Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tokyo 2016 - Preparations - Part 1

image SourcE: http://theunworldlytravelers.com

It will be our first international trip as a family. It's unique because we will be using non-rev tickets which we got free as compensation from last trip's delay.

Step 1: Choosing the date ✅

Factors to consider:

1. I have 2 school boys. I thought they would have the same school breaks but unfortunately no. One is mid March the other is Mid June.

2. Travel voucher is only valid till June 28

3. Travel should be done before Apr 24 else Paopao would officially be 23 months and won't be treated as an infant. (He doesn't have the travel voucher)

4. Sakura would be a nice sight to see.

5. We have to give kids sufficient time to rest after trip before school.

6. Minimise number of leaves, maximize number of days in Japan.

7. The voucher would only be from or to Manila. Thus we have to travel to Manila and travel to Narita from Manila. Choose non-holidays dates in Manila.

8. Need to coordinate SIN-MNL-SIN flight with MNL-NRT-MNL.

9. Choose time with least wait but sufficient interval.

Having considered all that. We have chosen Apr 1-8.

Step 2: Booking the tickets✅

I couldn't book Cebu Pacific online. It just keeps failing after I keyed in my OTP. Got no choice but to call! *uh oh!* luckily for me, this time I got a good agent! And patient too! Spent more than 1 hour booking us with all the alpha lima lima stuff. The agent was sharp too to notice that there's typo in my FDW midde name. We managed to fly in and out of SG without it being spotted. But now I'm scared. japan needs visa and its not a cheap country to be stuck with a typo error. Unfortunately because we are using voucher the name cant be changed. Instead the agent suggested we download a porforma form from the website and have it notarized which we can bring in when we go for visa application.

I have used my SQ miles to book for our SIN MNL SIN tickets. I have used my miles earlier for my sister's trip so I didb't have enough for the entire gang. I had to book for full fare for myself and my Paopao. It's not entirely bad because there was still some discount after paying it with miles + card. I accidentally put in Apr 2 (urgggh! For the miles redemption!) and when I tried to change it to apr 1, it was showing as none available. *palpitations!* I called SQ. they changed without charge. And happily. And that my friends is why SQ is one of the best airlines! 

Total amount paid (less the miles and vouchers): ~$900sgd for 3 adults, 1 child, 1 infant

Step 3: FDW papers ✅

Unfortunately, my FDW OWWA membership is expiring on March. So we need to reapply. Because we want to follow law and because we don't want any hassle. This though has a loophole since technically the OWWA counter in the philippines just checks the piece of OEC paper. It didn't even have barcode so I seriously doubt if they would catch u if you use an expired OWWA.

http://www.stupigity.com/2016/01/fdw-owwa-renewal.html?m=1

Step 4: Notarize FDW name change ✅

$42.50 per copy. That's the cost of having a document notarized. And you can't get it the same day. In fact, it takes 5 days. Huhumm. 🙄

Step 6: Accommodation ✅

We managed to book our accommodation through airbnb. My first time to use it. It wasn't so easy. Tricky too because it turned out to be usd so I paid much higher than my budget. It also had cleaning fee and service charge. In fact maybe I didn't saved much if I chose a hotel instead.

Step 7: Itinerary  ✅

Apr 1 SIN  to MNL (arriving at 11pm)
Apr 2 MNL to NRT (departing at 520pm)
Apr 3 City tour
Apr 4 Hakone/Mt Fuji
Apr 5  Disneyland
Apr 6 Ueno zoo/park
Apr 7 NRT to MNL (arriving at 345pm)
Apr 7 MNL to SIN (arriving at 1020pm)

Step 8: Certificates✅

Remember to follow the recommended format for the employment/education certificate.

Step 9: Application Form ✅

Finally finished all the forms. Planning to apply for visa on Friday.

Step 10: VISA ✅

I was shocked to see so many people when I went to the embassy. I had 1190 almost 60 people before me and they end at 12noon. It was around 1130am when I arrived. From experience there weren't many people so I thought 30min would be enough. But 60 people with just 3 counters. I felt like giving up. But you gotta trust the Japanese for efficiency.  
it took an hour and 15minutes. And I'm done. All 5 visa application done. It's just so amazing because they were very organized without losing their human touch or being all robotic. In fact, they were very helpful. I used the wrong form for my maid's letter, but the lady readily went to give me a paper and sample letter. Involving her to walk away from her window. Now... Will Phil embassy employees do that? With a smile and not a hint or sarcasm in their voice. 
And hey! They stopped accepting new applicants at 12 noon but they didnt stopped processing those who were in before 12! Now we are talking about service!

Tips:
- visa processing is only in the morning. 
- ensure your papers are sorted per the website instruction
- ensure to prepare requirements per person
- bring birth cert of the kids
- bring a pen, in case you will need to rewrite anything

Pickup took less than 5minutes 😊🇯🇵


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