Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Marriage.

When I was still in primary school, I remember that I was in a after school class and somehow the topic of marriage was bought up. I think it was because some student asked if the teacher was married, and how old she was.

We never got to know her age, or any of the teachers' ages, because they always said 'Never ask a woman's age' blah.

Then, the teacher stated her opinion, that a person should get married at the age of 28.

It made sense to me as a kid, because in my mind then I knew that there are probably lots of things to do before you settle down with someone. Even now, it still make sense to me.

Even when I was young, I knew that life wasn't like fairy tales, and things don't just end with the last sentence is 'happily ever after'. When you tie a knot with someone, it's a life time commitment.

My ballet teacher once told a student who was dating at the time that we shouldn't rush to be with someone our age, because if you decide to be with someone now, you're gonna accept that you have to see this person's face for the rest of your life. And how many years is that? 30? 40? 50?

Then she asked the girl if she was ready for that. I don't think the girl had any answer.

Have I thought of marriage? Not really. I'm single AF HA *cries*

But I do wish to be with someone special for the rest of my life. How and when? I don't know and right now I'm content with being single.

So when one of my university classmates announced that she and another classmate was getting married, I was shocked. I am the same age as both of them, and that makes them 22 when they tied the knot.

Truthfully, even their relationship was a surprise. It was just so sudden (in other people's eyes) that they got together, we were never told about their engagement until they published it on Facebook and I saw pictures of them in a wedding party in the girl's country (she's a foreigner) and suddenly we were invited to their wedding dinner in Malaysia.

I can't imagine myself being married at the age of 22. Even if you told me that I was getting married in three years, I wouldn't even believe it. I barely feel like an adult, how could I sign legal documents stating that I would be with another person forever?

I was close friends with the bride so I was invited to the nikah (solemnization). I've never been to a Malay wedding, much less a nikah, so I didn't really knew what to do or what to expect. None of my relatives had the experience too but my friend just told me to dress modestly and attend.

I borrowed my late grandmother's Malay skirt as I thought it would be a delightful surprise for my friends. However, on that fateful day, my shoe broke the moment I arrived at the destination. Damn it.

The imam (an Islam worship leader) was also an hour late so some of my friends decided to get some food outside (food is only served after the ceremony). We came back a little late, and as a punctual person, I was embarrassed. But we didn't miss the important part of the nikah.

I did saw the bride briefly before the ceremony, but when I enter the room and saw her sitting beautifully in front, I was speechless. I just can't express how beautiful she was.


The ceremony proceeded, and me and another friend was starting to realize that it was very different from our Chinese customs.

Since Muslims are not allowed the consume alcohol, we kinda knew that things probably wouldn't go as crazy as Chinese weddings. However, because it was also a religious ceremony, and because everyone has to respect the imam, no one cheered or talked loudly during the whole ceremony. There were only polite claps here and there.

While the ceremony was going on, me and my Chinese friend was trying to restrain ourselves from cheering. We were frustrated that we couldn't express how happy we were.

The only moment there were some cheers was probably when they exchanged rings, and the bridegroom grabbed her hand to the air, as if he secured a victory.


At that moment, I was feeling happy proud of my friend. I was touched that I was able to witness this important memory of my friends, but there was also a tinge of sadness in my heart. My other friend who was beside me said: 'Our friend is all grown up'.

 I remember the times when the bride would hang out together with both of us, and it felt like we were unstoppable when there was three of us. It clearly stopped when they started dating, and we just never saw her as often anymore, even though all of us are in the same classroom.

We were never told formally about their engagement or their wedding, and only through social media. And now she is married, and most likely having a child in the near future.

Did I lost a friend? I don't think so. I still regard her as a friend, and I'm happy she had found her happiness. But the memories of her before, will now only be a memory. She has changed, so much.

I also went to their wedding dinner, which is just the day after. She was obviously busy greeting all the guests, so we couldn't really talk and just took a few pictures together.

I haven't receive any updates about my married friends since then. I just hope that they will be happy.

---

Talking about marriage, even though I can't imagine myself getting married in the near future, I had wild fantasies of my future significant other will propose me.

Since I am a gamer, instead of golden diamond rings, I wouldn't mind being presented with a blue feather HAHAHAHAAH. If you didn't know that's how you propose to someone in Harvest Moon.


I don't like wearing accessories anyway, but then again, I don't like keeping stuff around..

Another really romantic way is the way how Stoick proposed (twice) to Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2. When even Stoick the Vast, chief of Berk would sing and dance to 'For the Dancing and the Dreaming' to the woman he loves, their relationship is just so perfect.

#HTTYD2DESERVEDTHEOSCAR

But those are just fantasies, ha.

On another unrelated note, I'm really happy I got the game Stardew Valley. It completely fixed my HM nostalgia and cravings of wanting to play the game.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Another Singapore Trip.

