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Make a Race Route #3 Part 3: The Winner
Congratulations to u/No-Diver-2452 who won round 3 of Make a Race Route, 2nd place was u/Vinnymartin_09 and 3rd place was a tie between u/pandie12345 & u/Pgandhguyxc. The winning route is: Leg 1: Atlanta, USA -> Cancun, Mexico Leg 2: Cancun, Mexico -> Lima, Peru Leg 3: Lima -> Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (self-drive) (NEL) Leg 4: Rio de Janeiro -> Praia, Cape Verde Leg 5: Praia -> Barcelona, Spain Leg 6: Barcelona -> Nice, France -> Monaco -> Genoa, Italy (travel from Spain to France via train) (super leg) (self drive) (halfway point in Monaco) Leg 7: Genoa -> Jerusalem, Israel (NEL) Leg 8: Jerusalem -> Nairobi, Kenya Leg 9: Nairobi -> Perth, Australia (self-drive) Leg 10: Perth -> Hong Kong, China (NEL) Leg 11: Hong Kong -> Seoul, South Korea Leg 12: Seoul -> Las Vegas, USA Additional Information: Start line: Truist Park Finish Line: Hoover Dam Final Roadblocks:
Roadblock 1: Teams go to the Stratosphere hotel where the chosen team member must ride all three rides on the Stratosphere Tower looking for a clue that will lead them to 1 of 3 hotels on the Strip (Paris, Cosmopolitan, and Planet Hollywood). Once one of the clues is found they must tell the ride operator what hotel to receive their next clue.
Roadblock 2: Once teams arrive to their hotel the person that did not do the last roadblock must go into the casino of their chosen hotel and find a poker table that is covered in poker chips. Team members must look through the poker chips to find 12 chips (representing the 10 regular legs and both halves of the super leg) that have images of things they encountered on each leg of the race, however there are 12 chips with images of things that were not encountered on the race that are meant to throw team members off. Once the team member gets all 12 correct chips they must show them to the dealer so that they can receive the clue to the finish line.
Finish Line clue: Where the Grand Canyon and Silver states are joined. Answer: Hoover Dam.
Additional task: Upon arrival in Las Vegas teams must make their way to the Coca-Cola Store where they will order and drink the International Tray to receive their next clue.
So following the meeting from the Vanilla Unicorn, the main turf-controlling groups of Los Santos claimed the following areas: GSF- Forum drive areas, Carson barbershop & train station Vagos- Pawn Shop (tax), Bario and related areas, Gold Smelting Spot Russians- Docks, Wizard tax Koreans- Little Seoul, Blackjack spot & future hotel next to Sahara Intl. + Casino (neutral location) LB- Lean Street & Cul-de-Sac, Crafting table (tax), Prune Str Balla- Grove Street (Lean part) & Cul de Sac, Crafting table (tax), Prune Str (?) Aztecas- North-East-side Block, Pawn shop (sales, don't want to pay tax), Fudge Lane Bikers- Sandy, Chop Shop (tax) + bar HQ as neutral talking grounds Prune Gang- Prune Str. recognition (can be claimed by other groups but no tax on living there and "respect the name policy") Was a pretty interesting meeting, curious to see how the gang wars change with the engagement rules everyone layed out. I think the Dundees were the only large group not present (CG doesn't claim turf afaik). Edit: added Sandy to the list of the biker areas.
GTA Online Diamond Casino Heist prep mission tips and details
Disclaimer: this is WIP and locations are for the La Mesa arcade, might be different for others in certain missions.
In most missions where you don't pick up a bag (duffel bag visibly on your back, or an item such as a briefcase), you can enter the back of the MOC, Avenger or Terrorbyte to instantly lose wanted levels.
When wearing some kind of prep outfit, do not linger close to NPCs or they will realize you are not one of them and start shooting at you / give you a wanted level.
If you need to steal a vehicle, doing so without killing usually saves you from having to lose the cops before progressing to the next step (not always though).
If you need to kill someone, doing so without firing a shot (sometimes silenced shots don't work either so basically you are supposed to do a sneak melee attack) will usually save you from having to fight more enemies and/or getting a wanted level.
Most missions don't have a visible timer but if you take too long to finish them (10-15+ minutes, not sure of the exact time) you get a 5 minute countdown to finish or it fails.
Scope vault contents
Possible locations for guard: Legion Square, Del Perro Pier, Galileo Observatory, Rockford Hills, Vespucci (at the Binco), ?
Quick method: drive your Terrorbyte to the target, kill them, pick up the phone, enter the back of the Terrorbyte to remove wanted level
Camera feed order: vault, vault security, staff lobby, staff entrance, staff corridor, hotel floor, vault
go left on camera feed if you are on STAFF LOBBY or VAULT SECURITY by default
go right on camera feed if you are on STAFF CORRIDOR or HOTEL FLOOR by default
Eddie Toh: Sultan Classic, Gauntlet Classic, Ellie, Komoda
Chester McCoy: Zhaba, Vagrant, Outlaw, Everon
Possible prep missions:
Elysian Island police raid on a ship. You can do it without being spotted by being stealthy, easier to finish.
Steal flight manifest from Merryweather compound, then shoot back door of flying Titan while being chased by respawning Buzzards until it drops weapons, then pick them up. Doable with a Buzzard. Not sure what happens if the back door of the Titan is shot with rockets.
Possible locations: Palmer-Taylor Power Station, ?
Weapon smugglers off the coast: kill them then steal a Tula, being chased to the Sandy Shores air strip by Froggers.
Possible locations: Palomino Highlands, ?
Steal from The Lost MC clubhouse, uses the player owned clubhouse interior
Possible locations: Paleto Bay, ?
Steal from the Vagos Clubhouse.
Possible locations: La Mesa, ?
Steal from military
Possbile locations: Fort Zancudo, ?
Search NOOSE vans moving across the map, then steal the one containing weapons (have to lose cops first).
Valet job at a random hotel. Wait for the owner to exit the car and walk away then drive the car back to the Arcade. Easiest one.
Unlocks: Valet outfit
Possible locations: Rockford Dorset Hotel, Opium Nights Hotel (LSIA), Banner Hotel & Spa (Del Perro), ?
Steal cars from LSPD lockup. Doable with stealth inside, prevents a shootout in the lockup. There are two policemen standing outside who can spot you. You can try your luck and after exiting moving to the right lane of the ramp and tearing off, they might not see you or if you want to go for sure: you park with your Terrorbyte across the street, then you take one car outside, move it to the right lane but do not move forward, then go back for the other car, taking it out to the default left lane, killing the two guards, entering the back of the Terrorbyte to lose wanted levels, and deliver the cars to your Arcade.
Possible locations: Rockford Hills, ?
Steal racing cars at air strip. You can wait for them to finish the race or steal during (you have to shoot the driver then). Cars chasing afterwards.
Possible locations: LSIA, Sandy Shores
Steal illegally imported cars from the importers. A Cargobob Jetsam spawns so if you watch what you shoot at you can use it to fly the cars back (a bit slow though, so unless the cars themselves are slow it's probably better to drive).
Possible locations: Chupacabra Street (Elysian Island), Paleto Bay railyard, ?
Chester McCoy vehicles only:
Elysian Island, Merryweather testing, 1 armored NPC with railgun, multiple turreted cars, explosives next to getaway cars (not a good idea to shoot rockets or grenades), helicopters and cars chasing afterwards.
Guarded convoy in LS or Blaine County.
Steal from FIB HQ. First go and kill a couple crooked FIB agents, get their badges and then enter the FIB HQ. Use phone app to find the item by its signal. On the way out when you pass the entrance gates in the FIB building, they will start shooting and you, so you may as well start by shooting them. You will receive a wanted level anyway.
Unlocks: FIB outfits (no badge)
Possible agent locations: La Puerta (at the Bay City apartment), Strawberry / Strawberry Ave, West Vinewood / Laguna Place, ?
You can tell you got this mission by having your outfit changed to a messy FIB suit.
Dialogue start: "You might remember I directed your attention to some keypads when you were looking around the casino. Yeah, if we wanna hack them which we do, we're gonna need some FIB technology from their building on Pillbox Hill."
Kill a corrupt NOOSE agent (wait for it to walk away from the other two, then take him out with one melee hit from stealth to prevent the others from shooting and possibly a wanted level) take their badge and enter the NOOSE HQ (same interior as DDH, Act 1 Server Farm). Use phone app to find the device's signal. You can do this part without killing by sticking to the safe side corridors and avoiding guards and cameras. You get a wanted level after exiting though. You can not enter a Service vehicle's cargo area to remove the wanted levels and if you drive to the North you get wanted levels when you drive by the NOOSE HQ again, so start driving towards your Arcade and don't mess around.
Possible agent locations: Davis City Hall, Los Santos City Hall, at IAA building at Pillbox Hill, ?
Dialogue start: "You'll remember I directed your attention to some keypads when you were looking around the casino. Yeah, their tech is some of the best in the business, government level."
General prep work
Two guards, randomly found in Los Santos or Blaine County, on the streets or in a motel/apartment room. This is definitely the easier mission though you have two targets.
Possible locations: starts walking in front of Hornbills on Eclipse Boulevard (West Winewood), The Motor Motel (Harmony), Perrera Beach Motel (Del Perro), Mirror Park Tavern, ?
Steal a prison bus then drive it to Bolingbroke Penitentiary. Maintain your disguise and drive to the mentioned tower. Your target is either outside (lucky) or inside the tower. If your target is inside and facing away from the stairs, do a sneak melee attack to kill it. If it's facing the stairs, you are very unlucky. Try to do a headshot from below or wait for it to turn around but do not linger for too long or they will start shooting at you (with two snipers from the adjacent towers) and you also get a 4 star wanted level. The only way out of the ring is the way you entered.
Unlocks: Prison Guard outfits
What does it do? Displays patrolling NPCs on the same level on the map (both minimap and pause menu map).
