Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Slow Train Through Africa

Since I can't travel anymore (health reasons), I've been watching travel videos on YouTube, mainly epic train journeys and first class air travel reviews. One notable series is Slow Train Through Africa. I think it was filmed in 2014 and shown on British ITV in 2016. I've only found three episodes online: 1) Namibia, 2) North Africa, and 3) Kenya/Tanzania. The second episode includes travel through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Those are not typical American tourist destinations and reminded me of my 2 week trip to Tunisia. I didn't take the train at all but did visit both Tunis and Tozeur shown in the video.


Slow Train Through Africa S01E02


My photo of one of the old gates of Tozeur

Monday, June 5, 2017

Fresh Adventure

New favorite song for now. Song was released summer of last year. The tall pretty girl is Solbin and she's been on a few variety shows lately.


Fresh Adventure - LABOUM

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I Can See Your Voice

ICSYV is a Korean TV show where a celebrity guest (usually singer/group) guesses whether contestants are skilled singers or tone-deaf. Round 1 is looking at visuals only; round 2 is lip-syncing; round 3 varies but currently other celebrity panelists are assigned to one of the remaining contestants and advocates for them during Q&A time. If a tone-deaf person manages to survive to the end, they win ~$5000; if it's a skilled singer, then they get to sing a duet with the guest artist. It's funnier than it sounds.

Season 4 Episode 8
Most recent subtitled episode


EXID and their final choice (Season 4 Episode 9)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tesla Model S - Main Battery Upgrade

Tesla discontinued the 60 kWh option this weekend and lower the price on the 75 kWh models. Likewise, they also dropped the price on battery software upgrades. Originally it cost $9000 to go from 60 to 75. The price was lowered to $7000, and now it's only $2000. I haven't taken any long road trips yet but decided to go ahead and get the upgrade in case I wanted to drive to San Diego or Las Vegas. The car upgraded in under 60 seconds after I clicked "BUY" on the Tesla website. Now all I need to do is to get a new badge put on the car from the Service Center.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tesla Model S - 12V Battery Failure

Almost 4 months after delivery, I had to call the Service Center about a warning message on my Tesla. I was out of town for 5 days and when I got home, there was a warning message saying that the 12V battery needs replacement. The main battery pack (380V) still showed 63% full and it is supposed to charge the 12V battery. I took the car out for a drive around the block and everything seems to work ok except for summon/auto-park.

I called the Costa Mesa Service Center, where I picked up the car, and there was no answer. I left a message but ended up calling the Buena Park Service Center about an hour later. They picked up and arranged a Ranger to come out tomorrow to look at the battery issue. I read online that many people had issues with the 12V battery and needed replacement after one year. I guess I have to drive my 18 year old 4Runner to work tomorrow. :(

Friday, March 10, 2017

New Songs from K-pop Girl Groups

Lots of new songs or "comebacks" from more popular girl groups recently:


[MV] Wow! - Lovelyz


[MV] FINGERTIP - GFRIEND


[MV] KNOCK KNOCK - TWICE


[MV] A Girl Like Me - Gugudan


[MV] Fine - Taeyeon (SNSD)

I also "discovered" a duo called Bolbbangol4 from watching Weekly Idol. The main vocalist has a unique voice.


[MV] Galaxy - Bolbbalgan4


[Perf] Galaxy - Bolbbalgan4 [Weekly Idol]

Tesla Model S - Hangul

Just installed 7th software update in the Model S (v8.0 17.9.3). This increases maximum autopilot speed up to 55 mph on freeways and something about ventilation fan speeds. However, the most important (undocumented) update is the media player can display Korean text! Up to now, all Hangul shows up as crossed out boxes. Even though I can't understand Korean, I can read enough Hangul to know what song is playing. It was strange that previously the medial player could display Chinese and Japanese text but not Korean.