When I blogged about my Japan trip, one of my friends asked why I didn't blog about the Singapore trip I took before.

I told him I will, so here I am. I'm pretty sure he wasn't serious but I'm still going to write about it for memories' sake. After all, I had a blast.

So here's the post for my Singapore trip on August.

---

I've always wanted to go to Singapore, not for the food or sight seeing, but to meet my online friends. However, it's quite a problem because if I had to meet every single one of them, I wouldn't have much time.

It's always a dilemma. Do I tell everyone I'm going? Do I tell only a few? If I hide the fact I'm visiting Singapore, does that mean I can't post any social media updates? If I do post on social media, how will my friends who didn't get to see me react?

In the end, I decided to just meet my closest friends and some new ones. Because I'm kinda sure some of them will get mad at me if I don't, and I've gotten complaints from people for not meeting them before.

HA I'M SO POPULAR HA just kidding.

DAY ONE

I had to get on an early flight and arrived around 10AM and my friends who were supposed to greet me was not in sight.

I had the problem of not having Wi-Fi in Singapore, so I started to get worried. As I was struggling to get connection to the internet, one of my friends spotted me. Apparently there was a lot of problem with the MRT and all of them except her was stuck.

#justsingaporeanproblems

Everyone made it anyway and it was pretty much first time meeting all of them (#teamrekt). But since we voice chatted a lot it wasn't that awkward. We had lunch at Burger King where I was shocked to see so many senior citizens at the counter.

I dropped by my cousin's house to put my luggage and we were on our way to Universal Studios. It was an hour bus ride, gosh it felt like forever

 I couldn't join in the fun because I didn't know how to play #failedmalaysian

We arrived at USS and I was really excited. I couldn't get to ride on Battlestar Galactica the last time I went there so I was so ready. Before we did anything though, my friends changed into the Echo shirts from my exhibition. I feel so loved.
There wasn't really a lot of people, but some rides had an hour queue. If I visited Japan first where three hour queues are possible, I wouldn't mind that much.

Thankfully, the extreme rides I was excited for didn't have long queues. I had a lot of fun on Cylon and the Transformers ride.

 Thanks for the support guys.

I also went to conquer my fears again on the Mummy ride this time. I told my friends that I didn't open my eyes the last time I was here and they made sure I kept them open this time, haha. We also rode on kiddy rides but it was just fun to hang out and get silly with my friends.

My friends ran out of energy quite soon while I was really hyped. The girls weren't a big fan of extreme rides too. We still stayed till the park was about to close, though.

After we left the park, I went in to check out the casino. One of my online friends who was also a Malaysian couldn't get in with me as her student card expired so I went in alone. I felt really out of place as the people gambling there are mostly uncles and aunties, but I did enjoy free drinks.

We had dinner at a curry place and we went back to our homes after that. Kinda had a communication problem but I managed to tell my friends I made home safe.

DAY TWO

I'm a pretty punctual person, and I realized that every person I met in Singapore is always late. It's okay though, I'm used to it. *wipes tears*

I met up with another group of friends on this day. We had lunch at a steamboat restaurant where THEY ACTUALLY SERVED PORK. Even though our culture is pretty much the same, eating in Singapore needs time to get used to.

I mentioned that I wanted to check out the Yayoi Kusama exhibition and my friends tagged along. Another online friend also decided to join me when she found out I'm in Singapore.

Because I wasn't a Singaporean citizen, I had to get in line and made my friends wait with me. I felt bad, but they didn't mind and I'm thankful for that. After getting the tickets, we got into one of the first exhibition hall that features her Yayoi Kusama's works.

Going to art exhibitions are definitely interesting, because you look at art that are influenced by a person's experience. Yayoi Kusama is a very eccentric person and her work certainly says so.


They are a lot of people there and I'm pretty sure most of them are just there for the hype and maybe because it's free. I really dislike the fact that there are people who were just there to take pretty Instagram pictures. I felt that it was really disrespectful.

After seeing all of her works in all the exhibition halls, two of my friends left. I was looking at another exhibition with the remaining friend till I had to go.

I hope my friend had a great experience, or at least have a new experience in an art exhibition.

For dinner, I went to meet some of my friends that I met through Steam. Had pasta at a fancy restaurant and just talked about stuff.

After that, I left to meet my first group of friends minus one (#teamrekt) to shoot darts. It wasn't my first time playing but I wasn't good at it.. I think I even broke some of the darts, hmm.


I was tired as I met a lot of people that day and traveled a lot, but it was worth it to finally meet my pals in Singapore.

DAY THREE

My breakfast for all mornings in Singapore are biscuits given by my friend. TQSQ!

I think I woke up quite early and I had to catch a cab. The thing is, my friend called for it and directed the driver to my cousin's house. I was alone in the cab with the driver. It was a first time of me taking Grab and I was confused if I had to pay for it.

