Saturday, 29 December 2007

Feeling.. not too rich

Year-end bonus is in and this year, I didn't bother to check if I had spent all of my 2007 bonuses. Too scared :p

Yet, I am still not careful in my spending.. It's like, the more you earn, the more you spend. When I had an increment this year, my percentage savings did not increase by the same proportion. Likely due to the recent wardrobe renewal, an increasing appetite and my preference for cabs after 9pm or so..

Wednesday was the first time I took a cab after the fare hike. I was dismayed to find that it took $11.60 to get from Orchard to home; last time, it cost about $7-8 =(

Granted, taking a cab in Singapore is still very cheap compared to other cities in developed countries. I just can't get over the rate of increase - my salary doesn't grow by 40% overnight...

* This is different from the GST hike, also a 40% increase from 5% to 7%, cos that is a rise in a percentage of the price of the expenditure item..

The only good thing is that there seem to be more cabs on the road these days. Actually, one road - Orchard Road. Last night, before midnight, we were in City Hall and there was no cab until we walked a bit further to reach the CBD boundary, i.e. $3 city surcharge applies. Well, if I were the cab driver, I would of course hang out in the CBD area for that surcharge and if you are outside the CBD, call for a cab and I will gladly drive in to bank the calling charge!

But I will still take a cab - time is more important, especially resting time..

Oh, milkshake at Macs costs $2.75, at least in the city area; last I had milkshake, it was in Tomato Town and I paid $2.20... I think that one of the few things that remained at 2003 dollar is foot reflexology - $20 for 45min. I shall go do that today :p

Friday, 28 December 2007

Happy, I am

There was a line. There was a crowd. But you queued and jostled anyway. Cos it is (going to be) my birthday.

Thank you for that, and for other thoughtful gestures that leave me with a grateful smile =)

And of course, thanks for the first present of my 28th birthday =)

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

mf is back (again)

This time, I am back with a relaxed mind, a smile and a slight tan :)

Ok, and a patch of sunburnt skin too.. Fell asleep with my back exposed to the mid day sun with no sunscreen and *gasp* my face turned to one side! Woke with a shock, checked my face - phew! No 阴阳脸 :p

Spent the past four days in Turi Beach Resort in Batam with Sito, barely knowing the passage of time; our phones were switched off the whole time, and the only watch between us stayed in the room while we stayed under the sun :)

But we didn't get a serious tan (and the burn) until Sunday cos we only caught the last rays of the sun on Friday and the sun gave way to rain on Saturday.

Dinner on Friday was at Nagoya Hill, this mall 30min away by cab.. Simple meal and dessert but we were most tempted by the cinema - imagine, a movie at 15,000 rupiah or less than S$3! But we were not sure if we would be watching Nicholas Cage running all over the White House and Buckingham Palace sprouting Bahasa Indonesia..

Stayed in on Saturday for the pre-Christmas dinner included in our package. Took some pictures :)

mf, hiao as usual


Sito in thoughts.. (mf made him pose :p)


Close-up of mf!


Then we had some fun playing foosball but I lost twice - baaah! I need more practice.. Still remember that Valentine's Day so long ago when eight of us spent £15 on foosball and pool in the depths of Teddy Hall...

Went to this place just 10min away for seafood dinner on the last evening. We were disappointed to hear that they had run out of crabs! =( So we (just) had fried garlic butter prawns, prawn balls, grilled cuttlefish, furong eggs, hot pot tofu and mee goreng.. Oh and fruit juice too.. I know - a lot!! :p And they came with rice.. But guess what? We finished everything except the carbs! Seriously, it was enough for a family of four... We are good :)) *oops, double-chinned already*

Tried a traditional massage after the suntanningburning session and it was good! So unlike the last resort massage in Bali, where I felt like I was being touched by weak arms and scratched by uncut nails rather than massaged.. Hours later, my calf muscles were still oooh-ing and ah-ing :)

Speaking of muscles, there was quite a bit of climbing in Turi Beach. In fact, Batam seemed to be quite hilly; on the first night when we were coming back from Nagoya Hill, we went down a slope so steep I thought the roadside trees in front were actually reflection in the puddle on the road and it felt like we were sliding into a pool! In the resort, it was a steep walk to our hut from the junction between the steps to the lobby and the pool and restaurant. But I shouldn't complain cos we both needed the exercise after all that food..

Effectively, we didn't have lunch cos we took late and big breakfast. Strictly speaking? We had many meals! :p Calamari and chips by the pool, fried chicken and chips at an offshore deck, plenty of snacks from Singapore and Nagoya Hill during the rain and while alternating between Disney and Discovery channels in our lovely room, which was a hut on stilts. I fell in love with the bed with its white canopy immediately (although I still prefer my pink one)! Then the balcony too - it looked to the sea and it was just nice to stand there but we stayed in mostly to keep the mozzies out..

We had heard of the pest problem before we went, since the rooms were individual huts in the open. But it was alright mostly. So on Sunday, I commented to Sito that despite what we had heard, mf the super attractor of mozzies was bite-free!

Spoke too soon.. That night, I fell asleep watching the TV. As Sito turned off the lights or something, I woke a little and heard buzzing sounds next to my ears.. In my state of drowsiness, I ignored and returned to dreamland, only to wake in the morning to find bites on my forehead and cheeks =( Luckily, the itch was gone quite quickly..