I read online that this update also increases max TACC (cruise control) speed to 85 mph (up from 80). Sometimes when I drive in the carpool lane on the I-5 in the morning, I have cars tailgating me at 80 mph so an additional 5 mph is welcome. Usually it's a BMW or Toyota Prius.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Solar City System Update

Just received a voicemail from Solar City to schedule electrical tie-in for my system that was physically installed on December 29th. Yup, 60+ days later and I still can't use the solar panels. I'm not really sure what is taking so long. Even this is not the last step as there are still additional inspections and licenses. I'm guessing 120 days after installation before I get any power out of them. Good thing I can charge my car at work since without solar power, I'm deep into tier 3 pricing with Edison so charging the car is quite expensive.

I went with Solar City since they're large and I thought it would streamline the install process, even though they're more expensive than other providers. Not sure I would recommend them at this point.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tesla Model S - Second Thoughts?

It's been 2 months since I picked up my Tesla Model S. Even though I bought the cheapest model (+white paint and +enhanced autopilot), it was still $72k before taxes and almost $80k out the door. It's been cool not having to fill up the car and all but while driving around, it's hard not to compared what else I could have got for ~$72k.

Examples:
- Maserati Ghibli ($71,600)
- AMG E43 ($72,400)
- BMW M3 ($66,900)
- Audi S6 ($70,900)
- Lexus LS460 ($72,520)
- Jaguar XJ ($74,400)

Those are all very nice cars, with better fit and finish than the Tesla. I don't even have a power liftgate and lighted vanity mirrors. I guess what I'm paying for is the electric drive-train and the Nvidia supercomputer that will eventually drive the car by itself.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tesla Model S - Another Pending Software Update

I read online that there was another Tesla software update pending which allows autosteer to be used on regular roads up to 35 mph. Meanwhile, autosteer speeds was increased to 50 mph during the last update for divided highways. My commute has been pretty bad this week (~2 hours in the morning) so I've used autosteer a lot lately. If the weather is good, it's stable most of the time. I think the system still has issues with overhead signs/overpasses and freaks out when the lane lines disappear/veer-off for an exit. I don't think there is any predictive feature on lanes at all. Not sure how that will play out on local roads with intersections and stuff.

It's been about 2 months and I have ~3,300 miles on the car and used almost 900 kWh of energy. I'm mostly satisfied with the car though still a bit disappointed in the slow progress on software updates. The 50 mph limit on autosteer is workable but often I find myself the slowest car on the freeway as traffic flow has increased >50 mph but my car is still cruising at the lower speed. Also, my garage is a tight fit with my parents' Honda CR-V so autopark/summon was a feature I was looking forward to but still not available. Finally, the reason I went for a HW2 car was the promise of full-self drive. I think that is probably not feasible with the current AP2 cars, despite Elon's tweets about availability this year.

I finally received my white carpool sticker from the DMV. I'm still debating whether to stick them on directly (semi-permanent and ugly) or wait for the vinyl sticker I ordered as a middle layer so I can peel them off when the program expires in 2019. I'm hoping CA DMV will cut-off access for plug-in hybrids (green stickers); if they are driving in the carpool lane on a freeway, chances are they've already depleted the battery and burning gasoline anyway.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Produce 101

I'm about a year late but I binge watched all 11 episodes of Produce 101. It is a reality survival show where they take 101 female trainees at various management agencies and pick 11 to debut as a girl group for one year. I think they said about 50 agencies sent trainees/contestants but noticeably missing were SM and YG, and JYPE only sent one girl.

Anyway, I already knew about the group and actually bought a signed CD of their last official mini-album before they disbanded. I haven't watched the actual TV show so I didn't know any of the backstories. It was more interesting than I thought. I think only snippets are available on YouTube. To watch the entire thing with English subtitles, go here.


[MV] Very Very Very - I.O.I

This is their last promoted single. My favorite out of the 11 that made it in the end is probably Kim Chungha, mainly because she lived in Texas and speaks English. Jeon Somi also speaks English and is half-Canadian but she's a bit young/immature/hyper. There are several Chinese girls on the show as well; the one from China made it to the final 11 while a girl from Hong Kong was cut in the 3rd round. The group of 11 (I.O.I) was here in LA last year at KCON. I probably should have gone since they have now disbanded and are no more.