Anyway, I met up with my #teamrekt friends in east side of Singapore, near the beach area (I think) as we're going cycling. My friends said there are bicycle rentals there we could go to and get bikes.

Apparently, thing has changed a lot since my friends been there so everything was a little different. Some of the bicycle shops have moved and we were walking down a long stretch of road before we realized there are no more bicycle shops and if we wanted to get a bike, we had to walk back.

There was this guy who I assumed was from China walking around giving out flyers that said they rented bikes. Being lazy, we agree to rent bikes from him as it was quite cheap and not that further away, compared to the shops before.

However, he lead us to a very shady looking area with a very shady looking truck and gave us bikes. We were all doubting ourselves, wondering if this was okay but we got the bikes. Then, we just pedaled away.

One of our friends didn't know how to ride a bike, so we spent some time teaching her. She was a fast learner, but there was some close calls of her hitting things. Thankfully, she wasn't hurt but her legs got dirty. *sobs*

We had our lunch in a food court but I don't think we ate anything, we only had drinks. We were pretty tired, but we continued cycling around the area until afternoon. It was nice cycling again, and with the breeze from the ocean blowing on your face.


We returned our bikes to the shady looking truck and left. Our next destination was Gardens by the Bay.

We got our tickets with a discounted price (thanks to my friends) and went in to see all the beautiful flowers. The first thing I thought was, wow, I wish my mom was here to see this. She loves flowers and plants.

Since Singapore's Independence Day was closing in, they featured orchids as the main attraction. I have never seen so many orchids in my life and I wondered how did they manage to maintain so many flowers and in such perfect conditions.

For dinner, we had dinner at a burger restaurant and it was really delicious.

Finally, our last activity for the night was something we do even when I'm not around in Singapore - Overwatch.


We went to a LAN cafe (Malaysians would say cyber cafe) and played together as a team. Unfortunately, my mic was broken so I couldn't really communicate with my friends. One of my friends also had to leave for personal reasons.

The night ended and I was realizing I have to say goodbye to my friends. When would I see them again? I don't know. I was sad, and I hugged them goodbye.

LAST DAY

I went back to Malaysia by bus and it was quite a scary experience, particularly at the immigration area. But obviously I'm fine since I'm here blogging.

Heading back to Malaysia reminds me of how shitty my country is, but hey, it's home.

---

I wanna thank all my friends that I've met in Singapore, and for the memories we shared, online or offline.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Osaka & Kyoto Trip - Part Two.

The onigiri in Japan was just so much better from the ones in Malaysia.

When I went to Shinjuku, Tokyo many years ago, me and my family would visit a Family Mart near our hotel. In that convenience store, there was this handsome cashier. I went there enough times to know that he works for the night shift (OMAGA JOON YOU'RE SUCH A STALKER).

I wouldn't go out of my way to that store, but I would take extra glances on this guy whenever I'm there. On the last day before I went back to Malaysia, he was wearing a flu mask so I couldn't see his face.

This time when I'm in Kyoto and Osaka, I kept seeing different faces behind the counter. I even felt disappointed when my first visit to the first Family Mart and the first thing I saw was two girls HAHAHAHA.

I think I told quite a number of people about this guy already, but I will always think of him whenever I enter a Family Mart.

---

DAY FOUR

In the morning, my mom told me reports of typhoon Talim approaching southern Japan. Osaka wasn't really in the affected area but we could feel some of its effects. It was already starting to drizzle when we got out of the train station and walking towards Osaka castle.

Like all tourists areas, there are a lot of people around Osaka Castle. There's some distance of walking from any of the entrance to the castle itself, and we already saw crowds of people just walking in.


We didn't went buy the tickets and went in because I saw reviews online saying there wasn't much inside. You could try the battle armor and helmet but of course, you have to pay for it. Other than, I guess there's pretty sights to see inside but isn't Japan itself a beautiful sight already?

It was starting to rain quite heavily when we decided to leave. Before we could reach the exit, we sought some shelter in some random building. Turns out, it was a martial arts hall and people were practicing kendo! I'm assuming there's a competition going on since I saw some trophies.

It was definitely a delightful surprise because I never expected to even see the art of kendo in my trip. They were yelling and swinging their bamboo swords everywhere, and I wish I had photos or videos but we weren't supposed to film it. I don't think I would like people filming me while I was warming up for a competition too.

My brother went and bought an umbrella and we left. I noticed that Japanese people tend to use transparent umbrellas. I totally dig it because you can SEE through it. Why don't we use transparent umbrellas in Malaysia!?!?!?

Anyway, we were using the 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass to travel around on this day and one of the benefits of using this pass is you don't have to pay the entry fee to some of the places and attractions in their list. Near the Osaka castle there's the Osaka Museum of History, so we decided to drop by just to take advantage of the free entry.


