Japan Travel: Tuna Auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

>> Friday, May 28, 2010

I wasn't able to go to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo during my recent trip to Japan.

On April 8, 2010, the area was closed to tourists. Good thing it was reopened to visitors on May 10, 2010.

Hopefully, it would still be open to tourists when I get the chance to visit Japan again.

Below is the announcement regarding the reopening of the market to visitors. Rules have been set in place to allow tourists to witness the tuna auction while ensuring that the business operations are not disturbed.


Announcement from the Central Wholesalers market regarding visitation to the Tsukiji Fish Market
Posted on 2010.04.30

From April the 8th 2010 the Tokyo Central wholesale market decided to close the Tuna auction observation area in the Tsukiji fish market. We would like to inform you though that as of the 10 of May (Monday) we will be reopening this area but with some changes to the visitation rules. These changes have been implemented for three reasons; the size of the facility, the influence on businesses and the safety of visitors.

Please follow the instructions listed below
1. Maximum number of visitors
140 visitors allowed per day on a first come first served basis
2. Visitor reception area
(1) The reception area is located on the ground floor at the "Data and information center for fish." (Next to the Kachidoki Gate, entrance)
(2) Visitor reception is open from 4:30 AM for visitor registration
3. Tour times
On order of arrival, visitors will be split into two groups of 70 for the tour of which there will be 2 conducted at the following times.
(1)First tour begins at 5:00 AM and finishes at 5:40 AM
(2)Second tour starts at 5:40 and finishes at 6:15 AM
4. Note regarding visits
When visiting this market please be very careful and show consideration so as not to disturb any of the market's normal day to day activities. If you wish to enter the intermediate wholesalers area nearby the Tuna auction observation area, please wait until after 9 AM! This is the same original procedure that was in place before the market was closed.

Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesalers Market – Tsukiji Market
Tel: 03-3547-8011(8013)

Found this wonderful website that offers tours to Tsukiji Market:
Tsukiji Fish Market Tour
How to tour Tsukiji Market on your own


Cat Adoption - A Project of CARA Philippines (Compassion And Responsibility for Animals)

>> Monday, May 24, 2010

Give a furry feline a loving home and experience warmth and fuzzy love in return.

Adopt A Cat

May 29, 2010 Saturday
4:00 to 9:00PM
Hobbes and Landes, Bonifacio High Street

For more information, please contact
CARA www.caraphil.org


Planet Infinity - 24 hour gym in Quezon City (Mother Ignacia)

Location: 4th Floor Crossroad 77 Mother Ignacia Ave. corner Scout Reyes, Quezon City, Philippines

Phone: 376-4512

Gym Hours: Mon: 6:00 am - 12:00 am
Tues - Wed: 12:01 am - 12:00 am
Thurs - Sat: 6:00 am - 12:00 am

Check it out on Facebook.
Official website: http://www.crossroad77.com/

Directions to get to Planet Infinity:

If you're coming from Welcome Rotonda, ply Quezon Avenue all the way upto 1 block before Timog Avenue (Delta area).

Turn right at Scout Reyes, there's a 7-11 and a Mercury Drugstore at this corner.

Go straight until you reach Mother Ignacia Avenue. You will see St. Mary's College to your right before reaching Mo. Ignacia.

Planet Infinity is located at the 4th floor of the Crossroad 77 building which is at the corner of Sct. Reyes and Mo. Ignacia.

Turn left at Mo. Ignacia to get to the entrance of the building.

There's also a parking lot at the ground floor.

By public transportation:

You can take any jeepney that goes through Quezon Avenue. Get off at the corner of Mercury Drugstore then just walk for about 5 minutes to Mo. Ignacia.

Alternative route would be to take a jeepney that passes through Timog Avenue. Get off at Mo. Ignacia where Burger King and Icebergs are located. Go up to the street between Icebergs and the church opposite it. Walk for about 5 minutes to Crossroad 77.


Bellyfest 2010 - June 5, 1:00pm to 9:00pm at the PETA Theater

>> Friday, May 21, 2010

Calling all bellydancing enthusiasts!

Support Bellyfest 2010 on June 5, 1:00pm to 9:00pm at the PETA Theater.