[Perf] Intro + Dream Girls - I.O.I (KCON LA 2016)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tesla Model S - Third Software Update

This Thursday, I received another software update for the Model S. The build number was 2.50.201 which is weird since I see at least 3 other "newer" builds for cars with different configurations. Anyway, after installing the update Thursday night, I took the car out in the rain to the local SuperCharger and back to see if the camera will finally calibrate. It did.

Friday morning, on the way to work, both TACC (traffic-aware cruise control) and auto-steer was working, though auto-steer had a 35 mph limit. I think the car is still calibrating since the auto-steer did not seem very stable; the car seems to weave from side to side in the lane.

TACC is pretty cool. I use cruise control a lot when I drive so I was disappointed that it was disabled while the car was calibrating cameras. Now, the car will slow down and speed up (even stop) with traffic. It helps with enduring the long daily commute. There are also some minor strange behavior issues but hopefully they will be worked out in later releases.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tesla Model S - Another Software Update

Frustrating.

Elon promised Autopilot software for new cars with AP 2.0 hardware and so I got a software update notice for the car last night at ~10pm. Supposedly I'm one of ~1000 people that got the update. Of course I ran to the garage to install it. The release notes said that frontal collision warning, traffic-aware cruise control (TACC), and low-speed auto-steering was added. How exciting!

After the install, I went out for a test drive at ~3:30am. I drove for about 15 minutes and nothing worked. I kept getting a warning message that the cameras were calibrating. This morning, I drove to church and back... and still nothing. Cameras are still calibrating. Of course there is no explanation of the calibration process and any indication of progress. Worse, since TACC function supersedes the original manual cruise control, that doesn't work either. So, my car is less functional than before the software update. What?

I complain about Apple's updates all the time since about 1/3 of the time, the update resets my iOS device and I have to restore from backup. Now I'm wondering about Tesla's QA process. Did they push out unfinished/untested software to 1000 cars so they can recognize $5M of revenue (1000 cars x $5000 for enhanced auto-pilot) for Q4? The cars and technology is cool, but Tesla's communications is terrible.

Bing Bing - AOA


[MV] Bing Bing - AOA

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Solar City



I guess if you buy an electric vehicle, the next logical step is getting solar panels installed at home. While I was waiting for the Model S to be delivered, I contacted Solar City and purchased a 3.65 kW system. None of that 20-year lease nonsense for me. They are coming to install the system this Friday, before the end of the year, so I should be able to claim the 30% tax credit for this year's taxes as well.

The process was pretty straightforward, though the sales guy was a bit pushy. On every phone call, he asks me for referrals. The system hasn't been installed yet. How can I recommend either way? Also, I found out that SoCal Edison won't allow the installed solar system to generate more than your prior year's usage. I don't understand this rule. Are solar installers putting much larger systems than necessary? Wouldn't they (utilities and government) want all available roof real estate used up? What this means for me is that I can only get a system to cover my prior usage, even though if I charge the car at home all the time, my usage will increase by 50%.

Stupid.

Social Credit

Wall Street Journal
More than three dozen local governments across China are beginning to compile digital records of social and financial behavior to rate creditworthiness. A person can incur black marks for infractions such as fare cheating, jaywalking and violating family-planning rules. The effort echoes the dang’an, a system of dossiers the Communist party keeps on urban workers’ behavior.

In time, Beijing expects to draw on bigger, combined data pools, including a person’s internet activity, according to interviews with some architects of the system and a review of government documents. Algorithms would use a range of data to calculate a citizen’s rating, which would then be used to determine all manner of activities, such as who gets loans, or faster treatment at government offices or access to luxury hotels.