Normally, I would like to take my time and read every word in museums but I didn't have the mood for it that day. One thing was this trip to the museum wasn't planned and the second thing was we don't really have all day, so we just took a glance of everything in the exhibition. Didn't really stay for a long time.

The staff was so nice in these exhibitions. Even with the language barrier, the people there trying their hardest to explain the history of their country. Other than that, they really go all out in their exhibition, rather than just displaying stuffs.

We left the Osaka Museum of History, and it was still raining. Our next stop was also a museum, one of the places my mom wanted to visit. It was the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living.

Judging from pictures, I thought that the museum was outdoors. It was actually in a building, and probably in one of the highest floors. It's a relief because it's still raining outside. We had to queue of course, even when getting into the elevator.

Basically, they have a large area consisting of old Japanese houses. In these houses they show how the Japanese use to live and how their houses use to look like. It's just like a small village and you can get into any of the houses.


There are a lot of people (mostly females) just dressing up in kimonos and taking pictures in these traditional houses, basically having their own photoshoot. You will need to queue up to take pictures. But if you're like me who don't really giving a shit about taking POTD you will stroll pasts these areas quite quickly.


I don't remember seeing any explanation of anything in this museum so I don't think you can learn anything much about the history of these houses but just experience and seeing it, I guess?

I think there are other things to look in this museum but we didn't stay to find out. It was nearing afternoon and we have to head back to our capsule hotel to check out. It was still raining.

Before we got back to our hotel, we went to get lunch. Initially, we wanted to eat in one of the restaurants in the list of Amazing Osaka pass (it wasn't free, but they offered discount), but it was still rather expensive so we went to the restaurant beside it. Fortunately, it was that restaurant's 1 year anniversary and they offered cheese tomato ramen for just 500 yen!

 

We couldn't really communicate with the staff and we accidentally wore shoes into the eating area, but other than it was quite good (and cheap!).

We went back to the hotel, checked out and grabbed our luggage. We departed from Namba to Bentencho, which was nearer to the bay area. There, we checked in to our final hotel, OTR Park View. This lodge is similar to Racine Home, you don't see any staff workers. There wasn't really a receptionist table, it was just like an apartment.

An old lady actually saw us struggling to find the way to the hotel and went out of her way to help us. I was so touched by her actions. She even told us a short cut that wouldn't get us wet in the rain.

 In this lodging, we don't get beds but sleep on futons. 

We took a nap till around dinner time. We then made our way to a shopping mall called HEP FIVE where there's a ferris wheel beside it. But no, I went to the mall to get PABLO cheese tarts. I've always heard of delicious Japanese cheese tarts back in Malaysia and Singapore but I never got them. Now I can tell people I ate real Japanese cheese tarts, hahaha.

I think we walked to another shopping mall to look for something to eat for dinner, unfortunately, I can't remember what shopping mall it was. In that mall, there was so many restaurants to eat in that we just couldn't decide. There's just so many things to eat, and this problem exists everywhere in Japan, even at their train stations.

We finally decided to have some sushi. It was actually a store selling sushi, but they have 5-6 seats at the side where they serve sushi to the customers. The price wasn't over the roof, so me and my mom guessed it was the cheaper kind of sushi. Tastes great nevertheless!

I never felt so stressed in my life eating sushi in front of the chefs. 
I was so worried about getting judged!

For the final event of that night, we went to Umeda Sky Building where you can see the view of the Osaka city. We had to walk quite a distance (again) to get there, and it was still raining. We saw a few people in a Mario costumes riding karts along the way, by the way.

Took an elevator, got tickets and went up the platform via an escalator. Umeda Sky building is great to visit at anytime of the day, but I think the sunset is the best time. I went during the night, and it was still very pretty.

You get to see the view indoors and outdoors. I preferred the outdoors as there wasn't reflections in photos and there wasn't as many people indoors. It was still kinda raining.


They seem to promote these two escalators a lot.

We got lost on our while back, but we made it anyway. We then collapsed. Just kidding, we were dead tired.

DAY FIVE

I was very excited for this day as we went to Osaka's aquarium, Kaiyukan. Once again, there was a lot of people, and I mean a lot. More than we ever seen when we went anywhere else. The queue was long to get the ticket and the entrance was just so packed.

The reason why I was so excited because I knew we could see whale sharks in this aquarium. I really like the idea of seeing the largest animal in the world but because I can't swim and don't like going underwater, I am content to see the largest fish in the world.

Of course, there was so much more other things to see in this aquarium. Some of the many species in this aquarium are seals, otters, sting rays, manta rays, sharks, penguins, turtles and even the sunfish!


<<SUDDEN DEATH>>

If only it wasn't that packed on the day we went, because it was just hard enough to see, much less take pictures of these amazing creatures. The crowd gets more thin as you make your way through the aquarium and there are many chances of you seeing the biggest tank which consists the whale sharks, so it's still okay.

