Posts Tagged ‘rental car’

Travel: From Fukuoka airport to hot spring heaven in Beppu Hells

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

After a scrumptious meal at CoCo Ichibanya, we made another unplanned stop at the Tosu Premium Outlets before continuing towards our first night in Kyushu – Beppu.

* All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D800 DSLR and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens.

Window dressing for Dog Dept, one of the shops at Tosu Premium Outlets.

Window dressing for Dog Dept, one of the shops at Tosu Premium Outlets.

The town of Tosu lies at the crossroads of two major expressways of Kyushu.

Some familiar brands at the Tosu Premium Outlets.

Some familiar brands at the Tosu Premium Outlets.

One runs north-south from Fukuoka to Kumamoto and beyond, while the other runs east-west from Oita to Nagasaki.

So it’s an ideal location for Premium Outlets.

People commuting long distance from one part of Kyushu to another tend to go through Tosu and it’s so convenient to just make a quick stopover.

We’d already planned our final hotel stay in Kyushu to be in Tosu before flying out of Japan.

But since it was on our way to Beppu, we decided to take a quick preview of what the outlets had to offer.

As an outlet shopping mall, the Tosu Premium Outlets seemed pretty run-of-the-mill, with the usual  brands that we see at other similar malls.

Another unplanned stop to take a preview of the Tosu Premium Outlets.

Another unplanned stop to take a preview of the Tosu Premium Outlets.

But we’ll be taking a closer look at the end of this trip so maybe we’ll discover something special.

Miyuki - a local restaurant in Beppu whose owner doubled up as enthusiastic tour guide. This photo of its exterior was shot at ISO 6400 with little noise.

Miyuki – a local restaurant in Beppu whose owner doubled up as enthusiastic tour guide. This photo of its exterior was shot at ISO 6400 with little noise.

After Tosu, we continued our drive towards Beppu, the seaside town known for its hot springs.

Trying out the local fare - especially the Dango Jiru soup, which is made with flattened wheat flour dumplings.

Trying out the local fare – especially the Dango Jiru soup, which is made with flattened wheat flour dumplings.

Here we had a little bit of difficulty locating our hotel among the tiny and complicated streets in the area.

Checking out the shops and wares of You Me shopping centre in Beppu. Everybody recommends it - for its free parking in town.

Checking out the shops and wares of You Me shopping centre in Beppu. Everybody recommends it – for its free parking in town, from which to visit other sights.

Contemplating whether to make a stop at Uniqlo. This shot was deliberately over-exposed to get a high-key effect that puts the focus on the boy in the car and the brand.

Contemplating whether to make a stop at Uniqlo. This shot was deliberately over-exposed to get a high-key effect that puts the focus on the boy in the car and the brand.

So we asked a local who promptly got onto his motorbike to show us the way to the family-run establishment called Happy Neko – where we had booked a studio apartment complete with kitchen and launderette facilities.
Bukkake is served in the food court - here it's a legitimate and traditional Japanese dish, not a genre.

Bukkake is served in the food court – here it’s a legitimate and traditional Japanese dish, not a genre.

The Czech proprietor, Bibo, sat down with us to tell us about the places to visit, food to eat, and things to do during our 2-day stay at Beppu. He spoke perfect English.

So we headed out for dinner at a local restaurant, whose owner plied us with more brochures, travel magazines and recommendations on what to do during our stay.

The owner was a one-man-show: owner, chef, steward. He had visited Singapore before and immediately associated the Merlion with our island nation.

After dinner, we popped into the huge shopping mall in town – YouMe, before visiting the Hyotan onsen spa near where we stayed – an apt and restful end to a long day of travel.

Tomorrow, we shall visit the Beppu Hells – eight natural hot springs that tourists all over Japan come to visit.

Travel: Flying out from Changi Singapore to Fukuoka in Kyushu

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The direct flight from Changi Airport Terminal 3 in Singapore took slightly more than six hours to reach the International Airport in Fukuoka, where we collected our rental car.

* All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D800 DSLR and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens.

SIA SQ656 flies 5 times a week direct from Singapore to Fukuoka - 0105 hrs to 0810 hrs. This is the golden sunrise from the plane's window.

SIA SQ656 flies 5 times a week direct from Singapore to Fukuoka – 0105 hrs to 0810 hrs. This is the golden sunrise from the plane’s window.

We paid for the air tickets using the UOB Prvi Amex card which entitled us to a free airport limousine transfer from home to the airport. We did have some problems getting them to change the date of the limousine to the correct day, but the service from the driver was excellent.

First thing upon arrival is to pick up the rental car. Take an free airport shuttle from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal and then cross the road.

First thing upon arrival is to pick up the rental car. Take a free airport shuttle from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal and then cross the road.

The flight itself was unremarkable and upon landing we promptly collected our rental car from Nissan Car Rental outside the Domestic Terminal.

First stop after picking up the car is to visit the supermarket to stock up on supplies, especially bottled drinking water.

First stop after picking up the car is to visit the supermarket to stock up on supplies, especially bottled drinking water.

First stop was the supermarket to top up supplies and to get bottled water, before heading to our first stop – Beppu – a seaside town 2 hours’ drive from Fukuoka.

We'd discovered CoCo Ichibanya during our visit to Kyoto and Nagoya some years back and the children loved it.

We’d discovered CoCo Ichibanya during our visit to Kyoto and Nagoya some years back and the children loved it.

We didn’t get far before we came across an outlet of the CoCo Curry house.

CoCo Ichibanya has since expanded into Singapore although we haven't had the chance to check it out back at home.

CoCo Ichibanya has since expanded into Singapore although we haven’t had the chance to check it out back at home.

That’s our favourite Japanese curry house so we decided to stop there for lunch – that’s the kind of flexibility that a self-drive holiday gives you – you can make unplanned stops at your whim and fancy.