Mission: Duggan security meeting in a parking lot. You need to take a photo of the patrol routes roster in the back trunk of a car. Lester sends a text with the licence plate of the target car. There are two patrolling guards in a mirrored pattern. The car will always be on the less crowded side of the parking lot in the way of one of the two moving guards, where no stationary NPCs can see the back of the cars. Once you found the target car (just by walking past them) wait for the guard to pass it towards the more crowded part of the parking lot and open the trunk. After opening it move into a safe spot immediately becuase you don't have time to take a photo of the roster, the guard is on it's way back. You can take a photo of the trunk from farther as well, it only checks which side you are taking the photo from, it doesn't actually have to be legible on the photo (gg rockstar). Or you can go in loud and kill them all (the Stone Hatchet with its Rampage mode is really good) but you will receive a wanted level if you choose this method.
Possible locations: Galileo Observatory, Little Seoul or Pillbox Hill
You don't have to be right next to the trunk to take the photo of the roster you can take it from farther away, the only thing that matters is to take it from the proper side.
If you take a photo of the routes in the trunk of the target car then destroy the car, the prep mission fails, even though you already sent the stuff to Lester.
What does it do? Weakens the equipment of the Casino security, such as bulletproof helmets.
Mission: 10 targets have to be taken out, across the whole map in 10 minutes. They are not armored, 1 homing rocket is sufficient to destroy them, the Oppressor Mk II (with maxed out performance upgrades and rockets equipped) is really good for this mission if you are doing it solo. You can not get wanted levels during this mission. Usually 3 ground (gruppe sechs van), 3 water (dinghy) targets and the rest are aerial (1 target and 1 escort helicopter). If you shoot at them but miss and they survive they will start chasing you. Helicopters may rarely crash on their own, one target less for you.
What does it do? Show all cameras and their cones on the map in the casino during the heist.
Requirement Own Casino Penthouse/do Casino missions (Ms Baker) as host.
Mission: Meet Vincent at Rockford Plaza and follow up with him. This mission is unlocked permanently though there is an option to replay it later from the second prep board. You have to chase a car and shoot the driver so it might be a good idea to not drive a vehicle that only shoots rockets.
What does it do? Gives you the ability to drill small deposit boxes in the vault. You won't have time for this with two players so probably not necessary. You can carry multiple drills at the same time so you don't have to drive back for the second one.
Steal a hardware store van leaving a construction site (you don't have to go to the marked location as it will start moving away from it once you are in spawning distance). Or you can just destroy it and take both drills. Killing them gets you 2 wanted levels.
Possible locations: Dunstable Lane, Redwood Lights Track, ?
Go to a construction site and search boxes of equipment (i.e. look at them). You can put on a disguise if you are careful but if you linger near the workers they will attack you (along with the security guards).
Possible locations: Vespucci Canals, ?
Security pass lvl1
Penthouse owners can steal a level 1 pass from the cleaning trolley in their penthouse if the maid is present.
Security pass lvl2
What does it do? Lets you skip the pattern hacks by swiping the security card.
Dead casino valet: steal a Hearse and funeral director clothes from Hill Valley Church, go into morgue, get badge. If you enter a room and the green blip doesn't appear on your map, the pass isn't in that room.
Unlocks: Undertakers/The Ominous outfit
Croupier: knocked out at a party in a random garden. Go to party, wait for Lester to send the photo of the target, find target (laying or sitting somewhere out of sight), search them then if they don't have the pass on them, look for it on a nearby table or under some foliage.
Possible locations: Vinewood Hills, West Winewood, Pacific Bluffs, ?
Tips and bugs:
you can walk into the garden, walk out and wait around 1.5-2 minutes then walk back and lester will almost always send you the text right then, you can avoid having to "blend in" while he is searching for the croupier
the croupier will always be someone unconscious
looking at a "blend in" prompt will automatically start doing it, therefore standing under the tent on PC makes you stuck in dancing, it says pressing Esc will allow you to you quit the animation but it's actually right click and you gotta spam it a bit to break out of the loop (because you are looking at the prompt)
when approaching the area of the party with a flying vehicle, try not to fly over or you will get a nice 3-star wanted level.
Approach specific preps
Shoot down 5 LSPD nano drones, everyone in Org/MC gets 3 star wanted level, doesn't clear upon death but can be lost. Pick up drone parts. You can pick them up after losing wanted levels too.
Steal from military or Cliffford mercenaries, instant 4 stars, not removed upon death. Take an armored vehicle and lots of snacks if you want to make sure you do it as quickly as possible.
possible locations: Fort Zancudo, El Burro Heights, ?
Steal EMP from USLA with a Cargobob (you have to steal that from LSIA but maybe you can bring your own?) and deliver it to Vinewood substation of Los Santos Department of Water and Power. (stealing EMP from university is an Ocean's 11 reference)
Has to be stolen from Humane Labs. You can either parachute in and take a sneaky approach or go in and kill them all then hack the door also hacked in Deliver EMP of Humane Raid heist. Two duffel bags have to be taken, if you are alone you have to come back. A couple NPCs respawn but not all of them. Wanted level upon breaking in of course.
Entry disguise (2 parts for each)
Part 1: Steal a Bugstars Burrito, containing the outfits as well
Possible locations: Richman, ?
Part 2: Steal a Trashmaster full of insects to create a reason for Bugstars pest control being called to the Casino
Possible locations: Rogers Salvage & Scrap (La Puerta), ?
Unlocks: Refuse Collector outfits
Part 1: Steal two bags of equipment and outfits from a maintenance crew
Possible locations: Rockford Hills, ?
Part 2: Steal an LSDWP van and take it to the Casino, then pour chemicals into a broken ventilation unit on top of the building. Take van to Arcade.
Possible locations: Cypress Flats, ?
Gruppe Sechs gear
Part 1: Steal damaged Stockade (armored van) from an auto repair shop (drive there with a Service vehicle to remove wanted level)
Possible locations: Harmony, Beeker's Garage (Paleto), ?
Tips: You can enter the back of a Service vehicle to lose wanted levels. A Vigilante can push the Stockade to make it go faster if you get a location far from your Arcade.
Part 2: Infiltrate security meeting of the Duggans (somewhat similar to Patrol routes) and take a photo of the licence plate of a security van plus steal two duffel bags from its back (outfits)
Possible locations: underground garage in Little Seoul, parking lot under the intersection of I-2 (Del Perro Freeway) and I-4 (Olympic Freeway) in Murrieta Heights, ?
Quick complete: drive Terrorbyte really close, kill dudes, enter Terrorbyte to lose wanted level, take photo and grab the bags.
Steal from bank robbers robbing the Fleeca branch on Great Ocean Highway (nostalgia)
Steal from police who just caught a couple bank robbers
Possible locations: Del Perro, Terminal, ?
Yung Ancestor preps if host scoped out the terrace, unlocks Yung Ancestor fan entry disguise
Part 1, "Dead Weight": take care of a vehicle, with a corpse in its trunk (allegedly), you end up going to the Altruist camp after a couple changes in the destination
Part 2, "After Party": chase down paparazzi and destroy their cameras
Firefighter gear: go to a reported arson incident and steal the Firetruck. Wanted level guaranteed but can be removed by entering a Service vehicle's back area.
NOOSE gear: two duffel bags, stolen from an LSPD (or possibly LSSD) station. Wanted level guaranteed. This is an Ocean's 11 reference, as they leave the casino disguised as SWAT.
Possible locations: Mission Row Police Station
Steal them from thieves. Two bags, have to be delivered one by one. Chasing hillbillies.
Possible locations: Cholla Springs Avenue (Sandy Shores), Zancudo River, ?
Steal from SecuroServ warehouses (big warehouse interior). They give chase with sedans and Buzzards when the second package leaves the warehouse.
Possible locations: LSIA (westernmost building in the corner), Popular Street (Cypress Flats), ?
Steal them from smugglers. Underwater, 2 boxes, can only carry one at a time, lots of waves of helicopters spawning. I suggest equipping a scuba based outfit before starting it (as it locks outfits as soon as you start) and going in as a CEO to call in a Dinghy and to use BST (or you could just steal another boat if you can). Kill everyone beforehand until the waves stop. Then dive down and find both of them. Pick up one and swim out to the shore, aim for an area with a bit of cover. Drop a BST and kill the waves of helicopters or get in your vehicle and tear off. Alternatively you can use a Stromberg to pick it up undetected, helicopters will still spawn after the broadcast timer is gone.
Possible locations: Catfish View, Paleto Cove, North Calafia Way (Alamo Sea north shore), ?
Steal from Humane Labs, swim through underwater entrance with scuba suit you put on at the shore (mandatory objective, plus Style menu gets locked on mission start), steal armor, go up with elevator. Don't dawdle in the elevator or it will take you to the surface. After you picked up the armor and go back to the surface with an elevator, get into cover immediately, there will be a couple armed guards with machine guns and deadly accuracy. Take the Buzzard and don't stop to fight.
Steal from a Merryweather bunker. Uses the player owned bunker interior, there are a couple Insurgents and a Brickade inside, you can use these to drive out but it will force you out of the vehicle shortly after. I don't think you can take a sneaky approach to find the boxes containing the armor as the guards cones of vision overlap and most of them don't move, so just kill them all, which will result in Mesas and Buzzards chasing you back to the Arcade when the second armor has been picked up.
Possible locations: Route 68 Bunker, Farmhouse Bunker, ?
Steal and drive to the Sewer entrance. Don't follow the GPS if you know where it is (end of the storm drain, just south of the race track at the Casino), it's really dumb and wants to take you to one specific legal entry of the storm drain when in fact you can enter it nearly anywhere. Wanted level most likely.
Possible locations: driving on the freeway, parked in El Burro Heights, north of the Grapeseed airfield, Davis Quartz, Terminal, ?
Trip Report: Honeymoon to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Seoul (875k pt spend)
My wife and I just returned from our honeymoon to Japan and Korea. We booked all travel accommodations using points to book a luxury vacation to Japan and Korea! Overall, we used a total of 875,000 points. I would have loved to make it a "million point vacation", but I couldn't find a way to spend our AA or MR points to add extra value :). Since this is the AwardTravel subreddit, most of this trip report will focus on the travel accommodations booked with points, but I'll still include a short description of other activities we enjoyed since I know there's a lot of other travelers looking for an opportunity to visit Japan and Korea.