Oh boy, the moment we reached the tank that was made out of 30 centimeters thick glass, I was in awe. The whale shark was huge like how I imagined, but I can't help but feel sad that they are stuck in these walls, rather than swimming freely in the ocean.

This tiny GIF doesn't do justice to its size.

It's too bad that there was so many people blocking your view. Me and mom also got separated with my brother which frustrated us so much, and I misplaced and lost the transparent umbrella that I wanted to bring back to Malaysia so much. It probably couldn't fit in the luggage anyway. *wipes tears*

For lunch, we went to the nearby Tempozan Marketplace. We had Wendy's in their food court and it was sooooo good. You can't go wrong with bacon burgers, if only we had them in Malaysia.

After lunch, we wanted to take advantage of the free entry to Legoland Discovery Center, but you need a kid to get in. It's like they knew there will be people like us, ha. It's okay, it looked too childish for us anyway.

The Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel was just beside the marketplace so we decided to once again, use our passes to get free entry. Unfortunately, it was closed due to safety precautions before the typhoon that was expected to hit, even though the weather was fine.


Little did we knew that we would this problem again as we couldn't get into Tennoji Zoo. We realized that it is possible that most places will be closed and we couldn't go anywhere. My mom also didn't want us to stay outside too late, in case if the typhoon really did come.

Here we were helped by another Japanese elderly. His English was good, and there's a reason why he speaks so well. He's a volunteer guide around the Osaka area, helping random tourists and even locals. He too, was bummed out that the zoo was closed and suggested us other places we could visit. He also gave us maps and guide books and told us a lot about the area. Why are Japanese elderly people are so nice!?!??!

In his Facebook page, he posts updates of the people he met.

We weren't sure where to go at this point of the day. We wanted to go to a bath house, but we didn't bring extra set of clothes. Worrying about the bad weather, we decided that we will go to the bath house anyway before it gets too late.

Me and my brother was determined to get into a bath house even way before we arrived in Japan. My mother on the other hand, was too shy to try. It was already really unusual for us to see naked people, and she didn't want to make it more weird by seeing her daughter naked, and I can understand that.

'Wait Joon, did you say naked?!?!?!?' Yes, I did. You're required to get butt naked in public bath houses or hot springs. I wore leotards for more than half of my life span so I think I am okay in getting naked.

Once you got your towels, pass the counters, pretty much the first thing you see is a locker room filled with naked people. The trick is to not to think so much about it, because whatever you have on your body, they have it too. As long as you don't stare at people, you should be fine. The more you hide it, the more people would think you're weird.

I read about the steps you have to do when you get into a bath house before finding myself naked there, because I didn't want to offend anyone. Instead of jumping straight into the pools, you are supposed to shower first. Only after you are clean, then you can enjoy yourself in these steaming hot pools.

Different pools have different temperatures. Some are warm, some are really hot that it can be a pain to just get into them and there was one cold pool that is 18 degree Celsius! There are also individual pools that can fit a single person and a sauna.

Young and old, you can see lots of different body shape and sizes. I try not to look at any single person too long, but you just can't avoid seeing boobs and other parts of the body. I'm sure you can see dicks if you're in the men's side. Just don't think too much about it because no one cares! HAHAHA.

Still, I still wasn't used to getting naked and being in pools with other naked women so I only spent about 30 minutes in there. Some people can actually spend hours in bath houses just soaking themselves. I'm glad I went in though, because it was definitely a unique experience.


For dinner, we went back to Dōtonburi again, because my mother wouldn't get takoyaki anywhere else. We ate at a restaurant where we tried okonomiyaki and had a really delicious sushi bowl.

DAY SIX  CONGRATULATIONS 넌 참 대단해

It was a Monday, so I thought a weekday would be a perfect day to visit Universal Studios Japan. I was so wrong.

I don't know if it was a holiday or what, but it was so packed with people. We got our tickets before flying to Japan, but we still had to queue a very long line to just get pass the entrance. Right after entering, the first ride we saw had the waiting time of 90 minutes.

Me and my family were speechless.

So there's a reason why I wanted to go to USJ, and the reason is because of the attraction The Wizardry World of Harry Potter. I wouldn't call myself a Potterhead, but boy did I fangirl when I walked through the Forbidden Forest and finally reached the entrance to Hogsmeade.

In their replica of the winter version of Hogsmeade, you can find the Hogwarts train, different magic shops and Hogwarts itself along with the lake. And they sell butterbeer!


Other than the Harry Potter world, the other attractions are Universal Wonderland, Hollywood, Waterworld, Amity Village, Jurassic Park, San Francisco, New York and Minion Park. We thought that we should walk around the whole area first before deciding which ride to go.

The first ride we actually took was the boat ride of JAWS. I actually have memories of riding it before, but I can't remember where exactly. We had to wait 50 minutes for that ride.