Got back to Singapore feeling rested.. Still feeling rested and refused to switch on my work laptop :p Instead, watched Warlords in Tomato Town with Sito just hours after coming back from Batam! :p Passed by the MRT station on the way to the movie, and found many ghoulsyoung people decked out in party gear! Sito said half the train alighted at Orchard as he was coming up.. Good that we were very "heartland" =)

Stepped out of the movie to find ourselves peckish and headed to S11 to share some fried dumpling noodles before an icecream treat from Macs - yummy =) And then, we decided to go for mass at the church near my place - it was the second time I stepped into this church in 27 years; first time was to get to a toilet for emergency! :p Got there after 1130pm and it was very crowded. They were singing already and we joined in. A short sermon followed after midnight. The priest was quite funny so it was rather enjoyable..

And today, Na came over, like she did last Christmas! But this time, we didn't make dessert; we went facebooking instead! Fighting Kel and YX, haha! Was telling them - Na, Kel, YX - after Golden Compass the other day, that the peace in my life was disrupted when Hup discovered facebook and fighters' club, and started fighting everyone!!! But it got worse when Kel came around and joined hands with Hup in fighting me! :p

We thus wasted three hours on facebook, amid mochi icecream and chips with salsa.. Oh and Sito on Skype chatting with us in between his Kim Possible epsiodes - we watched quite a bit of Kim Possible (and Totally Spies! and American Dragon Jake Long!!) in Batam :p

Think I am ready for work tomorrow.. Merry Christmas! :)

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

What you don't know..

a) won't kill; or
b) will haunt you forever (or at least a while)?

I was walking up the stairs when I noticed this little dollop of shit on a step near the hand rail. Then I realised it was a tiny snail whose shell (if it was one) looked soft, like a round lump of flesh just smaller than a Chupa Chup.

It turned slightly away from me as I walked past. I thought it was cute :)

Then I worried. It was so small people might not see it; already, you see half crushed snails twice its size. Maybe I should carry it off the step.. But eeks, I wasn't about to touch it - no matter how cute it was, it was a bloody snail!

How about guiding it towards the corner of the step where it would be safer? But as I was thinking about it, I was already way past the snail..

Then I remembered that I passed by an old man on the stairs. I turned and saw him inching his way up along the hand rail..

The snail could die!!!!

But I walked on, heartlessly.... Now I don't know if the snail is still a cute round ball or a flattened mash =(

Monday, 17 December 2007

Best friends

A question popped into my head just now: what are best friends?

Best friends seem to be something that people create to feel good about themselves; I have a best friend, hence I'm also a best friend to him/her.

But is that true? I have seen a case once, a few years ago, where someone was quite amused as to why this chap thought of him as his best friend; the feelings were not mutual.

How do people become best friends? It couldn't be just the amount of time they spend together else we would be best friends with our colleagues (there are but rare), our siblings (unfortunately not the case all the time) and the computer (but some people do have the computer as their best friend, right..?)

But then again, isn't it the quantity of time that makes you learn more about your friends and appreciate them for what they are? I would think few people start out a friendship thinking, hey, I just found my best friend! It's similar to the whole argument of whether you believe in love at first sight.

With best friends, I don't even need to spend quality time, say doing something useful or worthwhile, or discussing something of significance. With best friends, I just enjoy spending time with them; I can do and enjoy doing the silliest things on earth! I may have said this a year ago when I came across this line in some newsletter: time spent wasted with friends is not wasted time.

Oh, and you notice I said best friends, plural. Really, unlike a life partner (who can also be a best friend), why should there be just one best friend? I recall a note from a colleague who was an English teacher, something along the lines of the word "best" being a superlative and there has to be a comparison. But if I were to name a best friend right, I would be having a big headache (in addition to the hunger pangs I'm having now cos I had only cup noodles for dinner) cos whoever I choose, I wouldn't be fair to many others!

I remember that CY and I bought a pair of best friends pendants. You know, the two halves that come together to form one? I still have that in my jewel box and I'm sure CY still has it too - they hold lovely memories of walking home together, sometimes with icecream. But we must both have other "best friends" too, and I am glad to be able to count more than a few - blessed, I am :)

Saturday, 15 December 2007

While watching dorama

I just re-spent last Saturday, well, most of last Saturday.

For two consecutive Saturdays, I woke at 7.10am to jog. And, in the same pair of socks! I admit I didn't wash them last week, horrible mf! :p Then I had fusilli in pesto for brunch and went to JAS. Then I braved the rain to get to the bus stop for the bus home. Hungry mf headed immediately for the kitchen and found melon soup. I watched dorama.

The different bits were that I met Mdm last week after jogging but I was working and reading this week. I won a little purse in a lucky at the 納会 today. The melon soup last week had only crab sticks and prawns with too much eggs while today, it also had pork slices with just the right amount of eggs, yummy..

It is very seldom these days that I repeat a schedule. There are always so many things to do and these things are always changing week after week; movie, shopping, karaoke, facial, massage, kopi, dancing, office work, house work.. My Saturdays are now rather different from Saturdays just a couple of years ago..

Hmm, things really change ah.. The empty space in front of Grams's shophouse became a carpark. Even the shophouse changed, giving way to a beauty salon and some laboratory, which later became another beauty or hair salon.

