Monday, 28 September 2009

Sunny Japan

We started and ended our holiday at McD in T2 :p

In fact, the running theme for our trip was food :)

4 Aug 2009 - oh, crab!

We arrived at Hokkaido on the night of 3 Aug 2009, so the fun started only the next day..

We first went to the Otaru Canal, "where all the century-old stone warehouses are lined both sides of the canal" - quoted from itinerary :p

As you can see, the weather was great! Sito was pouting cos he didn't bring his sunglasses.. Ok, I made him pout for the photo :p So I'm the only shuai one during the trip!

We were very taken by king/queen/hairy crabs, expensive melons, and icecream!!

That was a five-tier cone - soda water, strawberry, melon, milk and lavender!

For lunch, we got to hold our food in our hands before it was served..

10,000 yen! And that was the smallest taraba crab!

We boiled the plate of crab in Sito's hands, and had the other plate for sashimi - omg! -, shabu and eventually just boiled :p We took a loooong time to finish the crab. And then, we poured our rice into the soup and cooked porridge with egg! It was a lot of food. A lot...

After lunch, we went to Ishiya factory. Not familiar? How about Shiroi Koibito? :) It was some flower festival so after a bit of shopping, we walked through the gardens.

Then it was a couple of hours of shopping at Sapporo. I bought a yukata! We didn't shop the entire time, of course - we had ramen :p And that was before a BBQ dinner :p

What is a holiday without snacks and suppers? We went to the McD near our hotel to get McPork - you can't get that in Singapore! It was quite yummy, mmm...

5 Aug 2009 - steaming onsen

First stop of the day was the Ainu Museum. Ainu is an aborigine group that is now integrated throughout Japan. The museum performance demonstrated a musical instrument that was difficult to play - I tried it at the musuem shop!

That was a painting of a girl - they had to tattoo girls, including around the lips so that they could live longer.. Superstition or tradition?

The group set up home next to a lake.

And we also got to feed some cute bears!

They knew when we were near and positioned themselves at the feeding tube. The first one was breathing up the tube and we could hear and feel it- that was yucky and not too cute *.*

And we had hairy crab for lunch today! With toro but that wasn't the best for the price. We thought a chef should have cut it instead of the market auntie...

Fun picture outside lunch venue - grrr!

Our tour guide said that our itinerary was very relaxed. So he brought us to more places :p

We went to Noboribetsu, a hotspring area heated by a volcano. This reminds me of an old photo we took in Kyushu :) (oops, photo not in that post :p)

This is called Hell Valley and along the way, we saw statues of Chinese ghosts and nearby, there was a statue of the Chinese devil that changed his strict face to a scary face every day at 3 pm!

This was volcano day. Next was Mt Showa, a volcano that formed only in the 1940s.

All these volcanoes only meant one thing - we were staying in a hotspring ryokan that night! Yeah! :)

And have you watched Jap dramas before? Where sometimes the company will have a retreat and the troupe will be gathering for dinner in a hall where they are sing and dance, perhaps after (and before) a dip in the onsen? We did that! Sans the dancing...

I happened to have a purple hair accessory to match the yukata :)

That was me singing!

And what followed was a series of fireworks by Lake Toya!

On the way back from the lake (which was just behind the hotel anyway so we could stay in our room to watch the fireworks but ambience! :p), we got some ice cream from a convenient store :p

6 Aug 2009 - flowers galore!

Today was flower day! We must have gone to about three farms.

mf likes yellow flowers :)

Sito likes, um, manly plants :p

We only did a quick stop at Biei, ending with pumpkin ice cream!

Then we went to Farm Tomita, famed for its lavender fields.

But by then, most of the lavender and even sunflowers had been harvested. I don't think a field of lavenders would be very interesting but I do like sunflowers!

So at another farm, where we couldn't walk into the fields, we rented a cart instead!!

We took turns driving the cart in search of the sunflowers. And we found some..small ones...

And they were all turning away from me!! =(

Oh well, there were some other flowers too, and in full bloom.

Then we went along some Biei Patchwork Road, which offered some pretty country views, but also famous partly due to a couple of commercials along some otherwise ordinary road. And a tree.. Hmm..

We ended up at a shopping centre. And Sito got a yukata too! And we walked the shops.. Ramen shops :)

7 Aug 2009 - 七夕节

We went to Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum in the morning. I'm not a fan of sake but it turned out to be so fun!!

We tried #3 for free and bought #1 to try.

Then we filled our bottles with spring water that was supposed to have some longevity properties.. Didn't I have five black eggs at Hakone five years ago that were supposed to extend life by SEVEN years each? :p

Then we posed :p

And when we thought we were going to leave, we had a treat - turned out that it was Hokkaido's 七夕节! (One month later than usually cos it gets warm later in Hokkaido :p)

Sito and I each made a wish under a tree next to a little stream :)

And then the museum people clad in yukata floated little bowls of sake down the stream, and we picked it up with a rod for a mid morning sip amid some traditional music - ahhh... :)

Oh, but mine was orange juice :p

Then we put the bowl back to let it float downstream..