And that's basically how we spent our day in USJ, just waiting in lines.

We made a mistake not queuing up for the popular rides in the morning because by noon the queues can last up to three freaking hours. THREE HOURS OF JUST STANDING IN LINE. I also thought that the queue will be shorter around evening, but that didn't happen.

I've seen just how hardcore Japanese people can be in theme parks, based on my experience in DisneyLand and DisneySea, but this takes the cake. Thinking back, I was complaining of an hour waiting lines in Singapore, that was just a piece of cake man. There was so much people that even the express lanes have queues.

Unfortunately, I couldn't try all the extreme rides. We did try the 4K3D rides though, and the one in Harry Potter's was just absolutely amazing. Another unexpectedly amazing ride was Space Fantasy, and it just took us 10 minutes of waiting.

Another thing we learned is to go for the queues for single riders. You can't ride along with your friends but most of the time it's faster than the normal line.


It was September but USJ was already prepared for Halloween, so the park will opened till night for the Halloween Horror Night event. After the sun sets, you could see the change in atmosphere and more and more zombies appear through the night.

I've only seen people participating in these Halloween events, and I'd never expected that I would land myself in this situation. If you don't know me, I'm not a fan of horror. I played zombie games but in real life? No, thank you.

There are areas where different zombies would walk on the main road and scare people. I've seen people trying to scare back the zombies but man these zombies are trained so well. They didn't even flinch.

We had our dinner at the very safe zone of  Universal Wonderland in a Snoopy themed restaurant. The staff asked my brother if we were afraid of the zombies, HAHAHAHA.

 
IT'S SO CUTE.

We finally left USJ after hanging out at Hogsmeade one last time. I actually queue for the 4K3D ride again because it was only a 45 minute queue. It was a long day. A very long day. Sigh.

Stay till night to see dementors flying with projection mapping.

Did I mention that we have to queue to get on the train back from USJ too?

DAY SEVEN

We initially planned to head to Ikeda to visit the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum but they're closed on Tuesday. I have failed to notice that when I was planning for our itinerary. If you didn't know, you can actually create your own instant ramen noodle flavour there for 300 yen.

So, me and my mom decided to go shopping instead. She purposely brought a larger luggage so that we can carry all the stuff back.

Once again, we arrived at Dōtonburi to buy stuff at Don Quijote, a tax-free shopping store. Here you can find many foreigners filling up their shopping cart with everything in large quantities.

 Dōtonburi river.

My mom was obviously very delighted, like her sisters, she loves shopping. We bought back food like instant noodles, biscuits and candies. Then my mom realizes she doesn't have enough money and had to change currency for more.

My mother initially wanted to check out more tax-free stores but we obviously can't move around with our first haul, so we went back. We had something like tonkatsu before returning to our lodge.

At night, we thought to walk around too look at how the residential areas look like. And because my mom wanted to shop more. She wanted to check out a DAISO.

It was very nice just walking and chilling. I think it will be weird if you find foreigners walking around your neighborhood but I had a great time. Japan has really square cars.

We went shopping again- I mean, my mom went shopping again while me and my brother was just hanging around. I saw a gachapon containing Sumikko Gurashi stuff but I restrained myself, hnnnggg.

We had our last dinner at McDonalds. We didn't really actively seek out for a McDonald, you know because you have McDonalds everywhere and it's just fast food but it was just there beside the store and it's convenient.

Pork burgers are always nice, anyway.

DAY EIGHT

It was our last day in Japan. Unlike the last time I was here, I didn't feel sad. I didn't really have the feeling of not wanting to leave. I was very content.

We left for the airport near noon. We had our lunch in the airport where I had tonkatsu again and it was good. According to my aunt, all the restaurant in the Kansai Airport is great.

My mom did more shopping before we went to the departure hall. I did a survey while waiting for the plane and got a handkerchief with Mount Fuji on it.

We got back to Malaysia after a terrible six hour flight.

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And that's all from me.

I had a great time in Japan. I love their culture, their language and I love their food very much. It's totally different world and I can't wait to go back there again. Thank you so much, Japan.

Hopefully I can get myself to blog about my trips to Pulau Perhentian and Singapore. Till then.

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Read Osaka and Kyoto Trip - Part One here!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Osaka & Kyoto Trip - Part One.

I went to Japan for the second time during September. My mother had always mentioned that we should visit the land of the rising sun but we finally decided to head there, like probably two months before the date we went. So it was quite last minute, I guess?

I couldn't pass the chance to visit Japan. My first trip there was eye-opening. Japan was another world to me, different from all the other countries I been to. The last time I been there, I didn't want to leave the wonderful country. This time, me and my family went visit the Kansai region.

Since I have already been to the capital city of Japan (Tokyo), this time we're visiting Osaka and Kyoto. The only knowledge I have about these two cities before the trip are from Memoirs of a Geisha and Azumanga Daioh, and it was only just because the character was nicknamed Osaka.