When I first heard this, I though it was either "fake news" or a joke. It seems like an incredible intrusion of privacy but I guess no such thing exists in China. In the end, it's another tool for the CCP to control the population and stay in power. Why would anyone (Taiwan) want to live under such a system?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tesla Model S - Software Update Update

That was quick. I got a update notice about an hour ago and had the car go ahead and install it. The warning message said the car would be offline (can't drive it) for about 1 hour and 40 minutes but it took only 10 minutes. The software build is now 2.50.180.

As expected, the headlight controls are different. There's now an "auto" selection, and the headlight "switch" in the corner of the touchscreen is now a lock/unlock switch for the doors. The EQ for the sound system now has 5 bands instead of just 3. I also noticed a driver assist submenu with a speed warning options. This wasn't in the release notes and I'm not sure what it does so I guess it's Google time.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tesla Model S - Software Updates

The Model S is basically a huge smartphone on wheels. The hardware is fixed but the software that runs the car is updated constantly. I picked up my car on Monday and I'm already 4 builds behind. The major release right now is 8.0 but there are multiple builds, each with different features. My car has 2.48.109; later builds include 2.48.204, 2.50.15, 2.50.114, and 2.50.178. I read that Tesla added keyfob personalization, better audio EQ, and some minor stuff. All the new cars are waiting for version 8.1 which will include Original AutoPilot features for AP 2.0 equipped cars.

It's a bit frustrating. I'm not complaining about the 8.1 update since I know about that already. However, I would like to be updated to the latest minor build since somewhere in those 4 updates Tesla added auto-on headlights for AP 2.0 cars. Right now I have to turn the headlights on and off manually since the auto setting does not exist on my current software build. Of course, it's not a hard switch but a small icon on the touchscreen. Not really a huge deal but it's been raining in LA recently and turning on the headlights will flip the center console to night mode (black background). Again, not expecting too much but a car that costs 3x my Nissan Maxima should at least have auto lights and DRL (daytime running lights).


Charging at sister's house with NEMA 14-50 plug. Previous house owned had a Model S. Momo was able to charge at 28 mi/hr.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tesla Model S - Home Charging

One of the parties that picked up their car at the same time as me said that it cost him $800 to put in a NEMA 14-50 plug: $600 for parts and labor, and $200 for a permit. That sounds about right since Solar City said a permit to install solar panels at my house cost $250. Anyway, since I found an unused dryer plug at my house (my dryer runs on natural gas), I'm going to use that for now.

To charge the car with the NEMA 10-30 dryer plug, I had to buy the following:


NEMA 10-30 to NEMA 14-50 adapter


15' 50 amp extension cable

Since all the NEMA connectors are the newer 50A type, I had to get a cable that converted my 30A NEMA 10-30 plug to the NEMA 14-50 plug. Also, my dryer plug is inside the house so I bought an extension cable to get the receptacle to the garage.

To this, I used the following that came with the car:


Mobile Connector Bundle


NEMA 14-50 adapter for the mobile connector

The only problem with this setup is that I have to remember to set the charging current to a maximum of 24A. The dryer line is protected with a 30A breaker and everyone recommends charging at 80% of the circuit max. The car will try to pull 40A (80% of 50A) since I'm using Tesla's 14-50 plug, which will trigger the circuit breaker. At least the car is smart enough to associate the charging setup with GPS and set the charge rate at 24A in the future. This setup gets me about 18 miles/hour of charge. Not great but 6x faster than using a regular 110V/15A plug. 18 miles/hour charge rate means about 12 hours for full charge from a fully depleted battery.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tesla Model S - Day 2

Day 2 with new Tesla Model S. I drove for our carpool today since they all wanted to ride in the new car. The regenerative braking is still weird. I found the braking force is not linear: the car slows down a lot at low to middle speeds but won't come to a complete stop by itself. With Monday's drive home and no charging, when I arrived at work this morning, the battery was down to 52% and tool about 3.5 hours to fully charge. BTW, the mobile app is working on my iPhone so I can monitor charging and do a few other things with the car remotely.