At least it wasn't torn down like Na's old place would be; passed by the other day and it was partially torn down.. I remember spending some good times there, #06-04.. SZ too, right? - We were 19 :)

And we're 27 now.. With mf going to 28 :p

Oh well, year end, always a time for some thinking, however trivial it may be.. After all, it's fluffy mf! Enjoy the season, everyone :)

Monday, 10 December 2007

10%

Some time at work today, I was thinking that I had been working for four years, which seemed awfully long..

Then it hit me that it was probably just the first 10% of my working life! TEN! And going by the trends of retirement age and life expectancy, four years could actually be less than 10%..

Unless I could earn 40 years of income in 20 years? Which just doesn't seem quite possible or realistic at this point..

How totally disgusting..

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Do you smell plastic?

Did quite a bit of shopping with Na today - a top, two pairs (two pairs!) of shoes, eyeliner, mascara, facial mask.. We even went into a couple of shops to look at diamonds - she wanted earrings and I suddenly remembered I was going to buy a pair for Mother one day.. Learnt a bit about solitaires but Na was very funny - she could not tell the size difference between two stones! Anyway, it was a leisurely shopping trip, with lunch and tea thrown in.. 楽しかった! :)

But was a bit late for dinner with Grams.. Grams of course didn't mind :) So I stayed a bit longer to watch TV together..

There happened to be this Mediacorp 25th anniversary thing on TV - part of the star awards or something.. I had not been watching star awards for years but I thought this one was rather touching. I guess only people who have grown up with SBC-turned-TCS-turned-Mediacorp may feel touched..? I still remember many of the old drama series from my childhood, as young as maybe three or four? But I have lost touch with current Mediacorp productions already..

They really got the whole troupe from the old guards of the 1980s (whom I recognised) to the newbies of today (many of whom I didn't even know existed!) to show up, showcasing memorable characters and scenes. They even had two really really old actor and actress on stage; the old woman could barely walk! Hmm, do I count among the older generation already??

Speaking of seniority, I passed by the otah stall and was thinking if I should get some otah for dinner with Grams when..

Otah man UNCLE: 大姐,otah 来,三个一块!

大..大姐.. o_O

I quickly walked away and pretended that he called me 小姐 but I didn't want to buy..

Friday, 7 December 2007

Left, right, left

Was listening to Tanya Chua on the way home just now, and suddenly, I felt this urge to walk in a way like I used to.. You know, with a swank...

:p

So I put a bounce in my steps in sync with the rhythm of the music.. Lalala...

Decided to term that the "MTV Walk" - guess it was almost like that movie Enchanted where Giselle was prancing around in Central Park.. Um, maybe not.. I doubt I have the guts to prance around suddenly in the centre of Tomato Town!

Anyway, I think I have been quite frumpy for a while.. I could only trace this as far back as April 2006 or so when I threw away my lovely but terribly worn pink strappy heels - I've never had such a pretty yet comfortable pair since, and I attribute my super aunty *gasp* walking posture to the lack of a pair of pretty heels!

I need to go shopping!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Sweet stuff

Today I went to a reception at Fort Canning for the 90th Independence Day of Finland. The Ambassador gave a short speech, followed by a toast to the our president, i.e. the string quartet played the anthem. And guess what? I immediately drew in one foot to stand to attention! I suppose that was my NE? :p

GOH gave a short speech and also toasted the Finnish President.. Protocol fulfilled, the crowd scattered for dinner.. It was quite a crowd; heard that most of the 250 Finnish households in Singapore showed up, and there were other guests like us as well.

Now, I want to talk about the dessert. Didn't think I would actually but it has been doubly sweet today..

The dessert was GOOD.. To be more specific, the cheese lollipops and the chocolate cake were simply heavenly.. Ok, I am a sucker for chocolate but imagine, cheese lollipops! Maybe I will try to make them some day..

The second sweet now. Waitress. Jenna, yes, the waitress, she dreamt up pies by her moods, like Bad Baby Pie, Earl Murders Me Because I'm Having An Affair Pie.. She did more than dream pies; she made lovely pies - you should hear Old Joe describe her chocolate strawberry pie..

And she sang this:



Sweet :)

Lyrics of the Quincy Coleman song:

Baby don't you cry
Gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don't be blue
Gonna make for you
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Gonna be a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don't you cry
Gonna make a pie
And hold you forever in the middle of my heart

Baby here's the sun
Baby here's the sky
Baby I'm your light and I'm your shelter
Baby you are mine
I could freeze the time
Keep you in my kitchen with me forever
Gonna be a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don't you cry
Gonna make a pie
And hold you forever in the middle of my heart

Gonna bake a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with butterscotch love
Gonna bake a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with banana creme love

Baby don't you cry
Gonna bake a pie
Hold you forever
Hold you forever
And hold you forever in the middle of my heart

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Yummy...

mf: Should I have beer...
YS: Yes!!

I am sipping on Hoegaarden now, and feeling the effects.. So fast! Maybe cos dinner was cup noodles at 5pm and soya bean milk at 8pm..

Heh heh *balancing head on weak neck*

No la, not drunk yet! Giving precious advice to YS ok... Effectively selling out my gender! Oooh, bad mf, you.. :p

I am happy today, managed to get out of office by 710pm! It was still raining then - been raining the whole day, so it is quite cool now, and I am making my beer last... Why am I talking about beer again? Another sip then....

So, I got to the MRT station expecting a crowd, which I thought should be still there but thinning out compared to the 6+ crowd.. But I was wrong! The crowd was a lot worse! It extended to the central space between the two platforms! It was so amazing I almost took out my phone for a photo... I only got on after missing one train, not bad, I guess...