There will be an Arabian bazaar, bellydance workshops, raffles, and a grand evening show.
Celebrate womanhood and share your blessings!

Map to PETA Theater

How to get to PETA Theater

Visit bellyfest.asiapad.com or peakperformance.asiapad.com for details.
Or contact Jill Ngo at 0917-624-7534 or 502-2912.

Tickets priced at P500.

Part of the proceeds will go to the Elsie Gaches Foundation


Budget airline Cebu Pacific lowers fare for flights to Osaka, Japan and Incheon, South Korea

Gokongwei-owned airline Cebu Pacific announced that passengers can avail of one-way "Go Lite" fares of P1,999 for Manila-Incheon, Cebu-Incheon and Cebu-Pusan flights.

Manila to Osaka one-way "Go Lite" fare on the other hand can be availed at P2,999.

The seat sale happens on May 20 to May 23, and tickets are valid for travel from August 1 to October 30, 2010.

Flights from Clark, Pampanga are being offered at a one-way "Go Lite" fare of P1,499 to Bangkok, Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore.

One-way flights from Clark to Cebu are priced at P499.

The travel period for the flights from Clark is from July 1 to September 30, 2010.


Philippine Travel: How to get to Ongpin, Chinatown in Binondo, Manila, Philippines

>> Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When people say Chinatown in the Philippines, more often than not, they refer to
Ongpin. Ongpin is the main road in Chinatown.

Here’s how to get there:

The easiest way to go to Chinatown is by taking a cab. Just tell the driver to take you to Ongpin and drop you off in front of Binondo Church which stands at one end of Ongpin Street.

Taxi flag down rate as of this writing is P30 ($0.67) with increments of P2.50 ($0.06) for every kilometer thereafter.

But if you are the adventurous type, why not take the most common means of transportation in Manila which you can only find in the Philippines? The jeepney (or jeep which is how it is more commonly referred to). And to add to the experience, take the other modes of public transport as well.
If you are coming from Edsa, take the southbound MRT3 line (Metrostar Rail Transit), and get off at Taft Station which is the terminal station. Transfer to the LRT1 line (Light Rail Transit) on EDSA Station and get off at the UN (United Nations) Avenue Station. To get to the LRT1 line, turn right upon exiting MRT3 through the turnstile. In case you get lost or are unsure about which way to go, just ask any store vendor at the station or a train station staff if you can spot one. Tell him that you want to get to the LRT1 line going to UN Avenue.
While riding the LRT1, I recommend staying near the glass windows so that you can do some sightseeing of Taft Avenue. On your left, you will pass by De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines Manila which are two of the top schools in the Philippines. You will also see the Philippine General Hospital, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Supreme Court.

After getting off at UN Avenue Station, look for McDonald’s and go to that side of the road, then wait for jeeps with the word “Divisoria” plastered on the windshield.

Divisoria is an area near Chinatown where you can find hundreds of wholesale stores selling just about everything.

To hail a jeepney, just wave your hand at the driver to indicate that you want to get on. The fare from this point to Chinatown is P7.50 ($0.17)

If you don’t know where and when to hail a jeep, just look around, observe how the locals do it, then do as the Filipinos do. As far as I know, having lived in Manila all my life, there are really no rules as to where and when you can get on and off a jeep. Except for some areas where there are explicit signs that say “Loading/Unloading Area”. But even then, these signs aren’t always followed.

After you have successfully got on a jeep, congratulate yourself as in my opinion, riding a jeepney is one of the top things you should do when in Manila.
To pay the fare, give your payment to the driver and say, “Bayad po, sa Binondo Church”, which loosely translates to “Here’s my payment. I’m getting off at Binondo Church”. If you are a little too far from the driver, ask any passenger seated near the driver to help you hand in your payment by saying “Makikiabot po”, which loosely translates to “I would like to ask for your assistance (in handing my payment to the driver)”. Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact amount, the driver can give out change.