The Flight - Korean Air First Class
Our travel began with a first-class flight on Korean Air leaving from IAD. Normally, KAL first-class passengers would be allowed access to the AirFrance/KLM lounge. Unfortunately, this lounge is currently closed for renovation so we were instead directed to the Virgin Atlantic lounge (although it looks like AirFrance and KLM passengers get to use the Etihad lounge). This lounge was nothing exciting. We were there for breakfast, and although they did have some hot options, the food was pretty bad. I tried a small bite of everything, but the only food there that I enjoyed was an apple. On the bright side, they did have cold beer, wine, and a small selection of hard liquor as well as a nice view of the tarmac and plenty of comfortable seating. This was our first time travelling anything other than coach/economy, so both of us were very excited to see if first class was everything it's chocked up to be. Compared to every other flight I've had, this flight was unbelievably enjoyable. I was worried that 14 hours of flight time would be uncomfortable regardless of which class we were flying, but by the end of the flight I was disappointed we had to deplane. Korean Air uses the Boeing 777-300ER for the IAD-ICN flight, which features the new-ish Kosmo Suites 2.0. These first-class suites are huge. They have plenty of storage compartments, a USB charging port in the in-flight entertainment console, and an international-compatible AC outlet on the floor. As most reviews of Korean Air flights say, the in-flight entertainment is pretty lacking. Luckily I had the first 7 seasons of Game of Thrones downloaded to my laptop which I happily watched with the noise-cancelling Bose headphones they provide. I think what I was most surprised with was how many flight attendants they seemed to have devoted completely to first-class guests. It seemed like they had 1 flight attendant for every two passengers, but maybe some of them sneaked away to serve business/coach when I wasn't looking. Regardless, I was very impressed with how briskly I was tended to each time I pressed the call button. The food service was great considering we were eating 40,000 ft in the sky. As soon as we left the ground, our flight attendant showed us the drink menu and took both meal orders ("dinner" as the first meal, and "lunch" as the second). Nether my wife nor I drink, but my uncultured palette thought the champagne tasted great. The meal service started with an amuse bouche of cream-cheese stuffed tomato and mushroom, followed by a serving of caviar with traditional accompaniments. For my first meal I chose Korean Air's famous Bibimbap served with soup, banchan, and a side of bulgogi. For how simple this meal looks, it was excellent - especially the bulgogi. For dessert, they served very good fresh fruit, cheese, and crackers followed by an unremarkable chocolate pound cake. After watching a few more episodes of Game of Thrones, my flight attendant asked if I would like my bed made. She grabbed a mattress topper and a nice comfy blanket, fully reclined my seat, and made my bed into what felt like a normal twin-size bed. I changed into the pajamas they provided and slept very well for a few hours. As a midnight snack I decided to try a bowl of spicy ramen, which lived up to its namsake of "spicy" by being a little too hot for my enjoyment. Luckily they also had cookies and milk on the menu, which I was very delighted to hear from the flight attendant when she said "I'm sorry, it will take about 8 minutes for me to bake them fresh for you". No worries - I have never been disappointed to wait for freshly baked cookies, and they certainly did not disappoint this time. After sleeping for a few more hours, my wife woke me up to let me know I only had a couple more hours until we landed. For lunch, they offered a nice "build your own salad" station with a blend of greens, veggies, and anchovy. It was nice to have something crisp and refreshing since I was feeling groggy after waking up. For my second meal I chose the Chilean Sea Bass with veggies. I really enjoyed it, but my wife wasn't too impressed. For dessert they served fruit and cheese again. Upon landing, we weren't able to enjoy any of the lounges at the ICN airport since we only had 45 minutes to catch our connecting flight. After spending about 10 minutes looking for a lounge with a shower, we decided that we didn't have time and proceeded to our gate. The ~2.5 hour flight from ICN to NRT was on an Airbus A300-330. The first-class seating on this flight actually looked identical to the business class. The seats were still lie-flat, but it was about two-thirds the size. Again, I got the Bibimbap for my meal, even though it didn't come with the side of bulgogi this time. The flight was over before I knew it, and again the customer service we received was excellent.
Tokyo - Ritz Carlton
After getting our bags and going through customs and immigration, I had to figure out how to get to our first destination: The Ritz Carlton Tokyo. There's normally a "limousine bus" that leaves from the Narita airport that stops at our hotel, but because we weren't ready to depart from the airport until about 9:30pm there were no more buses for the day that stopped at The Ritz. There's also a train that goes directly to Tokyo Station, the "Narita Express (NEX)", but we also missed the last train for that. A quick Google search showed that it would cost about $300 to take a cab from the airport, we instead took a bus from the airport to a hotel about 2 miles from our hotel and took a cab from there. This was especially daunting considering my cellular data only worked for about 10 seconds every 10 minutes, it was getting late, and there was an obvious language barrier that made me wonder if we were headed in the right direction. But luckily, we made it to our hotel without too much effort. As expected, the customer service at The Ritz was great. Our bags were immediately taken for us when we stepped out of the cab and we were escorted to the main lobby on the 45th floor. When we stepped out of the elevator we were met by the live music of smooth jazz saxophone and a vocalist that made me think "god damn this is a swanky hotel". It got even better when we got to our room and were met with this view. They must clean the windows every day, because when you walk into the room you can't even tell there's a pane of glass there. It almost looks like an optical illusion. Having this great view was one of the highlights of the trip, and one of the biggest reasons to choose the Ritz Carlton when staying in Tokyo. Again, I cannot believe how excellent the service was at this hotel. The concierge was great (for the most part - more on that later), turn-down service twice daily, spotlessly clean room and bathroom, etc. What really made them surpass my expectations were the little things. On Day 1 we used up all the complementary espresso pods, so during turn-down service the housekeeper left an extra box of espresso with a note (picture taken after we used some). Similarly, after a day when we used both complimentary bottles of water, after turn-down service we found two extra bottles of water with another endearing note. And one day when we mentioned to the concierge that we were celebrating my birthday and our honeymoon, we found this nice gift of chocolates in our room when we returned for the night (the heart and sphere were filled with chocolate covered almonds). Somehow I forgot to take pictures of our room. It was standard size as far as hotel rooms go, but the bathroom was exceptionally large. There was a bathtub, shower, two sinks, and a separate small room with the toilet. Speaking of the toilet, it seems like many toilets in Japan have built-in bidet systems with warm water and heated seats. This one was especially nice and had a "power deodorizer" that seemed to vacuum up the fumes directly from the bowl. Wouldn't be a deal-breaker if they didn't have it, but we enjoyed having a high-tech toilet for the first time in our lives :). Like I said, the concierges were great with most of their recommendations. All of them were fluent in English and we enjoyed every activity/restaurant that was recommended, with one exception. For my birthday dinner we wanted to try some Japanese fine dining. We told the concierge our price limit of ~250/pp, and were recommended to try a traditional Japanese kaiseki at the Ritz Carlton's restaurant Hinokizaka. As expected, the view from our seats was excellent, and we were very happy to have some origami to take home with us as souvenirs. Unfortunately, those were the only things that we were impressed with. We've had the pleasure of dining at a handful of fine-dining restaurants and have never regretted splurging a few hundred dollars on a meal - until now. We were presented with two menu choices - one for $180 and the other $240. Without really looking too closely at the difference between the two menus we decided to get one of each. I still don't understand why the $240 menu was more expensive. Most dishes were nearly identical, but the $240 menu had one less course and there were no "ultra-luxury" items that would normally expect an upcharge like truffles, caviar, foie gras, etc. Without diving into detail on why each dish was disappointing, I'll just say that most dishes seemed poorly balanced - either too salty or too bitter. There was an herbal lemon jelly that several of the dishes used that completely overpowered the dish with a sour, bitter flavor that was, bluntly, disgusting. Maybe it's just that I don't like Japanese fine dining, because the restaurant seems to be well-reviewed elsewhere, but I will certainly not be going back for a ~$500 dinner. At least the presentation of the food was pretty.
Tokyo - Sightseeing Highlights
Tokyo was our favorite destination. Everything was surprisingly easy to navigate once we figured out that there are actually several distinct rail companies that share some of the same stations. At each of the rail stations we used, there was always staff that spoke English well enough to help us, and we were always made to feel welcome to the country. Every time we asked for help we were politely greeted and treated respectfully. Overall, it seems like Japan strongly encourages foreigners by having multi-language maps, easy to decipher pictures, and multi-lingual customer service to answer questions. The one really annoying thing that surprised me was the lack of trash cans. There were several times where we wanted to throw something away but instead just tossed it in our backpack because we walked for blocks without seeing a garbage can. The same thing goes for buying snacks in marketplaces - eat it and give your trash to the vendor you bought it from, otherwise be prepared to carry the trash with you all day. Somehow, the city seems pretty clean regardless. While we were in Tokyo, we saw beautiful gardens and temples, and ate amazing food. Most of our time here was spent browsing for souvenirs around the various shopping districts (such as the famous Shibuya crossing area), falling in love with dogs at "puppy cafes", and playing wacky Japanese arcade games. We also spent half a day at DisneySea because my Wife is a Disney fanatic and she originally wanted to do DisneyWorld for our honeymoon.
Kyoto - Hyatt Regency
Compared to the Ritz Carlton, there's not really much to say about this hotel. Compared to most hotels, this was a very nice hotel. Compared to the Ritz Carlton, it was exceptionally normal. The service was pleasant and the concierge was able to recommend how to make the most of our time in Kyoto. From our second story window, we had absolutely no view - we could only see the wall of the building next door. Instead of a 65" top-of-the-line Sony Bravia, we instead had to watch Game of Thrones on a plebeian 42" display. We did not get gourmet chocolates left for us in our room, nor were any thoughtful handwritten notes left by the housekeeper. I know it's not fair to compare this Hyatt to the Ritz Carlton, so to be fair, this hotel was very nice. It was clean, comfortable, and conveniently located. Although I wouldn't recommend it at its cash price of ~$564/nt, I was happy to pay 20k Hyatt points to stay there.