Last night, I figured out what was wrong with the USB drive (not formatted as FAT32) and loaded some music. I originally thought that all Asian fonts were messed up but it turns out the car and display Chinese and Japanese but NOT Korean. Strange... too bad most of my Asian-pop is in Korean. It's still hard to use the touchscreen accurately while driving.

On the way home tonight, I stopped to check out the new Superchargers in Santa Ana, next to Santa Ana Main Place Mall.


Car charging at Santa Ana Supercharger


Charging info on mobile app: I think the Supercharger is rated at 350V @200A

It took me several tries to get the charger to start charging my car. Once it started, it was pretty quick. I think it took only ~15 minutes to fully charge the battery from ~70%. Out of the 12 spots, I think only 4-5 were being used.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tesla Model S - Delivery

Wow, Tesla must want to move cars for quarter end. After no news for weeks, things started happening quick and I ended up picking up my car this morning (December 19). So from order confirmation to delivery took 36 days, which seems pretty average.

This morning, I showed up to the Tesla Sales/Delivery Center in Costa Mesa at 10am. I ended up being one of 4 groups picking up their cars: 2 Model S's and 2 Model X's. They brought us to the back of the building (inside) and each car was assigned a person to walk us though basics, answer questions, and sign paperwork. I had already paid via ACH so it was signing some DMV paperwork. Next they showed us some videos that were also available online. You can tell Tesla was working hard to move cars out the door; all the videos were still showing the old version of Model S. Most disappointing was that the AutoPilot features were not activated yet. I knew this already but most other people picking up cars did not. Without AutoPilot, the car is about as smart as the Nissan Maxima I traded in. Hopefully we will get a software update by the end of the year, per Elon's tweets.

Since I traded in my old car ($8000), the first Tesla drive was to work. I had test drive the car several times but the regenerative braking still takes getting used to. Power is smooth and the ride is very similar to my Maxima. Due to the batteries, the Tesla is a heavy car, but the weight is low so the car is very stable. I used up about 22% of the battery getting to work but was able to find a reserved spot in the parking lot with a Tesla charger. The mobile app is not connected yet so I can't check the charge from my desk. Hopefully it charged; otherwise I will be really low tomorrow. I bought some adapters to use with the included mobile charger so I'll try that tonight: charging the car using my 240V dryer hookup.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tesla Model S - In Production

Got an email from Tesla today that my car is in production. Looking through all the paperwork they sent me, I found my order confirmation and it had an estimated delivery date of December 25th. Seeing how the delivery center is not open on Sunday (probably not open on Christmas Day normally), I'm not sure when the car will arrive. The website still says December to early January 2017.


Also got a few insurance quotes... expensive. :(

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tesla Model S - Order Confirmed

My order was confirmed on November 13th. I ended up changing the order to a 60 kWh battery and dropped the self-driving option. The battery in the new 60 model is actually a software limited 75 kWh battery. I read that you typically don't charge the battery to 100% since that will shorten the life of a lithium-ion battery. Also, when you charge at a Tesla Supercharger, it fast charges to 80% and slows down for the remaining 20%. With a software limited 60 kWh battery, you can charge up to 100% since it's not really "full" and it will charge to "100%" at full speed on a Supercharger. For me, I think the 60 will be enough since I can charge it daily at work.

As for the actual order, after it was confirmed, I did not hear from Tesla for three weeks. On Reddit, people were saying it took months to get their car. I finally called my delivery contact and he said car will be ready in two weeks! Hopefully that is true since my current car registration expires in early January and I need to take delivery this year to file for the $7500 federal tax credit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Congo Dandies



Another random video I watched at 2am one night. I seems kinda crazy that they would spend that much on clothes (even take out loans) when their families are living in poverty. I read that Weston shoes run $2400/pair. That's probably more than my entire closet of clothes. What drives this behavior? I think it's like addiction. In the West, people collect all sorts of things too: cars, guitars, baseball cards. I think this stands out to me because of the disparity between their standard of living and the clothes they buy.

