Thursday, July 30, 2015

Counting steps on the road to health with the Fit Bit

I took my friends to Meiji Shrine,
which is my neighbourhood shrine.
Maybe I'll do my 10,000 steps with a Fit Bit here
this weekend, before flying out of Japan....

So in Tokyo for one week now, living a #Travelife, I've been enjoying having my friends from college days visiting from overseas. We've been together practically everyday, and I've been choosing the restaurants for dinner every night.

One of the guys said, when he saw the schedule we girls had mapped out without input from the guys, with dinners almost every night: "Aren't we all going to get a little tired of each other?"

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And we girls had a giggle over this, as well as over the fact that I chose all the restaurants and the menus as well. When everyone arrived at each restaurant, they found out that the food had already been ordered.

My dear old friend from school teased, "She's always been this bossy."

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What's on my playlist in Tokyo

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A NEW RESTAURANT FIND
IN ROPPONGI

Except tonight. Tonight I did a medical check-up and then went shopping in Ginza for one of these one-of-a-kind black dresses I love so much, as it's sale season in Tokyo.

As I was out for most of the day, I left the restaurant decision to the others and they found a cute little place in Roppongi that served pretty good teppanyaki. 

We all had a really good time, sitting at a counter presided over singlehandedly by the owner-chef, and ordering everything that looked good on the menu.




THE FIT BIT PHENOMENON

However, this whole week, the one thing that stood out was the fact that I've been out of the health loop, perhaps too busy living a #Travelife. 

This whole week, I think I've been the only one without a Fit Bit, that pedometer and overall health tracker that all fitness buffs now consider de rigeur. There are many different brands and cool designs, but apparently the Fit Bit is making the most noise.

Everyone else has been wearing this and tracking their steps and competing with each other, and I've been the only left out of it as I haven't bothered to get on this trend. Yet.

IMPRESSIVE WALKING IN TOKYO

Then tonight, they showed me how they were tracking their steps and just how good they were all doing with this. On average, everyone made well above the required 10,000 steps a day, which I found pretty impressive.

On Sunday, most of them were even within the 15,000 to 20,000 steps range just from walking up and down Omotesando trying to cross things off their shopping lists, like Issey Miyake's Baobao bag.

Last night we hosted dinner for our visiting friends
at my favourite French restaurant in Tokyo,
with the Philippine Ambassador to Japan
and Madame as the guests of honour

COLLECTING FRIENDS
WITH A FIT BIT

One of the guys said: "You should get one. Then you can 'friend' me and I can see how you're doing and I can send you insulting messages for only doing 5,000 steps a day."

So I replied: "Ahh. If I actually get on this thing, I'd never let you beat me."

Yes, as my good friends know, I don't like being #2 at anything at all.

Someone else said: "It really motivates you to keep walking."

Dinner on Saturday,
living a #Travelife...

WHERE TO BUY A FIT BIT

So when I got home tonight, after I'd replied to most of my waiting emails as I'd been out the entire day, the first thing I did was google Fit Bit to get the low-down on it.

Then I found out that several stores really near me are actually selling the latest version of Fit Bit.  Buying this latest version would certainly be a nice little case of one-upmanship, as everyone has older versions and apparently the new versions of the Fit Bit have cool new features.

So I guess you know what I'll be doing this weekend, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife....



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer weekend at a beach villa near Tokyo with roasted pig, barbecue ribs and a grandmother's lasagna.



So last weekend, in Tokyo living a #Travelife, we drove across town via the city's newest underground highway and then connected onto the Aqua Line, which is the 10-kilometer underwater tunnel that links greater Tokyo to a far corner of the Chiba peninsula.


Ordinarily, this is quite a long drive on the regular highway, especially with weekend traffic.

But with the opening of the new highway and the Aqua Line tunnel that literally cuts across the sea, getting to this part of Chiba is a breeze.

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SO NEAR,
AND YET SO TROPICAL

This part of Chiba is quite unlike greater Tokyo, in spite of its proximity. It's got quite a tropical atmosphere, for one, so the first thing you see when you get out of the tunnel is a row of palm trees. 

Quite surreal.

This is just the pool house of the beach estate

Then unlike the rest of Japan, which is just so inundated by 24-hour convenience stores, this part of Chiba actually has very few convenience stores. 

I'm so used to seeing at least a handful of convenience stores in every town, and between the tunnel exit and my friend's beach villa, which is quite a distance, I passed through at least four towns and counted all of three convenience stores.

A TOP HEDGE FUND MANAGER
DOES ALL THE COOKING



Last Sunday, this guy with the beach villa -- who is also one of Japan's most successful hedge fund managers -- did most of the cooking.

He actually got an entire suckling pig and also ordered real Louisianna ribs for a barbecue, plus several chickens.



All of these he marinated the night before with a hodge podge of specialty barbecue sauces from all over the world, and then on Sunday morning he stuck everything into is state-of-the-art barbecue grill, made-to-order in Texas and delivered to Tokyo.

A FAMOUS ITALIAN CHEF
MAKES AN OLD-FASHIONED LASAGNA



A famous Italian chef also joined us for Sunday lunch, bringing with him a couple of nice wines and a big tray of lasagna which he made based on his grandmother's recipe.

The lasagna was tasty and so gooey, and I must have eaten two platefuls.



Then we all sort of just sat around in this pretty massive and lovely estate with its own private mountain, forest and waterfalls. Some people went swimming, others tried a new zipline he'd installed across the property, and a couple of others went to play tennis as this guy also has his own tennis court.

As for me, I sort of just sat around with a glass of wine, listening to 80s music being piped all over the estate from high-tech speakers installed everywhere but invisible, living and loving a never-ending #Travelife.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Solving a murder mystery on the British Pullman


Last month in England, living a #Travelife, we rode the British Pullman for a murder mystery adventure.

The train itself is beautiful and this alone is enough reason to ride it at least once, if you're a history buff. Each carriage has a history and a pedigree.


Our carriage had carried Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip across England, at some point in time.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had also ridden this very carriage.

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GOURMET LUNCH ON A LUXURY TRAIN

This train experience is operated by the Belmond group, which used to be known as the Orient Express group.

They have in their stable a collection of unique properties all over the world, including hotels, trains and boats. I've stayed in many of their properties and I especially like the historical ones that are quite unlike most other hotels in the world.


Then there's the wonderful experience of having a gourmet five-course meal onboard as you rumble through the beautiful English countryside.

Especially in early summer, when England is at its most beautiful, this is truly special.


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A REAL OLD-FASHIONED
WHODUNNIT

And finally there's all the fun of having to solve a murder mystery onboard.



It's like being in a theater with audience participation, only this show is five hours long and you get to have something good to eat and lots of champagne at the same time.

I can't complain about the very comfortable plush velvet armchairs either. What a beautiful train this is.


THE LUXURY AND FUN
OF A PRIVATE CARRIAGE

And for this trip, we took a private carriage so that we had the murder mystery characters all to ourselves.


Each character comes by to give passengers a blow-by-blow account of what happened,  you see, as well as to tell you what they think happened, and who they believe did it.

You can ask questions and discuss the case with them, so you become very involved. And all in all it was a wonderful day and a very special experience in England, living a #Travelife.

Read more about the British Pullman
in the upcoming issue of #Travelife Magazine