Wandering Japan: Initial Preparations/Requirements

Alright, back again. So as intended, I will be sharing my Japan adventure and I will be starting from the day I decided to set foot on the land of the rising sun which was about 4 months prior to the trip(not really much of a time).

Now, as a disclaimer. I am not in any way an expert traveler in fact, I rarely leave my city and is someone who gets lost easily even in my own country. My travel was far from perfect(but overall fun) and due to my inexperience, I missed some target places to visit in my itinerary but I still hope this could might be of help to someone out there(maybe for those who have little to no knowledge, they can check this for encouragement to start).

Also, I’m from the Philippines so most of the process I did especially those visa related paperwork is exclusive here so non Filipinos might not be able to relate.

Ok let’s go.

Decide and set

So first thing I did is to decide I wanted to visit Japan. By that I mean, set the foundation details like when will it be? how many days? can I afford it? etc.

In my case, I checked for working holidays with long weekend to make it easier to file my vacation leave(because I’m a corporate slave LOL :D) I really wanted a 7 day vacation but due to work conditions, I am only able to reserve 5 days.

So from then on, I did some online research about Japan and eventually decided on which part/region in Japan I will visit(which was kansai). This resulted to making my rough itinerary plan.

Book the basic

To make the plan more solid, I will have to start booking the flight and accommodation I will be having. Unfortunately, this is where I missed the best part to save on cost. I am unable to get those great flight deals from budget airlines, I just went with the normal fare which is pricey. I still managed to get a decent affordable hotel accommodation though but still not super bargain price like some experienced travelers are capable of.

Booking accommodations is very easy online through websites like agoda, booking, etc.

Get a VISA

Unfortunately, Japan requires people from our country to obtain a visa before entering. So aside from the standard passport, this is needed. There are many types of Japan visa but I can only share about tourist visa.

Japan embassy does not directly accept visa applications. This is done by accredited travel agencies, some known reliable agencies are “reli tours” and “discovery tours” which also asks the cheapest fee so they are recommended agencies to deal with. I went with reli tours and was satisfied with their service.

You may visit their respective websites for detailed process and requirements.

please note that depending on their evaluation, the Japan embassy will grant or reject the application and will not disclose the reason why. I’ve read a lot of cases from forums wherein the applicant failed and did not receive a visa. Possible factors are low financial capability seen in bank certificate and income tax return, employment status, etc.

So booking your flight/accommodation before passing the visa application is a risk, evaluate this carefully and decide which needs to be done first.

Overview

Basically, you need to have your passport and visa to enter Japan. Then you will need to book your flight and accommodation.

For an amateur like me, it took some efforts getting things worked up but it’s all worth it. Japan is a great place to visit.

With enough research and planning, getting there with minimal cost is very possible contrary to some belief that Japan is always expensive.

Voyager Luggage Post Trip Review

I just went back from my trip to Japan(which was super fun) and as promised, I will be sharing how my cheap voyager luggage held up.

I am happy to update that it was able to survive it’s maiden trip. It got some minor body scratches due to airport handling but aside from that, the luggage is in good shape and ready for the next travel.

Fortunately, the weak looking zipper managed to keep my 10kg+ items locked inside. During transit from airport to hotel and vice-versa, the wheels were able to absorb the weight pressure.

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@Kansai Airport beside my durable samsonite travel backpack

It seems that under regular conditions, luggage like this are quite capable despite the low price tag. Hopefully, I can take this to my next few travels before breaking.

For my next posts, I’m thinking about sharing some of my Japan adventures and maybe also some guide on how I managed to accomplish it from visa applications to itinerary, etc.

Voyager Luggage Initial Review

After years of absence, I’m back to write here again so hi again.

I’ll be wandering in a far away land soon so part of the planning is getting a luggage to contain my stuff.

I wanted a 24″ hard case luggage(20-25 kg. capacity) with no external pockets.

Being short on budget, I had to resort to those cheap not so famous brands. I went to SM and browsed the items on sale. Some brands I can recall under my budget are urban, british knight, voyager, racini, etc.

All of those brand seems similar, just a slight difference in looks and design. So I thought choosing any one shouldn’t really be an issue.

I bought the voyager one mainly because they offer to repair the product free labor for lifetime should it gets damaged. This cost me 2,700 Pesos.

For clarification, this voyager brand is the local Philippine brand, There is another voyager luggage brand that is from New Zealand so don’t be confused.