Kyoto/Osaka - Sightseeing Highlights
We purchased the 7-day JR RailPass since I knew we'd use it for a round-trip to Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka and a trip from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport. At ~$260 each, it more than paid for itself. You need to purchase the JR RailPass voucher while you're still in the United States, then bring the voucher with you to Japan. Exchanging the voucher at Tokyo Station was straightforward, and we were able to reserve a seat on the Shinkansen "Hikari" to Kyoto. After just under 3 hours, we arrived at Kyoto Station and took a complimentary taxi to our hotel. Again, we saw some beautiful temples and ate lots of food. We took a day trip to Osaka using our JR RailPass. We decided not to get reserved seats and just hopped on the next available train, but unfortunately had to stand for the entire 45 minute journey. Osaka was an awesome city and probably deserved more than just a day trip. My wife loved the shopping areas there, and we also took a trip to Osaka Temple at night. While we were there they had an event going on called "Sakuya Lumina" where you stroll along the path to the temple and follow along with a short story of a girl from the future who's trying to get home. Along the way there are beautiful light shows and short movies, and a great photo spot where one of the employees offers to take photos with your phone. At the top, you get a great view of Osaka Temple close-up, where we also found some adorable and friendly stray cats. Back in Kyoto, we had our most enjoyable day of the vacation. We took the subway to Arashiyama - most well known for its beautiful bamboo forest, temples, and most of all - the Iwatayama monkey park. It's a small hike and about $10 to get to the monkey park, but it's well worth it. When you reach the summit, there are dozens of Macaque monkeys just running around. There are a lot of employees around to stop tourists from touching the monkeys, but you can get pretty much as close as you want. The monkeys here are completely desensitized to humans are will walk right past you, even with their babies. There is a small hut with a fence for a wall where you can feed the monkeys potatoes and peanuts for $1/bag. We happened to be there during "feeding time" where one of the employees walks around and throws chestnuts and seeds on the ground which the monkeys go crazy for. I don't think there's anywhere else in the world where you can experience this, and it's a must-do during a visit to Kyoto. While we were in Kyoto, we decided we had to try "real" Kobe Wagyu beef. I've had A5 wagyu once before at Cut in Beverly Hills, but I was excited to compare it to what Japan has to offer. And since my steak-loving wife has never tried it, I was especially excited to see her reaction to biting into the best steak shes ever had. The restaurant we chose, Premium Pound Gion, absolutely killed it. Each course was excellent, the ambiance was great (the whole restaurant is just a "chef's table" style seating), and steak was just as good as I remembered. If you've never had Kobe beef (note: the term "Kobe beef" has no significance in the USA, but "A5 wagyu" does; if you want to experience this type of steak in the USA, look for that designator) and aren't a vegetarian, you need to try it. It's worth it. Here are some pictures of the dinner.
Flight - Tokyo to Seoul
After taking the Shinkansen back to Tokyo and going back to the Ritz Carlton to pick some luggage we left there while we were in Kyoto, we spent the remainder of the day at DisneySea Tokyo then headed to our hotel airport to prepare for a 10:30am flight. The Hilton hotel we stayed at did have a very good breakfast buffet that included both Japanese and Western cuisine. For us it was complimentary thanks to the automatic HHonors Gold status provided by the Amex Hilton Ascend. The Korean Air lounge at NRT was pretty unremarkable - similar to the Virgin Atlantic lounge we used at IAD. They did have an area sectioned off for first-class only, which was pretty unnecessary since there was plenty of seating elsewhere. However, it was nice to be able to walk past the "first-class only" sign to let all the other lounge members know just how baller we are. Just like the ICN-NRT flight, we were served a nice lunch followed be cheese and fruit. The same aircraft, A330-300, was used as well.
Seoul - Hilton Millennium
Unfortunately, with the exception of the Marriott Courtyard we stayed at in Dulles, this was the most disappointing stay of the trip. There wasn't anything awful about it, but this hotel just didn't have the same level of service as the others. When we arrived to the hotel, the doorman unloaded our bags for us but did not take them to our room. The concierge spoke English, but not very well. There was a doorman who assisted with taxis, but several times there were communication problems due to translation. Overall, the hotel staff seemed a little indifferent. In comparison to all the hotels I've ever stayed at, this probably still ranks in the top 50%, but is in a completely different category than the other hotels we stayed at for this trip. On the plus side, they give out free $10 vouchers per person per day to the casino attached to the hotel, which we were always sure to cash out before we left for the day. We also got free breakfast and "cocktail hour" snacks which were always mediocre. We had breakfast most days because it was provided for free, but I would not suggest paying for it if you're not an HHonors Gold member.
Seoul - Sightseeing Highlights
While we were in Seoul, we took a cab pretty much everywhere that wasn't within walking distance. The prices were cabs in Seoul are cheaper than any other city I've taken cabs (DC, NYC, Tokyo, Kyoto), and are barely more expensive than taking the metro. Most fares were less than $10, the most expensive being a ~22 minute cab to Gangnam costing about $13. Again, we love to try exotic food, so we made sure to experience as much of the local cuisine and street food that we could try. The highlights were the freshly fried sweet "Korean pancake" filled with honey and walnuts and the muskmelon bingsu with ice cream that was surprisingly delicious considering how pretty it looked. We also had Korean BBQ from a restaurant called "The Marbling" that we went to twice because we enjoyed it so much. We really enjoyed walking through the markets and buying junky souvenirs. We also took a guided tour that I would not recommend since it ended with a trip to a "ginseng museum" where they locked us in a sales room for 30 minutes where we were relentlessly pitched to by salespeople to get us to buy hundreds of dollars worth of "cancer-preventing, life-lengthening, energizing ginseng".
Flight - Seoul to Dulles
The check-in for KAL first class flyers is pretty unique at ICN. There's a "first class check-in lounge" prior to security where you're served beverages while your bags are checked. I thought this was a nice touch compared to the normal check-in experience, even though we only stayed for a few minutes before going through security. From what I understand, there's several different Korean Air lounges at ICN. There's the "normal" KAL lounge that anyone can access, the miler lounge that can only be accessed by million milers, and then there's the first-class only lounge. We spent all of our time in the first class lounge, which was the nicest lounge of the trip. We had an early flight home so they were serving breakfast - an assortment of Korean and Western options as well as ice cream, beer, wine, and a small assortment of hard liquor. They also had table service where you could order eggs or a couple other traditional Korean breakfast options. They also had a massage chair, but I couldn't figure out how to work it because all of the controls were in Korean. The flight was the same as the original IAD-ICN leg with some slightly different but equally delicious food options. After 14 hours of eating, sleeping, watching Game of Thrones, eating, and sleeping, we were back to real life in Dulles where we had a 3 hour drive home.
Award Redemption and Cost Analysis
Avg cash rate
Marriott Courtyard (Dulles)
Hyatt Regency (Kyoto)
Hyatt Regency (Kyoto)
Hyatt Regency (Kyoto)
Hilton Millennium (Seoul)
Hilton Millennium (Seoul)
Hilton Millennium (Seoul)
Hilton Millennium (Seoul)
First class on Korean Air: 320,000 + $800 in taxes/fees (total for two passengers). Cash "value" is $39,541 (~12cpp). Total points used:
Hyatt (UR transfer)
Skypass (UR transfer)
Annual fees paid to accumulate these points:
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Approximate spending during travel (note: these are rough approximations that I made by taking our total amount spent, $3336.39, and estimating the proportion spent toward each category other than food, then assuming that the rest was on food):
Transportation (taxi, subway, bus)
Cash spend (travel accommodations, including fees paid to accrue points): $2,270 Cash spend (expenses during travel): ~$3,900
Total cost of vacation: $6170
The many hours of accumulating points, learning from /churning and /awardtravel, and planning our itinerary were well worth it. I can't wait to build up our points bank in preparation for our next big redemption. Even though I'm glad we flew first class once, I don't think we'll splurge on it again. Business class seems adequate, even though the seats are a fair bit smaller. At least first class seats had plenty of availability so planning around our schedules and only flying non-peak season was not an issue. The Ritz Carlton Tokyo was amazing and well worth the points, but unfortunately due to Marriott award redemption change this hotel will now cost 85k points instead of 60k. It may still be worth it if you have the points to get the 5th night free. The Hyatt Regency was nice, but definitely not worth the cash rate. The Hilton Millennium was probably not worth the amount of points we blew on it, but Hilton points are pretty worthless anyway. The Conrad in Seoul may have been a better option - it's hard to say, they have similar reviews. If you go to Japan, go to Arashiyama and the Iwatayama Monkey Park! Also, early May turned out to be a great time of the year to travel to Japan/Korea. Every day was in the low 70s and mostly sunny - perfect weather!
35 unexpected places the Berlin Wall ended up around the world
The Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas, has two sections of the Berlin Wall in its Trinity Corridor.
This portion of the Berlin Wall, located in front of St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, was given to former South African President Nelson Mandela in the 1990s.
Children play in a park in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain, where a section of the Berlin Wall resides.
This colorful portion of the Berlin Wall resides at The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War in Culver City, California. It was painted by French-born and Berlin-based artist Thierry Noir.
The French municipality of Courbevoie bought this piece of the Berlin Wall back in 1990. It sits on display in the La Defense business district and includes a painting by famed German artist Kiddy Citny.
The Blloku district of Tirana, Albania, unveiled this portion of the Berlin Wall as part of a memorial to honor victims of communism in the country.
In addition, a segment of the wall resides outside the Imperial War Museum, in London, England.
The Royal Engineers Museum, in Gillingham, England, also holds a portion of the Berlin Wall.
Sections of the Berlin Wall stand as historical remnants in the Cold War exhibition of the Royal Air Force Museum, located in the village of Cosford, England.
A three-ton portion of the Berlin Wall is on permanent display at the Armory in Seattle, Washington.
Chapman University, located in Orange, California, has one of the largest displays of the Berlin Wall on a university campus. The section of the wall is surrounded by an Abraham Lincoln quote which says, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Plaza Berlin was built in coordination with the German Embassy of Guatemala and the Municipality of Guatemala in Guatemala City. The large space holds three sections of the Berlin Wall, a fountain made with Venetian mosaics brought by German residents in the country, and stunning panoramic views of the city.