Sito is in Egypt now, on a solo journey.. LH said that was strange; first I went to Japan on my own and now Sito's turn! Well, we are adventurous? :)

I think I really need to sleep now.. Beer is almost gone..

Monday, 26 November 2007

mf is back

Back from a long study trip on 14 Nov. Touched down at 6pm and went to work the very next day. Think I zombied for more than a week until today - slept a grand total of 20 hours over two days last weekend! That's equivalent to some 3-3.5 days of weekend sleep.. Genki genki :)

Oh, I came home to find the sewing machine replaced by a sofa - "present" from Mother haha! Now Sito has a seat when he comes over..

Have been rather busy these days.. In fact, the past few months, as evident from the frequency of my updates here.. Random posts are near extinct now, sighs..

Was in the shower when I thought of something: is my life boring or exciting?

My routine is very simple, comprising work, dating, work, watching my anime (while Sito is on the other end of Skype watching his anime!), work, dancing, work, meet other friends, Japanese, work..

But there are things out of the ordinary too, e.g. dancing (fun yet serious interest), my work sometimes take me overseas (though it's tiring - more details if I have time later), sufficiently frequent leisure travel (guess I'm lucky enough to be able to do that - though not as much as Hup)

At one point, I was so bored of my life that I paid to vent my frustration; I took up a membership at Amore. That was good albeit for a short while. Then I turned to dancing and did both concurrently. Then I dropped gym cos of (lack of) funds and time. The ultimate demonstration of my boredom was to pretend to be a witch - remember my extraordinarily ordinary world? Heh, haven't been thinking witchy thoughts for (quite) a while now, no time or I simply forgot about it? :p

Then there came an upheaval last year when suddenly work became (too) exciting.. It hasn't stopped since.. Just that I'm now on an OD and seriously need to get out.. I find myself needing to run away more often, which partly explains my third leisure trip this year coming up in December - yeah! Amid the craze, we swirled across a dance floor and won four golds, although it has been more than a year since that competition..

I guess mine is an ordinary life, but not really boring, cos there's some hidden excitement (and with it, fatigue) within as well. Perhaps what I need is really a good long rest at home, with my legs on the table (actually I don't do that; I'm very 淑女 one haha!) and Sito somewhere near, perhaps the sofa :)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Guess what?

I just spent two hours watching 花样少男少女! I even had ice cream during the first hour! Spent most of the time laughing over the show.. Haven't been so relaxed for some time :)

Share something funny..

Kel: *something* pls? (mf could not remember what that was..)
mf: No..
Kel: You're not supposed to say no when someone says "pls" *doe-eyed*

*gasp* Kel doe-eyed me! *.*

Well, I rolled my eyes..

mf: Kel, PLEASE go and die! Hahahaha!
Kel: *so stumped* ..I will but not now *smug*
mf: Kel, PLEASE go and die NOW! *way smug!*

He was asking for it man! :p

Apart from that, had much fun last night with KLK - YX, SY, Na and WX were there too. Had dinner at Village - I like to say vi-leh-ch :p - and drinks at NYDC, just catching up..

Strangely it was like work at some point, when we were talking about customary wedding stuff - I didn't know there was so much involved! Scary... No wonder high singlehood rate and low TFR - and all those complaints on cost! :p

SY came back to start preparations for her customary wedding, which WX might miss due to FC. Na and Kel were very free - holidays season!! YX and I were talking about work cos we faced the same question of "should I stay at the end of my secondment?" Oh well, tough one..

Oh, we talked about taking a mammogram - MAMMOGRAM! Gee, and I had thought we wouldn't come to that until 40 - we are freaking 27 la! And the worst part was, SY and Na said it was more painful for smaller breasts..

=(

Anyway, topics degenerated to how salmon killed themselves trying to return home to breed.. Hmmm... No, I'm not interested in live fish - I prefer fish with wasabi, thank you and goodnight :)

Monday, 29 October 2007

Darn the cabs!

It is near impossible to flag down a cab on Maxwell Road after work!

Except if it is non-peak, just before 8pm (end of peak hour surcharge) or past midnight (midnight surcharge), or if you call for a cab (call surcharge). Which means, the hours between 8pm and midnight are crap.

I was very tired just now, and carrying a bag full of corporate gifts to pack into my suitcase. A cab would have been nice. But no, cabs were on call (who knows if they are real?) or hired (sometimes this isn't even real!) or empty but not stopping!

Once, a kind one actually stopped. In our conversation, which inevitably started with my complaints of how long I waited, I learnt that some cabbies would actually circle the area or hide in some carpark until a call from nearby! Terrible...

Some time after that, I saw a cab parked along the street across. Empty. No on-call sign. I dashed for it and climbed in. Then the cabbie tried to hold me off, saying "wait" or something but I just stated my destination. As he reluctantly drove off, he came up with some lame excuse saying he was trying to confirm a call.. Come on, I have seen it being done before; taking a call takes one click on the screen! And he was parked there long enough for me to notice and cross a two-way street to reach him! Horrible..

I won't have another cabbie complain to me about poor business

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Simple Sunday

Just now as I was crossing the carpark, I suddenly realised that my neighbourhood can be very peaceful too.. There was no one around and even with the coffee shop preparing for dinner time, there was hardly a sound under the dusk light..

