In Japan for a skiing and foodie trip from last Friday, with good friends from Manila, living a #Travelife, so far we’ve had good luck and lots of fun. And good food. In fact, tonight, we’ve booked a Michelin-starred French restaurant in Tokyo for everyone, and it happens to be one of my great favourites for the food and the overall experience.
We all took different airlines, but at 8 AM sharp, everyone was at my doorstep in Tokyo ready for a holiday.
Then we’d rented the biggest van we could find and everyone piled in for a 2.5 hour drive up north to make it just in time to the slopes by lunch.
Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — we passed an outlet shopping mall along the way.
And then suddenly, as if on cue, everyone needed to buy something at the outlet mall, giving us a valid reason to stop. Several people needed gloves, someone needed a thermal shirt, and another person needed love.
Although I’m not too sure if this was the right place to shop around for love.
REMEMBERING GOTEMBA OUTLET MALL
At Noma Tokyo last month. Read more about this amazing dining experience in the upcoming issue of #Travelife Magazine.
As for me, I needed nothing in particular but I was just happy to walk around and look for a bargain or two. I had just been to another outlet mall on my Noma and hot springs trip to Japan last month, after all, when the Travel Companion and I had gone to a hot springs inn in another part of Japan.
One day, we’d hired a taxi to take us around the area and then to a tonkatsu restaurant and an outlet mall just for the heck of it.
LOOKING FOR SALES
WITH A TAXI METER RUNNING
Funnily enough, neither of us bought much save for a few token things.
But we’d kept the taxi and his meter running while we ate relatively inexpensive but delicious tonkatsu and shopped for stuff on sale.
Thinking about it now, I’m quite sure something didn’t add up in this situation, keeping a taxi running in Japan while we spent about 90 minutes walking through a shopping mall to buy a couple of shirts on sale.
THE DRIVER WITH NO PATIENCE
This time, we had this big van. But we also had a “driver” who had no patience for shopping in the winter cold.
He much preferred to be back in the warmth of the villa, looking at stocks and news of the world on his iPad.
So after about three stores, he said to me: “I’m going back to the hotel. Just Viber me when you’re all ready to be picked up.“
The rest of us were happy to chug along, doing our part to raise the GDP of Japan. And wasn’t it so wise of the Japanese government to relax their visa policy, thus encouraging more spending tourists to boost business in Japan. I’m attending a party this week in Tokyo and meeting the Prime Minister of Japan — so maybe I’ll tell him about this.
12,000 STEPS IN A DAY
In fact, this outlet mall is so huge that I easily did 12,000 steps on a pedometer just walking from one end to the other several times.
I never saw my other companions either in those three hours in the mall — that’s how big it was. So many things were on sale, too, so that I just couldn’t resist. Time literally flew by.
Then one of my fellow shopping stalwarts, somewhere else in this mammoth mall, sent me a Viber message saying: “What time should we meet up?“
This was the only time I looked out of the window of the shop I was in just then. It was dark. So I messaged back to him: “OMG. It’s night time already.”
TIME FLIES WHEN
YOU’RE MAXING YOUR CREDIT CARDS OUT
Yes, time sure flies when you’re having fun. Or perhaps when you’re maxing out your credit cards.
In the end, those of us who did stay on to go shopping ended up buying nothing we really needed, but everything we could need.
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
AT THE OUTLET MALL
I found the perfect jacket for an autumn safari, a biker chic kind of blouse that made me feel, well, biker chic; and a casual dress I could wear to work that would also take me all the way to an informal dinner afterwards.
GLOVES FOR A WINTER WONDERLAND
Fortunately, some of the others actually found the stuff they really set out to buy, including gloves for the freezing winter spell enveloping most of Japan even now as I write.
Because the very next morning, it snowed so heavily in the ski resort we were staying at, that we all woke up to find ourselves in a winter wonderland. And, boy, did those gloves come in handy then, living a never-ending. and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.