Saturday, 14 January 2012

I found a Prince Charming

One of the highlights during our one day trip to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, was the youthful energy displayed by some 20-ish year old dudes somersaulting, bending and twisting on an open-air stage. They got alot of attention from the audience, especially when they are such natural good lookers. What's more, they were quite good in interacting with the members of the floor with rap tunes pulsating in the background. Far to the left of this pic was actually a very retro-looking coupe that ferried them in for a quick show. Truly enjoyed this. 

But the very one thing that made me stood transfixed to the ground watching the whole event, was because of ...............


I told Chanjie and D-zai (who was standing next to his D-lui), that he was so leng zhai and he was the only guy in Japan that I thought was the most good looking I ever encountered so far,  but they had just looked back at me as if I've got seaweed stuck on my teeth.

I guess.... one girl's handsome is just another girl's ugly. Haha..

Oh-pretty Temple and its Wishing Powers of Water

The three of us were very much pooped out by the end of the day, spending hours and hours admiring the famous temples in Kyoto. 

D and D - the cute couple, were also there to join us;  them having visited Tokyo for the first few days right after they got off Thai Airways. 

Our final destination for the day was Kyomizudera. Despite feeling under the weather and trudging up the steep, crowded slope like ducks waddling up a hill, our spirits shot up when we realised we WERE at the right place and at the right time!! That night, Kyomizudera was holding a Lights Display Show, illuminating the buddhist temples. 

Lo-and-behold, what surprise there was in store for us!
 We were in luck o(^^o)(o^^)o わくわく

Kyomizudera Temple, Kyoto
Ta-Daaa!! Kyomizudera Temple having a Lights Display Show.I couldn't locate the source of that bright spotlight. AMAZING!

The Kyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) built on stilts that didn't make use of nails.AMAZING!!! 

The place was totally dark, with only certain points and structures being illuminated in the night. Tourists flocked to the Kyomizudera for a blessing of luck by drinking the water using a water scoop in the main hall of the temple. It is purportedly to grant whatever our heart desires. 

Well, according to one of my friends who visited a temple in Japan, she drank some water and wished for more money, had her wished granted. Once she came home to KL, she had no time to relax as there were jobs waiting for her! GO FIGURE =D

It is regrettable I did not have anything to wish for................ if only I was aware of its powers, I might have wished for a date with that really cute guy I saw dancing at Universal Studios Japan... Well, that's another story...AHAHA!!!!

Friday, 13 January 2012

It's so bright, it's gold! The Golden Temple

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

- The very serene and majestic Ginkakuji Temple -

Looking at this photo makes me want to recite a haiku. So I googled for one and  I found a really suitable haiku that resonates with my imagination. Plucked the one below from Matsuo Basho:

 furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto
           "an ancient pond,
a frog jumps in
      the splash of water"

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Looks manual, feels manual, but it is not manual!

The bus had dropped us off in the middle of somewhere by a river, as how I recalled it. We were supposed to walk a few hundred metres ahead to join in the sight-seeing of the 3 famous temples in Kyoto. The Ginkakuji, Kinkakuji and the really famous Kyomizudera.

As I alighted from the stationary vehicle in front of the stop, something really awesome (as pictured below) had caught my eye when the shiny metallic bus zoomed off to its next destination. I quickly whipped out my trusty LX-2 again to snap a photo of this.

"Guess what this thing does??"

The lime green button you see in this wooden cabinet has an image of a bus stuck on it, and it automatically flipped up to show where the bus is driving off to that very minute! Brilliant eh?!!

We never had these at home........ boo-hoo.. =(

My fave photo of Chanjie and Beezai

It had been raining all morning. I remember this being our last day at Hakodate town, after walking around in the morning market and savouring a scrumptious breakfast set consisting of raw さかな(fish) andご飯(rice),  plus grilled crab on the roadside, and we were headed back to the minshuku(story here!)  from the convenient stores.

Somewhere in between our walks, I bought a rubber shuriken keychain from a souvenir shop, and it was confiscated by the immigration officers before leaving Hokkaido for Osaka via domestic airflight with ANA. Flying with ANA was pretty cheap, but then again, that's another story.

The reason? Because the keychain has sharp corners ―(T_T)→ サクッ

Caught this moment on my camera. LOVED IT!

Hakodate - raining
Doing the andante mezzo underneath the umbrella in the drizzle

...and here's a memory of the いか店 we found in Osaka

This was the tiny eatery in Osaka, near Den-den town that I fell in love with.