Happy =)

Decided not to stay for dinner at Grams' place cos I already had too much to eat for lunch.. And I would like some time at home by myself today. It was a tad too noisy there with so many people around today cos we were celebrating her 84th (just verified this against an older post; we thought it was 85th :p) birthday.

We bought very yummy durian cake from Emicakes!


And look at this cute card from Hui!




What a cute cousin :)

Oh, dear cousin Yan is leaving for her work attachment in Newcastle on 6 Nov.. Think I just saw her for the last time in a year and a half.. Take care!!!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

细水长流

It was supposed to be Kel's birthday dinner but somehow they interrogated me instead! Still, it had been a great evening.. Chatted with YX over dinner on Friday, and today with the group.

And Kel, although you are not charming (to me! Heh, else be afraid, very afraid.. :p), despite all your jibing, and despite not knowing the lyrics very well, it was great singing that familiar tune with you on the way back :) Happy birthday!!

年少时候 谁没有梦
无意之中 你将心愿透露
就在你的生日的时候 我将小小口琴送
最难忘记 你的笑容
友情的细水慢慢流 流到了你我的心中
曾在球场边为你欢呼 你跌伤我背伏
夜里流星飞渡 想像着他日的路途
晚风听着我们壮志无数

年少时候 谁没有愁
满腔愤慨 唯有你能听得懂
就在你失意的时候 我将那首歌吹奏
琴声悠悠 解我轻忧
岁月的细水慢慢流 流到了别离的时候
轻拍你的肩 听我说朋友不要太惆怅
霓虹纵然再嚣张 我们的步履有方向
成败不论 切莫将昔日遗忘

多年以后 又再重逢
我们都有了疲倦的笑容
问一声我的朋友 何时再为我吹奏
是否依旧 是否依旧

人生的际遇千百种 但有知心长相重
人愿长久 水愿长流
年少时候...

一分間スピーチ

Two weeks ago, I told my 日本語話す会 about my Japan trip, and 先生 nominated me for the 一分間スピーチ yesterday.

Spent Friday night drafting the first speech of my life! Not bad, 先生 made minimal corrections :)

Here goes my speech in full:

最近、友達の結婚式に出席するために、東京へ行きました。そして、大阪と京都を旅行しました。一人だから、新しい友達と出会いました。

京都で、暑かったから、清水寺の近くの店で、冷たい豆腐を注文して、写真を撮りたかったです。自分で撮る時、隣のお客さんは「I help you」と言ったら、うれしかった!写真はプロのようでしょうね? *show photo*

それから、自己紹介しました。隆さんと健さんでした。

二人は空手トーナメントのために、京都の近くの町へ来ました。暑かったから、あの店でビールを飲んでいました。

豆腐を食べた後で、私たちは京都駅の近くの寿司やへ行って、大トロを食べながら、おしゃべりしました。隆さんは46さい、健さんは49さい。若いけど、子供は私と同じ年です。25頃... (:p) おごてくれました。本当にパパみたい...

それから、二人を京都駅まで送りました。Eメールを交換して、帰国して、Eメールします。

それは隆さんに習った言葉で、「袖ふり合うも、他生の縁」です。

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

It's hot in Japan!

My long write-up on Japan! (Hence the delay :p)

Prologue

Kel: Have a safe trip. Don't do a porn movie, it won't sell.
D: If you act porn, it'll sell. It'll be on at Yang Tze where the uncles don't bring their spectacles.

=(

Sito sent me off..

=)

8 Sep 2007, Saturday

Woke the guys up upon arrival at Kangetsu Ryokan. They went clubbing in Roppongi the previous night - without me =(

We went to Yasukuni Jinja and its museum. Found the whole history very confusing but you couldn't miss the bias; it was actually amusing after a while. Got Sito a 必勝巻き from the souvenir shop - work hard for JLPT! (mf has to work hard for it too)

Dinner was a grill affair at Shibuya - yummy!


9 Sep 2007, Sunday

Miki's wedding ceremony in Kulturheim Chapel in Sophie University! Couldn't understand the Japanese sermon! :p


After photos in the courtyard, a coach brought us to Intercontinental Tokyo Bay for the reception, essentially Japanese but with other influences such as yum seng led by BH! :p

The cake was real, ok... Couple had the first bite.. We had it at the end of the 10-course meal, yummy :)

The couple sat in front of everyone and we went forward to take pictures with them most of the time; they went around the tables for photos towards the end..


Instead of throwing her actual bouquet, a ribbon was tied to a small bouquet that was then wrapped around with several unconnected ribbons. The single girls were called out by name to pick a ribbon and at the count of three to tug at her ribbon - so fun!

I got a ribbon for souvenir :p


The couple changed into traditional costumes - lovely!


Miki had someone from the hotel to do her dressing - she even discreetly passed her a handkerchief when she cried!

We did some catching up at the hotel bar. Miki changed into a cheongsam - so pretty! =)

It was early so we dropped the wedding favours at the ryokan before going for supper nearby. Oh, the wedding favours were unlike the usual chocolate etc in Singapore - I brought back three Kansai ceramic bowls, potpourri and candies! So before I even started my trip proper, my bag was full and I was ready to come home :p

10 Sep 2007, Monday

Sped off to Osaka on Shinkansen from Shinagawa early in the morning. Didn't have time to do much research and ended up confused trying to find my way to my ryokan =(

Shinkansen brought me to Shin-Osaka where I changed to the loop line to get to Imamiya where I took another train to get to Namba where I changed to the subway to get to my ryokan one stop away from Namba..