Ten segments of the Berlin Wall are on display outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles, California. The structure weights 25 tons.
The European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, also contains original pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Here, a chunk of the Berlin Wall can be seen through lush trees in Yokohama, a Japanese city that sits south of Tokyo.
This 12-foot-tall portion of the Berlin Wall is on display at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. It is covered with red, white, and blue graffiti on the side that faced democratic West Berlin while the side facing East Berlin remains unpainted.
In this photo, schoolchildren can be seen walking near a piece of the Berlin Wall that sits on display in Battery Park in New York City.
When visiting the Vatican Gardens of Vatican City, you'll come across a slab of the Berlin Wall that was allegedly won by former Ferrari motor sport director Marco Piccinini during an auction in 1990. He gifted it to the Vatican in 1994.
In 1990, the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie (Checkpoint Charlie Museum) in Berlin presented this segment of the wall to the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center in Moscow, Russia. It was decorated by artists and rises above the lawn near the museum building today.
Local artists will often paint portions of the wall. Here, Victor Landeta, a street artists, spray paints a portrait of Nelson Mandela on a segment of the Berlin Wall in Kleinmachnow, Germany.
Oddly enough, a section of the Berlin Wall was installed into the men's restroom of the Main Street station Casino, Brewery and Hotel, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The wall is protected by glass and can be observed by female visitors with the help of the area's security guards.
There's another segment of the wall in Buenos Aires at the garden of San Martin palace, the headquarters of Argentina's Foreign Ministry.
In 1991, Perfil Group, an Argentinian news company based in Buenos Aires, bought 20 segments of the Berlin Wall. The segments represent symbols of freedom to the company and stand protected behind a sheet of glass in the company's lobby.
A piece of the Berlin Wall resides in Ein Hod, Israel. Ein Hod was founded in 1953 by a group of artists and remains an art-centered community where around 150 artists and their families reside.
This portion of the Berlin Wall traveled from Hamburg to Miami Dade College's Wolfs Campus in Miami, Florida, last year. On the day of its unveiling, around 1,500 people gathered at the campus with German flags to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall.
If you happen to be at Chicago's Western Brown Line L Station, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, look out for an 11-foot-tall and 4-foot-wide portion of the Berlin Wall. The piece was given to the city by the Senate and City of Berlin as a commemorative relic.
This piece of the Berlin Wall has been on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, since 1990.
These four pieces of the Berlin Wall stand in Indonesian sculptor Teguh Ostenrik's workshop, located in Depok, Indonesia. Ostenrik brought the four original sections to Indonesia in 1990.
The Newseum, an interactive museum of news and journalism in Washington, D.C., houses eight 12-foot-high concrete sections of the Berlin Wall. Next to them, you'll find a three-story East German guard tower that used to be located near Checkpoint Charlie.
In 2004, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the creation of an open plaza area in Seoul, South Korea, that would be known as Berlin Square. With three segments of the Berlin Wall, street lights from Berlin, benches, and German trees, the Plaza has been built to stand as a symbol of hope for the reunification of North and South Korea.
This 12-foot section of the Berlin Wall was given to Olympic champion Usain Bolt by the city of Berlin after he broke the world records in the 100 and 200 meter finals of the World Athletics Championships in 200229. The gift sits at the Jamaica Military Museum and Library in Kingston.
"The Day the Wall Came Down" is a statue in the George H.W. Bush Library, in College Station, Texas. The statue depicts horses bolting for freedom over six broken segments of the Berlin Wall.
Three segments of the Berlin Wall were gifted to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City by the Federal Republic of Germany. The illustration displays a boy and a girl meeting over the wall.
Over the years, segments of the Berlin Wall have been gifted and sold to countries around the world. Here, portions of the Wall are up for sale at a storage yard in Teltow, Germany.
The East Side Gallery is approximately a one-mile portion of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany. The gallery is filled with symbolic artwork, like this one of a car breaking through the wall.
1: Cambodian Civil War - Khmer Rouge rebels intensify assaults on Cambodian government positions, forcing their retreat from Kompong Thmar and nearby Ba Ray, 10 kilometers northeast of Phnom Penh. 2: Six of the seven Trucial States combine in an act of union to found the United Arab Emirates / The Soviet Mars 3 lander reaches the surface of Mars, transmits for a few seconds and then goes silent. It is the first spacecraft to reach the planet. 3: The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 begins with Operation Chengiz Khan as Pakistan launches preemptive attacks on nine Indian airbases. The next day India launches a massive invasion of East Pakistan. 3–4: The Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi (former USS Diablo) sinks mysteriously near the Indian coast while laying mines. 4: The Montreux Casino burns down during a Frank Zappa concert (the event is memorialized in the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water"). The casino is rebuilt in 1975 / The McGurk's Bar bombing by the Ulster Volunteer Force in Belfast kills 15. 7: Battle of Sylhet rages between the Pakistani military and the Mukti Bahini. 8: U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the 7th Fleet to move towards the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean. 10: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally in support of the imprisoned activist features a performance by John Lennon at Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 11: Nihat Erim forms the new government of Turkey (34th government; Nihat Erim has served two times as prime minister). 16: Victory Day of Bangladesh - The Pakistan Army in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) surrenders to the joint forces of India and the Bengali nationalist separatists, ending the Bangladesh Liberation War. 18: The U.S. dollar is devalued for the second time in history / The world's largest hydroelectric plant in Krasnoyarsk, Soviet Union, begins operations. 19: Intelsat IV (F3) is launched; it enters commercial service over the Atlantic Ocean February 18, 1972 / The controversial dystopian crime film A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick is released in New York City. 20: Two groups of French doctors involved in humanitarian aid merge to form Médecins Sans Frontières. 24: Giovanni Leone is elected President of the Italian Republic / Juliane Koepcke survives a fall of 10,000 feet following disintegration of LANSA Flight 508. 25: A fire at a 22-story hotel in Seoul, South Korea kills 158 people. 29: The United Kingdom gives up its military bases in Malta. 30: The first McDonald's in Australia opens in Yagoona, Sydney.
Trip Report: Sakura Season 2017 - Sendai to Fukuoka
I saw on the last trip report someone else posted, people really appreciate these. I thought I would put mine up from last year. We did a huge itinerary which people ask about all the time. I hope this helps anyone trying to figure out their trip.
We flew out of JFK on March 29th 2017 at 9am non-stop to Tokyo – 8 total Americans 27-31 in age, all first timers. There are 3 females, 5 males, 3 of the group are heavily tattooed including neck and hands. I spent 12 months planning this itinerary and booking everything for the whole group. We all had back packs and carry on size luggage, no one had a suitcase. Total trip time – 22 days (including South Korea). This is a hefty itinerary and I would never do this again. It was exhausting and rushed. But, for all those who say ‘I HAVE TO SEE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!” this is how we did it. Most of our friends will never go back, so they didn’t care how, they wanted to do as much as possible. This itinerary would be more manageable with less than 8 people. We flew JAL which I liked better than ANA. I felt the food was better, the attendants were more attentive, and the movie selection was better. But, that is just my opinion.
March 30th 2017 – Arrive in Tokyo!!!! Shibuya We took the N’XT and got to Tokyo in 58 minutes. Narita airport was easy to navigate. While we waited for the next train, we pulled money out of the international ATM at the airport. We were stopped in the airport and filmed for the Japanese show “Why did you come to Japan?” There were 8 of us, so I think we really stood out. We went to our Airbnb and unpacked. Our Airbnb was about a 12 minute walk from Shibuya station. The Airbnb was tiny, but it was a great location. We paid $880 for the week, so each person paid $98 for 7 days. After we unloaded, we walked to Shibuya and got curry at a vending machine ticket shop near the station. I don’t know the name of it, but it is across the street from SCRAMBLE café. It is now my go to food after we get off the train from the airport.
March 31st 2017 – Harajuku -> Akihabara We started on Takeshita Street. I really wanted to get a purikura (I read a lot of shoujo manga). My friend and I went into the purikura basement along the main street. There are about 13 machines down there, it took a minute but we figured out how to use it. It was super fun, I even got my boyfriend to do one. I didn’t realize it was so popular. I always thought of it as something you happen upon in the mall like a photo booth at home, but nooooo. Be warned, rowdy pre-teen & teenage girls will be everywhere with makeup falling all over the place, it’s really a sight. We walked around and somehow ended up at Togo Shrine. It was a nice shrine in the middle of some greenery in the city. It was quite pleasant. We did our first prayer placard here and tied our fortune to the string after we opened it. We walked around Takeshita Street for a good while, it was a Friday so it was crowded and I wanted to look in everything. After this we went to Akihabara. Most people on the trip were at least slightly into anime, most were extremely into it. I finally got my Japanese Gaming Cards for Konami and MaiMai. You create a profile and save your avatar, think gaming cards for casinos. Even as a souvenir (since they don’t work in America) they are cool. We played a lot of video games where you get cards after each round and build your deck to play the game with! The arcades there are filled with business men! It is so interesting to see, we rarely saw young kids like you get at home.
April 1st 2017 – Nakano Broadway -> Ikebukuro -> Akihabara We started the day out at Nakano Broadway. We walked around all the floors but I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but maybe I didn’t look hard enough. I will definitely go back next time we are in Tokyo. The side streets leading off the main street as you walk up are pretty cool though, they are so quaint and fascinating to look down. After this, we headed to the Pokecenter and J-world! They are in the same Sunshine building in Ikebukuro. The shopping center itself is impressive and had a mariokart tournament going in the main plaza. We had lunch at J-world and I played every carnival game I could. It was very much geared towards children but we had a blast either way. There were anime key chains that were exclusive to J-world. It was a money sink, but whatever. After this, we went to Akihabara again for the night. We ended up there every night to play MaiMai. You can’t play it in America (only LA and Vegas) so we had to get our fill. We went to AkibaZone to buy anime statues. They have a whole floor of unboxed statues and they are much cheaper then you find in America. I spent about $400 and got about $600 worth of statues. They also have retired statues you can’t get anymore.