Had some time after lunch so walked around and saw this interesting shop..

It was selling "精力剂" :p

What do we do on a hot summer day? Drink beer!

Next was shopping at a factory outlet. We bought a bit of stuff. Just a bit, really :)

Dinner that night was pseudo Chinese food.. We weren't too keen so had ramen before that.. And after too - instant ramen from a convenient store :)

8 Aug 2009 - ラブラブ :p

It was a sad day.. No more organised land transfers and meals.. But, we were free on our own to roam Tokyo!

We left the group at Asakusa and did some touristy thing - like showering ourselves with incense smoke, making a wish and getting our fortune told :)

Then we went in search of lunch :p And found two aunties in front of us:

And then we tumbled upon a conveyor belt sushi shop, and a very good one!

Stomach filled, we did otaku things at Akihabara :p Bought a Hello Kitty game :)

Then we went to Shibuya for an adventure - we got a love hotel!!

We did some shopping in the area. It was all very discreet.. The pictures of the rooms are typically shown on some screen. If the picture is lit up, it's available. If you want that room, hit a button to turn off the light and proceed to a little window where you'll pay and get the key for three hours.

But the hotels at Dogenzaka in Shibuya were nothing like those in Osaka that we saw online. The one we went to had a number of themes but only one was available when we were there - Eros or something.. it was quite plain with a big painting of two naked women and a naked man playing snooker. The jacuzzi room had a small TV screen on the side. The TV had quite a number of porn channels..

Took a lot of pictures (of the room!) but I guess not appropriate to post! :p

Then we decided to go for grill..

And ramen at a charming old place...

And ice cream!

9 Aug 2009 - Happy National Day!!

Actually that day, we forgot about it totally :p But we did go to NDP preview the weekend before! Blog later..

We got to Tokyo from our Narita hotel just before noon and spent some time getting NEX tickets for our final train ride in two days before heading for Shinjuku - it was shopping day!

But first, we had some family fare at a very family place in Shinjuku

We spent some time in Tokyu Hands - it was wonderful! We bought some practical stuff there, like a lanyard and a hair turban.. Um, yup :)

Then, it rained... So we walked to Wendy's for a snack :)

By then we were so tired from walking..

But we carried on - to Harajuku!

It was a bit late for cosplay. Anyway it was drizzling. So we went to Takeshita Dori - I'd not gone there before in my previous trips but it turned out to be quite fanciful with lots of teenagers and waffle shops! I bought an umbrella haha! When we were turning out towards Omote-sando, we saw this queue for icecream. After wondering for a (short) while, we turned back to queue too :p

Turned out to be collagen ice cream! The shop also sells other products with collagen, like buns..

We walked for the longest time until it rained before we turned back towards Harajuku station, and spent some time at Uniqlo where we felt an earthquake! But the staff didn't seem to feel anything *.*

Our hotel that night was quite central in Tokyo; the room was tiny but very new and modern. That night, Sito filled the tub to soak but I was too lazy to get wet after showering. But I was convinced to just soak my feet - and it was good! We walked so much that day...

10 Aug 2009 - feel the magic

We went to Disneyland!

I felt like crying many times that day - so happy to be there! It was indeed magical. Yes, I have been to DisneySea before but the feeling was different - there was no castle in DisneySea! The castle was lovely! It was like having childhood dreams fulfilled..

Ok, I'm gushing :)

But really, when I was a kid, a cousin gave me a huge jigsaw puzzle of Cinderella in front of her castle. I always thought that was the loveliest thing. I kept dismantling and putting back the jigsaw.

And finally! I saw the wonderful castle! Ahhh... :)

And I must have Eeyore - oh lovely Eeyore :)

Then we hit the rides! We did Space Mountain, which Sito feared as a kid but not anymore! And Star Tours, which left me nauseous cos I had to bend over to right my bag in case my water bottle leaked...

Then we had Mickey Mouse bun and burrito or something - yummy!

Did I mention it was rainy most of the day?? We queued a long time at the Haunted Mansion until the sun came out (briefly)..

And Sito was stalked by a ghostly hand, oooh...!

Not too scary but a ghost got me when it popped up - gaaar!

Had some maple churros to calm my nerves :)

It was Splash Mountain next - reminded us of the old Har Par Villa ride but of course this was more exciting!

Then we had a smoked turkey leg :p It didn't survive to see the day parade - Jubilation!

My favourite shot - Beauty and the Beast! Except that it was a prince :p Lovely gown, right...