AHHH!

So I got to Kaneyoshi Ryokan hot and tired but found the auntie there very friendly! And guess what, there was a flask of cold tea in my very spacious room! What a good choice =)

After resting in the room for quite a while, I left for Nippombashi to check out some electronics. Quite a let-down though - I didn't want TVs! But in the end I found myself in a big electronics store and got the DS lite and the Japanese software! =)

But Osaka was really for shopping man...Shinsaibashi, which kind of led me to Ebisubashi etc, and they all looked similar :p


It was also a biking city


Watched TV for the rest of the night. There was a show featuring a few - no other word - fat girls. One of the stories was captioned "104kg girl confesses to a 55kg boy".. What the?!

11 Sep 2007, Tuesday

Walked to JR Namba to take the train to Nara. Ryokan said that the Kintetsu line would be faster and more convenient than JR but I had the JR pass :p And time - mwahahahaha!

On the way to Nara, found 道明寺 - I miss 流星花园!


There was a nice information booth at the Nara JR station where I took a map and a suggested walking map.

At the beginning of the walk, I found deer!


They were just walking freely among their two-legged friends - as proven above.. That deer behind me walked out to the square and another deer promptly followed :p

Went to 春日大社 where there were plenty of stone lanterns.. The garden was where I first noticed the 鹿せんべい - a few deer were standing next to a stall, seemingly waiting for something. Then a family approached the counter to buy ice cream - and the deer walked out to loiter! The family bought some 鹿せんべい and the deer just went mad! It was fun just to watch :)

On the way to 東大寺, I passed by 若草山 where tens and hundreds of deer gathered! I was very tired and so took a seat at the bench next to some deer. They left me alone and went elsewhere to graze.. I was reading when I realised a deer had silently walked up to me on the right. It squatted, and PEED!

Ok, it just finished peeing :p

On the way to 二月堂, saw the first sign of autumn =)


Finally got to the main temple 大仏殿 - huge!!!


At some point, I realised that I didn't have lunch... Decided to cut short the walk - two more temples to go - and head for lunch!

But on the way, while concentrating on the map, I felt something cold on my hand and looked down.. Eeks! A deer just licked me!!

And that wasn't the end - another deer walking just in front of me decided to poo as it walked.. I could see the pellets of poo coming out and the anus shrinking after that! What a way to whet my appetite..

So I left Nara after lunch. Took a local train and found reversible seats!

See the green handle? Just pull that and you could change the seat to face the direct of travel..

As it was still early, I decided to check out Namba Walk and found it to be a long underground shopping mall that led all the way to my ryokan! Yoohoo! :)

But it started to rain.. Unwilling to succumb to the weather, I attacked Dotonburi with an umbrella! Ended up with yummy takoyaki, and a photo with the funny chef!


12 Sep 2007, Wednesday

Acting cute in the first train of the day :p


It's Universal Studio day!!


Charlie Brown and Snoopy guarded the gate

Later I walked out of the gate to find Cookie Monster - I thought they changed the guards but of course, I walked out a different gate *.*

The roller coaster caught my attention and it turned out to be the best I'd ever had!


Next was movie time with Shrek! Didn't understand the Japanese but it was great fun! That is, if you don't mind getting Donkey's saliva all over you :p


ET was a cute one.. I was on a bike, and as I flew over the moon and saw the familiar shadow, oh I felt a rush of emotions! Could have cried... Oh mf, oh mf..


Spiderman was the best ride; it was so real!


Oh, both ET and Spiderman had "single rider" so I didn't have to join in the long queue - yeah!

Universal was very Halloween already...

For you, Sito!

Back to the future was - I can't remember :p - but I remember Jurassic Park was a bit wet and that only the last part - the plunge - was exciting..

Still, think Universal Studio was so much fun! More so than Disney actually..

Oh, my lunch break, did stupid poses again


Ended my day with light games with Snoopy and friends..


I love this art lesson



(I'm not sitting there cos I don't need a psychiatrist.. I don't, I really don't.. Told you I don't!)

On the way back, I realised that I had seen dozens of girls with super cool hairstyle. I realised that I MUST take photos of them! So when I saw a target, I rehearsed the lines in my head:

ヘースタイルが好きだから、写真をとって、ブロッグにアップロードしても、いいですか?

Then I went up to her.. and asked her in English *.*

Deciding I could do better, I went up to this guy outside one of those 無料案内 shops, and said in Japanese:

mf: すみませんですが、この無料案内は何を売っていますか?
Bouncer: えっ、何... 男の店だ... *and some stuff I didn't understand*
mf: そうそう... 女の子は入りませんでしょう?
Bouncer: ... ですね... *変な女*
mf: 写真とっても、いい?外だけ..
Bouncer: 外.. はい *resigned to this strange 外人*

Naughty mf :p


Then I ventured into a shop outside my ryokan - they had nice dresses. But it was one strange shop that opened from 5pm to 3 am. Or perhaps it wasn't so strange considering that it was along the street with so many 無料案内 shops! I tried one (dress), very nice! Could dance! But the boob part was a bit strange.. And it cost 28,000 yen.. Sighs..

I think the ryokan auntie liked me.. So I talked to her about the 無料案内. She said that it was common in this area, for men to go have drinks with pretty girls.. Oooh..