April 2nd 2017 – Shibuya -> Takanawa -> Roppongi Today I walked Shibuya 109 Men’s and Shibuya 109. No one else wanted to go. After that, we all went to Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine. I don’t remember being overly amazed by it. The walk around the park was quite lovely though. I really enjoyed how cool and fresh it felt. After this, we got on the subway and went to Sengakuji Temple. We were on the actual subway, not the JR train lines. It took 5 huge escalators to get back to ground level!!! I am quite intrigued with the story of the 47 Ronin and this is the temple that has the graves of all 47, plus the master and his wife. It also has the well that the ronin washed the head in before presenting it to their master’s grave. It is a small complex in a quiet part of the city with lots of houses. There was almost no one there even though it was the middle of the day on Sunday. I really enjoyed this temple. Next we went to Roppongi Hills. There was a sakura festival going on in the main garden area of the shopping center. We walked the garden and enjoyed all the amazing cherry blossoms. Roppongi Hills is an amazing architecture building with a museum and observation floor. We went to Café Crepe for dinner. The crepes were amazing, absolutely delicious and the entire interior is designed like a French house. We paid $18 to go up to the observation deck. We knew we were not doing Tokyo Tower or Skytree, we choose this place instead. They take your picture and give you a tiny one for free, it’s a nice little souvenir. The observation deck is on the 52nd floor of the building, we ate on the 6th. We took a bus back to the Airbnb, it was very easy with google maps to find and identify the bus stop and read the timetable.
April 3rd 2017 – Shibuya -> Mitaka -> Asakusa To start the day, I got my shower first and then walked around the neighborhood whole waiting for everyone. I found a small neighborhood temple and sat and watched people pass on their way to work or school and pray. It was really nice to be able to see this custom first hand in actual practice. I have no idea what the shrine was called, but if you are staying in a neighborhood area, I would suggest taking a relaxing morning stroll around and finding these little surprises. We went to Shibuya to turn in my JR pass. Everyone else had turned it in on Sunday and waited 2 hours in line. I was there 32 minutes and got my pass. The Ghibli Museum is great! It was fascinating to see all the movies I love in the drawings and storyboards. You will often find that in rural or less touristy places in Japan, there are no paper towels in the bathrooms. People carry tenugui (personal towels, looks like a wash cloth) and dry their hands with that and go on their way. The first bathroom I encountered like this was the one in the park by the Ghibli Museum. The first tenugui I encountered after learning what was going on was in the Ghibli gift shop. So, I had to buy one! If you can’t get into the café at the museum, don’t worry. The donut balls at the window next to the café are DELICIOUS! If you buy the photobook of the museum, since you can’t take pictures, you get a huge watercolor map of the museum. It is a wonderful souvenir. The short film we got to see was adorable, about a water skimmer and a crab. You get a piece of film as your ticket and they let you keep it. After this lovely afternoon we went to Sensoji Temple. It’s HUGE! There were cherry blossom food and hanami everywhere. Sakura flavored grilled mochi is the best. Getting your fortune here is fun. You shake a big drum and a stick falls out. You find the drawer with the number on the stick and that’s your fortune. This is where we first encountered the “fake monks.” They shove a gold medallion in your hand and ask for money. I took the first one for a souvenir and then denied the other 30 we encountered on the rest of the trip. We had dinner at Ippudo, mostly because we go there in NYC. I can’t believe in NYC it’s a high end restaurant and in Japan it’s like McDonald’s. It blew my mind the difference in presentation.
April 4th 2017 – Shibuya -> Harajuku -> Ueno -> Akihabara We went to the post office and jettisoned our extras and souvenirs. My box cost $101 and had anime statues, manga, and clothes. We walked to this little hole in the wall art store across from the money exchange bank near Shibuya station. There were several artists among us who wanted a sketch book for the remaining travels. We walked from Shibuya to Harajuku to Ueno (or so I was told, this was a free day with no plans). We found B-Side Stickers on the way in a very trendy part of town. B-Side Stickers is a fun shop, there are four people who design all the art in the stores. The shops are all over the place and we always happened upon them by chance. We stayed at Centurion Hotel Ueno. The room was about $450 but there were 6 of us in it. There were 2 sets of amazing built in bunk beds with a TV, a king size mattress (extra thick futon) on the other side of the room on a raised section of floor, sliding shoji screens to a terrace, which had a private soaking tub and bamboo. The room and hotel was absolutely stunning and worth every penny, this was our splurge hotel. We walked to Akihabara from here and got food on the way. I thought I ordered a 3 gyoza piece meal but I ordered 3 orders of the 5 piece meal…… After Akihabara on the way back to the hotel we passed a Mos Burger. I always hear about this in Shoujo manga so I ran in and grab a burger, they are actually really good, get the teriyaki one.
April 5th 2017 – Ueno -> Nikko Before we left for Nikko, we stowed our bags at the station and walked around Ueno Park. There was a cherry blossom festival going on with lots of vendors and food stalls. We spent about an hour eating and walking around then left for Nikko. Ieyasu Tokugawa is my favorite figure in Japanese history. I was very excited for Nikko because of this. We got our Nikko bus passes when we got into town and took a short bus ride to our onsen. When we got to our onsen, called Nikko Tokanso, my name was written on a chalk placard outside the hotel welcoming us. The hotel only has maybe 20 rooms. We had 2 rooms for 2 nights, four people were in each room and they allow tattoos in the public bath after 9pm. We picked this onsen for its proximity to the sights at the bottom of the mountain. We stored our bags at the hotel and walked to Toshogu Temple, it was 5 minutes away. The shrine was beautiful. Words can’t do it justice, it was so ornate and crafted with such skill. This is where Ieyasu’s mausoleum is. It did cost money to go in but it was so worth it. The monkeys and white cat always featured in Nikko pictures are also in the shrine. We went back to the onsen and relaxed for the rest of the night. They serve traditional kaiseki meals for dinner and breakfast that were included in the price. The food was fantastic and fresh and just amazing.
April 6th 2017 - Nikko We had our awesome kaiseki breakfast to prepare us for a full day! I even tried the natto but that is not for me… After breakfast, we took the bus up the mountain. We had no traffic and we didn’t see a ton of tourists. First stop was Kegon Falls! We walked around and took the elevator down to the bottom. I love waterfalls, I think for this reason, my boyfriend suddenly proposed to me!! What?! I bought a tenugui to commemorate the event and matching phone charms. After all the excitement and pictures, we all walked down to Lake Chuzenji. We accidently walked to the north side of the lake and encountered Futuraasan Chuzenji shrine. It was small and not the one I was looking for. So, we walked all the way back to the main corner and went east instead. Along the way we passed a guy selling grilled mochi out of a window. We got some again, grilled mochi is the best! I will eat a lot of it this trip. On the east side of the lake we found an obaasan selling hand carved plates and statues from a shop. She was working on a plate while we watched, I couldn’t believe how nimble her fingers were. We ended up buying a plate and talking to her for a bit. Finally, we got to Nikkoyama Chuzenji Shrine, the right one. This shrine has a tree in it that was carved in to Kannon in the 700s. It is now petrified and the temple stands around it. It was super interesting seeing it up close. This shrine also has an amazing view out over the mountains and lake. The monk that was showing us around (we were the only ones there) took a group photo for us with the beautiful scenery in the background. After this, we went back down the mountain and had lunch in town. We still had some day light after this so we wondered the forest and around town. We found some local omiyage shops and got maple cake. Maple is a very big flavor in Nikko as we found maple coffee in the vending machines as well. We relaxed in our room and watched Japanese shows before dinner and then enjoyed the open air bath.
April 7th 2017 – Nikko -> Sendai We woke up and had our last meal at the onsen, sad to be leaving. Our friends who wouldn’t get naked in public took their last turns in the private one or by woke up at 4am when no one would be in the public one. We walked to Rinnoji Temple. The main temple building is under construction at the time we went but you could go all the way up the construction building and see how they were restoring the temple. I thought it was fascinating that you could do this and really see what goes into the restoration process. After this, we walked to Iemitsu’s mausoleum. We took the bus back to town and waited for our train. When you are in Nikko, right by the train station, there is this little stall that sells “Age Yuba Manju.” You need to eat this. I literally got 4 the first time and 5 the next trip. These are delicious and you must eat them. After we finished eating, we got on the train and headed to Sendai. We got to our hotel in Sendai, dropped everything off and headed out for the evening. We walked Clis Street (covered shopping streets like this one are everywhere in every city in Japan) and found Café Misty. I might have had the best omurice and hamburger curry of my life there. We ended the night at Taito Station playing video games. Sendai is not interesting in itself, at all.
April 8th 2017 - Hiraizumi Today we went to Hiraizumi. We started with Mustoji Temple. The pure land garden was pretty, but it was still pretty cold up north so I don’t think we could appreciate the beauty. We walked to Chusonji Temple and ended up at Kinjikido Hall. The golden hall is actually HOUSED in another building. The whole Kinjikido Hall is gold, shinning gold like you see it movies! No one else wanted to go in with me, but my breath was taken away. It was absolutely beautiful and I’ve never seen anything like it. We walked around the area a bit and found some other small temples. We took the shinkansen back to Sendai and went to the Book Off Bazaar next to the station. I found some manga I was looking for and some super cheap anime keychains. Book Off is a second hand store and the bazaars have an anime and manga floor. We got bento’s at Familymart for dinner, went to Taito station to play for a while, then called it a night.
April 9th 2017 - Yamadera Today we go to Yamadera. We got there and even the walk through to town was enjoyable. It is 1000 steps to the top of the mountain, I lost count at 890. We started walking up the side of the mountain and all the little shrines and small statues along the way were adorable. There were lots of coins pushed into the soft rock along steps. The view at the top is gorgeous. We sat up there a while and took pictures and just enjoyed the view. There weren’t that many people and most were Japanese so it was nice and quiet. I took a bunch of time lapse video of the clouds rolling in. After we came down, we stopped at the Enzou soba noodle shop right by the station. They specialize in curry udon. It was the best meal I had the whole trip, especially after the cold damp climb. We told them that their food was amazing and the waiter brought the owner out who got on the floor and bowed to us! I was really touched that our comment meant that much to them. We will go back to that shop any time we are in the Tohoku region. We went back to Sendai and to Taito station….there is not much to do in Sendai. Our one friend is an impressive crane game winner and won me a statue, plus 4 for him and his gf. We went back to the hotel and relaxed for the night.
