Photo of the Day: Burnt miso ramen @ Gogyo Ramen. Photo credit: Aaron.
We had to get up at 6:30am this morning to try to catch the 7:35am express train to the Incheon airport to try to save some time. It will also allow us to pre-check in at the City Centre Terminal. Unfortunately, we missed that train and figured we should just take the all stops train, since the next express train will be in more than half an hour. This was probably the biggest mistake we made today. By the time we arrived at the airport, we realized that the next express train would’ve arrived at the same time as the all stops train we took – about 1.5 hours prior to our flight (9:09am). There was no online check in, so we tried the self-check in kiosks which did not work. We located the check in counter and saw a sea of hundreds people waiting to check in. Luckily, we did not have bags to check in and that line was much more reasonable. She made sure to let us know that the gate will close at 10:20am. Feeling somewhat relieved, we walked over to the security. Once again, we saw another sea of people. There were 4 security gates and the status for all were labelled as “very busy”. Time check: 9:42am. So we joined the first line we saw and looked at the people who pre-checked in at the city terminal airport zoom by through the designated line, bypassing immigration. Regrets filled our thoughts. We finally made it passed immigration. Time check: 10:12am. Again, I felt a bit of relief, but not for long. We now find out our gate was at another part of the airport, requiring us to take a train. The train was here but looked stuffed to the rim and the doors closed in front of our eyes. Time check: 10:17am. Next train will be in 5 minutes. There was no way we will make our gate. We saw across the platform there was another train approaching in 2 minutes. We run across. We arrived at the concourse at 10:21am. It turns out our gate was at the end of this other concourse, so we glided across the moving walkways. We see airline staff holding up signs for our flight and a flashing red dot next to our flight number on the status board. I assume that means final call. We still have a chance. It was a whirlwind of a journey but we made it. Unlike the other airports we’ve been to on our trip, people were not being overly conservative when they said we should arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to departure. We already decided to forgo the whole delayed tax refund process, which would have added another who knows how long to the journey. Unless if you’re looking for an amazing race adventure and a cardio workout, I would not suggest you do what we did. As a matter of fact, I have dedicated a separate post on tips for flying out of Seoul. Click here to read.
After a uneventful short flight, we land in Tokyo (Narita Airport) at terminal 3. I was expecting ultra-modern facilities but was underwhelmed. After walking to terminal 2, we boarded the Narita Express towards Shibuya. The trains are a lot nicer than the all stops train we took in Seoul but also a lot more expensive at 3190 yen ($37 CAD) per person one way. There were luggage racks with locks as well as overhead shelves for storage. The free wifi was also a nice touch. I managed to do some blogging on the train and we arrived in Shibuya in no time.
The station can be busy and overwhelming at first but there were enough signs to figure out where we were going. First impressions of Tokyo: many food options available here with more lower price options compared to Seoul. Secondly the fashion here is a lot more varied with everyone having their own individual style. Thirdly, the weather was more pleasant here compared to Seoul.
This last leg of our journey will be a little different since Aaron has been to Japan quite a few times before. I feel less of a nice to read up and do research beforehand. Aaron wanted to bring me to his favourite Ramen place that he must go to first thing every time after arriving in Japan. It was called 五行 (Gogyo Ramen) located near Roppongi station, which was a quick subway ride away. We loaded up our Suica cards (the equivalent to the T-Money in Seoul). As we walked to the restaurant from the subway stations, we see a line of taxis. Aaron told me this was where the taxi drivers park to take a break. Some were on their phone, while others were taking a nap. We arrived at the restaurant and the first thing Aaron noticed was that their decor is a lot nicer now. Next thing, is that the prices have inflated accordingly. He ordered 2 of their speciality: the burnt miso ramen, with char siu and egg. We later found out it came with half an egg already so we got an extra egg on top of that. To Aaron’s disappointment, they ran out of sake (what?), so we just had some Suntory beer instead. The burnt miso was different unique. They had an open kitchen so you can see the huge flames as they are burning it. I don’t like charred-tasting food but I was pleasantly surprised that it was not the case here. I must comment on quality of the noodle being a lot more fresh and not like the soggy ones I’ve had in Canada. The broth was also more complex in taste and not just salty like some of the ones back in Canada. We also had an order of their gyoza, which were cute bite-sized pieces of deliciousness. Overall, impressive and tasty meal. The total cost came to more than $40 CAD which is comparable to Canadian prices; however, you can definitely get ramen and gyoza at lower prices here.
We decided to stroll around the streets of Shibuya to check out this bustling area before going home. The busy streets full of shopping options and restaurants remind me of Myeongdong and the street performances reminded me of Hongdae; however, there were differences. Here, we witnessed people dressed up in Mario character costumes riding go carts on the street alongside normal traffic. The 18+ scene is also prevalent with neon signs of young girls dressed up in sexy lingerie as well as love hotels everywhere. Despite spending most of our day on various forms of transportation, we have actually been walking lots, so we head back to our humble abode to rest our feet.