Ventured into a pachinko shop too, couldn't understand the guy's instructions so I didn't play


Oh oh, you know, big things always seemed to happen while I was in Japan. In 2005, JPII died. Now, the Japanese PM quit! I was having trouble following the news but somehow gathered the gist of it after watching three channels..

13 Sep 2007, Thursday

I left the ryokan in the morning with my luggage. As I dragged it to the station, I realised that one wheel was wobbly =(

Locked my stuff in a locker in Osaka station before making my way to Himeji.

IT WAS VERY VERY VERY HOT!

So hot I almost missed the whole boulevard of interesting statues from the train station to Himeji.. And Himeji was beautiful!!!


I was rather taken with the residence of Princess Sen.. So relaxed, no stress =)


To be honest, I had thought Himeji was a temple or shrine cos of the -ji.. Turned out to be a castle - Himeji-jo to be exact!

Bought meself Mister Donut on the way back to Osaka :)


Took a normal train to Kyoto - bad choice of timing, had to squeeze with the working crowd with my big bags and I had to stand for an hour.. So tired by the time I got to Station Ryokan Seiki..

14 Sep 2007, Friday

I watched a lot of TV during the trip and this day, I was quite amused..

Have you heard of 晋ちゃん饅頭? :p Apparently it got really popular once he announced his resignation! :p There were some cute shots on the TV but I wasn't quick enough to capture them. But I managed to take some pictures of a spoof of Koizumi and Abe!


So this first day in Kyoto, I joined an English tour led by an old Japanese man.. Introducing, Johnnie Hillwalker!


Johnnie gave an interesting off-the-common-trail tour and he himself was quite a character! The outfit he was in, the way he looked (mostly) at the ground when speaking, his gentle manner and cute little accent..

We started from the Higashi Honganji where Johnnie told us that the Japanese could have two religions: Shinto for wealth and Buddhism for the after-life! Not bad ah, that would cover both material and spiritual health :p

Then we walked by a few home industries.

Buddhism beads, Japanese fans, tofu shop opposite the fans, lanterns


Visited a shrine next, 文子天満宮 where we learnt that cows in a shrine meant that the shrine was for brains.. Johnnie frequented this shrine cos "he needed brains" :p On the other hand, foxes are for wealth.

(See Johnny's name?)

Then more home industries.. Tatami x2, candy, pottery


We tried some candy in the shop. Johnnie's tour included inari sush, complimentary candy...


...and a playing card


..from..


Yes! Nintendo started out as a playing card company in Kyoto. The family still stays there, I heard..

Johnnie also showed us around the residential area. We stopped in front of an elementary school - the last in the neighbourhood due to dwindling birth rates. This school would be closed in five years too..

Anyway, we went on to another Buddhist temple, supposedly on "older Buddhism" and hence more decorated. Buddhist temples are usually not open to the public. But the highlight there was the graveyard.. It didn't bury bodies, just the urns of ashes. Families can place the ashes in temples or in their homes where they would get Buddhist monks - Buddhism for paradise ma - to pray during the anniversary of the most recently deceased person.

Lovely old streets


Also passed by an old geisha area.. We then went on to a new building to listen to stories on geishas, how they were trained etc.. But I found the building interesting; it housed a gallery, some community/volunteer centre and an eldercare centre - all built on a site of an elementary school that closed down! Closed school, built eldercare.. Ok, my occupational hazard *.*

You know those big things that resemble lanterns outside shrines? Those are actually donated sake - with the sake taken out for storage until some rituals..

We ended the 5-hour tour near Kiyomizudera so I walked to Kiyomizudera!


The first thing I came to was Zuigu-Do Temple, built to be like the womb of Zuigo-Bosatsu, a motherly buddhist saint who would grant any wish. The instruction outside said that you would walk to total darkness (really?) and when the Zuigu-Stone appeared before you (while in total darkness?), you would make a wish and turn the stone.

How does it work? Well, I tried to find out :p And really, it was total darkness!!!! And then the stone really just appeared in front of me!

It was supposed to give the feeling of being reborn or something, when you see light after a period of absolute darkness. Oooh...

On the way to the main shrine, I passed by a love shrine :) Some school kids tried to walk with their eyes closed from one stone to the other, cheered by their friends. Very fun to watch :)


Tired and warm, I went by a hut that was selling cold tofu... Get me a seat! Waitress didn't take a very nice shot of me and my cold tofu so I tried to do it myself. Then two guys at the next table offered to take for me :)


Then we started talking! Takashi-san and Ken-san were from Yokohama and in the area for a karate championship! Wow... Ken was better in English but Taksahi's Japanese amazed us both - he taught us this: 袖ふり合うも、他生の縁, meaning "even a chance acquaintance is preordained", as given by my fantastic electronic dictionary :)

Since it was fate, we left Kiyomizudera for sushi together!! :p Chatted quite a bit.. Takashi didn't look 46 but he was! And his kids were only a couple of years younger than me; his daughter reminded me of Kel's D.. Ken didn't look 49 either and he had two sons around my age too! Amazing, must be the two decades of karate..