Ignorant? I know. Please forgive me.

We weren't following the usual packaged tours where normally buses would bring us to tourist areas and living in fancy hotels. Instead, we're doing like a personal tour where we will settle accommodation and transportation by ourselves. We're still going to tourist locations but hey, at least someone won't be telling us when to leave after barely visiting a site.

This wasn't a very difficult thing to do because Japan has a great public transport system and it's just impossible to get totally lost. I had some experience using Japan's public transport when I was in Tokyo and learned some knowledge of catching buses in Singapore so I guess my mom handed me the responsibility of traveling in Japan.
 
Malaysia has lots to learn from countries with good public transportation. But I will admit, they have improved and are progressing. However, they still have a loooooooooong way to go.

So anyway, before we landed on Japan, I had to do a lot of research about the places of interests and how to get there. We would arrive at Kansai International Airport (KIA), head to Kyoto first and then back to Osaka till our trip ends after a week.

Thanks to the power of the internet and some kind people on the internet, we managed to get the right tickets and at least have some knowledge of how to get around in the two cities. I would say I managed to get these important information rather last minute too, but hey, we survived.

DAY ONE

After a six hour flight of constant turbulence, we landed safely in KIA. Our first goal was to find the HARUKA train platform and head straight to Kyoto, the city that avoided the atomic bomb thanks to a man named Stimson.

The train ride was 75 minutes and by the time we arrived at Kyoto, it was dark. I had to ask some directions to get to our lodging, Racine Home. But other than that, we were fine. After that, we head out for dinner (which was some good beef and rice, but kinda pricey) and was done for the night.


Fun fact: I do not (believe or not) have data in Malaysia. Basically, I only use available Wi-Fi to surf the net in my country. But for this trip, we rented a pocket Wi-Fi for convenience and I just think it's funny that I had to get out of Malaysia to experience what it's like to have the internet wherever I go. I finally downloaded the Google Maps apps too thanks to this trip.

DAY TWO

We woke up early and took the bus to the Arashiyama area where the famous bamboo grove and the Tenryū-ji temple are.

It was the first time taking the bus for us and I had to look into a tiny bus schedule printed on a big pamphlet. My mother, like I said, relied on me transportation so I had the pressure on me. But it was okay, we made it. However, I made the mistake of getting the bus a few stops too early so we had to walk a bit. On this day, we used the one-day Kyoto city bus pass that costs 500 yen.

We arrived there early to avoid the crowd so it will be easier to take pictures. The whole bamboo grove route was shorter than I expected, but it was really pretty. You don't see bamboos everyday. What am I saying.


We also visited nearby shrines and walked around the nearby neighborhood areas. We got separated for a while when my brother wandered off looking for the toilet while holding the pocket Wi-Fi while me and my mom just stood around waiting.

But it was a great experience just hanging around the more rural areas rather than a city. It's really peaceful place and just imagining living there makes my me and my mom jealous.


All the rickshaw pullers are muscular and look very cool. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
There was a female one too!

We didn't visit the Tenryu-ji temple but 
we went and cross the Togetsu-kyo bridge nearby.

Our lunch was at Saga Tofu Ine, a tofu restaurant because according to my aunt, the tofu in Kyoto was great. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for us as we couldn't really finish our meals. Sorry Kyoto, we tried.

Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion was our next stop. The main attraction in that garden was the temple that is covered entirely in gold leaf. Did I mention that the ticket to get in was a talisman? It'ssocoolemergerd.

Oh, a guy also passed out at the side. Hope he's fine now.


Other than that, there were other shrines and temples, beautiful rocks and ponds and things like that. But of course, everyone was kinda there for the golden temple. Ha.

After we were done with the Golden Pavilion, I thought we still had time to visit another location. And so we took the bus to Kiyomizu-dera temple.

There was a lot of people when we got there. We had to hike up 15 minutes up a slope before we could see anything, and there was a lot of food and souvenir stores as we walked up. We bought some snacks and took a break because all the walking before made us kinda tired.

When we finally got there, we found out that some parts of some temples there were under maintenance. It also seemed like the whole garden was gonna take a long time and it was about to close so my mother decided not to go.

I'm pretty sure it's a beautiful place but we didn't went in. Though I realized that the places bears some resemblance to the L4D2 mod map Yama. (I just searched in Gamemaps and yeah, Kiyomizu-dera is the reference to the map! THAT'S AMAZINGGGG)

It was raining and dark when we visited.

Just kidding, that was just a screenshot of the game map.

We were really tired by the time we left Kiyomizu-dera, Before we had our dinner, we went to the Nishiki market that my mother really wanted to go (she wanted to go all the places we went). However, by the time we got there, it was almost closing so not all the shops are open. It was near the city area so the bus going there was just always stuck in traffic.

