Tipping Customs

January 30, 2015

image via mint.com

Tipping has been imbedded in my system and as much as I like tipping, it sometimes becomes so annoying for me. I find that most service I get is standard. I can rarely count the times that I received exceptional service at restaurants and yet we are all expected to tip every time we dine out. I don't mind doing it for other services like hotels, hair salon, and my massage therapist because I don't do it every week but eating out..well..that's another ballpark.

And I hate the fact that even if you get a bad service, you are still expected to tip or maybe that's just me but I have guilt about it. Tipping has become a burden for me when I eat out. I don't know why restaurants don't follow Europeans and pay a higher wage and give their workers benefits like normal people. Why do they have to pass it on to consumers? I mean, I think I pay enough for my meal.

I like tipping when I know I got a really good service but standard service, c'mon that's just you doing your job like I do mine and I don't get any tips. Plus my earnings are taxable down to the cent but tips are not.

I digress.

I asked my friends from Japan and South Korea about tipping and they told me tipping is not customary in their perspective countries. I had to text twice and email just to make sure I was seeing it right. No tips? Really? Ever?

No tipping in restaurants? Yes!

Wow. Blew my mind.

It was great not having to calculate what to tip each meal. We had our meal and just paid for what we ate. And the service was the same, maybe even better at times.

What's your view in tipping? 

Travel reading

January 26, 2015

I get most of my book readings done when I go on vacation. Gone are the days of lugging books around my suitcase and making it weigh even more. Thanks to my friends, I got a kobo reader. It's a ritual for me to download all the books I want to read before I embark on a trip. 

I usually read while waiting at the airport, inside the plane, and in between transit. I find that I can concentrate more when I don't have my usual every day distractions. I especially love lounging and reading while on vacation (I mean, who doesn't?)! 

Here are some of the books that I've read last year: 
1. The Vacationers - A little family vacation drama but nothing too heavy.
2. One Day - loved this book and the movie.
3. The Fault in our Stars - I cried when I read this and when I watched the movie. Such a tear jerker. 
4. The Rosie Project - I was laughing a lot when I read this book. Second book not so much..
5. Crazy Rich Asians - ohhh the wealth, gossip, and the food. Worth reading!

What's your favourite book(s)? Any recommendations?

*images via google*

What I ate: Tokyo

January 22, 2015

One of the main reason for my trip to Japan was of course THE FOOD! I ate a whole lot of ramen. Different types of broth but I mostly preferred the miso broth. My first meal was from Hidakaya ramen. It was sooo good!

Another ramen place we tried is Ichiran. Again, amazing! I would flew to Japan again just for the ramen shops. We did arrive there in the fall and it was perfect time to eat soup.

I also had the takoyaki in Asakusa. For lunch that day, I had soba with shrimp tempura in one of the small restaurants on Nakamise Shopping street. This was really good but I had a mild allergic reaction. Not quite sure from what.

The last two pictures are from Sukiya restaurant. It's fast food with excellent food. It was so close to our hotel and I was curious to eat there as we passed it every time we went to the subway. I had the rice with beef. It was delicious and cheap. 

I don't think you could go wrong with the food in Japan. It's always fresh and delicious!

Shinjuku at night & Omoide Yokocho

January 19, 2015

My friend Keiko is visiting me from Japan! I am so excited to have her here in Toronto again. Three months already went by since I was in Japan and it feels like only yesterday. I hope you all day a great Monday!

We went to Shinjuku station to shop at night. I was looking for an extra battery for my camera and I just generally wanted to window shop. We started inside the underground shops at Shinjuku station before going outside. 

We also accidentally found Omoide Yokocho or "piss alley". It was rows and rows of small restaurants packed with people. We already had dinner before going to Shinjuku so we did not get to try the food there although everything smelled really good. Next time, I will be back to eat here. 

Tokyo comes alive at night! Lots of bright lights. I was completely overwhelmed. Tokyo makes Toronto look like a small rural town. People were spilling everywhere. It was a surge of crowd but at least no one was trying to trample me over. People will give you personal space but it was still pretty crowded and overwhelming. I didn't know where to focus. It was a visual and crowd overload. I felt claustrophobic. I am so thankful we stayed in a quieter part of Tokyo. As much as I love city life, I also need to have my space. And some peace and quiet. 

