2012 - 2013

Day 4

New Years Eve

This morning was the usual routine, we tried to find a new place for breakfast. This time we walked through Shinsaibashi and thought we’d find a cafe that serves breakfast, well that ended up being harder than we thought! We went into a cafe that looked like a Starbucks because they had a breakfast menu out the front, I ordered their “breakfast set”, then the others did after me, but after about 2 of us ordered that, they were supposedly sold out and the rest had to order something else!
The breakfast set included a toasted sandwich and a hot drink, but the sandwich was just a really small piece of thin bread microwaved with a slice of ham and some grated cheese. It was pretty crap!

From there we continued to walk down Shinsaibashi to find the bank. Apparently Citibank have a branch in Shinsaibashi and the map made it look like it was along the main strip, so we walked up a down a couple of times to no avail. We tried every ATM we came across, whether it be from proper banks or convenience stores, none of them would give us cash so Citibank seemed like our last hope!
The map lead us to a Citibank billboard, which had an arrow on there, but there must be a different way to interpret arrows in Japan or something because we eventually found it with the help of a local, and it was not in the direction of the arrow!

After finally finding the Citibank branch, we were able to withdraw cash and we could finally make our way to Universal Studios! Robert navigated us to Universal Studios and when we got there, it was snowing! I had never seen so many snow flakes falling from the sky, so that was pretty nice… even though it was freezing!
We arrived at about 2:30PM, normally this would be quite late to arrive at a theme park, but we wanted to be there for the new years eve celebration, so that still left us with plenty of time.

Universal Studios has its own train station and between that and the park is “Universal CityWalk”, which is about 3 stories of souvenir shops and restaurants. Rob picked up our tickets from the JTB office here and we headed over to the gates with a quick stop at the iconic Universal Studios globe for a photo.

All excited we got to the gate, handed in our tickets, only for the ticketing assistant to point out that our tickets don’t start until 7:00PM!

When we booked the tickets, we bought normal day tickets for the 31st, assuming it would last until the new years eve celebration, but instead, they kick everyone out of the park at 5:00PM, then people with the special “Countdown Ticket” are allowed back in at 7:00PM. So the people at JTB said that we could pay extra and upgrade our ticket to a “Countdown Ticket”, so we did. Well it turns out that that extra cost is not just an upgrade to our ticket, or even a replacement for our ticket, it is a whole new ticket that does not let us in during the day, only from 7:00PM until 8:00PM the following day!
There was obviously a miscommunication, but after talking with JTB and trying to work out why weren’t allowed in, it came down to 2 options, we could buy a day ticket, which would cost about $60 and only last for 2-3 hours until everyone is kicked out, or we could kill 4 hours and go in at the designated time, so we did that.

It was pretty cold and we had some time to spend, so I ended up buying my first ever scarf and a new jumper. The jumper is pretty cool (pardon the pun), it is just like a normal hoody, but it has an extra strip of material that can be pulled over your head to cover your neck and face. Being all grey, Jonathan has dubbed it the “Dolphin Suit”.
The weather was changing quite frequently, there would be low winds and sun (but still cold), then it would just change to a small snow storm and a lot of people took cover to hide from the wind.

Universal CityWalk has a kind of food court that looks more like a bunch of hawker stalls. One of these little areas was called the “Takoyaki Museum”, so we ended up ordering some freshly cooked Takoyaki by picking a random button on a machine. The takoyaki I ordered were a bit soft, but they were quite nice.

We spent the rest of the time at The Hard Rock Cafe in the warmth!

The time to enter Universal Studios finally came around and went in! The park looked pretty good at night and they do a pretty good job of the surroundings, but being at night, I didn’t take as many photos as I probably would have during the day. Alot of the rides and attractions were exactly the same as Universal Studios in Singapore (such as Shrek 4D Cinema, the Backdraft special effects demonstration and the Waterworld show).

I didn’t really go on any rides, but the others did. It almost seemed like I had been there before with the amount of similarities to Singapore, but it was still pretty cool. I was pretty impressed to see how many people still got wet at the Waterworld show considering how cold it was! We had hot weather in Singapore for the same show, so seeing someone jump in the water from a height was fairly normal, but here in Japan, they must have been freezing!

Midnight came around and they had a fireworks display around the lake. We started walking in that direction, but the amount of people was incredible! The crowd was flowing for a little while, but eventually it just gridlocked and no one was going anywhere. Luckily the spot we got stuck was halfway between the stage and the lake, so our view was relatively good.

After the big celebration, Jono and Rob lined up for about an hour for the big roller coaster and we headed home. It was a pretty big day!

When we got home we were all pretty tired, but we needed to pack and get ready to leave for Kyoto the next day. Because I bought the new luggage, I moved all my stuff from one suitcase to the other and made sure I would be ready to go to Kyoto in a zombie state.

I ended up taking some last photos of our hotel which made me actually look out the window, something I never really did properly until now. The view from our room was quite nice!

On our way home Rob and Jono bought some McDonalds. Rob was pretty tired, but he was still eating and talking just like normal, but then about 30 seconds after he was talking to us he was asleep… in his clothes… surrounded in McDonalds… I couldn’t help but take photo :P