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Our 6-Day Kantō Tour (関東六日游) 10/3 – 10/8/2008; Narita Hilton October 21, 2008

Posted by hslu in Travel.
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10/3 – 10/4/2008

  • The company that organizes the tour is called Signet Tours – 超值旅游. They have offices in San Francisco and LAX. We heard of them from Therese Lai who had gone to a Japanese tour about a year ago. She highly recommended the company to us and that’s the primary reason we chose Signet. All trips were booked through a local Chinese travel agent in Vienna, VA.
  • We had originally selected the 8-day Thailand tour but due to political unrest in Bangkok, we decided to change to the 6-day Kanto tour at the last minute. As we traveled in Japan, the political unrest in Thailand was still developing woith no sign of stopping.
  • The tour is 6 days but we actually stayed in Japan for 4 nights. The first day was in flight from SFO to Tokyo. We first stayed in SFO and spent 3 nights with Xiao Bao; our son who works in San Francisco.
  • From SFO to NRT via All Nippon Airway (ANA). ANA is a well-run airline with nice service at the ticket counter and in flight.
  • Free movies, games, short videos were available and the controller was easy to use. We had dinner within an hour and half after taking off. Even their airline food is not too bad. Free champagne, wine and sake in the Economy class too.
  • Arrived at the Narita Airport (成田機場) on time and after a short search found our tour guide with a few others tourists from the US.
  • We exchanged US dollar into Japanese yen at the airport @ 102.4 Yen/US dollar. Good rate considering the exchange rate was as low as 99.6 yen/dollar just a couple of days ago.
  • We stayed at the Narita Hilton and had dinner there. We chose the Japanese style dinner (日式套餐) at the Matsukaze (松風宴會廳). The other choice was a Chinese dinner at the nearby Baien restaurant (梅園.) Here is what we had at the Matsukaze:
    • Salmon Sashimi and Grapefruit
    • Tempura (炸天羅婦) or Glazed Pork (東坡肉) as the main dish.
    • Grilled fish; Japanese style;日式烤魚.
    • Egg custard, Japanese style; 日式蒸蛋.
    • 醬菜
    • 白飯
    • Miso soup (味噌), and
    • 日本茶
  • The dinner was quite nice; light but tasty. It tasted great probably because we were on vacation; relaxed and really taking our time. Sashimi was fresh. Tempura was crispy. Grilled fish wasn’t smelly. And the miso soup wasn’t salty at all. The rice was white, warm, soft and moist; just like the way it should be. It is slightly sticky yet every grain is separated. No clumps. No cold spot. A very good start.
  • The Chinese option would get 海鮮麵﹐水餃, 春卷和榨菜. Dessert was杏仁豆腐;. Nothing to get excited about.
  • There was also a vegetarian option which looked quite nice on paper:
    • 辣炒茄子﹐炒青菜和小甜菰豆腐湯 etc. (Chinese)
    • 生蒟蒻, 白煮青菜﹐煎豆腐﹐炸蔬菜 etc. (Japanese)
  • Unfortunately, we had nothing to do after dinner and there was only that much to see at the hotel. We returned to the room and watched TV. There were only a few channels and mostly were Japanese. We ended up doing Sudoku instead.
  • I stated on the survey form at the end of the tour that it would be nice to have an option to go out for a short tour of the area on the first night of the tour. There is a shopping area near by and a temple about ½ hour drive away. Maybe the city is too small to have any night market here.
  • It will be a lot better if the first night of the tour was in Tokyo. I guess the selection of Narita Hilton for our first and last nights of the tour was its close proximity to the airport; about 15 minutes away. It is probably much cheaper too.

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