We had our dinner at the famous Ichiran ramen restaurant. We only had to wait 15 minutes before we struggled with the ticket machine. But we got that out of the way and we sat in a tiny room, each seat in their individual booths (you can actually remove the divider if you're with your friends and you want to talk to them).


The ramen was the type of ramen that I really like. Everything was great but I still really like Marutama's eggs. It just melts in your mouth, hnngggg. The price for Ichiran is I guess more expensive because of its name? But everyone said it was good so we had to just try it.

We went to Pontocho alley just to look around, but our feet was so sore so we just decided to head home after a while.

DAY THREE

We woke up early once again and took the train to Fushimi Inari Taisha. It's a Shinto shrine famous for its long rows of vermillion torii gates. These giant (or tiny) gates are donations from individuals or companies. The shrines are dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and the foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers so that explains why you can see so many fox statues around.

It's a very, very, very beautiful place. Yeah, it's a good place to take your Instagram pictures but seriously, it's a very peaceful, beautiful place to just hang around and chill. There are also locals there who hike the mountain trails behind the main area. According to the internet there, you can easily spend two to three hours if you really went to explore the area.


Mandatory photo.



Me and my brother decided to hike up further while my mom stayed back. We only managed to hike to one of the many other shrines. I'm sure if you have the time and the energy, you can see more beautiful things, but unfortunately we don't have the time and energy. So we headed back.

By the time we left the main exit, people were starting to crowd up the area. One advice: always leave early to popular tourists areas.

We returned to our lodging because we had to pass over some documents before we check out. It was the first time we saw another human being other than ourselves, seriously. We really liked that the staff was really flexible and chill, unlike a hotel where there's everyone everywhere and not as quiet and peaceful I guess.

Racine Home is a really good place to stay and was the best, in my opinion, among the other places we stayed during our trip in Japan. Do consider this place if you ever want to visit Kyoto, it has everything you need and just 10 minutes walk from Kyoto station.

My brother was tired from walking so me and my mom went to a nearby temple called Higashi Hongan-ji. We actually passed by the temple a few times when we were walking to Kyoto station, and was amazed by the size of it. Over there, we learned a bit of its history and enjoyed the scenery.

The temple looks waaaaay bigger in real life, believe me.

It feels amazing visiting so many shrines and temples. Number one, it feels surreal to be these places after only seeing them on screens, animes and mangas. Number two, even though I'm not a religious person, it's great to experience their culture, their architecture and history.

For our lunch, we went to the Nishiki market once again. This time, all the shops are open. We bought snacks and food from multiple stores, you know get the taste of everything to fill up our tummy. We bought sashimi, fried food, unagi, and tidbits.

After that, we grabbed our bags and head to the station and on our way to Osaka. We stopped at Namba station and arrived at a very popular destination, Dōtonburi.

We checked in to a -surprise- capsule hotel, Astil. Let me just say, there's a lot of rules and things you have to remember. Females and males are divided to different floors and you have to leave your luggage near the front desk if it's too big.

When me and my mom got in to the room where everyone sleeps, it reminds me of a morgue because it was dark and it was just two rows of double-decked pods(?). My mom slept in the lower pod and I had to climb up to mine. I didn't take many pictures because you weren't supposed to, I think.

They basically have everything, from lockers, to toiletries and their own sleeping pajamas which you must return later, of course. It was exciting for me, but in places like these you're often with strangers and you have to be quiet all the time.


We rested for the afternoon (because we're tired) and went to the Dōtonburi street at night. Dōtonburi is known for the street food and their big exaggerated signs, depending on what the stores are selling. If it's a takoyaki store, most likely there's a huge octopus on its sign.

Dōtonburi is also popular because of this big Glico running man sign, which I do not understand. It's just a guy running with his arms up. I don't get it.


For dinner we had to walk some distance away from Dōtonburi to have some wagyu beef. The restaurant is Tsurugyu, a recommendation by a blogger for people who want to taste something close to kobe beef but at a much cheaper price.

We had different cuts of beef, from their meat to their organs, all in tiny pieces. It was definitely a different experience from eating normal beef, but it didn't make me go like WOAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.


Walking back was a pain, because we're tired. Then, we just knocked out in our capsules. I slept well.

According to my mom, she can hear noises if I move too much above. She said she heard some noises at night too. It is something you have to deal with when you're sleeping with so many strangers in a same room. Avoid sleeping near the door too.

That's it for part uno, I swear the second part will be much more interesting and probably much longer. Be prepared!

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Read Osaka and Kyoto Trip - Part Two here!

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I finally got to play Junkenstein's Revenge on Overwatch after a year. I could remember feeling wanting to get the game so bad. It's funny how Overwatch aims to be a PvP game but I'm more attracted to their PvE game modes. Just seems more fun and united, no?

A random screenshot while I was lagging out so badly.