April 10th 2017 – Sendai -> Kyoto -> Nara Travel day. We left Sendai at 8am and took the train all the way to Tokyo and on to Kyoto. There was a lot we wanted to see in Kyoto. So, when we got to Kyoto station, we got off and did some sightseeing before heading to Nara for the evening. We went to Nijo Castle first. It was our first castle and very interesting to see. There were cherry blossoms blooming in the gardens and the whole grounds were in bloom and beautiful. We walked down to Kamigamo Shrine and there was a traditional wedding going on. What a great event to get to see happening live. After this, we continued on to Nara. On the train to Nara, a girl got on and sat across from me. She had exclusive Big Bang (kpop) concert key chains. I pointed at it and said they were awesome and that I love G Dragon in Japanese. She smiled really big and nodded at me. A few minutes later she took the G Dragon key chain off her book bag and handed it to me. I said “honto?!” and she said yes. Then she dashed off the train, I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t sure if I made her feel uncomfortable but I felt like she gave it to me out of happiness to meet a fan. We asked our host where we should eat in Nara and she told us about an izakaya near the house. She said the owner would come and get us from our Airbnb. So, an older lady came and got us….and took us to a house across the street. We are all kind of like….whaaaaaat?? I emailed our host and she said the izakaya only sat 10 so the owner shut it down for the night to host us in her house! The dinner was $25 each with all the beer and bottomless bowls of food you could want. The food was delicious and she was cooking and preparing it right there in her kitchen. She knew almost no English but with google translate and our broken Japanese we managed to have a wonderful 2 hour conversation with her about her family and Japan. It was a truly wonderful experience that I don’t think we will ever have again! The people we met today were very nice and very open to us and it made me really happy. The woman who cooked for us and let us into her home had no issues or hesitations about all of our tattoos. I was overly worried about this planning our trip, that I would make people uncomfortable but I haven’t felt that at all.
April 11th 2017 - Nara Today was the first day we didn’t have Familymart breakfast. We went to a nice café and took the day really slow. We walked to the station and got our bus tickets for the day. We walked to Kofukuji Temple, then we walked around the area for a bit. We got on the bus and went to Kasuga Taisho. This shrine is known for its 3000 lanterns on the temple grounds. I would like to go back and see this in the evening when everything is lit up. We walked around and fed some deer and got some souvenirs. We walked to Todaiji Temple. This temple has the largest bronze Buddha in the world. This temple had the biggest impact on me out of everything we saw. It is so massive and so imposing. I took pictures but it just doesn’t capture it. Even the building and the gate as you walk up are huge! We went to Rokumei Coffee and walked around town a little. We found a nice restaurant and had curry hamburger for dinner (can you tell this is my favorite dish?). Walking between each of these temples we encountered a lot of food stalls. We had dried rice crackers with spices, the lady said she dried those two weeks. And grilled mochi, one with sakura and one with red bean, they had a deer face pressed into them. We took the bus back to the Airbnb and relaxed for the night.
April 12th 2017 – Nara -> Kyoto After getting to Kyoto and exploring, I wish we had just done a day trip to Nara. I found the deer kind of depressing and shabby from over eating or eating things they shouldn’t. I really did not like the deer part of Nara. We left Nara around 8am and got to Kyoto around 9am. We headed to Arashiyama first. The bamboo grove was already filled with people, but it was still beautiful. We went to Kofukuji and then on to Gio-ji Temple. These two temples are offered on a combo ticket. We weren’t planning on going to Kofukuji but since it was included, why not. Gio-ji Temple is a moss temple and my send favorite temple following Todaiji. There were people weeding the grounds while we were there and it took them so long to go over one small patch to get everything perfect. I was mesmerized watching them work so diligently. We spent a lot of time walking around this temple. It was very calm and serene and almost no one was there but us. Considering how busy the rest of the area was, it was a very nice respite. We walked all the way to Daikaku Temple after this. It had amazing cherry blossom viewing and we sat and enjoyed that for a long time. After this, we picked up our bags at the station, got lunch and went to our Airbnb. We headed back out and went to the Kyoto Pokecenter next. Amazing. So many exclusive items you can’t get at the other centers. I played the raffle at check out and got a tenugui with Hawaiian Pikachu! After this we went to the arcades for the night. Our friend put $10 into this interactive dinosaur game on the pachinko floor. It wasn’t vertical like a regular pachinko games but like a huge casino game. That $10 lasted 4 hours! I tried Evangelion pachinko, lost $10 without figuring out how to play and was done. On the walk back we found a ramen hole in the wall restaurant that everyone else said was amazing because they gave you a ton of meat, which was true, but the broth was meh.
April 13th 2017 - Kyoto We walked to Fushimi Inari around 930am. There were food stalls set up everywhere. I got a rice ball wrapped in bacon! The shrine area was super crowded with school kids all over. We didn’t go that far before deciding to leave. We took the bus to Toji Temple which has the biggest pagoda in Japan. This was the first blue sky day we had in a week! It wasn’t always raining, but it had been badly overcast for a while. The time at Toji Temple was extremely enjoyable. There is a small pond, lots of benches and ice cream. We were definitely running around a lot this trip and with the blue sky and the blooming flowers we just sat down and ate an ice cream. The other buildings on the grounds had amazing statues in them and were quite impressive themselves. After this, we all met up and went to Nishiki Market. We got grilled squid, shrimp tempura, a chocolate croquette, and other foods. We walked to Pontocho and marveled at the tiny streets and all the little restaurants. Our friends who were leaving Japan the next day decided that they wanted sushi for their last dinner. We found a sushi restaurant all the way at the end of the alley past a little playground. It was delicious, I have never been able to eat raw sushi until this moment. I will probably go to hell for it but we had whale sushi and raw chicken sushi. I couldn’t help myself, when will I ever get that opportunity again? We started walking back towards the Airbnb and passed a building along a covered shopping street that said massages 30 minutes 2000yen. So, we all got massages! It was so nice after 2 weeks of carrying my book bag all day every day.
April 14th 2017 – Kyoto -> Fukuoka We got up at 630am and walked to Fushimi Inari. I got my no people picture just like I see on Google. I was quite happy. The food stalls started opening again so we got grilled sweet potato with sugar on a stick. I follow Kyoto Dog Café on Instagram so we went there and I got shiba inu souvenirs! I have a shiba and I really wanted to go to this café. After this we headed towards Fukuoka. Some of the group stopped in Hiroshima, but we went straight to Fukuoka because I had a tattoo appointment. We found the NERV Shinkansen store at Hakata station and I got another tenugui there. We walked around Tenjin Underground for a little bit but the shops were expensive! It was hard to find that tattoo place but a little old lady pointed us to it after she saw my neck tattoos and worried face. I got a ramen bowl tattoo because tonkotsu ramen was born in Fukuoka and it’s my favorite type of ramen. The tattoo was only $150 with no tip (no tipping in Japan!). The guy was super nice and stayed till almost midnight to tattoo a kitsune mask and daruma on my other two friends. After this we headed to Nasaku Island to find some yatai! My fiancé really wanted to eat ramen at an open air stall like in movies and TV shows. We found one that was perfect and got the best ramen for $5 with a huge beer. We checked into our ryokan and enjoyed our last night with a public bath, sad, but what a great day.
April 15th 2017 – Fukuoka -> Busan / Seoul, South Korea till April 22nd 2017 We went to the Fukuoka Pokecenter then headed to the port. We took the JR Beetle for $110 to Busan, South Korea. The process with customs was easy on both sides and they played a One Piece movie on the 3 hour trip. I really liked taking the ferry, which is jet engine powered.
I am collecting notes about the new stuff. I want to make a list of all the pickup and drop off locations. With all the different scenarios for each. (Work in progress so check back as I edit these notes.)
CEO must purchase an office. They are all identical on the inside, the only difference is the view and locations. Once a office is own, the CEO can be 24/7 VIP with no time limit or cooldown. All things below that say VIP also apply to CEO. The offices can be upgraded with Safe and Ammo rack at purchase or after the fact through the interaction menu. The ammo rack allows you to mark certain weapons as hidden in your weapon wheel. This can be overridden in the interaction menu. Reports also indicate it is buggy when doing heists or missions. A VIP by contrast to a CEO must have $1Mil in the bank but need not spend it to activate VIP Mode. (Note: You do not pay anything to start VIP mode.) VIP Mode lasts for 4 hours of freemode time. When you log out the 4 hours is put on hold. When you play other game modes like Contact Missions, Captures, Races, etc. the clock is put on hold. After 4 hours of in game time you get a 12 hour real-time timeout before you can be VIP again. (Note: If you played in the evening. Expecting to be able to start with a fresh 4 hours after playing only 2 of them...nope.) The cooldowns for jobs are independent of each other. So a job cooling-down from 20 minutes will stay running even if another job is completed in that category. You can use this to optimally determine when to turn in jobs. VIP Work there is a 5 minute cooldown on jobs that were at 0:00. VIP Challenges there is a 3 minute cooldown on jobs that were at 0:00. VIP Work all members get the same payout. Vip Challenges, whoever scores highest gets a larger payout. On a public server people get messages telling them what the VIP and Bodyguards are launching advising them to either stop the VIP or get the objective first.. If the VIP can either fire or terminate a bodyguard. If the VIP fires them, they must be killed before the VIP can hire another bodyguard. If the VIP marks them for termination the Bodyguard gets a bounty. If the VIP resigns all remaining bodyguards get a bounty placed on them.