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My new voyager luggage

Design wise, the luggage looks good for me. Inside, it has some nice compartments/dividers/pockets. The salesman told me the body is made of poly carbonate, for demonstration, he stood on it but didn’t break, it went back to original form after. It features aluminum extending handle, 360 degrees wheel and combination TSA lock.

My initial Impression

Upon inspection, the luggage feels lighter than it looks, plastic parts feel cheap. Handles and wheels seem it would break easily.

Another concern for me is the zipper, it is thin layer only and looks like it is only being held to the body by a weak looking stitch:

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weak zipper construction

I hope those cons are just my speculations. I will be monitoring this luggage during and after my trip and will post the status.

Wandering Back!

Uh oh! It’s been more than a year since I last updated this humble blog, the longest time I stopped from posting to date. This is due to my uber busy schedule and my ever increasing laziness and facebook’s convenience that I thought there’s no need to bother with my blog. I’m surprised that a few wandered here so I guess I still have an audience to entertain.

I realized that writing for the world to see is still an awesome thing to do so once again, I gathered up my energy(LOL!), to try and write some(if not most) of my wanderings.

During the past 1 year of my absence, a lot of things happened(of course!), and there is one thing I wanted to post here sooner or later…..hopefully.

Nokia C7: A Cheaper alternative that isn’t cheap

Last Q4 of 2010, nokia released a set of smart phones powered with the latest symbian^3 OS, N8 is obviously the main phone in the release and is the most expensive in the group but to address the mid-range users who isn’t looking for or couldn’t afford the n8(like me), they released the more affordable, slightly trimmed-down phones, nokia C6-01 and C7. I got the C7 a few days ago(last year) and I will try to describe it as best as I can to provide a more informed choice before you consider buying one.

 

The whole packaged fits in this small box

 

My black nokia C7

Specs Summary

The C7 is equipped with a 3.5″ AMOLED capacitive touch screen display without the clear black display technology found in the C6-01, an ARM 11 680 MHz processor, 256 MB RAM, 3D Graphics HW accelerator, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Accelerometer, 8 MP fixed-focus camera with LED flash(plus front VGA camera) and an 8GB internal memory(uses microSD card for additional space).

Physical design

The C7 with Naruto

The phone is made of high quality plastic and stainless steel. It feels pretty solid with a nice weight, I find it comfortable to hold in my hand, no loose or any hanging parts, I really like it’s simple yet elegant look. One annoying thing though is that the screen and the phone itself is very prone to finger prints and smudges so you will need to wipe it in between uses to keep it looking clean.

 

Comfortable to hold

User experience

With the latest symbian^3 OS, the C7 operates smoothly with no visible lags even with a few apps running. You can customize up to three different home screens, each screen with your choice of shortcuts and widgets. The capacitive touch screen has a nice sensitivity responding well to every finger tap, I find it sufficient.

The homescreen with customizable widgets and shortcuts

Connecting to your home wifi with the C7 is a breeze, once a valid connection is detected, you should be able to start browsing in seconds. However, the built-in browser is not as good as I imagined it would be, browsing with it is such a chore, not user-friendly and will need a bit of getting used to, fortunately I was able to get opera mini for free from the ovi store, it’s easier to use so I suggest getting that browser should you buy the C7. The youtube application works well and I enjoyed watching youtube videos with my C7.

Still Camera sucks!

Before I bought this phone, I already read a lot of other reviews from credible sites plus some other user feed backs and majority of them swore how the fixed-focus 8MP camera of the C7 sucks. During that time, I thought they just have high standards when it comes to the quality of the camera and I thought it should be fine for me. I was certain that an 8MP camera will never disappoint me, but after testing it out, pictures came out dull and poor. I was very disappointed with the camera considering it’s from a recently released phone. Pictures taken from my brother’s 5MP htc desire is light years ahead from the C7’s crappy camera.

The video recording is the redeeming factor of the C7’s camera. At 720p resolution and 25 fps, I was able to record an acceptable quality video.

Nice Music Player

Using a good quality headset, I was able to enjoy hours of great music with the C7. I find it satisfactory without any distortions or any unpleasant sound, I believe the C7 will also make a good music player on the go.

Overall

Overall, it’s a great phone for me, it’s a trimmed down version of the N8 but it was able to retain some important features. It has all the necessary modern features I need. I say it’s a good alternative for those who want to have a modern smartphone but couldn’t afford those nice android powered phones and the Iphone4 and even the nokia N8. The only disappointment I could say with this phone is the camera otherwise it’s a formidable phone.