Saving for two years to buy a pair of shoes... smh

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tesla Model S

I ordered a Tesla Model S this past Sunday. I've been thinking about it for several years and even put down a deposit for a Model 3. It's a pretty cool car, especially the Auto-Pilot feature but the car is pretty expensive. I configured a 75kWh RWD model and the price before tax rebates is $84,000. I've since went back online and dropped the self-driving feature and applied a discount code from a friend, but that's still $80k before destination charges and sales tax, not to mention huge increases in CA registration fees and auto insurance premiums.

I have until this Saturday to decide whether to keep the order or lose my $2500 deposit.

Church of Southland

Weird. Wrote this a few months ago but never published it. Still attending Church of Southland fairly regularly.

==========

Since about February of this year, I've been attending a new church: Church of Southland. My coworker/carpool-buddy has gone to this church for many years and suggest that I check it out. I actually visited the church once last year but I was still trying to get used to the 1.5G service at EFC Irvine so I didn't go back at the time.

So far it's pretty good. I got invited to a small/cell group Thursday nights. Church is mostly Korean-American, even more so than NewSong. I actually see a lot of NewSong NOC people at Southland, since NewSong NOC has fallen apart and shut down for a year now. Worship music is pretty good too, though a bit more old-school than NewSong, or even my old church (CCCSB) when I led worship. Thinking of helping out with sound mixing in a few months.

Church also seems very mission oriented. For a Korean church, they have a lot of missionary work in China.

Korean Movies on Netflix

I usually don't watch Netflix that much but I watched three Korean movies in the last 5 days. They were all pretty good.

협녀: 칼의 기억 - Memories of the Sword
우는 남자 - No Tears for the Dead
용의자 - The Suspect

There seems to be a lot more Asian content with subtitles (Yay!) on Netflix than before. When I first got Netflix, it was all crappy kung-fu movies.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

L.I.E


L.I.E - EXID

Monday, May 30, 2016

Bank Deposits

As part of my new work responsibilities, I have to deposit checks at the bank. For my personal checking account, I can take a photo of the check with my smartphone to "deposit" checks. Maybe because there are more checks and larger dollar amounts, there is no such option for our business bank accounts. In fact, everything seems slow and inefficient.

Since our office is not in the safest part of town, I'm taking incoming checks to deposit near home. The closest branch is actually a small kiosk inside a supermarket, so not sure if they get a lot of business customers. Hopefully I didn't surprise the teller by dropping a six digit deposit into a 9 digit checking account on a Saturday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Treasury

Our company's controller is retiring in a few weeks. Instead of replacing him, we're divvying up his responsibilities. As a result, I am now the Treasurer of the company. I signed a signature card for our primary bank account today, and soon my signature will be printed on over 10,000 checks a month.

I've never worked in a Treasury department before...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Asia Trip Day 11 - Taipei (November 2015)

Wednesday 11/4

First morning in Taipei. I found a Chinese breakfast place on the way to our first destination. Eating... this is the main reason to visit Taiwan.


First stop was a tour of the Presidential Palace. I registered online and we got a private tour in English. Our tour guide looked an office worker. He went to the same military college as my dad.


Shin Kong Life Tower, the 2nd tallest building in Taiwan after Taipei 101. Our Airbnb is next door to the building.


I researched a lot of beef noodle places in Taipei before the trip. My dad suggested we come to this place for lunch.


Yongkang Beef Noodle: the building is kind of ghetto but the food was good.


After lunch, we got some shaved ice at Smoothie House down the street


Nest stop, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall


The man himself


National Theater and Concert Hall


National Palace Museum. We had to meet my aunt for dinner so we were kind of rushed. We saw a few exhibits but didn't see the famous jade cabbage.


After dinner, we walked around Shilin night market

Asia Trip Day 10 - Osaka > Taipei (November 2015)

Tuesday 11/3

Another travel day, this time from Osaka to Taipei. Kansai airport is pretty far from Namba Station so we had to get up pretty early to catch our flight.