Headhunter - Take out 4 targets that randomly spawn on the map. Two targets are always mobile and two targets are always stationary. Bodyguards have very dangerous accuracy. The armoured vehicles take four explosions before exploding, though the NPCs bail at two. Non-associate players are asked to protect the targets.Payout ~$18-20K Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO Great guide for using the buzzard in Headhunter https://www.reddit.com/gtaonline/comments/4zy1x0/ceo_headhunter_buzzardsavage_guide/ Air Freight - Collect a Cargobob at one location then go to a container being guarded by NPCs, take them out, pick up the container with the Cargobob, fly it to the destination. Other players are alerted about your progress. Payout ~$18-20K Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Non-associate Haulage - Collect a truck and drive it across the map. Non-associate players are told to stop you. A Karin Technical spawns at the initial pickup point. Payout ~$18-20K. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Non-associate Hostile Takeover - Retrieve a package from either the Altruist Camp, Fort Zancudo, LSIA, or Merryweather Base and take it to a location. After stealing the package you get a 3 star wanted level. Wanted level goes away on package delivery. Each team member gets $16K+. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO only Asset Recovery - Retrieve one or more cars from either the Vespucci Police Station, La Mesa Police Station, Mission Row Police Station, Vinewood Hills Police Station, Sandy Shores Police Station, or Paleto Bay Police Station and deliver them to a drop off. Wanted level cannot be lost until close to the destination. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO only Sightseer - Hack the system to reveal packages. You collect 3 packages in 14 minutes using a hacking app on the phone. Only the VIP can hack and only the VIP can collect them. Every person in the VIP team gets around $23,000. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO only Executive Deathmatch - Challenge another VIP to a deathmatch. They can accept or decline. Each player on each VIP team gets 10 lives. 20 minutes on the clock. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: 2 VIP/CEO Executive Search - The VIP is given 2 minutes to reach a location. A orange circle is around the location. Any player on the map can come try to find and kill you. If the VIP survives everyone gets $24K. The VIPs blip is invisible while moving. The Bodyguards blips can be seen. Keep the guards away from the VIP as this indicates the VIPs location. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Non-associate Piracy Prevention - For players with Yachts. $20K for successful attacker. $30K to vip team for defending. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Non-associate
Cashing Out - Compete to steal the most amount of cash by hacking ATMs. Winner gets a bonus payout of $18K. Losers get $5K. Everyone gets to keep the money they stole. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Salvage - Dive with rebreathers or a sumbmarine to collect ($) checkpoints. Each checkpoint is worth $500 after the first 10. 40-50 checkpoints. Winner gets a $18K bonus, Losers Get $5K. Like Due Diligence The winner of this can easily make $35-$45 in 10 minutes. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Auto Buyout - Compete to steal and deliver the most high end vehicles. Payments are based on who delivers the most expensive vehicles. Winner gets the largest cut. Winner gets a percentage range from 0.71%-1.45% of total value. The percentage gets lower the higher the total is; it may cap at 0.71%. Loser gets $3k-$4.5K. (I have not figured out how this is calculated.) The most expensive vehicle I have found is the Transit Buses and Dashound Buses which bring in $500K each. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Due Diligence- Compete to find hidden packages. Each member of the team gets a trackify app on their phone. When you get close to the package you will see smoke. When you get very close fireworks will come out of the package for all to see. Do this in the town of Harmony on a Sanchez for quickest payout. If 1 person collects all the packages within 10 minutes, they get about $38K. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Most Wanted - Compete to survive a wanted level until time runs out. You cannot be "inside" or else your timer resets after 14 seconds inside you lose the challenge. (This includes being in the tunnels.) You cannot be in a air vehicle or your timer resets. For surviving the full 10 minutes you receive $21K. The wanted level goes away after the challenge. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Point To Point - Compete against team members in a race. $10K+ to the winner $500+ to the losers. The destination must be set outside of a red circle. Very short races. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Courier Service - Compete against team members to grab protection money and deliver to a location. If in an air vehicle the money evaporates. All damage to courier and the couriers vehicle makes money evaporate. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard Market Manipulation - Compete to hold up stores in the time limit. You get a wanted level after each robbery. Payout is $13K+ for winner. Avilable In: Invite Only, Crew, Public Players needed: VIP/CEO, 1+ Bodyguard
Other VIP/CEO Notes
VIP/CEOs can spawn vehicles they own nearby for free. And can "rent" the other VIP vehicles. You get to keep this vehicle while VIP or until it is destroyed. (example: If you leave a limo on the other side of the map after renting it you can respawn it near you for free.) Bodyguards can spawn vehicles nearby if the VIP owns them and no other VIP vehicle is active. Bodyguards get paid $5000 every 15 minutes by SecuroServe not the VIP. This amount is reduced by $250 each time the VIP dies. It will reset on the next payment if the VIP did not die in that duration. VIPs get a cut of the money that a bodyguard earns while in Freemode. So if you sell a car, win a gang attack, or rob a store, they get the majority of the money. When Bodyguards and VIPs die they spawn near each other when they are relatively near one another. (Need more research on this.) Approximately every 1 minute of real time the Bodyguard spends inside the orange corona of the VIP they receive 100RP. Every 10 miles the Bodyguard drives the VIP they get 600RP. (Still looking into this one.) Bodyguards and VIPs can share cash with one another from each Work or Challenge. There is a daily limit that one character can share with another which is about $500K. Some VIP/CEO work is considered server wide and only one can run at a time. A VIP/CEO cannot start any other work,challenges, pickups or deliveries while engaged on a current one. A CEO can request a Luxury Helicopter. When it arrives there is an option to skip the trip to one of your owned properties.
Currently bodyguard pay is very low. They only get normal $5K/15 minutes for pickups. And around $5K on a delivery regardless of the size. The best way to help them out is to play VIP Work or VIP Challenge Most Wanted in between package pickups. You can share the cash you make as CEO/VIP from Work/Challenges.
CEO Warehouse Management
CEO must purchase a Office. From a special terminal at the CEOs desk they access the SecuroServ Special Cargo Network. From this desktop computer the CEO can purchase up to 5 warehouses. You can purchase over existing ones and a 1/2 refund will be given. This works kinda like apartments and garages. Warehouses can hold either 16,42, or 111 Crates. Special Cargo Crates are bought One at a time for $2000, Two at a time for $4000ea, or Three at a Time for $6000ea. They can be Bullion, Jewelry, Narcotics, Gemstones, Counterfeit Goods, Medical Supplies, Electronics Goods, Weapons, Alcohol & Tobacco, or Animal Materials. They all cost and sell for the same price so the type of goods does not matter. Rare Special Cargo On occasion your Personal Assistant will call you and tell you there is Rare special cargo available for a hefty price. ~30K. Get to your office ASAP. Chose a warehouse. You will see the Rare Item at the top of the buy list. If you back out from that screen it may disappear. It will be a single crate to pickup. Some items: Rare Diamond, Bigfoot Suit?, Fabergé egg, Golden Minigun, Richard Majestics film reel. (These are reported on reddit I've only seen the diamond.) (Also Note: people report that this is very buggy.) Pickup Missions After the crates are bought a Buy Mission begins in public free roam. They usually consist of going to a place to pick up a van, truck, or meeting a contact. Each one usually has a "complication," and may have NPCs either guarding the Special Cargo
Locations Beaver Bush Ranger Station Burton - Behind Cockatoos Casino Convenience Store in Banham Canyon Convenience store east of Tataviam Mountains East Vinewood S of Pacific Standard Gas Company Kortz Center Legion Square Land Act Reservoir - downed plane Little Seoul - downed plane Los Santos Golf Club LSIA Terminal Near LSC Mile High Club - big under construction building. Murrietta Oil Field North Murrietta Oil Field South Murrietta Oil Field Central Near Tinsel Towers Oriental Theater Police Station Rockford Police Station Mesa Sisiphus Theater Templar Hotel alley Underpass near Rooftop Rumble Vespucci Canals Vinewood Hills Park
Vehicles to Pickup Boxville Brute Camper Burrito Marquis - has to be destroyed Police Van Rumpo Custom RV Speedo Van
Complications Gangs can show up after the Special Cargo is acquired in groups of 2 in 1-3 waves. The location can change. It may be one of 3-4 vehicles that one has to Search Each one for. May have to use Trackify to find the vehicle. Must Destroy 1-4 helicopters and pickup crates individually. Must Destroy a helicopter then take out the 1+ thieves who parachute from it and pickup crates individually. Police Ambush Police have seized the cargo and are transporting it. You must get it from them and will get a wanted level. Police have seized the cargo and have it at a secure location. You must enter the police station yard collect the vehicle and deal with 2* wanted level. Gang Ambush Gang Fight Post Gang Fight - 1+ Crates are hidden in the area. Search for clues. Each crate is guarded by a wounded gang member. Sometimes a gang will chase you. Individual crates. Put down flares for in the Drop Zone for individual crates. Plan crash guarded by police. Individual crates. Contact may want you to go to a location and assassinate 1-3 targets. Then gives you the location. Theives on foot. Pirates at the Marquis - destroy them without hitting the boat first to make sure you don't accidentally destroy cargo.
Sell Missions Sell missions are determined by how many crates you want to sell at once. Larger shipments require multiple vehicles to be delivered. 0-9 Crates 1 truck/boat/plane. 10-40 Crates 2 trucks/boats/planes 40+ 3 trucks/boats/planes or 1 Titan.
Fly the cargo in 1+ Cuban 800's to Ortega's Trailer - http://gta.wikia.com/wiki/Ortega's_trailer Fly the cargo in 1+ Cuban 800's to Sandy Shores Airfield. Fly the cargo in a 1+ Cuban 800's and drop individual crates on various spots around the map. Take a tugboat to a sailboat in international waters. Deliver cargo in 1+ Brickade. Sometimes must take out 18 incoming NPC enemies. Take 1+ Brickade to 5 locations to drop off individual packages. Deliver cargo in 1+ Brickade to a unknown location. Must use trackify. (After you have done enough of them you may be able to guess the spot just by vector alone.) Take a Titan and deliver to 5 spots.
Expect extensive edits over the next few days. For the curios how do I keep in a solo public session? I have really crappy internet service.... it is the reason I can't really play heists... pretty much guaranteed to disconnect during one... but it does cause netsplits and leaves me solo all the time.
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