Have you ever felt overwhelmed while travelling? 

Tokyo Skytree

January 16, 2015

Asahi Beer tower

After walking around Asakusa, we headed to Sumida park to see the Tokyo Skytree across the Sumida river. I wasn't interested in going up the tower because I knew it was going to be a long line.

It was really quiet around the park. We took that opportunity to sit at a bench and just watch the trains and boats go by. I really love this part of Tokyo. So peaceful!

Makeover Project

January 14, 2015

I finally jumped the bandwagon and changed my blog template. After years of wanting to do so but never getting around it..it's finally done! Thanks to Jane for changing her blog template and sharing Lorelai's Etsy shop!

Thank you to Lorelai for all the help and for being so patient with me. I love love this "wonderland" template!

I am making a couple of changes and additions to improve my blog. I've added a whole section dedicated to food. "what I ate" will become a food series. We all know I love to eat and each vacation becomes a feast!

I also want to be more proactive in adding tips/guides on my blog. I love reading other travel bloggers advice and guides so it's time to give back as well.

My destinations will be updated more frequently.

I have other projects that I want to do and to collaborate with other bloggers too. I cannot wait!

If you have any questions or suggestions on what I should write or add on my blog. Please feel free to email me.

Thank you for reading my blog! I'm just so happy to be sharing my passion with you! 

P.s. in case you haven't read this yet, here are the 52 places to visit this year



Vending machines in Japan

January 12, 2015

Vending machines are everywhere in Japan.I mean EVERY where..from street corners to train stations and even outside temples. Vending machines are not just for beverages; it's also used for food, cigarettes, and many more but this is only what I saw so far. I even found one strictly for sake cups (more on that later). The beverage machines contains water, pocari sweat (sports drink), various kinds of tea (green tea, milk tea and oolong tea), coffee, energy drinks, cola's, fanta, etc. You can also have either hot or cold drinks. 
We used this vending machine to order our ice cream. You basically use this machine to select your preferred ice cream and to pay. You will receive a ticket after payment and you will provide that ticket to the vendor so you can receive your ice-cream. The vendor never touches the money. Very hygienic. 
It's the same for some restaurants especially for ramen and fast food. You have to use the vending machine upon entering the restaurant to pick your food and drinks. You pay upfront and you will get a ticket to provide the server(s). It's very quick and efficient. I love that they have photos of the food on the machines so you will know what you are ordering. I found that Japan had more visuals when it comes to food. I would be so lost if I had to figure out how to order without pictures. It was so easy when you can see the visuals. 
The photo above was taken outside another ramen restaurant. Again, we had to use the vending machine to order our food before going inside the restaurant. This was on top of Kyoto Station. A whole floor of restaurants. It's really hard to go hungry in Asia. Wall to wall restaurants in every street corners. I love Asia! 
Vending machine next to the train tracks. Makes it easy to buy drinks before boarding the train. The train station is also full of stalls selling food so you can purchase snacks/food to take with you on your train journey. Much cheaper and more selections than purchasing your food while on the train. 
And this was taken outside a temple. Quenching my thirst after exploring temples. I'm sure there are more types of vending machines in Japan. I can't wait to discover more next time I go back.

Asakusa: Don Quijote store

January 6, 2015

While walking around Asakusa, we stumbled upon Don Quijote. I have heard of this store before so I went inside to have a peek. I ended up shopping a lot!

Bought souvenirs and snacks. It's such a big store - at least 3-5 floors selling houseware, food, clothing, accessories, travel items, make-up, etc. You can find pretty much everything here. I took advantage of it. I even went to another Don Quijote in Osaka for more shopping!

Tokyo: around Asakusa

January 3, 2015

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday!

Let's go back to Tokyo and the Asakusa area. After braving the crowd inside the temples, we got hungry and walked around the area for food. We ended up at a small restaurant that only served noodles. I ordered soba with shrimp tempura. It was very good.

I just love eating inside a small family run restaurant with no menu. I just look around and point on what I want to eat and voila! It usually turns out to be the best food. 

We had to walk off our lunch so we browsed around the shops and streets around Asakusa. Plenty of tourists and local people around the area. I still can't get over how clean Japan is. I don't think I ever saw litter on the street.

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