They were surprised that I was travelling alone. Actually, many were when they heard that I was travelling alone. Cannot meh? :p (Oops, Meh-chan popped up her head :p)

We had very yummy sushi - not kidding! The tuna belly was goooood.... They asked me to contact them again and they would bring us to Tsukiji for sushi. Sito, they would like you to go too! :)

We also had quite a bit of beer, especially Takashi.. After a while, we found him repeating himself :p

By then they had to go for a team meeting so I sent them to Kyoto station and bade goodbye there... また来年、築地の寿司へ! =)

It was early so I went shopping for dictionaries, got one each for Na and myself! :)

15 Sep 2007, Saturday

Made a smart choice to buy a bus pass. Took buses everywhere!

First stop: Sanjusangendo!

I was so in awe when I stepped into a hall of 1,000 standing statues of Kannon surrounding one giant seated one. Often, I find big numbers meaningless, e.g. 1,000,000,000 (unless prefixed with $ :p) But when it comes to this, 1,000 is mind-boggling enough!!!

No photos allowed but I took photos of the outside of the hall


三十三間堂!

Ok, just three instead of 33 :p


Next stop: Gion! (Then Chionin)

Due to a lack of intel, I ended up in night-life haven in bright daylight... So I walked over to Chionin Temple where I found some peace and shade in the 御影堂 hall... Sat there for a while..


Third stop: Ginkaku-ji!

I was puzzled to find many people taking photos of a rundown pagoda. Took me a while to look around and realise that that being the only pagoda around must be the Ginkaku that gave the place its name (though Ginkaku has a formal name)


While I was rather disappointed, I discovered that there were more things to see than a pagoda - the whole place was a mega zen garden. Too bad it was so crowded..


Street leading to Ginkaku-ji was full of shops, and the Philosopher's Walk was just at the end of the street. I walked a tiny bit and found a cute scene of teddies fishing for thie lunch! I wonder who taught them.. =)


Took the bus to the palace but there wasn't much to see except that a few groups of youngsters were playing baseball in the garden grounds. Reminded me of that movie "Touch"

Took the bus again to Shijo - the main street in Kyoto. Being very smart, I alighted at the bustling section of Shijo. And being very smart, I decided to walk to Gion from Shijo..

Mistake!! It was a loooong street with shopping no one could finish browsing in a lifetime!

Was so hungry I wandered into some alley along Shijo to search for food. Cute stuff outside a restaurant

CY, for you!

But I didn't want to spend too much on food when I was alone, so I left the alley and continued on my way.. Then I found that the restaurants in that alley actually offered riverside dining - so nice :)


Soon, I found myself approaching Gion as the shopping malls gave way to lower buildings. But wait, found something cute :p


Bought an okonomiyaki and wandered into 花見小路 - a very pretty street with old houses.. But my food was getting cold so I headed for the bus stop. On the way there, I met a girl with a very nice hairdo so I snapped a shot of her :) (see later...)

Was waiting for the traffic light when a car went by with two dolled-up women inside - they could be geisha or geisha apprentices!! Missed a great kodak moment =(

Sat at the small square and ate my okonomiyaki =) Then went window shopping.. Found two girls in a shop with nice hairstyles!!


This completes my search for nice hairstyles cos I didn't have much chance after this..

Digression: These days, I have been trying to bun my hair up the way some girls do. Will experiment more. So motivated by these girls! ありがとう! =)

16 Sep 2007, Sunday

Time to leave for Tokyo by Shinkansen.. Didn't manage to do it for the Tokyo-Osaka journey but this time, tada!!


Had a hard time finding Suzuki Ryokan cos I came out of the wrong exit. A kind Japanese man saved me money by calling the ryokan for me and even brought me there! So grateful...

Didn't stay in Kangetsu cos Suzuki was in Nippori, more convenient for me to go to Narita..

Unfortunately, this ryokan was quite old.. And I didn't have my own bathroom... In fact, the basin, the toilet and the bathroom were in three places!!

And the wardrobe was one of a kind..


But it was comfortable.. I watched TV for quite while before I dragged myself out, thinking I should at least explore a bit :p Found the place to be some textile centre.. Chanced upon a shop selling dresses, and I bought a red dress for dancing! :)

17 Sep 2007, Monday

Last day in Japan, sighs.. But it was one of the highlights of the trip!

Miki came to the ryokan with yukata! Wore a slip before putting on the yukata - complicated steps that I shall not attempt to describe here.. Weren't too confident with it but along came two obaasans to help us! And boy, they were good! Tightened me so much with a few tugs here and there...

So there we were! :)


Kawaii desho? :)

Went to Asakusa to get my usual omikuji - a bad one =( So I tied it up and away..


It was a very hot day and Miki bought Japanese strawberry ice.. A tourist asked us to pose for a picture :p And when we were standing by Kaminarimon to finish the ice, so many people came forward to take our photos! We felt like celebrities, heh heh :p

We had soba lunch around the area before taking a cruise ferry to Hamarikyu, passing by the shit-like Asahi building!

Source: KP

Also passed by the other side of Tsukiji fish market before we finally got to the park and found a nice teahouse..


Had a good chat with Miki =) Hope we didn't disturb the cat outside..


We went back to Nippori and tried to find our way to a nearby graveyard - but got tired so we sat in a neighbourhood park to chat instead :p When it was about time, we went back to the ryokan to change. I changed out; Miki continued to wear her yukata for dinner - kawaii!!

Thanks, Miki, for the yukata idea. It was so much fun! =)

Today

Moment of truth... How much have I spent?!

Upfront: $612 for transport
Brought along (and spent): 95,000 yen or $1,325
Burnt plastic: $1,640

$3,577!!!

Hmm, less than I feared :p
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...