Osaka - nice eatery
Now, what I want you to do is, imagine yourself sitting at the bar in this izakaya, with Blues playing in the background, and dipping your wooden Japanese chopsticks into Osaka cuisine.
And hearing the lady shop owner greeting her customers, 
 (*≧▽≦) "まいど!まいど!”

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

This restaurant belongs to the 3 hunks

Remember my post on exploring for food when I was in Hakodate? Just remembered that I still have a picture of the restaurant.

 Here it is!

Diner in Hakodate

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Fancy sna(ck)ing a deer partner, anyone?

Beezai, Chanjie and myself had found ourselves again on the road, off to another of our little adventures. This time we had set foot into the famous (or infamous?) Nara (Deer) Park! 

 As obvious as the name of the lushy green lung in Nara (奈良公園 Nara Kōen), this particular park houses many, many deers. Tall deers, horned stags, tiny deers, friendly deers, hungry name it! They come in all shapes and sizes. One really friendly deer had even came over to us and had her portrait taken. And we got ourselves a photograph of a really, really smug-looking deer....

The deers have a knack for chasing tourists. Or, they would just drop their head into someone's handbag to dig for food. Anything for food! One Japanese lady was caught unawares with the deer rummaging her handbag for a bag of chips.

As I walked around snapping photos of the National Treasures in that park - Tōdai-ji, Kōfuku-ji and Kasuga Shrine, there was a whole class of male students roaming around the place like their furry counterparts, very much in synch with the nature. And then one of them decided to be cheeky when they saw me lounging around looking for photo opportunities! So I whipped out my Panasonic LX-2 and snapped.

Memorable....ain't it? =D

Food, food and more of Osaka food

Dotombori is a long busy street that sells food, food and FOOD at night! Each building along Dotombori is unique…there’s this hotel entrance with four big pillars that are actually 4 big faces supported on 4 big feet…(go figure, I don’t know how to explain this one) and there’s one that is fashioned in the shape of a ship, the other one has a very big crab that has moving pincers and legs stuck on the front part of the shop.

Osaka is interesting

I can’t exactly put a theme to Osaka, it’s not like traditional Kyoto, nor like modern Tokyo nor even has the picturesque settings of Otaru nor the usual city life of Sapporo. Osaka is a mixture of retro and modern, the good and ugly, posters of murderers at train stations, excellent roadside food, bright neon lights, pachinko centres and business lounges, loud blaring music, rowdy colours, tall modern skyscrapers and weird architectures, stiletto boots and bikini tops, rastafarian braids and dreadlocks, old men and women, jazz music and hip hop, techno art, baroque art..aaaaagghhhh very confusing.

My Japanese language sensei used to advise us not to patronise Osaka streets on our own late at night, as there are bad people who dupe tourists into doing things (that he never really mentioned.) I love Osaka and am afraid of it at the same time. People in all kinds of clothings/makeup/hairdo rushing to their own thing around us. In fact, it was in Osaka that I started to have some culture-shock because Osaka is shocking!

Dotombori, Ebisu, Den-den Town and Universal Studios were among the nicest places I had been to! And the famous Umeda skybuilding is awesome to gawk at night. It made me feel as if I am looking into Stargate’s revolving gate. And the red Ferris Wheel that changes colours in the evening, oh! Gotta love that. Bathing with everyone else in the communal bath in our hotel suite is another thing. Ha ha ha. And nothing beats eating okonomiyaki (japanese pizza) in Osaka.

If I go back to Osaka, it would be for the food…. and Universal Studios.

Dining out pretty cheap! T'was a rate of 2.7 in 2007

Menu in an odd-pretty-intriguing eatery called Ika Tei in Osaka…was quite affordable!!! And the ambience was just nice…fusion of jazz music and chinoiserie hanging from the walls, on the bar, the seats, the ceiling….a middle aged Japanese auntie waitressing…aaaahh…

Raw discovery...hehehe

urchin meat served raw with just a dash of boiling water poured over…Yum-Yum anyone?

Another rainy verse..

Strong winds and heavy drizzles wrecked Beezai’s plastic umbrella!
Chanjie clutched her sides laughing her arse off 
Beezai’s umbrella had flipped inside out all of the sudden 
Like Mary poppins’ umbrella gone wrong…..
She couldn’t stop laughing, 
I couldn’t stop snapping with my camera…

Raining in Hakodate

Me and my plastic umbrella with our little adventures

Rain, rain go away, come again another day,
Three of us want some snow to play,
But there was no winter to our dismay,
“It’s kind of weird”, Auntie Minshuku had her say!

A visit to the beach down the street

Seriously, it was really this dark and breezy on the beach….on an afternoon!

Phenomenal breeze…literally!