From hereon, keep your eyes wide open and look out the window as you would see several interesting sights as you take this downtown Manila jeepney ride. Sightseeing from a jeepney takes some challenge though if the driver of the jeep you’re on feels like he’s the king of the road and drives at breakneck speed. But for most of the time, traffic is heavy at Taft Avenue so I’m pretty sure that you would be able to take in some view. If you’re seated at the right side of the jeep, the sights you can spot on your left would be the relief map of the Philippines in Rizal Park (Luneta), and the walls of Intramuros. On your right would be the Philippine Normal University, and the Manila City Hall.

The jeep will ply two bridges. Upon reaching the end of the first bridge, you will see the Manila Post Office on your right.

Brace yourself for the second bridge, the Jones Bridge which will give you a spectacular view of the Pasig River. The Pasig River is a biologically dead body of water but efforts from the private sector has been ongoing to revive it. Albeit stinky with murky waters, you can actually take a ferry boat to see more of the historic buildings along the river.

When the jeep reaches the end of Jones Bridge, you will see the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch welcoming you to Chinatown. You are now on Quintin Paredes street. At the other end of this street is your target landmark, the Binondo Church.

When the jeep is almost near the church, to indicate that you want to get off, tell the driver “Para po sa Binondo Church” which loosely translates to “Please stop at Binondo Church”. You might have to speak a little louder to ensure that the driver hears you amid the traffic noise.

Get off as soon as the jeep makes a stop and go to the nearest sidewalk. Note that the jeeps don’t always stop at a favorable place for unloading, some would even stop at the middle of the road, so be alert and watch out for oncoming vehicles.

Once you reach Binondo Church, you are now at the center of Chinatown!

The mini-garden with the fountain in front of the church is Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz. Take note of the store signs of McDonald’s and Starbucks around the plaza, they’re in Chinese!

To go to the residential area where the old houses are, cross the street from Binondo Church to Philtrust Bank. The bridge beside the bank leads to the residential side of Binondo. The term “residential” is a misnomer though as the Chinese often operates their businesses in their homes.

If you intend to walk around the area, go there in the morning upto mid-afternoon when the place is bustling with business. I don’t recommend going there after sundown as darkness increases vulnerability to theft.

To see the wholesale stores that carry wares which are mostly from China, cross the street from Binondo Church to McDonald’s and walk further to the right. The narrow road beside Starbucks and the web of alleys adjacent to it is home to a myriad of stores that sell anything you can possibly think of. The place is often crowded so be careful of pickpockets. This road leads all the way to Divisoria. The jeep bound for Divisoria passes through this street but since the traffic here is often heavy, almost at a turtle’s pace, people just get off the jeep and walk.

If you plan to walk around this area, I suggest dressing down. I usually wear faded shirts with lengths that go all the way down to my pants’ pockets so that my wallet and cellphone are safely covered and somehow protected from stealthy pickpocket hands. Leave your valuables like earrings and necklaces in your hotel’s safebox. Jewelries are often targets of snatch and run thieves.

A friend who lives in the area doesn’t even carry a wallet. She just puts her money directly into her snugly fit jeans’ pockets to avoid getting her wallet snatched. The place isn’t as scary as it sounds. These tips are just meant to make your trip as hassle-free as possible. Better to be safe than sorry.

Lastly, to go to Ongpin which is the main artery of Chinatown, if you’re facing Binondo Church, the road to the right of the church is Ongpin Street. Walking the street from end to end would probably take 15 to 20 minutes. At the other end of the street is another church, the Sta. Cruz Church.

While Ongpin is lined with must-visit bakeries, groceries, and restaurants among many other establishments, I recommend taking some time to walk around the side streets connected to it as well. One side street worth seeing is Salazar Street which leads to Benavides Street where several family-owned restaurants have sprung up. Aside from dining at the bigger restaurants serving Cantonese dishes along Ongpin, sampling some Fujian style dishes in one of the smaller restaurants or food stalls along Salazar and Benavides streets is a different experience in itself.

Unfortunately, Manila’s Chinatown is fast losing its rustic charm as more and more old structures are being torn down to make way for modern condominiums. Nevertheless, be it antique houses or high-rise condominiums, the rich Chinese culture has been kept intact in this area which has been the home of Chinese immigrants for the past 500 years.


About This Blog

This blog is my attempt to document the bits and pieces of my life. It also serves as a reference for things I need to remember every now and then, like activating UnliText, among other things.

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