fan of angel spaghetti in my bolognese.

So...could this beat the ultimate Mixed Berries Meringue in Alexis. You'll be the judge of it.
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