After getting our butts off the train and taking many wrong turns when we reached Hakodate, we finally reached a ‘minshuku’ owned by a Taiwanese lady to stay for 2 nights. She came out to greet us in her high hair, fluorescent pink turtleneck sweater and furry brown vest in a warm matronly manner. We exchanged introductions and she hastened us to take a rest in the guest hall.

The place was really clean and neatly decorated with lace curtains and china. A desk sits in the corner of the room with a computer, and there were a few luggage bags chucked on the sofa by other visitors from Singapore. Beezai started clicking away with her ixus, and then after seeking the lady’s help on getting out and about in Hakodate, we set off to explore on our own.

The sky was getting really dark although it was only noon. Wind was howling from the seas at the end of the long street. We set out to find the nicest place for a quick ramen lunch, as informed by Auntie Minshuku (her name changed to protect her privacy :P). We dragged our tired feet along, the wind kept blowing my jacket open (the zip’s spoilt, damn….) Then we reached a diner owned by 3 hunky guys who looked like each of them’d own Harleys, made us tasty bowls of ramen. If you’re curious how we’d order food in Japan, we had to speak in Japanese. So, better learn some Japanese if you want to backpack in Japan ya! By the way, I’ve never seen a real diner back home. Neva!

The 3 hunky men served us ramen in cute Hello Kitty bowls…so kawaii! And they were pink in colour. I felt as if I’m back in mama’s kitchen cooking maggi in my own favourite bowl~ aaah.. after much slurping, I took a look out of the diner, the door curtains were being blown crazy like a storm was hitting any second. We were like, “WAHHHHHHHHHHHH……………Go go go!!” And off we went out walking back to Auntie Minshuku.


Auntie Minshuku showed us another place to see. The beach! So we trudged along the street till we reached its end and by then the wind was blowing reaaaaally hard. Beezai’s long hair was flapping in her face whenever she turned sideways, and I had a hard time trying to keep my eyes opened. We photographed the tall waves, the nice house that sits directly on the beach, the big ugly grey clouds and also posing with each other with crazy hair flying in all directions. After that we explored around a little and went back to our cute little lodge.
To cut a long story short, which I think I will spend more than a page explaining…we went out again to look for food in the evening. We were walking along an unknown street next to the river and sea, and there was an overhead bridge that shows the temperature of the town. It was 11degrees celcius as I remembered it. It was quite strange that nobody was to be seen. The wind was howling even harder and I started to feel some air pressure on the right side of my head. Two kids were practically speeding towards us like they were escaping something horrible. The 3 of us soldiered on, and the wind grew EVEN stronger! Suddenly it occured to us why the town seemed deserted……

Each of us tried to keep ourselves rooted to the ground we were walking on. I had never experienced such strong winds in my LIFE!!!!! We tried to run, but everytime we lifted our foot, we felt the wind would blow us away. Chanjie being the cutest and petitest of us all had the hardest time. Luckily there were buildings that occasionally sheltered us from the sea “breeze”…We were shrieking whenever we almost got “blown away”. I wouldn’t say it was scary, it was quite the adrenaline rush. But you’ve got to feel it yourself, the wind back home is NOTHING compared to the wind by the sea in Hakodate. Trust me.


If there’s any town that’d look tangled in a web of wires, I would point out Hakodate!!

Popular seafood? ..the crabs

Our lunch of crabmeat and beef at Otaru was AWESOME! Although I’m not a fan of crabmeat, I could picture chanjie and beezai singing praises about the quality of crabmeat in Japan….

Twirly, curly food

Do you like sausages? I love them but I don’t know what to think when I see them curled up like this…kinda interesting, don’t you think?

小樽 is a lovely place...

- the serene Otaru canal -

小樽Otaru is a picturesque little town, decorated with the famous Otaru canal, pretty little houses and shops sitting in clusters, each unique in its own way with harmonised colours. It seemed almost fairy-tale like. The lifestyle is slow-paced and the people there whether Otaru natives or tourists take their sweet time breathing in the scenery and fresh air.
We visited the Orgel shops, where they make music boxes varying from all kinds of sizes. Interesting pieces of art and music fused together. I bought myself a little orgel chained to a keyring that hums a little tune of “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” when the clockwork is twisted thrice around its back.
The town is filled with cute carvings and decors and artistic pieces. Some shops blow glass to fashion out fantastic utensils and crafts. Everything is done with such perfection that mirrors the townsfolk’s passion in the arts.
Heck, we loved Otaru so much that we even sent ourselves a postcard each back home when we saw a cute little post office

The Hunky Dorys

Japanese men are really fashionable…the carefully tweezed eyebrows, immaculate attire, smooth complexion whether pale or tanned, and the matching accessories; they are a sight to behold on the streets and on the train.