We took the 7am Rapit train to Kansai. It was designed to look like an anime character.


First ride in a 787 Dreamliner. The flight didn't feel any different but the large dimming windows were cool.

We arrived in Taipei and found our driver. I was going to take the high speed rail or an airport bus but decided on getting a van instead. Our driver's name was Double (as in 2x). We asked for an English-speaking driver but I ended up speaking Chinese the whole time. Like Japan, we stayed at an Airbnb near Taipei Station. The building was a commercial building so the "apartment" was kind of weird.


2/28 Peace Park


Longshan Temple


Waterfall inside temple grounds


The temple was pretty chaotic, very different from the temples in Kyoto


Afterwards, we walked several blocks to Modern Toilet, a bathroom themed restaurant. The food was so so but the kids wanted to eat here.




After dinner, we walked around Ximen for a bit, and bought some fresh shredded pork and pork jerky

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Asia Trip Day 9 - Kyoto (November 2015)

Monday 11/2

Our final full day in Japan was spend visiting Kyoto. I had planned 3 or 4 stops and dinner in Kyoto but we ended up only seeing two temples and ate dinner back in Osaka.


Train ride from Osaka to Kyoto took about 45 minutes. This is the rapid (rapid express?) train on Keihan Railroad.


First stop: Kendonya udon restaurant


Yummy


Fushimi-Inari Shrine




Prayer gates


Deep-fried sweet potatos


Sanjusangendo Shrine. There were over 1000 buddha statues inside but we could not take any photos.


Dinner in a tiny one-man curry restaurant in Namba Station back in Osaka

Asia Trip Day 8 - Osaka (November 2015)

Sunday 11/1

We arrived in Osaka late Saturday night and was able to check-in to our Airbnb place without any problems. This apartment was a bit larger than the one in Tokyo, though it did not have a dinner table.

The next morning, we decided to skip Osaka Castle and headed to the Osaka Aquarium instead.


Hugh ferris wheel next to the aquarium


Aquarium exterior


Model of huge whale shark in the large tank inside the aquarium


We spent a long time in the aquarium. It was dark when we left. The ferris wheel was all lit up with animated lights.


Dontonbori


Famous crab restaurant


Sushi


We couldn't decide where to eat and ended up with take-out sushi, and some pork buns from a Chinese restaurant in Namba Staton


We also got some Portuguese egg tarts for dessert

Asia Trip Day 7 - Tokyo > Osaka (October 2015)

It's been six months since our Asia trip; time to finish posting trip photos.

Saturday 10/31

Today is a travel day. We are taking the bullet train (Shinkasen) from Tokyo to Osaka in the evening. Train tickets are actually pretty expensive. It would have been faster and cheaper to fly but the best fares were from Narita to Kansai which would add hours and lots of cost to the trip.

We checked out of our Airbnb this morning, placed our luggage in lockers at Tokyo Station, and went to see a few local sights.


Tokyo Station. It's our 3rd time through the station and I still got lost. It took forever for us to find enough empty lockers to store our luggage for the day.


Imperial Castle. After lunch, we went on a free tour of the East Garden given by volunteers in English. Here is their blog post for that day.


One of the tour groups. They broke us up into 4 groups. Their guide spoke perfect American English.


We left the tour after about an hour and took the train to Shibuya. There was a Starbucks nearby so we took a break. The workers kept coming over to tell us not to take pictures. I don't get why.


Shibuya scramble crossing. Lots of people crossing the street.


We then took the train one station to Harajuku Bridge. We were hoping to see people in crazy clothing but there was no one there. This is the Daiso on Takeshita Street (竹下通).


Fancy crepes


Heading back to Tokyo Station. Some had subway lines over 1km from each other.


Nozumi Shinkasen


Train interior. Top speed of the train was about 180 mph. Too bad it was dark so we could not see anything outside.