We dashed into Thunder Mountain after the parade - we were strategically in front of the ride :p

It was damn good! I love thrill rides :) But when I was younger and more reckless, I was more adventurous with what top gun and reverse bungee - not anymore *.*

Oh, my castle! MY castle :)

We decided we wanted Jap food for dinner so we beat the dinner crowd with a slightly early tempura dinner! Quite hungry since we didn't have a proper lunch.. Just plenty of snacks :p

Next ride was easy on the stomach, MicroAdventure! And it was in English! Finally something we could fully understand!

Went for a stage show of all the Disney characters before heading for the castle where we successfully balloted for seats to this Club Monsters Inc show. We were a bit late but our seats were great - left front row! And gratefully so cos the middle front row got terribly wet when the water came spraying down as part of the show! We were only a little wet... Strange that we spent the larger part of the day trying to get out of the rain, only to walk into a water show.. Gaaar!

Next was the night parade - Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights! Couldn't take good pictures but this was cute :)

Then we went for one last ride - Ride and Go Seek! With the monsters! It was really cute, especially when Boo was around - I like Boo :)

When we went back to Hilton, it was quite late. I realised we had spent some $400+ for about six hours in the hotel, hmm... But it was great! We had a good view of what we thought was Tokyo Bay from our room - better when we switched off the lights :)

More soaking in the tub, some Nintendo (that set us back another $20+ :p), and a wonderful discovery on the TV:

るるるの歌 おとこオオカミ編


I couldn't help humming it over and over again!!!

11 Aug 2009 - sob sob

Time to leave Disneyland.. Time to leave Tokyo.. Time to leave Japan!

When will we be back again??

We have been quite busy since our return. Now it felt as if we didn't have a holiday! Maybe we'll plan a shorter one later this year :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Je ne veux pas travailler

I have this calendar of flip cards that has stayed at "hysterical" since about 2005. Just flipped it to "depressed" - maybe tomorrow I'll footnote the small print:

Monday-Friday, 7am-8pm (sometimes later)

Some time ago, I was looking through websites that advise people on the best time to quit a job. So during one particularly sick session at work today, I flipped my calendar - real one with dates though it's electronic so "flipped" isn't exactly the word to use but I digress - and marked out two possible dates. I wrote them down and stuck them right next to my monitor - in Japanese - to signal some feeble light at the end of the tunnel.

Until I figure what I want to do, that light will remain feeble. And pls, no oncoming train jokes..

Just yesterday, we passed by Fancl. I thought the uniform was nice. And it would be lovely to help make people become - or more often, look - beautiful :) Now I cannot remember if the uniform has a scarf. Like the ANA uniform. I wish my neck were longer so I don't look like I'm wearing a bib when I'm wearing a scarf round my collar.

Or I could revive an old thought - have my own confectionary! If I can avoid being my own biggest customer.. Anyway, my repertoire has a grand total of only three items - Portuguese egg tarts, corn muffins and brownies. A home kitchen then? :)

But of course, I'm dreaming. Well, I like to dream. Thing is, while I'm still bonded, dreams are possibilities; after my bond ends, I fear that these dreams may just simply be dreams..

PS: It's 09.09.09 today. I think it's a magical number - cos I like 9. And 3. Maybe my depression will magically go away tomorrow..

Thursday, 3 September 2009

First lesson

Today, I attended the first lesson of my Montessori course!

I started on the mathematics module - nothing like the maths I used to do, ok.. This is learning how to teach basics..

Looks like there will be a lot of reading and homework. Have to prepare a resource file full of lesson plans, complete with pictures and captions, make learning materials, do presentations in class, hand in an essay at the end of each module etc..

But it seems quite fun cos it's rather hands-on. Today, I played a child (haha!) three times over! I thought the pace a bit slow but just as well, I should take it slow first, get the hang of it..

Looking forward to next week! =) *hopefully no more sms on work!!*

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Pins and needles

Went to a TCM practitioner recommended by a friend today. Besides describing my usual gastric pains and stomachaches, I had to vividly describe the "scenery" in the toilet bowl *.*

Conclusion: IBS and leaky gut, coupled with 血虚, 湿 on the inside and something about my liver doing OT...

Recommendations: Chew my food properly, cut down on sugars and carbs (sad!), wean off nasal spray and do acupuncture

And the next thing I knew, I was whisked into the next room, scared and unprepared for acupuncture.

"Oh, you'll grow to love it!"


I hardly dared to move while she poked the needles into me - calves, tummy, arms, head! During the 30 minutes of resting in the dark, with some heater over my tummy, I dared not sleep in case I tossed and turned.. Soon, I could feel my calves getting numb, and when I tried to wriggle my toes, I could feel the needles near my toes poking at some nerve!


And then it was done. I collected my medicine and left. Had two packets so far, bitter powdery stuff dissolved in hot water - pretty gross stuff =(

Need to store chocolate :)
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