And now....Discovery Dessert!

もち/mochi ice-cream (ice-cream wrapped in a mochi) is my favourite dessert in hokkaido other than the famous Hokkaido soft-cream. Loveeee it! I had so much ice-cream in Hokkaido!

Backpacking fashionistas

T’was the night at Sapporo town.
Chanjie, Beezai and I wore like clowns.
Skullcap for beezai, black suit for chanjie.
And a long grey muffler for me.

— written by me, me and only me

8Nov 2007. First night of stay at the Hostel ~ SPOOKY!

Beezai, Chanjie and I finally reached our very first hostel in Sapporo after dragging our luggage across several very clean streets. The hostel staff were old and friendly and pretty kind to us. After exchanging greetings in simple Japanese, we were shown to our dorm which, we thought it looked kind of dingy. We were not allowed to lock the doors even when we were out and about (and it’s a rule!).


Chanjie was browsing through the logbook hanging from a bedpost. Beezai and myself were busy unpacking while she was flipping the book left and right, upside down and turning it around. And boy, did she have news for us while the 3 of us were checking out the dingy and dark old basement where the “ofuro” (bath) was.

“Hey, know what? I read something in that logbook written by a Taiwanese guest."

So, we said, "..and...?"

"Well, she was in the loo before 6 in the morning and when she came out, she saw an old man, butt-naked, facing the window. He then turned back to grin at her and then she also wrote there saying that she thinks he’s prooobably ...not ....human. Eeyearr..spooky lah....”

Chanjie’s eyes were as wide as saucers. (@.@)
Hearing that, it sent us chills!! Was it because of the winter season approaching or was it  F-E-A-R??
And we were supposed to stay in the hostel and bathe in the dingy old  basement for 2 nights..uh-OHhhh..
We ended up slapping Chanjie’s shoulders REALLY HARD  for terrorising us with the story….and we vowed  never to leave anyone of us three alone, whenever it's time for a  bath downstairs….YIKES!!!!

Well, during my whole 2 days of stay in that hotel,  I  couldn't get this off my mind- *wheeree areeee my paaaaants~~~~ m(-o-m))) ~~~"

Experiencing Sapporo

Winter was approaching. First to set foot out of the Sapporo Eki (train station). A metropolis! Lots and lots of bicycles, taxis, but not many people walking about…not as crowded as I imagined it would.
(^^) Y

Japan! 8Nov 2007 (Boarding for Sapporo)

Beezai and I touched down at Chitose airport in Sapporo from JAL around 7:30 in the morning. 

Sky was really clear and blue! The air was chilly!!
We have finally reached Japan!
Dragged our luggage towards Terminal 2 to wait for chanjie.
Waited till 8am still no sign of her!! Panic sets in….
Asked the Japanese man at the bus counter what time will the next bus be leaving for Terminal 1. He replied in Japanese, “Approximately every 8 minutes there’s a bus. Please wait at Dropoff Zone 10.

Waited and waited again….

A few older Japanese women were sitting quietly and watching the very big LCD just right in front of them. Oooh! The ad was really cute, it showed a litter of very cute kittens, the face of the kitty on the screen is bigger than me and Beezai’s head put together!
Just imagine how big the LCD is….

1 skinny Japanese girl and 1 plump Japanese girl both in long honey coloured hair in revealing clothes dumped their big luggages right before the front row and cracked opened their bags to sort their stuff.
Beezai whispered to me in a horrendous tone, “Whoaaa…yau yeh tai!” when that skinny girl stooped over.

Waited and waited again…where is chanjie? Has she gone missing???
Beezai was restless, walking around and had wanted to go past the gates again back to the entrance.
She’s not afraid the guard will catch her.

A bunch of Japanese surfer dudes suddenly appeared from nowhere.
Tanned fellas, they could pass for Hawaiians if not for their features.
The tall, skinny Japanese girl with an ample front and revealing cleavage started showing off her assets to the surfer dudes.
Tsk..tsk..and Beezai and I got live drama for free…it’s even better than watching it on T.V.!
Observed, and observed….wahh…okay learnt nothing, but guessed that’s how a Japanese surfer dude picks up girls although we couldn’t catch any of his pickup lines!

Then the clock struck 9…Beezai and I couldn’t wait. We rushed straight out for the bus!

When we got down from the bus, and after much crossturns and escalator-climbing we finally reached Terminal 1……
And there was chanjie sitting at the long rows of chairs giving us “that” look with her index finger stabbing at the air towards both of us.
(=__= ;) Uso darou…
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